November 15th, 2013, was my last day at my full-time job at WNET-Channel 13. That day was a culmination of a three-year journey prior where I was moonlighting and creating my CPA firm on the side – nights, weekends, and even lunch hours.
Leaving a full-time job was a tough decision for me to make. I was 29 years old, had recently become a homeowner, and was about to become engaged. Most small businesses fail in their first five years of existence, so I feel blessed and extremely fortunate to be able to celebrate 10 years. When I look back I feel the following steps I took ensured that I had a foundation to succeed.
1️⃣ Six-month financial runway: I had planned a year ahead and began saving as much money so I could make my mortgage and utilities payments for at least 6 months after I took the leap. This was critical as the first 12 months of my business, I barely broke even, and it was a huge financial struggle.
2️⃣ Networking: I attended as many networking events as I could – From NYTech Meetups at the Skirball (NYU) to Biotech forums, to Coworking space gatherings. Being in New York City was a huge advantage, and I put myself out there as much as possible, meeting as many folks as I could early on in my journey.
3️⃣ Connecting with Peers: Joining the NYSSCPA and being able to learn from colleagues with unique specialties and at different stages of their careers was a great encouragement and mentorship I needed. It was also great to bounce ideas and vent to my peers who understood the struggle of starting a firm from scratch.
4️⃣ Business Plan: I had already established a niche in helping technology startups and young professionals beforehand, and I had a great sense of the direction to take the business to stand out from my competitors. I would contact incubators, accelerators, and Coworking spaces, volunteering for office hours, giving presentations, and taking on work that may have been beyond what I could handle at times. Through this journey, I met some incredible folks who trusted me and weren’t afraid to take a chance on me with my new venture.
5️⃣ Building a team: I knew from early that scaling a business as a solopreneur was going to be extremely difficult. At the same time hiring people can be daunting, especially when there is no external funding except revenue. My first role at an accounting firm was through an internship and I used this model early on to successfully hire students who were looking for part-time work and experience. This meant that I wasn’t committing to the pressure of onboarding a full-time employee, and I got valuable experience managing junior staff.
I’m excited to see what the next 10 years have in store for me, and feel extremely privileged to do work I love everyday. I want to thank folks I met along the way that have made a difference and helped me on my journey early on. To our current and former clients and team I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this without you. Thank you!