Yes, you heard me right! We like to think that delivering business advisory is much like baking a cake.
It might surprise you to know that chocolate cake is not my favourite cake? I’m more of a cheesecake kinda guy. Actually, I had the most amazing salted caramel mille feuille recently which was probably the best pudding I’ve ever had! So why have I chosen an image of a chocolate cake? Well, if you’ve ever seen MasterChef, you’ll probably know that that a nemesis (and no, not a chocolate nemesis – although those are quite fab!) of so many contestants is a chocolate fondant. They really are tricky to do. When done well, they’re amazing and win huge praise. When done badly, they are disastrous and can spell the end of the road for the contestant. The margin between good and bad is wafer thin….and nobody knows until they’re cut open!
Enough about chocolate fondant – what has this got to do with business advisory and baking a cake?
The key to baking a cake
If you’ve ever baked a cake, you’ll know that baking is pretty scientific and winging it, is just not an option! Ingredients and the recipe are key. And more specifically, measuring the ingredients accurately [understanding what you’ve got and what you’ll need to get] and following the recipe [plan] religiously are critical to success.
It’s really hard to bake a cake without a recipe, and those that do, usually end in disaster. It’s just not like other forms of cooking where you can try a few things and change on the fly until you get the desired taste. And checking the oven to see how the cake is coming along and making adjustments to cooking time or temperature are also vital to ensure you get the desired result. That is a cake that looks just like the recipe book or the fondant above [monitor and adjust]. But don’t open the door! Unless you’re baking in an Aga, that is.
This is a defining moment
For years accountants have been told to move from compliance to advisory. “Compliance is dead!” is an often-heard rallying cry. We know this isn’t the case. Small businesses will always need assurance over the raft of constantly changing regulations and legislation. Compliance is here to stay. But for most accountants, a pure focus on compliance services doesn’t deliver sustainable profitability. Combining compliance AND advisory is a path that does work for many (including the larger accounting firms). But it’s not just about more money………. it’s also about more impact and more happiness.
Are we going to continue to report on history or are we going to help our clients create history?
An old quote from Andy Gove (Intel) springs to mind, and I paraphrase…. “we are at an inflection point, where nothing less than a fundamental shift in strategy is sufficient”. He was talking about the cloud, hence the relevance to accountants. I think it’s way more important, crucial and basic than that. Given what’s happening in the world and in business at the moment, we are at a defining moment. As accountants, are we content to continue to report on history? Or, are we going to listen to what our clients desperately want and need from us, and help them create history? Just imagine, creating magic for them and creating magic for ourselves, our team and firm in the process.
So what is business advisory and how does a firm implement or scale business advisory services? Advisory certainly has been a tough nut to crack and scale in the past! Success at business and business advisory is much the same as baking a cake.
Quite simply to deliver business advisory:
- you need to understand where your clients are now [what ingredients do you have in the cupboard];
- where could/should they get to [what cake can you make with the existing ingredients or should you make a different cake with other readily available ingredients];
- calculate the gap [what ingredients and utensils do you need to bake];
- create a plan [check out the picture, get a recipe and create an action plan with timings]; and
- measure and monitor actual results against the plan [check the oven and adjust temperature and timings as necessary]
Business advisory really is that easy. In fact, this exact same framework is used by large scale consulting agencies, Big4 firms, small niche advisory accounting firms and pretty much any other business in wealth management, marketing, branding, time management, cake making – you name it!
Why has it been so hard to implement and scale business advisory?
Traditionally, business advisory hasn’t properly leveraged the right combination of people, process and technology.
Advisory services are often delivered by more senior team members (partners and managers), to top clients and often with a bespoke service. This works well for our top-tier clients, who can afford and are prepared to pay for that type of service. Senior team members have limited time, so what happens when we try to introduce more junior members to the equation and offer advisory services, using traditional methodologies, to our smaller clients?
The more junior team don’t have the experience and existing systems and processes are still heavily dependent on time-starved senior team assisting, training or delivering. Smaller businesses are not prepared (or able) to pay the fees associated with a bespoke service and the most senior team members. And often, partners assume that smaller businesses, who reluctantly pay for accounts and tax returns, won’t want to pay for advisory services – even though they do pay for coaches, mentors and business organisations.
At Clarity, we understand that the top 20% of clients will always want, and the firm will inherently deliver, a great (often unstructured) advisory service. We also understand (from our years of working in accounting and delivering niche business advisory services to small business owners) what business advisory is, how it’s priced and delivered and how to introduce and scale advisory services using the right combination of people, process and technology.
Our platform, high impact and award-winning strategies, proven framework and processes enable you to introduce and/or scale business advisory services that small business owners want, at a price that they are prepared to pay and in a way that delivers profitable revenue to the firm.
Our implementation and education programmes, mean the right people are in the right seats; creating, pricing, implementing and delivering business advisory services within a short but realistic timeframe.
Join the revolution
“Accountants can change the world!”
HRH The Prince of Wales
Imagine if you too were revolutionising the way business advisory were delivered, enriching the lives of your clients, your firm and your team. Let’s not continue to report on history, let’s create history!
Just imagine that…..
About clarity – the global business advisory solution
Clarity is a global platform that combines the power of cutting-edge technology and proven award-winning systems to enable our members (accountants, bookkeepers and advisers) to create, package, price and deliver added-value business advisory services to their small business clients. By doing this, we help them increase revenue by 50%, net profits by 125%, engage their team, free up time and create freedom – helping their clients to do the same along the way.
We understand that Clarity is not for everyone. But we do know that for those that successfully implement, Clarity enriches the firm, its team and clients.
If you’d like to get started straight away or find out how Clarity can help drive your firm’s profitability, then please contact our team and set up a call to see how our members have done just that, some during their first two weeks!
PS the inspiration for this article has come from my incomparable mentor, Paul Dunn. I am in your debt, as always!