Ernie Villany from Boulder Valley CPAs

Episode Transcription

00:00:00 – Glenn

Welcome, everybody. Another edition of Empowering Entrepreneurs. I’m Glen Harper.

00:00:03 – Julie

I’m Julie Smith.

00:00:04 – Glenn

What’s up, Julie? How are things today?

00:00:05 – Julie

Hey, things are good. It’s about to rain outside. But you missed that on the way in.

00:00:09 – Glenn

I swear to God, it’s sunny outside. I don’t know where I’m. I must be looking east, not west. I don’t know, but that’s okay. I got my decaf coffee ready to rock.

00:00:17 – Julie

I got my espresso. I’m good.

00:00:18 – Glenn

Oh, Jesus. Well, we would like to welcome a very interesting guy. Met a few months ago. His name’s Ernie Villany. He’s a fellow CPA, an entrepreneur, also kind of a movie star, too. And he’s a driving force between behind his firm, Boulder Valley CPA’s. Ernie, what’s up, brother?

00:00:37 – Ernie

Good morning, everybody. How are you? Both?

00:00:38 – Julie

We’re great. It’s good. You even you made it so early in the the different time zones. Some impressive.

00:00:45 – Ernie

Does it.

00:00:46 – Glenn

Does the sun come up earlier there because you’re so high up in the mountains or is it you know, it’s.

00:00:51 – Ernie

Still pretty late. I got to tell you, it’s kind of tough. It’s it’s dark still.

00:00:57 – Glenn

That’s fantastic. Well, early Bird gets the worm. We had a heard a funny thing the other day that you were actually on the Letterman show. Is that a real statement?

00:01:07 – Ernie

That is true. Twice, actually.

00:01:08 – Glenn

Twice. No kidding. How’d you score that gig?

00:01:11 – Ernie

So I was my office was in Manhattan, and I had a client who was a segment producer there, and they were Letterman used to do a top ten list every tax season. So they had these ten CPAs and they were like, Hey, we we want you to do this other skit that we did. And it turned out they were all trying to be funny, right? What they wanted was a straight guy. So my client calls me in a panic and he’s like, You think he can do this? I’m like, I’ll be there in 5 minutes. Like, who’s going to say no to on Letterman? Even though it was quite literally like April 13 or 14. So I got there. It was called those crazy, crazy tax Laws. It was like a game show between Dave and Paul Shaffer, the band guy, and it was amazing. It was about went on for seven plus minutes and I read these tax laws and they were either real or fake. But the best part was that I got to spend the whole day with Robin Williams in the green room. No way. And his daughter. Yeah. And at the end I, I walk off stage, right? And it’s pitch black. You can’t see anything. And by now I’ve known this guy for all of 6 hours, and he gives me this huge bear hug and a kiss, and he and he pinches my, my, my behind. Then he goes, Ernie, you killed. And it was it was amazing. I wound up bumping a standup comic who had waited like ten years to get on the show. And they gave him a little parting bag with a t shirt in it, and they said, We’ll call you. We’ll call you again. He goes, No, you won’t.

00:02:40 – Glenn

Oh, do you feel bad about that? I hope not.

00:02:43 – Ernie

Not at.

00:02:43 – Glenn

All. Not at all.

00:02:44 – Julie

Did you get hair and makeup for that gig at least? Oh, I got.

00:02:47 – Ernie

Hair and makeup and a whole bunch of other kind of cool things.

00:02:52 – Glenn

How old are you?

00:02:54 – Ernie

This was 15 years ago, so I was 38 or 39.

00:02:58 – Glenn

I’m just a kid.

00:02:59 – Ernie

Yeah. Yeah, it was great. And then I did a little follow up on the next year where it was a produced video where it’s April 15th, it’s almost midnight, and I run out to Broadway and I, I jump off of a building to attack a mailman to get his, his date stamp so that it’s always April 15th. It was like a doctor, evil kind of thing.

00:03:20 – Glenn


00:03:21 – Ernie

And it was fun. A lot of.

00:03:23 – Glenn

Fun. Now, you didn’t grow up in New York, did you? Because I detect a slight Cajun accent.

00:03:28 – Ernie


00:03:29 – Glenn

Lafayette. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

00:03:32 – Ernie

Wow. Born and raised in Brooklyn. My wife is from the Bronx, where we’re the total New York City. But oh, my God, it’s so much better to live in Colorado. Good place to be from, but Colorado is a much better place.

00:03:44 – Glenn

How did you get the how did you get the call to move out west?

00:03:47 – Ernie

Some friends of ours had moved out here about 15 years ago and we had never been here before and flew out on Halloween day, got out here. It was like 72 degrees, but it had snowed like three feet of snow a few days earlier and we were playing touch football in our shorts and the snow. And it was a what they call a bluebird day, just absolutely gorgeous and came to realize what a strong economy it was and what a startup entrepreneur capital this really is. And we dropped everything. It was the beginning of the real estate collapse. We pretty much lost everything, packed everything. We could fit into a U-Haul and moved into our friend’s basement. They had just bought a beautiful 5000 square foot house and we for six months barbecued every night, drank a lot of local craft beer and and figured it out.

00:04:41 – Glenn

That’s crazy. Did you have a practice in Manhattan or were you working for somebody?

00:04:48 – Ernie

So I had sold my practice in 2007. I was part of a larger group, very about 4000 clients. And offices in three states. I was doing a lot of IRS audit representation work and just not seeing my kids. I had two young boys and I walked away from it practically in the dark at night and started coaching Little League baseball. And through that met a guy who was taking on the executive director role in our town. They were building a YMCA with the city. They were building a 75,000 square foot aquatics facility for about 25 million bucks. And he said, Do you want to work at the Y and spent the next three years there? I wrote the first ever public private revenue sharing agreement between a YMCA and a municipality and did all the fundraising. I was actually the CEO needed to have all that kind of plausible deniability and be a good face to the community. While I met with evil city Council people and bankers and bond issuers and things like that, and and launched from the ground up from 15 employees to 300 employees. And that was that was a nice time to see my kids and and spend some time. I had neighbors who had never seen me in the daylight where we lived and and then did that for a while. But when I came out here, there’s there was really no profit work. And I was so excited by the atmosphere and what was going on in business out here that I, I started from scratch, bought a small practice, a guy who had been in business for 40 years, he really we hit it off tremendously and he sold me his practice for a fraction of the price sold, wound up not selling it to this other guy because his hands were too soft. And and I met him and he’s like, good, good, good eye contact and good handshake. He’s like old guy, old school. Yeah.

00:06:49 – Julie

So you came out to Colorado and you wanted to to have the good cop. Then you’d been the bad cop, and now you’re the good cop, right?

00:06:57 – Ernie

Yeah. I can still be the bad cop. Every once in a while, people show up on April 13th, and they. They want to be first in line and they get a little bit of a Brooklyn dose.

00:07:08 – Julie

Maybe So a little. A little a little back story is Ernie has a Britney that works with him and she’s in my, you know, a role similar like mine. And really, we’ve all just hit it off, you know, business wise. And she was just on the Working Moms podcast and just a really great person. But much like me, I feel like Britney and I often are looked at as the bad cops normally, and Glen and Ernie get to be the good cop. So just wanted to give a little back story.

00:07:36 – Ernie

What is so true? She and she does it so well. She just her approach and her communication style and her blunt, but fair. It’s just it rocks. It’s incredible.

00:07:50 – Glenn

Do you you know, there’s nothing that makes me more happy than talking to another CPA and numbers guy. It’s just, you know, it just warms my soul, but only for like 2 minutes. And then I’m like, okay, I’m done with that because that’s just, you know, that’s a lot of thinking. I heard that you compete all around the country and and half K races. Is that true?

00:08:11 – Ernie

So I mountain bike.

00:08:16 – Julie

Glen got some things mixed up.

00:08:18 – Glenn

It’s not half K runs. Okay. I thought.

00:08:20 – Julie

That’s. That’s what Glen signed up for. The half.

00:08:22 – Glenn

K. Okay.

00:08:24 – Ernie

I do have caf.

00:08:25 – Glenn

Half caf f k. Nice. Do you still do you follow New York teams for football or are you more like you Definitely do the Broncos?

00:08:35 – Ernie

I don’t want to rub you the wrong way, but let’s go Yankees.

00:08:38 – Glenn

No, there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re winners. The Cleveland. Yeah. Cleveland’s their their farm team, which is kind of cool, which has been nice over the years.

00:08:47 – Ernie

They’ve also thrown cold water on us many, many a time, which happens to the Yankees a lot. It’s not all glory. There’s.

00:08:58 – Glenn

Well, you’re tough. You’re from New York City. You’re good. Nothing fazes you.

00:09:01 – Ernie

Yeah. Yeah. We still stick to our New York sports. Although I. You know, you got to adapt locally. It’s been a lot of fun watching Russell. William Russell Wilson in the barrel. Guy can’t seem to get it right.

00:09:13 – Glenn

And they’re coming at him or coming at him. He’ll figure it out. He’ll figure it out. He’s. He’s got skills.

00:09:19 – Ernie


00:09:20 – Glenn

So when you decided when you said, look, I just can’t work for somebody telling me what to do, I mean, did you always want to be an entrepreneur on your own shop and do your own thing? Or is it just something that it just it hit you like a ton of bricks when you realize that, hey, your work life balance is out of whack.

00:09:36 – Ernie

It’s always been a family thing. My grandmother is was a Sicilian immigrant who at the time where women didn’t really get ahead was a force of nature. A true matriarch, she ran her business with an iron fist and trained my father to be a business owner and an entrepreneur. And he’s actually he’s retired now. He’s in Florida, but he was working in public accounting in New York City, and he was politely told, based on certain socioeconomic circumstances that he would never be a partner there. And he came home that night and blew a hole through our basement wall into our garage and and opened up his own CPA practice. And I was five or six and it was an all hands on deck family business from go. And no offense to anybody listening, but he told my mother, he goes, Never in my life will I ever let anybody ever tell me when and when not to go f myself ever again. I will always be on the other side of the table. And that was powerful to me, and it’s kind of been my guiding force. I don’t wield it like a sword, but it really is. I will do most anything for anybody to help them, but they don’t get to tell me really what time it is. That’s just not the way the dynamic works.

00:11:06 – Glenn

So we blew the whole out of the basement. They use dynamite, something cool like that, or just knock it out with a sledgehammer.

00:11:12 – Speaker3

So my my uncle was a general contractor, and he went and he got the the full on air compressor jackhammer. It was like John Henry, I mean, and it was an old Brooklyn brownstone with walls this thick. And it started as like a little cave door and then eventually got big enough and and he built it from scratch, which was really was my inspiration for this. My grandmother always told us that we should never play the lottery. We’re we’re immigrant stock and we were meant to work. And don’t be afraid to pick up a hammer or a shovel or.

00:11:50 – Glenn

A pencil or a pencil.

00:11:52 – Julie

Or a ten key.

00:11:54 – Ernie

Or a ten K.

00:11:55 – Glenn

Don’t make fun of the ten kids key know, that’s a very popular tool that we use. So when you were so you were actually working with your dad in the office at that age we used to hustle and papers. What were you doing?

00:12:06 – Ernie

I mean, I yeah, I worked there all through grammar school, high school, a little bit of college, trained his first full time employee, a CPA, who came out of audit to do taxes when I was 15. It was a wonderful time. It was right around the time that we were moving away from paper. I mean, real paper, like scratching stuff out on paper to computers. We had to build our own computer, right? Ibm, X TS came in a kit and you put it all together and it was like we were like pioneers, right? Doing stuff my father knew that he wanted to do. He wanted to work harder, work smarter, not harder. And we really embraced tech. And so I did that all through high school, a little bit of college. And then he just he said, this will always be here if you want it. But I would really think that you would want to try to do something on your own. And and so I did. I worked on Wall Street for quite a few years selling stocks and trading and things of. That nature and worked with him periodically. But then really just wanted to also just be my own boss. And and he moved to Florida and I stayed in New York and we we peacefully coexisted together, supported each other, but didn’t work together really, after college.

00:13:27 – Julie

So when you were in college, did you know that you wanted to be in the accounting business because of your father, or were you wanting to go do something completely different and pave a different path? At that point.

00:13:38 – Ernie

I wanted to go to bars when I was in college.

00:13:42 – Speaker1

I really. Right.

00:13:44 – Ernie

Yeah, I I’m probably a good example of late frontal lobe development. I really it took me a long time to figure out what exactly wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with people and I knew I wanted to help them. And and I knew I loved the business owners and entrepreneurs, which Wall Street gave me a little bit of a taste of that because we were helping people make money. But I wasn’t helping people start up. So that’s what really attracted me to it. And I loved the fight. I was very lucky to have met a guy who was a fearless IRS representation expert. He threw me into the fire, gave me 75 cases that were in pre-trial conference with ERs and said, Have Attica, they’re going to eat you up alive. But when when it’s done and said you’ll have experience that that money can’t buy. So I just kept meeting people that were good to me and gave me opportunities and taught me things that I didn’t know in a style that I really liked. So it it kept me connected to the things that I liked.

00:14:54 – Glenn

Do you feel like today, the success that you’re having running your practice, how many people you have in your firm now?

00:15:02 – Ernie

So there’s 14 of us in the office. We have two full time in India and we have four part timers in India.

00:15:11 – Glenn

Nice. Do you feel like are you using this art of war with the iris as a primary source of income for your business? Or is just you’re doing more of entrepreneurs helping them out? Is it more of a tax sweatshop? What do you what you kind of do in your office? I mean, how did you evolve from, again, being a Wall Street guy to doing stuff with your debt, to all of a sudden you’re going at war with the IRS and now all of a sudden you’re running your own shop? What’s your focus on?

00:15:35 – Ernie

So the advisory stuff is really the best part. What I’ve what I’ve learned through the group that we follow, right, and the things that we’re doing, that’s really where the excitement is. Seeing the look in people’s face when when a light goes off or you share something with them that that they didn’t know that that IRS experience, though, is absolutely priceless. It’s the framework for all our kind of risk assessment within the office. I have an insight into how it goes down, what the first round of audit looks like, what an appeal is, and how you really should butter your bread there, but how you can meet with chief counsel for IRS and also kind of stroke something out with them to get it done so that that is like an omni present notion. That’s in the back of my mind with everything that I do that’s that’s related to tax. But it really with, with AI and outsourcing and automation, I really like to just see technology do a lot of that stuff. We’ve got some real number crunchers here in the office, experts who just absolutely love what they do. You know, they’ve never met a debit or credit they didn’t like or or a tax return they didn’t want to prepare. I just don’t want to do that every day. But I’m surrounded by people who do so leading them and giving them the confidence to to do what they do fearlessly and to always have their back. That’s the dynamic that Brittany and I have. She she can absolutely trust that what she says is is exactly what I would say to somebody. Right. We are just so in sync. So I’d rather be kind of on the leadership side of things and advising people because it’s just it’s just way more exciting and fun and engaging rather than a debit to local transportation. Credit to equity.

00:17:35 – Glenn

What are you talking about? That is that is the essence of everything. I’m totally getting on that. Would you have have you always embrace the team concept and your practice or you kind of just got there recently? When did you recognize that, Hey, you just can’t do all this stuff by yourself. You need you need some help as an entrepreneur. You just you really shouldn’t do it all yourself.

00:17:57 – Ernie

That’s a really great question, Glenn, because I was I really did come up in a in an environment where, like, you put the world on your shoulders and you did it right, I. I always took care of myself. My parents got divorced when I was 18, so I had my first apartment. I’m sorry they got divorced when I was 13. I had my first apartment by the time I was 18, and I had and I always took care of myself. And it it guided me and kept me moving forward. I didn’t need anyone or anything to help me, not ever. But then I had this experience working with the YMCA and the YMCA as a as a mission, as and as a global organization. Nobody does team better than those people. I mean, that’s what they do, right? They they invented basketball, right? So they they they really just do that very, very well. So I got some really amazing training through them and some management skills from them and blended that, you know, strong like bull but got it so much better to lead a group into battle than to do it yourself. And I think I have this nice blend. I, I love empowering people. It’s just so rewarding to see them pick up and go and then come back to you with this mission accomplished look on their face that you just it’s just a high five moment. And I just I love high fives.

00:19:25 – Julie

You recently did a podcast about culture. Do you think that your YMCA days has allowed you to be able to build the internal culture that you have now, or was there something else that’s kind of been able to to breed that.

00:19:39 – Ernie

You know, it’s been a long run. So and I you know, I get inspired by culture from a lot of people and you’re one of those people. Julie So I can’t I can’t pin that on one particular event or person. But, you know, I was thrown into the fire with the YMCA and we had to we had to launch this facility. We had barely 30 employees and we needed to get up to 300. You can’t do that all by yourself. You’ve got to have a path, you know, with a with some serious plotted courses to take. And they were awesome. I became part of. So I was the CFO, obviously, and. They have a CFO network. And I met these extraordinary people. There’s some there’s some YMCA is across the country that do amazing numbers. There’s associations in New York City that do $150 million a year. Those are big bandwidth, deep finance base things. And the national organization, too, has a ton of money. Their retirement plans got billions of dollars in it. So they they impart this wisdom on you that’s priceless. You know, you go to all these leadership trainings that that just incredible. You learn so much and meet so many people.

00:20:57 – Julie

So kind of what I’m hearing, Ernie, if and correct me if I’m wrong, is that you’ve been able to surround yourself with almost smarter people and been able to kind of take different things from everybody to evolve and kind of make your own thing.

00:21:12 – Ernie

Absolutely. That’s so spot on. And that’s just been the most rewarding thing. And I learned I learned that I worked on a trading desk and the guy who who ran it was a legendary guy who died. His name was Ace Greenberg. And he he had a high school education. I don’t even think he graduated from high school. I think he had an eighth grade education. And he he surrounded himself with Ivy League graduates, but he would call them team Xerox because he just he he ruled. Right. So he knew they were smart, but he he made them earn their keep and kind of pay their way into it. And he also was a really instrumental in showing me how to surround yourself with smart people. And it’s so, so rewarding. I have an estate and trust person here. She can run circles around me, you know, It’s just absolutely the way to live, to be surrounded by smart people.

00:22:09 – Glenn

Do you still, in the interview process, have him sing the song, YMCA or. No?

00:22:15 – Ernie

I got to tell you, that was the one part I never got used to.

00:22:18 – Glenn

No, it’d be hard to just it’s so embedded. It’s just what you got to do. Do you have a you know, you have dream like client relationship that you’d want to have? Like, is there a group, an organization, a company, an individual that you would just like, Man, if I could get that person to see him on TV, see him around, you just know you could help. And and you’d be like, Man, I’ve reached the apex of my career servicing this type of client.

00:22:46 – Glenn

I mean, I would certainly love to hang out with Ellen for a little bit and, and see what that that would generate. But yeah, you know I I’m a huge fan of of Simon Sinek so I he’s very much just a leadership guy so people who who really understand what it gets or takes for people to want to follow you business owners of that type. But we have several clients who just run these, these incredible businesses that, that I model myself after the way that they lead their teams and stuff like that. But as far as celebrity business owners, Mark Cuban is a guy that I would definitely enjoy working with. That would that would be for sure. But I don’t know if those folks would give me the time of day just yet. Maybe if I spend more time with you guys, maybe I’ll.

00:23:45 – Julie

Or maybe maybe you go back on Letterman, right?

00:23:47 – Glenn

That’s right.

00:23:48 – Ernie

Yeah. He’s got that from the bunker. I got to go. You got to go on. I don’t even know who’s out there anymore. Some late night talk show, right?

00:23:57 – Glenn

When you started your practice, You know, we try to focus this podcast goes toward entrepreneurs that are out there trying to figure out how to, you know, they’re doing business, they made themselves a job and you try to help them make that the best situation possible because a lot of people like doing that. And then that transition of doing business to building a business and doing that. So for you, you had to make that transition. You made it pretty quickly, I think. What was your biggest fear you had to overcome? Is there was there a particular point in time where you’re like, My God, I don’t know if I can do this or what should I do? Did you have probably maybe had like one of those in your whole career?

00:24:35 – Julie

I’m guessing. I feel like Ernie runs towards the fear and just jumps off with two feet.

00:24:41 – Ernie

I really do. It’s not always it’s not always the best plan for sure. But so when we moved out here, we had our home in New Jersey and the really large Victorian house that was my wife’s practice was in there and my business was in there and we couldn’t give those away when we moved out here. So we packed everything we could into that U-Haul and left those behind. We couldn’t I couldn’t even rent the building to the Boy Scouts for $300 a month. It was those two things were empty. So for almost two years we were spending 3 to 4000 more per month than we were making. And at the end, when we finally, we sold both properties to a mafia guy from Staten Island who brought cash, My my lawyer said, he goes, I think he’s got your closing money in his wallet. He had a baby blue Bentley and a matching baby blue tracksuit. So it it was the worst of times. Right? And so my wife is anxious to recover and we’re hemorrhaging cash. And I’m out there pounding the pavement, going to every networking, meeting, every startup group. We’ve got a couple of startup accelerators out here, and those are hangouts for people looking to connect lawyers, patent attorneys, CPAs and things like that. And I was working night and day to meet people and my wife was really just we’re living in a very small house, 900 square foot house. We went from like a 4000 foot to a 900 square foot. My oldest son grew a foot and a half in less than a year.

00:26:26 – Ernie

And we were we were busting at the seams. And I come home and I’m like, I just met this guy and I’m going to buy this practice. She’s like, You’re absolutely nuts. We’re going home. We’re going, We have this empty house and this empty building. We gave Colorado a shot. It’s not working and we’re leaving. So he’s like, We’re running out of money. And and I said, No, please, just this guy is going to give us really good deal. Basically no money down retention agreement Condor into buying a business before we had a home to live in and thankfully we did. So there’s fearlessness and it was scary and it nearly wrecked my marriage and for a good year plus. But coming out on the other side where we’re at now, we we are happy. We have control over our lives. I see 50 year old guys go to work one day and they’re told they’re no longer useful. And here’s your here’s your box of stuff. Pack your stuff and get out. And next thing you know, they’re there. They’re greeting at Wal Mart. Right. And things of that. So having that control over our lives and this this thing that I’m building and this group that I get to choose to surround myself, you can’t buy that. You have to work really hard to get to it and to persevere and and and share good things with people so that they share those back with you.

00:27:50 – Glenn

So it’s definitely one of those inspirational stories where the premise is never, ever give up. You may have to pivot, may have to change, but sometimes when it’s the darkest, the don’s just around the corner.

00:28:02 – Ernie

And it was it was exactly it was exactly that way. And we almost we almost didn’t make it. That Schwab statement would come in every month and there was no money going into it and it was all coming out. And it would be there would be some some battles in the kitchen with with my wife. And now she’s my greatest ally. She she manages all our bookkeeping and payroll and sales tax engagements. And and we couldn’t be we work hard, but we play hard. We’re going to Sicily on Wednesday for two weeks, Right? How how bad could that be?

00:28:36 – Glenn

Be careful.

00:28:37 – Julie

I’m more mad I didn’t get the invite.

00:28:41 – Glenn

Did you? Have you define what your superpower is like? What is it that you think you do other than just being you? What is it that you bring to the table that you just have? You can just solve something and the value you bring. What is it that nobody. Feels really has. It’s in your group that you just rise above and that’s what you do. That’s your thing. Other than being invisible and fly the speed of sound and that kind of stuff, what else is there?

00:29:04 – Speaker3

So I think from all my experiences, I can look anybody in the eye who’s going through any adversity financially, business wise, even you guys know we play marital therapist to a lot of people and in an instant I can look them in the eye, put my hand on their shoulder or grab them by the hand, and they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything’s going to be okay, that they are in a safe place, and that that there is nothing that we can’t do together to get them to the to where they want to be, whether they’re in a really bad spot or they’ve got amazing profitability and growth that they need to handle. And I can convey trust and support and confidence with just the sound of my voice and the look on my face. It comes across very quickly and they immediately feel safe.

00:30:04 – Speaker1

And I think it’s, you know, that that role of the CPA, the trusted advisor type person, because you know everything about that client, I mean, when they come across your office, it’s, you know, everything about them. And you can do that with no judgment like you’re Switzerland on this. You just want to we just want to help them, right? And that is an awful thing.

00:30:24 – Speaker3

I got to always remember that, that I tell that to people all the time. This is the no judgment zone. So just lay it all out. The more honest you are with me, the greater assistance I can be to you. So just just be honest with me. I don’t care what you did, where the dead bodies are buried, what you did wrong. Let that go. I’m not. I’m not your spouse. I’m, you know, I’m not your business partner. Just. Just tell me what it is and let’s figure it out.

00:30:49 – Speaker1

Do you have any, you know, regrets or something? You’re like, Man, if I’d had just did that then or did this then or me went to a instead of be, where would I be today? Do you have anything like that? Or is it just been a just a wonderful little meandering trip here?

00:31:04 – Speaker3

No, I think, you know, having met you both, I would give anything to have met you guys five years ago. I would be I would be so much better. And I’m not an unhappy person about where I’m at. But holy smokes, man. What? What you two have done what Ryan and Wayne have done. Britney? Mark Markovich I would. I would do anything to turn back time and to meet you guys five or six years ago. And it just been. It’s been extraordinary.

00:31:39 – Speaker2

You’re kind. You gave me chills.

00:31:40 – Speaker1

You’re too kind. No, you.

00:31:42 – Speaker3


00:31:42 – Speaker1

Isn’t that funny? If you can. When I say funny, that if we just had access to information, had access to other relationships, could get out of our own way, we could just recognize those things. An entrepreneur and just believe or trust in somebody, just open it up. Earlier in our career, where could we be today? It doesn’t work that way, but anybody listening, you know, go seek out that advice. Don’t do not try to do it all in your own. You’d be surprised how many people can give you the shortcut and you will be advance yourself so much farther.

00:32:15 – Speaker3

I think that’s a little bit of of what that kind of like. I can do anything. I don’t need anybody’s help. Right. That that’s still is is very much part of my DNA. And had I maybe just opened myself up a little bit more and read a little bit more and looked a little bit further and I would have seen practice forward and I would have met Glen and Julie way, way back when I could have saved myself. It was really tough for us. I, I didn’t embrace it as an opportunity to grow. I looked at it as this tremendously negative thing Cares act, and PGP made me want to just absolutely blow my brains out. Right? I just I was like, This is nuts. But I had I and I know a little bit more back than I probably would have fared better through that kind of that nuttiness.

00:33:07 – Speaker1

It’s funny, you know, going through that period in our roles as the advisor for clients like the the Burden and nobody cares. Nobody really they don’t know. They don’t care because doesn’t really matter. It’s just that’s the cross we carry that we are basically responsible for all of our clients situations, like we have to know everything to them at all times and be able to communicate and deliver on that. And it’s almost we feel like it’s our problem when it’s their problem, but we’re here trying to solve it, but we’re vested, and I think that’s what makes a good advisor. You’re not supposed to get personally vested with your clients and it’s supposed to have business transaction, but it’s just hard. I mean, CPA is generally advisory. We care and we carry that burden as well. So as we’re struggling and figuring out our business, we got to struggle and figure out their business as well. And I think a lot of them appreciate it and a lot of them just don’t realize that’s what we do. And those probably aren’t clients anymore because they just don’t appreciate that that work we put into that.

00:34:03 – Speaker3

Oh, it becomes a very, very clear circumstance when you’re talking to somebody who doesn’t understand how vested you are and how vested you could be with them if they gave you that opportunity. The people who I wind up cutting off very quickly, you know, no amount of money. Here’s your money back. Are those people that that you just know, you know, in the sound of your voice, you know, in the way that they’re responding to what you’re telling them to do, that they just don’t share that belief. Right. And that just makes it absolutely liberating to say goodbye. All right. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

00:34:46 – Speaker1

That’s a rule.

00:34:47 – Speaker3

No power.

00:34:50 – Speaker1

Do you? So the final question, and this is always a fun one, is, you know, as an entrepreneur, you’re for some reason, I think you and I and Julie, I think anybody listening to us, we have this passion to do this thing and we don’t know why we have this passion. And for some reason, the thought of ever stopping is terrifying to like, Why would I stop doing something I love? Or most people that have real jobs, they’re counting their days down to retirement. You know, we may want to slow down. We might do something different. We want to give back. And I think that’s a very accurate statement for all of us. But do you ever what’s your end game You want to build your firm to, you know, a 300 person firm in five states? Do you want to just kind of chug along the way you are, or do you want to get more specialized? Do you have an end game when it comes to your particular journey that you’re on now with your advisory practice?

00:35:41 – Speaker3

I want to I want to move to Ohio and work for Julie. That’s what.

00:35:45 – Speaker2


00:35:45 – Speaker1

Hired. Take a number. Take a number.

00:35:49 – Speaker3

It’s so it’s it’s it’s a conversation that that has changed. Three years ago, I had two young CPAs here in their early thirties. I brought them together and kind of an experiment to see if they could get along. And they became the foundation for my succession plan. And one of them made me a very early, very low buyout or buy in, I should say, kind of offer. And I rejected it because I was still going to have to come to work on Monday. I was like, you know, this is I appreciate where you’re coming from, but. You’re not not even in the ballpark. You’re not even in the neighborhood of what I’ll need from you. So if you just hang in there a little bit more. I’ve only known you for about a year and a half. I’m paying you six figures to be here. Let’s. Let’s see how this goes. And he had resources and he up and left. Shortly after that COVID hit. And the other guy just absolutely wet the bed and left. Seven days before the corporate filing due date. So when those two who I now call clowns left, right, it changed everything. And so what I decided was, is I wanted to build my practice for speed and profitability. And that’s where I kind of set out on embracing technology and outsourcing and things like that.

00:37:14 – Ernie

I would still love to meet a like minded person and maybe get together with them and be part of something bigger. I hear all kinds of great stories about where investment companies are becoming registered investment advisors and building these wealth management firms. That’s a piece of the pie that I would love to be a part of. I know those guys give awful advice to their business clients. So that’s exciting to me. Right now, though, I’m just going to I’m going to keep building it for profitability. I’m going to keep getting rid of the the low performing kind of toxic people. And I’m going to see where it goes for the next two or three years. I’m 53. I feel really good about where I’m at now. Again, the excitement of being under the tent with you guys has reinvigorated me, but I don’t want to do it forever. I mountain bike a ton. I love to be outside. I say I love to be with my wife. I’ll put it this way. She still loves to be with me. So we have. We’d love to travel and we want to get out there, but I still want to be part of something. I’m not ready yet, so I don’t see I don’t see the date yet. It’s not on the calendar just yet.

00:38:34 – Julie

So that was a trick question because we knew you’d answer that way and there would be no end game. It’s just a constant circle and journey that you’re on. So you answered it Perfect.

00:38:43 – Glenn

You’re traveling the seven seas, all the continents. It’s the journey. And that, my friends, is the greatest part about being an entrepreneur. When you can figure it out, get your team, be set up properly, Know what your vision is. Figure out what you make money on and then just enjoy that that journey. Because life’s too short to be unhappy and stressed out and wigged out. Enjoy your journey and there is no end game.

00:39:09 – Ernie

00:39:11 – Glenn

We appreciate you being on the show. And I guess you go back to bed, but I doubt that you will.

00:39:18 – Julie

He’s got some tax returns to get done, you guys. He’s joined us, you know, close to a deadline. So we got to give him kudos.

00:39:24 – Ernie

That’s for sure. Yeah. That just shows how much I love you guys.

00:39:28 – Glenn

Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very, very, very much. We appreciate your kind words. And thanks again for being with us. And any entrepreneurs out there. Listen to this. Again, it should be an inspiration to all of you that you don’t know how you got where you got, but you can always do better where you’re at if you just get some advice, build your team and do those things and don’t be scared. Just go attack and you will not be disappointed. And great to talk to us at Glen Harper signing off.

00:39:52 – Glenn

We’ll see you, Julie Smith.

Episode Show Notes

A big thanks to Ernie Villany from Boulder Valley CPAs for spending time with us on this episode.

Little known fact – he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman not once, but twice!

Ernie talks about his big move from NY to Colorado. It was a big chance, and he had lots of chances for it not to work – but he talks about HOW he made it work.

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? – According to Ernie, it was hard to avoid, as it was always a family thing.

What would he say makes him successful in what he does? Advising his clients is key to his firm, but his days working for the IRS has been priceless.

You can’t do it all yourself (although that is what got him to where he is today). Ernie talks about when he finally recognized he couldn’t do it all himself

One of the most important parts of recognizing you can’t do it all by yourself is when you surround yourself with people “that are smarter than you.”

What was your biggest fear when making that transition to being an entrepreneur?

So what is Ernie’s superpower? Nope, not being the go-to CPA for David Letterman, as most would think – it’s just being honest with his clients.

We all have an end game – or will have one – what is Ernie’s?

Don’t miss hearing from Brittany from his firm, on our Working Moms podcast episode.

And here is Ernie on Late Night with David Letterman.

Running a business doesn’t have to run your life.

Without a business partner who holds you accountable, it’s easy to be so busy ‘doing’ business that you don’t have the right strategy to grow your business.

Stop letting your business run you. At Harper & Co CPA Plus, we know that you want to be empowered to build the lifestyle you envision. In order to do that you need a clear path to follow for success

Our clients enjoy a proactive partnership with us. Schedule a consultation with us today.

Download our free guide – Entrepreneurial Success Formula: How to Avoid Managing Your Business From Your Bank Account.

Copyright 2022 Glenn Harper

Want important updates direct to your inbox?
Yes, please! New and timely information to keep you informed about tax, financial strategy, and business. 
Thank you for subscribing!

You may also be interested in

Empowering entrepreneurs to grow their business.

Download your free guide today, and get back in the driver’s seat of your business and your life.

Entrepreneurial Success Formula: How to Avoid Managing Your Business From Your Bank Account