Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Be Creative – Do Things!

“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.” – Albert Einstein

I have observed that many CPAs wait for other CPA firms to go first and then they will follow that new idea, software, process, or procedure.

So many partners, over many years, have asked me, “What are other firms doing?” I urge you to enlist your entire team in being more creative. What suggestion does that 2-year person have that might save everyone a lot of time? What has your firm administrator been urging the firm to try for a couple of years? So what if it doesn’t work. Try something else.

Once again, I offer a complete blog post from Seth Godin.

EVERYONE ELSE IS

Well, not everyone. Just most people.

When you do something that everyone else is doing, you’re likely to get what everyone else is getting.

But in almost every population, “everyone” leaves out the people who go first, who change things, who are weird and who challenge the status quo. That’s an option, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

Mass culture gets us more mass culture. It’s not the only choice.

  • A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Together or Apart?

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

In the world of CPA firm management in a multi-partner firm, the best possible thing that can happen is ALL partners are on the same page.

Sounds simple, right? If you live in a multi-partner firm, you know that it is a distant dream or even a fantasy. It is only natural that individuals have different wants and desires.

If you have two or three partners, things run fairly smoothly. If you have hundreds of partners, they stay out of management and focus on clients and mentoring staff. It is the six to 15 partner groups where I see the most discord.

For years consultants have been advising partner groups that if the majority is in favor of a certain initiative, those not in favor must leave the partner meeting or retreat and act as if they are fully on board with the decision. Does that happen? Rarely.

With two or three partners, decisions are made and acted upon. Four to 15, or so, partners, discord happens. Of course, as the firm expands, it is very important for leadership to know and understand the partners’ preferences and be able to lobby or politic to get the result that is best for the firm.

As the business world has changed, some partners are even outplaced or asked to retire early. I hope things are going smoothly at your firm. Don’t fear confrontation and deal with problems as they arise. The longer you ignore important issues, the quicker your firm will fall behind.

“May the 4th be with you.”

  • Do or do not. There is no try.
  • Yoda

Monday, April 25th, 2022

The Managing Partner (CEO)

“If you are the CEO, you are the brand.” — George Farris

The above quotation inspired this post. If you are the Managing Partner, you are the brand.

CPA firms operate under the partnership model even if they are not legally a partnership. There is a group of owners, usually titled partners. They elect one partner to take on the role of Managing Partner (MP), meaning he/she is the person charged with managing and leading the firm.

Larger firms have mostly evolved to a more structured system where an executive committee, led by the MP, deals with most firm management decisions. But, the majority of firms in the U.S. are considered smaller and the MP leads the firm. The role has great responsibility but yet, the other partners still want to be involved in almost everything! Still, the MP is expected to be out and about in the community being the visible “face” of the firm. The MP is on various community and charitable boards, attends many civic events, and speaks at various venues when given the opportunity. The MP really does generate and develop a brand for the firm.

Something I have often heard from MPs is the fact that they have become the firm’s MP because no one else wanted the job! Makes me sad. It is such an opportunity if you do it right, for the individual and for the firm. A great MP should be rewarded substantially because of the management duties plus they are expected to have a significant client load. They should be bringing in business and passing it along to other partners.

My simple reminder today is that as MP, you should never lose sight of the fact that you have a responsibility to build the firm brand. The firm brand determines how many clients you will attract and how many accounting graduates and other prospective employees decide to join the firm.

If you want to learn more about the role, there is a great webinar coming up on May 3 titled, The Role of the ManagingPartner: A Guide for Managing Partners to Achieve Greatness for Their Firms. It is via CPA Leadership Institute and presented by Gary Adamson.

  • It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
  • Warren Buffett

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Plan It Now – Your CPE

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind

For the most part, depending on which state you are in, the bulk of tax work is now behind you. You suffered through a tax season without as big of a workforce as you would have preferred. You tolerated way too many tardy clients. You kept it going even when, earlier this year, some of your team contracted COVID. You can breathe a sigh of relief and you can kick back somewhat.

Don’t go into the ATSC (After Tax Season Coma). I have observed it for many years. It is the, I need to relax, I need a vacation, I need a change of scene, I need to catch up on my emails time of year. Lots of excuses for not doing what needs to be done to propel your firm forward and to focus on your own personal growth.

One thing that often sits on the back burner for many months is obtaining your personal Continuing Professional Education credits. They have become easier to obtain via videos, webinars, and other remote opportunities. You do not have to travel somewhere, in person, to obtain the necessary credits. Yet, you procrastinate often until the last month of your reporting period.

Save yourself some hassles and draft your CPE plan for the remainder of 2022. Get it documented now and get it off of your procrastination list.

  • You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.
  • Bill Watterson

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Know Your Competition

Your competition used to be down the street. Now, it is worldwide. I say, don’t worry about them much. You don’t need to if your firm is doing what it should be doing. Even if you don’t worry about them, you should know them. The following is a flashback post from 2017:

Know Your Competition

“It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.” – Gianni Versace

As I have interacted with many firms over the years, I have observed that some partners are not worried at all about their competition and some partners are almost obsessed with beating their competition.

No matter your degree of concern, it is a good practice to be aware of your competition, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In reality, they are strongly targeting your best clients (just like you are targeting theirs).

As Jeffrey Gitomer (sales guru) says, it is a sales war and the winner takes all. He also suggests some Competition Success Strategies:

  • Speak kindly of your competition, or say nothing.
  • Respect competition and others will respect you.
  • If others speak negatively about anything or anyone, DO NOT join in.
  • Know your competition’s weaknesses, but focus on your strength and value.
  • Know why they won, when you should have.
  • Know how they speak about you, and build response into your presentation.
  • Know how to beat them until they hate you (hating them is a waste of energy).
  • Your only victory is when you get the job.

Read more here.

  • Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed - there's so little competition.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Real Work vs. Busy Work

“The No. 1 cause of burnout is doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing results.” — Steve Kaczmarski

I am convinced that if CPA firm workers were able to do more REAL work, they could easily get it done working four days per week. Of course, I mean more chargeable/billable work. This applies whether you still bill by the hour or by the project.

Here’s a good article for you titled: People spend more than half their day doing busy work, according to a survey of 10,000-plus workers.

Constant interruptions have resulted in some workers saying their attention span is shorter than it was a year ago. Checking email and other tech platforms often result in being “on-call” 24/7. Often this will result in burn-out. You may have noticed some of your team are definitely stressed. They must deal with technology interruptions and also questions from other team members.

Check out my post about interruptions – and read the article referenced above.

Sahar Yousef, a cognitive neuroscientist at UC Berkeley says, “Having a clear beginning and ending to the day is important to not only avoid burnout but it also helps people feel good about their work.”

  • Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.
  • Etty Hillesum

Friday, April 8th, 2022

How To Keep Things Moving At Your Firm – Friday Flashback

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” – Lin Yutang

Here it is, Friday again. Fridays seem to roll around so quickly, especially in tax season when everyone is so busy.

Read this flashback post to learn how to keep firm initiatives moving forward during busy times.

  • Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
  • Socrates

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

Insights From the CEO of GM

The best way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors. In her 38 years at GM, Barra has been an executive assistant, plant manager, product developer, and HR leader, among other roles before she became CEO.

In an interview with Adam Grant at The Wharton School, she shared some insights on leadership at a past Wharton People Analytics Conference.

  • Ask for feedback from your staff
  • Meet to discuss, not to disseminate information
  • Simplify your message
  • Remember to effect change: Benefits>Effort
  • Know your business
  • Win both hearts and minds
  • Align on values
  • Lead culture with behaviors

This list alone should be helpful to you but be sure to read the article to learn about her comments on each of these insights.

I admire leaders who work their way up in an organization. I believe they have greater insight and knowledge about the people and the organization they now lead.

  • Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Does This Non-Word Apply?

“Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” – Unknown

Occasionally, I reprint a blog post from Seth Godin. Today is one of those days. To me, it has meaning to those of us working for or with CPAs.

ANYTIMED – by Seth Godin

It’s not a word, but perhaps it should be.

If a competitor goes after your customers by offering them faster service, all day and all night, you’ve been anytimed.

And if your boss, fearing that event, or simply trying to boost output for free, pushes you to be available all hours of the day and night, you’re being anytimed as well.

The market wants convenience and speed and price. Anytimed is a side effect of that race.

Do you want to be anytimed by your clients? Maybe part of onboarding a client is the time to set some boundaries.

Are you anytimed by your boss (partner or manager)? So many CPA team members feel like they are actually “on-call” day and night, 7 days per week, especially in tax season. Maybe it is time for employers to establish boundaries and stick to them.

  • Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
  • Tony Blair

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Don’t Look Back

Here is today’s quotation. It is by Agatha Christie in a Miss Marple story Please contemplate it.

“I suppose I really knew already that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back – that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a One Way Street, isn’t it.”

Accountants have a job to do. A lot of it is looking back. A tax return and a financial statement are just pictures of what happened in the past.

For years, we have referred to CPAs as historians simply recording a client’s activities in the past. Now, you are expected to be a coach, advisor, and visionary to your clients. This evolution began many years ago but some have remained in the past and continued to depend almost entirely on compliance work. That is why embracing change is so important.

Most things will be digital. Many employees will be remote. Being a focused manager of people will be necessary. As comfortable as the past sometimes is, you can never go back. Life is a One Way Street.

  • I believe you win the race by looking forward, not behind.
  • Payal Kadakia