We’ve all heard the saying “What got you here, won’t get you there.” When Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book with the same title, he was observing organisations that had found success but had some form barrier or glass ceiling that they couldn’t break through.
Perhaps one small flaw or behaviour you barely even recognize is the only thing that’s keeping you from where you want to be.
In today’s reality, nearly all accounting firms I’ve met or spoken with are striving for greater things in their business. But they’re hindered by this unshakeable barrier that they can’t quite put their finger on. I’ve noticed now more than ever, accountants are busier than they’ve ever been before. Which is a good problem, you would think. It should refer to the point that the busier we are, the more revenue that is working in the door.
But unfortunately that’s not always the case. You may be understaffed, but you may also have trouble managing your capacity. You may have too much administration and compliance to tear through or you may have processes from the 90’s that are holding you back.
Areas to evaluate
Research conducted by businessfitness.net has shown that accountants are struggling with three core elements in their business: technology, implementing new processes and finding the right clients, with new technology being the frontrunner for the past four years.
If I dive a little deeper around the issues around your process, I see firms struggling with their client onboarding, their capacity planning/workflow management and client management.
These are the three areas all accounting firms truly need to evaluate to exist in 2017 and beyond.
The processes you established with legacy technology back in the 90’s will not carry you on into the future. The world has changed, business has changed and your client’s expectations have changed.
This alludes to the point that it is time for you to change. It is scary, but required. You get to do one of two things in business. You either get to be proactive to technological impacts on your business or you get to react to them. The former always a better option than the latter.
Today is the day you need to start thinking about your practice tools and what is going to take you into the future for your business. The best piece of advice I can give you is to imagine that today is day one.
If today was day one again for you, which systems tools and processes would you need to run your firm to help you exist for the next 10 years? My second piece of advice is to keep it all in the cloud. Lose the servers and look for systems that talk to one another seamlessly.
Your competition is brand new firms that start every single week. They are not carrying your legacy technology and they are not hindered by all of the filing cabinets, your outdated process and technology. Brand new firms today, have the ability to work on more clients, because they’ve been able to disrupt and change the way they interact and do business.
Today is the day you need to evaluate where you firm wants to be in five years’ time. Which tools are you using that are holding you back from achieving this cloud dream we speak of?
To summarise, your biggest opportunities and quick wins lie in your client onboarding, capacity planning and workflow and document automation/receipt capture.
Enjoy your new day one. Put a plan together and don’t let the past hold you back, don’t let your past dictate your future and cut your ties where required. Evaluate the potential impact on your business and make good, bold decisions that proactively take your firm into the future.
About Trent McLaren
Winner - AccountantDaily Thought Leader Of The Year for 2017
I lead a team of spirited people looking to make a difference in the accounting industry as we know it. Elimination of debtors, automated invoicing and the thought of never having to touch your firm's billing again is a reality we deliver to accounting firms all over the world.
I believe that in order to achieve your goals, you must be a leader and a believer. Your peers need to feel part of something real and exciting in order to succeed. Turning up to work is just not enough.
I believe in creating a positive environment that stimulates and motivates people. An environment that allows people to grow, develop and most importantly enjoy their work.
I am the head of accounting at Practice Ignition, a Sydney based start-up born out of an accounting firm, Interactive Accounting. We eliminate debtors and automate your invoicing through our digital proposal and engagement letter builder solution. We service 1000's of accounting firms around the world including the United Kingdom.
In prior roles I have extensive history with Intuit QuickBooks, Xero, eWAY (online payments) as well as the retail sectors.