My name is Kelly Coughlin. I am a CPA and the CEO of EveryDayCPA. And I am a failure. I am a successful accountant…but I am a failure entrepreneur.
Today, I could talk to you about my career working for BIG companies…a BIG accounting firm, PWC; a BIG investment firm, Merrill Lynch, and a BIG bank, Lloyds Bank. I’ve had a happy and successful career in Seattle, Minneapolis, New York and London. Or I could talk to you about what we do at EVERYDAYCPA…with our STAR services…I could show you how we use Sun Tzu and Michael Porter from Harvard business school in our business strategy work. And I can show you how we can get the federal and state government to pay about 30% of your costs to start a business. And if you have past tax liabilities and we can get it reduced by over 50%. Or I could show you how we use ACCOUNTING debits and credits as weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION of your competition. And RISK, I could show you how to minimize the risk of contingent loss and risk of audit…I could do all that…But I’m not going to do any of that.
What I AM going to do is talk about why I am a failure…or rather why I WAS a failure….in the entrepreneur space. About 15 years ago, I started down the path towards SMALL business startup…how hard could that be…I was educated (CPA and MBA)…I had great BIG company experience. I had some capital. I couldn’t help but succeed. RIGHT? Wrong!!. It was a path to FAILURE!! Eventually, I succeeded. I love the quote from a very successful venture capital guy in Silicon Valley. ”Fail often, so you can succeed sooner.” In 2013, I sold a financial technology company I started in Minneapolis. The financial cost, risk, and rewards were big; but the non-financial costs were even greater and unfortunately VERY difficult to recover.
I AM going to talk about why the enormous price that is paid in startups…not financial…but intangible…unhappy shareholders during the failing years…nervous vendors and bankers during lean cash flow quarters…and then the personal stuff…the day to day stuff that causes failed marriages,…poor relationships with children…and unhealthy diet and exercise. These are the true costs.
It is helping entrepreneur wannabes mitigate these costs that is my sweet spot passion today. It is what I call TNT: Tactics, Need, Timing. Based on my experience as a FAILURE, getting TNT right…or wrong…will determine what the true cost will be. Is the cost limited to financial investments and opportunity cost, that is the cost of not doing something else, while you are pursuing this new idea or dream? Or Is the cost fully burdened with the carnage from failed relationships with vendors, spouses, and children coupled with bad health and diet?
Tactics Need Timing. What TACTICS will you utilize to implement your plan? How will you incubate your business? Will you outsource to start it or will you do it yourself? Are you going to quit your job or work at night and weekends? Are you going to use your own money or try to get other peoples’ money?
NEED assessment is important. Does your market NEED your products or service versus your competitors. Who are your competitors…who are your substitutes? And if you say you don’t have any competitors, you definitely need help. People have millions of places they can spend their money. So, in a sense every product and service on the planet earth is your competition. I referenced Michael Porter earlier. Every business owner and frankly anybody involved in the revenue side of an enterprise should understand Porter’s Five Force Analysis on their business. Porter’s Five Forces are Rivals, Substitutes, Suppliers, Buyers, and New Entrants. These are the five forces that need to be understood before launching a business.
And that leads to last one, TIMING. It’s the one most easily controlled and fortunately most important. In 1812 Napoleon had his million-man Grand Armee ready to take on the Russians. Napoleon was a brilliant military strategist…but he made a critical tactical mistake that cost him about 600,000 men’s lives and ultimately some historians say, cost him the war. His TIMING was bad. He launched his march on Moscow way too close to the winter season in Russia and ridiculously cold weather completely harmed his ability to win. Bad timing. In the startup world, it translates into, for example, maybe if your wife is due in six months, don’t leave your job yet to start the deal. Rather, outsource some things and work the deal at night.
Tactics Need Timing (TNT) doesn’t NECESSARILY determine whether your path is one of failure or success. Rather, TNT determines how rough the road is…how many people did you hit and hurt along the way…and how happy and healthy you are during the journey and how happy and healthy you are when you finish and arrive.
So, today we certainly help all small business owners with STAR services…strategy, tax, accounting and risk management. We have found that many small business owners simply don’t have the financial resources to pay for CFOs, CPAs, and marketing experts…they are expensive…I know this…I sold these expert services while at PWC….and I BOUGHT those services at Lloyds Bank.
But WHAT I PERSONALLY REALLY LOVE TO DO is help the entrepreneur family, with a startup idea they want to monetize; or the entrepreneur who simply wants to STOP working for THE MAN; or the entrepreneur who is retiring and wants to stay in the game, in part frankly because he knows he knows the stats…it is more likely he will die within 24 months if he gets out of the game.
Some of you know, I like to box and I like to run 5ks and 10ks. And my performance has waned over the past ten years in these areas. But fortunately, there are a few things that ONLY gets better with age, experience and wisdom. And this is one of them. The clarity that TACTICS NEED TIMING must be considered before launching a business…and getting this right, will determine not only what the easily recoverable financial cost will be…but more importantly, it will determine the personal and relationship cost that no business transaction will ever recover. Thank you for your time.