Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Who is Dawn Williams?
Dawn is a simple and down-to-earth Bajan girl, who enjoys being both on the giving and receiving end of a good joke. I love helping people any way I can. I try to use my life experiences – both good and bad – to help others. Relationships (God, family, friends, colleagues, mentees, etc.) mean everything to me and give my life purpose. I am a certified accountant by profession (Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants or FCCA, Certified Internal Auditor or CIA and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados), with about 15 years’ experience so far, and in 2016, I founded Resilia Accounting Services out of a passion to help Barbadian small and micro-businesses. I also am a Trustee of 2 local charities – the Barbados Association of Endometriosis & P.C.O.S. (because I also suffer with endometriosis) and the Help Us Reach Them (H.U.R.T.) Initiative (which currently assists underprivileged families and individuals).
What does a typical day for you entail?
Well typically, I would plan my day the night before, using my to-do list, so that I know which client (usually 1 or 2) I intend to focus on that day. Depending on the schedule, I might either work from home or visit my clients, to provide their services or to review the work of my Associate (my only employee). The services we provide include weekly or monthly book-keeping, preparation of financial statements and other financial reports, preparation of business plans and financial projections, tax compliance services, payroll services and I also occasionally teach QuickBooks or other accounting classes. So it can be flexible. Sometimes, this may mean starting to work at 3 am or finishing work at 11 pm (I tend to be more of an early riser than an all-nighter), but this doesn’t happen every single day.
In between work appointments, I try to fit in meals (although sometimes this is a struggle), personal errands and appointments (which I try to limit to one or less per day during the week), and visiting my mom (who lives apart from me). I also recently have been trying to increase my exercise game (the keyword is “trying” – shout out to Corey at Apollo Fitness Barbados).
On weekends, I mostly curl up in bed to recharge for the next week, while watching videos such as basketball games or highlights, true crime shows or funny videos. Ever so often, I will go out with some friends, or spend time with family members, or cook – if I’m feeling well.
We know you’ve held some very senior roles in top Accounting Firms. Tell us about your journey to Entrepreneurship.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Back in the day, I used to import Victoria’s Secret lingerie and resell, bake cookies and sell, and also tutor students in accounting – to name a few of the things I used to do. Business ideas come to me quite fluidly – and not just the outline of an idea, but the intricate details of how they could work. But I guess I was scared before. My first job after university was as an external auditor at a Big Four accounting firm, and after that I moved on to be a Financial Controller (briefly) at an offshore company, and finally was an Internal Auditor at a local manufacturing company. I learned A TON of stuff in each of those positions, but health challenges always held me back somehow. I took a lot of time off due to illness over that time, and then overcompensated by pushing too hard when I would return – which would perpetuate a vicious cycle. So I decided, quite suddenly actually, that the cycle needed to end, and I would start my own business which would give me a little more control over my time (and also reduce the guilt I felt about all the sick leave I was taking). I left my job in December of 2015 and launched Resilia Accounting Services in January 2016 – with no clients and having not started doing anything on the side prior to this (I’m not saying this approach is for everybody, but this is how I started). So I literally had to build everything from scratch. I used my network to start gaining clients, and then they in turn referred others to me. I also joined the Small Business Association and volunteered to teach there, and that also helped my client base grow. I used social media to do what I call “marketing through education”, where we share small nuggets of tips and advice for free on our platforms, and this also has helped my client base to grow. Today, I have 1 full-time employee and a team of other service providers which helps keep Resilia running, and so far, we’ve provided services to over 100 clients. I’m extremely grateful for the journey and the lessons learnt along the way, and I know there is more to come, so I’m just trusting God to keep guiding me as He has done over the past 4 years.
How important do you view mentorship for upcoming professionals?
I firmly believe in the mentorship relationship – both as a mentor and a mentee (formally and informally). I don’t know everything, and sometimes, I mess up – and this is where I need guidance in my own professional journey. On the flip side, over my 15 years of experience, especially from a background in accounting and business, I know a few things which I know can help others who are younger in their career/business journey, and so I try to assist as much as I can.
I believe that a mentor is NOT a spoon-feeder: they are not meant to do the work for you – this is why you hire employees or service providers. But, I do believe that a mentor can share experiences and perspectives with you that may cause you to consider different approaches to problem-solving; they can connect you with people within their own network that can help you advance your ideas or projects; they can give you pep talks when you’re feeling discouraged to get you back on track; and they can be sounding boards for idea development. Obviously, this means that a good mentor should be open and honest, confidential, challenging and constructively critical, willing to share and encouraging. Having someone like this in your corner can help you to develop exponentially, and this is what I aim to do for my own mentees.
No one is too old for a mentor – there will always be someone who has more experience in an area than you do. Mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal program, just someone with a bit more experience who you can call on for advice and encouragement. Also, a mentor doesn’t have to be in the same professional area as you to be effective, because life is multi-faceted, and people’s strengths vary; once you identify your weaknesses or development needs, find a person or persons who are willing and who have the experience in those areas.
Any advice for the reader who may be contemplating whether to transition from their 9-5 into Entrepreneurship?
Let’s face it – entrepreneurship is not easy, and not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Here are a few REAL questions which I think you should ask yourself if you are contemplating transitioning to full-time entrepreneurship (in no particular order):
1. If I were to lose all my money pursuing this venture, could I live with that? (This should get you thinking about your risk appetite, your support system/backup plan)
2. What is my biggest motivation – money or passion? (Because profit might not happen in your first year or even your first 5 years…)
3. Do I have the dedication I need to work on my business even and especially when I lack the motivation to do so?
4. Can I articulate my plan? (You will need to communicate your plan to someone at some point – whether to a team member/employee, investor, bank, etc.)
5. Am I willing to work both on and in my business? (Because running a business is way more than just doing what you are skilled at)