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Striking the Perfect Work/Life Balance at Supporting Strategies

November 8, 2014 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Our People, Stamford, CT

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Laura_BottinoLaura Bottino had a good thing going in the corporate world. Her career was progressing nicely, and she liked the work. But with a young daughter at home, she decided earlier this year it was time for a change. The path led her to Supporting Strategies, where she now serves as a financial operations associate for our Stamford, Conn., office.

Working part-time at home, Laura is always there when her daughter gets back from school and can attend school functions or engage in volunteer activities during the day. The flexibility has made a major difference in her life.

"I thrived in the corporate environment, and it suited my life stage at the time," she says. "But Supporting Strategies suits me now. It's been hugely life-changing for my family — the work/life balance I've struck is perfect."

The Right Opportunity

After seeing an online job posting for Supporting Strategies, Laura connected with Stamford owner Jeff Coombs. She realized the opportunity was exactly what she was looking for and became Jeff's second hire in June 2014.

While she now works with small businesses, Laura enjoys putting to use the skills she developed during all those years in the corporate world.

"I call on what I learned back then — things like process improvement and putting controls in place — to assist business owners who were probably handling their books on their own and realized they needed help," she says. "Much of my work has involved getting our clients what Jeff calls, 'caught up and cleaned up.' It's a pleasant challenge. I really thrive on addressing those needs and coming up with a professional set of books."

Saving the Day

One of those "caught up and cleaned up" situations came about with a client that had become overwhelmed by managing its books. Laura sorted through about 10 credit card and bank accounts along with thousands of transactions to identify business expenses for the client's 2013 tax returns. It was the type of task that a non-bookkeeper would find impossible to complete.

"It's a great feeling when you're able to do that for a client," says Laura. "Saving the client a significant amount of money and directly affecting their bottom line is the kind of impact you generally can't make in the corporate world. You get to see the tangible benefits of your work here, and that's very satisfying."

We're thrilled to have Laura as part of our Stamford team and look forward to her serving many more happy clients for years to come.

To learn more about our team, visit our Meet Our Team page.

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Jeff Coombs of Stamford, Conn., Office Celebrates First Anniversary

November 4, 2014 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Franchises, Stamford, CT

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Jeff_CoombsLast year, Supporting Strategies began offering franchise opportunities. Earlier this month, Jeff Coombs of Stamford, Conn., our first franchisee, celebrated his first year in business. He's building an impressive success story for our other franchisees to emulate.

Jeff didn't come to Supporting Strategies with an accounting background. He studied engineering at Purdue University — an experience he says "teaches you how to solve problems." In 1994 he cofounded the business managing consulting firm RainmakerThinking, Inc. While his partner focused on writing books and giving speeches, Jeff served as COO and managed operations back in the office.

"It was a great fit for me and taught me a lot about running a small business," he says. "I did everything from doing the books to the sales to the website, just like a lot of people in small businesses. Looking back, it has really helped me understand where my clients at Supporting Strategies are coming from and what kinds of issues they face."

Ready for Something New

After two decades at RainmakerThinking, Jeff was ready to try something new on his own. His sister-in-law, who owns a Boston-area medical practice that is a Supporting Strategies client, mentioned that we were looking for franchisees. Right away, he was intrigued.

"I am good with numbers and have a lot of experience managing people and running a small business, so it seemed like a great fit," he says. "Plus, after doing a little research, I saw that CPAs in my area generally don't offer bookkeeping services. Almost all of the referrals I get now come from CPAs."

Jeff signed on with Supporting Strategies and opened his business following Labor Day 2013. When his first associate left unexpectedly (her husband was transferred to London), Jeff rolled up his sleeves to manage a client's bookkeeping himself, which allowed him to pick up some valuable hands-on training.

Today, Jeff manages all of Stamford's clients and has three associates working for him. He hopes to promote one of those associates to manager by the end of the year so that he can focus on business development. His 21 clients include small businesses across a variety of industries.

"My goal is to have 50 clients by the end of our second year, and I think that's realistic, assuming I can be on business development full-time beginning in 2015," he says.

A Strong Support System for Franchisees

Jeff appreciates the support system that is part of the franchise arrangement. We help franchisees with various aspects of recruiting new hires and even refer prospects (which is how Jeff landed his first client).

"Their relationships with vendors are very helpful, too," he says. "One time, late on a Friday night, I got a call from a client struggling with Bill.com. I reached out to [Supporting Strategies CEO] Leslie Jorgensen. She contacted Bill.com, and the issue was resolved within an hour. I couldn't have done that on my own."

We're pleased Jeff has had such a great experience with Supporting Strategies and hope he'll be with us for many years to come.

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