Meet the SBDC Team - Tony Baldassano
Anthony Baldassano always wanted to run his own business. So when the start-up he worked for dissolved, he decided to hang his shingle as the owner of a CPA practice. Having worked in public accounting with many small clients previously, he was well equipped to provide tax services, business coaching, and financial consulting services to small businesses. Now he also puts his extensive experience to good use providing financial and general business guidance to a wide range of SBDC clients.
What do you specialize in at the SBDC?
I provide accounting and general business assistance. For example, I offer guidance on financing, raising capital, debt considerations, and choosing the best entity type. I also help clients make sure their business models make sense. We analyze the numbers but also take a macro approach.
How does your experience benefit your clients?
I’ve counseled many small businesses in a wide range of industries. I’ve helped many clients succeed, and I lean on that experience. The nuts and bolts that are needed to start a successful business don’t change.
What’s a common misconception small business owners have about accounting and finance?
A lot of small business owners think that if they just open a business, it will be successful. They don’t realize that having a great idea doesn’t mean you’re going to make money. Too often, they don’t think enough about start-up costs or how much cash they’re going to need in their registers. Another misconception is thinking that they can attract customers by selling their product or service for less than the competition. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for disaster, because they attract price-sensitive customers who won’t stay loyal when the business needs to raise prices.
Do you have a piece of advice for someone who is interested in improving their business practices?
Think about becoming a specialist rather than a generalist. It can be helpful to pick a niche area of expertise. For example, a housecleaning business I counseled didn’t stand out in the marketplace until the owner decided to brand the company as environmentally friendly. After doing that, it was easier to market their services and charge a higher fee. I also advise clients to complete financial projections for the first, second and third years. You need to have an idea of how much it’s going to cost to run the business. Make sure you have a six-month cushion for operating expenses, and be prepared for sales to not be as robust as you thought they would be. The first year is the hardest, and you need to have enough resources to get through it.
Why do you like working with small business owners at the SBDC?
The SBDC is such an important resource for entrepreneurs. A lot of small business owners can’t afford to hire a CPA when they are just starting out, so we provide a great resource that clients really need. And it’s personally fulfilling to help clients become established and successful.
How should clients prepare to get the most out of your advising sessions?
Clients should bring profit-and-loss statements and any other financial documentation they have if their business is already operational. We can review those documents together to identify problems and areas to focus on for taking their business to the next level.