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By Pramod Mishra. 25 August 2020
CA Aanchal Joshi who started her own KPO

Back story:
Why I decided to pursue CA? 
My mother was a Commerce professor and I just desired to be like her. So, when I started high school and was given options to choose among many subjects, I promptly decided on the Commerce stream.  After grade 12, my mother encouraged me to register for the CA course from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). In fact, I never thought of becoming a CA as there aren’t any other CAs in my family or even spread relatives. But I thought it would be nice to have a professional qualification and I registered for the same.
I was a highly disciplined, punctual first bencher, fully updated with study material type of student. This didn’t come naturally to me though. I aware CA was not an easy course to clear and so decided to be dedicated from day one. The first six to eight months of my four-year CA journey exhausted me out, probably because of my over-aspiring attitude. By the end of the first year, I had mastered the adjustment and it was smooth sailing from there.

Finally, after 4 long arduous years, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in May 2012mission accomplished

After qualifying as a CA, a lot of my friends decided to go the corporate route, but I wanted to study further! My initial plan was to pursue CPA (US). I even considered moving to Mumbai (the only place in 2012 to have CPA coaching), but fate had other plans in store. For some reason, I decided to try the Indian Civil Services and hence moved to Delhi to prepare for the very tough UPSC exams.  Most of my friends were now working in big firms and MNCs but I wasn’t scared or feeling left out as I was confident that all would turn out well. In my time studying for the UPSC exams, I always kept myself updated with CPA notifications and any changes in the course, or new accounting software in the USA market. Fast forward, a few years later, in 2016, after failed attempts despite trying my best at Indian Civil Services exams (missed both times by 2-3 marks), I was happily done with it. (It was not an easy decision but I realized I could not invest more time.)

Dealing with peer pressure and the fear of being left out
All was well until 2016 but the problem arose when I decided not to continue pursuing UPSC exams any further.  I was disheartened with all the failures and time invested. (After all, it was my first academic failure it wasn’t easy.) So here I was, a 27-year-old girl, who had no work experience (separate from articles) and was yet to figure out my life. At this point, I continuously compared myself to my peers who were doing well. I was clueless with no concrete plan. However, I decided this self-pity would bring no solution and was keen to get my career on the right track. I spoke to numerous people about their work experience and their stories inspired me to try harder. I discovered that even those who started their career way before me were also dealing with their own set of challenges. It made me realize that I could still get back…after all, I was only 27. In short, I took the peer pressure favorably and decided to stop comparing my journey with others. My parents also carry a very progressive mentality, so they supported me with my plans all the way. 

Taking an entrepreneurial leap and starting a KPO
Taking an entrepreneurial leap and starting a KPO After a lot of brainstorming, I considered doing an MBA but I soon realized it would be nice to have some work experience under my belt. So I dropped the MBA plan. One day in Sept-2016, I read a newspaper article about the KPO industry’s statistics in India. (One of the gifts from my Civil services journey was not letting a day go without reading the newspaper.) This article created great interest as I was fascinated by how I could put my Accounting knowledge to use and be a growth Partner for businesses all over the world. (I was anyways in touch with the CPA notifications and was considering to pursue the same.) I wanted to know more about it and decided to research as much as I could. From Oct 2016 to Feb 2017, I devoted my time to research and understand more about the Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) industry and its scope. I soon realized it matched my area of interest and was the most insightful way of using my knowledge to help other businesses. Eventually, in May 2017, I started my company, named Adelante Global Accounting.

Getting my first client and increasing my customer base
While I was researching the KPO industry, I also invested a lot of my time searching for companies online who needed accounting services. In fact, I went a step ahead and even created a list of around 105 small companies in The USA and sent them a well-defined prospecting email. The move paid off when five of them responded and the first one became my first client. Needless to say, I was so excited and even more confident. By the time I started, May 2017, I was already working for one client and actively connected with a couple more.  After the first one, I kept reaching out across various platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and eventually switched to proper digital marketing. Word of mouth and referrals drove my business and motivated me to continue working in integrity. My clients are my priority at any time and place. We’ve expanded from the USA and Australia to Europe and UAE from various industries like law firms, commerce, education, hospitality, and manufacturing companies, to name a few.  

Services provided

The KPO the industry is not about getting project financing deals, auditing for complex industries or banks, etc. You need to have a business/entrepreneurial mindset and knowledge in software and accounting. (We are certified Quickbooks Proadvisor, Myob, Xero, Sage, Payroll Expert, etc.)
 the primary focus is:
  • Providing accounting services, including remote bookkeeping
  • Quarterly returns
  • Making financials for auditors and investors
  • We also do work for insurance companies, including legal writings
  • Data Entry
  • Trust Accounting
  • Reporting -daily, weekly, monthly, Quarterly, Financial analysis
  • Year-end Accounts finalization and Financial statements preparation
  • Creating accounts to filling returns in BGL simple funds for SM-SF
  • Tax Return Filling-Corporate & Individual
  • Cloud Accounting

Overcoming Obstacles 

Obstacles are a part of life; I face them every day in some form or shape. They are unpredictable and sometimes not manageable. My common obstacles are: Technical faults, manual errors at work, systems connectivity, unhelpful customer support of software suppliers, or an employee leaving. I remember losing a client on our first call because he found my background too harsh. Sometimes I underestimate how long a project will take, but I’m bound to deliver according to the agreed dates. To make up time, I work 12 hours a day, so I don’t disappoint my clients. Barriers and difficulties keep me on my toes. I stay alert and prepare for any trouble that may arise; this is how we improve.
Timeline of my business
2017
Setting the business
This was a dynamic year and I gathered sufficient base to develop a strong foundation.
I got my first major permanent clients in May and it was challenging yet enjoyable. I had nearly six permanent clients by the end of the year.
Though it was tough, devotion, and enthusiasm towards the work overcame that. Growth keeps the spirits up and increases the hunger to get more work. Frankly, you never get tired if you enjoy your work.
Working from home for the first six months
During the first six months, I worked from home, then with expansion, I asked my father who’s a businessman to give me a small space in his office.
Although I didn’t pay him, I want to stress that if there are business owners who don’t have this advantage, they can still manage. It’s not a deciding element as I have seen people who started empires from garages

Hiring my first team member 
I hired my first-team member in October 2017.
2018 
  • We had around 12 clients.
  • Since I was the only one managing the team, I needed time to plan better and improve systems with existing clientele.
  • Took a deliberate decision to learn more about the business and serve my clients better to build lasting relationships.
  • Further refined my process of working which made me ready for new business.
  • The focus was on making better systems of data security by improving IT infrastructure, faster coordination among the team, tracing the amount of work pending, and assigning duties in the best possible manner.
  • Invested in a lot of technology and software. (I keep this R&D wing exclusively to myself.)
2019
This year was engrossing and action-packed.
I personally reached out to my clients in the US, to develop better relations and a trust factor.
Clients grew multifold and so did my team.

2020 
Well, so far this year is about maintaining high-quality service due to COVID 19.
The good thing is we are managing staff remotely and still taking new queries.
By God’s grace, I have entered into an agreement with an MNC based in Europe and an oil production company in Saudi Arabia.
Today, my team ranges from eight to ten employees.

How does one successfully start a KPO business? 
It’s vital to get your mindset right before you decide to start a KPO – All we do the basic work starting from bookkeeping and at times data entry. It’s business and the goal is generating clients and retaining them. So, if you are a CA and think KPO will give you exclusive complex projects, you’re wrong. All we do is help our clients with basic bookkeeping. 
Again, it’s not business process outsourcing, it’s knowledge processing, so process in a way that the other person sees value in it.
Since we are working remotely, we require high quality IT infrastructure and expertise in a variety of software. There is no option of compromising when choosing the highest-grade methods of communication, document sharing, and security alerts. This is the tangible aspect of this business.
24-hour availability is essential. Every work has fixed timing, but if you create a system where any query can be responded to within two hours makes a huge difference. The bottom line to remember is that the client is a ‘King’

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? 
There was a time when I was fascinated with corporate culture, but then gradually started leaning towards doing something on my own. As my mind expanded, I started thinking of innovative ideas. Self-employment gives you the greatest freedom to get your creative juices flowing.

Career and business opportunities for CAs in the KPO industry?
It’s a satisfying achievement, as there are more business opportunities and continuous learning. There is competition, but it’s purely merit-based. If you have a great work principle and a positive attitude, then you will go places.

Wrapping up… 
CA the profession is one of a kind and the amount of knowledge that you gain is unequaled. What you consider as a primary tool appears technical and dull and sometimes not so valuable to others. Keep your eyes and ears open and attain as much knowledge as you can about other fields. There is a lot of untapped potential in terms of service variables that have other elements besides accounting. Aanchal Joshi is a Chartered Accountant and founder of Adelante Global Accounting. Their aim is to assist small-to-medium size businesses with their accounting needs. They have guided many businesses from industries like E-commerce, Construction, Real estate, Digital Marketing, Food industry, Schools, law firms, and many more.