Every year, when the subject of choosing top accounting firms or top reselling firms comes up, the question arises, "What is a top firm?"

Just how do we define what quality is? It's clear the answer differs from firm to firm. Quality is in the mind of the person defining it. This question comes up every year when we compile the Killer VAR supplement for Accounting Technology. How do we define what a Killer VAR is? Or a Pacesetter?

Some business people value high profits, others, revenue growth. Some want to dominate the world. Others will settle for dominating a town. At least a few are happy getting enough money and having a life outside the office.

Every year I am involved in selecting a Killer VAR or a Pacesetter, I come back to one conclusion--that success is in the plan and its execution.

It does not mater what the plan is. The secret is to be able to assess your firm's capabilities and your own abilities, to know the needs of the market and how they can be met.

A plan is not an elaborate set of instructions or goals. Writing it down helps to remember it and helps in being able to describe it to others--like banks. But for a lot people, the plan is in their heads and probably can be summed up in under 25 words or less in answer to the question, "What is your company's mission?"

Being able to define the mission simply is the first step to being able to outline the steps necessary to accomplish it.

I remember one time during the disco furor, taking dance lessons at one of the famous dance chains---I don't remember if it was the Fred Astaire or Arthur Murray studios. I do remember the sign on the wall that said, "Lead, follow, or get off the floor. But do something."

I often come back to that advice. I think of the Pacesetters and Killer VARs as people who have done something. The something here is making a decision about what to do.

And then doing it.

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