In celebration of our landmark 10th year in business, we asked our President, Elizabeth Manso, to reflect on her journey. In this third and final part of our interview, she describes what she’s learned about the importance of building a positive company culture, and her personal take on ambition and success.
Question: Brigade Bookkeeping supports employee work/life balance. Did you have that before you started your company? If not, was it a driving reason why?
Elizabeth Manso: I did not have that before I started Brigade. I knew one thing, before I started building Brigade, I wanted to build a company that I, as an employee, would enjoy working at for many years. I’ve tried to create a company with corporate structure and, yet, still have a family-style atmosphere, since we often spend more time with each other than our actual families. I believe it’s important to feel “at home” at the office.
Q:What is one thing no one told you to anticipate about running a business, but then happened—good or bad—and how did you address it?
EM: No one told me about company culture and that you cannot run a successful business with a default culture. I didn’t expect to have to design our company’s culture…I learned the hard way when I first started Brigade and we experienced high employee turnover. It took me a few years to design a culture that would attract the right talent for our team.
Q: Harvard Business Review recently explored the question: How have the few women who made it to the very top overcome barriers? Among the recommendations, HBR specifically explored the idea of overcoming the limits of ambition. Can you comment on that? Would you agree?
EM: Here’s the thing, I never saw myself as a woman limited by barriers, so I cannot comment on this from the point of view of a “woman,” only as a business professional. I’ve been ambitious from birth! I was raised in an immigrant family. I had to earn good grades, and apply for scholarships my junior year of high school to even have a chance of going to college. I figured out when I was 15 years old that I wanted to be an accountant, so I applied to the school of accounting at Florida Atlantic University and got in, passed my GMAT with no problem, worked to pay for my books and food while at college, and graduated cum laude with my undergrad in accounting. I continued with my Masters in Business Administration, working full time, and paid for my degree from my own pocket. Then I got my MBA with a concentration in accounting and then studied for my CPA license and got that. My point: I don’t know what barriers are…I just get it done!
Q: Here is another comment about being a successful business owner: “One of the most important ingredients in a successful business idea is passion. Passion will consistently drive you to improve your process so your business grows.” What is your take on that insight?
EM: I am passionate about being the best I can possibly be in everything I attempt, in this lifetime and, yes, that’s my driving force EVERY DAY!
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