Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Decisions

“Do it once, move on.” – Seth Godin

The following is a post from Seth Godin posted a couple of years ago. I am sharing it with you today because the year is passing by quickly.

CPAs are famous for delaying decisions. “Let’s wait and see what other firms do.” “Let’s put that on the agenda for next year’s retreat.” “Let’s not decide right now, let’s wait until we are not so busy.”

What you are doing is hitting the Snooze Button. You hit snooze on emails and even on major decisions. Don’t do it.

SNOOZE IS A TRAP

There’s a button on my email program that allows me to postpone an incoming email to a future day.

Sort of like a snooze button.

The snooze button is a trap. It’s a trap because not only do you have to decide later, but you just expended time and energy to deciding to decide later.

Do it once, move on.

‘Decide once’ is a magical productivity commitment.

There is a certain class of decision that benefits from time. Decisions where more information is in fact useful.

But most of the time, we’re busy making decisions that should be made now or not at all. You end up with a ton of decision debt, a pile of unanswered, undecided, unexplored options. And you’re likely to simply walk away.

If you open an email, you’ve already made the commitment to respond and move on. Not to push it down the road.

In or out, yes or no, on to the next thing.

Snooze is not for you.

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Where The Buck Starts in Many Firms

“If you are passing the buck, don’t ask for change.” – David Gerrold

Dan Hood, in his post on April 1st asked, “Where does the buck start?” He was referring to innovation inside accounting firms. I have an answer to that question that applies to many firms. In a lot of accounting firms, innovation has been, and is, started with the firm administrator or COO.

Large firms can afford and have hired, chief innovation officers. In the majority of small to medium-sized accounting firms, this role has been embraced by the firm’s experienced firm administrator or COO. The person in this role is not distracted by providing services to clients. They live and breathe adding efficiency to the firm’s internal processes. Their personal mission is to keep the firm on pace with current trends.

I have observed that the firm administrator is the one who recognizes the bottlenecks and faces the extreme challenge of getting partners to step out of their comfort zone and embrace new ideas.

The firm administrator attends the CPA Firm Management Association conferences and chapter meetings. They network with other firms via the CPAFMA discussion board. They read CPA firm management publications, blogs, and newsletters. Again, they have time for this because the firm is their ONLY client. They are the ones who play a major role in implementation.

The FA leads a team of internal professionals and this group, supported by the managing partner is where the “buck starts” in many small to medium-size firms that are recognized as the best places to work.

  • The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.
  • Napoleon Hill

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Change Your Image

“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An interesting article via FastCompany about Major League Baseball needing to attract younger fans. The average TV viewer for MLB is 57 years old. How old is your average client? Think about it.

An example of being stuck in the past (via FastCompany) is the Boston Red Sox. Their logo and colors (red, of course and a pair of socks) have been the same for years.

Nike’s new uniform for the team (it debuts on the field on April 17) features none of that old stuff. The new uniform is yellow/gold with “Boston” written in a modernist, light blue script. Check it out here. As for me (not being a Boston fan), I like it a lot. I notice the cap still has the traditional “B”.

Now, what about your firm? Look how Boston is written on the front of the uniform – very contemporary. Does your firm’s logo and website say:

  • We’re an old-fashioned firm.
  • We have been around for years.
  • We are traditional and conservative.
  • We do taxes.
  • We could be called Old School.

Are your colors dark blue or burgundy? If you have a partner named Green is your website color green?

There is lots of conversations going on right now about accountants needing to be more creative. Put refreshing your image on your to do list for 2021.

  • The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.
  • Steven Spielberg

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Foster Creativity

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

I wonder why the above quote is so foreign to CPA firms.

When you tie everything down so tightly, insisting that every work effort must conform to firm processes and procedures and every minute should be chargeable how will anyone have the time or desire to THINK and experiment. Maybe there is a better way but no one has the time or freedom to pursue it. Their entire work life is micro-managed.

Be that firm that has a culture of creativity, experimentation, and implementation of ideas. If the experiment doesn’t work out never be afraid to say, “Oh well, that didn’t work so well. Let’s try something else.”

Hopefully, you are hiring smart people. Encourage your smart people to bring their creative ideas to the table and allow them time to do so.

  • Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.
  • Miles Anthony Smith

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Hiring Remote Workers – Flashback Friday

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

So many CPA firms are looking for experienced team members. This group has always been elusive and continues to be so.

My advice has always been you must grow your own. Hire them out of college (from a pool of interns you have used) and invest significantly in their training and development. As they become experienced, ask them to stretch and take on more difficult work. Don’t let your current managers cling to work.

Here’s a flashback post – Be Open-Minded About Hiring Remote Workers. It references an HBR article that you should read.

  • Every business is having to transform today, no matter the size, it’s up to us to transform to meet those expectations.
  • Barry Melancon

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Stay Afloat

“Sometimes getting smaller and faster can lead to opportunities and growth we would have missed by being too big and slow.” – Joey Havens, CPA

I always enjoy reading Joey Havens’ articles and posts. His recent article via the Journal of Accountancy, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. It is titled, Don’t Let Dead Weight Sink Your Ship.

What is going on inside your firm that slows the firm down? What keeps you from being one of the fastest-growing firms? What causes you to lose talented people? What causes you to lose clients to your competitors?

I sometimes talk about partners in a boat. Some are rowing and some are throwing out anchors. A few partners are pulling a heavy wagon up a hill and there are a few who are constantly dragging their feet. These partners are so-called leaders who are not leading. Slowly your boat is sinking.

Then there are the clients who complain about your fees, always pay slowly after much effort is spent trying to collect, and clients who are rude and disrespectful to your team members. I bet you have clients that make you cringe when you see, on your mobile, that they are calling you. You probably do not answer their first call. Slowly, those clients are sinking your boat.

Do you have partners/managers who are not teaching, mentoring, coaching, and motivating? In fact, they are actually driving top talent away. Slowly, your boat is sinking.

Read Havens’ post!

  • Once you know the right thing, do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?
  • Jim Collins

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Does Your CPA Firm Need to Restart?

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” – Mark Zuckerberg

I have observed that many accounting firm really do need to hit the restart button.

Why don’t they? They are afraid, afraid of losing employees, afraid of losing partners and, generally, afraid of the unknown.

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today about Sensiba San Filippo, one of the largest CPA and business consulting firms in Northern California. Here’s an excerpt:

When you hear “firmwide reboot,” most people think about cutting costs, trimming staff aggressively, and cutting back on travel and client entertainment. SSF took a radically different approach: Essentially, they asked themselves: “Why are we really in business?”

Everyone at all levels of the firm had to address three fundamental questions:

1. If you were a client, what would you want in a CPA?
2. If you were just graduating from college, would you want to work at your firm?
3. If your parents walked into one of our offices, would they be proud of the way they saw people treat each other?

Those aren’t the kinds of questions you’ll find on the CPA Exam or in an MBA textbook, although maybe they should be.

Sensiba San Filippo drastically changed their partner compensation program among other things. They lost partners and employees who were not on board with the new vision. Most firms are afraid to take that risk. Are you?

Read the article here.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Two Things

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Attributed to Albert Einstein and many others

I have observed that many Certified Public Accountants have similar personality traits. Many accountants are conservative, traditional, reserved, kind, polite, cautious, curious, serious, and professional. They are confident in their knowledge.

Two traits you might be missing – 1) There are some things you do not know and, 2) A willingness to change.

For example, do you know everything about marketing and selling your services? Do you know everything about the kind of technology that will push your firm into the future?

I still encounter firms where there is a “we do it this way because it is tradition and we have always done it this way” mindset among the partner group.

As the old saying goes (above) if you keep doing things the way you have been, you will get the same results you have gotten before.

Do you have initiatives at your firm that you never seem to accomplish? Your leadership group acknowledges the changes that need to be made (usually at a partner retreat). They even draft a strategic plan. Then little if anything gets implemented.

The constant you have is change. It is time – now – to accept the fact that in the business world, the environment has changed and is changing dramatically. Embrace it and look forward not backward. Eliminate your “getting back to normal” thoughts.

  • “The only reason time seems to be moving rather fast is that sometimes we’re too busy living in the past.”
  • Dominic Riccitello

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Motivate Your Team

“Issues inside an accounting firm almost always can be traced back to someone’s communication failure.” – Rita Keller

I am very pleased that the AICPA asked me to do a guest blog post. It was featured yesterday on the daily CPA Letter Daily.

Check it out and learn 5 Ways to Motivate Your Team During Tax Season.

Keep in mind that tax season is showtime for CPAs and their teams.

  • People who cease to grow can't inspire others. Leadership begins with challenging oneself.
  • Daisaku Ikeda

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

Rocking the Boat

“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”- Jean-Paul Sartre

Years ago when Bill Reeb was facilitating one of our partner retreats, he told the story of partners in a boat. They had identified one of three islands where they wanted to go and they ALL started rowing. Then one partner said, “Maybe we should go to island number two?” They all changed course and started rowing to the second island. They were making progress when a different partner suggested the best decision would be go to island number three. You guessed it, they all agreed to change direction and go to island number three. This continued and they continued to go in circles, never reaching any of the islands.

A similar story can be applied to rocking the boat. All agree the firm boat should go towards the island of CAS or the island of Valuation. Then one or two partners (who aren’t rowing) start rocking the boat.

If you are part of a partner team or management team are you the one who moans and groans in the hallway after the partner meeting even though you agreed to set course for island #1? Quit rocking the boat and get busy rowing. Or, get out of the boat and go to another firm.

I hope you appreciate my artwork!

  • My penalty for rocking the boat was being traded.
  • Ted Lindsay