Monday, October 26th, 2020

What Not To Wear

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.” – Tom Ford

Do you remember the TV show, What Not To Wear? It was a makeover reality television series based on the British show of the same name. The show premiered on January 18, 2003, on TLC and ran for 10 years. I watched it for several years and did find it very entertaining. Once the person went through the makeover, the end result gave them a whole new appearance and they certainly made a better first impression.

It came to mind while I was reading a recent article – What to Wear While Working Remotely.

The article goes into a little more detail than I think is needed for a person working for a professional service firm, like a CPA firm.

I get a lot of questions about remote work policies but most of them steer away from how people should dress. Yet, some people do need advice on how to work from home and still feel like a polished professional.

Of course, you should not work in your pajamas! But perhaps a different wardrobe (still very casual) for work and other clothing for your household duties should be something you consider. Recently, I have read where some people were even wearing t-shirts with their political views on display. Of course, that doesn’t happen in CPA firms!

I have worked from home for years and have always put on my make-up, styled my hair, and wore clothes I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen wearing when I am out and about shopping or running errands. I have different clothes for housework, exercising, etc. That was before Zoom calls! Now, I feel like I need to be even more prepared to be seen!

Hopefully, you will look like the What Not To Wear subject in the “after” mode rather than the “before” mode! Read the article and see what you think. But, basically, use your common sense and wear pants!

  • "Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered."
  • Giorgio Armani

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Good Example

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James Humes

You are operating mostly in an online culture. Your people don’t see you walk down the hall to get a cup of coffee. They don’t see you greet clients in the lobby. They don’t see you leave for a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You don’t stop by their office/desk for a quick chat.

Just because they can’t see you easily, it doesn’t mean you should not continue to set a good example. Keep them informed of what you are doing and follow all the procedures and policies they are asked to follow.

Click here for the Friday Flashback Post about a partner’s simple mission.

  • "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.""
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Could November Be Bail-Out Month?

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

The October due date has passed. It has been quite a year! Are your team members completely burnt-out? Will they almost immediately be thinking it’s time to move on?

Already, I have heard about firms losing people. As a firm leader, you should always have a plan on how to retain top talent. I hope you are rewarding your team for the unusual demands they faced so far during 2020.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption.

Progressive firms embraced flexibility as a formal part of their culture long before COVID. Now, more and more firms are doing the same

Communicate to your team: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

  • "Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts."
  • Jim Morrison

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Being Visible

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

I have written often about the importance of branding and how being visible helps build your firm brand and it is also how you build your personal brand.

Here is a link that will take you to a search I did on my blog for stories about brands and rebranding. You might want to read some of them.

This year has been a difficult year for branding and personal visibility. You haven’t attended Rotary meetings, you haven’t seen many clients face-to-face even though some of you are lifting the “no clients in the office ban.”

Many of you have done a great job of keeping your clients informed, especially on the PPP topic.

For your firm: Keep sending all clients informational emails and doing timely blog posts about current issues. They count on you for this information.

For your personal branding: Tell stories on your firm Facebook page about various partners and other team members. Send more personal, individual emails to your assigned clients (whether you are a partner or a staff person working on a client’s engagement).

Share your personal Facebook page with some clients (if you are sure it is appropriate). They just might be interested in what you are doing with your life during these unique times.

Do more than just use the phone – let your clients talk to you often via Zoom, Skype other video channels.

Being visible is a great way to build your brand. Visible is just different for the time being.

  • "Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong.""
  • Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Be Honest With Yourself

“This above all: to thine ownself be true.” – William Shakespeare

I hope, at your firm, you are asking your team members to do a self-evaluation periodically. I also hope that those evaluating the performance of others read the self-evaluations.

So many times I hear the stories about an accounting firm team member who is asked to do a self-evaluation. They take the task very seriously. They reflect back on the period of time being evaluated and expertly list their accomplishments and often also note some deficiencies.

It seems that the above Shakespeare quotation truly applies to them.

It has been my observation that people really do know themselves. They realize their strengths and their weaknesses.

When you compare their self-critique with the evaluations supplied by others, they usually align quite well.

The problem is, many people with power over the person’s career progress often do not study the self-evaluations or even read them at all.

  • "A company could put a top man at every position and be swallowed by a competitor with people only half as good, but who are working together."
  • W. Edwards Deming

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Distracted

“All distracted leaders are ineffective.” – Dan Rockwell

Are any of the leaders in your CPA firm distracted? This might be a very touchy subject among the leadership group.

Of course, all people working in accounting firms have had to fight the distraction battle in 2020. As you have read (and experienced), working from home has resulted in an abundance of distractions.

Today, I am talking about your partner group and the outside distractions they may be facing (or allowing) that divert their attention from effective firm management and client service.

Does your partner agreements cover the fact that partners might be distracted (hampered from working) due to personal illness?

Perhaps a partner’s spouse has a serious illness yet the partner continues to try to work yet client service suffers and staff complain that the partner is not available or responding to questions.

Do your partners have outside interests/investments, like real estate activities or separate personal businesses that distract them during business hours on a regular basis?

I always advise, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Or, “Don’t kill the golden goose.” A successful and profitable firm can change course when owners are distracted.

Read the above quote again.

  • "An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production."
  • Robin Sharma

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Two Things

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

For this Friday flashback post, there are two things to remember: Be prepared and work with people you trust.

Read more about these two things in this post from April.

  • "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."
  • Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

October 15

“This isn’t a hospital! It’s an insane asylum! And it’s your fault!” – – Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips) in MASH (1970).  Substitute the word firm for hospital.

For many CPA firms, you are down to the wire on extended individual income tax returns and all of the activity that surrounds that huge event.

Clients were late providing their information while still expecting immediate attention. They are often just plain rude to your Director of First Impressions. Partners have high expectations of the tax team, partners and the tax team have almost unreasonable expectations of the administrative team. Yet, you all pull through and give the best service possible.

Happy October 15th!

  • "Be sincere; be brief; be seated."
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

CPAFMA VIRTUAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

A great opportunity to learn what’s happening in the world of CPA firm management!

Understanding the challenges firms have faced in 2020, CPAFMA has designed this virtual opportunity to be affordable and inclusive, providing the opportunity for up to five members of the firm’s leadership group to participate for one low price from the convenience of one’s home or office. The two-day educational exchange has something for everyone involved in accounting firm management. The live online event includes high-level keynote sessions to facilitated discussions customized to provide information that can be implemented immediately.

YOU SHOULD ATTEND IF YOU ARE….

  • Responsible for management of an accounting practice
  • Responsible for the quality and profitability of your firm
  • Supervising and/or training staff in an accounting firm
  • Interested inn developing a team of outstanding professionals
  • Ready to promote your firm in today’s marketplace with expanded services and a desire to strengthen client relationships
  • New to the profession or an experienced firm manager, chief operating officer, human resource director or managing partner
  • Ready to deal with uncertainty with confidence

REGISTER HERE

  • "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
  • W. B. Yeats

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

There Is No Time To Rest

“Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.”

CPAs have a reputation for procrastination. It has been a very busy year and November is just around the corner. Don’t slack off now! There is so much more to do so that your firm can fully adapt to the new normal.

Here’s my story of the classic procrastination scenario inside a busy CPA firm. It goes something like this:

It’s tax season, we can’t possibly take the time to update our performance feedback process. It’s April 16, we desperately need time to recover from tax season. I call this the after-tax-season coma that you are in for about two to four weeks. It’s late May, early June, we can’t possibly work on the performance system because it is time to begin this year’s reviews. Our process will last at least through July. It’s August, too many people are on vacation. It’s September, we have extensions. It’s October, we have extensions. It’s December, we have tax planning appointments. 

So, that means you may have some time in November to catch-up on all the initiatives and projects you have talked about for months or even years.

Any of this sound familiar? As 2021 approaches, commit to avoiding procrastination. Take it in small steps and just keep moving forward with your initiatives even is you have a lot of various excuses not to.

  • "You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again."
  • Benjamin Franklin