You’ve probably heard the popular cliche: “The only constant is change.” And while that trite observation may be true, have you ever noticed how the constant change is so slow? It takes a lot of time for all the constant change to add up to something tangibly different.

But it has to start somewhere, right? That’s what this post is all about. Small (or, okay, maybe medium-ish) steps you can take right now that will move you toward big changes. Even if you do only one of these things, you’ll be well on your way to improving your accounting firm.

1. Choose a niche

Choosing a niche means making tough decisions about what kind of firm you want to have. Having a real niche means serving a very specialized group of clients. It’s important to know: If your firm serves half-dozen industries or more, you don’t have a niche.

But don’t worry, even if you don’t have the clients you want to have, you can decide, today, which ones you do want. Then you have to figure out how to get them, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. For now, choose your niche.

2. Fire some clients

Remember how, just a couple seconds ago, you read a line about not having any of the clients you want? There’s a straightforward solution to that problem: fire them! Sometimes it’s easier knowing what you don’t want, and we’ll bet that there are some clients in your life that you would rather do without. If you let them go, you can focus your time and energy on winning and serving the clients you do want.

3. Offer a new service

What do your clients want? What do they desire from your firm? What does their dream accounting firm do? Do they even know the possibilities? Yes, you can provide payroll, accounting, and reporting, or tax preparation; your clients probably expect that. But what kind of services can you provide today that will blow their socks off? Maybe for your firm that’s offering HR services to your clients or helping them put together a benefits package. Whatever it is, if you want to be that dream accounting firm for them, you need to start doing it for them today.

4. Set your timesheet on fire

If you’re still tracking and recording your time on a daily basis, you are spending an inordinate time not doing other, far more productive things, like serving your clients. There are several alternatives out there, including value pricing, a contingent or success fee, among others. The point is: The faster you get rid of timesheets, the better of your firm will be. Also: Burning them is optional.

5. Read more

Okay, if the changes above sound big and scary and complicated, we’ll try to leave you with something small and easy: Read more. Yes, read more stuff related to running your firm, building your niche, and other aspects of your business, but in general, daily reading of all different kinds will help you think more creatively, stay aware of trends, opportunities, and the constant change happening all around you. Shameless plug: Gusto has a resource library built just for our accounting partners. That’s not a bad place to start.

But don’t want to take our word for it, just listen to Warren Buffett’s long-time business partner, Charlie Munger, who has lauded the importance of reading for years. Munger says he and Buffett do more reading and thinking than anything else. Since things have worked out pretty well for those guys, maybe you should take a hint?

Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.
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