A business owner’s life starting age 20...
...the pain and then the passion for the accountancy profession
Selling the sofas and chairs business my father and I established 17 rollercoaster years earlier wasn’t easy – we needed help... if only!?
The recession we’d just survived and the serious illness I’d also survived 18 months earlier brought their challenges too – good reasons for more financial and business guidance.
Making redundancies to help secure the future of the business, scrapping and scraping for sales in the UK and with our overseas clients all contributed to cash and profitability challenges. More good reasons for savvy accountancy help and support.
All these experiences would prove invaluable in fuelling my energy and passion for working in the accountancy profession I was about to get involved in.
Interestingly the knowledge and skill for production workflow of making and marketing and selling sofas and chairs would also be invaluable experience when working with accountancy firms.
Starting a business when you’re 20?
...not really but what an education!
In truth I didn’t start a business when I was 20.
I helped my dad start a business when I was 20. It was a great business education. It meant dad and I became very close too.
The day before Christmas Eve 1985, my dad was fired from his high-powered production director job because of a heated disagreement with the main shareholder of the business.
Swapping the sports car for the van...
So, over Christmas, Dad (a miner’s son) went for it – he decided to start his own upholstery business. It was really easy for me to resign from my soulless contracts engineer job with Lucas Aerospace and be a fellow employee/owner on day 1.
First decision, I sold my well-loved red ford escort 1300 sport with twin-webber carburetors (I loved that car) to buy our first white van for deliveries!
Our first phone call in the new year was to an accountant.
Soon I was able to sell the first piece of furniture to a retailer in Nottingham.
But it was a slow tough start.
Good decision-making is crucial...
Dad and I turned to each other when making decisions but, as I now know, we could have been more successful, more quickly.
I didn’t know to ask for help.
Dad didn’t want to ask for help.
But, just like a golfer can’t see her swing, we were too close to our business to make the best decisions. On reflection we should have asked for help... if only!?
Yes, we grew the business into a profiatble £1million turnover business. Yes, we exported to the USA, to the Middle East and to the home of stylish furniture, Scandinavia. We also opened a Chelsea Harbour showroom, royal families even bought our sofas . We eventually designed and built our own custom-designed production premises too. But we could have achieved so much more if we'd asked for more help... if only!?
These business experiences were of our making, created by our decisions and our actions (or inaction). But we were too close to it all to make the best decisions, just like the golfer without a coach.
We never checked-in with our accountant to get his thoughts and guidance.
Our accountant was mostly noticeable by his absence which was arguably our fault I accept.
What we got every year was an audit and a once-a-year discussion about six-month-old sets of annual accounts and the odd phone call (for which we were billed).
I should have known better, but I didn’t. Credit where credit is due though. In one exceptional moment, our accountant did, however, recommend a pension expert who proved to be invaluable in setting up a healthy retirement fund for my parents.
I’m not making excuses; the results and difficulties we achieved were of our own making. I didn’t seek out help or seek out a better accountant, so we got the guidance and advise we deserved.
At the time, I didn’t know that I could have found a helpful, valuable and caring Business Growth Accountant.
Since the upholstery business I have since worked with 5 other accountants in the various businesses I have been involved in since. 2 of these accountants have profoundly influenced my business success, personal wealth and sheer enjoyment of running a business.
What do YOUR business-owner clients deserve?
I'm certain that your business-owner clients deserve to have a trusted advisor accountant ‘watching their swing’, influencing their thinking, influencing their decisions and influencing their actions.
My personal experience shows that the right accountant and the right approach to working with business owners profoundly changes their lives. Having worked with accountants for 20 years now I now know that the opportunity for business owners and the opportunity for accountants when they are better connected is remarkable.
Hence my wholehearted and positive passion for the accountancy profession, including your firm.
Accountants can be (and in my opinion) should be actively involved in guiding, helping, and supporting their business owner clients – not just completing sets of accounts, tax returns, audit, book-keeping and pay roll.
Sage advice is just so valuable...
Just like Luke Skywalker discovered ‘the force’ thanks to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars!
Just like Andy Murray started winning majors when he hooked up with Ivan Lendl and his fitness team.
At Remarkable Practice, I have Rob, Ernest and Neil. Two of them are accountants. All three have influenced, helped focus, inspired and influenced the decisions, changes and actions at Remarkable Practice.
My experiences conclusively prove to me that all business owners deserve to have a trustworthy guide, a support, a challenger, a sounding board. And when such a guide is a ‘numbers savvy’ accountant, all the better.
And because your business clients trust you, their accountant, you are the best chance they have of improving their business thinking, decisions and actions.
Commit to constructive conversations...
When you commit to constructive conversations to help your clients improve their thinking, you’ll improve their decision-making. Improve their decision-making and you’ll improve the actions they take. Improve the actions they take and their future results improve.
So, I encourage you to get stuck in.
See and speak with your clients more often.
Ask your clients the obvious questions and the difficult questions so that they improve their thinking, improve their actions as business leaders and improve their results. Like me they will be forever grateful to their accountant – I am . Thank you Rob Walsh, thank you Neil King.
Your next steps...
The ideas, insights, skills and habits shared across this website and the resources available to you are designed to help and support you, please dive in and please get in touch...
Be there for your clients on their rocky road, when it matters.
Which, in my experience, is more often than you think.
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