My new book is coming out on March 27. I have sent it to a number of industry leaders around the world for comment and (if they like it) a testimonial. This one was received. When you read it you’ll realize that I cannot exactly publish the entire thing on the jacket of the book. But I will publish a sanitized version. Here it is in it’s entirety.
Rob Nixon is up to it again. His latest book ‘Remaining Relevant’ is full of shit.
And boy is this good shit!
If you believe that the public accounting profession is immune from change, you have a rude awakening coming.
There is a huge movement to the cloud that’s happening here and now which is further commoditizing what used to be our bread and butter. Bookkeeping is becoming automated. H & R Block are accelerating the problem with their $9.99 tax return service, now you can’t get much more commoditized than that!
Outsourcing and the ‘virtual office’ is becoming a way of life for accountants in the know. We have to change what we do and how we think in order to survive. If we want to grow and flourish, we have to get into value added services and break away from time-based billing.
We have to be more selective in which clients we work with, what we do for them and how we bill them. We have to embrace the changes technology offers us as practitioners and fight back!
This book offers a roadmap to success for the entrepreneurial accountant, backed up by some pretty thorough and impressive research. If you’re running an accounting firm and still want to be in business in five years time, then you need to read this book.
It’s as simple as that.
Steve McIntyre-Smith – Consultant to the public accounting profession – www.stevemcintyresmith.com
When creating new products or services we recommend that you have 8 categories. We call it the Awesome 8! It’s what your clients are interested in – over and above compliance services.
If you stay close to the numbers and follow the Awesome 8 then here are 20 new products / services you could create:
- Revenue growth program
- Cash flow analysis, forecasting & monitoring program
- Profit improvement program
- Debt re-structuring program
- Receivables management service
- Inventory management service
- Bookkeeping (serviced from lower cost countries)
- Virtual Management Accounting
- Cloud conversions
- Sort out the numbers program
- Monitoring & Accountability program
- Webinar / Seminar / Workshops / events
- Planning sessions – face2face, group or remote
- Boxed product (DVD, etc.) for a niche market
- Books / Manuals / Podcasts / Video subscriptions
- Software or online learning – subscription based
- Challenges – 100 day / 6 week, etc.
- Leveraged training or consulting
- Group coaching
- Cashflow in a Crisis program
At the end of the day every client should be buying every product they need that helps them achieve their goals!
I have noticed that Accountants can be pretty good procrastinators. Really you say! I think it’s because they think they need to get it right before getting started. If you take that attitude then you’ll never get anything off the ground.
There was once a dog food company who invented the ‘world’s best dog food.’ It had everything perfect – the texture, the smell, the protein & fat content, etc. It even had amazing packaging and the dog food company was able to get onto the supermarket shelves at eye level. After a massive marketing campaign the dog owners bought the product with hope and enthusiasm. They fed the product to their beloved dogs however the dogs didn’t like it. The company went broke because they let perfect get in the way of success.
What I like to do is ‘write the brochure first’ before I create any new product. What I mean by that is I will draft the promise, the website or the sales letter and then do some marketing to see if my market wants to buy it. Then I’ll create the product. I don’t want to waste my resources creating something if no one is going to buy it. I like to build the plane as we fly it.
Creating products and productizing your Accounting firm need not be difficult. There are 8 questions to ask and implement:
- What do you know?
- Who is it applicable to?
- How will it be packaged?
- What technology is needed?
- How will it be marketed?
- How will it be sold?
- How will be implemented?
- How will it be supported?
As a nimble, low-cost model we implement new product ideas all the time. They don’t always work. Sometimes the dogs don’t like it. A great example of that was the ‘Rob doll’ action figure – not a big seller!
You have to be prepared to cut your losses fast when you start creating and promoting products. Not everything will work as planned. Just because you like it doesn’t mean your market will. You can’t pre-judge who will buy and who will not. With your best marketing give everyone the chance to buy what you have.
If you’re onto something that is working then get testimonials / case studies from happy clients (we call them WHAM’s – written happy Accountants moments) and leverage those so you can sell more. Keep testing different methods of explaining, promoting, packaging & pricing until you get it close to being right.
Then rinse & repeat. Over and over and over again!
My long serving Marketing Manager, Michelle Henson, left today to follow a business opportunity. In 4 1/2 years she has been truly amazing. What she wrote about the company on her last day makes me very proud and very humble. Below are Michelle’s words unedited.
What is it like working for Panalitix?
My first interaction was one of disbelief, something must be wrong; no company can have an energy like this.
Every single person in the team in amazing, I have never worked with such fun people before. And the clients, who would have thought, accountants are so much fun. I have made some great professional relationships in my time here.
If there are any bad eggs, they quickly eject themselves, as the company is one of collaboration, movement and being bad ass.
I cannot spread my arms the breadth enough to explain the opportunities you get to not only succeed in your role but to continuously learn and grow personally and professionally.
When you start a role here you will get the Rob talk “One day you will leave here….:
That is the defining conversation. The standards speak it. So do your best, do more than your best and through it you will become a better person.
If you do not have a personality, inner strength, or desire for greatness then this is not a place for you.
Clients ask – are you leaving? No I am not leaving. It is like the California Hotel, you can check out but you can never leave. Rob, Colin and their company – no matter what it is called, leave an indelible mark on your heart and mind, one that is only ever open to the future.
I go with a heavy heart after 4 ½ years. If not for personal circumstance, I believe this would be a lifetime role.
I studied an MBA but the best business knowledge I ever acquired was by working with Rob Nixon and Colin Dunn.
I will miss working here, and the high you get from team interactions, meeting dynamics and role variety.
We asked 428 business owners if they were interested in you having direct access to their data in real time and then send you alerts and advice if something untoward is happening. As you can see 21% are not interested at all yet 79% said they were interested in this, said it was worth exploring or suggested that is what you should be doing in the first place!
With real time data consolidated into one location using tools like PANALITIX (www.panalitix.com) you can interpret the numbers, be alerted to what is going on and then advise your clients accordingly.
With all of this data at your fingertips, what are you going to do with it? I think you have a duty of care and obligation to advise the clients how to improve the numbers. If you are living by the mantra of ‘all clients are buying all services that help them achieve their goals’ then it’s not selling new services. It’s servicing your clients properly.
Here is a list of 14 services that you could offer:
- Cash flow forecasting and analysis
- Profit improvement program
- Monitoring & accountability program
- Debt re-structuring
- Capital raising
- Interest reduction service
- Waste audit
- Revenue improvement strategies
- Creditor analysis & negotiation
- Product profitability analysis
- Debtor management service
- Tax planning & tax minimization
- Business Planning
- Inventory management system
All are valuable services that will make a significant impact to your client’s financial future. By ‘staying close to the numbers’ you have a better chance of the client buying the service. With good systemization of the services you can have Accountants of all levels deliver the service – not just the Partners.
You will need to learn some sales skills on how to have your clients buy them. You will also need some new tools (get rid of the spreadsheets, please) so you can systemize the services.
Now here’s the big one. We all know that cashflow (lack thereof) is the main reason businesses fail. The number one issue in businesses around the world right now is cashflow management.
We all know it and the Accounting profession is uniquely placed to help improve it.
Your clients want it as well. Well, not all clients want it. In our survey 29% said they did not. However, 71% said that if the service was reasonably priced and they could see value in it then they would be interested in exploring the idea.
It’s a no brainer. I ask Accountants what’s the most valuable service they can offer to their business clients. No surprises. It is cashflow monitoring and forecasting. So if it’s the most valuable then how many of your business clients have a live, working, accurate and real time cashflow forecast? Very few is always the answer. Yet this is the most valuable thing you can do. Here’s what we (the business community) want when it comes to cashflow. We want to know how much free cash we have each month to spend on whatever we want to spend it on. We want to know how we are tracking and what we can do to improve it. Your clients are not financial analysts like you. You can help us in this area.
The service you provide is a cashflow forecasting and monitoring service. In your definition you call it a ‘3 way rolling cashflow.’ It covers the cash flow forecast, the profit & loss and the balance sheet. If your client is borrowing money from a bank then the bank wants it. Even if your client is not borrowing money then it is a good thing to have. The problem with ‘hard drive’ based systems (or heaven forbid spreadsheets) is that once they are created they are out of date. By using old technology you cannot monitor the cashflow unless it is manually entered.
With cloud accounting and ‘add on’ partners like PANALITIX you can do this automatically. You can prepare the forecast based on historical data plus some planning. You can ‘normalize’ the numbers month to month with the client. You can consolidate the data as it is transacted at the client’s end and because the accounting data is linked to the ‘bank feeds,’ the cashflow, the forecast and the balance sheet is kept up to date every single day. Now that’s Real Time Accounting!
If the bank needs an update then you can provide it quickly. If your client wants it then you can provide it quickly. If you have got your client on a monitoring service then you can be immensely valuable.
Becoming the Real Time Accountant is more than a goal, a wish, a hope or a mindset shift. It’s about changing your behavior, your systems, your technology and your services. It’s about making a difference.
RIP the Redundant Data Accountant. Rise…the Real Time Accountant.
PS. A full report on what 428 business owners want from their Accountant can be downloaded for free by clicking here.