That marks the end of the financial year and my first as director of my own firm, Growth IQ. In stark contrast to the past 10 years, I wont be spending the evening boozing with fellow accounting colleagues, rather, contemplating the last 3 months and thinking about what the year ahead will bring. If the first 3 months in practice is anything to go by, it will be nothing like what I have planned for, nor expect.
What are my key learnings from the journey so far? I’m sure all business owners can relate to this. I’m very interested if anyone has some more items to add here. Please let me know if you do.
You’re crazy if you try to go it alone.
I think so many business owners make this mistake. I definitely did when I had my first crack at business back in 2009. (As a first fix Carpenter) and again in 2014 as a gym owner (Shout out to Kick N Box). The temptation is to do your own bookkeeping, record keeping, social media/digital strategy, marketing, branding and PR. All of that, in addition to the actual work you have to do on a daily basis. Why the temptation? Making a profit of course.
My learning is this:
Have a long-term view and surround yourself with people that are the best at what they do, so you can focus on what you do best. Sure, this will wipe out all your profit in the short term, but it will lay the foundation for long term success, which will far outweigh the benefit of making a profit in your first few months or years.
I have also realised how important my family support network is; primarily my wife and two kids. Some of the best advice I have heard came from a Mark Boris podcast when he discussed that he should have made more time for family back in his early days. Those are days you will never get back.
While sacrifices have been made, the overall goal is to have the luxury of having the choice. This is also something I aim to bring to my clients. Working the standard 9-5 grind does not afford this luxury without detriment to ones career – as far as my experience goes anyway.
While we are at it, I want to give a huge thank you to the greater Growth IQ team (In order of engagement):
James Trenerry – PR, Marketing and Mentor
Grant Edwards – #1 Financial planner in Australia and business Mentor
Jamie McMillan – IT
James Church – Legal Council
Elle Kaldis – Digital Strategy and Social Media guru
Sammie Johannes – Xero Account manager
Of course, a special mention to the Growth IQ team running their respective divisions at our firm;
Leigh Head – Bookkeeping
Alexandra Terreri – Accounting
Have a business plan but be prepared to change it.
I had grand plans of offering just Virtual CFO packaged services from the outset. Quickly did I realise that, whilst clients who I had existing relationships with were more than happy to sign up to this, new clients were much more hesitant. Why? My existing network knows me, values what I bring to their business and have brought to their business in the past. They can see the value in a full service offering of bookkeeping, accounting and advisory all neatly rolled into a fixed monthly fee. In short they know they will get a return on their investment. In a few preliminary meetings how do you authentically demonstrate this to someone who does not know you without selling yourself short? I don’t think you can. So the strategy had to change. It did change and we have been kicking goals ever since. Most of these people with whom I am beginning a relationship with will eventually take up an offering such as the Virtual CFO. As with most things in life its a matter of putting yourself out there first, giving value and building trust before expecting it back in return. I have to give a thank you to one of the Growth IQ software partners, Futrli especially Sophie McKinley and Josie Attard, for guiding me though this process.
A few other lessons.
- Hiring is guessing, Firing is knowing. Thanks for that Gary Vaynerchuk. This goes for employees as well as employers.
- Everyone has an opinion or a better way to do things, but few know your planned destination. Listen to your intuition.
- Prepare yourself for the tough conversations.
- You will be faced with difficult decisions. When deciding what course of action to take, revisit your core values.