The founder of Hays CPA, a woman-owned small business, shares her story as well as tips for current and aspiring business owners.

There are a lot of decisions and sacrifices that go into opening your own business; from the long hours to the financial stress of turning a profit, the undertaking is nothing short of all-consuming. Given this, it’s easy to see why conventional wisdom suggests making a career out of something you love.  

Orumé Hays has a passion for numbers and that excitement is palpable the moment you ask her about her work helping businesses as an accountant. Hays CPA LLC has been serving startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and individuals with accounting, finance, and tax needs since 2017. Orumé’s path to running her own successful firm was not easy, but she is proud of how far she has come and truly enjoys working with clients. Here are Orumé’s tips for other business owners (or aspiring business owners) based on her experience.

Passion is a key ingredient

Orumé’s career trajectory was never a straight line, but she ended up in a role she loves. After graduating from college in Nigeria, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in modeling and acting. While she had some initial success, she quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be a career that would give her the level of financial stability she wanted. She decided to pivot to something else that she was good at –  numbers. She had always been good at math and was able to pay her bills through bookkeeping jobs. Orumé discovered that she really loved the work. Over the next decade, she earned a second bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, (the first degree was in Sociology & Anthropology) passed the CPA exam, and gained experience working for a couple of local accounting firms, and working as a financial controller for an architectural, engineering, and interior design international firm, M Moser Associates. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in taxation. She now owns her own successful and growing CPA firm in New York; regardless of location, she serves many of her clients virtually.

Orumé believes that one of the keys to running your own small business is to make sure it is connected to something you are passionate about. She believes being truly passionate about what she does shows in her work and her clients pick up on it. As a result, word-of-mouth marketing and referrals—especially important for small businesses—have enabled Orumé to build and maintain a strong customer base.

“Just do a good job and the customers will come.” — Orumé Hays

Success is earned, not given

For entrepreneurs just starting out, one of the biggest challenges they face is building a client base. For small businesses, it’s important to think of cost-effective and creative ways to market your business, depending on your marketing budget and the industry you are in. Orumé notes that advertising her services in the local newspaper hasn’t been a reliable method to expand her clientele, but instead defers to hard work to produce positive reviews and ideal referrals.

Orumé has one full-time employee, but otherwise “wears a lot of hats” to get the job done. No matter how many roles she has, she always puts her clients first because being responsive and engaged with clients is crucial to your business’ success. It’s essential not only to ensure you get the job done but also to leave a lasting impression to gain a wider book of business through customer referrals. Orumé’s dedication to her clients speaks for itself, since most of her customer base consists of referrals.

Forging your own path

Women in the accounting world are rare, let alone one in a leadership role and part of a minority group. Despite only 24% of women1 and 0.3% of African-Americans2 being partners at CPA firms, Orumé has defied the odds and worked her way up to an executive role.

To be in that position has taken hard work, drive, and dedication. Whether it’s tax planning or advising clients, Orumé’s passion for her work is obvious to her clients and she honors their commitment by ensuring that she is always responsive to her clients’ needs. At the end of the day, helping her clients succeed and preserving their hard-earned dollars is one of her greatest satisfactions.  

As an adjunct accounting professor at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, Orumé also tries to be a role model in her community by teaching college students and mentoring high school students about accounting, letting them know it can be a rewarding profession for both males and females. She is an active member of the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA), a professional association that strives to educate, advocate for, and grow the CPA profession. She is a member of numerous NYSSCPA committees and chairs the Small Firms Practice Management committee.

For Orumé, success is measured not by just her work, but also in the ways she gives back to the community. 

Orumé has found success in following her passion and then working hard to gain the experience she needed to get where she is today. In always putting her clients’ needs first and working hard to build her clientele, Orumé is an example of how passion, hard work, and forging your own path can help ensure a small business thrives.

1“Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee CPA Firm Gender Survey,” American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, November 2015
2“Challenges continue for African-American accountants,” American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, January 2019

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