This 26-year old CA shares how he started a CA practice in his small-town; today has 100+ clients and two offices
This CA reveals how he started a CA Firm in a small city (Siliguri) and believes diversification is the way forward
This Cost Accountant qualified as a CA at 34 and later quit his job as Head of Finance to build a thriving CA practice at 42.
This CA and ex-Big 4 Partner started his firm as a one-man army at 48 and today thriving with 120+employees
- Hi, I am Anil Soni, a Chartered Accountant, and entrepreneur.
- After qualifying as a CA, I immediately started my own practice in my hometown Sardarshahar (located in northern Rajasthan).
- My journey starting out was not easy, with close to no support from relatives and friends whom I thought would give me some work!
- There were times when I just wanted to give up but luckily I kept pushing as 3 years later, things changed for the better.
- In 2020, I joined hands with CA Vivek Sarda and converted my proprietorship firm into an LLP, and today we have a team of 11 with 2 offices and 100 plus clients.
- Here is my journey.
A look at my early lifeI come from a small town in Rajasthan (India) where my family runs a jewellery manufacturing business. Growing up, I would often spend time in the family business that is where I discovered my love for finance. It was a given that someday I would join the business but since I was very good at studies I focused on acquiring a good education. (I was the first person in my family to complete 10th grade!) After doing a lot of research, I got to know about the CA course from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). It seemed most suitable for me and so along with my friend, I enrolled for CA, moved to Jaipur (a larger city), and here started my journey. This was 2011.
Deciding early on to be a practicing CAOnce in Jaipur, I faced several challenges however, my determination to succeed helped me overcome these troubles. Right after I had cleared my CA IPCC exams (the intermediate level of the course), I made up my mind that after qualifying I would start my own CA practice. With that goal in mind, I started looking at joining a firm for my articles where I could get hands-on experience be it Auditing, taxation, etc. Finally, after a 3-month search and several rejections from 50-60 CA firms, I got selected at a CA firm where my Principal was amazing. Here I was provided with great opportunities and training which helped me excel. Fast forward, by 2016 (nov'16 attempt) I passed my exams, completed my articles and became a Chartered Accountant.
Moving to my home town and starting my CA FirmAfter qualifying as a CA, I got many job offers but didn’t accept them as I was very sure that I wanted to start my own practice. I moved to my hometown (from Jaipur), rented office space, and finally, in January 2017, started my own proprietorship firm, Anil Soni & Associates. My plan was always to start a CA practice in my hometown as I thought my relatives and friends would become my first clients and give a head start to my professional career. To my utter dismay, I did not get the support I expected from my relatives and friends. With every passing day, I was struggling. In the first 4-5 months, I started losing hope as I just had a few clients (4 to be precise) and was still dependent on my father for my monthly overheads. I faced mental pressure and after 6 months, I decided that I would not expect anything from anyone. I got back on my feet and started targeting new clients based on my talent, knowledge and skills. Luckily, I had a good knowledge of investment consultancy and business management so I started to focus on these areas. I made a list of possible clients and I visited them on a daily basis to show how I could save them more money in their business. I started getting a good response from them!
Growing the practice and increasing competitionWhen I started my practice in January 2017, I was just the second practicing CA in my town however within six months, 4 more CAs set up their practice here. These CAs started charging very low fees, too low for me to even offer my services and they were most preferred by others. (Since it's a small town, people are price sensitive.) In December 2017, I faced a few more challenges on the personal front which impacted my personal and social life. I was mentally, financially and socially depressed but still, somehow, I managed my work life separate from personal life. Finally, in January 2018, I approached a big CA firm when I got to know that they got a big concurrent bank audit assignment. They were impressed with my skills and agreed to take me as a Partner (since my firm was not able to take such audits on its own.) It was a long-term concurrent audit assignment of a bank for its 5 branches. The concurrent bank audit assignment changed everything for me. Here I learned project financing and soon got many banks as my personal clients. In June 2018, I had started my first branch office in Bikaner (as 3 out of 5 branches of the bank were in Bikaner so I thought it would be nice to have my own office here). To make some extra bucks, I started teaching CA IPCC students on the side...I was glad that I could at least make ends meet!
Finally started earning from my own CA PracticeBy mid-2019, I had a total number of 75-80 clients for whom I was performing various services like startup consultancies, business management, internal audits, and general accounting & compliances. Finally, I started earning well from my own practice and focussed on the expansion of my CA firm. (I discontinued the concurrent bank audit as well!) I added new services like project financing, accounting and investment consultancies…this way, I was beating the local competition!
Changing from proprietorship firm to LLP firmIn 2020, CA Vivek Sarda joined me on a partnership basis. I soon converted my sole proprietorship firm to LLP because of the potential of future professional partners to join enabling me to expand. Also, the Indian government runs various supportive schemes for LLPs, and with this tag we are able to get many big assignments on our own. Proprietorship doesn't have all these benefits. We have grown to a team of 11 with two offices...and have a long way to go. I easily manage my offices at both locations because I have a good team to assist me. (I believe that creating a good team is more important than anything in a business.)
Wrapping Up…I am now enjoying new heights of success, with professional as well as personal maturity. I am glad I did not give up and move to a bigger city for better opportunities. I still have a long way to go but all I want to say is - The first few years will be tough and the later things will be okay. My two cents to CA freshers who want to start their own:
- Never ever expect anything from anyone in your journey
- Believe in yourself and only hard work is the key to success
- Build something unique so that you can build your own image by beating the competition. Specialization!
- Plan your journey as per your resources and situations
- Learn and meet new people every time you feel depressed