Chartered Accountant and CEO Larissa Feeney tells DonegalWoman.ie what it's like to be included on the very list of businesswomen that inspired her over the years.
Each year the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards celebrates inspirational women from all over Ireland, and Donegal is lucky to have a selection of role models on this year’s shortlist.
Donegal-based entrepreneur Larissa Feeney has joined the elite group of trailblazing businesswomen after being shortlisted as one of the Top 10 Start-Ups of 2017.
Larissa is the CEO of accountantonline.ie, Ireland’s first online accounting website service. Using her background in hospitality management and accountancy, she launched her business online four years ago, and has earned many accolades since.
Larissa tells Donegal Woman how seeing her name among the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year finalists was a particularly special surprise:
“I was very surprised and delighted. It is a very prestigious award with a great reputation for quality nominations. Over the years I have always checked out the nominations and the winners for my own inspiration, so it is very nice to see my name there. I am proud to be representing the North West,” Larissa said.
The success of Accountantonline.ie was a culmination of Larissa’s wealth of knowledge in the industry and client care. Originally from SLigo, she qualified in hospitality management before becoming a Chartered Accountant in 2005.
“I think that my training in hospitality has served me well in attending to clients in my accountancy career. Clients have responded well to the service and as we grow I have made sure that excellent customer service is central to the values of my growing team.
“With the launch of my business online in 2015, we attracted clients from far beyond Donegal and as far away as the Middle East and the US.
“We needed to upgrade our technology to serve the growing client base, but I think what has really grown our business is good old fashioned client care at the heart of everything we do.
“We are only very early still in this journey, but I am confident that if we continue to look after our clients well, that we will continue to be successful,” Larissa said.
Larissa won the Best Innovation Award in the Letterkenny Business Awards in November 2014 and Best Small Practice at the Irish Accountancy Awards 2017.
The last year has been full of highlights for Larissa as she has expanded her start-up and successfully began piloting remote working for her staff force.
Larissa said: “I was apprehensive about this at first, but the technology allows us to stay connected, work as a virtual team, but maintaining excellent standards for our clients.
“We also began hosting webinars for startups and these have proven very popular, with around 40 people joining a Q&A online with an accountant each month. These small milestones are all highlights for me as they expand my horizons and prove in small ways that we are on the right track,” she said.
Encouragement from the Local Enterprise Office and supports such as the Donegal Women in Business Network, Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce and the community in the CoLab LYIT have helped Larissa achieve her bright ambitions for broadening the reach of the business.
As an inspirational local woman in business, she is keen to share words of wisdom:
“I pick up great advice all the time from other Donegal businesswomen, so I am happy to share my experience.
“What has worked for me is focusing on what my client needs and building my service around this. I am always looking for feedback from clients and then thinking of ways to improve the service.
“Sometimes improvement lies in fixing internal processes. This means you have to have a great team around you that is smart and has similar values to you.
“So, my advice is to hire great people and let them help you build your business,” Larissa said.
The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year awards will be presented at a gala dinner, on Monday, November 20, at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin 4.
Clodagh Edwards, CEO of Image Publications celebrated the 2017 finalists, saying: “Compiling the shortlist this year was a huge challenge. With over 443 individual entries, our largest number ever, competition proved stronger than ever for places. It took a lot of deliberation, and the women who made this shortlist are truly inspirational.”
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