From Shoeboxes to Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Tampa Bay Accounting and Associates of Pinellas County
Michelle Velez took her love for small business, and turned it into her own small business seven years ago. “I wanted to do something that would be beneficial for small businesses and help them grow,” she said. And so, Tampa Bay Accounting and Associates was born.
“I get to see clients start their companies from the very beginning, and their struggles along the way. It gets really exciting when I am part of their company from the ground up and watch them begin making a profit,” Velez said. Tampa Bay Accounting and Associates is a bilingual accounting firm specializing in bookkeeping and tax services for small to medium-sized businesses.
It’s been an exciting seven years for Velez, and she knew from the start that she would need additional experts to help her be successful. “I reached out to the SBDC at Pinellas County [Economic Development] within my first year because there were things that I needed help with,” she said. Velez says that all five consultants at the Florida SBDC at PCED have assisted her in rebranding her business, improving her website, creating intake forms and creating business and marketing plans. She has also taken advantage of classes offered by the FSBDC at PCED.
All their work, along with her willingness to implement their recommendations, has resulted in many successes for Tampa Bay Accounting and Associates. Velez expanded the services offered, and has seen a growth in employees and a 120 percent jump in revenues. “I’ve grown and taught myself, with their help along the way,” she said. “When I first started, I probably had one or two clients and now I have about 70, and that doesn’t even include my clients for tax returns.”
Velez was also honored as the 2012-2013 Woman of the Year from the National Association of Professional Women and was recently named as CFO finalist by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She’s also cultivated strategic business relationships in the Tampa Bay community through her active involvement with Business Networking International (BNI) and the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund.
While Velez couldn’t be more excited about the financial success of her business, she’s more excited about the clients she gets to work with. “I think one of our biggest successes is when a client comes in with a shoebox or hasn’t done financials or taxes for eight plus years. We don’t judge them and we turn it around and get to see the look on their face when they finally know where they actually stand.”
Over the next year, she hopes to continue to grow her business and add two more employees to the mix. And she intends to have the business consultants from the FSBDC at PCED by her side along the way. “As a small business owner, we all wear many hats,” she said. “You never know when you’re going to need them.”