In 2017 my daughter, Olivia, turned 21 and so did Bold! It wasn’t long after she came along that my then home-based business was incorporated. I was in my early thirties with a newborn, a toddler and a husband with an equally strong work ethic and who, mercifully, can cook. Like many women, I started a ‘business’ so that I could control my domestic situation, continue earning and at the same time feed my own need to work.
I’d like to say it was easy. It wasn’t – business never is. I was tired all the time and I didn’t have a clue about running a business. Lucky for me, I had two accountants who paved the way. I’m grateful to them both, even the condescending one…
I’d been working for a decade and felt like I was just getting the hang of things. I’d reached that level of experience and maturity that allows you to not just do a job but to make a difference for your clients. I enjoyed the professional satisfaction that comes with really getting to know what clients want and how to up-the-ante and deliver something really worthwhile and appreciated.
My husband and I wanted a family, but we also knew that financially we couldn’t afford to do it on one income. I also knew that as much as I loved my kids, a life without work would be a recipe for disaster for me as an individual.
My core skill is copywriting and not long after my first child, Lewis, was born I worked externally for my prior employer. I used the testimonials from that ‘client’ to gain work from other business owners. I knew little about ‘being in business’, but I did know enough to at least understand that I’d have to pay taxes, and surely there was a proper way of doing things.
I booked an appointment with a well-respected accountant. He suggested, rather condescendingly, that because he saw my ‘business’ as no more than a sweet little hobby that wouldn’t amount to anything, he didn’t think it was worth viewing it as a ‘business’ from an accounting point of view. I felt like an idiot, left and cried in the car on the way home.
We needed the money, so despite the wind being knocked out of my sails, I kept at it and gained more new clients. For a ‘hobby’ I was certainly putting in the hours even if they were around nap-times. I was building a quality client base, and while I did a few one-of assignments, most of my work was ongoing with renewable agreements. I knew that I needed more than just tax help; I needed business advice.
A friend referred me to a young accountant who, she assured me, would take a different approach. And he did. He could see that I was determined and, while I did need tax returns, he recognised that I also needed asset protection and some practical business advice as well.
Twenty-one years ago, he drew up the paperwork and I became the director of an ‘incorporated’ business. As modest as it was, it certainly wasn’t a hobby. It was a fair dinkum business.
I often think that was my ‘Pretty Woman’ moment. Remember in the film when the women in the Rodeo Drive shop wouldn’t serve Julia Roberts’ character. Okay, well perhaps my situation is a lot different, but that first accountant clearly missed out on what has added up to considerable fees over the 21-year relationship I’ve had with my second, and current, accountant.
My accountant has been part of my business evolution. He referred my first bookkeeper to me, and he manages the usual tax and compliance stuff, but I’ve really seen the value in paying for additional services that include asset protection, business advice and mentoring that bridges our private and business financial affairs – that include our two now adult children. My accountant also introduced me to my solicitor and he works in consultation with my financial adviser.
Our professional relationship was born from a referral and over the years there have been numerous recommendations back and forth between us. He has directly influenced my personal and business prosperity for 21 years. By return, I’ve come to understand the crucial role accountants play in a business owner’s life and this is what underpins the marketing model my team and I use to help other accountants to market their firms.
Yes, we are creative but more than that we are practical and authentic in our approach, and we encourage our clients to be the same. Among the rewards that we, and they, enjoy as a consequence are loyal clients with whom we share a professional ‘warmth’ that comes with trust and respect; maximum lifetime value of fees; additional fees for all that ‘other’ advice clients need; and a network of raving fans who willingly refer us to others.
So, Happy 21st Olivia, I am enormously proud of the clever, independent, determined and fun-loving young woman you have become. While I worry about your burning the candle, I’m in awe of the fact that you are completing your business degree at UQ while working two jobs. (I’m very glad you gave up the third, seriously!). You give new meaning to an old term, the world is your oyster, as you head overseas for your hard-earned European adventure.
You know that I cringe when anyone says you’re like me – I’d hate you to think you resemble a 50-something year old – but the fact is, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Love Mum x
At Bold! we specialise in helping accountants and financial services professionals to use marketing to grow their businesses. Over the past 20 years working in your business sector, we have fine-tuned what we call our ‘Do-able Marketing’ model. It is underpinned by a 7-Step Do-It-For-Me framework that overcomes the 3 key issues that your professional peers have told us commonly prevent you from marketing your practice: Time, Affordability and Accountability.