“My journey in Australia can be divided into three chapters. The first chapter was about my struggles as an international student, especially in relation to the language barriers and cultural shock which I experienced.
The second chapter was my time at AIQS, where I identified a service gap in Canberra’s business community. The third chapter, also the current one, began with the establishment of my own business—Tailored Accounts. The growing success of Tailored Accounts has taught me that hard work always pays off.
I want to emphasise hard work, because ultimately, you have to be good at something in order to achieve success in that area”.
Leaving Vietnam for Australia in 2005, 22-year-old Harry joined the Australian National University’s international community as a first-year Bachelor of Economics student. Language barriers and culture shock were among the biggest challenges that Harry faced in his early days in ANU. Nevertheless, by staying motivated and working hard each day, Harry slowly overcame these challenges and immersed himself in the Australian culture.
To cover his tuition fees and living expenses, Harry even took up casual farm work during his free time. This was when he adopted the name “Harry”, which sounds like “hurry”, because he was adept at completing his tasks in farms.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in Economics, Harry decided to pursue Master of Professional Accounting as he, like many other international students of his age, encountered difficulties in securing a job. However, this did not dampen Harry’s zest for life—in fact; the difficulties which Harry encountered encouraged him to double his efforts to improve his skills and employability. His hard work and sacrifices paid off as he was eventually offered a bookkeeping role with the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS).
During his time as a bookkeeper in the AIQS, Harry noticed that many small and medium business owners were struggling to manage their core business, and bookkeeping and accounting functions. Some businesses simply could not afford an in-house accountant, while other firms, due to their scale, did not require a full-time accountant but found it hard to hire qualified part-time accountants. Having identified this gap in Canberra’s business community, Harry grabbed the opportunity and launched his first company—Tailored Accounts, then known as Harry’s Bookkeeping—in 2009.
The establishment of Tailored Accounts has given Harry a new direction in life and he now considers himself “the happiest migrant in Australia”. Since its inception, Tailored Accounts has achieved strong growth in both its size and revenue, making it one of the leading bookkeeping firms in Canberra. From a one-person home business, Tailored Accounts has evolved to become a team of 12 highly-qualified accountants who serve over 150 local and interstate customers, and process $62 million worth of customer transactions annually (as in September 2015).
Tailored Accounts’ impressive development has garnered public recognition in Canberra. The firm was selected by The Australian Business Awards 2015 as ABA100 Winner in Enterprise, and shortlisted as a Finalist for the Telstra Business Awards in 2014 and 2015, the Canberra Business Point Awards in 2014, and the Australian Small Business Champion Awards in 2015. Tailored Accounts was also recently featured in the Canberra Times and RiotACT, another proof that the firm is well regarded in the Canberra business community.
Together with Tailored Accounts' growth, Harry personally has been accepted as a member of the Institute of Public Accountants, a leading Australian accounting body passionately dedicated to the SME sector.
In a recent interview with the RiotACT, Harry also revealed that Tailored Accounts is now ready to pursue its next goal. The firm, with its expanded core capabilities, is now targeting businesses with up to $20 million annual turnover. Harry also shared that he aims to bridge the gap between bookkeeping and accounting firms, given his knowledge in accounting and experiences in bookkeeping.
At present, Tailored Accounts offers management accounting and consulting services, which assist its clients with daily accounting functions and simultaneously provide them with advice on their decision- making processes. Harry attributes Tailored Accounts’ success to his focus on building long-term, sustainable business relationships. His ultimate goal is for Tailored Accounts to become Canberra’s largest accounting and bookkeeping firm within the next five years, or as he puts it, “to become Canberra’s accounting department”.
To realise this goal, Harry has been keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in cloud accounting and technology. Cloud accounting has proven to be cost effective and time efficient for Tailored Accounts’ clients, and this has consequently contributed to increased customer satisfaction. By being focused and staying informed, and coupled with hard work, Harry firmly believes that his goal is not out of reach.