“Fine Point is a fantastic partner for small- to mid-sized businesses as they integrate exceptionally well with our operations. Fine Point allows us to execute as if we had a much larger team to help to handle the unexpected as it occurs, which is critical for our business.”
– David Hubanks, VP of Operations, Propeller Health
It’s never easy to switch from one employee benefits provider to another. This was particularly true for Propeller Health when, mid-transition, the company’s HR manager responsible for communicating the new benefits program was offered a position elsewhere and left the company. That’s when Propeller Health called on Fine Point Consulting, who was already acting as its outsourced accounting department, to step in and help troubleshoot questions and concerns from employees about the new provider. Using Slack, a team communication software program already in place at Propeller, Fine Point was able to communicate directly with employees about the new benefits system, address concerns, and respond to questions as they came up. Today, payroll and benefits are running in a way that gives the company peace of mind, and employees know that Fine Point is there to respond right away should questions or concerns arise.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses like Propeller Health succeed.
Meet the Fine Point Consulting staff and learn a little bit about what makes them tick. This week: Accounting Manager Allie LaFleur.
Talk a little bit about your background and what drew you to accounting.
I earned my Associate’s degree in Business Management from Madison Area Technical College, along with some certificates in Small Business Entrepreneurship and Human Resources Management. Business Management was a nice, broad degree that would allow me to do any number of things, and the certificates were just something I added on. It’s great to have a little background in something like Human Resource Management when you’re an accountant and doing things like processing payroll, so those certificates have been helpful.
A few years later, with [Fine Point Owner] Luella [Schmidt’s] encouragement, I decided to go back to school at night to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Getting my bachelors was something I had always wanted to do, but it helped to have my boss encouraging me and cheering me on from the sidelines!
During this time, my husband and I also purchased a small business. To help save money, I assumed the bookkeeper role. A friend of mine helped me set up payroll and I learned QuickBooks on my own. It was a great first-hand experience that forced me not only to put my accounting classes to work and learn on the job, but it also gave me the perspective of being a small business owner and what that means for Fine Point clients.
As far as accounting, I enjoy figuring out a reconciliation that’s been stumping me. Accounting is one of those fields that there’s practically always a “right” way of doing things. You want to make sure your balances tie, for example. It’s a repetitive job, but there’s enough new stuff that comes up from month to month that keep you on your toes.
What is your role at Fine Point, and what do you enjoy about working there?
I started at Fine Point in 2011 as a staff accountant, where I oversaw reviewing profit and loss statements. Now, as Accounting Manager, I oversee some of the other accountants and am responsible for things like reviewing balance sheets; specifically, assets and liabilities.
Working at Fine Point has given me a lot of great experience working in a variety of industries. For example, this morning I’m doing some work for a nonprofit client, but this afternoon I will be working with a small personal fitness business we work with. Every day is like this, and I enjoy the variety. The culture at Fine Point is great, too. The people I work with here feel more like friends than coworkers. And Luella is a fantastic teacher. She’s not only a great accountant, but I’ve learned a ton from her about prioritizing and organizing work. She’s a pleasure to work for.
What’s something others may be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Holland as a young child. My mom got a job as a teacher on a military base there. I was too young to learn the language and my parents weren’t immersed in the language when we were there, but my sister, who is two years older than I am, picked up the language very quickly through school there. Even though she was also quite young, she quickly became our family translator.
When you’re not working, you…
My husband and I just bought our first house in April, and we’re working on a never-ending list of household projects. And my sister just had the first grandchild in our family, so between the projects and visiting the new baby, that’s pretty much all we have time for!
Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn how our knowledgeable staff can help your business succeed.
In our final Leaders & Influencers post of the year, we chat with Jeff Glazer, clinical assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, which provides free legal services to nascent entrepreneurs and early stage companies through the work of law students, faculty, and private sector attorneys.
Talk a little bit about what brought you to the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic in 2011 and the work that you do there.
I started at the Clinic in a part-time capacity as a supervising attorney for the law students who were working with entrepreneurs. I had my own law office at the time, but the work they were doing at the Clinic was similar to what I was doing in my own practice, and it just seemed like a new and interesting overlap. As I continued my work there, I really started buying in to what [L&E Clinic cofounders] Eric Englund and Anne Smith were trying to do, which was to fill a market need for legal service where the only other options were self-service or no service.
As lawyers, we want people to be proactive in obtaining legal services, but we often price ourselves out of that opportunity. People tend to delay seeking legal services because they can’t afford them, even though they know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At the L&E Clinic, we provide good legal services in a way that entrepreneurs can be legally proactive.
My own background is in the food and beverage industry, which is a big industry for Wisconsin and provides a good opportunity for entrepreneurship. So I’ve been concentrating on this area and thinking about how the many pieces of the food and beverage industry can work together in a more holistic way. I’m taking more of a leadership role in bringing these disparate food and beverage companies together, beyond just providing legal services. There are real opportunities in this sector, but there are also real monetary challenges to getting these types of businesses started.
What kind of entrepreneurs does the L&E Clinic work with? Do you specialize in any particular industry?
To be eligible to work with the clinic, you only have to be in the first couple of years of your business. If you meet that definition, it doesn’t matter to us if you’re a food cart or a high-tech spin-off company from the university—or anything in between. There are varying levels of service we provide depending on what it is the business needs. For those companies who are most interested into growing into something bigger, we can get them connected with a range of providers, services, and individuals that can help them do that. And we can play the role of quarterback to help those same companies survey the field and think about the things they need to do to move the ball. We don’t do this in every instance, but for companies that want it, we do provide that handheld, integrated type of service.
Any new or continued initiatives the L&E Clinic has been working on over the past year?
We’re working on an ongoing basis with tightening our relationship with [coworking space and seed accelerator] Madworks. It’s an interesting work in progress. As Madworks is starting to take more of a governance-related direction, we’re finding more opportunities for students to get involved with clients while they’re going through the accelerator.
We also moved into the @1403 startup hub about a year ago, and it’s been exciting being in that space. The organizations that have found a home here—Discovery to Product (D2P), Madworks, gBETA, the L&E Clinic—weren’t necessarily planned for this space but have gravitated and grown here organically, which really has made @1403 more effective for entrepreneurs. It’s cool to be part of the space and activity that goes on there.
What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?
I think we need to have a broader discussion about what is and isn’t entrepreneurship. When people think of entrepreneurship, they tend to think about the big high-tech companies that want to grow like crazy. I think we need to bring it down and understand that entrepreneurship doesn’t only mean big and high-tech. You can be a graphic designer or a VP of Marketing who provides independent services and you’re an entrepreneur too. I think there need to be more discussions and services around supporting entrepreneurship in all its forms. These smaller businesses may not have a huge opportunity for growth, but there’s also not a huge opportunity for risk. I want to support the woodshop or food cart owner and help them make connections so they can solve whatever challenge or problem in the world that they’re trying to solve. At its heart, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn more about how our outsourced accounting and CFO services can help your business succeed.
“I’m so grateful to [Fine Point Controller] Sarah Motiff and her team for rolling up their sleeves, digging into our complex financial systems and processes, and bringing ‘order out of the chaos.’ Sarah’s quiet confidence, tenacious spirit, and desire to help others has not only been refreshing, but extremely helpful.”
– Marc Maillefer, Lead Pastor
After losing a qualified CPA and Director of Finance, Door Creek Church turned to Fine Point Consulting to lend a helping hand. Fine Point staff standardized processes, streamlined the organization’s Chart of Accounts, and organized the various fund accounts. Many of the church’s accounting processes are now automated, creating efficiencies for staff and cleaner reporting overall. Church leaders have a greater understanding of the church’s finances through easy-to-read reports, ensuring better communication to the congregation at large.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help organizations like Door Creek Church succeed.
Meet the newest Fine Point Consulting staff and learn a little bit about what makes them tick. This week: Firm Administrator Steph Breunig.
Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you do at Fine Point.
My background is actually in English and Education. I worked for a number of years as a Library Media Specialist in a couple of school districts. I’ve known Luella for years and have always joked with her that she should hire me to work for her, especially as teaching in this state has become more difficult in recent years. But Luella told me one day she wasn’t kidding anymore and she really did want to hire me, and it’s been a great experience.
I do a little bit of everything. My role here is part office manager, part bookkeeper, part technology manager, plus whatever else Luella asks me to do. I also coordinate HR and benefits. Luella has been really great at letting me tailor the job to my strengths; for example, I’m setting up “Lunch & Learns” a couple times a month through AstUtemy, so our staff can learn more about business and accounting. As a former teacher, I can’t help myself but to teach!
What’s the transition been like going from a career in Education to working in Business—and what do you like most about working for Fine Point?
As I’ve been educating myself more about the business world through webinars and other resources, I’ve just started looking at things through a different lens. Business articles in the newspaper grab my attention now—and what I notice in the world around me is just different. Working with startups is exciting, and I really love that so many of these companies we work with are really making a difference in the world.
The people here at Fine Point are great and the environment here is very fun. The Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) that Fine Point employs was also a major draw for me as a working mom. I like being able to take time off when I need to for my family—and I like that not all of my days off are tied to the school schedule!
When you’re not working, you…
I have three children who are 10, 11, and 13. All three of them play lacrosse, so that eats up a lot of my time. I’m a huge sports fan, which doesn’t necessarily fit with my library persona! I’m one of those crazy parents who yells from the sidelines of my kids’ games—though I keep it positive. My son calls me the “Third Ref.”
Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn how our knowledgeable staff can help your business succeed.