Accounting is a rewarding career for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that it sets you up to pursue your business dreams.
This is exactly how New Zealander Saimon Lomaloma approached his career, becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) while working for an international firm before moving to an accounting role for an oil and gas company. Saimon then decided it was time to move out of the corporate environment and into something that aligned with his personal passions. He started his own company in Wellington, New Zealand, focusing on extreme watersports. Through hard work and dedication, Saimon is in a place where accounting lets him earn good money doing what he loves.
"You don't have to stay in a CA firm. You could really do anything you want because, at the end of the day, accounting is all about business, and business is not going to go away," Saimon says.
Here, Saimon takes us through a week in his life.
First things first for the new week, I read and follow up any important emails from the weekend and conduct some website maintenance. I'll also do repairs and maintenance on the boards (flyboards, hoverboards and motorised surfboards). Obviously, this is for the customers, but I'm also out on the water each day if the sun's out and the water isn't too choppy, so it's good to know they're working.
I try to get to the gym two or three times each week. Even though I am fairly active – getting out on the water as often as I can – I like to keep fit in the summer when I'm not involved with winter sports..
Time to catch up with booking agents and other people in my network for a coffee. I find you're able to gain so much business intelligence from just talking with people, particularly if you get along with them. You share knowledge and catch wind of business issues everyone is facing. It's also a great way to get advice on any business issues relating, in my case, to running a company.
Someone once told me that if you want honest business advice from someone, ask them for money. You'll hear why they wouldn't, can't or won't contribute; why they're not prepared to stake cash; what you need to fix and how they'd approach the problem. It's very eye-opening. Besides, if you've got it all worked out, they'll give you money. It's win-win. However, if you were looking for investment and you ask for advice with a different approach, people can appreciate your ideas from a different angle and are more likely to buy in if it's worth doing so.
Business development is a big part of each week, particularly when you're running a small operation that only operates during the summer months – usually December through to March if I'm lucky. The beauty about motorised surfboards is that they can be used in various weather conditions. You don't need waves, wind or a boat to get out on the water, like you would with more traditional watersports. We've also expanded our business into Queenstown/Wanaka and the Bay of Plenty, but I've got eyes on going further afield to help extend the season as New Zealand starts to cool down.
Setting up elsewhere means undertaking a lot of business activity, such as establishing correspondence with local councils and marine authorities to make sure we're compliant. I'm thinking of somewhere where peak season is during our winter. Kiwis and Aussies don't tend to go to tropical destinations when it's hot at home.
While I'm handling operations and development, my partner, Victoria, takes care of social media, which is a platform where I lack experience. She is strong in marketing and design, and that gives me the time to handle other important areas of the business.
Marketing is critical to our business; we need to get people to try our service. For example, we might put out a deal on Groupon to get people in the door, and then if we can provide a great service to them, they're sure to tell their friends about it. We believe we need to have a big impact on the people who come jetboarding and to then get repeat business.
I try to experience other Queenstown adrenaline activities whenever I'm free, because we often have customers asking what else to do while on holiday. So it's always good to know what other activities are worth recommending. It builds rapport and I can get good word-of-mouth out of it.
I'll take care of the accounting activities, such as banking, expenses coding and invoice payments. I'll also get out on the lake to film and take photos for social media content. Friends are always passing through town, so I'll spend time catching up with them.
An accountancy career can make you a high-income earner, but it also equips you with the skills to pursue your business dreams, much like Saimon.
Note: This interview was conducted in 2015. Saimon Lomaloma CA has since moved on from Jetboards New Zealand.