In his talk at the recent Sydney Writers Festival, Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist, spoke about mindsets and the skills needed in order for people to have successful careers. One essential skill identified is a capacity to think like an entrepreneur.
The emphasis on technical skills for an accounting or bookkeeping practitioner is overdone: machines can do a lot of the ‘technical’ work but a person with a mix of soft skills is needed to satisfy the deep concerns of the small business owner.
Deep experience in accounting and bookkeeping is valuable, but for a whole group of practitioners in, say, the 45 to 60 age range, there is a vortex where their roles have been disrupted and disintermediated and who do not have the entrepreneurial mindset to learn new skills or to upskill.
An inconvenient truth
It can be uncomfortable to learn a new skill just as it is uncomfortable, for example, to re-position your professional practice to become a forward-looking and progressive firm. Consider, as a case in point, the question of pricing. As uncomfortable as it is to respond to a prospective client’s question as to your fee rate, it is even more uncomfortable for the group noted above to consider changing the mindset.
After all, is it not the case that almost every service provider to the accounting and bookkeeping sector now bases its fees on a subscription-based service?
Discovering your mojo
Looking through to higher value services, it is almost inconceivable that a SMB client would agree to pay a higher fee today for BAS compliance work than in prior years; technology has automated most of that work. Yet most firms still offer set fees based on this work.
The most profitable firms, increasingly, are devoting a majority of their ‘billable’ hours on higher value work, ranging from debt reduction services, producing timely and meaningful financial reports, technology integration training and support.
The practitioner has little control over the cost of BAS compliance, but has a lot of control in discovering that something ‘extra’ which would make a difference to the business client.