All Josh Zweig wanted to do was work remotely.
“I had lived for a time in Tel Aviv, and I really liked the city and I wanted to go back,” the now 34-year-old CPA recalls of his early days in the accounting profession.
At the time, he worked for a firm in Toronto and found the majority of his interactions with clients were done over phone and email. “So I said to my boss, ‘Look, is there any way I can do this remotely from Tel Aviv? I’ll come in a few times a year when I have to, and it will be on my dime.’ And he said, ‘Absolutely not. You have to be in the office.’”
The catalytic conversation sparked something new in Zweig. Up until then, the path he visualized didn’t include becoming an entrepreneur. But if being in-office was mandatory, he’d need to make a change on his own. “It wasn’t any sort of breakthrough,” he says. “It was: I’m going to do the same thing, but in my own way.”
Along with his co-founder, Chad Davis, Zweig set out to launch his own firm, one free from the brick-and-mortar restraints of traditional accounting practices. The result is the virtual accounting firm LiveCA, and for the past five years Zweig and his team have redefined not only how businesses interact with their accountants, but what accountants can bring to their clients. Today, LiveCA’s team of over 50 employees all live and work across Canada, using online channels to provide their more than 500 clients with standard accounting services as well as act as advisors that help implement and utilize state-of-the-art business-process technologies.
“You have to stay driven, you have to stay focused in order to support a fast moving vehicle”
Without the need to put down permanent roots, Zweig has found the globetrotting freedom he craved. For two years he lived in Colombia and now calls Buenos Aires home. But it isn’t just about scratching a country off a bucket list. “The places where I’ve made my temporary home, they’ve allowed me to not just check a place off, but to really get to know a culture, develop friends, learn new skills, like speak Spanish or dance salsa or flamenco guitar,” he says. “Some of those things I would have never had learned had I been static in one place.”
And even though he’s living that envy-inducing dream, Zweig refuses to take his foot off the gas. “You have to stay driven, you have to stay focused in order to support a fast moving vehicle,” he says. “Yes, we want to make money. Yes, we want to have a sustainable company. But ultimately we want to create a company where others can have the same opportunities as us.”
Zweig recently joined the advisory panel of CPA Ontario’s inaugural Community of Interest, Emerging Leaders, and as he helps steer this new community, we decided to catch up with him to find out more about his innovative, office-less concept.