After six years of working in Big Four firms and another year in the Fortune 500, I opened my own accounting practice. Although I enjoyed my employment in the corporate world, I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Running my own practice was a challenge, though, particularly managing the staff. Some were not as productive as we required while others created disharmony in the practice. Since I disliked confrontations and issuing orders, the situation continued.
Although we had modest growth, it was nowhere near what I wanted. I was overloaded with “too many hats.” Instead of bringing in an office manager, I relied on inexpensive administrative help. I had a difficult time getting staff to do their jobs accurately and so distrusted their work. As a result, I took on many additional tasks myself, doing the work I paid them to do.
During tax season, the returns backed up and we worked hard against the deadline to get them done in a timely fashion. Like many CPAs, I worked a ton of hours and was burnt out.
I had received a postcard from Sterling and checked into their management program. I watched their DVD and received a consultation. The whole Sterling process looked good, from how to find good staff to how to get more new customers to the use of statistics to manage and boost performance. I signed up for their program.
Sterling helped us overhaul our hiring process including the use of their personnel testing. We replaced the bad staff with good staff. We learned how to better market our services and to zero in on what worked. We got more new customers without throwing away money on ineffective promotion. Before Sterling, more new customers would have added to our problems. But because we got organized, we deliver better service despite having more business.
My consultant recommended I hire an office manager. This action freed me up to focus on the strategic aspects of the practice and more growth.
Being a CPA, I’m a big numbers guy. The proof of the Sterling program is in the numbers—since signing up 12 years ago, our production and collections have increased by more than 300%. Whereas I once complained about my staff, now I speak very positively about my team. We have an upbeat and productive culture which I helped create by learning how to be a better executive.
My life is back in balance. I never miss any of my daughters’ sports events, even during tax season. I could be taking it easier but I work hard because I want to; it’s my own choice.
I was struggling to make my practice reach its potential. Sterling showed me how and stayed with me throughout.
Greg Simons, CPA