Art of Accounting: 300th column and still preaching to the choir

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This is my 300th weekly Art of Accounting column. Wow! I feel proud of this. I also congratulate each reader and consider you to be in my choir while I am a preacher of sorts. However, this column would be best read by people who do not read Accounting Today and similar publications.

Periodically I review what I and others have written, trying to get ideas to present to clients and to accounting firms I consult with. I’ve just done this and all of the articles are really good (modesty aside) and are a treasure trove of sound, practical and workable practice tips.

I receive between 30 and 40 calls a month from colleagues asking for suggestions on how to handle a practice management issue. Interestingly enough for me, they are on a wide variety of topics so I get to interact with and find out how others do things. When I read an article I like, of which there are an overabundance in AT by many excellent authors, advisors and consultants, I copy and paste them in a file for retrieval when I am looking for an idea on a topic; and some I can use right away. This got me thinking about two groups — those that read the articles and do not do anything different and those that do not read them at all. I am trying to understand why in both cases. Note that there are many readers that take the great advice in AT, adding new things to their practice. I am not referring to them, and good for you!

I’ve spoken to many readers — after all, everyone who calls me has read at least one article I wrote — and most seem to tell me they are too busy working on client matters to get started with anything new, or that there are so many great ideas they would like to do, that they become “frozen” with inaction not being able to set aside the time to get started. The others, the nonreaders, have the same “excuse” — they are too busy working on client issues to read anything that will tell them how to make the changes necessary so they wouldn’t be so busy. The calls from nonreaders are fewer since they don’t read anything so do not know who I am — but they get my name from someone who knows about me, or has seen an article or two by me.

There is no way the nonreaders would be reading this — so too bad for them. A suggestion I make when I give a speech is to start subscribing to AccountingToday.com or CPAtrendlines.com or any other of the many free email newsletters which are supported by ad revenue.

The readers who are overwhelmed with information can take some advice I’ve given many times in these columns — pick one thing a month to get started with. I suggest an easy to do a thing and just start doing it. One new thing a month will be 60 changes after five years — pretty impressive and likely to have a positive effect on your practice.

I make lists of a million “to do sometime” or “ought to do” items and then do what pops up in my mind — but I make a conscious effort to make at least one change a month. This got me thinking that I must be pretty stupid since I am always learning new things. If I were that smart, I would not be learning anything new — I would know everything! If you are that smart, good for you; but if you are like me, then why not try to do one new thing a month? This has worked very well for me. It will also work for you!

Comment: Thank you for reading my columns and if you email me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com, I’ll reply with a 160-page goodie as a gift.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Practice management Client relations Ed Mendlowitz