Looking to enter the world of business or finance? With so much information out there, endless courses, and a mountain of university degrees, it can be difficult to know where to start. And taking the first step can often feel like the hardest part.
That’s where a Chartered Professional Accounting (CPA) designation can help. A fantastic way to take control of your career path, a CPA designation can open new doors, increase opportunities, and truly transform your career and life.
This was the case for Chris Yee, a young entrepreneur from BC who leveraged his CPA to start his small business.
Yee’s interest in business started at a young age while helping his grandparents at their Chinese-American restaurant in Redding, California.
“I was inspired by their ability to create a successful business through hard work, determination, and a focus on their customers’ experience. At the time, I did not have an idea of what type of business I would start, but it planted an entrepreneurial seed in me that I wanted to one day explore,” he says.
Over the years, Yee’s interest in business continued to grow, and a family member suggested he pursue accounting. This led him to attend the Sauder School of Business at UBC and later, to pursue a CPA designation to learn the fundamentals of operating a business.
“Becoming a CPA was one of the most challenging but most rewarding experiences in my career,” Yee says. “I found that through the experience of working on various teams, meeting other young professionals, and studying with my colleagues, I met lifelong friends that continue to have a positive impact on my life. I also developed a high level of fortitude which has been required to face the many various challenges encountered along the path to starting my business.”
For Yee, obtaining the designation came with its “ups and downs” and wasn’t always easy, but the hard work was more than worth it, as it showed him the importance of “setting and prioritizing goals, finding the right partners, and building a strong team” — while teaching him a lot about himself.
Following his passion, Yee opened his small businesses, Brew Your Bucha and The Cocktail Box Co., alongside his partner, Derek Saito.
“With the experiences and knowledge attained through my CPA designation combined with the guidance and knowledge shared by other business owners and professionals, I had a strong foundation to take the leap into starting my own businesses — whether it was understanding the importance of cash flow management, budgeting, or managing general operations,” he says. “I had the confidence because my CPA designation was a strong backstop in case the business failed.”
Looking to the future, Yee has set some ambitious goals to ensure his companies continue to grow.
“It has been six years since we started our company, and our goal is to continue growing the business globally. We have built a strong team, and since our business was acquired in 2021, with the additional resources, I continue to focus on learning to become a more effective leader for our team,” he says. “Eventually, my goal is to start another venture focused on health and wellness and aligned with my passion for the outdoors and triathlons.”
Yee is currently sharing his experiences with other young CPAs and plans to continue mentoring them on their professional and entrepreneurial journeys. His advice to anyone considering a CPA is to “take a leap of faith” but be strategic.
“I believe that having the entrepreneurial spirit is not defined by quitting your job and just going for it. I think it is being proactive yet methodical and calculated in finding an approach that just pushes you out of your comfort zone. Not every idea will be a home run, but taking baby steps until the momentum builds is the key to success.”
Visit the CPABC site for information about the CPA designation or sign up for an information session or a CPA recruitment event with CPABC today.
Katy Brennan is a writer for Daily Hive.
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