It is easier to become intimidated when meeting professionals including physicians, attorneys and CPA’s. People can become uncomfortable because a CPA sees all the details of their finances. It is imperative a professional establishes a good bedside manner, and is able to understand, listen and emphasize with their clients.
The Bedside Manner
I have always had the ability to connect to people, and I am naturally empathic. As a CPA, I knew I was in the right profession once I started meeting with my clients. I discovered my technical skills enabled me to help real people with their financial issues. My clients adored me, and this gave me the ability to provide my existing clients with additional services. This was what prompted me to start my own practice.
When I began my practice, I had no clients, staff, or office, and my funds were limited. I wanted to develop the perfect firm, and this meant making my clients my number one priority. I used my network to the best of my ability, began volunteering to write and speak, and the clients began to come. I took the time to know them, their financial situations, and discern what services they required. We soon became friends, and I made concessions regarding my fees and numerous urgent requests. I cared about my clients so I extended payment terms, decreased my fees and offered little extras to my friends. I received referrals to family and friends and became successful.
The Nights and Weekends
The growth of my business meant I was working nights and weekends, and soon I was overwhelmed. I was having difficulty making my deadlines, and the additional hours were not helping my productivity. I required help, yet I was barely making enough to pay my bills, and often fell short. I could not afford to hire a staff.
I finally realized the pattern I had set was not working and must change. Since I was not working for a firm, there were no rules for me to adhere to and I had made mistakes. I was providing clients with ridiculous discounts, working for free and delaying payments. Although my clients had never asked for concessions, without firm rules in place I had made them anyway. I found the courage to say no, and stay friends with my clients.
My desire for success had created a monster. I had clients not due to my concessions, but because I did my job well. They were willing to pay my fees because they wanted me to be successful, and knew I was worth the money. I sharpened my focus, lost some clients, and set new rules I knew I could not break. This was when my life began to change. I experienced some hard months but I knew I had made a good decision. Although I did lose some friends, I had peace of mind, my time back, and the remainder of my clients respected me for finding courage to tell them no.