If you do anything next year, do this.
The days between Christmas and New Year are decidedly geared around reflection. It’s a period to look back on the year, perhaps even the decade, restore energy and prepare for the one ahead.
Whether you believe in New Year resolutions or not, here are a few that promise productivity, enjoyability and success in the next few months. After all, if you improve at something by 1% every day, thanks to the magic of compounding, you’ll be 37x better on the 31st December than you were on the 1st Jan.
In this spirit, here are the five resolution ideas to bring forward.
1. This year, I’ll find more time for…
Why work harder when you can work smarter? Technology and automation shouldn’t be there so you can spend more time working, but so that you can deliver more value – even if you actually end up spending less time in the office.
For instance, when Dave Gorter adopted Dext, he found that tasks that used to take an hour and a half per client suddenly only took 10-15 minutes. Needless to say, his team was now able to dedicate this time to solving complex problems: delivering more value in the process.
How can you adopt the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle)? Is there any way that you can get 80% of your work done in 20% of your time? This might mean restructuring your work schedule to fit when you’re at your most productive, or finding more efficient ways of completing time-consuming tasks.
If you’re struggling for ideas on how to do this, check out this blog post on how to make cloud accounting more profitable with the Pareto principle.
Just as you review and improve internal processes, reflect on your approach to your work. It’s so easy to fall into an “always-on” mentality. The rise of presenteeism means that people only feel like they’re effective if they work late, check emails over the weekend and give their all to their jobs.
This is so often the case in bookkeeping. If you’re up all night answering clients – adopting a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to work – have a read over Mel Dowie’s top 5 tips to supercharge your bookkeeping practice.
Whilst having a great work ethic is to be admired, finding balance is to be just as admired. It’s not easy to juggle work, family, and your passions – but this is the key to living a happy and fulfilling life.
2. This year, I’ll give something back
True firms of the future aren’t always just focused on profit. Sure, it’s great to be doing well – but it means so much more if you use your success to make the world a better place.
Whether you hire an intern, make a pledge to become more eco-friendly, or take on some pro-bono work for a charity, think about ways in which your firm can be a force for good.
As an example, Caleb Jenkins used his accounting knowledge to help Christian Aid Ministries’ SALT Microfinance Solutions Program set up QuickBooks in Haiti. As a result, this drastically improved their ability to support local Haitian startups grow.
Having a social mission is a great way to attract the best and brightest young talent. Reams of studies and articles outline that the younger generations increasingly want to work somewhere that has a mission beyond just money.
Millenials and Gen Z are more socially-conscious than previous generations. In an era where environmental activists are seen as heroes, young people entering the workforce don’t want to leave their beliefs at the door when they walk into the office.
So as well as making a positive contribution to society at large, giving something back may also help you recruit the future of your firm.
Whatever it is, think about how you can give something back.
3. This year, I’ll redefine my role
You probably didn’t become an accountant or a bookkeeper so you could focus on data-entry. However, it’s more or less just become accepted as part of the job – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Instead, you need to prioritise high-value and enjoyable activities in 2020. Find a way to say goodbye to tedious and time-consuming tasks: redefining your role and becoming a genuine business advisor.
This should be reflected in your marketing strategy, too. Don’t sell clients on your ability to complete tax returns – instead, market your expertise in providing forward-thinking business insights off the back of businesses’ financial data.
If you’re looking for 4 simple steps to help you get started, check out our blog post from earlier this year.
Firms which adopt this change in expectations – not just in how they position themselves, but also in how they operate on a daily basis – will be successful in 2020 and beyond.
4. This year, I’ll put people first
Wellness in the workplace is an increasingly important issue – and rightly so.
Accountants and bookkeepers have an incredibly stressful job, especially in hectic periods like self-assessment season. Every client wants the utmost care and attention, and for you to be at their constant beck and call. Needless to say, this is impossible – and the more you grow, the worse this sometimes seems to get.
So as well as making sure you personally find balance, make sure you also put other people first in 2020 and beyond. Have regular check-ups with your team members, consider adopting flexible working, and try to organise team bonding events.
After all, what truly makes a successful firm – a happy team that enjoys coming in every morning or more money in the coffers?
For more actionable insights into how to put people first in 2020, have a read over section 1 of the Top 5 Accounting Trends to Shape the Industry in 2020, According to Experts.
5. This year, I’ll ditch the tech dinosaurs
You might still have some clients who insist on preferential treatment. You try to introduce a new piece of technology that’ll ultimately help them in the long run, but they dig their heels in and insist on doing things the way they’ve always been done.
We get it. Change is hard, and you can’t expect everyone to suddenly abandon their tried-and-tested old ways of working at the drop of a hat. People want a solution that’s reliable, highly repeatable, and that they understand.
However, that’s not a credible excuse. Innovation is all around us; those who refuse to change can’t simply expect the world to slow down and accommodate them. When introducing a new piece of tech, there are a number of things you can do to try and smooth the transition.
For instance, make sure you go through a full demonstration with each client (and allow them to ask as many questions as needed). It’s also a good idea to produce a comprehensive one-pager outlining what the ideal process looks like – something they can keep on their desk as a bit of a ‘cheat sheet’ going forward.
But this might not always work. You may have some clients who simply refuse to transition to new ways of working – insisting that because they pay you for a service, they should have some say in how it’s completed.
Not only is this incredibly frustrating, but it’ll also hurt your firm in the long run. There’s a reason you introduced tech in the first place: to speed up your day-to-day activities and provide more value. Pandering to outdated methods will make you less efficient, less productive, and less profitable.
So don’t waste any more valuable time and sanity catering for those stuck in the mud. If a client flat-out refuses to change, then it might be worth politely ending your contract with them. There are always other businesses out there looking for forward-thinking, innovative firms – you don’t need to work around clients who just end up making your life harder.
Whatever your resolutions for 2020, the Dext team wishes you all the happiness and success this year. It’s the beginning of a new decade and a new phase for Dext.