Why Did a CPA Become a Marketing Coach?
I get asked that question a lot, and it never fails to make me grin.
Accounting and marketing are seen as opposite ends of a spectrum. Left brain vs. right brain, analytical vs. creative, tie vs. turtleneck.
The question seems to imply that I escaped my accounting box and have to work to blend in, lest I am caught and sent back and forced to wear the green visor.
When I graduated from college in 1987, personal computers were just starting to show up in the small business workplace. My degree was in accounting, and since early business software was related to accounting (and spreadsheets), it fell to me to learn how to set up and use these new systems.
My first jobs included setting up a computerized accounting system for a contracting company and installing and using one of the first PC based tax preparation software systems.
As a young certified public accountant (CPA), I had to do my fair share of auditing. Doing compliance auditing was, at least for me, very monotonous work. It involved a lot of copying of information from paper files to our auditing worksheets. I noticed that many of the companies I was auditing had the information available in an electronic format, so I learned how to program and use database programs. This allowed me to spend less time doing “grunt work” and more time on what I was really paid to do – express and opinion related to compliance with rules and regulations. This idea that software should allow me to focus on the important work has stuck with me to this day.
Because of the particular type of work the firm I worked for specialized in, there was a need to handle and analyze large quantities of data. At the time, I was one of the few CPAs who knew much about programming software, so I was able to play a key role in some very large development projects. Some of these projects were the first of their type in the nation. This meant we had to take a vision and implement it into a working system, with little precedence to guide us along the way. I didn’t know it at the time, but this has been a recurring theme in my career (internet, social media, etc.)
Over a period of time, I did more and more systems development work and less accounting. After a little more than a year of working for a large national bank, helping them develop a workflow system for handling commercial loans, I returned to Kansas City and worked as a software consultant.
Much of my work involved automating business systems and using the information from those systems to help people make informed decisions. As I worked with more businesses, I started to notice a recurring theme. While there were systems for accounting, production, and most other functions, there rarely seemed to be a systemized approach to marketing. Time and again I would see small businesses that only thought about marketing when it was too late – usually after losing a key customer.
When businesses did think of marketing, it seemed to be a “one off” event. There never seemed to be a system in place. Marketing was this strange, artsy thing that no one seemed to really understand – other than the understanding that is was expensive.
I decided that this was a problem I would like to work on. As I looked around to see what was being offered in the small business marketing space, I came across John Jantsch and Duct Tape Marketing. As a former E-Myth coach, John had a systemized approach to marketing and seemed to think about things the same way I did. As luck would have it, the timing was perfect, as John was just starting to form his network of coaches. I joined John’s second class of coaches and have been enjoying helping small business owners create marketing systems ever since.
Technology is an important part of small business marketing. The internet and social media have opened up wonderful and affordable opportunities that in the past may have only been accessible to companies with large budgets. While technology provides great opportunities, it can also present challenges. I see a big part of our job at Rebar is using our experience to help remove, or at least minimize, the road blocks in using techology to market your business.
My goal is to help you create and implement a marketing system that allows you to spend less time chasing business and more time serving profitable customers.