As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Albert C. Hurston Jr., CPA.
Albert C. Hurston Jr., CPA is the owner, founder, and CEO of Right Choice Accounting Solutions, where they change the way that small business owners think about accounting and tax. As an emerging leader in the accounting world, Albert understands the importance of having a full-functioning accounting team is crucial to any business’s long-term success. He built his business with this in mind. To learn more about Albert and Right Choice, please visit rightchoiceaccountingsolutions.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Sure! First things first, I’m a married father of three. I love to start there because that’s what sets the stage for everything else. Professionally, I have a background in sales and accounting. I’ve been in accounting for about 8 years, I’ve been a CPA for about 4 years, and I started Right Choice about 2 and a half years ago. As a kid, I always wanted to be the guy in a suit with the briefcase. It didn’t matter so much what was in the briefcase, I just wanted it! This is what led me to business school. I’ve always been that student who participates in class, jokes around with my teachers, etc., so it was obvious to my Business 101 professor that I belonged in marketing. That was an extremely exciting idea to me. I mean.. building relationships while handling business, making money, and having fun. What beats that? It was in one of my marketing classes where a professor said, “although marketing is how you sell business, accounting is how you talk business.” Those childhood desires of being the businessman with the briefcase rushed back in. I knew at that point I wanted to be both. I wanted to be an accountant who could also be a marketer. That would make me the most well-rounded type of business professional that there is. So that’s what I did. I got bachelor’s degrees in both and worked in both areas throughout my corporate career.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
As I was progressing through my accounting career, I started to get more and more small business owner connections. I realized early on that there was a serious disconnect between the way that the large successful businesses understood accounting and the way that small business owners did. There is this belief with a lot of small business owners that accounting is some sort of optional service, whereas successful companies use accounting to make almost every decision. This is where the idea was born. I realized that my experience and abilities were “useful” for the large companies that I was working for, but they were “necessary” for small business owners.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
There are so many mistakes that it’s hard to pick one! I think the biggest takeaway came from a crazy assumption that I made. I honestly believed that once I explained what my company offers to small business owners, it would be obvious to them that this makes the most sense. I completely discounted all the other voices, misinformation, etc. available to them on the internet. It’s funny because I overlooked the fact that I would have to prove who I am & why they should listen to me, instead of just showing up with the solution. I thought it would be easy!!! The lesson is simple, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Our purpose was and is to provide small business owners with the same type of return on investment (R.O.I.) that the large successful companies get from accounting. We do this by building the right types of teams, providing the right type of info, and communicating well about what’s important. Simply put, we wanted to provide access to the right way to do accounting.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
We communicate well and we “walk the walk.” We consistently tell and show our clients and employees what we’re all about, and why it’s important.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Yes. Remember who you are and why you’re here… Keep it all in perspective.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Early on, the hardest thing was accepting the real challenge of building a business that is built on the concept of changing the way that business leaders think about something. I showed up with a lot of knowledge and ideas, but without actual processes and proof. I underestimated the journey.
Of course, I wanted to quit a million times! I left a cushy 6 figure career where I was being paid for what I already knew… to build a business where I would be working a lot more for a lot less.
The drive comes from my “number one principle.” Remembering who I am and why I’m here.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Things are going great! All the tough lessons were worth it, and we’re really doing what we set out to do for our clients and our business. Once we became more realistic about what it would take and began to “show and prove” vs “showing up,” it began to really grow. Our values are what kept us on the right track “when the going got tough.”
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Be realistic — We are all extremely optimistic about how well things can go. It’s normally true. It really can go that well. We just have to be realistic about the research, work, dedication, commitment, and everything else that it will take to get there.
- Perspective — As a leader of anything, you must always remember who you are, what you’re doing, and why.
- Commitment — You will want to quit. We all did. Don’t. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Solve a real problem — Are you solving a real problem in your space or are you creating problems to sell what you do. Trust me, there are plenty of problems to solve in whatever you do.
- Always remain a student — Always get better. Listen more.. learn more.. manage your ego.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I LOVE THIS QUESTION! I couldn’t agree with this statement more.
I would not be who I am without my wife and the COO of Right Choice, Lauren Hurston. We met as sophomores in college and since then she has supported me in everything. There is a long list of accomplishments that would’ve been nearly impossible without her. When I was studying for the CPA exam, she made sure that our son gave me a couple of hours to study each night for over a year! I passed. Every time I wanted to change jobs to get better experience, she pushed me to do it. I got those jobs, learned the lessons, got promoted, and continued to move forward. When I wanted to start this company, she supported me 100%. It’s important to add perspective to this. My wife supported me quitting a flexible job with great pay and great benefits to build something from nothing. Not only did she support it, but she also ensured that it would be successful by filling in all the gaps that I needed. She has always bet on me, even when it wasn’t clear that we would win. There is no better feeling than proving her right about me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would create a strong push for mandatory financial literacy as a part of education for all students.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thanks for asking. I am @AlberttheCPA on Instagram & Twitter. We are Right Choice Accounting Solutions on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Also feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at Albert C. Hurston Jr.