I love eating Ramen.
Everything takes much longer than you expect it to. The best reward is when a client thanks you profusely for excellent work and tells all their friends.
Underestimating time commitments
Don't give up, pay attention to your cash flow, bring quality donuts and coffee to your board meetings with investors.
If it wasn't for a certain hard nosed Accounting teacher during my college years, I would probably be strapped into the pilots seat of a 737 somewhere flying straight for hours on end. Thankfully, I've had 15 years of a surprisingly fulfilling career as a CPA. Although, I still spend my weekends in the air. Albeit, in much smaller aircraft.
I cut my teeth, as it were, in a regional accounting firm in San Francisco for the first couple of years of my career. This was followed by a very eye opening experience at Ernst & Young Palo Alto during the dot com boom. For the rest of my life, I will remember the hard work, seemingly endless and impossible deadlines and the comraderie of that place. It helped me build a very solid skill set for the years to come.
After my auditor days, I spent several years as a Corporate Controller for a couple of software companies on the Peninsula. Both companies spent the bare minimum for accounting and finance help during their formative years and both companies hired me to come in and clean things up. I learned a great deal about triage and best practices (or rather worst practices and how to stay away from them) during these years.
My last several years before leaving to start my own firm with a very good friend of mine, found me as an Executive Director of business operations for a global software deployment organization. During my years in this role, I helped improve gross margin from negative 10% to a positive 40%. My experience in this job helped me to develop a strong sense of non-financial business issues to compliment my Accounting and Finance skill sets.
As a partner for a CPA firm, I specialize in part time CFO assignments for companies that are too small to consider hiring a full time CFO.