Most accounting firms set no goals or at best they set small goals. If they do set any goals they set SMAG’s – Small Minded Adequate Goals.

If you go back to my success formula (doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want, in a manner you want) then a SMAG may be appropriate for your style. At least it’s a goal – albeit a goal that doesn’t full your potential.

In my opinion (and this entire book is based on my opinion – plus a lot of research) we’re only here once so let’s do something purposeful. Let’s do something grand. Let’s do something that lives beyond us.

Let’s set some BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

From the seminal work of Jim Collins in his landmark book ‘Good to Great’ the term BHAG was first used.  A BHAG can inspire you, your team and your clients. The great USA President, John F Kennedy, had an awesome BHAG that inspired the nation and many parts of the world.

“By the end of this decade we will put a man on the moon and bring him back safely”.

Now that’s a BHAG. Now apparently it did happen. Either way it got people excited and hundreds of millions of people watched in excitement in July 1969 as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and then returned safely to this planet.

What then followed was NASA, space exploration, new research, new industries and now (at the time of writing) there are at least 3 wealthy Entrepreneurs building and testing space craft to take the regular public to sub orbital space. I am one of those ‘Future Astronauts’ where at some time in the future I will be flying on Virgin Galactic into space. My wife bought me my ticket in 2009 for my 40th birthday. Pretty cool gift and pretty cool wife!

BHAG’s for an Accounting firm come in many shapes and sizes. The BHAG could be revenue related “$10M in Revenue in 10 years”. It could be team member related “100 of the best, brightest and most creative Accountants on the planet”. Or it could be client related “All of our 500 clients are financially retired.”

Whatever the BHAG is it needs to be bold, it needs to inspiring and it needs be easily communicated. It needs to get you excited and it needs to get the team excited.

Before the BHAG is your purpose and your mission. Why is it you do what you do? What’s your purpose for being? Why do you go to work every day? Why do you care so much about your clients? As bestselling author and TED star, Simon Sinek, would say “people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.”

Some examples you may want to R&D….rip off and duplicate.

Purpose: Making a massive difference to clients financial performance

Mission: Help all of our clients to financially retire

BHAG: By 2020, 100% of our current clients are financially retired


Purpose: Helping all clients achieve all of their goals

Mission: Provide every service to every client that helps them achieve their goals

BHAG: $10M in revenue from 400 Awesome clients

I particularly like client focused purpose, mission and BHAG’s. And the reason for that is you can promote it to the clients. You can use it in your marketing. Let’s say you’re talking to a new prospective client. The conversation might go something like this:

“At our firm we help our clients achieve all of their goals. We make sure that every single client is only buying what they need from us to help them achieve their goals. We’re only looking for 400 awesome clients who want our help to achieve their goals. Tell me Bob, what are you looking for in an Accounting firm”?

Unless Bob is a complete ‘nuff nuff’ (technical term for not a very good client) then he’s probably going to answer with “An Accounting firm that helps me achieve my goals”. Sale made. Rinse & repeat.

Get creative with this. Start with what you (the owner) wants then involve your team. Some of your team members have some super ideas. Ask them individually why they became Accountants. Ask them what ‘juices’ them up. Ask them what they want from their careers. Ask them what they would do if they were running the firm. Get to a consensus. Then do a reality check and see where you are today with your Purpose, Mission & BHAG. After that it’s action time. If you want a different result (BHAG) then you have to make some different decisions and then Action those decisions. Decision + Action = Result.

For my business advisory software company ( we are very clear what our purpose, mission and BHAG are. They help us make decisions and help us keep on track.

Purpose: Positively influencing lives through Accountants

Mission: Make Accountants real time

BHAG:  10,000 ‘Real Time’ Accounting firms using PANALITIX every day

What is your purpose, mission and BHAG? When you’re done send it to me, I’d love to see what you come up with.