Each of us can be confronted with changes in our lives almost daily, and these experiences challenge us to make decisions that could affect our lives forever.
Entrepreneurs, the literature tells us, often discover the road to their entrepreneurial spirit through changes in their family or work lives.
Sometimes, it’s just accepting the realization that a moment in time before them just may be that special moment that awakens the gnawing in their soul to embrace the notion of becoming the entrepreneur they have fantasized about becoming.
This week, I am particularly pleased to tell the story of one such person who discovered the entrepreneur within herself through the roads she travelled, both personally and professionally, over a considerable period of her life—Karen Girouard, the owner of Dynamic Accounting & Tax in West Kelowna.
I first met Karen through this column, as I have many people over the past several years who so graciously emailed their appreciation of the stories, educational and informational pieces I have had the privilege to share with you.
Karen and I thought it would be beneficial to meet and talk entrepreneurship and about her personal journey.
Karen and her family seemed to cover the geography of our province quite extensively from an early age. She was born in Vancouver and at age 5, her family moved to Dawson Creek for her father’s work.
While in high school, she began her work experience in Grade 11 working part-time for an Esso bulk plant in the office performing administrative tasks.
This translated to a summer job and inspired her entry into the professional field of accounting.
Karen went on to obtain her CGA designation by 1980, then moved to Fort St. John with her husband in 1981 where they would start a family by having two kids, a son and daughter .
Karen told me that she embraced the encouragement from her parents to explore whatever career path she may love and enjoy the most.
They also instilled in her a strong work ethic which has led to three years formal training with an accounting professional group, 30-plus years of public accounting practice, operational management for a large multi-branch corporation and currently in the midst of a 20-year journey operating her own venture in public accounting.
And after all those years, Karen still loves her work—and people.
She lives the principles of entrepreneurial leadership—love what you do and it reflects on the work you produce for your clients.
But Karen’s entrepreneurial road carried on from Dawson Creek, as the family moved to Prince George where she worked for a CA firm and then as the in-house accountant for a steel fabricating facility.
Karen told me she realized that every stop along the way in her career has gained her tremendous experience in her profession and understanding human behaviour.
When the family moved back to Dawson Creek in 1987, she decided she was ready to become an entrepreneur, adding value to her accounting venture through offering coaching and encouragement to her clients such that would increase the value of their financial reports as useful tools in the operation of their own businesses.
Back in Dawson Creek, although Karen was now operating her accounting practice from her home, to assist in the family’s finances she worked at both a farm equipment dealership and a Home Hardware store.
Once again, she was adding new experiences to her skills repertoire.
In 1992, as her marriage came to an end, Karen was working on her CGA while the operations manager of a Freightliner truck dealership in Fort St. John, a one hour commute from home.
In 2001 she met her second husband and in 2004, the couple moved to West Kelowna to begin a new life together.
Karen’s daughter, Jessica, has also worked with her for several years in a part-time basis and elsewhere while she completed her CGA studies.
She has now joined Karen in an accounting partnership that began earlier this year.
Through reaching this pivotal point in her career and personal life, Karen wanted to say that throughout the periods of being employed by someone else, the desire to become fully self-employed never left her mind.
Her personal conviction that her success in business lay in her sense of responsibility, client loyalty, professionalism and extensive accounting background together compelled her to remain true to herself and embrace her lifelong dream of thinking, acting and behaving in an entrepreneurial fashion.
Karen is very busy these days expanding her accounting practice throughout the Okanagan with the help of her daughter and embracing the life lessons she is learning from many unexpected moments that cross her path.
She offers three important lesson tips in this regard—value people and be aware of their perceptions of you; be willing to work harder than any job you had; and don’t forget to play, to set aside time for family and yourself to restore and rejuvenate.
And, moving from a home-based venture, Karen has taken office space in a professional building on Carrington Road in West Kelowna to enhance her accessibility to her existing and potential clients.
Karen concluded our visit last week with a very pleasant surprise, volunteering to join the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society as a vice-chair, finance, for which our board is genuinely grateful.
To learn more about Dynamic Accounting, check out their website at www.dynamicacct.com
Joel Young is a consultant and founder of the Okanogan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.