Top 10 From 10 Years!

28 September 2021

< back to Knowledge Library

Top 10 from 10 years!

Moving back from overseas, the plan was to buy into the business that I worked in previously. No sales, no contacts, no customers and had effectively lost my previous job. Personality, alcohol and ego got in the way.

I was 27, living with my parents because we needed the rental income from the tenants in our house (houses were cheap once right…). In the first three months, I had sales of $2,925. Living the self-employment dream. Yet, setting up on my own, walking up and down Lambton Quay, I felt on top of the world. Working from the back of a car, with no office, kitchen, or toilet. It was perfect.

10 years on, it’s different perfect. I’ve at least got a kitchen and toilet in the office. So, here’s the top 10 moments and lessons from the last 10 years.

1.      It’s not my business anymore

More than anything, I’m most proud of it not being my business anymore. It’s ours. Our crew make Convex who we are. Me and Riann set the parameters, and then our team do the rest. It’s ours, not mine.

2.      Customers, thank you

Equally, it’s now our customers' business. I know, this sounds like some marketing pitch, but we’ve flipped how we do things to fit what we’ve heard from customers. Also, you took a punt on a 27-year-old running an accounting firm who knew (truth be told…) very little at the time. So, thank you. Thank you for supporting me and the team. We genuinely appreciate it.

3.      A rose by another name did not smell sweet

Convex started as iif Chartered Accountants. Frankly, what a bullshit name. Impossible to say on the phone, iif or iff, and just strange. To the designer I paid for the name – I’m sorry – I should have said something at the time. What’s more, our logo looked way too close to Instant Finance.

4.      Trial…and error

I get bored. Really quick. I started writing this article not sure if I’d make it to 10 items. At the same time, that’s what makes us Convex. When I get bored, we try new things. Sometimes that works (our internal process system), sometimes it doesn’t (the “team-based approach” we tried once). Ultimately every experiment is a win, whether it works or not. We get a bit better each time.

5.      The day we got a {random office object}

To begin with, I had a tiny wee shredder. It would jam after 5 sheets of paper. A scanner/printer that would take 5 minutes to scan a set of accounts. A mobile phone pretending to be an office phone, being thrown across the office. A double-sided scanner, an office with a toilet, a document destruction bin, a phone system. They all brought a bit of joy when they first arrived.

6.      Get on with it

I’m proud of what Convex Legal has achieved alongside us. They went from start up to a team of 8 super quick. Katherine (my wife for disclosure!) has just got on with it. Hired quicker, pushed quicker on hard issues, and won. Convex Accounting has 100% got there too, just making the hard calls a little gently at times. The decision to let a certain marketing person go once up on a time took an age – how they thought watching music videos instead of building our old website still baffles me….

7.      But just slow down

For every decision I’ve made slowly, I’ve made 15 waaaay to fast. I’ve rushed in new CRM systems, changed processes at 2am in the morning, hastily hired and jumped to new KPIs. Now, these decisions are made deliberately slower, with proper governance and accountability. This maturity is making us considerably more robust and getting better stuff done instead of the bright-shiny stuff.

8.      The personal thing is more than the business thing

The only thing which has grown quicker than Convex over the last 10 years is me personally. From a 27-year-old who knew accounting, to a 37-year-old with a fair idea of how to build a self-managing team and create an award-winning business. That’s not to say I’m perfect (just ask the team!). Just a reflection on the growth we all go through as leaders in our businesses.

Interestingly, there’s a big correlation between the periods where I’ve personally stagnated, and the times the business hasn’t grown. The causation is my attitude to work and my drive to push it.

9.      Convexers

From Lisa-Jean as employee number one, through to Tamaku as our most recent. You all took a punt working for a small accounting firm, so, thank you. I walk into work each morning grateful that you’ve chosen to spend your time working with me. We’re always going to fight and annoy each other (that’s a work whānau right?), but you guys all care. So, thank you.

A special mention though to my business partner Riann, along with Eugenie and more recently Chris. The three of you have changed my life and I count you all as friends. Thank you.

10.  The magic is in the middle

The thing is though, the strength of Convex doesn’t come from me or Riann. It doesn’t come from our team, and it doesn’t come from our customers either. It’s the thing that happens in the middle. In the space between us all.

A partner was leaving one of the very big accounting firms to start on their own. They wanted to come in and see how we operated. I brought them in and showed them absolutely everything. Every system, every process, every approach I took when starting Convex. One of the team came up to me and asked why I’d show him how to create a firm from scratch.

In 1939 the incredible Ella Fitzgerald recorded Ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It). I knew that showing them what we do wouldn’t help him at all. It’s how we do what we do that makes Convex work. It’s the bit in the middle between us, or the space down the margin of a page, which makes us work.

So, thank you.

We genuinely appreciate each one of our customers. We know that being in business is challenging right now, so thank you for staying with us.

I appreciate each one of our team members. Thank you all for the energy you bring to the office each day.

10 more years anyone?