Every CPA has a story – we all have a journey we’ve taken to get us to where we are.  This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Van Wassenhove, CPA.  Caroline reached out to CPA MOMS CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA 3 years ago for some guidance in expanding her practice and never anticipated how much she and her business would be able to grow in such a short amount of time.

During the interview we discuss:

  • Caroline is originally from Canada where she was educated and had intended to become a CA, the Canadian equivalent of a CPA in the United States
  • She started in public but quickly switched to the private 
  • As much as she wasn’t the biggest fan of her audit experience, she says it was probably part of her most important experience
  • Her audit experience taught her how to talk, question and interview people in order to dig deeper, which she realizes 20 years later has helped her so much in her business today
  • She explains that she works with various clients at various stages of their business development and her audit experience prepared her to read between the lines, dig deeper, assess the clients books before taking them on as a client
  • She goes through the books with a fine tooth comb to determine whether the client is a good fit for her practice
  • Her audit experience helped her to not stay at the surface level when deciding to take on a client
  • She looks at the potential clients systems, determines where there are breaks, where things could go wrong, where there are duplicate efforts, places where there a high risk of manual mistakes, requests samples of documents and more
  • She does her due diligence in the beginning so she doesn’t have any surprises down the road
  • Although she completed her undergraduate education in Canada, she followed her heart and came to the United States 
  • She needed to take additional courses to become a CPA in the United States as well as a prep course to prepare her for the CPA exam, all while working full time
  • She started her accounting practice 8 years ago because she and her husband were planning on starting a family and the corporate world didn’t offer her what she wanted
  • She started with some small client opportunities but once she became pregnant with her first child, she was very motivated to make her new business work
  • She quickly learned to appreciate the flexibility of having her own practice
  • She reached out to CPA MOMS for coaching and mentoring 
  • Her practice was growing at a slow pace prior to working with CPA MOMS but once she began working with CPA MOMS CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA, she shifted everything in her business
  • Her shares that her growth was exponential once she began working with CPA MOMS
  • The biggest shift in her business was the shift to value billing where the fee structure is based on the level of services, experience and expertise that she offers, as opposed to the number of hours she and her team work
  • Caroline’s struggle with time-based billing was that as she brought in more clients and was doing things much more efficiently, she then had to get more clients to fill in for the efficiency  
  • She realized that time-based billing actually rewards inefficiency, so the shift to value billing was important to her and her business growth
  • With value billing, she is always looking at where she can add value to the client and where can she provide services to partner with them to grow their business, as opposed to being an hourly consultant
  • Caroline’s niche is interior designers which was an easy transition due to her earlier experience with the construction industry
  • Value billing works for her clients business as well as her own
  • She makes sure that she diligently sticks to her scheduled deliverables, meeting monthly deadlines and expectations
  • She explains that there is no quick answer to switching from time-based billing to value billing, but her work with CPA MOMS showed her the process
  • She has two young boys and is grateful that she transitioned from having a job, to having her own practice at home, because of the flexibility and the quality of the time she gets to spend with her family
  • Caroline’s advice is to reach out for help sooner rather than later; to make the investment in yourself and your dreams as early in your career as possible
  • She is a strong believer in working with someone who knows more than she does which eventually saved her a lot of time and effort by working with CPA MOMS to grow her practice
  • She happily shares that the investment she made with CPA MOMS has 10X’d her business and she continues to still invest in her business growth
  • She highly recommends reaching out to CPA MOMS to help you hold the vision for your personal and business growth

To get in touch with Caroline, you can contact her at caroline@cvwaccountinginc.com