Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Don’t Procrastinate.

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

It is comfortable to do it – to put things off. It not comfortable having to do something in a rush and at the last minute. Here’s this week’s flashback.

Fight Your Urge to Procrastinate.

  • My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.
  • Charles Dickens

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

They Like Working at The Firm BUT…..

“If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” – Jack Canfield

Partners in many firms really try to provide a friendly and fun work environment. They care about providing value, offer competitive salaries and have 4-day workweeks in the summer, plus other perks.

These things are appreciated by staff. However, there are always a few things they would like to see improved:

  • Managers need to do a better job at delegating. Partners and managers are busy and staff are looking for work (this is an on-going theme I have blogged about several times).
  • Partners say they have an open-door policy but they really don’t welcome interruptions. Don’t tout it if you don’t mean it.
  • The partners are very competent but they struggle with understanding younger staff and their struggles. Things like commuting, two working parents, lack of on-going feedback on performance, etc.
  • They need to develop more work for after tax season. The firm needs to offer a wider range of services.
  • And, to me, the biggest issues in most firms – They need to improve communication, as a firm and as individuals.

There are many more positives and negatives but this is just a list that might be a wake-up call to leadership.

  • It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don't love. Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Israelmore Ayivor

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Lifelong Learning is a Must for CPAs

“As long as you’re learning, you’re not failing.” – Bob Ross

The quote from Bob Ross caused me to think about what learning really means inside an accounting firm.

So many, more experienced, CPAs continue to achieve their CPE (Continuing Professional Education) hours. But, are they really learning?

I have observed first-hand and have heard SO many stories second-hand about CPA partners rushing to obtain their CPE hours right before the deadline. Are they really learning anything in this “I’ve got to get it done” mode?

So much CPE is now online and many are taking advantage of it because it is cheaper. Some firms don’t allow younger accountants to travel out of state for CPE. Are they really learning anything new, anything that will challenge them and cause them to contemplate their current state of knowledge.

So much can be learned from interacting with peers from different firms. I hope life-long learning is one of your core values. I don’t want you to fail.

 

  • I'm still learning.
  • Michelangelo

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Putting On The Brakes

“Almost any decision is better than no decision – just keep moving.” – Danielle LaPorte

To actually implement a new idea, process, procedure or guideline inside your firm you have to build momentum.

You are taking some baby steps toward the new goal/idea and you are beginning to feel the momentum and support building and growing stronger.

Then someone (often just one person) complains, throws up red flags and questions your motives. You become fearful, not for any valid reason, and your momentum significantly declines and perhaps even stops altogether.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, shares her story about ziplining. Her fear and the act of putting on the brakes too soon left her stranded. She recognized how putting on the brakes too soon and losing momentum also often happens in the business world.

This summer is drawing to a close. Did you and your firm lose its momentum over the last couple of months? Did someone in your firm express doubt about a new initiative or service niche? Renew your drive and push ahead – build and sustain momentum.

  • Commitment is the ignitor of momentum.
  • Peg Wood

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Flashback Friday – You Didn’t Act

How many times have you contemplated the fact that you should have done something but you didn’t?

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” – William James

Click here to read this flashback post from 2017.

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Sense of Urgency

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Every due date, CPAs complain that the clients are the reason for the last-minute added pressure. They are the reason the team has to work longer hours as the due date approaches.

It’s not all the clients’ fault. Perhaps you have lost your sense of urgency, especially over the summer. Those fall due dates are approaching. How much effort did you and your team spend on getting the clients to help you spread the work over the entire summer instead of the first two weeks of September?

This also applies to the winter busy season. Create a sense of urgency relating to getting the client work out the door before the last minute.

I also see a loss of the sense of urgency by partners when the firm is doing well and they are making good money. They are not hustling to bring in new business and expand services to current clients.

Some of my clients have created “keep the work flowing” initiatives this summer. They made it a priority to continually communicate with the clients to obtain their information sooner rather than later. Each partner was held accountable – it’s wasn’t deferred to the staff.

Did you lose your sense of urgency this summer? Read the quote above again.

  • We have to live life with a sense of urgency so not a minute is wasted.
  • Les Brown

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Be Open-Minded About Hiring Remote Workers

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” – David Ogilvy

The accounting profession traditionally has not been very open-minded about hiring remote workers. I believe that is changing rapidly because of the scarcity of talent. Even some of my smallest CPA firm clients have people working from other parts of the country and even the world. So can you.

You continue to be challenged to find talented people. If you remove location as a limiting factor, it gives you access to all the talent in the world. It also gives you the opportunity to create more diversity and allows talented people to live where they want.

Per a great article via HBR, you need to assess whether the person is independent, passionate about their work, and collaborative. They need to be flexible and willing to travel and know that the firm headquarters is still where the action takes place. It is also important for you to do more intense due diligence when hiring

Read the article and make the decision to be more open-minded about hiring remote workers.

  • Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
  • Jim Collins

Monday, July 29th, 2019

A Growth Issue

Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Currently, we are in a time of rapid growth for accounting firms. The whole merger & acquisition scene is creating firms that are becoming larger and larger and larger.

As firms get bigger, some of the personal touch culture is in danger for both the clients and the employees.

Your mission/vision says you care, you provide the best possible service for your clients and the best possible workplace for your people.

Have you lost some of that culture? Is it much more difficult to be sure that you are “keeping your word”?

If you are at the top of one of these larger organizations have you become too disconnected to know what is really going on?

  • The only to really care is to have human beings who care (and give them the authority and resources to demonstrate that).
  • Seth Godin