Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Trying to be All Things to All People

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” – John C. Maxwell

Many CPA firms have remained generalists. They do compliance work for all types of businesses of all sizes. Maybe that is why many people who need a CPA think they are all alike. These firms try to please everyone and probably end up being an average firm.

Some of the most successful firms are evolving into experts. They have become known for special expertise with specific types of businesses. You know who they are, the auto dealer firms, the medical firms, the dental firms, the native American firms and, now, even green firms.

If you continue to try to please everyone, you may end up not pleasing anyone.

Here’s a good post by Seth Godin – Beware of false averages.

  • "The average dog is a nicer person than the average person."
  • Andy Rooney

Monday, September 18th, 2017

If You Want To Win….

“Reject ordinary, be legendary.” – Brad Lea

CPAs in public accounting are always seeking to find out what those “other” firms are doing. They eagerly await various surveys that give them statistics about other accounting firms. I often smile when I hear partners say that they are so pleased because, according to the most recent MAP survey, they are doing okay, they are average.

How uninspiring that must be for the young accountants in your office. Often, firm partners don’t even share MAP statistics with their team members. It is just one simple step among the many that you need to take to prepare the next generation of firm leaders.

I say, stop comparing and start taking action. Show your team that you listen to their suggestions. Actually implement some of their suggestions! Take the steps necessary to accomplish the initiatives you outlined at your last partner retreat.

I love this comment from Brad Lea, founder of LightSpeed VT.

brad lea

  • "I would rather be alone than surrounded by the wrong people."
  • Brad Lea

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Evolving Into a Consultancy Firm

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Here’s the message from the AICPA, state societies, top management consultants and your peers:

Your CPA firm must move from

compliance to consultancy if you want

to survive into the future!

Learn from the Big 4. They haven’t claimed to be a CPA firm for years. I think you must admit they have been rather successful. Recently, while reading an article in National Geographic I thought of most of you – those working in local, regional and even national firms “below” the Big 4. Most of you I meet don’t think of yourselves as consultants, you identify with CPA, Certified Public Accountant.

Does your local press, your business community and your clients think of you as a consultancy firm? Now is the time to re-invent yourself. Here’s the passage that got me thinking about all this:

From Skitch

  • "People evolve and it's important to not stop evolving just because you've reached adulthood. "
  • J. K. Simmons

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Accounting Today Features the CPACA

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance has launched a new series of videos aimed at addressing the key issues facing the accounting profession. I am honored to have participated in this series.

The videos focus on the four key priorities identified by the group as major trends in the next five years:

  • Technology trends;
  • The changing landscape of M&A;
  • The rise of flexible workplaces and remote teams; and,
  • The growth of consulting as a profitable practice offering.

The videos are available on the CPACA website homepage and on its YouTube page.

The segment that I participated in is about flexible workplaces and remote teams – watch it here.

  • "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  • Aristotle

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Hiring – – It Is More Important Now Than Ever

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

Too many CPA firms have not hired right. They might hire for GPA. They might hire for professional demeanor (whatever that means). They might hire for ambition. They might hire because of a gut feeling.

Be sure you are focusing on hiring RIGHT. Be honest with candidates. The CPA profession is challenging, requires hard work and professionalism.

Here’s an excerpt from my newsletter from hireMAX about what Warren Buffet thinks about hiring.

Behind every great leader is a team of dynamic individuals. This is true of Buffett. What were the traits that he looked for as he hired his managers and advisors? Frequently, he speaks at universities and explains that he looks for integrity, intelligence, and energy when hiring.
Intelligence
Obviously, candidates need to be intelligent. However, you can get the grades in class but not know how to apply the information you’ve learned.
Intelligence is the very basic requirement to consider as you hire. No one will work with or hire someone dumb and unequipped for the role. After you have the intelligence factor, then go to the next trait as you seek to hire.
Energy
Energy is essential for any new hire. This doesn’t mean that you want the most energetic and coffee-crazed person working for you. Rather, you want an energetic candidate to take initiative in your company.
Lazy people don’t get far in life but those with drive and passion do. Employees that take initiative and are proactive to get things accomplished will most likely have that entrepreneurial spirit that you long for.
Integrity
The right candidate to hire should be intelligent and energetic. There is one missing and yet very important trait to be considered. Integrity is something that you cannot do without in your employees. They must be trustworthy and it is a trait that they make happen within themselves. You can’t pick your eye color or what you look like but you can decide whether you will live as a person with integrity.
Warren Buffett’s formula for a new hire is extremely useful and easy to follow. You don’t want an intelligent person without integrity because that could cause problems for your organization. Further, you wouldn’t want a lazy person with intelligence because it wouldn’t do you any good if they don’t take initiative.

Look for candidates that have intelligence, energy or initiative, and integrity. You will find that someone with top talent and these traits will be an outstanding addition to your company. Warren Buffett is living proof that hiring with these things in mind is beneficial to companies and teams seeking to grow.

  • "Human Resources isn't a thing we do. It's the thing that runs our business."
  • Steve Wynn

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

If You Want To Be Better – Read! Here’s An Amazing List.

“Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” – Dale Carnegie

Self Development Secrets has done an amazing job of collecting the best personal development books to read submitted from over 200+ “Influencers”.

They asked the influencers this question – – What is the best self development book you’ve ever read and why is it different from the rest?

There is no best book of all time. Different people go through different things and need a different push. Some relate to certain authors, writing styles or even niches. This post will give you a list of the number one book that has helped these influencers tremendously in their lives.

Be sure to browse through the extensive list and share it with your partners and team members.

I am on the list of contributors. I mentioned just one of my favorites (we were only allowed to submit one book… and I have so many favorites!).

  • "Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply."
  • Stephen Covey

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Utilize Stay Interviews

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

I have blogged a few time about the topic of stay interviews. They have gained more wide-spread popularity in recent years, of course, because of the accounting profession’s need to retain top talent.

One interesting observation that has been uncovered with the use of stay interviews is the fact that your people want you to hire great people. They do not want the firm to tolerate poor performers.

It certainly does make sense – they want to be part of a high-performing team. If you keep mediocre people, the firm will also eventually become mediocre.

Inovautus Consulting recently did a spotlight article about the stay interview process at DesRoches & Company, CPAs in Virginia Beach. It is a great story.

  • "Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong."
  • N. R. Narayana Murthy

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Who Is At Fault?

“Nothing is easier than fault finding.” – Og Mandino

Who did it?

Something happens that should not have happened. A mistake was made.

At some firms, there is a hunt for the culprit, so that blame can be placed.

Forget about the hunt. It doesn’t matter exactly who did it. You don’t always have to blame some one particular person.

Rather than wasting time figuring out who caused it, figure out how to fix it and prevent it in the future.

If it was YOU who mailed something to the wrong address, don’t worry about it – fess-up and move on to figuring out how to prevent it in the future.

Adopt this message in your workplace: “We don’t care whose fault it was. Mistakes happen and we learn from them. How do we fix it and prevent it in the future?”

Now, if the offense relates to who made the big mess in the lunch room and didn’t clean it up, that’s another story! Have a great weekend!

  • "Don't find fault, find a remedy."
  • Henry Ford

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Results

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” – Seth Godin

I hear it discussed often when I am with a group of people who work in the CPA profession. It is the topic of judging performance based upon results. Some say, don’t judge them on methods nor maybe even on attitude and teamwork. How much do they accomplish? (How much do they bill? …is often the question in public accounting.)

Some of that is fine with me, but not completely. There is more to a person’s role in a CPA firm than results.

As Seth Godin puts it…. “Doing work that matters, with people we care about.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Doesn’t that matter a lot?

Sometimes we find ourselves doing “busy work” – trivial stuff that sucks up much of our time. Sometimes we find ourselves employing people who are not great performers, nor do they even seem to care about the firm. They demotivate those around them.

Read Godin’s post about this topic. Many things actually do matter more than results.

 

  • "Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person."
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Workflow Software

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

There are still many of you out there, working in CPA firms, without the advantage of workflow software.

Sad but true, I continually interact with CPA firms who are just “sort of” paperless. One of the tools that makes becoming truly a digital firm a reality is workflow software. From your desktop, you know who has what and how projects are flowing through your office.

Last week, Accounting Today featured an article: Software Survey: Workflow solutions in 2017.

Simply put, workflow for tax preparation means tracking all of the paths and operations involved in producing a return and invoice, and making certain all of the tasks are performed on time by concrete due dates.

Workflow software gives you peace of mind. It helps you be sure that no client falls through the cracks when it comes to due dates. Missing a due date is one of a CPA’s biggest worries!

I know, when my firm adopted GoFileRoom for document management many years ago, the most attractive feature was the workflow portion.

If you are one of those firms still without a workflow tool, be sure to read the article – it is full of great insights from various sources/vendors.

  • "When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future."
  • Bernard Meltzer