We recently came across an article which discussed a dozen public accounting ideas that don’t work anymore.  The article begins by mentioning a sermon that Rev. Robin Meyers preached where he warned that there may be an eighth deadly sin: nostalgia.  You know, that feeling of fondness and good memories of a time since passed; usually quite some time ago.    What was being suggested is that maybe by holding on to those “good ‘ol days” (which may not have been really all that good), we are actually delaying making the significant changes needed to address modern/future realities and challenges.

So with that said, we got to thinking; what are some things that don’t work in business anymore?  What are some things that CEOs and workers cling to that should really be abandoned in today’s times?  Back when Jared worked in the consumer package goods (CPG) industry, he said they lived and operated by one phrase.  Innovate or die.  What does this mean?  Well, if your competitors are always looking for and introducing the next big thing each year, you better do the same or you’ll get left in the dust.  To that end, if your business isn’t keeping pace with customer/consumer preferences and demands, you might as well just close up shop right now.

Here are twelve things that business owners need to know just don’t hack it in today’s day and age:

Build It and They Will Come.  The days of simply opening up a store or retail location and having customers flock to you ended in the 1950’s and it’s not coming back.  Today’s consumer has a plethora of information at their disposal (mobile access to providers, customer reviews, competitor pricing, etc.) to help them pinpoint who they will purchase from.  The more important goal is to make sure customers can find you when they do their search.  In short, make sure you are doing your marketing.

Expecting That Clients Will Stay With You.  In our industry, many tax professionals don’t feel too compelled to offer “exemplary” service.  Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have a decent experience, but you just may not get the red carpet rolled out for you.  The reason is that many feel their clients won’t leave because it’s too much of a pain to switch accountants, tax preparers, etc.  If you treat your clients like this, don’t be surprised when that up and coming competitor down the street steals them away from you.

Not Making Your Company 24/7 Accessible To Customers.  We’re not saying that you have to interact with your customers in the wee hours of the morning.  We’re just saying that you need to give them a way to contact you when it’s convenient for them.  It’s solely up to you if you want to return their calls at 2AM, or have an email auto responder at least tell them someone will contact them first thing during business hours.  But not having a mechanism for the girl who works the graveyard shift to let you know she’s unhappy during her lunch break isn’t acceptable.

Refusing To Embrace Technology.  If you still rely on yellow page ads to bring you business, we have some news for you; no one uses the yellow pages to find providers anymore.  Technology has made it so much easier for people to interact with one another.  It’s also made it more instantaneous.  Refusing to embrace current trends only does one thing; accelerate the decline in your revenue and ultimately your business.

Not Making Your Website Mobil Friendly.  We’re just as guilty of this as anyone else; but we realize that it needs to be fixed and are working on it.  The truth is, many consumers access your website from their phone or other mobile device.  If your website doesn’t look correct when they pull it up, what type of impression are you sending?  Remember; always put your best foot forward.

Not Offering Flexible Work Solutions.  Certain professions are really big on “face time” or the amount of time you actually spend in the office.  Given that this is 2013 and the various technological advances that we have made in the past 10-15 years; there really is no reason why you need to be in the office ALL of the time.  If employees can’t work remotely, can’t take work home with them and can’t schedule non-critical work around their lives, don’t be surprised when they go and work for your competitor who does offer these things.

Believing That You Don’t Have To Offer Competitive Benefits.  Some “Old Timers” in every company or industry always seem to believe that the “new way” of doing things is just a fad.  Unfortunately, denying current trends exist is just not good business sense.  Thus, if your company isn’t trying to be competitive in this arena, be advised that your employees may not be sticking around too long.

Not Offering A Casual Work Environment (Occasionally).  Only bankers and those who entertain clients wear business professional dress all the time.  Since the early 2000’s many companies offer a business casual environment with Friday even being a day where employees can dress down.  Remember, it’s sometimes the little things that make your employees happy.  Something as simple as altering the dress code when you aren’t meeting with customers can actually go a long way.

Believing That Talented Young Staff Will Wait Their Turn.  Do talented athletes wait their turn to enter the professional arena?  Do gifted individuals waste their brain cells attending all years of college when they know more that all the professors combined?  So the question becomes why would you think your talented young staff would wait to attain roles that they are currently ready for?  The best thing to do is identify your company’s next bright stars and begin to groom them and put them through their paces.  If you don’t, you may wake up one day and find them as your competitor!

Expecting That Employees Will Stay With You.    The day of company loyalty went out the door the day that companies started focusing on “shareholder value” as their guiding light.  Employees nowadays have a lifespan of about 3-5 years before they are on to the next company.  Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on developing your staff, or neglect succession planning.  However, it does mean that you shouldn’t be surprised when one of your prized managers comes and tells you their leaving for their “dream job” in Hawaii.

Seniority Based Rewards System.  Do you remember that college professor you had that was absolutely horrible?  You know the one who did your education a disservice and should have been fired years ago?  Oh yeah, Your State University wouldn’t let them go because they had tenure (i.e. seniority).  Quite simply put, rewarding people SOLELY because they have been around since dirt was invented is NOT a good way to operate.  A better way is to reward those who do a good job AND stay around for the long haul.

Earning The Right To Give Upward Feedback.  Listen, we all have the right to praise and criticize (objectively of course).  But the notion that feedback should only travel downward or laterally (as in the case of your peers) is not conductive to developing a world class operation.  Everyone should have the right to give their opinion.  If you not comfortable hearing what the entry level staff think, then offer them an anonymous way to do so via one of these platforms.  Did you think we were going to say use a suggestion box?  Please go back and read point number four!

Until next time…