Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Another Upside Down-Pyramid

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

Last week, I wrote about an upside-down pyramid. This week, I want to remind you of another type of upside-down pyramid that we see in many CPA firms.

We have been talking about it for years….. Bill Reeb calls it the Upside Down Pyramid. It’s where partners work and work until they are “full,” and then they push down to managers who work and work until they are “full,” and only then do they push down to the staff. Meanwhile, staff members are sending emails asking for assignments!

It usually comes about because the firm is top-heavy. Read more about it here.

  • You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him to a heavy load.
  • Bear Bryant

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Reality

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

This passage from a book I am reading that takes place in Cold War times inspired some thoughts about managing a CPA firm. The passage:

“You should dream more. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.”

What is reality like inside your accounting firm? Think about it.

  • Do you have some great new ideas but routinely get shut down?
  • Do you feel certain some things need to change, but certain partners block the path?
  • Do you sometimes hear, “We have done it this way for a long time, and it works. Why change it?”
  • Is your technology adequate but not future-ready?
  • Your turnover rate keeps rising.
  • New clients are rapidly coming in, but you don’t have enough staff to serve them properly.
  • Many people inside your firm just seem to be waiting for the “old guard” to retire.
  • You want to attend a great management conference, but you are told it is not in the budget.
  • There are some poor performers, but they are “protected” by certain partners.

You can probably add to this list.

You should probably dream more. Reality in your firm is not something to be faced.

  • We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
  • Jesse Owens

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

How Fast Are You?

“Everybody must realize that if you don’t meet customer demand quickly enough, without sacrificing quality, a competitor will.” – Bill Gates

The world’s fastest land animal is the cheetah. It can reach speeds up to 70 mph.

From sloths to snails, tortoises to slugs, the slowest animals in the world just aren’t in a hurry.

I have observed that in many CPA firms change moves at the speed of a covered wagon crossing in the prairie in 1850.

What is needed right now is fast change. Think of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. It flies at 2200 mph. Assess where your firm stands on the speed of change. Are you procrastinating and thinking, “We have plenty of time; let’s work on that next year.” Believe it or not, even with the pandemic and the need for remote work, there are still many firms out there that are not paperless.

This year, you still have time to make some needed changes to enable your firm to be a firm of the future.

I know you are not a jet airplane but are you a cheetah or a sloth?

  • The only way to win is to learn faster than everybody else.
  • Eric Ries

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

Fail and Fail Again

“I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos

CPAs are conservative, traditional, professional, slow to change, and never want to fail.

That is why I am including an entire Seth Godin post for you to ponder. It is as follows:

UNBEATABLE VS. PERFECT

Google has killed more than 200 projects over the last few decades. They fail all the time. More than once a month they shut down a business that frightened the competition and seduced consumers.

That’s part of the recipe for becoming an unbeatable behemoth. Fail a lot.

Institutions like Western Union and A & P and Woolworth’s and Sears forget this part.

Don’t be complacent. Don’t be afraid. Don’t try to eliminate any chance of failure. Try things, experiment and take some risks. It’s how the most prominent and progressive CPA firms got to be prominent and progressive (and profitable).

  • The biggest risk is not taking any risk.
  • Mark Zuckerberg

Monday, August 29th, 2022

If You Care, Confront.

“Confrontation is not a verbal hit-and-run; rather, it is used constructively to bring about change.” – Donald Collins

I have observed that CPAs are very uncomfortable with confrontation.

They will let things slide for a long time before they dare to have a crucial conversation.

Sometimes these conversations need to happen with staff members, sometimes with clients, and sometimes with their own partners. In these cases, silence is not golden.

I received this advice once, and I want to share it with you. “If you care, confront! Don’t let them piss and moan!”

You have got a lot to do this week, so you don’t have to work (or have your team work) on Labor Day. It is a holiday!

  • Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.
  • Dale Partridge

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

Specialization

“If you are hanging out your shingle, you should be focused on specialization.” – Gale Crosley

Gale Crosley has been talking about it for years. “It” means specialization. In a recent interview with Tim Keith of Introhive, Gale notes that her #1 recommendation to CPA firms of all sizes is specialization.

Be sure to listen to Gale’s recent conversation with Tim – A Fireside Chat – The State of Strategic Growth.

Here are some bullet points that took from the chat.

  • Our problem with pruning the client base are we are attacking it at a slow pace.
  • The fish are jumping into the boat and we are punishing our people.
  • We are stretching our people, hanging on to clients, and exhausting our staff.
  • We are not wired for fast movement.
  • Disruptive times require strategic thinking.
  • To prune, don’t rank clients a, b, c, and d. Break it down to the business unit level – the nonprofits, the construction, the medical, then make a plan for that unit.
  • The biggest obstacle now is the lack of future thinking. It has evaporated.
  • We are just riding the market conditions.
  • We need to develop our strategy; we do it as a mechanical thing. We include people who are not strategic thinkers; we include worker bees.
  • Get both feet into tomorrow.
  • And much more!
  • Specialization is the absolute requirement for where we are in our life cycle.
  • Gale Crosley

Monday, August 22nd, 2022

Resilience

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli

Are you resilient?

I often talk about CPA firm leaders persevering. Perseverance means they continue in a course of action despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. You know, like getting all partners to accept change. Continue with your course of action! Don’t give up!

If you take a course of action that doesn’t work out as expected, you must be resilient. It is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

To me, perseverance and resilience are close cousins, and CPA firm leaders need a hefty dose of each one.

  • The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.
  • Robert Jordan

Monday, August 15th, 2022

It takes time

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” – Jeff Olson

Seth Godin makes a good point in a recent post. The point: Some things take time. Here’s an excerpt:

Both The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski bombed. If “bombed” means that during the first few weeks, no one went to a theater to see them. Since then, tens of millions of people have seen and talked about these movies.

But the events that change our culture often happen over time, distributed across parts of the population too small to notice.

Godin notes, “Drip by drip makes a wave.”

If you need to make some significant changes inside your CPA and you are getting a lot of push-back from some of the partners, you need to take baby steps. Sudden and abrupt change is not something CPAs embrace wholeheartedly.

Another similar phrase I use when making changes inside CPA firms is “constant gentle pressure.” Taking baby steps and applying constant gentle pressure will move the firm forward. Plus, once some forward motion is obtained, change seems to flow more freely and rapidly.

  • Focus on progress not perfection.
  • Bill Phillips

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

“It’s about you. If you win, it’s you, if you lose, it’s you. Black and white. Nowhere to hide. – Greg Rusedski

From the internet:

There is an old saying, “you can run but you can’t hide.” This means you can try to escape what you fear most but ultimately, you must face it. This saying originated in the United States in the 1940s and is attributed to boxing great Joe Louis describing his impending fight with light heavyweight champion Billy Conn.

One important thing that you have been running from is change. I know you changed a lot during COVID, however, many CPAs just “made do” with things temporarily and have settled back into many of their “old ways.”

When I currently ask partners if they are truly paperless, they “run” from that question. I hear all kinds of excuses. The world is changing. Now is the time to quit running from things you fear.

  • O' What may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Simplify vs. Complicate

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Here’s a Friday flashback post from 2013 that still applies today. Thoreau said: Simplify! Simplify!

CPAs tend to: Complicate! Complicate!

Have a great weekend!

  • This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
  • Dalai Lama