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IAM1748 – CPA Provides Top-Notch Service to Business Owners

Podcast Interview with Lakshmi Gupta

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:
In episode IAM1423 of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Lakshmi Gupta, a Certified Public Accountant and the founder of Money Equations. Lakshmi works with closely-held businesses and their owners, including high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs, providing compliance, bookkeeping, tax planning, and virtual assistant services.
Her mission is to provide top-notch service to her clients while believing in and caring for the people she serves. In the interview, Lakshmi shares her personal journey towards becoming a CPA and discusses the importance of understanding the numbers and achieving financial goals in business. She also talks about the importance of top-notch customer service and being focused and personalized in her approach.
Additionally, Lakshmi provides advice for entrepreneurs and business owners on time management and understanding the pain points of their clients to provide the best customer service.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the world of accounting and effective strategies for providing top-notch service to business owners.

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Transcription:

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Lakshmi Gupta Teaser 00:00

But what makes us stand out is really who we are as people. I know person to person the experience we give a client. That's what I think our USP is. If you go online and read about what our clients talk about us, that's what you would really find. The difference stands out right there.

Intro 00:18

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:45

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset- talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation and if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations who look differently at talent and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. That's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI- diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month. We are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focus on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset- their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Lakshmi Gupta of Money Equations and Virtual Equations, LLC. Lakshmi, it's great to have you back on the show.

Lakshmi Gupta 02:19

Hey, Gresham, thank you so much. I appreciate the invite to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:24

Yes, absolutely. Excited to have you back on. Actually, Lakshmi was a guest on CEO Chat podcast number 21. So excited to have her back now on the I AM CEO podcast. Just to introduce you a little bit to Lakshmi about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Lakshmi is a Certified Public Accountant and the founder of Money Equations. In 2017, Lakshmi was nominated for the Greater Washington Society of CPA's, Industry Community Leader Award at their Women to Watch Awards. She has grown Money Equations to one of the top 4% professional firms in the United States on Thumbtack.

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She also is the owner of Virtual Equations, which is committed to offering professional and highly competent virtual assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, solopreneurs, and individuals with their digital marketing services.

Lakshmi also works with closely-held businesses and their owners, including high net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs, and her mission is to provide top-notch services to her clients while believing in and caring for the people that she serves.

Lakshmi, excited to have you back on. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

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Lakshmi Gupta 03:27

Cool. Thank you so much again, it's a pleasure to be here and to share my experiences and thoughts with the community.

Gresham Harkless 03:35

Yes, absolutely. To kick everything off, I usually try to rewind the clock, and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Lakshmi Gupta 03:44

All right sure. So, my equation started in 2010, so we are in our 12th year right now. I originally come from India, had my education there. So I've always been an accountant ever since I started to think, what am I gonna do with my life? So I've stuck to that. Being an accountant, but also a business owner has been a dream ever since I knew I wanted to do something more than just crunch numbers. Having that thought so deeply engraved in my brain, I think it was a no-brainer that Money Equations were supposed to be born.

I chose something like Money Equations for the name because we wanted to be able to cover everything that goes around financial situations for people, not just keeping their books on tax returns, but also helping small business owners achieve their goals and help them understand the things that they need to know as business owners on a financial side, but they just don't know what questions to ask or what are they supposed to know.

So we are trying to be not just a firm that supports them and gets mandatory things done for them, but also to educate them, help them, and make them feel comfortable in the space they are, so they can focus better on their business.

Gresham Harkless 05:04

Yeah, absolutely love that and especially to understand like how vital that is and knowing your numbers and knowing your finances and all those things. It sounds like supporting and aligning with your clients and make sure that they are going to be able to stay in their zone of genius and execute on the things that they can, and of course, be able to lean on your expertise and knowledge in your team.

Lakshmi Gupta 05:25

Yeah, absolutely. That's how it is. We try to make it a little different and make it stand out and put that personal touch. Which is why I sometimes call myself a CPA who is a certified public accountant, but also someone who pays close personal attention.

So a lot of times I get that title from people I know, the feedback I get. So I've started actually using it for myself and it's pretty cool.

Gresham Harkless 05:51

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to now drill down a little bit and hear a little bit more on how you're serving your clients. Could you take us through a little bit more about that and what that looks like?

Lakshmi Gupta 05:59

Yeah, so our clientele is pretty much small business owners, and when we say that we mean everything round up small business owners, running from creating a company for them, compliance behind it, getting them through the year with bookkeeping, payroll, and then finally tax planning and preparation.

So our services revolve around that. As you mentioned, Virtual Equations is a subsidiary of Money Equations, which was started about a year ago. That one focuses on making a business owner's life easier. What that means is adding on a virtual assistant to the piece, which is what Money Equations was lacking in somewhat ways. Because it's not accounting our tax. We felt it was something necessary to a business owner just to function smoothly, and to get things done.

Being a small business owner myself, I know how I started and you wear multiple hats. We understand how overwhelming that whole process of being so many people can be for a business owner, which is why we started Virtual Equations where we provide virtual assistance to our clients. So, having these two services, two entities combined has actually made what we provide to our clients a lot more powerful than what we used to be. This is because now I can truly say that we are a one-stop solution for any kind of financial and administrative equation that you might have going on in your business and personal life.

Gresham Harkless 07:27

Love that. So would you consider that to be what I like to call your secret sauce? That could be for yourself personally, the business, or a combination of both. But it's essentially what you feel sets you apart and makes you unique. But do you think it's that ability to understand both of those lanes and be able to create, for lack of a better term, that moat so that you can serve your clients?

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Lakshmi Gupta 07:44

I would say so. Absolutely. I'm a very detailed, organized person myself, and I invest a lot of time into things. So, I understand how overwhelming it could be for a business owner who does whatever they do best, but this is not their strength and that's where we come in.

More than that, I think what our biggest USP has been in Money Equations and now Virtual Equations is that we really wanna make sure that we mean it when we say that we provide top-notch customer service. Our customer service, definitely our emphasis, our mission, and our focus on personal experience that our clients have with our company is very personalized. It's very catered to each individual who's working with us, even though they might own five entities.

But it really comes down to the way people work. Everyone has a different style. Every client is different, and we wanted to capture that. We didn't wanna be firm crunching numbers and producing financial reports, of course, that's part of what we do, and that's probably what every CPA firm does.

What makes us stand out is really who we are as people. I know from person to person, the experience we give a client. That's what I think our USP is. If you go online and read about what our clients talk about us that's what you would really find the difference stands out right there.

Gresham Harkless 09:09

Absolutely. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Lakshmi Gupta 09:23

Time management. I think, juggling life, work, everything in between, you just need to make sure that you're managing your time well. You don't get overwhelmed, you don't get burnt out. You enjoy what you're doing. And you discipline yourself around that.

So for me, I think just keeping in touch with my day-to-day life needs, my work needs, and keeping it organized. The other thing I would add to that is one step at a time. One thing that I think a lot of business owners do is they jump into too many things. They wanna get big, they wanna grow, which is great, but at the same time, It overwhelms and it puts you in a place where you're trying to do a lot of things, but you're not achieving any of the goals because your hands are occupied in too many places.

So take one step at a time and achieve one goal and move on to the next. I think for me, that has worked perfectly. Discipline in my work-life balance has worked perfectly. That's really for me personally, that's how I've grown my business.

That's how it worked out for me. Just calendar management, time management, and being true to what you are providing from for yourself and for your clients. That way you stay on top of everything.

Gresham Harkless 10:42

Nice. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Lakshmi Gupta 10:58

I would say listen to your clients. When you talk to your clients. Listen to their pain points because as I said before, every client comes with pretty much the same needs because the services that you provide revolve around those four or five, whatever services you provide to a client, no matter what business you are in.

But if you're listening and you're understanding their pain points around those services, what experiences they have had prior to coming to your firm, that would give you a lot of insight into how to take care of that client and provide them the best service possible. We always say that we need to learn from our mistakes, and I totally believe in that concept. But as a business owner, what I also believe in is to learn from the mistakes other firms and your competitors made. Just so you don't make the same mistakes.

The way you learn about that and learn from that is by listening to your clients when they speak to you the first time they come to you and say, here's why I'm switching my accounting firm, for example. Listen to them because that's gonna teach you a lot about what not to do, and that's what I really follow.

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I feel that's applicable to any business owner, any kind of business, any industry if you are talking to your clients and you're listening and addressing their pain points and making sure I think that's how I have been focusing on. I speak to my staff and I tell them the same thing, that this is what other firms are doing, which is not working well for them because we got a client from there. So let's not do the same thing.

So I guess if I have to sum it up, it would be learning from your competitor's mistakes so you don't make the same.

Gresham Harkless 12:48

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and similar to how you re-looked at what it means to be a CPA in terms of a certified personal accountant and instead looked at it as something completely different.

I wanted to ask you, what does being a CEO mean to you? Lakshmi.

Lakshmi Gupta 13:07

I wanna start with a quote here. Tony, the CEO of Zapples once said, Chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you. I think that's just so strong that the strength in that one sentence is so powerful for us to remember that as a CEO, you are the leader, right?

You're leading a team, you're leading your company, and you have a mission set the way your culture is set up in the business. The CEO does not mean that you're the boss and you have to delegate work and get things done. It really is a vision. It's a culture setting of a company and you have to be that role model.

You have to always remember where you started and as this quote says chase the vision, not the money. Because if you continue to do that and you have a clear vision and you are excited and passionate about what you're doing, money is just a byproduct and it will happen. The moment you switch gears and say, I'm the CEO of my company and my goal is to make money, you lose it right there.

That's what I try to be, I would not say I am, but I try to be a role model to my staff. I try to be there for them. I try to help them out of the obstacles they might have, just going through their day-to-day stuff. If I feel someone is having difficulty getting something done or has been lagging behind, as a leader, as a role model, my role is not to question it, but also to see if I can help them find tools to fix the issues we are having. So I'm trying to be there as an assistant back to my employees, my staff and make sure that they don't lose their vision.

They are here to earn a salary, but at the same time, we are all here for a purpose. We wanna be happy when we come to work. So really that's how I sum it up for it.

Gresham Harkless 15:04

Lakshmi, truly appreciate that definition and of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people can get ahold of you and find about all the awesome things you and team are working on.

Lakshmi Gupta 15:22

It's very welcoming to see people grow because they're learning from your mistakes. Coming back to the analogy I've put together before, that's about it. We are a community that grows together and we help each other survive and succeed. That's what I continue to do and I will do so until I'm around and I'm serving the community in my own little ways.

But again, thank you so much for having me here. The best way to reach me is via email, or you can call me directly. My direct line is, 571 310 4050 and my email address is L, which is my first initial LGupta@moneyequations.com. Just go to our website MoneyEquations

Gresham Harkless 16:10

To make it even easier, we'll have the links and information and the show notes as well too. And look forward to the next time. And I hope you have a Phenomenal day.

Lakshmi Gupta 16:17

You too, Gresham. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Outro 16:20

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos@cbnation.co. Also, check out our I AM CEO Facebook group. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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