You. Are. Not. Alone.

You may not believe it, but my average day is packed with plenty of emotion. Yes, I’m a business “consultant,” and yes, I have an accounting degree, so that may be a little unexpected.

You see, in the normal course of my job I work with owners of businesses or their key managers, and for the vast majority of them the work isn’t ‘just business,’ it’s personal. Many of the clients I work for are multi-generational owners – the business has been in the family for years and for some they started the business from nothing and built it into what it is now. In either case, who they are, as an owner or key manager, is how they define themselves. It’s part of who they are, and they can’t separate it from their personal self either.

As I get to work with these people, I find that emotion often has a way of rising to the surface. They celebrate closing a big sale or getting the “Thompson account.” I see them visibly exhale when we get word the bank has approved the loan or express deep thanks to a vendor that carried them through a rough patch.

I also see the anguish over needing to terminate an employee who’s been around for many years but clearly is no longer a fit, the texts to let me know they may have a hard time making the next payroll, or the very real tears over a partnership under distress.

…and as I mentioned, I have an accounting degree. So when I hang up the phone or come back to the office and see the bit of paper on my wall that shows my degree or the one next to it that says I’m licensed to practice public accounting, I think to myself, “Nothing I learned in school has prepared me for this… what should I tell them?”

Well, the first thing I tell them is: “You are not alone.”

  • You are not the only one struggling with a software system conversion.
  • You are not the only one with cash flow problems.
  • You are not the only one with an underperforming employee.
  • You are not the only one who has waited too long to start a succession plan.
  • You are not the only one with a slow paying customer.
  • You are not the only one whose industry is going through a decline.
  • You are not the only one who has to lay someone off.
  • You are not the only one whose business stress is affecting your marriage.
  • You are not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.

You. Are. Not. Alone.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to develop a strategy to face these challenges but know that there are others out there who are facing similar challenges as you. Whatever you’re dealing with may be new to you, but it’s not new.

Advisors are a great way to help with ideas, use as a sounding board, or to help execute a plan – but I’d encourage you to seek out other people in similar positions like yours and lean on them as well. Call it group therapy if you want, but knowing there are others out there who were once where you are now and getting the chance to see how they made it through, will be enormously beneficial to you. Others who go before us prove there is life beyond this point, and we can get there too.

And if that doesn’t work try getting an accounting degree, maybe it will do you more good than its done for me.

About the Author
Geoff Chinnock is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Business & Accounting Advisory practice. To get in touch with Geoff, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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