Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.

Accounting Business Development on COVID Island

Dorothy PotashBy Dorothy Potash

One of my clients compared Pennsylvania’s Red, Yellow, and Green pandemic shut-down phases to the “three-hour tour” of Gilligan’s Island. So true! We all thought we were going on a three-hour tour, and we were just not prepared for an indefinite stay on a deserted island named COVID-19. No one I know packed appropriately.

Alas, here we are on COVID-19 Island, isolated with limited supplies, limited knowledge of the environment, no experience, no radar to understand storms ahead, or a complete inventory of what is needed to survive. I would suspect being shipwrecked demands quite a lot of reevaluation, trial and error, and a lot of creativity and innovation to acclimate and move forward. Client service in the accounting industry, too, will need a lot of readjusting, pivoting, and reevaluation to survive this pandemic.

For CPAs, there is a lot to think about. This virus, coming when it did in the middle of busy season, sure did a great job of being a disrupter. How prepared were you, your teams, and your firms to seamlessly transition to a virtual service model? How much of a burden did a lack of preparation strain clients’ resources?

Map compass over the silhouette of a headIt has never been more important for those in the accounting industry to take time and reevaluate their own value proposition, their “plan,” their goals, and their networks. A lot of work needs to be done if you are to help clients secure and stabilize their enterprises, respond and pivot to the demands of the new normal, and best arm your clients to innovate and secure the futures of their enterprises.

Everyone in the client service business should be asking themselves some overarching questions:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What am I lacking?
  • What action do I need to take to ensure that I am truly being impactful and adding value to my relationships?

Ask deeper questions about strengths, weaknesses, external threats, and opportunities that may help or hinder your goals and how you execute your value proposition.

As you take inventory, here are some things to consider:

  • Are you in the right practice or industry niche that best suits your values, motives, and expertise? What does the “right” fit look like?
  • Are you a well-known expert in your niche? Are you sharing what you know with those who could benefit most?
  • Are you viewed as being highly responsive to those you serve? If not, what can you do to change that perception?
  • What are your unique skills, and are they in demand? What skills are you or your firm lacking to best serve your clients, and have you identified how you will remediate any gaps?
  • What are your interests/passions? How do they intersect with those of whom you serve? What and whom do you know to help your clients be more impactful in the areas they care about most?
  • How can you be creative in fostering and expanding your connections with others during social distancing? How is social distancing impacting your professional relationships, and how can you overcome the challenges?
  • Do you have experience/market intelligence that your network will find useful? Where can you supplement that experience? How can you share your experiences efficiently and with greater intention?
  • What kind of help can you provide on a personal level to those you serve? Do you know what they care about most?
  • Have you repeatedly touched everyone in your network in a personal and meaningful way?
  • Do you have a diverse and large enough network? How can you leverage your relationships to make new connections to better serve others in your network?
  • What really distinguishes you from your competition? Can you use this knowledge to focus pursuits in areas where your competition falls short?
  • What do your clients say you do well? Do you know what you could do better?
  • Are you behind on the issues that may be coming that will impact your clients? How much time will it take and what actions will you need to get current?
  • How can you ask the right questions, share the right stories and provide help in other ways so you are front of mind when an opportunity arises?
  • What external factors provide opportunities and which ones create obstacles? Have you identified a plan to pursue opportunities and to best neutralize obstacles?
  • Are you using any extra time to better educate yourself, become more interesting? What should you be reading or watching?

Remember, to serve better, one must first ask “What can I do better?”

Dorothy Potash is cofounder and president of Development Dynamx LLC in Wayne. She can be reached at dorothy@developmentdynamx.com.

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