His name is Paul Foster. He is revolutionizing a profession. He describes his practice as "a business advisory firm," an accounting firm working on a differentiation strategy in the business advisory industry. His focus is on small business owners, farmers and professionals with gross revenues up to $5 million who are looking to grow, are pro-technology and who have the desire and opportunity to differentiate themselves in their markets.
A few months prior to meeting Linda in June 2006, Paul attended his annual conference for Ran One, which focused on the concept of accountants being coaches for their business clients. Recognizing that his firm is also his first client, he determined a need to have his own coach as a means of growing his business as well as for learning and understanding more about coaching skills by experiencing them firsthand.
Linda had been coaching for a few years, but her coaching practice hadn't been as financially successful as she had anticipated. She actually initiated contact with Paul as a means of determining the viability of her practice. The timing was perfect for both business owners. Paul would provide the business advisory expertise and Linda would provide the coaching expertise.
Paul's desired result was to expedite the transition of his firm into a uniquely differentiated business advisory firm. He recognized that to accomplish his goal, he would need someone to hold his feet to the fire and to improve his time management skills. He also wanted to have the type of coaching experience that he could promote to his clients.
After several meetings, Paul expanded the coaching initiative to include his entire team.
This brought to light the fact that some team members no longer fit with Paul's vision for the firm. When it was discovered that one team member in particular was "the wrong person to have on our bus, Linda helped me transition him to the right bus."
Linda helped Paul realize that there were certain things he kept thinking he was going to do but never did. Together, Linda and Paul further developed the concept that "in order to grow businesses, you need to grow the owner."
After successfully implementing this concept in Paul's firm, Linda and Paul collaborated to successfully bring this model to other joint engagements.
The Value Delivered
"As for the return on investment, I believe it has been quite high," Paul comments. "The quality-of-life improvements are the most visible to me; as well as the clarity with respect to how to approach business owners and undertake changes in their business.
"We all know that accountants have historically been the most trusted advisors to small business owners. I also know that accountants are business owners themselves, and therefore often suffer from the same challenges as other industry professionals who are excellent technicians but lack the necessary leadership and management skills to operate their businesses productively.
"It is quite clear that the addition of a qualified coach can first assist the accounting practitioner to improve his business and understand the true value provided in the coaching and advisory relationship with the client. The coach and the accountant can then combine to utilize their complementary skills in growing the business clients of the accountant and have a reasonable chance of implementing positive change and growth of a permanent nature."
Linda also assisted Paul in the areas of website development, trademark application, conceptualization of the idea of providing business therapy services digitally and utilizing the Ranone toolbox. Perhaps most significant is the support Linda offered Paul in his effort to establish the thought leadership that has lead to the formation of a new profession - business therapy.