In the past, I've discussed the idea of "ripping off the bandage;" that is, removing whatever constraints (voluntarily or involuntarily) is preventing your business from moving to the next level. And recently, I came across another example of why doing what's uncomfortable in the moment can be the best thing to do for the long-term.

A friend of mine is an accountant who runs a traditional tax practice and has enjoyed a comfortable living. But he thinks the conventional accounting model is dead and found a new niche he enjoys-- 40 percent of his practice is now devoted to helping e-commerce companies deal with inventory management and related issues.

So, he's split.

He's too afraid to give up his day-to-day tax clients, who produce about half of the firms revenue, to focus on what he wants to do.

Part of that is because he feels responsible for his coworkers who handle the traditional tax work. But it's also tied to not wanting to lose the cash flow: Not long ago, he took out a $350,000, 10-year loan through the Small Business Administration's 7(a) program to make some investments. The money received from tax clients helps him pay it back.

He's scared to drop the traditional services, and who can blame him?

As a solution, I've counseled my friend to take his lead tax guy -- who's already responsible for a majority of the traditional work -- and let him start a new division of the company that focuses solely on tax work. The tax guy is a longtime employee and entirely trusted by my friend, so it seems like a natural fit to give him added responsibility.

Although the firm itself would change, it doesn't really impact the clients and, hence should keep all the revenue coming in.

Meantime, my friend would spend only an hour or two per week checking in on the tax division -- just enough time for oversight and keep some skin in the game. The rest of the time, he'd be focused on a practice devoted to e-commerce companies.

It makes total sense, yet he's still hesitant to go through with it. As I said before, I understand entirely. Change is hard and goes against human nature for many people. If you think about it, many conflicts throughout history involve people promoting new ideas butting up against people who want to keep status quo.

Still, running a business isn't always going to be easy, no matter how good of a product or service you offer. There will always be speed bumps, as well as opportunities that involve some degree of risk. Your ability to navigate problems and opportunities will ultimately determine how successful you will be.

In this case, the status quo definitely is more comfortable, but taking a bit of a risk, my friend could have his proverbial cake (a business line that interests him more and could potentialy be lucrative) and eat it (maintaining a staid, but still effective tax practice), too.

Published on: Jan 24, 2020
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