It is OK to be a “different” accountant – own it!
Today in a Facebook group I am part of, we were asked if we were to go back to Day 1 of running your business what advice would you give yourself?
“And it got me thinking – what would I tell myself – now that I know I am not a “traditional” accountant?”
I mean, when I started my business it all kind of happened overnight. I was made redundant, I had two children under the age of 3, I needed AND wanted to work….but just couldn’t face the city trek and corporate world (*again) for it to end in disappointment (*again).
So my business started with little more than an excel spreadsheet based on hours and prices (I mean I am a numbers nerd after all), a quickly put together website and me attending every networking event under the sun in order to work out how the heck anyone runs a business on their own.
“I didn’t spend hours and hours researching, creating content, writing a business plan or really doing any major thinking (probably a godsend in reality).”
So here is my advice to my “younger” business self that I thought I would share:1.
1.It is OK to be yourself and you don’t have to pretend to be someone you are not. When I first started, I got my web designer to build me a “corporate” website as that is what I thought I had to have. I attended corporate business events, as again, I thought that is what I had to do. What I soon realised was the image those things portrayed was not me…not even slightly me…..god it was so far from the truth it was crazy. If you are not the stereotypical person in your industry – that is OK. Own it, be proud of your uniqueness and use it to your advantage.
2. Pay yourself a wage. Whilst I did do this just out of habit, I didn’t necessarily tell myself to do this first. If your business can’t afford to pay yourself a wage (even a small crappy one) then you need to rethink your service offering, your pricing and your strategy. This was my only source of income, so it had to pay me. If I didn’t have that mindset right from the start I am not sure I would still be going 3 years later.
3. Don’t compare yourselves to others. I know I know – this is really hard. As every post you read and every article you see is about some amazing business owner conquering their field and you “just want to be like them”. But we all walk different paths, you don’t know their struggles, their behind the scenes issues, their hard work and their networks they have supporting them. Focus on your own growth, plans, tribe and skills – and you shall be rewarded accordingly.
4. Trust in your ability and knowledge. If you have a skill set that you are offering, trust yourself that you have that skill for a reason. You have done the hard yards – the study, the learning, the development, the training – it is just now time to put it into practice. Yes, your clients will test you, they will ask questions and sometimes not understand – but you are ready. Belief, faith and confidence (but not arrogance) are a must.
5. Running a business is hard work.…like really hard, time consuming work. The days of 9-5 will be long gone (actually they were probably long gone years ago). Sometimes I think being naive was a blessing, as when problems or issues arose, I just had to deal with them. I had to get the work done – whatever hour of the day that was. I guess I had a vision that after 5pm it would be “relax” time….and boy was I in for a shock.
6. Don’t be so stubborn that you don’t ask for help. OK so this one was really hard for me to learn. 8 months into my business, it was going great. So great that there were not enough hours in the day to do everything. Because as a solopreneur – we do it all ourselves right – the accounting, the marketing, the social media, the website, the networking, the business development. I was burning out at a rapid rate and considered giving it up. My enjoyment was zero. I hired my first employee – and my business (and personal life) changed – for the better. My sanity was saved.
So, to the lovely Cat and Cherie from The Digital Picnic (the social media guru’s) – who asked this question…thank you. Thank you because often, we don’t reflect on our journey and when we do we only see the negative things.
“What we don’t see is all the incidental lessons we have learnt (and are learning) along the way which are making us better business owners.”
Be proud of your journey, be proud of the mistakes (providing you learn), and accept that you are who you are (yep – different accountant – loud and proud) and own your individuality. I will never work in the corporate accounting world again. I think we had a love hate relationship…I loved trying to be that “typical accountant” and the industry hated me because I was never going to be that person.