I’ve been working in accountancy for around 10 years now. I started out in 2008, qualified as an Accounting Technician in 2010 and then as a Chartered Accountant in 2013. I set up my own Practice in 2016.
For the most part through that journey, my motivation was competitiveness. I wanted to be better than everyone. I wanted to pass exams quicker than colleagues; I wanted to do a better job, have better client feedback. Since opening my own practice, I wanted to take clients off all the other accountants out there. I wanted to be bigger than them, better than them, have better clients, do better work, be taller than them, better looking, better at football than them. To be honest I still do.
Whilst competitiveness might be a motivation, as I’m sure it is for many business owners, it’s not the reason I do what I do. It’s not the “why”.
Accountancy has a bit of a reputation for being boring, grey, monotonous, cold. When I tell people I’m a Chartered Accountant, they do that thing where they suck air in through clenched teeth as if it’s a punishment of sorts. What they really means is, it’s not a job they would want to do. And that’s fair enough; it’s not for everyone.
I’ve always enjoyed the work. From the early days of doing repetitive data input to where I am now, helping businesses grow and evolve, solving clients problems, taking some pressure off them. I work hand-in-hand with business owners, investors, employers, landlords – always doing what I can to help them.
So I know what I do. I also know how I do it.
But why do I do it?
Why is one of those questions that seems simple to answer at first, but is never just as straightforward. There are the usual canned answers (all of them true for me) – I love what I do, I love dealing with people, I love being my own boss, I like the challenge etc etc. But it doesn’t seem like enough, does it? I’m sure I could find 100 jobs or professions that would check those boxes for me. But I didn’t become a lawyer, or a psychiatrist, or a marketer. Why am I, and why do I continue to be, an accountant?
It’s an important question. I mean, I should really have an understanding of it because I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to following this path. After having children and getting married, this is the biggest commitment I’m going to make in my life.
But, like I said, this question is never as simple to answer as first anticipated. In truth, it’s difficult to answer without the context of “what” and “how”, but for me, it ultimately comes down to a set of core beliefs.
What is the “why”?
My “why” can be best summed up as follows:
- I believe that even fledgling startups can become global players in their market and I want to help them achieve that.
- I believe that good accountants offer much more to businesses than just preparing accounts and filing tax return. They can point businesses in the direction of success and steer them clear of failure.
- I believe that small businesses build communities of engaged, interested and interesting people and I want to be part of that.
- I believe that no matter the breadth of your business knowledge, you can never know everything you need to know, and I want to be there for businesses to fill that knowledge gap where I can.
- I believe that trust in business is earned and I’m always willing to give 51% to the clients 49% to gain that trust.
- I believe that how you make your money is more important that how much money you make
- I believe “selling time” and billing by the hour does not show an appreciation for what clients actually want to buy
- I believe in selling peace of mind, clarity and expertise. I believe in selling clients their own time back to them.
- I believe that focusing on your strengths will increase your odds of success.
- I believe that if you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.
- I believe that good advice is always the advice a client needs to hear, not just what they want to hear.
These are the real reasons I do what I do. I want to help people and I want to make businesses, people and society better in the small and not so small ways that I can. Accountancy (the “what”) is just the vehicle I choose to do this with (the “how”).
When I started my Practice, I was determined to do things differently than other accountants. Not because they were wrong or bad, just because doing things the way I do now makes more sense to me. It’s more compatible with my “why”. And if “why”, at it’s simplest, is a set of core beliefs then there was never going to be any other way to operate.
So, what’s your “why”?
This post was inspired by the revisiting of fantastic TED talk by Simon Sinek. I would urge all of you to watch it. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again.