Photo by michael podger
Photo by Andrew Yardley on Unsplash

We’ve been exploring various components of our planning process. Today let’s do a
quick review to see where the pieces fit together.

Remember, our objective is to help clients clarify direction and maximize their business
potential. That means grow revenues, grow profits, grow business value, and help them
achieve their big-business outcomes.

Our initial focus has been on the three ingredients of business success: vision, plan,
and desire. The HaydenRock System™ produces a simple, one-page plan that contains
key planning priorities.

The next step is establishing accountability. Who is accountable for driving outcomes
behind those planning priorities?

There are 3 possibilities: someone on the client’s team… someone on the CPA firm
team… or some sort of outside expert (HaydenRock can introduce you to an expert as

Okay, so plans are in place and we’ve established accountability. Focus now shifts
towards driving action.

In our experience, driving action requires regular external follow-up meetings to drive
accountability – asking questions like: Are the plans on track? These meetings can
occur monthly or quarterly. But the essential point is we need to maintain the pace of

Otherwise clients risk slipping back into ‘business-as-usual’ mode.

By working together, we can help business owners to sustain the pace of change. And
in turn, that leads towards growing revenues, growing profits and growing business

Our goal is to help clients double revenues, double profits, and double equity value in a
short period of time.

Next, we’ll start to put together the roadmap for doing just that.

What’s your management style?

Do you manage in a 20th century, command-and-control style, organizational-chart

This approach was effective in the 20th century, basically because people did as they
were told.

People in the 21st century need to be treated differently if you want to harness and
maximize their potential. They need to be engaged. They want vision. They want

Employees want to know: Where is the business going? What’s it going to look like?
They also want to know what the plan is. What do I have to do to make that happen?
They want to understand the purpose or the mission. Why does our business matter?
And in particular, why does my job matter?

In most businesses, you’re dealing with 3 different personality types: the highly
engaged, the moderately engaged, and the disengaged. Typically, you’ll find

  • 29% of employees are highly engaged
  • 55% are moderately engaged, and
  • 16% are disengaged

By comparison, in a world-class business

  • 67% are highly engaged
  • 26% are moderately engaged
  • 7% are disengaged

What do those differences mean in financial terms? Highly engaged people on average
are approximately 90% efficient. Moderately engaged people are 60% efficient. And
disengaged people are around about 40% efficient if you are lucky.

If we now extrapolate those numbers in terms of their relative ratios, we find that the
average business is approximately 66% efficient, while a world-class business is
approximately 79% efficient.

That’s a difference of about 13% between average and world-class. And what that
means is you have a significant potential to improve either your profits or efficiency.It
equates to around about $130,000 per annum per $1 million of payroll.

Is that worth thinking about? Without question.

So what’s the key message?

In the 21st century it makes financial sense to be working towards creating a highly
engaged team – a team of Navy SEALs or a Navy SEAL culture.

In the 21st century, desire matters more than ever before. Nowadays it’s not just owner
desire that matters. Team desire is very important if you want to maximize your
business potential.

Photo by michael podger on Unsplash

I was talking to a CPA last week, exploring growth options for his firm. I asked him to paint me a picture of where the firm is today. He spent the next 15 minutes reciting a litany of complaints.

He works way too many hours, even when it’s not tax season.

He goes from deadline to deadline, never able to catch up.

He’s constantly stressed.

His clients don’t pay what he’s worth.

Every year they demand more and want to pay less, so he’s working harder and harder for less and less.

He’s constantly chasing clients down. They’re often late with their numbers, and when they do finally get them to him, he has to spend hours of unbillable time to straighten out the mess they provide.

Whenever he tries to raise his fees, his clients threaten to walk.

I asked what his plan was to rectify these issues. He’s working on a big marketing campaign to grow the firm and bring in new clients. Good idea, except…

The prospects he’s targeting are exactly like the clients he’s got now. So if the campaign is a success, he’ll have a bunch more clients who don’t pay well, don’t respect his time, and don’t value his expertise.

What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting something different to happen.

The message is hopefully clear. If you want to grow profits, you need to have desire – a desire for CHANGE.

Beyond the status quo.

Beyond the way you’ve done things for the last 10… 15… 20 years or more.

Some people believe desire is a trait that’s impossible to measure.

The HaydenRock System™ has a unique way to measure desire.

Ask me – I’ll be happy to show you.

Did you ever see the movie, “The Social Network”? It tells how Facebook was invented as a way for Harvard students to rate coeds in terms of attractiveness, sex appeal, etc.

Today’s dating apps such as ­­­­­­ and Tinder have simplified the rating process to a series of swipes, left or right.

The HaydenRock System™ has a rating system, too – albeit without suggestive photos and fictional histories.

Remember last week we talked about the 3 ingredients of business success: vision, plan, and desire. All three ingredients need to work together in order to maximize a company’s business potential.

The HaydenRock System rates each of these key components and determines the overall BIZ rating percentage. This number helps us benchmark the strength of the business foundations today – before we make any improvements or changes.

A lower-than-average BIZ rating means the chances of significant growth are low. The business has weak business foundations. A higher-than-average BIZ rating means the chances of significant growth are greater because strong business foundations are in place.

So what do we mean by “significant growth”? We’re talking about doubling the size of the business, doubling revenues or doubling profits in a short period of time.

Think of the BIZ rating percentage score as the starting point. It helps us answer: Where are the foundations weak? Where do we need to make priority changes? It also allows us to monitor the progress over time.

The HaydenRock System is the tool that helps your clients maximize business potential, grow revenues, grow profits, and double business value.


Some people like apple pie made only with Granny Smith apples. Others mix different
apple varieties. Some like traditional crust. Others prefer a crumb topping.

A Google search for apple pie recipe turns up over 4.7 million options, but there are
certain things they have in common.

Turns out you can’t make an apple pie without apples, butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Likewise, you can’t build a successful business without 3 key ingredients:

Vision… Plan… and Desire.

Think of the three ingredients of business success just like going on a journey.

Vision is just like direction: Where are you going and what will it look like when you
reach your destination?

The Plan is the route. What is the best way to arrive at your destination?

Finally, desire: You have to keep moving forward and make sure that the team doesn’t
run out of gas.

The HaydenRock System begins by measuring vision, plan and desire.

We start here because all three ingredients must work together if we’re going
to maximize a company’s business potential, and enjoy the journey along the way.

When my son was 3 years old he would dump all the puzzle pieces on the table and have no clue where to start. He would take hours and hours trying to put the puzzle together with no luck.

That’s when I taught him to first put the 4 corners in their place, followed by the pieces around the edge, then look for common colors and always have the front of the box to look at.

I gave him a very simplistic process to follow and now he can put together any puzzle regardless of complexity.

Who is helping your clients with their strategic puzzle?

Who is helping them get from Point A (where they are today) to Point B (where they want to get to in the future)?

If only you had a very simplistic process to follow . . . wait you do, and you might have heard of it by now – its called Vision Stitching™.

Vision Stitching helps pull together the pieces of the strategic puzzle step by simple step. Combining technology with a proven process, Vision Stitching helps organize top priorities for action. Then funnels the action items into a simple One-Page Plan that’s easy for busy business owners to digest and implement.

This simplifies life for the business owner, keeps the team focused, and provides steady advisory work to the firm.

If you are not helping your clients put together their strategic puzzle, somebody else will be soon.

Photo Credit by Taylor Nicole
Photo by Taylor Nicole

Accounting Today just came out with their accounting Wailing Wall – the annual list of what worries accountants most .

Top concerns this year are Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and automation.

No doubt CPAs are wise to monitor these developments, because they will certainly impact the profession (although it’s difficult to predict how soon and to what degree).

But at least these perils are perils we can see.

Let me tell you about another threat that’s arguably even bigger. Except you can’t see it.

Or, more precisely, CPAs are choosing not to see it.

The danger I’m referring to comes from other professionals – financial advisors, bookkeepers, insurance execs, stock brokers, even attorneys – encroaching into territory formerly controlled by accountants.

Remember when the tax return was the exclusive domain of accountants? That train has left the station, never to return.

Happy Tax founder Mario Costanz has ingeniously separated the selling of accounting services from the doing of accounting services. As a result, Happy Tax clients have their returns done by American-based CPAs while the franchise owners are advertising execs, real estate agents, car insurance agencies, attorneys – anyone who’s comfortable with sales or already has a pool of clients they’re consulting with.

Andrew Argue is coaching bookkeepers and enrolled agents how to earn six figures a month. The secret to high fees, he teaches, is being more of an advisor/consultant and less of a number cruncher.

And here at HaydenRock, our fastest growing market is not accountants and CPAs.

It’s financial advisors.

Temperamentally, financial advisors are the opposite of CPAs. They evaluate quickly, enroll quickly, and start implementing quickly – qualities that give them an advantage in the marketplace.

Also, they’re entrepreneurs and business owners first, and technicians second. They realize that number crunching and compliance work can be outsourced. (Some even include tax returns at no charge as part of their overall service offering.)

Where these advisors focus instead is on solving problems and adding value. Exactly what business owners crave most.

Three out of four business owners who change accountants do so out of frustration: they’re looking for proactive advice and ideas, and they’re not getting it from their accountant. So they’re turning to other professionals.

Accounting Today
quotes Joey Havens, executive partner at Top 50 firm HORNE, who declares, “The most important issue currently facing the profession is being innovative enough to put today’s historical CPA firm out of business.”

If CPAs aren’t up to the challenge, I know some financial advisors who are.

My guest this week on the Accounting Success Podcast is Vincent Leo, from Insero & Company CPAs, in Rochester, New York.

Vince is a Partner in the Audit and Business Advisory Services Group. He has more than 30 years experience serving some of the area’s largest companies, and joined Insero as a Partner in 2002 from Arthur Andersen. He advises clients on technical accounting matters; private placements; public offerings; and mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures.

His areas of focus include accounting and auditing, Sarbanes–Oxley, enterprise risk management, and Employee Benefit Plans.

Check out our conversation here:

Vince and I discussed how he’s propelled transformation within the firm, gained national credibility, and:

  • How Insero became one of the top employee benefit plan accounting firms in the United States
  • Benefits of 1/3 of business coming from outsourced project work
  • How racing cars helped Vince get recruited and hired at Insero
  • The problem with trying to drive change at the partner level (and what works better)
  • How to go from a sleepy local firm to having clients in 30 states

Insero & Company is a growing regional firm with five offices, 125 team members, and clients in 30 states. The firm is regularly voted “One of the Best Accounting Firms to Work for in the U.S.” by Accounting Today.

Firm specialties include government, not-for-profit, family businesses, employee benefit plans, and outsourced accounting.

The Accounting Success Podcast is available on iTunes and airs Wednesdays at 11:00 am. You can listen anytime by going to and downloading the latest episode. Or, you can tune in on YouTube on The Accounting Success channel at:

My guest this week on the Accounting Success Podcast is Ken Cerini, Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, based in Long Island, New York.

Ken has one of those great American success stories, literally starting his practice in a garage – with a table, two folding chairs and a computer – and growing it into the dynamic, innovative firm that it is today.

Check out our conversation here:

Ken has won numerous awards, and has been quoted in publications such as the New York Times, Newsday, Long Island Business News, and the Long Island Press.

Some highlights of our conversation include:

  • Why his office décor style is 12th Century Medieval, complete with swords and armor
  • What his wife told him when he announced his plan to leave the security of a Big 4 job to become an entrepreneur and business owner
  • How long he worked a side hustle paper route job while establishing his new CPA firm
  • Why he tells his staff that their job should not be the most important thing in their life
  • Business lessons learned from rock climbing
  • Why he’s seeking cemeteries and wineries as clients

Besides being Managing Partner, Ken is responsible for the firm’s not-for-profit and educational providers practice group. In addition to his extensive audit experience both at Ernst & Young, LLP, and Cerini & Associates, Ken has been involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State. He is an expert in preschool special education. His specialties also include Forensic audits and fraud investigations.

Cerini & Associates is a full service accounting firm with a staff of nearly 50, four partners, and a foundation built on value-added ideas and integrity. The firm serves many industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, technology, special education, startups, school districts, and construction, among others.

The Accounting Success Podcast is available on iTunes and airs Wednesdays at 11:00 am. You can listen anytime by going to and downloading the latest episode. Or, you can tune in on YouTube on The Accounting Success channel at:

This week’s guest on the Accounting Success Podcast is Mario Costanz, founder and CEO of Happy Tax, Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2017 Fastest Growing Tax Business.

For those unaware, Happy Tax is a relatively new but potentially very disruptive player in the tax preparation space. Mario is leveraging technology and innovation to provide a convenient, transparent and reliable service for taxpayers while changing the roles and ownership structure for franchisees. The concept is quickly proving itself. Happy Tax is growing faster than over 3,000 other franchisors in the United States.

Check out our conversation here:

In two short years, Happy Tax has over 600 franchisees, independent contractors and area representatives. We talked with Mario about his diversified past, his exciting present, and what’s in store for the future including:

  • How a high school dropout invented a new business model that turns the tax prep industry on its head
  • How to go from zero to Entrepreneur magazine’s fastest growing tax business in a little over two years
  • How he discovered his true calling while working as a New York City sanitation worker
  • The 6-week tax class that spearheaded Mario’s career
  • The lightning bolt idea that became Happy Tax
  • 3 reasons clients are attracted to Happy Tax over H&R Block and other tax preparers
  • Ways CPAs partner with Happy Tax to better serve their clients
  • Valuable lessons learned from business failures

Judging by traditional measures, one may not have predicted business success for Mario Costanz. Long before becoming a successful businessman, Mario was a high school dropout and New York City garbage collector. An entrepreneur at heart, he tried a number of other businesses, and eventually ventured into the tax business. Eventually he bought a Liberty Tax franchise and became the #1 ranked franchisee in the country.

He started Happy Tax based on an innovative and patent pending business model that’s already shaking up the tax prep industry. The company combines convenient come-to-your-door service, along with accurate, reliable and professional tax returns prepared by CPAs with a minimum of 5 years of training and experience.

The Accounting Success Podcast is available on iTunes and airs Wednesdays at 11:00 am. You can listen anytime by going to and downloading the latest episode. Or, you can tune in on YouTube on The Accounting Success channel at: