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How an accountant created great value but failed to capitalize on it

November 1st, 2021

This is a sad story. It’s about an accountant who met with a young lady and gave her advice that would lead to the creation of a world class business but he missed the boat. Watch the video to see what happened and to think about what you might have done differently.

Sarah Davis had a side-hustle selling second hand fashion accessories. In 1999 she visited the accountant of a friend to see if she needed to structure her business differently. He gave her some excellent advice that resulted in her being phenomenally successful but by failing to set up an opportunity to help her implement what she learned he missed two amazing opportunities.

The first was to establish a relationship with someone who, on the balance of probability, was going to create something great; the second was to realize that business advisory is a logical role for an accountant and you don’t need to have the brains of a rocket scientist to succeed at it or a bucket load of software tools. My guess is this accountant was probably one of our Bootcamp alumni because of the recommendation he made to Sarah. It would have taken him less than 2 minutes to articulate and I’ll bet he did not charge her a penny for it (and rightfully so) …. hopefully that wasn’t the only idea he took from the Bootcamp.

Take a look at this 2 minute video clip to see what I mean and then answer this question: what could he have done differently that would have been great for Sarah and himself and maybe even resulted in her remembering his name?

It is not hard to believe that the accountant would have been impressed with Sarah and what she had achieved with very little business experience. She was reaching out for help to take her business to the next stage of its development. By recommending the E-Myth he would have known that she was going to discover the working IN vs ON dichotomy, the need to create an organization chart with names in the boxes together with role descriptions, and the importance of systemizing the key business processes.

To get to a situation where she actually remembers his name, he would have been wise to give her a copy of the book (an investment of about $20) and then set up a meeting to discuss what she would need to do to implement Gerber’s advice and how he could help here with that process. Importantly, he should schedule the meeting and follow it up with a progress call to make sure she’s serious.

At the second meeting he would explain the lifecycle of business development (see my blog post), the concept of business model design and its relationship to competitive strategy, and the strategic planning hierarchy. He could then cap this off with a conversation on the critical importance of systems design and documentation (the key element of the growth phase of a business or what I call the First Act) which would logically lead to a quick look at my favorite tool, the Touchstone system, created by a good friend of mine, Michael Mills and his team at Business Design Corporation.

But here’s what I find exceptionally frustrating.

Did you recall her comment that when she realized she had a potentially successful business on her hands she asked a friend “Who does your accounting? Maybe I should talk to that person and find out if I need to structure my business in a different way …” This highlights the FACT that accountants are in a privileged position to be top of mind when someone is thinking about developing a business idea and yet, for the most part, we totally drop the ball before the game we could be a major player in has started.

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