John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
You might be an ambitious professional who hears talk from upper management about wanting to grow the practice, who wants to be part of the effort, but who keeps waiting for signals that the commitment is genuine. It’s easy to get stuck in a trap called “fire give me some heat, and then I’ll give you some wood.”
This scenario can happen inside CPA firms where no single Partner is devoted to business valuation and litigation full-time, but where aggregate revenue supports at least one full-time production person. Partners seem serious about expanding the BV/LS practice but, for one reason or another, don’t step away from tax or audit clientele.
You’re left wondering whether those flickers will ever turn into flames. Whether there’s any future for you there. Why not try a different approach?
Make your interest known. Any time the subject of growing revenue comes up in discussion, make it clear you’re ready to do your part to make it happen. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. It could be that this is all management needs to hear.
Put some plans on paper. Plans don’t have to be detailed, but they do need to be plans and not merely ideas. Are there referral source contacts you could reach out to? Articles you could write? Presentations you could make? Shoot for something at least once a month over six—and ideally twelve—months.
Be tactical in your timing. Year-end planning or annual performance reviews are good springboards into a conversation about the part you’d like to play in expansion. If either opportunity is more than two months away, find an alternative. Don’t wait. And although you have details ready, you could start by asking if there’s interest in your “putting some ideas down on paper.” If so, ask for another meeting in a couple weeks.
Be patient. Partners may want to “think about it.” That’s okay. Ask for a time to sit down and hear their reaction. Your objective is forward movement. Even if your plans are tweaked, it can still be a win.
Sooner or later you will see whether there is movement toward your involvement in practice growth, or whether things are stalled. You’ll have plenty to do and ninety days will go by quickly. If nothing is happening at six months, it’s time to repeat your interest and ask which of your plans you could get started on. At the nine month mark with little or no result, you probably have your answer. And the story of how your initiative was rebuffed will be useful when you talk to potential employers.
Don’t wait for the fire. Add your own wood.