Meet Laura Troost! As a Certified Public Accountant, Laura has a way with numbers and aims to help her clients make smart financial decisions. With big plans on the horizon, Laura is goal-oriented and driven when it comes to continuing to grow her business. Here’s how she transitioned from working for another accounting firm to owning her own business and making a difference for her clients and community.
Tell us about your business.
I provide income tax and financial accounting services to business and individual clients.
The Early Days
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
I don’t remember “dreaming” of it, but I always assumed I’d have a husband, a career as a professional and a nice home.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a cashier for Great Steak and Potato at our local mall.
The Learning Years
Where did you attend college?
Riverside Community College – Associates (I only mention it because I think more people should think about community colleges as an option for their kids.)
California State University, San Bernardino – Bachelor of Science, Business Administration with a focus in Accounting.
What was your first job out of college?
Staff Accountant- Soren McAdam Christenson, LLP
List your jobs until you started your own business.
Staff Accountant, Senior Accountant, Supervisor, Manager- Soren McAdam Christenson, LLP
The Entrepreneurial Years
What year did you decide to start your own business?
After having my third child in 2008 we decided to move to Santa Clarita for the schools. While Soren McAdam was fine with me continuing in my responsibilities from home, I knew that doing so meant I would have no further opportunities for growth or promotion with the firm. I toyed with the idea for many years and when a close co-worker left the firm in 2015 I decided it was time to start planning my exit for real.
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
Working at home for a CPA firm, I already made my own hours. I also worked on large audit and tax engagements, for companies that viewed the services I provided as a product. What I desired was to work with closely held entities, to be in contact with the owners and use my skills to help them make better decisions and save money. I desired to feel that I was doing something unique and that my efforts were making a difference.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
Little has changed, other than how many clients I am serving.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
- Nobody is going to argue with you if you don’t bill them appropriately for your services (too low).
- Everything has to have a set process, ideally written down, even if it’s something you always do yourself. It makes life easier and eventually you won’t be doing many of the tasks you do so you might as well define the best way to do them.
- Here in Santa Clarita, there are infinite opportunities to give to charitable causes. Set a budget and stick to it. And set expectations with recipients of your sponsorship before you write the check or give the in-kind contribution.
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
- Finding the perfect assistant and/or counterpart
- Expanding and adjusting my networking to pursue opportunities more in line with my expertise
- To continue achieving my annual monetary and time goals
What’s your strongest skillset that’s helped you succeed?
I am willing to try, even if I don’t know what I’m doing and to keep at it when I’m nervous as hell. I’m not speaking about the accounting or tax part – that’s easy. I’m talking about marketing, public speaking, and dealing with the public.
On this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
- My husband, also a CPA is always willing to talk challenging situations or client issues out, review my work when I want a second set of eyes and is my biggest cheerleader. And he won’t let me pay him.
- Doug McAdam. Doug is one of the founding partners of Soren McAdam and he and I worked very closely for many years. Doug is a pillar of kindness and character. He has been a strong, calming influence in my professional progression and has always encouraged me toward being and doing my very best through example and supportive action.
- Lindsay Schlick, a true entrepreneur. Lindsay is a close friend of mine who is has been the one to counter all of my doubts with a good “why the (expletive) not?”.
- Got to add a “fourth”- The ladies in the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita- as a group they have encouraged me to push myself out of my comfort zone and do the uncomfortable things one has to do to change.
- And I’m adding a fifth – seventh- my kids- they are so excited and proud to watch me do this. They help me with small administrative tasks in my practice and help make sure we all eat, live in a clean house and have clean clothes to wear. They keep us functioning when life gets hectic.
The Bumps in the Road
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life?
Public accounting can be extremely stressful. There are always deadlines, complex issues and client responsibilities. In the beginning, there is a huge learning curve and since I was at a relatively small firm (around 60 people) there was a wide variety of areas I was expected to learn very quickly with zero training or education and on a time budget. Under the supervision of people that weren’t necessarily very good at social interaction in general (which goes with the territory, there are lots of very intelligent, hardworking people in public accounting but social skills are a definitely secondary skill). Later on, it was more about dealing with egos and frustrating situations when you disagree with one another on technical issues. And honestly, I’ve found other women the most difficult to deal with in those situations when there is a disagreement as to the appropriate course of action for a client.
How did you overcome them – did they make you stronger or learn something new?
As a young accountant, all I could do was keep showing up, keep my mouth shut and get through it. As my career has progressed I’ve learned to be socially generous with people, but still express my opinions assertively and completely. I am much, much stronger than I started at 21…I know how to deal with uncomfortable conversations. You won’t find me crying in the bathroom, you’ll find me at the table calm and methodical.
All About You
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
It did feel inevitable, due to my field.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Yoga, reading, gardening, drinking with friends
Tell us about your family.
I am married with three children. My husband, David, is also a CPA. My oldest daughter, Tyler, attends Arizona State University and is an absolutely amazing individual in every imaginable way. My son Blaine attends Valencia High School, plays tenors in the marching band and is quite the entrepreneur himself (let me know if you need a car wash). Our youngest, Myava, is in elementary school and aspires to be the next JK Rowling.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
Single Mothers Outreach
Age you’d like to retire at?
When my mind goes, but I want my life to be the perfect blend of hard work and fun.
Travel location on your bucket list?
Introvert or Extrovert?
Introvert who pretends to be an extrovert
Night owl or early bird?
Both – depends on my mood.
Favorite podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?
Favorite business book?
You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Favorite business tool?
Excel – it’s the common language of everyone/thing. I couldn’t live without it.
Three female entrepreneurs you admire:
Not something I’ve spent any time reflecting on…really only Lindsay Schlick.
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