Queen’s University Commerce graduate, Tomas Romita, always knew he wanted to start his own business. However, when graduation rolled around, he decided to pursue another interest — accounting. Through that decision, Tomas gained a greater understanding of the intricacies of running a business, and started to plan for his future.
Shortly after accepting an offer with a major accounting firm, Tomas made his way up to Senior Associate, where his primary focus was financial statement audits and reviews for both large and small clients. He notes that the experience was beneficial in many ways.
“While I had several business ideas at the time, the economy, student debt, and also my appreciation for the value of getting professional experience at a big firm on the resumé made pursuing my legacy CA designation an easy decision.”
Tomas admits that although he enjoyed his accounting role, he knew it ultimately wasn’t what he wanted to do.
Read on to learn how Tomas successfully navigated the switch from accounting to entrepreneurship!
Q. At what point did you decide to pursue entrepreneurship after working in the accounting field?
A. While accounting provided great learning, I longed for the uncertainty and creative problem solving which I thrive upon today. Because I knew it would take some time to earn my designation, I planned to make the most of that allotted time by learning as much as I could, especially any fundamentals that would be applicable to running and growing a business such as risk mitigation, tax knowledge, corporate structure, etc.
Q. Tell us about your business.
A. MADE Clothing Co. is a Canadian custom menswear company that is revolutionizing the way men shop.
With a fresh take on retail, MADE delivers high-quality apparel, professionally styled by personal consultants with the latest trends and tailored to each client’s fit profile.
MADE provides custom suits, shirts and accessories of the finest available materials with unparalleled service.
I saw the legacy CA designation as a great stepping stone to learn more about business and financial models, and as an insurance policy to ensure I was employable if anything ever went south in my venture. –Tomas Romita, CPA, CA
MADE originally started as a medium to satisfy the need for better-dressed men in the city. Over time, it has gone far beyond the basic business suit and has established itself as an experience. MADE is about educating and empowering the clients in an effort to deliver confidence and, of course, custom clothing that fits.
Q. How do you use your accounting education and work experience when running your clothing company?
A. I consider myself very fortunate to be armed with 4 years of experience at a large accounting firm coupled with a Commerce degree from Queen’s School of Business.
The problem solving approach in accounting is very thorough, and is based on analyzing risks and their implications and often developing controls to ensure they are mitigated. In a startup, that is a huge part of what you do as you begin to scale and grow your business, which has been MADE during 2013. This mindset can be a challenge at the beginning of a business as you tend to over-analyze things, which can delay results, however, the bigger you get, the more benefit/return is provided by building solid and thorough foundations.
From a social perspective, the network I was able to gain from both organizations was a huge factor in the early growth of the company. In a startup, you work on it all from marketing, to operations, and finance, all before trying to take a break for lunch. Not only do the networks I have gained provide potential clients, knowing a top-notch pool of professionals who specialize in Marketing at CPG firms, Business Law, and Financial Valuations always comes in handy.
Finally, you have to consider the smaller intangibles. Having experience of constantly being required to work with new teams and clients, developing rapport, communicating professionally, even working the long days and nights that are unavoidable within that environment, all helped making my transition less of a shock to the system.
Q. What skills do you have as an accountant that are great for running your business?
A. There are several core accounting skills, which are invaluable at running and growing a startup. First, being trained as an accountant often involved structuring situations into cases, where the numerical and qualitative factors can be analyzed. When it comes to the uncertainty and variability of information we encounter, whether client demographics or sales analytics, it helps to be able to break things into manageable chunks and analyze them.
Another key is to be able to view situations and opportunities from a risk management perspective. Starting a business from nothing is a challenge. There is no prior year file, no manager to ask questions to, so you really have to be able to formulate your own questions, and approach things with a consistent framework, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy while going nowhere!
Q. What advice do you have for students who may want to start their own business or feel stuck in a solid career path?
A. At the end of the day and as cliché as it sounds, if you pursue what you love, you will ultimately love what you do. MADE was a solution to a problem that I was constantly surrounded by. This gave me the motivation to pivot from the career path I was on, and completely reset. I loved the problem, and was fascinated by the opportunity to fix it.
One “cautionary” note though, if you are going to start your own business or break the mold that you are trapped in, be prepared and willing to dedicate every waking moment to nurturing and growing your business. I say to my colleagues that this company is my baby and it really is; you have to walk the fine line of playing the parent and celebrating your successes.
It’s certainly not an easy path but just because something takes time to flourish does not mean you should be deterred, time will pass anyway, you may as well seize the opportunity and go for it!
Visit our Accounting Career Guide for more success stories!
Photo credit: Alex Browne