Founder and Head of Research Added Value Solutions
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The 15 excuses accountants make

19th May 2016
Founder and Head of Research Added Value Solutions
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Excuses Accountants Make

This is the fourth part in a major new series looking at the profound difference accountants are making to businesses, lives and society. It reveals the most common excuses accountants make, and the reasons why they are invalid.

In the first article we saw how 18 months of research for the book “The world’s most inspiring accountants” found that the impact that inspiring accountants are making is extraordinary in both its range and scale. In the second article we identified the key types of accountancy services that are making the biggest difference to the lives of so many people. And in the third article we saw how to use the findings to win high quality new clients and earn much higher fees.

This time we look at the excuses accountants use for why THEY can’t be more inspiring and why THEY can’t make more of a difference. And we explain why no true professional can use them.

So here are the 15 most common excuses, and the reasons why they are invalid: 

  1. “It’s too difficult” – No it isn’t. The 62 real-world case studies in the book prove beyond doubt that most of the things that make a profound difference are actually very simple, and very easy for any accountant.
  2. “I am not good enough” – Rubbish. If you are a professional, you are good enough. And if you are not a professional, you should not be in practice.
  3. “Our team are not good enough” – Because it isn’t difficult, if you have a professional team then they will be good enough. And if you don’t have a professional team, the best way to find and recruit people who are good enough is to inspire them with your plans to make more of a difference. 
  4. “It won’t work or that is impossible” – The inspiring stories in the book prove it is possible and that it works. That is the whole point.
  5. “It won’t work in our part of the world” – Yes it will. And the proof is simple… the inspiring stories come from practices on every continent in the world, and from every corner of the UK.
  6. “It won’t work for a firm of our size” – The ideas have also been proven to work by firms of all sizes, including 42 with 10 or fewer team members (including recent start-ups), and 16 larger firms, including regional, national and global players.
  7. “Our clients are different” – In what way exactly? Do they not want more successful businesses, a better work-life balance, less stress, more money etc?
  8. “Our firm is different” – Of course it is. But so is every one of the 57 firms we studied for the book. And if they can do it, so can you. The only question that matters is not whether you can, but whether you will.
  9. “We can’t afford it because our prices are too low” – So increase them.
  10. “We would lose all our clients if we increased our prices” – No practitioner since the beginning of time has ever lost all their clients in this way. But, of course, you may lose some clients. So the question that really matters is this: will enough of your clients stay at your new prices? Happily, all the evidence suggests that firms lose very few clients when they charge more, and still fewer of their good clients leave. What’s more, you will probably want to lose some of your most price sensitive clients, since that is how you free up the time to start focusing on making more of a difference. And very soon that new focus will also start winning you extra work and high quality new clients.
  11. “We don’t have the right type of clients” – You are either right or wrong with this assertion. If you are wrong, then you have no excuse! And if you are right, and you really do have low-grade clients, consider what that is telling you: i.e. what you are currently doing is only good enough to attract low grade clients to your firm. If you are happy with only having low grade clients, fine. But if you would prefer to have better quality clients, then your only logical option is to change what you do in order to become more attractive to better clients.
  12. “There are some other important things we need to do first” – What could possibly be more important than serving clients better, and generating better results for you and your family? Certainly not redecorating the office, redesigning the website, installing new cabling and all the similarly shameful excuses that other firms make for doing nothing.
  13. “We will do it, but not now” – The brutal truth is that you are kidding yourself. If you put off acting on the ideas we have covered in these articles ‘for now’, you are in reality putting them off forever, since the half-life of enthusiasm is always very short and there will always be other “more important” things in your in-tray.
  14. “We tried that once and it didn’t work” – Logically, negative examples don’t really prove anything. For example, if I were to pick up a Stradivarius violin and try to play it, sadly you would not hear sweet music. But just because I can’t get it to work, doesn’t prove that it doesn’t work. In fact, all it proves is that I haven’t currently acquired the skills and knowledge to make it work. Everything we have talked about here and in the book has been proven to work by accountants just like you. So all you have to do is acquire the skills and knowledge to make them work for you too.
  15. “We don’t have the tools, skills or knowledge” – Well get them then! They aren’t difficult to obtain.

The bottom line is simple…

There are no valid excuses.

As accountants we CAN – and I believe we MUST – make even more of a difference. And we certainly owe it to our clients, our firms, our profession, our communities, our families and ourselves to try.

Steve Pipe FCA is a leading researcher - details of his book “The world’s most inspiring accountants” can be found here.

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