8 min read

Mimesis and Margins: The Success of New Models in Professional Services

Businesses imitate what works. That's how new models are born. When the margins show a better way, others will follow.
Written by
Roy Keely
Published on
May 6, 2023
Success begets success.

Back in the day, when I was overseeing sales, we found a few constants that we saught to flame or to stop. When a sales rep hit a slump, it catalyzed a domino effect. If they lost a deal, they were infinitely more likely to lose the next one too. A scarcity mindset crept in and sabotaged their thought process. Reps' thinking would shift from "playing to win" to simply “playing not to lose".

Our approach to avoiding this reality?

When a salesperson won big, we didn’t let them celebrate too much. We encouraged them to harness their self-confidence and get back out there and close the next deal, believing that they could harness the magic of success yet again.

My observation: humans are capable of establishing mindsets that lead to ongoing victory and mindsets that lead to repeated defeat.

I believe you can apply this same approach ‘new firm model’ of accounting that so many are preaching these days.

The “new firm model” looks something like this:

Charge your clients more. Work your people less. Partner (IE risk allocator) makes money.

Makes sense on paper. Some people are actually starting to see gains in this area (IE Renew firms -… but at what scale?

Meet mimesis and margins.

What is mimesis? In some sense, it’s a fancy way of saying “meme”, but it’s a far more nuanced concept than the latest tik-tok craze. It's a simple idea. People imitate what/who they want to be like. People (and every living creature) wants to copy what works. This is the basis of evolution.

The old firm model clearly worked (and still works for some firms). So, when a partner makes $$$$ and sees the people preaching the new way of making $$ …. why change? Life balance - sure (blah blah blah and they have higher turnover…) but it fits their risk model. (IE I make $$$$ in exchange for the risk of higher turnover, etc.).

The only way the model will truly change and is if firms can observe the emergence of real margin.

Firm Studio is playing our part by creating tools for the accounting profession to leverage their skill set to make them more money and cater to a niche market.

It’s a long road. Perhaps a couple of generational turns, which is far too long for our microwave patience (*Fascinating to think through the lens of micro-evolution related to birds beaks…more here.).

We're confident that we're investing in a model that will change the future of accounting and other professional service firms. Change may take time, but when business leaders begin to observe the success of the new model, they will be ready to embrace change.

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