Accounting With Power is a blog series by Accodex and Asnani CPA partner, Rachel Bitz. In this blog series, Rachel dives into the introspective thoughts and journeys that many entrepreneurs find themselves in when starting their business.
My First Tax Season as a Partner
If you were to ask an accountant to describe their lifestyle in one word, the answer you most likely will get is busy.
Public accounting (accounting firms) is notoriously known for their long hours of mentally taxing work. It has become such an issue within the industry, that some firms will rely on their claims to offer a lifestyle balance to their employees as part of their incentives to new hires (but everyone in the accounting realm knows that your lucky if these promises are even partially true). I still remember my first public accounting job out of college. I was an enthusiastic 23-year old, ready to get her feet wet in this crazy world of numbers, client interaction, travel, and most importantly, fulfillment. I prided myself in being excellent at daily tasks, such as simply waking up on time. I remember setting 5 alarms: 5:30am, 5:35am, 5:40am, 5:45am, and 5:50am, so that I had enough time to get ready for work and beat the traffic. I was always the first or second person to get to the office in the mornings. I liked being the early bird because the office was super quiet and peaceful to settle in. During that time as a Level 1 Staff Accountant, I gained experience on the processes of an audit and the preparation of tax returns.
Still, there was a thought lingering in the back of my mind that I could not escape. I realized that no matter how much I was learning, I was beginning to feel mentally drained and dead inside as tax season went on. I started to dislike accounting even though it was something I studied with enthusiasm and passion in the previous 4 years as a college student. The thoughts of: Is this really for me? Do I like accounting? Is this how it ends? Am I going crazy? all came to mind. I felt like I had zero connection to the work I was doing and therefore the outcome of my efforts were no longer demonstrating quality I was proud of. The issues came down to a lack of guidance from upper management and zero communication with the client. There were some cases, such as field audits, where work was mainly done onsight in the client’s office. Here, I was able to put a face to the work I was doing, and generally, these processes went very well. However, tax-work presented many difficulties since I rarely saw or spoke with the client.
“If you were to ask an accountant to describe their lifestyle in one word, the answer you most likely will get is busy.”
Above all else, I didn’t see myself having my managers job nor did I see myself becoming a Partner at that firm. I wanted something more and I realized staying there wouldn’t allow me to achieve what I was looking for. Since taking the big dive into the accounting world by going straight to public accounting, I’ve realized that I need surround myself with people that shares the same values and can provide mentorship, accountability, and community.
Fast Forward to the Present: First Tax Season as a Partner
I’m proud to say that I’ve completed my first tax season as a Partner for my own firm with the help of my business partner Shamal Asnani and our network firm, Accodex. As of last month our business was officially incorporated as Asnani CPA, which is a start to a new chapter in my life as a business owner. This busy season was a bit different than the others I’ve experienced because Shamal and I are now the captains of our own ship. Now we have direct contact with the clients, access to files, and are the problem solvers. I knew it was going to be a tough start because we are building this business from the ground up. I’ve often been asked how the hours in my own firm compare to that which I experienced in other companies. It’s honestly a very difficult question to answer because to me, I’m always working. Still, I feel much more at ease now that I work on a schedule that fits me and my clients best.
What I liked about this tax season was the fact that I was able to connect with my clients on a deeper level than ever before. This is because I’ve been involved with the fitness industry for quite some time and have made some awesome relationships within the powerlifting community and with many other fitness coaches/trainers.
It’s very easy for me to go on and on about the great aspects of running my own firm, however, that isn’t to say that there aren’t inherit challenges that come with this type of opportunity. One of the challenges that stood out to me during this tax season was recognizing how many moving pieces there are when it comes to running an accounting business. For example, scheduling client meetings, client work, marketing strategy, and fitting in our powerlifting workouts (yes, I absolutely consider working out to be a necessity for my accounting business…perhaps a topic for my next blog). Oh yeah, and then there’s that thing called sleep! It was a great challenge for Shamal and I to take on. Hours passed by like minutes, and weeks passed by like days. Make no mistake about it; this is easily some of the funnest work I’ve done in my life, but fun does not mean easy.
A good thing about my business partner, Shamal is that we have known each other for a very long time and we both understand how to work effectively together. He naturally has a technical eye for things, which explains why he has a CPA. His mind is programmed to think numbers first, which is why he is an all-star working with taxes and writing business memos. While I share his passion for numbers, I express it a little different. I view accounting in a more abstract way and love exercising creativity through numbers. I take first lead on the marketing side and client relations for our firm. I also keep a conscious eye on how accounting technology works and how it can help our client’s business.
No matter how efficient we are at working together, there is always room for improvement and challenges to overcome. This is why I strongly believe that building an inner circle within your industry, consisting of people who share the same values, is crucial when it comes to running a business. You want to have a support group that you trust sharing your business strategies with. Most importantly, people who understand your vibe.
“No matter how efficient we are at working together, there is always room for improvement and challenges to overcome.”
Your Inner Circle Matters
Your inner circle are the people you choose to surround yourself with, and can be anyone from a business connection, to a close friend with similar values. They should be an extension of yourself. You know the common saying: You are the average of the people you spend the most time with. Your inner circle is critical to your growth.
To give you some practical insight, my inner circle includes:
“With Chris Hooper (CEO of Accodex) middle and Shamal Asnani at Quickbooks Connect 2018 @San Jose Convention Center”
The team I work with
- Shamal Asnani, my Business Partner
- Accodex, which is Asnani CPA’s network support firm
- Lif4Life, the nonprofit charity organization I support through my accounting work
“My birthday celebration lunch with Danetha Doe @Arthur Macs Tap and Snack in Oakland”
“With Rachael Takesaka at the Start Up Grind Event in Redwood City”
- Mentors push me to become the best version of myself
- Friends and colleagues that allow me to put my guard down, be myself, and grow
- My gym crew! 🙂
“Gym Sistahs:) Adrienne (left) and Kristin (middle). The Baddest Powerlifting females at Iron Warehouse”
My support group wasn’t created overnight, it takes time and effort on your part to connect with who you want to learn from and surround yourself with. It can definitely challenge you to adventure out of your comfort zone. Take it from a millennial that has often had to overcome their own insecurities about their capabilities and perception to others, it’s worth it.
If you have a similar experience to what I had in my previous role, or are someone who can relate to the current path I am on, I want to talk to you and learn more about your story. You can find me on Instagram @sassyquadz and on LinkedIn.
Until next time! 🙂
Written By: Rachel Bitz
US Accounting Partner