Date posted: 4/02/2020

Want to be a founder? Here’s 3 key lessons from a young CA entrepreneur

We sit down with Cam Nguyen CA to find out the most valuable lessons she’s learned on her path to success as the founder of accounting startup, Encountr.

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Have you ever considered starting your own business? Well you wouldn't be alone because according to research, millennials launch twice as many businesses as boomers,1 and are more than twice as likely to invest in startups themselves.2

But why? A HSBC study of Australian entrepreneurs in their 20s revealed that more than 21% founded their businesses to become more influential, 37% to have a positive impact on their community, 21% to build a name for themselves, and 35% to increase their personal wealth.3

In 2017 at the age of 28, Cam Nguyen CA founded accounting startup Encountr, a specialist accounting practice in compliance, taxation and business consulting services in order to make a positive impact on clients.

Cam has led the business beyond the initial start-up phase through to steady growth. She has also impressively raised a young family at the same time.

Want to be a founder? Here’s 3 key lessons from a young CA entrepreneur

Cam Nguyen CA

Looking back on her journey and achievements, Cam is thankful for the valuable lessons she's gained along the way. Through the highs and lows, she has learned how to be resilient, remain open to opportunities, and how to build strong client relationships.

Here are Cam's three top tips for those who dream of starting their own business:

Never be afraid of failure

Starting your own business comes with the highly motivating potential of success, but there's also always the nerve-wracking risk things won't go your way. According to Cam, a fear of failure should never stop you from pursuing your dreams.

"Never be afraid to fail, because there's actually nothing wrong with failing if you can learn from it and turn those lessons into something greater. If you're approaching failure in this mindset, you're already winning," Cam says.

"This is a lesson I've learned from working in other businesses, and yes in the moment it can be difficult to maintain this mindset, but trust me when I say, it can really make all the difference."

Cam believes this lesson can also be particularly useful to what she sees as a new generation of Chartered Accountants who are sporting an entrepreneurial spirit and striving to become modern day trusted advisors.

"Younger CAs are adopting and applying the latest technology in a way that really exemplifies the millennial eagerness to learn, get our hands dirty and make things happen. Learning how to fail is an important part of building resilience for young professionals like myself," Cam says.

Never stop learning

While finishing up with undergraduate studies is an exciting moment in any student's life, Cam believes learning is a lifelong journey.

Having experienced how Chartered Accountants ANZ's continuous professional development programs have helped her grow her business, Cam strongly advocates for others to continually find new avenues for building their skill set.

"One piece of advice I'd give my younger self is to never shut yourself off from opportunities to learn. Learn as much as possible. I can't stress enough how important this is," Cam says.

"As a Chartered Accountant you make a commitment to continuous learning. Because of this I've been able to grow my technical skills and industry knowledge, and now I can advise my clients on a wider range of issues. That's a win-win because it means more and better advice for my clients, which translates into success for them, and this in turn translates into more business for Encountr."

"Never be afraid to fail, because there’s actually nothing wrong with failing if you can learn from it. If you’re approaching failure in this mindset, you’re already winning."
Cam Nguyen CA, Founder of accounting startup, Encountr.

For Cam, a commitment to continuous learning should also mean a commitment to looking after your mind and mental wellbeing.

"Outside of technical training it's important to expand and look after your mind. I say this all the time, but if you're not happy and looked after, then you'll find it hard to be excited to learn new things. Staying mentally healthy is the first step towards continuous learning," Cam says.

The value of trust

Building strong client relationships has been key to the success of Cam's business. For her, spending time early on to really get to know a client, allows you to build a necessary level of trust more quickly.

"It's important to remember that clients often come to you quite vulnerable. They expose their weaknesses, their business challenges, and sometimes that's difficult to admit. As soon as you understand this, you appreciate just how important it is to build a strong relationship based on mutual respect and trust," Cam says.

Reflecting on the close relationships she's built with her clients, Cam believes her success in doing so is testament to the value the Chartered Accountant designation can provide entrepreneurs like herself.

"As a Chartered Accountant, it's much easier to build trust with clients, because CAs are known for their integrity, expertise and as guardians of ethical practice. Clients know they can be vulnerable with you because you';re a Chartered Accountant. For my business, this is a real advantage," Cam adds.

Since this interview, Cam Nguyen has sold Encountr.

1. https://group.bnpparibas/en/news/bnp-paribas-global-entrepreneurs-report-2016
2. https://wealthmanagement.bnpparibas/content/dam/bnpparibas/pdfs/2019%20BNP%20PARIBAS%20ENTREPRENEUR%20REPORT_PART%201_FINAL.pdf p.32
3. https://www.about.hsbc.com.au/-/media/australia/en/news-and-media/170707-social-impact-as-important-as-economic-benefit-to-australian-millennial-entrepreneurs.pdf