August 29, 2023

Episode #96: Carleen Lamay – C2 Consulting and Business Support

Carleen Lamay is the CEO/President of C2 Accounting & Business Support. As small business bookkeeping experts, the team at C2 Accounting works with growing small businesses to manage their finances. Through her work at C2 Accounting, Carleen has become a small business accounting expert known for helping her clients bring calm and order to their businesses. Carleen has over 25 years of accounting and finance experience, ranging from large corporations to small, locally-owned businesses. However, it is not her professional background that makes her a great small business accountant and bookkeeper; her passion for entrepreneurship drives her desire to see other small business owners succeed and live their dreams! When she is not advising clients, crunching numbers, or running reports, Carleen is usually traveling, cooking something amazing, decorating her home, or spending time with her family. Carleen offers a complimentary consultation session to discover how C2 Accounting can help take the stress of managing your business finances off your plate. You can go to www.c2-acctg.com to book your session.

Transcript

hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made as a myth make a difference together show where we are chatting with successful business owners to hear their stories of the journey to building their business and because we know that achieving success in business is not something that we do on our own we’re taking an opportunity to thank and appreciate those who have helped us along the way today I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from North Carolina with us my guest balances her technical right brain with a desire to be creative and she’s babbled in I’m writing and acting so have her tell us a little bit more about that and in her downtime she enjoys stretching her culinary skills as well as the cinema and she’s most proud of building a six-figure business which we’re going to learn a little bit more about so it is my pleasure to welcome Carlene to the show today hello Carlene hi thank you for having me I appreciate it thank you to audience for even checking in to watch us today awesome well hey you are very welcome it is uh awesome to have you on the show so let’s start by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit of your personal story like where you were born and live and about your family and and those hearts that I uh just mentioned yeah so my name is Carlene Lemay and I was born and raised in Washington DC and if you ask a lot of people where they’re from and they say DC they usually mean the suburbs but I was born and raised in the city um and like most people you move out and now unfortunately I can never move back because DC is so expensive um but that’s where I’m from I am now in North Carolina where I’ve been for the last 19 years so my youngest of three children is 21 which means North Carolina’s home to him really that’s all they ever really they really know um I am married to my husband we’ve been married for six years and he has four adult children of his own so together we have seven adult children and a grandchild so that’s kind of my personal story um when I’m not working as you mentioned I love to cook it used to be a dream of mine to go on like MasterChef or the next level chef but I realize I’m a slow cook in those shows you have to be a fast cook so I don’t think I could do that um and yeah you mentioned Cinema I love watching movies and films and I used to um do some acting and some writing I back in a bunch of short films for film competitions and I was even an extra on a Morgan Freeman film years ago when I was living in DC was filming I got the opportunity very cool awesome um so what type of writing do you do well when I was doing writing right now I will say business ownership is consuming most of my time it was definitely fiction um some poetry and I really enjoy film Friday because just of how you could describe the settings of what you were you were trying to see yeah so yeah so now get back there so right now your hobby is business ownership yes the all-consuming business ownership yes well hey tell us a um a funny story that your family likes to you know to to share about you and is there one that you’d be willing to you know to to share with us today yeah this is a funny one it is actually fairly recent my husband um my master bedroom is actually on the first level so he was in the kitchen he heard this style thump come from our bedroom and of course he’s going to check to see what happens he comes over he sees my feet kind of in the door frame where a bathroom is kind of if you can picture the Wicked Witch of the West right from Dorothy and he peeks over and I’m laying on the floor he’s like what happened I said well I was doing pirouettes and I fell so literally I was kind of going back to my teenage days pretending I could do ballet I had on the socks and he had the same reaction you did he said never a dull day with you that’s awesome well thank you for sharing well many people will get a chuckle out of that I hope so my backside didn’t but you know it is what it is so Carlene tell us um how did business come about and at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business I’ve always had an interest in owning a business or being involved in business and kind of one of the earliest memories I have is um an uncle of my cousin they opened a piece of stock pizza shop in an area back with dominoes would not serve this area so this one is underserved areas right and for summer job I worked there and I was working like taking orders and occasionally I would make a pizza but I realized some of the things like why are we running out of cheese or pizza place and now you have to go to Costco and pay whole you know retail instead of getting things wholesale and it was one of those things where you kind of instinctively realized that business was a thing and when I went to college I still wanted to be an actress and but I ended up being a business major instead so

um and so I started I was a hustler and I did things part-time here and there and then I started this business one of the previous day part-time where I had a full-time job and it started growing so much so that I actually hired a part-time employee while I was working for someone else full-time and it just kind of went from there that is awesome so tell us a little bit more about the company what’s the name what do you guys do how do you help folks yeah so we are C2 accounting and business support and our focus is actually uh more on the bookkeeping side so our focus is on the back end the things that small business owners need to do to keep the business running but they might always want to do it so it’s just it’s kind of you know a necessary evil um when people reach out to us they’re usually in some sort of distress no one’s going to call a bookkeeper when things are going well so either you know they’re doing the books themselves and they don’t really know what they’re doing um a spouse is doing it so it’s causing some sort of like Strife in the relationship or they have a an admin person in the office and they’re like here your warm body we have QuickBooks the two of you should meet and then they do it and so when things kind of get a little stressed out that’s when we get a call and so our job is to kind of go in and see where the problems are see how we can fix it get them healthy and hopefully they work with us on ongoing we keep them healthy wonderful I’m sure you’ve experienced some some very interesting uh uh set of books yes we have and the names have been you know it’s taken away to protect it that it was the identity of the guilty or something like that now share us a story where uh someone pushed you or inspired you that you could do it maybe even when you didn’t think that you could and the impact that that person had on you I’m gonna have to give credit to my husband um because he was he was and is my biggest supporter um and when I was doing this part time and I was was really becoming a real business I’m actually paying myself and it got to the point where I don’t know how many long lunches you can take me have a full-time job or having time to sneak out to make a phone call and this is before even though this was still you know only uh seven eight years ago it was before Zoom was really popular so um we had a conversation and he said you know I think you could do this if you could do it full time and so we crunched the numbers we got our finances in order as a family so I could leave my job which I did in December of 2020 no December 2017. wow it’s been that long December 2017 and then here I am so I will say a little side note for anyone leaving their full-time job to become a full-time business owner um don’t continue living like you have a full-time paycheck in those first few months which is a mistake that I’ve made it’s like well wait a second right yeah yeah and what’s your husband’s name my husband’s name is Greg wonderful fantastic well it’s us um having gone through a similar you know example of of having that support from from my spouse I know how critical that is to to be able to feel confident and jump jumping in with both feet when you know when your husband or in my case when my wife was supportive and encouraging of that so I’m happy to hear that you had that support yeah I think choosing a good partner in life is just one of the best things you can do because they can really either make your life easier or harder so she’s wisely people so Carlene what’s your big learning as a business owner um one of the things that has been my business Bernie biggest learn ing was to run my business as a CEO and that necessarily as an entrepreneur and that that’s not the slight entrepreneurship because I’m passionate about entrepreneurship but as a CEO of the business you’re really looking at things at a high level right and you’re trying to build a team around you that’s because you can’t do it all yourself so I think that was the biggest learning curve for me was I had to take off like I work for myself hat and put on I am a CEO yes yes we it actually um that reminds me of uh something that we coach our clients on it’s the entrepreneurial ladder so you know we all started as employees then we become self-employed then we become a manager and we hire employees then then we become what we call a true business owner and and that business owner you know is working towards you know what you’re saying is that CEO mindset of having a business that can run without us and things happen really three mindsets shifts that we have to make right so we all start with an employee mindset right then we’ll then we’ll go into owner operator mindset and that’s a big shift um but then we have to go to that c CEO mindset where you know we’re not doing all the day-to-day activities anymore and and that I find that’s a really tough shift for a lot of business owners to make because you have to let go right and trust that you’re going to be able to do it as well as you yeah yeah that is hard I have given people advice when they are still in the owner operator mode and before they’re hiring that first person to take everything that’s in your head and get it on paper document that your processes because training someone seems overwhelming when you have to physically sit there and do it but if they have things that they can follow it becomes a lot easier yeah it sure does and um and the the great thing about that is the person that you’re training will let you know of things that are confusing right of what you wrote down and I don’t understand they’re great it’s an opportunity to make that training document even stronger yeah I completely agree and go back and do it yourself sometimes you’d be surprised

exactly so Colleen we know that business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us about one of your biggest uh business challenges over the years and and maybe a fellow business owner that came alongside you and helped you through it I think one of the biggest challenges I had was maybe in the beginning it was undervaluing myself undervaluing my services and it would even say maybe even imposter syndrome a little bit because it’s like as you were saying you’re Shifting the mindset from employee to now I own a business but you don’t really feel like you’re am I really a business owner when I’ve only been doing this for a couple of months um it instead of having a single business fellow business owner that helped me through it I think it was actually my client to help me through it because they started they saw the value that I brought to the not only the service but the value that I brought to their business and how it was making a change in their lives and they would give me feedback because you know you’re like wow okay they’re getting it I’m you know they’re understanding what I’m doing um and when they start referring you to their the people in their Circle then you realize okay this is legit I’m actually not an imposter I can do this yes oh I love that it um that idea of of you know not valuing ourselves right means then that we we will attract you know lower value clients right because that’s where we’re currently perceiving ourselves so one of the things my coaches helped me with um in the beginning was you know she kept saying to me Tim when when you believe you’re worth you know this much then you’ll start attracting clients who are willing to pay that much right I agree so it’s our own mindset and you mentioned the Imposter syndrome right we all struggle with that but you know taking taking time to to work on our mindset and work on our beliefs and and trust that that we can you know in fact deliver the services that we’re promising you know then we start to see it happening with people hiring us and and then that you know helps accelerate that but yeah it’s a it’s a tough thing in the beginning to when we don’t have the clients yet to believe that we’re worth and the the big mistake that a lot of folks will make is that they’ll significantly undervalue their work right and almost give it away for free and then and then get stuck in a mentality of well I I guess I can only ever charge this much because that’s what I TR you know that’s what I charge to get these clients so right I would would definitely challenge anyone who is currently in that situation to start raising their rates and they would be surprised and you’ll go well why couldn’t I do this six months ago why did I do this a year ago yeah um if you know especially you want to be obviously within the market whatever your service or product is but if you’re definitely on the lower end it’s time to start increasing those rates absolutely right because there’s a there’s a perception too if you’re too cheap then you must be bad right you must not be providing a good service if you’re not if you’re not charging you know the same amount that everyone else is charging exactly it’s like when you go to a website to buy its software and they have like the three tiers people tend to just choose the metal no one wants to be buy the cheapest but you don’t really want to buy the most expensive so it’s exact same thing yes exactly and I I love that too because you should always have at least three options because there are you know a smaller subset of people that always just want the most expensive version right so if you don’t offer a most expensive version you’re leaving money on the table because you you know you don’t have those three options to offer someone I agree that’s actually a really good point so Carlene if I was to ask you I’m going to kind of put you on the spot here and I asked you to pick three people um in your business owner Journey that you’re you’re most grateful for them you know being there for you and and helping you along the way who are those three people and how they help you so I would say when I think back um one was a networking partner um she founded a local women’s only networking group her name is Linda Tello I will give her a shout out here and that group of women was so supportive especially at the very beginning of my business that it just helped because you know when you first start working for yourself you’re alone typically and now that we’re all working from home even more so so having a group of people to kind of network with a not feel so alone in that Journey was super helpful in the beginning then I had a sales coach about a year a couple years ago and then I was pretty good at sales even though I never I just thought I thought I would hate sales but I realized I actually don’t look at the sales anymore I really look at this having a conversation with someone and if we can support you then great if not then that’s okay too and being able to systematize the process in which I was doing that those sales calls that was super helpful and and there would be someone who’s actually currently operating as our fractional CEO and helping me to systematize the operations the back end the HR stuff because we have a team of right now I have five employees and we just actually put an offer in that she accepted today so we’ll have six soon thank you so having someone to help and I will say that was one of the areas which I felt the most weak like team meetings we have to have them what do we do you know I know this is the thing is it just having someone who has that kind of Wonder bird’s eye view but to that leadership and some of the operational pieces and I just felt like I wasn’t ready to to do and that helped me feel more like a CEO because I have that team behind me yeah fantastic I love it that um that’s one of the things that with that CEO mindset shift is then actually having a leadership you know starting to build a leadership team right and being able to put a layer in between of people that you can hold accountable to running the day-to-day and and not getting into the day-to-day so that’s that’s fantastic congratulations it’s also very scary but fantastic

um the the women’s group that you got involved in um I love that because you mentioned that you know that it can be lonely at the top and right not when we’re an employee we are we have a manager who holds us accountable right who who we can go to ask questions to and and keeps us on track when we’re on our own we lose all of that accountability and support so exactly exactly so um when you you think about the the impact that those three people had on you or or had on the business can you see a correlation between your business results and and the things that they they helped you with or or you know the the interactions that you had with those three folks yes for sure for sure I would say if they bought those three people the women’s group helped me to become a better Network right in the beginning because when you’re working full-time usually unless you’re in sales your job doesn’t really involve networking so that was a skill I had to develop so they were very helpful and still are with that um with the sales coach it definitely increased myself so I need to make more money because I was able to have a process and remove the emotion from it you know I remember in the beginning if someone said no it felt almost Soul crushing like well why don’t you want to work with me but you know now it’s like it’s not the right time it’s not the right fit I’ve had people come back after saying no so you don’t now there’s no emotion involved and then with the CEO I feel more empowered um as a CEO and again I also feel like we’ve increased our Revenue because she’s helping me to create stretch goals and like okay yeah I know you can hit here and me and my mind like wow that seems like a lot but they and we’re doing it we’re hitting those Milestones so having someone to kind of light a fire under you has been nice holding you a calorie accountable yeah wonderful so shifting gears a little bit here as you think about the next three to five years Arlene what are the biggest challenges that you see that you you guys are going to face in achieving your goals and who are the types of people that you’re going to need to help you work through those challenges yeah so the biggest challenge I could think of off the top of my head is going to be balancing continuing to deliver amazing services to our clients with the explosive growth that we’ve experienced over the last year and a half so while you know we are growing like crazy and I love it but we also want to make sure that because our clients are used to us delivering a really good service and being um almost over delivering and we don’t want to lose that so that’s going to be hard and so for that would be building the right team um putting the HR structures in place so that we can get them train them directly so that they can do their job so I don’t feel like I have to micromedage everyone um that’s going to be for me I think the biggest challenge that is a a very common challenge especially with businesses that are scaling that are growing have seen rapid growth and I I use the analogy of of building a a high-rise right so if there’s not a strong footings and solid foundation in place and you go to scale the building it’s going to fall over right so same with uh exactly a growing business if we don’t have a strong Foundation right a solid core and the fundamentals of the business in place and we see that hyper growth it you know it starts to get wobbly and starts to have a little bit of chaos so you know the team that you mentioned the systems that you mentioned right having processes and procedures in places things that are critical to to allowing the business to scale you know well and and scale comfortably as opposed to scaling chaotically yeah so are there any particular processes that you would recommend that a small business has in place as they’re going through that that scale face there’s a couple that we recommend as a foundation so first of all and you you mentioned this one already is we call it destination Mastery so the idea is having a very clear picture of you know what does this business look like when it’s done what year is it done what’s the revenue profit or chart so that there’s Clarity on what are we working towards now done can be different things done can be you know I’m passing it down to the Next Generation done can be I’m selling it done can be I’m retiring um and then you work backwards and say okay what does that look like in three years from now and in one year from now on this quarter and this month and what are the things I should be working on this week time Mastery is another area where we want to make sure that we’re introducing tools to help everybody be as efficient and effective as possible right so that they’re not wasting their time and and and things like that and then the third is financial Mastery so making sure we’ve got a very strong you’ll appreciate this because this is you guys making sure we know our numbers and that we’ve got a solid understanding of our books and that they’re being reconciled monthly and we’re making business good solid business decisions based on knowing our numbers I I love the the show The Prophet Marcus says if you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your business I love it exactly you can’t make it it’s bad information so once you have that Foundation then you focus on you know the your marketing and sales and make having clear processes and procedures there then systematizing the business make sure that you know all the different processes and procedures in the business are documented like you were saying earlier um then making sure you’ve got a good solid team right the right people on the bus sitting in the right seat on the bus so it’s all of those things is what allows businesses to continue to grow and to continue to scale but if you don’t have that that Mastery Foundation level the rest of the things don’t matter because the foundations you know not solid and is wobbly right that’s actually great advice yeah I I love how there’s a very it’s a process to building processes right yeah well the great thing is that you know there’s there are enough great companies out there that have perfected these things so that as as small all business owners right we can there’s already a road map there’s already a process and a methodology now we don’t have the time to necessarily go out and learn all that stuff because we’re running businesses so you know there’s books and and our coaches or different uh structures out there that can help you know speed up the learning curve right business owners yeah yeah I agree yeah why agreement the will right exactly hey Carlene last question here um Jim Rohn an awesome business Guru uh written a lot of Awesome books one of his quotes is that we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so when you think about that quote what advice would you have for business owners who are trying to do it on their own who aren’t who aren’t reaching out to others and and getting the support like you did what would you what would you suggest to them don’t don’t try to do it on your own um because it is it is analysis impossible but it’s it’s stressful like physically emotionally and mentally why put yourself through that um so it’s really imperative to build a team around you and I think a lot of times people think that I have to go hire a full-time bookkeeper I have to hire a full-time attorney but you don’t necessarily have to do that but most of us now offer Outsourcing fractional services like have you ever be mentioned I have a fractional CEO she doesn’t work with me full-time she has other clients I could never afford to hire her full-time but you know I still take advantage of her services so the exact same thing that people need to make sure you have I say you know obviously a good bookkeeper a good tax accountant financial advisor business coach um you want to have insurance agents all these people that can help support you to get where you want to go um and you mentioned we were talking a second ago about where you know having that the looking at the end where you want to how did you call it retire the business how the business is going to end and knowing that and having the right people will help you get there a lot faster you also mentioned earlier the the power of being part of a networking group right in terms of uh yes so what I found I’d love to hear your perspective on this what I found is that most you know successful small business owners are more than willing to talk with brand new business owners right about their journey and and have you found that as well to be true yes yes yes as long as you’re not trying to sell them people would love to share their information with you because generally when you are an entrepreneur when you’re a business owner it’s because you’re passionate about the concept and you really do want to see other businesses succeed so they will and we know this right the our our favorite thing right everybody’s favorite thing is themselves so if somebody reaches out and says hey I’d love to hear your story and your and your learnings as a business owner nine times out of ten people are going to exactly I’d love to talk about me yes let’s set up a coffee meeting yes they will and and they will talk and then if you ask the right questions they will keep talking and I love also your advice is don’t try to sell them right you need to be going into that meeting of what can I learn from this successful business owner exactly what advice and tips don’t try to pitch them the the pitching opportunity may come later after you’ve built some Rapport like don’t don’t enter the conversation that way right the one thing I’ve learned the most about networking is I go into any networking meeting literally to build a relationship sometimes it needs to happen I think of someone that can refer to that person or vice versa but I need never walk into those that I’m going to sell this person because then it becomes icky um and the chances of you getting the sale is slim to none anyway so just really focus on getting to know them and letting them talk about themselves yes um I’m part of uh BNI business networking International and and they their Mantra is givers game right so the more we give to others the more value the introductions like you said if we can buy you know actually use their services there becomes this reciprocation effect that happens right of the more they get from us then there’s almost this guilt feeling of I’ve got to give something back right exactly I love yeah I love the BNI Mantra givers game because it does make sense so um Colleen it sounds like you’ve been blessed with some incredible people that have helped you along the journey if if they were all here on the show today what would you want to say to them thank you thank you for believing in me thank you for supporting me because there are days where I I have said you know why am I doing this would it not be easier to just go back and get a job but my husband likes to tell me Greg likes to tell me that at this point I’m unemployable I have been doing this way too long on my own to go back to working from someone else so it is just it’s going to happen you will have those days and so just making sure that you thank those people for putting up with you when you have those days where you want to win it’s interesting you mentioned um you know some days it would just be easier to go back to be an employer we actually teach that concept because it it is easier to be an employee the only reason that anyone should ever become self-employed is if their goal is to build a business that can run without them yeah words right that’s where the True Value comes right the freedom the flexibility the wealth that we all went into business for in the first place if we don’t have a business that can run without us then then we get stuck into that being an employee right and the and the you know all that comes with the day-to-day operations while also trying to to be the business owner and the Strategic thinker and juggling all that stuff right you know it’s it’s always easier to be an employee now yeah you may not be able to be an employee like you said right you’ve been an owner too long so the goal should always be all right then let’s scale the business get get the right people and processes in place and and be a true business owner that has a business that can run without us exactly I couldn’t agree more here’s the reality for everyone who’s listening right if we don’t have a business that can run without us and God forbid something happens to us so growing up my dad was a mechanic and he had he hurt his shoulder and had to have surgery and and the surgery didn’t work so he couldn’t go back to his trade so you know if something like that happens to us and we can’t work for three months right if if the business can’t run without us our livelihood screwed and so it’s a very scary thought yes right and so I love all the things that you’re doing right to move you more into that CEO role and that CEO mentality and getting the right people in place so congratulations that is so yeah I appreciate that it’s hard work but it’s it is so rewarding to be able to you know take a vacation and know that the money doesn’t stop because you’re not working yes right what a milestone too when was the when were you able to take your first you know true time away without having to get pulled back in um let’s see I actually was in Paris in April of May and I really did not work yeah so I occasionally you check emails because the time difference you know but still the team handled things which was great wonderful that is fantastic well Carlene it has been a pleasure speaking with you today thank you as well for being on the show thank you so much I appreciate it and again thank you to your audience for hanging out with us today to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made as a myth show with your host coach Tim Campsall be sure to help us spread the movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join us go to bemadtogether.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and I’ll see you all next time take care foreign