Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

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

Monday, March 21st, 2022

Comfort Leads To Complacency

“Comfort is the refuge of the average.” – Brad Lea

The majority of CPAs have been very comfortable for many years. Business has been good, profits have steadily increased and partner salaries have grown. All of this leads to complacency. Complacency has been a hurdle in the path of change for many accounting firms.

Dictionary.com’s definition of complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

To me, it seems like many CPA partners have fallen in line with Alfred E. Newman’s slogan, “What, me worry?”

It is a wonderful feeling when you enjoy your work, are comfortable with your colleagues, and are proud of your firm. But, a culture of complacency will not carry your firm into the future.

Here are five signs of complacency:

  1. You are no longer striving to do your best.
  2. You are not staying up to date in your field and industry.
  3. You are not seeking or taking advnatage of new opportunities.
  4. You are not maintaining or building your network of business contacts.
  5. You don’t risk sharing your opinion or ideas.

Read more about each one of these signs in this article via Forbes. Then shake off complacency and get busy changing many things to take your firm into the future. Top talent will not stay at a complacent firm.

  • Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness.
  • Pat Riley

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Salary Increases

“Of course, it is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the product that pays wages and it is the management that arranges the production so that the product may pay the wages.” – Henry Ford

I get a lot of questions about salary increases and when I talk to CPA firms, year after year, they disclose that their average salary increase will be 5%. Year after year. Yet, they often provide a disclaimer…. “we do give 10% or higher to some top performers”.

You might find the BDO 2022 Salary Increase Budget Survey Report interesting. 5% looks pretty good.

  • Note to salary setters: Pay your people the least possible and you'll get from them the same.
  • Malcolm Forbes

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

Clients Refusing Technology

“I think that technology is much more mysterious to the people using it than, say, the automobile was. This isn’t an original observation, but a lot of the smart devices people rely on now really do feel like magic to a lot of us.” – Author: Charlie Jane Anders

Firms are finally beginning to see some progress in clients adapting to technology. Clients are (although it has been slow) finally accepting a copy of their tax return via SafeSend and other digital methods.

My clients and other firms I know are still often offering a paper copy if a client requests it. Maybe it is time to stop this practice. The world is becoming more digital.

If your firm is to grow and prosper, it has to have some standards and reap the benefits of the expense they spend on technology. In these times of difficulty finding workers, technology helps you get more done with fewer people. Give your clients a “next year warning.” Something like, “Next year we will not be furnishing paper copies.”

As with almost everything inside a CPA firm, there will be some exceptions – but PLEASE limit the exceptions. If a client is elderly, ask permission to send their return to a relative who can assist with printing. Most computer-adverse older people have someone who helps them navigate technology.

Will you lose a few clients? Probably. But when they go to another CPA firm they will find that firm also delivers only digital copies. (That’s my dream, anyway!)

  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Too Busy

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

It’s that time of year, time for my BUSY post. I hear it over and over again, “I’m too busy.”

You don’t like feeling like that, but nevertheless, you do.

When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Kids these days are scheduled almost 24/7. When do they have time to play outside, wade in a stream, collect colorful leaves in the fall or spot the first crocus peeking out of the soil in the spring?

Adults have work that is filled with answering emails and attending meetings plus responsibilities on the home front, such as raising children. When do they have time to actually think, daydream, relax and examine the life they are living?

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 for a great party!

As for partners, when young accountants observe the VERY long hours you work, why would they ever want to become an owner in a CPA firm?

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