Taking the leap to start your business

By Tiffany R. Couch, CFE, CPA/CFF

Career Connection: Building your professional future

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to start your own fraud examination practice? To be your own boss? To be free to take the reins on a case? Perhaps you're already a self-employed fraud examiner, and you're looking for ideas on how to find balance in your life. Or perhaps you're looking for ideas on how to find clients. If so, I hope my experience and advice will help you on your journey.

In 2007, with a promising career at a well-known firm ahead of me, I thought I was set. Visions of partnership and my own (corner) office danced in my head! What I couldn't foresee were the changes taking place that forced me to stand up for my ethics and change my definition of success. I had plenty of employment offers — many from other prestigious accounting firms — but I found myself at a crossroads. Building a practice for another firm seemed daunting, at best.

I discussed it with my spouse, who said, "If you don't start your own business now, you may never get another chance." "Who, me? A business owner?! The one who plays it safe, who has a plan? Who isn't, by nature, a big risk taker? Yeah, right!" The idea was as farfetched as my flying to the international space station.

But, nearly seven years after that conversation, that's exactly who I am. A business owner operating a thriving forensic accounting (fraud investigation and litigation support) practice.

While the practice has grown exponentially over the last several years, it hasn't been easy. I've learned several important lessons along the way, which I will share here.

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