In reality, there are many problems in the business world that could be avoided daily if people took a few moments to slow down and not only recognize they are contributing to the problem, but that they could actually be the solution.
My perspective on the subject has developed over the last 13 years as I exclusively have been trying to bridge the communication gap between finance professionals and entrepreneurs through the medium of financial software tools.
I thought it would be helpful to share some of my observations. In this article, I am going to address the accountant (CPAs) and entrepreneurs who would consider themselves as the creative type. Those who consume everything Apple, live to network, and thrive through their senses of touch, taste, sound, and look.
I Say Potato, You Say Tomato
A key few areas can cause miscommunication between an accountant and a creative entrepreneur. The first is working style. Accountants are very detail oriented and like to have everything in its place. This can contrast with the creative mind that is often more flexible and open to new ideas. Sometimes scattered and ever changing.
The second area that may cause miscommunication is how each type of personality processes information. Accountants often think more logically and linearly, while creative entrepreneurs think more abstractly and, well, creatively.
Number three, the type of communication. Accountants often may speak more directly and to-the-point, while entrepreneurs may mix in more emotion.
The fourth biggest difference between accountants and creative entrepreneurs is their approach to risk. Accountants are often very risk-averse, while creative entrepreneurs are often risk-tolerant.
When communicating with entrepreneurs, accountants often make these mistakes:
Accountants may use a tone that is too formal or clinical. This can come across as cold or uninterested, and it’s important to remember that your clients may be more sensitive to interpersonal cues. Instead, accountants should use a friendly, polite tone to build rapport.
Accountants may inadvertently indicate disapproval when discussing a creative entrepreneur’s ideas. This can be frustrating and discouraging, so you must be careful about communicating criticism. Instead of being negative, try to offer constructive feedback to help entrepreneurs improve their ideas.
Accountants may fail to see the big picture when they get too bogged down in the details. This lack of vision can be frustrating for creative types trying to generate new ideas, so it’s essential to step back and take a broader perspective.
The Reporting Trap
Accountants have formalized training in finance and often use reports and spreadsheets to communicate information. However, creative entrepreneurs don't have this background, so they may not understand ‘accountant-speak.’
When an accountant tries to communicate with a creative entrepreneur using reports and spreadsheets, it can feel like two people speaking different languages. The accountant is comfortable with the language of finance, but the entrepreneur may not be so inclined. Accountants need to remember that not everyone has the same level of financial literacy. Therefore, if they want to be understood, they need to use language their audience will understand. This may mean plain speak and avoiding jargon.
From an entrepreneur’s perspective, accountants tend to live in the past. Fusing over recording and reporting what has been done. They need to realize that the entrepreneur lived those moments—they were there. A creative entrepreneur would rather focus on the future, the next step, and win in the end.
What Entrepreneurs Can do to Help the Cause
Entrepreneurs are often lauded for their innovation and outside-the-box thinking. However, there are some downsides to this creative thinking, especially when it comes to working with an accountant. Here are some things they tend to do that drive their accountant bonkers:
They're always coming up with new ideas and are constantly changing their minds. This can make it difficult for accountants to keep track of what is going on in the business and being able to provide advice and direction.
Creative entrepreneurs may be resistant to the status quo and may not always follow traditional methods or procedures. This can make it difficult for accountants to implement proven systems and processes, and habituate them across an organization without having leader buy-in.
Another frustration for accountants is the creative entrepreneur's tendency to be disorganized. These professionals are often so focused on their work that they don't take the time to organize their finances. This can make it very difficult for their accountant to keep track of everything and can lead to missed deadlines and errors.
So recognizing the differences and frustrations of both parties is the first step, the real purpose of this article is to demonstrate common ground and synergy between the two parties.
It needs to be understood they are also both often very good at problem solving.
My suggestions for these two groups to work together better.
#1 Ditch the spreadsheet and reports
They are not the medium to communicate through. I would recommend a fresh whiteboard and a pack of markers will get the accountant further in articulating their points to a creative type.
#2 The tax man and efficiency are not the major concerns of the creative entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is more concerned with smoothing out cash flow, managing their sales pipeline, and having access to cash to execute their growth plans. So an accountant needs to provide data to help on these points if they wish to have a spot at the table of value.
#3 Regular meetings
Meeting your clients as an accountant once per quarter is not enough. The frequency of meetings should be monthly. Have them show what types of projects they are working on and what efforts go into them.
#4 Creative entrepreneur needs to be able to explain their vision, but also take the time to lay out the steps of how they intend on making that vision happen, the resources and people that will be required to accomplish those objectives.
Bring reality to the vision. A finance professional can be a great resource to help quantify information over a time-line and show the entrepreneur how everything impacts their runway, and alternatives to help the entrepreneur achieve the best ROI for each decision before making it. It’s easier to circumvent a bad idea before it happens than it is to clean up the mess and consequences after the fact.
#5 Entrepreneurs need to trust that their finance pro desires to be a part of their success.
Allowing them to contribute data to the decision making process will make for a more informed decision. Trusting your gut isn't always going to work.
Overall, the benefits of an accountant and creative entrepreneur working together in synergy can be extremely beneficial! By collaborating and sharing ideas, both parties can bring a lot to the table that can help propel businesses forward.
If you are a finance professional or a entrepreneur in the creative space, check out Dryrun.com. We’ve created a cloud-based tool that will pull data from the most popular cloud accounting solutions (including QBO/Xero/Sage Intacct/Oracle Netsuite/Microsoft Business Central 365) on the market to help both parties visualize information over time and model assumptions to help both parties look forward and make decisive data-driven decisions.
Dryrun delivers clear, actionable forecasts in a fraction of the time you spend in spreadsheets.