I was recently asked to define why I do what I do in my business. People know who I am and what I do, but not why I do it. This started a whole train of thought.
I used to say my company handled “all things business” and to a certain extent, that was correct. Over time, I narrowed my field of expertise to matters involving financial transactions and compliance. Mix in a little management consulting and you have a pretty good definition of what I do. I could have chosen any number of paths when I started my company over 6 years ago, but I decided on accounting and financial management of small businesses. Why did I do that?
Many people start businesses with what Michael Gerber calls “The Entrepreneurial Seizure” in The E-Myth Revisited. A technician thinks his or her boss is an idiot and they could run the company ten times better, so they branch out on their own. No one teaches the technician about things like business entities and the tax implications of each one. The technician-turned-business-owner wants to find clients, perform services or sell products. He is not interested in balancing a checkbook or learning how to read a financial statement. He doesn’t even know things like Income Statements and Balance Sheets exist, let alone how to create one.
So, the new business owner decides he wants to be a subchapter S corporation. He has no idea what that means but his neighbor told him that what he needs to do because it will keep his taxes down. I call this “Drive-by tax advice.” Our favorite new entrepreneur starts a corporation and proceeds to run his new corporation like a personal checkbook. In his mind he thinks he is an S corporation, but he never made the proper election. Finally tax time comes around and he shows up in my office on March 25. The corporate return was due 10 days earlier but he thought he had until April 15, because no one told him otherwise. Actually, that is not true, the IRS told him in the letter he received with his new Employer Identification Number; he just failed to read it.
I begin the educational process on the difference between corporations and the rules he must follow for the type of corporation he has chosen. I set him up and give him a schedule so he knows what is due and when. In working with this client in the future months, I help him turn his business into a profitable machine and all of a sudden he knows when he is making money and when to walk away from a losing job. Someone else in my line of work could have helped him just the same, but he chose me and I take that level of trust to heart.
Six years into my business, I decided to narrow my area of expertise even further. In 2003, I founded the Tampa Bay SBS User Group. We are still a very active group to this day. The SMB IT Community is a world-wide community of IT Professionals serving small to mid-size business clients. This is a collection of some of the most fabulous people in the world. Everyone is always willing to help and support everyone else. I am as dedicated to the IT Community as any person can be. For an in-depth description of why this community is important to me, you may read a blog I posted on October 26, 2010 here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=456432428165
This is the group of people I want to help succeed. They are dedicated to growing their business and doing the right thing for their clients, employees and themselves. As I refocus my business to better align with my personal life, this will be my main area of attention.