Building your ideal practice: accelerate your progress
Congratulations. – you’re ready to change your practice. Now you need a framework that gives you the best chance of success…
I’ve talked before about why so many accountants put off making the changes they know will help them. And I hope you’ve taken a look at how to tackle procrastination in Chapter 5 of my book, Putting Excellence Into Practice.
What I want to look at now is building a framework that gives you the best chance of success in making those changes. I’ve done extensive research into this to identify how AVN can best support our members, but it’s also relevant to accountants in practice like you who want to work on this by themselves.
The framework is best summed up by the acronym REACH.
Human to human/handholding.
Let’s have a look at each of these.
Whether you call it a roadmap, a system, a process or something else entirely, you need to know what you’re going to do and the order you’ll do it in. Without this you’ll just make piecemeal progress. The roadmap that my team and I developed forms the basis of my book.
What’s the best environment for you to really focus on your business? You could shut yourself away in a room on your own – but then you’ll miss out on bouncing ideas off other people, which is a great way to accelerate innovation. You could join something like a peer-to-peer mentoring or mastermind group – but these can end up as just a talking shop. And often, there’s no desire to make fundamental change happen.
In my experience, the best environment is one that places you in a room with non-competing peers, where you can bounce ideas off each other but an expert is on hand to lead the discussion, challenge the status quo, and share their expertise. This is the environment we aim to replicate in AVN.
When you work with an external individual who holds you accountable for doing what you say you’ll do it makes a big difference. They are there to remind you of what’s really important and to act as sounding board. But this person must be right for you.
There are many, many people calling themselves a business coach, a consultant or a mentor. But not all of them merit the title and not all of them will give you the support you need. Personally, I’ve found that a coach is the best fit for me: someone who asks questions rather than giving me answers; who drills down into the real issues so I can find the solution for myself. A great coach will develop your skills and strategic thinking.
Whether you decide to work with a coach, a mentor or a consultant, before you commit make sure you gauge the types of questions they ask. Do they tend to jump in with solutions before you’ve even finished talking, or do they listen and probe first? Are their questions open and exploratory?
Running an accountancy practice can be lonely. Even if you have a team of people or co-partners or directors, it’s not always easy to be completely open or to get fresh insights about the challenges you face.
Being part of a community with a common purpose overcomes this. Your journey is so much easier when you’re part of a community of non-competing peers where you can share your thoughts and experiences and learn from each other. This is what we have created at AVN.
Human to human/handholding
Your accountancy practice isn’t just a business – it’s people too. You and your team make up your business and your individual personalities, concerns and aspirations make it unique. So as you develop your ideas, make sure that your coach, mentor or consultant doesn’t try to tell you what your practice should be like. It should reflect your personality and be what you want it to be, not anyone else.