Accountants and CPAs here in Pennsylvania have had a lot thrown at them in the last two years. The federal government’s programs to help small businesses and taxpayers during the lockdowns and other complications, such as long IRS delays, PPP Loans, and moving tax deadlines, have certainly made the tax preparer’s work more difficult. Ever-changing tax laws are something all accountants have come to expect, but the rise of cryptocurrency, the increase in gig economies to help people make ends meet, and the increasing need for cybersecurity are all issues that accountants and CPAs have to be able to address.
A lesson from restauranteurs
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s the need for companies to be flexible and resilient. Businesses of all sizes need to be able to adjust to new economic pressures and societal issues to remain in business and profitable. One of the best examples of resiliency during the pandemic was the pivot made by the restaurant industry. Since restaurants depend almost exclusively on people being able to come to their location and dine, a lockdown spelled doom for restaurants – but many found ways to stay open and thrive by reinventing their services.
Take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery were key ways to get their food to people. Additional changes included special menu items to encourage repeated business, focusing on highest-margin menu items, promotions and gift cards, focusing on upsells, and doing charitable work in order to build community while helping others. Many utilized technology in new ways, revamping their websites, getting active on social media, and creating special apps.
How accountants can be resilient
What the restaurants did is a lesson for every business: be aware of changes and challenges to your business and respond quickly by thinking about how to continue to serve your clients in new ways.
- Planning – Your business model should expect change in order to adapt quickly to market changes: customer-centric goals and a company culture that encourages collaboration and innovation.
- Leadership – Smaller, more self-guided teams are often able to brainstorm creative solutions when guided by management that encourages thinking outside of the box in order to respond to client needs and market pressures.
- Technology – New technologies provide the greatest opportunities for responding quickly to changes, but they must also respond to the challenges of cybersecurity.
- Service – Finding out what your clients need by listening intently and then finding the talent and opportunities to respond to those needs will help you be one of the first in the industry to provide new services in response to changes.
Keep your ear to the ground
Whether you’re independent or part of a firm, it’s important for you to be aware of current events and volatility in various business sectors. Be sure to ask critical questions about what could happen down the road and how that could affect your clients and yourself. By actively scanning the horizon, you may notice something coming before others do and you can begin to adapt ahead of time.
The near future is likely to continue to be somewhat volatile. Being able to respond quickly to changes and provide services before other firms will give you a clear competitive edge and will help you grow and thrive while other firms are still playing catch-up.