I received an email recently from someone asking me to recommend a good accountant or financial planner. The gist of it was that they knew that they were going to make it financially, they had made a good start at controlling their finances but they were now looking for a good quality and trustworthy financial planner, and that person should also be able to advise on investments and perhaps be an accountant.
They were not looking for the cheapest but the best, someone they could forge a permanent and loyal relationship with, paying top fees for the top advice. This person had just completed their first joint venture property deal and had some cash coming.
I had to tell them that they were talking about two different people, if not three! I went on to say….
Firstly, you need an accountant, to help you set your businesses up as tax efficiently as possible and make sure that your business vehicles are legal and run properly to comply with bodies such as the Inland Revenue. You can find a good accountant locally by asking lots and lots of local business people and investors, who they recommend – not just which firm, but who specifically at the firm.
I must warn you however, most accountants work retrospectively, and are not, by their very nature, pro-active. They hate risk and are not business people or investors themselves usually. And you still need to be responsible for finding out what your responsibilities are – your accountant won’t know what you don’t know and will assume that you know everything you need to know.
Then you need someone who is expert at the most basic and perceived to be “safe” investments, like ISA’s and also to sort out your insurances in the most tax efficient way.
Then you might still think that you need an investment expert – except that I would argue that you don’t.
First of all, if you haven’t already, you need to read “Rich Dads Guide To Investment” which is superb.
Then, you could hammer out a simple and devastatingly effective investment strategy – short term, medium term and long term – that would make sure you are in control of your financial freedom and future wealth creation. You might want to work with a wealth coach, but check them out first, get testimonials from happy clients.”
However, two weeks on, this email exchange has stayed with me and played on my mind. I started thinking about the underlying message here. Have you figured out what is is?
The underlying message is that this person wants to pay someone – and is prepared to pay a lot even when they are only just starting out and don’t have any money – to create their wealth for them.
I was reminded of the passage in Michael Gerber’s great book “The E-Myth Revisited” when Sarah, owner of the Pie Shop, was getting bogged down with the paperwork, so she hired a book-keeper, breathed a sigh of relief and promptly left them to their own devices with no guidance or supervision; whereupon it all went horribly wrong.
Sarah from the Pie Shop had abdicated responsibility rather than delegating responsibility. Do you see the difference?
If you delegate responsibility, and set up systems to make sure that the responsibilities delegated are firstly accepted, then monitored, fulfilled to your satisfaction and even improved, things can only get better.
You see, in business, you are DA MAN. You DE ONLY MAN. Who else is going to be DA MAN in your business, if not you?
Because even if you are employed by someone else, being in the business of looking after your money is a business, it’s serious, it’s not a game.
Nobody will ever care about your money like you, so you can’t just hire someone, pay them any amount of money and abdicate responsibility without it being bound to go wrong. You are 100% totally unequivocally responsible for your money business.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF
Even if you take on partners (or a spouse!) there has to be a leader – someone with the vision, someone responsible for making sure progress is made, steps taken, a plan formed which will move the team closer to that vision.
I often see people new to business looking for a partner to work with, and deep down it is so that they don’t have to take total responsibility for their success! If you have a partner you have someone to lean on, and more importantly, blame when things go wrong.
No partner, the buck stops here! But the good news is that a partner who is not a good fit can hold you back, slow you down, make things harder not easier. Choose your partners carefully and fit the person to the role, don’t create a role for the person.
In order to create a vision of how you want to live your life and create a business or wealth creation vehicle to support that life (and if you are in a partnership you need to co-create that vision) you need to know what will make you happy. Then you are responsible for making sure that any job you take or business you start is in line with what will make you happy.
If you don’t know how you want to live your life, and what your core needs and values are, how will you know what money or business vehicle will take you there – and make you happy while you are travelling as we spend most of our waking life on the journey.
With a vision and a plan, there will always be events that happen to throw spanners in the works, and you must be ready to tackle those “exocets” as my ex-business coach Chris Barrow calls them.
People move away from pain and towards pleasure but the “away from” motivation is stronger than the “towards” motivation. Most people start their wealth creation journey with an “away from” motivation – to get out of debt, to stop worrying about money, to leave a despised job.
But once the “away from” motivation is not so strong, you need a big compelling vision – a really strong “towards” goal, to keep your motivation high.
I’m still working on the “away from” motivation – to clear the debt from my marriage and a failed business, to never have to work for anyone else again, to never have to trade time for money (nearly there on those two) to create a financial cushion, to never have to think about paying the bills but my big compelling goal is there too – to go on holiday at least four times a year, to send the kids to Shoreham College, to build my dream holiday home in Stoupa, in the Mani Peninsula in Greece.
YOUR OWN WEALTH CREATION / BUSINESS
When you are running your own business, you need to constantly keep motivated to initially plan and then continually review your strategy.
We find that having a meeting every week, where we run through an established agenda, works a treat. It re-focuses each of you on your business vision, strategy, roles and responsibilities. It gives you a chance to ask “what’s working” and “what challenges have we faced this week” and adjust your strategy accordingly.
In any business, no matter how small, someone needs to take the leadership role, become the MD or the CEO if you like. Even if there is just two of you as shareholders, there needs to be one person responsible for making sure the strategy is held firm and moved forwards, and who is responsible for reporting to the shareholders (you). Then everyone else reports to them.
It sounds mad but it works, and it’s the only thing that works.
Sometimes this leader emerges naturally from the family, from the team; sometimes you have to bring in an outsider, in order to have someone to report to. You can attract non-executive directors and even an MD (non-executive means that they don’t work in the business on a day to day basis) and many successful and semi-retired business people act as mentors and fulfil this MD function if asked.
Someone needs to be responsible for the cashflow. My wonderful bank manager, Mike Murray, used to say that he had seen many profitable businesses go bust because of a lack of cashflow management. We use a very simple spreadsheet to run our cashflow, but even so it’s been a big challenge sometimes.
The trick is not to get too bogged down in admin and finance; to know what your sales targest are to achieve your financial goals and then go hell for leather to achieve those goals. But keep your admin routines simple and more importantly do them.
We reserve Mondays for admin and finance and utilise drop files to get the papers off the desk on Tuesdays through Fridays. I look forward to it now, it starts the week off with the least fun bit, brings you up to speed gradually after the weekend and gets you focused on what you need to do for the rest of the week.
You have to be responsible for your work / life balance. Most entrepreneurs are workaholics – they are driven for success and find it hard to switch off especially if you work from home.
This is my particular challenge. When faced with taking some exercise and spending hours in front of the computer, I know which I prefer. Even my family time tends to be sedentary. When the weather is so horrible it’s even harder and I have to confess I haven’t cracked it yet. It was fine when I lived close to a beautiful brand new David Lloyd, but now the nearest gym is miles away and scuzzy. What to do? Make excuses, obviously!
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OTHERS
When you work with or hire others, you have to take responsibility for making sure that they are in the right roles, to suit their strengths (strengths = natural talents + education + skills, according to Rich Schefren’s brilliant Internet Marketing Manifesto) and that they are aware of how you want things done exactly, when you want them done by exactly, and what the consequences are, of not doing them.
You are responsible for treating people well, being honest with them, and making sure that they are equipped to fill their role, and that they know what to do if they get stuck and can’t do what you want from them.
Having said that, you are not responsible for their personal life, their motivation (although good passionate leadership helps here), their behaviour and their happiness.
Too many entrepreneurs tend to “parent” their employees and too many employees abdicate responsibility to their employers as soon as they take the job. “I’ll turn up, you pay me for that, I’ll do as little as possible and if you don’t catch me skiving, what happens in between is down to you” they think.
Sound familiar? I know, I’ve been an employee too, but luckily my boredom threshold is so low, I would rather do a great job and keep busy, than loaf about doing as little as possible.
Joseph Jaworski covers this in his “Entrepreneurial Traps” in the great book “Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership”. Highly recommended and as a “mummy” I am getting better at realising that I’m not totally responsible for partners or work colleagues happiness, motivation or behaviour.
One of my most favourite employers was Bennie Gray of the Space Organisation. Bennie is an inspiring man, a great motivator and someone who had a fantastic ability to delegate, but not abdicate responsibility.
He used to say that he would rather hire a (temporarily) failed entrepreneur between businesses, than someone with an employee mentality every day. He said that you knew they wouldn’t stay, but that you get more value in two years from an entrepreneurial personality type, than you do in fifteen years from a born employee.
They take responsibility for things, they do whatever it takes to get the job done and they are less likely to consider failure and giving up as an option.
All the essential qualities for success in business and wealth creation, in fact.”
Have fun, but don’t forget to take responsibility for your own success!