A mistake commonly made by business owners is to "look at their competitors" to "see how it’s done." Once a pattern of doing business is set, it can be difficult to change, but it can be done. Instead of designing your business to be like other businesses, think about how it can be designed to contribute to your life.
Make some mental pictures. Scenario 1. If I continue doing business the way I am now, what will my life look like in the future? (Probably not much different from what it is now.) Scenario 2. This is how I would like my life in the future to look. How should I be doing business to make that picture happen?
If you are the business owner/designer, you can make decisions about how that business works. In other words, you can tell the marketplace, "This is how we do it here." Your company should have performance standards and terms that you communicate to your customers that explains your terms of doing business and what the customer receives in return. How the marketplace responds determines whether your business succeeds or not. But how you do business should appeal to some people, and if it’s the right group of people, you should be able to enjoy the lifestyle you want.
For example, I wear a suit and tie to work. I appeal to a clientele that likes that image of a CPA. Many other CPAs are choosing to "dress down," including some of the largest firms.
Some CPAs choose to meet with clients on evenings or weekends. Some don’t.
If you have highly specialized, focused knowledge, you may choose to charge very high fees. Some potential clients may choose not to do business with you for that reason. As long as enough will choose to, you can still be very successful.
How high of a price or fee can you charge? How much can you quote and keep a straight face? What about your competitors? How can you define your business so you don’t have competitors, or as few as possible?
You can buy clothing at Mervyns or at Nordstroms. Who charges higher prices? Who is making more profits? (Look at their financial reports.)
When you make a guarantee, you can dictate the terms of the guarantee and yet keep a customer you might otherwise lose.
As we approach a new year and a new millenium, rethink your business and how it can be reengineered so you and your employees will enjoy the lifestyles you want and deserve.
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