By Jennifer Katrulya, CPA, CITP, CGMA
When was the last time you came across something that guaranteed you 100 percent satisfaction or your money back? Okay, these types of offers are all around us, so let's drill down a bit to our profession. When was the last time you came across an idea for your firm that guaranteed you a 100 percent return?
Here's some context. A 100 percent guarantee is only as good as the person striving to earn the guarantee, so when it comes to growing our firms and improving practice management, you'll reach the 100 percent level IF – and only IF – you actually start to make changes to your processes and your customer service.
As we begin to plan for a new year, we're also reflecting on last year. Sure, you should have already done your 2013 planning, but based on my own experience, most CPAs and accounting firms are loathe to do any kind of planning in January, simply because most of us are thinking about the upcoming tax season, staffing issues, where to find the next client, and even how to use technology in smarter ways.
If you're nodding your head in agreement, that's good! That means you ARE planning for the future . . . and you may not even realize it.
Resolutions are funny things. When we were in grade school, it was fun to write down a few things we wanted to accomplish, but as we grew older, we became much more accountable for any resolutions we made. And, if we didn't achieve our goals, we'd somehow failed.
Nonsense. Making a resolution is nothing more than trying to do something different from the way you are doing it now, so don't beat yourself up if you can't reach your goals. Again, the best thing you can do is strive to make changes. Take baby steps and do what you can. After all, you're only human and can accomplish just so much in any given day.
Three Steps to Creating Your Vision Statement
Many of our Group Advisory Program members know they should have a vision statement, but just don't know where to begin. Here's an easy, three-step method you can use for your vision statement and practically anything else you want to create that will have some kind of future impact on your firm.
Step One: Stick to 140 characters, just like a Twitter tweet. Keep it short and simple. Anything longer than 140 characters is just too long and you won't remember it.
Step Two: Write your vision statement as you want your clients and prospects to perceive you; not how you perceive yourself. Too often, we talk about our services and offerings in terms of what we want to achieve versus what clients and prospects need.
Step Three: Revisit the vision at least once each quarter. That may seem too often to you, but it's really not. If you don't visit your vision at least four times a year, you'll lose touch with what you're trying to achieve. Review often and tweak it as you go along. As your firm changes and the year progresses, there's nothing wrong with making changes.
Here are four resolutions I'd like to see all accountants think about. Chances are you're already doing some of these things.
1. Train, train, train. Investing in skills improvement for yourself and your staff is one of the very best methods to boost your business. Consider training that targets accounting firm best practices, but also look at technical training for QuickBooks, Cloud technologies, other software packages, and more efficient ways to get the job done. With a better understanding of how to use these technologies and tools, you can better serve your clients.
2. Set attainable goals. Write and set professional and personal goals for 2013, and be sure to include a look at your firm's strategy, vision, and mission. Has your client base changed? Should you adjust your marketing to reflect your current client base? Should you focus on your brand and reset your firm's goals?
3. Take a hard look at your numbers. Apply your expertise to your business and make sure your profit and loss statement is in order. If you're not achieving your own financial goals, it's time to adjust your pricing strategy, change your service offerings, or expand your target market.
4. Get social. If your firm has been using traditional marketing techniques with only a small investment in a website or e-mail marketing, it's time to seriously consider the impact of social media and develop an online marketing plan. Your clients are online, and there's a good chance that potential customers are looking for your services online. Make sure you can be found.
With just a few of these resolutions, your accounting firm's new year can be filled with even greater prosperity. Good luck, and remember: Your resolutions can only be 100 percent guaranteed if you start doing something differently.
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About the author:
Jennifer L. Katrulya, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is president and CEO of BMRG, LLC. Katrulya provides advisory and mentoring services to growing and large CPA firms seeking to successfully establish best practices, educate, and motivate management and staff during periods of change and to streamline integrated processes in a hosted and SaaS environment. She is a frequent author and instructor on a wide range of technology topics. Katrulya also serves as a consultant for a number of software developers who seek input from her regarding their anticipated road maps and strategic plans, constructive feedback about solutions and/or features as they are developed, and ongoing feedback from her as her firm and BMRG's clients use many of the solutions. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.