Setting up an accounting firm sounds difficult? This CA built one from scratch while tending to her 3 little kids
- Setting up and running an accounting firm is as difficult as it gets but combine that with a newborn baby and you have got yourself a new set of challenges.
- CA Shivajini Seelan a.k.a. Jinny from Malaysia however navigated through the aforementioned challenges like a pro by following a strict routine.
- This is the story of a daring mother of three who did not just thrive in motherhood but also built an accounting firm from scratch on her own terms.
Continuing the family tradition of Accountancy
Growing up surrounded by accountants, be it, Dad or my uncles, I was certain that Accountancy would be a major part of my life.
Apart from having a fitting family background I was also good with numbers and excelled in accountancy. These two signs were more than enough for me to pursue the accounting & finance degree from Monash University, Australia.
I further went on to pursue CPA Australia because of its global recognition and later qualified as a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).
Since my Dad, a Chartered Accountant from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales had his own firm I had the privilege to experience the world of practice at close quarters from an early age.
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and someday have my own firm helping Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale-up.
Now, I could not just haphazardly open up an accounting firm. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to actually succeed in this space, that’s why I made the wise decision of joining my dad’s practice to get the right kind of exposure.
My decision paid off as in a few years I became a walking solution for SMEs.
In the meantime, I also became a qualified member of the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia acquiring my tax agent license.
Time to start my own accounting firm
In 2009 while I was still working at my dad’s firm, the thoughts suddenly hit me; when will I build my own firm? Am I ready to take the plunge?
With these thoughts running around in my mind I knew the time has come and thus took the plunge.
My journey as an entrepreneur finally started, with a desk, a chair, and loads of hope for the future.
Naturally, it is demanding to run a firm; but mix that with the arrival of a newborn baby, and you have got yourself a new set of challenges.
Yes, my eldest son came into the world right after I had started my firm. The joyous experience of motherhood was upon me, but at the same time, it was going to test my ability. The strategy was to stay focused and not think of any excuses along the way. Luckily, I sailed through.
I got my first client basically through word of mouth and referrals, but there was no team member as of yet. Eventually, I could get one staff to help me then it was two and now we are a team of 10. We even have our own office that can accommodate all of us.
Today we specialize in providing accounting, taxation, financial advisory, payroll, secretarial services to SMEs (just as I had dreamt).
Challenges on the way
Little to no payment: Every now and then we would come across such clients that are unable to pay us, and at the same time, I need to pay my staff and take care of the fixed cost regardless.
Dealing with clients: Before covid, we also encountered some challenging clients. To deal with the situation we 1) tried to be very professional while dealing with them, 2) taught our staff that clients are always right, 3) made sure that we have everything in black and white so that there is no miscommunication, after all, if anything goes wrong it would be our fault.
Juggling work and motherhood: One of the major challenges was managing my firm all the while looking after my 3 kids. Turns out I am a great juggler.
Bringing something new to the table: It is crucial to think outside the box now more than ever in these trying times and I must say that throughout the last year we have grown a great deal as a firm.
Follow a strict routine
Discipline has been the backbone of my life and I have been following a structured routine for me and my kids for as long as I can remember.
My day starts at 5 in the morning followed by a quick workout session (need to take care of the body and mind).
After sending the kids to school I head for the office, work through lunch and come back home when they return from school at 4’o clock.
It is my biggest priority to spend quality time with them and once they fall asleep at 8.30 PM I catch up with the rest of my work before going to bed.
Even when they were babies, they had a very strict routine because, without that, I would just be waiting the whole day anticipating what they are going to do next. That is how I was able to manage my time productively.
When the world pressures women into compromising, I chose to nurture both my firm and kids on my own terms.
Whether it is a mother thinking about starting the entrepreneurial journey or a working woman pondering over starting a new family, trust me you have got what it takes.
Women are the most efficient multitaskers, they just need to incorporate discipline in their lives, and success will follow.
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