The Fundamental Truth: How Do You KNOW When You Need Help?
Michelle Weinstein, Founder of The Abundant Accountant
Alison Ball and I were talking about the fact that accountants (especially those who do taxes) are gearing up for another long and stressful “busier” season and we are already seeing the painful comments on TaxTwitter. As we were discussing what we could do to help, I made the observation that unfortunately those who need help the most, don’t actually realize they need it.
Alison liked this concept so much that she asked me to write about it. So here it is! This article is designed to help practitioners who are in a considerable amount of pain, or stress, but who truly don’t know what to do about it. They are stuck.
Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. In fact, the longer the problem persists and the closer it starts to feel like “normal”, the worse things get. It can go on so long that occasionally people wake up one morning and find that they can no longer cope – they feel like they are drowning. But until they get to that point, they don’t realize that help is available so they carry on in the only way they know how.
But how do you KNOW if you are stuck, and possibly nearing your breaking point?
Here are some questions designed to help you see how bad things are for you:
- Do you crave time off but are never able to take it, and all the while your health is going downhill?
- Do you feel undervalued due to undercharging your clients for too many years?
- Are you terrified of raising your fees and/or severing relationships with long term clients?
- Do you easily cave in or back down in price negotiations?
- Have you often thought that you would be better off working for someone else, or having a different career altogether?
- Do you dread Mondays on an almost weekly basis?
- Are there times when you have felt hopeless?
- Do you feel tired, exhausted, and burnt out? and
- Of the worst one of all – do you fear that if something doesn’t change, you might actually die at your desk one day?
If you answered YES to some or all of the above questions then you may be well and truly stuck. You feel the pain, you probably can tell others about it, but you don’t seek help.
Stress and worry lead to chronic health conditions, strained relationships with loved ones and unrelenting regret. And it isn’t how you should end up living. The great news here is that you can completely transform your life and your firm – but there is ONE condition for that to happen.
You have to admit and accept that you have a problem.
Let’s use a medical analogy: A blocked artery probably won’t end up in a heart attack if you call your doctor for help and then follow the treatment they prescribe. On the other hand, feeling the pain in your chest and soldiering on instead is not going to make that blocked artery go away. Instead, it will likely get worse until you have an actual heart attack.
To get “unstuck” – bring in a qualified professional!
There is a solution to every problem if you can identify it, accept it, and then reach out to a qualified expert for help.
And herein lies the paradox with accountants and tax professionals – they are such highly intelligent people who are delighted to give advice to their clients to solve all manner of business problems, but when it comes to their OWN practices, they believe they can figure everything out on their own.
Let’s revisit the list of questions above. You’ll notice there is a theme around under-charging, over-work, long hours and poor health/stress. There is a connection between these things. There is also a solution! If you increase your fees you can eliminate many of your lower-value clients, and you will make the SAME revenue, but by working less hours.
Put another way: If you can learn how to have meaningful and effective sales conversations with your clients you can transform your practice pretty quickly. But if you stay in the “groove” you are in now, you’ll likely keep undervaluing yourself. This leads to undercharging your clients, which leads to the necessity of having a LOT of clients. A lot of clients paying you low amounts leads to you grinding 14 hours per day 6-7 days a week. The ultimate result of working so many hours without meaningful time off is burnout, health issues, and no time to relax and spend time with your family and friends. It’s a vicious cycle that an expert can help you break.
The secret is to increase your fees, and leverage the right technology.
Many practitioners want to raise their fees but simply don’t know how. This is because raising fees requires a completely different mindset and having the proper sales conversations requires a completely new skillset. You can easily triple or even quadruple your base fees and double your firm revenue if you do it right with the right kind of support, accountability and strategies.
When you have the confidence to charge premium fees and have the sales conversations with ease, you take complete control of your firm’s profitability. You can confidently fire current clients who suck your time and energy and handpick the clients who value your expertise without any fear, guilt or anxiety of where the next client will come from. You’ll be able to reclaim 8 hours of sound sleep, reconnect and spend quality time with your family and loved ones and joyfully go on a vacation and completely disconnect with no laptop or devices.
And where does Tech come in? Well this part is easy – practitioners waste a tremendous amount of their time chasing clients for documents and searching for them across multiple platforms, including trolling through endless email strings to find information from a client or colleague. Using a modern client communication and document exchange tool like Liscio will free you up from this time-sucking low-value work, and give you more balance in your busy day.
We still recommend you learn how to raise your fees though, so ideally do BOTH and really transform how you feel about your clients, your practice, and your life..
So what is it going to be? Are you going to stay stuck or will you ask for help?
Then give me a call – I can help you transform your practice and set yourself up for your best years ahead.
To your abundance!