So let’s start with you are you from this local area?
Born in Newport News Virginia at the Old Mary Immaculate Hospital, which is the Riverside Rehabilitation Center.
Why did you choose this line of business?
I have been good with numbers and problem solving my entire life. My first job with an insurance agency – I was the receptionist. Well the lady that audited & balanced the books thought she would teach me a lesson and give them to me to figure out. I got it balanced and reconciled on the first try. That gave me a real taste for accounting. My first job ever was my own lawn mowing service, so being an entrepreneur was in my blood from an early age. I had my own mowing business with 6 customers.
What made you decide to start your own business vs. working for somebody else? When did you begin your small business tax preparation services in Hampton?
The month of December 2012 – I had a meeting with my boss and I was doing great and going to get my raise in January; later that week I received an award from the same boss and company for being forward thinking. One week later, I was laid off due to budget cuts and they never replaced me. The GM didn’t even know what was happening. I did a job search for a year – over 278 jobs I applied for on my own, a lot I was over-qualified for, but I was just trying to get my foot in the door and I was using recruiters as well. Finally, a software company that I had applied for a CFO position didn’t want to hire me for that position but wanted to become one of their partners. I didn’t have the money and blew if off. 6 months later, they are calling me again. My brother and I talked about it and he gave me the money to become a partner with a software company and Solution Solvers, LLC was born in February 2014.
Starting a business is a tough thing to do! What inspired you to keep going as you were getting it off the ground?
A promise I made to my dad on his death bed. You see I promised him that I would take care of mom and that she wouldn’t lack for anything when he was gone. I make very few promises, if any, but this one was so important and motivated me and kept me fighting and pushing and not giving up because if I failed, we would be homeless and then I would be breaking that promise.
When would you really say your business went from a concept to actually functional?
LOL...when I started my 2nd business. My first business, Solution Solvers, wasn’t going all that well. I had a couple of clients but it was still in its infancy and I barely made $9K in the first 3 years of the business. It was a real struggle. In June 2015, I started my notary business because my bff told me I could make good money. That was a struggle in the beginning too, BUT it became my major money maker for all those years through 2018. Now, I am focusing back on Solution Solvers because that is where my passion and my focus are at now. I worked hard to get my name at the top of lists with Title and Signing agencies and it all paid off to allow me to re-focus my efforts.
Looking back, what was the most difficult challenge you had to face?
Marketing; getting clients. I have a great story, BUT I don’t like to talk about myself. I just want to solve problems, implement solutions that will work and are easy and streamline to make things as efficient as possible. Also, getting “suckered” into those marketing agencies and places that are happy to take all of your money but you have to do every bit of the work and hey, if I had money to throw away, absolutely, but I have to remind myself, as I do my customers, that you spend what you can afford to spend without financing, without robbing “
Peter to pay Paul” mentality. It gets you into more trouble than it does help.
What do you enjoy the most about the Virginia Beach communities your business takes care of?
Diversity. You have military families, you have people that start businesses every day and need help and reach out. Some use you for your knowledge thinking they can take what you share and go it alone (NOT) and then you find some that are sweet and genuine and share their experience with their friends and next thing you know, your tax business has doubled and then doubled again for 2 years straight. You find friends and colleagues in the oddest of places, but they turn out to be the real deal, people you want to work with; people you want to help grow and flourish and you WANT to do your best for them because they appreciate all that you do.
If a potential customer has to pick from 3 different businesses providing what you provide, what would make your company really stand out, and they choose your company over the others?
Interesting question and here’s a cool answer. I recently bid on a job and I was one of 3 finalists. The client went out-of-country for almost 3 weeks and I responded to their “Needs/Wants Requirements” list. They have about 12 points they wanted and instead of writing something vague and general and “Yes we can do it all” type nonsense, I addressed each point – item for item, and asked questions that would help make better decisions and make suggestions of what I would use and what we would do and even addressed some items, not on the list, but that were discussed in a phone conversation. Bottom-line – I won them big because of being thorough and precise and addressing concerns and not saying “yes” to everything just to win. If I cannot do it, I provide alternatives and a work-around but I’m not going to lie to get the job.
Has internet technology played a big part in your growth, and making your company more successful?
Yes, it allows me to work remotely, from home, and service clients throughout the U.S. I did tax returns in 4 other states outside of Virginia, and I had access to all the state requirements for each return, so everything got filed electronically and handled properly. I will always be happy to travel to a client to perform a site visit and discuss in-person any relative information to help them be more successful but thankfully, I can keep costs down by using my wholesale pricing to help clients and work remotely and knock projects out. It allows me to handle what I need to handle at home plus take care of my clients, even if it is at 1AM in the morning because I can’t sleep.
Where do you see your business going forward in 2019?
My focus on Solution Solvers this year is intentional. My tax business doubled again, which was amazing, and I am getting new clients on a regular basis, which I LOVE. 1 goal is to on-board 5-10 new clients every other month. Some might ask, why not every month? Well, I want to make sure that the 5-10 I am working with have everything in place and are running smoothly before I take on another 5-10. I am working towards 6-figure growth for Solution Solvers in 2019 and double that growth for 2020 and then 7-figures for 2021. I want to be able to hire a staff and give people the opportunity to make a difference and feel confident.
Thinking back to day one, can you think of anything you may have done differently to overcome challenges and to meet your business goals in a more efficient amount of time?
When you are desperate, you make desperate decisions sometimes. Mine was believing these marketing companies could do what they said they could do. All it entailed was me giving $1K-$2K of hard-earned money I really didn’t have to get a program that I had to do all the work myself. Even if they offered a “review” to help make things better, the “review” was so vague, you gained no value from it at all. It was just another trick to get you to sign up for something else because you realized you didn’t have the time or skillset to really do it. I have 3 businesses and the Notary company I focused on the most because it paid the bills and grew consistently so I didn’t focus on the others as much. NOW, because of the notary business and stability, it has afforded me the opportunity to focus on what I’m truly good at and passionate about and it continues to allow me to help others be successful.
Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
$7-figure income with a staff working remotely and clients all over the U.S. – not just in Virginia anymore. Empowering clients and staff to enjoy helping others and being focused and succeeding and learning from all my mistakes so that they get there faster and quicker than I did. I love teaching and helping people be better versions of themselves and motivating and the ever so often “kick in the pants” because you are feeling sorry for yourself. I had one of my students that I did financial coaching with text about an employee making them feel bad because management was offering him OT and not the others, and the others turned it down and he was the last one asked, but guess what – he did a GREAT JOB and now, he is noticed by said management team and they offer him the extra hours and work first. Being picked last isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it offers rewards like the ones he received BUT he was focused on the being picked last and the other employee’s negative comments and I told him – Haters will be Haters. Who cares when you got picked – you got picked and you proved yourself and now you are on top. I told him to stop whining (joking) and to go work that OT and pay off his debts. He thanked me for it.
What is the best way for our readers to connect with your team and to take advantage of what your company has to offer?
You can email me, call me or text me. During the day, texting is probably what I will respond to the quickest, but email is good as well. Calling is difficult sometimes but always leave a message, because I will call back. Use firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text me at 757-971-2219. Visit our website at https://solutionsolversllc.com