From Resolution to Reality in 2009
Six outstanding ways CPAs can jumpstart their growth motor.
January 12, 2009
by Tracy Crevar Warren
One of the most amazing things about the start of each New Year is the clean-slate feeling CPAs have. Resolutions give you permission to imagine what the future might look like if you made changes to your lifestyles. They enable you to alter the way you live and work.
As 2009 begins, more CPAs are focusing their attentions on building their practices. If practice growth is atop your New Year’s resolutions, consider these proven tips for achieving success from some of the industry’s rainmakers.
- Define Your Ideal Practice
One reason resolutions are easily broken is that we often make them without giving much thought. For example, you might say “I resolve to bring in some new clients” when you ultimately want to build a banking practice, serving small- and mid-sized banks. Questions to consider: What does your ideal practice look like? How close are you to having the practice you want? What types of engagements do you want to do more of this year?
- Set Specific Goals
The accounting sector’s most successful firms have realized that it’s not enough to say “we are going to grow our practice this year.” Growth goals should be specific and measurable. A good growth goal example would look like this:
Expand the construction practice by $125,000 — including three new clients at $25,000 and two additional engagements for current clients totaling $50,000.
Once goals have been identified, commit them to paper along with the activities that will help you accomplish the goal. Post your goals in a place where you can see them and take action on them each day.
- Focus on a Few Goals
It is easy to get overzealous when making resolutions and then becoming overwhelmed with the looming deadlines of tax season. The industry’s best concentrate only on a few key goals at a time. Three or four are ideal. Determine how much time you can commit to business development and plan accordingly. The most successful practitioners are those who stay focused on accomplishing their key goals throughout the year.
- Find Activities You Enjoy and Can Commit To
When building your ideal practice, it is important to identify business development activities that you enjoy and can commit to on a regular basis. For example, if you enjoy public speaking, seek out opportunities to share your knowledge with your target audience through venues like seminars or conferences throughout the year. Reach out to trade and professionals associations, because they are always looking for new speakers. Consider forming a speaker’s bureau or host firm-sponsored seminars. Record your sessions as podcasts and make them available to those who are unable to attend. Post them on your Web site, blog about them and send them out in an e-mail or e-zine regularly. If speaking is not your thing, consider writing articles, serving on a community board or developing a blog. When you find something you enjoy, it is much easier to stay actively involved throughout the year, even when your schedule gets hectic.
- Look for Hidden Opportunities During Tax Season
With tax season quickly approaching, don’t miss one of the easiest yet most overlooked opportunities to build your business. Yes, I’m talking about additional services beyond the tax return and financial statement. You know the advice that is truly valued by your clients. Take advantage of the time you have with your audit and tax clients during the coming months to identify areas of weakness or opportunity. These can include recommendations for improved organizational efficiency, suggestions for improved cash-flow, need for business-succession plans, need for a cost-segregation study or improved system to reduce inventory turnover. After all your guidance in resolving these hidden opportunities is generally why your clients hire you, but often fail to get it. So use this tax season wisely. Your clients will be glad you did!
- Hold Yourself Accountable
Many of today's most successful practitioners allow themselves to be accountable to someone else. Whether it is to another partner, a marketing director or an outside coach, increasing numbers of successful CPAs are reaching out to others to help keep them on track in achieving their goals. This can be accomplished over the phone, during a breakfast meeting or over lunch. They understand that the secret to their success lies in their ability to stay focused throughout the year, not just when it is convenient.
It’s a New Year. Make it the best ever by focusing on the things that are important to you. Start today.
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Tracy Crevar Warren, president and founder of The Crevar Group, advises professional services firms striving to grow and maximize performance. Warren was named by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the accounting industry. She is an author and frequent speaker on various growth, business development, and marketing topics for local, regional, national and international audiences. Warren can be reached at (336) 889-GROW (4769).