Because we can never get enough surveys, Sage came through with the skinny on what keeps accountants awake at night (no joke). We’re proud to say that alcoholism and Caleb’s typos did not make the list but there’s always next year. Way to go, profession!
Sage surveyed more than 500 of its Sage Accountants Network members across the U.S. in December 2010 to figure out what gets accountants’ knickers in a twist. Results as follows:
Among the 533 respondents, 34% stated that getting new clients tops their list of concerns. 28% cited tax law complexity and changes as an issue; followed by the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms, keeping up with technology, and time management concerns, all at 24%. Work/life balance was cited by 20% of respondents, and keeping up with professional standards was a key concern for 17% of those surveyed. 13% of respondents cited access to affordable healthcare for employees as a worry for their firms.
Perhaps in response to the search for new clients, 83% of firms currently specialize or are planning to specialize in specific vertical business segments. By far, services/consulting was the most popular category for specialization (63% of those surveyed), followed by construction at 43% and retail at 39%. Other popular areas of specialization include working with nonprofits (35%), restaurants (30%), and manufacturing/distribution (29%) clients.
The full survey may be found here.
We found it a bit odd that retaining clients, retaining staff and managing staff came in at 9%, 3% and 2%, respectively. Obviously there is a bit of a work/life balance overlap in there somewhere but because we here at Going Concern know no such thing, we could not bring ourselves to analyze these results further.
It’s the social media section of the survey that shocked us most. Not to say that the results themselves were shocking, exactly, as the shocking part lies in how some of these firms actually manage to make money. What do they use to attract new clients, carrier pigeons and sandwich boards? Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents use their own websites as “social media,” though in our humble opinion the “social” part means using a more conversational form of communication than some .com with your firm name in it. Twenty-eight percent use LinkedIn, 19% are on Facebook and – wait for it – 7% have gotten into Twitter. 7%! A frightening 43% of respondents don’t use social media at all, perhaps explaining why 34% are concerned about getting new clients. They must not be that concerned if they aren’t using social media to put themselves out there.
Know what this says to me if I’m a firm looking to make a killing through social media? Hit Twitter, it’s a no man’s land and you won’t have to elbow out the competition. Really, people? 7%?!
Know what else this also says to me? All my evangelizing about not acting like an ass on Twitter has been in vain; if firms aren’t using it, they probably don’t know how to search for your tweets about getting wasted and wanting to stab the senior for acting like a jackass. So have at it, it’s just you and the MLM bots tweeting out there until these guys get a clue and jump on board.
I think you kids know what to do from here.