Friday, August 26th, 2022

Plant Seeds Early – Flashback Friday

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you are talking about all of the positive things about being a CPA. Forget about dwelling on the long hours. Read this flashback about planting seeds early.

  • "You don't have to be a great start, but you have to start to be great."
  • Zig Ziglaf

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

Promotions & Training

“One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

Growing CPA firms, promote people to the manager position. There is a definite need for people at the manager level.

The problem is that when a CPA Senior (the level below a manager) is promoted to Manager, they simply continue to perform as they always have performed, just with a new title.

If you want to improve employee engagement in your firm, look at your managers first. One of the most important decisions the partner group needs to make is who they promote to manager. In most firms, people are named managers because of longevity with the firm, not because they are skilled at inspiring people and nurturing the career growth of others.

Keep in mind…. 70% of people leave a company because of their manager.

If you want your firm’s employee engagement to improve, focus on your managers. Offer them resources to improve their management skills and provide workshops and training on managing people.

I have also observed that a skill that most managers need to develop is delegation. Managers need to be training their replacements. In a CPA firm, young people learn by getting assigned to more complex engagements.

  • "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

Quiet Quitting

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen Covey

You have heard and read about various descriptions of what is happening in the world of work.

The Great Resignation where, according to some surveys, in 2021, 48 million people left their current positions for what they thought were greener pastures. They received better pay, benefits, and work/life balance. Some wanted to gain new skills, and some resigned to just stay at home to raise a family or simply retire.

Then came the boomerang employees. Many realized they were better off in their previous job and returned. Maybe you had some of those.

Now, something you are facing is Quiet Quitting. It is when employees quit going above and beyond what they are paid to do. The lines between home and work disappeared, and people suffered from burnout. Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but they have set boundaries.

Do some Googling and research Quiet Quitting. Assess the situations in your firm and take action to prevent the need for Quiet Quitting.

You can read a good article about it on the Skimm.

  • "Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management."
  • Betsy Jacobson

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022


“If you are hanging out your shingle, you should be focused on specialization.” – Gale Crosley

Gale Crosley has been talking about it for years. “It” means specialization. In a recent interview with Tim Keith of Introhive, Gale notes that her #1 recommendation to CPA firms of all sizes is specialization.

Be sure to listen to Gale’s recent conversation with Tim – A Fireside Chat – The State of Strategic Growth.

Here are some bullet points that took from the chat.

  • Our problem with pruning the client base are we are attacking it at a slow pace.
  • The fish are jumping into the boat and we are punishing our people.
  • We are stretching our people, hanging on to clients, and exhausting our staff.
  • We are not wired for fast movement.
  • Disruptive times require strategic thinking.
  • To prune, don’t rank clients a, b, c, and d. Break it down to the business unit level – the nonprofits, the construction, the medical, then make a plan for that unit.
  • The biggest obstacle now is the lack of future thinking. It has evaporated.
  • We are just riding the market conditions.
  • We need to develop our strategy; we do it as a mechanical thing. We include people who are not strategic thinkers; we include worker bees.
  • Get both feet into tomorrow.
  • And much more!
  • "Specialization is the absolute requirement for where we are in our life cycle."
  • Gale Crosley

Monday, August 22nd, 2022


“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli

Are you resilient?

I often talk about CPA firm leaders persevering. Perseverance means they continue in a course of action despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. You know, like getting all partners to accept change. Continue with your course of action! Don’t give up!

If you take a course of action that doesn’t work out as expected, you must be resilient. It is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

To me, perseverance and resilience are close cousins, and CPA firm leaders need a hefty dose of each one.

  • "The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived."
  • Robert Jordan

Friday, August 19th, 2022

CPAs As Consultants

“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” – Benjamin Franklin

Becoming a consultant is not something new to you. You are already performing consulting services and have done it for years.

Read more in this Friday Flashback Post.

  • "Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind."
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

The Personal Touch

“What made me sign with the Cardinals? Because they used salesmanship, the personal touch.” – Stan Musial

The stereotype is that accountants are in the number business, green eyeshades, etc. Nothing is farther from the truth. CPAs are in the people business. Of course, they have extreme knowledge and experience when it comes to financial affairs. To use that knowledge, they have to be able to build relationships with people, people from varying backgrounds.

CPAs spend many years building a successful firm, a firm where clients are made to feel special, where they can come with questions, and where they can obtain support and understanding. The most successful CPAs never lose sight of the importance of the personal touch.

As we move into more and more automation, keep the personal touch in mind. When your clients call you, do they always get your voice mail (even when you are actually available for their call)?

All this came to mind when I recently read on the CPAFMA discussion board about firms moving to an automated phone answering system rather than having a person answer the phone.

When firms first used direct inward dial and assigned private numbers to each individual, some clients were given the personal number by the individual. Usually, it was given only to certain clients. Many clients still preferred to call the main number. I know, at our firm, people called because they enjoyed talking to our Director of First Impressions.

Now, of course, mobile numbers are given to clients, so the volume of people calling the main number has decreased. I still urge you to think about the personal touch if you are thinking about using an automated answering system.

Read this interesting article by Harvey MacKay – Your Business Depends On Your Personal Touch.

  • "Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them."
  • Kevin Stirtz

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022


“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” – David McCullough

Who is responsible at your firm?

If you work for a sole practitioner, you know who is responsible.

If you work in a small to mid-size firm or even a fairly large firm, you probably know the person or people responsible for the firm’s welfare.

With all of the vast mergers going on across the country, very large firms merging up into giant firms that have offices nationwide, do you know who is responsible? I mean, do you know them personally? If you are a partner, you might know the leader/CEO, but if you are working in one of their non-headquarters offices, I doubt if you know them or have even met them.

That is why I think the following quote is appropriate for you to keep in mind.

“It is extremely dangerous, very possibly disastrous, to assume that because people are in positions of responsibility, they are therefore behaving responsibly.” – David McCullough, in his book The Johnstown Flood.

  • "Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love."
  • David McCullough

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022

Be Visible

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

Soon students will be returning to the college campus. Your CPA firm better be doing the same thing. This Fall, make sure your firm is visible on the college campus.

I vividly remember one conversation with four college students who were seniors and accounting majors. Two of them had jobs with the big four, one had a job in corporate accounting and the fourth was still looking. They shared their lack of knowledge about local and regional CPA firms. They didn’t even seem to be aware that there were such firms!

I always knew the large national firms were very prominent on college campuses, but these students told me that the big four were visible every single week on campus, sponsoring something, hosting a fun event, etc.

How visible is your firm on your local college campuses? For some of you, not at all, and for others, you might be visible on campus once or twice during the fall semester.

Keep in mind the pool of accounting graduates is smaller than ever. What can you do to catch the fish in that small pool? One easy thing is to be more visible.

  • "I've found hat luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often."
  • Brian Tracy

Monday, August 15th, 2022

It takes time

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” – Jeff Olson

Seth Godin makes a good point in a recent post. The point: Some things take time. Here’s an excerpt:

Both The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski bombed. If “bombed” means that during the first few weeks, no one went to a theater to see them. Since then, tens of millions of people have seen and talked about these movies.

But the events that change our culture often happen over time, distributed across parts of the population too small to notice.

Godin notes, “Drip by drip makes a wave.”

If you need to make some significant changes inside your CPA and you are getting a lot of push-back from some of the partners, you need to take baby steps. Sudden and abrupt change is not something CPAs embrace wholeheartedly.

Another similar phrase I use when making changes inside CPA firms is “constant gentle pressure.” Taking baby steps and applying constant gentle pressure will move the firm forward. Plus, once some forward motion is obtained, change seems to flow more freely and rapidly.

  • "Focus on progress not perfection."
  • Bill Phillips