Accountants, like many other technical professionals, are required to complete a certain number of continuing professional education (CPE) courses each year. In part, these requirements help keep us updated on changes in our industry as well as the industries we serve, and when used well, can also empower our team members with new ideas and relevant in-depth knowledge.
However, simply showing up for CPE classes doesn’t guarantee the accountants in the room are going to be better than they were the day before. We recognized this tendency and decided to change the way we learn, choosing the tougher process of growing as a firm by learning from role models in our niche.
Meeting the Bigger Fish
The saying goes: there’s always a bigger fish. This idea reinforces the scarcity mindset that someone’s always out to get our clients, and that we can’t trust other accountants, especially when they’re direct competitors.
But we don’t see things the same way. Instead, we tend to say there’s always enough work to go around. That’s why we reached out to another firm in Indiana to field questions we had about the way they do things in their firm.
Though the firm is roughly 5 times the size of ours, we know they won’t be a bigger fish for long: we’re growing. But to grow correctly, it helps to learn from others. For instance, we now know that after talking to this firm, going paperless early on is easier than putting the transition off until our client base grows larger.
It was a little intimidating to meet all five partners and their many supporting CPAs at this larger firm, but also humbling. It reminded us that every firm has a story, and every firm needs team players to succeed. If we can follow in our mentors’ footsteps, we are even better positioned to lead others someday, having learned lessons early and often.
You can’t know what you don’t know. So don’t be afraid to network, ask questions, or even take a day off to go visit other companies. Moving from scarcity into abundance makes all the difference in the world.