You may find it amusing that an accountant is writing to tell you that business is about more than numbers, but I truly believe that to be the case. Entrepreneurs who are driven solely by quests for wealth will typically fail, burn out or jump from one flashy idea to next one. There has to be bigger, driving factors as to why you do what you do. I also believe that business is the best way to impact the world for the better.
There are two main driving factors in my approach to my business. The first one is that I believe that most service-based businesses as we know them are fundamentally broken. In this context, service-based businesses include any business that supports other businesses or individuals and that typically bill their clients by the hour. Charging by the billable hour puts the firm and the client at conflicting ends of the table. The firm would, whether they admit it or not, like to maximize billable hours and billable hours per employee to maximize revenues and profits. On the other hand, clients typically want to minimize billable hours and the costs associated with the billable hour. Billable hours force service-based firms to focus on the compliance work and not necessarily on areas where they can drive higher value, because most of what clients are concerned with in those situations is minimizing costs.
From an internal operations side, most service-based firms that use the billable hour use it as a key evaluation factor for their employees. Higher billable hours reward people for working harder and not necessarily smarter, often results in staff burnout, and generally creates bad company culture. I hear that feedback from all kinds of people we talk with who realize how different our packaged, fixed-price approach is. I want to change the way people think about CPA firms and service-based firms in general and for more firms to model themselves after us. I know that it may seem odd to want to see competitors mimic us, but I want to continue to see people pursue careers in public accounting and the legal field, and for service-based firms to provide more valuable work to their clients outside of compliance.
The second driving factor is to influence others in the community to do better. This article is one of the ways I am attempting to do so. While many people may consider a CPA firm to be a boring business, I fundamentally believe that running such a firm is a great way to impact people and the community. We work with and influence a lot of people in the community who then spread their influence elsewhere. In our main conference room, we have our 1% for the Planet Program and Certified B Corporation prints on the wall. Often, people see those prints and ask what they mean. We tell them that we donate 1 percent of our gross sales to local, environmental nonprofits and that we are also committed to treating our people, the planet and our community the right way. It often causes them to reconsider the way they use their business to impact the world.
How do you find what drives you? My drive came from my personal dissatisfaction with my profession and my love of the outdoors as I navigated through life. Chances are, you have your sparks as well. Do some deep reflection and figure out what is personally important to you and how you can incorporate that in your business. Most of us spend a lot of time working on (or in) our business, and connecting personal interest and the business makes total sense. Get out there and have your impact.
My goal today was to encourage entrepreneurs to find their true passions and incorporate them into their business model and to use their business model to influence others.
Adam Shay, CPA (NC License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC. He focuses on minimizing taxes and improving the financial results of entrepreneurs, and is actively involved in supporting the Wilmington entrepreneurial and startup community. For more information, visit http://www.wilmingtontaxesandaccounting.com/ or email him at [email protected]. He can also be reached by phone at 910-256-3456.
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