[IMGCAP(1)]I recently went to an event with a few managing partners from some local accounting firms.

The size of the firms ranged from eight to 30 professionals. Each firm was a good local firm—nothing to distinguish between each firm in the way they would provide service to their clients.

As we had a couple of drinks and chatted about how each other’s practice was growing and new trends that these partners were seeing, one partner pointed out that his (and his partners) annual compensation had increased 30 percent due to the implementation of outsourced controller and cloud accounting solutions.

As I sat there and listened, I started to think back to all the stories I have heard recently about 20+ percent annual growth in accounting firms. Go to any accounting conference and you will immediately hear people claiming a 15+ percent increase in revenues through the implementation of a new service. Talk to any vendor looking to sell a product and they will claim success stories whereby their product led to 25 percent growth in a firm for four years straight.

And then a light bulb went off in my head. These people are scrounging out the 3 percent increases that I am seeing. They haven’t doubled in size, they haven’t found the secret sauce, they are tooting their own horns because it feels good when others think highly of them. They are toiling with the same problems as my practice, while giving the impression that life could not be any better.

So now that I know my competition isn’t growing hand over fist, it’s time to focus on myself and my firm and figure out how to grow hand over fist! Here are a couple of tips to help you get to that point (assuming you want it):

1. Plan: If you don’t know who your target market is, go find it today. If you can’t easily figure out whom you can help along with the results they will achieve, go back to the drawing board and come up with that plan. Once you have found your target market, find the most efficient way to communicate with this group.

2. Work Hard: The work is not going to come to you! Build relationships, drive the need home, and show the impact your clients will feel when they partner with you. Here is the kicker: once these new clients begin to sign up, they will expect everything (and more) on what you sold them, so you’d better figure out a way (if you have not already) to provide the “moon” that you sold. If you fail, expect your growth turn into a negative quickly.

3. Work Smart: Because you are adding new clients, you should be adding efficiencies. If you are customizing every project you offer to your new clients, you may grow in revenues, but margins may suffer. As you take in these new clients, make sure you are following your plan in offering standardized solutions to your target market. At the end of the day, your bottom line will be happy you did.

I apologize, but if your firm ever expects to double in size in a year, your best option is to merge with another practice (congrats if you double in size through the purchase). If you want the work to come to you, good luck. I look forward to hearing about your 30 percent annual growth stories. But if you are truly interested in growing, you have to put yourself and your firm out in the market, talk to your target market, and provide them with the support they need to meet your goals.

As for the next person you hear spouting off about their incredible growth, ask them to prove it! Or forget about them and focus on your internal goals.

Adam Blitz is a CPA and a relationship builder. Through his website www.getblitzedsolutions.com, GetBlitzed Solutions offers free resources for CPAs to strengthen their practices. Focusing exclusively on the soft side of accounting—business development, cloud accounting development, coaching, and leadership development— GetBlitzed Solutions uses insight from years of public accounting practice to guide CPAs toward successful practices.  Adam has a Masters in Leadership Studies and has published a thesis on the value a CPA provides to clients and staff. You can reach Adam at Adam@getblitzedsolutions.com or via Twitter @getblitzed.

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