Art of Accounting: What you need to succeed

Last week I wrote about 10 opportunities that came my way that I jumped on. There are many more and I have also written about many in these columns. Today I want to discuss a few qualities that you need to succeed:

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• Don’t pass up opportunities.

• Just do it! Wondering about having the time or when it would get done, not feeling you know enough or questioning why you should spend the time to learn something new when you can get eight backlogged easy things done, is a way to avoid doing anything new.

• Don’t be afraid to try new things. I always like to try something new. I like learning new things, and trying them out is part of that. “We’ve always done it that way” is a sure way to mediocrity.

• Be anxious to learn new things. Trying means learning. I like and look for challenges, and new things present that opportunity. I find learning new things creates an excitement and is exhilarating.

• You can’t grow living in a vacuum. You need to try new things and meet new people. You have to get out, network, travel and gather experiences.

• Know what you want. Successful people seem to be clear on their goals and what they want to accomplish. They also have a way to get there. Most of the successful people I know had many ideas that did not work, but they kept looking for “another thing.” So, be flexible and able to admit (primarily to yourself) that something you liked won’t work. Moving on propels you forward.

• Be quick to cut losses. Many new things we try are not successful, but thankfully, the successes obliterate the failures. Never be afraid to try new things, but also don’t be afraid to cut your losses. The really successful people know this…and do it!

• Read. Reading is a way to acquire experiences vicariously through others. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, your world is expanded by reading.

• Enlarge your comfort zone. It takes an effort, but it can be done and it works wonders.

• Have a burning desire, even an obsession, to succeed.

• Have a plan.

• Spend time learning about practice management, i.e., running your business. Also attend practice management programs. You are doing this every time you read my column, and the many other great columns in Accounting Today.

• Follow through on what you say you will do and need to do.

• Keep promises. That means meeting time deadlines. Just be careful to set realistic deadlines based on what you believe you can meet.

• Do the right things, at the right time, in the right way.

• Be able to delegate and to empower staff.

• And many more, but I am stopping this list here. I think you got the gist of what I am saying.

Here is a story of three New York City taxis. One goes straight down a street passing people waving their hands; the second stops for everyone hailing cabs along his straight route; and the third speeds up and zigzags to get to a person who is hailing a cab before anyone else does. Question: Who is the most successful and which one are you?

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.