04 Apr April ’19
It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating a decade of helping accounting firms get better every day. As I reflect back over the past 10 years, I’m amazed at all the intellectual property we’ve created. From the E-Myth Accountant to the Intentional Accountant books, we’ve long been committed to helping practitioners realize they have a choice in how they build and operate their firms. And from The Next Generation Accounting Firm™ to The Modern Firm®, we’ve progressively refined and evolved our tools and resources to meet the demands of our rapidly changing profession.
As we enter the next decade, we are clearer than ever before about what a firm must do to reach maximum success. If you’ve been following me and Rootworks for a while, you’ll see that the concepts presented here are not new, but they are more refined and organized.
In this issue, we are introducing what we call our Rootworks Performance Model. This model is comprised of 4 components, 14 elements, and 4 phases that, combined, offer a sound, proven blueprint to help firms get better every day.
Let’s start with the four core elements: 1) Leadership, 2) Products, 3) Operations and 4) Experience. You’ll notice that Leadership is at the top of the list. And as it should be. Without thoughtful, dedicated leadership, firm owners and their teams will struggle with the other core elements and likely not achieve maximum success.
As we build out the Rootworks Performance Model, each of the four elements are supported by multiple sub-elements, as listed below:
– Ideal clients
– Client accounting
– Firm management
– Marketing and sales
– Web and mobile
For each sub-element, our team continues to plan and develop educational assets and solutions to help members along the path to getting better every day.
The final component of our Performance Model are phases. Phases guide you on where you are in the change process and should be applied to each of the core and sub-elements.
Phases include: 1) Define, 2) Implement, 3) Refine and 4) Evolve. To put this into perspective, consider implementing a payroll product. You first define what you want that product to be. You then implement the product, and over time refine your payroll offering to meet client needs, improve efficiencies, and elevate profits. Finally, when the time is right, you evolve your product to what is next.
It’s important to point out that many firms stay in the Refine phase for years. And while refinement is not a bad thing—in fact, it’s where you bolster efficiencies and profitability—a firm cannot stay in a state of refinement forever. The challenge is knowing when it’s time to evolve…when it’s time to move on to the next big thing.
The majority of Rootworks’ staff spend their time helping members define, implement and refine the various firm elements and sub-elements. I, on the other hand, spend the majority of my time figuring out what’s next so that our members can make educated decisions on when to evolve.
Having a model to organize thinking and bring clarity to firm owners and their teams is exactly what the Rootworks Performance Model accomplishes. As we move into post tax season 2019, you will see that our model will impact how we organize our education and our online learning center.
I hope 2019 will be your clearest year yet.
All my best,
First, I would like to give a special shout out to all my fellow April born peeps! Such a wonderful month as we wrap up a couple of big deadlines for our profession.
If you are like many of us, you and your firm may have experienced some stress this tax season. Be it new tax law changes, new staff, new processes, new technology…all of that adds up to additional stress. Our experiences are there to help us learn, grow, and keep moving forward. What have you learned over the last few months of 2019? You may have a list of things that you want to visit once the deadlines are past.
Typically, firms are looking to evaluate these areas of their firm, especially coming out of tax season. If any of these areas require evaluation in your firm, please consider these questions.
Areas to evaluate:
- Practice Management
- Document Management/Storage
- Client Communication/File Sharing
Questions to consider for each area:
- WHAT – What technology are you using in this area?
- Does the technology do what you need it to do? (i.e. does it allow time tracking, can you search for documents, can you share information securely, etc.)
- Is the technology being used properly?
- Are all team members consistent in using the technology the same way?
- Has everyone received ample training?
- WHO – Who is involved in this area?
- Does the team have the ability to perform the necessary functions of their role?
- Is the appropriate team member filling the role?
- Does it make sense to move team members to different seats on the bus?
- HOW – How are things getting done in this area?
- Where are the bottlenecks in the process?
- Has everyone been trained on the correct process?
These questions will help you identify where to focus your efforts as you prioritize changes within your firm. We are here to help you think through these questions!
There’s a service on the internet where you can check your accounts for possible compromise. The site is called https://haveibeenpwned.com/. It tracks all data compromises that have been made public, as well as data dumps of accounts that have shown up on the dark web. The site name sounds suspect; however, it is run by a well-known and respected security professional named Troy Hunt.
What does “pwned” mean? Pwned is pronounced as “pawned,” but it’s actually a misspelling of the word “owned.” Urban legend on the term is that a big time gamer, who played a lot of first person shooter games, meant to put the term “You got owned” on a keyboard shortcut, and would post it in the game’s chat feed every time he killed someone. However, due to the misspelling, everyone saw “you got pwned!” The term stuck in the gamer space.
On the site, you can enter your email address to see if it comes up in any known breaches. There is also a password checker to see if any of the passwords you use are in known databases of breached accounts. More on that shortly.
If any of your emails return a list of known breaches, here is the recommended action to take:
- Attempt to login into the service that listed in the breach.
- If you cannot log in or do not recall the password, issue a password reset.
- Once in the account, use a password generator, from a password manager, or a free one on the internet, to change the password for that service. Never use the same password twice.
- Once in the service, if you no longer use that site, go through its account cancelation process and remove your account.
- If you are in anyway locked out of the account, contact the service’s support to tell that your account has been hijacked, and either delete it, or help recover it.
I recommend that you do this for both your professional email, as well as any personal emails that you have. Chances are, you’ve likely used the same password on occasion at both work and home, and any breach of a personal account could lead to a breach at the office if your passwords are the same.
The password checker is interesting, because where nefarious actors have obtained known password lists, those lists are often used to perform brute force attacks on accounts. So, if you have common passwords that you use, even if you think they are unique to you, check them against the password checker to see if those passwords are flagged. This is safe to do, as the passwords are checked securely against passwords that are stored in an encrypted format in the database. The encrypted hash of the passwords are transmitted, not the passwords themselves. If any of your passwords are flagged, change that password anywhere that you use it.
By the way, the password “123456” has been found over 23 million times in the breaches that this site has tracked, proving we still have a long way to go on educating for good password hygiene.
Social media is a great way to market your services; boost brand awareness; and connect with clients, prospects and your community on a more personal level. Keep your social content fresh by following the 80/20 rule. This calls for 80% of content to be educational, informative and entertaining and 20% focused on promoting your firm’s services. Social media is as much about engagement as it is about sharing content, so be sure stay involved in your own posts by answering or “liking” responses and offering diverse content that resonates across your audience. And…don’t forget to have fun!
– May 2nd: Spring Resource Update Webinar
– May 7th: Rootworks GPA Webinar
– May 16th: Cybersecurity Webinar
– May 23rd: Spring Planning Webinar