5 business development myths you should dispel today

May 1, 2017  |  Lynn Kletscher

You go to college, study and pass the CPA exam. You take a position with a firm. Maybe you work on a few audit engagements or prepare some tax returns. Next thing you know, all eyes are on you, looking to see if you’re building a book of business. Surprise!

Business development is not on the CPA exam. It’s not a CPE requirement. You receive very little guidance, if any, for this part of your career. Yet, it’s just as important as all the technical work you do — because you need clients.

Why do a lot of CPAs shy away from business development? To get additional insight, I turned to someone who knows the topic well: Art Kuesel, a thought leader with many years of business development, marketing and consulting experience with public accounting firms.

Putting our heads together, Art and I believe there are some misconceptions about business development that may be off-putting for CPAs. Here are the top five myths — and realities — to make our list:

  1. Myth: It’s the partners’ responsibility.
    Reality: Business development is the partners’ responsibility — but it’s not theirs alone. Everyone from the receptionist to the young up-and-comer to the managing partner can (and should) play a role in business development.
  2. Myth: It’s about talking.
    Reality: The key is to draw information out — not push it out. So, talk less and question more. Ask your clients: What are their needs, wants, goals, fears and pain points? Then sit silently and listen — really listen — to their responses.
  3. Myth: It’s about selling things.
    Reality: Your role is to help your clients make the right decisions for their families and businesses. Rather than think of yourself as a salesperson, think of yourself as a problem-solver. This comes more naturally if you heed our advice in myth No. 2.
  4. Myth: It’s about cold calling.
    Reality: Yes, you might have to pick up the phone or send an email. It’s not cold calling, cold emailing or even cold texting. You already have clients. You already know people. You just need to leverage those existing relationships to cultivate new business.
  5. Myth: It’s hard to learn.
    Reality: How hard can it be, really? It’s no different than learning about accounting and auditing, tax or business valuation. Sure, your comfort zone might need to stretch a little, but the payoff is worth the effort.

Do you agree with our top five myths? What other business development myths need to be dispelled? Share your comments with me, Art and other readers.


Topics: Practice management

Lynn Kletscher

Lynn Kletscher is the MNCPA Director of Education, working to secure innovative and informative continuing education programs for CPAs. When she’s not researching the latest NASBA CPE rules, she is at her hobby farm tending to her horses and chickens. She is a fair-weather motorcyclist and a year-round fan of The Walking Dead. Next time you attend an MNCPA event or seminar, ask her about her zombie escape plan. Lynn can be reached at 952-885-5513 or

Posts by this author

Comment on this post

* Indicates a required field.

Your name*:  

Your website URL: