How’s your self confidence and experience?

May 31, 2022 | Client service, Networking, Social Media, Sole practitioners

In my experience many accountants have more potential to succeed than they themselves believe. They are better accountants than they are prepared to admit. And they deserve to be more successful than they have so far managed to be. Could this be true of you too?

Equally there are plenty of accountants whose self-confidence is delusional. This probably doesn’t apply to you. I mention it though as many of us are tempted to compare ourselves with others. This can lead perfectly normal, rational and honest accountants to think there is something wrong with them because they do not have as much confidence as their competitors.

The problem here is that, whereas previously we might only have encountered those super-confident egos on stage or at events, now we see them all over social media and on Linkedin. And sadly the drip-drip effect of their posts can sap away at your confidence.

As I explain to some of my mentoring clients, it was the playwright David Story who wisely noted that “The confidence of ignorance will always overcome the indecision of knowledge.”

And, before this, Charles Darwin made a similar observation in his seminal book, The Descent of Man:
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

In other words, all too often that self confidence we see being hyped online is not real – and even if it is it may not be justified. So please do not assume that those self confident accountants we see and hear are actually any good or worth copying. Some are. Some aren’t.

Everyone’s experiences are unique. One of the keys though is to ensure that the way you reference your experiences is relevant to those who are hearing or receiving your message. This is a point I often stress during my talks and mentoring sessions.

There is another related issue that few people discuss openly. This relates to the quality of their experiences as a professional adviser. When someone claims to have built up, say, 10 years of experience, do you ever consider whether this has been truly cumulative or simply repetitive? Have they been building on what they know and what they can do, or simply repeating that first year’s experiences time after time over the ensuing ten years?

In some respects this is as much a question for prospective clients to ask before choosing a new adviser. It’s also one of the reasons why they might notice a big difference if they move from one adviser with limited experience (despite their years in practice) to another adviser who has built up a wealth of knowledge and experience through a varied client base that has prepared them for all manner of issues, challenges and problems.

Whether this distinction is important to you depends on how you want to serve your clients and who you look to serve as clients.

Where clients only want a pretty simple service they may well prefer someone who has done that for hundreds of clients over the years. Such clients may not be prepared to pay extra for someone with wider experience.

For those whose affairs are not so simple, it can certainly help to highlight specific examples from your past as to where you had to address similar challenges or issues as those being presented by a new or prospective client. This will invariably be far more compelling than simply referencing your generic years of experience – just like everyone else does.

How much experience do you have, really? What’s important I suggest is to be honest with yourself, honest in your marketing and honest with your clients. Also to know what is your back up plan if a client should require advice that goes beyond your experiences. That, in itself, can help you to STAND OUT from competitors who are less trustworthy and who will found out eventually.

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