Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Faith Bynum, Founder and Principal at Faith Bynum, CPA, PC, an accounting firm focused on small business accounting, non-profit accounting and tax advice. Faith is a proud graduate of North Carolina Central University's business school, and spent the first ten years of her career in non-profit accounting. Faith is an MBA and CPA. A Durham native, Faith has a passion for community and education.
View the conversation summary below.
About Faith's firm, Faith Bynum, CPA, PC
Faith Bynum, CPA, PC employs 8 employees, with a 9th employee starting September 1st. I finally bet on myself. “When you have a purpose, people tend to gravitate toward it, sometimes earlier than you do.” She worked in a non-profit accounting for ten years. Her supervisor Angela was instrumental in her entrepreneurship journey. Faith became a licensed CPA in 2012. Angela told Faith that when Faith’s tenure was done, Angela told Faith that she saw Faith going out on her own. Support from supervisors and her network that developed over her years at a nonprofit. Had a good foundation of support, that was built, watered and nurtured. When the time came that support system helped her bring plans into action.
Upbringing around business
Faith’s mother was a natural accountant that tended to the business operations of her father’s floor covering business for many years. She was drawn to how numbers are definite - a start and a finish. Faith taught herself short-hand on the calculator with grocery receipts as a child.
Her father had five strokes when Faith was 15 and her father was 50. “I saw how if a business is built solely around a business owner, how that can be detrimental if you don’t have a team around you.” “I learned it was important to have a good accountant.” The accountant her father’s business used eventually got in big trouble with the IRS.
Setting sights on business
Faith’s first major at North Carolina Central was Spanish. In college, she started working for a car dealership - Michael Jordan Nissan, where she started as a receptionist and then moved into the cashier’s department. She remembers the CFO at the time who left the Wall Street Journal from Faith to read. She bought “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” when she was 19, and that solidified accounting for her, but she did not know what business was. A lot of accounting majors ended up going to law school. A lot of peers said, “forget this.” Accounting is not an easy major.
Internship opportunities in early 2000’s
Faith’s experience in seeking internships at NCCU was not diverse. Faith was at NCCU from 1998 to 2004. NCCU had a very small share of the resources needed to offer post-graduate and internship opportunities. In her junior year, she had an internship at the Department of Revenue.
Big accounting firms didn’t offer many opportunities at NCCU, and she hopes that it has changed since then. HBCU’s have top notch talent, especially in the business schools. “There is a short-sightedness of businesses trying to make their team more diverse. There needs to be a more intentional relationships, and not just “we need to employ more black kids. There are pots of gold sprinkled all over HBCU’s.” Companies are missing out.
This was before social media. “Central allowed for the professors to be at arms reach.” Faith would talk to her professors in between classes. She asked them about life and career, which helped her land.
Landing in non-profit accounting
One thing NCCU taught her was the power of networking. Because she did not have extensive experience and internship opportunities, she was overlooked. There was a man at Michael Jordan Nissan who had a sorority sister looking for a Staff Accountant for a non-profit. He asked that Faith send her resume in, and she did, and that led to her first role after school. She graduated on May 1, and started May 3 for that non-profit. She stayed there for 10 years.
Where did you gain the confidence to step out as an entrepreneur?
Faith emphasized the power of networking and social media. From 2010 to 2012, she chronicled her journey of passing the CPA exam on Facebook. She found a large group of support and gaining followers. People felt connected to her journey. This is when she realized how important people are in building a small business. After she passed the exam, many of these people reached out to her - “Hey Faith, can you do my taxes.” From 2012 to 2014 she was running the business on the side. The passion for entrepreneurship was growing so strong; however, Faith was a single mom who needed benefits and a secured paycheck. She was afraid. She was laid off in 2014, she grieved getting laid off, but her book-keeping/tax clients gave her more work. She hung her shingle in January 2015 and didn’t look back. She remembers her father saying, “you did not get your CPA license to sit on it.”
Biggest challenge in entrepreneurship
There is an element of mystique. Business school doesn't teach you entrepreneurship when she was in school. “You have to have an emotional tenacity that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, you better learn to build it - quick, fast, in a hurry.”
Managing the growth, the correlation of supply and demand, was more so challenging in the beginning years. At first, you are just happy and star-struck that people want to work for you and with you. Faith learned to understand how to hire and assess what true businesses needs are, and clarify what was needed out of each team member. Instead of hiring to fit the employees needs, she had to transition the thought to what the business needs.
“You have to have a solid administrative foundation. You have to have a solid support team. You have to understand all of the systems you use.”
“You have to understand what your business is telling you. Listen to your business, your business is talking to you and saying a whole lot of stuff loud and clear.”
Entrepreneurship forced her to become a risk-taker. “You have to bet on yourself. You have to bet on your business in moments in which other people will not confirm that.”
Pitfalls of small businesses
You are operating as a business and need to build infrastructure. Many businesses get caught up in only what the mission is, or what they are in business for. Used an analogy about feeding the hungry - you can’t just talk all day about the programmatic mission. You need administrative tasks to support the mission. Understanding that your business has to support your mission. You have to be able to have foundational business operations to sustain your mission. You have to be able to look six months ahead while still dealing with issues of today.
“Get out of your own way, allow your business or non-profit to do what it’s supposed to do.” Sometimes, business owners are stuck - “no one will do it better than me” mentality. She tells people she is only good at 3 things, but it takes 52 things to run a business.
The future for Faith Bynum, CPA, PC
Faith hopes that she eventually has a commercial space, owning real estate. Faith would also like to be a full-time visionary for Faith Bynum, CPA, PC and focus on other ventures. She is empowered by seeing her staff grow. She thinks the firm can become more regionalized, be able to touch people all over the Southeast by enhancing the virtual experience. Faith loves business - she wants to build it to where it is functioning, and the staff has it covered. She is focused on stretching her brand and being as creative as possible with content.