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“Mansplaining” Has No Place in Start-Ups

I recently began working with a new Godwin Start-Up School client. I spend a great deal of time asking questions in an initial meeting and decided it was best to fly up to meet with this client to learn more about what she was doing. Her story had been relayed to me via a video and phone call, and we (Meghan and I) were intrigued.

Somewhere in the conversation, she let me know that her current (now former) accountant nearly laughed her out of the room when she told him her idea for the business she currently operated. The joke was on him…not only is she doing well, but her gross sales have increased by double-digit percentages every year since inception.

After he chuckled, this is what he said when she asked him to prepare revenue and cash flow projections for her new business:

“That sounds good, but why don’t you come back when you have some revenue and then we’ll talk?”

This is why clients lose trust in us and our industry, folks. When we talk down to our clients​ or make them feel like their ideas are not worth our time, they think all CPAs are haughty jerks. In this case, I daresay my client was correct. This professional obviously had no idea what he was talking about, and he didn’t even want to take the time for her to educate him on the veracity of her idea or the industry in which she wanted to operate. Had he done that, she may still be his client, and he would have learned something.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

I had worked with clients in similar industries before, but not this exact same business. Without knowing a thing, I knew a market existed for her services. I didn’t know how large that market was, but over the last few weeks, I have learned. Let me tell you, she’s found a great niche. There is such opportunity there, and she’s a strong, vivacious, brave entrepreneur who knows how to run this business expertly. She will be a success.

So, to all the bankers, loan officers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, financial planners, and CPAs who read this, take a breath and think about what you’re about to say when someone asks a question or needs your help.

Don’t ever talk down to your clients, or purposely over their heads to make you sound smarter. You just look like a jerk who can’t relate to people. “Mansplaining” has no place in start-ups or anywhere, really.

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