Skip to main content

The 10 Big Advisory Questions: 5 – How do I find time for Advisory when I’m so busy?

Welcome to the fifth edition of this video series where we talk you through The 10 Big Advisory Questions.

Join Micheal as he answers Question 5 – How do I find time for Advisory when I’m so busy?


The below is a transcript of Question 5 of the 10 Big Advisory Questions Video Series – How do I find time for Advisory when I’m so busy?

My name is Micheal O’Neill and I’m delighted to welcome you to this video series where I answer the 10 big questions about advisory services.

These are the questions that I get asked by my clients in Ireland on a regular basis, and also the questions that my colleagues in the UK, US, Canada, and Africa get asked.

So, let’s get started with today’s question.

Question five, How do I find time for Advisory when I’m so busy?

It’s unquestionable that time is the most scarce resource for accountants. Every time we do a survey, every time we’re talking to accountants, accountants are continuously under pressure, they are continuously fighting against this deluge of client work, of regulation, of compliance, and trying to find a way of fitting it all in.

Don’t feel like this is in any way questioning your productivity, because I also know that accountants are massively productive. When it comes to advisory, the most important thing is that we just get started.

And for me, getting started with advisory needs to be made a priority because I also know that accountants don’t miss deadlines, they don’t miss priorities. So, when a priority is set either by a client or set by an external body, it is met.

And I think that that’s the way that needs to be, that’s the way that we need to start looking on advisory.

It is that important, and you cannot let busy get in the way of getting started, otherwise busy becomes a dirty four-letter word.

So, in terms of looking at how we can actually go about finding time for advisory, a lot of this isn’t going to be new to you.

But I just want to run over 10 ways that I think we can find extra time in our day in order to start taking steps towards providing advisory services.

1. Avoid the classic double bind

The first one is to avoid the classic double bind.

And by double bind we mean, not only do we need to change, but we’re too busy to change. In order to change you have to find the time to do so but the double bind is where we’re literally too busy to create the space and the time to make the change that we know that we need to make.

But remember getting started with advisory isn’t a big bang approach. It isn’t waking up one morning and deciding that from here on end you’re going to deliver 220 days of advisory a year and that you’ll drop all the compliance work. That just not feasible or possible.

However, what you want to do is you want to have a way all that you can take small regular steps over a period time, building a long term plan in order to get to where you want to go with advisory.

2. Recognise that chargeable hour hamster wheel

The second thing that we have to recognize here is the chargeable hour hamster wheel.

Accountants live on this hamster wheel. Where you have to keep billing, billing, billing, billing.

But a lot of times when we get buried, when we get caught on that hamster wheel, we can’t take a step out to look at what would happen if we were to replace some of the price sensitive compliance services that at X fee with other services that were 1.5 X or 2 X that fee, well, actually, wouldn’t that just make sense?

Then we’d be able to create the space by providing the very service that needed the space created in the first place to in order to deliver it.

And if we could effectively increase our revenue per client, if we could increase our chargeable rate, well then this is essentially slowing that hamster wheel down to the point where you would be able to step off it.

3. Delegate effectively

The next thing is to delegate effectively.

Now, I know there’s going to be a lot of solopreneurs, solo practitioners who might not necessarily feel that they have the ability to delegate within their team.

aBut if you don’t have somebody within your team or if you don’t have a big team, remember there is always the virtual assistant route, and there is definitely the option to outsource a lot of the repetitive compliance work.

There’s a lot of work you can get off your desk and there’s absolutely nobody that I’ve ever met who’s been effectively able to argue with this me.

There’s always a way that you can delegate. And delegating effectively it isn’t just walking in and dumping a whole lot of stuff on somebody’s desk.

You have to give them a plan. You have to get them involved with it. You have to get them to a point where they’re effectively planning their own workflows in order to assist you and in order to take the things that you need off your actual desk.

4. Don’t re-invent the wheel

From an advisory perspective, one of the big things is not to try to reinvent the wheel.

Far too often people jump in and they say, okay, I’m going to become an advisor, I’m going to go out do all this work.

Then they suddenly they hit a dead end when they realise that they are going to have to create all the processes and systems in order to deliver advisory. There are plenty of models out there that you can take, plug and play systems where you can short cut the process and get started straight away.

Because it’s not just about reinventing the wheel and the time it takes to reinvent the wheel, but it’s actually all the built-in extra knowledge and leverage that’s coming from the knowledge that other people have developed over years of implementation and feedback that is the real benefit and the real key of leveraging best practice processes.

Probably one of the most important things is to recognize the power of prioritization.

5. Recognise the power of prioritisation

You can without question meet all of your clients’ deadlines, or the majority of them, at least when they play ball with you! So as long as they get the information to you on time, you will get it in.

Why don’t you do the same thing for your business? Why don’t you prioritize on the same level the things that you need to do in your business, for your business to grow and develop? You need to be ruthless.

You need to look at what it is that crosses your desk on a daily basis, the work that you do. Maybe even keep a work diary separate to your timesheet. (I know your time sheet is there but it doesn’t necessarily capture everything.) Where on a daily basis you write everything that you do and opposite it you put the value of your time.

6. Learn to say “No” or “No-but”.

Now, if you’re not necessarily getting a return on your time well then you need to come to point six which is learning to say no. Or learn to say no but.

And what no but is, when somebody asks you, do you have time for a meeting? Sorry, no, but.

What I could say is, if you send me an email outlining what it is you want to talk about, well then maybe I can respond to you in due course.

And this is just a nice way of, nobody wants to be continuously saying no to every kind of questions asked or everybody that talks to them.

However, using this “no but” gives an out.

So it’s saying, look, I want to help you, I want to be part of this process, however, it’s being done on my terms.

7. Drop roles and value your time.

Perry Marshall a world-renowned marketer business growth coach and has this concept where he looks at your $10,000 per hour activities.

So what he would say is that the vast majority of people who are earning over 100,000 a year spend the majority of their time doing $10-an-hour activities.

Now, every single person within your organization, including let me say the admin staff and reception, they will have activities where they’re doing in little spurts of work $10,000-an-hour activities.

Now, very few people do it for a full hour. We might be talking about minutes. Two minutes, three minutes. But if they were all added up.

So this might be making deals, this might be going out and bringing on new clients.

There’s a lot of different things that rank in this category.

But what you need to do is sit down, and identify what your $10,000-an-hour activities are and what your $10 an hour activities are. And then you need to go and split them, you need to start delegating, you need to start off-loading, you need to start saying no or saying no but.

8. Recruit intelligently

The other big thing is that you need to recruit intelligently.

So, find people who complement your skill set. Find people who compliment your approaches, your knowledge, your expertise. Identify the areas, the things that you do that are not in your genius zone.

Identify the things where you can do them but you don’t feel that you are the best person in the world at doing it, and you need to recruit the people to come to take up the slack on those tasks to get them off your desk.

9. Get serious with real value pricing.

Get serious and get real with value pricing.

Value pricing is another one of these buzz words that has gotten a lot of attention and has probably become a cliché at this stage.

But get real with value pricing. Think about the actual value that you’re delivering to your clients.

If you sit down and look at what you can do, how you can help your clients, the sort of activities that if you were to input your time into what rewards would your clients get? Suddenly you’re going to start putting a very, very different perspective on your work day, your work week, your work month.

10. Create a shift-up for challenge culture

The other big thing is to create a shift-up for challenge culture.

And this is on a firm-wide basis where you always want to be moving people up their own value chain. So, when somebody does something, once they get kind of familiar with it, that the next time then they take ownership, they take responsibility for it.

That they move up, that they shift up. Then they take on new responsibilities, the take on new roles.

And in that way, you are starting to move the bottleneck away from you, spreading it out and dispersing it through the organization, which in the long run is going to give you more time for rolling out advisory services.

So that is question five of our 10 Big Advisory Questions Video Series.

In this one I have answered – How Do I Find Time for Advisory When I’m So Busy?

If you haven’t seen the first videos in the series, please do go find them and check them out now.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the remaining series where I deal with some of the other big questions in relation to advisory.

And from me, thank you for listening and I’ll talk to you soon.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the remaining series where I deal with some of the other big questions in relation to advisory.