3 habits of a healthy modern firm

Discover the three habits you can implement now to build a healthier accounting firm.

minute read

Last Updated January 18, 2024

Category Culture

Three smiling people sit at a table in an office building. A man and a woman high five because they're on their way to building a healthier accounting firm.


Whether you’re a Rightworks Academy member or just a regular reader of this blog’s superb educational articles, you know how committed we are to helping you build a healthier accounting firm. So, with that said, let me ask you a question: 

What makes a great place to work? 

Personally, I’d say a great place to work is one that allows for flexibility and work-life balance. To that, I’d add a positive culture, a good work environment, and strong leadership and management. One that also prioritizes mental health and continuing education is a plus in my book. And let’s be honest, a nice salary with benefits doesn’t hurt. 

We’ve all heard of (or even worked for) companies that boast they’re great places to work…but aren’t. It’s possible they were once, but over time they’ve lost sight of the fact that to keep a company healthy and a great place to work, improvements can—and should—always be made. 

How do you create a healthy modern firm? I’m glad you asked, especially since we’ve just flipped the calendar into 2024, making it the perfect time to start. And to help you begin, we have three habits for you to implement. So, let’s get busy building that healthier firm this year, shall we? 

Habit No. 1: Mind your accounting firm’s business model 

An equation that reads, "who + what + how = business model" written on a black chalkboard. The words who, what and how are in yellow.
Start building a healthier accounting firm by clarifying your business model.

When it comes to building a healthier accounting firm, you first have to consider your business model. If you haven’t given that any thought since you opened your firm, it’s time to reevaluate. 

Your business model is made up of three components: 

  1. WHO you want to serve. These are your ideal clients (i.e., the ones you love to serve and are great at serving). 
  2. WHAT products and services you want to offer. 
  3. HOW you’re going to deliver your products and services.

When we say (as we do a lot) that people are the most valuable asset in your firm, we’re not just talking about your clients. Your team is every bit as important.  

Why does that matter? Because it’s the reason you must create clarity around your business model. Doing this helps you establish boundaries for your clients, as well as identify and mitigate any friction. Bottom line: It creates a safe work environment for your staff.  

Habit No. 2: Lay out a learning path 

A graphic that shows three winding staircases representing separate paths. Each path has a business person on their own career path.
Building a healthier accounting firm includes creating clear paths toward career growth for your staff members.

Another step toward building a healthier firm includes creating clear and consistent paths to education, training and connection. Chances are, your employees don’t want to sit in the same position for years on end; they want to grow and expand their knowledge. When you can support your staff with their career goals, you start creating a healthy culture. 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do we expect our staff to grow here? If your employees aren’t moving forward in their careers, they’re moving backward (or they’re leaving altogether). Encourage them to obtain certifications and continue their education to help them move ahead. Investing in your team is an investment in your firm. 
  • What happens if someone makes a mistake? When you treat a mistake as a learning experience instead of a punishment, you create a culture of trust. Remember, “pobody’s nerfect.” People make mistakes; help them learn from them and move forward. 
  • What’s our plan for team education and training? Consider what happens when you make changes in your firm, whether you’re introducing a new process or new technology. Do you have a plan to implement and train your team on new processes or apps? Or is it a learn-it-on-your-own-time deal? If it’s the former, you’re creating an incredible change culture—meaning your team is already on board before change happens. If it’s the latter, devise a plan to educate your team any time you incorporate a change. 

Habit No. 3: Protect your people 

An image of five diverse coworkers' arms in a huddle, high-fiving each other.
People matter most.

We mentioned earlier that your people are your most valuable asset. That’s why you must prioritize and protect them. You can do this by: 

  • Setting boundaries with clients. Many of us have grown up hearing that the customer is always right. Well, we both know that isn’t always the case. It’s why you need to set boundaries with your clients not only when it comes to meeting deadlines, but also on how they communicate and interact with your team (especially during tax season). Boundaries protect your team and your firm, and they also help build great relationships with ideal clients. (Spoiler alert: The clients who don’t respect boundaries aren’t ideal…so feel free to break up with them.) 
  • Designing useful meetings. We’ve all seen the “this meeting could’ve been an email” memes. Take it to heart when you’re thinking about scheduling meetings with your team. Consider whether it’s necessary or if a quick Teams or Slack message could take care of it. If you organize a meeting, include an agenda so your attendees know what to expect when viewing the invitation. 
  • Prioritizing consistent one-on-one meetings. While you can assure your staff that your door is “always open,” it’s better to schedule individual meetings with each of your employees on a regular basis. It doesn’t need to be every week, but consider every other week or once a month. Use this time to listen to each staff member and hear about their experiences or any issues that have come up. Keeping a consistent schedule helps your team feel valued and heard. And it’s a great way to create an incredible firm culture. 

Build a healthier accounting firm 

Like building any new habit, improving the health of your firm takes time and an intentional mindset. You can create a healthier work environment; you just need to start by implementing one habit at a time. 

Remember, you have to create a firm that supports life instead of consuming it. If you’re ready to begin building a healthier accounting firm, watch our on-demand webinar, led by Rightworks’ own culture expert, John Mitchell. 

Here’s to a prosperous and healthier 2024! 

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