- Finalist - Best Digital Start Up - 23rd annual AMY Awards
- Top 3 Finalist - Female Fintech Leader of the Year, Excellence in Data and Artificial Intelligence
- Top 10 Cloud Accounting Apps of 2016
- Top 10 Small Business Apps of 2016
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I am your host Mitch Roshong and I am here to share another bonus episode of our series with you. If you recall a few months back, my cohost Adam spoke with Rhondalynn Korolak. She joined him from Australia to talk about how accounting skills translate to effectively running a business. Today we are going to hear the conclusion of their conversation and hear some of Rhondalynn's recommendations for adapting to the evolving accounting and finance world. She refers to it as future-proofing yourself. So let's head over and listen now.
So how have you evolved your own career from public taxation to a successful business professional in the accounting space?
Well, I started off with PWC in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. So my specialization I guess when I went through became a chartered accountant and article was oil and gas taxation. So primarily as you can imagine, me working with a lot of big firms, you know, the sort of shells and mobiles of the world. And it wasn't really until I immigrated about 14 years ago to Australia that I had the opportunity to start working with some smaller businesses. So when I became a permanent resident and a citizen of Australia, I decided I wanted to go out on my own. And the natural inkling, inclination, I guess for me is I wanted to work with small businesses. So I thought that I would go out into the world in a coaching capacity. So I thought I'm going to take everything that I've learned from qualifying and practicing as a lawyer and also a chartered accountant in Canada and I'm going to apply all those skills and I'm going to coach small businesses. And I kind of had a couple of aha moments, right? So aha moment number one is, no, please, please, I'm, forgive me because this is a little bit pre-cloud. So this is going back at least about a decade now. And it was before a lot of the cloud accounting packages even existed. And so I was going out and I was doing Excel spreadsheets. I was printing a lot of reports from my clients. I was giving them traditional dashboards and KPIs and you know, I would go out and coach these people and I couldn't figure out why nobody was actually taking action, you know, because I thought what I was telling them was really important. I was going out with all these KPIs and saying, do you know it takes 92 days to collect your debts and you know, giving them kind of a wrap on the fingers with a ruler. And people were listening to me a lot and they were shaking their heads and stuff and nodding in agreement and they, they knew that it was bad and they knew that they had to do some stuff, but they couldn't actually action it. They, they, they had no clue really what I was saying and what it tangibly meant to their business. So this was my first aha moment. I thought, okay, never worked with small business businesses before. I'm now trying to coach these people, but nobody's taking action. What's the problem? So I learned a couple of things. I learned that the number one problem by far in every single business is cashflow. But nobody wants to talk about it because people hate or they're terrified of their numbers. So that's kind of, you know, the big hairy, um, you know, wake up call for me, number one, number two was 90 some percent of all these people that we're working with, these small businesses, they're completely financially illiterate. So that was another big, huge surprise to me because I just sort of assumed as an accountant that if you had your own business, you might take some time out to learn about financial so that you could operate it correctly. But that is not true. That's not what people do. People go into business because they're good at what they do. They're technicians, they cut hair really well, they do plumbing or electrical contracting really well. They're excellent at selling shoes or you know, operating a retail store or running a restaurant. They don't want to become accountants. And so these were huge revelations to me because I just thought that I could take all this wonderful, you know, insight that I had and all of my accounting and math skills and legal skills and go out and coach people. But I realized that it is not about what you know, it's about what you can move your client to do. And so the biggest things that I learned about making this transition from what might be traditional accounting to more of advice or coaching or whatever you want to call it, is this, we need to find better ways to get leverage on our clients and to actually inspire them to step up and take some action. And that's all soft skills, right? That has nothing to do with learning more about cashflow or learning more about ratio analysis or or trends or cashflow forecasting. You know, in my opinion, we as accountants spend far too much time doing that stuff when, let's be honest, you know, my first client, one of the very first clients that I had was in the aged care business. And when I showed up on the very first day that I was there to coach her, she found out that she had just lost her, her top client. That was where 30% of her revenue. And so all of the work that I had done in preparation for that meeting, reading her financials, preparing cashflow, forecast, all that stuff throughout the window, it wasn't worth anything to her because she had just had a major shift in that business. And so all of that past stuff was irrelevant. And even what I thought the future was going to be like was irrelevant. And the whole coaching was how am I going to put enough value on the table and help her clop back the revenue that she lost so that she can bloody afford to continue in business and to pay me, be there to advise her. And so that was really the big shift for me, right? Is I just thought that I already knew everything that I needed to know from my legal studies and practice and my accounting to do this, you know, job that I wanted to do and I didn't. And so that's when I just became really curious about things like neuroscience, you know, how do our brains process information and make decisions. And that's when kind of my big, you know, lightning bulb or flash moment came for the third time. And what I learned from studying about the brain, and you know, I, I took a deep dive, I read 200 over 200 studies published in, you know, Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford on neuroscience. I took courses on a clinical hypnotherapy so that I could understand a bit better how the brain worked. And what I learned from all of that was this, the parts of our brain that actually make decisions and take action are automated mechanisms. So these things kick in. They're survival-based mechanisms. They're highly influenced by pictures and emotions and survival instincts. Those parts of our brain can't even read numbers or words. So just think about this for a minute. We're going out and we're talking to small businesses every day. Cash flows. The number one thing that's a problem cashflow's all about numbers. And I just told you that the parts of the brain that human beings use to decide can read numbers or words. So, you know, that's a huge transition and a huge, um, you know, milestone that we need to get over as a profession because our net natural inclination is to want to go out and talk to people and teach them accounting. And that's exactly the wrong approach. You know, that's why I wrote financial foreplay, which was my second book and that's why I came up with my, you know, my software is I tried to figure out how can we use storytelling, how can we make cashflow so simple that a six year old could understand it and get their heads around it and actually take some action. And that's kinda how I approach this whole thing. So for me to making the transition from what I was doing before in taxation and working with big companies to working with smaller businesses and you know, being more in the advisor or coaching kind of space is that we need to stop trying to put lipstick on a pig, right? So we're trying to dress something up and make it look better than it does when we really, when what we really need to do is step back and say, look, the people that we're speaking to in this conversation right now, our clients, they are not financially literate as we are and we need to speak their language. We need to remove the accounting jargon, remove the complexity, we need to stop trying to teach them how to do cashflow and rather start teaching them what it looks like visually and how to put the finger on the, on the pulse of their business and make changes. So it's kind of a, my long winded explanation of how I got to where I was, I realized that what I really needed to do get a whole lot better at communicating with people, getting leverage on people and just in expiring inspiring or influencing them to take action. And those were, that's pretty much been the area where I have focused my development for the last decade cause I already knew what I needed to know about cashflow. But it's about how do we get beyond that.
So how important are things like data visualization in today's environment? You know, just going off of what you're just talking about you know, we need to be able to display and show what's happening, what's telling the story of what's going on with whatever we're trying to show us. How important would you say data visualization is now?
Well, that's a really tricky question because I think that most people have too many things on their graphs and on their charts and they're actually confusing and overwhelming the parts of the brain that decides. And so data visualization in my world is more about how do we take what we can see and how do we translate that into stories and pictures and things that are non-financial but get the, get the point across to our clients. So I actually think that we are probably still providing the average lay person, small business owner with far too much in order for them to make decisions. I think that we're too ambitious about what we think that they can comprehend and grasp and what they can actually comprehend and grasp. You know, I was at an expo booth about 18 months ago and I overheard one of the vendors talking about how they could now wrap 16 variables on one graph. And I just shook my head and laughed to myself because they don't get it. You know, we need to remove complexity. Your ability to get paid a premium price as an accountant is directly proportionate to the number of things that you take off of your client's plate. So if you can remove complexity and increase clarity, focus the man on the one or two things that they need to do and get rid of the other 40 you're going to get paid more money because you're going to have impact. You're going to actually create impact. If your client comes to you with 40 things on their to do lists and they leave with 38 you haven't done your job. You know, and, and my, my views on this is probably quite different. And what a lot of other people running, you know, power BI and all these, you know, people are thinking, but what we're doing is we're creating dashboards using those tools for us, right? We're doing what we want, not what the client wants. And that's a huge dilemma because if you are very, very good, you know, like look at the biggest, you know, business showman that had ever been, the people that Steve jobs, the Richard Branson, most guys are highly charismatic, you know, an effective at getting their point across and at getting people, you know, bought into or evangelizing the journey and they are able to tell the stories and you know, do it. So yes, if you are really good at communicating and getting people to see the vision and I understand the story, you might be able to get away with a power BI dashboard, but by in large, if you're talking to a small business owner, it's too much for them.
So we've covered, you know, many different topics throughout our conversations. And just to kind of sum things up, you know what recommendations do you have for the future of our accounting and finance listeners?
I think the biggest recommendation is keep your mind open to learning, right? Because as we learn and grow, we earned the right and the privilege to help our clients with more and more complex issues. You know, right now people by and large are coming to us as accountants with often the same problem over and over and over again in their business. It doesn't serve us to obfuscate their financial performance. We need to find ways to turn the lights on for these people. The other thing is, is that I would highly recommend focusing on high touch as the answer. Not high tech tech is going to always be there and yes, we need to roll with the times. We need to know how to use things because they're automating a lot of what we do and, and there's huge power and leverage and all of that stuff. The most valuable skill that we can get is our ability to sit with a client and to really ask the tough questions. You know, it's not unusual when I'm doing diagnostics to have, you know, 70% of the time the client will express tears and paint. We need to get people to that point when we're working with them because that's where the leverage is. You know, when we know what really is keeping these people up at night, what's worrying them, what's upsetting them. We can then work with them in collaboration, not controlling the living daylights out of it, collaborating with them to help them find their own solutions and to run a more successful business. You know, that's, that's the future of our profession and it's a noble one. It's an honorable one. It's something that we can get enormous satisfaction from because we're helping people to put food on the table, you know, put their kids in school and pay for vacations because we've helped them run a more successful business.
This has been Count Me In,
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