Christian Brim and Core Group US: Guiding Creatives through Accounting and Financial Challenges
Are you a creative entrepreneur, deeply immersed in your craft but grappling with the financial aspects of your business? You're not alone. Enter Christian Brim, the visionary behind Core Group US, an accounting firm that has carved out a distinctive niche by tailoring its services exclusively to creatives. In a recent episode of The Coach Yu Show, Dennis engaged in a thought-provoking conversation with Christian, shedding light on how Core Group US is helping creatives manage their finances.
Christian Brim's Unique Journey
The interview kicked off as Dennis and Christian delved into the intriguing path that brought Core Group US to its specialization in catering to creative entrepreneurs. Christian described how the firm chanced upon this particular area of expertise and, thanks to a combination of chance and insight, identified the distinctive hurdles and requirements faced by creative professionals in the financial sector. Creative individuals primarily utilize right-brain thinking, emphasizing their passion and innovation. Conventional accountants often lean towards left-brain thinking, characterized by analytical prowess and a potential lack of relatability.
Creatives perceive business differently from those with a right-brained orientation. Take Christian's daughter, for instance, who pursued a four-year college degree but harbored no desire to become an employee; she aspired to be an artist. Christian posed questions such as, "What will you create? How will you determine its value? Who's your target audience?" She just said, "I don't know; I just want to paint." These analytical inquiries felt alien to her, exemplifying the typical thought process of creatives who prioritize pursuing their passions.
Dennis then inquires, "How do creatives perceive money?" Christian clarifies that, for creatives, money is an outcome rather than a driving force. Undoubtedly, everyone requires money for sustenance, a fact that creatives acknowledge, but it doesn't serve as their primary motivator. Conversations revolving around finances don't come naturally to them.
Numerous creatives grapple with financial anxiety and thus perceive numbers and tax matters as intimidating and overwhelming. Christian underscores the challenge of assisting these individuals in conquering their fears and engaging with the financial aspects of their creative ventures. Core Group US plays a pivotal role in empowering creatives to overcome their financial apprehensions through practical guidance.
Nevertheless, Christian adds that they don't aim to assist creatives who are content with subsistence. Their focus lies in collaborating with creatives who aspire to earn, sustain a particular lifestyle, and attain financial freedom but may be uncertain about the path to achieve these goals.
Financial Empowerment for Creatives
Many creatives grapple with financial anxiety, perceiving numbers and taxes as intimidating. Christian highlights the challenge of helping them overcome these fears and connect with the financial aspects of their businesses. Core Group US empowers creatives to conquer their financial apprehensions through practical guidance, focusing on those who want to make money, maintain a certain lifestyle, and achieve financial freedom but are unsure about how to get there.
Advice for Creatives
Dennis inquires, "What three pieces of counsel would you offer to a creative regarding their financial management?" Christian highlights the significance of the 80-20 Principle, which entails optimizing one's time for maximum value. The notion that one should handle all aspects, including accounting and taxes, independently is a misconception. Creatives should instead assess the value they can contribute and the potential income generated by dedicating their time wisely.
Christian further explores the value of niche specialization for creative entrepreneurs. Just as a videographer might choose to specialize in drone shots or food photography, creatives should identify their niche and be unafraid to decline projects that don't align with their core strengths. His advice aligns with the wisdom often imparted in the entrepreneurial world: narrow your focus to broaden your impact.
Lastly, Christian offers more general advice. Many creatives ponder whether they should establish an LLC, often hearing the term and assuming it's necessary. However, forming an LLC may have valid reasons beyond accounting and tax considerations. An LLC is unnecessary for most businesses, especially those not generating sufficient income to benefit from it tax-wise.
Redefining Pricing Strategies
Christian believes that, in general, both business owners and creatives tend to undervalue their services. He emphasizes that the customer's price perception is driven by the perceived value rather than the specific price tag. What matters are the time, energy, effort, and expertise invested in delivering the service or product. The focus should always be on the quality of what you provide. Many tasks can be streamlined or eliminated because they are excessively labor-intensive, time-consuming, and inadequately compensated.
Every dollar is crucial for survival when you're just starting. However, there comes a point when you hit your limit or reach a stress threshold, and that's when you should consider a different approach: raising your prices.
Dennis contributes that many individuals begin pricing from the cost perspective, setting hourly rates at $50 to $100 instead of valuing their projects at $20,000, with the assumption that the number of hours required doesn't matter as long as they deliver the project.
Christian remarks that this approach is reminiscent of the old negotiation concept known as BATNA (best alternative available). Instead, he suggests focusing on the problems you're solving, the expenses you're helping clients save, and the overall value you bring. That should be your starting point for pricing discussions.
Shifting from Hourly Rates to Outcome-Based Pricing
Christian elaborates that the conventional practice is to bill based on a daily rate rather than considering the result. The advantage of shifting your attention to the outcome is that it opens up opportunities for bundling and expanding your services. If there are aspects you don't offer, you can collaborate with other professionals. Your ability to maximize value becomes evident when you prioritize the result over the amount of time invested.
Financial Success: A Matter of Value
According to Christian, in addition to increasing pricing and optimizing time management, it's crucial to comprehend the client's desires and the benefits they receive. The primary emphasis should be on delivering value. Instead of obsessing over hourly charges, creative professionals should center their attention on the results they provide and the issues they resolve. By grasping their distinctive value proposition, creatives can establish rates that accurately mirror their influence and proficiency.
Bridging the Gap
A standout feature of Christian's approach lies in his dedication to bridging the divide between analytical and creative thinking. He underscores the paramount importance of effective communication, and his team allocates substantial resources to cultivate soft skills, including communication and comprehending client preferences. This approach represents a welcome departure from the conventional detachment often attributed to accountants and financial experts. Dennis drew a parallel between Christian's approach and that of the acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsay – both individuals who have achieved mastery in their respective fields while retaining an approachable, personable, and highly proficient demeanor.
Fostering Growth through Leadership Excellence
Christian shared the current hurdles he faces while Core Group US undergoes expansion. He is in the process of shifting from his role as the primary leader to one focused on nurturing and cultivating leaders within his team. This transition from leadership to mentorship underscores the significance of enabling others, entrusting them with responsibilities, and fostering an atmosphere conducive to creativity.
The Creative Entrepreneur's Financial Companion: Core Group US
Christian Brim and Core Group US embody a transformative influence within the creative entrepreneurship space. By blending financial acumen with relatability and fervor, they reshape how creatives engage with accounting and financial affairs. As Christian persists in inspiring and educating with his distinct viewpoint, creative entrepreneurs can anticipate a future where financial prosperity seamlessly aligns with their creative endeavors. Therefore, if you're a creative entrepreneur in pursuit of financial empowerment, explore the liberating possibilities that come with mastering your financial terrain.