09 Dec My Entrepreneurial “Aha” Moment
Photo Credit: Spencer Brown
As I mentioned in my last post regarding the importance of thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset, I’d like to share my own personal journey and “aha” moment.
When we started Two Roads back in 2011, one of my primary responsibilities was to bring in new business. Two Roads is a bookkeeping and tax company and our goal is to free up business owners from the burden of bookkeeping and taxes so they can focus on the things they’re most passionate about.
Well, let me be clear—I’m not a CPA or a bookkeeper. While we have a very talented team of bookkeepers and an in-house CPA, one of my primary jobs was simply to bring in new business. I’m supposed to convince business owners that Two Roads is the solution they are looking for. But what qualifies me? I’m a guy who started an Internet business in the 90’s. I was in banking, investments, and insurance in the early 2000’s. My biggest exposure to accounting software was when I opened up Quickbooks in 1998 and realized I was in way over my head. You could certainly argue that my pedigree in accounting was a liability. But over time, I began to realize that my lack of knowledge of accounting wasn’t a hindrance, but an asset. Let me explain.
As a service-based business, we exist to help provide services to customers, whom we call Partners here at Two Roads. Business owners come to us because they have a passion for what they do in business. More often than not, they frankly aren’t very good at bookkeeping, they don’t have the time to do it, or they realize their time is valuable and better spent doing other things. And hey, I had run a business before too! I can relate to business owners. That’s when the “aha” moment began. It was my job to put myself in business owners’ shoes so we could identify with their pains and provide solutions to meet their needs. This I could do.
So keeping in mind the four best practices of an entrepreneurial mindset from my last post, here are some things we did:
1. We asked “Why?” a lot.
Evaluating the way we do things and looking for ways to improve helps us serve our partners better.
- Why do we bill our partners hourly? Wouldn’t they prefer a fixed monthly rate?
- Why are we using computer software that limits accessibility? Couldn’t we host in the cloud so it can be accessed securely by multiple people from anywhere?
- If our industry is slow to respond, can we change that? What if a friendly human always answered the phone during business hours?
2. We’ve embraced change.
It has not been easy. No one likes change, but we knew that in order to be relevant in today’s economy, we have to be willing to change the old way of doing things so we could serve our Partners better in the years to come.
3. We’ve adopted the motto “Technology with a purpose.”
Technology has enabled us to do some wonderful things for our Partners, as well as for our Team Members. For example:
- Our Team Members can work from home so they can still raise a family and remain active in the workforce. They work “in the cloud” which gives them access to necessary information without preventing them from picking up their kids at school, attending soccer games, or even going on vacation.
- Our Partners don’t have to bring us paperwork, a backup of an accounting file, or wait for us to show up at their office. Working in the cloud allows us to have access to all the information we both need and it frees up their valuable time so they can focus on the things they most enjoy.
4. Every week, each member of our leadership team spends several hours “unplugged.”
Amazing things happen when you unplug from the daily grind and allow yourself creative space just to think about where you are and where you want to be. Each member of our leadership team blocks off time on the calendar each week for this invaluable time of introspect. It looks different for everyone, but it’s a great way to re-energize and think about the future. Treat it like it’s an appointment on the calendar with your most important client — not optional! — and then stick to it. I promise it will pay off! Once you’ve tried this for a couple of months, give me some feedback on the impact it’s having for you!
I love the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” Shifting to an entrepreneurial mindset isn’t easy, in fact, it can be a little scary. Asking “Why?”, embracing change, using technology with a purpose, and working on the business are four fundamental practices that have transformed Two Roads and will serve us well in the future.