Lessons from The Matrix to help grow your business

It’s time to really get into this idea of helping your clients grow their businesses because that’s what they want.

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes” — Morpheus’ ultimatum to Neo from the film — The Matrix

It’s time for accountants to take the red pill — if you haven’t already done so. Google anything you like around the idea of ‘business growth’ and see how many accounting firms are listed on the front page. While you’re there have a look at the first 100 listings that come up and see how many management consultants and business coaches are out there eating your business consulting pie… a $2 billion pie.

How many of them have the experience and qualifications you have?

After 30 years in this business and having worked with over 5,000 business owners (including 68 accounting firms to date), those owners are saying that they want to:

-Build their business;

-Increase sales;

-Improve their service;

-Inspire their team;

-Create a winning culture;

-Improve profitability;

-Invest their profits and protect their assets;

-and Improve their overall lifestyle for themselves and their family.

They would prefer to do that with your help and not necessarily the business coaching and management consulting fraternity who are out there eating your pie.

Yet these business advisers are the folks that rank high in Google when the business owner is searching for someone to help them grow their business.

How do you feel about that?

Perhaps it’s time to do something about it, and I generalise here because I know some of you have taken the red pill and are already doing it.

Here’s a thought. You have the knowledge, the experience, and the trust to ‘make’ your client’s businesses or conversely ‘break’ their businesses if you choose not to take your rightful place in this business advisory space and offer the products and services they want.

When I talk about business advisory, this is what I see:

-Financial and strategic planning including preparation of the business plan;

-Analysis of financial data including application of financial ratios and benchmarking;

-Financial statement review (to identify opportunities and potential challenges);

-Business management mentoring;

-Cash flow projections; and

-Risk management.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that but it misses a few points.

Here’s another thought. Do you know how many people your decisions impact?

Thousands – when you think about your clients, their families, their staff, their staff’s families, your client’s clients, your client’s suppliers and ‘as far down the rabbit hole’ as you want to go.

There are so many people reliant on your client being successful

And it’s my view that in 9 out of 10 cases their ‘measure of success’ can be directly linked to you and the decisions you make to help them grow their business.

That said, there’s a missing piece. There’s a gap in your product and service offering and this is often compounded by your ability or desire to sell/share/help with what really counts – the how of what to do to measurably grow the business.

You know what has to be done, the client knows what has to be done; you know why it has to be done and the client knows why it has to be done – but too often they don’t know how to do it.

Let me share a plan with you that will get you on the right track. It’s one that I’ve used with hundreds of business owners (and accountants) since starting my consulting business after my days as head of training, education and development for Westpac.

Business growth is a direct result of the following factors:

-Increased sales revenue from increased lead generation and conversion;

-Larger sales through cross-servicing and what I call up servicing;

-More repeat business by delivering outstanding service and creatively building your ‘fan-club,’ your tribe, your community;

-Prudent management of all expenses;

-and Profit maximisation and tax minimisation… plus a host of other services accountants provide to make the financial side of the business easier and safer.

However, before we get to that we need to be clear on a few core management strategies, for example:

1. Why are we doing this? What’s our purpose?

2. What values and core behaviours do we bring to the table?

3. What’s our vision? What’s the ultimate goal?

4. What’s our point of difference?

5. Who is our ideal client?

6. What’s our key marketing message? How do we attract our ideal client?

7. And, finally what is our optimum sales strategy? How can we improve the process for the client and ourselves?

Once we’re clear on these seven strategies then we can start the journey, follow the roadmap and fire up our four pillars of business growth:

1. Marketing — lead generation and branding;

2. Selling — sales process and your conversion rate;

3. Delivering — the client’s experience and effective systems;

4. And the biggy — Servicing — post sales, delivery experience and retention rate.

For many of you, you are more than an accountant – you are also a business owner and that’s a huge plus for your business clients.

They want to look to you for direction and guidance and expect you’re doing all of the above.

Frankly, I’m not sure you can put your business advisory hat on and advise clients if you’re not doing most if not all of the above yourself – in your business.

There’s a dangerous mindset that accountants can have which is a ‘them and us’ approach to their clients.

However, the moment you start to see yourself as a business owner and not an accountant, is the moment you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your clients. This is when you start seeing things from their viewpoint and start looking down the same road together.

You may know by now that I’m a big fan of a concept we call ‘person first, client second.’

This is a core behaviour that all firms and business owners can use during their relationship building conversations with all their clients. This is about dealing with the person-problem before we deal with the client-problem.

So, using some, if not all the ideas I’ve shared with you plus: putting a high priority on getting good people, training them, teaching them how to sell, leveraging their skills; doing quality work, embracing the relevant technology and maintaining technical competence, you will continue to separate yourself from the competition and strengthen your points of difference — differences that will help you drive extraordinary growth.

Trevor Marchant, founder, Marchant Dallas Consulting

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