By Matt Solomon
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot going on in the world right now. From a global pandemic and social injustice to economic uncertainty and political unrest, we’re living in an intense, and, arguably, unparalleled time.
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So, what’s this got to do with being an accountant? Simply, everything.
As an accountant, you’re sitting in the crosshairs of many of these experiences, navigating new waters with each new day.
While you may have gotten used to it, learned how to navigate your new climate, and perhaps you’ve even embraced the “new normal,” it is not the time to rest on your laurels.
In fact, I strongly suggest the contrary: It’s time to lean in a little more, embrace the discomfit and avoid settling down just yet.
In our work with over 10,000 firms – and more specifically, just over the last few months, we’ve distilled a few key elements to growth and success during a unique time and in any economic climate.
One of the little-known critical success factors that the top small and medium firms are leveraging right now, is that they are paying close attention to the increased desire from their small business owner clients to get more help. While many firm owners are continuing with business as usual, giving away advice, and just treading water, the best firms are using this time to grow their revenues, realization rates, and helping clients more by playing the role of the valued advisor.
Take Randi, a small firm owner in Southern CA, who helped a client save $400,000 and ended up earning her largest engagement to date at $5,000 per month for her knowledge. Or Jolene, another small firm owner in the panhandle of Florida who is leveraging the PPP loans to get advisory engagements at many thousands a month per client.
There are hundreds of examples, but the essence of it is all the same: Business-as-usual equals the same results as before. But learning to embrace the depths of this unprecedented time yields more revenue, higher realization rates, and less time working with bad clients.
Here are the big takeaways directly observed from the firms thriving now:
1. Embrace this disruptive time.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 alone has had a significant impact on both your client’s lives and your own.
But, before you push yourself to settle into this “new normal,” consider this an opportunity to fix some things that may have been broken in your firm for a long time, such as your pricing, your service offerings, or even the quality of clients you have.
Embrace this disruption and learn to increase your fees, serve clients more formally, and “lean” your firm in to provide more high-value services to a smaller volume of clients in a way that grows revenue, reduces your time in the business, and increase impact.
2. Understand that you are needed.
That means you must play a more proactive and formalized role as the valued business advisor.
Let go of the old self-limiting belief systems that tell you it’s unkind to charge what you’re really worth. If deep down you have been wanting to grow your firm’s revenue and help clients on a deeper level along the way, then now is your time to shine. Don’t let it pass by because of your inaction.
Let’s face it, being handcuffed to compliance work isn’t moving the needle for us anymore, and our clients certainly want more. Your clients want you to be more proactive with your advice and will pay you very well for a more formalized advisory role, a role that most of them don’t know you can provide.
We’re seeing small firm owners collect fees of $3,000 per month, $5,000 per month, and even $50,000 per month from small business owners – a whopping 3x to 20x increase in monthly fees.
3. Results matter more than you think.
Clients don’t care about your time as you do. In fact, what they really care about this their time, their business, their goals, and their revenue. I know you “get this” but what are you doing about it?
As one of my client’s famously told me at our last annual Symposium, “I don’t charge my clients for where they are, I charge them for where they want to go.”
There’s so much wisdom in that, but if you’re busy doing compliance work, or giving away your services for free, you’re missing out on revenue for your firm and impact on your clients.
While there are lots of ways to break this down, the essence is this: With all the turbulence, uncertainty, challenges, opportunity, and even pain that we have to deal with, now, as firm owners, we have been given a gift, if we choose to look at it this way.
While many have used this gift to find ways to be more remote and to do virtual work, I encourage you to push on, to grab more than just the surface benefits, and to look inside yourself and explore what this situation is really presenting to you.
In my opinion, from what I’ve seen, this is the chance to embrace your value and get paid what you’re worth.
This is the time to learn what clients really want from you and to master the skills of communicating the impact in a way they can understand it.
This is the opportunity to challenge yourself to step up, to learn again, and to reinvent and re-envision a firm and a life that brings you abundance, prosperity, and joy like you never thought possible.
What is it that you’d really like to do, to earn, to experience? And, at the end of your life one day, hopefully, a very long time from now, what will your legacy look like?
Are you willing to do what it takes today to get there?