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Looking at the big picture

When I started my own CPA firm, I faced the dilemma that faces most professionals at the start of their careers—how do I find clients—how do I sell myself—how am I going to earn enough to feed my family and pay the mortgage.  A mentor suggested I join the local entrepreneur group.  This group consisted of entrepreneurs seeking funds for their ideas, investors looking for the next “Microsoft,” and “hangers on” like me, other accountants, lawyers and consultants looking for that next client.  I went to the monthly breakfast meetings, served on the board of directors, assisted in the review of many business plan submitted by entrepreneurs and for several years wrote the tax column for their newsletter.  My efforts failed to generate a single client, but in hindsight were very beneficial for me.

One of the first questions I learned to ask is, “what is your exit strategy?”  Looking at the end—the sale of the business, retirement, death, change of career, etc. has enabled me to look at the big picture, and consider the impact of decisions to be made and how those decisions will affect the future. 

Elsewhere on the website is commentary on The Eleventh Commandment. This article was written in response to plans created by myopic thinking—plans that seek to accomplish a short-term goal without considering the long-term consequences of the plan.  It can be costly to assemble the components of a planning team and to do the analysis, but it is far more costly to try to undo the damage caused by poor planning.  On a more personal note, it is very difficult to tactfully tell a new or prospective client that there is no low tax way to undo the damage done because the previous advisors didn’t understand or failed to consider the big picture.