Where do you find fresh ideas to implement at your firm? The usual sources are probably other accounting firms, accountants you come in contact with, consultants, the AICPA, state CPA societies, as well as seminar and conferences that you attend.

You'll notice that you tend to go back to the same sources on a regular basis. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of new ideas by now is at best a trickle.

So why not try some new sources? One thing I recommend is that if you go, for example, to four conferences a year, you might want to change at least one of the conferences. It will force you to do some research about other conferences.

For your business clients, have you spent considerable time touring and observing their actual business operations? How often have you investigated how their competitors do things?

Another way to germinate some fresh ideas and, hopefully new engagements, is to ask your clients questions such as: "What was your biggest regret involving the business this year?  What idea would you like to implement but are having trouble with?  What's stopping you from expanding?
You shouldn't limit yourself to the accounting profession, For instance, the next time you go to a lawyer or a doctor, spend some time observing the surroundings. I know of a law firm that has a small 8" by 10" placard of upcoming seminars it is presenting along with registration materials in its waiting room. Then there is the doctor who has information for ordering a bracelet that lists medical conditions, allergies, and contact information. How many of your clients with elderly parents would appreciate that second bit of information?

Or how about a visit to a store that sells the latest technology? Why not ask a salesperson to show you what the newest devices can do. You don't have to buy anything, but you'll have a much better idea of what your clients are using, or perhaps, should be using.

Speaking of fresh ideas, please e-mail me one thing that is missing from the Practical Accountant that would be invaluable to you. My e-mail address is Howard.Wolosky@ThomsonMedia.com.

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