Perfect Balance, a small business accounting firm in Bexley, grew out of Susan Bloomfield Schnitz's passion for small businesses and her desire to balance her roles as a business professional and mother of three children.
After working for two prominent accounting firms, now known as Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as The Limited Inc., Schnitz opened her own CPA firm in 1992, operating for the first five years out of her home. Three years ago, she moved the company to its present location on East Main Street in Bexley and now has one full-time and two part-time employees.
Schnitz, who doesn't do any tax returns, focuses exclusively on accounting for small businesses.
"It's a niche that most accountants don't want to do, but I have a great passion for," she explains. "I act as the in-house controller for small businesses that don't need or can't afford to have an in-house controller."
Her services involve a lot of financial counseling and hand-holding for her 60 small business clients, which range in size from start-ups to a company generating $3 million in revenue.
Additionally, she provides check-writing services for executives and others who need help organizing the financial side of their personal lives.
"A lot of accountants can't look beyond the numbers, but we look at our clients' lifestyle, where they want to go with the business, what they want to do," she says. "When you're dealing with a small business, you can't just look at the numbers. These people are their small business, and their situations make a difference.
"I call it my holistic approach. It's more than just your numbers. How do you manage your business? Do you have kids at home? Do you want to leave your office at 6 [p.m.] or do you want to work 24 hours a day?"
Schnitz offers the example of two clients who own an art gallery who were told by their tax accountant to close the business because their margins weren't high enough.
"I said, 'Wait a minute. That's not why you're in the business. You love what you're doing, and your business will eventually grow.' Well, this year they tripled their sales," she says.
Schnitz says her revenue should be in the $300,000 range this year -- a 50 percent increase from 1999. Her business growth has come almost exclusively from referrals, she notes.
Because she is a small business owner, Schnitz says she closely identifies with her clients, many of whom are women.
"I tell them, 'I've sat where you're sitting. I'm not only an accountant, but I've also started a business, and I've made mistakes. I've bought software I didn't need. I've taken on clients I knew I shouldn't take on.' You're going to make mistakes when you're in a small business."
She also identifies with the unique aspects of being a woman business owner.
"For a lot of women, I understand that not only are they running a business, but they're also running a household," she says. "They have a family; they have other obligations, and it's not easy to manage all that. You have to have a support system at home."
As an instructor for the Service Corps of Retired Executives, Schnitz also knows the value of business planning and she insists that new clients do their homework before they do anything else.
"I make them do a business plan, and I make sure they have the money before they start and they are educated on what it entails to start a business," she says. "And because I have a great relationship with a lot of the banks, I will introduce my clients to a banker and help them get the money they need.
"I also try to network my clients because we can all do business together, which has been fun."
Schnitz says all of her clients have experienced growth this year and that gives her a great deal of satisfaction.
"I truly have an emotional attachment to all of my clients," she says. "I really love working with them." How to reach: Susan Bloomfield Schnitz, CPA, Perfect Balance, 235-8877, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: This page is presented as a cooperative effort of National City Bank and SBN magazine; however all material prepared for this page was independently reported and edited by SBN and was not subject to prior review or approval by National City Bank representatives.