(ii) The scariest thing of all - recognising that "change" has already arrived
The accountancy profession has already been through a whole host of changes over the past decade and bit by bit, (most) firms have changed. Cloud accounting is now being discussed with every client and with the MTD requirements forcing that evolution, even the most traditional partner/directors have had to adapt...like it or not.
There's no question that accepting change is really scary for some people. When that same person is in charge of driving a whole business, adapting to change is even scarier for them. But the scariest thing of all is when you realise that change has already happened and you're still living in the past - the world has moved on without you, and your business is failing - albeit you may not even see that, until it is too late.
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change” is a quote by Jim Rohn, the entrepreneur, author, philosopher and business psychologist. Psychology is a study which can take years, but if you want to dip your toe in with a simple introduction to the human psyche, the Myers-Briggs sixteen personality types are well known and easily relatable.
Generally it is thought that those who are most excited by change have Extraverted, INtuitive, Thinking and Perceiving (ENTP) personalities, and it's no surprise that these also make the most common entrepreneurs. But guess which personality types seem to favour accounting careers? Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judging. So when I believe accountants running firms overthink change, I'm probably spot on because "Thinking" is definitely something they excel at!
Those who own and run accounting firms however, are also required to be entrepreneurial. Whether an accountant or not, being a business owner means you have additional responsibilities to your staff, to your clients and, in the case of long-standing firms, to those who follow after you - what type of firm will they inherit? Will it still be as successful as in the past? Was that the heydey? Or can you assure the next generation that the best times are still to come?
Slow and steady business owners could be successful in traditional industries. But who can say they are in a traditional industry anymore when technological developments, climate change and health concerns (physical or mental) are now at the forefront of everyone's minds? Accountancy may be a profession which is long-standing and has been hugely respected in business and wider society for centuries - but will entrepreneurs of the future still respect accountants or will the speed of change wipe them out?
So consider how you, as an accountant running a business, adapt to change. If you know you are naturally reticent, risk-averse, very considered (but to the extreme, maybe?) then how will you adapt, because there is no 'if', only 'when'. Change has arrived. Have you?
To make peace with change, to even embrace it, challenge yourself to the following
List what has changed in your career since you qualified - you have already managed to cope with these, so you can cope with more
To recognise why you are nervous to accept that things must change, focus on one item from that list, preferably one where you were partly responsible for the success of its adoption, and list what you were initially concerned about...and then what actually happened - have you made it a success?
Now list changes which you know must be coming, and ask yourself why you haven't thrown yourself and your firm into taking on these challenges now - use this list of 4 'calls to action for accountancy firms' if you need inspiration. Are your concerns truly valid and if so, how can they be mitigated - because change is already here and you either adapt willingly, or you are forced to and are then racing to keep up.
And finally, to gradually develop yourself into being a person more comfortable with change, read some stories of business leaders who inspire you - those who embraced change, in fact led it, but were also considered, such as:
Richard Branson "Screw it, let's do it" on Amazon
Steve Jobs "The Exclusive Biography" on Amazon
Malcolm Walker "Best Served Cold" on Amazon
Elon Musk "How the Billionaire CEO is shaping our future" on Amazon
Nobody wants a business owner with responsibilities to be rash, but looking to the past, or even the current, is just as foolish. As they say - feel the fear and do it anyway! Remember “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change”