Podcast: The Visionary and Powering Through Burnout

Podcast: The Visionary and Powering Through Burnout

We are excited to share with you a transcript from a recent podcast episode in which our founder, Sharai Lavoie, was interviewed by Julie Bee on her show “They Don’t Teach This in Business School.” In this insightful and inspiring conversation, Sharai shares her experiences in powering through burnout, the transformation in how she defines success, and the importance of her team at Lavoie CPA PLLC. We believe you will find valuable insights and advice from Sharai’s journey as a business owner, visionary, and community leader. Visit this link to listen.

In this podcast episode, we talked about:

  • Powering through burnout
  • Transformation in defining success
  • Importance of a strong team
  • Monetizing passions and interests
  • Community involvement and charitable efforts
  • Balancing visionary work with daily operations
  • The value of key employees
  • Resilience and dedication of the team
  • Managing workload and personal growth
  • Coping with burnout through spirituality and determination


[00:00:00] Julie Bee – Host: On today’s episode, I talk with Sharai Lavoie about powering through burnout, the transformation, and how she defined it. And the importance of her team. I’m Julie B, and they don’t teach this in business school.

[00:00:16] Midroll Spot: Every week, Julie sends out big ideas and easy actions that help elevate your business. She also shares some awesomeness happening in the business community.

Make sure to subscribe to the Be Awesome brief@bjulieb.com.

[00:00:34] Julie Bee – Host: Hey there, I’m Julie B, and this is, They Don’t Teach This In Business School. On this podcast, we discussed the behind-the-scenes of being a business owner. Today I’m really excited to interview Sharai Lavoie, the CEO of Lavoie, CPA. And I’m really looking forward to this because I know we’re gonna have some really fun conversations and also learn a lot about being a business owner.

So Sharai, thanks for being here. And yeah, [00:01:00] why don’t you just, let’s start off with telling me about your business and your role in the business.

[00:01:04] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: So we’ve been around for over 13 years now, going on 14 years. And we are a financial operations management firm. We don’t do taxes, and we don’t do an audit. We do partner with different firms on that side of things, depending on the size of the company or client that we’re working with.

But we focus on outsourced accounting. We lovingly call it accounting as a service. Sorry. , you may see our branding that says AAS or Get Your AAS in Gear. Mm-hmm. So that’s a A A S on that side. But we also sell and implement technology, and we have a consulting side where we do project work, system selection, process improvement, due diligence work, and quality of earnings work on that side of things.

So it’s a lot going on, but it all intertwines into each other. I thoroughly enjoy it. So I’m responsible for the direction, the [00:02:00] business development, the pivots that happen all the time. Mm-hmm. , staffing, and everything, and I have an absolutely fabulous team. That helps.

[00:02:10] Julie Bee – Host: So That’s awesome. So what is your favorite part about being a business owner?

[00:02:16] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: You know what, it’s because my favorite part of being a business owner is that I get to monetize what I love to do. I love to help people. I love to clean stuff up. I love to see things get going, and I love to see reimagine life. What could be, what’s the, what’s the next level, what could be, and I love all that stuff.

And being a business owner and what we do allows me to do that in multiple places and with multiple people. And apply lessons learned. So that part of it I love. And I also love being able to use our organization for community [00:03:00] good and charitable purposes too, because I, that’s a big part of me in this.

I think having that extension of the business is really good too.

[00:03:09] Julie Bee – Host: So I wanna ask you a question about the work that you described. I, I would put into the class the visionary elements of being a business owner. How do you make sure that you have the time, the space, and the capacity to actually do that work?

Because I know for a lot of business owners, that’s so often the stuff that gets put aside or put on the back burner, even though it’s probably the most important work we can do. How do you make sure that you have the capacity to do those things?

[00:03:38] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: If we’re talking about for me. Mm-hmm. Yeah, for the company, that’s an ongoing thing.

Sometimes that happens on Saturdays, but honestly, it happens all the time. And so I’ve tried to get into a habit of writing those things down instead of thinking that I have to have focus time because those visionary things are [00:04:00] things I get to do with my clients. Mm-hmm. But when it comes to it, it’s kinda like the carpenter’s house, right?

Mm-hmm. , when it comes to your own, You kind of ignore it sometimes, but it always comes back when you step on that nail, and you’re like, I gotta get that done. Mm-hmm. So for that, I think about it all the time. I doubt if there’s a time that I’m not thinking about it. Mm-hmm. , because I always tell the staff, like, I’m already over there.

I’m just trying to get things done so that you guys can get over there with me, and so I’m usually always thinking about those things. They’re always in the back of my mind. It’s just that I don’t necessarily say I’m gonna block two hours to. Think about this today, which I probably should, but I don’t.

[00:04:46] Julie Bee – Host: Whatever works as long as we’re getting to it. I think that that’s the main thing. I think, you know, there’s a lot of systems and processes out there, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good system and a good process, but I think you have to find, you know, you find pieces and parts of what’s offered out [00:05:00] there and make it work for you, and you kind of create your own process along the way.

So I think as long as you’re doing the work you love to do and getting to be that visionary, that’s what really.

[00:05:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: Yeah, I would agree with that.

[00:05:11] Julie Bee – Host: Totally. You’ve mentioned your team several times, and would you talk a little bit about how important your key employees are to you and maybe also some moments that you’re particularly proud of that they’ve, that they’ve done over the past year or so?

[00:05:27] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I take my team very seriously. I guess I could say they’re extremely important cause there’s no way you. The firm would be where it is right now. I would be where I am right, right now without them. Mm-hmm. , and you know, we do have some very key employees, but everybody plays a part. I always try to make sure everybody understands that no matter what you’re doing, you’re playing a huge part in a much bigger picture.

And so to take that as seriously as you possibly can [00:06:00] is what we should do. And I would have to say that, you know, Matt Dewal has been instrumental. Mm-hmm. in a lot of that too. And he has just really, we play off each other very well. Be it, him being part of the team has just made a huge difference and allowed us to do some really good springboarding on that side. And we always have these aha moments where we’re texting each other back and forth about the next thing to do. So they have been, they’re kind of everything, and I, I let them know that I really do care about them and I care about their development and. Being at OI isn’t what’s the best thing for them.

I wanna see what’s best for them. And so I don’t take that part personally because I actually care about the individual, and I want what’s best for the individual.

[00:06:55] Julie Bee – Host: Is there anything that you can think of off the top of your head that you’re particularly proud of [00:07:00] your team?

[00:07:01] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: They’re resilient.

I would say I am so proud of their resilience and, actually, their service. If there’s anything community-wise, or client-wise, it doesn’t matter what it is; they are willing to jump in. And help out in any way. And it’s like 800 times outside of the scope of our work, but they will still jump in to help.

And that is, I think that says a lot about them, but they’re extremely proud of that.

[00:07:36] Midroll Spot: Julie has spoken to countless organizations for 13 years on topics including leadership, management, employee engagement, and. Workplace culture, small business ownership, and entrepreneurship. If you’d like it, an engaging, relatable, and inspiring speaker for your next event.

Book Julie to speak to your group for more details@thejulieb.com. [00:08:00] [00:08:00] Julie Bee – Host: Hey, this is Julie Bee, and you’re listening to They Don’t Teach This and Business School. I’m here today with Sharai Lavoie. Hopefully, I said that right. This time I’m getting closer. , we were laughing. Yes. Before we were laughing before. Because I, I’ve known you for many years, and I’ve been mispronouncing your name, and it’s, I feel bad, but you know, you, you, you live and learn.

But anyways, I wanted to ask you, you know, we’ve talked about it.

[00:08:24] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: That doesn’t mean I love you any less. Julie.

[00:08:26] Julie Bee – Host: I love you too, and I’m so glad I finally asked you to pronounce your name for me. You know, I think we, we, I can’t remember exactly where we met. I think we met through a networking event, and then we did 10 K s B.

You know, we’ve both gone through the 10k, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and we’ve talked several times, but I’ve never asked you to say your name for me. I always just knew your name, and so I would come in thinking, I, thinking I knew how to say your name. So anyway, it’s just these funny little things in business.

After 14 years, you think, I know, think you would have it figured out. [00:09:00] Sharai, I wanted to ask you, you know, we talked about some of the fun stuff about being a business owner, but I wanted to make sure to ask you if you have any, any experience with going through burnout as a business owner, and if you’d be willing to share any of those stories.


[00:09:13] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I probably go through a regular cycle of burnout, but burnout is what then pushes me to the next level of things because one thing that I did determine When I get to burnout and I don’t address it, I will probably be in therapy every two seconds along that side. So I finally decided that you know what?

I have got to put my big girl panties on and get through this on that side. I am a spiritual person, believe it or not, and so I’m like, you know what, guys got me this far. He’s gonna get me through the rest. I can have me. Pity party if that’s what I wanna do because that’s the selfishness of what I wanna do.

But at the same [00:10:00] time, I should always have a plan A, B, and C. Mm-hmm. And so if A doesn’t work, I go to B. If B doesn’t work, I go to C. And if C doesn’t work, I go back. I. Always stay in prayer, but I go to prayer. Mm-hmm. , and then, you know, a comes back up again. So burnout is something I think, as a business owner, you will always experience just because of all the things that are on your shoulders.

Right. I’ve just come to the conclusion that I have to; I can sit in it for a minute, but that’s all I have is a minute. I don’t have any longer than that because I don’t want it to paralyze me. Mm-hmm. Personally and mentally, I don’t want it to paralyze the business, so I have to figure out a way to get out of that.

Mm-hmm. And for me, it’s more on a spiritual level because it’s more of, you have to get this. If the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me, I can’t. And so [00:11:00] motivation. Yep. Great. Yeah. If you tell me, no, that’s not suited for you, or no, you can’t mm-hmm. , I will put it in your face every time. So that is the quickest way to get me to do something.

But, so because that drives me, and that sense of things is my own internal overachievement wanting to accomplish. Burnout becomes something that I know is gonna happen. Mm-hmm. , but I also have started conditioning myself as to how to push through it. And I hope that answers your question.

[00:11:34] Julie Bee – Host: I have a couple of follow-up questions, but that is pretty much the summary of what I hope business owners see after they read the book that I’ve written about burnout when it comes out next year.

But it sounds like you have accepted that burnout is going to be part of your life. Usually, on the other side of getting through burnout, you might have a breakthrough in the business of some sort. Is that fair? Are those fair statements? That is very

[00:11:58] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: fair. Yeah. [00:12:00] Very fair.

[00:12:00] Julie Bee – Host: How do you recognize that you’re in burnout?

Like, what, what is going on in your, you know, in your, just in your mind or in your, in your body or whatever? Like how do you know you’re

[00:12:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: in burnout? I know I’m in burnout when everything is irritating. I am very much a person who, if you can’t have fun doing it, you shouldn’t be doing it. Mm-hmm. At all. I mean, nothing should feel like work.

It shouldn’t feel like work. And if it feels like work, you probably need to do something else. And when it starts feeling like work and things are irritating me. I know I’m getting to that place of burnout because I’m not already iterating on the next thing so that it doesn’t irritate me. Mm-hmm. And so that’s how I know that I’m getting there.

Mm-hmm. And I know, okay, I need to take a moment. And get this together, even if that’s staying here at the office after everyone is left so I can have my little pity cry [00:13:00] party and then go home to my family whole mm-hmm. , then that’s what I need to do. But that’s, those are the triggers that. I know that when it’s coming.

I know it’s coming.

[00:13:11] Julie Bee – Host: You know, you also said something really important there, Sherry, about if you know it’s coming, but you might stay at the office and work late. And I think the reason I wanna highlight that very particular point is I’ve had a burnout that’s put me into that I, that I went to the emergency room for because I thought I had a heart attack.

Ha. It was a panic attack. And the cardiologist I saw basically said, do less. You know, take a vacation, take a break, take it, take it a little easier. Which is not bad advice, right? It’s not bad advice. And telling a business owner that is like just. Pouring gasoline on a fire. It’s so important to recognize that in yourself that if you know, working through whatever the problem [00:14:00] is, or spending a little bit more time at work might be the way that you actually get on the other side of burnout is so.

Crucial. I just wanted to the point that out because I think that’s very important. I

[00:14:10] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I agree with you because I love what you said about it; it’s like pouring gasoline on the fire. Mm-hmm. Because if you tell me if I know I’m at that point and you’re like, okay, you just need to disconnect. Well, when I disconnect and go on vacation, guess what I’m thinking about the whole time?

Every single. The thing that I know is gonna be there when I get back. And if I can just carve out 15 minutes, I can get this part done. I can address this. Whereas if you just come up with a plan to get yourself to a good point and then go on vacation, then you can breathe. Mm-hmm. And when people tell you to disconnect and do all these things, it’s easy to say it.

It. A hundred percent harder to do when you know that you’ve left strings loose. And also [00:15:00] when you know that. Your team isn’t at their peak where they, you know, it’s covered like when you get back. It’s not gonna be if you disconnect; I find it very hard to completely disconnect. But if you do disconnect when you come back, that it’s not gonna be a tsunami, right.

Of things that are coming at you. Because, for me, that creates anxiety. Like that part. So for me, just powering through it, getting to a good point, and then I can not let that be a worry in my mind and lose sleep over it. And then

[00:15:33] Julie Bee – Host: you could actually start recovering from burnout,

[00:15:35] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: basically. Exactly. Yeah.


[00:15:37] Midroll Spot: Each and every week, Julie sends out big ideas and easy actions that help elevate yours. She’ll also share some awesomeness happening in the business community. Don’t miss out. Subscribe to the B awesome breed@djulieb.com.

[00:15:55] Julie Bee – Host: You’re listening to They Don’t Teach This in Business School, and I’m the host, Julie Bee, I [00:16:00] wanted to ask you, so we just talked about some deep stuff about burnout, and I wanted to ask you something that, that hopefully is a little bit lighter.

How do you define it?

[00:16:13] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: It is an ongoing conversation.

[00:16:16] Julie Bee – Host: I asked the deep questions here. That’s what I do.

[00:16:18] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: You do? That is like an ongoing conversation. You know what? I’m here, and I’m still standing, and that should be successful enough, really, honestly. But I will admit, honestly, for me, it’s not mm-hmm. , but it should be.

Mm-hmm. and that is something that I have to. Keep grounded in that, my level of success and my picture of success. Who I know I am and who I wanna be may not be someone else’s. Mm-hmm. , um, just because of who I am. Honestly, I reiterate success all the time because I think it’s its levels to it.

Mm-hmm. And. When you’re at [00:17:00] different points in your life, success looks different. Mm-hmm. for you? In my thirties, it looked different. I’m still in my thirties. Mm-hmm.

That’s awesome. I just perpetually stay in my thirties. Yeah, that’s right. That’s how you do it. But it just looks, it looks different all the time for me. I don’t hang my hat anymore on. A revenue number. I don’t hang my hat anymore on a number of employees or anything like that because success is way more encompassing in my total self versus just what I do, which is one question I hate when people ask what I do.

I’m more than just that.

[00:17:46] Julie Bee – Host: Oh, yeah. No, I hear you. I’m, I’ve, I’m, yes,. I’m going through that struggle right now, trying to figure out and tell people what I actually do these days. It sounded like there was a time when revenue, a number, number of employees was. [00:18:00] The definition of success and a transition has happened.

Can you talk a little bit about that transition or that transformation?

[00:18:07] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: It was more around; I think that transformation happened when you observed. So I’m a big people, watcher, observer kind of person. Mm-hmm. And have always been, but I found it very interesting, the people that I observed where they had.

What I would’ve considered a success at that time. Mm-hmm. Like, oh my God, I gotta get there. Mm-hmm. But then you look at the fallout, and you look at everything around it, and you look at it, at least for me, I looked at it in the sense of, is that really where I wanna be? And if it means that having that means all the other things, I don’t.

Like there’s a, there’s a sense of core self that, like, I don’t want it, like I’ve fought very hard to just really. [00:19:00] Pivot me to just being comfortable with just being myself and not what other people expect me to be on that side. And so it just kind of became, do I wanna give up that sense of myself for that?

And do I have to? Because a lot of times you don’t have to. It just means that it’s gonna be a lot slower for you, and that’s okay. And I’m okay with that, so, but I don’t ever want to. Lose myself and lose my grounding in the pursuit of something that once I have it, you just kind of have all these other things that I regret.

Mm-hmm. or you think about constantly of things you would’ve done differently.

[00:19:42] Julie Bee – Host: Boy, that’s an excellent answer. I, I went through that whole thing too, and I think most business owners do, whereas, oh, you.

[00:19:48] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: do get to, ’cause, in your head, you’re Martin Zuckerberg.

[00:19:51] Julie Bee – Host: Yeah. Get into X number of revenue or X number of employees.

And then what really, and I actually just had this transition last year [00:20:00] where I, I finally realized that the achievement of a goal does not define if I’m successful or not, because as soon as I achieve a. I’m like, okay, what’s next? Like, I, I, you know, I might celebrate like this, this much, but it, it’s almost like the next day I’m thinking to myself, okay, what’s the next goal?

Like, what’s the next step in this process? So I spent a lot of time last year redefining what success looks like for me outside of any goal. So, it’s, you know, laughing and being happy and being able to be me and doing things that I love because I, I, I feel for people whose only definition of success is external goals.

Because I feel like they never, they probably never feel successful because they’re always trying to get to the next thing.

[00:20:46] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I found success when I learned how to train myself to make a really good pound cake, so that was a success for me too. ,

[00:20:55] Julie Bee – Host: I could make a Turkey. Oh my gosh, my Turkey is, my [00:21:00] Turkey is really, really, really requested on all the major holidays, said, I’m like, that is the kind of stuff that makes me feel successful as a human being.


[00:21:10] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: you go. Like the joy in everything out that, right? That

[00:21:15] Julie Bee – Host: is where it is. Oh, man. This has been such a good conversation, but I just have one more question I wanna ask you today. If you were asked to teach a class about being a business owner to future business owners and future entrepreneurs, what is the one thing that you would want them to learn from your class?

That is

[00:21:35] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: such a loaded question, Julie. If you

[00:21:37] Julie Bee – Host: have maybe two, two or three things, that’s fine

[00:21:39] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: too. That is crazy because I don’t know that you can teach it. Honestly, I, I honestly don’t know that you could teach it. The only thing that I would say that would be a takeaway from. Class I taught on it, so to speak, would be to make sure you’re comfortable with asking for help.

Hmm. [00:22:00] A lot of times, as business owners, we think we can do everything. We know everything. We don’t need to listen to anybody because we got it figured out, and then crisis mode hits. Be comfortable asking for help and ask for help before you need it. That is very key. And also learn how to give yourself.

You’re gonna ha you’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna have oops moments. You’re gonna have times when you’re like, I probably should have done that differently, that kind of thing. But allow yourself some grace with that because you’re not perfect. And even though someone may be looking to you to be that you’re not.

Yeah. And you gotta, you gotta own that. Mm-hmm. Off. and if you own that off top, it’ll make your life so much easier.

[00:22:50] Julie Bee – Host: Wow. Well, yeah, I think we are going to wrap it up right there, Sohar. I have really enjoyed this conversation so much. I’m so glad we finally got it. Got it on [00:23:00] here. Got it recorded. Yes,. I know the, uh, business owners that will listen to this will enjoy it as well.

I really want to thank you for being on the show.

[00:23:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: Well, thank you for having me, and thank you for picking, putting up with my crazy schedule to get this done. So I truly appreciate you for that. You

[00:23:18] Julie Bee – Host: you are welcome. And that is it for this episode, but stay tuned because I’ll be back with more lessons learned on the business owner’s journey.

I’m Julie Bee, and they don’t teach this in business school.

In Closing

We hope you enjoyed this insightful conversation between Sharai Lavoie and Julie Bee on “They Don’t Teach This in Business School.” Sharai’s experiences in overcoming burnout, redefining success, and the importance of teamwork serve as a testament to the resilience and dedication that has made Lavoie CPA PLLC the successful firm it is today. If you’d like to learn more about our services or get in touch with our team, please visit our website. As always, we are committed to helping businesses and individuals achieve their financial goals and look forward to serving you.

How Trenches Consulting Entered Growth Mode With Lavoie CPA

“The real success was having that partner to talk through the tough times, to handle some of the adversity, and to identify and problem-solve together—some of the things that make running the business easier”

Brad Olecki, CEO and founder of Trenches Consulting


Trenches Consulting


Sports Marketing

From supply chain delays to worker shortages, many businesses have been operating in survival mode since early 2020. But for consulting companies that require each marketing campaign to deliver a solid return on investment (ROI), the survival mode gains a new dimension.

In a recent Hubspot marketing survey, 28% of marketers cited ROI as their top challenge in 2021, while another 21% expect ROI concerns to be their biggest issue in 2022 and beyond. Marketing companies can’t afford to have even a single campaign fall flat. By partnering with a financial consultant, these companies regain the time and mental energy needed to strategize and implement successful promotions.

We recently caught up with Brad Olecki, CEO and founder of Trenches Consulting, who shared how Lavoie CPA provided some much-needed financial guidance for his sports marketing company. Olecki explained how Lavoie helped Trenches gain its financial bearings and made time for senior leadership to do what they do best—making connections between brands and fans.

The Client

Atlanta-based Trenches Sports & Entertainment focuses on consulting and sales for marketing, advertising, and sponsorships in the entertainment space. Trenches tracks down sponsorships that create value for its clients, delivers brand exposure through high-profile events, and prides itself on pairing the right brands with the right partners.

Trenches knows all too well the challenges marketers face today. With the value of sponsorships constantly changing, Trenches is always on the lookout for unique partnerships that can connect top brands to their target audience.

The Challenges

With the current state of fast-paced marketing strategies, it can be tough for consultants to isolate areas they need to develop for higher growth. What’s even more difficult is trying to strategize and attract key clients while also handling financial nuts and bolts–like invoicing, growth projection, and tax planning.

Like many startups, Trenches had been managing its own finances through Quickbooks. While it has its place for general bookkeeping, Quickbooks can’t handle the big-picture planning and projection that today’s marketing companies need.
As Olecki explained, he was “just kind of bumbling my way through it, not really being effective,” when a business partner recommended Lavoie CPA. After connecting with Shari and the Lavoie team, Olecki realized how much a deep dive into Trenches’ finances would help shape the business. With Quickbooks, Olecki said, “there was no personality. There was no expert tied to it. It was limited to my knowledge and expertise,” he laughed, “which I’ve told Shari on multiple occasions I have none of when it comes to the financial space!”

Not only did Trenches need help chasing down outstanding invoices and receivables, but after spending two years in survivor mode during the pandemic, it was ready to start growing again. This meant getting a big-picture view of income and outflow, profitability, and ROI.

Lavoie helped Olecki and other Trenches leadership pursue some of the federal benefits available to businesses, including PPP loans and Employee Retention Credits (ERCs) under the CARES ACT. “These things weren’t necessarily on my radar,” said Olecki. “Lavoie provided me with the tools and the information in the background that I needed to grow and scale.”

The Solution

“A key component to the success we had working with Lavoie is that Shari understood the challenges we faced,” Olecki said. “She has an entrepreneurial spirit and approached things much like we do at Trenches, which is very, very important.” He continued, “the real success was having that partner to talk through the tough times, to handle some of the adversity, and to identify and problem-solve together—some of the things that make running the business easier.”

Along with PPP and CARES Act benefits, Trenches was able to improve its cash flow by following up on delinquent accounts while also collecting the data needed to assess its financial standing, tax liability, and other key metrics. Having this information made it far easier to run growth projections and get a better grasp on the company’s finances. And when it comes to the ROI of marketing campaigns, solid financials make it far easier to drill down into what works and what doesn’t.

“Partnering with Lavoie allowed me to do what I do best, which is run our key services and offerings,” said Olecki. “I rely on them to do a lot of that administrative work that would have fallen apart under my guys if I didn’t add it on.” Olecki noted that he “really loves the flexibility that came with Lavoie working to fit us, as opposed to us having to fit into a box they already had.”

When asked what’s next for Trenches, Olecki replied, “I think we want to continue to build and sustain… we now can enter into a little more of a growth model mindset.” From helping Trenches optimize its cash flow and develop an exit plan to strategizing new financial opportunities, the Lavoie team is glad to be along for the ride.

At Lavoie, we combine technology and strategic thinking to give you the full picture of your business—past, present, and future. Give us a call at (704) 481-6699 or fill out the contact form to talk about how Lavoie can help your growth strategies.

How the Whitener Company Gained Clarity With Lavoie CPA

“[Lavoie] really allowed us an opportunity to not only have a better understanding and clarity for all our own businesses, but other investment opportunities—we can gain an understanding of a business if that’s something we want to pursue.”

Brett Thomason, COO of the Whitener Company


The Whitener Company


Business Management Consulting

When you have a business, you need solid, organized financials that allow you to make accurate reports to your partners, investors, and regulators. Outsourced accounting services build on this base, providing consistency in the quality of their services that helps companies get a new perspective on their businesses.

The Whitener Company recently gained new insight into its key performance metrics through its decision to use outsourced accounting. This decision gave the company’s leaders a whole new outlook on its financials and made room for the discovery of new opportunities. We caught up with Brett Thomason, COO of the Whitener Company, on how Lavoie CPA is helping the firm vet its growth opportunities and map out its five-year plan.

The Client

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Whitener Company helps businesses through their growth stages, setting the groundwork for long-term success. This company handles everything from infrastructure and financial modeling to marketing and growth planning, acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and executive training.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO Gordon Whitener and COO Thomason, the Whitener Company has expanded to create the Whitener Entertainment Group (WEG), an Emmy® and Clio® Award-winning production company that specializes in innovative film, television, and digital concepts.

The Whitener Company and WEG helped bring one of Burt Reynolds’s last movies, “The Last Movie Star,” to life. Longtime Reynolds fan Adam Rifkin wrote the movie in the mid-2000s but spent more than seven years getting it funded. After the Whitener Company stepped in and secured funding—with CEO Gordon Whitener as a producer and COO Brett Thomason as executive producer—the movie was filmed in Knoxville, a city Reynolds later profusely praised.

The Challenges

As the Whitener Company continued to gain market share and recognition, it became tougher to get a real-time picture of the company’s strength and trajectory. “I think, like everybody else, we needed a better financial plan,” Thomason said. “We had to have better clarity on what we were doing. We really needed to see not just what’s happening right now, but to try to put together a plan to make a clear picture for the next year, three years, five years.”

And with seven of every 10 businesses failing within the first five years, mostly due to planning failures such as a lack of strategy, no business plan, and limited vision, having a solid financial plan can often be the key to longevity. Without Lavoie’s services, Thomason says, “we wouldn’t have maximized the profit we need to efficiently run a business.”

The Solution

Thomason explained that using Lavoie’s financial reporting services “really allowed us an opportunity to not only have a better understanding and clarity for all our own businesses, but other investment opportunities—we can gain an understanding of a business if that’s something we want to pursue.”

Outsourcing their accounting provided the Whitener Company with customized reports truly tailored to specific business needs as well as personal guidance from professionals. “Ultimately, we wanted someone who can have a hands-on engagement strategy,” Thomason said. “But also someone you don’t need to handhold… someone who, after the initial onboarding, you can trust to do what they need to do.”

Another distinct benefit of outsourced accounting is the consistency it provides. “Whether it’s a company of 10 people or a company of thousands,” mused Thomason, “that’s the benefit of being able to grow and scale.”

And the Whitener Company knows that the costliest solution isn’t necessarily the best one—you need to find the right fit. As Thomason described, “[Lavoie] had an understanding of the different businesses we’re involved in. They’re delivering some of the best results in the business. So for us, since we had such a vast array of investments and opportunity, it actually ended up being a better opportunity for us to use someone and the resources that are available through their network.”

Successful Outcomes

By tracking key data on its mergers, acquisitions, and business sales, the Whitener Company has gained new insight into performance metrics for the company itself and its potential acquisitions.

“Within the first year,” explained Thomason, “there were at least an additional three to four entities and businesses that we would not have been able to properly vet or even begin conversations with if we had not had Lavoie available to do evaluation processes for us—engagements, projections, things of that nature.”

At Lavoie, our goal is to be a business’s go-to source for financial reporting and accounting management. Lavoie serves as your company’s finance department, up to and including CFO stewardship. Give us a call at (704) 481-6699 or fill out our contact form talk about how Lavoie can help give your company clarity.

Harmonizing Automation and Human Expertise in Financial Planning and Accounting

Harmonizing Automation and Human Expertise in Financial Planning and Accounting

Technology for Financial Planning and Accounting

Automation and technology have become increasingly important in the world of financial planning and accounting. The rise of technology has introduced numerous innovative tools and software solutions designed to streamline tasks and improve precision in financial planning and accounting. While automation excels in repetitive tasks and data entry, it is imperative to recognize that human expertise is still required for interpreting data, offering insights, and making strategic decisions. Financial professionals must acknowledge that technology should complement, rather than replace, their skills and knowledge.

One of the key benefits of technology in financial planning and accounting is its ability to automate repetitive tasks and streamline processes. For example, software programs can automate data entry, reconciliation, and reporting. This not only saves time and reduces errors, but it also frees up CPAs to focus on higher-level tasks such as analysis and strategic decision-making.

Technology also provides tools for data visualization and analysis. With the ability to collect and analyze large amounts of data, financial professionals can gain insights that were once impossible to obtain. This allows CPAs to provide better advice to clients, make more informed decisions, and identify opportunities for growth and improvement.

However, it is important to remember that technology is not infallible. While software programs can perform tasks with incredible accuracy, they are only as good as the data they are fed. It is up to people to ensure that the data being input is accurate and complete. It is up to CPAs to interpret the data and provide insights based on their expertise and experience.

The Importance of a Personal Touch

When it comes to financial planning and accounting, there is often a personal element involved. Clients want to feel like they are working with someone who understands their unique needs and goals. While automation has proven valuable in handling data entry and generating reports, it falls short in delivering a personalized approach to financial planning and accounting. This is an area where human expertise truly shines, as it encompasses several critical aspects:

  • Building Relationships with Clients: Developing trust and rapport with clients is essential in the financial planning and accounting sphere. It is the human touch that fosters lasting professional relationships, ensuring clients feel valued and understood.
  • Understanding Client Goals and Concerns: A personalized approach requires a deep comprehension of each client’s financial objectives, risk tolerance, and concerns. Human professionals can empathize and adapt their advice to match the client’s unique financial situation, which is beyond the scope of automation.
  • Providing Tailored Advice and Solutions: Financial planning and accounting professionals can create customized strategies and solutions that align with their clients’ specific needs, preferences, and circumstances. Automation, on the other hand, may lack the flexibility and adaptability necessary to address the nuanced complexities of individual financial situations.

The Value of Human Expertise

While automation can handle many tasks, there are some things that only humans can do. For example, financial planning and accounting often require expert analysis and interpretation of data. This involves not only understanding the numbers, but also understanding the broader economic and market trends that can impact a client’s financial situation. Additionally, human expertise is important when it comes to identifying opportunities for cost savings and improving financial performance.

Balancing Accounting Efficiency With Quality

While automation can improve efficiency and save time, it is important not to sacrifice quality in the process. Financial planning and accounting services require accuracy and attention to detail, and it is important to ensure that these standards are met even when using automated tools. This requires a careful balance between using technology to streamline processes and maintaining a high level of quality and accuracy.

The Future of Financial Planning and Accounting

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that automation will play an increasingly important role in financial planning and accounting services. However, it is important to remember that people will always be necessary to interpret the data, provide insights, and make strategic decisions. The key is to find a balance between people and automation that allows for efficient, accurate, and personalized financial planning and accounting services. Outsource you financial planning and accounting to Lavoie CPA to see how combining the right technology with human expertise can benefit your business.

What Is a 10x Valuation System? (+ Advantages and  Strategies to Implement Effectively)

What Is a 10x Valuation System? (+ Advantages and  Strategies to Implement Effectively)


A 10x valuation system refers to a method where a company’s investors are willing to pay up to 10 times the company’s current worth due to its potential for rapid growth and profitability.

It has gained popularity in recent years, particularly amongst startups because it attracts investments and positions businesses for long-term success.

In this blog post, you’ll learn what the 10x valuation system is, and understand how it works. We will also explore the advantages and disadvantages, and also look at some examples of companies that have successfully implemented it.

What Is a 10x Valuation System?

A 10x valuation system is one where investors are willing to pay 10 times a company’s worth. However, its success and implementation depend on factors like industry and competition. Other common valuation methods include:

  • Asset valuation: This is calculated based on assets belonging to a business
  • Relative valuation: This is calculated by comparing the assets of a similar business
  • Historical earnings valuation: This is calculated based on a business’s cash flow, gross income, and ability to repay debt

Advantages of Using a 10x Valuation System

1. High ROI for Investors

The system provides high returns for investors as companies who have adopted it focus more on long-term growth rather than quick wins (which have proven to be detrimental). An example is the fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos.

It allows companies to set high goals and develop strategies for achieving them, increasing the chances of generating substantial returns for investors.

2. Encourages a Focus on Building the Right Business Model

It also encourages the development of a business model that’s sustainable and scalable with the potential to generate high ROIs.

The 10x valuation system gives companies a deep understanding of their finances, revenue structure, and cash flow. This allows them to mitigate risks and set their business for potential long-term success.

Examples of successful business models include:

  • Subscription-based models
  • Freemium models
  • On-demand models

3. Attracts Top-Tier Investors

The system attracts top-tier investors due to its ability to project promising financial growth. It shows that a company can take a significant share of the market comfortably.

A 10x valuation system allows brands to attract investors willing to pay a premium for the next big thing in their industries as they are always on the lookout for companies with the potential to become dominant players in their field.

4. It Rewards Creativity and Innovation

The system also rewards creativity and innovation by forcing companies to pursue different problem-solving approaches. It encourages companies to explore new markets while thinking creatively about how to address the needs of those markets to reach 10x their worth.

It also encourages companies to take risks and experiment with new models that focus on sustainable long-term growth. Additionally, it creates a culture of innovation within a company where employees think creatively to come up with new ideas to help the company grow, and stay ahead of its competitors.

Challenges and Limitations of using a 10x Valuation System

1. Requires a High Level of Growth and Scalability

While the 10x valuation system has numerous advantages, it might be difficult for some companies to implement. The level of growth required makes it difficult for companies operating in markets with limited growth opportunities to adopt it successfully.

Additionally, achieving high levels of growth and scalability requires significant investments in research and marketing. This poses a problem for businesses unable to access the funds for these investments. The pressure forces companies to acquire additional debt, or dilute their equity to raise capital – which creates financial risks over the long term.

2. Not Effective For all Types of Businesses

Implementing the system is also not successful for all types of businesses because of the market size and differences in risk tolerance.

Businesses that are unwilling to take risks will not be a great fit for the 10x valuation system as it requires taking calculated risks and investing significantly in research and marketing.

3. Can Lead to Overvaluation and Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes predictions about growth rates and a business’ market capitalization are wrong. Market dynamics might change, and new competitors with better UVPs can spring up.

The system also expects companies to attain high growth rates very quickly, typically within months or a couple of years. However, building a sustainable business takes time, and such expectations might not be met.

Companies valued under this system may face significant pressure from investors. This might lead to aggressive growth strategies that can pose potential financial risks for everyone involved.

Strategies for Implementing a 10x Valuation System

1. Identify a Large and Growing Market

Since the 10x valuation system rates businesses based on their potential to achieve significant growth, companies need to identify large and growing markets where they can capture significant shares of the market. This lays the foundation for development and attracts investors on the lookout for high-growth opportunities.

To recognize large and growing markets, companies should conduct extensive research to understand the dynamics of each market and its unique trends.

2. Build a Strong Team of Individuals with a Proven Track Record

Another strategy necessary to implement this system is building a team of individuals with track records of success. A strong team possesses the necessary skills and expertise needed to execute strategies successfully. Proven track records indicate that team members can deliver results.

Investors prefer to work with companies possessing strong teams because they have proven abilities to execute growth strategies successfully.

3. Focus on Innovation and Disruption

Focusing on innovation and disruption is an effective strategy for implementing this system as companies that bring groundbreaking products and services to the market experience exponential growth. They carve out a niche for themselves in the market, and competitors find it difficult to replicate their successes.

To do this, you’ll need to challenge the status quo of traditional industries by taking a fresh perspective on marketing and product design or introducing new technologies that challenge established players in the market.

4. Implement a Scalable Business Model

A scalable business model is one that can easily be replicated and expanded as the company grows. This involves finding better ways and strategies to market and using the right advertising channels and methods.

A scalable business model has underlying profitability, a strong distribution network, and the ability to automate numerous activities. It allows companies to grow rapidly and efficiently, while still maintaining focus on efficiency.

Real-world Examples of 10x Valuation Success Stories

1. Uber

In 2011, Uber’s private valuation was $60 million, eventually increasing to $76 billion in August of that year. The car service is considered an attractive business by investors because:

  • It’s a category leader revolutionizing and disrupting the status quo by changing laws in some cities and receiving prohibitions in others.
  • Its business model is effective and scalable, offering a great alternative to poorly-funded public transportation.

It increased to 10x what it was worth initially and became the world’s most valuable startup.

2. Airbnb

In 2014, Airbnb was valued at $10 billion, and in 2020 valued at $100 billion. As of March 2023, its market capitalization is ~ 75 billion.

Airbnb was founded in 2008, and quickly gained traction in the market with its innovative business model which allowed homeowners to rent out their spare rooms. The company:

  • Focused on identifying a large and growing market by targeting travelers who were seeking unique and affordable accommodations.
  • Built a strong team of individuals with proven track records of success in the technology and hospitality industries.
  • Focused on innovation and disruption by challenging the traditional hotel industry.

In 2014, Airbnb was valued at $10 billion, and in 2020 valued at $100 billion. As of March 2023, its market capitalization is ~ 75 billion.

3. Slack

Slack, a cloud-based communication platform for teams is another company that successfully adopted a 10x valuation system. This allowed Slack to achieve a $1 billion valuation after eight months of launching its product.

One vital factor that contributed to the success of slack was its focus on solving a major problem businesses face; the need for effective communication between teams and collaboration tools. Another strategy Slack implemented was building a strong team. Slack’s co-founder, Stewart Butterfield had a successful track record as the co-founder of Flickr.

4. Zoom

Zoom is another example of a company that successfully implemented the system through a combination of strong market demand, a focus on innovation and disruption, and the adoption of a scalable business model.

It capitalized on the large and growing market for video conferencing software to capture a significant share of the market, and its freemium model also allowed users to sign up for free.

As of March 2023, Zoom was worth ~$19 billion – more than 10x what it was worth some years ago.


The 10x valuation system is a popular method for startups and businesses to attract top-tier investors and achieve rapid growth. By focusing on innovation and disruption, adopting a scalable business model, and building a strong team, companies can create a strong foundation for success.

It is however important to note that it can lead to unrealistic expectations and overvaluation if applied to the wrong business. It requires a strong understanding of the market, and a willingness to take risks. Contact Lavoie CPA today to help take your business to the next level.
Start implementing these strategies in your business today.