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This is key to realising your growth potential. As I advise CPA leaders about how to grow their firms, I like to ask them a question. I’ve discovered that this question serves as a litmus test to determine whether or not they are truly committed to growth and how likely they are to actually achieve this goal.
- They spend most of their day serving clients, monitoring trends, doing research and trying to stay on top of what’s happening in their industry.
- They see themselves as problem-solvers of challenges that require good analytical thinking, like a great technician.
- They enjoy doing the actual work of being a CPA more than they enjoy being a business owner and leader.
- Given the choice between going out and speaking to a crowd full of prospective clients or staying in the office and getting work done, they’ll choose staying in the office.
If someone says, I’m an entrepreneur, this usually means:
- They spend most of their day thinking about how to grow their firm, trying to understand what levers they need to pull to realize consistent and predictable growth. They have a strategic growth plan and they stick to it over time.
- They see themselves as a business-builder and leader more so than a technician.
- They recognize the importance of doing great work for clients, but they also know that the best and highest use of their time is to be a strategist.
- They recognize the importance of their personal brand, of storytelling and of being willing to become the public face of their organization.
If you really want to grow your CPA firm, you have to think like an entrepreneur. This does not mean that you ignore client impact or the quality of your work-product. Not at all. But this does mean that you place client-service in its proper place. Historically, most CPA firms have grown by serving their clients well and then getting referrals.
THE PROBLEM WITH REFERRALS IS THAT YOU DON’T CONTROL THEM, WHICH MEANS YOUR FUTURE IS IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HANDS.
WHAT ENTREPRENEURS FOCUS ON
Entrepreneurs focus on strategic plans that ensure their growth. They take control of their growth and of their future by making sure that they have strategic plans that are within their ability to execute. Entrepreneurs don’t hope to grow, they plan to grow.The core areas they focus on include growth in clients, in revenues and in profits.
THE CPA GROWTH STRATEGY
If you really want to grow your CPA firm, here are four core strategies that really work:
- Clearly define your ideal client: their goals, opportunities and challenges.
- Define your promise to ideal clients.
- Align your core 3 teams around the promise: marketing, business development, delivery.
- Execute your plan, measure those things that matter, track your outcomes and make course corrections.
Let’s explore these a bit.
ENTREPRENEURS TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR FUTURE WITH STRATEGIC PLANS THEY CAN EXECUTE.
CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE
When I ask CPA firm leaders to describe their ideal client, I often hear vague answers like business owner, executive, affluent family and the like. That’s not nearly specific enough to put you in the best position to articulate a promise that matters to these people. The first step toward meaningful growth comes by developing a profile of who you are best suited to serve and what matters to them.
- Their top 5 goals.
- Their top 5 challenges.
- Their top 5 opportunities.
A goal is something that they absolutely must accomplish. A challenge is something that blocks them from achieving goals. An opportunity is something that excites their imagination and something they’d like to achieve if time and budget allow.
DEFINE YOUR PROMISE TO IDEAL CLIENTS
Once you have a clear understanding of what deeply matters to ideal clients, you are ready to define a promise that matters to them. This is nearly the opposite approach of the way most CPA firms go to market.
- The marketing team needs to make the promise to the broader market. Their metric is the number of organic new prospects leaning in who fit the ideal client profile. You want to see consistent growth in new prospects every quarter.
- The business development team applies the promise to unique client opportunities, usually those generated by the marketing team. Their metric is the number of deals closed, revenue realized and the appropriateness of the solutions offered.
- The delivery team delivers the promise to each unique client. Their metric is client satisfaction and client delight.
When you get these three teams aligned around the promise that matters to ideal clients, you cannot help but grow. Now you’ll notice that I put the delivery team last in this order. Why? Because it is nearly a given that you should be able to deliver against the promise. The ability to deliver is table stakes.
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