Friday, January 5th, 2018

Attention Bookkeepers!

“If you’re a bookkeeper, it’s time to embrace evolution.” – Mary Ellen Biery

I would guess that almost every CPA firm has provided bookkeeping services. It has become quite in vogue now. They are calling it CAS (Client Accounting Services). It is needed and it has become very lucrative due to technology.

In the “old days” – not that many years ago, we called it write-up and in some firms it was regarded as low-level, non-profitable work. All that has changed. In CPA firms you don’t even call them bookkeepers (or paraprofessionals) any longer (that title always amazed me…. not quite professional?). They are called Client Accounting Specialists or some other unique title.

Something that also needs to change is how bookkeepers might think of themselves. They are no longer just bookkeepers – they are business consultants. They really know what is going on inside the client’s business and can take action to help business owners.

Check out this important article via Accounting Today – The evolution and changing role of bookkeepers.  Share it with your Client Accounting Specialists.

  • "There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
  • Aldous Huxley

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

You Don’t Have to be a Perfectionists to Achieve Your Goals

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington

CPAs are quality minded. They are the most trusted business advisor. They especially pride themselves in the quality of their work. 

If you are living your work life inside a CPA firm, you know how thoroughly the client work gets reviewed. If you are not living inside a CPA firm, here’s how it goes: 

  • The work is completed (financial statement, tax return, various financial projects, etc.)
  • The work is proofed and corrected.
  • The work is draft reviewed and then corrected.
  • The work is quality reviewed and then modified.
  • The work is partner reviewed and adjusted.
  • Just before it is absolutely, positively finished and ready to go to the client, it is “released” and even at this point something is caught that needs to be changed (usually a very small detail).
  • Then the partner assigned to the client work wonders why it takes to much time to get the engagement out the door!

CPAs often deny it but most are perfectionists.

When dealing with the management/operations side of the firm and when setting personal goals for yourself, please do not think that things have to be perfect. Rather than being your own worst critic, become your biggest fan.

Human beings learn so much from their mistakes! When pursuing a goal, don’t focus on perfectionism; focus on progress.

Breakdown your sometimes overwhelming projects and tasks into steps and don’t hesitate to celebrate and reward yourself when even one step is accomplished.

I call it moving from status quo to an improved position. Do that once and then repeat, repeat and repeat.

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” If you view your task as one giant goal, you are setting yourself up for failure or disappointment. Why not enjoy the bites along the way!

  • "The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves."
  • Ray Kroc

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Searching For a Mentor

“My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!'” – Jim Rohn

So, you want to make some changes this year. You want to implement some important initiatives at the firm and you also want to make some changes, personally.

A mentor would be a good idea. Someone to hold you accountable and to actually help you along the road of change.

How do you choose a mentor? Here are some things to consider:

Experience – Make sure your potential mentor has been through what you are facing. Do they have the appropriate background to help answer your questions and give you guidance?

Communication – Determine what communication style works best for both of you. A potential mentor might prefer conversations in person or by phone. Another might prefer to have more of an online type relationship.

Life-stage: Has the potential mentor been through the life-stage that is currently giving you significant challenges? Can they give you practical and applicable advice and tools?

Over the last couple of years, mentoring and coaching people working in the CPA profession has become my most requested service. In fact, I only have a couple of slots open for monthly mentoring clients. Maybe I can help you. Contact me if you want to just talk about your situation. I offer a no obligation consultation.

  • "Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Beat The Clock

“We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.” – Vince Lombardi

Seth Godin blogged recently and asked, “What about sprints?”

My husband, in his youth, was a track athlete, plus baseball, basketball and whatever other sport was offered. Track was his best and favorite. He trained by doing sprints.

Many people training for their first 5k, walk for a while and then sprint for a minute or two (or more). Most people can’t sustain sprints for very long.

Maybe in your work, you need to try some sprints. Rather than having two speeds – work hard then rest (watching Netflix.. whatever you do when you go home), add a third speed… sprint.

Sometimes it is amazing what you can get done in a short period of time when you completely focus, shut out the rest of the world and just sprint.

A good friend of mine, Linda Watson – a CPA firm marketing consultant – always recommends playing “Beat the Clock” when she has an important article, promo piece or procedure to write. She sets aside one hour to focus and write like crazy – no interruptions. When the hour ends, she stops and is often amazed by what she can turn out in one hour.

I often take her advice and focus intently for one hour on an issue or challenge to see what I can accomplish. I sprint!

You might try it when you are stuck and short on time.

  • "If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money I run out of time."
  • Willie Nelson

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Next Year

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

How many times have you said those two words, “next year”?

Maybe to your kids, “You’ll be old enough to do that next year.”

Maybe to your spouse, “Honey, we’ll take that special vacation trip next year.”

Maybe to yourself, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds next year!”

How about inside your firm?

“We will work on it and become COMPLETELY paperless next year.”

“We can’t do it this year, but next year we will out-place those five clients that drive our staff nuts.”

“We promise to be more timely with our feedback process next year.”

“We will add a few more employee benefits next year.”

“We have to update our website next year.”

“We will look into all this new digital stuff like blockchain and artificial intelligence, next year.”

“I’ll pass the CPA exam next year.”

For all these “next years” relating to your firm: Monday is NEXT YEAR.

For NOW – have a happy and safe New Years’ weekend!

  • "It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises."
  • Chief Joseph

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

More Productive

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” – Margaret Bonnano

I recently read an interesting article via HBR on how to be more productive and still reduce the hours your work.

A Gallup poll found that 40% of U.S. workers “were so stressed out they felt burned out”. Stress and anxiety are cited in 70% of calls placed to phone-counseling lines at Workplace Options, a provider of employee- assistance programs. The vast majority of professionals (94%) worked 50 hours or more a week and almost half worked more than 65 hours a week.

You can see why I found the article interesting. Working in public accounting often requires stressful and long hours! Fortunately, many of the more progressive firms have realized the damage excessive hours can cause and have focused more on life/work balance.

The author (Matt Plummer) of the article and a friend set out on a mission to be more productive and work less hours. They set a simple goal, work 10% less hours than their traditional average. For you, in public accounting, working 50 hours per week, it would mean getting the same amount of work accomplished by working 45 hours per week.

How productive are you? Do you even know how much time you actually waste at work during a typical week? Think about it. I bet you can be more productive by working less hours! I urge you to read the article and enlist others to try it at your CPA firm.

Firm leaders, don’t demand that people work a certain number of hours, they can do that without thinking. Rather, focus on results – on what actually gets accomplished during a typical week.

  • "Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else."
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

The Different Lives of Managing Partners

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali

In his December blog post, Gary Adamson (Adamson Advisory), a former managing partner himself, talks about the different lives a managing partner lives. 

The inside the firm life.

The outside life, representing the firm in the business community.

And, of course, their personal life.

If you are a CPA firm partner, are you living all of these lives, too? You probably act differently in your role as partner inside the firm than you do at home with your family.

What I observe is that while the MP must represent the firm outside – being involved in  civic and charitable organizations, some of the other partners don’t quite live up to that “outside” role.

Young people just building your career in public accounting, start living that outside-the-firm life now.

Take a minute to read Adamson’s blog post.

  • "The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention."
  • Oscar Wilde

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Thank-you to the large tribe of followers of my daily blog. You are what keeps me going! Stay tuned for lots more as we enter a new year. Best wishes for a successful, changing, dynamic and enjoyable 2018.
Holiday slide 2017 jpg

  • "Sometimes we spend so much time and energy thinking about where we want to go that we don't notice where we happen to be."
  • Dan Gutman

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Sanity Time

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

This morning, I had 50 minutes of sanity time. Here’s the official definition of sanity:

San·i·ty:  the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health.

For the last few weeks, and especially the last several days, I have been more in a panic mode than a sanity mode.

I’ve been rushing around trying to get EVERYTHING done. As many of you know, my husband broke his leg in October and he is still not allowed to put any weight on it… so he needs quite a bit of care plus, he has always done SO much around the house. Yes, I actually have to cook now! Then it is the normal demands of the Christmas season… shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing – some of which got dropped this year.

This morning, I had to take my car to the dealership for a recall notice repair. Had to be done before December 31st. So, I just waited (about 50 minutes) for them to complete the work. I sat in the waiting room, helped myself to a cup of coffee and just glanced at my phone and looked out the window at the sunny day. I couldn’t jump up and get something for my husband. Couldn’t load the dishwasher, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t do shopping – my online shopping was complete. I did not answer emails from my clients (who also seem frantic and needy right now). I just relaxed and it was wonderful.

Maybe you can find some sanity time over this long holiday weekend. Sneak away if you have to and find a quiet place with no one else you know near you (and don’t talk to strangers like I usually do). You might find a coffee shop, a library or the waiting room of a dealership and do nothing worthwhile for an hour. Of course, I did a lot of THINKING during that 50 minutes – I hope you will include that activity in your sanity time.

  • "Sanity is a madness put to good use."
  • George Santayana

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

My December Newsletter

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

My CPA firm management newsletter went out this week. It goes to thousands of you working in the CPA profession.

IMPORTANT – If you have merged and your email address has changed, please let me know. You can use my contact page or simply email me.

This month’s articles:

Keep Fighting That Procrastination Habit (The classic CPA procrastination cycle.)

Follow Through (I directed you to a Seth Godin post.)

My Christmas greeting to you!

These links will be active for only a few months.

  • "I've got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end."
  • Larry Bird