Accounting team celebrating together.

Self-care for your practice: Start the year off right with this checklist

You’ve seen the checklist for end-of-year activities with your clients. You know the drill – make sure everything is reconciled and be ready for 1099s, just to name a couple. Now, let’s get YOU ready for end-of-year activities for you and your firm. Here are four tidbits to help you think about a new and different year.

1. What did you do last year to this year?

  • Did you work too many weekends?
  • Did you let your clients pull you out of scope?
  • Did you care more about your clients’ books than they did?

If any of these are true, think about how you can change your practice, if not your attitude, to avoid this in the new year.

  • Hire more staff to keep you from working 24/7.
  • Set boundaries with your clients. Most of them will understand.
  • Do the best you can, but if the client doesn’t care, you can’t.

2. Review your client list

  • You know that one client who waits until the very last second to give you the info you need, and then demands all of their reports five minutes later? Yeah, they can go. Get rid of them … or increase their price so much that it’s actually worth it to rush through the last-minute tension for him. But be careful! If you propose a really high price–hoping that they will go away–be completely prepared for them to accept it.
  • Look at the services you provide to each client. Can you offer more?
  • How long has each one been with you? Three years? Five years? 10? Consider a little anniversary present to let them know you appreciate their business.

3. Raise your prices

  • Do you have an annual price increase built into your engagement letters? If not, now is a good time to examine that option.
  • Look at your own tech stack. How much are you paying for all the great software that helps you run your business? Divide that total by your number of clients. Now, add that to their price.
  • What is your target margin per client? Are you attaining that?

4. Empower your team!

  • Let your team help you determine your goals for the year. Do they share your vision? Maybe they have a different vision that is worth exploring.
  • Push them outside of their comfort zones. Gently, of course. Do you want anyone on your team to think, “This is it. This is all I’m capable of. I can’t possibly grow any more.” Of course not! Give them the encouragement and the tools to become more.
  • “The speed of the leader is the speed of the team.” I’ve seen this quote attributed to numerous people, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Mary Kay Ash. It doesn’t really matter who said it. The point is, it’s true. Do you want your team to complain about your clients? Then, you better not! Do you want them to take pride in what they do and strive to delight your clients? Then, make sure they see that in you.

Each one of these bullet points could be a lengthy conversation on its own. You can’t accomplish all of these right away. But now is the time to think about it. What’s really important to you? What do you want to achieve in this new and glorious year? Make any year the best it can possibly be–not just for your clients, but also for you!

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