October 27th, 2012
Aging and retirement is supposed to be the time to relax and enjoy after the result of years of hard work. Don’t we wish it were that easy? Even if you are one of the lucky ones who planned and saved in addition to having a plush retirement pension, don’t think you’re out of the woods. The best way to deal with these challenges is to create a vision for your retirement.
This process isn’t easy, but it will pay off. Here is what I want you to do. Commit your retirement decision process to writing since it will make you think more clearly and improve your chances for success. Develop a vision of what you want or plan to do in your retirement years.
Here is a checklist of seven things to consider. Begin thinking about each of these questions and it will help you create your unique retirement vision. Start your thinking process and begin the process of creating your vision.
- What are your hobbies and what will be your fun activities in retirement?
- Will you need to continue working or make a career change?
- Where would you like to live (geographically)?
- What are your housing requirements?
- What is your state of health and are there any issues?
- Have you planned your retirement finances?
- Have you considered the need to provide eldercare giving?
First, write down answers or thoughts for each of these questions. It will start you to think about things that had not previously entered your mind. Your thoughts will shift and change. These changes are normal. I have provided a decision guide in the appendix, which will help you through the process of developing a good retirement vision.
Having fun in retirement and hobbies should be the easiest part of the vision process. Everyone has dreams about what to do in their leisure time. In some cases, the things you would like to do will take precedent over the things you have been doing. It may be golf, gardening, or travel. Maybe it will be a combination of a number of things. Things you wanted to do but you have put off because of work.
Some people have dreamed about pursuing a hobby when they get to retirement. The difficulty is that dreams and reality don’t always mix. What they imagined things to be turn out to be different. After a person has worked for a long time at his profession, it is tough to turn off the switch. They find that they have a tough time leaving the work routine. This is something to consider in your planning process.
For baby boomers getting ready to retire or change their life, this is an essential step. Going through the process of thinking about the future will pay big dividends. I think these seven steps will help clarify your thinking and planning.
August 4th, 2011
Business and life can be a lonely journey. How often have you thought how nice it would be to have someone to give you advice and support in making tough decisions and keeping your business on the right path? I have given this topic a lot of thought lately. This blog has provided lots of great advice, tips, and ideas over the years.
I teach Accounting and Finance for non-financial managers and an MBA refresher class for the University Alliance and Villanova University. It is really business and guidance in contrast to what many people would characterize as just being a CPA. In addition I write for a top golf sports psychologist who works with PGA touring pros. It boils down to providing advice to high performance individuals and helping them get to the top.
I think my web site offers the same level of guidance. People just don’t realize they can get high performance coaching just by asking. They think CPA and related it to accounting, finance, and taxes. Coaching entails a whole lot more. You can get help with strategy, creating vision, change management, marketing, and operational improvement. In addition, you might need help with organization management or succession planning.
Based on traveling the country and working with and for some of the top professionals and managers in business has provided me with a unique background of skills and knowledge. I can provide financial advice if that is part of the coaching equation, but in addition you have the benefit of access to a trusted business advisor.
Coaching will be our new focus and in the coming weeks and months I will be working to fine tune the delivery model so you have access no matter where you are located. Join me as we make the journey into providing new levels of service and support so you can get to the top of your game.
November 23rd, 2010
When you can’t find a job, self-employment becomes an option. The big question is what kind of a business should you start? There are lots of choices so you need to really do your homework. One of the big factors is to find something that you truly have a passion for rather than chasing money.
Having your own business gives you an opportunity to do what you have always dreamed about. I have made this journey and it isn’t easy. The first step is to take time and really think about what you would like to do and where you would like to do it. Taking time to do research possibilities and doing the necessary due diligence is critical.
There are lots of books and internet resources to guide you. One of the first steps is to carefully evaluate and assess your skills and abilities. This will reveal the possible business options that you could follow. When performing this step you should document all your thought processes. Think about what might be possibilities. This is essential because it gives you a good road map of potential opportunities. Let yourself go and explore all the things that enter your mind without limitations. Noodle, take notes, and create a road map.
The above analysis should include some of the self assessment steps mentioned in my most recent blog post. Take your transferable skills inventory and link them to potential self-employment opportunities.
After you start to get some ideas about what businesses are possible, list them down on paper. This is when you really need to dig in and do your homework. Some things to consider include:
- Am I qualified to do this work?
- What is the cost to start this business?
- What resources do I have to commit to the business?
- What is the competition?
- How successful is the competition?
- Will I need help to run the business and can I get the help I need?
- Can I run the business from my home?
- Who can I talk to about starting this business?
- Do I need a business coach or advisor?
These questions represent only the surface of things you need to know about your new potential enterprise.
Before you actually launch your new business, take time to develop a good business plan together with appropriate projections and an estimate of cash flows. Just doing a spread sheet isn’t good enough. The business plan should contain a detail written statement of your vision and business mission. You’ll need to set objectives and craft a strategy to achieve them. In line with all of these plans include the type of structure for your business. Should you incorporate, create a LLC, a partnership, or operate as a sole proprietor? What business systems will you need including accounting systems? Don’t try to do all this stuff yourself. Spend the time and money to get a trusted advisor to assist you. This can save you a lot time in the long run.
One of the big questions to answer is can I pull this off and do I have enough money, time, and the skills to do it? This is where an advisor to help guide you through the process can really payoff. Objective advice here can save you invaluable time and money.
Lots of people have done it and done it successfully. This blog post won’t answer all your questions, but will give you things to think about. There are many possibilities and you need to explore to find what can work best for you.
November 16th, 2010
Where do you start the process of figuring out how to start a new business? The best place to start is with you. A good reference is Richard Bolles’ book What Color is My Parachute. While this is a book on how to find a job, it contains lots of self-assessment tools and resources you can use to evaluate what business might be right for you.
This is interesting stuff as I am getting ready to start my new e-book series on the self-employed entrepreneur. Haven’t settled on the title yet, but that sounds catchy and provides the gist of the book.
Aside from taking different tests on your personality and skill preferences, a careful self assessment is essential. Everyone thinks they understand who they are and what they’re best at doing, but it really needs to extend beyond. The Parachute book uses the flower exercise to guide you through the process. It is a great way to examine yourself and learn more about you. Bolles says that “the reason most job-hunters fail to land their dream job isn’t because they don’t understand the job market. It’s because they don’t understand themselves.”
The flower exercise has seven steps but the middle of the diagram deals with your favorite skills. I’m going to give you enough information to start you thinking about the process and you’ll need to take it from there. You need to determine what you know how to do and what you do best. Are you good at working with people, dealing with information, or working with things? Start with these three categories and begin drilling down.
Some additional considerations might include:
- Working with your hands
- Using your body
- Using words
- Using your senses
- Working with numbers
- Utilizing your intuition
- Using logic or analytical thinking
- Maybe it’s using creativity and artistic skills
These ideas will give you some things to think about and consider. I encourage you to take the time to explore these possibilities. It is a good way to unlock your passion and find out what you really would like to do and can be good at.
Testing is another option. One of the most well known tools is the Myers-Briggs evaluation. There is an online test based on this methodology you can take free of charge. It never hurts to get more insight and knowledge that can take you in the right direction.
While these efforts aren’t going to specifically tell you exactly what business or type of business you should launch, it will give you information that can guide you in the right directions. Later this week I’ll do a post that explores the possibilities on what types of businesses might be possible for unemployed people. For now, I think you’ve got plenty of material and ideas to keep you busy.
November 2nd, 2010
I just added some new content to the site for the unemployed. It offers some resources and suggestions on finding your new direction. While not an all-inclusive to do list, I provided some thoughts on conducting a self-assessment and tools to help get the job done.
I found a helpful book titled What Color is Your Parachute? 2010. It a proven and tested process that job hunters have used for years. If you follow the steps that Dick Bolles outlines, you won’t go wrong. The key in the assessment process is being honest with yourself and finding out who you are and what you are passionate about. It’s not the latest hot job that out there on the market, it’s all about your skills and what you want to do.
I also mention and reference Rich Feller’s Flower. This is a great tool that I have utilized in my consulting engagements to drill down on what makes a person tick. If you can put the seven steps down on a single piece of paper, you have accomplished a lot. Everyone should do this exercise. It’s a great road map for pursuing your journey in life. It really forces one to really think about who they are and where they want to go.
I also provided some links to web sites that will help with the testing process, if the Flower exercise didn’t get the job done. There’s a lot more work to do in this area. Where I’m heading is that with such a high unemployment rate and businesses not hiring, people will need to become self-employed. They will become part of the growing ranks of free lancers and entrepreneurs who will help take this country out the mess we have created.
People who are sitting around collecting unemployment and waiting for someone to hire them isn’t the answer. The new self-employer entrepreneur and business start-ups will hire and train many of these unemployed folks. I think this is especially true for the over 50 age group. They still have a lot of juice left and contributions to make.
Anyway, enjoy the new resources and I’ll be posting more resources and tips on the site. In addition, I’ve started work on my new e-book on the topic and hope to have the first segment ready and out by the end of the year. As I get back to basics, I’ll post on a more active basis with lots of new information.
October 21st, 2010
I just looked the date of my last blog post and thought I better let everybody know that I am still writing and creating. A lot has happened over the last few months so I’ll quickly get you up to date on what I’m doing and where I’m going.
Creating golf content for Dr. Mo bit into my business writing. Besides its fun and I like it. When you realize that golf is a lot like life then it makes sense. In addition, the Colorado weather wasn’t real conducive to me setting down and grinding out a lot of boring business stuff. The real key here is that I’ve had time to figure out where to take http://www.northrupcpa.com/.
The site started out being focused on client services and my CPA resources and tools. Not that I won’t provide services or help other CPAs, but the real need seems to be entrepreneurs and business people who can benefit from all the knowledge and consulting expertise I’ve amassed over the years. Getting this information on to the web site and into books takes time, so it will be a journey.
I have started a new book for the self-employed entrepreneur together with support material that will be posted on the web site. In addition there is the Building Business Value™ content and approach that can help the new businesses grow and flourish. In addition I plan to turn my MBA course content into a book as well as develop a book on accounting and finance for business owners and entrepreneurs. I have been teaching courses on these topics for over three years, so this is a no brainer. I’m not sure about the titles, but we’ll come up with something good. I have learned to do the back cover of the book first and then develop the content and title.
In addition to this blog, check the AccountingWeb blog and my latest post at http://tinyurl.com/3yrkwkz . There’s lots material on that site from other contributors in addition to my stuff.
This blog will become more active, I promise. In addition to writing books, I’ll be converting my content into new products and articles for the site. I have started to figure out Twitter and you can find me at @northrupcpa. Also, we’ll begin showing the tweets on the web site. I’m not sure I have enough to do!
It was fun sharing these thoughts as it provided me with a better sense of how to make the blog, the web site, and my content more relevant. Let me know if you have any ideas.
April 29th, 2010
Recently, I have written about defining the future, being unemployed, and underemployed. Having a good insurance policy on avoiding these difficult challenges would be a good idea. However, buying a policy off the shelf from your insurance agent just isn’t an option.
One way to cope with challenging situations emerged from some words of wisdom from Pete Drucker who is known as “the father of modern management.” The best insurance policy is to build and develop a full life complete with diversity, multiple relationships, and interests. It is a process of developing “You Inc.” in ways that allows one to quickly bounce back from adversity and the challenges of life.
In my recent book, Learn to Win – A Major, written in collaboration with Dr. Mo Pickens, we tell golfers they have to invite and embrace challenge. While this book is about golf and providing the insight required by golfers to play better and learning to win, it provides the basic rules for success in any endeavor or line of work.
The first step in challenging uncertainty is to understand your strengths and likewise, identify areas where improvement is necessary. This means that you’ll always be assessing and developing areas of strength. It also means practicing self-development. This requires thinking about your life as it is and how you would like it to be. Golf is a lot like life. You decide what’s working and what’s not working and then implement a plan to fix it.
In the current economic environment, it probably makes sense to make sure you have plenty of options. This could mean creating a second career or a least something that parallels what you are doing now. In fact, this is the path I have taken. I have utilized my knowledge and skill with golf combined with the ability to write to expand from my CPA and consulting career into new areas of endeavor.
I haven’t given up on being a CPA, but I am using my ability to write to create new books, concepts, and other efforts including teaching. This is a great way for me to share my knowledge and expertise in different ways. I have chosen to define the future by creating it.
The future will be a new series of business books which will be based on my teaching and training programs. This information and knowledge will be shared on this web site and with posts to my blogs. Another new book will be developed to help unemployed people discover themselves and ways to earn a new living. We are also going to keep writing golf books with special emphasis on junior golf.
This will keep me energized and focused and provide my readers with an abundance of new ideas and material. It will be an interesting journey that provides a win/win for everyone.
March 7th, 2010
Everyone has their own perspective and method of doing things. The same is true of organizations. This is known as culture. Another term to describe these beliefs, habits, and traditions is known as paradigms. Paradigms are frequently so deeply rooted and ingrained that they become barriers to a person’s ability to see new ideas and opportunities.
Joel Baker who wrote Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future states that “a paradigm is a set of rules and regulations that establishes or defines boundaries; and tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful.” Paradigms have a tendency to guide people in their jobs and lives. They also can become barriers to change and innovation.
Paradigms provide a framework for understanding the forces that prevent people from successfully dealing with change. In reality, they make available a universal basis for discussing change. Additionally, paradigms help to explain reasons for negative reactions to new ideas. They also provide a basis for reducing the degree to which people see change as threatening.
When dealing with extensive change and turbulence, the concept of paradigms enhances your ability to become more probing and open to new ideas. You can gain thoughts on where to look for the ground-breaking changes that basically rewrite the rules of the game. Expanded insight provides for innovation and development of new ideas. Understanding your limitations opens up new solutions and approaches to problems.
People (and organizations) always tend to see the world through their paradigms. This tendency to follow old rules and regulations causes existing paradigms to filter reality. People need to be aware of the impact paradigms have on their ability to make judgments, make recommendations, and take action.
If you are struggling to find a job or start a new business then this post provides a basis to help you analyze why things are either working or not working. Take time to reflect on your paradigms so you can move beyond the boundaries and limitations that challenge you. A little time spent on this reflection might be more important than time unproductively doing things that aren’t producing results.
February 10th, 2010
Your unemployed, so now what do you do? Keep looking for scare jobs or do you launch your own business? Continuing to look for a job that either doesn’t exist or that is being pursued by untold numbers of applicants feels like a hopeless situation. This is the new reality and a dilemma facing millions of people.
I have been in this situation. It feels awful and tears at your self-esteem. Why me and what did I do to deserve this fate? I’m fortunate that I’m a CPA and licensed to practice accounting and consulting. Still, it didn’t remove the hurt and the feeling of frustration.
I moved on but can still relate to people who are faced with the challenge of “what do I do and how do I do it.” From my vantage point, as an observer and an advisor, I don’t see the employment situation improving. The world is different and likely will never return to the good old days.
The good old days are gone so what are unemployed people to do? Well, they can keep looking for the same old job in the same old way or they can start doing things differently. Businesses have downsized and in other instances relocated. The reality is that the old job the way you knew it no longer exists.
If nothing is available regionally, you may be forced to relocate to areas that do have employment. Another option is to accept less. This is a problem since there are a lot of overqualified unemployed people looking for work. The bad news is overqualified people have been out of work for a long time. How do you respond to the question about “what have you been doing for the last year?”
I have some thoughts about possible steps that unemployed folks might explore. The first step is to brainstorm all the possible options. Some people will opt for more training. Others will decide to get training in areas where there may be a shortage of qualified help. Many people are considering a 2nd or a 3rd career. Ask yourself what do you know and what are you passionate about? You might be surprised to find out that answers to these questions could open up lots of new opportunities. Start thinking outside the lines and then begin drawing some new ones.
People struggle to deal with paradigms and get locked into old ways of thinking. The world is different and it’s going to stay that way. This means developing new strategies and going in different directions. While these steps might lead to different job opportunities, it might also lead to becoming an entrepreneur. Becoming your own boss isn’t such a bad thing. You’re the only one who can fire you.
This is how businesses get started. When you find yourself locked into a tough situation, sometimes the only way out is to take bold new steps and embrace the reality of change. Take a look at the possibilities. Set goals and create a plan. Figure out what you can do and might want to do. This planning process should include a budget so you can stretch your finances over as long a period as possible.
Creating a budget is essential when starting a business. Any business you launch is going to take time to generate adequate cash flow and profitability. Starting a business is a scary process. It also can be a lot of fun. Take time and really think through your business model. While it might seem like an impossible endeavor, realize that millions of people have done it, and so can you. It might be the most important thing you ever do in your life.
January 15th, 2010
I have been both unemployed and underemployed. It is a pretty scary situation that has you asking “what do I do now?” While I can’t fix the situation, I have some ideas based on my own experience that might help.
The unemployment report indicates that the rate in the United States at around 10%, the highest in 26 years, will likely inch higher before leveling off and then starting to decline. When tossing in the underemployed and those who just stopped looking, we’re probably up to 18 %. Then consider that almost 26 % of working Americans have nonstandard jobs. This includes part-time, independent contractors, temps, on-call workers, and others. It’s a bleak picture.
This scenario isn’t limited to the uneducated and untrained, it’s across the board. My sense is that things aren’t going to get better any time soon. In fact, it may get worse. For people in this situation, and others who could land up in this basket, it means you better begin developing some options and a survival plan.
Just sending out more resumes isn’t going to get you where you want to be or need to be. The first step is to carefully assess your situation, your skills, and financial requirements. Establish a clear and honest evaluation of who you are, what you can do, and what you want to do. Most people don’t face up to current reality. This assessment is like a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Strengths). Establishing a baseline creates the basis for going forward.
One option is to accept less. Another is to become self-employed. You might have to combine both of these options. Getting more training is another option. As you go through this process of establishing your future direction, it is essential to be honest and realistic.
This situation might mean adopting a second or third career. Ask yourself what can I do? What are you passionate about? As you go through this process, set goals with timelines. Also, set up your financial plan and understand what you need and consider the possibilities of achieving it. The process of setting goals gives you a better chance of success. Your performance will be higher with goals.
Just the thought of becoming self-employed is daunting. It raises multiple questions like how do I get started and what will I need to be successful. Probably the most challenging question will be what will be my business? Only you can answer that question. Since I have been through it and successfully launched my CPA and consulting practice, I can offer advice and assistance.
My first piece of advice is to figure out what you really want to do and think about how that fits into the economic landscape. When you make the paradigm shift from working for someone else to working for yourself you are on your way. It’s a scary leap of faith, but once it’s made you’ll find yourself in a better place.
The road is long and takes a lot of hard work. At least you are controlling your own destiny. Having been through the process, I can tell you that your frame of mind and reference will improve because you have input on what happens. It’s you Inc. so jump in and get started.