Case StudySteadfast Creative

Introduction

Brad Parnell founded Steadfast Creative as a one-man creative shop, and within 5 years his staff was sitting at around a dozen employees. Like many owners of a growing business, up to this point, he had managed all of his finances himself. As revenue increased, and costs increased in turn, it became progressively more difficult for Brad to manage Steadfast’s finances himself. He wanted to be able to spend more time leading his team, but the progressively increasing amount of time he had to spend handling payroll, taxes, investments, etc, really got in the way of that goal. He reached out to us at Sadler Accounting to take over finances as their Outsourced CFO.

Steadfast’s Painpoints

The pain points that Brad & Steadfast were experiencing are probably going to sound very familiar to you if you’re the CEO of a growing business. Time and time again, we hear different versions of these same problems, so you can rest assured that you’re not alone, and that we have the expertise to help.

  • Taxes & the IRS

    Like many entrepreneurs, Brad started his business because he believed in his product, not because he was amazing at managing taxes & cash flow. He desperately needed cash flow to be more consistent than the speed at which clients pay invoices. All of this came to a head when Steadfast got a notice showing that their sales tax was being filed incorrectly, resulting in them owing the state upwards of $30,000. Needless to say, that’s a significant painpoint.

  • Unsure About Line of Credit

    Steadfast knew they needed a business line of credit to be able to seamlessly grow, but didn’t know exactly how to go about acquiring one. Brad felt that the ideal scenario would be to partner with someone who could act as an actual representative of Steadfast to handle this.

  • CEO Exhaustion

    Nothing burns out a growing business owner faster than having to spend a ton of time doing something they don’t enjoy, and that they have no experience with. For most small business CEOs, this is handling the financial side of the business. What starts as a fervent passion for success turns into day-to-day exhaustion from not being able to do what they do best.

  • Lack of Education

    Brad definitely came to us seeking a ‘teach a man to fish’ relationship. Any business accountant could sweep in, solve a few problems, and leave; but Brad was looking for someone who could be invested with Steadfast, and teach the company what it needed to know in order to grow and thrive. Essentially, he was looking for an outsourced CFO.

Our Approach with Steadfast Creative

As is the case with our consultative approach, we first sat down with Brad and talked through the entire state of finances at Steadfast. More than that, we talked about the business at large, including Brad’s motivation in starting the company and his vision for the future. We view all of this as key information, because in order to buy in and be proactive, we have to know what future we’re planning for. Once we felt that we knew Brad and his agency intimately, we then started looking at the hard numbers.

Working to amend the pain points that existed, we began looking through past tax documents, as well as current P&L documentation, and expense reports. The purpose here was to uncover both the weak points and strong points. Once the true pain was revealed, we spent time working to remedy the weak points to bring consistency to Steadfast. The most obvious immediate need was handling the sales tax filing issue, and ironing out a plan to take care of the $30k the state was asking for. Like most young businesses, Steadfast didn’t exactly have that kind of cash lying around for a rainy day.

Once the retroactive work was done, we started proactively planning for the future. We began engaging in monthly planning sessions with Brad & Steadfast, always going to the Steadfast office, to establish and evaluate long-term goals. Though our goals are always long-term, we also create an environment of accountability through focusing on what we can do that week to work towards our long-term goals. A key element of our approach in these monthly meetings is to keep it conversational. Business owners don’t need a checklist or a roadmap, the need a comfortable environment that is purposefully relaxed. That way, they feel free to ask questions, be honest, and can fully trust the Sadler team to be transparent and truly act as Outsourced CFO. We work very hard to fit into individual company cultures perfectly, so it becomes easy to open up and talk about issues.

 

“Justin and his team are extremely relational, and it means a lot to me as a business owner that they meet us at our own office. Sadler helped dig us out of financial holes, and build on that momentum every single month. They aren’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ firm, and their custom solutions made the difference to us. Justin thinks like an owner, which is an invaluable trait to a business owner like me. If you are looking to grow your small business, and are ready to hand over the financial reigns, give them a call.” – Brad Parnell

What We Brought to the Table

We try to avoid creating a laundry list of service items as often as possible, so bare in mind that these services came to fruition organically in our relationship with Steadfast, and were executed as needed. When pain points arise, we employ a service tactic to take care of it. When new goals are set, we leverage our expertise to get you there.

  • Tax Filing

    Being that this was the largest single pain point that Brad & Steadfast had when they came to us, it was priority #1 for us to take this off their plate. As CFO, we take time to make sure taxes are filing correctly in all facets, so that no IRS surprises every rear their ugly head. And if the dreaded audit comes up, we are more than prepared to handle it effectively.

  • Expense Categorization

    This is an area where a lot of new business owners employ a lot of guesswork. Knowing what expenses are tax-deductible, which ones aren’t, and how all expenses should be categorized can be both daunting and confusing. We took this off Steadfast’s plate, so that they could focus on what they do best: growing and providing innovative solutions to their clients.

  • Monthly Sales Tax Management

    We didn’t want Brad to let his business development take a back seat to taxes. Acting as Steadfast’s Outsourced CFO, we handle all aspects of monthly tax prep and management. If problems come up, we handle them as efficiently, affordably, and effectively as possible.

  • Cash Flow Forecasting

    By being proactive with cash flow strategy, we work to ensure that Steadfast has the cash-on-hand available when they need to expand. Growth is exciting, and bringing on new team members is key to continued success, so we want our partners to be able to focus on finding the right fit, not worrying about cash.

  • Short & Long-Term Goal Setting & Planning

    Whether we’re talking about a month from now, a year from now, or 5 years from now, goal setting is absolutely key to healthy financial growth for small businesses. To that end, we meet with Brad at the Steadfast office every month to establish goals, and evaluate progress towards previous goals. We don’t create checklists or roadmaps, but talk through actionable plans that are as organic as the goals themselves.

  • Ongoing Growth Advising

    This is less tangible as a deliverable item, but equally important. Righting the financial ship at Steadfast meant putting their team on track for serious growth. If that growth developed haphazardly, we’d run into similar problems to the ones Brad came to us with originally. On an ongoing basis, we act as CFO to advise on topics like ownership expense management, professional team development, and investment strategy. We want Steadfast to continue to grow, and we want it to occur in the healthiest, most beneficial way possible.

The results

In the years that Sadler Accounting has been partnered with Steadfast, we’ve been able to give Brad the peace of mind he needs to run his business effectively and creatively. In Brad’s own words, we’ve been able to help Steadfast, “grow by eliminating worry. It’s really addition by subtraction.” Brad and the Steadfast team have told us time and again that our services have empowered them to make confident decisions by giving them peace of mind regarding the IRS. According to Brad, one of the most meaningful things we were able to do together was establish a business line of credit. With Brad’s blessing, we acted as their liaison with the banks while shopping for the best deal, and the bank engagement we ultimately landed on has put Steadfast in a position for great growth.