Carolina Aponte is the founder of CAJA Holdings, an Outsource Accounting firm in NC. She is the author of ‘Pave Your Own Way: Thirteen Skills To Create Your Professional Success’. One of her most recent recognitions is the 2021 NAWBO Charlotte Woman Business Owner of the Year.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was a 20 year old immigrant without a High School degree working as a receptionist with a lot of free time in my hands, I offered to help the office manager who was overwhelmed with work and she taught me how to do ‘bookkeeping’ in manual ledger, I fell in love with reconciliations! And found my passion for accounting. From there I moved forward in pursuing jobs and opportunities related to accounting, paving my own way towards career advances and now I own an accounting firm.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
After years in accounting serving as accounting manager or controller for large corporations, I realize the impact I could have on small businesses that could not afford to hire an in-house controller or CFO. At a fraction of the cost, they could benefit from the expertise and feedback needed when looking to scale their business. Knowing what processes and systems work well for others, I could provide the same quality to many small businesses. That is how Caja Holdings was born!
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
As a Fractions CFO, my goal is to provide advice and support to Small Business Owners towards achieving their financial goals, whether it is gross revenue or net profits, there is always a strategy that can be implemented once you understand the operations and the numbers or an organization regardless of the size.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I have a lot to feel proud of, including being a trailblazer. I hold a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Entrepreneurship certificate. I am a recipient of the Latin American Businesswoman 2012 Award in Charlotte, NC and the 2017 NAWBO Charlotte Rising Star Award. Also, a recipient of The Mecklenburg Times 2019 Phenoms honoree and 2020 50 Most Influential Women in the Charlotte region. Last but not least, I became the first Latina President of the National Association of Women Business Owners Charlotte Chapter.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
It all starts and ends with the mind, what you believe is what pushes you forward or holds you back. A growth mindset is essential to paving your own path to success. Learn all there is to know about your particular craft, see the ‘big picture’ and focus on the goal.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
When you are exercising leadership skills regardless if you are entry level or have already risen to management levels, you’re not waiting around to be told what to do or how to do it you are thinking ahead of the curve and you are innovating and proposing new ways of doing things and when you do it you do it in a way where people buy into it and they feel engaged in what you’re offering or you’re proposing. This is one way to break through the cracks in the ceiling, show up as if you already have the job!
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Taking small, manageable risks allows you to learn the lessons that are supposed to come your way. Be brave!