Rock Paper Scissors
A favorite game offers a simplified
approach to firm evolution
Contrary to what most think, Rock Paper
Scissors is not a game of mere chance. There
is a science behind it. From a mathematical
perspective, it’s true that the optimum RPS
strategy is to play randomly. However, this
strategy hosts t wo fatal flaws. First, the “law of
random” dictates that a person will win, lose
and draw an equal number of times, which is
hardly a winning long-term strategy.
Second, and more important, humans are
the worst at being random. It is simply not in
our nature to react randomly on a consistent
basis. In fact, it is far more likely that people
will begin to approximate the randomness
of their opponent and then react based on
their opponent’s actions. The result — predictable randomness. And where there is
predictability, there is the ability to develop
a sound strategy.
Strategy is critical. When accounting firms
have the appropriate strategies in place,
they are more likely to win — winning being
a metaphor for growth, success and profit-
ability, of course. To get professionals think-
ing about the evolution of their firms, a new-
age, accounting-specific RPS strategy offers
a simplified approach for firm advancement
— while being ever scientifically based.
BY Krist Y short
Who hasn’t enjoyed a round or two of the fast-paced game
rock Paper scissors, whether as a child or an adult? As a kid,
it was just good fun. As an adult, it can still serve as a simple,
friendly way to decide who has to do the dishes or walk the dog.
and abandon the rest. Whatever your thing is
… rock it! Over time, your firm can:
Emerge as experts in niche areas, which
supports value pricing.
Create lasting revenue streams as you
build and expand each niche service.
Focus recruiting on staff with expertise
in niche areas.
Develop standardized, efficient workflow
processes for each defined service area.
Differentiate your firm from other “
convenience store” firms.
Eventually, niche services become the
rock of your firm … steady, reliable sources
PAPER — SHED IT ALREADY
Paper is so last year. No doubt everyone is sick
to death of hearing about the great paperless
movement, but it really is an important element of a firm’s evolution. With so many cool
and powerful technologies, there is really no
reason to keep paper around.
Online document management systems allow firms to move files to the infamous cloud.
Leading doc management apps store and
archive documents in a logical file structure
for ease of retrieval. These systems even offer
features to ensure compliance with retention
mandates. It’s like having your own personal
filing robot to do the work for you.
Gains in efficiency are one thing, but consider the cost savings. Cut paper, postage and
physical storage costs, which really do add
up to big money over time. Going paperless
leads directly to significant cost savings, and
that means more money for your firm. And
that’s the kind of paper you want to keep.
metal. “I was very apprehensive at first about
changing my brand. In fact, I dragged my feet
on several occasions. In the end, though, I
decided to take the leap of faith. I’ve received
nothing but positive feedback from clients
about our new marketing literature, staff pho-
tos and Web site. They love our new look. I’m
even advancing into video!”
“What I was most surprised about was the
overwhelmingly positive reaction from my
staff and their level of engagement ... . Small
additions like simply hanging newly branded
nameplates outside each employee’s office
made a huge difference. My staff said it gave
them a sense of identity and made them feel
even more a part of the firm. It sounds silly,
but this small change ended up being a huge
morale booster,” said Watkins.
It’s difficult for accountants to move away
from tradition, and that’s understandable.
Tradition is good, and it seems to have worked
… until now. A new brand day has dawned
and the freak flags are starting to fly. Firms
are embracing branding and marketing and
allowing their creative sides to come out.
The lesson: It’s okay to be the scissors.
Sharp, clever thinking makes all the difference when trying to differentiate your firm.
Kristy Short, Ed.D, is president of SAS
Communications 360 ( www.sascommunica-
tions360.com), and a professor of English
and marketing at University of Phoenix
and Cleary University. Reach her at kristy@
ROCK YOUR THING!
They say that everyone is good at something.
Focus on that and do your best. We all know
people who reject this and attempt to be good
at everything. In reality, however, most end
up being mediocre across the board. When
firms try to offer all services to satisfy all clients, it’s impossible to emerge as an expert in
any one area. Lack of expertise negates value
pricing and hinders growth in any one service
area — not to mention making it virtually impossible to establish uniform processes.
Successful firm leaders have gone through
the process of evaluating who they are, identifying the core services that define the firm
— their areas of strength. If a firm rocks at
audit, remote bookkeeping and tax preparation, then it should stick with these services
SCISSORS: SHARPEN, REPEAT
Assuming that the scissors in your office are
sharp … be like the scissors! Don’t settle for
the dull norm, standard templates, a static
Web site, less-than-innovative marketing
and branding initiatives. Like the rug, it’s
time to cut it up. Get creative, quirky and
even a little crazy.
Firms have to be clever in building their
brand in order to stand out from the crowd.
Future-thinking leaders are adopting new
media (video blogs, social media tools, etc.)
and stepping over the boundaries of the conservative to really give their marketing collateral some pop-boom-bang. It’s not always a
comfortable leap, but those that are doing it
are very glad they did.
George Watkins, CPA, of Watkins & Associates, recently put the branding pedal to the
A SIMPLE APPROACH
If you aren’t growing, you’re slowing … and
that’s the last stop before Stagnantville. Continued growth is contingent on the effort that
firm leaders are willing to put into their practices. The Rock Paper Scissors approach for
the profession maps it out in simple steps:
Rock: Conduct an in-depth analysis and
determine who you are, what services represent your strengths, and how you can build
niche services into an economic machine.
Identify your strengths and rock your thing!
Paper: Get off the paper train. If you still
rely heavily on paper, there is no doubt it’s
negatively affecting your bottom line. Investigate the technologies out there and start
to build a system that supports end-to-end
digital processes. Your clients, staff and the
environment will thank you.
Scissors: Critical thinking is still a mainstay in business, but creative thinking is making some serious strides. Right brainers know
the value of being different and standing out.
Get in touch with your creative side. You may
even have a few hidden “sharpies” on your
staff who can offer new ideas on how to market and brand your firm — scissor-style.
Rock Paper Scissors. Who knew it could be
so simple? AT