[IMGCAP(1)] We're celebrating New Vision CPA Group's 10th Anniversary! In honor of this milestone, I thought I’d write out 10 lessons I’ve learned over the years:

2006: Realized timelines matter. When jumping out on your own or joining your father’s firm, it’s OK to do contract work. But at a certain point, contract work will hold you back from building your firm faster.  Lesson learned: Limit yourself to one year of contract work only. Three years was way too long.

2007: Hired help. My first hire is still with me today. She began working roughly five hours a week. It was hard for me to pay her when I knew I could do the work myself. Learning to delegate early on helps you learn to, well, delegate well.

2008: Didn’t believe the hype. Someone told me it was a recession - NOPE, not for us. We were busy adding clients and growing exponentially because CPAs with established firms let the “sky is falling” mentality take over and as a result, did not deliver on value. We were charging more, but talking with our customers and building new business models. The world around you impacts you only if you let it.  

2009: Made a (physical) move. Finally moved in with my Dad to the same location. (We were working separately at that point.) Space together brought new challenges for our relationship, good and bad. And I started getting out there with my life-changing Accounting Today presentation, “You Got Your Dad’s Firm, Now What?” Began to tweet for practice management help and opened up my world to social business. A movement was born.

2010: Learned about the importance of timing. Took my eyes off our core business to build an innovative practice management model to sell to CPAs. The idea and model are still right. The timing was not. Be careful about letting a different business eat up your time and resources. A tough lesson learned on focus.

2011: Network, Network, Network. Realized the power of a peer network and social capital.  Opportunities all around me opened up based on relationships built online and offline.  Mentors, now friends, helped move me to the next professional level. There is so much power in asking, “Can you help me? I’m not sure of the next step.” Also, if you aren’t invited to the party, throw your own!  I guess no one ever did that before social media. Disruption was fun!

2012: Struggled with succession. Succession is not about assets; it’s all about power. Power struggles almost got the best of our family firm, but our commitment to a family business pulled us through. I would not want to relive that transition again.

2013: Struggled with software transitions. Two steps backward to move 300 steps forward. It was a difficult year as we moved clouds and tax software programs. Yes, I probably bit off more than our team could chew. Never looking back, and now we are happy with where we are today. Practice management is hard!    

2014: Took a Risk. Spent the summer writing a book. A personal journey I am forever grateful for. It solidified my “thought leadership” platform and stopped people from stealing my ideas on the New Firm.

2015: Changed locations (twice). The year of two moves. Space is just space, but when it’s not the right one it makes a difference to your culture. Our firm moved twice in less than a year. But thankfully our cloud made it fairly painless. Still tracking down some of that lost mail and our customers refer to us as “pop-up CPAs.”

2016: Looking ahead. What’s next?  Mergers and acquisitions. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth. I’m ready for the next step…where will it take us?  Are you part of my journey?

Jody Padar, CPA, MST, is the chief executive officer and principal at New Vision CPA Group and the author of The Radical CPA.