I Started A Consulting Practice the First Week of March

Five Reasons it Succeeded (So Far) Despite the Pandemic

By Bill Penczak

Everyone is no doubt glad the dumpster fire of 2020 has finally ended and that we have a new year to celebrate.   The accounting industry has endured layoffs, pay cuts, further consolidation, and firms continue to seek ways to remain relevant as compliance services become more commoditized and margins continue to diminish.  After contemplating the move for the greater part of 2019, in January 2020 I formed my articles of incorporation;  in February set up my website;  and in the first week of March, left my job running practice development for a firm that had been named the 5th fastest growing firm in the country the previous year to start my own consulting firm.

MORE: Re-Thinking Today’s Firm with Five Global Leaders | 5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer | Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis? | How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis
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Two weeks later, everything shut down and I thought I’d made the worst decision in my 40-year career.  It turned out to be the best.

Fast forward to year’s end, and I have four retainer clients, did a few projects for other clients, and have a healthy pipeline of other prospects. My business associates and advisors continually remind me that my role of helping firms create a sustainable process for growth and margin management became even more important during difficult times.  In better economies, companies want to grow more.  In tough economies, they must.

As I reflect on the past year, there are five reasons my consulting practice thrived despite a terrible economy, shutdowns, and the other things that made 2020 a year to forget, but at the same time, to cherish.  And perhaps lessons learned from which your firm may be able to benefit. READ MORE →

Planning for Success in 2021

It’s time to train the organization’s execution muscle.

By Bill Penczak

Ah, fall is finally here:

Football is back (sort of).

The weather is getting cooler (although because I live in Texas it’s sometimes difficult to tell).

The kids are back at school (albeit more “in” school that “at”).

MORE: Re-Thinking Today’s Firm with Five Global Leaders | 5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer | Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis? | How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis
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And CPA firms are gearing up for partner retreats and 2021 strategic planning…

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6 Questions to Ask Yourself about Partner Accountability

Five cheetahs strolling on a pathIt’s time to herd your highly compensated cats.

By Bill Penczak

The managing partner was trying to contain his frustration, but it was evident, even on a Zoom call. We had been reviewing the status of a focused market blitz, in which each of the partners was to come up with only three targets on which they would focus development efforts. When we reviewed the aggregated list, one-third of the partners had not responded to the request.

MORE: Re-Thinking Today’s Firm with Five Global Leaders | 5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer | Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis? | How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
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He was pissed, and I felt bad for him. Neither the carrot nor the stick approach had worked. And he was facing another example of lack of partner accountability, which I’m finding is one of the most common frustrations of firm management, regardless of size or specialty.
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Five Ways to Improve Operating Margin during COVID

Industrial metal number 5Are you too generous with your write-offs?

By Bill Penczak

The pandemic has placed a damper on new business activities for most CPA firms, with a paucity of events other than Zoom meetings and many clients hunkering down and not making any changes to anything least of which their accounting firm relationships, under some semblance of normal.

MORE PENCZAK: Re-Thinking Today’s Firm with Five Global Leaders | 5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer | Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis? | How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
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The managing partners to whom I’ve spoken, various articles and social media posts suggest embracing your people and your current clients as the best coping strategy for now, which is a solid approach.

So when it comes to preserving your original 2020 profit goals – or at least salvaging them – firms have an opportunity to seek better processes or staffing options, or both to pivot to the times. As a CFO I once worked with used to say, “You can either raise the bridge or lower the water.”

Here are five options for lowering the water (labor cost) as a short- and long-term strategy for greater firm success: READ MORE →

Re-Thinking Today’s Firm with Five Global Leaders

Are you building a cathedral or merely breaking stones?

https://cpatrendlines.com/2020/08/05/5-firm-leaders-on-how-covid-19-is-changing-their-thinking/
New imperatives, from the U.S. to Spain, Australia, and back: McConnell, Fay, Tomasi, and Majchrzak.

By Bill Penczak

The combination of the summer doldrums and the COVID shutdown has provided some firm leaders pause to get in touch with their right-brainedness.

MORE MARKETING in the COVID ERA: 5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis?How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition‘Found Money’ Delights ClientsDon’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a ProcessThe Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks |

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These are difficult times for the economy and the industry, and while some firms hope to return to the good old days, COVID and other societal changes may cause a long-overdue sea change in the accounting industry, which has been doing the same thing the same way for more than 100 years.

Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to spur fundamental change, and that’s what we’re seeing today.

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5 Things Your Firm Should Do Differently This Summer

How will you spend your “vacation” time?

By Bill Penczak

In normal times, summer was the respite between tax and audit busy seasons, a pause in marketing activities, the time to take it easy and to catch up on CPE, and to conduct personnel reviews and other administrative duties delayed from the beginning of the year.

MORE: Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis? | How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
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This summer is different, on so many levels. The sunlight filters through your bedroom window a bit earlier, and these days, if you’re even driving to the office, the roads are strangely less crowded.  The general mood is more tenuous, as we all speculate about the new normal.

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Do You Have the Guts to Beat the Covid Crisis?

Male-Lion-at-rest-portrait-Serengeti-2017-Telberg-Photo cropFive tough questions to ask about your firm’s leadership in these tough times.

By Bill Penczak

In times like these, firms should be challenging themselves with the tough question, “What do we want to be, today and into the future?”

MORE: How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition | ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
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If maintaining the status quo and “serving clients,” whatever that really means, are the only responses your partner and leadership teams can muster, then perhaps it’s time to evolve from being a lifestyle firm to being one with a vision and the guts to achieve it.

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How to Inoculate Your Firm against Covid Competition

The nine steps to locking in client loyalty when competitors come for your clients.

By Bill Penczak

Client relationships have never been more vulnerable, as other firms, reeling from the COVID crisis, will be knocking on your clients’ door with promises of better service, more services, and lower rates.

MORE by BILL PENCZAK: ‘Found Money’ Delights Clients | Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks

More coronavirus crisis strategies: Start here for a guide to all our free coverage.

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Now, more than ever, tax and accounting firms should examine how they can constantly improve the service and relevance to their clients, for today and into the new normal.

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‘Found Money’ Delights Clients

Businessman ogling money over another's shoulderHow to operationalize new services that find or save clients’ money.

By Bill Penczak

Even during normal times, “found money” solutions are great door openers for new clients and a great value-add for your current clients.

MORE: Don’t Buy a Rolodex, Buy a Process | The Three R’s for Beating the Corona Crisis | 6 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks
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These solutions are different from traditional audit and tax work in that they are opportunities for companies to retrieve monies they’ve paid in the past, or are ways for companies to lower the cost of a function, process, or service for which they are already paying.

Such solutions include:

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