Your 2017 to-do list

Published
  • December 29 2016, 4:16pm EST
Here's one task for each month of the year to help you build your practice.

Filling your calendar

As we’ve done for the past couple of years, we’ve put together a list of 12 to-do items that you can use to fill out your new calendar. You can rearrange some of them, and skip others; the main point is to get you thinking about more than just the week ahead.

January

Find out what your state requires you to do after a security breach — from alerting those who might be affected and offering them credit checks, to potentially paying damages — and then find out if your insurance will cover that.

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February

Compare your list of service offerings to your client roster, and see how many of your services each of your clients is buying from you. Then make a plan to increase that number.

March

Every time you file a return, take a brisk walk around the block. Make sure that whatever route you choose doesn’t take you past a donut shop.

April

Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you actually have until April 18 to file all those taxes. (Thanks, Emancipation Day!)

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May

Once everyone’s back from their post-tax-season vacation, have a proper after-action review. Discuss what went right and what went wrong, and assign people to research solutions or improved processes for the latter. Give them due dates to present the results of their research, and then assign people to implement the solution you choose.

June

Take someone for a ride-along; that is, bring a younger staff member with you for a client meeting or a sales call. They’ll get to learn how a professional handles these kinds of face-to-face meetings, and your clients and prospects will be more comfortable knowing there are other people besides you who can answer the phone. (If you’re a sole practitioner, start thinking about what will happen to your clients if something unexpected happens to you.)

July

Take an hour to review your partnership agreement, possibly in conjunction with a lawyer. Have you or your partners’ circumstances undergone any changes that require an update?

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August

Look at a selection of positions in your firm (let’s say no more than 10), and ask who might be holding those positions in 10 years. If you can’t at least point to possibilities, then you need to start building a plan and a pipeline. (If you’re a sole practitioner, look at all the different functions at your practice, and ask yourself if you want to, or will be able to, perform all of them in 10 years.)

September

Meet with a small group of fellow practitioners to discuss your challenges and successes in technology, recruiting, retention, business development and client service. Have an agenda that involves each person sharing their experiences and plans for the future. Some places that can help you meet up with firms and practitioners of a similar size and with similar issues include your state society, the National Conference of CPA Practitioners, the National Society of Accountants, the American Institute of CPAs and the Boomer Technology Circles. (If you’ve already done this, skip to October.)

October

That meeting with fellow practitioners that you had in September? Arrange to have it again, whether monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, so you can track your progress and theirs.

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November

Pick a process at your practice — something you do on a regular basis — and dissect it. Whether it’s how you pay your bills or how you process a tax return, you want to see if it can be improved: Does it reflect outdated regulations? Are there steps in it that have been or can be made redundant by technology? Better still, are there parts of it that you could pass on to lower-level staff?

December

Remember that list you made in February? Revisit it and see how successful your cross-selling initiative has been.

Good luck in 2017!