Swiss Lessons in Canadian Accounting



I am Christian Thut from Switzerland.  This is the story of how our product, SwissBooks, came about and how we processed over $2 billion in accounting transactions since 2006 with no contacts, no network, no role models.


What follows are my most important lessons from 12 years of developing Canada's most efficient accounting solution.  With efficiency being defined as value created/time spent creating value.  Today, THUT Accounting is at the top of the Facebook ranking of all accounting providers in the province of Alberta despite not employing a single accountant.  The one most important rule is consistently and intensely focusing on difficult hard-to-replicate skills that deliver value to people – day in day out.


Merci vielmal (Swiss German for Thank-you) for taking the time to read this.

I was never destined to become "the accountant".  I started programming BASIC with a Commodore VIC20 when I was 11 years old.

I developed mathematical optimization algorithms as part of my thesis to precisely correct volumes and rates of administration for intravenous medications.  After my Master’s degree, I spent my time using the tools at my disposal – analytical math to try to solve problems. 


I began my career at the Swiss global company, Roche and then I worked for the Reformed Church Uster in Switzerland. Reuniting with the Protestant work ethic and virtues was a refresher on my Swiss upbringing which emphasized discipline and responsibility.  When you have nothing, you must trade time for money while you develop useful skills.


At the age of 26, I had the lead accounting role at a $100 million company in Edmonton. It was here where I realized what a single person with the right skills is capable of. In the evenings and weekends, I  pursued my sideline accounting business.  


I incorporated the firm in Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region in 2006, on the premise that Alberta’s mass affluent would be best served by Swiss innovation and exclusivity free of the inefficiencies inherent to other firms.


My vision was to have the best accounting solution in Canada. I determined that the only way to reach this goal was to commit myself entirely to one activity: saving Canadian business owner’s money. Only a truly focused approach can enable an accounting solution to offer, believably and legitimately, a responsible, first-class service and a relationship of the same impeccable quality.


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The SwissBooks  7-Step Example


  1. Sell a product or a service in the form of a product that you know better than most and that people will pay for.
  2. Determine the addressable market. The addressable market for small business accounting in Alberta is worth anywhere between $448M-$1B dollars per year.  There is 165,792 business in Alberta that would pay our minimum fee.  Our market nationwide is $3B -$5B per year.
  3. 50% of your resources should be spent on delivering your product.  Simplify your business into a process (see our 5 step process to accounting). Be clear about what your customers can expect and say no to anything that falls outside your process. Train disciplined people to handle the process. Hire 2, work them like 4 and pay them like 3. Use pool-style retention bonuses.
  4. Until you are financially independent, 50% of your resources should be spent on sales.  Either use sales reps and logic to cater to the top 20% (like us) or emotion and buying traffic - adjusting for conversion rates to appeal to everyone else!
  5. Use your business account (bank/credit card) for expense transactions vs. cash or personal debit/credit cards. Send us your statements in 1 of 3 formats in order of preference: .csv, .pdf, paper statement.
  6. Aim to set aside 50-90% of all the money you collect, until you can fund your lifestyle entirely with passive income. Then 100% of your active income can go towards riskier investments. Losing $1 million dollars when you still have $3 million is worth the risk when you have the change of being worth $12 million.
  7. Do not fall into the temptation of cheap credit and live within your means. In German, borrowing is 'schulden', the same word for sin.
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