A recent request for help by a dedicated Employee prompted this synopsis, “The stress you’re experiencing is caused by a lack of leadership.” In other words, there is a leadership solution to every problem.
As happens in our Digital Universe, some of our early “conversations” were via email. Although, the first contact with this frustrated Employee was a phone call from her on Tuesday, April 23rd, 4:02 PM.
From the very beginning, I could hear the urgency in her voice. She had invested two months of her life to find some semblance of order to the chaos she inherited from another bookkeeper.
The accounting platform selected by her Employer was QuickBooks Online, which is a powerful SaaS (Software as a Service) tool for managing financial information.
What usually is a short and sweet first phone call of a few minutes, to probe the potential for solutions to problems, morphed into an hour’s worth of questions and answers with Wendy (pseudonym) — the loyal Employee.
Everything she shared made perfect sense, as she framed the issue which was threatening her survival. I assured her there was hope. And, although, the solution was not quick and easy, it would be thorough and effective.
Because my office is in Billings, MT, and her company is in Cody, WY, her concern was, “How do we work, together?” Wendy went on to suggest, “I guess I could drive up to Billings.”
Yet, her challenges were at her Company — and from experience, I know we slay the fire-breathing Dragons in their natural habitat. They do not willingly walk themselves out of their comfort zones to be dispatched.
Tools of Technology
The solution to Wendy’s problems would be her committed passion to make her Company better — with the guidance of A Business Coach and caring virtual CFO. Yours truly offered my services to guide her to a better way.
In fact, the suggested “better way” was for Wendy to be in front of her keyboard and monitors, while she received real-time coaching in her accounting software: QuickBooks Online.
How is that possible?!
Zoom is the answer.
Primarily a video conferencing tool, one of Zoom’s many features is “screen share.” One way to use the feature is: Look, don’t touch. The better way is: Share control of your desktop and experience the Magic!
Because I wanted to meet the woman behind the keyboard, I suggested a meeting in Cody, with Wendy and the owner of her Company. She agreed and the appointment was scheduled.
The sense of urgency in Wendy’s voice prompted me to ask if she was open to the sharing of thoughts and suggestions via email (until we met in person) of “first steps” to a better and brighter world. She agreed.
I’ve been known to scare the living daylights out of timid souls, with too much, too soon. This was probably “same song, another verse.” Yet, the tone of utter frustration and hopelessness in Wendy’s voice prompted an email from me with suggestions for action — the ultimate solution to fear.
This is a small portion of Email #1 — Wednesday, April 24th, 6:30 AM.
Because you’ve worked hard for two months to feel better about QuickBooks Online and how to make it work well for your Company, I understand your excitement to move forward — quickly.
YOU and I can begin by setting the foundation for our Meeting on Thursday and establishing a Digital working environment.
Here are the Resources we can begin using, Today:
• Google Drive (for sharing of online folders and files)
• Slack (for collaborative communication)
• Calendly (online appointment calendar and confirmations)
Simply, reply to this email and I’ll lead the way. 🙂
One other thought: I believe it will be beneficial for the Company owner(s) to join our Thursday meeting — for the first 30 minutes to an hour.
The “first steps” email went on to ask for an acknowledgement from the owner of the Company — and, none was received. That’s fine. I understand. Why respond to an email, when I’ll be at his Company (MAP) the next day.
This is the major portion of Email #2, Thursday, April 25th, 6:03 AM.
Without the owner’s participation, YOU and I will be wasting Time and Money.
Here’s how I know that to be true: I’ve had experience working with three generations of Families — Trust Fund Babies.
As the home page of your Company website displayed for me, yesterday morning, I cringed: Four Generations of Builders
Then, as I checked for humility all I found was pride in those four generations: Our Team
Generally, by the fourth generation, one of two things will be true: Dying Quivers (dysfunction) or Starting Over (with nothing).
Again, I admire your dedicated efforts and loyalty to your Employer.
To use some construction analogies, you are being asked to set doors and windows in a building without a foundation. As a result, the rough openings are twisted.
Universal Principle: what begins twisted ends twisted.
For you (and me) to be safe on the Construction Site, we need answers from the Owner to these questions:
• What are we expected to Build? (Objective)
• How are we going to Do It? (Measure)
• Why are we doing it? (Value)
Odds are good no individual in the Company has thought to ask these questions. As a result, we (obviously) have no answers (yet).
Here is where I can be of Value to YOU and the Company.
There is a premise within the sphere of successful individuals that 10,000 hours are required to achieve mastery of anything. And, only about 1,000 (focused and productive) hours are available each year, to hone a craft.
Which, when we do the math, this results in the discovery that Mastery requires 10 years. With 35+ years of experience, I have taken the science (of accounting) to an art form. (Mastery x 3.5)
In other words, if a Company is looking for cheap, I ain’t that guy. If they want the very Best, I’m available to serve.
My heart aches for you. Because at the end of yesterday, you were stressed — to the point of exhaustion. Which, then results in lack of observation and compromised thought processes.
These are three of the primary stressors in your world: 1.) negative Cash Flow, 2.) dysfunctional Processes with customer dissatisfaction, and 3.) lack of Leadership to set goals and manage to them.
Yes — I could teach you how to saw square boards and toe-nail trusses to the top-plate of a wall. Yet, that doesn’t prepare you to read a Blueprint and understand how all of the pieces come together into a Mansion.
On the phone, I shared the secrets to constructing a functional accounting platform with QuickBooks Online:
Chart of Accounts is the foundation; Products and Services are the framing; Time Tracking and Payroll Links are the doors and windows; Reports and KPI Monitoring are the trim (which gives the greatest “perceived” Value to any project or Company).
Compared to the $150,000 – $175,000 necessary to employ the services of an in-house CFO, the owners of your Company could enjoy the same benefit at a fraction of the Price.
For the Owners to make an informed decision, I offer these three Options (base packages) for their consideration and the opportunity to receive the benefits of an on-demand Virtual CFO:
• 3 Months ~ $12,000
• 6 Months ~ $18,000
• 12 Months ~ $25,000
Success does not magically waltz into our lives — and I do not have a Magic Wand. Come to think of it, I have never seen a house (of any kind) instantly pop out of the ground.
Success (and anything of Value) requires an investment of Time and Money.
Again, I’ll ask that you forward this email to the Owner. They have the opportunity of access to a Master Craftsman. What they do with that opportunity is their Choice.
Please, have the Owner decide (if they want you to work with me) before 11:00 AM, today, Thursday, April 25th.
Their decision will determine whether I make the trip to Cody for us to visit.
As you noticed, “the truth” email asked, again, for the participation of the Owner — and, once more, none was received. Yet, gracious and professional responses were continuously given by Wendy leading up to my Road Trip.
Wendy, from our very first phone conversation and through the email banter, did the right thing: ASK — for what she needed and wanted. Because that is such a rare phenomenon, I made the trip to Cody — to honor her.
When I first arrived at the Company office in Cody, the owner graced us with his presence for 5 minutes, at the head of a humongous table with fancy chairs in the Boardroom. Afterward, Wendy and I moved to her small nook.
For two hours, Wendy and I sat side-by-side “fixing” problems and resolving her concerns one-by-one. At the end, she said, “Please, send your bill.” Yet, I knew that would simply add to her stress.
Because — Wendy was quite clear from the first phone call and through her email Replies for three days: the Company has no money “in the budget” for her training and support. She was asking for this assistance on her own.
So, I said, “No — I’m giving YOU this time. Because if I sent an Invoice to the owner, he would add me to the list of Consultants and Professionals of whom he spoke ill, as we sat in the Boardroom. I’m doing this for YOU.”
We accomplished much in two hours — yet, it was only a beginning of what might be possible with a leadership solution advocated by the Owner.
This is the essence of Email #3, Friday, April 26th, 5:42 AM.
I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, yesterday.
This is my understanding of your situation:
• In an earlier email, I mentioned three primary causes of stress in your Job. Really, there is only one: Lack of Leadership — the other two are symptoms in need of a leadership solution.
• The owner made it clear, yesterday: 1) he has no time to understand the finances of his Company 2) he has no time for me to enlighten him.
• Your boss wants to nickel and dime Costs, while totally ignoring dollars of Value from the Price of opportunities. (How sad!)
• Then, he points fingers of blame at everyone — other than himself. Real leaders don’t do that — they take responsibility for the bad and give away credit for the good.
• Traditional accounting, at its best, captures historical information to satisfy compliance requirements — i.e. Government (Taxes) and Bankers (Debt).
• Yesterday, I offered the owner an opportunity to manage the Future — to whatever degree of Success he desires. (He had better and more important things to do.)
These are my final recommendations for you:
• Start using Customers as they are designed to be used in QBO. (STOP using Classes, until a legitimate reason is established.)
• As you begin using the newly designed Projects tab, you will discover Sub-Customers are created to track Projects by Customer.
• Focus on using Items and Services for everything — in every QBO transaction form.
As of 2:00 PM, yesterday, my earlier Package offers came off the table — because the owner chose to get up and leave the table.
Since he wastes $4,000 a month on a traditional CPA for nothing (no tangible results), I find it amusing he can’t find the money to pay for guaranteed Value — from me.
And, as you mentioned, at one time he thought $120,000 a year for an in-house, pretend, wannabe CFO was fair compensation.
Since I’m the best CPA and a caring CFO, any future interaction with your Company will begin at $5,000 per month or $60,000 per year.
And, I will not waste one more minute of my time with the owner until he chooses to prepare a Better Business Plan for his company.
With your intelligence and aptitude for business, your Future will always be bright!
If you ever have family or friends starting their own Company, please, recommend the very best CPA and caring CFO. 🙂
The owner of the Company, above, comes from a “rich” family heritage. Yet, he is “poor” in every other way. His worldview is distorted by his ego. He is willing to climb all over others to achieve his definition of Success.
In fact, EGO is his god. Clueless to the core, he does not understand EGO is the acronym for: Excuses Govern Outcomes. For true believers, there is power in another acronym GOD: Get On Doing — leadership solutions.
I believe that’s the reason for the old adage, It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
With a humble spirit willing to learn, grow, and share, the owner “could” be enjoying Heaven on Earth. Yet, he chooses to make the environment for his employees, contractors, vendors and customers an unrelenting hell — complete with fire-breathing Dragons of every kind.
There is a better way.
You (the Reader) have noticed that I can be verbose. Yet, in three sentences (above), I defined for Wendy and her Boss what a leader is not — and, more importantly, what a leader is.
Your boss wants to nickel and dime Costs, while totally ignoring dollars of Value from the Price of opportunities. Then, he points fingers of blame at everyone — other than himself. Real leaders don’t do that —they take responsibility for the bad and give away credit for the good.
You’ve heard the expression, “Lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.”
The problem in search of a leadership solution is because the Owner can’t lead, is too arrogant to follow, and won’t get out of the way. And, for those who do “get out of the way” the hand of Fate will have her way with them.
By leading or following, individuals have the opportunity of actionable experiences for their benefit. The couch potatoes with the TV clickers will be the objects of what is done to them, because of their refusal to engage in life.
Leaders and followers are necessary for harmony and productivity. One is not better than the other. In fact, true leaders become servants of many. They refuse the trappings of authority and embrace the fiduciary responsibility to care for those in their sphere of influence.
Real leaders are not born and are not made, either. They are created from the ashes of humility. As they seek to serve, they work hard to be of value, with much to give. This is their mantra, “I’m the leader of one and boss of me.”
Others follow not because they have to — they follow because they want to. Then, when the followers accomplish far beyond their own belief to achieve, they will say, “We did it ourselves!”
With absolute belief, true leaders agree — in admiration and satisfaction.