Capstone Marketing Blog, Self-Improvement

14 Things Successful People Do Differently

For many CPAs life is good. Average equity partner compensation according to Inside Public Accounting is over $500,000. The past four years has shown steady growth.

Yet, this is not the experience for all.

Let me tell you a tale of two firms. Located in a capital city both firms were comparable in size 15 years ago.

Today, one firm is four times its size and is the largest independent CPA firm in their marketplace. This firm created the infrastructure, including a chief operating officer and chief marketing officer; set up industry niche teams; created a brand that attracts new and experienced hires; and, tracks a pipeline of opportunities.

The other firm continues to do business the way they’ve always done it. Individually. No accountability. No firm growth.

Anthony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

The first firm is doing things differently. They are creating their future. The second firm is stuck. They are repeating their past.

Which one are you? Are you creating your future or repeating your past?

If you’d like to create your future here are 14 things successful people do differently.

1. They create and execute goals.

One difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the successful ones commit to a goal and don’t stop until they achieve it. They set their sights high and accomplish what they set out to do. Writing down your goals makes a big difference. Be sure to create SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Each goal needs to define who is responsible for doing what by when.

2. They take definite and direct action.

There’s a big difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Some people spend too much time gathering information on how to succeed, which can result in information overload and paralyze them from taking action. Successful people make things happen.

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.

Put first things first. The third habit in Stephen R. Covey’s ground-breaking work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,

“To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.”

Review your goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They operate outside of their comfort zone.

Let’s face it. In order to do things differently and make positive changes in your life and in your business you need to step out of your comfort zone. You can feel uncomfortable exploring new opportunities because you believe you need additional knowledge, skill, or experience. The truth is nobody ever feels completely ready when an opportunity arises. Successful people embrace these moments of opportunity even if they don’t feel 100% ready.

5.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Making small, positive changes is a wonderful way to help you reach the level of success you’d like. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the push you need. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. Successful people take their goals and priorities seriously. Once they’ve figured out what they want to accomplish, they’re disciplined about getting it done.

6.  They measure and track their progress.

You can’t control what you don’t measure. Review your goals and track the things that directly relate to achieving them.

7.  They learn from their mistakes.

Remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can really hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too afraid to make a mistake. The most successful people have unshakeable confidence in themselves. Without it, they’d have given up after a few obstacles got in their way.

8.  They spend time with the right people.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be more successful, spend time with others who are already successful. Also, read books written by them or about them. Watch TED Talks.

9.  They don’t make excuses.

Successful people know they are in control of their own destiny. They don’t complain about the things that stopped them from success. Instead, they push forward knowing that they are the only thing that will make or break their success. When they see an opportunity, they act.

10.  They constantly learn.

Successful people believe in lifelong learning. They’re constantly reading and learning from others around them, from books, trade magazines and conferences, or from others who are ahead of where they want to be. What have you learned recently that can get you closer to the success you want?

11.  They make difficult decisions.

There will always be challenges and obstacles that require you to make difficult decisions. Rather than avoiding sensitive issues or conflicts successful people deal with them, directly and promptly.

12. They focus on what matters.

Successful people don’t just see the big picture; they’re usually the ones that come up with it in the first place. That’s what matters to them and what they focus on. If you want to be successful, figure out what matters to you and do what it takes to make it happen.

13.  They look at the long-term.

Focus on building a strong foundation for long-term growth. Start looking at everything you do as a long-term investment. Invest in your education and the future.

14. They work hard while maintaining balance in their life.

Successful people are not lazy. They work hard to achieve their goals. Yet, if you let your work life consume you, it’s very easy to lose your balance. If you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term disappointment and stress.

Do you need assistance in creating your future, in doing things differently? Consider joining the Capstone Community, a community of managing partners interested in education and collaboration regarding CPA firm growth and client retention. Learn more.


Change Makes Champions: Murray and Bartoli Win Wimbledon

I am a huge tennis fan. I spent countless hours watching Wimbledon, culminating in the finals this past weekend. Marion Bartoli from France won the women’s championship and, unless you’ve completely unplugged from the world, you know that Andy Murray from Scotland is the first British player since 1936 to win the men’s championship.

It’s interesting that both of these players made coaching changes prior to winning their first Grand Slam title. Murray hired eight-time Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl at the end of 2011. “It was important to me that any new person joining my team was able to add fresh insight,” Murray said in a statement. “Ivan’s impact on the game is unquestionable and he brings experience and knowledge that few others have, particularly in major tournaments. I look forward to working with him going forward.”

The Murray-Lendl connection is undisputable with Murray winning the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open in 2012 before winning Wimbledon.

Marion Bartoli was coached by her father, Walter Bartoli, a physician who gave up his practice to coach his daughter, from the time she was six years old until last year. “It happened little by little, my father always wanted the best for me and he told me that it might be better if I try something else to get what I want: a Grand Slam title,” Bartoli explained earlier this year to

At this year’s Wimbledon, Bartoli was tutored by former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, who won the 2006 Wimbledon championship and is currently captain of France’s Fed Cup team.

Einstein was right. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. In order to achieve their goals of winning Grand Slam championships both Murray and Bartoli were willing to make changes. They sought advice and guidance from experienced tennis champions about the changes required in their games to win the big tournaments. This required them to be receptive. And brave.

What changes does your firm need to make in its marketing program? What changes do you personally need to make to be a more successful business developer? Are you receptive and brave enough to find the answers? Here are a couple of complimentary resources to get you started.

How to Create a Disastrous Marketing Plan for Your Accounting Firm

Marketing Plan Guide