A key advantage of doing business in this digital age is easy and constant access to an unprecedented amount of information. And a key disadvantage of this age is being overwhelmed by more information than one could possibly hope to consume.
That’s particularly true when it comes to new laws and regulations that could have a profound effect on the public accounting industry. Budget negotiations are at the heart of every Congressional session, and the pundits and self-styled experts react to every change in some small provision of every piece of proposed legislation as though it were the single most important development in our nation’s history. Then, as you read their comments, you start to wonder how it will affect both your clients and your practice as a whole, and your blood pressure climbs.
From elections, to legislative sessions at all levels, to decisions made by the IRS and other state and federal agencies, the environment in which you counsel clients is more fluid than ever. It’s easy to understand why some in our profession hunker down and change as little as possible when confronted with so much information. But that’s not a wise solution. When you dig in and refuse to change, you ensure that you’re going to be left behind.
A better solution is to manage both your business and your sources of information to focus on the long term. Odds are that much of the content you review every day duplicates others, so narrowing your sources can keep it from becoming overwhelming. Also, it pays to approach information differently. Instead of hanging on every change as legislation is crafted and worrying about its impact on your practice, monitor the changes from a distance, but don’t start making business decisions until laws are finalized.
We all hope for changes in the regulatory environment that would benefit our clients and simplify our lives, but many of those changes are unlikely — especially in an age when Congress seems unable to achieve the most incremental level of progress. So we should focus instead on the most likely courses of action and adjust our planning and practices around reality, rather than hope and hype.
If a new client showed up in your office this morning and told you she wanted to start a long-term business, one of the first things you’d counsel — whether it was a restaurant, a dry cleaners, or an IT firm — would be the creation of a thorough business plan. Why? Because you grasp the value of thinking through every aspect of a business and considering the potential impact of outside events. By bringing that same counsel to your own practice, you can move your thinking beyond daily panics to a strategic focus that will support you in nearly every business, regulatory, and political climate. Worried about the present and the future? Maybe it’s time to heed your own advice.