Matt Remuzzi is the founder of CapForge, Inc., providing affordable and professional bookkeeping services across the United States. Matt has MBA and BA degrees as well as various bookkeeping certifications to back him up.
In this interview, Matt shares where he gets his motivation not to work for anyone else again. He makes a point on being unique, providing topnotch customer service and fast turn-around are the key to becoming successful in whatever business you are in.
Discover inspiring insights about Matt in the following paragraphs and how his drive to become independent fueled his passion. For more updates on Matt, follow him on Twitter!
What motivated you to start CapForge? How did the idea come about?
CapForge is a handy name because it doesn’t mean anything- as a result, I’ve run many different kinds of businesses under the same name. Currently, CapForge does small business bookkeeping. But back when I first started, CapForge was doing business plan consulting and writing.
I started because I got laid off from my job doing that, but I knew there were still plenty of clients out there who needed the help. So I just gave it a shot to see if I could do on my own what I had been doing as an employee. And it turned out I could!
What was your mission at the beginning of starting your business?
I desperately wanted to be my own boss. My initial mission was just to make enough money that I didn’t have to go and get another job. But of course that wasn’t the pitch to my clients!
My mission then and my mission now is to do a great job and provide a really good end result for my customers so they are both happy with what they got and happy to refer me to others. No matter what business you are in, if you make that your mission you really can’t go wrong.
What do you attribute your success to? Is there a trait you have or a person who helped you along the way?
The most important thing is to just not give up when you hit roadblocks. There are plenty of setbacks in starting a business and maintaining it and growing it, but you can’t let them get you down if you want to be successful. Just take everything in stride and keep going. Having a mentor helps cut down on the learning curve, but ultimately each person has to make it on their own.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
That’s easy - I still don’t want to go and have to work for someone else! I think for any true entrepreneur, once you’ve had the freedom of being self-employed it is very hard to go back. So even if what you are working on doesn’t pan out, you’ve got three or four more ideas lined up to work on.
And if you are on the fence as to whether something is going to work or not, the idea of having it not work and having to go look for a job is usually enough to get you to put in the extra effort to make sure it does pan out.
What is unique about your business? Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the rest?
In our bookkeeping business we have built in quite a few important advantages over the competition. We charge a flat fee per month, rather than hourly, which our clients really like. We offer unlimited support. We have a team of people here, so every month everything gets done, unlike most bookkeepers who are one person businesses and often fall behind or disappear leaving clients hanging.
We emphasize customer service and same day responses- another rare find in our industry. We also pull clients from all over the country while most bookkeepers only work locally, so we are able to market to a much bigger pool of potential clients.
If you don’t start your business off with some unique advantages or if you can’t easily explain why a customer should pick you over their other options you are going to have a hard time having any real success in business.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or customer? If so, how did you handle the situation?
Sure. You can’t have a 100% satisfaction rate no matter what you do. All you can do is your best to either make things right or else gently separate yourself from a client who isn’t a good fit or will simply never be happy with what they get and move on.
The thing you don’t want to do is fight back, get into flame wars or start trading insults and worse. All that does is turn everyone off and potentially end up in lawsuits, lost business, lots of mental stress and no one wins. Take the high road, even when you clearly are in the right. It’s just easier.
In your experience, what is the biggest bookkeeping mistake that entrepreneurs and small business owners make?
That’s easy- not paying attention to it. Either by not having it or having it but not using it as a tool to help them grow their business. In my experience, entrepreneurs who spend time really knowing their numbers inside and out tend to grow and do well and those who have little or no idea of the metrics of their business spend a lot more time floundering or make costly mistakes that could have been easily avoided.
When you started CapForge, how did you handle the tricky process of registering your business with the state? Did you do it yourself or use a filing service?
I did it all myself. I wanted to make sure I understood the process and that it was done right. But honestly, I didn’t bother with some of those items until I had already started to have some revenue.
I think making sure your business is viable, by having a paying customer or two, should be just about the first thing any new business owner does. Spending a month or two and thousands of dollars to set up a business shell first, only to find out it won’t work, is a backwards approach in my opinion.
Is there any resource that helped you write a solid plan for your business?
Having come from a business plan background I was already pretty familiar with the process. To me, the writing part is actually less important than this: understanding the market and the competition and figuring out what you are going to do to make your business more attractive to the potential customers than their other choices.
If you do that successfully you are in good shape, whether you formalize that in a written plan or not. If you don’t do that, even if you have a plan, you are going to have a much harder time being successful.
What are the three best pieces of advice that you would give to anyone starting a business in California? What do they need to know from the very beginning?
First, make sure you know what it is that is going to make your business uniquely appealing to your specific customer segment.
Second, go out and actually make some sales or do your best to cheaply prove that there are customers willing to pay for what you are offering before investing a ton of time and money on the business.
Third, once you are up and running, make sure to take care of the business housekeeping- bookkeeping, paying taxes, being legally compliant, etc. Too often good businesses are brought down by having ignored these items for too long when they could have gotten it right from the start.