00:00:00 – Glenn Harper
Welcome, everyone, this is Glenn Harper. Harper CPA Plus
00:00:03 – Julie Smith
And Julie Smith, the Barista,
00:00:06 – Glenn Harper
The barista in charge. We got a great guest today. We’ve got Wayne Shelton and Ryan Conn of Shelton Associates and CS Business Consulting out of Paducah, Kentucky. And my question is, is that near Podunk BFE or where is that at?
00:00:23 – Ryan Conn
Well, Paducah, Kentucky, we are Western Kentucky. We are so far west in Kentucky that we actually drive right across the river north into Illinois.
00:00:32 – Wayne Shelton
Well, actually, we’re about halfway between possum trot and monkey’s eyebrow. I know right
00:00:38 – Glenn Harper
Where that is. That’s a great place to be. Well, thanks for joining us, guys. I guess the first thing we want to do is kind of share with our guests. What exactly do you guys? What do you guys do? What’s your business that you’re in as an entrepreneur?
00:00:55 – Ryan Conn
Yeah, very question, so we we run an accounting firm, Wayne and I are partners at Sheldon Associates CPA, which is our first love and our primary engagement. We have transitioned from a full service accounting firm where we have historically considered ourselves like a tax factory, and we now specialize in being advisors and relationships with our clients and working with them to just establish their best practices, build a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship where they can reach their financial goals through our expertise, to our advice and through our building with them over time. And also, we want to reduce their tax footprint, their tax liability,
00:01:37 – Wayne Shelton
Make the tax
00:01:38 – Ryan Conn
Efficient, tax efficient, write and audit perform while building a long lasting relationship over time and ultimately things like bookkeeping compliance like payroll taxes, sales taxes and the big tax. That’s just the five of us having a relationship with forward transition should be an accounting firm like that instead of just breaking out tax returns all the time.
00:02:00 – Glenn Harper
That sounds like a horrible business model.
00:02:05 – Wayne Shelton
An easier way to make money. I’ll tell you that right?
00:02:07 – Ryan Conn
Gotcha. It’s definitely a better business model what we came from, which is why we’re enjoying it a lot. We’re having a lot more fun. I always tell people and even our clients as we bring them on or work with them is that selfishly, this is a lot more fun. I get to watch your success, I get to see your eyes pop on. You realize the impact so this planning has on their situation. And it’s selfishly it’s very rewarding to watch people grow and succeed and drive their businesses further.
00:02:34 – Wayne Shelton
And it’s nice for us to have a fairly focused type of business that we are working in now, rather than trying to be all things to all people, which is what we did. People would come in and say, Can you do this here? We can do that. You know,
00:02:50 – Julie Smith
Now you use that, you use that f word fun, you’re having fun now. It can’t possibly be because you met Glenn and I. So what are you doing? That’s so fun? How did you make that transition?
00:03:01 – Ryan Conn
Well, you and Glenn would probably be the major contributors, of course.
00:03:06 – Wayne Shelton
Well, you know,
00:03:08 – Ryan Conn
We made a mental shift, right? We changed our mindset and we decided we don’t want to be stuck in the grind anymore. Now, of course, even with the model that we’re all there, still, there’s still a deadline from the government that these loans have to be accomplished. But we don’t have this insane spike for three months in the winter and spring and then a bigger role in the action until we know a couple of deadlines. So we have consistent work all year round that empowers our staff, keeps our clients engaged. And it’s just more fun. It’s more fun to know that I’m getting more product out of my staff and getting more value into the hands of my clients and ultimately growing the firm and prospering. So, yeah, it’s definitely more fun building relationships and helping people succeed.
00:03:53 – Julie Smith
Now, Ryan, you have an interesting background, and that’s probably why you and I hit it off so, so quickly is neither one of us have know anything about a 10 key. Essentially, do you want to talk a little bit about where you were, where you are and kind of how Wayne played a role into that?
00:04:10 – Ryan Conn
Sure. So I’ll give you as much of the Reader’s Digest version as I can. But I originally I went to Harvard University down in Arkansas, which is where I met my wife, Natalie, and that is Wade’s number. So one thing is my father in law for the viewers or listeners. I didn’t know that ahead of time, and I was in law enforcement for 12 years, serving locally at law enforcement. Since I graduated college, I played football. That’s where I met Natalie. And then we moved back to Duke and I became a cop and I worked there for 12 years. My job very much graduated into top of priority of the instructor. I mentor a trainer of adults and over 17 different disciplines. I was teaching the training law enforcement how to survive, how to best investigate, and I was leading undercover drug units. I was leading a SWAT team firearms training, active shooter training, riot training, some really cool stuff. But ultimately, when Wayne came to me, I had to leave all of that. All the action is taxes. Yeah. And so we we ended up giving me an opportunity to partner up with him.
00:05:11 – Ryan Conn
To become a partner at the firm made me an offer I could use, and he was very savvy and he was looking down the road of the future, realize that he was growing his business. He could be more and wanted more as a traditional accountant. He didn’t necessarily have the tools to put in lots of his leadership principles and these principles. You know, so many are some workflow, some all kinds of things. That’s what I did. I take 12 guys into a house in a critical situation. You all work for the best team. So no one got hurt in. The bad guy gets captured. Well, now that national level, we have to take eight or nine people that are four now 13 and fill that much and get them all the and they all work as a so that don’t have a curve balls in the cracks. So Client gets upset. The relationship is good and we’ve built systems over time and we have actually put that more flow for that process. Put that job responsibility and culture in a place where it really allowed us to just just absolutely explode.
00:06:07 – Glenn Harper
I’m just going to say that Wayne had to be one hell of a marketer to lure you away from all that other excitement to the accounting world of excitement. That’s impressive, Wayne. How did you how did you put the pressure on him?
00:06:20 – Wayne Shelton
It is. It is.
00:06:21 – Ryan Conn
It’s impressive. I always tell people I sell selling ketchup popsicle to a lady in a white glove on the Fourth of July, so he’s good at what he does. Yeah, yeah, that’s fantastic.
00:06:32 – Glenn Harper
When the the one thing you said earlier about the fun, you know, people think, you know, you have to be serious and what you do as an entrepreneur. And it’s really important business, especially to deal with people’s money, especially, you know. You know, Ryan, back when you’re, you know, you got hostile situations, life and death situations. You know, accounting is not quite like that, but we are talking about people’s money and that’s a big deal, right? So the question is, is how did you recognize that the industry that you’re in? I guess that we’re all in here, that you had to bring a little bit of levity, a little bit of an excitement, a little bit of fun. And it’s not just grind it down to just be so serious all the time, it sounds exhausting. How did how did you make that transition from being like, Hey, we got to make the donuts to, hey, let’s make some donuts? How did you do that?
00:07:20 – Ryan Conn
Yeah. Well, so again, that carried overall force, one of the things that was great about our local agency was that we believed in training and we believed in preparing the staff and the officers to be the best and that carried over here. We wanted to empower our staff. And so that was a big part of it. And so if the staff is no longer a backdoor person that just gets reports, they go and they have to they enter in compliance all day long in some back room because they’re new or young or haven’t been on the job for five years to get a shot at a senior position. We start empowering them. They take ownership of their situation. They take ownership of their clients. They get excited. Like, I get to do the bigger work, the bigger stuff, and I’m also getting to see the results as well. The clients love it more because they’re doing it’s not just white, it’s not just riding that they can talk to get their answers from. There’s a lot of times, you know, we’re going on the phone, we’re not available. And so the quickest solution to their answer is to this other person. So by empowering our staff, we made it more fun for them, more fun for us. And again, we’re we’re pretty big into the relationship. So I actually ask you, I care about, in my words, small impact situations, but I care about the family and assessing business, what type of headaches you’re going through and just being a little bit of that counselor that relationship and know we can be kind of a little bit of more than just a number of guys. We obviously literally have a human conversation with them to establish that relationship.
00:08:43 – Wayne Shelton
And, you know, one of one of the big differences that I can see is now that we are focused on a smaller section of business of what we’re trying to do. We’re able to really watch everything that happens. So if they come up with a new government program which they, as you guys know, have come up with 10 of them in the last two years, they change the rules on all of them multiple times. But because we are really focusing on the planning part, we stayed up on top of all that stuff and our clients appreciate it because they know that they are maximizing what they can get from the government and doing everything right on these type programs and is made a huge difference. And because there’s so many other firms that are not doing anything in regards to those type issues.
00:09:32 – Julie Smith
So Ryan talks a lot about team and empowering Wayne before you had Ryan and you lured him away from, you know, his day job. Did you kind of have the same culture or were you able to completely change that culture when when Ryan came in, when did you have that aha moment that the team is so important?
00:09:51 – Wayne Shelton
Probably after about six months, Ryan had been here and, you know, one of the things that because right, is my son in law and, you know, I kind of knew the type of training that he had gone through. And one of the things people do not realize is police officers are probably the best trained people in the world. They’re the best vetted when it comes to interviews and background checks. I mean, when they do a background check on a potential officer, they go to his hometown and interview people. You think we ever do that? You know? So I guess my point is these people are highly trained and they are usually highly motivated. They are the top notch people. And because of that, and we know that now we’ve got to what do we do? Well, one other retired police officers working with us and two police officers, wives that are working with us. So, you know, we understand where those people have been and the type of training and the leadership training they have, which is far superior to anything we even have available. So when Ryan began and brought that into us and we started converting that over, I mean, my office was a train wreck. We had people going 18 different directions. And that’s pretty good with only getting people, OK. But we’ve changed all that and we’ve got a totally different culture, and it pretty much turned over the whole staff in a three year period.
00:11:16 – Glenn Harper
So I’m trying to get my head around. How can you bring in? Are you are you discounting the importance of accountants and suggesting that you don’t have to be an accountant to do accounting work and tax work? That’s that’s insane. How can that possibly be?
00:11:30 – Wayne Shelton
It’s like magic, I don’t know. But it is really true. I’ll tell you, there are so many principles that carry over from one job to another. Job and leadership is a big thing that police officers are trained and they have a ton of a ton of stuff that they talk about with leadership training. How many passes do we have in leadership training? I think that’d be zero, wouldn’t it?
00:11:54 – Glenn Harper
Well, you know, it talks you. You know, how do you make a good cocktail? I think I’ve had that class before.
00:12:00 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah, that’s a different issue.
00:12:02 – Julie Smith
Yeah, there you go. All right. I can attest that he’s probably had negative classes in that.
00:12:07 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah. Yeah. Well, we’re not trying to do that. You know, these guys are and it’s it’s been a real eye opener for me.
00:12:16 – Glenn Harper
Well, it’s always good to have like a Dirty Harry on your staff. So that’s important because then they can go rogue and that’s always exciting.
00:12:22 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah. What are the safest office in town?
00:12:24 – Glenn Harper
That’s right. So what? What exactly, you know, everybody has these bad habits that we work for is to make money to go support those bad habits. What is it? Actually, I like asking an entrepreneur, Is this what is it that you actually do that makes you money? What is that thing that you do? Is it is it the task of doing a tax return or is it the task of leading a team? Is it being proactive with your clients? What is the thing you think you do that generates the revenue for your firm?
00:12:54 – Ryan Conn
You know, ours is that advisory piece. So we we get
00:12:58 – Wayne Shelton
The planning part
00:13:00 – Ryan Conn
That playing advisory, we bring people on board or really finish it off our list of existing clients. But when we bring somebody on board on board, they have a situation in business there that it has various disasters going on and a lot of them impact their tactical situations together. So we come in and we apply that advisory service. We usually our average person that comes on board gets four meetings. And so in those formal meetings, we charge a premium price because we’re going to basically reset their situation and get that push off in the right direction. That has incredible value for that client, not US dollars, but the stress and anxiety of the time, you know, and just think about onboarding somebody who’s payroll and bookkeeping is all just money and crazy, advising how to get better teaching and training them to do it or taking it on ourselves with an advisory component to it. I mean, they just free up a ton of time to go, run their business and make money, you know, building widgets, more construction, mowing lawns, whatever it may be, hotel rooms. And now we’re on the financial side of things while giving advice on how to do things better on a daily basis for now. And that’s that’s what we make our money. The taxpayer that’s backwards to make sure that we go for that of advisory is what people want. So if they’re asking and begging for and that’s where we make our
00:14:16 – Wayne Shelton
Out of it, and I’ll tell you something in this run, I have this conversation weekly because we we’ve been onboarding since for the last probably two months, two people a week on advisory maintenance. But I am amazed at what poor advice professionals are given out to their clients. I tell Ryan every week I said, I cannot believe this. Look at this mess that these people have created. Supposedly, you know, CPAs that have got many years experience and people are not, in my opinion. Trying to work with our clients and help them in the tax planning area, they’re just not doing it, and I feel like that is a failing of our profession. You know, agree. I think we’re fixing it.
00:15:04 – Glenn Harper
Well, great. So you’re suggesting then that it’s not just punching a few numbers in a tax return and that’s all the people need. You’re suggesting that they need something more than that.
00:15:14 – Wayne Shelton
Absolutely, they need and a lot of times they don’t even know that they need. But what we see is that they do and they don’t even know whether a human being all this money. You know, we in the last year, we’ve probably onboarded 30 clients that had a Schedule C that was very successful and they were paying $15000 and in self-employment tax when they could have probably made that 25 percent of that. And when we tell people that the first thing, some of them, what they did is they get actually mad, not at us, but they say I have for the last 10 years, I’ve been paying $15000 too much. That’s I could buy a house for that, you know? So it’s it’s kind of nice to see people realize what you’re doing.
00:16:01 – Glenn Harper
I think that when that happens, I think for for me, anyway, we have that conversation. It has to focus on, Hey, now now let’s not be looking backwards. Let’s look forwards. We can’t talk about the sins of the past. Let’s move forward because it is an emotional gut punch for people when they realize that kind of thing. And so I feel like then you’re what you’re probably trying to say is that the the the thing you do that makes you guys money and profitable is giving the advice that helps other people become profitable and make money and keep more money. Is that a fair statement?
00:16:34 – Wayne Shelton
00:16:36 – Julie Smith
So, Ryan and Wayne, you’ve kind of built this successful business, you’ve transitioned your team, you guys have transitioned your mindset. What is your dream now? What what do you see happening now that you look forward, as Glenn said, and not at the sins of the past?
00:16:53 – Ryan Conn
So we’re still going on and a couple of areas we want to we kind of have a needs less vision or maybe Home Office, we grow, we have 13 people now. And that was when I came on board, you know, I made eight and we put the hiring part time first and nine, we went down to eight and now we’re up to 13 and grown strategically and we’re about to go on building one more person probably make things first, and we may have a need for that. And so that’s kind of our dream to grow. I don’t want to get too large and I probably don’t want to have more fun. People may want to take it for two thousand. I want I want to manage that and also maybe two officers or 20 people in the future, I to be more powerful. My forty one, forty two year old Wayne, he’s this
00:17:36 – Wayne Shelton
Is his ninety four. Yeah, yeah, that’s right.
00:17:41 – Ryan Conn
We know we’ve also really branched out into a couple of areas like this, this business leadership doing that. We actually look at that as a separate advisory product as well. And we’re going up to Minnesota, Wisconsin to teach a firm for two days. You know, they’ve engaged us to teach for two days on site at their annual meeting
00:18:01 – Wayne Shelton
In which there are hundreds and
00:18:04 – Ryan Conn
Hundreds. We’re going there and really trying to get them put in place in all those lockstep with that foundation set so they can grow in a similar fashion, hopefully better for learning from our mistakes along the way. And you know, that’s kind of our next vision is to make even the advisory services of our accounting practice as autonomous as possible. Right. So unless there’s a real specialty needs and I could swoop in and maybe solve some of those really, you know, kind of uniform scenarios like, Okay, let’s get into this. But other than that, teach and train other people, how business model go around the country, help people with that travel and speak and teach.
00:18:41 – Wayne Shelton
And you know, one of the things we’ve been very fortunate about is we’ve hired some outstanding staff and we are looking at them to take over more of the day to day type stuff. And we’ve made a couple of strategic hires just lately that we’re very excited about. We can already tell that that’s working out so. So that’s going to be a really good thing for us. And I’m like, Ryan, you know how he will probably retire way before me, but you know, after tax season, I tried it last year, but it didn’t work out too well. I’m going to try to go four days a week, but we’re having so much fun and you know, the traveling and the teaching, all that stuff is a lot of fun at us. We both love to travel, we take all our families and do it. And so I mean, we’re having a good time.
00:19:25 – Glenn Harper
So are you. You just said earlier that you don’t want to get too big because it’s a lot of work to do. And then in the same breath, a typical entrepreneur psychos that we are, you’re like, Well, we’re going to start these other wings in business and do all this and this and this. So, you know, the the mind of an entrepreneur is a very dangerous place for people to be and and people that aren’t aren’t one. They that’s hard for them to comprehend, so the endgame can’t be. I’m going to have the greatest adviser practice ever there. It never ends, does it? I mean, it just doesn’t ever stop. You know, when you said you, you might retire. I can’t understand why you would retire. You’re having too much fun. You’re doing things you enjoy now. So is that a true statement that entrepreneurs generally just never really stop?
00:20:10 – Wayne Shelton
It is good. I think so. And we see a lot
00:20:13 – Ryan Conn
Of and I say you. I won’t have to come in like I said, it will be autonomous so I can free up a lot more travel and play. You know, by that point, my first kid will be in college and so I can I can do the helicopter that a little bit more down there hanging out some of that stuff like that. And again, one thing I’ve always want to do in life, obviously, if I was a cop on a single salary, you know, my wife is in school and stuff like that, I’m going to travel, I’m going to chase my dreams. I show up to work every day and serve my community. Well, now as an entrepreneur, I control more of my schedule for all of it, except for one reason tells me what to do, which is good. And then we get to do that. So my kids actually had a broader future as there being more culture and travel and things like that go along with me. So that has allowed me to chase not only one option where I can dedicate myself to that well,
00:21:01 – Wayne Shelton
And he’s got four kids and at least two of them. You know, I’ve worked down here at the office and they help us and do some stuff like that. So we’re hoping that another generation will fall right in, you know, after we kind of slow down a little bit.
00:21:16 – Glenn Harper
I think one of the the cool things about this podcast is, we call it the empowering the entrepreneurs and what you said a little bit a minute ago, Ryan, was that you feel empowered because you kind of figured out how to do not do business where you’re doing the work, but you’re building a business. And when you are building a business, you’re more and more empowered because you have other people helping you on the team and and you know, from your background and going from a police officer to this. I think that you felt like you had to have that team around you to do that because it’s not like you want to tell people what to do. You empower people to make their own decisions, but you’re now empowered. And Wayne, I’d say you’re probably empowered. And when you have that different mindset, that’s a whole different game. How would you respond to that?
00:22:05 – Wayne Shelton
I think you’re getting on a
00:22:07 – Ryan Conn
Really big topic is that a lot of again, you have a certain type of personality that makes up your standard. I would say your stereotypical on majority account, and a lot of that has to be hands on on micromanaging. But there’s a lot of control and knowledge that has control, you know, control what I need to make sure I’m in on every decision or what we want to do is we want to again empower people, say, Hey, I’ve given you the sheet. You literally have a piece of paper that says this is Ryan’s brains and beliefs and the way that he wants his directions to be carried out. You don’t believe me if you have a critical distinction to be made, I am unavailable. You look at that sheet, you make the decision according to it, and we will never fail. Right. And so we are now empowered. They can have initiative. They can take all the real Cancun. There’s a couple of triggers we need to hold accountable and they can now go out and they can move and move and produce without the fear of the boss constantly chopping and trying to figure out exactly what what medication needs to be done like when you go agency, don’t you dare do X, Y and Z, and they know that it can be a college and training for lower policy level and leadership documents and things like that. And when we watch our staffers grow up, they just come to me saying, Hey, it’s not. It’s not. If I ever question something, it’s like, Hey, I’m done. Oh no, we’re waiting all the time for that piece of information. And then it will be done. This is fantastic. I don’t have to hunt everybody down every day in my office or try to track them down or track on the project. And that that has been one of the major gateways.
00:23:36 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah. And I’ll tell you, I can tell kind of a major breakthrough that we’ve made in the last two months, in my opinion, working with the staff. And we’ve got some fairly young staff, really good, good with people, smart and they’ve been watching us deliver these advisory and maintenance services for the last year or two. And they have started kind of taking ownership for that stuff. And it’s really, really nice to see some of the younger staff prepare. The planners, get everything ready for a meeting with the client and for them to have done 80 percent, 90 percent of the work. That’s what we’re looking for because we we can’t do all the work. You know, we only have so many hours in the day. And, you know, if we don’t pass this stuff off and hire some other people to do it, we’re we’ve limited ourselves. So what we’re trying to do is not limit ourselves.
00:24:29 – Julie Smith
So by empowering your staff, you’ve kind of become a mentor and been able to kind of mentor them through this and given them the shortcut that Wayne and Ryan, it took you a couple of years to kind of get on your feet and do. Wayne, I know you probably started this journey long before Ryan, but what was that? Did you have a mentor when you started or did you find one halfway through? What did that kind of look like, or did anyone guide you as you kind of went through this?
00:24:59 – Wayne Shelton
You know, probably so, and it was it was probably earlier in my career I was a partner in two other firms before I started my own firm. And I think I learned from some of the older guys and some of them are not even around anymore. You know, they’ve retired or died and but to see how they work. But I will say that the way that the other firms work and still some of them still work is what it is. They are not giving the customer what they really need. They’re giving them what they want to give them. It’s really very unusual to me that our professional has profession has done that is we have said here is what we’re going to offer you, even though you might not even want it. And but that has been that way for 30 or 40 years, and I think it’s changing. And I think the wave of the future is working with clients closely. And I know you guys do that and let me tell you, that is a critical thing for your clients. I hope they do appreciate what it is because it’s it is a different way of working with people and it makes them a whole lot better for us.
00:26:07 – Julie Smith
Now, Ryan, do you think in some way, shape or form? Wayne was a mentor to you when you kind of started, you kind of came in with a completely different skill set than he had, but he had a different skill set than you had and you together, you guys were able to kind of. Put something special together.
00:26:23 – Ryan Conn
Oh, absolutely, yeah, there’s there’s no doubt about it. You know, I came in and I have a weird background, so as I went to score out math and physics, double major position in the criminal justice, it’s all free of numbers. I’ve always been kind of a pretty big nerdy guy. As far as that stuff goes, and so that didn’t scare me, but I I it was going to be taxes. I needed to come out there and do this other stuff because he was seeing a future, a huge food stamp.
00:26:48 – Wayne Shelton
But no, I was having a disaster is what I was having. I didn’t see anything like this.
00:26:54 – Ryan Conn
It felt like necessity.
00:26:55 – Julie Smith
Wayne, take the compliment. Run with it.
00:26:58 – Wayne Shelton
00:26:59 – Ryan Conn
You. And so when I came in here, I had to learn on purpose from the bottom. I said, Hey, I want to do the lowest level grunt work. A person open face not only those little prep work and learn whatever staff is doing all the way up the chain, all at the same time. We’ve had six to nine months. We’ve already started our advisory services because we knew we were week, one month, one month to say there’s no way we can do this right. And so we started working on making this change and rolled out a giant advising package. And in doing that, I was learning from the top down the highest level advice that make the major changes for the small business that while all the grunt work that happens accounted for my way up, so I was literally education wise, burning the candle from both ends. And that’s a lot of time when he was like, Hey, here’s what’s going to happen? We would go to meetings and we have the topics prepared. We know what this clients looking for. And he would walk me through everything, and I would try to do my best to look it up in the tax manual or some of the resources that have been studied.
00:27:57 – Ryan Conn
And I was able to start jumping in and answer the questions. It all makes sense. It just clicked really quickly because it’s very much about there might be a on 14 major issues that a business or client is going to have to deal with. And what five or six issues out of the spectrum that this client had what five or six of that don’t have? Or you don’t have to tackle those primary issues. You can just plug and play from time to time. Only the numbers change. So I can show that to me, I thought everything was going to be very high level, super technical. You know, real down in the weeks off is not going to be oil. Oh my gosh, I think more on it’s no. We want a mindset of thinking we’re going have to play chess against a Russian grandmaster, right? But reality, these businesses, all genders,
00:28:45 – Wayne Shelton
They don’t play gender. That’s exactly
00:28:47 – Ryan Conn
It. So we went like, Oh my gosh, all these pieces here and put in place of business. And and that’s sort of where I learned of the mentorship there. I felt like I was learning like a rocket ship taking off, and they got excited because I learned a lot of learning, but also excited because I was able to capture everything quickly and be able to put it into play.
00:29:06 – Glenn Harper
So, you know, weighing the ability for I think I know you well enough. I can say this for the old guy, the Mr. Potter, and it’s a Wonderful Life greatest movie of all time to all of a sudden say, Wait a minute, I need to recognize that I have to get the transition team in here. How hard was that for you to say, I’m ready for that? I found somebody to do that and I’m going to empower them to do that and go along with that. Was that a hard decision for you?
00:29:34 – Wayne Shelton
You know, it wasn’t. Yeah, it probably was. But I was. I was so unhappy with where we were. I was really glad to just say, just do something if it’s the wrong thing, you know, because we had we had eight staff and everybody was going in different directions. I’m not kidding. I hadn’t. It was really bad. People did not have the same goals. They didn’t even have the same values. And that is one of the things I think that Brian has made. The biggest change is the way he interviews people. You know, I mean, we we interviewed people not for their, you know, having a master’s in taxation. We want somebody that can relate to people and wants to relate to people. And that’s a different thing and that is not really normal in our profession. You know, people usually want to stay behind the scenes. That’s not where the action is. And so Ryan is just jump right in there with that and help us get staff that the dream team thing we’re trying to do.
00:30:35 – Glenn Harper
How how long before you brought Ryan in? Did you know about this? The right way to do business as an advisory firm was that did it happen after Ryan came on board or before?
00:30:48 – Wayne Shelton
After the came over, and it was really funny, he brought on a really large client that wanted a significant tax plan. And so we said, yeah, if we can do that, like we always say, we can do whatever we always, do always. And so then we went about trying to figure out how to do it and how to deliver it, which was a big problem and we could have done it. I think we could have, but it would have taken us a couple of years and we wouldn’t have made any money because that’s all we have been doing. So we hooked up with Thomson Reuters. We went to one of their meetings and saw the opportunity that we had to work with Thomson Reuters on this type thing. And we we immediately signed up for that and we have not looked back. But Ryan, the nice thing about it is Ryan was a part of that from day one. So he gets the whole picture.
00:31:36 – Glenn Harper
He wasn’t corrupted.
00:31:38 – Wayne Shelton
You’re right. That’s exactly right. No bad habits.
00:31:42 – Glenn Harper
Yep. So what you know, every entrepreneur kind of has this they they, you know, forged to the desert through the arid mountaintop, to the rainforest, just hacking away, trying to figure things out until they finally recognize and discover, I guess, their superpower and like, this is what I was meant to do. When did that happen for each of you?
00:32:07 – Ryan Conn
So I guess my story is a little different because I always had a calling, even from when I was like middle school and high school, you know, I did things when I was teaching and coaching people as, you know, like volunteer programs and, you know, old school side projects. And then in college, I even helped out and talked a little bit. But when I went to law course, I was teaching and training people. I had my regular jobs. I felt a knack for presenting, for teaching, imparting information and getting to my passion became, How do I make people better? How make a go around me better? How can I do that? I don’t have all the knowledge. I’m not some magical wizard of wisdom. You know, maybe I can engage people and explain things simply enough where they can grasp a hold of it, take it and use it. And so I started that journey. Law enforcement. I was an answer to somebody always had a higher up official permission to try to run training up my programs a certain way. Of course, everyone else got their influence. I was just a man. I had a go period out or when I came here, my passion exploded because now I want to control that
00:33:05 – Wayne Shelton
Whatever you want.
00:33:06 – Ryan Conn
Wayne, I knew this for me, for the law, for 18, 16 years that he loved people very extroverted, and he loved telling stories, applying that to the real world and getting. He liked doing that already, but unfortunately it was not a formalized way to do it. And so we use the kind of cliche or metaphor in our speeches that we were sprinkling advice on people’s situations. It was a formal or the package. There wasn’t an A to Z. You know, here’s your start. Here’s your finish. And it was just kind of happened and it was very reactionary to the client’s needs. And so I think I don’t want to give too much away, but I think he was fulfilling his passion in a way, but is always truncated because there was there wasn’t a pure venue to unload that. And so when we came on here, we created that thing through that platform. We can now hold people for our passion, which is teaching, educating, training and he making that impact on people. So mine started long ago, but really was allowed to just blossom once again.
00:34:03 – Wayne Shelton
But but you need to know this is a superpower. What did they say your superpower was at the police department?
00:34:11 – Ryan Conn
Well, no. My superpower is persistence and annoyance. I will annoy people telling you what I want. There you go. And so we were a superpower, and I’m nice about it. But it’s just it’s real. Gates agrees a lot of speaking deals.
00:34:26 – Glenn Harper
How about you, Wayne?
00:34:29 – Wayne Shelton
You know? You know, I think that, believe it or not, I fear being in this business for forty seven years. I think I finally about two years ago when I figured out that this is what we want to do because like Ryan said, we enjoy both joy teaching. We’ve we we’ve actually done. I’m the defender security of my church use the degree for security, his church, and we have actually taught other churches how to do church security. We travel around on a bunch of stuff. We really love doing that stuff. So I mean, whatever it is, we like to teach.
00:35:03 – Ryan Conn
So that was my side business.
00:35:05 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah. We had we had fun with that. And but I think we finally figured it out is to where we want to go and where we want to be with this. And, you know, we’re really comfortable with and really happy with.
00:35:18 – Glenn Harper
So I guess a point to make this for anybody who might be listening to this podcast is as an entrepreneur, you might not have it all figured out, but you’ve got to stay committed. You’ve got to stay focused, you’ve got to keep struggling, you’ve got to keep grinding, you’ve got to meet people, you’ve got to go out and get mentors. And again, Ryan, you just said something earlier that just cracked me up. But like sharing advice as an accountant is like the anti-Christ. We just never do that. Like, we want to keep all that information proprietary. So the second you start putting that information out there and sharing the knowledge and teaching and empowering, that’s when the magic happens. I mean, that’s what we found. And I think any entrepreneur that’s out there is nobody’s you. They can’t do what you do. So don’t be as scared to put out what you want to do and how you want to do it, because you’re going to get some great feedback and you’re going to probably get where you want to be quicker than if you were just to hold that all internally.
00:36:13 – Ryan Conn
Would you agree with that? Yeah, I kind of actually teach people in the human condition. So one of my my pet peeves in my leadership philosophy is people that for their expertise or their skill set and don’t share it or impart it to other people. Right. So that ticks me off what part of the team that you should be sharing your expertise and helping and teaching other people your skill set. And so as a human, we also believe that we are more valuable to others if we hold on that, we have all of that power. But the problem is you’re not free of silo and now you’re standing alone on an island and you’re less valuable than the other side of that coin is that now what we decide to impart my knowledge, my wisdom, my advice, my expertise. We also feel like we have to do that immediately and for free. Well, if you do that immediately and feel free. Hey, I want to help people. I want to get this advice out there. You’re effectively Google, right? How much do we value Google? What we know? It’s a free search engine. I get all the answers I want. So if we’re not building a value package, if we’re not reporting that in a systematic way that brings a mutually beneficial relationship, then the client doesn’t see us as value.
00:37:15 – Ryan Conn
But we may have all the knowledge in the world, but they can just click a button like on Google and then get all the information for their content for free. You have no value. They’ll go to the next search engine as soon as you try to change the mark. So you have a partner value that I make clear that that does an exact custom situation for you. And if you want to tap into this resource, I’m actually going to do it for you. I want to build this package, which is valuable. You spent money on me. They’re going to look at you like, Hey, I’m paying for this account, which I’m going to pay attention to advice where Google tells me something out here that could be lying to me today. Right now, you’re going to pay for that and it’s going to be for you. And now you have true value because you cost something that client. Your information is not instantly free and you’re not forwarding that information either based on the result, either. So you’re to fulfill both sides of that.
00:37:59 – Glenn Harper
So the takeaway is is there is anything and you’re both of your careers that again, we don’t like looking backwards. It’s a learning thing you want. You don’t want to like Wahler in that. But if you could look back and advice because the perspective of this podcast is to give other entrepreneurs that aha moment to like, Oh my gosh, if I just would do that, like what would you look back and go, Gosh, if I had just known x a long time ago, I would be like money today, right?
00:38:29 – Wayne Shelton
Yeah. You know, I think in this profession, the people that own the firms and there are thousands of small firms like us around this country, thousands. But what we don’t do is when we run into a problem like I was run into the problem with leadership and with management and all that type thing. And instead of looking out and trying to find a professional in that area because there are people that are a lot smarter than me, you know, in some of these areas, don’t try to do it yourself, trying to find somebody that is an expert in that and take advantage of their abilities. You can’t know everything, you know. And I was just I was so burnt out with trying to manage the leadership thing. I was just done with it. And if I had gotten somebody that was a professional manager a long time ago, the way it.
00:39:25 – Glenn Harper
How about you, Ryan, you’re just started off yours to newbies, but
00:39:29 – Ryan Conn
Yeah, well, I mean, even from past lives, current life, you know, trying to do it all yourself, right? That is a consistent mouthful. I watched my mentors and leaders law enforcement succeed and fail based on how they were able to delegate based on how they were able to step back and the image of the airplanes flying right and the leaders of fifty thousand four. You can see the whole map and you can make sure that all the things operate underneath. And then, you know, you have the law enforcement. You have, you know, some type of major captain, sergeant and then patrolman patrolman’s down there, literally on the ground level, doing everything sergeants, the helicopter, the the captain on that standard plan goes up and down a lot of our business owners. We’re trying to get down there on the ground level and do all the ground work. When you can’t win a war, you can’t run a place like that where you can’t run the county, you can’t run a retail store. That way, the we’ve got to get our eyes up an outward looking at running our businesses, it’s my business. My advice would have echo what Wayne saying is put the tools in place where those internal tools, where those tools are staff members positioned in the right way, where those tools are marketing and stuff like that on the call people tool for us, I guess, could be the elements in place that you need to make that happen so that you can get your head off and you can get your eyes out in and looking at your business and get out of the weeds. You only need to slow down for a minute if there’s a crisis, help resolve the crisis and then get back up to fifty thousand feet.
00:40:52 – Wayne Shelton
And I’m still struggling with that.
00:40:54 – Ryan Conn
It’s a daily shopping. I can’t even have routine tasks as an owner or even making stuff available for those people that need that advice. They need that problem solving problem when you’ve got your set of work that you’re going to have to accomplish. But if you get down on it, you’re taking yourself away from that set of work and taking yourself away from that knowledge and staff and from handling those processes. And then everything becomes urgent and crises grow. If you’re not getting up now.
00:41:19 – Julie Smith
So if I could wrap that up in one sentence, I would say you’re suggesting people should get out of their own way.
00:41:25 – Ryan Conn
Yeah, that’s a phrase I’ve heard you guys quite that. It’s absolutely right. The owners need to get out of their own steering wheel.
00:41:31 – Wayne Shelton
I’m working on that, Jim.
00:41:32 – Julie Smith
I know, I know,
00:41:34 – Wayne Shelton
And sometimes not very successfully. But you know, what do you do, right?
00:41:38 – Glenn Harper
So I’ll throw this one little tidbit of advice for our listeners. And effectively, when you start a business, you’ve got to recognize that some things are expenses and some some things are investments. And if you have if you’re going to start a business and you’re not well capitalized, you’re going to have to get advice from mentors or you’re going to have to go basically invest in that advice. And the sooner you do that on your journey, the more quickly you will recognize the successes that you’re looking for. And so that would be my advice. Would you guys agree with that for our listeners?
00:42:08 – Wayne Shelton
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, there as you’re starting out a new business, there are three or four people that are key, you know, working with a good CPA that does planning it well, having a good attorneys, one of them having a good insurance guys, one of them, those those are very important people for your business. And if you don’t have all those people, you need to get us grip.
00:42:31 – Glenn Harper
Probably a good masseuse, a good banker, good hair guy, all that stuff. Well, hey, thanks. Thanks for dialing in from down in Kentucky and appreciate it your time with us, and I hope our listeners find some value on that. And again, thanks for joining us. This is Glenn Harper signing off. And Julie Smith.
Episode Show Notes
What a great story behind the changes that have occurred over the last few years at Shelton & Associates!
We have transitioned from a full-service accounting firm where we have historically considered ourselves as a tax factory, and we now specialize in being advisors and relationships with our clients and working with them to just establish their best practices, build a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship where they can reach their financial goals through our expertise, to our advice and through our building with them over time.
Wayne knew he had to change his business model for the company. But he didn’t have the right person in place to do that – until Ryan. He was able to take his background in Law Enforcement to drive the company.
We wanted to empower our staff. And so that was a big part of it. They take ownership of their situation. They take ownership of their clients. They get excited. Like, I get to do the bigger work, the bigger stuff, and I’m also getting to see the results as well. The clients love it more because they’re doing it’s not just Wayne, it’s not just Ryan that they can talk to get their answers from.
Wayne talks about how the culture changed in just a short amount of time with the proper leadership and direction.
My office was a train wreck. We had people going 18 different directions. But we’ve changed all that and we’ve got a totally different culture, and it pretty much turned over the whole staff in a three year period.
What is it that you actually do that makes you money?
The planning advisory. When we bring somebody on board, they have a situation in their business possibly various disasters going on. And a lot of this impacts their tactical situations. So we come in and we apply that advisory service.
What is your dream now? What what do you see happening now that you look forward?
We’ve also really branched out into a couple of areas like this business leadership we are doing. We actually look at that as a separate advisory product as well. And we’re going up to Minnesota, Wisconsin to teach a firm for two days. They’ve engaged us to teach for two days on-site at their annual meeting. We’re going there to try to get them to put in place a foundation set so they can grow in a similar fashion. And grow better for learning from our mistakes along the way.