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    04 / 13 / 2012

    Operating in the Fog

    One thing about living in Southeast Texas is that you never have to worry about having the same type of weather pattern between October and April. It can be sunny and 80 degrees one day and 45 degrees with a nasty north wind the next day. You never really know what you can expect, so you need to rely on the weatherman or weather sites to help you prepare for the coming days.

    The Proverbial Boy Scout

    A few days ago, I heard that we were going to have a great deal of fog the following morning and that drive-times would more than double for most commuters. Being the proverbial Boy Scout, and always being prepared, I set my alarm early and decided to head in before traffic even existed.

    Man, was the fog thick that morning. Living close to the coast didn’t help either. Pulling out of the driveway I couldn’t even see the stop sign less than 150 yards down the street (and under a stop light). You’ve got to love Mother Nature.

    Well, getting to the freeway, and on to it, wasn’t too bad. Really, who the heck is going to be up at 5:30 a.m. and on the road other than the idiots and Boy Scouts? I felt good and knew that I would miss the masses and their inability to drive in anything but sunny conditions (well, they really cannot drive there either). I would be in the office and enjoying a great cup of coffee in no time.

    One Guy Didn’t Notice The Fog

    I had gone no more than four miles, and was going about 40 mph, when out of the blue this white Mercedes comes flying by me traveling at least 90 mph. I mean, I think it was a white Mercedes. I had maybe 3 seconds to look at it before it disappeared into the fog, so I doubt my testimony is admissible in a court of law. Anyway, I was in the slow lane (yes, it is true folks, I do drive in the slow lane sometimes) and never saw this guy coming. He made my heart skip a beat before he was a distant memory.

    Was this guy Steve McQueen? Tony Stewart? Speed Racer? Does it really matter?

    The next thing that crossed my mind was even more frightening … did this guy even see me? What if he had hit me? I thanked God right then for driving a nearly 7,000 lbs Suburban. It might have been the only thing that would have saved my life if he had plowed into me.

    For the next 10 miles, I was expecting to see a huge accident with this guy stuck in the backside of some 18-wheeler; upside-down in the median somewhere; or, in a million pieces after hitting a wall. Yet, I never saw anything or anyone. Luck was on his side that day, and mine as well.

    When I sat down at my computer, I really started thinking about what I just experienced and wondered how many other cars where operating as if the weather was picture-perfect. This guy couldn’t have been the only one driving like a maniac, disregarding the weather and putting everyone he passed in danger. I am sure there were plenty on each freeway and it is only a matter of time before someone or many folks get taken out. You read stories about this all the time from all over the world. One day, it will happen here in Houston.

    Companies Driving In The Fog

    Then, I started thinking about some of the stories that I’ve heard from companies and business leaders from all across the country. How many of them are operating in the exact same way and expecting to never hit anyone or destroy their company. Damn the torpedos, full steam ahead … right? Let me give you an example.

    A few months ago I was speaking with a company that was a true domain expert. They knew their industry and had a niche cornered. They grew their company from $1.5M in year one to $8.5 in year three, and became the shining star to their competitors. Life was good and they were exploding.

    In our discussions, I spoke to them about how AcctTwo could simplify their back-office, handling all their financial processes and presenting them with real-time information anywhere they had access to the Internet. We would free them of the burden of managing this area, which wasn’t their expertise, and allow them to focus on growth and capturing as much market share as possible.

    After several conversations and meetings, they decided to let their “financial partner” maintain the books and processes. The road ahead was free and clear and the future was bright, so why fix what wasn’t really broken. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t broken.

    At this time, they had well into six figures in their accounts, plenty of receivables and everything was OK. Nothing to worry about, really. Really?

    Well, about three months later I got a call from this prospect. They had major issues. Not just issues, these were major problems. You see, their financial partner (note, he really was a partner in the company) had screwed things up … majorly. The books didn’t make sense, vendors weren’t getting paid, people were overpaid, and they literally didn’t have enough money to make the next payroll. The worst part about it was that the other partners knew nothing about this until it was too late … and there was nothing I could do to help them.

    Needless to say, they were operating their company at 100 mph, in the fog, and never saw that concrete was coming. The outcome was major damage to all members of the company, vendors, credit ratings and reputations. All because they didn’t realize the environment they were operating in and the possible outcomes.

    AcctTwo – Clearing The Way

    With AcctTwo, we keep our clients informed about the coming walls and allow them to easily navigate around them with ease. Our technology platform, Intacct, allows us to provide them with real-time information, incredible and accurate reports and reporting tools, allowing them to put the hammer down and push their company to the max. We also lighten the load in the car by removing the fighting and screaming kids (accounting department) from the back seats, giving the business leaders the full opportunity to focus on the road ahead rather than worrying about misbehavior in the back.

    Since that trip in, I’ve decided to stay away from the fog. I’d rather work from home than worry about the bozos behind the wheel of the car driving off into oblivion without worrying about those around them. I suggest you operate your company in the same way.

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