Living and working in the Thriveal community has been an interesting experiment. I didn’t realize we were actually learning how to run a firm in a community. Further, I didn’t realize we were learning to run a firm in a community of competitors. Working, living, growing, and maturing in a community of competitors has led me to some interesting conclusions as to how we can grow our firms differently now.
Let’s look at how we used to grow our firms and how that has changed.
How We Used to Grow Firms
We Used to Envy Competitors
Firms that were started long ago adopted a culture of trying to be like other firms – or doing the things that other firms were doing. In a sense, we envied what others had. Similarly, employees at firms would leave to go work at another firm. Of course, most firms used to be the same back in the 80s and 90s. The grass wasn’t greener on the other side, and it was disheartening to find that out when you left one firm for its competitor. Everyone was the essentially the same.
There is no joy in constantly wanting to be something else. In fact, this is one cause of a failure of leadership – looking at what you don’t have as opposed to the team and clients you’ve been blessed with. It’s time for us to lead where we are.
We Used to Fear Competitors
We never admitted this, but we have always been fearful of each other. We protected our client lists, and even forced everyone to sign a form promising that they don’t have any inappropriate relationships with clients. But we need to know everything about our clients so we can transform them the most. There seemed to be a seedy underbelly to the fear that was driving firms to keep things from their team members.
Beginning with fear is never going to produce healthy, robust, innovative firms. If we walk around in a protectionist mentality, we will be constantly focused on who we are protecting ourselves from, as opposed to focusing on who we are becoming.
How We Grow Firms Now
We All Need Help
Let’s admit something that has always been true. We can’t do this on our own. Leading a firm is hard, and if you are attempting to grow (like our firm is) then you are going to run into many complex obstacles and turns in the road. It’s okay – but let’s just agree to stop being envious of each other, and instead seek each other’s help. Other firms that are in a trusted community will now help each other instead of hide from each other. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and something I would ask you to see for yourself by applying for membership in Thriveal. It’s okay if we are all different now.
We Are on the Same Side Now
We are not really competitors anymore. We all have the same goals, and we are essentially all serving the same clients. Since the internet has globalized our service, we can all focus on smaller niches, serve clients that are best for us, and even refer our clients to our brothers in arms that may be able to serve them better (we’ve done that). Yes, we are no longer competitors, but brothers in arms. We are fighting the same battle. That battle is company growth through customer transformation. It takes risks, sacrificing things we want, and saying ‘no’ to things we want to say ‘yes’ to.
Embracing Your Competitors
This leads us to our conclusion. And I can’t find another conclusion other than to heartily embrace those we used to fear. Sure, firms and people are going to let us down. But I am looking at the future with no other option. With all the guts I can muster, I want to stop fearing other firms, and welcome them into my community, hoping we can both make each other better as we shoulder the same burdens.
Will you come grow with me?
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.