- Chartered Accountants proves to be the ideal springboard from corporate to startup.
- Jetboards NZ fills a niche in the national market and Saimon looks to the future with expansion and franchising.
- Saimon beats the seasonal nature of his business and manages to travel the world in the process.
Saimon strikes the perfect balance between living to work and working to live
At a remarkably young age, New Zealander Saimon Lomaloma has established a solid career as a Chartered Accountant (CA) for one of the world's leading accountancy firms and has travelled through Europe playing rugby league. What's more, just for good measure he has started his own water sports business that's growing as we speak.
Saimon knows he's a high achiever and attributes much of his success to his Chartered Accountancy training. He claims the skills he acquired while studying and working in the finance industry have given him the confidence and versatility to succeed in business.
The business world was not one that Saimon had exposure to early on. The son of a Fijian bus driver and a New Zealand nurse, he acknowledges his parents' support as being integral to his success. He contends that they have always been encouraging of his decision to pursue accountancy because of the stability and respect associated with the profession.
Saimon recognises that in school, he "didn't necessarily enjoy accounting, but was good at it. It came easily." While weighing up his options for post-school study, he realised that an Accounting degree would stand him in good stead as he worked out which of his passions he wanted to pursue. He says, "Regardless of whether or not I decided to go into an accounting role, an Accounting degree would equip me with a financial background and a decent level of understanding of finance that I could apply to whatever career I chose."
As a passionate rugby league player, prolific traveller and a water sports fanatic, sustaining his lifestyle was a huge motivation for Saimon when becoming a CA. The high-income earning potential inspired him to work towards the qualification, even if it wasn't a long-term career. He says that having a CA background gives him a real sense of security; that if his business were to take a turn for the worse, he has a great skill set to lean on.If you get your CA, you don't have to stay in a CA firm. You could do anything you wanted to do because, at the end of the day, accounting revolves around business and business is not going to go away.
Extreme water sports business equals extreme success for Saimon
Saimon's company, Jetboards NZ (previously Wellington Watersports) was initially born as a lifestyle business; created to fill an apparent gap in the New Zealand market as well as enabling Saimon to spend more time doing what he loved. When he realised he had stumbled on a real niche in regional water sports, he worked to make his passion his career
.His business is centred on extreme water sports, notably motorised surfboards. A mixture between a jet ski and a surfboard, the motor negates the need for a boat, waves or wind, meaning it can be used even when faced with unfavourable weather conditions. Saimon recognises that starting the business was "about being smarter with a lot of set-up costs, being smart with sponsorship, and having a lean methodology for the business set-up." He managed to cut costs where possible and made sensible investments that offered a fast-paced return.
The seasonality of water-based pursuits in New Zealand was a risk Saimon took in setting up his business in his hometown of Wellington, but since he has grown to incorporate teams in Queenstown/Wanaka and the Bay of Plenty, it's clearly a risk that has paid off. As the peak season in New Zealand only runs from late December to early March, Saimon quickly turned this to his advantage. As the motorised surfboards only weigh between 15 and 20kg, he can take the boards around the world.
The future looks bright for the remarkable young entrepreneur
Now that he's fully into expansion mode, as New Zealand's summer starts to turn colder and the lakes become less populated, Saimon can leave for warmer climates as peak season hits Fiji. He's already dabbling with the prospect of franchising; no mean feat for an entrepreneur who only recently left his fast-paced, high-pressure corporate job to take his startup full time.
Although he is no longer channelling his skills directly into accounting, Saimon contends, "A modern CA has to have a wide range of skills, and to be open to endless opportunities. You have to be agile, a confident decision-maker and adaptable to a consistently changing role. It takes foresight, and the role is likely to become increasingly strategy based."
Growing the company is top of Saimon’s agenda for the coming year, as well as working on improving the business and his personal weaknesses. He acknowledges that it is still very much a work in progress when it comes to some aspects of the company, such as building a website, video editing and social media.
Saimon is driven by the realisation that the more effort you put in, the more you get out. He asserts, "No-one becomes an expert overnight. It is that simple: if you really want something, you put in the work to get it."