Sitting on the steps of the New York City Library I was filled with self doubt and questioning whether I had made the right decision. I had just left the accounting firm I helped build. I was there for fourteen years. I broke away from the firm and I was on my own. Even though I had advised hundreds of businesses concerning their finances I had never been in control of my very own business. Sitting between the famous Library Lions on those steps I truly felt I was walking into a jungle with nothing but my wits and intuition to guide me. In reality, this was not the case, because I was equipped with training and experience but I sure was nervous! As a partner in a regional CPA firm in New York City, I was responsible for internal operations. I developed the billing and management systems and trained the junior accountants during their first year. When I joined the firm there was three partners, two bookkeepers and me. I was the accounting staff. When I left we had close to 60 employees, 5 partners and three offices in NYC, Chicago and West Palm Beach, Fl. The growth of the firm had been phenomenal. I suggested to the other partners that we modernize our internal systems. I was put in charge of the project. I still remember walking into the office of the most senior partner and his bald head just visible over the pages of his huge client ledger book. All he needed was a quill pen and a green eye shade and he would have looked like he came right out of a Dickens’s novel. This was going to be a big challenge indeed!
Over the next several years I gained valuable experience upgrading the management systems of the firm and spearheading the conversion of our client base from manual books to automated systems. The accounting world was in the midst of huge changes due to the development of the personal computer and I was in the eye of the storm. Actually, this situation reminds of how some businesses are embracing social media marketing and others are resisting using it. Twenty-five years ago some small businesses were resisting automation itself!
As it turned out, my fears and worries about leaving the company never came to pass, my clients followed me, new clients developed and before long I had a staff of four to manage. This was a new business but it was not started from scratch. I started with several clients, a line of credit with the bank and a reputation that invited referrals. I bought a state of the art computer system which had 3 terminals, a magnetic tape back-up system, and used 40 megabytes of memory. Yes, that’s right 40 megs. It cost $ 20,000 too!
Now as co- founder of ISL Financial we are starting our business from scratch. We have computers, access to capital, and state of the art management systems. We are developing our client base from scratch. My wife Sue and I have very different interests and styles. We successfully worked together in New York and I am eager work with her in bringing our unique approach to businesses in Southwest Fla.
I took a sabbatical to develop my spiritual and creative interests. Through the knowledge I gained these past several years I have a confidence that will steer me to be successful in whatever I chose to do.
As you can see I am excited about starting two new ventures from scratch. My business venture and learning how to play golf for the first time! The first year of my sabbatical one my goals was to see how many days I could just walk around in a bathing suit. Several times I reached 20 days in a row but eventually the novelty wore off. Now my closet is full with “business casual” attire and golf shirts. I am ready for work and play!
I am not surprised, and I suggest that you don’t be either, that when you are reading this that it speaks to your wanting to break away and have new exciting and different experiences. Now you have joined me in this part of the process and all of your comments, questions and suggestions are welcomed