I keep a keen eye on how our profession is changing. The change in our profession really affects our Thriveal Network and it’s members so I’m very interested in it’s change. One story I’m hearing a lot is how larger firms are buying smaller regional firms. More seasoned practitioners are ready to retire, and it seems they aren’t finding the younger partners eager to take over the firm (especially when the seasoned partner stays around to micromanage them). If you want to get your cash out, then just sell to a larger firm. Makes sense.
But one thing we are not hearing in the news is the growth, enjoyment, profitability, and freedom that comes from running your own firm. Communities like Thriveal are becoming the place where smaller firm entrepreneurs can find a community fighting the same battles they are, and winning! Thriveal firm owners are growing, caring, maturing, and fighting to be profitable. And they are doing it. Creative, entrepreneurial firm owners have decidedly shed the large firm mentality, and have exchanged it for the creative, entrepreneurial lifestyle of building firms around their lives, instead of building their lives around their firms. But the news doesn’t talk about this, because it’s not very interesting. The lifestyle firm owner is committed to changing lives, one client at a time… and that does not usually make the news.
One of the biggest problems with this lack of coverage of the rise of the lifestyle firm is that younger accounting graduates are not sensing the value in becoming CPAs. They don’t know how awesome it is to build a firm inside of a community. There is a growing discrepancy between accounting graduates, and those sitting for the CPA exam. The accounting media only reports on the role of the larger firms in shaping our profession. The professors are still telling the accounting students that beginning your career in the Big 4 is the right first step. There is a large majority of smaller firms, run by entrepreneurs, that are building the firms they want to build, while living the lives they want to live.
Here are examples of how Thriveal firms are building their own lifestyle firms:
They have small children or babies, and still own a firm. Children are not an either/or decision anymore. Children are part of the bigger picture, and a firm will fit nicely inside of a growing family. The lifestyle firm allows for this.
They are deciding how fast or slow they want to grow. There are seasons to growth. Sometimes it’s time to turn on the growth, and sometimes you need to slow down while a firm matures. You get to decide how fast or slow you want to grow in a lifestyle firm.
They are working at home, or closing their offices. A lot of newer Thriveal firms just begin at home. An office is often not a discussion. Though having an office, or NOT having an office is neither right or wrong, Thriveal firms have a choice. We know how to work invisibly.
They are focusing on industries that they enjoy. Thriveal firms are serving fun industries like beer breweries, tech startups, storage unit owners, dentists, musicians, farmers, and web designers. Thriveal firm owners are focusing and doing only what they are excellent at, and they are thriving. They say no to clients that aren’t right, so they can excel at serving those that are.
They are focusing on becoming excellent at particular services. Thriveal members are restricting their firms to performing only the services they can excel at (i.e. outsourced Controllership or payroll for example), while working together to provide the other services that their customers need.
The Lifestyle Wrapper
Think of the life you want to live as your Lifestyle Wrapper. And consider this – only commit to family and work activities that can be wrapped up with your lifestyle wrapper. Your wrapper might have “I want to travel every other month” written on it. Or maybe you’ve inscribed “I want to be at home when my kids get out of school” written on your wrapper. Thriveal members are careful to inscribe what they want on their lifestyle wrapper, and then work to make their firms fit inside. If the firm won’t fit inside of the lifestyle wrapper, then it has to be changed. Their teams benefit too. Thriveal firm owners are aware that their employees have lifestyle wrappers too. Thriveal firms often give full freedom and autonomy to their employees to do what they want, when they want to do it. A firm owner’s lifestyle wrapper can fit the lifestyle wrapper of the team member too.
It’s time the news media portrayed the real (and probably more abundant story) of the lifestyle firm. We hear this phrase in other industries, but it is a real thing happening in professional accounting firms too. We at Thriveal hope to find more people that want to leave larger, burdensome firms for the enjoyable (and profitable) lifestyle firm.
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Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children. Stay connected with Jason by signing up at JasonBlumer.com.