In the towering stack of business books I’ve read, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why had by far one of the most profound impacts on my thinking. Starting with “why” has helped shape how we view our mission at Ceterus from the earliest days of the company.
Our Why is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our business. Its strength has been critical to our growth and success. It has lasted for nearly a decade, gaining fortitude and meaning as our team has grown and matured. Our Why provides every Ceterite (how we collectively refer to our team) with a clear North Star to guide our actions. And it’s at the heart of every lesson I’ve learned and every piece of advice I share in my blogs. That Why — our North Star — is to empower small business entrepreneurs (SBEs).
Small business entrepreneurship provides incredible value to society. Entrepreneurship includes a pretty vast spectrum, from the solopreneur looking for freedom (think: the web designer working while travelling to exotic places), to the startup entrepreneur looking for impact or to “put a dent in the universe” (think: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos). In the middle of this spectrum is the small business entrepreneur, who also seeks a level of freedom and impact, but who doesn’t necessarily get into business to fully optimize for either. Small business entrepreneurs operate out of passion for either their craft (making food, working out, etc.) or their community (creating good jobs, improving their city, sponsoring the little league teams, etc.). While all entrepreneurs deserve to be empowered, at Ceterus, our mission is solely to empower the hardworking folks in the middle of the entrepreneurship spectrum: the small business entrepreneur.
When we say we strive to empower the small business entrepreneur, we don’t mean just one, or even 10. Had we stopped at 10 SBEs, I could have achieved this mission on my own, offering detailed accounting to a handful of clients and generating a solid income at the same time. Instead, we have always had an internal drive to empower many, many SBEs.
There are over 20 million small businesses and roughly 7 million small businesses employers (businesses with at least 1 employee) in the United States alone. Most of these SBEs are underserved in their accounting needs and it is our Why to provide them with a better solution.
This drive to not only empower SBEs, but to do so for as many as possible, has guided the bulk of our strategies and decision-making. I mention this because it is possible to take different paths to empowering entrepreneurs. As an accounting professional, you can empower a single entrepreneur as their dedicated Controller or CFO, or you can empower hundreds of entrepreneurs as a tax, audit, or financial consultation professional. Our path to achieve our Why at scale is not the only path, but it is one we are firmly committed to.
This path has been winding and full of uncharted territory. But the good news is that our approach has allowed us to learn lessons at an incredibly fast rate. My hope is you will find valuable lessons on how to (and how not to) develop your business to empower entrepreneurs regardless of the path you take, how many clients you have, or how you plan to scale in our recent blogs.