[IMGCAP(1)]The question may not be as deep as “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, but “Why did we celebrate when the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve?”

Are we celebrating our exit from 2011? Entering into 2012 with a clean slate? Did we think we look good wearing a lamp shade? We thought our neighbors would enjoy the sounds of illegal fireworks going off at midnight courtesy of a dad and his 13-year-old son? (I thought my neighbors would)

Growing any business in 2011 did not come easy. A weak economy. Increased competition. Pricing concerns by clients and prospects. A weaker pipeline of incoming referral opportunities. Changes that businesses made internally to combat the above reasons, as well as the other million reasons which made for a tough year. 

But with a new year comes a revival of new hope.

Not to step up onto an economic soapbox, but if things are going to swing towards a prosperous 2012, we individually need to think about playing a bigger role to do so. It’s one thing to declare, “We need new business,” but there also needs to be some forces to help fulfill that demand.

Many of these efforts and initiatives are intangible, which can be the tricky part of growing any business or quantifying marketing activity.

If firms and individuals are to have a successful 2012, sleeves will need to be rolled up while keeping in mind some ABC’s when trying to grow:

A.    Adapt: ADAPT to changing markets, competition, IT advances, internal needs and your own industry changes in order to grow your business.

B.    Build: BUILD relationships/ties with clients, prospects, Centers of Influence and your teammates. 

C.    Creative: Don’t be afraid to be CREATIVE in ways to highlight your organization. Try different approaches to build your brand.

D.    Determination: Be DETERMINED to provide the best possible value-added service when working with clients, prospects and COI’s.

E.    Excellence: Strive for EXCELLENCE in everything the firm does to strengthen relationships and the perception of the firm to prospects and the markets they serve.

F.    Follow-up:  If you do not FOLLOW-UP with the things you said you would do to others, your reputation will suffer and so will your business.

G.    Generate: Constantly look to GENERATE new business opportunities as well as meet new people. It’s a numbers game.

H.    Help: Be HELPFUL and resourceful to those you meet to create new opportunities.

I.    Innovation: Don’t let stagnation be part of your foundation. INNOVATE to grow.

J.    Juggle: Be careful that when JUGGLING too many things at once, you don’t begin to let some things fall. 

K.    Keep Going: Even though every prospect, cold call or opportunity will not convert into a new client, KEEP GOING to acquire new ones.

L.    Latitude: Give people the LATITUDE to make decisions on their own to help grow the next generation of leaders.

M.    Motivation:  MOTIVATING yourself or teammates will be a fuel for success.

N.    Now: Plant the seeds of your firm to prospects NOW to harvest new clients tomorrow. 

O.    Outreach:  Look for OUTREACH events in your community to highlight you and your firm.

P.    Positive: Have a POSITIVE attitude when dealing with others. It will be a POSITIVE attitude that will assist you in achieving your goals.

Q.    Quality: Deliver nothing but QUALITY to your clients and the markets you serve.

R.    Radar: Always keep clients and prospects on your RADAR and communicate with them as your competition will be doing the same thing to your clients and prospects.

S.    Sales: Welcome to 2012-Everyone in your firm is in SALES now.

T.    Teamwork: A firm cannot grow or move forward without the total TEAMWORK from within. 

U.    Uncover:  Continue to UNCOVER opportunities to meet new people, which leads to new opportunities. 

V.    Vision:  While day-to-day operations and work are paramount in all firms, don’t neglect the VISION necessary to move the firm forward.

W.    Wide: Look to WIDEN your contacts by participating in new organizations and associations.

X.    (e)Xtra Effort: It will always take (e)XTRA effort in a competitive landscape to acquire new business.

Y.    Yell: YELL out and share the accomplishments of teammates to the firm with pride. Recognition is always appreciated.

Z.    Zero In: Continue to ZERO IN on ways to improve your delivery of services to your clients and on ways to better your firm.

When reviewing the alphabet above I realized that all of the letters represent behavior modifications. I’m sure you could come up with many more ABC’s that would be applicable to your own career and firm. But what struck me the most was the fact that implementing the ABC’s above in our firms would not increase expenses but very well could increase productivity, retention of current clients and new business opportunities. 

Maybe as a late entry to your list of New Year’s resolutions, you may want to create your own ABC list. But let me offer this belated New Year’s offering. If you need a spark to get your list going, I’m sure I can find some unused fireworks from New Year’s Eve that could help ignite the spark to send you on your way to completing your own list. And I bet my neighbors would be delighted to have fewer fireworks in the neighborhood!!

A toast to a successful and prosperous 2012 for us and our country!!!!

Nicholas D. Keseric Jr. is the director of practice growth with Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co, a Chicago-area middle-market CPA firm, and a partner with MPS Capital Advisors-Mergers & Acquisitions.

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