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Change Amid the Chaos

By Susan M. Tillery

A colleague and friend recently asked me this question: “Do you have any insights, thoughts, or ideas for me during these turbulent times, especially as my business partner and I go forward? Are there things we can do to make sure our business is solid and sustainable? And are there things we can avoid? We want our company to be successful and feel we have a good chance to see it grow and become more than we ever thought it would be.”

I am sure my friend is not alone. These truly are “turbulent” times, but there is a way through this season of uncertainty, and I want to give you several steps to follow.

First, can you think of a profession, industry, or service that has had as little change as the accounting profession has when compared to the rest of the economy? I can’t.

Second, I believe that our profession is needed now more than ever, especially during this Covid-19 lock down. CPAs have stayed strong and continue to service their clients. This is important to remember because the months up ahead will be filled with even more changes and challenges. Strength is what our country needs.

I also believe there will be significant change. Last year the AICPA discussed staying ahead of disruption as they worked diligently on updating the audit process and encouraging and supporting tax firms as they added personal financial planning to their service offerings.

With 5G just around the corner, we have been told to expect game changing disruption to the business world and economy over the next 5 years. Little did we know Covid-19 had the jump on everyone regarding disruption. I believe all the change we were going to see over the next five years is coming much faster because of what has occurred over the last six weeks.

When you sit and ponder it for even just a couple of minutes, its mind blowing.

Now is the time to stop doing the things that are not taking you toward your future.

Step 1   Know what you want your business to look like in the future.  Put this in writing.

Step 2   Examine your service offering as well as your methods of providing these services.  If certain service offerings or methodologies are not going to get you where you want to be, this is the perfect time to make a change. We are doing this at Paraklete, we are looking at our services, our clients, our fees, and how we do things administratively. This includes how we bill, how we invoice, and how we permit payment, etc. We are taking each piece and saying is that what or how we want to do business and is this going to take us to the future we desire? Off the top of my head, I would say your extensive travel (a method of providing your services) will be an area you will need to examine.

In other words, no longer permit yourself to say, “We’ve always done it this way,” or “I don’t have time to make a change” or “Our clients will wonder why we are doing this”.  None of this reasoning holds water any longer. I see NOW as a divine moment in time to make CHANGES. Our clients are expecting change and if they are not, they certainly understand and appreciate the strategic thinking!

For most firms, working virtually is going to be more and more appealing and probably be a big part of their focus and change. This is the one thing your firm and Paraklete Financial, Inc., will excel at—working from a remote location like your home office. The difference now is everyone thinks it’s a great idea, and we don’t have to live with the stigma, “You’re not a real business if you don’t have office space with staff on site”. We are ahead of the curve on this one and therefore can be ahead when it comes to instituting critical pathway changes.

Step 3 Take an honest look as to what would happen if 25% – 33% of your clients are not able to afford your fees, either temporarily or permanently. Are you ready? How are your reserves? Will this be a good time to reduce your client load or will you extend these clients a lifeline and stay with them until they are back on their feet. If up to 33% were no longer clients, what is your plan? Obtain new clients? Expand services to current clients? Reduce service offerings? How do your answers to these questions line up with how you want your business to look like in the future?