So, we’ve talked about what; we’ve talked about why; I’m going to address a little of the why not.
This need is so prevalent. There are 400,000 members of the QuickBooks Global Advisor Program, and there are close to a million public advisors. But why isn’t more transformation happening? Why are so many businesses still struggling? Why is that 65 percent fail rate out there? It is because there are massive barriers between the people who can help and getting the help to the small business owners.
Identity and brand are massive barriers. All traditional accounting services, such as bookkeeping, tax, audit, tax representation, tax planning, are extremely valuable noble professions. But they come with psychological anchors. These psychological anchors speak to back office operations, overhead and the “death and taxes” side of the life equation. That side of the life equation places the tax preparer in the same psychological category as the mortician.
To break the psychological barrier, we can break the identity barrier by changing our brand. It starts with your name. And if words like books, bookkeeping, numbers, ten-key entry, data, tax, CPA or accountant are in your name, you are introducing identity anchors into your relationship with your client before you ever meet them. Consider broader kinds of terms. At Woodard, we went from Creative Financial Software to Woodard Consulting, which is broader in its reach and scope and doesn’t come with so many anchors.
Whether it’s the word consulting or whether you call yourself coaches or just base it around your last name, a name can transcend its founder and speak of a larger value proposition. Now you could start telling that story whenever you drop all the anchors. Habif Abrogeti & Wynne, one of the Top 100 firms in the country, recently changed its name to Aprio. It could tell its own story – it's a blank slate that they get to draw on. So, a name is both the way the client sees you and the way you see yourself. If you don’t identify yourself as an agent of small business transformation and if you don’t believe that you’re able to effect this change, then you’ll never step out and do it. Start seeing yourself for the value that you can bring. Boldly knock on the door and then bring something of value when you get in there.
Intentionality is another problem. If we focus on intentionality with clients, then we would not exist between trying to make our clients happy and reacting when they make us unhappy. Instead, we would have hard conversations with them, in which we would appropriately confront them and hold them accountable. And we would set boundaries in our relationships. If they don’t listen to us, we can’t help them, and it’s time for them and for us to move along.
The third barrier is the learning curve. Predictive analytics, key performance indicators, leading indicators, trend analyses, equipment and systems reviews - you don’t have to do them all right out of the gate, or for every industry. You can address many industries financially and technologically. Focus on one industry operationally, in which you drill down step by step, system by system, on how clients can change. And you're going to learn alongside your clients, who already know you, like you and have a relationship with you. And you’re going to get better and better.
Then there’s the need to specialize. That encompasses industry metrics and measurements, best practices, and systems and machinery. The need to pick an industry is part of the equation, and you must pick one if you want to be transformative in this area of operations.
Not all clients are coachable. If you bring value and knock on the boardroom door but your client refuses to answer, stop knocking on that client’s boardroom door. But don’t stop knocking on boardroom doors altogether. You can find another client that will open the door.
And then there’s low personal capacity. We have a chicken-and-egg problem. You know that you need to do transformative work. You know that embracing it will free up more time, you’ll make more money and you’ll make a bigger difference. But if you stop doing what you’re doing now, even for one second, to begin that journey, you suffer a revenue hit.
Leveraging the machines is your first step to adaptive capacity. Here’s another one: Fire the clients that you identify as the least profitable and the highest maintenance. Yes, you’ll take a short-term revenue hit, but the cash you have at the end of the day isn’t driven by revenue. If a client is not profitable, you will either increase or level your net income by firing that client. Either way you will get the adaptive capacity that you need.
So, how do you get started?
You can begin doing transformation work immediately. Let’s look at one thing you can do in each category:
- Visibility – The first thing you can do is have one meaningful conversation with one client about their financial status. Simply select a QBO integrated tool that extracts data from QBO and provides reports that you can use during a meeting with your client. Many of these tools provide free trials, are simple to connect with your client's QBO files and produce easy to understand reports, even if you have never operated in the area of financial analysis before.
- Operations – The second thing that you can do over the next few days is tell one client to stop doing one thing and make sure they stop. You know the client and you know the thing they need to stop doing; you don’t even have to research it. Just find the one that will listen to you and all the stop-doing ideas that came to your mind. Then go down to the business and talk some sense into them.
- Technology – Automate one process for one client performing mass entry. And you can do this with a simple client survey. There is one process of data entry or data capture that takes you several hours a week to perform. This might be entering in time sheets from Excel documents or importing sales from a billing system. It’s something where your clients are experiencing data entry intensity. Find one tool that will automate that for them and introduce that tool to your client. You don’t have to implement it yet; just introduce it. If it’s an easy solution to solve the problem, go ahead and implement it. If it’s about putting in a time management solution or expense management solution to reduce data entry, then meet with the client to introduce the technology and set up a follow-up meeting to begin pre-implementation.
After you have done these things measure the increase in wealth for the client. Because you will then bring that increase in wealth back to the client’s attention and that will give you the power to value-price the next time you engage them.
Click to return to Part 5