As we settle into a new year, now is the time to start thinking proactively about how to move your business forward. Change is constant, and so are technological advancements: between regulatory shifts, evolving client expectations, and a world of digital possibilities, it's easy to get overwhelmed. However, remaining stagnant isn't an option.
So let's look at some dos and don'ts that you can put into place right away to ensure that your firm remains competitive in this ever-changing landscape.
Don't make excuses
Firm leaders should stop making excuses about why they can't improve their technology and processes and innovate for the future. During our process improvement consulting engagements, we often hear why firms "can't" make changes, but change is essential for staying ahead in today's competitive business landscape. Technology is constantly evolving, regulatory shifts happen regularly, and talent demands and client expectations are constantly changing.
If you don't embrace change and take action to stay current, your firm risks falling behind the competition or becoming irrelevant. Ignoring opportunities for innovation will result in missed opportunities.
Do connect with a peer group
Joining a peer group can be a great way to stay motivated and accountable when adapting your business for the future. Not only do you have a supportive network of professionals who can provide guidance and advice, but you are also held accountable for meeting goals and benchmarks.
Peer groups allow you to share ideas, provide valuable feedback and resources, and set clear short-term and long-term goals. With the help of a group of like-minded firm leaders, you can work together to find creative solutions to current challenges and plan for the future.
Don't be too busy to get things done
Heavy workloads are practically synonymous with the accounting profession. So even when firms want to improve their processes, update their technology, and take other steps to move their firms forward, competing priorities can get in the way of actually accomplishing anything.
If that's your reality, it's time to identify your priorities—personal and professional—and consider whether your daily actions align with what you've identified as most important.
Once you list your priorities, consider which ones have been on your to-do list the longest and cause the most frustration. For example, what project do you start and stop over and over again?
Consider whether these projects are really a priority. If so, the problem might be too massive. You can benefit from breaking down big projects into smaller chunks.
Do have a strategic plan
A strategic plan is essential for any business to drive its priorities and ensure it achieves the desired goals. A strategic plan serves as a roadmap, outlining how the firm will reach its goals and objectives. The plan also helps identify potential obstacles, develop strategies for overcoming those obstacles, and allocate the resources necessary to carry out the steps.
It also helps ensure everyone on the team understands what needs to be done and why each step is essential for the firm's future success.
Don't get stuck in negativity
Nobody wants to spend a quarter of their year slogging through impossible workloads and dealing with bloated processes, out-of-date technology, a lack of training and personal preferences. So it's no wonder the accounting profession is having trouble attracting and retaining talented people.
If you're not doing anything to change your firm, you forfeit the right to complain about hiring and turnover problems.
Do focus on employee well-being
We've noticed a trend lately with successful, innovative firms changing the conversation around "busy season." Some are referring to it as "peak season" instead because the term has a more positive connotation.
Of course, it's not enough to simply change the label. We must change how our firms run and focus on employee health and well-being.
Give your people the resources to do their jobs efficiently, so they don't have to spend several months out of the year neglecting their health, relationships and other aspects of life that make them whole.
You won't change the profession overnight, but when your people see that you're working toward a better future, they'll be more willing to work with you.
The accounting profession is always changing, and adapting to those changes requires more than just hard work—it requires innovation and creativity. With these dos and don'ts, you can take the necessary steps to create an environment where your people are happy, productive and looking forward to the future.
Are you ready to become a process improvement leader in your firm?
Boomer Consulting's Lean Six Sigma CPA Green Belt Certification has helped hundreds of CPA firm professionals implement the framework they need to create lasting process improvement in their firms. Register now so you can begin confidently leading change within your firm.
As Shareholder and Consultant for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Arianna Campbell helps accounting firms challenge the status quo by leading process improvement initiatives that result in increased profitability and client satisfaction. She also facilitates the development and cultivation of future firm leaders in The P3 Leadership Academy™ Academy. Internally, she blends concepts from Lean Six Sigma and leadership development to drive innovation and continuous improvement within the company. Arianna also enjoys the opportunity to share knowledge through regular contributions to the Boomer Bulletin and other industry-wide publications, as well as public speaking at industry conferences.