Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A Simple Thing

“When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” – Martha Beck

How do your clients, prospective clients, and other visitors feel when they walk into your office? Do they feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated?

Things that DO NOT promote a warm and fuzzy feeling:

  • An empty front desk
  • A sliding glass window that is closed
  • A bell to ring when you arrive
  • An outdated waiting area that looks like the 1970s
  • A receptionist that doesn’t offer to hang up their coat or get them a refreshment

I once knew a spectacular Director of First Impressions. She did some very simple things to make visitors say, “Wow!” For example, she checked the partners’ calendars every day to see if any visitors would be coming to the office to meet with partners the next day. She would make a sign and put it on her counter for each person, saying:

SUSAN SMITH

WELCOME TO

John Doe & Company

It might be a client, a prospective client, a vendor, an intern, a new hire or someone interviewing with the firm. Everyone saw a visible sign that they were important. The sign evolved into a digital message sign that sat on the reception counter.

There are a lot of little things you can do to show visitors/clients that you care.

 

  • Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
  • Robert Brault

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Salaries For CPAs

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael Leboeuf

CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. There is a big difference and there is also a difference in what kind of salaries are paid to CPAs.

I receive many questions about what kind of salaries firms are paying their employees. Entry-level salaries are always of great interest to CPA firm leaders. Many are wondering what they need to offer to next year’s graduates. Entry-level accountants intending to become CPAs should also realize that their starting salary is “just a drop in the bucket” in relation to what their future earnings can become.

Thanks to Accounting Today, here is a good visual – read the full article here.

salary range

  • Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.
  • Dave Ramsey

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

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

What Kind of Busy Person Are You?

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

If you work in an accounting firm it is almost certain that you are very BUSY. Usually, busier than you want to be. However, what are you busy doing? If you are a partner doing manager work or a manager doing staff work, that does not count as being busy.

I occasionally repost a blog from Seth Godin in its entirety. Here’s one that is right on target for CPAs!

ASK A BUSY PERSON

You might know one.

The busy person has a bias for action, the ability to ship, and a willingness to contribute more than is required. The busy person is wrong more than most people (if you get up to bat more often, you’re going to have more hits and more strikeouts, right?). Those errors are dwarfed by the impact they create.

Being a busy person is a choice.

It might not work for you, but you could try it out for a while.

We need more busy people.

  • I am so busy doing nothing that the idea of doing anything which as you know, always leads to something cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.
  • Jerry Seinfeld

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

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Partners Are Not Exempt

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

The days of partners being treated to special operational perks are gone.

Don’t allow partners to by-pass duties because they can’t use the software! There are partners who cannot use the Practice Management program to look at reports or to bill a client. There are partners who use the excuse that “it saves me time” for dodging responsibilities.

There is a fine line between proper delegation and abandonment.

In this digital age, partners cannot constantly be using excuses or using other people as crutches because they haven’t kept up with the advances in software and technology.

Partners should be doing partner-level work. I’m not talking about partners actually preparing tax returns using the software. Times have changed and a lot of partner-level work involves being able to use the firm’s technology tools.

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Old Friends

I think the old saying, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold” applies to all of us. It certainly does to me. I love my new friends (clients, neighbors, business associates) and I sincerely treasure the old friends, especially the ones I have made through Triple-A, now called: CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

Those CPAFMA friends are spread across the country. But, there is a special group that are (or were) members of the Indiana Chapter of AAA. It is where I first met other people called firm administrators back in the late 1980s. In those early years, we also had joint meetings with the Illinois Chapter. Many of those former members are very near and dear to me, too.

Roman Kepczyk, of Right Networks, is one of those members I met very early on, even though he was in Arizona. He has been an advisor to the national CPFMA organization for many years. He was coming to Indianapolis to speak to the Chapter this last Friday. So, with Virginia Lowery’s urging, I contacted several old friends and we arranged a reunion so we could all visit with Roman again on Thursday evening before his presentation to the Chapter on Friday.

We had a wonderful evening and shared so many great memories of many, many national conferences. We had FIVE past national presidents/chairs in attendance. You can see the entire president list here.

Pictured from left front and around the table: Bill Leach, Virginia Lowery, Colleen Endres, Peggy Burnstein, Anita Goetz, Me, Treva Olson, Donna Cimino, Bill’s wife Nancy, and Roman. (Treva’s husband Ric also attended but is not in the picture.)

I know many of you are members of CPAFMA. Keep those old friends near and dear – they are gold. The quote, below, certainly applies to CPAFMA members.

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  • Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'
  • C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Partners Doing Partner Work

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” –Will Rogers

Many CPA firm partners do manager work, client service manager work. Many CPA firm partners do internal management/administrative work, firm administrator/COO work.

Don’t get caught in these traps.

Some partners use management/administrative work to fill idle time when they should be:

  1. Bringing in new business
  2. Training/Mentoring/Sponsoring younger team members
  3. Building stronger client relationships

Your COO/Firm Administrator should be continually taking non-billable work away from the managing partner and the other partners.

Here’s how much money a COO could save partners annually. The BIG issue is, the partners must use the saved hours to create revenue!

Save Ptr money

  • Money often costs too much.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Be Brave. Ask Questions.

It happens daily in accounting firms. Younger, less experienced staff members hesitate, and even fear, to ask what they consider a dumb question.

Yet, one brave soul will often ask it and then everyone nods their head and admits that they wondered the same thing. I love people who ask the dumb question.

That’s why this quote means so much to you as you build your career in accounting:

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Beginning this week, no matter how many or how few years of experience you have – be brave, ask questions.

  • What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions.
  • Jane Goodall

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

The Challenge of Leading Professionals

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

The following passages are from the book Leading Professionals, Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas –  by Laura Empson:

Many professionals have no ambition to become leaders, and they are equally reluctant to view themselves as followers.

“Compared to a corporate, we need a softer style of leadership, you know, arm round the shoulder, gently nudging people in the right direction.” – Senior Partner, Consulting Firm

In such a context, where authority is contingent and power is contested, leadership is a matter of guiding, nudging, and persuading. So, what can the so-called leaders of professional organizations do with the highly driven, highly demanding, and sometimes highly insecure prima donnas for who they are responsible?

Any of this sound like your partner group? It all sounds very familiar to me!

  • The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.
  • Ronald Reagan