Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

The One New Year’s Resolution You Can’t Ignore

2010 figures to be a year of tumultuous change. Are you ready? Join the survey; see the results.

January 4, 2010
by Rick Telberg/At Large

By now most finance and accounting professionals are shaking off the last vestiges of the holidays and are bearing down on the work ahead. If you’re like many of us, you’ve made a few New Year’s resolutions. But in this uncertain and demanding world, how do you stay on track?

For starters, you embrace the change all around you. Consider for a moment all the changes in our lifetimes so far. Scholars at Wharton did and came up with a list of the Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years. Thirty years ago, you would have been reading this in a magazine or a newspaper. Today you’re reading it online, at your desk, on your couch, with a computer, BlackBerry, iPhone or Droid perhaps.

The top four items on Wharton’s list will be completely familiar to CPAs. They are:

  • Internet, broadband, WWW (browser and html),
  • PC/laptop computers,
  • Mobile phones and
  • E-mail

As a CPA, just try to imagine life without computers. And then see if you can still find a No. 3 pencil in your office.

What CPAs are planning for 2010:
Issues, Strategies and New Year’s Resolutions.

Join the survey; get the results.

(Free. Confidential.)

In this whirl of change, the old rules of planning and decision-making are obsolete. The once-a-year partner retreat is the relic of a time when annually updated five-year plans were the cutting edge of business savvy. Today, business strategies can’t wait ‘til next year. Our businesses are changing constantly, often on the fly, always with insufficient information. Strategic planning is dead as we know it. You read it here first.

Smart firms understand at least two important things about the new flavor of strategic planning: First, it’s dynamic, meaning that in a changing world all plans change, all the time. And second, it all starts with the client, the client’s needs, the client’s opportunities, the client’s business and financial issues.

“In other words, you must be a firm for not only your clients’ present, but their future as well,” says Bruce W. Marcus, a consultant to the profession (and — full disclosure — my colleague at Bay Street Group LLC). “The key is not to focus on the firm as a whole, but on its individual practices and skills, and the nature of the various needs of the specific clientele of each aspect of a firm’s practice.”

But managing through change is hard. “When it’s change we didn’t ask for, it disrupts our sense of control,” according to M.J. Ryan, an executive coach and author of Adaptability: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For. “We realize that we’re not totally in charge of our lives and that can feel scary. In addition to having to cope with difficult feelings, our brains may be working against us.” We’re wired, she says, to react to change with fear, invoking the flight or fight response.

So, the first step in grappling with change is overcoming the anxiety of change.

The problem, of course, is that change is the only thing we can always count on. It’s the one constant in business — and in life.

But therein lies the opportunity. Things will change. And if you change with it, then you’re far more likely to find success than those who don’t, won’t or can’t. That’s where every New Year’s Resolution begins … and ends.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: How are YOU going to change for 2010? Join the survey. Sound off here.

COMMENTS: Rants, raves, questions, ideas? E-mail Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2010 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.