Art of Accounting: Grow up

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Many colleagues and clients get tangled in the daily merry-go-round that consumes much of their time while pushing aside creative, innovative and big picture thinking about their business, how they got there and where they are going.

This was strongly indicated to me recently when a colleague called. He is a partner in a substantial, profitable practice that wanted to grow even more. They decided that hiring a marketing consultant would be the way to go. He asked for my views and suggestions about where they could look. I asked him a few questions and found out there was no plan other than that they wanted to grow the business. That led to my column on June 25, 2018 on getting started with marketing.

After chatting a while, he asked me for the best way to find a part-time marketing person. Part-time??? I explained why his thinking was misguided. He either needed to engage a professional marketing consultant, or hire a full-time employee. Actually, even if they engaged a consultant, they would need an in-house person to provide support and liaison. They had a significant business, needed to recognize that and do things accordingly, on the scale of the business presently and where they want to be going. Their thinking was where they were…early on. They needed to grow up.

It seems to me that many businesses are in a time warp somewhere between where they were and where they are. Starting up and obtaining a critical mass is one of the most difficult stages for a business. Once a maturity of sorts is reached, many businesses seem to settle in, resting on their laurels, cashing in on the profits, and reducing their propensity for risk taking — thus leveling off. Here is a link to a blog I posted on that situation.

Nevertheless, sometimes an owner needs a wakeup call to overcome their lethargy, and it usually comes from the firm’s independent accountant. As such we take a less myopic view with broader thoughts of possibilities since we are not mired in that organization’s daily activities or in the collective history of where they came from. It is up to the client to consider our thoughts and make the decisions on how to proceed. Many times it starts with a push from us.

When values, goals and sights are shown higher limits, along with an appreciation of what’s been accomplished, there can be even further accomplishments. This is not something just for clients and colleagues, but also for yourself. Take a good look at your own practice. Many of us accountants are great as advisors to others, often neglecting our No. 1 client — ourselves. Grow up!

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) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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