Change Management
Change Management

3 opportunities to adapt your business to a new world

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From healthcare, retail, and restaurants, to our own tax and accounting firms, we expect today’s small businesses to have the same skill set as larger companies, especially when it comes to technology. Is your firm ready?

After the turmoil from the past couple of years, I can’t blame anyone for being hesitant to take on more change. But the fact is that we simply can’t continue to do business the way we used to.

Look at this from another angle. What do you need to be thinking about, at the absolute minimum, to make your own firm competitive and thrive in today’s business climate?

Here are three opportunities to adapt your business to today’s world that will give you the chance to take a deep breath and be ready to take on other work.

Opportunity 1: Give your clients a chance to adopt your tools

Within the tax and accounting space, there is a wide array of top-flight apps, including QuickBooks® Online,, and Expensify, just to name a few. However, while cloud-based solutions continue to get better, accountants still aren’t great at getting clients to understand and adopt them. In fact, I would estimate only about 10% of clients have implemented them, meaning that even after all this time, we’re still in the early adoption phase.

Why is that rate so low? In my experience, accountants are people pleasers. The fear of losing clients by having them use solutions outside their comfort zone makes us hesitant to say, “This is what we do, and we require our clients to follow these processes.”

That needs to change. In this new world, things must be simple and clear, with minimal friction. Think about it: If you give your clients a choice of nine different ways to contact you, they have to decide which one to choose. This is an instant point of friction. However, if you simply say, “We’ll talk by Zoom,” they’ll take their cue from you. No friction.

Another reason for low adoption rates is the notion that firms simply don’t have the time to learn new systems and also teach their clients. It’s easier to just adapt to whatever the client is using, even if it’s different from what other clients are using.

This mindset has to change. Firms must make the time now, which starts with building a tech stack for the modern era. From there, you’ll be better equipped to guide clients on the tools they need to adopt. It’s time to reassess your technology needs.

  • Figure out which technologies your clients use.
  • Figure out what your own business needs to use.
  • Talk to your team and see what’s working for them.
  • Pare down if you have to.
  • Choose the technologies that are best for your business.

Focus on full adoption this year. If you go from a 10% adoption rate to 50% in the next 12 months, that’s great, but 10% to 100% would be even better—and it’s doable. If you lose clients who don’t like what you’re doing, don’t panic. There’s much more demand than supply right now. You’ll find that the ideal clients to fill your business model are out there. I promise.

Opportunity 2: Stop worrying about controlling your team’s time

During the pandemic when we could no longer see our employees at their desks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—or longer during tax season—we had to find a different way to measure the work our staff was producing. How much work were we really getting done? How did we know our clients were getting what they expected? Without the traditional measurement of butts in seats (BiS), how do we measure what matters?

It’s easy: Don’t worry about things like BiS. We have practice management systems to follow projects through. We can record how many billings go out and who measures them. We have Zoom for face-to-face meetings, and Slack or Microsoft Teams for instant messaging.

The forced age of remote workstations made us realize that people want flexibility. People like to work differently. Some like to work from the crack of dawn to mid-afternoon so they can be present for family or other personal obligations, while others like to work late in the evening, after soccer games and school events are over.

Trust me: If you won’t give your employees flexibility, they’ll find a place that does. There are plenty of firms and other businesses that have embraced this new way of working. Stop worrying about BiS. Trust your team to get things done, especially if they’ve been getting it done with no issues for the past two years. 

Because your team’s input is valuable, take a step back and ask your team and yourself, “What are we actually trying to provide to our clients, and how can we make sure those goals are being met?” You’ll need to put in the time to figure out how to measure this, of course. And if your team knows you’ve got their best interests in mind, they’ll be patient while you work through it.  

Opportunity 3: Revisit your pricing model

Pricing is key to growth and sustainability, and that means raising prices now and again. The trouble is that because we’re people pleasers, we’re afraid that if we raise prices, we’ll lose clients and, as a result, lose staff. To actively manage your pricing, you need a pricing model.

You have to support a pricing model that is based on supply and demand. Restaurants are doing it. Hotels are doing it. Grocery stores are doing it. Prices are constantly changing on us, and we pay them. That’s just basic business—and it’s why we need to be actively engaged in how we’re pricing services.

The fact is that there’s more demand than there is supply in tax and accounting, and we have to be able to raise our prices to meet that demand. Of course, if your head is down and you’re busy, you might not even realize that demand is as high as it is. But you’ll start realizing it if you lose employees. As we all know, there’s a limited staffing supply—and other firms are poaching staff with higher rates, which drives costs up.

All this said, take the time to reassess your pricing model and develop one that works for the long haul.

Summing it all up

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t step back and take a good look at your firm, you’ll never get your clients to adopt new technologies. You’ll miss out on the opportunity to measure what matters, while giving your staff freedom and flexibility. And you’ll miss out on pulling in the revenue you deserve.

Even with our current staffing challenges, I think it’s exciting to think of how our business infrastructure is changing. It’s all about adjusting and reassessing. It’s about taking a step back and asking ourselves, “As a business owner, is this the business I meant to build?” If you’ve drifted into something you didn’t intend to build, now is the time to change it.

Whether you’re an owner or team member, it’s time to reassess. It’s a new world with new opportunities, so don’t miss the chance to build the firm of your dreams.

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