“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have.”
I don’t remember where I read this “start” quote, but it definitely shook every fabric in my being. I copied it on my sticky notes and up on my wall it went. I have been wanting to share my story but I didn’t know from which angle I would share it. I found myself glancing at the “start” quote and I shouted, “Eureka!”
My tax journey is a classic testament to the “start” quote and I hope it inspires someone to start something. I was working in financial accounting and in as much as I was good at it, I didn’t enjoy it much. Audit and Management Accounting were not my options so I was left with Taxation as the only option from the major courses I had done during my studies. I knew I never wanted to do audit but I tried to apply for articles even though I knew I would hate it. This is what happens when we bow to professional pressure and believe that being a Chartered Accountant is the only recognisable profession. I still get that a lot, why didn’t you become a Chartered Accountant, and my answer is the same, “I am a proud Tax Advisor”. Surely, we all can’t be Chartered Accountants.
For me, tax was a trial and error activity before I quit all forms of accounting to try out psychology. That’s a story for another day, why I would have chosen psychology. I instantly fell hard and deep in love with tax and I thought where was I all along. Lol! When I sat down and looked back, I remembered that the spark was already there but I never paid much attention to it because tax is difficult, I mean I got 29% in my first test during my final year, financial accounting was easier for me. I remembered asking Mr. Joubert, my final year tax lecturer about Zimbabwean Tax and he said to me, “It’s nothing to worry about, it’s quite similar to South African Tax. You can catch up easily.” In 2014, I paid for a full week of tax workshops while most people were sponsored by their employers and I remember it shocked a lot of delegates who came to know about it. See, that tax spark was already inside me but I needed it to produce a flame.
I then moved to Harare in January 2015, all set to look for a tax job. I had saved from my previous job, money to last me 3 months’ worth of rentals and utilities, a little bit of food and transport since I had to go around looking for a job. I applied for tax jobs everywhere and all these places had not even advertised any vacancies. 2 months went by and I was still job hunting but being called for accounting jobs. I told myself I didn’t want to go back to accounting so I soldiered on, some days having to catch rides with neighbours so I could get to town. At the tax week in 2014, I had spent much of it networking so I had collected a lot of contacts. I started calling and messaging those people and one of them told me about a tax firm that was just starting out and gave me a contact and I went there. I whipped out my CV told them I am looking for a job and the MD sat me down and started asking me questions.
At that point, I had not grasped any Zim Tax concepts and so he asked me what section of the SA Income Tax Act had the general deduction formula. I thought, oh that’s easy and I confidently responded “Section 11(a) and I even read out the formula”. I got my first tax job and I was so excited even though I had everything to learn about Zim Tax. Within a few months, I left the company and went home to rest a bit while I yet went back on to the job market. While at home and had internet to play with, I had a brilliant idea to start a tax blog. So, I built my blog and started sharing tax information from different sources and some that I would have compiled on my own. I did a lot of reading and I was surprised by the lack of boredom from reading a lot of legal and tax jargon since I had always been a numbers person. The power of social media started working in my favour, I would get people needing assistance with tax issues, and even though I wasn’t a registered tax professional I would assist. I had to read before I responded to any questions. Some concepts were more complex than others so I started asking Mr. Gwenzi on LinkedIn for help. I would read and share what I understood from what I would have read and he would guide me from there. Most of the time, I would have gotten 90% of the concept right. It amazed him such that he said I reminded him of the Bereans who went back and searched the scriptures. All the jobs I got from that point till today were jobs I never applied for but the employer approached me.
In 2016, I did work with Clive & Associates, and I was trusted to handle tax engagements for a commercial bank and a consulting company headquartered in Belgium. I then joined the firm officially and it has really been a rewarding time with the firm. While there, I was offered various tax jobs, even from neighbouring countries but I always looked at the opportunity offered for my growth as a tax professional and not for the money. Once again, these are jobs I did not apply for but I would get calls for interviews and some of these were from prominent players in the Zim economy. I remember my friends would always ask, why did you pass up such an opportunity but it just wasn’t the right time or the right opportunity. It’s really sad that I am now going to leave Clive & Associates to go and join one of the big four accounting firms. My story doesn’t change, I wasn’t looking for a job, I was approached by a high-level executive and asked if I was interested in a move. After careful consideration and a number of recruitment processes passed, I took up this great opportunity and I am looking forward to starting my journey with … drumroll … Ernst & Young in January 2019. God knows how grateful I am for such an unusual opportunity.
This reminds me of my tax guides. I just started not knowing who will buy and want to read something I wrote. I almost talked myself out of it when I was just a few weeks away from publishing the first one in January 2017 because I thought, what gives me the right to write on such complex issues. I did it anyway, I started and I received great feedback, even from seasoned tax professionals. This project opened up a lot of other opportunities for me that I never imagined. All I wanted, was to get an opportunity to lecture tax at one of these colleges in and around town which offer classes for different professional courses but beginning of 2018 God said, “Child, I have better plans for you”. In the same week, I was approached by high-level individuals from the UZ and MSU with regards to tax lectures. Once again, I thought what gives me the right to lecture at these large institutions but God qualifies the unqualified. I took a role at the UZ and in my little mind I thought it would be assisting with undergraduate introductory tax courses but no, God was like “I have got something even better”. I assist with MBA tax lectures. If you ask me how, I can only refer you to my Father, He’s the only one who can answer you. I have stopped asking and I just do, and I do my best, with excellence and integrity. These tax guides have gone far and wide, seeing that this year I sold to a lot of corporates, including a tax firm in South Africa. Most of the opportunities I have shared in this post came via LinkedIn and it was also through recognition of the work I was doing.
My Entrepreneur’s Tax Guide series was just an idea. I started, with fear, with doubt, with hands shaking, with my voice trembling, with what I had and God made a way for me. I always tell people that for me, tax is a gift from God. As we like to quote from the book of Proverbs, “Your gift will make room for you and it will bring you before great men.” My gift has made room for me such that even the most difficult people to deal with from ZIMRA, God has given me favour with them. I remember some guy from ZIMRA saying, I don’t even know why I am going the extra mile to assist you but I am not even supposed to do this. I just laughed and thought to myself, but God!
One day I will tell you about how God’s plan is far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. I received an acceptance letter from a university I had not applied to, for the only course I wanted to do just that this was even better. I completed my university application form when I arrived on campus in Port Elizabeth.
That idea you have, just start! Don’t follow the crowd, create your own path, go through the pain, fall, get up and keep on moving. Just don’t give up and do what you love. Trust God! And I can safely say, don’t be afraid to try out different things, even the difficult ones, your purpose may lie therein. I would have never thought that I would love tax as much as I do, and be good at it.Let's connect on social media