Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Melissa Silber, Founder of Melissa Silber CPA Professional Corporation, located in Burlington, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I want to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with their finances. I started my CPA firm in 2021, working as a fractional CFO for businesses and putting out educational materials and resources for entrepreneurs.
Tell us about yourself
I worked in corporate finance for 15 years, and after seeing profits be put ahead of people time and time again, I became motivated to help "the little guys." I started a TikTok account where I made fun of corporate culture and went viral for a skit I did about a year ago... since then, I've done more Canadian political news coverage and spoken out about corporate greed disguised as inflation. I try to act as an advocate for small businesses and speak about the wealth inequality we see in our current capitalistic society. I have many videos on my TikTok - @melissasilbercpa on these topics.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Learning how to "wear all of the hats." In the corporate world, I spent most of my hands-on time on finance and accounting and only dealt with other areas of business from a financial management standpoint. If you had told me that I would need to design a website, I wouldn't have believed you... but here I am! I'm hoping to build my business up to a point where I can outsource some of these things, but for now, I am very proud of the new skills I have learned on my own entrepreneurial journey!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Probably the imposter syndrome, I would say. Everyone has their strong and weak areas, and as business owner, we have to take care of all areas. I have found that many business owners have what I like to call the "finance scaries" where they avoid their finances and this can lead to trouble! I want to demystify accounting for these people, and reach as many of them as possible. Figuring out how to do that has also proven to be a bit challenging as I have a very large "eat the rich!!" following on social media but my audience isn't necessarily all business owners.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do market research: What is the competition landscape? If there are already two hair salons in a plaza, it might not make sense to open a third in that location. What is the demand for products or services like yours? Are the existing businesses in your market doing well, or struggling?
- Determine how you can offer your products or services for the least amount of overhead possible. By this I mean your "fixed costs" such as rent and utilities. If you can utilize a space you already have access to, do it! Don't overextend your business at the start or you'll be even MORE stressed if your sales aren't as strong as you had hoped. Of course, this is just one example, and the costs incurred to run the business will vary by business.
- Put your face behind your business. People are sick of the big box stores and WANT to support local. The issue is, big stores buy little stores, and you don't even know that they aren't actually a small independent shop. Build a social media presence or run promotions in your local area. I was at a muddy dog park on the weekend and was approached by a woman who opened a pet grooming salon locally. She handed me a bag of treats and a $2 off doggy bath coupon - genius! IF my dog was inclined to roll in the mud, I would visit her shop over PetSmart any day - and I'd be happy to pay a bit more to support a small business owner.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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