Only you can discover it. Here’s how.
By Hitendra Patil
Accountants are in the business of solving clients’ problems.
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The results of the CPA Trendlines’ “Essential Traits for Success as an Entrepreneurial Accountant” survey clearly indicate that “problem solving” is one of the top three traits of successful accountants. Join the survey, get the results.
- Andika Powell, of P & P CPA Inc., a firm in Detroit, Michigan, says, “Clients do not understand the technicalities of accounting, so they do not use technical terms to express their issues. After you figure out their problems, do whatever you can to assure them you can help.”
- Victor Sirchia, owner of Sirchia CPA, in Oneida, New York, who identified a specific accounting challenge that physicians face and developed a proprietary process that provides instant answers to the clients, summarizes: “Solve problems for clients rather than boast about what services I can provide.”
- Severn, Maryland-based Katrina Geety, CPA, creator and owner of Accountants’ Workflow Solutions, shared that “I am motivated by achievements and pleasing others. I love solving problems.”
Do YOU think your problem-solving ability has contributed to your success?
If you said “yes,” here is a shocker.
Do accountants solve REAL problems?
Have you ever compared prices for routine things at the supermarket? When everything else seems similar, do you pick the lower priced product? If the product were a necessity, you’d almost instinctively look to save a few cents if you could.
When people “have to” make purchases, they subconsciously resent it. Then price becomes the only differentiator.
Helping people file tax returns, for instance, does NOT amount to solving a REAL problem. It is NOT even a problem, in a true sense. It is a process. A routine. An externally enforced need. It is not a thing that emerges from within people’s minds and hearts. Helping people provide for these types of necessities does not make accountants millionaires.
Psychologically, anything that is “required” by law will be a reluctant purchase. But anything that people dream and want is an intrinsically desired buy.
To achieve their dreams and wants, people do things that help them reach their goals. And in doing so, they will face some problems. REAL problems.
Are you facing a problem?
MG Raj, a CPA, and now the CEO of CashPundit, was facing a problem while he worked in the corporate world. His friends and colleagues echoed his feeling about the REAL problem faced by companies.
The problem was how to identify REAL cash flow insights. He searched for solutions in the marketplace. Most accounting software provided accounts receivable and payables information. Raj had to compute (via Excel sheets) the effect. But the REAL problem was that customers do not always pay on time (does that sound familiar?), which meant cash flow statements still produced surprises.
The problem was REAL and it affected a lot of companies and CFOs in the profession. That led to the birth of CashPundit – which won the “Small Business Influencer Award” in 2014. It was a finalist in two separate categories for The Cloud Awards 2015. Competing for this award were other companies that had received millions in venture funding. Some competitors were from the stable of multibillion-dollar annual revenue business groups.
Before you think “Oh, come on. I can’t create software. It is a difficult and expensive game,” take a pause.
It is NOT necessary that you create a technology solution.
Just try to discover the secret key that your existing clients already have.
The secret key to your practice growth
Find out if your clients have a particular set of REAL problems that many of your other clients are facing, too. Most likely they are. Others (not your clients, yet) in the marketplace may have similar problems too.
Find solutions to those REAL, COMMON problems.
But which problems are the REAL problems?
It might be a matter of some research for you to invest adequate time. Or it might be a telltale problem that you can identify by just talking with your existing clients.
The REAL problems are those that your clients (and many others) canNOT solve:
- without YOUR help (not your competitors’), guidance and services and/or
- without some unique technology solution/s.
Your clients will solve some problems themselves or go to a cheaper service provider. So if they can, those are NOT the real problems.
Build “solutions” to build your practice
When you have technologies and services similar to those of your competitors, price is your enemy.
Your competitors will easily replicate off-the-shelf technology. Services will also look and feel the same to clients.
But your internal business processes will help grow your practice. Why? Your business processes built to solve REAL problems will be your intellectual property. Your competitors will take a significant amount of time (if at all they want to or are capable of doing so) to catch up with your processes.
Can you think of building processes that solve common problems for many of your clients?