Good things come in threes. There was a rather interesting article in a newsletter that Intuit sent out to practitioners. "Seasoned Advice: Helping Clients Make the Move from Peachtree to QuickBooks" in the July issue of Intuit ProConnection was written by Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor Dawn Ashpole. It details how she switched 50 of her clients from Peachtree to QuickBooks. The article provides a roadmap to the conversion and identifies pitfalls to avoid.

The same day I received a press release from CPAmerica International that announced a specialized service in the form of a Sarbanes-Oxley national service team for its member CPA firms. According to the release, "The CPAmerica SOX national service team consists of nationally known experts from large independent CPA firms across the country. The team can provide consulting for other member firms whose clients are publicly held companies."

Then, there was the ongoing thread on Association for Accounting Marketing's Discussion Forum on joint seminars providing information on who is best to co-sponsor a joint seminar, the topics that should be covered, and advice how the seminars should be conducted.

What do these three items have in common? They all provide very practical, actionable information. What is also interesting is that they are sources which some smaller firms might not utilize.

We are all creatures of habit and I am sure many smaller firms find answers to most of their practice questions and new ideas for practice development at other local firms it has a relationship with or from state society and AICPA contacts.

I believe these three items indicate that those firms should be widening their "spheres of influence" and move out of their comfort zone of primarily interacting with local firms that are similarly situated.

In the future, I feel accounting firms will have to concentrate more on building a steady pipeline of new business as they face the normal attrition of clients that provide recurring work, technological advances that obsolete the need for certain of the firm's services, and increased competition.

Firms will have to become more adept at capitalizing on new business opportunities. In order to do that, they will have to tap into sources from new, and even wider, circles than they are currently traveling. If recent practice development ideas that perked your interest are hard to remember, think about from where you are getting them and whether you should be widening your  "spheres of influence."

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