What will it take for you to change your accountancy practice?

How to conquer any fears about introducing change

IP image

If you’ve been reading these articles regularly, by now I hope you have an idea of what you want your accountancy practice to look like. You know what you want to change and how to do it – but have you taken action? Or does taking that first step feel very scary?

It’s something I see all the time. And I completely understand that it’s frightening to rock the boat and risk the practice you’ve spent so long building up.

But we all have our own tipping point. That moment when you know you simply can’t keep on as you were before and something has to change.

How bad do things have to get before you make changes in your accountancy practice?

For some of the accountants I know, it was reaching rock bottom that finally made them take action.

There’s Phil, for example.

Phil had been trying to build a practice and, to keep his costs down, had bought a large – admittedly fancy – shed for the bottom of his garden. His thinking was that it would also mean he was closer to his wife (then pregnant with their second child) and son.

However, because Phil was making the same mistakes as so many others, his practice wasn’t profitable. He was working 70 hours per week, trying to churn out as much work as possible in order to support his family, but he was struggling even to do that. In fact, he was scared that the bailiffs would be around any day to collect the furniture.

Things had reached such a low point that, despite being at the end of the garden, he was having less and less contact with his wife and their marriage was on the rocks. In fact, if he was in a room of people, his son would come to him last and that really hurt.

Phil knew something had to change. He’d heard of AVN and decided to come along to one of our events. His thinking at the time was not to join AVN, but simply to take some ideas away to implement in his practice. But when he learned he could stop his membership at any time, he felt he had nothing to lose. He decided to try it for a month and to soak up as much help as he could.

In fact, Phil remained an AVN member for a long time and went on to grow his practice by over £1,000,000 in just four years. How? By not holding back. He didn’t let fear of risking everything stop him from taking action because, in reality, at that time he felt he had nothing to lose.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until your situation is as bad as Phil’s. And you don’t have to take action at the incredible rate that he did.

We all move at different speeds. Many of us don’t like change so we put it off until ‘another day,’ which means we – and our practices – fail to progress. On the other hand, you may be someone who has an idea and is itching to make it happen. If you’re a one-person band, then that’s fine, but what if you have a team of people and/or other partners? It’s important to understand how they’ll cope if you make changes too fast.

There’s no right or wrong speed – what’s important is to do something.

Whether you start small with minor changes or go all out, just remember: the only pace of change that’s bad is stationary.

For more on making change happen in your accountancy practice, download your copy of Putting Excellence Into Practice.

Shane Lukas – AVN for Accountants