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People often ask me: what makes a firm a “New Firm?”

There are four fundamental tenets. These four tenets, although adopted differently within each firm, comprise a new set of values that most of the “movement” firms embrace.

Ready? Here we go:

  • Cloud/technology.
  • Social/communication.
  • Pricing/value.
  • Process/experience.

There are many ideas and lots of articles about how the above four tenets impact a firm. But I haven’t seen anyone really explain how these tenets holistically and radically change a firm at its core.
It’s not just about the cloud technology. It’s not just about the social media. It’s about communication and transparency. Those two elements are what hold CPAs back.

The transparency of the Internet demands that you quantify and express your value differently than in a time measurement. The real time-all-the-time-connection demands that you rethink and retool all your processes internally and with the customer-experience perspective as a core component.

IT’S PRACTICE MANAGEMENT 3.0

This year, through a series of articles, I will be trying to help you understand how you can transform your firm into embodying a Radical “New Firm.” Yes, it can be done.

The most important part to consider is this: The way the radical firms operate is more in line with what today’s customers are expecting and demanding. The new rules are meeting the future-ready small-business owner where they are, and the late majority and laggards are moving slowly in that direction, because they have to. Make the choice.

WHY RADICAL?

The term “radical” applies because what we are doing to our firms and indirectly to the profession is fundamental to its core. It’s abrupt, disruptive, unexpected and far- reaching. We are shaking up the status quo.

However, my comrades and I are not just creating drama for the sake of drama. We are changing because our customers and the world are changing around us.

Some might also perceive radical to be a negative term. I assure you, it’s not. Our movement is more likely following the happy expression, “That’s radical, dude!” We want everyone to learn and join us.

WHY SHOULD I BE RADICAL?

CPAs must be “radicalized” so they will not be lulled into complacency and driven by reactions in their current firm or lives. The changes that are happening in today’s fast-paced world need to be addressed. Most likely, you and your team have already felt the changes. The silent majority of many employees is hurt, suspicious and feeling unheard. They see and experience the changes happening around them and don’t understand the complacency or the resistance to change from firm management.

You may even be feeling this yourself within your firm of one. This toxic condition within many firms is corrosive and detrimental. Employee frustrations are mounting to the point of revolt — or indifference. An employee who is indifferent is more destructive to a firm then one who is leading a revolt.

Many of us fight with the idea of rationalization, where we say, “It’s not that bad.” We can wait before we take action — “Let the next generation make the changes. I’m retiring.”

We can’t wait any longer.

The first step in a new organization is disorganization. That’s scary! But we no longer have the opportunity to wait. Our customers are pulling us, some of us kicking and screaming. These core fundamental changes are being driven by the outside world. If we don’t start to change, we run the risk of being irrelevant.

Insecure in this fast-changing world, the people of an organization will cling to illusory fixed points that are very real to them: “I don’t want to argue with you, just tell me how social media is not a waste of time” or “What do you think of these Millennials who want to work from home?”

It is this pervasive attitude that presents our challenge for the Radical “New Firm.” We need to react to this attitude within our firms and ourselves and begin to fight like our lives depend on it. Our livelihoods do depend on this fight if we want to remain relevant to the next-generation business owners.

WE ARE HERE TO HELP

The best part about these radical professionals who have gone before is that we believe in abundance. We promote and celebrate a new way of doing business and encourage the rest of the profession to move forward and change as a whole. Look around at the next generation of firm owners who are rocking it because they have holistically adopted the four tenets within their firms. Although adopted differently to make it work for them, they celebrate a new set of values that is connecting with the next-generation small-business owner.

The most important part about this whole thing is that it’s not about us; it’s about moving the profession forward and encouraging the profession to come with us - and in the process, changing your firm and your life.

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