Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Think Big

“Go for great. Own your game. Be kind. Get big things done.” – Robin S. Sharma

Working in public accounting, you tend to be driven by due dates.

It is what motivates you. You focus on the little things that hinder the efficient flow of work through the office. You focus on what needs to get out this week or next week. You focus on the immediate challenge, whatever that might be.

When major due dates pass, you spend time recuperating and cleaning-up lots of small things that you have delayed until after the due date.

As for some major decisions that need to be made, you put those on the back burner until after the partner retreat, until the next major due date passes, or until you have enough time.

I have observed that you tend to pay too much attention to little things and too little attention to big things.

When will you ever have time? Some of those BIG things make you uncomfortable. You would rather by-pass confrontation.

Do you need to out-place certain clients, certain employees or even certain partners? Do you need to invest heavily in new technology? Do you need to finally address succession and admit that merging-up is your succession plan?

Don’t wait for summer to come to begin discussing these, and other, big issues with your management group. Pay continual attention to big things, make big decisions and keep moving forward each day, each week, and each month.

  • "We forget the little things, so it's no wonder some of us screw up the big things."
  • Neil Cavuto

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Reinvent Yourself

“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” – Robert Kennedy

In CPA circles, all the talk lately has been about how to stop being a tax return preparer (or auditor) and become a business advisor.

Simple statement; sounds easy. It isn’t.

Doesn’t matter if it isn’t easy. You have to do it anyway if you hope for your firm to survive into the future.

Jasen Stine, in a recent (and brief) article via Accounting Today, builds an excellent case for change.

Your vision and strategy is your desired destination, and your plan is your roadmap to get there. Step back and ask how you’re going to move forward as a firm. He shares:

Three steps for creating vision and strategy include the following:

  • Bring in thought partners: trusted clients, staff, mentors, and key contacts.
  • Think “ideal state” first.
  • Balance ambiguity and specificity.

He has a valid point – you have to stop giving tax advice with the tax return and give it at the point of need.

Read the article here. Then, get busy creating your firm’s vision and strategy for the future.

  • "Artificial Intelligence is the talk of the town these days, and its application to the tax and accounting profession means automating tasks that we are accustomed to billing for by the hour or form."
  • Jasen Stine

Monday, January 25th, 2021

Bernie & What Digital Firms Request

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

I think we have all enjoyed browsing the hundreds.. thousands… of Bernie memes. I know I had a lot of laughs these past few days.

Of course, the most meaningful Bernie meme, for all of us working in the CPA profession, comes from Shayna Brooke, Founder & Chief Strategist at Shaynaco LLC in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Shayna kindly allowed me to use her recent Facebook post for this blog. Here it is:

Just a reminder that you don’t have to bring your paper tax documents into our Shaynaco LLC office. We have secure web portals available for you to upload any documents and also retrieve documents from us!

  • "Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take are of themselves."
  • Dale Carnegie

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Employee Engagement Matters – Flashback Friday

“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman

To drive engagement, it’s simple, you have to be proactive.

Read this blog post from 2017 to learn about your three types of employees.

  • "I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter."
  • Walt Disney

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Getting Better

“To learn about excellence you must study it.” – Marcus Buckingham

You want your firm to get better and better. You want it to gain more and more visibility and to continually build and enhance the firm reputation.

How do you and your firm get better? You learn from others.

Inside your firm, your team members continually learn and improve. This applies to new college graduates, the administrative team, your support professionals, and very experienced CPAs. All of these people learn so much from more experienced people.

Your firm also gets better by learning from other CPA firms that are growing, profitable, and over-all successful.

When I was new to CPA firm management, I attended all of the CPA firm management conferences that I could. There I met people from successful firms. These people would describe how they were doing this or that and if it was something I wanted to pursue, I got acquainted with the person from that successful firm. Over the years, I have made lifelong, personal friends from my contacts in other CPA firms.

When attending these events (in person or virtual now), reach out to others with more experience. CPA management conferences are filled with people who are willing to share their successes and help you and your firm get better.

One of the best resources is The CPA Firm Management Association. Join and learn. The members share their experiences and you can post questions on their discussion board and get immediate answers and advice.

So, to get better, reach out to others and also share your successes and failures with the others you meet. As today’s quote (above) says, “To learn about excellence you must study it.

  • "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
  • Aristotle

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Accountants Are Picky

“Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems.” – John Rosemond

First of all, I want you to know that I do believe in hands-on management. You can’t leave people in a void, wondering what your expectations are. It’s all about communication and how you go about communicating.

However, I have worked with accountants long enough to know that they tend to be perfectionists. Yes, the work produced by CPAs must be absolutely accurate. How you arrive at that state is another topic.

I remember my first days in a CPA firm. I was amazed at how thoroughly my work (simple typing projects) was proofed and reviewed. I came from an educational and training background where you did it right the first time. You proofed your own work. That seemed to be completely absent inside the CPA firm. I soon learned that it wasn’t just me being scrutinized, it was an important part of the process of achieving accuracy in financial matters.

The goal is still there and accuracy is a given. How you arrive at that point is through extensive training and responsible review of work. There is a fine line between supervision and micro-management. Beware. Micro-managing is not something to be proud of.

A recent article by Suzanne Lucas (@realevilHRLady) certainly made me smile. She featured a tweet that said: “Tell me you’ve worked for a micromanager without telling me you’ve worked for a micromanager.”

The replies would be hilarious if they weren’t so disturbing. They did make me smile because during those first years in the CPA profession I had to change many financial statements several times after each review step and I don’t mean the numbers – it was personal preference about phrasing and punctuation from multiple reviewers.

An example of the tweets featured in the article:

“Sorry, I forgot to tell you that I went to the bathroom.”

“We talked for over an hour about the 1 missing period in the 40 slide deck.”

Read the article – Here Is What Micromanagement Looks Like.

You might recognize some people in your own firm!

  • "None of us should wait to be told what to do, or how to do it. Micromanagement kills initiative, judgment and creativity. "
  • David H. Maister

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Naming Your Intranet

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

A vibrant firm intranet that provides various useful and necessary information for your team members is a must.

Some firms realized this years ago and have an intranet that has evolved and gained prominence as a crucial tool for research and guidance.

Some of my clients have made updating their intranet a high priority for 2021, especially with a remote workforce being something that is here to stay.

My question for you today is did you name your intranet? I have heard some very creative ones. I think it gives the resource center a personality and keeps it’s value in the minds of the team.

If you don’t have a name for your intranet have a contest for the team to name it. One company named their intranet Dwight (the employee know-it-all from The Office).

Here is a helpful article about the importance of naming your intranet and it gives you several examples.

  • "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth."
  • Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Drama, Fear & Conflict

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” – Warren Bennis

Accountants, in general, are kind, caring, and sincere. They live their lives helping their clients become successful. They often have difficult conversations with their clients.

Inside their own CPA firm, they ignore conflict and avoid confrontation. Partners and managers often dodge conflict in the hopes that someone else will deal with it. Yet, they readily admit that there is way too much drama going on inside the firm.

Often the conflict is between two or more employees. However, the most troubling conflict is when employees actually fear one or more of the firm leaders, and other leaders hide from the drama, fear, and conflict.

Here’s a quote from Marlene Chism:

“If there are performance problems, workplace drama, or disruptive behaviors in your workplace, it’s because it’s been allowed. Avoiding difficult conversations causes a culture of dysfunction that affects every aspect of business.” – Marlene Chism

Read that quote again. From the mildest conflict to actual fear of an individual continues because IT’S BEEN ALLOWED.

Some issues eventually go away on their own but most do not. YOU must deal with it. Here’s a helpful article from Chism.

  • "Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."
  • Winston Churchill

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Adding New Clients – Flashback Friday

“Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Steve Jobs

Adding new clients is always a challenge for CPA firms. However, some firms have a marketing machine, visible rainmakers, and obtaining new clients isn’t their biggest issue.

The challenge is being able to provide awesome client service to the rapidly growing client base.

Here’s a flashback post to help you with that challenge.

  • "Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."
  • Sam Ewing

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Keep People Connected

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Once again, Withum shares a great video. This one was shared with their entire team so that they continue to feel very connected to the firm and to each other.

What is your firm doing?

Click here to see the video.

  • "As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection."
  • Adam Newmann