Archive: AVN Insights

Fantastic Teams #5 – Passion needs patient zero


Everybody wants their teams to be more engaged and passionate about what they do but passion is contagious, it’s infectious. In order for it to spread, it has to be present in the first place.  It has to be present in you.

Are you, the leader/business owners truly engaged and passionate about what you do and what the business is striving to achieve.

It really doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t have the passion you have a job.  This is unfulfilling, even if it pays well.  How can you expect to exude energy into your team if you don’t have it yourself?

So, are you truly passionate about what you’re doing?

I work with accountants, many of whom had exhausted their passion.  No longer did they enjoy producing compliance accounts for their clients.  This has become an under valued service, a commodity, it had become unfulfilling.

They began working with me and my business AVN where we re-ignited that passion by sharing with them how their skills with numbers can make a profound difference by simply making a change in how they utilise those skills.

People are most passionate when they’re making a difference.  Having a bigger impact than simply making a profit.  Changing lives in a positive way.

In your business are you changing lives in a positive way?  I expect that if you really thought about it, it is or it could be.

Perhaps it’s not always obvious, many focus on the main features of the function of the business whether it’s installing radiators as a plumber would, putting fires out as a fireman would or working with numbers as an accountant would.

But for every function, there’s a bigger picture.

  • A Plumber changes lives by providing comfort and warmth.
  • A Fireman allows a future to happen through the lives he or she saves.
  • An Accountant, using their skills with numbers can help businesses grow and develop and help the people behind those businesses get their lives back.

Do you really have clarity about the bigger impact your business can make?  If you do, does your team?

What’s the emotional impact that comes with what you deliver?

Take some time out, take a walk, go for a drive, get some solitude and really think about what you’re doing, what’s the bigger picture.  Is what you’re doing floating your boat?  Do you look forward to Friday or Monday?

In what way does or can your business affect lives?

If you’d like some help and guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then click share.

Shane Lukas – Best selling author of What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Team #4 – Whose fault is it anyway?


When things go wrong in your business are you quick to blame others?  Or do you take responsibility yourself?

In my blog about the Initiative Ladder (Fantastic Teams #1) I explained that mistakes must be allowed to happen – on the understanding that the team member who made the mistake is ready to take the responsibility to rectify any mistakes they make; with your support.

That’s relating to using initiative, to deal with the exceptions that typically send your team members in to you, telling you about a problem that you are expected to deal with.

Sometimes however things can go wrong in routine stuff too.

How do you react to this?

Do you chastise the person who erred? Do you continue to hold a grudge against that person, continually reflecting over the mistake they made that led to negative consequences?

How do you think that person felt?

And continues to feel?

Do you think it was deliberate?

What really went wrong?

Do you know?

Or do you just hold them responsible?

What if, instead of responding to something like this with anger and/or disciplinary procedure you work with the team member to identify what led to the mistake happening with a view to ensuring that it can’t ever happen again; either by that person or any other person filling the same or a similar role?

Was the problem down to training or are they generally proficient and something was simply missed?

Did they miss something in a series of checks?

Was it something that’s simply left to memory?  A process that has to be carried out and a part of it forgotten?

Work with your team member to find out the cause and find out how it can be avoided in the future.

Don’t simply leave it at taking the assurance from your team member that they’ll do better to remember everything next time.  That’s unfair and quite frankly, it’s abdication. Anything left to memory is likely to be forgotten at some point especially when there are many steps in a process.

Do you have a system in place that acts as a reminder of the steps that must be taken every time that particular routine job is completed?

A system that includes the ‘bells and whistles’ of additional customer wows that reflect your personality and uniqueness that when followed means those wows happen consistently, every single time.

If you do have systems, do you provide detailed training on every system that you have in place so that there’s no assumption that because a system exists, people can simply follow it?  if not, this too is a form of abdication.

Even if you have these things in place and a mistake occurred it’s important to understand what went wrong, was a step in the system mis-understood? Perhaps it needs re-wording.

Finally, was the system simply not followed?

If so, did you fail to convey the importance of following the systems? This is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of following the systems that are in place and to demonstrate the consequences of not following them.

It’s rare that a team member will deliberately sabotage.  Most people want to do a good job.  Putting a step by step system in place for each function of their job is the best way to ensure consistency and avert mistakes.

If you take a car for MOT, the mechanic, despite having performed MOTs countless times, completes a check list.  This acts as a reminder to ensure no stone was left unturned.

If you go to McDonalds, you’re asked the same questions every time, you’re presented with the same burger every time, the fries taste the same, never burned or undercooked.  The experience that you get from any McDonalds, anywhere in the world is exactly the same.  Because they use systems and the train people to understand them and follow.  Not just for making burgers but in management, marketing and every other function the business needs to be successful.

Having systems in place helps reduce mistakes happening.  Mistakes are inevitable and mistake must be accepted.  When you blame people they feel demotivated.  Investigate the cause.

If the cause of the problem is owing to the system not being followed then understand why.  Not every person enjoys following systems.  If this is the case, then perhaps you’ve employed the wrong person for the job.

So, before blaming others, look in the mirror.  What can you do to ensure that any mistake only occurs once.

If you’d like to get a free resource from me on how to put systems in place in to a business then send me a message either via the comments section below or via a direct message and I’ll happily send one to you.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog please let me know by clicking LIKE.  If you think others will benefit please SHARE it.


Article Source: Shane Lukas

The 7 mistakes stopping you earning £200,000 annual profit


At AVN we regularly carry out benchmarking studies of the UK accounting profession. And since 1998 we’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of accountants in the UK and seen what works – and what doesn’t.

One of the things that’s really interesting about our profession is that accountants are not performing very well.

The average profit per partner in the UK is about £68,706.

And this is about £10,000 less than our comparative study in 2007. So life’s getting harder and harder for many UK accountants.

And bearing in mind of course that this is £68,706 is not a true profit. It’s not a ‘true profit’ because most accountants trade as sole practitioners or as partnerships. Consequently we don’t put through a commercial salary for the owners’ own time. In other words, the costs for the time we put in.

At a recent seminar for accountants (partners and sole practitioners) we asked what their time was worth. In other words, thinking about all the work they do, their responsibilities and their experience, what would they expect to be paid if they were doing exactly the same things – and working the same ours – working for larger accounting firm. The answers ranged from £70,000 to well over £100,000.

What does this mean? Simple. If we were to put a commercial salary through for the partners of most firms, of accountants in the UK are making a loss. And that’s simply not good enough. Particularly when you bear in mind that the top performing  firms, despite recent difficult times, are performing better than ever.

In the past few years, AVN has twice held a ‘summit’ meeting of 6 of the best performing firms in the UK (with partners earning in excess of £200,000 profit per year). Whilst on the surface their practices look very different (for example, there were more differences in their service offerings) at the very heart of what they do are a set of core underlying principles and best practice concepts. Things that every great business has in place and yet are often lacking in others.

And here’s the great news. When you truly understand what these things are you have a roadmap for building a £1m accounting firm. This roadmap consists of seven key things. Seven things, that when you get them right, can transform your results. Seven things which are missing in most accounting firms we come across.

Mistake 1 – No Clear Strategy

Mistake 2 – Wrong Pricing

Mistake 3 – Average Service

Mistake 4 – Poor Marketing

Mistake 5 – No Written System

Mistake 6 – Measuring The Wrong Things

Mistake 7 – Inadequate People

In later articles we will expand on these mistakes, so please follow us on FaceBook, LinkedIn or Twitter or return to our AVN  Insights to expand your knowledge and help you develop your practice.

Thanks for reading.

The AVN Team




Fantastic Teams #3 – Defining Leadership


When I made the decision to write this blog about the definition of leadership I had a flashback to my youth.  I was a Star Trek fan (well, I still am!) and I remembered an episode where Spock reminded Captain Kirk that he would lose faith and command of the crew if he were seen as vulnerable in any way and perceived as less than perfect.

Since all of these series are now available on Netflix I decided it was pertinent research to look up and watch the episode again.

Throughout the episode, all of the crew were looking to the captain for guidance, orders and decision making.  No recommendations were sought but plenty of dilemmas were brought his way and he was expected to know the answers and give the orders.

The episode was created in the 1960’s and although was intended to represent a perfect future including a perfect hierarchy of command chain, it represented an outdated ideology, even in the military this method of leadership is realised to be ineffective.  And yet it’s still applied in many businesses.

I’m certainly not infallible and I don’t profess to be in any way. I don’t know everything there is to know and If I tried to then I’d be making my strengths weaker by making my weaknesses stronger and this would be a mistake.  Between my team, we make stuff happen together, we all have different strengths and we play to them.

My definition of Leadership: Sharing a vision that inspires others and then creating the environment where everybody in your team can become the best they can be at playing their part in helping that vision become a reality.

I would suggest that a leader is more like a gardener.  A gardener will develop an idea of what they want their garden to look like and the experience they want visitors to have.  They put in the plants and flowers that will help their vision come true.  And then that gardener waters and feeds the plants, keeps the weeds out that could damage the plants or would prevent the vision becoming a reality.  Always continuing to ensure that the environment for each plant and flower is just right so that the plant can flourish and become the best that it can be.

People are the same, people need to be in the right environment where they’re encouraged and are free to become the best they can be.  Where a genuine interest is taken in them. Where their needs are met.

If they’re not enthusiastic about your vision then they simply aren’t right for your team – find the people who are inspired by your vision.  Use the initiative ladder concept I referred to in Fantastic Teams blog #1 Get your team to step up and allow to them to make the decisions that ultimately fit with your values and beliefs.

Just as with flowers and plants, if people aren’t performing, there’s a very high chance it’s down to the leader who hasn’t created a performance environment.

3 things that really help create the right environment, Equality, Camaraderie and a Sense of Achievement.  Here’s a brief insight to each.


Equality can apply in many ways, fair reward, fair conditions, fair attention from you. In this case I’ll focus on the latter, who do you give most of your time to?  We often take for granted the great performers in the business, internally pleased that they’re just getting on with doing a great job and forget to tell them and show them the gratitude they deserve.  Conversely, we often spend more time with the people who simply aren’t right for the business, trying to get them onboard. Trying to get them to do better.  This demoralises the better performers. Great leaders hire slow and fire fast.  I’ve been guilty of spending too much time trying to bring someone on when in my heart I knew within a few days that I’d hired the wrong person. It’s harsh but hiring the wrong people is like planting weeds in the garden, they’ll stifle and negatively affect the other team members and the overall vision.


A lack of camaraderie can also inhibit performance.  Create a buzz, set goals that everyone is involved in.  Be careful not to set goals that ‘tunnel vision’ the team on the result of the goal and at the expense of everything else.  Carefully consider your goals, set milestones and create camaraderie in achieving them. Celebrate every win – together.

Sense of achievement.

Help each member of your team develop a sense of achievement.  Is their workload realistic? Do they finish the day feeling like they’ve achieved stuff or finish the day 3/4 through a list of jobs that were unreasonable in the first place? This can lead to worry and stress and an ever increasing catch-up list. I often find that my team members take too much on themselves. I have to convince them to reduce the list to just the most important stuff in order to feel they’re achieving what they need to.  Stuff can creep in to workloads that’s all important.  Deciding the most important and feeling comfortable about eliminating items can be difficult to do alone.

Spend good quality time with all of your team.  Understand them as individuals, learn their strengths and their motivations. (it’s most often not financial).  Work with them to play to their strengths and create the environment that motivates them.

All of this contributes to creating a high performance environment that will inevitably take the business toward your vision.  Your job as leader is to be the gardener who works to ensure the environment is the best you can make it.

Go be a gardener.

Article Source: Shane Lukas



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