Startup in Japan (2): Find an Accountant

I needed an accountant for my new company and so I checked out a couple of websites and made a couple of appointments. And if you think accountants are boring, you are so very wrong.

Accountants can be comical, scary, threatening and smart. How we chose ours.

“My hat has three corners”

The first guy was nice. He had a dull office but his business card was branded and he had a funny background music playing in the meeting room. Old German folk songs played by some orchestra. When he started explaining his services the tune (“Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken”= “My hat has three corners”) became more and more dramatic, so dramatic, that I had to control my laughter.

Playing music to influence the customers during a meeting is a very efficient subliminal strategy, especially if the music is so loud, that after a while you have to stand up and turn the music down. I am not quite sure though if the music played only in the meeting room or if it was his office policy (to play music in the morning). Nevertheless he seemed serious and nice. And, as I like any form of comedy he seemed to be my guy.

“The taxman is a Yakuza”

The second guy was a classic salesman. A too classic salesman. He tried to scare me by mentioning all the dangers that I will be confronted with, if I don’t choose him. Among other things he promised me a future with a very nasty taxman who will try to rip my company into pieces, if I don’t… “Tax men are like Yakuza. One has to know how to deal with them. And I know.” Yeah, right.

Of course he offered me a special discount (“Only for you”—yeah, right), and he put the contract on the table, offering another discount if I sign the dotted line right away—yeah, right. As is that were not enough, of course he had to make a couple of personal comments like: “You are very tall”, “You have a small face”. And of course he wanted to know exactly how much money I made so far and how much I plan to make and how and why, so he could pitch me more precisely. And of course he had a very submissive assistant. And of course this guy had no chance.

“You mean usability?”

The third guy was a fantastic salesman. He asked me about my business. He was incredibly patient with my bad Japanese. He even understood my definition of Information Design. “You mean usability?” Then he started to sell me to myself. He said that “usability experts are very rare” and that he has another customer that offers this service and that this is a very good business.

I explained that I am not just a usability expert, as the one-dimensional usability expert will optimize your site to the point where it looks dead. My business is combining the cold usability with the emotional branding and as such maximizing the use and impact of interactive products. He asked me what I think about his website, and he nodded when I told him, that the usability is good but that the design of the website and the business card do not match.

He did not try to scare or to force me; he even suggested that I might visit other offices in order to make the right choice. That’s when I knew. He’s the man. A great salesman doesn’t sell his product, he sells you to yourself.

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