The Secret to an Inspiring Strategic Plan

Loren Fogelman
Posted by Loren Fogelman on Oct 20, 2021 8:31:30 AM

How do you start your day? Maybe you sip on your morning coffee as you quickly glance at your day’s agenda. Then, you review your workload for today.

Like most accounting professionals, your calendar overflows with client work and tasks. Recently I surveyed the accounting professionals in my Facebook group. They agreed that maintaining a daily to-do list improves focus. Plus, it’s rewarding to cross off completed items.

Tackling the day-to-day workflow keeps things manageable. Working IN your business keeps your firm running. The client work you do today pays your bills.

I bet; however, there are some things you want to do but never find the time for. As a result, you postpone those items. The time never seems right to work ON your business.

Consider this – working ON your business could grow your firm by 30% over the next 12 months. With this approach, the actions you take today add up. It’s like compounding interest.

By the way, I’m not talking about a boring business plan. Like New Year’s Resolution, your enthusiasm fades away. Or, it ends up placed in the back of your filing cabinet – until you dust it off to reference for the next year's plan.

Instead, set time aside to create an inspiring strategic plan. This advanced strategy tips the odds in your favor.

Begin by Reverse Engineering Your Business with the End in Mind

Your strategic plan sets the course for your dream firm. Personally, I prefer a 12-month plan instead of a 5-year plan. That’s because 12-months is attainable whereas priorities change over 60 months.  

Do you dream about a 30-hour work week while serving high-value clients within your niche? Perhaps you envision a virtual practice and the freedom to work remotely from anywhere. Be deliberate as you consider growth, sustainability and profitability.

First, set some time aside to clarify why this vision matters. I routinely ask my clients WHY they want to grow their dream accounting firm.

Here’s a list of what motivates my clients:

  • Flexibility to be there for family.
  • Freedom to travel and work from anywhere.
  • Funding your retirement.
  • Building a church for your church.
  • Paying off your mom’s mortgage as a retirement gift.

Next, review your current practices. There’s always room for improvement.

Highlight the current practices which are aligned with your vision. Then, be brutally honest about which items didn’t make the cut. Here’s an advanced insight: most likely the things which you’ve been tolerating aren’t aligned with your vision. Which people, places, or services create drag?

Stop Playing Small

Complacency kills enthusiasm. Firm owners who end up buried in the day-to-day tasks suffer from burnout and exhaustion. As a result, motivation disappears. Your inspiration turns lifeless.

Here’s what’s possible as you grow your dream accounting firm:

  • You cherry-pick your clients.
  • You no longer sacrifice other important parts of your life.
  • You earn more money – doing work you love.
  • You replace doubt with confidence.
  • You remove the headaches.

Yes, this is possible when you carve out time to routinely work ON your business. You create an opportunity to grow your bank account and reclaim your personal life. So, what would you have to let go of in order to commit to your dream firm?

Reverse Engineer Your Growth Plan

We’re about to shake things up. Goal setting initially considers the realities of your firm TODAY. It goes from where you are to where you want to be.

Whereas your strategic plan starts with the end in mind. We start with where your firm is TOMORROW. Sketch out where you want to be and work backward to where you are now. This planning strategy reverse engineers the process.

Avoid these two pitfalls.

1. Do not water down your vision! Decide exactly what you want – go ahead and challenge your limits.

2. Resist the temptation to set a vague goal for your firm such as growing as fast as the competition.

A well-defined vision is like rocket fuel. The anticipation literally spurs you forward.

Celebrate Your Milestones

Once you clarify the specifics about your dream firm and why it matters to you, then choose your milestones.

The dream firm is your destination. With reverse engineering, you work backward from 12 months in the future to now. Set quarterly milestones, starting with your 12-month milestone.

Milestones are benchmarks that keep you on course. Consider the milestones as pit stops within your journey forward. This gives you incremental successes along the way.

By the way, when you reach a milestone give yourself a pat on the back. Acknowledge your achievement. Doing so builds confidence and inspires you to reach the next milestone.

Define Your Resources

As firm owners, we’re often the bottleneck to our success. Well, you can’t do this alone. Figure out where you require support and other resources. Resources include time, effort and finances.

It’s like packing your car prior to a road trip.

Add these essentials to your strategic plan:

  • Define who’s on your A-team.
  • Block out time on your calendar.
  • Invest in consistent actions toward your dream firm.
  • Lower your tolerance. Consider the people, actions or places that create drag – slowing you down.

The shift from planning to action puts you in charge. Even if you achieve 70% of your milestones, you will be further along than if you only work IN your firm.

Focus on Your Core Strengths

Your dream firm highlights your strengths. In fact, your highest value revolves around the things you do best. My clients affectionately call this their superpowers.

You no longer feel compelled to provide a service that doesn’t suit you simply because a client asked you to do it.

Do not fall into the trap of saying yes to tasks you don’t enjoy! Any activities which drag you down are costly. Those tasks eat up too much time and feel like punishment. When you embrace your strengths, you gain a valuable competitive advantage.

Grow Your Bank Account

As your firm grows, so do you.

A meaningful strategic plan puts you in charge of your accounting firm. Seize the opportunity to increase your revenues, work with ideal clients and reclaim your personal time. This is your opportunity to take charge of your business instead of your business taking charge of you.

Topics: Practice Management


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