Accounting weekly

Your 2020 to-do list

From Accounting Today: As we’ve done each January for the past several years, we’ve created a list of a dozen tasks to put on your calendar, in hopes of encouraging you to rise above the daily grind from time to time.

January: Try to do a full restore from your backup. Naturally, you’re backing everything up — but are you sure it’s working? Do a test and make sure, because you don’t want to discover that your backup is faulty during a real-life emergency.

February: Review your cyber insurance (assuming you have some). Check with your insurance agent to find out what, exactly, is covered by your general liability policy, and then make sure you have all the extra coverage you need to cover breaches and the like under the rules of your state.

March: Share some meaningful data about the firm with your staff — something you haven’t shared before. Some suggestions: How much of your annual revenue is earned during tax season? How much more does the firm make on the average tax return than last year? What percentage of clients purchase more than one service from the firm?

April: Here’s a good one to cut down on busy season interruptions: Have all staff add NNTR (for “No need to reply”) to every group email for which there really is no need for everyone to reply.

May: Marie Kondo your desk. Take an hour and an empty wastebasket and go through everything on your desk and in its drawers. The question to ask isn’t, “Does it spark joy?” but rather, “Have I used this in the last six months?” If you haven’t, throw it away. You’re not really going to need that many binder clips, and all those paper files should be digitized anyway.

June: Sit down with a small group of stakeholders and describe in detail the culture you’d like your firm to have. Go beyond “We’re like a family.” Every firm is like a family. Are you the kind of family that will fire a client for being rude to an employee, or are you the kind that expects staff to serve even the most demanding clients with very high standards? Dive deep, and be specific.

July: Read a book that’s relevant to your practice. It could be about managing staff, or value pricing, or marketing professional services, or the potential impact of blockchain or artificial intelligence, or just about anything else. And if it’s good, share it with everyone in your firm.

August: Create a will for your practice. Do you know what will happen to your clients or your staff if you get hit by a bus? Macabre as it sounds, it’s worth setting up some contingency plans.

September: Check out some apps. Pick a couple of pain points — either yours or a client’s — then seek out and test some software solutions that solve for them. They don’t need to be huge issues; the idea is to get used to trying out technological solutions on a regular basis.

October: Work from home one day a week. This will give you a sense of how well your technology is set up to support remote workers — and will show employees that you’re serious about allowing them to work remotely, too. (If you’re not set up to support remote work, that’s your alternate task for the month.)

November: Vote. That should go without saying, but even if you’re sure your preferred candidate is going to win in your state, vote anyway.

December: Go through your calendar and remove every single recurring meeting — then review each one before putting it back on. You’ll find that many have outlived their purpose, and you’ll start the New Year with a lot of extra time.