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3 Things We Learned After 3 Years in Business

We can’t believe it’s been 3 years since we founded Grow CPA. We’ll always remember the excitement we felt when we had our first unofficial meeting and started talking about the ‘idea’ of starting a change making business. We had great careers and on the surface no real need to rock the professional boat. There was something missing, however, and that x-factor was flexibility and purpose. As mothers to young children, the corporate world just wasn’t built around our needs. We wanted more time in our lives and the opportunity to serve entrepreneurs in a way our industry just wasn’t. Don’t get us wrong - running a business is not always a good strategy for cutting work hours, but the work feels different because it is aligned with our values. It’s been a wild ride and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Here’s what we’ve been up to and what we’ve learned…

What We’ve Been Up To

When we first started Grow CPA we knew we didn’t want to run the same ‘ol hum-drum accounting firm. We felt that our stuffy field needed a fresh perspective, and what better team to bring that perspective than a pair of millennial women!

The goal was to make small business accounting accessible and to empower Canadian entrepreneurs with financial knowledge that would help grow their business.  We wanted to fix what we saw as a broken status quo of the way accountants worked with their small business clients.  This meant providing dynamite bookkeeping services, year round accounting support, coaching, timely financial reporting and insights and unlimited communication.  All for predictable monthly fees, no surprise billings here.

Well, things went in a bit of a different direction. While we grew our firm and our client base, we found ourselves looking for a bit more.  More reach, more impact and more opportunities to make tax and financial knowledge accessible for small business owners.  Before we knew it, we entered the world of digital products with the launch of our first online course - Solopreneur Tax Academy. We loved the idea of being able to scale impact with a digital offering and we’re so glad we did!

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to in the last 3 years… 

  • We’ve grown from a team of 2 to a team of 4 + a contractor
  • Delivered exceptional accounting services to a full roster of amazing clients
  • We’ve launched a first-of-its-kind course specifically designed for the Canadian solopreneur (see Solopreneur Tax Academy above)
  • We’ve rebranded & launched a new website
  • We’ve built and launched a bookkeeping tool for entrepreneurs (check it out HERE)
  • Grew an audience from 0 
  • Managed several lockdowns and all that it entails (read school closures, CRA throwing new rules at us, etc.)
  • Guested on podcasts and presented to groups
  • We’ve learned a ton!

The goal was to make small business accounting accessible and to empower Canadian entrepreneurs with financial knowledge that would help grow their business.

3 Things We’ve Learned

Those of you who have started a business know running one is no walk in the park. There’s a lot of advice out there, but nothing really prepares you for what it's like on the ground.  It can get heavy at times. We also experience self-doubt, confusion and at times loneliness. There are days when we question whether ALL of the work and struggle is worth it. We know we are on the right track because that feeling usually doesn’t last.

If we could go back in time and offer some perspective to ourselves as we are starting it would go something like this:

1. Trust yourself

Even though we started our business with a great foundation of knowledge and years of experience under our belt, we were often second-guessing ourselves. When you are working in a defined role at an established company you have a clear roadmap and well defined responsibilities. As a business owner there is no roadmap and some of the things you are responsible for may not be in your wheelhouse. Doubt can creep into those spaces where you lack experience. One of the first things we would tell ourselves if we could go back in time is to trust in your ability to figure it out. Know that you will not know everything, or even know what the next steps are, but that you will figure it out!

2. Put the phone down

The work is never done. This is one of the biggest takeaways we had over the last few years. Running a business means having a self-perpetuating to-do list. It’s tempting to keep hammering away. What we’ve learned is that the work will be there in the morning. The business will not stop because you didn’t get to inbox 0. Spending time with our family or doing things you enjoy (which is why we got into business in the first place) should always be a priority. This provides us the balance we need to give the business more energy.  The work will be there when you return!

3. Embrace Systems

We can honestly say that without implementing systems in our business we would not have been able to do as much as we have over the last few years. We would have gotten lost in the weeds of our business. The fact is that there are so many recurring tasks and workflows in a business.  Without systems in place to execute them, you end up starting from scratch every time. Systems every business (even the smallest) needs are: 

  • a system for tracking your transactions and storing receipts 
  • system for marketing and promotion
  • a system for getting paid
  • a system for internal and external communications 
  • a system for making sure you are compliant on all of your reporting requirements. 

We’ve spent a lot of time researching different tools that help us get these systems into place and here are some of our favourites:

  • Quickbooks online - intuitively designed and easy to use for bookkeeping, invoicing, payroll, etc.  QBO has some wonderful software integrations further streamlining your systems and processes.
  • Karbon - a one-stop tool for all things managing workflows, key contacts, inbox/outbox communication, internal discussions, and more.  We could not live without this tool and it has saved us SO much time and energy in our business operations.
  • Asana - a collaborative tool that helps you manage and organize your social media marketing

If we didn’t have solid systems in place and software to manage them, we would have wasted countless hours of productivity over the last three years. Time which could have been used on business growth.

The Bottom Line

We can confidently say that the last three years have been transformative. Not easy, but worth it. We’ve grown as professionals and as business owners in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible if we had never taken the leap. If you are thinking about starting a business, we hope this blog has given you a realistic view of what it’s like on the ground. Yes it’s tough, but it’s worth it!  We are here to support you as you begin your business journey.  Follow along with us through our social media accounts (find us on Instagram @growcpa) and sign up for our newsletter for educational and fun financial content. 

Wishing you success in your business,

 - Martina + Ashli


Date published: March 15, 2022

Disclaimer - The information provided in this blog is general in nature and solely for educational purposes. Readers use and implementation of the information comes at their own risk and is their own responsibility. 



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