Renew Mindset for CPA Firms

It's time to send the steak back!

Shannon Vincent
November 4, 2023
minute read

A number of my closest friends are accountants and I have been working in the accounting industry over 30 years.  I also happen to be a CPA (inactive). My wife has a t-shirt that says, “I love CPAs”. Accountants are smart, loyal and nice people (sometimes to a fault). They also have a tendency to put others first and not stick up for themselves.

An example of this is most accountants I know, if they are at a restaurant and order their steak medium and it is served rare, they will not ask the server the send the steak back to the kitchen to cook it to their liking.  Why is this?  

Most accountants come from blue collar or humble beginnings.  My father was a farmer until his mid-30s then a small business owner.  People like us, don’t send the steak back due to not wanting to be fussy, not wanting to burden the restaurant or we don’t stick up for ourselves enough. Further, like many humans we tend to make assumptions. Assumptions such as the sending the steak back isn’t worth it (you are worth it by the way), it will burden the server/kitchen (we assume) or you don’t want to make a fuss.

Not sending the steak back is very similar to not raising our prices, implementing change orders or changing our business models.  That is, we either aren’t standing up for ourselves (our teams), we make assumptions it won’t work or we just take it on the chin, working too many hours (eating the rare steak).

One simple shift to transforming your firm and your life is to read, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. In The Four Agreements, Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that limit our joy and creates suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a code of conduct that can transform our lives to a new experience of freedom.  

The third agreement really resonates in terms of accounting firm business model transformation which we have done with hundreds of firms. The third agreement states, “Don’t make assumptions.”  Many of us, me included, fill in the dot, dot, dot on the iMessage response...  We pre-judge prospects and clients when it comes to pricing and business models changes often in limiting ways to our firms (teams).  We write the end of the story in our heads.  We make self-limiting assumptions.

We solve too many problems in our profession by working more hours and asking our teams to do the same.  Too often, we can cancel evening or weekend plans to get work done. Yes, most firms do fine with profits yet work too much and often on the wrong clients.  There is a better way.

“The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth(we convince ourselves). We could swear they are real. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” - Ruiz

Assumptions in our world:  “They won’t pay for advisory, they won’t commit to a subscription model.” Put another way, you are not sending the steak back based on assumptions you are making.

Think about the times when a prospect or client didn’t get back to you.  You thought the price was too high or the offering didn’t hit the target.  

Remember, the sense of relief, when you heard back and they are moving forward, and the timing of the response had nothing to do with you.  They were just busy or needed to talk to their business partner before they got back to you.

“Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as can be, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation… find your voice to ask for what you want.” - Ruiz

In our world, clarify, clarify clarify, don’t assume.  Stand up for yourself and send the steak back.  Everyone will be better off when you do.

Emotion equals action. Bottle up the frustration or fatigue you had during the fall deadline season and turn it into a positive.  Tax season is around the corner.

About Renew Group

Shannon Vincent and Colin Dunn created Renew Group to create a better model and better lives for accounting firms. Our Firm Transformation Framework is the blueprint to a better model and a better life. Through education and training, templates, tools, and resources, coaching and community, our framework delivers life-changing results.

To learn more about transforming your firm, subscribe to Renewsletter. We offer practical tips to transform your accounting firm with Less Hours, More Profit, and Better Clients.

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