Host John Randolph continues his thought-provoking conversation with Geraldine Carter about transforming accounting firms on Episode 20 of CPA Life. Geraldine stresses the importance of understanding what clients truly value, explaining that all too often, clients don’t actually understand the product you’re selling them. She also takes issue with the oft-heard refrain that “CPAs are risk-averse,” arguing that in fact, CPAs take calculated risks all the time, and they take unnecessary risks through inaction. Part two of the discussion is full of big ideas to help you build a thriving and fulfilling practice.
We now pick up with part two of John’s conversation with Geraldine Carter.
The current model that’s in place in most CPA firms isn’t working. There’s a lot of different reasons why it’s not working, but one of the biggest reasons it’s not working from a mindset standpoint with the staff is that the generation that’s currently in the workforce—generations that are currently in the workforce—they are not going to buy into what the guy that’s running the firm did to build his career. They’re not going to put in 60 7080 hours a week, they’ll do it for a little while. But they’re going to move on and find a place that they don’t have to sell their soul at the altar of their job.
And so finding a firm and finding a leader that understands how to better manage capacity, finding a firm and finding a leader that understands the value of having some breathing room in there for their staff is hypercritical if they’re going to continue to move forward and build a successful business. And I think you’re right, if you want to create a business advisory type situation, then you yourself have got to begin to understand what it is that you’re advising your clients to do. You got to drink a little bit of your own Kool Aid.
And I would say for the younger generation that we so often smear because we think they don’t have a work ethic, and they don’t want to work hard, you know, and they’re coming in, and they’re not going to want to crank out the 70 hour work weeks, I say thank God. Thank God there’s a generation that is coming in that is just not going to put up with the lunacy of believing that 60 and 70 and 80 hour work weeks are somehow a noble thing. We have families.
It’s something that they’ve got to let go of. Respecting the position and the stance of the younger employees coming up in the industry. It’s not that they don’t have a work ethic, they want to work. They have no problem working hard. They just need to understand why are we doing it this way? And the answer of well, we’ve always done it this way, and I did this for my career, that’s no longer a sufficient answer.
Yeah, and I think, you know, they have a work ethic, and they also have a life ethic. Not all of life is meant for work.
And what I think is so exciting, because we can get kind of down, right? On the problems and the challenges. But I always look for the opportunities, and I think there has never been a better time to be a CPA, either as an individual or as a business owner, because there is a shortage of CPAs, and there is a lot of demand. So it’s sort of like if you’re in real estate, and it’s a seller’s market, and you’ve got a house to sell, you’re psyched.
So it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity, but I think look at the opportunity. It is a seller’s market right now. You have infinite demand. So you can take the pick of the litter.
Yes, you can.
You can work with the kinds of clients that you want to work with, you can do the kind of work that you want to be doing and none of the stuff that you don’t want to do. And now, thanks to COVID, CPAs are online—finally. Now you can get out of your zip code, right? And it used to be that most CPAs were practicing inside their geographic area, and that made niching a lot more challenging. And this hasn’t been that long, it was only 2008 when I had my business and we were just, we were kind of early birds on QuickBooks Online, and getting off of desktop. So it hasn’t been that long, right? 15 years, 17 years is a blink of an eye. But now CPAs have every opportunity to get out of their zip code to have clients who look exactly like each other in a single industry or just a couple industries, or however you want to focus and niche, have clients all across the country, but look just like each other.
And you have automation that, you know, I understand that it’s not the be all end all, and there’s been a lot of hype about, you know, this is going to make our lives and our jobs so much easier. But the technology takes out so much of the sort of low level labor intensive work. And if you can figure out how to piece together your technology so that your systems are optimized, efficient and automated everywhere possible, it is entirely possible for you to work a 15 hour week with margins in the 70s, and take home six figures. And if you don’t believe me, you can just have your listeners go listen to my podcast where I interview my clients, and they do those very kinds of things.
Because they are intentional about who they work with, they figure out where the value is, they understand exactly what they need to provide, then they figure out what the workflow in the system needs to be, they figure out how to automate it, and they just push buttons, and monkeys do the rest, and they produce their reports. And then they have high value meetings with clients and have ample time and they’re accessible, and they’re able to charge high prices, because of the value that they’re able to create. And it’s not because of the hours they put in. And for the firm owners who don’t want to understand this, they’re going to fall behind. And they’re going to drop off the back. But for the firm owners who are excited about this, they’re the ones who are going to speed ahead and do amazing things and have great businesses.
As a customer of a CPA firm that switched to a firm about four years ago, that is a value priced model, there’s a part of me that always wonders, where did I ever think it was okay to speak to my CPA firm once a year, get a five figure bill for taxes that I owed, and I owe them now? Why I ever thought that was okay, in my mind, I don’t know. Because I can tell you in the last four years, I’ve never once said to my CPA, “Hey, how long did it take you to do my taxes?” I’ve never asked that question. I don’t care how long it takes them to do my taxes.
What I do care about is as we’ve grown over the last four years, I want to be able to call or send an email and say, “Hey, I’ve got a question. We’re looking at doing this. What are the implications of that?”
Having a monthly and quarterly conversation with him to talk about our business. It may only be 15 minutes, but to know I can do those things. And a clock isn’t getting flipped on the minute that conversation starts. All of those things I am willing to pay for on a monthly basis. And I have no issue with it. And again, like I said, I just got my tax return that we’ve got to file and signed off on it the other day. And when I responded back to him with my e-signature, I didn’t ask him, “Hey, how many hours did you work on this? It doesn’t matter. I don’t care!”
It doesn’t matter! That is so great. I love that we’re talking about this because it’s so easy to get caught up in the thought, this didn’t take me very long, so I shouldn’t charge very much for it. Oh, those returns, they only take 30 minutes, I feel guilty charging $795. Your client does not give a second thought to how long it took. They do not care. All they care about is that they don’t have to do it because they can’t do it.
Thank you! Thank you!
And they don’t make you want to spend a Saturday snapping number two Ticonderoga pencils, because they can’t figure it out. I’m paying my CPA for my time back. I’m not paying her for her time. I don’t care about her time. I mean, I care about her time, but I don’t really care about her and her time.
I just want to do something else on a weekend. I also want to know that it was done. Well, I presume that it was done well and properly. That is table stakes. And I want a good experience. Because as a buyer, that tax organizer that is 60 pages long, that has questions about a boat and gambling and alimony and palimony that I don’t understand. I’m just like, what is this thing? And I’ve put question marks all over it, and it’s such a suck of my time, and I feel terrible, because I feel dumb that I don’t know the answers to these questions, and then I send it to them, and it goes in the ether, and then it’s like 10 weeks before I get it back, and I’m calling like, “Hey, you’re gonna get that thing done, like, the deadline’s coming up?” And not hearing back, and not wanting to be a squeaky wheel. Like, the standard experience out there for the buyer is really terrible, which is wonderful news for your listeners, because the opportunity to make it better is so great.
And when you do, you can charge so much more, and you can control your pipeline so much better, and you make your tax season run so much smoother, because you have time to plan ahead, you charge upfront, your clients are paid in full upfront, or they pay 50/50, you know, 50% down, 50% at the time of prep and file. There are all kinds of ways, when you get out of the thinking it only took me a few minutes, therefore I shouldn’t charge a lot of money for it, and you understand that what your buyer wants is their whole weekend back, then your life and your business gets so much better.
Yep. It’s understanding that your client wants to do what it is that they do well, what they’re passionate about, what they enjoy doing outside of work, because the reality is that they’re going to be doing this outside of work. They’re not going to be doing taxes Tuesday afternoon at two in the afternoon. They’re gonna be doing Tuesday night at two in the morning is when they’re going to be doing it. And I think it’s a mindset that you just have to get your head around, because there’s so many times, like in our business where we’ll put one candidate in front of a client, and they will hire that candidate. And so many times, you know, I’ve talked to some of our recruiters and at times, I’ve talked to clients about the fee that we’re charging for that one person, and getting them to understand, look, there’s things that went into finding that one person—there’s time, there’s effort, there’s energy. You’ve been looking to fill this position on your own, and you’ve been reviewing resumes for three and a half, four weeks, an hour to two hours a day. That’s an hour to two hours per day that you’re not bringing value to your customer. That time is worth something. And I think that flipping that around and getting that owner, that firm owner to understand that and see that on their side of the business is hyper critical to be able to get them to move forward in their business and not get stuck in that time/billing mindset.
You have to be thinking about your client, and where their time is best used. And that is what they most value is their time and their sanity. We’re paying you because you have put in the time—the blood, sweat and tears to become the expert at the thing that you do. And that’s what I, as the buyer and paying for is the time and the expertise that you’ve developed.
Yep, yeah, because my other option as the customer is YouTube videos. And that takes time to go dig through YouTube, or for tax advice. There’s also TikTok. I can go to TikTok and Instagram for tax advice. And again, hey, you get what you pay for. So I’d much rather pay for the value that I’m getting, as a customer, from my CPA.
I, too, would much rather pay for the value that I’m getting from my CPA. So when you think about your customer, your client—imagine what they’re up against when it comes to bookkeeping and accounting, and understand where your client is with that. If you’re a main street CPA, and you have Main Street business owners as clients, they might be trying to do their books on their own, they might have a spouse who’s doing it, and that, you know, that could get ugly, or they might not be doing it at all. And it’s just a pile of electronic receipts stuffed in their Gmail, along with a couple of envelopes that are overflowing with actual paper receipts. And that’s a really painful situation to be in as a business owner, because you don’t know what’s happening with your money, you don’t know where it went, you don’t know why it went there. You don’t know how much you have, you can take a guess at how much you have. But you might well be wrong, you look at your bank account balance, and there’s 50 grand in there. But you don’t know how much of that money is yours to keep and how much is due to vendors and how much is due to the IRS.
So business owners are in a precarious position if they don’t have their finger on the pulse of money, and that it’s also accurate, right? Because they could be doing and it could be totally inaccurate, and they would have no idea. And as the accountant when we can communicate to the business owner just how much they’re missing out on by not having their finger on the pulse of their money and how it flows through the business and understanding it and being able to use that understanding to make better, more effective business decisions, just how much time, sweat, and stress that’s costing them, that’s what the accountant CPA is offering, right? Not just month end close, not just a P&L and a balance sheet, not just payroll. It’s what all those things do. At the end of the day, what’s the business impact of having all of those things done, well done, buttoned up, and clear to the business owner so that they can think about other things.
I’m going to again, switch subjects on you just a minute. You had a post a few weeks ago, a couple of months ago on on LinkedIn that really had a lot of humor to it, but a lot of—it was a point that was very well driven home by the question that was asked, and that was why do you buy eggs? Talk to me about where that came from, and what the thought process was behind that.
So there was a whole egg kerfuffle a few months ago, you know, with bird flu and a few other things going on, and the price of eggs went to like seven bucks for a dozen. And I was standing in front of the array of eggs at the grocery store and I was looking at the prices that ranged from, I think it was three bucks at the cheapest, up to twelve dollars. And I was like how is it that the same product, a little brown oval, can be three bucks for a dozen over here in the lower right corner and it can be twelve bucks over there in the upper left corner like what is going on? So just stood there and looked at all the different kinds of eggs. And then a couple of things popped out at me:
That you have your cheap eggs, people who are buying eggs basically purely on price, they don’t care in a little cardboard container with no marketing, nothing snazzy and nothing about the hen. It’s just twelve eggs. And then in the middle, you have this like, kind of healthy happy hen egg, that’s free range, or grain free or omega three, or, you know, hens who roam or whatever. And those were like five bucks for a dozen, more or less. And then at the top end, you have eggs for twelve bucks that come in a carton where there’s like a Monet painting on the carton. I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but there’s like, artwork on the carton.
And I thought, huh, so people are making decisions on at least three things. Price, the quality of life of the hen—which has nothing to do with the egg itself, or very little to do with the egg itself, but they’re buying the quality of the life of the hen, right when you buy the cage free ones—and then they’re the people who are buying twelve dollar a dozen eggs who just want the most expensive eggs, and they find the artwork pretty, and they don’t care about the eggs.
But then you also presumably have the subset of people and the response on my email list was “I only buy duck eggs, because they’re way better for XYZ reasons,” and I go huh. And somebody else chimed in with “I only buy this kind of egg, because they’re much better for baking.” So it just made me wonder. There are all these different kinds of eggs. And you have all these different kinds of buyers who are buying for very different reasons. But at the end of the day, the egg is almost universally the same.
It’s everything else on the outside that is different. So if you think about accounting, and the generation of a P&L, the buyer can’t tell a good P&L from a bad P&L. And we presume that if you know what you’re doing, and you’re good at what you do, you’re going to generate a good P&L. It’s everything that you put on the outside your carton, if you will, that helps your buyers decide where they’re going to spend their money, which kind of eggs, which kind of P&L, which kind of accounting firm they’re going to work with.
So I wrote that series of emails simply because when we do our own craft, it’s hard to imagine the marketing of our craft because we think people just understand what we do. But nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do people not understand what you do, they don’t care about what you do. So we need to talk to them about the things they care about. And there are people who care about price, so we put those eggs in a carton for $2.99. There are people who care about the quality of life of the hen. So we put those eggs in a carton for six bucks. And there are people who just want the most expensive. And we put those eggs in a carton for twelve bucks.
And when you can see examples like this, that are not your own business, I think it helps you be more objective in looking back at your own business to go, oh, wait a minute. When people see accounting, what is it that they’re actually buying? Because accounting is just the eggs in the carton? So what do I need to put on a carton so that they want to pay me twelve dollars for my carton of eggs or six bucks, but I want to get out of being the three dollars for a dozen egg provider.
It’s so true. And again that mindset really crosses multiple industries. Because as I read through that, and I looked at that, it was again, one of those “aha” moments in our business to sit there and go, okay, are we a three dollar, six dollar, or twelve dollar carton? And what’s the difference in that? Do we want to sell the three dollar carton of eggs? And if we don’t, what are we doing to justify a higher price? And are we selling to that buyer, or are we trying to drag this three dollar buyer up here by every means possible, and it’s just torturous, when in reality, if we just let that go, we could work half as many six dollar buyers and make as much or more money, and have less headache than trying to drag that three dollar buyer along for the ride.
We had some internal discussion about that post because it really did drive home the point of who’s your customer, who are you selling to, and how are you selling to them, because you need to understand what’s important to them.
And while we’re here, I’ll give your listeners another analogy, this is also from my email list that I wrote about hamburgers. Because if you go to McDonald’s and you buy a three dollar Hamburger, McDonald’s is currently full of people who are willing to pay three dollars a hamburger. But what is also at McDonald’s, eating a three dollar hamburger, are people who are willing to pay fifteen dollars for a hamburger at the brewery.
But the CPA will—it’s easy to convince yourself that well, all my people only spend three dollars for a hamburger. But just because you right now have customers who are paying three dollars for a hamburger doesn’t mean that you don’t have customers who might pay fifteen bucks for hamburger. But if you’re going to sell a fifteen dollar hamburger at their brew, you can’t sell a super flat, hard, thoroughly overly cooked patty. You’ve got to sell a real burger. So it’s a different product, it’s still called a hamburger, but it’s a much better product. And if you try and sell a McDonald’s quality burger for fifteen bucks at the brewery, your customers are going to be pissed. You can’t. You’re not going to get away with it.
But what I want people to see is that if you currently are selling tax returns for 300 bucks, that doesn’t mean that all of your people will only ever pay 300 bucks for a tax return, you probably have a subset of people who would pay 700, 900, 1,500 bucks for something that is much better, but you’ve got to figure out what the thing is that is much better, and you’ve got to go make it and then sell it. And then if you want to, you can be a fancy restaurant with a Michelin star and sell your hamburgers for fifty bucks. And then when you get super fancy, you get so fancy, you don’t even have to cook your burger, you serve it raw and call it steak tartare. That’s also a whole different business model. But you can’t be all three things. You can’t be a McDonald’s and a brewery and a Michelin star restaurant. Those are three very different clientele wearing very different clothing. So you’ve got to know who you want to serve, and figure out what it is that they want, figure out what they’re going to be delighted to buy, and then sell them that.
You know, it’s interesting, you talk about that I’ve got a client in Houston that I’ve worked with for four or five years, a fully remote firm, they were remote before COVID hit. In the midst of COVID, in the ’20, beginning of ’21 timeframe, she had an opportunity to buy a local brick and mortar firm, it was gonna change some of the dynamics of a firm, but I asked her why is this appealing to you? Why is it attractive to you? Because you got a pretty strong niche in the real estate space. You don’t have a whole lot of clients in the Houston market, even though you’re located there. Why would you buy this?
And she said, John, we were approached about this firm. And the reason why I buy them is about 40% of their client base mirrors our client base. And their price point with that 40% is about 70% less than what we’re charging to our clients. So I know that if I buy their business, and do nothing but be able to get half of that 40% to understand the value that we’re providing to companies just like theirs, I will more than pay for what I’m having to buy this firm for, and then I can take those other 60% of the clients or whatever, I don’t keep in that other piece, and I can monetize those and sell those off, and I will have doubled the size of my business at a fraction of the cost. And that’s exactly what she did. She said we’re gonna have to bite the bullet for probably about a year, and I’m going to have to have some people that have physical geographic location as we make this transition, but I think it’s going to be worth it.
It took about nine months. But they were able to get that done double the size of the firm, with an about 30% increase in client base. Because she understood, there’s a subset of clients here that this guy is charging McDonald’s prices for, but I know based on their competition, they’re probably willing to pay Five Guys’ Burgers prices for that same burger. And if I can just get a handful of them to see that I’ve more than paid for this acquisition, and I’ve doubled the size of my firm. And that’s exactly what she did.
This is back to “It is a wonderful time to be a CPA.” There couldn’t be a better time to be a CPA, there’s so much opportunity out there. There has been so much price suppression for so long, with Main Street CPAs who have felt guilty about raising prices to the detriment of their clients, to the detriment of their staff, and to their own detriment. There’s so much room to go up, and there’s so many business owners who are looking for more than a McDonald’s hamburger, which has historically been what has predominantly been on the market when it comes to hamburgers, right? We didn’t used to have brew pubs on every corner twenty years ago, right?
They’re kind of a new thing. And now that they’re here, we love them. Absolutely. It’s the same with Starbucks, you used to only be able to go to Dunkin Donuts and get a cup of coffee for 49 cents. But now you can pay seven bucks for a cup of coffee. It’s awesome.
And you don’t you don’t gripe about it at all.
You don’t gripe about it. You love it. I’m on my way after this podcast to get one because it’s delicious. It is so good. And I love the experience and I’m happy to give them seven dollars for it. And I’m so glad that there are people out there who have figured out that there is demand for a higher quality product, and that there are many of us who are willing to part with dollars for the higher quality product. And I’m so glad that there are CPAs here who are out there who are seeing that there is demand for a higher quality product, and they’re willing to figure out how to go create that higher quality product, and they have no compunction about charging a lot of money for it, because it is good for the client, and it is good for the CPA, and it is good for the community because the business owners do better. They’re more successful, they have more to give to their community that support Little League, and they support their little hockey teams. It’s better for everybody, when CPAs can feel wonderful about charging high prices for high quality services experience and expertise, because it lifts business owners and when we lift business owners, we lift our communities.
I worked for a mentor years ago, we were sitting at a leadership retreat one day. And as we’re prone to do as leaders, we were sitting around and we were complaining about some changes that were coming down the pipeline that wouldn’t work, and why they wouldn’t work, and how they wouldn’t work. And he asked us to list off the reasons why we felt this was not going to work. And we came up with somewhere in the neighborhood of seven, eight, nine big reasons why we didn’t think it was going to work. We got done with that. We’ve listed those off real quick. We got done with that. And he said, “Okay, now, I need you to give me two reasons for every one that you listed that that this wouldn’t work, I need you to give me two reasons about why it will work. I need you to think positively on how to make this happen.”
I say all of that to say one of the things that we’re really good at is looking for what’s broken. We’ve touched on here, there’s a lot of things that people are doing right. As you make your circle in the industry, and you’ve been in it now for almost a decade, what are you seeing the firms that are leading some of that change, what are you seeing that they are doing well, and doing right?
They’re willing to do the hard things. And the hard things usually take courage. And because what we’re talking about here today—reshaping, transforming firms—is such a wholesale shift in business model and thinking it’s a lot of change. And most of us don’t like change, it’s much easier to keep things the way that they are. But we know where keeping things the way that they are has led. It leads to overwork and burnout. So we know that that’s not the path. Yet, the new path is not well trodden, right? It’s like you say, it has uncertainty. And they’re willing to go in the direction of uncertainty, day after day after day, to be in the discomfort of the uncertainty and to just let it be there, and to trust themselves that they’re smart people, they can and they will figure it out.
Every single client I work with, every single CPA whose firm or practice I have helped to reshape, has created something different. I have no two clients among all of them, who have created things that look in any way like each other. They have different sizes, different revenue, different client base, different packages, different prices, different vibes, different cultures, all of it is different from one to the next to the next. There is no cookie cutter for you right now. There is no single manual, no single playbook. If you need a playbook, go buy a franchise. That’s what those are. If you’re going to create something that is awesome—and I know you can do it, because you’re smart, you’re dedicated, you’re willing to work hard—if you’re going to create something awesome, that means having the courage to write your own playbook. And the ones who are successful right now, the ones that we’re seeing, the thought leaders, the ones who are kind of out there out front leading the pack, are the ones who have the courage to go figure it out and write a playbook for the people who are following. But the playbook says, hey, this is how I did it. That doesn’t mean that this is how you’re going to do it. It just says this is how I did it. And it serves as a guide for those who follow.
I think that you hit the nail on the head that there is no silver bullet. If there was somebody would package it and everybody would do it that way. But the beauty in that is there is a lot of space for people to step out and try things. And you know, the way that I’ve always approached change and stepping out and taking that risk is you know what, we can always go back. We can always step back to a comfort zone. But if we never step out and take that risk, it’s always going to be what it’s always going to be.
On LinkedIn, you posted something a few weeks back that said something to the effect of CPAs claim to be risk averse, and then you kind of went through a list of how those CPAs that are doing the same old thing, the same old way, I think one of them, you said the generalist CPA risks being replaced sooner by a similar generalist CPA or by AI. The too busy CPA risks not providing the results the client has paid for. And you went on to list some things. They’re all taking risks right now. They just don’t see them as risks.
Yeah, this is also back to mindset. You know, I think CPAs like to think of themselves as a certain way. And, you know, some people sure are more risk takers, I get it. And they’re the crazy ones who are doing things like jumping off of cliffs with tiny parachutes. But then there’s sort of those of us in the middle of the bell curve, who are like, I’m willing to take risks as long as it’s calculated, and I’ve thought through the impact, and I’ve thought through the likelihood of it happening.
And I think that there are a lot of CPAs who are willing to take some amount of risk. A, I don’t want to say healthy amount of risk, but a fair amount of risk that as long as it’s calculated, it’s thought through, they understand the impact, and they understand the likelihood that they’re willing to move forward. But I think that “I’m risk averse,” that thought, that quote, is something that gets passed around in the industry as something to anchor into, to justify one’s lack of desire or interest to taking a scary step. And it’s really easy to just throw up this red herring that’s like, oh, but I’m a CPA, I’m risk averse, so it’s okay—I don’t have to.
And I don’t think that it’s true. I think CPAs who hung shingles knew that they were taking a risk, and they were happy to take the risk. I think they want to take more risks in their business—not in a risky way, where they’re going to sink their ship—but thoughtful, calculated risk that’s going to generate a return. I think that the real problem is that so many of them are simply overwhelmed and overworked, thanks to hourly billing, and the whole culture of overworking. And when you’re so overworked and overtaxed, it’s hard to have the time to think through a challenge or problem that you need to solve, and map out the territory and where the risks are, and how you’ll deal with it if you run into those things. They just don’t have the bandwidth to navigate the risks that they may well want to take. So “I’m risk averse” is just a, I think it’s just a red herring. And it sounds legitimate. But I don’t think it’s true.
Well, I think you hit the nail on the head, they had to have some gumption to take a risk to step out to begin with. Even if they’re doing it the same old way that they’ve done it, you know, when they were at another firm, that’s a risk.
I’ve mentioned this story a couple of times on past podcasts, I had a client coming out of COVID that was not in an amenable geographic location in the Dallas area. And it was just tough to find people for him in general. And then we went through this whole dynamic shift of remote work. He was a little older, my age, mid-50s, and just couldn’t get his head around the whole remote work dynamic.
He and I talked about it for over a year and a half, and he kept pressing back and pressing back: No, no, no, no, no. Finally coming out of the ’22 tax season, he called me and said, “Hey, I’ve given this whole remote thing, a lot of thought. And there’s only one reason I can come up with that we don’t do it.” And I said, “What’s that?” And he said, “Because I don’t want to.” He said, “But here’s the follow up to that, John, I’ve realized that’s not a good enough reason. So I need you,” and I told him, I would do this, “I need you to put me in touch with two or three farm owners that you work with that have migrated towards a remote environment. I’d love to talk to them and figure out what have they done right? What have they done wrong? If they had to do all over again? What would they do different? They’ve already, you know, trotted some of this ground. Rather than make the mistakes that they made. I’d love to talk to them and figure out how can I make this work for our team?”
It was a risk. But he was at least smart enough to figure out, “I don’t want to do this” is not a good enough reason for us not to do it. And that’s the only reason that he said he could come up.
And you know, I don’t want to do it can be a good enough reason. If you want that to be your reason. Because it’s your business and you get to decide what you want to do with it.
But it sounded like I don’t want to do it is not a good enough reason for him. And, you know, kudos to him for recognizing it and for going out and finding the resources that he needed in order to help make those changes, because I think that you know, when the internet comes for your business and your business model, there’s no stopping that tide. You can only dig against the incoming tide for so long before it’s just not going to work anymore. Even though it’s effort, we will benefit the most when we recognize where the tide is headed, and the more time we have to get ahead of it and stay ahead of it, the better off we will be. That doesn’t mean you have to like the tide. But denying that it’s there is not going to suit you.
I think that’s a great way to put it. There’s a lot of things, I think if any of us look back as business owners, the changes that we’ve gone through in business, I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of those things that we didn’t like, there were a lot of trends that, thankfully, we saw coming before the tsunami hit, maybe some water was already washing up on the shore. But we recognized those trends were there, and we made that change. And, and again, as you said, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t like that I had to change, but accepting the fact that it’s inevitable is a big step in the right direction. I think that’s something that every business owner needs to get their head around, especially in a CPA firm world that is ever-changing, dynamically moving, and not sitting stagnant like it did for a hundred years.
All the more reason that there’s just back to the top: “So much opportunity for CPAs.” I can’t imagine a better time to be a CPA, there’s so much great work to be done out there and to have a fulfilling practice that you enjoy with clients you love, at prices that you’re both delighted by.
Absolutely. Geraldine, I want to thank you for spending your time, giving us all some things to think about when it comes to running a more efficient, effective, profitable and scalable firm that doesn’t run you. If someone is interested in learning more about your services, perusing some of your valuable content or listening to your podcast, what is the best way for folks to reach you?
Yeah, so they can find my podcast, just Google “Business Strategy for CPAs”. They can find my website, it’s GeraldineCarter.com. And I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, which is if you search Geraldine Carter on LinkedIn, I believe I’m pretty easy to find.
I think you’re really easy to find if you just plug in Geraldine Carter, it’s right there with a ton of valuable content for anybody, absolutely, that’s in a CPA firm space and just business in general. There’s a lot of things parallel to a lot of different industries. So a lot of valuable content.
I want to thank you again for spending time with us. And for those of you listening: If you like what you hear, leave a comment below and hit the subscribe button so that you don’t miss any of the conversations that we have coming up in the future with other industry insiders like Geraldine, who are really giving us a little bit of a glimpse of what CPA Life could be like. Until next time.
We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting app, leave a five star rating and visit our website for links and show notes at CPALifePodcast.com. We’ll see you next time on CPA Life.
About the Guest:
Geraldine Carter coaches CPAs and accounting firm owners to help them get down to a 40-hour workweek without giving up revenue. Geraldine hit upon her calling after encountering CPA after CPA who had the enviable skill of storing a Google’s worth of tax code in their brain and an incredible knack for puzzling through complex tax solutions, yet no time to offer more valuable services to their clients.
Having earned a Bachelor’s in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Cornell in 1998, Geraldine applied her problem-solving acumen to finding a solution to this problem. She stresses specialization and niching, value creation, and shifting your firm and marketing focus to problem solving, rather than just delivering rote reports.
Geraldine hosts the Business Strategy for CPAs podcast, boasting over 250 episodes, and which is ranked in the top 2.5% of podcasts by Listen Notes.