Join us today as we talk with Mark Stovel and his proven systems that help accountants take home $250k annually. We’ll talk through equity positions, win-wins, and much more.
About Mark Stovel
Simply put, Mark helps accountants take home $250k annually. After launching his firm in 2017, Gyroscope Accounting was acquired in 2021. Now, Mark helps clients through coaching.
Mark’s experience began by obtaining bookkeeping clients during the early stages of his career. After leaving the corporate firm, Mark joined a manufacturing company as its controller. Three years later, he moved across the country to start his CPA firm.
Mark’s father had spent his career in the industry as well. Lucky for Mark, he had valuable insights from an industry veteran only a phone call away. Even with that connection, Mark knew that there was a better way to run an accounting firm. This ‘better way’ was to implement a virtual work environment. Mark was ahead of the curve, and started doing business online from day one, years before the world transitioned this way.
The Value of Equity
Interestingly, Mark’s value with his clients was sometimes traded in equity. After he sold his firm in 2021, some of his revenue was obtained through equity shares in two tech companies before he sold.
So, he took on tech companies as clients, completed work for them, and received a portion of his pay in equity shares (the other part through a monthly retainer).
This turned out to be extremely valuable for the way Mark earned his revenue. He was able to collect based on the increasing value of his shares, and keep the CFO work he would do for the companies after they were sold off. Now that’s a win-win.
This type of position, especially for those who have their own clients is obviously quite unique. The key here is that with Mark’s position, he was able to obtain equity shares because of his high level advisory roles. For example, Mark acted as a CFO for some of his clients which adds responsibility. For Mark, he knew walking into this would add management to his plate, but for him the strategy and process building was worth it.
Amazingly, Mark positioned himself in such a way that gave him a lot of control for companies that traded ownership.
In the beginning stages of a startup, Mark was able to integrate within the company and provide his skill set. Instead of charging what a typical accountant would at his expertise level, Mark would agree to stay on by negotiating equity.
Okay, right we just talked about this…
Here’s where it gets fun. Mark tells us that in some scenarios he pre-dated ownership. So, with this he was able to drive a hard bargain because he knew the ownership would see his value. He mentions:
"There was no need to get caught up in systems or growth strategies because he was the one who helped build them."
Mark and David Cristello, founder and CEO of Jetpack Workflow, discussed how the term ‘advisory’ can get lost in the mix.
According to Mark, advisory can be considered a term that captures everything that is noncompliance. He tells us that it can actually be broken down into three buckets.
1. Cash Flow Projection (Maintenance) Bucket
An example of this is cash flow projections. By leveraging historical information, CFO’s can project out future cash flows to show growth. This can be sold in a strategic way.
2. Cash Flow Improvement Bucket
This pertains to the cash conversion cycle. Essentially, turning a dollar of revenue into a dollar of cash in the bank account as soon as possible. This is simply a systems driven process improvement component.
3. Cash Flow Increase Bucket
This is a strategic bucket and a hard one to actually master. Mark explains that he didn’t enjoy doing these because it did not provide a lot of value for the client from his experience. Projections are difficult to actually predict because the world is unpredictable.
Mark shares a valuable piece of information when he talks about #3 during the podcast.
In conversations with C-Suite leaders, he tells us it's important to look at the assumptions or projections that they got right and the ones that were wrong. More specifically, why did the assumptions that went wrong go that way? Here’s the nugget: Mark shared,
“We learned more from what we got wrong than what we did right.”
Mark sounds like a coach with those words. Oh wait, he is. The final thought we will leave you with is what Mark’s life looks like from the coaching side of business.
- Trajectory: What is happening in your firm now is going to impact how you do later due to the recurring client bases.
- Team Management: Mark helps firms establish systems that create more approachable environments.
- Technology: There isn’t much to say here other than if you know Mark and how he started his business, you will know why tech has had such an impact on his success.
We could also look at how he breaks down these three pillars with his clients like this:
- Beginning with the end in mind (Trajectory)
- Culture (Team Management)
- Development (Technology)
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