How this CA started her own KPO & now has clients from all over the world
- Hi, my name is Aanchal Joshi from India. I’m a Chartered Accountant and a successful business owner.
- After qualifying as a CA (2012), I decided to pursue the UPSC exams. However, after failed attempts, I was happily done with it.
- Fast forward, in 2017, I founded a KPO called Adelante Global Accounting, which was inspired by my hunger for knowledge and exploring untapped territories.
- Here is my story of turning my vision into a reality and growing my customer base from the USA and Australia to Europe and the UAE.
Back story: Why I decided to pursue CA?
My mother was a Commerce professor and I just wanted to be like her. So, when I started high school and was given options to choose among many subjects, I instantly decided on the Commerce stream.
After grade 12, my mother encouraged me to register for the CA course from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India).
In fact, I never thought of becoming a CA as there aren’t any other CAs in my family or even extended relatives. But I thought it would be nice to have a professional qualification and I enrolled for the same.
I was a highly disciplined, punctual first bencher, fully updated with study material type of student. This didn’t come naturally to me though. I knew CA was not an easy course to clear and so decided to be dedicated from day one.
The first six to eight months of my four-year CA journey exhausted me out, probably because of my over-ambitious attitude. By the end of the first year, I had mastered the adjustment and it was smooth sailing from there.
Finally, after 4 long arduous years, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in May 2012...mission accomplished!
Forging my career path and deciding to study further
After qualifying as a CA, a lot of my friends decided to go the corporate route, but I wanted to study further!
My initial plan was to pursue CPA (US). I even considered moving to Mumbai (the only place in 2012 to have CPA coaching), but destiny had other plans in store.
For some reason, I decided to try the Indian Civil Services and hence moved to Delhi to prepare for the very tough UPSC exams.
Most of my friends were now working in big firms and MNCs but I wasn't scared or feeling left out as I was confident that all would turn out well.
In my time studying for the UPSC exams, I always kept myself updated with CPA notifications and any changes in the course, or new accounting software in the USA market.
Fast forward, a few years later, in 2016, after failed attempts despite trying my best at Indian Civil Services exams (missed both times by 2-3 marks), I was happily done with it. (It was not an easy decision but I realised I could not invest more time!)
Dealing with peer pressure and the fear of being left out
All was well until 2016 but the problem arose when I decided not to continue pursuing UPSC exams any further.
I was disheartened with all the failures and time invested. (Also, since it was my first academic failure it wasn't easy.)
So here I was, a 27-year-old girl, who had no work experience (apart from articles) and was yet to figure out her life. At this point, I continuously compared myself to my peers who were doing well.
I was clueless with no concrete plan. However, I decided this self-pity would bring no solution and was keen to get my career on the right track.
I spoke to numerous people about their work experience and their stories inspired me to try harder. I discovered that even those who started their career way before me were also dealing with their own set of challenges. It made me realise that I could still get back...after all, I was only 27!
In short, I took the peer pressure positively and decided to stop comparing my journey with others. My parents also carry a very progressive mindset, so they supported me with my plans all the way.
Taking an entrepreneurial leap and starting a KPO
After a lot of brainstorming, I considered doing an MBA but I soon realised it would be nice to have some work experience under my belt. So I dropped the MBA plan.
One day in Sept-2016, I read a newspaper article about the KPO industry’s statistics in India. (One of the gifts from my Civil services journey was not letting a day go without reading the newspaper!)
This article created great interest as I was fascinated by how I could put my Accounting knowledge to use and be a growth Partner for businesses all over the world. (I was anyways in touch with the CPA notifications and was considering to pursue the same.)
I wanted to know more about it and decided to research as much as I could.
From Oct 2016 to Feb 2017, I devoted my time to research and understand more about the Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) industry and its scope.
I soon realised it matched my area of interest and was the most insightful way of using my knowledge to help other businesses. Eventually, in May 2017, I started my company, called Adelante Global Accounting.
Getting my first client and growing my customer base
While I was researching about the KPO industry, I also invested a lot of my time searching for companies online who needed accounting services.
In fact, I went a step ahead and even created a list of around 105 small companies in the USA and sent them a well-defined prospecting email.
The move paid off when five of them responded and the first one became my first client. Needless to say, I was so excited and even more confident.
By the time I started, May 2017, I was already working for one client and actively connected with a couple more.
After the first one, I kept reaching out through various platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and eventually switched to proper digital marketing.
Word of mouth and referrals drove my business and motivated me to continue working in integrity. My clients are my priority at any time and place.
We’ve expanded from the USA and Australia to Europe and UAE from various industries like law firms, commerce, education, hospitality and manufacturing companies, to name a few.
The KPO industry is not about getting project financing deals, auditing for complex industries or banks etc. You need to have a business/entrepreneurial mindset and knowledge in software and accounting. (We are certified Quickbooks Proadvisor, Myob, Xero, Sage, Payroll Expert, etc.)
Our primary focus is:
- Providing accounting services, including remote bookkeeping
- Quarterly returns
- Making financials for auditors and investors
- We also do work for insurance companies, including legal writings
- Data Entry
- Trust Accounting
- Reporting -daily, weekly, monthly, Quarterly, Financial analysis
- Year-end Accounts finalization and Financial statements preparation
- Creating accounts to filling returns in BGL simple funds for SM-SF
- Tax Return Filling-Corporate & Individual.
- Cloud Accounting
Obstacles are a part of life; I face them every day in some form or shape. They are unpredictable and sometimes not manageable.
My common obstacles are: Technical faults, manual errors at work, systems connectivity, unhelpful customer support of software suppliers, or an employee leaving.
I remember losing a client on our first call because he found my background too noisy.
Sometimes I underestimate how long a project will take, but I’m bound to deliver according to the agreed dates. To make up time, I work 12 hours a day, so I don’t disappoint my clients.
Obstacles and challenges keep me on my toes. I stay alert and prepare for any problem that may arise; this is how we improve.
Timeline of my business
Setting the business
- This was a dynamic year and I gathered enough base to develop a strong foundation.
- I got my first major permanent clients in May and it was challenging yet enjoyable. I had around six permanent clients by the end of the year.
- Though it was tough, devotion and enthusiasm towards the work overcame that. Growth keeps the spirits up and increases the hunger to get more work. Frankly, you never get tired if you enjoy your work.
Working from home for the first six months
- During the first six months, I worked from home, then with expansion, I asked my father who’s a businessman to give me a small space in his office.
- Although I didn’t pay him, I want to stress that if there are business owners who don’t have this advantage, they can still manage. It's not a deciding factor as I have seen people who started empires from garages.
Hiring my first team member
- I hired my first team member in October 2017.
- We had around 12 clients.
- Since I was the only one managing the team, I needed time to plan better and improve systems with existing clientele.
- Took a deliberate decision to learn more about the business and serve my clients better to build lasting relationships.
- Further refined my process of working which made me ready for new business.
- The focus was on making better systems of data security by improving IT infrastructure, faster coordination among the team, tracing the amount of work pending and assigning duties in the best possible manner.
- Invested in a lot of technology and software. (I keep this R&D wing exclusively to myself.)
- This year was engrossing and action-packed.
- I personally reached out to my clients in the US, to develop better relations and a trust factor.
- Clients grew multifold and so did my team.
- Well, so far this year is about maintaining high-quality service due to COVID 19.
- The good thing is we are managing staff remotely and still taking new queries.
- By God's grace, I have entered into an agreement with an MNC based in Europe and an oil production company in Saudi Arabia.
- Today, my team ranges from eight to ten employees.
Questions I get asked most often:
How does one successfully start a KPO business?
It's vital to get your mindset right before you decide to start a KPO - All we do the basic work starting from bookkeeping and at times data entry. It’s business and the goal is generating clients and retaining them.
So, if you are a CA and think KPO will give you exclusive complex projects, you’re wrong. All we do is help our clients with basic bookkeeping.
Again, it's not business process outsourcing, it's knowledge processing, so process in a way that the other person sees value in it.
Since we are working remotely, we require high quality IT infrastructure and expertise in a variety of software. There is no option of compromising when choosing the highest-grade methods of communication, document sharing and security alerts. This is the tangible aspect of this business.
24-hour availability is essential. Every work has fixed timing, but if you create a system where any query can be responded to within two hours makes a huge difference. The bottom line to remember is that the client is a 'King'.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
There was a time when I was fascinated with corporate culture, but then gradually started leaning towards doing something on my own. As my mind expanded, I started thinking of innovative ideas.
Self-employment gives you the greatest freedom to get your creative juices flowing.
Career and business opportunities for CAs in the KPO industry?
It’s a satisfying achievement, as there are more business opportunities and continuous learning.
There is competition, but it's purely merit-based. If you have a great work ethic and a positive attitude, then you will go places.
A CA profession is one of a kind and the amount of knowledge that you gain is incomparable.
What you consider as a basic tool appears technical and dull and sometimes not so valuable to others.
Keep your eyes and ears open and attain as much knowledge as you can about other fields.
There is a lot of untapped potential in terms of service variables that have other elements besides accounting.
Now It's Your Turn...
Have you decided to start your journey as an entrepreneur? Comment and let us know.
(Article edited by Lindy Ntuli and image edited by Ankit Lodhi)
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