8221 Brecksville Rd, STE 205 Brecksville, OH 44141
I Was 9 Months Pregnant and the Government Knocked on the Door …
It was a cold winter. We had just moved into our new corporate offices in Brecksville, and I was nine months pregnant with baby No. 4. Tax season had just started. The phone rang, and the female voice on the other end of the line introduced herself as Jan Conrad. She toldme the name of the agency she represented, but I failed to catch it. She was asking for a meeting inmy office. “Uh-oh, am I in some sort of trouble?”I thought. When we met in person, she introduced herself as the new Cleveland director of a new organization calledWomen’s Business Centers of Ohio, funded in part by the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) and ECDI (Economic Community Development Institute). My face muscles started to relax. Jan was looking for successful entrepreneurs to serve on the WBC advisory board, and somebody mentionedmy name to her. While she was sitting onmy velvet“financial therapy” couch, she revealed tome her dreams and hopes for this organization, where hundreds of small businesses would be able to come for one-stop coaching, mentoring, support, and access to capital. It turned out that joining theWBC and serving on its advisory board was one of the best decisions I ever made. I attended boardmeetings every month, which ledme to get to know some wonderful female business and community leaders in the Cleveland area, a good number of whom I became friends with. Membership grew rapidly, and the staff was busy providing coaching andmentoring. In addition to paid staff, a professional advisory network was formed with lawyers, accountants, andmarketing professionals volunteering their time to coachmembers one-on-one. I signed up to give complimentary consultations tomembers who needed specific tax planning. I wanted to address questions related to business and financial management. So far, I’ve conducted 92 of these two-hour consultations. That adds up tomore than four workweeks!
I just love these meetings. They give me the opportunity to get to know new business owners and share with them best practices for financial management so they canmake sound decisions in their business. (I also appreciate that the members come tomy office and I don’t have to drive to the downtownWBC offices tomeet with them.)
Think Tank Tuesdays andThursdays are also favorites of mine. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to conduct a couple of these workshops every year, and the members who come for it are just amazing! Usually, I talk about“learning how to be the‘chief ecosystemofficer’of our business.”We also talk about excuses we tell ourselves for not acting as a CEO, how to reverse-engineer our financial goals, and why knowing our numbers is the only way to build a legitimate business. Most of the time, the Q&A at the end goes on for hours! Usually, members are surprised that, as a CPA, I’mnot going to talk about income statements, balance sheets, and how to calculate your taxes. But then they realize I’mnot their father’s CPA. I believe in looking at the financial side of a business from a holistic point of view: marketing, sales, client service, financials, personal goals, and preferences— it’s all a big ecosystem. If you live in northeast Ohio and run a small business, do yourself a favor and check out what theWBC and ECDI offer to both female andmale entrepreneurs of all stages. And if you see me at one of their events, be sure to come up and say hi!
My upcomingWBC workshops are scheduled for June 28, Aug. 21, and Nov. 15.
To learnmore about this wonderful organization, check outWBCOhio.org.
- Borbala Banto, CPA
P.S. I almost forgot tomention that the“government”knocked onmy door again in May 2016. Fortunately, it was not bad news that time either! The SBA selected Concierge CPAs as the“Women-Owned Small Business of theYear in Northeast Ohio.”The picture in this article was taken at the awards ceremony.
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