Who hasn't enjoyed a round or two of the fast-paced game Rock Paper Scissors, whether as a child or an adult? As a kid, it was just good fun. As an adult, it can still serve as a simple, friendly way to decide who has to do the dishes or walk the dog. 

Contrary to what most think, Rock Paper Scissors is not a game of mere chance. There is a science behind it. From a mathematical perspective, it's true that the optimum RPS strategy is to play randomly. However, this strategy hosts two fatal flaws. First, the "law of random" dictates that a person will win, lose, and draw an equal number of times, which is hardly a winning long-term strategy.

Second, and more important, humans are the worst at being random. Try as we might, it is simply not in our nature to react randomly on a consistent basis. In fact, it is far more likely that people will begin to approximate the randomness of their RPS opponent and then react based on their opponent's actions. The result - predictable randomness. And where there is predictability, there is the ability to develop a sound strategy.

In relation to the accounting profession, strategy is critical. When firms have the appropriate strategies in place, they are more likely to win - winning being a metaphor for growth, success and profitability, of course. To get professionals thinking about the evolution of their firms, a new-age, accounting-specific RPS strategy offers a simplified approach for firm advancement - while being ever scientifically based.

 

ROCK YOUR THING!

They say that everyone is good at something. Focus on that and do your best. We all know people who reject this theory and attempt to be good at everything. In reality, however, most end up being mediocre across the board.

The same is true for the tax and accounting profession. When firms try to offer all services to satisfy all clients, it's impossible to emerge as an expert in any one area. Lack of expertise negates value pricing and hinders growth in any one service area - not to mention makes it virtually impossible to establish uniform processes.

Successful firm leaders have gone through the process of evaluating who they are. That is, identifying the core services that define the firm - their areas of strength. If a firm rocks at audit, remote bookkeeping, and tax preparation, then it should stick with these services and abandon the rest. Remember, it's about focusing on what you are good at and doing your best. In other words, whatever your thing is ... rock it!

There is immense value in knowing who you are and building your business based on your strengths. Over time, your firm can:

* Emerge as experts in niche areas, which supports value pricing.

* Create lasting revenue streams as you build and expand each niche service.

* Focus recruiting on staff with expertise in niche areas.

* Develop standardized, efficient workflow processes for each defined service area.

* Differentiate your firm from other "convenience store" firms.

Eventually, niche services become the rock of your firm ... steady, reliable sources of revenue.

 

PAPER - SHED IT ALREAYD

Paper is so last year. No doubt everyone is sick to death of hearing about the great paperless movement, but it really is an important element of a firm's evolution. With so many cool and powerful technologies, there is really no reason to keep paper around.

Online document management systems allow firms to move files to the infamous cloud. Leading doc management apps store and archive documents in a logical file structure for ease of retrieval. These systems even offer features to ensure compliance with retention mandates. It's like having your own personal digital filing robot to do the work for you.

Technology couldn't make it any easier for firms to go paperless. Gains in efficiency are one thing, but also consider the cost savings. Cut paper, postage and physical storage costs, which really do add up to big money over time. Going paperless leads directly to significant cost savings, and that just means more money for your firm. And that's the kind of paper you want to keep.

 

SCISSORS: SHARPEN, REPEAT

Assuming that the scissors in your office are sharp ... be like the scissors! Don't settle for the dull norm, standard templates, a static Web site, less-than-innovative marketing and branding initiatives. Like the rug, it's time to cut it up. Get creative, quirky and even a little crazy.

Firms have to be clever in building their brand in order to stand out from the crowd. Future-thinking leaders are adopting new media (video blogs, social media tools, etc.) and stepping over the boundaries of the conservative to really give their marketing collateral some pop-boom-bang. It's not always a comfortable leap, but those that are doing it are very glad they did.

George Watkins, CPA, of Watkins & Associates, recently put the branding pedal to the metal. "I was very apprehensive at first about changing my brand. In fact, I dragged my feet on several occasions. In the end, though, I decided to take the leap of faith. I've received nothing but positive feedback from clients about our new marketing literature, staff photos and Web site. They love our new look. I'm even advancing into video!"

Adopting a creative mindset is not only a way to engage clients and draw in new prospects, it's also a solid approach to engaging staff and livening things up around the office.

"What I was most surprised about was the overwhelmingly positive reaction from my staff and their level of engagement with our new branding strategy. Small additions like simply hanging newly branded nameplates outside each employee's office made a huge difference. My staff said it gave them a sense of identity and made them feel even more a part of the firm. It sounds silly, but this small change ended up being a huge morale booster," said Watkins.

It's difficult for the accounting profession to move away from tradition, and that's understandable. Tradition is good, and it seems to have worked ... until now. A new brand day has dawned and the freak flags are starting to fly. More firms are embracing branding and marketing and allowing their creative sides to come out.

The lesson: It's okay to be the scissors. Come on ... be the scissors. Sharp, clever thinking makes all the difference when trying to differentiate your firm from all the others that have no scissor appeal.

 

A SIMPLE APPROACH

Firm evolution is inevitable.

If you aren't growing, you're slowing ... and that's just the last stop before Stagnantville. Continued growth is contingent on the effort that firm leaders are willing to put into their practices. The Rock Paper Scissors approach for the accounting profession maps it out in simple steps:

Rock: Conduct an in-depth analysis and determine who you are, what services represent your firm's strengths, and how you can build niche services into an economic machine. Identify your areas of strength and rock your thing!

Paper: Get off the paper train. Successful firms don't throw money in the toilet. If you still rely heavily on paper, there is no doubt it's negatively affecting your bottom line. Investigate the technologies out there and start to build a system that supports end-to-end digital processes. Your clients, staff and the environment will thank you.

Scissors: Critical thinking is still a mainstay in business, but creative thinking is making some serious strides. Right brainers know the value of being different and standing out. Get in touch with your creative side. You may even have a few hidden "sharpies" on your staff that can offer new ideas on how to market and brand your firm - scissor-style.

Rock Paper Scissors. Who knew it could be so simple?

Contrary to what most think, Rock Paper Scissors is not a game of mere chance. There is a science behind it. From a mathematical perspective, it's true that the optimum RPS strategy is to play randomly. However, this strategy hosts two fatal flaws. First, the "law of random" dictates that a person will win, lose and draw an equal number of times, which is hardly a winning long-term strategy.

Second, and more important, humans are the worst at being random. It is simply not in our nature to react randomly on a consistent basis. In fact, it is far more likely that people will begin to approximate the randomness of their opponent and then react based on their opponent's actions. The result - predictable randomness. And where there is predictability, there is the ability to develop a sound strategy.

Strategy is critical. When accounting firms have the appropriate strategies in place, they are more likely to win - winning being a metaphor for growth, success and profitability, of course. To get professionals thinking about the evolution of their firms, a new-age, accounting-specific RPS strategy offers a simplified approach for firm advancement - while being ever scientifically based.

 

ROCK YOUR THING!

They say that everyone is good at something. Focus on that and do your best. We all know people who reject this and attempt to be good at everything. In reality, however, most end up being mediocre across the board. When firms try to offer all services to satisfy all clients, it's impossible to emerge as an expert in any one area. Lack of expertise negates value pricing and hinders growth in any one service area - not to mention making it virtually impossible to establish uniform processes.

Successful firm leaders have gone through the process of evaluating who they are, identifying the core services that define the firm - their areas of strength. If a firm rocks at audit, remote bookkeeping and tax preparation, then it should stick with these services and abandon the rest. Whatever your thing is ... rock it! Over time, your firm can:

Emerge as experts in niche areas, which supports value pricing.

Create lasting revenue streams as you build and expand each niche service.

Focus recruiting on staff with expertise in niche areas.

Develop standardized, efficient workflow processes for each defined service area.

Differentiate your firm from other "convenience store" firms.

Eventually, niche services become the rock of your firm ... steady, reliable sources of revenue.

 

PAPER - SHED IT ALREADY

Paper is so last year. No doubt everyone is sick to death of hearing about the great paperless movement, but it really is an important element of a firm's evolution. With so many cool and powerful technologies, there is really no reason to keep paper around.

Online document management systems allow firms to move files to the infamous cloud. Leading doc management apps store and archive documents in a logical file structure for ease of retrieval. These systems even offer features to ensure compliance with retention mandates. It's like having your own personal filing robot to do the work for you.

Gains in efficiency are one thing, but consider the cost savings. Cut paper, postage and physical storage costs, which really do add up to big money over time. Going paperless leads directly to significant cost savings, and that means more money for your firm. And that's the kind of paper you want to keep.

 

SCISSORS: SHARPEN, REPEAT

Assuming that the scissors in your office are sharp ... be like the scissors! Don't settle for the dull norm, standard templates, a static Web site, less-than-innovative marketing and branding initiatives. Like the rug, it's time to cut it up. Get creative, quirky and even a little crazy.

Firms have to be clever in building their brand in order to stand out from the crowd. Future-thinking leaders are adopting new media (video blogs, social media tools, etc.) and stepping over the boundaries of the conservative to really give their marketing collateral some pop-boom-bang. It's not always a comfortable leap, but those that are doing it are very glad they did.

George Watkins, CPA, of Watkins & Associates, recently put the branding pedal to the metal. "I was very apprehensive at first about changing my brand. In fact, I dragged my feet on several occasions. In the end, though, I decided to take the leap of faith. I've received nothing but positive feedback from clients about our new marketing literature, staff photos and Web site. They love our new look. I'm even advancing into video!"

"What I was most surprised about was the overwhelmingly positive reaction from my staff and their level of engagement ... . Small additions like simply hanging newly branded nameplates outside each employee's office made a huge difference. My staff said it gave them a sense of identity and made them feel even more a part of the firm. It sounds silly, but this small change ended up being a huge morale booster," said Watkins.

It's difficult for accountants to move away from tradition, and that's understandable. Tradition is good, and it seems to have worked ... until now. A new brand day has dawned and the freak flags are starting to fly. Firms are embracing branding and marketing and allowing their creative sides to come out.

The lesson: It's okay to be the scissors. Sharp, clever thinking makes all the difference when trying to differentiate your firm.

 

A SIMPLE APPROACH

If you aren't growing, you're slowing ... and that's the last stop before Stagnantville. Continued growth is contingent on the effort that firm leaders are willing to put into their practices. The Rock Paper Scissors approach for the profession maps it out in simple steps:

Rock: Conduct an in-depth analysis and determine who you are, what services represent your strengths, and how you can build niche services into an economic machine. Identify your strengths and rock your thing!

Paper: Get off the paper train. If you still rely heavily on paper, there is no doubt it's negatively affecting your bottom line. Investigate the technologies out there and start to build a system that supports end-to-end digital processes. Your clients, staff and the environment will thank you.

Scissors: Critical thinking is still a mainstay in business, but creative thinking is making some serious strides. Right brainers know the value of being different and standing out. Get in touch with your creative side. You may even have a few hidden "sharpies" on your staff who can offer new ideas on how to market and brand your firm - scissor-style.

Rock Paper Scissors. Who knew it could be so simple?

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