After graduating from Drake University in De Moines, IA, Don Purcell, Owner of Purcell CPA, went to work for what was then one of the big eight accounting firms. After gaining valuable experience, Purcell was hired by a restaurant owner in Orlando to serve as the company’s Controller. Following a “wild ride” that included opening and closing six restaurants in eight months and walking the company through bankruptcy, Purcell was offered a position as Controller for Akerman Law Firm. By 1989, after four years with Akerman, Purcell opened his own accounting practice.
“I originally operated for several years as a sole practitioner,” he said. “Around 1995, a client asked for my opinion on an investment he was considering. When I looked into it, it really piqued my interest in investments. So much that I took and passed the Series 63 and Series 7 Exams a year later. By 1997, my financial services revenue was three times my accounting revenue.”
Purcell continued, “I was able to get in with several managers and executives with The Home Depot to help them with investments and financial advising. As a CPA with a securities license, I was able to give advice on taxes and investments. Eventually my connections led to presentations in front of more Home Depot staff. By 2004, I sold the accounting piece to focus exclusively on investing. Business was great. Unfortunately, several years later, when The Great Recession hit, I lost 90% of my revenue. It took time to recover, but I have been able to build it back up.”
In the late 2000s, Purcell served as Chairman of the Board for the charitable foundation of Northland Church, located in Longwood. Through this role, he was exposed to and eventually joined the Stewardship Advisory Group – an experience that changed his approach to financial advising.
“I became more intentional about how I gave financial advice,” he said. “Since then, I’ve focused on being more of a ‘stewardship coach’ when it comes to helping people manage their money.”
In 2014, Purcell and his wife downsized and relocated to Inverness. Four years later, he was introduced to the concept of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) by a colleague. This introduction would set the stage for Purcell’s newest entrepreneurial endeavor.
“I fell in love with the simplicity of EOS and the way it helped small businesses get organized using simple concepts that could be applied to any industry,” he said. “The focus is on doing the most important things first and getting everyone on your team to have the same vision.”
Purcell spent the new few months learning everything he could about EOS. He subscribed to EOS Worldwide, went through various training exercises and eventually became an EOS Implementer. Using connections through his network, he spread the word about his new service. He got feedback from colleagues and tweaked his approach. Purcell shared two examples of how clients have been impacted by EOS.
“I have a medical practice I was consulting with, as a freelance CFO, and I introduced them to EOS,” Purcell said. “After implementing EOS, they added $200,000 to their bottom line in the first year. They also got rid of some bad apples that didn’t fit with their core values and culture. Each person was evaluated based on how much they ‘get it’, ‘want it’ and ‘have the capacity to do their job’. Once they got rid of those bad apples, running the organization became much more enjoyable. People issues are what keep most business owners up at night – it’s not growth or issues with their credit line at the bank. EOS is a tool box filled with simple ways to approach problems and fix them effectively.”
Purcell added, “I also implemented EOS with my church youth group. I helped the leader restructure how he was organized. He was the bottle neck of the group. I restructured the team so he had four people reporting to him and others to those four people. As a result, things ran a lot smoother from that point on.”
According to Purcell, when a business owner is facing a problem, EOS will show them there’s a tool for dealing with that problem. The simple, yet effective, approach is based on six key components and the strengthening of each of those. When this happens, everything else will take care of itself. For Purcell, the outcome is the most rewarding part.
“The satisfaction I get by helping people is so rewarding,” he said. “It’s not about the money. I get just as much satisfaction from doing EOS sessions for free for the youth group, as I do getting paid to do them for the medical group. My personal mission in life and business is to glorify God by serving his people. That’s what I enjoy doing.”
Looking ahead, Purcell has a specific goal to acquire 10 EOS active clients. Based on a typical client having five all-day sessions per year, Purcell would be committed to one all-day session per week, and that’s right where he wants to be. “I’m not looking to retire any time soon, but it’s important to have a work/life balance.”
What advice does Purcell have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “You need to develop a vision of what to do and how to get there,” he said. “Also, when thinking about your budget during your first year in business, you should cut your revenue projections in half and triple your expenses.”
Purcell added, “You also need to understand that entrepreneurship is not an 8 to 5 effort and that you often need to handle many of the details by yourself. I’d also recommend reading the book Traction by Gino Wickman – to understand the principles of how to get and stay organized and how to do the most important things with limited time – and also the book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track--and Keeping it There by Les McKeown. This book covers every stage of a business and how to deal with each one.”
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