Something there seems to be no shortage of in the tax and accounting profession is clients. When I started my firm, I didn’t realize this, so I took all the clients who came my way. By doing this, I learned a lot; I made good decisions, and I made mistakes.
One of the most important things I learned was that there are good clients and bad clients. Bad clients are not bad people; they are clients that are a poor fit for you. And that can be bad for your business. I discovered that a thorough interview with prospective clients is necessary to find the clients that fit well with our firm and gives me the chance to politely refer the others to someone else. Reviewing current clients is vital too. I will fire clients if it’s the right decision for my business.
My firm just moved to a larger location. Several of my clients have visited the new spot and made the comment, “Wow, this is great! We are both growing together. We are getting bigger, and you are too.” These are the clients I want surrounding my firm.
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Having the right clients surrounding you is not the only ingredient to growth. You must also have a network that drives greater value and fosters growth with professionals perfectly aligned with your mission and what’s best for your clients. When it comes time to hire some staff, place the right team around you. Select the best technology to deliver exceptional value.
Here are three things you can do to grow your practice.
Build a Network
“Once you figure out what your passion is, surround yourself with like-minded people who can help you grow.” – Jessica St. Clair
For any firm looking to grow its business, it starts with building a great network. This network will help you by:
- Offering you support from fellow tax and accounting experts.
- Increasing your firm’s value with clients and, making you invaluable to their business goals.
- Maximizing your time and resources by aligning clients with service partners (e.g., insurance, business banking, etc.) who can address specific needs not offered by your firm.
- Expanding your knowledge ecosystem by shifting clients to those partners outside of your firm’s specific niche or focus.
By tapping into its network’s experience and expertise, a firm can avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes, minimize growing pains and transform any mistake into better decision-making. Having this network has enabled me to grow from a firm of one to a firm of many, increasing the overall value I deliver to my clients.
Best of all, this network continues to support me, helping me understand my own firm’s value. That is why, every year, I attend QuickBooks Connect; this annual gathering allows me to reconnect and foster new relationships.
Share Your Knowledge
You have a wealth of knowledge. What you do with that knowledge, rather than how much you do, or how hard you do it, is what will put you in position for growth, rather than stagnation. My team is amazing. I wisely invested my time and shared my knowledge with them. I gave them opportunities to grow even further. And then I stepped back and let them fly. I only step in when absolutely necessary.
I think Ronald Regan sums it up best. “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”
Learn Something New
Beyond placing the right people around you, look to technology and automation as essential components of your business. This includes your hardware and also third-party apps, especially those that can help with your clients’ financial records and books.
Look at your workflow, and what can be done better. Actively search out and learn about technology and what it can do for you. Most importantly, evaluate how well it will integrate into your firms current and future needs. Third-party apps can be overwhelming, but once set up, are a joy to behold.
My firm has always been in the cloud. It just made perfect sense for this business. When we gained our first team member, I shifted over to Microsoft Exchange to handle current and future growth. This move from our old platform has been key to the fluency of our communications and ease of access we have today. Using Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online and QuickBooks® Online, and the flexibility that the cloud offers, I have a powerhouse behind me to manage all my client’s tax and accounting needs. The automations and integrations between the two are huge time savers, allowing my firm to stay up in the clouds and not get buried under all that paper.
The more I automate tasks and procedures, the more “places” I can be at once. New technological advances and software tools may take you out of your comfort zone. However, by learning and becoming proficient around these automation tools, you can achieve greater efficiency and productivity.
Starting my day checking the fruits of technology’s labor is time better utilized. Now I can advise, orchestrate, maneuver and pivot as needed. This helps me be an effective advisor to my clients. Our conversations have greater value.
One quick tip: knowing when it’s time to not learn something new is important too. If something is outside of your understanding or vocation, this is better left to someone who has already learned how to do it. They will do it better than you, and it will save you time and some anguish along the way. I have learned to say, “That’s outside of my scope,” which is my way to tell myself to get help. I then reach out into my network, where I always find the help I need.
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground”. – Wilfred Peterson
Finally, as a business leader and entrepreneur, it’s important to accept the fact you can’t do and know everything. Your practice can only grow if you and those around you are positioned for growth. By growth, I don’t just mean more clients, but also about having the right balance between efforts and revenue. The synergy you have with your clients, network and technology will nourish your growth and sustain you. Surround yourself with possibilities.