Slowing Down, Speeding Up

Slowing down, speeding up: Business growth in the age of automation, distraction & more jobs than staff

How many of you have struggled with finding staff in the last year? What about work-life balance? Or silencing all the dings and notifications so you can do the big picture thinking your business really needs you to do?

            These were just some of the challenges brought forward at the recent CPA Conference held in Whistler, and it’s made me think about how I run my business and my day, and how my clients run theirs. I wanted to share some of these questions and learnings with you in case you are also struggling with some of these common challenges in your business.

            “Ingenuity Lies at the Intersection of Open Thinking and Collaboration”

            This was the title of the keynote address given by Dan Pontefract, former Chief Envisioner & Chief Learning Officer at Telus. His latest book “Open to Think” asks us to do three things: 1) Slow down. 2) Think creatively. 3) Make better decisions.

            This talk told me something: If I really want to try and achieve this ‘work-life balance’ thing and have more deep-thinking time, I need to create new habits. So, I’ve started waking up at 5:30 and taking half an hour—without screens—to read books about business, wellness and success; to reflect in a journal about my goals and experiences; or to simply ‘think’ about my day and my business. Stepping back, slowing down and taking dedicated contemplative time (away from notifications that can distract higher level thinking) has allowed me to think more carefully about how I ‘produce’ in a day and what that means for the business long-term.

Attendees then almost literally switched gears through a breakneck speed presentation by Garrett Wasny on “The Automation Survival Guide for Accountants.”

Two years ago, I had zero clients on Quickbooks Online (QBO). Today approximately 95 per cent of my clients are now on QBO.  On Oct. 3, I attended the QBO Core training and, although the core concepts of bookkeeping remain the same, the online platform requires new processes to capture the efficiencies of what the automation brings. What cloud and online accounting platforms really bring you is real-time data you can use to make more informed decisions. Instead of guessing or having to call your bookkeeper to see how expenses and sales are going (usually a bit of a departure from what you might assume), you simply open the app on your phone or desktop and get a snapshot of profits and losses on the dashboard—pretty empowering and important stuff!

And yet to make sense of what all the numbers and patterns mean for your business, today and long-term, the old-fashioned human mind of an accountant provides critical insight and personalized solutions.

Last, and speaking of needing humans around, is the labour market.

Lori Mathison, President and CEO of CPA BC, presented highlights of the BC Economy. The labour market, she said, is near capacity. That means there are more jobs than workers, and this results in difficulty finding the right people to fill positions.

Smart & Associates absolutely felt this labour issue this year as I set out to fill our receptionist/bookkeeper position. It was a time-consuming and eye-opening experience to see what today’s job-seekers’ expectations are. I’m thankful I practiced ‘slowing down’ and ‘making better decisions’ as I resisted rushing into a decision to hire. We are fortunate that we were able to welcome back Dianne Hutchinson, who supported our 2017 tax season as a temp. We are hopeful that Dianne will have many successful years here at Smart & Associates. 

With warm regards,

Charlene H. Smart

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