5 Lessons that I’ve learned in my first year of starting a cloud accounting firm

It has been several months since I’ve last blogged and I have a good excuse for that. I’ve been busy! Like any entrepreneur trying to make their vision come to fruition, the first year of building a business is just immensely challenging. I’ve been busy learning some really critical lessons in my industry and as a new business owner of a cloud accounting firm.

Documenting the process of becoming the president of a cloud accounting firm was something that I’ve wanted to do, but in this first year this process took precedence to the actual documenting. Moving forward, I will be blogging regularly and sharing my journey through various mediums including this blog. I have also been sharing this journey through social media, Twitter and Instagram @fintcloud .

Here are some critical lessons that I’ve learned in my first year of starting a cloud accounting firm, which I plan to elaborate on in more details in future blog posts.

#5 Partnering with the right people

Networking and meeting new business contacts can be really exciting, but sometimes some skepticism is warranted. I’ve learned that treading carefully is a good idea, and doing some background research on those you partner is worthwhile. It’s kind of like checking out a Yelp review before trying a restaurant.

#4 Managing growth

When I first started the business, I was super gung-ho for new clients and growth. I realized that I really had to pull back on business development in order to for me to first build the operations in a way that was sustainable. It’s a good problem to have.

#3 Having the right software stack

There was a bit of tinkering to figure out the best software stack for my company. Keeping an open mind and staying flexible really helped here. I plan to blog more in future about the cloud applications my company uses on a daily basis.

#2 Taking on the right clients

When I first started the business, I wasn’t choosy about the clients that I took on. As long as they knew how to use e-mail, it was a green light. I really had to take a step back from that to redefine my ideal client. This is still a work in progress, but long story short, we had to let go a few clients who were not a good fit. Letting go the wrong client can have a positive impact on profitability, resource availability and staff morale.

#1 Hiring the right way

When I hired my first employee for Fint, I was very naive in thinking that anyone can learn anything. This isn’t true, and that’s a hard fact. Motivation, drive, ambition, discipline are just a few factors that go into determining whether someone can do the job. When hiring employees, contractors or even interns, it is so important to do this the right way, consciously. Not everyone can do the job. I will most definitely go into more details about my learning on hiring in a future blog post.

Your Start Up and E-Commerce Accountant

Jenny Tran, CPA, CMA


Should you split the restaurant bill with your friends?

Personally, I hate splitting bills when dining out.  With partners, close friends, and family where dining out occurs regularly, I think that taking turns paying just makes things simpler.  There is one bill, one payment and everyone involved saves the effort and time required with splitting bills.  I also think it is friendlier and it feels less petty to have to split everything fair and square.  Coming from a family that thinks about money as a communal resource and seeing close friends adopt this turn-taking method, I thought it was a social norm.  In more recent years, I realize it actually isn’t the social norm, and sometimes it is just more practical to split the bill.

Ideally, I feel that it is on the restaurant to split the bill. I’ve seen this done really well at some restaurants that are able to easily split an appetizer seven ways.  This is unfortunately not an option most of the time.  Another reason why I hate splitting bills is because being a financial professional, the group typically turns to me to do the bill splitting!

Luckily for me, recent advancements in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has made way for some really cool bill splitting apps.  One that I’ve tested is called Tab Bill Splitter.  It is an app that you can download to your phone that allows you to take a picture of your bill, enter your name and select the items you purchased.  The app spits out your total with tax and tip proportionately.  I can confirm that it can in fact split your appetizer amongst the table.  You can download this FREE app here:

Tab Bill Splitter for Android

Tab Bill Spitter for Apple

Note: I am not a partner nor do I get kick-backs.  I just simply thought this app was really cool!

One caveat that I have to add is all of the cool apps that allow you to actually exchange money between your friends is unfortunately not yet available in Canada.  OCR technology is not perfect either, and Tab failed me when I tried to split a massive Costco bill, but overall it is a nice solution and much better than me crunching out numbers manually or with my calculator phone app.

I am actually interested in what you think about splitting bills with your partner, your friends and your family.  Do you split bills or take turns or use a different method?

Your Start Up and E-Commerce Accountant

Jenny Tran, CPA, CMA

Our Mission: Servicing Forward-Thinking Start-Ups

I am a strong believer that the technological movement will revolutionize the accounting profession, and I want to be on the forefront of it all. Earlier this year I left my consulting job to start my own practice centered around cloud accounting. I targeted the startup scene. The business leaders that needed an accountant or bookkeeper were sold and they kept referring me to more of their entrepreneurial connections. Somehow they just didn’t connect with the brick and mortar accountants. It was rather easy to win these entrepreneurs over because my firm stood for much of the same things that they stood for, namely forward-thinking innovation.

What I want to address in this blog post are not the clients that I’ve won, but actually the few that have decided not to go with my firm unless we did their accounting the way that they are used to. As a new business owner, it is difficult to turn away business. I found myself preaching the benefits of what I could do for their business. When they start telling me that they don’t want or trust technology they leave me with two choices: take their business and do it their way, or tell them that I cannot service them.

Today, I had an interesting chat with Jamie Shulman, co-CEO of HubDoc about this very topic. He offered this tidbit that came from one of his business partners. Business data needs to be stored somewhere and there are limited number of choices. Paper? Your local computer network? Nothing is perfectly secure. A business needs to be able to weigh the risks to make a well-informed IT decision and not just make a blanket statement about not trusting technology. Being overly cautious about making a technological investment can be risky in and of itself.

There are many small businesses and not all of them are ready for cloud accounting. This is okay because there are many accountants that will service these businesses. I decided quite early on that Fint Cloud Services would put the interest of innovative businesses first and focus on what these businesses need. Putting our forward-thinking clients first means minimizing activities that would take resources away from this mission.

I will be showcasing some my clients through this blog in the coming months so stay tuned!

Your Start Up and E-Commerce Accountant

Jenny Tran, CPA, CMA