Ambition Role Model Insight - Larissa Feeney

Ambition Role Model Insight - Larissa Feeney

LEO NDRC Partnership Lock-Up

Larissa Feeney is CEO of Ireland's first and largest online accountancy firm, Larissa is a Chartered Accountant from Sligo and has been living in Donegal for many years where she set up in 2015. Larissa was named Accountant of the Year in 2018 and her firm has been awarded Accountancy Firm of the Year in 2016 and 2018 by the Irish Accountancy Awards.

You can read Larissa's thoughts in our first post of our Role Model Insight Series. We've borrowed the format from Tim Ferriss's book 'Tribe of Mentors'. You can read about the book here and buy it directly here.

Why are you supporting LEO Donegal's Female Founder Pre-Acceleration Programme in partnership with NDRC?
I benefited enormously from my experience with programmes such as Going For Growth and support from Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. It helped me build a network and be exposed to a greater level of ambition and expertise than was available to me previously. I am still learning and still building my connections and network, but I feel that programmes that support female entrepreneurship are essential on many levels and I'm delighted to contribute my experience as a way of giving back to the start-up community.

What is the book (or books) you've given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I enjoyed Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, Phil Knight. It is inspirational and he is a great storyteller. I also frequently re-read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It. This is a classic for small business owners to help you learn how to step away from the day to day and work on your business rather than always in your business. A great read also is The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

What purchase of €100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?
I've enjoyed my Blinkist subscription which summarises non–fiction books in audio format. It gives me a taster for the book, so if I like the sound of a book I will buy it. It is an affordable way of discovering the latest leadership and business thinking and also older, classic, and timeless titles. The price is €79.99 billed annually.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
A quote that helps me is from author Nora Roberts. When someone asked her how she balanced writing and kids, she said "that the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.'' Sometimes I have to drop a ball – I just make sure it's a ball that bounces and not that shatters!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you've ever made?
My business! It has been difficult at times, but it is worth it to see it develop and grow over the years and that makes it worthwhile.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
We live in the countryside in Donegal and our family owns a pig called Frank. I would not like to admit it to my children, but I have got attached to Frank!

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
I used to work late into the evening and answer emails. I realised that I wasn't practicing a good work-life balance regime by doing this and I was not modelling good behaviour for my team. I made a conscious decision to set boundaries and to avoid evening and weekend work and it has been the best habit I've adopted to be more energised and focused during the working day.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven woman about starting a business? What advice should they ignore?
Don't go it alone. Seek out support from mentors and coaches and people who will support you on your journey. Join networks – your network is your net worth.

What are the bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
We meet many clients very frequently who have tried to do their bookkeeping in the initial years and have ended up very stressed by the process. I'd advise getting a professional accountant early in the process so that you have clarity on the basics and have an awareness of your obligations as a business.

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?
I was introduced to a decision – making process called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix which divides out information into 4 boxes and this has helped me manage my time and avoid distractions
- Urgent and important (do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not important (delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (eliminate).

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I go for a walk, get some fresh air, and take a break for a short time. If I do feel overwhelmed it helps me to ask the question 'will this matter in 5 years? '

What one word would you add to the following for women entrepreneurs?
Be Strong.

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