In today’s Australian Financial Review, Accounting journalist Agnes King puts forth an argument that (first line) “Accounting firms have no business being on social media”.

She continues “Honestly, what do social media campaigns actually offer the clients of accounting firms? They might be a cheap way to distribute monthly newsletters but that’s hardly revolutionary.”

C’mon Agnes – get with the times!

That is like saying that in the 80’s Accountants should not have a fax machine, in the 90’s they should have not had a computer on every desk and in the naughties every person in an Accounting firm need not have a website or individual email address!

We’re in the social & community re-building age – every firm needs a social media strategy and every firm needs to embrace it.

The esteemed (and very one sided in this matter) journalist continues:

“Most accounting firms profess an increased investment in social media. When pressed, however, they’re just as likely to admit they don’t understand it. But they also know they can’t ignore it. Admitting this seems to be a horrifying sign of weakness. The sooner they get over this notion, the better for all concerned as they can start focusing on the value again. Don’t ignore social media but consider it a research and development exercise until it proves itself to be something more”.

Research and Development – is that it? It will be something more if firms want to make it something more.

I thought journalists were not supposed to have an opinion. Weren’t  they supposed to give a balanced view of the subject at hand?

Her argument is fundamentally flawed because she does not understand how these new communication tools can enhance the relationship between Accountant and business client.

If the Accountants of this world are supposed to be the ‘trusted adviser’ and their clients look up to them for leading business advice then surely this medium is a way to distribute information and enhance the experience of dealing with the firm.

Surely a sign of ‘being modern’ and ‘keeping up with the times’ is that leading firms MUST have a social media presence & active and ever evolving presence.

The social presence must add value to clients otherwise it will be like the first ‘static’ websites of old where it was an online brochure with 10 year old pictures of the partners!

The beauty of a social presence is it is alive, interactive and very easy to use.

Here’s an example (and a cracking idea if I do say so myself):

Just imagine if a Proactive firm (one of my members perhaps!) started a ‘closed’ or ‘private’ group on LinkedIn or Facebook. They invited all of their clients to participate. Their employees participated as well and the Accounting firm lead discussions about topics. They started a ‘forum’ just for their firm where they brought their clients together. They stimulated clients thinking by offering case studies, testimonials, wins, content, discussion and tools. They updated everything through the closed group. The firm’s clients could do business with each other and interact with the people in the firm more. They could even offer ‘concierge’ service – connecting people to other people.

All this can be done for free right now.

It’s about building a community. Standard communities are deteriorating around the world due to media hyping up the next killing/abduction/robbery or car crash. The media has driven fear into the local community of old with their sensationalism, insinuation (it’s not safe to go outside kids) and negative driven news service. Just watch the news at 6pm tonight, or read tomorrows paper and count the negative to positive ratio of stories!

Social media used properly can re-build communities. They’re just different communities – a place where people feel like they belong.

On a final note. No one deals with a business, we all deal with people. It’s not business to business – it’s people to people. I do not deal with the Accounting firm because of their offices, pretty logo or brochure. I deal with the people in the Accounting firm – just as they deal with the people in my business.

Social media platforms are about bringing people together. To share, debate, exchange, inspire & communicate. Period.

I am humbled to be selected as the Queensland Entrepreneurs Organisation “Entrepreneur of the year”. It is an absolute honour.

The award is in honour of a past EO member, Darren Mullins, who was a founding member of EO in 1996/97 of the Brisbane chapter. Darren was in his mid 30’s with a wife and children and the world at his feet. One afternoon he felt a pain in his arm, had a massive heart attack and died at St Andrews Hospital here in Brisbane. In honour of his memory the Entrepreneur of the year award was started. The award is to recognize an individual who has best represented the values of EO throughout the year and endeavoured to promote EO Brisbane, just as Darren did many years ago when launching our fledgling chapter.

Thank you Darren – your legacy lives on. And thank you to everyone who voted for me. It’s the first thing I have won since I won a gold medal as Australian junior Archery Champion! In 1987!!!!

You can see by the first photo I was unable to accept in person at the gala function last weekend. So I got the official photo with the QLD chapter president – Jason Rechenberg.

EO award winner - not there

EO award winner

In 1989 Stephen R Covey wrote the seminal book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It has sold 25+ Million copies and has been rated one of the 25 most influential business books of our time.

He died just a while ago after complications with a bicycle accident.  He was 79 years young.

He will be long remembered for his words, inspiration and legacy. His 7 habits shaped my life and many others I know: (in brackets my definition)

1) Be Proactive (get on the front foot and lead the way)

2) Begin with the end in mind (start at the end and work backwards to today)

3) Put first things first (get focused on what matters now – not the trivial crap)

4) Think WIN-WIN (think of the other person when doing a deal)

5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood (listen first, then give your opinion)

6) Synergize (magnify you via others)

7) Sharpen the saw (measure twice and cut once – get the skills you need to not make mistakes)

My business is called the “Proactive Accountants Network” for good reason.

He will be sadly missed. Most off by his family. RIP Stephen R Covey.

A little story that has never been told before in this amount of detail.

I have been business coaching for 6 years. In my first year (2006) I did $975K in revenue. Every year since then it has been well into 7 figures:

2006 – $975K – just me coaching
2007 – $2.2M – just me coaching
2008 – $3.75M – me plus 1 part time coach
2009 – $4.75M – me plus 2 part time coaches
2010 – $5.75M – me plus 2 full time coaches
2011 – $6.5M – me plus 2 full time coaches

This year my business will do somewhere between $8M – $10M in coaching fees. There are 4 of us coaching this year and mid-year I will require a 5th coach in Australasia.

I was doing some research on the business coaching industry and it seems that if a coach can do $25K per month in revenue they are regarded as a super star. What a joke. My coaches do $165K per month (approx. $2M in annual revenue) – and they only work 60% of the year.

I even read of people who coach other business coaches and their claim to fame is that they might have done $400K in revenue in one year – and that qualifies them as a coach to the coaches. You have got to be kidding me. That only qualifies someone to advise on how to get a job.

There are even coaching franchises that you can buy for $50K – $200K. As I look at the numbers it seems that the individuals who buy the franchise are not the ones that are becoming wealthy. The only people who are getting wealthy are the franchisors.

Other professions are well entrenched in their business models – accounting, consulting, legal etc. And many of these professional service firms are gigantic organisations dating back decades.

The business coaching profession is relatively new and is very much a cottage industry. I invented a business coaching model that can create real wealth for the coach – the business owner.

The business model is very straight forward. It is 100% group coaching. It was originally called coachingclub and it has now ‘morphed’ into a formal network of Accounting firms – the Proactive Accountants Network. Here is my delivery model:

1. I have 8 businesses (of the same type) in each club
2. Each club meets 4 times per year face to face – with their coach.
3. Each club meets 4 times per year over the phone – with their coach.
4. A very cool online service is provided with loads of industry niche content, forum, cloud reporting system, success library, learning centre
5. An upfront fee is charged to join (2 day strategy session is delivered for this) of $3500 – $9000 – depending which service level is selected.
6. A monthly fee is charged for membership of $750 – $3000 – depending which service level is selected.

Now you have to be good for a client to pay you $10K – $30K per year. Very good in fact. And you must produce results for your clients. Our clients consistently rank in the upper quartile of results against their peers. We track their results every month via our cloud based monitoring solution. A client does not mind paying if they are getting value and their KPIs are improving every month.

So far my business has coached 525 clients and currently there are 290 active clients being coached. The average tenure of a client is 2.5 years and we are just about to roll out a solution which will keep them for double or treble that amount of time. With the clients who are currently ‘out’ of the program we are bringing them back in with different serviced offerings.

As I said each coach manages about $2M in fees and since starting 6 years ago I have billed $24M in revenue. Any business should create wealth for the owner.

Over the years I have had dozens of people ask me about the business model. I freely tell them – like I have told it here. But it will not work unless you know the 4 secrets that have been perfected. What I call the “Secret Sauce”:

1. The detail of what happens in the meetings. The accountability methods. The learning style and the group sharing.
2. The niche market (100% of my clients are Accounting firms) is important but more importantly than who is served it is the content that is delivered. The content MUST help improve the KPIs of the client. The content must be succinct and proven in that industry.
3. The finding and keeping client system. No point building a business unless you can find and keep clients.
4. The online experience. The meetings are one thing (and very important) but the online experience is equally important. Chat forum with their peers, learning centre with video based content, success library with templates and an online KPI monitoring service which benchmarks each client against their peers every month.

Why am I telling you this?

Real simple. I am going license my network and coaching model (for accountants) around the globe. I am looking for around 100 licensees who want to specialise in the accounting profession. My business operates in Australia and New Zealand only at this stage.

You might be a business coach, a consultant or a partner of an accounting firm looking for a new career. Ideally you know how accounting firms work. You need to be a business developer who is great at client relationships. With 1.5M accounting firms in the world we want to make a massive difference to the accountants and their clients. We think the market has capacity for about 600 licensees.

We are looking at English speaking countries first with one licensee per (approx.) 2500 accounting firms. No one in the world does what we do for accounting firms. No one gets the results for the profession and no one gets the results for themselves.

We love business success and our company purpose is to “Get business owners addicted to the thrills of success”.

We believe the right accountants can step up and make a difference to business.
We believe it is the accountant who is the natural trusted advisor.
We believe accountants can make a difference to their clients if they have the right tools, coaching and training. We have all of that – including new advice tools like cloud based KPI monitoring where we consolidate data of SME business right to the accountants desktop or mobile device.

If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity then send a direct email to me (rob.nixon@nixonadvantage.com) with your CV and reasons why we should consider you. We only want the highest quality licensees to represent us around the world.