Janeen Smith-Hughes, CPA, always had ambitions to own a business, but first needed to figure out how.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted but wasn’t sure how I would make it happen,” she said in our most recent podcast episode on “The State of Business with The Ohio Society of CPAs.”
Smith-Hughes started out as a banker, and after hearing repeatedly from clients that they had to check with their CPA before making a business decision, knew she wanted to join their ranks.
So she left her job and enrolled in school at The Ohio State University. After earning her master’s of accounting and then her CPA, she set her sights on becoming a business owner.
“Part of my motivation for getting the CPA license was I knew that meant I could own a piece of a public accounting firm,” she said. “I knew at the end of the day, if I got my license, I would have the option to own some sort of a business.”
After gaining experience in public accounting, Smith-Hughes struck out on her own and started her accounting firm this year, Simplicity Accounting. She says she works directly with small businesses that are either brand-new or growing quickly.
She said her CPA background has given her instant credibility with potential clients, and she also has a strong foundational knowledge. But being a business owner with limited time and resources has meant she’s had to choose what to spend her time on.
“It’s a unique challenge,” she said. “Because you realize how much you know and can offer, but you also realize you can’t do everything and you can’t be everything for everybody.”
Smith-Hughes’ business is now a part of the 36% that are owned by women, and she said as public accounting is still struggling to secure more female leaders at the top, she hopes to help other women business owners.
“We have issues in the partner level and in the corporate side, but as a woman, there are still so many places you can use this skillset where women as business owners are being underserved,” she said.
As Smith-Hughes tackles the ins and outs of being a business owner, she’s enjoying the freedom and satisfaction her new role has given her.
“Sometimes I talk to a business for 30 minutes and it’s not a good fit,” she said. “But I’ve given them the next step to help them get their problem solved or their question answered and it’s very rewarding.”