This is a transcript of Episode 060 of the Epic Business Growth for CPAs podcast. Enjoy!

Donna: [00:00:00] Confidence was a big piece of it. It’s easy to say, Oh, become an advisor. But when you’ve been doing basically transactional work where you produce a product, the product is the tax return, or the financial statements or the books, and now to say, Oh, now you’re going to move into telling your clients what to do. It’s a whole different thing. 

Geraldine: [00:00:23] Welcome to Epic Business Growth for CPAs. My name is Geraldine Carter, founder of She Thinks Big Coaching. This is the place to be if you’re a CPA who wants to grow your accounting practice. Weekly episodes are full of strategies and action steps that create a clear path for growth without working harder. Time to get inspired and grow your business. 

My guest today is Donna Leyens of the Provendus Group, and Pumpkin Plan Your Business. Donna is an entrepreneur, a Certified Professional Business Coach, and has an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies. She spent the early part of her professional career on Wall Street, analyzing and raising capital for public and private companies. In other words, Donna knows what makes a company tick. 

Donna has partnered with Mike Michalowicz, who you might know as the author of Profit First and The Pumpkin Plan, among other books. They’ve partnered to create a certification program around Pumpkin Planning your business, where CPAs, business coaches, accountants, and bookkeepers can become Pumpkin Plan strategists. And as part of doing so, they receive training and certification in the Pumpkin Plan methodology. 

I wanted to interview Donna to go deeper into the concepts in the pumpkin plan and how they can be applied and implemented to make it easier and more profitable to run your business. 

Here’s Donna Leyens of the Provendus Group, and Pumpkin Plan Your Business.

Hi Donna. Welcome to the Epic Business Growth for CPAs Podcast. 

Donna: [00:01:54] I’m so happy to be here this morning. 

Geraldine: [00:01:56] Yes. It’s so fun to have you here. And for our audience, we’ve already been chit-chatting for about 20 minutes about all things Pumpkin Plan, and bookkeeping and accounting, and transitioning to advisory services.

So, we’re going to jump right in and start with where you see the industry right now as it relates to automation, kind of coming up from the bottom, and what you see in terms of CPAs and accountants needing as they adjust to that reality. 

Donna: [00:02:29] That’s a great question. I’ve been working with CPAs and accountants now for about five or six years, and I’ve attended a number of industry conferences and had lots of long conversations with a lot of them.

I’m actually working on a book that hopefully will come out sometime this decade, and I’ve interviewed a lot of bookkeepers and accountants for my book as well. And a really recurring theme that I see over and over again is how much automation is really changing the face of bookkeeping and accounting and tax preparation. And just seeing people who have been in the industry for so many years, how their jobs have already changed. And the prediction is that it will continue to change and become a little bit more of a commodity because automation can do so much. 

And then the question becomes, what value am I bringing to my clients? How can I continue to make a living doing this without having a lot of downward price pressure and my clients shopping around because I look just like everybody else? 

Geraldine: [00:03:47] Yes. And so, I see a similar thing, right? It’s kind of coming up from the bottom. And those who don’t figure out how to lift themselves up are just going to get swallowed up by automation.

And like you said, as it becomes a commodity, and if you don’t differentiate yourself, you end up looking like other people. And it’s hard for people to know how you’re different, how you’re better, and who to go to. So bringing in the Pumpkin Plan and the idea of differentiating, what are the conversations that you’re having with your CPAs around trying to figure out how to differentiate?

Donna: [00:04:20] Well, The Pumpkin Plan, can I just explain kind of the concept behind The Pumpkin Plan? 

Geraldine: [00:04:25] Yes, please. Absolutely. 

Donna: [00:04:27] Okay. A lot of you are probably thinking like, why are they talking about pumpkins? And truthfully, I’ve gotten so used to this concept that I talked to people about Pumpkin Planning and when they scratch their head, I have to go back and go, oh yes, not everybody knows what that is. 

But basically, it’s an analogy. It’s based on the book The Pumpkin Plan by author and entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz, who’s also my business partner. And essentially what he realized was that growing an extraordinary business is the same or very similar to growing one of those giant, one-ton award-winning pumpkins that I’m sure all or many of you have seen in your lifetime.

And the key here is that you don’t just take a packet of ordinary pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them out in your garden and wake up one morning, and you happen to have a gigantic one-ton pumpkin. You need to, number one, start with a seed that has the capacity to grow into a one-ton pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds that you buy at your local garden center or grocery store don’t have that capacity. 

And it’s the same thing with your business. You need to start with an underlying foundation, a strategy that has the capacity to grow into an extraordinary business or to grow as much as you want your business to grow. And there are three elements to that structure or strategy that create your sweet spot or your special seed.

Geraldine: [00:06:08] Can I pause you for just a second? 

Donna: [00:06:10] Absolutely. 

Geraldine: [00:06:10] Because I think we need to back up even one step and ask ourselves like, I’m envisioning a pumpkin patch of 40 pumpkins and what’s the problem with a pumpkin patch of 40 pumpkins that are all like the size of a basketball. 

Donna: [00:06:24] Okay. Can I tell you a little story?

Geraldine: [00:06:26] Yes. 

Donna: [00:06:28] And many of you might relate to this. When my children were young, we had an annual outing every year to the local farm where we would do a hayride, and there would be a corn maze. And at the end of the hayride, there was a giant field of pumpkins. And part of what we paid for was each person got to pick one pumpkin that they could take home with them.

And this was torturous because my kids would be looking for that one extraordinary different pumpkin. But here’s the truth. They all looked the same. And, Oh, maybe this one or maybe this one. And there was no real way to differentiate them. And when you looked out in the field, you just saw a sea of pumpkins that all looked alike.

And when you’re in a sea of businesses that all look alike, what’s the one differentiator that you can always find? It’s the price. And when you look just like everybody else, if you’re not the best price, they’re going to say, but the guy down the street is only charging me half of what you’re charging for the same tax return. I’m going to go there. 

And so, if you want ordinary pumpkin and you want to look the same as everyone else, you’re going to really experience a lot of the frustrations that a lot of business owners experience, where they have to spend a lot of money and time on marketing. They get constant questions about their pricing. They worry that they’re going to lose their clients or their customers to a lower-priced option. 

And it becomes very difficult for you to do business that way, or at least it becomes very stressful to do business. And so the giant pumpkin looks different obviously. When you look different, then they stop comparing you to the other pumpkins or the other businesses in your industry. And they say, well, I really need that. And therefore, whatever rates they’re charging me, and the truth is you want to have a return on their investment. You don’t want to be an expense. But that’s kind of another conversation. But the point is, if you really want something, you are going to find a way to pay for it, and suddenly they’re not going to the cheaper option, because they know they’re not going to get the same results with that other less expensive option. 

Geraldine: [00:09:11] Yes. Perfect. And what I see when I look out in terms of mapping this analogy over is that the way that so many CPAs and accountants look similar is that they talk about book tax, payroll, tax planning, and advising, but it all sounds the same, and there’s no real way to, like you say, differentiate from one CPA or accountant to another. 

They look from the outside looking in to the sort of layperson, the lay business owner who has limited experience comparing different CPAs is that they look very much the same, and it’s hard to know.

And so, like you’re saying, they end up competing on price, they end up having downward pressure, and they end up having to justify the work that they’re doing and just be thought of as a necessary expense on the expense line. 

Donna Leyens: [00:09:58] Exactly. 

Geraldine: [00:10:00] So talk a little bit about the sweet spot and differentiating. And how you go about with your clients and people who are going through The Pumpkin Plan process. How do they go about, or how do you suggest they begin to go about differentiating themselves and knowing what their unique strengths are? 

Donna: [00:10:20] That is an awesome question. So, to understand that, I’m going to tell you what the three elements of the sweet spot are, and these elements all have to intersect.

So, number one, you have a unique offering, which, okay, that makes sense, right? You want to look unique. The other ring, so picture like three rings, all intersecting in the middle. The second ring would be your top clients. Now notice I’m not saying your ideal clients because you hear that term a lot. Your ideal client or your ideal client avatar, you hear that a lot in marketing.

I am seeing your top clients. So, if you have an ongoing business, you want to know who your very best clients are. Who are those clients that are bringing in not just most of your revenue, but most of your profits. And also that you like to deal with. I mean, in accounting and bookkeeping, you’re dealing directly with your clients. You’re not selling widgets on a website. You need to take into account that you might have some clients that are paying you a lot of money but are actually royal…

Geraldine: [00:11:32] Challenges.

Donna: [00:11:33] You know what, and a pain in the, you know what, and then, you have to really evaluate hourly, right? So, look at how much time you’re spending on those clients, time, and energy versus your better clients.

So, a lot of you may be familiar with the 80/20 rule. And basically, it says that 80% of your results, your revenues, your profits are actually going to come from 20% of your clients. And that’s a really important concept to focus on because a lot of times we’re creating systems and maybe even hiring people to take care of our problem clients that are only delivering 20% of our results. So, we really want to know who our top 20% are or our top clients. 

And then the third ring are your systems. Because if you don’t have good systems and processes in place that will enable you to grow that sweet spot, then you’re going to get stuck. So, you may be able to attract all these great clients, but you also have to be able to deliver the results for them. And that’s dependent on your systems and processes, and, also even your marketing systems are important if you’re not marketing to the right segment or the right people. Then that’s going to fail as well. So, they’re all interrelated, and where they overlap is your sweet spot. 

Geraldine: [00:13:04] Okay, so let’s revisit those again. So there, because I know people are either in the garden or driving. 

One ring is identifying your top clients. The second one is systematization and making sure your systems support your top clients. And the third one is?

Donna: [00:13:20] Unique offering. 

Geraldine: [00:13:21] Unique offering

Donna: [00:13:22] And here’s the key. Your unique offering has to match what your top clients most want and need from you. It can’t be a random unique offering that you think is great. 

Geraldine: [00:13:35] Right. You can’t give them something that you think is great. Yes. They have to want it. Otherwise, that makes no sense. 

Donna: [00:13:40] Exactly, and that’s why they all need all of those three things need to be present, and you need to understand how they overlap. Because you might think, well, I have a great unique offering, and I have great systems. Therefore I can grow exponentially. But if you don’t know exactly who cares about those things?

Geraldine: [00:14:01] Right.

Donna: [00:14:03] Then you’re going to struggle. Each missing ring has its own issues, but when they’re together, that gives you the framework for growth.

Geraldine: [00:14:13] So how do you go about figuring out your unique offering? 

Donna: [00:14:16] Well, that’s a great question too. So, we have a whole process. So, the book The Pumpkin Plan, which I highly recommend, and if you like listening to audio, and I would guess if you’re listening to this podcast, you do. The audio version of The Pumpkin Plan is fabulous.

Mike reads it himself. He’s very entertaining. This is probably the most entertaining business book you’ll ever read. So you’ll get a feel for how you go about it just from reading the book. And we have a more in-depth process that we take people through. We have a product called The Pumpkin Plan Action Guide, and what we do is we start, we actually start at the beginning, with your vision, because if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to get there. 

Geraldine: [00:15:01] Any road will do, or you might end up somewhere else. 

Donna: [00:15:03] Exactly. And then the next thing that we focus on after you have a vision is really looking at who are your top clients. And we do a whole analysis.

So, when you figure out who your best clients are, the next step is to talk to them. And I don’t mean, send them a survey or a questionnaire. I mean, actually, speak with them. And then, when we have some very specific questions that we ask them to get the information we need to then say, okay, here are my strengths, and here’s what my best clients are telling me they appreciate about us, they’re looking for in my industry, here’s what they care about, and how do I create a unique offering that matches that, and we take you through a process that looks at what do you do super well that you can really focus on, that you know is going to attract those top clients. That’s when you see a business that just seems to have incredible growth, and you’re like, why is everybody flocking to that business?

It’s because they are talking about the exact things that their best clients want and they’re attracting and filling their business with ideal clients. 

Geraldine: [00:16:23] I love that. What is that experience like at the outset for the CPAs and accountants who need to talk to their clients? 

Donna: [00:16:32] Here’s what I always say. We train our strategists, so we have business professionals, and a lot of them are actually bookkeepers and accountants who are trained and certified in our process. And one of the things that we talk to them about is, how do you prepare your clients to go out and talk to their clients? And how do you do it yourself?

Because let’s face it, a lot of bookkeepers and accountants are introverts. They’re quieter, or perhaps they really like to be in the zone doing their work, but the idea of calling up their clients and asking them questions that might be difficult for them to ask can feel like maybe getting a root canal.

We don’t want it to feel like a root canal, but I will say this. That the tools and the activities that we encounter the most resistance to. In other words, yes, we encounter resistance to taking this step. Those are the ones that tend to have the biggest impact on your business. You do have to give yourself a pep talk. Start with a client that you know loves you. 

Geraldine: [00:17:44] Okay, great. 

Donna: [00:17:45] Start with a client that you know would never, not that they’re going. None of the questions are designed for them to come back to you and say something mean or scary or demoralizing. Because, what we do, so here’s a tip I’m going to give everybody part of our little secret. Is that we never ask, what am I doing wrong, or what could I do to be doing better? And the reason we don’t ask that is that, because most people, especially if they’re working one on one with you, they don’t want to say anything that might offend you. So, you’re not necessarily going to even get the truth if you ask that question.

So, what we ask is questions like, what drives you crazy about my industry? What do you think bookkeepers like me could provide to clients like you that we’re not already providing? And then you start to get an answer. Well, it’s easy for me to tell you everything that’s wrong with your industry because it’s not personal to you.

I, personally, have never heard of an instance where somebody has gotten an earful from a client. They usually come out of that first interview going, “That was amazing, I can’t wait to do it again.” So, it’s really getting yourself worked up enough to do that first interview. And the other piece of it is, I know a lot of us, especially you’re working with a business or business owner. You’re worried because your clients are really busy people and you don’t want to bother them. You take this attitude, well, why would I ask them to spend a half-hour with me and do me a favor? We don’t want to look at it as them doing you a favor. The way you approach it is you tell your client, I really value your feedback, and I want to make some changes in my business so that I can serve you even better.

And make it about the client. 

And then of course, when they give you feedback about things that maybe they would like to see, that they’re not seeing or things that they love about you that they wish you would do more of, you can go back to them and say, thank you so much for the information that you gave me. And here are some of the changes I’m instituting because of that. And make them feel like they are a participant in your business so you’re further solidifying that relationship with your best clients. 

Geraldine: [00:20:15] I love this. This is, I mean, what makes so much sense to me about this is that you’re finding out what your market wants. And then you get to create it. And give it to them. 

Donna: [00:20:24] And so here’s the interesting thing. Usually, the thing that they notice about you is something that you take for granted about yourself and your firm.

Geraldine: [00:20:33] Oh, interesting. 

Donna: [00:20:35] Yes. So, you might not be promoting it appropriately. Because you think it’s no big deal, but they’re telling you they think it’s a big deal. 

Geraldine: [00:20:46] Oh, it’s almost like the thing that you do so well, maybe it’s your zone of genius or whatever, that it just comes so naturally to you. You don’t even think about it. You think everybody else can do the same thing, and they’re saying, no, no, no. This really sets you apart. And then you go, okay, maybe I should leverage that a little bit more. 

Donna: [00:21:03] Exactly. And now you have a leg up on all the other accountants or bookkeepers who don’t know that they’re talking about the wrong things. Because they don’t know what you know, that my clients don’t care about necessarily, that I offered this, that, and the other service. 

They care that I always remembered their birthday and send them a card. Or, you know, I’m kind of pulling that out of the air, but, they care that I am always a good listener and I don’t force my opinion on them, or like, it could be something that is part of who you are as a firm, but you haven’t articulated it. 

Geraldine: [00:21:46] Right. 

Donna: [00:21:47] And so I find that a lot of times business owners after they do these interviews, the first thing I hear is this was pure gold. But the other thing that I hear is, Wow, I never thought about that. I learned something that I didn’t realize my clients cared about. 

Geraldine: [00:22:06] So what do you see once CPAs and accountants and bookkeepers have begun this process of client interviews, figuring out what their unique offering is, figuring out what their top clients most want and beginning to form a system around it. What do you start to see shifting in their practices? What are some of the outcomes that they begin to have? 

Donna: [00:22:26] Doing business and growing their business stops being hard. It’s suddenly; you know what it feels like to be in the flow? 

Geraldine: [00:22:35] Yes. 

Donna: [00:22:35] Like you’re doing work, and you’re just like, time is flying by, and everything’s going smoothly. That’s how your business starts to feel. One of the things that we do in the Pumpkin Plan methodology is once you determine who your best clients are, we also determine who your worst clients are. 

And we don’t push it too hard. You have to be ready to do this, but a lot of times when businesses start to let their worst clients go, the clients that are holding them back then suddenly, everything’s flows more smoothly, and everything becomes more profitable. And you’re opening up space to attract those better clients who appreciate you for your unique offering. 

Geraldine: [00:23:21] Because those clients who are so, I think of grouping your clients into your top clients. Your “A” clients, your “B” clients who are really good, your “C” clients who you do work for, you’re happy to do work for, and then they’re your D clients who take up a lot of an inordinate amount of time, let’s say, relative to what they’re paying you.

Like you say, they’re holding you back, and once we can say, Hey, you’re not a great fit for us, but let me give you some options where you might get the service that you’re looking for. Suddenly, now your time and energy are freed up to not just focus on your top clients, but also to focus on your business as a whole and devote time and energy to thinking about how do I elevate my business?

Because so often when you’re handling your D clients who are taking up an inordinate amount of time, you don’t have the time to pick your head up and look around at the landscape and see what is going to grow your business. 

Donna: [00:24:14] Exactly. And, also you said a word that is really key, and I think you meant it in a slightly different context, but you said the word energy.

And what I’m going to say is like, we can talk about energy, like having a lot of energy. But we also need to think about how we look at our clients and some of them actually drain our energy and create negative energy. And when we’re in that negative energy space, it is really hard for us to do our best work with our other clients.

Because we’re so sort of beaten down by putting out the fires and also by that negative energy that’s created when you feel like everything you do is a problem versus those clients who are really happy with your work. And what happens is, this is a normal human response. I’m not sure why, but we tend to focus more on the negative than we do on the positive.

So, we could have three great interactions with clients today, and one bad interaction can ruin our whole day. And then suddenly it was a bad day, and now we’re in a funk. And now, all of that great creative energy that we might’ve had to thinking about how I’m going to expand my business now goes to, you know, I can’t wait to get out of here and get home and turn on the TV or something just to get out of this.

And so, we really can’t underestimate the impact that is having bad clients. And what I mean by bad clients is they’re not necessarily bad people, but just not the right fit clients for you. How much that takes away from your business? 

We sell sometimes a small short course or some very low-price additional collateral to what we do. And I’ve had people who will buy my $59 product and then come back and complain to me. And they’ll want a refund. And what happens is I’ve had somebody who, like every product that they bought for me, they came back and told me how disappointed they were and how this whole negative thing.

And I finally said, and she said, I think I’m losing faith in you guys. And I said to her, listen, we are clearly not the right fit for what you are looking for. And I would advise you not to purchase anything else from us because I think you will continue to be disappointed because this is the work that we do. And if you’re not happy with it, it’s clearly not what you’re looking for. That person is looking for something else. 

So, we need to do our clients that are a bad fit for us a favor and send them to the other service that will meet their needs because we’re clearly not. And it’s not because we’re bad people or they’re bad people; they’re just not the right fit.

Geraldine: [00:27:28] Yes. And I’m so glad you said that because I was thinking the same thing. A bad client is not a bad person. It’s just not the right fit for what you offer in your business and what your client needs. And when you, like you say, I think it’s advisable to find a better fit for you. You’re also doing them a favor because they’re looking for something.

They genuinely have a pinpoint that they want to be solved, and they keep trying to find it from you, and you’re giving them permission to say, Hey, I get that you’ve got a problem that you want solved. We’re not solving it for whatever reason. Let’s help you solve it with somebody else who has the solution rather than beating our head against a wall, trying to find the solution here where it actually appears to not be so. 

Donna: [00:28:04] Exactly. 

Geraldine: [00:28:05] Let’s get your problem solved. We both win. 

Donna: [00:28:06] Yes. And I am always looking for a win-win, and that does become a win-win. Because as I said, then you make room for those clients who will be really happy with what you’re doing for them.

Geraldine: [00:28:19] One of the things that you and I were talking about before we hit the record button was, the transition from the transactional sort of way that CPAs, accountants, or bookkeepers have operated their business for so many years and decades. And how that’s transitioning now to advisory almost by necessity.

And I think where you’re going with The Pumpkin Plan, finding your sweet spot, figuring out your unique offering is, or that it supports the transition to including or bolstering advisory services within your practice. 

And I’m wondering if you can speak to, how CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, how do they need to transition mentally? Because that may not be historically how they were educated and trained. And this new space opening up of advisory is perhaps a bit new or foreign to them.

Donna: [00:29:16] Yes, I mean, there are so many different pieces that play into making that transition. And one thing that I’ve run into a lot is that from my perspective because I do work with a lot of accountants and bookkeepers. You guys have so much knowledge about your clients. You have an advantage over any other advisors because you have an in-depth understanding of their financial situation.

And there are a lot of advisors out there who might give you a great marketing plan, but if that marketing plan is costing you more than it’s bringing in, you have a problem. Like there has to be an interaction between everything that the business does and understanding how it impacts the financial side of the business.

So, you already have that ability to, you’ve been in their books, you understand how that business is operating. And I remember a few years ago speaking with a bookkeeper who said to me, well, I can see so many ways that my clients can improve the way they run their businesses. And kind of become more profitable and not have these maybe expenses that are not necessary or whatever she’s seeing in their books. 

But she said to me, I just don’t know how to approach it because I’m just the bookkeeper. And how do I tell this business owner that maybe there’s a better way for him to be running his business? So, there’s that sort of confidence ,slash, is that even my role, becomes the question. And if it’s not currently my role, how do I make that transition, so that it does become my role? 

I know that there’s a mindset piece, but there’s also a really practical piece that if you wake up one day, if you’ve never given your client any advice or very limited advice that, just based on some specific things that they’ve asked you about their books or about their taxes, you don’t just wake up one morning and call up your clients and say, I have a bunch of advice for you. Right? 

It would seem a little odd, and I get that. And so, I think one of the things that trips up a lot of professionals who want to move into that role is they just don’t know how to make that transition. How do I do that? 

So, one thing that I like to say is, well, number one, you have to understand what problems you’re addressing for your clients. Because when you’re the bookkeeper, when you’re the accountant, when you’re the person who comes in and does like their quarterly reviews or does their tax returns or whatever, you’re really offering a product. You are delivering an end product. Whether it’s financial statements or a completed tax return, you’re selling a product and a service that’s necessary to the business.

When you move into advisory, that’s a different level. And what you’re doing is you’re now becoming more of a partner with your clients. And so, they must see you in a different role, and you’re no longer selling a service. That’s the biggest mistake. If you could call it that. I don’t even like to use the word mistake because I think everything’s a learning opportunity.

But the biggest mistake that I see bookkeepers, accountants, and other professionals make in trying to add advisory services is they just sort of list it as an additional service. They’re like, oh yeah, and I can advise you too. And the issue with that is advisory is not something that people wake up in the morning, and they say, well, I need somebody who can make the widgets and somebody who can do the books and, Oh, and I need someone who has to be the advisor. Like, that’s not the way business owners look at it. 

So, if you want to become an advisor or a coach or consultant, if you want to add that to your business, you have to approach it from the standpoint of solving a problem for your client. Now you become a solution provider. And the way that you transition to that is you first must get an understanding of what problems do you want to solve for your clients.

And that’s why we want you to know who your best clients are and what your strengths are. So that you can smoothly move into that role and be speaking to the problems that they’re actually having, that you can now say, Oh, and by the way, I see that this, this, and this is going on in your business, I can help you solve that too.

Geraldine: [00:34:08] There’s so much in here that I want to tug on, and what I’m hearing is that we’ve come full circle, right? Is that, for the accountant or bookkeeper is that, not only do they need to shift how their client sees them, but they also need to shift how they see themselves 

Donna: [00:34:24] A hundred percent.

Geraldine: [00:34:25] How do you begin to transition after so many years of being an accountant or bookkeeper and dealing with receipts or being a CPA and do a tax return? How do you begin to transition how you see yourself in terms of the role you play vis-a-vis those of your clients?

Donna: [00:34:42] The first step in that is to do a really honest assessment of your own skills and abilities. And be honest with yourself. If there’s something that you’re really good at, don’t pooh pooh it, like really be honest and say, you know what? I am really strong at this. And then also be honest about where you think you might need to beef up your skills. And don’t be afraid to go out and learn something new if you really want to make a transition. 

I have heard people say, Oh, you can do it. You have the knowledge. Just go out there and do it. And there is absolutely something to be said for jumping in and starting to do something because that’s how you master something. But if you really don’t have all of the skills that you need, then go out and get them. 

Geraldine: [00:35:34] Yes. 

Donna: [00:35:34] Take a course, take a class, sign up for a program, get the tools that you need. That will give you the confidence to move forward. Don’t pretend like, oh, I know everything. When we are not all born knowing everything. You have a lot of knowledge that can be put to use. Maybe you just need the skills on, well, how do I interact with my clients on this level? And find a class or find a course that will help you do that or read a book, you know?

But there’s so much information out there today. It’s so easy to learn something new. And then once you start beefing up your skills, you’re going to find that you’re going to gain confidence. You’re going to think, Oh, wait a minute. I can do this and then have a plan. 

That’s the other thing. I always find, if you don’t have a plan, then it all stays in your head. If you have a plan, step by step, and you can say, okay, the first step that I’m going to take is this, and I’m going to take it next week on this day in time. Then you’ve taken the first step. And the more you do, the more you will start to gain the confidence.

The first day on your very first tax return or your very first set of books that you worked on, I’m sure you didn’t go in there going, Hey, I know everything, and I’m an expert at this. You were still gaining that confidence. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you don’t know everything on day one.

Go out and learn it and start doing it, and you will find that you will gain mastery over that new skill. And you will get to know what your clients want and need more and more as you work with them at this level.

Geraldine: [00:37:26] I love this, and I love what you said in there about gaining confidence and how you alluded to that it’s a very much a process that happens over time. Because so many people wait to do things until they have confidence and what they forget, what we easily forget is that the confidence comes in the doing. 

Donna: [00:37:45] Exactly. 

Geraldine: [00:37:46] This has been so great, Donna. Thank you so much for coming to the Epic Business Growth for CPAs Podcast.

Donna: [00:37:53] Thank you so much for having me. This has been a lot of fun. 

Geraldine: [00:37:57] Thank you so much, Donna, for coming on the Epic Business Growth for CPAs Podcast. 

One thing that stood out to me in our conversation was this idea around not thinking of advisory as just an additional service. If you want to add advisory services to your practice, you need to switch how you view your relationship with and how you communicate with your clients. From one of simply being a service provider to one of being a partner who helps your clients solve problems.

If you’re a new listener and you want to hear more about adding advisory services, you might go back and check out episode 53, Adding Advisory Services and The Power of Niching Down with Tracy Jepson. You can find it at If you want to try out some of the tools offered by Pumpkin Planning, go to, where you can download the booster pack to get started.

If you like this idea of separating yourself from the crowd and want help with the process, know that I am soon to be a certified Pumpkin Plan Strategist because I too am already applying so many of these concepts to great success with my own clients. And I decided that being even more adept with the processes and tools would shorten the time it would take for my clients to double their income with a third of the client load.

If you want to connect with Donna, you can find her at and know that all of these links that I mentioned above will be in the show notes. 

A few more things. I have two more webinars coming up this year. One of them, you would have to be listening to this episode live and turn it around really fast because it’s Wednesday the 20th at 10:00 AM Mountain Time. And it’s how to set up your ideal week so that you can defragment your time and group like tasks with like tasks to get a bunch of your time back.

The next one is Adding Advisory Services coming up on December 18th. You can find out more about those at my website

Last thing, will you please do me an easy favor? And that is if you know a CPA, will you share an episode with them? When you share an episode, you look good because you’re helping someone get value that they could use.

They win because they get the thing of value. And I win because I get more listeners. So, when you share an episode, we all win, and it means a lot to me when you share an episode and pass this content over to somebody who might benefit from it. 

All right, everyone, that’s it for me. I will see you next week.