10 to Watch 2018: Avalon Accounting

“We help business owners by clearly showing them how they can succeed. And I think that’s the most interesting thing about being an accountant — succeeding together.”

Photograph by Darrell LeCorre. Paul Sharpe (centre) and Joe Collins (right).
One could say Avalon Accounting all began when Joe Collins turned 30 and had an existential crisis, of sorts.

“I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ I just didn’t feel fulfilled,” says Collins. “When I thought about my ideal life, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t want to take on a bunch of risk either.”

After some brainstorming, Collins discovered the path to his ideal life was through accounting, which allowed him to work in the exciting world of business without taking on too much risk. The idea further gelled when he met Paul Sharpe at Camosun College where both were earning their professional accounting designations.

Fast forward to 2018 and Collins and Sharpe are business partners in Avalon Accounting, an online, cloud-based accounting firm with clients throughout Canada. Avalon’s secure accounting software runs in real time, which means clients can always access the most up-to-date data from wherever they are — office, home or on the go.

The software makes online collaboration easy and integrates with add-on apps such as point of sale, time tracking, inventory management and invoicing, so for business owners, accounting is no longer forced into a separate silo.

This cloud-based system, combined with the accountants’ level of communication with their clients, allows business owners to build more balanced lives.

“It’s common to think that being an entrepreneur means doing everything and working 60 hours a week is just part of it,” Collins says. “We’re trying to change that thought pattern. Yes, you have to work hard for a while, but we believe you should have a plan to step away from parts of your business and really engage in life in a way that benefits you holistically.”

Q&A With Joe Collins and Paul Sharpe of Avalon Accounting

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Paul: Taking action is important. At the end of the day, you have to make sales.

What advice would you give to someone starting up?

Joe: Know what you want and focus on doing the things that help you get there. And not just in your business either — know what you want in your life. Dream big, but balance it. Lots of things can go into that life vision.

What was your biggest startup challenge?

Paul: Trying to be the technician, do the work and intrinsically do a good job, while also finding time to work on and grow the business. Balancing those things was challenging.

All the 10 to Watch 2018 Winners

Avalon Accounting
Club Kwench
Hyas Infosec
Island Circus Space
Stride Properties
The Cookie Guy

This article is from the April/May 2018 issue of Douglas.