Mike Pinkus of ConnectCPA on achieving success through patience and why you need to just take action
Mike Pinkus is the co-founder of ConnectCPA, a new age accounting firm that is on a mission to make accounting more human through designing solutions that allow for better, faster, and more streamlined business decisions every day. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mike worked as a Senior Associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers specializing in small and medium sized business advisory and as an Associate at a real estate private equity firm. Mike holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Schulich School of Business and is a Chartered Accountant.
Looking back five/ten years, where did you think you’d be by this point in your career? How do you think you got here?
I started off my career thinking I wanted to get into investment banking and saw obtaining a CPA as a way to develop strong financial skills and get a great designation. I never had the intention of becoming an accountant at the beginning. Coming out of school, I joined the global accounting firm PwC but left after completing my designation and joined a smaller private practice. I’ve always been someone who has had a passion for wanting to help small/ medium sized businesses grow, and joining a smaller firm was a great way to do that at the time. After leaving that firm, I spent a few years in the private equity world but eventually ventured back to accounting and rejoined a small firm. Being at that firm ended up being a defining moment in my career, as I ended up quitting from the company on a dime with no backup plan due to an unfortunate series of events. That event ultimately led to me reconnecting with my now business partner Lior, as cloud accounting started to gain steam in Australia. This is what led to the founding of ConnectCPA.
Tell me about ConnectCPA. What are you guys all about and how do you add value to your clients?
Since day one, ConnectCPA has been about breaking the traditional accounting firm model. Our goal is to help our clients’ businesses become more successful, profitable and build their capability to grow. This is not necessarily what the big accounting firms are about. We are trying to break the mold of the traditional accounting firm and that’s why we price what we do based off the value we provide and not on a billable hour basis.
Our value is really around helping small/medium sized businesses think more strategically about their financial resources, so while we also offer the traditional accounting firm services based on the fact that we are CPAs, the majority of our work involves our technology team and is more specialized.
We take a look at our client’s accounting functions in order to help them streamline processes, remove redundant work and increase their scalability. We leverage cloud accounting technologies to help our clients get the financial visibility they need to run their businesses more effectively through setting up real-time financial statements that show day to day cash flows, and by setting up key performance metrics. Those kinds of tools add a lot of strategic value because traditionally, as a small to medium sized business, you are making decisions based on financial data from three months ago; that information might be outdated.
What would you say is the biggest challenge you are facing now in order to grow ConnectCPA?
When the business becomes bigger than you are, scaling often becomes the biggest issue. That is something that we face every day and it remains our biggest challenge. That being said, the reality is that the people who work with you are the driving force behind whether your business is going to be successful or not. I am of the belief that great businesses are built by great people, and that your people are not a cost that should be minimized on your income statement to boost profits. We feel very thankful for our amazing team at ConnectCPA, who have chosen to work with us as opposed to the bigger firms. This is why encouraging our people to be entrepreneurs inside of ConnectCPA is something that is important to us. We want to give our people the autonomy to do their best work in the way that works for them, because that does more to help your business grow than making talented people fit into a box.
What are some of the most important business lessons that you had to learn the hard way? How did they make you more successful?
I live by a motto of “take action” because the worst thing you can do is just plan. I learned that lesson by just quitting my last job without a plan. While that might seem scary, if you really are hungry and genuinely want to add value to someone somewhere, the stars often align in ways you hadn’t expected. There is no perfect time to take that kind of action. You need to learn along the way and by making mistakes. Some of those mistakes will hurt more than others but mistakes don’t define you and not taking action on something you want to do is just letting yourself down.
I’ve also learned how important it is to be happy with what you are doing. You don’t necessarily need to go out and become an entrepreneur, but being happy with your job isn’t something you should sacrifice. If you don’t like what you are doing, you need to make a change, whether that is going out on your own or finding a different company. That being said, you need to be patient and persevere to find the right opportunities that will make you happy. When Lior and I started, we had almost no clients and it was hard to get the business going but despite that we didn’t quit. We live in a time where everyone is looking for the quick road to success and instant gratification but that isn’t the way things work. Success comes from patience and realizing that nothing comes overnight.
What would be your one piece of advice for those in the workforce to get ahead and finding work that is fulfilling?
As much as possible, go out and try to find companies who align with what you care about, and how you want to work. If you care about small businesses, work for a company who deals with small businesses. That being said there is a lot of value in working for a company to get experience when you are starting out. If I had started a company at 22, chances are I would have failed because I didn’t know then what I know now. I learned a lot from my experiences working for other people, and there is certainly value in that. If, however, you are the kind of person who has always wanted to start a company, you owe it to yourself to go start one, even if you are young. All in all, if you want to be successful and start getting ahead, go out and find people who both share your values and inspire you. Doing that will help give you a picture of what success will look like and that person can be someone who will help guide you to where you want to go.