Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Rethinking

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

From Alastair Woods of PWC:

“People [are] rethinking what they want from life. With the supply pressures, consumer price inflation and inflationary pressures, there are people looking for ways to increase their income.

“Moving jobs is the quickest way to do this and with many companies in growth mode, there are more jobs around than ever.”

While money is part of the issue for accounting firms, life/work balance and a pleasant work culture are key.

Now, more than ever, CPA firms need to focus on their culture and on clearly communicating the expectations and the opportunities for their employees.

The upcoming tax season will be even a more critical time this year. If your firm has another “rough” tax season, how many people will leave you next summer? Things like mandatory Saturdays during busy season, a long-standing practice in public accounting, is being discontinued by some progressive firms.

Always focus on communicating the exceptional benefits of working in public accounting. There are many! The pay is attractive and the opportunity for exceptional pay is obtainable. Also, life/work balance has become commonplace in public accounting.

It is not easy and there are a lot of factors involved but take steps to make your firm the firm that employees from other firms want to move to.

  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
  • Tim Notke

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Purpose

“Profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result. Purpose is the reason we do the thing that makes the profit.” – Simon Sinek

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

Every CPA firm started for a reason. Every CPA firm continues to operate and move forward for a reason. That reason results in profit.

Many firms are confused about the difference between a mission statement and a purpose statement. The first step to understanding a purpose statement is to distinguish it from a mission statement because each plays a different role in your business plan.

Here’s an explanation from a blog post by WGU.edu that I think will help you understand the difference:

Mission Statement vs. Purpose Statement

A purpose statement is a single statement that defines the reason your company exists—beyond simply making a profit. It also illustrates how your product or service positively impacts the people you serve. Once your purpose is established, you’ll need a series of goals to drive that purpose. That’s where the mission statement comes in.

First and foremost, a mission statement is actionable. It explains the path you need to take to reach your purpose. So, while a purpose statement is focused on the future, a mission statement is rooted in the present.

Unlike a company mission, your company purpose isn’t something that can be completed or checked off a list. A purpose statement illustrates the ongoing pursuit to push your company forward.

It is important to define your CPA firm’s purpose and share it with your entire workforce. Too many partners attend a partner retreat and then do not share the action steps from that meeting in a way that motivates and connects team members to the firm’s purpose, vision, and core values.

Here’s the Lego purpose statement: “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”

I hope you can define your purpose so clearly and briefly.

  • Nothing will divert me from my purpose.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Pause

“Take a long pause, breathe and know that things are happening for you, not to you.” – Ashton Kutcher

You are in a management position in an accounting firm. You might be the managing partner, COO, firm administrator, office manager, practice manager, HR director, marketing director, or technology director.

So many of you are so busy that you rarely find time to pause and consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s possible that you have gone through your whole career just working and living and adopting other people’s ideas as your own.

During the holiday season, it is a wonderful time for reflection. Pause and find time to come to some conclusions about yourself, your life, and your career.

Of course, it is better if you do this early in your career but it is never too late. Accounting can be a wonderful career where you are continually challenged with helping other people. But, is it the right career for you? It has been for me.

  • The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, November 29th, 2021

What Does Your Team Want?

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be.” – – Harvey MacKay

The experts tell us that 79% of workers who recently left their job say they left because of a lack of appreciation.

Because of the serious lack of talented professionals in the CPA profession and a weak pipeline for the future, perhaps you have upped your game and are paying people an excellent salary. That is important.

But never forget something that I have continually written about for years. They want:

  • You to say appreciate them
  • Someone who cares about them personally (mentoring)
  • Recognition if they go above and beyond
  • Recognition if they help others
  • Leaders who always say, “Good morning!” and “Thank-you!”
  • You to listen to them

I love to share Tom Peters’ Big Six:

  1. Hello.
  2. Thank you.
  3. Eye contact.
  4. Fierce listening.
  5. What do you think?
  6. How can I help?

Read more – Here is a great article by Amy Vetter in Accounting Today – Why It Is Important To Thank Your Team.

  • It's amazing how email has changed our lives. You ever get a handwritten letter in the mail today? What the? Has someone been kidnapped?
  • Jim Gaffigan

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am thankful for so many things and so many people in my life. Today, I want you to know that I am thankful to all of you who read this blog daily. I hope it is helpful, in some way, as you manage your way through the minefield of CPA firm management. Happy Thanksgiving!

Most of you have seen this many times. However, I feel a strong desire to share it with you almost every Thanksgiving. At the time, I watched this episode live and now, thanks to the internet, I can watch the clip every Thanksgiving.

Have a joyful day with family and friends and always make time for laughter.

  • Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.
  • Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Skimpflation

“Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.” – John Wanamaker

Have you been reading about skimpflation?

The quality of service, in various places like The Magic Kingdom, airlines, restaurants, etc. have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. It is a problem that the NPR show “Planet Money” has labeled “skimpflation.”

The definition of skimp: expend or use less time, money, or material on something than is necessary in an attempt to economize.

Many businesses, especially small businesses have skimped in order to stay alive. Airlines cancel flights and put people on hold on the phone for hours. Some restaurants have eliminated menus and you must use your phone to see what is offered. Hotels and stores provide fewer services than in the past. Service seems to be very poor just about everywhere. Much of this is because businesses are simply understaffed.

Per NPR: While it may lurk in the shadows, make no mistake: Skimpflation is a form of inflation. As with normal inflation, it means we’re getting less for our money.

Read more about it here and consider the service in your own firm. I have talked to CPA firms who are concerned about obtaining new clients because they fear they won’t be able to offer the awesome client service they were once able to provide.

It is important that your long-time clients don’t feel that they are not getting the same level of service they have received in the past.

Are you guiding your small business clients through the minefield of skimpflation?

  • Fear will make you stingy.
  • Kenneth Copeland

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Lights, Camera… Action!

“I always thought acting was all lights, camera, action. It’s a job; you have to do your job correctly.” – Corey Haim

November is passing quickly. You are probably spending a lot of time getting ready for the busiest time of the year. There is a need for enhanced focus on how your serve your clients and how your serve your staff.

Tax season is the time that firm owners and all their team members take the stage and step into the spotlight. “Lights, camera, action!” – the term they use when making movies definitely applies. It is your time, as a firm, to shine. You are about to be a hero for your clients.

All of this applies to those of you inside CPA firms who are “the bosses.” It will be a challenging time for the people you supervise. Acknowledgment and encouragement are the order of the day. It’s time for you to take your role as the Director of the movie very seriously and extract the best possible performance from your cast and crew.

When things are running smoothly and people are doing good work for the clients, don’t forget to recognize efforts. Things will go wrong at times, seems they always do. If a mistake happens, recover rapidly – be honest, make amends and move on quickly. It seems that people (you, your clients, and your team) always remember bad things and often forget about all the good things that happen.

I’m not sure what you can do about the bad things, except try, desperately try, not to mess anything up. If you do, try to mend fences (and your reputation) before you move on. 

You are now in the rehearsal stage. Keep rehearsing (getting ready) so that when it’s time to say, “Lights, camera, action!” everyone is ready to give their best performance.

  • All the real work is done in the rehearsal period.
  • Donald Pleasence

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Quotes to Inspire – Flashback Friday

“I’m not comfortable unless I’m uncomfortable.”—Jay Chiat

This week I am featuring a blog post from way back in 2015. The title is, “Monday Morning Thoughts Worth Sharing” but they certainly apply to a Friday.

In 2015 I said, “The business world is fast-moving, demanding, and constantly changing.” It certainly still applies today, probably more so. The post is filled with quotations meant to inspire you. I especially like the closing quote at the bottom of the post by Tom Peters, “The times are nutty—and getting nuttier at an exponential pace.” Click here.

I have had a busy week and I know you have, too. Enjoy the weekend.

  • Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded.
  • George Whalin

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

So Much To Do Before Year-End

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

I have covered the topic of being too busy many times over the years in writing this blog. Why? Because it is the term I continue to hear over and over again from partners, firm administrators, and others working inside a growing CPA firm.

It seems you are always too busy to actually think, plan, reflect and even enjoy a beautiful Fall day. When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Maybe it is time you examine those choices you have been making.

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:

Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough money (and maybe enough time) for a great party!

  • It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
  • Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Frustration With Customer Service

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Have you had a frustration episode recently?

Our water softener failed last week. Of course, in our area, we can’t survive without soft water (that’s how we think these days). My husband called our soft water vendor and requested that someone come and repair our water softener. Things like that have been routine for many of us…. you call the service provider and they schedule a time to address your problem. It’s like getting your car serviced.

This time the lady who answered the phone simply replied, “We can’t get to you until January.” Wow, this is October! Needless to say, my husband went rather beserk and after much discussion, they said they would come on Monday. I reminded my husband that they probably didn’t have enough service technicians to meet the demand because of COVID. And, yes, that was the case.

We see the same thing in restaurants. Service has suffered because of the lack of employees. There are many empty tables and some restaurants aren’t even open seven days a week as they were in pre-COVID times.

A client shared with me recently that his Director of First Impressions says that clients seem to always be angry and rude since COVID has changed our lives. I know you struggle to meet your clients’ demands but it is not always possible. How far do you have to go to please them? Are you willing to go that far?

Just keep in mind that frustration is showing itself more and more. My only advice is, “Be Kind.”

  • For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
  • Audrey Hepburn