Tony Hawk doesn’t make his money selling skateboards.
He is one of the greatest skateboarders to ever live, but his business savvy is what has kept him relevant and profitable. Licensing deals, events, and even speaking engagements have kept him in the spotlight and made him millions over the years.
Like anyone could guess, his career hasn’t been without its slumps and bumps. He discussed some of those challenges at a recent AICPA conference.
Tony Hawk was able to pivot and make some really great business decisions even when skateboarding had some dry years. Instead of sticking solely to manufacturing and selling a board, trucks, wheels, and some grip tape, he decided to expand his brand so that he could keep doing the thing he loves most: skateboarding.
Some of the biggest heroes of his professional journey are, surprisingly, accountants. Skaters and accountants don’t usually hang out in the same social circles, so the camaraderie didn’t come easy. In fact, he said that the first time he met with a “real accountant” (his words), Hawk wasn’t a fan.
“He won’t listen to what I am saying!”
“He is not fulfilling my dreams.”
“Who brought him?”
The skateboard sensei didn’t think the accountant had anything to offer when the consultant was brought in for a new venture. Hawk saw accounting as a roadblock until he realized the accountant was projecting millions of dollars in losses. If Hawk rushed into doing a traveling show before getting enough ticket pre-sales, he could have failed miserably.
The “real accountant” helped project a more realistic launch date, and the new revenue stream was a success.
The tension between skater and accountant continues in Tony Hawk’s business, but it’s much healthier than it was in that first meeting.
Hawk still calls his accountant the “fun police.” But he also admits, “She is there to give me a voice of reason.”
Since his first encounter with a “real accountant,” he has entered into many new revenue streams that help him remain successful. He is able to come to his accountant with new ideas, and instead of shutting him down before he gets a word out, she finds ways to make his business goals come to life. What makes the relationship work is the trust and clarity that Tony Hawk now has in his business.
Accountants may seem like the fun police to Hawk, but they have functioned as just the opposite. With an accountant, he can continue to sell skateboards (which do not make him much money), so his brand can stay relevant (which makes him a lot of money), so that he can continue skating at 50 years old - the thing he loves most.
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