Smithink https://smithink.com/ Experience delivers the how Mon, 12 Feb 2024 06:54:25 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.4.3 https://smithink.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/478/2020/05/Facebook-icon-eye-logo-150x150.jpg Smithink https://smithink.com/ 32 32 The Love Of Learning https://smithink.com/2024/02/12/the-love-of-learning/ https://smithink.com/2024/02/12/the-love-of-learning/#respond Sun, 11 Feb 2024 22:57:11 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11677 I thought I would ask my daughter, Jess, to help me out with an article for this month. Jess is a 34-year-old skilled graduate journalist working in digital media and I wanted to know her thoughts on learning, so we put this article together which I feel is very relevant to the accounting industry. As…

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I thought I would ask my daughter, Jess, to help me out with an article for this month. Jess is a 34-year-old skilled graduate journalist working in digital media and I wanted to know her thoughts on learning, so we put this article together which I feel is very relevant to the accounting industry.

As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in”. Igniting the spark of the love of learning manifests itself in many unexpected forms. Between picking up a new language before setting sail on a European honeymoon, figuring out how to fix a flat tyre you’ve busted on the freeway to learning how to parent your first child – the love of learning is an integral part of the human experience.

To foster this love of learning encourages growth and is an important part of managing both your personal growth and also that of your business. When open to discovering new things, your skill set can only expand and your motivation to build on existing knowledge grows with it.

Psychologist, Jin Li discovered that the Chinese have a concept that roughly is paraphrased into, the want and need to learn is what the heart and mind want. Western culture may experience shame or guilt when met with the inability to learn and therefore achieve whereas this Chinese model suggests that the shame comes from not wanting to learn.

This is an interesting concept to deep dive into when it comes to businesses in the Western world. The emphasis on the notion of ‘failure’ especially when in the context of business could be linked back to a lack of knowledge, an unwillingness to learn new skills, or a lack of curiosity when it comes to pivoting to encapsulate a new business landscape.

The love of learning also means a love of flexibility. An essential skill to possess when managing your business and staff. The ability to pivot and reassess at a moment’s notice can be taught through experience but also studied and honed for when challenges arise. The whole notion of learning means having an inherent love of flexibility as your mind grows around new subject matter and skills.

To love the act of learning, it is crucial to maintain motivation. Usually, an end goal or incentive is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge and that of your staff. Providing training courses for your staff gives them a sense of accomplishment while also expanding upon their skillset, therefore making your business stronger and setting your employees apart from the rest.

love of learning concept

Not all teachable moments have to be about achieving direct business goals either. Motivational events that encourage morale are a great way for you and your staff to retain their passion for learning new things. Cooking classes, escape rooms, and trivia nights are just some examples of building a long-lasting professional relationship with those who work with you while making sure the learning you’ve invested in is fun. By sharing the love of learning with others you’re sure to create a bond that benefits all.

There are activities you can utilise to learn alongside your staff. Often when checking in with your employees, you can enquire about their love to learn. Questions such as, ‘If you could share something you’ve learned this week, what would it be?’, or ‘What would you teach us if you could teach us any new skill?’. The questions would differ between older and younger staff. Older staff might be asked, “What would you like to learn about technology that challenges you?”. Whereas you could ask younger staff, “What is something you would like to learn?”. By creating the space for your staff to reveal their love of learning, you can make the best decisions on how to foster their progression within your business.

The accounting industry is ever-evolving, and continuous learning is not just a choice but a necessity for staying relevant and competitive in the field, so why not embrace it?!

Channel your inner Philomath (from the Greek ‘Philos’ meaning lover of learning and study), and delve into what makes you want to reach out for more knowledge. What challenges you to become a better business and manager and how can the love of learning benefit you and improve your life both personally and in business? Whether it be improving your skill set, expanding your business comprehension, rewarding your staff’s curiosity, learning how to make pasta or winning your work trivia night – learning is always something to celebrate. Opa!

Mark is passionate about empowering accountants through education and mentoring towards growth and excellence. Whether you’re seeking a dynamic presenter for your firm or event, or looking for personalised mentorship to nurture your rising talent, contact us to find discuss your needs.

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The Accountants’ Guide to Fishing https://smithink.com/2024/01/08/the-accountants-guide-to-fishing/ https://smithink.com/2024/01/08/the-accountants-guide-to-fishing/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2024 01:15:58 +0000 https://smithink.stackedsite.com/?p=10223 January is the month for holidays, for relaxing, for contemplation. For me that involves spending time at Port Stephens out on the water trying to skillfully convince a succulent fish to hop onto my line. As anyone knows such an exercise involves a great deal of patience. As I have sat in the sun replenishing…

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January is the month for holidays, for relaxing, for contemplation. For me that involves spending time at Port Stephens out on the water trying to skillfully convince a succulent fish to hop onto my line. As anyone knows such an exercise involves a great deal of patience. As I have sat in the sun replenishing my stocks of vitamin D, it occurred to me that business development for accountants is a lot like fishing.

Do you have attractive bait?

As any good fisherman knows bait is critical. I’ve never “got” plastic bait, particularly in estuary fishing – the fish are not that stupid! Anyway, it is interesting how fickle fish seem to be. Some love pilchards, some prawns, some squid or worms. How do you know what to use?

It is the same with clients and prospects. Different clients can be attracted to different service offerings. These preferences will change over time as the client’s circumstances change. Unless you want to attract a very narrow range of clients you need to experiment with a broad range of service offerings to see what will work. Some clients may be attracted to simple down to earth services to help them manage their cash flow more effectively. Others may be looking for more holistic services that address their business and personal financial strategies. It is critical that you experiment to determine what offerings are attractive to clients.

business development concept

Have you developed the right fishing skills?

Far more important than tackle is having the right skills. You can have all the best gear in the world but if you don’t know how to use it it all can be a waste. Often one can find some of the best fishermen using very basic lines, hooks and bait but they know how to use it to great effect.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many practitioners have made the mistake of investing in business advisory software, without ensuring that they and their team have developed the right skills and processes to ensure that a quality service can be delivered that clients will want to buy on a regular basis. All too often early enthusiasm in building advisory services is lost when practitioners realise that there is much more involved than merely purchasing the latest software tool.

It was for this reason that we developed our Business Advisory EnablerTM process – a 7-step process that practitioners should follow to ensure the successful development of their business advisory services. Client engagement is key, software tools are important but not critical. Key elements are developing strong relationships with clients and having conversations that unlock the issues the client is trying to address.

Do you have the right tackle?

Of course, having the right tackle is important when fishing. Having hooks too big for the fish you’re trying to catch; not using sinkers when the fish you want are on the bottom; having a line that is too light or heavy all need to be considered. The key consideration is “What type of fish am I trying to catch”?

It’s the same with business development. What type of client am I trying to catch? Have I developed my service offerings around their needs? Are there specific industries where I can add additional value from my specific knowledge of how those industries operate?

Sales 101 is “know thy customer”. When was the last time you strategically thought about your clients, the issues they’re facing and the services that you could provide to help clients address those challenges?

Only when you’ve determined what you’re trying to achieve should you go down to the tackle shop (the software vendors) and find tools that will equip you to provide the services that you have determined are best for your clients and your practice.

Are you fishing in the right place and at the right time?

You can have all the right gear but if you don’t find the right spot and fish at the right time it can all be a fruitless exercise, except of course for the joy of quiet contemplation.

Knowing which clients to target is a critical piece of the puzzle. Not all will be interested in additional services. Consider as well when you should approach clients. What are peak times in their business when they will be too busy to consider additional ways you may be able to assist them? What life events may be occurring for your client that will trigger the need for particular additional services? Tracking these life events are positioning services that will assist clients in meeting these new challenges can be a highly business development strategy.

Are you using berley to attract the fish?

Getting more fish hovering around the boat will obviously increase one’s chances of a catch. It’s the same in your firm. Having more people aware of your services or using low cost add on services to compliance is a good way to build trust and show that you can do more than be a tax and accounting compliance accountant. How are you getting more people hovering about your boat? Newsletters, seminars, speaking engagements, social media and more are all critical pieces of practice berley.

SMSF can often be a good place to start in offering a low cost add-on service by offering a free review of the fund – this will lead to discussions around retirement planning, succession, estate planning etc. But by starting with offering a simple low cost service you can open the door to bigger opportunities.

So as you’re getting some time off before 2024 starts its frenetic place, consider what might be your fishing plan for 2024.

David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.

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Hard decisions https://smithink.com/2023/12/07/hard-decisions/ https://smithink.com/2023/12/07/hard-decisions/#respond Thu, 07 Dec 2023 06:11:12 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11643 You know the feeling. You come to the office and get stuck into your “To Do” list. You focus on addressing those day-to-day business issues – but lurking in the corner like a bad smell are those things that you know that you need to do but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.…

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You know the feeling. You come to the office and get stuck into your “To Do” list. You focus on addressing those day-to-day business issues – but lurking in the corner like a bad smell are those things that you know that you need to do but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

There’s that staff member who is just not performing because perhaps they’re too lazy or just don’t get it. Your excuse is that it’s hard to find staff and the employment laws are so onerous that maybe keeping the person is better than going through the angst of removing them. But is that true? Are you sure? Could the main reason be that you just don’t want the tough discussion, you don’t want to tell them that they have to go? It’s ten times worse if that person is a partner!

There’s that client who is a right pain in the… The client who is so demanding, never pays their fees on time, complains about the bill, and is hopeless at providing accurate and complete information on a timely basis. The client who should be told to shape up or ship out. Every firm has them and yet few do anything about it.

As an external adviser, these hard decisions seem quite obvious. Part of my role is to make you uncomfortable so that you will no longer accept this situation so that you will act. Prodding you in the right place!

The great observation is that I rarely see anyone who regrets the hard decision. Making it, acting on it, and doing what you might have to do might be painful for all involved but it’s like a surgeon removing a cancer, the host may be temporarily weakened but will grow and thrive by being unburdened by the issue that has been nagging you – sometimes for years.

So perhaps it’s time for a New Year’s resolution or two. Undertake a search for these bad smells/elephants in the room – they won’t be hard to find – you know where they are. Decide that by the end of January you will act. What a way to start the new year – unburdened and energised.

David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.

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Navigating price increases – how much? https://smithink.com/2023/11/10/navigating-price-increases-how-much/ https://smithink.com/2023/11/10/navigating-price-increases-how-much/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2023 04:03:33 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11637 Way back in the 1970s when there were Oil Shocks One and Two the inflation genie got out of the bottle and started to run wild with price increases everywhere. It was many years before it was corralled. The 70s were the years of Current Cost Accounting – the attempt to value assets and liabilities…

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Way back in the 1970s when there were Oil Shocks One and Two the inflation genie got out of the bottle and started to run wild with price increases everywhere. It was many years before it was corralled.

The 70s were the years of Current Cost Accounting – the attempt to value assets and liabilities at current market values – to adjust for inflation. It never took off except in some specific industries. It never enjoyed widespread adoption due to complexity, subjectivity, fear of volatility and cost of adoption to name just a few. Of course, as inflation died down the drive to adopt evaporated.

Now we have inflation again, although not as high as in the latter years of the 1970s and early years of the 1980s. Interestingly, there has been little discussion about Current Cost Accounting.

Inflation, however, has rightly driven all businesses including professional service firms like accountants, lawyers and financial planners to address the need for price increases more regularly and in larger increments. Few feel comfortable lifting prices with the potential for difficult client conversations. However, with labour shortage and rising salaries and other costs, there is little choice if margins are to be maintained. All too often we are seeing the gross profit margins of firms shrink.

So the question is – how can we raise our prices while keeping client satisfaction intact?

One of the strategies from the 1970s was to raise prices more often with smaller increments. Many firms in the 1970s started to lift their rates quarterly to reduce the shock of large increases.

The key is transparent communication. Advising clients in advance with a clear and detailed explanation of the reasons for the increase. Ideally, face-to-face or virtual meetings with clients will be a more personal and effective way to convey the message. It offers an opportunity to address any concerns or questions directly.

Whether in a world of high or low inflation, bundling services can be very effective in increasing the perceived value of services. Some services such as some compliance services may have a lower perceived value compared with advisory services. By bundling the services together the client is likely to perceive more value and be willing to incur a higher cost.

Of course, we also need to get better at articulating the value of what we deliver. Explain how your services have helped your clients achieve financial success, save money, or navigate complex tax regulations. Demonstrating the tangible benefits of your services can help justify the increase.

I’ve always had the mantra that clients should never be surprised on the downside (upside surprises are good). So lots of warnings of change should be given.

I also believe that clients should be given a choice. If they resist the price increase this should lead to a discussion about:

  • How they can provide information to you and respond to queries on a more efficient basis
  • The client could choose to reduce some services
  • Provide an option for a different payment plan

The reality is that by giving clients choice you are empowering them rather than being pushed into a corner. More often than not they will stay with the status quo and accept the price increase.

The reality is that you have no choice but to raise your prices. Before doing so, work on your strategy to ensure you will successfully manage your client relationships. Ponder ways you can improve your client engagement. Staying close to clients is key.

David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.

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Soft Skills – the Future for Successful Accountants https://smithink.com/2023/10/09/soft-skills-the-future-for-successful-accountants/ https://smithink.com/2023/10/09/soft-skills-the-future-for-successful-accountants/#respond Mon, 09 Oct 2023 03:39:00 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=10795 If you have been working for several years in the accounting industry or maybe just a few, you would have noticed that successful team members know more than technical accounting skills. They know how to manage a meeting, put clients at ease, deal with difficult clients and scenarios, persuade and negotiate, and make themselves known…

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If you have been working for several years in the accounting industry or maybe just a few, you would have noticed that successful team members know more than technical accounting skills. They know how to manage a meeting, put clients at ease, deal with difficult clients and scenarios, persuade and negotiate, and make themselves known and appreciated. They write and send concise and focused emails and can deliver strong presentations that inform and lead to greater firm opportunities.

Chances are these team members have invested a lot of time and effort to develop their soft skills. Accounting soft skills like effective leadership, strong verbal and written communication and critical thinking can take the average accountant and transform them into star performers.
Here’s an overview of the top five soft skills I believe are critical for accountants:

Effective Verbal, Written and Non-Verbal Communication

The effectiveness of words is not measured by volume in fact just like with so many other things less is more. This is especially true for busy work colleagues. Emails can be shorter and stronger, presentations more direct and engaging and questioning skills more thorough and exploring. When you get to the point in your writing you will find it can positively influence your speaking and presentation skills as well. Finally, do not forget to look for and understand non-verbal cues. Many things that were not actually said also have a powerful impact.

Thinking Critically and Focussing on Problem Solving

When you look at a problem like a spreadsheet what do you see? Just a series of columns, rows and numbers, or a totally different story inside? Analysing patterns, and trends or developing an appropriate strategy is critical thinking. Developing a long-term financial plan or a well thought and structured business advisory engagement for a client requires critical thinking.

Relationship Management and Persuasion Skills

Accountants need to develop relationships with their clients through reliability and expertise. Good leaders persuade team members to work together to achieve a goal. Persuasion here is critical. It is as much about your own self-confidence and your ability to analyse a situation and come up with a plan. Think about how you will unlock the needs of clients in order to offer them more exciting solutions like advisory services. How will you engage them, what questions will you ask? Are you a good listener? How will you close the opportunity into an engagement? All great soft skills to have or develop in your career.

Managing the Benefits and Future of Technology

Knowing the law and how to extract discerning data out of a profit and loss statement and balance sheet is critical to an accountant’s success. This requires using software and other key tools and processes necessary to do your job. Team members who are comfortable with technology, who embrace change and are constantly on the lookout for better tools and processes are very valuable to an accounting firm. Assisting other team members or championing the strategy around and implementation of new technology is a valuable skill to have on your resume.

Leadership and Managing Your Team

This quality is not just about being a good manager or a trusted supporter It is all about earning respect through effort, leading and displaying a good example. Good leaders communicate well. They think about their audience and how their words are interpreted. They are also big-picture strategic and concentrate on long-term strategies as well as more immediate issues. Think about a great leader you have admired either at work, in your family or even from history or alive today. What makes their leadership special? What do they do that ultimately works? Perhaps following their lead may help you!

As you progress in your career, one, three or even five to 10 years down the track, you will comprehend how valuable these soft skills are for your success. The investment in training and developing these skills is equally as important as your technical skills if not more important. Don’t look at this training as a cost. Look at it as an investment in the future of your career and life.

Mark is an expert in helping accounting firms optimise their strategic planning. If you would like to set up a complimentary 45-minute strategy assessment, please contact us.

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What does your business need….an Online Business Manager or a Virtual Assistant? https://smithink.com/2023/09/11/what-does-your-business-need-an-online-business-manager-or-a-virtual-assistant/ https://smithink.com/2023/09/11/what-does-your-business-need-an-online-business-manager-or-a-virtual-assistant/#respond Mon, 11 Sep 2023 00:08:28 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11586 The demand for remote support and management services has soared over the last few years, particularly after COVID*. When I started working remotely 14 years ago, working from home was pretty new. And I am still working for my first client from back then, who was located in the same city. It just made sense…

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The demand for remote support and management services has soared over the last few years, particularly after COVID*. When I started working remotely 14 years ago, working from home was pretty new. And I am still working for my first client from back then, who was located in the same city. It just made sense to work remotely even with the technology then.

Two popular roles that have emerged in response to this demand are virtual assistants (VAs) and online business managers (OBMs). While they both offer remote assistance to businesses, and there are some similarities. In this article, I share six key differences between VAs and OBMs and which will help you work out what is right for your business.

Defining the Roles:

Virtual Assistant (VA): A VA is a skilled professional who provides remote administrative, technical, or creative assistance to businesses. They undertake various tasks such as email management, scheduling, data entry, social media management, and more.
Online Business Manager (OBM): An OBM, on the other hand, is a strategic partner who helps business owners manage and grow their businesses. They focus on higher-level tasks like project management, team coordination, system implementation, business planning, and client communication.

Scope of Work:

Virtual Assistant: VAs typically handle day-to-day operational tasks and provide support on specific projects. They are usually task-oriented and assist with various administrative, technical, or creative aspects of a business’s operations.
Online Business Manager: OBMs take a more holistic approach to business management. They are responsible for overseeing and streamlining operations, coordinating projects, implementing systems and processes, and ensuring the business operates efficiently and effectively.

Level of Expertise:

Virtual Assistant: VAs are generally skilled professionals who specialise in specific areas such as social media management, content creation, graphic design, or bookkeeping. They often have expertise in multiple tools and platforms relevant to their area of specialisation.
Online Business Manager: OBMs possess a higher level of expertise and strategic thinking. They have a deep understanding of business processes, marketing strategies, and technology. They can provide guidance and recommendations to help businesses achieve their goals.

Business Impact:

Virtual Assistant: VAs contribute to improving productivity and efficiency by handling routine tasks, allowing business owners to focus on core activities. They play a crucial role in reducing workload and enhancing the overall functioning of a business.
Online Business Manager: OBMs have a more significant impact on the overall growth and success of a business. By implementing effective systems, managing projects, and streamlining operations, they help business owners scale their operations and achieve long-term objectives.

online business manager target concept

Working Relationship and Collaboration:

Virtual Assistant: VAs typically work on a project-by-project basis or offer ongoing assistance as needed. They collaborate with business owners and provide regular updates to ensure smooth communication and successful task completion.
Online Business Manager: OBMs establish a long-term partnership with business owners. They work closely with the client, understand their goals, and develop strategies to achieve them.

While both virtual assistants and online business managers offer remote support to businesses in Australia, their roles and responsibilities do differ greatly. Virtual assistants focus on task-oriented assistance, while online business managers help with strategic plans and operational oversight. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for businesses to leverage the right support to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and growth.

While I started as a VA after many years of experience my value is now best used as an Online Business Manager to help you grow your business as a strategic partner. Think of me as a high level Executive Assistant. If you would you like to discuss your businesses requirements, please get in touch.

A view from a client:

It was a miracle that we located Andrea to assist us with our activities way back in 2009 and continues to the present day. Our two directors are time poor with a large number of commitments. Andrea exemplifies what an Online Business Manager should be. She’s not afraid to get out the stick when she needs things from the directors. She’s proactive – always looking for ways we can improve as a business. All things in a package of professionalism, trust and reliability. In a business where all of us work remotely, she is the glue that holds us together.

The best decision we have made was to go down the road of engaging Andrea as our remote business manager. It transformed our business.

David Smith, Director, Smithink

*https://www.statista.com/statistics/1122987/change-in-remote-work-trends-after-covid-in-usa/

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Unlock your Strategy Development Services https://smithink.com/2023/09/01/unlock-your-strategy-development-services/ https://smithink.com/2023/09/01/unlock-your-strategy-development-services/#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2023 07:53:52 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11584 One of the best ways accounting firms can expand their business advisory service offering is to provide strategy development services to clients. Not only does this set the client’s strategic business direction: it offers a variety of additional value-added engagement opportunities. Perhaps the ideal first step is to undertake a strategic planning workshop on your…

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One of the best ways accounting firms can expand their business advisory service offering is to provide strategy development services to clients. Not only does this set the client’s strategic business direction: it offers a variety of additional value-added engagement opportunities.

Perhaps the ideal first step is to undertake a strategic planning workshop on your own firm and use this planning session as a learning exercise that has a two-fold effect: firstly, you set the future direction for your firm and document SMART goals to be achieved and secondly what you do on your firm can be replicated on your clients businesses.

strategic planning processes concept

To get the strategic planning process moving in your firm you need to consider the following eight step process;

  1. Assess internal capabilities: Before offering strategic planning services, you should evaluate your own capabilities and expertise in this area. Determine if you have professionals with strategic planning experience or if they need to invest in training or hiring individuals with the necessary skills.
  2. Define service offerings: Once you have assessed your firm’s capabilities, clearly define the strategic planning services you intend to offer. This may include developing a comprehensive strategic plan, conducting market research, facilitating strategic planning workshops, or providing ongoing strategic guidance and support.
  3. Develop a framework or methodology: It is essential to establish a framework or methodology for your strategic planning services. This framework should outline the steps involved in the process, the tools utilised, and the deliverables provided to clients. Having a standardised approach enhances the firm’s credibility and ensures consistency in service delivery.
  4. Promote the value proposition: Clearly articulate the value proposition of your strategic planning services to potential planning clients. Highlight benefits such as improved decision-making, enhanced resource allocation, and long-term goal alignment. Emphasising your firm’s expertise in financial analysis and understanding of the economic environment positions you as valuable partners in strategic planning.
  5. Identify ideal clients: Identify the ideal clients for your strategic planning services. These may include small and medium-sized businesses, startups, or organisations in specific industries that could create a niche opportunity. Understanding the needs and challenges of target clients allows firms to tailor their services accordingly.
  6. Market and educate clients: Actively market your firm’s strategic planning services. This can be done through various channels, such as creating informative content on your website, hosting webinars or workshops, social media and thought leadership or networking with potential clients at industry events. By educating clients on the benefits of strategic planning and how it complements your existing accounting services, firms can generate interest and attract new clients that fit their ideal client profile.
  7. Collaborate with other professionals: Strategic planning often requires multidisciplinary expertise. To offer comprehensive strategic planning services, accounting firms should consider collaborating with professionals from other fields, such as financial planning, management consulting, human resources, or information technology. This collaborative approach ensures clients receive holistic guidance and support in their strategic planning efforts.
  8. Provide ongoing accountability and support: Strategic planning is an ongoing process, and your firm can offer ongoing support to clients. This may include periodic reviews and updates of the strategic plan, monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), and providing guidance on course corrections if needed. Regular communication and engagement help build long-term relationships with clients and become the trusted advisor in their strategic planning journey.

Why not take the challenge, expand your business advisory offering, and help clients create clear strategic pathways to build profitable, cash strong, and more valuable businesses in the future?

You can view a webinar I presented earlier this year on Strategic Planning for Client’s Business Success here.

To help you get started on this strategic journey with your practice and your client’s businesses see my Strategic Planning Enabled service here.

I would be happy to offer your firm a complimentary 45-minute online Strategic Planning Assessment and chat about the pathway forward and how to get this dynamic service working in your firm. Just email me at: [email protected] and we will organise a suitable day and time.

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Unlocking the Secret of Being a Gun Leader https://smithink.com/2023/08/22/unlocking-the-secret-of-being-a-gun-leader/ https://smithink.com/2023/08/22/unlocking-the-secret-of-being-a-gun-leader/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2023 05:54:03 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11571 Leadership skills are essential to progressing your career for a wide range of reasons including: You already know that and will undoubtedly be looking forward to discovering more about this (and other insights) at the 2023 Young Guns Workshop. There is one leadership skill that isn’t often mentioned that truly is a critical one. It’s…

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Leadership skills are essential to progressing your career for a wide range of reasons including:

  • Effectively leading a team leverages your time, expertise and impact
  • The skills of leading people also apply to quality client relationships
  • You don’t want to be doing it yourself forever

You already know that and will undoubtedly be looking forward to discovering more about this (and other insights) at the 2023 Young Guns Workshop.

There is one leadership skill that isn’t often mentioned that truly is a critical one. It’s like it’s a well-kept secret, although I believe it’s more that it is overlooked than intentionally kept quiet.

It’s the art and the skill of effective listening.

All too often focus is placed on the charismatic, dynamic and passionate speaker style of a leader. The public figures that come to mind when thinking about leadership. But that’s not what workplace leadership is about.

If you consider the leadership training that is all around you, much of it focuses on speaking and influencing by speaking. There doesn’t seem to be anything about the powerful skill of listening.

Asking the important questions for a leader, are you a good listener?

Think about the leaders who have had the most positive impact on you.

  • The leader who was an effective mentor and coach to you because they understood your goals and objectives – because they listened to you.
  • That leader with whom you had an open conversation about your next career move
  • The leader who helped you through that tough situation

It’s most likely that they were able to create those environments because you felt heard – that the leader had listened to you, your concerns and your needs. A sense of trust had been created that encouraged you to speak about what matters most to you.

Your clients will most likely respond in similar ways. Going beyond the transactional nature of professional services happens when clients feel that they have been heard and valued by their advisor. It’s much more than your technical proficiency and certifications – clients want to know that the work being done for them is the right work for them – not just being done by the smartest person in the room.

In most cases the leaders who have had the most positive impact on others are not the great speakers – instead, they are the great listeners. Great listeners are people who:

  • Listen for and respond to the meaning not only the words said
  • Enable others to genuinely feel heard
  • Are respectful and don’t talk over others

Here’s a challenge for you – please think about what you are thinking about the next time you are “listening” to someone. If you are thinking about what your response is going to be – or an unrelated issue: chances are that you need to work on developing your listening skills.

Pam Macdonald
Broadspring Consulting

Having made multiple successful career transitions, Pam Macdonald has turned her passion for people (along with her energy) into powerful and practical coaching and leadership development. Known and respected for her ability to cut to the chase, Pam is also highly effective at guiding people into new and effective levels of leadership performance. Pam is a speaker at our November Young Guns Workshop event for Smithink.

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Time for some New Year’s resolutions? https://smithink.com/2023/07/06/time-for-some-new-years-resolutions/ https://smithink.com/2023/07/06/time-for-some-new-years-resolutions/#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2023 04:10:41 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11561 Happy New Year! I hope that your year has been a great success and that you’re not getting lapped. Hopefully your 2022 work is cleared away and ready for the 2023 work to start. If you’ve been on holiday with the kids I hope you haven’t been caught up in the airport chaos. Whether or…

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Happy New Year! I hope that your year has been a great success and that you’re not getting lapped. Hopefully your 2022 work is cleared away and ready for the 2023 work to start. If you’ve been on holiday with the kids I hope you haven’t been caught up in the airport chaos.

Whether or not you’ve been on holiday, I hope you can find the time to take a break and reflect on the year that was. What has gone well and what needs to be improved? Now is the time to put a plan in place, and set some new year’s resolutions to improve your business and your client service. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have sufficient free capacity (the excess of available time over predicted work)? Aim for well north of 10%. Growth focussed firms aim for 20%. If you do have free capacity do you have a plan for senior people to delegate more of their work? The objective should be to try to ensure that most of the free capacity resides with senior people. These are the people who can then engage with clients and develop new work opportunities.
  2. Should you be considering different sources of labour? Many firms have taken the leap to offshoring with varying degrees of success. It needs to be considered. Are there opportunities to employ retirees, many of whom would like to work for a couple of days a week? Their IT skills are not as bad as you think! Longer term have you pondered a cadet program to employ school leavers on a part-time basis as they do their studies? Many tend to stick around and can have senior skills at a younger age due to the experience they receive from starting early.
  3. Do you have a plan to regularly conduct client needs reviews? Regular readers would be aware that we have long advocated that practitioners should be having a broad-ranging, open-ended discussion with every client every year to discover the issues that are concerning them and opportunities to help. It’s a fishing expedition. We have developed a Needs Review document that outlines up to 100 issues that could be discussed with a client. If you don’t have this document, you can download it here. By doing these needs reviews you are showing clients that you care and are changing perceptions that you can assist them well beyond tax compliance.
  4. Have you implemented a resource plan? A resource plan outlines when each compliance job will be done, who will do it, and how many hours it should take. You plan your work this way to 80% of capacity leaving 20% for unexpected work. Client agreement is obtained as to the month their work will be done, and that information will be submitted six weeks before the month the work is due to start. This allows work to be smoothed throughout the year. It improves turnaround time and lock-up. Team members are happier with less stress and time pressure. Those that have implemented these plans report that it is the most transformative concept that they have ever applied to their firm.
  5. Do you have a plan to review your technology? In the past few years we have seen many of the incumbent suppliers stumble, new suppliers have emerged for different parts of the core suite. FYI is establishing itself as the leader in cloud document management. Kloud Connect is revealing next generation practice management. Do you have a plan to experiment with process automation? Have a look at FYI’s process automation functionality. Have you experimented with and pondered how you may be able to make use of artificial intelligence (AI)? Throw some tasks at ChatGPT. It is unlikely to be 100% right, but I suspect you’ll also find some interesting responses that you may use.
  6. Lastly, do you have an aggressive plan to pull apart and rebuild your processes? We need to find opportunities to automate, eliminate process steps, and improve how you receive and send information to clients. Build a list of all your processes and conduct a detailed review of one each month. Some firms have adopted two-tier processes with simpler more streamlined processes for smaller less risky clients.

So there are a few things to ponder. What else could you add to your new year’s resolution list?

I hope you have a highly successful and enjoyable 2023/24.

David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.

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Unleashing Growth Potential: Developing a Niche Industry Market for Your Firm https://smithink.com/2023/06/27/unleashing-growth-potential-developing-a-niche-industry-market-for-your-firm/ https://smithink.com/2023/06/27/unleashing-growth-potential-developing-a-niche-industry-market-for-your-firm/#respond Tue, 27 Jun 2023 06:43:36 +0000 https://smithink.com/?p=11554 Golf professionals require accounting firms that go beyond compliance services, offering valuable advisory services to improve their financial position both on and off the course. Drawing from 18 years of experience in the industry, I have identified the top ten actions that accounting firms can provide to add value to golf professionals’ financial strategies. Discover…

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Golf professionals require accounting firms that go beyond compliance services, offering valuable advisory services to improve their financial position both on and off the course. Drawing from 18 years of experience in the industry, I have identified the top ten actions that accounting firms can provide to add value to golf professionals’ financial strategies. Discover how these actions can make a significant impact on their success.

  1. Making Profit-Based Business Decisions:
  • Empowering golf professionals to make informed decisions that enhance profitability
  • Using financial data to drive better business strategies

2. Understanding Price and Volume Variances:

  • Unveiling the relationship between price, volume, profit, and cash flow changes
  • Leveraging this understanding to optimise revenue streams

3. Unlocking Profit Within Financial Statements:

  • Equipping golf professionals with the knowledge to identify profit sources in financial statements and reports
  • Harnessing hidden profit potential for financial growth

4. Evaluating Profit Performance and Driving Future Success:

  • Assessing profit performance to identify strengths and areas for improvement
  • Developing strategies for sustainable growth and enhanced profitability

5. Strategic Inventory Management:

  • Analysing inventory turnover rates and identifying strong and weak performing items
  • Strategic acquisition of fast-moving, high-profit inventory lines

6. Effective Cash Flow Control:

  • Implementing measures to manage cash flow efficiently
  • Identifying potential cash shortfalls and securing appropriate financing solutions

7. Budgeting and Cash Flow Analysis:

  • Collaborating with golf professionals to develop and analyse budgets and cash flow projections
  • Providing insights for effective financial planning and decision-making

8. Optimising Capital Investment and Returns:

  • Assisting golf professionals in making informed decisions regarding capital investments
  • Maximising returns and ensuring efficient utilisation of financial resources

9. Strengthening Financial and Internal Controls:

  • Developing robust financial and internal control systems
  • Safeguarding assets and minimising risks

10. Efficient Tax and Payroll Management:

  • Managing tax obligations and optimising tax strategies for golf professionals
  • Ensuring compliant and accurate payroll management

Express Your Interest:
Smithink is seeking expressions of interest from accounting firms across Australia to gauge the demand for PGA Approved Service Provider training in early 2024. To confirm your interest, please email me at [email protected].

For any inquiries or questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to assist you in enhancing your accounting services for golf professionals.

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