Listen to this episode here: Shift Your Mindset and Embrace Change

Welcome to our blog for TALKING NUMBERS with Paul Jansz. In this article, we share our conversation with Sam Dean, Founder of BlueprintHQ, a strategic advisory business for expert-based businesses and professional services.

‘A Lonely Journey’ to BlueprintHQ

Sam just hit the 30-year mark as an accountant. She started her career in Creek Street in Brisbane, and then had many experiences in different areas throughout Queensland. She is grateful that she learnt all the aspects of auditing, bookkeeping and accounting, but more importantly, she learnt a lot regarding relationships and how to be central to people. By the year 2002, Sam felt a little overwhelmed with the accounting industry for the first time. She thought it would be a really good idea to open a business with her husband. The couple then opened up a business where Sam learned a lot about CRM systems processes, how to engage with clients, schedule work and much more. She thought she knew everything about business since she was an accountant, but it turned out there is much more to it. When working with clients as an accountant, she has always asked ‘Why not do cash flow and budget forecasting’. It is not until she became a small business owner herself that she figured out what it is like to be one. There were so many things to be considered, not just making the numbers add up. It was also a very lonely journey, she says. This is where her drive came from to help small business owners not to feel so lonely. She ended up at a big firm as a partner to oversee the business advisory function. It was a good learning period; however, Sam felt it was a very traditional style of business experience. Sam then started to look into something new and exciting. She had many accountants requesting new styles of services. This was the start of BlueprintHQ, a business that is completely dedicated to helping professional service businesses shift from traditional models into new models.

The Partners Model Vs. The Corporate Model

Sam thinks the partners model is a stepping stone in one’s career. It provides the opportunity to take responsibility as a partner, and it minimises the risk compared to starting a new business by oneself. However, if you want to have more experience building a business, you might need the corporate model to get other expertise and skills. Sam says we need to understand what each model means for individuals. When making decisions, one needs to break the models down, and think about where they want to sit. She emphasises, if you want to build a business yourself where you don’t have to turn up every day, the only one model that will work is a corporate model. If you want a fallible and scalable business, you cannot have it rely on one person.

Having Rules Helps

Sam illustrates that a business is like a marriage; everyone should be extremely careful about it before going all in. There might be signs, what we call ‘chemistry’ that will help you decide if you want to be there. Even in a long-lasting relationship, there must be some boundaries, the right rules and everything set up right. Sam says there are always difficult conversations. People can leave for emotional or personal reasons, and it’s rarely for money. So, if a business has rules of operating, they can take some of the emotions away and put some boundaries in. Having these rules makes things much easier, because rules help to maintain workplace relationships. Not having rules makes running a business even harder.

Mindset and Changes

Sam shares her feelings from a personal growth point of view. She says that we might have different names for it – midlife crisis, spiritual awakening or the ‘breakdown’. But there is a point in life when you start looking at what’s important around you. It is very important to have the motivation, the curiosity to keep you getting up every morning and being interested in things. Sam says that mindset becomes important. Sam takes accounting as an example. She was technically trained as an accountant, and some people spend 5 to 6 years, even a decade to build expertise. While one can be very successful with that style of training, there’s a lack of curiosity in the process. People get used to what they do every day, and they forget to ask questions. Most people would react to what’s in front of them, as opposed to what’s going to happen. Sam points out this is where we need to shift the mindset as a business, to be proactive rather than reactive. Sam says there are many questions to be asked. What’s going to happen?What if we don’t know what’s going to happen? All these questions help a business to be as agile as possible. Sam further explains that the ‘expert mindset’ tends to be based on what we want to do, while the ‘business mindset’ is about getting to know clients better. When a business understands what their clients want and need, they can develop products around that. For BlueprintHQ, the product is built around what the clients need. Sam says that many people will change when the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of changing. After the pandemic happened, many shifts just happened. Sam is actually a little concerned that changes are not happening fast enough.

A Piece of Advice

Sam suggests taking the time to get curious, exploring and taking small steps when facing changes. Just do one little thing a day that can make you a little bit more curious. And the more curious you get, the more you will want to learn. We have many channels to learn nowadays, and when you have time, pick a topic that you might not have thought about before; you never know where it could lead you.