Who's in control of your Practice?
Struggling against owewhelming odds? Then follow Vanessa Ugatti’s seven-point plan to help you take charge of your business.
Accountants are frequently overwhelmed with way too much work which is not always that profitable, telling me they are not in charge of their business. They may well be very good at what they do, yet they habitually put their clients first to the detriment of themselves and their businesses.
The effect of this is far-reaching. Ask yourself the following questions: if this is true for me, how is this impacting on my business and me personally? Am I in charge of my business or are my clients in charge of it and me?
These are important questions for you to answer as the impact of not being in charge may be catastrophic financially, physically and emotionally.
Because accountants are typically time-poor they are trapped in their unconscious behaviours, like a hamster on a wheel, going round and round in circles, faster and faster, feeling unable to stop.
Does this resonate with you?
All humans have been programmed and are therefore hostage to a greater or lesser extent to their conditioning; some of which is beneficial and some of which is most definitely not.
For example, I’d hazard a guess that you were probably told as a child that putting yourself first was selfish. Me too! So you learnt to do as you were told, in order to get approval. This, then, may well have become a belief which you have been operating from since that time.
Negative or limiting beliefs create fear-based thinking leading to unfavourable behaviour which you feel powerless to change.
Of course, it’s important to provide a high level of service to your clients, yet surely not at the expense of the business or yourself.
I’ve seen it all – undercharging, discounting, over-servicing clients, working with clients who are just not worth it – too much work for too little money and time-consuming, nitpicky clients who want everything for nothing and suck your energy dry.
By the way, I call them ‘PITA’ clients – the PIT stands for pain in the… so you can work out the last word yourself! Not to mention poor cash flow, ridiculously high debtors’ lists, work completed that has not been billed – they’re accountants for heaven’s sake and yet the management of their own business is, frankly-speaking, quite atrocious.
There are even those who carry on working for clients who haven’t paid their previous bill. Oh Lord, is that really possible? Yes it is. (Human beings, no matter how competent they are at what they do, are complex, irrational and emotional. I’ve said this on numerous occasions to mature professionals and always received the exact same reaction. The individual has paused, pondered and then said: ‘Yes, that’s about right’.)
Does it have to be that way? No it doesn’t. Time to change the habits of a lifetime. Remember what they tell you on a plane? Put your oxygen mask on first, even if you have children! The same applies to you and your clients.
So let’s get practical. If you carry on this way, it’s a miserable way to live and potentially an early grave for you. Sorry to be so blunt, it must be the Yorkshire blood in me.
So what can you do?
1) Stop and make a decision right now to end this madness. There is great power in saying enough is enough, and it should be easy, particularly if you’ve got to the point of being fed up to the back teeth. (If you’re not feeling enough pain, then you may just carry on the same for now.)
2) Ask the following question: how can I take care of myself, the client and take charge of the business equally?
3) Decide to sack the PITA clients.
4) Review your processes. What are you charging? When did you last review your charges? Payment terms? What’s your cash flow like, etc.?
5) Classify and review your clients.
6) Take some ‘me’ time.
7) Arrange a date night with your significant other!
I realise that this is not an overnight success. There is no magic wand; however, you have to start somewhere and the above will at least point you in the right direction.
By Vanessa Ugatti