It’s a special time here at Brigade Bookkeeping. We’ve reached an incredible landmark: Our 10th year in business! In celebration of this milestone, we interviewed our President, Elizabeth Manso, to learn about her journey from employee at a large CPA firm to founder and leader of a successful, award-winning small business.
In this first of a three-part series, we asked Elizabeth to tell the story of how she got started.
Question: Tell us about the decision to strike out on your own. What were the circumstances and how did you make it happen?
Elizabeth Manso: It was actually by accident, not intentional at all! I was working at a large, regional CPA firm and when I gave my month’s notice, I didn’t have a job lined up, because I wanted to “decompress” before jumping into another job. Well, two weeks into my sabbatical, I was called to help a friend and former coworker with a bookkeeping, clean-up project and the rest is history!!
Q: Did you always see yourself as a leader?
EM: ABSOLUTELY NOT! I was such a great employee and am exceptional at following directions and getting things done…to this day, I enjoy getting a project and seeing it through beginning to end. Nowadays, the projects are more like, how can I continue to grow Brigade, as well as my team, the best way possible.
Q: What was the scariest part about starting your own business?
EM: The scariest part of starting my own business was having to hire people! It was like babysitting and I didn’t have time to babysit AND prepare client work AND bring in new business.
Q: So, how did you overcome that aspect?
EM: I searched for many resources and people to help me figure out the art of hiring…I’m still learning; however, I now love the idea of interviewing and hiring and growing Brigade through amazing people.
Q: Did you/do you have a mentor? If so what is it/was it about him/her that helped you?
EM: Yes, I don’t just have one mentor, I have several. If I had to name one of my mentors, it would have to be Phil Sroka, who was my former boss at the large CPA firm I used to work for. While working at the firm over 13 years ago, I loved the structured way in which Phil worked. He was so organized, efficient, calm, controlled and subtly authoritative in his manner. Our department was great and he always got things done, while not working crazy hours. I loved working with Phil and still do. I’ve tried to structure Brigade in the same manner as Phil inadvertently taught me how to run a department in a large organization. Phil and I work with each other now. He refers clients to Brigade, and my team and I provide them with the high level of service he expects. Phil and I still meet for either breakfast or lunch at least twice a year. Now, instead of work, our conversations revolve more around family and life goals.
Next week, in part two, Elizabeth shares what she’s learned along the way about how to build and maintain excellent client relationships. Follow the Brigade story; connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn