Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Algorithms, Parental Leave & Other Information

“We never know the love of a parent til we become parents ourselves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

I recently read a very interesting article via Fast Company about Stitch Fix and its CEO, Katrina Lake. At age 34, she was not only the youngest female founder to ever lead an IPO but she also stood at the Nasdaq podium while holding her toddler on her hip.

I know many women who have made Stitch Fix a part of their lives. The story of the company is very interesting. You can learn something about how they gather and use data. Also, I think accounting firms could learn something about parental leave from Lake. Here’s an excerpt:

Stitch Fix’s board is more than 60% female, and its tech staff is 35%—still not gender parity, but far better than the industry average and without hiring quotas. Interviewees are informed that the company values “bright” people over the purely book smart and “kind” people over nice. During the application process, instead of having to solve a technical problem alone, candidates are paired with a nontechnical staffer from styling or merchandising to collaborate, which quickly surfaces inventive applicants. Lake has also been adamant about fostering work-life balance. Most notably, she provides 16 weeks of parental leave to all full-time employees who are primary caretakers—whether they work in data science or a warehouse. It never occurred to Lake to create the kind of caste system of disparate benefits for different types of workers that’s prevalent at many tech companies.

She took the full 16 weeks herself this winter after the birth of her second child in November. “There might’ve been times, years ago, where I would’ve felt a little bit more uncomfortable taking the leave,” Lake says during her last full week in the office in the fall. “We have lots of women at Stitch Fix who are growing their families and also doing a great job here. Being able to take a leave is the right thing for your family. It’s also the right thing for your work so that you can come back and be focused and be excited.”

  • Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.
  • Bob Keeshan

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

All Those Versions

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.” – Steve Wozniak

I have heard one prominent complaint about serving clients for years and years and years. I continue to hear it from CPA practitioners from all parts of the country. It is the issue of dealing with so many VERSIONS of QuickBooks.

One of my clients finally did something about it. She purchased the QBO licenses for them and simply told clients the firm was moving them to QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks was having a sale so she purchased several licenses and will eventually pass on the costs via billing rates.

She simply said to her clients, “This is how our firm is doing it now.” She received an insignificant amount of pushback. Clients that don’t like it can go elsewhere.

The world is changing. New technology tools abound. How is your firm going to do it now?

  • The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Bill Gates

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

People Leave

“Fear of the unknown keeps a lot of people from leaving bad situations.” – Kathy Lee Gifford

If you are a staff person thinking of leaving your current firm, don’t fret.

If you are a firm leader and have been notified that someone you like (or don’t like) is leaving, don’t fret.

It is simple, people leave jobs all the time for a multitude of reasons.

It was always interesting to me, when I was working inside a busy firm, that when someone left, after about 2 days no one even seemed to notice. This applied to a person who had been short-term at the firm or even if it was a 15-year key manager.

If you are managing a growing, successful, progressive firm there are no worries, the firm will go on. People will step up if needed and clients often don’t even care as long as someone intelligent responds to them.

If you are a key-person, don’t ever get so conceited that you think “the firm” will miss you. Life will go on for you and for the firm, just as it should.

 

  • Parting is such sweet sorrow.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The Highest Earning CPAs

“It’s not necessarily about getting tons of new clients; it’s about creating a vision of what you want your practice to look like.” – Anthony Glomski 

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today by Anthony Glomski titled, Lessons from million-dollar accounting partners.

Mr. Glomski made many great points in his article but here is something I want you to read, think about and then read the entire article:

How do they do it? One common thread is that the highest-earning CPAs have made a commitment to lifelong learning. They read a ton. They listen to relevant podcasts. They network all the time. They stay current on all the news and trends affecting our profession. They never stop challenging themselves. And for reasons like these, they’re always ready to pounce when an opportunity breaks their way. For starters, the highest-earning CPAs make time in their schedule to work on their business instead of spending every waking hour in their businesses.

  • Taking on a truly consultative role starts with really getting to know your client.
  • Anthony Glomski

Friday, February 15th, 2019

New State Electronic Filing Requirement

“You have to learn the rules of the game, and then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

One of my clients recently talked to me about the 10 business day rule for state electronic filing. I was unaware.

Since then, I have talked to several more of my clients and most of them were not aware of this new “rule.” The new requirement has been implemented for every software company and is intended to reduce the error rate of returns filed without the latest update(s).

Via CCH: The requirement mandates that “users/customers of this product who attempt to e-file 10 or more business days after a production release will be required to download and apply the product update.”

Read more about it here via CCH and also here via Accounting Today.

  • There are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.
  • Thomas Edison

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

A Typical CPA Firm

“The idea that you will wake up tomorrow and everything that you know to be true about your practice is suddenly gone is a gross overstatement.” – Darren Root

While many profession leaders are warning CPAs that the typical public accounting firm is a dying breed and that its demise will happen rapidly, it is not what I observe in my consulting practice.

In the “typical” CPA firms I work with, there is definitely a need to become more digital and take advantage of the efficiencies that result. Most of these firms still do a lot of compliance work but also do a lot of true consulting work with their clients. I do expect them to make the transition into more of a consulting practice but I don’t expect it will happen rapidly.

That’s why I enjoyed reading Darren Root’s recent article via Accounting Today – The Traditional Is Still Very Much Alive.

Read it and see what you think. How will your firm make its way into the future?

  • Because technology and client demands will continue to push firms to adapt, we know that transformation, at some level, is inevitable.
  • Darren Root

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Think

I read the following quote on Twitter yesterday and it made me THINK.

“The best leaders I’ve studied discipline themselves to take time out of their working lives to think. They all muse. They all reflect.” – Marcus Buckingham

During a coaching session recently, I asked a question. I’ll ask it of all of you reading this post:

What, specifically, do YOU think you need to work on to get to the next level?

You probably will not be surprised at the answer from my session – – “I need more time. I need to think more long-term and strategically now if I want to move up in the firm but I’m too deep in the details.”

I agreed because I contend that managing partners, firm administrators, and other internal management leaders need more time to THINK. You cannot address the issues strategically if you never have time to THINK about the BIG picture. Too many of you are so caught up in the details that you rarely THINK long-term.

Did you ever wonder about the slogan THINK? It became widely used at IBM in its early years and is attributed to Thomas Watson. Following is the history from the IBM archives:

When Thomas J. Watson joins the Computer-Tabulating Recording Company — the forerunner of today’s IBM — in 1914, he brings with him the “Think” motto he coined when he managed the sales and advertising departments at the National Cash Register Company. “Thought,” he says, “has been the father of every advance since time began. ‘I didn’t think’ has cost the world millions of dollars.” Soon, the one-word slogan “THINK” appears in large block-letter signs in offices and plants throughout the company.

In the SEARCH box, on the left side of my website type the work THINK and browse through how many posts I’ve done on the topic of thinking. Maybe some of them will inspire you. (There are way too many to read all at once!)

  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Winston Churchill

Monday, February 4th, 2019

The Most Difficult

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

There is something you should do but it is very hard to do. It is difficult and challenging and easy to avoid.

As a leader in a CPA firm, you read about new trends. Many of you attend one or even more CPA firm management conferences each year. You are involved in your state society and take an active part on committees, etc. During these activities, you learn about what your firm needs to do to move successfully into the future.

You bring these ideas back to your firm. If you are a partner you probably set the date for a firm leadership (or partner) retreat. You spend a lot of money on the venue and the facilitator. You make sure that the new trends are on the agenda of the retreat.

At the retreat, the need for change and the adoption of the new trends into the firm is heartily agreed to by the attendees. A strategic plan or action plan is developed. Everyone is excited.

IntentionsIn the weeks and months following the meeting, nothing happens. You are too busy. It seems everyone else is also too busy.

The most difficult thing is taking action. As I often say when describing change inside an accounting firm, “Good intentions, no implementation.”

  • The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Engage Your Team Members With Benefits & Perks

“The main thing that you have to remember on this journey is, just be nice to everyone and always smile.” – Ed Sheeran

I recently read an interesting article in CPA Practice Advisor. It is titled, Virginia CPA Firm Launches Extensive Employee Benefits and Perks Program. 

Some of their benefits and perks are things I have observed often in other firms. On the other hand, some of their benefits and perks are way ahead of many firms.

In this age of hiring, developing and retaining talented young professionals, you need to review your benefit package often and keep pace with current trends.

Read the article and see how your benefits stack-up.

My observation and experience tell me that a long list of perks won’t keep talented professionals at your firm if your leadership group is dysfunctional and doesn’t set an inspiring, professional example.

  • It is nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.
  • John Templeton

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There Are Many Ways To Mentor Someone

“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” – – Norman Vincent Peale

I receive lots of questions about how to make mentoring a successful endeavor in a CPA firm. The following are some ways that mentoring has changed in recent years. It doesn’t have to be an older, wiser man mentoring a young, eager protege. Think of your first memory of being mentored. I bet it was a teacher or coach… someone who thought you could do more than you thought you could.

Old Rule: Mentors and mentees should have a lot in common
New Rule: The best matches are mismatches

Old Rule: Look for your mentor higher-up on the food chain
New Rule: A good mentor is anyone from whom you can learn

Old Rule: Mentoring is one-on-one
New Rule: Mentoring works best when you mix and match

Old Rule: Mentors pick their mentees
New Rule: Mentees pick their mentors

Old Rule: You are either a mentor or a mentee
New Rule: Everyone needs mentors

  • The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.
  • John Maxwell