Growth is important to every firm, yet the way most partners think may be restricting, rather than enhancing, your growth. The majority of accountants think local and incremental due to their training and experiences, while we are competing in a global and exponential market. Multiple mindsets limit our thinking (see “Choose a mindset,” below).

To innovate and think differently, most accountants must adjust their thinking processes. There is a saying by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones that, “The people you meet and the books you read will determine who you will be in five years.”

I have found this to be true throughout my career and watched how others gained success and were able to transform in a changing world.

Scarcity thinking is dangerous and depressing. My best example is the media and how they project all of the negative news, while the world is actually a much better place to live than it was 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago. The mortality rate for newborns had declined steadily while life expectancy has increased; new technology is solving many of the world’s greatest problems associated with clean water, health care, energy and the food supply.

These positive changes deserve changes in thinking as well as the ability to focus on hindsight, insight and foresight to innovate and leverage the available technology. All professions are being impacted.

Local thinking is becoming less relative in a global economy. Your competition may not be local. In the future, it may not even come from another accounting firm. It will probably be from a global brand with experience in solving the wants and the needs of your clients.

The need for compliance services originally drove the accounting market, but today client wants are driving the market beyond compliance services to performance and strategic services. Local firms must be able to play through the compliance line in order to sustain success and be future-ready.

The difference between incremental and exponential thinking is huge and I am not just referring to the math. Thinking “10X-plus” allows the strategy to become clearer and the game to come to you.

I encourage you to ask yourself what your firm would do differently, and what you would do personally, if your firm were 10 times larger. Some of the answers I frequently hear are:

1. The firm needs a shared vision and strategic plan to execute the vision.

2. The firm would have to provide more training and learning opportunities.

3. The firm would need to be more consultative (advisory services) and less focused on compliance.

4. The firm would have to improve its processes.

5. The firm would have to enforce standards, policies and procedures on everyone, including the partners.

For partners:

1. I would have to be a better leader, delegate more, and identify a successor.

2. I would have to attract and develop talent.

3. I would have to work on the business and not just in the business.

4. I would have to attract more profitable clients and those who utilize multiple services.

5. I would need to specialize and learn.

As you answer these question for yourself and for your firm, you will learn that even if you only grow incrementally for the next one to two years, your thought process needs to focus on how you are going to grow in the future. There is great probability that how you grow going forward will be different from what got you to today’s level.

Carol Dweck’s excellent book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” explains how mindset impacts growth and change. People with a fixed mindset obstruct their own development through their belief in innate talent and their fear of failure. They see failure as disaster, whereas people with a growth mindset believe failures are opportunities. Often, those with a fixed mindset let their black-and-white way of thinking obstruct their development.

Our mindset shapes whether we can learn and change and grow — or not. Our mindset is often strongly influenced by the role models we had as children.

The good news is that anyone can adopt a growth mindset and make the impossible possible.

Remember, the books you read and the people you meet will determine who you will be in five years. Think 10X and let the game come to you.