In the month of March we as a company, Protea Financial, are celebrating seven years of guiding small businesses with high quality and cost-effective accounting. This is truly a surreal moment for us here at Protea Financial, as we celebrate our success. What started out as a mere extension of a business has since morphed and grown into something much bigger – the dream of better accounting for everyone. With this milestone front of mind, I have been taking time to reflect on the journey and I want to share my seven key/favorite/most important moments in the journey so far.
Getting our first real client
We had been operating for a couple of weeks focusing on a couple of entities run by my business partners, then we received a call from a winery in the Napa Valley. It was a really high profile, well-known winery.
Though the client did not last very long, it did provide me with insight into who we should be. The experience with this client made it clear that we would focus on bookkeeping for the wine industry and that we were going to operate remotely. The time with the client was not a success but the learning on the client set us up for who we are today.
Setting up our subsidiary in South Africa
After nine months of working with contractors and paying them hourly we made the move to open a company in South Africa and hire some “real” employees.
This was massive! One, it meant we have a real business, with a real concept but mostly importantly it also meant that I was no longer able to worry about just myself. Every decision I make, every action I take, did not just affect my life but it had an effect on other people’s lives and livelihood.
This really was the moment that I realized it would not be enough to just be a good accountant but I needed to step up and be a manager and a leader.
As a 30 year old in a new country, it set a fire inside me to bring my beliefs in what good accounting is to life!
Making a hire in US
Honestly one of the scariest moments in the journey to date!
We had been in business for a few years and I needed help. We had grown beyond my ability to provide the quality of service we wanted to be known for to our clients by myself. In the tricky and competitive hiring market of the North Bay we not only needed to find someone who wanted to provide bookkeeping services but also work at home by themselves with a Team in a different country.
We went through a couple of options that just did not work out. This was less than ideal, but we learned from these trials who we are, and what we can offer. Today we have four fantastic Team members in the North Bay. Hiring them would not have been possible without the learnings from the first few attempts.
Hiring a new manager in South Africa
There was a major learning curve when we started out. I had managed teams in high pressure environments, but nothing I had learnt prepared me for managing a high performing Team on a different continent in a fluid business.
In a tough decision I needed to hire in above the Team I had in place. This is something I never wanted to do, I’m a believer in development of your own talent, but it needed to be done. What made this decision even tougher was my current manager was a great friend. I had no choice though. I needed help. I needed someone who could manage the Team and deal with admin to allow me to concentrate on strategy, client experience and growth. I needed someone that would be tough, direct and could execute on my vision.
I was lucky enough to stumble onto Sonja. Coming in from a less than traditional background, Sonja was exactly what we needed. Sonja quickly became my right-hand person, allowing me and the business to thrive. The right person at the right time!
5 year celebrations
What a special time! I was able to go down to South Africa with my family and business partners and enjoy a wonderful celebration. If you follow us on Facebook you will know we love to celebrate and this one was the best. It was nice to celebrate a great milestone and take the time to connect and think about the future.
It was also an opportunity to thank so many people involved in our success. It was wonderful to take time to say thank you.
Giving back is core to who we are at Protea. As part of the business plan it was really important to me to find time and resources to be able to give back to those in the community and especially to help those that they are unable to help themselves.
Over the years, we have helped out at animal shelters, supported sterilization of animals, supported children’s homes, supported women’s shelters and supported people who need food.
Giving back motivates me to work harder every single day to be able to help. Looking back at how we have been able to support others over the last seven years makes me happy.
This very moment
This month. This day. This very moment.
The idea that I have even have this opportunity to celebrate success of seven years in business seemed like something of someone else’s dreams on day one.
I am so fortunate for this opportunity. The opportunity to lead. The opportunity to help. The opportunity to add value and be a part of many journeys of success. I am so proud of the way we have been able to help so many people, especially in the last 12 months that have been crazy difficult.
Thank you to our supporters. Thank you to our clients. Thank you to the Team! You are all amazing and none of this would be possible without you.
We will continue to strive to be better every single day. We will continue to focus on better accounting for everyone.