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Lia took the leap to work with me in January of 2012. She owns a business that was founded in 1969 by her mother and father. She grew up in the business and her parents taught her everything she needed to know about fabricating boat canvas, boat interiors and awnings. What she didn’t learn from her parents was how to run the “business”.

Lia’s daughter and son in law work in the business and will eventually take it over. Lia realized that the legacy she and her parents had built was not what she wanted to leave her children. She was determined to create a financially stable enterprise.

When we began working together Lia was often unable to make payroll, incurred a minimum of a $1000 per month in bank fees, paid COD for everything, and had no infrastructure in place for the employees to follow. Yes, they made high end canvas products and their work was sought after by a well-heeled clientele but the internal working of the business was lacking in all regards.

Lia was resistant to having business debt because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to pay it back and it would destroy the business. This thinking kept her immobilized and stuck in a cycle of negative cash flow that she couldn’t break out of. In addition, the bookkeeper and accountant she worked with were not up to snuff and did nothing to assist her in dealing with the cash flow issues.

In working with me, the employees calendar their jobs to avoid overbooking and keep their commitments to clients, they fill out a time and materials worksheet for each job and Lia has increased her pricing based on what she has learned. In addition, payroll is met without undue stress, Lia has net 30 terms with all her suppliers, she no longer bounces checks and we brought in a competent bookkeeper that works with her weekly to manage cash flow.

Gianola Canvas is on track to reach $750,000 in sales this year and it will be their best year ever. She will hit the million dollar mark in 2015, if not sooner and most importantly, her family business will have stability and profitability for the next generation.

Visit: Gianola Canvas Products

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DH Wine Compliance Logo

In January of 2011 Drea attended my One Page Business Plan® class where she learned about business planning and I learned about her company.

After the class, Drea and I had a follow up meeting and I outlined my vision for where she could take her business. She had just completed her first year in business and gross sales were about $60K. I explained how DH Wine Compliance could scale to become a million dollar company. I also outlined the scenario if she chose to stay a solopreneur, topping out at about $150K in annual gross revenue.

Drea thoughtfully declined my invitation to become a million dollar company. She is a mom with three young children and the idea of hiring people, expanding her office space, implementing systems, developing financial acumen and doing what it would take were not in her comfort level. We parted ways and that was that. Then, two weeks later, after much thought and many sleepless nights, Drea calls and tells me “I want to go for it! I don’t want to play small, I want to create the best business I can and I want to hit that million dollar pay day!”

Fast forward to October of 2013. Drea and I have worked together for almost three years. Monthly we meet one on one, she attends a Biz Diva group, and we review the financials with her accountant. I have helped Drea tackle and diminish her personal debt giving her substantial savings in the bank. I assisted her in developing a banking relationship to obtain a line of credit and business loan to support the rapid growth of her company. I have also supported her in managing the growth rate of her business and keeping the business profitable during high intensity growth. She has eight full time employees, a beautiful 4000 square foot office and the business is growing monthly. Drea is on track for hitting the million dollar mark in 2014 and she won’t be stopping there!

The potential I saw in DH Wine Compliance was not the company, it was the person. It didn’t matter what the product or service was, it was Drea’s aptitude, determination, willingness to learn what she didn’t know. Her “can do” attitude inspired me to imagine the vision of DH Wine Compliance as a million dollar company and Drea as the CEO and leader of a well-respected, well-run enterprise. I thank Drea every day for her trust in my abilities and for allowing me to be her partner on this incredible journey.

Visit: DH Wine Compliance

DH Wine Compliance


Music to My Ears Logo

Music to my Ears (MTME) is a music school in Cotati, CA. Aja and her husband Dan are both skilled musicians (Dan plays the trumpet…. and Aja plays the harp, piano and is a vocalist). While Dan has focused on teaching and his musical career, running the business has been Aja’s primary job. We started working together in 2006. MTME had been in business a little over a year and it was struggling in the way startups do.

Aja was ambivalent about her commitment to the business; she wanted to start a family and being a musician at heart, the business of running the business was not her first love. It was also a tough business financially as the margins were tight and there wasn’t a lot of profitability.

During the initial years of working together, Aja and I focused on getting the financials accurate and reviewing them, renegotiating their lease during the economic downturn, and managing the debt; paying down the line of credit, hiring a competent bookkeeper and determining what could be done to increase sales and profitability.

Music to My Ears Storefront

In addition to teaching music and voice, MTME had a musical theater program. The program culminated in live performances and the families, relatives, and friends of the performers bought tickets to attend the shows. Initially Aja was renting a very expensive theater to host the performances and the first thing I did was recommend she find an alternate location where MTME would recoup the money from the ticket sales rather than all the profit going to pay the theater.

This made sense to Aja and going forward she used locations that were much more cost effective. Once this change was in place it was obvious that the musical theater productions were profitable. My next suggestion to Aja was that she offer several program a year, not just one during the summer. Starting in 2011 MTME began offering multiple programs and currently there are three musical theater events a year-spring, summer, and holiday. This has given the business the financial boost it needed.

Aja just had her second child, the business has no debt, the family has a savings account, and the business runs profitably with Aja in the background.

Visit: Music to My Ears

Music to My Ears Logo


Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar

I began working with Andrea in 2008, three months after she opened her first cupcake shop in Cotati, CA. She was a woman with a vision who had insurmountable drive and ambition with plans to be the cupcake queen of northern California! From the beginning, Sift made a phenomenal product. Everyone agreed they were the best cupcakes around.

Sift Cupcakes and Dessert Bar Store Front

In the three years we worked together, Sift was able to use their profits to open two new locations, one in Napa and another in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa location housed their “central bakery”, a concept I introduced to them as preferable to each location having their own baking facility. This was a way to guarantee consistency and quality plus it provided a huge cost savings to the company. Andrea’s goal was to open multiple locations in high profile retail areas and the central bakery concept would allow Sift to lease minimal square footage in those desirable high priced areas.

In 2010 Andrea’s husband Jeff joined the company. He brought the business and financial acumen that had been lacking. With a solid partner in place, Andrea was ready to move into a high density location and she chose San Francisco. Self-funding was not an option and I guided the growth strategy, the development of the business plan, and the bank introduction that got them funded. In 2012 Sift opened their San Francisco store and a bigger central kitchen in Santa Rosa. They are scheduled to open their fifth store in Petaluma.

Other highlights:
While working together, Sift won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, they reached and surpassed the million dollars sales mark, had the first of two children, created a new website and diversified their product line. While getting my MBA, my team wrote a case study about Sift that was published in an academic text book. I have won (and continue to win) the hearts of friends and family by showing up with the Sift cupcakes and desserts at every occasion!

Andrea and Jeff Ballus
Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar
Multiple Locations
Visit: Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar

Sift Cupcakes and Dessert Bar

Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar



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