#RecipeForSuccess: How to Establish Core Values and Vision for Your Accounting Firm

Determining what kind of business owner you want to be, and the firm you’d like to have, is equally as important as establishing our niches or our toolbox. Many believe that values and vision are meant for large corporations or non-profits. I wholeheartedly disagree! Let your values and vision be your guide. In this #RecipeForSuccess, you’ll learn step-by-step how to discover your core values and create a vision for your company.

What is a #RecipeforSuccess? It’s a campaign that provides key ingredients and steps for accounting pros and their small business clients to achieve success. Search “recipe” on this site for similar articles.

Master Chef: Kristy Monahan, Chief Solutions Officer at Dynamic Bookkeeping

Ingredients:

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Your brain and a quiet place to reflect

Directions:

1. Find a quiet place when you have ample time to sit and think. Throw out all of the ideas you’ve had about your business and goals, and begin anew. On your paper, write down descriptive words that resonate with you as an individual and as a professional:

  • What is important in your life? Family, friends and communication? Traveling, animals and the environment?
  • Think of experiences in your life that made an impact on you. What were the circumstances? Why were they important?
  • Think of experiences that impacted you negatively. If you could go back and do something different to improve the situation or handle it differently, what would you have done? What values were suppressed from this interaction?
  • What brings you personal fulfillment or satisfaction?
  • If you run out of ideas, or need a list to help you get going, click here for a sample list of core values. Use it as a last resort.

2. After you have a list you are satisfied with (shoot for at least 20 words), reflect on your list. What words are related with each other? Make a new list and categorize your values into like-minded columns (ex: family, tradition and faith might all fit together).

3. Look at your word groupings and determine the central theme of each grouping of values. “Doing the right thing,” “honesty” and “ownership” might all fit under a theme of “Integrity.” List the title above each group.

4. Take your main themes and rank them in order of importance to you (1 being most important). This part can take time, as you’ll find many will compete with one another. This is okay. Feel free to step away and come back to it. There’s no right or wrong here; the general consensus is about 5-10 values emerge as the most important for the vast majority of people.

5. Add a descriptive sentence to each of your values to further flesh out its meaning. As an example, one of my core values is “Education. We learn from each other. You learn your own books and we learn your business.”

6. Reflect on your list of value statements. Your vision for your company comes from these values. Based on your findings, where do you see yourself and your company 10 years from now? Incorporate your value statements into your vision.

7. Try it on for size. Your values and vision should be the measuring stick that you use going forward to make decisions on the direction of your business, the types of clients you work with, how you communicate and what you bring to the table that is unique. How do they feel?

As an example, here are the core values, vision and vision statement that I developed for my firm, Dynamic Bookkeeping:

Core Values and Vision:

  • Integrity: We do the right thing every time.
  • Collaboration: We work with you, not for you.
  • Education: We learn from each other – you will learn your own books, and we learn your business.
  • Leveraging technology: Using the latest and greatest to streamline processes.
  • Open and honest communication: Numbers don’t lie and neither do we.

Vision Statement: We make life easier for our clients by empowering leaders to make educated choices about their businesses, one transaction at a time. We partner with our clients to propel our businesses to success through thoughtful and honest communication, knowledge transfer, and strategically employing technology, whenever possible.

Taking the time to develop your own values and vision, and using them as the basis for decision making, will help you focus your time and energy. You’ll attract the types of clients you want to work with, the way you can best work with them. Only by knowing yourself can you possibly see the road ahead!