Some 3 years ago when I started my business I was so green and primitive to what I take for granted today. I was armed with home designed “Vista Print” business cards (if you don’t know who they are – they are these cheap DIY online design company that produces great “Cheap & Nasty” goods), a very poor pitch, tons of fear and a very weak grasp of the Sydney Small Business and Entrepreneur Scene.
It took me some years to really get a handle on it and one of the amazing successful business men I met when I first started my business was this High-End Greek Accountant by the name of Jim Vass. I found him to be a very kind, yet very direct and impactful type of fellow and our original friendly banter was what Greek Men usually remind me of – when they killed tons of my Persian Ancestors many years ago.
Yes, get it out you Greeks. Yes, you did kill heaps of my ancestors years ago. But your currency has collapsed and Germany is buying out Greece now – so ha ha! x x
But going back to the actual Business Point of this article and taking out my obvious “Sour Grapes” for Jim’s Ancestors kicking my Ancestors Butt – I am very lucky to be friends with a man like Jim Vass. He has built one amazing business, is very successful and has given me amazing advice over the years that has helped me improve bit by bit to the “Persian Marketing Mentor” I am today. After going for a drive in Jim’s new Convertible BMW (which I loved), we had a few drinks at the nearby Parramatta Leagues Club.
As an impromptu interview recording it with my Samsung Galaxy S4 – it was a great opportunity to get some amazing advice off Jim and here is Raw, Unscripted Story. I got a lot out of it and I hope you do! And of course if you like what you are hearing and want to take your business and marketing skills to that next level – make sure you check out my Awesome Marketing Vault right here!
I hope you enjoy the recording and feel free to review the transcript included.
Thank you from Edward Zia – Small Business Marketing Mentor and Proud Ally of Jim Vass!
Edward Zia: Hello everyone this is Edward Zia here. I’m actually sitting at Parramatta Leagues Club right now overlooking a beautiful car park right now with the amazing entrepreneur, business owner, and CPA Jim Vass. Say hello to everyone Jim Vass.
Jim Vass: Hello Ed and hello everybody.
Edward Zia: There you go we’ve got Jim Vass on the line. Have a guess what we’re doing? Why don’t you tell the audience what we’re doing right now Jim.
Jim Vass: I’m having low-carb beer and Ed’s having some grapefruit.
Edward Zia: Exactly. It’s a house Shiraz.
Jim Vass: Yes.
Edward Zia: We’re eating some Samboy salt and vinegar chips aren’t we Jim.
Jim Vass: Yes, of course we are. It’s a perfect way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.
Edward Zia: Exactly, exactly. The reason for this interview, Jim Vass and I actually had to meet up to talk business in relation to the Cumberland Business Chamber. Jim’s going to be doing an amazing presentation there. We’re actually going to talk about the topic and angle it’s going to take. What we ended up doing is we ended up going to his office and Jim’s got this awesome new convertible … tell everyone about your new car Jim. What did you get? What is it?
Jim Vass: I bought a 335 white convertible. I’ve been looking at those for quite a few years now, and decided that it’s time to get rid of my conservative Merc and step into something a bit louder and quicker.
Edward Zia: Just to point out we are in Parramatta. It is the western suburbs of Sydney, and Jim Vass comes from a great heritage.
Jim Vass: There’s plenty of Greeks here as well.
Edward Zia: Exactly. It’s a great a man, driving a convertible BMW, and also a Persian man.
Jim Vass: You know the funny thing about it is watching all our hair fly off as we drive.
Edward Zia: Just so you know … Jim you’re about what 28, are you Jim, 29?
Jim Vass: Yeah, and then some. Let’s just say 28 for this exercise.
Edward Zia: Just so you know Jim Vass runs business by the name of, ATB Partners. The thing that I love about Jim is that I’ve known Jim for about 3 years now. I actually met Jim the first week I started my business. Jim’s been nothing but amazing. Even though he runs an accounting firm Jim Vass to me has always been more than that. He’s always been that amazing business man, because he’s built an amazing business and portfolio from scratch. I’m just curious, Jim, tell us the story. What happened to you? Had did you build such an awesome business and become such a brand name around this part of town?
Jim Vass: I think it was, originally when I was finishing university I always had a goal in mind that I wanted to own my own business. I didn’t want to be an employee, and part of that’s also wanting enough space to take some sort of control of your life. If you’re going to work hard you might as well see the benefits of it. After 5 years of employment the time came. As I had predicted that 5 years later that I’d open up my own accounts to practice as I did.
Edward Zia: You entered business knowing 5 years later you’d start your own accounting firm?
Jim Vass: I entered employment.
Edward Zia: Sorry, entered employment. Sorry, my bad … with the intent of starting your own accounting practice?
Jim Vass: It’s probably one of the most clearest defined goals that I had in my life.
Edward Zia: It’s interesting because as you know, I totally screwed up my life at the age of 29. Lost everything, fiancé walked, violins cry, cry, cry. My big mistake … I’ll be straight up … I stayed too long in the workforce. I was too chicken and I didn’t get out. Very few people have that tenacity and I think confidence to do that. How come you could do that? How can you compared to some other people take such a bold move to succeed when most of us get scared? Didn’t you get scared at all? Won’t you fearful about the move?
Jim Vass: I think with anything it’s like being on the tower and you’re looking over the edge and you want to go, the more you stand on the edge, and the more you think about it the scarier it gets, and the more you undermine your own doubt, or you undermine your capability. With anything you plunge into it. Sometimes ignorance is a good thing. Being ignorant to the dangers out there will obviously help you take that plunge whereas ordinarily if you got to think about all the dangers that are out there you’re not going to move?
Edward Zia: Wow, so you’re saying that you can’t over think this. You got to make the move and accept the risks.
Jim Vass: You do. It’s got to be a calculated move one. Of course, you can’t be ridiculous and not contemplate anything. When I made my move I considered my circumstances. I was married. My wife was working. We didn’t have any children. It was a calculated risk to think, all right, if I’m going to do it, if I do now it’s going to be easier. If I do it when I’ve got children it’s obviously going to be riskier because there’s going to be mouths to feed, and the rest of it. For me it was fairly straight forward, but I thought it about before I’d gone out to do it. It wasn’t just one day I woke up and I thought this is what I’m going to do.
Edward Zia: That’s really cleaver, so you proactively, as a 20 year old thought ahead … in your 20’s I mean … and you said, okay, I’m going to do this before I have children. I’m going to get this business happening before I have more kids. Obviously that was really solid thinking because whenever you see people start a business with a family it usually doesn’t cut the mustard I find. What’s been your experience in watching people do that?
Jim Vass: Generally speaking when you’re starting a business with a family you’ve got a lot more overhead that you’ve got to allow for, so automatically the business is got to be able to provide you with extra income. The other side of the coin, of course, is that a lot of people with families they’re going to say, they have a certain life style established already. They’ve already got a spending habit established within their lifestyle. To get a business is going to be able to provide for that spending pattern and that lifestyle from the word go is very very difficult to come by.
Edward Zia: Wow, wow. I understand you do some pretty high-end consultancy work. What do you do every day? How many staff you got? What kind of work do you actually do in your firm these days?
Jim Vass: Our firm is not an overly large one. We’ve got 11 bodies on the accounting side of the business, and 6 bodies on the finance side. We’re not a volume based business. We’re more of a business that we work with the clients that want to work with us that we want to work with. That’s generally a meeting of minds where they appreciate the input that we have in their business, they actually take it onboard, and they’re happy to work and to listen to what you got to offer them, try to implement it, and work together to try to achieve their goals.
There’s too many businesses out there that are concerned with how much this is going to cost me and more so with counting pennies, as opposed to looking at the bigger picture and saying, if I’m going to make an investment in my business, and part of the investment is actually having the right people with you from the word dot, as opposed to saying, well I’m going to try to establish a business, get into all the bad habits, set up systems which don’t really work , and then try to get somebody that’s going to try help me out after I’ve created a problem and they’re going to do it for nothing. That’s a common problem for a lot of businesses.
Edward Zia: I guess the question is … a lot of my clients, and I imagine a lot of people listening to this interview would be from the services, professional services sort of industries … I know you’ve done this extremely well, especially as a marketer as well digging on that interest, how could you manage to acquire those high quality clients, and keep them, and build your business on that basis?
Jim Vass: With any business we started off with a lot of clients that we took on because they had a pulse, and they could pay, but ultimately as a business develops and it matures you learn what you want and what you don’t want. I can’t say that I started a perfect business from the day I had models. We made our share of mistakes. Those mistakes cost us money, but the important thing is we learned from those mistakes.
Ultimately when you look at it you say, we’re not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We’ve made so many mistakes that we could actually teach our clients. We can actually so the writing on the wall with people where they got to head with certain routes that they got to take. We can say, if you got to do this, this is what’s going to happen, and you know why because I did it and that’s what happened?
It’s not that we’ve been Einstein’s in what we’ve done. It’s basically we’ve been resilient in being able to work through the problems and get through them as opposed to anything else.
Edward Zia: I think you’ve used the R word, resilience. Often a lot of life coaches band around that word, resilience, as if it was candy. I think very few people … they might be able to give the dictionary definition of resilience, but very few people actually understand what it means, because all the time I see business owners the ones that turn into Jim Vass’s of this world, or ones that can get through it, but a lot of people just can’t handle it when times get tough. What do you think about that sort of issue Jim?
Jim Vass: Again it comes down to what your expectations are out of life. It comes down also … certain people have different pressures. I was very fortunate to have a very understanding wife so if I had to say, I was working 7 days a week, if I had to say, that I was doing 12 hours a day, or 14 hours a day, it was never an issue of my wife demanding my time. She understood that we needed to do what we needed to do. Not everybody has that in business.
If you’re faced with pressure at work and then pressure at home by a relationship that can obviously impact how the business actually turns out, because something’s going to have to suffer somewhere along the way, or something’s going to have to take second seat. It can’t all be the priority. Obviously when you enter into something when there’s less people involved i.e. children, and the pressures of children within a marriage then it’s going to be far easier to be able to get out of those challenges.
Edward Zia: It’s funny, because as you know my fiancé ended the relationship with me.
Jim Vass: I just found out today.
Edward Zia: Yeah. It’s funny. You thought I was a happily married man. I was telling you.
Jim Vass: I just kept on thinking to myself; he laughs too much to be married.
Edward Zia: I was actually quite a happy man ironically. I was actually planning on getting married. Again the woman’s right, no hard feelings, and I really admire her because she’s living her own life. The thing that I found interesting was that … what was interesting in our relationship was actually that. I entered a business and I made the business the first priority, anyway she didn’t like being second back seat.
Jim Vass: They’re coming for us. Oh my God.
Edward Zia: The cops have us. Is that because it’s a Greek and a Persian doing business in Parramatta?
Jim Vass: Yes that’s right. You shouldn’t have left your bag there.
Edward Zia: They’re going to think I’m some kind of crazy Persian.
Jim Vass: That’s right.
Edward Zia: I think that’s really amazing being Mrs. Jim Vass sounds like a really amazing woman to really give you that support and backing all these years to build such a powerful business.
Jim Vass: Yes, she’s a good lady. Has does that saying go … behind every good man is a good lady.
Edward Zia: That is so true.
Jim Vass: It’s very true, it’s very true.
Edward Zia: That is so true. That is so true.
Jim Vass: My wife’s probably never going to listen to this interview so I’m not saying for her benefit.
Edward Zia: What I’ll do is I will speak to your office staff and I’ll email her a recording of this interview.
Jim Vass: I’ll like that.
Edward Zia: Your wife is also in business with you Jim?
Jim Vass: Yes she is.
Edward Zia: There you go, there you go. You get dinner tonight.
Jim Vass: Yeah, right.
Edward Zia: Digging a little bit deeper, you started your business, you got it going, question for you Jim … and I have a lot of people ask me that … how did you get your first stack of clients? How did you get that base of clients that propelled you and got your actual business going? How did you crack the ice, or crack the surface, Jim?
Jim Vass: We started with … this year is our 20th year in business.
Edward Zia: Oh my God, congratulations.
Jim Vass: Twenty years ago there was not a social media at all, and I suppose advertising was far more what you consider to be paid advertising and so it was advertise in the local paper, distribute your flyers, word of mouth, and it was all of that. We started our business with no clients. We opened up the door with no clients. I was the first one to leave full-time occupation. I had 2 other business partners. One of them is still a current business partner. I continued working, so I wouldn’t draw on the business. They’d come in after work and we’d sit there and try to work out a marketing plan, trying to put our computer systems together and everything else, advertise every day, had the shingle out, had a sandwich board out saying, we do tax returns.
That’s what the business started as. We started as qualified accountants being able to prepare tax returns whereas our competition at that point in time was your basic H and R Blocks which had kids out of school with 3 weeks training to do tax returns, where we were able to offer the additional advice and stuff like that that a qualified accountant be able to do.
Edward Zia: You opened your business just starting with pure quality. You started with …
Jim Vass: Pure quality positioning. It was quality positioning. It was quality proposition at a discounted boss. Ultimately one of the main things was we had to build a critical mass of clients where you had the volume there, and when it came time to increase our pricing … that happened probably 2 years down the track … we had about 2,000 individual tax returns that we were billing out of the one office. There came a point in time when we said, you know what, now the time that we’ve actually got to different ourselves because this is not where we want to be. This is not the space that we want to be playing, and we increased our prices to reflect much closer to what the prices one would be expecting to be paying out of a CPA firm, or a chartered group.
With that, and we expected it, about 2,000 returns shrunk to about 900 returns, because technically of those 1,100 people didn’t see the value in spending for that knowledge of staff. The balance of those people thought, you know what, we can actually see the value in what we’re getting, and we’re happy with the service, and they stayed on. Of those people many of them went on to acquire businesses, to become business owners.
We don’t always look at people as well but we’re doing as employees and you can tell those ones that were probably a bit more susceptible to wanting to become business owners. You’d encourage them along the way and talk to them about where they’re working and if there was an opportunity to do an employee buyout of the business. We had plenty of clients come along that same route.
Edward Zia: Question; of those 2,000 … of the people that had those entrepreneurial traits what were some, and how could you spot someone that was a potential entrepreneur that was succeed as a business person?
Jim Vass: A lot of the guys were generally asking about, not so much about how to pay his tax, but that are more interested in how they could build their growth. They talked how they could build growth, because too many people in this world concentrate on the savings, as opposed to the bigger picture of looking outside of what you save and just say, what I can achieve. If I’m going to do this what’s my ultimate goal, and what am I going to achieve by that.
I think if you could say one of the common traits for those people that identify as entrepreneurs are the ones that were looking at avenues in ways of improving themselves and their position other then decreasing their tax.
Edward Zia: In other words they weren’t just focusing on pinching pennies; they were actually taking a serious, pragmatic, strategic feel on how to build a life for themselves.
Jim Vass: Correct, yeah.
Edward Zia: In fact this is more of a general question … not so much a Jim Vass CPA question but, why are so many people out there just focusing on the same old, same old, and just interested in pinching pennies, and not interested in thinking outside the box … what’s your entrepreneurial opinion about that, Jim?
Jim Vass: I think it’s just the way they’re brought up. It’s a frame of mind. It’s simply a matter if you come from an environment where the idea is to screw the person down to the last cent that you can get out of him you’ve always got to … if anything that you got to do you always got to leave a drink in it for the next bowl. Make sure that everybody’s making a fair living, and don’t try to squeeze them to the point where it’s not worth their while to take care of you.
With those people there seems to be a lot of that thing of the attitude now we’re winning, and winning against by getting more out of someone that you really should of. That’s not really sustainable. If you’re working with a business … and you’ve worked with clients as well … all they seem to do is suck the life out of you. They seem to suck all your resources up. Then at the end of the day do you really want to give them the time of day? You don’t really want to work with them. You want to work with them for as long as you have to, but it’s not something that you work with them because you want to work with them.
Edward Zia: Yeah, you’re doing it out of economic necessity. You’re not doing it out of a true genuine desire.
Jim Vass: Once that economic necessity goes you don’t need that anymore; who are those people you going to get rid of?
Edward Zia: You’re going to get rid of them.
Jim Vass: Exactly.
Edward Zia: Wow.
Jim Vass: … or you’re going to refer them to your competition.
Edward Zia: Oh, very clever, very clever.
Jim Vass: … so they can suck up somebody else’s time.
Edward Zia: Just to let you know I’ve got some good news Jim. I’ve got all the clients I want. The bloodsuckers are all gone Jim.
Jim Vass: That’s good because I can honestly the same for myself as well.
Edward Zia: Well done, well done.
Jim Vass: It’s only taken 20 years but…
Edward Zia: I still got a long way to go before I compare myself to you.
Jim Vass: Do you know what? Generally speaking though your first impression when you sit down with somebody, certainly from my perspective, my first impression is always been correct. I’ve sat down opposite potential clients or clients that have been referred to me, they might turn out to be okay, but my instincts tell me, you know what; this is going to be waste of time. It’s going to be waste of money. It’s going to be another one of those bloodsucking experiences. Generally speaking that works out. Then you can sit in front of people that you’re going to think, you know what, they’re on the right page, they talk the same language, and you can identify those. Generally those people there you know you can work with and they’re the long term relationships. They’re the people that 20 years down the track are still with us.
Edward Zia: Wow, wow. A question … putting the spotlight on me … when you first met me what was your opinion of me, Jim, and let’s be honest shall we? It’s not like this is being recorded. I’m curious.
Jim Vass: You wanted to make things work. You were eager to be successful, maybe a bit misdirected sometimes.
Edward Zia: Yes.
Jim Vass: Okay, but you were eager to try things and to do things, and I suppose that eagerness is reflected in your own personality, and you’re still around. Your business is improving as opposed to stagnating which happens to a lot of people. Now I think that your liberal enthusasism is waned a bit since the first time that we sat down and talked.
Edward Zia: I’m actually more ambitious now than I was 3 years ago Jim.
Jim Vass: That’s what makes things work. Ultimately, you see a lot of people that will approach you when they first start a business and they’re ambitious and they’re really vocal about it, and they’re excited about it, and the rest of it, but 3 years down the track it’s not very often you actually see them that they’re the same and if not more excited about that. Were you one of those guys that’s probably even more excited about it?
Edward Zia: I actually am. This is funny. Again this is me interviewing you not the other way around. That’s why it’s such an amazing business Jim. For me if anything it’s … when I started my business because I wasn’t truly sure that it would work I always held a part of myself back, but now I know it’s working I put more of my heart right into it. I think that’s why I’m becoming … now I know I’ve won I’m now putting my whole life into it.
Jim Vass: That reminds me of a conversation that we had about 3 years ago where it was basically I said, you can’t work and expect to run a business at the same time. At that point in time I remember you were working about 3 days a week with contracting almost full-time. You were a sit down employee.
Edward Zia: Yeah, I was a sit down employee. That is correct.
Jim Vass: You can’t have 2 things in 2 different camps. You’ve got to be committed either one way or the other. If you’ve got to be saying, well I’m going to take the safe bit and I’m going to hang around doing what’s safe to me you’re not going to commit yourself 100% to your business. Once you actually leave that camp and you say, I’m now in a position where my livelihood is totally reliant upon what I can do with this business, your focus changes, your attitude changes, and it reflects in what you can actually do within your business.
Edward Zia: It’s funny you say that because … and I say this to people I say this I always talk very highly of you around town as you know Jim, and it’s always … you’ve always said something to me … this is going back … you always say something to me and I’ll off going, Oh what does Jim Vass know, Jim Vass is this, Jim Vass is that. I find out 6 months later I was 100% wrong, and you were totally right. I’ve done that about 4 times, then I thought I might just accept everything that Jim Vass creates as his reality.
Jim Vass: I wouldn’t accept everything but question it. Then maybe after a period of time try what you wanted to do and then try what I suggested. The suggestions I come up with aren’t perfect but they’re in the right direction.
Edward Zia: Absolutely, absolutely.
Jim Vass: If I could have a dollar for every time I’ve sat with a client, and we’ve had a conversation, I said look you should not do this and they’ve done it, and 3 months later, 6 months later we’re sitting again looking at a disaster and it’s generally because they’ve done what they’re advised not to do. I can’t actually remember in my 20 years of this I can’t remember ever saying to somebody, don’t do this, and then going ahead and doing it, and it being a success story.
Edward Zia: Wow, wow. In other words you’re a trifecta. You’re the right horse to bet on.
Jim Vass: Some of that stuff that they got to do is damn right stupid. I can’t take all credit for their failures, but you know.
Edward Zia: That’s amazing Jim. I’ve got a question for you. Now you’ve … I suppose I don’t know you strike me a bit like an Al Pacino from Scarface. The world is yours Jim. What’s the next step for you? I’m kind of curious; because I’ll be straight up with you I aspire to be in your position. I look up to you quite seriously. For me getting to the position your at is my whole focus right now. My question is, once you’re the Jim Vass what then happens next? What happens when the film ends? What’s the next step?
Jim Vass: It doesn’t end.
Edward Zia: When you achieve that level of success that so few do Jim, what’s the next step? What goes through your mind? I’m very curious.
Jim Vass: Whatever you do … I mentioned it earlier where you got to sustain a certain lifestyle so got to earn a bit more to sustain a certain lifestyle. Being a valued service is bloody expensive you know. Ultimately, I don’t ever look at my working career as, there’s a time that I want to check out. I’m looking at it is more as, I’d like to be able to maybe scale back my hours a bit, maybe scale it back to ideally I’d love to work 3 days a week, if I could work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday that from my perspective would be ideal. In all sorts of ways it’s picking the type of work that you want to do as well.
As you move along you want to get the stuff where you can actually see that there’s a huge difference happening within the business, where you can actually see that you’re changing not only the business, but the business owner’s life, and that’s why I suppose is becoming more and more rewarding to me.
I had a meeting last week with some clients and they’re killing it as far as they budgeted. The thing is what are they really doing wrong? The focus is going to be now we know the business is doing well, but now I’ve been trying to change the focus away from the business into the individuals of the business and to try to and actually see what their goals in life are, other than having successful business, and to see what we can try to do to actually help mimic their own goal. That to me would be a huge key, because we know businesses it’s got certain things that you got to do to make to make it succeed, but if we can actually get them to succeed on a personal role that would be a great achievement from our perspective.
Edward Zia: Wow, wow. That’s amazing. That’s a very interesting insight. To people, who are let’s say, starting up a business, or they’re in business and they’re a bit stuck, what would be the advice you would give to them? What would you say to people who are starting out, or they’ve been in business and they’re stuck, and things are necessarily going their way?
Jim Vass: Try to get some help, because ultimately what happens if you’re stuck you’re looking at obstacles, as opposed to solutions. Everywhere you turn you see an obstacle. Sometimes you got to accept the fact that you may not be able to see something, or you need to look at something from a different perspective, and that different perspective may come from speaking to you Ed, it may come from speaking to me, it may come from speaking to a number of other people. What’s important, to keep in mind though, is too many people base a lot of their technical strategies around, or off people that they’ve heard somebody say something in the park, or a friend of a friend said this.
At the end of the day, half the time, it’s based on the half-truth and ignorance, and the rest of it, so you can’t base critical decisions on that. It’s always good to talk to different people, get different opinions, but when it comes to something that’s going to be of a strategic nature, you’ve got to speak with someone that knows what the hell they’re talking about.
Edward Zia: Wow, that’s amazing Jim. That’s really good advice. I was going to ask you as well. … as you know we’ve got a few agendas to this interview … you’ve recently joined the Cumberland Business Chamber haven’t’ you?
Jim Vass: I did, yes.
Edward Zia: What were your motives? In fact that’s where I meant you earlier on, besides networking at Parramatta Business Chamber; I’ve noticed that you’ve always been active in Business Chambers. Why is that, Jim?
Jim Vass: It’s nice to see what other businesses are doing? It’s good to network. It’s always good to network. Not only from the prospect of say as a potential for business to come our way, but it’s also useful to know who’s out there, establish relationships, and actually … part of being a good accountant or good in business is being the go-to person. If you’ve got clients that will come to you as a first port of call to say, hey look I’ve got a problem with this. They know that I may not be able to help you out, but they also know that I’m going to refer them.
If I get people coming to me saying, I’ve got this problem, do you know somebody that can help with it. It’s good to be able to say, do you know what, there’s a known quantity that I’ve spoken to, that I trust, that I can refer you to to get the help, that I can actually talk with to make sure that the person’s or the client’s needs are going to be met, as opposed to that person going and finding somebody out of the yellow pages, or the local rag that may not actually meet their requirements. That’s one of the major parts of the networking and the Chambers.
Edward Zia: The Chamber based networking has given you that network which is totally enhanced your ability to serve your own clients.
Jim Vass: Yeah, of course. Yeah, of course. I think everybody should view it like that. In any business, in any networking you’ve got to look at it as what can you give to somebody, as opposed to what you can take, because those people that attend the networking events have an agenda. They want to gain something out of the relationship. They’re the relationships that people don’t really take to those people. If you don’t really expect anything out of helping somebody, you’re just there to help them that goes far further than expecting something in return.
Edward Zia: That’s funny. As you know I help run networking events across Sydney, and we find exactly the same thing. It’s just so hard getting into peoples’ heads. Don’t go there for a free meal, go there trying to help people. Everyone preaches it but I think, Jim, only a very very slim minority actually deep down believe that message.
Jim Vass: I agree with you whole heartedly. Actions are what speak louder than words. Ultimately that’s all you can do. You can’t say that I’ve been given a giver. It’s simply a matter of your actions and so on.
Edward Zia: Actions speak louder than words, right Jim?
Jim Vass: Exactly, and the actions will not be not after 1 meeting, not after 2, but it’s what actually makes up what a person is.
Edward Zia: Their consistent pattern tells you exactly who they are.
Jim Vass: Exactly.
Edward Zia: That’s a very good insight Jim. Going back to Cumberland Chambers we actually had a business meeting that turned into an awesome entrepreneur interview. You’re actually speaking to a group of people at the Cumberland Business Chamber coming up soon aren’t you Jim?
Jim Vass: I am yes.
Edward Zia: Now we have no idea what you’re going to talk about. It’s not like this video’s being recorded and transcribed and put up in my blog that’s going to be distributed to the whole world Jim, so we’ve got a Business Chamber out in the western suburbs of Sydney, Industrial Business Chamber, what do you reckon is the right angle, Jim, to really connect with the audience on a deeper level based on your expertise?
Jim Vass: There’s a lot of things that we could talk about and at this point in time I hadn’t really even considered what I was going to talk about. I’m one of those people that can adlib very well.
Edward Zia: I noticed. You’re very good.
Jim Vass: … but when you ask me to prepare something and prepare some content I simply get, I suppose, a bit stifled. Obviously we’re going to have to have a topic for our conversation or for a presentation at the Chamber meeting. I think that one of the biggest impacts on a business … and what a lot of businesses don’t actually think about is business people go into business thinking I want be in business. Very few businesses think about how am I going to get out of this business. Very few businesses will actually think about what am I going to do … better think about the business an asset that they built, they think about the business as it’s there to provide them with a living.
I think that that probably is not a bad topic of conversation, because there’s much more to a business then just providing you with a living. It’s an asset that you build. Part of the game is to make sure that in 10 years time, or 15 years time, or 20 years time when you decide to pull up stumps that you’ve got something that you can sell and it’s going to be able to contribute to your retirement.
Edward Zia: In other words what you’re saying just to paraphrase, a great topic will be how to turn your day to day business into a powerful asset to build for your family, but you want to keep it, or sell it, you want to make it a legacy business, or you want to sell it.
Jim Vass: Yes, something like that.
Edward Zia: I think that’s a really good angle Jim. I think that’s a good angle. I’ll have to take that back to the Chamber Board and see what happens. I think it’s good. Again, I think, you’re right. I’m a marketing mentor. I know a lot of small business marketing around town. I’m not a CPA. I’m not an accountant and I don’t pretend to be one, but what I do see all the time across town is just so many people just living day to day in their business. They may as well go get a job.
Jim Vass: Very true.
Edward Zia: Do you see that lot? Do you see people in business that they should just close their business and go back to work?
Jim Vass: Most of the small businesses as well … that’s what you said. Most of them are doing nothing more than a salary which won’t help them long term. Yes, and there’s not a lot of thought that goes into it other than the fact that the day to day living. What we’ve got to try to concentrate on, what most businesses should be thinking about is, I’ve got myself into this, how am I going to get myself out of it. Many times it’s easier to get divorced than to get out of your business.
Edward Zia: Wow. Why is that? Is that because the business just integrates into your life so profoundly Jim?
Jim Vass: It’s either you can either walk away from something that’s got liabilities, which you can’t, or you got to try to extract yourself from a business relationship with a third party, which is very very difficult, unless of course you’ve got it properly documented, and all the parties make their minds meet as well. Nine times out of ten it would be easier to get a divorce, if you wanted to of course, rather than actually trying to bet out of business, because a lot of businesses don’t actually contemplate that and don’t actually plan for that.
Edward Zia: In other words, you think a great angle … which I agree with I’m paraphrasing for the sake of the interview … is that we actually speak to business owners … or you actually speak to business owners in your presentation teaching them how to turn their business into a powerful asset, one that can be sold, or even kept, or retained and passed on to future generations.
Jim Vass: Correct. I suppose one of the main things is basically how can you turn that business … if it’s valued today at $100,000.00 what can you do over the next 5 years in order to try to make it worth $500,000.00. Ultimately if you’d plan on retiring now and you’ve got car leases, and you got a loan, and everything else, and you can sell your business for $100,000.00 and then you got to pay out of the leases, you’re not going to finish up and walk away very much. Certainly you’re not going to walk away with anything substantial to put towards your retirement.
Edward Zia: You might as well just stay an employee.
Jim Vass: Yes. Whereas if you can say, I know that 5 years down the track, or 10 years down the track this is what I want to plan to try and do with my business then we’ve actually got to see about getting the business to look right into people that want potential purchases. A lot of that is having it systemized; taking the proper documentation, having everything there that is what a buyer would look at to get some sort of level of comfort when they’re purchasing something.
Edward Zia: Wow, wow. I think it’s a very very exiting topic Jim. I think you’ve given me heaps of stuff to work with, so I’ll take it back to the Chamber Board and see what I can come up with.
Jim Vass: Yes, if they want me to talk because I might put everyone to sleep – they might want somebody else.
Edward Zia: No, we want you there Jim. I was going to say, look Jim, this has been a very profound interview and I’ve got a lot out of it. I was just going to say, is there any parting advice you want to leave onto the audience.
Jim Vass: Yeah. Be nice to your accountant you might need them one day.
Edward Zia: There you go Jim. That was funny. You heard it yourself, exclusive interview with Jim Vass, the awesome businessman entrepreneur, and CPA, Accountancy firm manager, from Parramatta Sydney.
Jim, it’s been a pleasure. I just want to say thank you again and of course if you’re hearing this interview try Jim Vass on Google and check out his website you never know what goodies you will find.
Jim, on behalf of Edward Zia thank you for the interview.
Jim Vass: Thank you Ed.