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Imagine an organisation as a bus: how versatile are accounting & finance professionals? My wish: social, environmental & economic profits. Can all roles across all sectors be entrepreneurial? My aim with this series: embrace, integrate change entrepreneurially. Next up: Horizons.
My name is Werner from 123CY. I inspire entrepreneurship and innovation in fellow humans. I love the hashtag #GrowInGratitude
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#Entrepreneurship #NewVentureCreation #AccountingAndFinance
Dear Ms/Mr Accounting & Finance Professional
Once upon a time, I was a bus-boy
My father was the first accounting and finance professional I encountered. He obtained his B.Compt part-time from UNISA, in his thirties, while working full-time, supporting his family, and playing various roles in our community, ranging from church to organising street braais. Garsfontein, Pretoria. During his career at the Municipality of Pretoria, he headed up the public transport division for a number of years. This gave me the opportunity to experience the ins and outs of bus transport, as a primary school boy.
Now, imagine a business, NGO or governmental organisation as a big bus …
It has a reason for existing, short and long term goals, many resources and roleplayers partaking in its operation.
In days gone by, a conductor would walk down the aisle and engage with every passenger.
“Good morning, Ma’am, may I have your ticket, please?”
“Oh, good morning to you. There you go.”
The conductor would take the ticket, inspect its validity. As he clipped it with his stainless steel clipper, he would momentarily make eye contact with the passenger, smile slightly, a sparkle in his eye.
The completion of the entire cycle of the life of this bus just happened in the moment when he clipped a valid, prepaid ticket. He feels secure in the knowledge that the ticket cash has been received in the bus’s bank account and reconciled through sound controls in the bus’s solid control environment.
What roles do you think accounting and finance professionals play in the bus analogy above?
How versatile are Accounting and Finance Professionals?
Many accounting and finance professionals make up the players in the teams of CFOs (including managerial accountants), auditors, etcetera, i.e. the conductor, as described in the bus analogy, across all sectors. Those responsible for ensuring that the business/NGO/government organisation’s value propositions are completely exchanged for cash or that cash receipts are used for the value-for-money delivery of the organisation’s value propositions.
Many accounting and finance professionals also play roles outside of the teams of CFOs: CEOs, directors, entrepreneurs, non-financial leadership and management roles, education, business advisers, etcetera. In bus terms, owner of the bus company, driver, navigator, route planner, maintenance head, and so on. Often one will find a visionary CEO or Chief Innovation Officer, with a background in accounting and finance, who conceives of the perfect wings for the bus, leading to an airbus, scaling the business to stratospheric levels.
It is against the backdrop of this diversity, in terms of financial and non-financial roles, both in and outside employment, that I make my case for X shades of entrepreneurship for accounting and finance professionals:
I argue that most accounting and finance professionals can further enhance their existing entrepreneurial competencies, thereby facilitating continuous improvement and entrepreneurship through revolutionary and incremental innovation in the internal and external of their workplaces. This, of course includes part-time and full-time entrepreneurship in free enterprise. X million shades for X million financial and accounting professionals.
Opening the Conversation + My Wish for You
My wish for every accounting and finance professional is that s/he will:
- Discover their greatest gifts,talents,abilities, throughout their life journeys,
- Transform said gifts to competencies through life-long learning, and
- Exchange said competencies for value with others, always on the foundation of
- A trust-inspiring character, which also grows through life, with every ‘trust-building interaction*.’
[* A trust-building interaction is where a commitment is made and fulfilled by an individual or team of individuals.]
What is your wish for your fellow accounting and finance professionals? What do you wish for your clients/customers/suppliers/stakeholders?
Social, Environmental & Economic Profit?
Let us strive towards Social Profit
When I engage with another human being in life (love, learn, work, play and yada yada) and we both learn, grow, get inspired. When each of us contributes our best to the interaction, for a greater good. This, to me, represents a profitable social interaction.
How about you? What do you think?
Let us strive towards Environmental Profit
When I engage with Nature, natural resources etcetera, in a way that allows Nature and her resources to be sustained, replenished, restored: respected as humanity’s most crucial life partner.
How do you view profitable or positive environmental engagement?
Let us strive towards Economic Profit
In millennia gone by, before money arose from culture, it would have been me swordsmithing for you in exchange for new leather boots and a coat from you. Or your bread for my goat’s milk cheese. A clear expectation of reciprocity would guide many of our exchanges.
Today we exchange money for products and services borne from increasingly complex chains of transactions. So, the provider of satellite internet services may never meet her/his providers of tomatoes and cheese.
Our innate expectation of reciprocity is still with us, guiding us towards fairness in the value of our exchanges.
A question: are our value exchanges fair, socially and environmentally speaking?
Let us keep constructively questioning every one of our value exchanges in terms of social fairness, from our lowest paid employee to our transactions with the biggest companies and governmental organisations in recorded history.
Are our value exchanges fair to the environment?
I think, feel, believe that this is the only constructive way to increase the number of fair value exchanges in the diverse economy(ies) of the world.
What do you think: do we need to increase the number of fair value exchanges in the world, considering economic, social and environmental value or profitability?
Do all roles across all sectors harbour/require entrepreneurial and innovation potential?
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Public Practice vs Business vs NPOs (‘PSOs’) vs Employment vs Advisory/Consultancy? Audacious of me to attempt to embrace accounting and finance professionals in all roles across all sectors, I know. Plus, my framework above is far from comprehensive. Let me thereby reaffirm my love for the bigger picture.
I will however create and weave a number of golden threads throughout this conversation series, to stitch and keep my big picture travel path together. E.g. like trees, humans flourish and bear fruit when they keep growing in a nourished environment where there is just enough competition or challenges.
For instance, referring to my use of ‘50 Shades of Entrepreneurship,’ which actually refers to X million shades of entrepreneurship, X being the number of accounting and finance professionals breathing today. Every person has their own shade of entrepreneurship and innovation potential.
[Side note in question form: Why hasn’t anybody counted the number of accounting and finance professionals in the world, today? I truly struggled to find a credible number, to use for X shades in the title … ]
I argue that every individual accounting and finance professional observes gaps/room for improvement from their point of view, professionally and personally speaking. Some focus inside organisations, some externally. Some focus at community, country, continental or world level. My conversation with you, Ms/Mr Accounting and Finance Professional, is simply to inspire, your own entrepreneurial style, wherever you might be positioned.
Why do I feel compelled to do so?
Let me note a few examples.
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Public Practice
Accounting and finance professionals in public practice increasingly need to become more entrepreneurial, with e.g. technology (cloud, automation, integration etcetera) fast eroding many of the transaction processing responsibilities which used to be the domain of accounting and finance professionals. Building on e.g. competencies in financial strategy, reporting etcetera to become holistic strategic and business advisors, conversationalists and business model thinkers could stand professionals in very good stead into the future. Entrepreneurial development may be a key ingredient in this mix.
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Business
I have been inspired by accounting and finance professionals blazing business trails since the 80s, as a young boy, observing my grandfather and uncle’s growth as entrepreneurs.
In my experience, as startup coach, it has become abundantly clear:
Developing entrepreneurial competencies in concert with qualifications and experience in accounting and finance makes for very robust entrepreneurs.
The above also holds true for accounting and finance professionals venturing into so-called side-hustles, 10% (of your time) businesses, etcetera.
Particularly in individuals who realise the depths of their well of talents, gifts, abilities … Start something every five years until deep into your nineties, come on!
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Non-Profit Organisations (‘PSOs’*)
* To me, #LanguageMatters, as language carries powerful symbolic truths, psychologically speaking, into our consciousness. When I work with social entrepreneurs or brothers and sisters in the NPO sector, I encourage them to transition from using the term ‘Non-Profit Organisation’ to ‘Pro-Surplus Organisation.’ As a startup coach, I therefore strive to inspire fully-fledged business model development within the sector, leading to astute management of PSOs’ growing cash surpluses, to fund organisational growth through better value-for-money service delivery, etcetera.
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Permanent Employment
As in the paragraphs above, accounting and finance professionals fulfill a variety of roles in formal employment, whether employed in government, business or the ‘PSO’ (NPO) sectors.
Particularly with the exponential rise of automation, integration technologies, etcetera, to evolve business reporting and administration ever closer to real-time accuracy, completeness and so on, accounting and finance professionals play a pivotal role in these seismic shifts occurring throughout the economy around the globe.
Accounting and Finance Professionals in Business Advisory/Consultancy
I think that an increasing number of accounting and finance professionals will partially or completely transition to these roles, external and internal to organisations, across all sectors, due to various factors described before, like technology. The following question might be worthwhile: What unique value propositions can accounting and finance professionals offer as business advisers and consultants, over and above existing functions disappearing due to the rise of tech?
My main aim therefore, with this conversation series?
Through this conversation series, and the 12-week New Venture Creation programme I created with and for the UFS Business School, I aim to inculcate an embodied business-model-centric ‘re-languaging’ in accounting and finance professionals, for you to:
- Be better prepared for the change, the exponential transformation occurring before our eyes, throughout the world,
- View and execute any role through a continuous improvement entrepreneurial lens, and enhance your personal value propositions,
- Integrate your existing, well-developed competencies with entrepreneurial and business model thinking, and
- Get that jolt of inspiration and enthusiasm, through an enabling entrepreneurial journey, to take that leap into a side-hustle, scale an existing business, or conquer that multi-national market you have been putting off for too long.