Now that January is here, have you set your personal New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry if you haven’t – you can always replace them with these business resolutions to help drive your accounting form forward.
Many of us face the same dilemma – although we set our New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, often by late January we’ve already broken them. But it’s not too late – this time make a plan for your business that you can actually stick to for the rest of the year.
Here are five resolutions that will ensure your firm is ready for whatever your year brings.
Resolution 1. Build your vision
The business of accounting is changing, and this offers exciting new opportunities for firms of the future. But having so many possibilities can also be overwhelming, and may cause many accountants to feel stuck right where they are.
The key to driving your business forward is to narrow your focus – and that means creating a blueprint of what you want your firm to look like. To get started, consider your clients’ overall financial needs and identify the gaps within your business that are stopping you from meeting those needs. Then, take stock of your firm’s resources and capabilities so you can think of ways to use them more effectively.
When you’re building a vision for your firm, you need to walk before you can run. So although it’s important to start plotting out your business’s long-term objectives, you need to concentrate on how you’re realistically going to achieve your goals for the next year or two. It also helps to look at other successful firms in the accounting and financial advice space so you can learn from the things they're doing well.
Resolution 2. Make a plan
Once you’ve established your vision, you need to develop a plan that will help you achieve it. But when you’re busy running a small business, finding the time to do this is easier said than done.
That’s why it helps to break your plan down into smaller pieces by lining up each of your goals for the year. Think of your goals as a series of short sprints rather than a one-year marathon; by keeping your focus on the specific tasks at hand, you and your team will be able to continually make small improvements to the business.
And remember, it’s important to stop and review your progress along the way. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and keep fine tuning your plan as you go.
Resolution 3. Streamline your processes
Want to achieve your goals sooner? Then you need to start streamlining your existing processes so you can free up capacity within your team. That way, you’ll have more time to focus on strategy, and your team will be better placed to provide value-adding services to your clients.
Depending on how your firm currently operates, streamlining your processes could mean making better use of technology and automating more administrative tasks. For example, there are new apps on the market that can collect e-signatures, reducing the time needed for scanning and filing. And many forward-thinking firms have also adopted software solutions that can handle much of their routine bookkeeping work.
But before you invest in any new tools, make sure they’re the right fit for your business and compliant with the standards set by your professional body and/or advice licensee.
Resolution 4. Engage your team
As a small business owner, it’s easy to fall in the trap of trying to do everything yourself. But chances are this approach won’t leave you with enough time and energy to take your business to the next level.
That’s why you need to have the right support staff who can look after your day-to-day business operations. To maximise productivity, it also helps to delegate tasks and hold staff accountable for their actions. This will ensure each team member is engaged in their role and is working to capacity.
The same rule of accountability applies equally to you as the firm’s leader. You might even want to seek out a business coach who can help you refine your strategic plan – and stick to it.
Resolution 5. Rethink your fee structure
Do you find pricing your services to be one of your biggest challenges – in particular, how to successfully negotiate pricing with your clients? If so, the solution may be to restructure your pricing model by moving away from traditional hourly fees. Using a value-based fee structure instead can lead to deeper client relationships, as well as motivating your team to drive efficiency within the business.
By making the most of technology and automation, it’s now also easier than ever before to collect fees, with literally thousands of apps available to help you stay on top of invoicing and payments.
And you might also want to make this year the year you start getting tough with problem clients who regularly fall behind on their payments. Let them know you won’t be taking on more work for them until they pay what they owe – they’ll soon realise it’s not in their best interests to leave you hanging.