Investing and Taxes

The E-Myth Accountant Series – People

CPA Blog |

The fourth topic in the book “The E-Myth Accountant: Why Most Accounting Practices Don’t Work And What To Do About It” by Michael Gerber and M. Darren Root, CPA is all about people.

Michael Gerber shares that every accountant he’s ever met has complained about people – about employees, the IRS, clients, etc.  

So what’s the problem with people?

He explains that in order to answer that, think back to the last time you walked into an accountant’s office. What did you see in the people’s faces? Most people working in accounting are harried. You can see it in their expressions. They’re negative. They’re bad-spirited. They’re humorless. And with good reason. 

After all, they’re surrounded by people who have tax problems or who are suffering cash flow problems, or—worst case scenario—may even be a candidate for a business closure. And many are either terrified or depressed. They don’t want to be there.

Is it any wonder employees at most accounting practices are disgruntled? They’re surrounded by unhappy people all day. They’re answering the same questions 24/7. And most of the time, the accountant has no time for them. He or she is too busy leading a dysfunctional life.

He explains that most accountants are unprepared to use other people to get results. Not because they can’t find people, but because they are fixated on getting the results themselves. In other words, most accountants are not the business people they need to be; they’re technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.

But here’s what’s critical to know about the working life of accountants who own their own accounting practice: Without people, you don’t own a practice; you own a job.

Without people, you’re going to have to do it all yourself. Without human help, you’re doomed to try to do too much. This isn’t a breakthrough idea, but it’s amazing how many accountants ignore the truth. They end up knocking themselves out, 10 to 12 hours a day. They try to do more, but less actually gets done.

His solution – you first have to have a system.  You have to create a unique way of doing business that you can teach to your people, that you can manage faithfully, and that you can replicate consistently.

He shares that without a specific system for doing business; without a specific system for recruiting, hiring, and training your people to use that system; and without a specific system for managing and improving your systems, your practice will always be a crapshoot.

Co-author, M. Darren Root, CPA, shares that far too often he encounters firm leaders who insist on having their hands in every aspect of operations. They hang on to their technician role, unable to break free and relinquish ‘‘power’’ to their staff. 

He explains that this is known as the ‘‘me’’ mentality. In other words, ‘‘Without me, things would fall apart.’’ Sound familiar?

His suggestion – accountants need to get rid of the ‘‘me’’ and adopt a ‘‘we’’ mind-set, where they envision firm operations running independent of their own involvement. It’s time to trust your people, let go, and give yourself the opportunity to work on your practice . . . not in it.

Employee placement is key, making sure you have the “right people, in the right seats on the bus”.  By having a clear job description, hiring process, and system for training, you can get a new team member up to speed and producing in no time.

The main point – if accountants want to grow their firms and accomplish true life–work balance, they must build a team to do so.  

Source – “The E-Myth Accountant”