What Does Success Really Look Like?

There is a very large misconception around what defines a successful program or initiative. We focus so much on the ROI number that we forget to look at the many other factors that impact growth in the organization. Some of these things may be a little harder to evaluate, but are equally important.

Here are just a few examples of success in an accounting firm, redefined.

Manage Expectations

Running an event is a common tactic almost every firm uses to build their practice. Many firms host events and expect glowing returns, i.e. super high attendance and tons of ROI. While we always want to see a firm with ROI on an event, we have to define what that ROI measurement is going to be; it isn’t always new business.

If a firm is still new to hosting events and their invitation list is only comprised of current clients, success might look like getting a certain percentage of prospects to attend. In order to make that happen, a firm has to have a list of prospects – the more people you want at an event, the more people you need to invite. If the firm has been holding events for a while, a healthy ROI might come from increasing overall attendance at these events and ensuring the firm does a better job of getting the right people at the event.

Sometimes, success also means knowing what to invest into doing or what not to invest into doing. We were recently contacted by a member firm wanting to run a campaign around the new DOL rule changes. As part of that campaign, they wanted to host an event. As we talked through the strategy and objectives, we helped them realize they would not accomplish what they were hoping to accomplish with that particular event.

Invest into their culture

Many firms want to turn everyone into a rainmaker. We want everyone out developing business AND we want them to keep the same billable hours, realization and utilization rates. Take into consideration,

  1. not everyone in the organization needs to be a rainmaker, and
  2. contributing to growth and building a growth culture is about more than just developing business.

Firms with a successful growth culture have their professionals contributing to growth in as business developments by contributing as thought leaders, cross-selling, or providing exceptional service. Firms also have people sitting on practice group teams where individuals initiate ideas for improvement across the firm. A firm is building a growth culture doesn’t globally resist change – they embrace being lead.

These are just a couple of the many examples of how expectations should shift for what success looks like. They key element is behavior change. Success is realized when we get the organization and its people to change their behaviors. This isn’t always an easy task and it takes a lot of time and a lot of communication, however, it CAN happen.

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