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This is strategic planning season. At the end of the year in November and December my partner and I always do strategic planning. That’s what you should be doing too. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should be doing strategic planning right now in November and December. And this is part one of four videos. I’m going to tell you exactly how we do it. Listen in and follow up on those videos.

First, why planning? Strategic planning? Why planning? Because any entrepreneur who’s a successful entrepreneur, typically you’re going to find them out in the future, deciding the future before it gets here into the present. Planning is a key concept to winning. You don’t plan and figure out your future in the moment, you will have already figured out some calendar system in the future and that’s planning. Planning is always in the future.

Now what is strategic? Strategic is choosing. Choosing is prioritizing. Being strategic is all about eliminating all the things you won’t do, basically. And that happens when you choose the things you will do and that’s the strategic part. And these videos are going to tell you exactly how to do it.

Here in part one, as with a little intro there, the first thing we do is a huge, massive brain dump. My partner and I went in a conference room, we had about 30 pieces of sticky paper and we wrote at the top, all the categories of the big ideas we had had all year or that were in our drive list. We keep a drive list. What is a drive list? It’s something we keep track of where we just, we dump all of our ideas to this drive list and we keep it categorized throughout the year. We’re always, always keeping up with it. A drive list is kind of your brain and when you’re a bigger company or you’re running a bigger company, you can’t keep everything in your mind so you have to have a place to keep it. And so a drive list is where you just dump everything. You categorize it. You probably spend, you spend an hour a week just managing and organizing your drive list because that’s your treasure chest. Everything’s in there.

At the end of the year, during strategic planning season, you pull it out and you dump it on a bunch of sticky pad paper. And so that’s the first thing you do is kind of categorizing and we’re not to the strategy yet. That’ll be in part two.


I teach a lot of courses on pricing to firm owners, and everybody’s interested in pricing, value pricing. And one particular aspect of pricing is that it’s very collaborative process with a client. So if you can do a lot of work upfront to prepare a client, prepare them as a good lead and they trust you and they come really into a conversation with you as a firm, you get to ask them a whole bunch of questions and they’re there trusting you knowing you’re the expert that’s going to lead them through some kind of solution to change their company, your client that you serve.

And as you’re asking them questions, then what you get to do as a firm owner is you get to go, all right, I’m going to give you some options, that’s what you do in pricing, you give three options. We always give a high, middle, low. But then you go back to the client and you say, “Here’s what we came up with. Is our best assessment of what we’ve heard and we’re going to wheel this down to three options we think would really change you.”

A lot of those options have a lot of solutions they didn’t ask for and that’s collaborative. It’s because they’re going, hey expert, just kind of walk me through this process, if they trust you. That’s why it’s important to vet that lead appropriately, put up some walls so the right lead comes in that trusts you. And then they’ll let you pitch ideas to them and they’ll think about it. And then they’ll ask you a bunch of questions and then you can go, that makes sense. And then you go back and make a couple more options and you bring it to the client and they go, okay, now we’ve settled on one. And then you’re all pretty excited.

And actually the process of going through that is really enjoyable. And even the process of collaborative pricing drives such trust. And it really begins a relationship really well. My partner and I are going through that now. And it’s important that a lot of firms understand that pricing is very collaborative. It is not here it is, take it or leave it client. It is listening to them, spending time, then going back and spending time crafting things for them, then sharing with it them and then listening to them again. And then they say, give me this. And then you go back and you re-craft some options.

And so the process of onboarding a client through value pricing can take a month or two months depending on the complexity of the company. So I just wanted to throw that out. It’s actually a pretty enjoyable process. And your client really trusts you when they come in with some prices that they know you have worked really hard to collaborate on building with them. They feel heard, and the pricing is way better when the client’s being collaborative with you. So just keep that in mind.

If you’re interested in pricing, it is a very slow collaborative process. And again, what we’re not talking about right now is billing. Billing is a completely different thing. That’s billing by the hour and just sending a bill after you’ve done something from a client. Pricing is that upfront wall you can’t get over and start serving people unless you figure out what that price is. So that time period before you begin serving is that collaborative pricing process. And you really come to a joy when you have the right lead.

So if you need help doing that, we have courses, we have videos on pricing, I do webinars on pricing. Just hit us up and we’ll help you, [email protected] We’ll be glad to hook you up with any kind of pricing, content and resources that we make. Thanks so much for watching. We’ll see you.


Do you ever consider risk versus reward assessments? That’s a strategy and a skill that firm owners have to adopt. They have to figure out if they’re growing a services based company, they have to do risk versus reward. And a lot of firm entrepreneurs actually operate their business on their gut. They just like make gut calls about things to do in the future. And that works for a little while, but when you get bigger and you have more people and you have more clients and there’s more things to care for, your growth has to become more methodical. It has to become more strategic and strategic just means intentional about the future. And so a risk versus reward is something you do when you’re considering something big. We were coaching with somebody not long ago about adding a partner and that’s a risk versus reward assessment you do. And you don’t just add a partner. You have to think a lot about the implications of that.

So let’s just define a risk real quick, and we’ve kind of talked a lot about risks on videos before. But a risk is basically committing some money or time or resources right now in the present for some hope of a future outcome. Typically, some return on the future and that return could be more time, more money, more growth, more clients, whatever it is you’re trying to make a current bet is what you’re doing. A risk is a bet on the future. And so you can’t make poor bets and keep failing and actually grow. It’s going to hurt you. So you have to become more methodical when your bets become bigger. And your bets, by definition become bigger, when you have more people that are relying on you, and there’s a lot more that can go wrong.

So what you have to do is go, all right, I used to make decisions and make risk calls just with my gut when I was a smaller firm. But now that I’m bigger, you don’t get to do that anymore. You don’t have the freedom to do it. So you have to prepare some data. That’s what you need. And then you go through a process of assessment from that data, which is a lot of sticky pad paper. It’s talking about the pros and cons. What happens if we do, do it? And assigning probability percentages to what if it doesn’t work? What’s the probability that this won’t work? 60%? 30%? 90%? Those things are part of it. And then you have to assess the third step. Do you want what that means? So what if it does work? Or what if it doesn’t work? Do you want what it means to either succeed or fail in that risk you’re trying to take? And then the fourth phase is to make a commitment. Do it. You have to expend resources, expend time, move forward.

And sometimes you can do this assessment, risk versus reward assessment. You can do it pretty quickly, but at first it takes time to learn this methodology. And it’s so intentional. We have a whole module that my partner and I teach in our Thriveal Incubator Series. It’s such an important thing to help you grow your firm and we just wanted to throw that out there. If you need help, hit us up at [email protected], and we’ll be glad to help you figure out if that assessment is right for you. Take care.

The Strategy of the Future from Thriveal CPA Network on Vimeo.


You know what, when you’re managing your entrepreneurial endeavors, you manage those in the future, not now. I think When a lot of people talk about time management, capacity management, I think they’re trying to manage their present. And the present is happening, it’s moving along with you, you’re rolling through the present. If you want to do any management, if you want to be strategic; what you want to do is look into the future, and manage your future. So that, when you’re walking towards your future, you’re actually going to walk into a planned, very strategic place.

As humans, we’re very chaotic, we’re very curious, we’re very creative; so, we always want to do a whole bunch of stuff. So, if we’re living in the now, you’ve heard people say that, stop living in the now, when you’re living in the now, you’re typically not being strategic. So, to live in the future is looking into the future, and planning it before it comes. So, you’re always going to be more strategic when you look into the future and plan it; and then, walk into a plan that you’ve already managed or controlled, you’re going to be a lot more successful.

And when you’re doing that, what you’re doing is becoming responsible. You’re becoming more responsible for the future that you’ve been entrusted to as a steward. And, responsible people are successful people. So, I just wanted to give a heads up on the future, and now. And now, it’s not the place to be strategic. Now is the thing you’re living through. Hopefully you’re now, is living through a planned future, that you had previously created. So, let me say that again. You want to look ahead, plan your future, and then walk into that plan; so that every now you’re living in, is some plan, you actually strategically put in place.
It’s going to make you more successful. Because, when you’re looking ahead and you’re planning things, you’re going to be creating all kinds of creative places, you’re going to make things that are better than you can just make on the fly, in the now. So, the strategy of the future is where you do great things; and then you just live through them, and just kill it, and become more responsible. So, I hope that’s clear on the now and the future, and where you can be successful, and more strategic. Thanks so much. We’ll see you.


We have this great member in our Thriveal community and he’s had such an amazing journey through his career. And he was celebrating in the community about making partnership with a strategic strong firm that he’s been at for a while. And we all celebrated together in our community, which is really cool, with him since we know him, and that it just made an important impact and point to me that what we need more than anything right now is community to celebrate with us and to go through our hardships together.

And so Thriveal is here as a community to let people know that we are here to help them go through their ups and downs. And we’re all going through ups and downs right now. So if you’re not part of a community, we want to welcome you to the Thriveal entrepreneurial community and let you know that we want to celebrate with you the wins that you’re having and the struggles that you’re going through. And we want to help ease those edges of those struggles, so we want to welcome you to a community. And we all need a community right now to be going through that. So just wanted to let you know, the Thriveal community is here for you to celebrate with you those ups and downs. We all need to be together, so you’re welcome here.

Just like everything in an entrepreneur’s life, there is a lot of strategy to the choices we make. In fact, this is a human proverb: your daily choices are the cause of your eternal successes. An entrepreneur’s life is not magic. It is hard work, and few put in the work to plan to make the right choices that lead to success.

This wisdom is equally true when you choose to do something as mundane as read a book.

I’ve always been troubled by the oft-purported claim: ‘CEOs read on average 4 – 5 books every month.’ This has always seemed like a distraction. It’s a distraction from the purpose of a book and why we choose to read books, or choose not to read books. Let’s be honest, there are few good books to read. So I did some research on this claim and found a great article on the claim that CEOs read 4 – 5 books every month. Turns out this claim is an urban myth, and Jeremey Donovan explains why.

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