Fear is a funny thing. It can paralyze—or it can motivate. One type of fear, however, actually inspires me: It is the fear of passing up an opportunity because I am comfortable with the status quo. I don’t ever want that to happen.
Right now, I have the best possible job I could ever want: I get to apply all of the knowledge and skills I learned in my first job in public accounting to help my nonprofit organization. I think it was inevitable that I got into accounting. It’s in my blood: My father’s an accountant; so are my grandmother and my uncle.
When I accepted this job more than a year ago, my CEO told me, “I don’t expect you to be here three to five years from now. I just want to be a good influence and help you make this a positive next step in your career.” I’m grateful for that, because I have a seven-year goal to be self-employed. I’m so not interested in working an 8 to 5 job for the rest of my life.
I don’t know what I will ultimately do, but I suspect it will somehow combine my love of accounting with my fascination with technology. I have an interest in helping out entrepreneurs, and I really do love accounting. So I could see myself potentially opening up an accounting services company. And I think as a CPA, because I’ve seen a huge variety of businesses and how they have succeeded and how they have failed, I feel that makes the risk of going into business easier to handle.
My buddy Sam Bloomquist and I have always been very entrepreneurial. We always thought we could find a way to use each other’s strengths to develop a business; we just didn’t know what kind of business. When the iPhone came out, he started studying the programming language that went with it, which is Objective-C. We saw how we could finally work together by developing new apps for the phone. Sam is a whizkid programming expert; I focus on helping develop ideas, find clients, and take care of the business end.
One of our first programs was Beatsnikk. It lets iPhone owners choose from 210 combinations of 21 percussion instruments, which can be played by simply shaking the device or tapping the screen. We released this application through the iPhone App Store.
The iPhone application industry moves lightning quick. We’ve had two ideas that at the time we had the idea there wasn’t anything out there like it. But before we had the application ready for the market, there was already something out in the market. Now when we come up with an idea, we sit back and think: Is this a logical idea? Has someone already done this? If they have not done this, have they done something similar? Is it going to be worth all the work to put into this idea?
That said, we don’t want to be a “one-app wonder.” Our sustainable business model is to develop customized applications to help businesses solve their productivity and marketing problems, and that’s what generates most of our revenue. We have done four contract programming jobs for people where we created iPhone apps for them.
I can’t sit still. I’m easily inspired. In my spare time, you may find me working with my brother in our T-shirt design business, Leo the Fifth. I also write a blog about sneakers, fashion and design, and volunteer as a Big Brother. Kenny, my little “brother,” has not talked much about potential careers; however, he thinks some of the things I do are “cool,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually considers becoming an accountant.
I would tell any young CPA to go into public accounting, preferably a small firm, where you can get experience in a multitude of things. Once you get your experience, the whole world is out there.
—As told to Linda Segall (firstname.lastname@example.org),
a freelance writer based in Jacksonville, Fla.
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