When you ask a successful entrepreneur the story of their success, typically somewherin that story they quit their job in order to pursue their business idea. It’s often a part of the story that gets glazed over, but as many aspiring entrepreneur would know it really is a pivotal move. It’s not so easy to quit a job especially if you are dependent on the income from said job. As someone who is more conservative with money (as most accountants are), I would advise on taking some preparation steps before making the jump to be a full-time entrepreneur.
Consider pursuing the business idea as a side gig
Some business ideas can be pursued as a side gig until it grows large enough to pursue full-time. This is a good way to test the waters and see if the business idea is a viable one that can also support you financially. And let’s be honest, some business ideas are just not going to work out so this is a good way to get a little taste of entrepreneurship with less risk.
Being a bit of a serial entrepreneur myself, I had several side gigs including selling soaps on Etsy, starting a tutoring business while in University and starting a Shopify store based on the basic drop-shipping model. These were all fun and each experience has shaped me as the entrepreneur that I am today.
Freelancing or contracting while starting a business
Freelancing and contracting offers an excellent way of making some side income while the business is growing. When I first quit my job, I was lucky to be contacted by an agency who wanted to hire me on a short-term basis to contract for a bank. Freelancing nowadays can be entirely done virtually and from home. I used upwork.com and freelancer.com to look for contracts. If you’re lucky, you can even convince your old employer to keep you on an as-needed basis.
As my friend and mentor, Yanky Li from Openhouse.ai believes, a truly good business idea deserves 100% dedication. So if you’ve decided to dedicate yourself to your business idea congratulations, now you need to keep close watch on how long you can survive while making little to no income. And if you cannot survive with little to no income, then I recommend seriously reconsidering this option.
Personally, when I started to realize the lifestyle change I had to undergo I had to make some quick and fast decisions. It wasn’t an easy task to go from a senior software consultant salary to no salary. I first considered what was important to me (my business, my family), and cut out some unnecessary costs.
- I cooked more at home and started going to Chinatown for some really cheap meats and fresh fruits. I can cook dinner for a whole week for under $30. I also froze meals for later consumption. I also cut back significantly on ordering food deliveries.
- I picked events to go to that offered free food, which saves me from paying for an extra meal. The events doubled as a means to grow my network. With very little exceptions, I declined to go to paid events.
- I stopped buying clothes and make-up almost entirely, which wasn’t so difficult since I often worked from home. Surprisingly, for the first time in my life, I felt content with my existing wardrobe.
- Getting coffee and meeting for coffee was purposeful, but I actually stopped going for a routine drink at coffee shops.
- I wasn’t willing to go to a cheaper hair salon, but instead I grew my hair long and reduced the frequency of needing a haircut. I stopped getting routine procedures like getting my nails and eyelashes done. I learned how to wax at home.
- I’ve not gone on a vacation since I started my business.
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
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