How this CA after 15 years in the corporate world established his own practice during the lockdown
- Hi there! I am Yash Shah, a Mumbai-based Chartered Accountant and proprietor of a CA practice, YRS & Co.
- After more than a decade of working in the corporate world, my entrepreneurial side bugged me to start my own thing. In late 2019, I quit my job as a Head of Credit & Risk and started a CA firm.
- The corporate world brings job security and generous income to the table and letting go of these can never be an easy decision. But with the right planning, I managed to take the entrepreneurial leap.
- The first year of any business is never a smooth sail and mine got especially difficult as a month into the establishment of the firm, the COVID-19 lockdown regulations were imposed. The first 10 days were really depressing but then I knew I could make it.
- Here is my journey of how the bold move of starting all over is paying off.
Starting out with one aim - a secure job
From the beginning, I was always sure about choosing the Commerce stream because of the attraction towards business.
Because of several relatives in the field and the affordability of fees compared to alternatives, CA was on my mind.
When I qualified in 2005, I had no industry preference or profile choice in mind. I had only one aim and that was to secure a job first.
Luckily my job search was very smooth and I had a couple of job offers. In fact, I had almost joined the finance department of a known chemical manufacturing company, but circumstances took a turn such that I chose the banking career over the other option.
In 2005, I started my career with a leading private bank in India, Kotak Mahindra Bank.
At various stages of my career with the Bank, I was lucky to be part of setting up the hindsight unit, the takeover of the Barclays portfolio, integration of Kotak Mahindra Bank and ING Vysya Bank, and leading various digital projects.
So, my decision to stay in one place and continuously strive for betterment paid off.
Career was starting to be monotonous although life was great
In my 11-year career at the bank, I was presented with challenges and life-changing opportunities right from the moment I started.
However by 2017, I had already worked on various exciting projects and as with any job, a monotony was setting in.
Around the same time; looking at the experience and past records, Reliance Home Finance gave me an opportunity to lead a larger team. I joined as a National Credit Manager of Loan Against Property, and the role allowed me to lead over 100 people, mostly CAs and work on various digital and physical projects.
Before I knew it, the role enhanced my knowledge of the mortgage industry. On a daily basis, we had to deal with a variety of challenges brought by various accounts and I learned new principles every step of the way.
I will not lie; even with a well-established career and a senior designation, work and life were becoming monotonous even more.
Way to escape the monotony
In my view, life is all about exploring new things and moving out of the comfort zone and monotony.
Also, I was at that stage in life, where I was looking for something different.
The challenges that kept me on the edge and compelled me to keep learning were becoming fewer and far apart.
I realised that changing organisations was not going to solve this and the only option was to do something I had never done - starting my own.
Honestly, being an entrepreneur was always on the cards. I was just waiting for the right time.
But the big question - Is this the right time? Should I just hang my boots on the corporate career and take an entrepreneurial leap?
The entrepreneurial leap
And yes, I did exactly that - I decided to start my own CA Firm.
After all, in my 15 years’ worth of experience in the corporate world, I met several customers with varied businesses, saw various processes and challenges on the ground and also worked on a variety of digital solutions.
My qualification and experience made me eligible to start my own firm and would definitely give me an edge.
But was it an easy decision to make? Of course not. When one gets used to corporate salaries, it is a very difficult decision to let go of the monetary security they bring.
And yes, I was scared of letting go, too. But the other urge of doing something more challenging was overpowering.
Fortunately, my family has always supported me in all the decisions I have made. Also, as the sole income-earner in the family, the only thing I could do to reward their support was to make informed and well-calculated decisions.
So after adequate preplanning to ensure their financial wellbeing, I made a life-changing decision to start all over as an entrepreneur.
In late 2019, I resigned from my job keeping the worst possible outcomes in mind, and in Feb 2020, I launched YRS & Co.
Starting out with nothing and hitting a roadblock
As per the rules of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), one cannot hold a Certificate of Practice along with employment. As a result, I could only start after quitting my full-time job.
When I just started out, although my routine of 15 plus years was breaking, there was an excitement of doing something new and different. Crafting a new routine kept me going.
I had everything planned out but just one month later the world was in lockdown! The first 10 days of lockdown were extremely tough and depressing, but I made it very clear to myself that there is no option other than to survive in business.
As it is said, every cloud has a silver lining. For me, the lockdown came as a blessing in disguise as it gave me enough time on hand. I used this time researching and experimenting on new areas of business.
The plan before the lockdown was to only focus on advisory services to financial institutions, but lockdown introduced an opportunity to diversify our field of work.
It may have been a difficult year, but I am proud to say it paid off.
Here’s what makes YRS & Co. different
When we talk of a CA practice, we have an image of a person auditing accounting documents or looking after compliance. On the other hand, I always wanted to explore areas of CA practice other than the traditional work of auditing and compliance.
I must mention that it does not mean we will not take these assignments when offered. We are truly grateful for the diversity of our work.
With little research, I understood that there are a lot of opportunities in the field of digitization and process engineering for small and medium enterprises apart from capitalising on the experience I gained in retail lending and risk management.
For this reason, we provide services in 2 segments
- Consultancy/advisory services to financial institutions, financial technology companies and related entities in the area of credit, risk and product; and
- Migration/setup on cloud-based accounting solutions and remote bookkeeping services such as Zoho, Quickbooks, Wave, Xero and more. Again, the intent is not to sell a particular product to the customer, but to be a partner in their day-to-day operations and solving their real-life problems. Believe it or not, there is a sizeable business population across the world which still uses desktop-based solutions, hence there is a huge scope of digitisation.
Truly and truly, being an entrepreneur is never easy, but I can promise that discipline, good strategy, and persistence can pay off.
In fact, I were to go back in time, I would have started on my own 10-12 years back as starting my own allows me to work on something new more often and the sky is the limit for experimenting.
The pleasure is beyond imagination when assignments are executed successfully. Also, it is very rewarding commercially once you have proved yourself.
If you are thinking of starting on your own, the first step is to identify your area of expertise and calculate the total addressable market (TAM) and the amount of business you can generate conservatively.
The second step is to devise a plan B in case of any contingency. It is important to have a cushion to fall on when things do not go as planned.
The third step is to determine how you can keep variable costs as low as possible. Clients want service first rather than a swanky office.
The fourth and most important step is to ensure financial wellbeing including insurance covers and emergency funds.
Now It's Your Turn...
Have considered starting your own firm? Or have you started your own? Comment below and Yash will get back to you.
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