Practicing CPAs: You possess special skills that can make a significant impact on businesses and their owners. Put another way, you have super powers that can help others. No we’re not talking X-ray vision or leaping buildings in a single bound. Even better, you have the ability to rescue business leaders from seemingly impossible situations. What’s more, you have the power to enable business owners to achieve incredible things beyond their imagination.
First things first: Your super powers are likely among the routine things that you take for granted. Why? They come easy, natural to you. To others however, your special skills can be priceless. The big question is: Are you maximizing your super powers?
Consider these four steps:
- Recognize your strengths. Get clear on your special talents. If you are unsure, ask your colleagues and confidants. “What would you say are my most valuable skills?”
- Identify high impact clients. Let’s face it, your smarts are not necessarily right for everyone. So it’s important to pinpoint those types of clients that can benefit most from what you do best.
- Determine maximum impact scenarios. Identify specific situations where your talents work best. What are the common characteristics of each?
- Take pride in your strengths. Once you zero in on your super powers, embrace them. Take pride in your special ability to help others. No, not in a boastful way, but with confidence. It’s that confidence that will resonate and build trust with others.
Tools for Success Spotlight
Part of our mission is to ensure that CPAs are aware of the many resources that are available to them through the AICPA and PCPS. In each issue we will highlight different tools and showcase some of the benefits you may be missing out on. Examples of tools that may re-energize your practice are provided below.
Build a Ladder to the Cloud
By Chris Farmand, CPA.CITP
Cloud computing is making a difference in the services that clients can have at their fingertips and the role that we as CPAs are playing. As clients transition to the cloud, the first step at our firm has been to have the value conversation with them. We find out what’s important to them and what they value, but we are also aware that they may not always know the answer. They may rely on us to fix one problem, but they may not see or understand the big-picture issues. We try to make sure our clients understand the full range of issues they should be considering when adopting cloud computing. We determine how we can help them get more value from the software they are using.
We find that taking a proactive approach helps. Many of my clients are breweries and distilleries and based on their needs, I have put together a trifecta of cloud-based software. We can transform their billing and document management, accounting and manufacturing process, to seamlessly work together and in the cloud. This is a unique approach that demonstrates our firm’s knowledge of their industry and our ability to anticipate and meet their needs.
Steps on the Ladder
In getting started in cloud services, I recommend these steps, based on my own firm’s experiences:
- Appoint an office champion who will spearhead the initiative and ensure it retains its momentum. This makes for a consistent and well-thought-out approach. Appointing a younger staff member who is technology literate offers the champion a sense of empowerment, which is a great retention tool. The person you select as champion should be able to speak the language of his or her tech-savvy peers at client companies, too.
- Get things up and running. Identify an ideal customer for cloud services, someone who would be willing to try a new technology and new pricing method. According to the AICPA Client Accounting Services Survey of Accounting Firms, the industries most served by client accounting services practitioners, include:
- Professional services firms, such as attorneys (83%)
- Construction (69%)
- Medical offices (68%)
- Retail (64%)
- Manufacturing (51%)
- Not-for-profit organizations (51%)
- Wholesale distribution (37%)
- Hospitality (28%)
- Transportation (15%)
- Governmental contractors (13%)
- Start close to home if necessary. Because cloud options are so broad and varied, you should keep an open mind about possible candidates. If you’re nervous about using a client as a guinea pig, try the cloud service internally using your own records.
The cloud is here to stay and with the proper safeguards in place, it’s a solid option. Luckily, adapting to the cloud is an easy step for small firms because we’re agile. In my own practice, the cloud has given me access to the IT department of a large regional firm and security and software that I have I could never otherwise afford. I can work from home and have access to what I need wherever I am. I know the value of what the cloud has to offer, and I make a point of articulating it to my clients.
Chris Farmand, CPA.CITP, is managing partner of Chris Farmand + Company in Jacksonville, Florida.