- In 1988, Sunil Sharma took a 50% salary cut to join Haribhakti & Co., drawn by the leader’s vision.
- The firm grew to a 1000-member team and he was appointed as the CEO.
- After his 24-year stint with the firm, he started Radisson Consulting.
- The opportunities are endless in India but you need to endure the bad days to succeed. Here is his journey and advice to build a CA Practice.
Taking a 50% salary cut
After earning my Chartered Accountancy qualification and an MBA, I received four job offers from the industry.
I realized that a regular office job was not the right fit for me.
On 1st July 1988, I joined Haribhakti and Co., which was a small, but reputable firm at the time.
What drew me to this job was Mr. V. B. Haribhakti‘s (Founder of Haribhakti & Co.) dynamism, thought process, and his ability to think outside the box.
I willingly accepted a 50% salary cut, as money was never my primary motivator and I sensed a great drive in the leaders.
When I joined them, it was just a family-managed firm with 30 team members, but Mr. Shailesh Haribhakti wanted to build it differently.
He always came up with very innovative ideas and that gave the firm momentum. One of the reasons I could grow was because I earned my freedom with him based on my good performance and integrity.
I began taking action and started helping them build a customer base.
Our firm soon built a reputation for delivering quality work. This led to us working with renowned entities like HDFC amongst many others.
Fast forward to 2008, Haribhakti & Co. collaborated with BDO turning into BDO Haribhakti. Gladly, I was appointed as the CEO of the 1000-plus member firm.
From 2008 to 2012, I served as the CEO. What a spectacular journey it was.
Starting my own after 24 years
After an amazing 24-year run with Haribhakti and Co., I knew I wanted to build a firm of my own.
I decided to take action rather than wait for opportunities to come my way. In April 2012, I went all out and commenced my entrepreneurial journey.
Radisson Consulting was born.
In the beginning, my initial task was to acquire clients. As the client base grew, we assembled a team and took care of the infrastructure.
The next challenge was gathering working capital to support our growth, which we overcame.
Emerging global and local opportunities for Practising CAs
In India, several opportunities exist.
Firstly, the population of 140 crore people offers significant consumption opportunities.
Secondly, infrastructure development and the growth of the digital economy have opened up new avenues.
However, CAs are claiming that they are not receiving work. Which is not true as far as I have seen.
There is no shortage of work be it domestically or globally.
How can CAs in India identify opportunities?
- Identify the gaps in the market just like startups. Talk to clients, understand their needs, and collaborate with Partners to offer a comprehensive package.
- The Government of India has created numerous opportunities in areas like insolvency, valuation, and ESG. Arm yourself with the necessary skills and tools to find success.
- Plenty of US CPA firms are outsourcing their work to India. Outsourcing employs at least two lakh Accountants in India and the opportunity is only exceeding. Indian Practising CAs can collaborate with midsize US firms, in my opinion.
So the opportunities exist. What does not exist is guidance and mentorship; which CAs need to focus on.
Step-by-step process on building a CA practice
Establish your goal
- If you want to start a practice, it’s essential to have clarity of purpose.
- Ask yourself, are you chasing money, reputation, or work-life balance? Your path may vary depending on your goals and challenges.
Discover your niche
- If you want to include forensics accounting as part of your service, make sure you are passionate about the same. Then acquire knowledge of that area.
- Utilize ICAI’s website, as well as global resources.
Find a mentor
- One of the things that I believe is stopping the young generation from building a successful practice is a lack of mentorship.
- If you encounter challenges in scaling, don’t hesitate to ask, “What am I doing wrong? How can I rectify it?”
- Nowadays, many generous individuals are willing to offer valuable advice; all you need to do is reach out.
Create a suitable business model
- You need to build an ecosystem and a sustainable business model.
- First, the governance of the firm has to be right. Secondly, focus on market approach and market alignment.
- To excel in your practice, it’s crucial to enhance your capabilities in an individual product.
- Indian professionals need to recognize that each service is a distinct product, and we must approach our work as a corporation does.
Share your experiences and skills within ICAI’s platform. Connect with friends and others and let them know what you do to build a social rapport.
You need money for technology, to pay your partners and team members, and other infrastructure needs.
Understand how much capital you need and prepare accordingly. Many times I have noticed that the Partners take home a large amount but the firm is low on capital.
Here are two ways one can gather capital,
- Borrow your capital. You can apply for unsecured loans and invest that money in the firm. There are government-funded schemes like CGTMSE that can help small businesses access working capital without extensive collateral.
- Or use self-funded capital.
Find the right people
- In today’s world, finding the right Partners is easier.
- Conduct background checks, analyze their online presence, and engage in conversations to assess whether they are culturally fit.
- While instant perfection may be elusive, keep meeting people until you find those who share your vision.
- If you’re racing at 300 km/h while your teammates sprint at 50 km/h, it won’t work.
Most importantly be ethical, that’s how you will stand out in the market.
Another effective method we followed in Haribhakti was, noting down how our future would look like, year-wise. Set a goal for five years at least.
Succeeding in a CA Practice might take time or it might not…. but be ready for challenges.
I believe in a 360-day journey, a CA firm will only enjoy 60 good days. The rest of the days are going to be difficult. You need to have the strength to hold on to those bad days.
Success comes to those who dare and act, it comes seldom to the timid.
Never give up or be afraid that your firm is small. Have a positive mindset.
Every day you need to invest in yourself; learn and unlearn.
To all the employees, work with the right leaders. One thing I have always believed is that the bottleneck in the bottle is always at the top. Your managers can make or break you!