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An opportunity to stop and think

9th Aug 2012
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BTC’s Andrew Ross explains why his company decided to throw its weight behind AccountingWEB’s new practice mentoring project.

I’ve been an enthusiast for the mentoring approach after learning about it and seeing its benefits among company directors and development specialists I worked with earlier in my career.

A number of recent conversations with our customers and among AccountingWEB members in Any Answers set me thinking about how mentoring could be extended to small practitioners via the web. One potential customer in particular was asking a lot about our practice management software and how to deploy it to best effect in his own business. He made me realise that there’s a lot of potential for offering general advice on how to move forward with your practice.

At BTCSoftware we specifically target the small and medium-size practice market. Tax and accountancy software is very competitive, which makes it difficult to position yourself. Some people are still persuaded that quality is always associated with price, and we’re determined to prove that you can get good functionality and support without paying a price that makes you say, “Ouch.”

We think that this mentoring initiative will enhance our reputation as a provider of authoritative expertise and build our credibility in the marketplace.

A lot of customers we deal with are pretty new, just coming into practice on their own, or merging with other practices after running their own show. They’re facing all the pressures we’re aware of with fees, differentiating themselves and growing the business.

At the other end of the spectrum we have a lot of practitioners who have been around a while and done it all before. We thought it would be very useful for them to engage with newer entrants and help them along the way.

We’ve already had an enthusiastic response from the customers who say nice things about us in Any Answers.

One practitioner who regularly chips in with advice on the site is our first mentor recruit. He has a generous attitude and likes to give a leg up to others. He’s already involved in a network himself and was keen to be involved in the AccountingWEB mentoring project.

As we’ve seen with so many of the Olympic volunteers, there is a keen willingness in this country for people to put something back. These are challenging times and a lot of accountants remember what things were like when they were setting out. The profession isn’t dog eat dog - there’s a good degree of altruism out there.

And as I found myself in the past, mentoring someone presents a great opportunity to stop and think.

We all get bogged down by day-to-day deadlines and concerns. Having to think about others’ questions makes you think about how you do stuff. Very useful insights can come out of asking yourself those questions. 

Let us know if you'd like to get involved in the AccountingWEB-BTCSoftware mentoring project.


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Replies (2)

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Heather Townsend - accountant's coach
By Heather Townsend
31st Aug 2012 19:21

The importance of mentoring

It's a great initiative. As someone who mentors/coaches many small practitioners - particularly helping them with their marketing and strategic side of running the practice, I see many of my clients really benefit from having someone to talk to and tap into their experience and knowledge. 

Even though I am not an accountant (just worked with many of them since 2004), there is no one who really teaches you how to run a business. Be a brilliant technician yes, but run a practice - warts and all, no. Even the partners in large firms don't get much experience in running a business. Whereas for solo practitioners, the full weight of all the functions of running a business falls on their shoulders. Tough ask - which is why I see so many of my clients flourish when they start working with a mentor (paid or otherwise)

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By The Practitioner
04th Sep 2012 20:00

Can we have an exam in this?

Quite right Heather. I have always thought it was a crime that the ICAEW puts us through the most gruelling technical training and yet offers us no practical training on how to run an accountancy business! Thankfully, as this Blog demonstrates, there are many altruistic accountants out there prepared to mentor and coach others, and of course there are the networks like AVN and 2020 where practitioners can meet and learn from their peers.

Good to see AccountingWEB providing a platform for this.


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