I recorded this quick (<12 minutes) 15 step video on building a better accounting business. As you go through each step rate yourself out of 10 using the following scale: 0 - 2 = Poor 3 - 4 = Reasonable 5 - 6 = Good 7 - 8 = Very good 9 - 10 = Outstanding Enjoy...
Last week I led a coachingclub group of Accountants (8 firms in the room who act as a non-exec board of directors to each other with a coach/chair) and I sensed that they were uneasy about 5 key strategies I was suggesting they implement:
- Price every job – not matter how big or small – up front and in writing
- Increase all prices immediately
- Asking clients for a deposit (as a minimum) or the full amount before commencing work
- Visit every client proactively and promote additional value added services
- Asking some clients to leave the firm who are not suited to the new vision/direction
When I put these on the board I could see more than uneasiness – it was F.E.A.R. So I dug a bit and found out they were scared of the following: My comments are in brackets….
1. “What if I get the price wrong?” (You will – all the time. The price is always wrong while ever they say yes. With practice and courage you’ll get better)
2. “What if they say ‘no’ to my new prices?” (Guess what? Some will – get over it. You have been too cheap for too long. You are not a charity or a community service and you do not sell commodities. You are worth more. Once you believe it you’ll put your prices up)
3. “We have never done that before” (And that’s one of the major reasons your cash-flow is up the gazooba (technical term) – what other people think of you is none of your business. Give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised)
4. “What will they think?” (So let me get this straight. You are under-servicing your clients and many are willing to buy additional services from you – and you are wondering what they think of you …. give me a break. At worst these visits are a good customer service call)
5. “But they have been clients for the last 10 years”. (yes they have and for all those years you have been writing the job off and putting up with the clients BS. Life is too short to put up with clients who do not fit your ideal client profile)
C’mon. It’s time to toughen up. It’s not your clients business. It’s your business. You’re taking the risk with your butt on the line – it’s you who should be setting the rules.
Thee who makes the rules, wins the game.
Someone has already done what you want to do. Don’t be so arrogant to think that you know the answers to everything. Hiring outside experts to take a fresh view on your business will shortcut the length of time to implement…dramatically.
If you want to improve your software efficiencies then hire the software usage coach. If you want to improve your communication skills then hire the communication coach. If you want to improve your fitness then hire the fitness coach.
If you want to improve the financial performance of your Accounting firm and build a lifestyle you only dreamed of then hire US – the Nixon Advantage team.
We have a team of coaches and world class methodology standing by to help you.
Build your support team
To think you can do everything on your own is flawed. There are so many projects to implement, so many new skills to learn. Hire some extra people, outsource some of your projects, get others around you who can help you. Delegate to others to get things done.
As the partner or leader of an Accounting business your job is to do a little as possible. However, with what you do it needs to be seriously valuable and ‘high dollar productive’ work. Partners / Principals or Directors should only be doing 3 things. 1) High end chargeable work for a low percentage of time available 2) Nurturing existing clients to find out what they need and 3) Leadership – driving performance of your business.
Everything else is administration. Build a support team of professional administrators and a network of confidants.
Let’s face it. We’re all basically slack. If we can get away with it then we will. If we are not accountable to anyone then we won’t necessarily do it. It’s human nature. Very few people are disciplined enough to do what they say they are going to do without any intervention from anyone else.
This year I ran the London Marathon. For my condensed training program (17 weeks) I met my trainer (Craig the accountability running coach) every weekday morning at 5am. I would get my butt out of bed at 4:20am and go and do what I had to do – not what I wanted to do. It was terrible. It was like ground hog day. Another hour of training every morning.
I turned up – every morning. Why? Because I was accountable to Craig. I said I would meet him and I did. With limited training (and I wasn’t a runners shoe beforehand) I completed my Marathon by not walking, not stopping and in 4 hours 20 minutes. All applause gratefully appreciated.
If we want something bad enough then we need someone to push you and keep you accountable. Our coachingclub members are accountable to their coach and their peers in their group – they get things done because they said they would.
Implementation – ON time
Just having the motivation, getting buy in and coming up with the plan is not good enough. You need to actually dedicate (as Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth would say) working ON time. You need quiet time to get things done.
No clients, no team members, no suppliers, no damn interruptions!
You need to work out your system for working IN time. I had a seminar delegate one day commit to every Wednesday would be his working ON day. So he proceeded to rip out every Wednesday in his paper diary for the year. He figured that no one could book an appointment with him if the page didn’t exist. What he didn’t realise what that Thursday was on the back!!!
I take my laptop to the cafe’, I write on airplanes (I am on a flight from Christchurch to Sydney as I write this), I come up with ideas when I am on my own. I find that my working ON time (which involves a lot of writing) does not happen very well in the office.
Think of your working week as 10 half days. At least commit to a morning or afternoon per week working ON – that would be 10%. And then build up the time. The more time you spend working ON your business the more your goals will be achieved.
Once you have your list of projects now what you have to do is chunk them down into categories. You may have a cashflow group, a workflow group, a client service group, a services group, a capacity group etc.
Once you chunk them then this will make the allocation of projects easier to the relevant people.
As a result of your planning what are the projects you need to implement to make a difference? It starts as a list and then each project needs to be given a project champion (person who is responsible for the project), and a finish date.
I first learned the value of project management when I was the General Manager of a company. The company was in a mess ($340K losses and $1.1M in debt) and in 15 months my team and I paid back the debt and turned the loss into a $2.5M profit – at the same time increased the revenue by 97%. The team came up with 149 projects to do – we implemented 134 in 15 months.
Our coachingclub members use the Accountants Strategy Map. It’s a list of 390 projects categorised into 10 key areas. All of the projects have been done before by other Accounting firms. If they implement 3 projects per month then it will take over 10 years to complete the list.
How often do you put your feet up on the desk and simply think about ideas? How often do you surf the internet for ideas? How often do you get you and the team away from the office and plan what you are going to do? You might call it a team or partner ‘retreat’. I prefer that you call it a team advance! You are not retreating – you are supposed to be advancing.
Many of our coachingclub members use an idea from Anne Barry in Stones Corner, QLD. Every quarter Anne and the team have a structured ‘innovation day’. They bring in a temp to answer the phones and for the entire day the team innovate. They come up with new ideas. They plan.
Spending time planning what you need to do will be paid back in motivated team members and improved results.
Is everyone in your firm on the same page? Are you all signing off the same song sheet? Are the partners aligned? Is there anyone on your bus that has their hand firmly on the handbrake of the bus?
You need the partners (if you have them) and the team all rowing in the same direction. If you do not have ‘buy in’ then you will have a hard job implementing anything. Getting buy in is not a singular event. As fabulous as our seminars are, sending all of your team to just one of them does not change the behaviour.
You need to create ‘buy in’ events on a regular basis. Our coachingclub members use a series of on-line learning resources to educate and continually get buy in from the troops.
The more ‘buy in’ you have the easier implementation is.