Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

Reflection

“Selling out is doing something you don’t really want to do for money. That’s what selling out is.” – Bono

It is a beautiful Fall in Ohio. The trees have been vibrant with color this year, and we have had day after day of beautiful weather, although we do need some rain.

When Fall arrives, it makes me feel like it is time for reflection. It puts me in a “winding down” mood. For CPA firms, after the October 15th deadline, it means it is time for action! November is when you have to finish all of those internal projects that make the firm more efficient and profitable. It is not a time for “winding down” it is a time for gearing up for the busy season that will arrive after the holidays.

As for my reflection, I read this morning that another well-known CPA firm has given up the ghost and merged up into one of the mega firms. It makes me sad. I think about so many firms (dozens of them) I have known and worked with over my many years working in public accounting. They have disappeared and are mostly forgotten. The local/regional mid-size firms have evidently failed to develop the next generation of owners, and they have no choice but to sell out.

  • "It's not selling out, it is called making lots of money."
  • Mick Jagger

Monday, October 24th, 2022

Mistakes

“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded, not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo

Here’s a real-life story from inside a CPA firm.

Tim was going through his first tax season with the firm. He was doing well, and then on one client engagement, he made a fairly significant (and stupid) mistake. From that day on, managers and partners in the firm just couldn’t forget about Tim’s mistake. He would be assigned to a project, and the comment would be, “Remember when he made that stupid mistake!” Regarding scheduling, a manager would say to the scheduler, “I need a Senior on this job, but don’t give me Tim.”

Tim went on to be successful and stayed at the firm, but probably for five years; his first-year mistake would come up in conversations. CPAs have long memories.

I have heard similar stories from multiple firms. Has this ever happened at your firm? That is why today’s quote at the beginning of this post made me think of a CPA firm.

  • "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing."
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, October 21st, 2022

Another Season – Flashback Friday

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most do.” – Dale Carnegie

This week you put another tax season behind you. October 17 concluded the extension season for individual income tax returns. Now that Fall busy season is over, you will have more time to focus on “the good of the firm.” I call it the Dealing With People Season. Click here.

Have a great weekend.

  • "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
  • Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

Feedback – Then What?

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

In a CPA firm, the staff would receive performance feedback annually. Thank goodness we have advanced to where feedback is quarterly, monthly, and, as it should be, daily. The new workforce wants to know how they are doing immediately.

Firms are better at giving ongoing feedback, but most firms still have an annual or semi-annual, more formal feedback system.

No matter how you give feedback, what follows? If there is no system of follow-up, the feedback is worthless. I like to see goal-setting as part of any feedback session. What steps are necessary for them to expand what they are good at and enjoy? What steps are necessary for them to improve in some weaker areas? What has happened as a result of their last feedback session? What suggestions and advice (mentoring) accompany feedback sessions?

Give feedback often. Make giving feedback an important of every manager’s performance standards. Your managers are on the front line with staff. They should have meaningful feedback to give.

  • "Make feedback normal. Not a performance review."
  • Ed Batista

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022

New Ideas

“Ask forgiveness, not permission. But make sure you bring your results with you.” – Amy Jo Martin

I read a tweet by Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) that describes life inside many CPA firms.

I encounter it often – resistance to new ideas and too much time spent by the firm’s leader asking permission and building consensus. Sometimes it is even the staff trying to get the partners to embrace new ideas and make needed changes. Get real, you will never get everyone to agree. It causes the firm to get stuck. Forward progress halts.

Here’s the tweet from Dan:

New ideas always encounter resistance.

Success requires initiative.

Leaders act without permission.

There’s too much permission-asking in organizations.

You’ve been asking permission all your life. It began when you were a kid.

  • "Give yourself permission to do what you've always wanted."
  • Chris Guilebeau

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

One Firm or Silo Firm?

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

I have always advocated becoming a one-firm-firm. What does that mean, and how does it compare to a silo firm? Listen to a clip from my recent podcast with Earmark CEO Blake Oliver for Earmark CPE. If you listen to the entire podcast, it is considered a course, and you get free CPE. Here’s a link to the entire podcast. Now that you are past the October due date, why not spend an hour with Blake and me?



Blake Oliver

Here’s where to listen to and view the brief clip from the podcast.

  • "Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest."
  • Leo Babauta

Monday, October 17th, 2022

Starting A New CPA Firm

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale

I occasionally hear from a young CPA who has decided to strike on their own and build an accounting firm. Many people have done it, and I imagine they have been successful. I also imagine there have been several who have failed.

I always urge them to begin building the right infrastructure from the beginning. I call these tasks foundational aspects of a CPA firm. For example, standardized processes and procedures, a basic employee handbook, the most up-to-date technology, a social media plan, etc.

CPA Practice Advisor recently posted an article – 5 Tips When Starting a New Accounting Firm. I hope this will be helpful to those of you dreaming of your very own accounting firm and even those of you who need to improve the one you already have.

The 5 Tips:

  • Create a working budget
  • What’s your niche?
  • Invest in social media
  • Use the right technology
  • Be picky about your clients

Be sure to follow this link to read about each one of these tips.

  • "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."
  • George S. Patton

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Embrace New Tasks – Don’t Cling To Old Ones

“When I go to a party, nobody says hello. But when I leave, everybody says goodbye.” – George Gobel

This week Flashback Friday addresses a problem that I observe in so many firms. People (including partners and managers) cling to work that is familiar and easily accomplished.

At each level in the firm, you need to say goodbye to routine work and embrace new and more difficult challenges. Read this post from last year – Don’t hesitate to say goodbye.

  • "To get a new job you need to leave the old job behind."
  • Seth Godin

Thursday, October 13th, 2022

Now It’s Non-Linear Work

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” – Richard Branson

All of these new terms for the workforce just keep expanding. Flexible, remote, hybrid, off-shore, on-shore, the great resignation, quiet quitting, and there are probably more!

Here’s one I just read about; maybe your team is already utilizing it. They probably are if they are fully remote.

It is called the non-linear workday. We have been so used to and comfortable with the regular 8 to 5 workday. Some employees are expected to be online and available during those hours even if they are working from home.

Remote work has given rise to all sorts of new working patterns, including the ‘non-linear workday.’ Employees in this arrangement can do their jobs outside the traditional rigid nine-to-five block, often whenever works best for them.

Some of your employees might be much more productive if they work very early in the morning and end their workday early afternoon. Another employee might prefer to work a couple of hours in the morning and return to work after dinner or after the kids go to bed. The day can be broken up in many different ways that suit the work style of the individual.

“It’s no longer really about effort and time spent, it’s about creating the best outcomes. As the nature of work has shifted, so too has the way workers want to optimize how they do that work.” – Aaron De Smet

Read more about it in this informative article via the BBC. Of course, I know that CPAs will be thinking, “How do we keep track of it all?”

  • "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
  • Thomas Edison

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

2023 Public Accounting Starting Salaries

“Don’t let money run your life, let money help you run your life better.” – John Rampton

Those of you charged with managing and leading your CPA firm, I know you are wondering where salaries are going in the public accounting arena.

Going Concern has been examining data from Robert Half, focusing on cities with high, middle, and low costs of living.

Check out the Going Concern articles and see what you think. I always thought Robert Half’s numbers seemed on the high side, but with the talent shortage, it will be interesting to see where public accounting salaries actually go this year.

  • "Money is usually attracted, not pursued. "
  • Jim Rohn