Friday, July 11, 2008

Business Interview: Barry Brownlow

Business in Motion Interview: Barry Brownlow

My guest on my radio show, Business in Motion, today was Barry Brownlow, founder of Brownlow and Associates, an accounting firm based in Ancaster, Ontario. The firm is approaching its 30 year anniversary in 2010. They have five partners and over 20 employees.

Enjoy these insights from the interview.

Their cliental are entrepreneurs. Barry’s definition of an entrepreneur? One who builds the business – often from scratch. "Entrepreneurs are business builders".

Guess what? Our discussion was very little about numbers and mostly about people.


Barry Brownlow pointed out that aspiring accountants must love numbers so much that they count the number of stairs as they walk down them.

He added that there are no surprises when talking to entrepreneurs about their numbers because entrepreneurs are more numbers-savvy these days. They must be, just to survive. What Brownlow and Associates bring to the mix is interpretation of the numbers.

Marketing & Sales

How did he grow his accounting firm? By building a good reputation. His firm has no sales staff which is not unusual for a professional firm. That means the professionals shoulder the marketing and sales responsibility. I find that curious because I believe that accountants become accountants because they like numbers ... counting the stairs… and they end up as part time sales and marketing staff.

When Barry Brownlow launched his accounting business – he was trained as an accountant. He had earned a science degree previously. Not exactly the formula for business owner success. And certainly not the signs of a people person. But Barry Brownlow was a good learner and feisty. He learned the basics of selling by allowing sales reps to pitch him. He figured that he couldn’t afford to take seminars on selling so why not learn for free from the professional sellers. He especially liked listening to insurance sales people. He figured that was hard to sell so let’s see how they do it.

Successful Entrepreneurs

What are the qualities of success entrepreneurs?
They are direct.
They know what they want and can articulate it clearly.
They understand how they will achieve their goals.
They share their passion openly and willingly.

Are women better entrepreneurs than men?

They are different. Barry repeated this answer. Different. It sounded like at least one of the differences was that women are better at multitasking while men were more single task focused. Neither was right he added – they’re just different. Yep – Venus and Mars.

Are successful people balanced?

This appeared to be a contentious question because Barry Brownlow’s guarded response was, “What do you mean by balance?” I suggested that he define “balance” and his response was that successful people are balanced in the old sense of mind, heart and soul. However, they might work very hard at times – so hard that they appear to be obsessive to outsiders. But these successful entrepreneurs know that they need to achieve a balance in their lives.

Perhaps Barry Brownlow demonstrates this sense of balance well. He participates in extra curricular activities – chamber of commence, professional association work and networking groups to promote the business – volunteering on the board of the Hamilton Health Sciences board to give back to the community – running to maintain his health – spending time at the cottage to enjoy his family and friends.

Perhaps further proof to Barry Brownlow’s sense of balance was his lunch of a vegetarian salad. His reasoning – there will be ribs and beer later at the cottage.

George Torok
Host of Business in Motion
Business Speaker
Motivational Speaker

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