AICPA and CIMA logo

Bringing together

this way to CPA logo Start Here Go Places logo A.I.C.P.A. logo

Use accountancy as a springboard for business success

Earning a degree in accounting can open up various business opportunities.

Did you know that an accounting background can be a great way to achieve your business dreams?

Because you learn the financial fundamentals of starting and running a business, earning a degree in accounting can open up various business opportunities that might not be possible without the knowledge and skill sets study in accounting provides.

How an accounting background can fuel your business journey

For students interested in one day owning their own businesses, learning specific accounting skills can be a great starting point.

Some crossover skills include:

Budgeting and cash flow management

While an in-depth knowledge of budgeting and cash flow management is not essential for a business owner, having a firm understanding of the concepts helps entrepreneurs in the early formation of their enterprises. Knowing how to create budgets and manage expenses and having a strong command of spending and investments will create greater autonomy for your enterprise and protect you from falling prey the wrong advice.

Financial reporting

Knowing how to read and interpret financial statements and file reports correctly may not be that important when you’ve scaled your commercial operations and hired dozens of accountants. But during the infancy of your business, it’s essential.

When attracting investors and pitching to clients, a strong command of your financials will stand you in good stead and make you stand out among those with little accounting knowledge.

Cost analysis

It may seem obvious, but entrepreneurs selling a product or service must be able to determine their goods’ pricing correctly. Crucially, an entrepreneur with solid accounting skills can more readily calculate the costs of a company’s products or services relevant to the return on their investment.

Tax planning

Entrepreneurs with a strong foundation in accounting will understand the various and ever-evolving tax laws and regulations. Without a solid grasp of tax liability (and tax planning), entrepreneurs are leaving themselves at the mercy of strict governmental protocols that could lead to fines and even the closure of their enterprises entirely.

Four accountants turned entrepreneurs

Unsurprisingly, some of the greatest entrepreneurs, in the U.S. and internationally, used their accounting backgrounds to launch a career in business.

Here are four examples of accountants turned entrepreneurs.

1. Phil Knight — Nike Inc.

Phil Knight was just 24 when he founded Blue Ribbon Sports, a company that would later become Nike Inc. Knight was an accounting professor at Portland State University a few years before. He said that when he graduated from Stanford Business School, 26 out of 27 new businesses in America failed in their first year.

Yet Knight’s background in accounting helped him overcome those odds. While the brand became globally synonymous with the sports retail industry, its rapid ascent in the wider apparel market soon made it a corporate behemoth.

2. Tony Fernandes — AirAsia

Tony Fernandes is co-founder of AirAsia. He started his business journey with a degree in accounting from the London School of Economics.

Fernandes would subsequently work at Virgin Communications as an auditor before heading up Warner Music’s Southeast Asian division as regional vice president.

3. Jared Plummer, CPA — Two Roosters Ice Cream

The world of ice cream and accountancy may not have much in common. But for former accountant Jared Plummer, his crossover skills in the former encouraged him to forge a new career path. Not that it was easy.

Plummer had to maintain his day job as an auditor at Ernst & Young for four years before his confectionary dreams opened for business. Luckily, Plummer had a job which allowed him to develop his business skills and earn a healthy living before he became a full-time entrepreneur in 2016.

First operating from a humble food truck, Plummer quickly expanded his operations to four stores across North Carolina.

4. Ryne Olson, CPA – Ryno Sled Dog Kennel/Chena Outdoor Collective

A former accountant at Fenicks & Company in Fairbanks, Alaska, Ryne Olson now operates as an entrepreneur in the icy wilderness of Two Rivers, Alaska, where she runs Ryno Sled Dog Kennel.

Her sister, Alaska-based company, Chena Outdoor Collective, also offers aurora borealis tours and sled dog experiences. Olson said that her accounting background regularly helps her daily life as an entrepreneur.

“[As a former CPA] … I can manage the bookkeeping, payroll, and many other areas. I still enlist the help of a CPA for my final taxes and more challenging questions, but the bulk of the work I do myself.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I could even navigate the government support programs and grants solely due to my accounting background. I couldn’t own this business without my accounting skills.”

Learn more about Entrepreneurship in Accounting with our webinar , Deloitte advisory consultant and business owner Vedica Jha, founder of ProMytheUs, and Arrington Solutions Principal Courtney Arrington, CPA, discuss why an accounting background can be a useful tool in a fledgling entrepreneur’s journey.

All Articles