It is the end of the day, end of the week, end of the month and end of the financial year. Some of you may have already headed towards cooler climes to beat the heat, thanks to the extended weekend. Some of you may be giving the last minute push to reach the year-end target, year-end billing or recovery. Many of you may be busy with the taxes, turnover, appraisal, budgets, inventory stock take, cash balance checking etc. I know for sure an year end editorial piece will not catch the attention. Yet, I want to leave you all with a few thoughts on Knowing Your Professionals. In the context of an entrepreneur, in particular – Knowing Your CA / CS / Lawyer. These are the ‘3 wise men’ who will guide you and safeguard your interests in the long run. As an entrepreneur you may be focussing on market, technology, people, funding etc. but unless you have the right set of people for your audit, compliances & legal advice, you will not be able to go far.
As part of my profession, I get to meet many, many entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, businesses, ideas & requirements. While the ‘senior seasoned ones’ know our importance (read CA/CS/Lawyer), the newbies find it ‘easy & economical’ to access our breed online. Many e-businesses have sprung up offering ‘one-stop-shop solutions’ for startups who want to hire an auditor, company secretary or get some legal document drafted. While this is not new, what is, is most of the times you don’t know who your auditor is, whois managing your confidential board and shareholder records, who is using your Digital Signature and who has drafted your legal documents or offered you legal advice. When I say who – I mean what is the professional’s credentials ? Have you ever done a due diligence or Know Your Professional check when you sign up for these so-called online services ?
Once I was shocked to hear from a young founder that he just knows a coordinator on a service portal through whom he gets all his advice, audit, compliances done. He doesn’t even know who his statutory auditor is – one whom he has appointed for a 5 year period ? should he not appoint such an important professional after a thorough due diligence and meeting him in person ? this may sound old fashioned and archaic but trust me, it is required. Else you are entrusting all your business details and books to a stranger who just signs once a year and uploads on the MCA or the IT dept. portal. Can you afford this, especially when changing an auditor is so difficult under the law ? when information is king and data security is not guaranteed ? same is true for the auditor too. Is it not risky signing a Balance Sheet without even knowing who the client is ? is a Know Your Customer not important ? I bet there are umpteen inbuilt processes and terms to check on all this but my advice would be never, ever to appoint a statutory auditor whom you have not met or interacted with. Know your Professional.
This brings me to another revelation I had recently. I came across a so-called ‘legal advice website’ which didn’t disclose who the team were, who were the professionals offering the advice, where it was based out of, how old it was etc. It claimed wide media publicity, awards, number of customers, multi-state presence etc. but just reading some very basic compliance steps for a Company that they put out was shocking. It was completely wrong and not as per law. Any naïve entrepreneur who is fed on ‘bootstrapping’ (read buy the cheapest professional services available !) is bound to sign up with them because of the dirt cheap prices (as if professional services are commodities to be tariffed !!). How does he know if he has got the right advice or not ? Not until another professional points out or a due diligence red flags it or a regulator issues a notice. By then the damage is done. In most cases irreversible.
Yet another Women’s Day came and went by on 8th March. This time the theme was “Press for Progress” with focus on ‘collaboration’ & ‘shared responsibility’. I was invited by two MNCs to address their women employees. I took the opportunity to share my own personal experience which I thought will be more credible than talking about some celebrities who are so often quoted and heard. I am no celebrity but by the sheer number of years that I have tried to balance my working life and personal one, I guess I qualify to say something. It has helped me to be a marathoner than a sprinter. Here are some buttons to press for progress :
✤ Press for Progress with People Power – nothing is ever achieved alone
✤ Create & nurture support system – do it even before you need it
✤ Stand on your legs – financial independence is a must
✤ Realise your potential – education, career, marriage, family, hobbies, service to society, everything is possible
✤ Ask what you want – be clear about your priorities in life and ask assertively, don’t hesitate
✤ Don’t strive to be a perfect woman – it is a myth, not worth the stress
✤ Take bold decisions – whether office or family, sometimes it is better to move on
✤ Trust, delegate, empower – this is the secret to success of ‘shared responsibility’
✤ Health is wealth – take care of yourself first, this will take care of the family
✤ Learn to say No – my co-speaker said this and I echo
✤ Believe in yourself – Dont under estimate, YOU ARE SHAKTI
There are many attributes of a good leader but as women, many of us are endowed with compassion and empathy. Use them well. They are not signs of weakness. Rather they bring in a different style of leadership when mixed judiciously with aggression and candidness. A strong leader needs all of these contrasting attributes and more.
I salute all the women leaders – at home and outside, sung, unsung and wish each one progresses well in their respective chosen paths. Whether a woman earns or facilitates earning by her man, by staying back to take care of the family – she is an economic contributor and is most valuable to society.
For every issue, selection of the theme and banner picture is the biggest challenge since it has to be something different yet connected to the current. Since the newsletter is entirely conceived and produced by our internal team, the exercise begins several days in advance…so that we don’t miss our fortnightly target. The banner related work is creative and may not have anything to do with the nature of our service which is advisory and compliances but the joy and team camaraderie that it spreads is immeasurable. Perhaps it gives us a break from the routine. A refreshing change from the process driven deliveries. A creative window to let out steam after frustrating follow up with clients endlessly for information ! Above all it gives great insights and keeps the team spirited.
Sometimes we look all around for something but ignore that which is within our reach. We miss living here and now. We look yonder. We aspire for ‘there’, for ‘that’, for ‘them’. So this time, we thought let us focus on ‘here’, on ‘this’ and on ‘us’ for the banner images. Result is you see a beautiful collage of our office garden – the green expanse, the colourful flowers, the neatly laid pebbles and the manicured grass. Those who have visited us will vouch for the stimulating experience they have had. Those who haven’t, this is a glimpse. You are welcome to drop by and soak it all ! I bet it will soothe your frayed nerves. At least you know for sure there is no fraud here, there is no artificiality, no connivance, no exaggeration – these are natural, genuine flowers, not ‘fake LOUs or diamonds’ !! Simply reflecting our firm’s value systems.
Perhaps this is what happened to some of our recent visitors ….guess who ? Our ancestors – yes, we had a gang of monkeys who wanted to get away from the urban concrete. They went on a mini rampage of the garden but they also provided a reprieve to our team which sparked off some lively banter. Didn’t I say invest in a garden to build the team spirit ? ☺
I must confess that this time the choice of featuring our very own plants and flowers was triggered by a call from a long time friend of mine. She chanced upon our ‘Green Work Place’ pictures as she was browsing our website and promptly called me to compliment – a fresh-looking work place with fresh-looking people (sharadasc.com/team). She even gave me a tip – “You have such lovely flowers, when you want to carry some not-so-welcome tax news, say it with a flower picture”. Why not ? Going forward, you may suddenly find some breath-taking flower next to a thorny tax news and you will know why ☺