Ten years ago fax machines were part of the corporate and small business environment. Today, internet tools and services have all but wiped them out. They are one of the first and perhaps worst victims of the electronic communication revolution.
Today, Partners and Senior Decision makers in accounting firms are facing a similar threat. Firms right now are experiencing pressure to reduce fees, whilst business clients currently still see preparation of compliance and general tax advice as a need, they are and will continue to devalue the service, eventually driving accountants out of this market.
The big problem is that compliance isn’t dying (reference TA109 ‘The REAL problem with compliance’ and Accountants Daily article ‘Death of Compliance Rejected as Nonsense’ 7 September 2016). Partners and senior decision makers are busier than ever as clients continue to become more demanding and industry forces are erode profit margins (reference TA101 ‘How to Implement VAS in 3 Years, and become a Business Advisory Firm en route’).
This is forcing Partners to consider carefully how they will respond and where they want to end up in 10 years time.
Thus, the question I pose to you as an owner of an accounting business; “Who do you want to be in 10 years time?”
What do you need to do differently to achieve that? What lessons are the most important to learn to create this change?
Three Strategies for success over the next decade
Here are my top three most valuable lessons for success over the next decade.
1. Strive for valuable client conversations
With the introduction of GST, I realised that my client conversations were too narrowly focused on tax. Most clients wanted to know how to get the cash to pay their tax. So I came up with the tagline: “Tax is not a problem if you’re earning the profits”. From that day forward, I made sure client conversations focused on profit and cashflow. This made tax a byproduct of what I did.
Eventually, I came to see tax as the bit that didn’t add value which bored me, so I delegated it’s day-to-day management to my team.
Back then, I did this by setting up a Business Improvement Group which would account for 40% of future revenue through dedicated programs. This division attracted new clients who had previously been paying their accountants $6-8k. These guys were happy to sign up to $18-$24k Business Programs with us because they could see the value for their own businesses.
Tips for having valuable client conversations:
- Focus on one area of expertise. “Stop trying to be all things to all people”.
- Direct conversations to your client’s real problem and how you can help them with it.
- Ask more questions and listen so you can ask even deeper questions.
- “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
2. Invest in developing skills beyond your current expertise
I developed my skills to become a coach and business mentor. This has provided me with opportunities to help businesses achieve amazing success. I’ve taken Startups to $500k profit in 3 years. I’ve turned around losses of $30k to profit of $200,000 in 12 months. I’ve also saved a business from bankruptcy and helped them go to $450k profit in 16 months. I’ve influenced a business with one location to go multiple, then national and now listed on the stock exchange.
Most importantly, I see business owners going from being highly stressed to relaxing and gaining control of their situations.
Tips for developing profitable skills:
- Look at your 30-40 top business clients and find areas where your passion will help them achieve their desires:
- More toys
- More fun
- More cash
- More profit from their business
3. Seek more challenge
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I don’t do compliance work anymore. Even doing my own I can see a change in my personality and my energy levels plummet. Redeveloping myself as an advisor has been a revolutionary move for me. Now I love being challenged by client situations. The passion and energy that I employ to make it work for them is self-generated and leads to a more enriching and enjoyable experience. I am no longer driven by ATO deadlines or client demands, in fact I drive deadlines and have high expectations around client performance.
Tips for challenging yourself:
- Find a client problem that excites you and yet scares you because it will stretch your abilities (within your area of passion) and go fix it for them.
Start by challenging you, ask the tough questions and know that your clients are really demanding you to redevelop your skill and direct your experience towards a more valuable advisor to them. The true byproduct of doing this, you will in my experience, create a sense of success and achieve beyond what you currently think is possible. For me it has definitely elevated my passion for what i do, and i am now more engaged than ever to transform accountants so they can transform their business clients.
Accountants who focus on achieving a shift towards a narrower focused skill set will be reward both financially and emotionally.
In my quest to redevelop me over the next ten years, I invite you to attend the upcoming webinar on how to become a transformational advisor and make a real difference to businesses within your community.
Free Strategic Review measures your Relevance
Book in for a complimentary Strategic Plan Review session and get 45 minutes to discover:
- What is stopping you from achieving your end of year goals OR
- How you will ensure your firm stays relevant over the next decade OR
- Discuss a specific challenge that you or your firm are facing.
(or copy and paste this link into your browser > https://calendly.com/andrew-26/strategic-plan-review-45-mins)