If you have a vision of where you want to be in your business or your life, it doesn’t have to stay just a vision. It can become real. Before I started with Sterling I had such a vision; I just didn’t know how to reach it on my own. But all that changed this year.
I have been a CPA for 25 years and opened my own practice ten years ago. I went out on my own because I wanted to have a life. For a couple of weeks during tax season, I wouldn’t see my children at all, so I decided to cut back on my practice and work from home.
Well, that worked for a while, but nothing stays the same forever. Although I wasn’t trying to expand, I started getting a lot of referrals and bigger accounts and I was back to where I had been before: working crazy hours, running from deadline to deadline, putting out fires. I had outgrown my office and had pretty much taken over the whole house. I knew I had to make a decision whether to stay small or expand, but if I was going to expand I wanted guidance so I wouldn’t waste a lot of time learning things the hard way.
I finished the Sterling training in mid-January of last year and my consultant urged me to hire an office manager immediately. But when I advertised for the position I got 150 resumes and so decided to put it off till after tax season. That was a mistake. Not only was there the usual heavy workload, but everything else that could go wrong did. In March I had a computer problem and lost three or four days of work. I bought new computers online, but then the printers wouldn’t work properly. On top of that, my husband had open-heart surgery and I lost another week of time.
Finally, based on my consultant’s advice, I pulled out three resumes, interviewed them and hired the one who looked best. It was a good thing I did; I don’t know what I would have done without her. I just threw stuff on her and she was able to pick it up with little or no training. Together, we managed to make it through April 15 in one piece.
After that, we started to organize and expand the practice. In May, we moved out of my house into an office building. We started out with 1,000 square feet, but within six months we had to get a larger space because the practice had already grown so much that I had hired four more employees—two full-time and two part-time. My annual goal for the year was a 25 percent growth. By the end of October, I had already reached my annual goal. It is amazing, new opportunities just keep showing up.
The biggest thing I got out of the Sterling training was how to build an effective team. I found out how to be a better supervisor and to train employees on how to do their jobs correctly so I don’t have to work late or on weekends making corrections for them. Right now, I am starting to really see the benefits of having other people helping me. For the first time in years, I am not working seven days a week, fifteen hours a day. Even my youngest son has asked, “Oh, you don’t have to go in at all this weekend?”
I have realized that every day is important. I can always be working. By having the guidance to bring in the right people to work as a team here, I can leave work at work and not take it home with me. I can give my family my full attention when I am with them.
This has been a wild year for me, and the way it started out, it could easily have been a disaster. But instead, it has been one of personal, professional and financial growth. We had to buy all new office furniture, a phone system, computers, and networking, plus I added five staff. But even so, I am not having to finance it. It is all being paid for by the practice, and my personal W-2 income is way up. I am working sensible hours and have a far better family life. This wouldn’t have been possible without the training I received at Sterling and my consultant’s tenacity in getting me to follow the program.
Linda Neuman, CPA