The Art of Business Development For CPA Firms

The Art of Business Development For CPA Firms

Growing up on the Southwest side of Chicago in the 60s, the only artists I knew were guys with the names of Moo, The Chico and Little Big Jimmy. And the canvas they used for their works of art turned out to be a bus, the side of a building, garbage cans and garage doors.

Georges Seurat completed his masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” in 1886, a mere 80 years earlier before Little Big Jimmy ever picked up his first can of spray paint. I am sure Little Big Jimmy’s parole officer would be so proud to have Little Big Jimmy’s name and Seurat together in an article.

How Seurat created his classic was ingenious. Instead of brush stroking, the traditional method of painting, he used a method known as pointillism or divisionism. Using dots to create a picture. Mind you, single dots. Tiny dots together to create a picture. One dot by itself is, well, a dot by itself. But a bunch of dots crafted together blossoms into a picture.

Maybe it’s my rose-colored marketing glasses splattered with some old residue from Little Big Jimmy’s spray paint, but I see a great deal of common ground with pointillism and business development. One business development or marketing activity will not create a masterpiece opportunity or bring recognition for your firm. It will take many activities or dots to create the masterpiece opportunity and to get your firm recognized in your market.

It took Seurat, who was in his mid-20s, two years to complete “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” It may take you months, a year or years to convert a prospect into a client. Prized rewards usually do not happen overnight; just ask Seurat. Just as Seurat knew what he wanted, we know we need to bring in new opportunities, and the travels to do so will not always be easy or short.

If you focus only on one approach in business development, you will be limiting your percentages for success. If you only do one thing to position your firm and yourself in your marketplace, you will be missing out on most of the market.

You will need the dot approach to create your painting. Many things together, over time, will result in an increased chance for achieving your goals. Look at some of the dots you need to connect to grow your business and career:

• Stay in close contact with your clients and ask them for referrals.
• Suggest addition services that your firm provides for your current clients.
• Work your referral network as you never know when it will be the right place and right time.
• Network like a politician running for office—meet, greet and shake a ton of hands.
• Be observant. Look for new businesses coming into your market.
• Be positive in your attitude.
• Embrace technology. Use it today because we may not understand it tomorrow.
• Be passionate in what you do and how you do it. Others will see it.
• Host and moderate a seminar for business owners on topics that can help them run their business better. Invite clients and prospects, and offer your referral sources to bring in clients. Don’t make it an infomercial for accounting services. Make the topics unrelated to your firm. By doing so you will make the program more impactful and important.
• Follow up on everything you do and say (see dot above).
• Look at how you get to places vs. just looking at the destination only. In other words, don’t focus on the revenues only, but focus on the relationship that will bring you to those revenues.
• Improve the internal communications avenues in your firm by responding to e-mails and voice mail messages…the first time.
• Market your firm year round.
• Join organizations to meet new people and businesses. Time consuming but needs to be done.
• Easier to say than do, but be more welcoming others. Give people a reason to remember you. Enjoy being yourself and let others see you who you are.
• Be a teammate to your colleagues.
• Lead and look to the future on how to grow your business. There is no book or iron-proof marketing plan available, just hard work on your part.
• Strive to be rewarded as a trusted advisor by clients.
• Get social: FaceBook, LinkedIn, others. They’re too big to ignore and they’re not going away.
• And a million of other dot things to do, but I’m running out of canvas.

Recently, Ms. Sajpel, my son Matt’s sixth grade math teacher, took her class to the Art Institute of Chicago where I tagged along as a chaperon. There, the kids were studying how the work of Seurat interfaces with math. But I couldn’t help but wonder if Little Big Jimmy would be compared to Seurat if he hadn’t failed fourth, fifth and sixth grade math.

Business development is an art. An art we all can pick up at any age. We have our own canvas to create our own masterpiece on, which is the same reason why frames for paintings come in unlimited sizes.

Nicholas D. Keseric Jr. is the director of practice growth with Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co, a Chicago-area middle-market CPA firm, and a partner with MPS Capital Advisors-Mergers & Acquisitions.

The Habits of A Successful Managing Partner

The Habits of A Successful Managing Partner

Congratulations. You have walked the path from staff, to manager and ultimately to the pinnacle of partner in your firm. No matter how you got there, something amazing stood out about you and you are now the “top dog” – the Managing Partner in your firm. You are responsible for so much, and the expectations from others in the firm can be a little overwhelming especially when the first thing on that list is to see the future! Yikes, no one told you that you would have to wear a turban and carry around a crystal ball when you were appointed to this position.

So, how do you develop the ability to see the opportunities, sift through those ideas and then motivate your team to implement? There are some habits that you can implement that will really assist you in this challenging role:


We often tell ourselves that we are too busy to read, but outstanding leaders are those who find the time to read and learn about new ideas and management concepts. They then will take those new concepts and infuse them into their firm. It is easier than ever to have those resources available to you through the e-readers that are available everywhere. IPad, Kindle, Nook or any other great resource that is out there allows you to easily obtain and transport your reading materials so you can make time almost anywhere you are.

Take Time Off

It is an interesting phenomenon that leaders wear the number of hours that they work like a badge of honor. I have done it myself! We brag about the late night we put in or we complain (with tongue in cheek) about the HUGE list of items we have to accomplish. Ok, congratulations – you are busier than anyone in the world and everyone is aware of it. I would like to challenge you with something you can really brag about – taking time off! Great leaders take time off to relax and recharge. Oh, and by the way, time off means NO work. No email, no phone, no emergency client meetings! Leadership requires that you trust your team to take care of things when you are away. Leave your computer and smart phone at home and enjoy some fun away from your normal routine!

Positive Thinking

It is easy when you are a leader in the firm to go down the negative path rather than the taking the high road. Profits are not what you were hoping, fellow partners are not producing like they should, staff members are not stepping up to a higher level of productivity and the darn technology is not working like you anticipate it should! These reasons and so many more can make it easy to get down in the muck, but your role as the Managing Partner is to find the great things that are going on and motivate people to change their behavior in a positive manner. Positive thinking is a state of mind and is a choice you can make. It does take some practice and is a habit that can be developed, but is possible for anyone.

Team Think

It is not all about you! One of the things that is a huge misconception about the position of Managing Partner is that you have to do everything yourself. You feel the need to be both a manager and a producer and everything has to be exactly as you have done it in the past. As the Managing Partner, you must start thinking about your job as a tree with you as the trunk. You support all other elements, but you don’t do all the work. Delegation, setting individual goals, allowing for collaborative work teams and developing communication techniques that support your infrastructure will become your mantra. TeamThink is imperative to a Managing Partners success.

People Need People

I have heard many Managing Partners say that it is lonely at the top! While most Managing Partners calendars are packed with appointments to communicate and meet with clients and staff, they are hungry for time to interact with their peers. They want to know what initiatives other firms have struggled with and how they maneuvered through the implementation process. They want to know what their peers are working on and why it is important to them. They want to share what they are currently celebrating and what their challenges are and receive honest feedback from others that have walked in their shoes. Finding a group of peers who will respect and interact with you is imperative to the Managing Partners overall success in their role. In our recently launched CEO Advantage program, we have developed a community of Managing Partners who will act as a collaborative think tank to challenge, encourage and propel each other to a higher level of success. What a wonderful way to develop this habit.

As the Managing Partner, if you work hard on the habits stated above you will improve in your role. This challenging role can be daunting, but it is also very rewarding. Developing these new habits will provide new capabilities to use in your quest to be the high level leader you want to be.

By Sandra Wiley , Boomer Consulting Inc.

ETS Awards and Associations

ETS Awards and Associations

By Debbie Danto – Chief Operating Officer

This month I am pleased to announce ETS achievements;

Awarded the National Minority Business Enterprise Certification, as voted by Fortune 500 Companies.

Awarded the MBE Certification, by the The Southern Florida Minority Supplier Development Council.

DFK International/USA announced ETS as a Preferred Resource Sponsor

Enterprise Worldwide announced ETS as a Preferred Resource Member