TFYW #018: Getting What You Want

Jan 13, 2023

Today I want to offer a different perspective. I want to talk about new-generation firms. 

In the just the last four weeks, I have spoken to many firm owners. 

Check to see if you’ve made the list:

  • John from South Africa;
  • Faith from Texas;
  • Dave from Ontario; 
  • Gregory from Michigan;

The countries and services may be different BUT their objectives are the same.

No one wants billions of dollars, mansions or fast cars.

But every single one wanted fulfilling work, emptier schedules and individual choice.  

These are the exact same things I wanted in my firm, but when I started I felt like I had to make trade-offs. I thought this because working in a traditional firm requires many trade-offs. 

You remove trade-offs when you are intentional about how you build your firm.    

If we don’t control the inputs, we will never get our desired outputs. 

Here are the desired outputs and what inputs are required. 

Fulfilling work

Fulfilling work comes from leveraging what we have been trained to do – help business owners succeed. 

Fulfilling work comes from delivering value and seeing people’s businesses and lives change. It’s putting our training and expertise into action. 

New gen firms are better designed to let you do fulfilling work.

New gen firms give you more control over what you do. 

You get what you ask for. You have to ask for fulfilling work. 

Selling is asking. 

The three components that we need to clear on when selling:

Client + services + price

Clients – be specific with who you’ll work with. Pick a niche. Become an expert in that niche. 

Not just an expert regarding their specific tax circumstances or chart of accounts, but their top KPIs, the tech in their industry, their pricing model, and their marketing channels. 

If you think that’s outside the scope of what you do, you’ll never deliver true value or do fulfilling work. 

Everything a business does has a financial impact – good or bad. Collecting and understanding that financial impact is what we do. Everything in a client’s business is our business.   

Services – be specific about what you do. Decide on and stick to a set of services. 

Most accountants go wide with their services, offering everything. New gen firms go deep. Specialist doctors are in high demand and get paid more – the same thing goes for accounting firms. 

Find partners that you can leverage and outsource to so you can focus on the highest value, most fulfilling work. You do not have to do everything to be valuable. 

Price – be specific about the value you’re delivering, so your prices make sense. Price for the outcome and transformation for your client. 

You’ll be told that your prices are too high by many. But remember that two well-priced clients will net you more than 10 poorly priced clients. 

Emptier schedules 

An emptier schedule is not just an end result but your daily pursuit. 

The less day to day work you do, the faster your firm will grow. Client work bottlenecks are always traced back to the firm owner. 

Emptier schedules do not come from absentee owners but from intentional ones. 

New gen firm owners are intentional with their schedule, by building systems and support team members so the firm can reach peak performance. 

I see traditional firm owners that want to stay out of the marketing and selling, tech, and recruiting. They just want to get the client work done faster. 

New gen firm owners maximize those systems and empower their teams – not their billable hours. 

Individual choice 

This is the why of what we do. New gen firm owners use their firms as a vehicle to do more. 

Traditional firm owners commit a lot more of their life to their firm. Not out of choice, but out of necessity. Traditional firms are designed to tether owners and employees to the billable hour. They turn time into a dictator of their talent, attention and earning potential.   

New gen firm owners run firms that leverage problem solving and solutions.   

Doing fulfilling work is energizing. Emptier schedules create more discretionary time. Firm owners who are energized and have more free time are more creative and solve bigger problems.

New gen firm owners are building communities, courses, and content, to move from a one-to-one model to a one-to-many model. This is a big part of the value we can deliver as knowledge workers. 

These choices further increase fulfillment and the impact of what we do.

The accounting profession is at risk, but not due to Bots, AI or market demand. 

The risk is due to talented people doing low-value, unfulfilling work for more hours than is healthy.  

New Gen firms are how the profession will survive moving forward. 

I hope this has helped change your perspective. 



P.S. Email with something that you want me to talk about. I’ll add it to the list. 

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