Describe your business:
Amplify is a business accounting and growth consulting firm that provides Finance Leader Services, Consulting, Recruiting, and Tech. This includes Fractional CFO and Controller services and business process and ERP solutions. We are a NetSuite solution provider. We help businesses scale through sound financial strategies.
We do this through a Client Experience approach that is supported by our values: Courage, Curiosity, Connection, Candor & Collaboration. Our mission is Enhancing Communities; Amplifying Opportunities & Cultivating Connections.
Describe the growth of your business between where you are now and where you started?
Amplify has been operating for three years. This means ~45% in a pandemic! Despite this, we have managed to get to ~30 employees and another 10+ contractors with profitable results each year. We are founded and operated by myself and my business partner, also an EO member, Jesse Ferguson. The first year we had over $1m in sales and the second year we had over $1m in payroll salaries. Each year our revenue growth has been significant and this year we had a growth rate YTD of 18% as of May 2021.
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
The advantage of our poor timing in launching a business that’s operated in a crisis for most of its life to date is it has really proven to our team and ourselves as founders that we have a chance to live our why. Enhancing Communities; Amplifying Opportunities & Cultivating Connections is our purpose. Helping small and medium businesses scale gives us a chance to help them as community members and employers and that is very impactful.
When we were not on our own we had jobs that did matter but it took a lot of imagination to see how. Most days we felt like a cog in the wheel and we were stuck in the silos of our teams. Now we see how what we do matters very directly and clearly and our team sees it for themselves too.
What is one of the most significant challenges that you have faced and overcome as an entrepreneur?
We have big ambitions. I often say to my cofounder that “we are not here to run a mom and pop shop, rather we need to build an empire” and that means challenging conversations are rapid. In the scurry of serving our team and strategizing and scaling it can feel like you aren’t valued and you’ve signed up for a second marriage. We continue to invest in the business and that means long hours, lots of hiring, new risks and conservative withdrawals. We are running a fair size team now and we have discarded a number of “hats” or roles but the senior leadership team is still doing chargeable hours with clients or experience delivery and holding more than one job each. So there are times that it’s tough to do it all at the pace we are doing it.
What is your mindset when it comes to running your business?
I am obsessed with Client Experience. Ours is about putting relationships and people first. We focus on growth and strategy with our clients and try to live up to our name, amplify. We integrate into a client’s culture and give to their cultures as well as our own.
This mindset is not common with CPA firms. Most CPA firms are proud problem solvers and devil advocates and focused on quality and accuracy and timelines and costs. They put little thought on growth and strategy and culture and experience. We’ve flipped the priorities for our team and created our values and our way around that. It’s a very different way of approaching the Finance Leader job and advisory and consulting and implementations.
What are you hoping to gain from joining EO Calgary?
Already in EO training, I feel better about the need to find people that care about what I care about. It’s been tough becoming a business owner and recognizing that what matters to me and is obsessive in my head and in my interests is of little interest to my former social groups. I need to expand my network to include others that want to discuss business and building and growing and how that plays out with the rest of life. While I am grateful to have incredible friends and family I have found that there isn’t opportunities to talk about growth in a deep way that resonates with both of us. I’m lucky to have my cofounder and my team and even my clients which all love to talk about these things but this opportunity with EO will let me meet more in our community and I can’t wait!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to start and run their own business?
The first thing I always ask is their experience and comfort with sales. Ultimately you are getting a job in sales if you become an entrepreneur and I don’t believe you can outsource or hire that out entirely. You must be passionate about selling your vision to attract great people and customers. You have to understand the importance of sales and how to generate revenue. I also suggest that you need to be a duck on water. Get out there, look calm and confident and don’t fuss about the under water frantic mess that is actually moving you forward. You need a minimal viable product or service quick. And you need to be at a state where you hear the market. If you go out with “perfection” you’ll be too arrogant to pivot for the feedback you get and that’s how many businesses end up failing or stunting their growth. Finally, you need to build a brand and you do that through a focus on revenue. We often say if you make money off your first customers of any product or service than you lost an opportunity. Make money early and use it to learn. Focus on the sales and revenue while you work out those “under water kinks”. You need to watch costs and risk and feed your family but early days should be a learning opportunity to figure out the business & revenue model while being grateful and generous to the first customers & team members & supporters. Focus on that and not profit. The more you invest back into those first clients and the business the more scalable you can build quicker.