Charting a New Course: George Azih’s Path from Accountant to Tech CEO and the Lessons Learned at LeaseQuery

George Azih and Mike Whitmire have a lot in common.

As accountants-turned-entrepreneurs, they both built companies designed to offer solutions to problems both experienced firsthand — something not all entrepreneurs can claim. 

While the outside world may not know it, accountants do much more than count beans. With the advent of bean-counting software, accountants are realizing their true potential now more than ever, and are focusing on solving big problems with cold, hard numbers. And it turns out all those problem-solving skills can also make accountants pretty good entrepreneurs.

Recently, George, the founder and CEO of LeaseQuery, joined Mike on Blood, Sweat & Balance Sheets to discuss his journey from staff accountant to tech CEO, the valuable lessons they’ve learned along the way, how their unique perspectives are revolutionizing the accounting industry, and the limitless possibilities when passion meets technology.

Whether you’re interested in exploring your entrepreneurial side or not, here are a few interesting tidbits from their conversation.

Understand the Problem Better Than Your Customers

The first step to creating a product or service people will gladly pay for is truly understanding the problem you’re solving. That’s why George focused on becoming an expert at the problem and his solution first.

 “In those 18 months [before starting the company], all I did was really just delve into the problem, and write blogs, and become an expert in lease accounting,” he said. “And then our first check came.”

Use those accountant detective skills and start gathering information on the problem that needs solving. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re solving a real problem, not trying to create one to solve just to start a company. For George, the problem came in his day job, when he was tasked with accounting for a number of leases. He realized that there were errors in the books for every single lease and that there was no software on the market to help make the process easier. Start with a real problem, and you’ll find a market eager to find a solution.  

Don’t Let Disasters Grind You Down

Of course, the path to entrepreneurship isn’t easy. But the hurdles along the way don’t have to take you down. In fact, they can often be what encourages you to get better, get smarter, or make a needed course correction. 

“Every disaster that I’ve ever had has always turned out to be a blessing,” George admitted.

Whether it’s difficulty finding funding or investors, or the struggle of building on the side while also keeping up with your 9-5, hurdles can make you stronger, and once you’ve cleared them, they just put you that much further ahead of the competition.

Find the Right Time To Jump

And speaking of jumping, George advises anyone looking to make the leap, to choose wisely but not get stuck.

“If you want to start a company, don’t jump too quick, but eventually make the jump, because having your regular job and doing something as a side deal is like having one foot in hot water and the other in cold water and you trying to convince yourself that your body’s warm. It just doesn’t work. So make that jump. I wish I had done that sooner.”

Blood, Sweat & Balance Sheets wherever you get your podcasts

John Siegel

John Siegel is a Corporate Communications Manager at FloQast. Prior to joining the company, he wrote about Los Angeles-based tech companies for Built In LA. You can follow him on Twitter @JVNSiegel.