In an entrepreneur’s life, there are ups and downs, there will always be some, you have to get used to it. While reading, there was a passage that I remembered, unfortunately I don’t remember where it came from. It says, “You have to reward small victories”. That was one of the things that got me through the first year. Because there is a lot of effort and disappointment, but there are also a few small victories, and my way of doing this was to stop at the SAQ and get a small bottle to go with our dinner.

Good thing you didn’t have too many small victories you might say…

 

Business Development, Again and Again

As mentioned in another article, finding clients was my main challenge. It’s hard to prove the value of your service in a business where everyone thinks they can do accounting. I had prepared my elevator pitch as we are taught, but I didn’t think it came naturally. I didn’t think it came from my background! However, when I had the chance to explain our service model, I got good feedback.  So much for convincing clients to pay! I understood that it was a question of timing, that the goal is to let people know that we exist and to let word of mouth spread through the network.

And then I got lucky. I was referred to as a consultant at Inno-centre, a business gas pedal. It wasn’t quite in line with the model I had in mind for Cofinia, but for the sake of my portfolio, I had to compromise and agree to broaden my service offering. But I spread myself a little thin, too. I had two mandates that took up quite a bit of my time, so development was put on hold.

Not only business development, but also the development of my business plan. I had the blank page syndrome. When you don’t know what you’re hunting, you shoot around hoping to catch something. That was pretty much the case. Despite everything, I found that it was not too bad, I had an income!

 

We Are in Business

We were starting to have several regular clients, hence the addition of Karima to the team. In order to do the accounting for our clients, we were mainly using Sage50, a local software that has not evolved well, and whose cloud development was not properly done.

What the hell did I do after this app. Data loss, archaic interface, ineffective cloud version attempt, sending backup copies, impossible data import. When I got my hands dirty and had to make accounting entries, you have no idea how often I felt like giving up. I don’t enjoy doing accounting. I enjoy analyzing it, preparing financial projections, advising the entrepreneur, and optimizing processes. I like projects, which have a beginning and an end. I am not made for routine. I’ve always been like that. With deficient tools, it could only get worse.

I was looking for a completely web-based app to do my accounting. With Sage, I felt like I was in the 80s. I secretly wished I could win the lottery and get an accounting software!

 

Bad News

Then Karima left. I couldn’t blame her, she was often left to her own devices. And her successor Nathalie too. It was food for thought. It was a blow to my ego, I had been quite successful in my previous jobs. And now, one after the other, two employees were leaving us.

I took it hard. I questioned myself a lot. Could I have seen it coming? I should have seen it coming… I still had to recruit. But recruiting takes longer than you think. Between the two, well, we don’t have a choice… We do our part. I’m not going to repeat myself here, you can reread the paragraph above that begins with “What the hell did I do?

That’s the life of an entrepreneur, those are the worst parts because you have to deliver, you have no choice, the clients depend on you. At the end of the qu

 

Questioning

Is this what I want ?

Working day and night and weekends doing work that I haven’t done for a long time to compensate for the departure of an employee? Why bother building a business when I could be doing consulting work three or four days a week and it would be more profitable?

I needed to reflect. I stopped doing business development and taking on new clients. I figured we’d just stick with the ones we had and give ourselves a break. To get back to the business plan… to that blank page I still hadn’t filled in. So now what do I do? I had no idea.

 

Opportunity

I had to stop spreading myself too thin, simplify my business model, and get back to enjoying my work. I had started using ZohoBooks for Cofinia and despite a moderately successful implementation (one hour of training was not enough before converting a year’s worth of accounting transactions!

Through this learning experience, I convinced a few clients to switch to Zoho. The feedback was very positive. Finally they had access to an accounting system in real time and at the same time as us. What a gain in efficiency for everyone. And that’s when the idea slowly began to grow. To simplify our lives, we needed to use only one accounting software. Zoho had great potential, but few accountants knew about it. Here was the opportunity, I finally had something to put on my blank page!

Man needs a goal: not to have one is to be half dead. 

Quote from Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste, Universal Dictionary (1843)

Yes I went to great lengths to find it, but it really captures the mood at the time! To be continued in a future article: The business plan, better late than never.

Marie-Andrée

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