25 Aug A NASHVILLE IMMIGRANT + CPA LOOKING TO GO INTERNATIONALLY
“Everything we want to do in life starts with who we are.” – Dawit Aynachew, founder/partner of KBMD
Describe your company and mission? KBMD is a team of seasoned professionals focused on effectively and efficiently carrying out the public trust placed on CPAs and facilitate opportunities for the creation and maintenance of wealth for our external and internal customers. We provide certified public accounting services, and are one of the very few AICPA members in Nashville that are also members of the Governmental Audit Quality Center of the association.
What inspired you to start KBMD? Everything we want to do in life starts with who we are. One of my partners is my sister and I met my other partners while working in the accounting field. As immigrants, each of us saw how businesses were changing in Africa. There was a great need for our culture to provide these types of services in our country and beyond. I don’t think most people realized that CPAs are a very US thing but only 1% of CPAs are people of color. So, we decided to form KBMD to provide accounting services and also help other immigrants from Africa looking to get into the financial sector. Africa is a wealthy country but the people who are benefiting are not Africans. We wanted Africans and African Americans to be a part of the entire economy. It is difficult work to do but we are passionate about our mission.
What makes KBMD unique and different than other accounting firms? Our firm provides all of the core accounting and financial services; however, what makes us different is our social impact component. We inspire immigrants looking to become CPAs and give them an opportunity to study for their certification under our organization. For many, the perception is that if you don’t work for one of the big 4 firms it is very difficult to get into this field. We help to remove those misconceptions and provide real opportunities for people to create a career.
Are you a Nashville native? No. I left my country when I was a teenager, as Ethiopia was a communist country. There was killing in the streets and many ugly things happening that I wanted to escape. I moved to Kenya and several other countries in Africa before coming to the United States. My first job was at a yarn company making $3.80 per hour. This was actually an important lesson that led me to realize that I needed schooling in order to be successful. I attended school in North Carolina and Alabama, before moving to Nashville in 1993. My first job was with the State of TN working under the supervision of a CPA until obtaining my licensing in 1995.
Why Nashville to start your business? Unlike the rest of TN, Nashville has a level of diversity. People are more accepting and have a desire to mingle with different cultures, which provides a great opportunity for us. Also, the number of people moving to the city from other parts of the country each day is very encouraging.
What does your typical day consist of? Balancing multiple client needs and growing your business? My ideal day really includes the challenge of staying away from emails (lol). Communication and documentation pretty much sums up our day. I normally start my day by checking emails, as the goal is to always ensure communication is top notch with your clients. Then, I normally dive into each of our clients needs at the time. Our work is diverse so I could be working on taxes, an audit review or other time sensitve projects. The main thing is making sure to always review and know your schedule so that proper information is completed and submitted on time for each client. We accomplish the accountability piece by reminding them of upcoming dates/deadlines and projects that are required of them to stay compliant.
What would you suggest to small business just getting started? Don’t get into a business you do not know yourself. If all of your life you were a physician but then decide to start a restaurant, you must know first know the restaurant industry. Many people jump into an industry without knowing how it works. If you only depend on hiring people to execute your business, you are really asking for trouble. You must love it, and if not, don’t do it. Lastly, expect the unexpected; difficult to do, but needed. You may expect to hire the best person but be prepared for how you will handle hiring the worst.
How do you balance work and your lifestyle? The good thing about KBMD is that we have the ability to work from anywhere which provides that balance for me and my wife. However, I honestly think the line between personal life and business is fading. You can be watching TV after work but then realize you need to send an email, so you do it. I guess the nature of business (now) is forcing us to accept the fact that personal and business life will be intertwined.
Why did you choose NBIC to be a part of your small business journey? A couple of the partners started analyzing our abilities to take our business global and realized we needed to educate ourselves more on the actual business side of things. We thought NBIC could help us, so we applied to the program. NBIC has really helped us galvanize and succinctly move toward our goals. When you are trying to achieve what you have been dreaming of it can be hard and NBIC provides the support and resources we need.
Lastly, what can Music City expect from KBMD in 2017? Our firm would like to become 8(a) Certified, which will allow us to compete with bigger companies on large contracts. We have obtained two contracts with Metro that will last for 5 years which is a substantial win for our firm. We are also hoping to create relationships with other branches in Metro.