03 June 2009

The Grand Illusion or: What I Want To Do When I Grow Up

I haven't really gone into just why I've embarked on the path toward becoming a certified public accountant. It's not just because I have a deep, abiding love of doing lower arithmetic for more money than the skill set ought to be worth, since any third-grader who's good at math has the minimum skill set required to do accounting. I have a nearly religious-fanatic level of zeal for making sure my work is contributing meaningfully to the betterment of those around me. My passion is in seeing people do things they didn't think they could do, and my ego is satisfied by knowing my influence had a lot to do with why. If I get filthy rich in the process, that's just a nice perk---all I really need is enough money to live and retire on and maybe support some of my bad habits on the side.

With that in mind, I've set up a long-range plan, a goal toward which everything else is merely a means to an end. I can sum it up simply as "I want to provide big-business accounting and financial management services to small-business owners at small-business prices." There are a lot of blue-collar people out there running truck repair shops and restaurants and plumbing businesses, and they didn't get into business to juggle numbers all day. They got into business to fix trucks and cook food and fix pipes. If I'm able to offer them a way out of having to do the dreary stuff with the finances, if I'm able to offer them a chance to grow their business's cash base through smart management they wouldn't otherwise be able to do, and if I'm able to do all of this at a price they can afford (and which beats any competitors in my marketplace), I think that kind of business can be tremendously successful.

I have the advantage of going local; in a perfect world, I set up in the suburbs. Maybe the town square/downtown in a New England town like the one I grew up in. My kids will be friends with their kids; my kids will play sports with their kids in the park and on the Little League fields (maybe even wearing jerseys that say the name of my firm which sponsors the team); my wife will get to know their wives. If I'm part of a community like that I figure it'll be not only easier to raise a client list, but it will also help to satisfy that part of my personality that wants to see real impact from my work. It'll keep me motivated; as the old folk wisdom goes, "Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

The fact that I could possibly gain a whole lot of money and possibly a fair bit of influence (running for city council/mayor/state assembly, for example) out of it is just a really nice perk. I can't ignore those capitalistic impulses, but they're not what drive me. Nobody ever stayed motivated for long just by chasing a paycheck. I know this from experience.

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