Business In:Brief with Maz Zaman (TaxFox)
CEO and co-founder of TaxFox – 2020-present
Maz Zaman is the CEO and co-founder of TaxFox. TaxFox is a new personal finance app dedicated to helping Australians increase the amount that they can claim on their tax refunds. Every year working Australians miss out on thousands of dollars by either forgetting about or not knowing their eligible expenses.
TaxFox allows users to store receipts, log their hours working from home, record expenses and calculate real-time refund estimates as they make updates of their deductions. Users can also view what the average tax refund is for their specific job, giving them a better understanding of what they should expect.
In today's Business In:Brief, Maz talks about the value of helping others, innovation and his impressive homemade sweet making skills. Read on to find out more.
What was your first job?
My first work experience was helping my mum with her homemade sweets business at the age of nine. My job was to hand-roll dough into perfectly round balls. I wasn't paid but the lessons learned about working hard and doing it right were invaluable.
What's your proudest achievement?
I migrated to Australia with my parents when I was six years old and started kindergarten class only being able to speak two words of English, "yes" and "no".
Fast track 12 years to my high school graduation and I was selected to give the end of year school assembly speech as the prefect and student council representative. I still remember how nervous I was, but also the excitement of delivering my speech to an audience. Afterwards, I was approached by friends, students from other years and teachers who commended me with high-fives and big smiles.
It was in that moment that I realised just how far I had come since arriving in Australia as a young boy, and that it's possible to adapt to anything in life as long as you are brave enough to take on the challenge.
Since then I have found pride in helping others take on challenges, adapt and become their best self.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
There have been many low points in life and business where I was either in a rut or things just seemed dire. None of the ideas would make things better and it felt like there was no way to help myself.
I got into the habit of removing myself from the situation and focusing passionately on helping someone else in a bad position or who needed a small hand to get them through their own personal tough time. Doing this brought back my energy, inspired new ideas and opened up other pathways to solve my own challenges.
Lesson: When in a rut, focus on helping to lift someone else.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
Through hiring good people. Working with those who are adaptable and have a challenger mindset will enable creativity to flourish leading to innovative ways for the business to grow. Having the right people also creates a culture for everyone to personally grow along with the business.
Also, using the best and latest technology. We live in an exciting time where ideas can be brought to life very quickly with the current state of technology. We are also faced with great new challenges as a society and as a species which is rapidly changing the way we live. We can use technology to challenge the old ways of doing things, which is exactly what we're doing at TaxFox.
We're changing the way we have done our taxes for over 100 years by using innovative technology to help more people get tax returns.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
I strive to surround myself with the ideas of some of the greatest minds of our time.
Elon Musk's unapologetic, pragmatic and brave approach of taking risks to solve the biggest problems for the world.
Simon Sinek's lessons on finding our "why", developing strong values to drive ourselves and to be motivated in building trust and caring for the well-being of others.
Ray Dalio's principles to self-reflect, think in ways to overcome your personal biases and see things as they are in reality.
Joe Rogan's coverage of a variety of topics and subjects ranging from MMA fighting to Quantum Mechanics.
Jordan Peterson's message about taking personal responsibility to grow in a world that is unjust and full of tragedies.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"You must help anyone who is in need, even if they have done you wrong in the past."
My father taught me to always speak up if I felt that something wasn't right and to help others in need. He said that this was even more important when you see someone else is being treated unfairly – you speak up for those who don't have a voice and you must help and fight for those who don't have the power to fight.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
Finding the right co-founder or business partner is as important as finding the right problem to solve.
Starting out in FinTech can be daunting with non-negotiables such as compliance, security and privacy. Just because these things are mandatory, it doesn't mean you should allow them to hinder your creativity and innovation in solving real-life problems.
Prioritise your activities on a daily basis and always bring yourself back to focusing on the main problem you are solving; it is easy to become distracted and focused on the wrong thing as you get into the depths of challenges.
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