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Is it Worth Getting a CPA or Should You Skip Getting a CPA?

Question: is it worth getting a CPA today? When I was probably 23, I think I was about 23 years old when I actually quit my job doing accounting. I had this boss at the time, he was a partner at this accounting firm and he was sort of an old crusty guy. When I say crusty, I don’t think crusty and old necessarily have to go together. You could be old and not crusty. I know a lot of older people like that, but this guy was a little crusty and he was just kind of real old school in his thinking, really not open-minded to “Hey, maybe things can be done a little bit differently.”  I remember he sat me down, “Oh Andrew, you know, if you leave right now, if you leave the firm right now, and don’t stay for another three years…” 

I’d just been promoted and I had been promoted early to this new position. I always say, the best time to leave a job is whenever you get promoted because are you really going to stick around for the next promotion?  So, I just got promoted and I was like, okay, I’m not going to stick around for three years for this next promotion. So I might as well go ahead and quit. I wanted to start my own business at the time, but he knew that I wanted to start my own business and he said, “Andrew, if you quit right now, nobody’s going to take you seriously.”  

That kind of rattled me a little bit, but at the same time, I knew that I didn’t want to be where he was, even though he does pretty well. I estimate he probably makes a million a year himself, in terms of what he gets paid from the job. As a partner at a very large firm, so he does well, but he also was probably late fifties and gave up his entire life to do that. He was basically an employee, at a lot of these larger accounting firms, even if you’re a partner, you’re really still kind of an employee and there’s nothing wrong with being an employee. I just knew that that wasn’t the path for me.

So, I went out and ended up quitting anyway. I think that, for most people that are doing accounting or accountants, they feel like they need to go the traditional path. You feel this at all levels. If you’re just getting started, you think, “Oh my gosh, I need to have this bachelor’s degree and it needs to be at this good university.” . And then you feel like, “Oh, I got to have a master’s and I’ve got to have a CPA or I got to get an EA or I got to be a QuickBooks pro advisor and all this.”  You just sorta get caught up in it.

Then you think, “Oh, I need to get a job and I need to work that job for a certain period of time.” For anyone who feels like they want to have their own business, you feel like you have to do all these things to sort of check the box.  I think it goes to the accounting mentality a little bit. Like you feel like if you do all these little tiny things and you check off every little piece of it, then you’ll be ready and be successful. You have all your ducks in a row or whatever. I really couldn’t find that to be farther from the truth, I would say pretty much all the big things I’ve experienced at all, the people that I’ve worked with that have done big things…if they stuck to what you’re supposed to be doing, nowhere near as powerful as when they quit. Is it worth getting a CPA then?

I had a client recently who, she’s making probably $60,000 a year in a job working for a large manufacturing company and in her late thirties, senior accountant. Not the best job at that stage of your life and of your career. She quit, and within 11 months, she’s doing over half a million a year in sales in her own accounting firm, and she’s just doing tax planning and tax preparation. You would think that someone who is 38, 39 years old, who has a job and is a senior accountant, wouldn’t be the best entrepreneur. But the reality of it is that she was just sort of stifled, her personality never really fit well in the job environment.

She did well, but she was never really motivated and inspired. Never really pushed to the next level. As soon as she got out and started working for herself, boom. I mean, it just went to an entire other level and way more successful than anybody that she’d been working for and with before. So, it doesn’t really matter where you’re at. In fact, some of the people that I’ve worked with that are the most successful are often the least experienced. It’s sort of a strange way, it’s almost like if you get too much of the traditional experience, it almost holds you back and cripples you. 

There’s a woman that I worked with, she’s literally got a firm that does over $900,000 a year in sales now. This shocked me when I first discovered this. She literally does not have a college degree of any kind, and when I first figured this out, I started to realize, “Hey, some of the most successful people I know aren’t the people that have a CPA and have a master’s degree and have 20 years experience.” Those people that went the traditional path and stuck to it are often sort of stuck in their ways. They’re not able to think, they don’t have an open mind, they’re not willing to take risks and not willing to put themselves out there. They’re not willing to face fears, they’re just looking for another stamp of approval for someone else to say, “Yes, you can do this.” So, I think that the biggest challenge that most people doing accounting have is just taking that step out.

I’m not saying not taking care of your clients, not learning how to deliver the services, not educating yourself…I mean, obviously you should do all of those things, but do you need to do it in the traditional form? I really don’t think you do anymore. We’ve taken people who literally have no background in accounting and help them create a successful firm. Then you have these people that have CPA licenses and a decade of experience and they can’t break $50,000 a year in sales. It just really doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. As long as you’re hungry, you’re willing to learn the information, you care about doing good work for the clients and you actually want to be good.

You don’t have to go the mundane traditional path. Is it worth getting a CPA? Maybe, but maybe not. So, I just want to shoot this quick video and let you guys know that if you’re feeling like, “I need to go back and get a CPA or an EA, or I need to go back and get another degree” and all this, well, what if you just went out and started focusing on getting better at actually helping the clients? What if you focused on getting more clients? How many clients have you talked to this week? How many clients have you sat down with and figured out do they want to work with you? Potential clients or the existing clients you have? How many sat down with you in the last week or two and said, “Hey, what could we be doing more? What would really change the game for you? How could we expand margins? How could we increase profits? Is there an opportunity to reduce taxes? Is there something we can do to create incentives on your team to boost sales?”

Are we really caring and digging in with the clients? If you’re doing that, that’s worth a hell of a lot more than another degree or some fancy certification. So, I just want to shoot this quick video and let you guys know that if you’re interested in learning more, you want to hear a little bit more about some of the people that I’ve worked with that have gone through this sort of transformation, even though they have no experience, what are some of the key things I think people need to do, whether they’re literally getting started from scratch or you are transitioning and had a decade of experience… if you want to be successful with the firm, whether you’re doing outsource, CFO, outsource controller, bookkeeping, tax preparation, tax planning, I went ahead and linked a free training that I’ve done. So, go ahead and check it out and I will see you guys on the other side. It should be a link right around this video and once you click through it’s just going to ask for your name and your email. Go ahead and put that in and we’ll get started here in the next few minutes. All right, guys, see you there.

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AccountingTax.com by Andrew Argue is now Corvee