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How to stop being a bottleneck in your growing accounting firm

by Jan 6, 2020Automating your processes and systems, Operations

Like many accounting firm owners, you may be very hands-on in the business. While this is usually essential in the early days, as the firm grows, this hinders growth rather than fostering it. To help you build and develop an accounting firm that grows sustainably, here is how to stop being a bottleneck in your own business.

How to stop being a bottleneck in your firm: But what exactly is a bottleneck?

Put simply, the term ‘bottleneck’ is one that originated in manufacturing where it referred to a jam on the production line. Instead of the whole process flowing smoothly, the jam causes a bottleneck situation where a backlog of work starts piling up causing the rest of the process to run very inefficiently until the issue is spotted and resolved.

Like any other business, a bottleneck in your accounting firm will cost you time, energy and resources, all of which hinder the growth of the firm.

5 ways YOU can avoid being a bottleneck

Are you the bottleneck in your accounting firm?

As we mentioned previously, many owners are hands-on in the business which is great for early success, but for a business to grow, the role of the owner has to change and grow with the firm.

If you are having this issue or even if you don’t know if it’s you causing it, here is how to stop being a bottleneck.

Stop doing too much billable work yourself

When advising many accounting firm owners about how to stop being a bottleneck, most of the time, it comes down to them working too much in their business rather than on growing it.

If you’re still generating billable work or working a lot on client work, you need to start delegating. You should only be doing the work that requires a very high skill set.

Stop managing everything

Many owners try to keep tabs on everything that’s going on in the firm but as the business grows, managing this information alone can become a serious bottleneck.

When it comes to managing the firm, you only really need to know (and intervene) when things are not going smoothly. To spot and manage these exceptions, design a set of management reports that allow you to see them easily without having to wade through masses of information. This will save you a lot of time, allowing you to focus on the real issues at hand.

Train employees effectively

If you don’t train your employees properly the first time, this results in your staff having to wait for you to show them how to do something. The result of this then is a decrease in their productivity and yours as you have to take the time to repeat the training.

When thinking about how to stop being a bottleneck when it comes to delegating tasks and training, train each employee and write procedures for the task as you train. This means that you only need to complete the training once and then that employee can then follow the procedure to train others.(Here’s how to get your employees on board with your growth plans)

Delegate authority not tasks

Another mistake that accounting owners make is not delegating authority. Think about it, if you are delegating tasks and giving your employees more responsibility but they have to come to you to check or sign off work or to approve their decisions moving forward, you are preventing them from doing their jobs efficiently.

To stop being a bottleneck in your accounting firm, start making note of the decisions that you are making and document the ones that you can. If you can write procedures for these decisions, these can be pushed down the layers of management so that your employees have more authority to move things along without you having to get involved.

For more tips on delegating see: Delegation tip for accountants: Learn to delegate authority not tasks and 6 tips to effectively delegate work in your small accountancy firm

Do more marketing

While most advice on how to stop being a bottleneck is focused on things that accounting owners shouldn’t be doing, there is one big thing that you should be spending more time on and that is business development.

YOU are the key person that will bring in new business. YOU are the one who is responsible for creating new opportunities for revenue and forging partnerships. If you’re not doing this then your pipeline will dry up and you may encounter some serious cash flow issues, both of which will ultimately prevent business growth.

Start working ON your business rather than IN it

When your firm is growing, you gradually have to reduce the number of hats that you are wearing, otherwise, you risk becoming the bottleneck.

How to stop being a bottleneck is simple, you just need to start reducing the time you spend on time-wasting tasks such as micromanaging and employee training so that you can free up your time for the more valuable tasks that will grow your business!