Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Preparing Taxes vs. Preparing Businesses for Success

Do you pride yourself in being old school? We all know that there are many clients who are still old school, so the aging firm shouldn't have a problem, right?


Sorry to say, but the progressive firms will soon be taking over the old school clients one by one. We work with many awesome CPA's and great tax firms. Despite their awesomeness, many resounding issues not only prevent the client from reaching their maximum potential, but even prevent us from providing outstanding service as a non-tax firm.

Are You the Expert?

Your client should not have more resources in your industry than you do. If your client comes to you looking for an answer, you better have it or know the person that does. We are lucky to have strong relationships with many other firms in our area so that we are able to call on each other when we get stuck. It is hard to keep up to date with all of the evolving technology in the world today - different versions, different years, different industries. All of us know the saying "be a specialist - not a generalist", but the truth about a tax firm is that you need to "be a generalist - know a specialist". 

Is Your Clients Best Interest in Mind?

We are all in it to make money, and the easier we can do that the better. I have seen recommendations given to clients that are in the best interest of the CPA, but have a drastic negative affect on the businesses ability to reach their maximum potential. One example of this is advising clients to use whatever system works best with your tax software instead of helping them select the right system for their business. I had a call a few weeks ago from a potential client looking for QuickBooks setup at the recommendation of their CPA. After consulting with the client, they really needed an ERP system. A good accountant can construct a tax return from well kept records - but great accountants lead businesses to success by utilizing the tools that make the most sense for that particular industry.

Are you Progressive or Stagnant?

Maybe you are not so motivated to learn new things or build new relationships because you are nearing the end of your career. This is where you need to decide if you are going to leave a legacy or just 'fall off'. I have heard some people talk about succession planning and selling their contracts so that they can retire. The real question is, would someone want your practice? If they did, would your name be carried out gracefully or would your successor prove that you were behind in the times?

Can You Get on Board?

Of course you can! There are all kinds of things you can do to expand your list of referral partners and specialists. You can look online, locally and nationally for industry specific groups where a variety of folks may gather - like NAN (National Advisor Network), BKN (Bookkeepers Network), Sleeter Consultants Network, and Meetup groups. There's always the classic old school way of looking up your peers online and reaching out with a phone call or email (we recommend checking out the Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor page). We also recommend that you look at attending at least one industry conference per year, whether it's a local training or a national conference like the upcoming QuickBooks Connect. This gives you an opportunity to mind-share with peers, connect with specialists, and meet product vendors.

Then What?

Keep in touch with your core group. Ask questions and find out what kind of businesses they can best serve and enjoy serving. Tell people what you enjoy and what you are best at. Don't be afraid to send an existing, new, or potential client to one of your specialist resources to get the assistance they require. Once you start building these reciprocal relationships you will find new enjoyment in your client base. You are more likely to be the hero by referring to the right person who can be quick and effective rather than trying to tackle something out of your realm of expertise and potentially being unsuccessful. If you are a tax firm, do taxes. If you are a tech firm, do tech. Your success is measured only by the success of your clients.

Good luck!

Do you have more ideas on this subject? 
Feel free to share in the comments below or reach out on Twitter.