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Success Stories

Astrid Daniela Galvez is making accounting a universal language

Name: Astrid Daniela Galvez 

Location: Vancouver, WA 

Business: Accounting Specialists and Business Solutions, LLC, and Salinas Tax and Accounting LLC.

Three people standing together in front of a blue background.

What makes your small business unique from others?

We offer bilingual services. Our offering of services in both Spanish and English significantly broadens our potential client base and demonstrates an inclusive approach towards catering to diverse communities. This allows us to effectively communicate and support clients from varied backgrounds, breaking down language barriers and making our services more accessible. We’re also committed to underserved communities. Our specialized assistance to underserved communities under Salinas Tax and Accounting LLC demonstrates a strong commitment to social responsibility. It reflects our dedication to making a positive impact in our Spanish speaking community and ensuring that financial and tax services are accessible to those who might otherwise be overlooked.

We’re also family-owned and operated. Being a family-owned tax and accounting practice adds a personal touch to our services. It helps in building trust with our clients, as they know we understand firsthand the challenges of running a small business.

And lastly, our technology-driven solutions. We’re committed to leveraging cloud-based solutions and partnering with leading technology providers sets us apart. This approach ensures that our clients have access to cutting-edge accounting and tax solutions, enhancing efficiency and providing peace of mind regardless of their location.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

Our decision to start our own business stemmed from a desire to leverage our expertise in a way that would make a meaningful difference in the lives of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and underserved communities. The inception of Accounting Specialists and Business Solutions, LLC in 2013 was a significant milestone, born out of a vision to create a bilingual (Spanish and English) tax and bookkeeping practice that focuses on the unique needs of small businesses and startups in the Hispanic community. This vision was not pursued alone; it was with the invaluable support of my two sisters that this venture was brought to life. Their encouragement and assistance were pivotal in transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship.

The establishment of Salinas Tax and Accounting LLC was driven by a clear objective: to extend our reach and impact within the small business sector by providing services tailored to their specific challenges and opportunities. By focusing on the Pacific Northwest, we aimed to leverage our deep understanding of the region’s unique business environment, offering solutions that are not only effective but also culturally and geographically relevant. The lack of bilingual accounting services in the area presented not just a business opportunity, but a chance to serve and uplift a segment of the community that was underserved.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

The biggest lesson we learned in our first year was the critical importance of financial preparation and the value of a supportive team. Understanding the necessity of saving enough capital to invest in the business was fundamental. Unlike many new ventures that seek external funding through loans or investors, we started with personal savings. The initial phase was marked by significant personal sacrifices and strategic decisions. While I took the leap of leaving my full-time corporate job to start our business, my sisters continued with their full-time jobs. This approach provided a financial safety net, ensuring that our personal and business expenses could be covered without the immediate pressure of generating a profit from the new venture. Our journey from the cautious beginnings with personal savings to a thriving practice serving the needs of the small business community exemplifies the importance of strategic financial planning and the value of a supportive team.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?

One of the most surprising aspects of becoming a business owner was realizing that the anticipated freedom of entrepreneurship was somewhat overrated, especially in the early stages of our business. I found myself working longer hours and, initially, earning less than in my previous full-time corporate role. However, this surprising aspect of entrepreneurship also brought invaluable lessons and growth opportunities. It taught us the importance of perseverance, strategic planning, and the need to balance short-term sacrifices with long-term vision.

Were there any things about running a business you didn’t know when you started? How did you teach yourself? 

Oh definitely! There were plenty of things I didn't anticipate about running my own business when we first started. One of the biggest eye-openers was realizing just how many different roles you have to take on. From finance and marketing to customer service and operations, it felt like I needed to be an expert in everything overnight.

To navigate these challenges, I leaned heavily into self-education. I took online courses, and webinars on various aspects of the accounting industry. Networking with other accounting peers also provided invaluable insights and practical advice, allowing me to learn from their experiences. We attended our first QBConnect conference in 2015 and it was a remarkable experience. 

Using technology to our advantage was another benefit. Tools and software not only helped streamline our operations but also provided resources for learning. For example, becoming a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor required training that further expanded our bookkeeping and financial management skills. 

QuickBooks has the tools you need to help your business thrive.

What tools help you run your business?

QuickBooks Online (QBO) is our go-to solution for all things accounting. ShareFile serves as our internal document storage tool, and Liscio is our platform of choice for exchanging documents and messages with clients. It streamlines communication, making it easier for clients to share information and for us to respond promptly.

Calendly and Zoom are also essential tools for scheduling and conducting meetings. Calendly simplifies the process of finding a mutually agreeable time for meetings, while Zoom allows us to have face-to-face conversations with clients, regardless of their location. We also rely on Visory to protect our digital environment and client data. Visory provides us with comprehensive cybersecurity solutions that safeguard our systems from potential threats, including data breaches, phishing attacks, and malware. 

As an accountant, what do you find your small business clients struggle with the most? How do you help them?

This topic is incredibly close to my heart. The unique challenges faced by Hispanic and minority groups in achieving financial literacy — particularly when it comes to overcoming cultural challenges — resonate deeply with me. These issues go beyond just numbers and transactions; they touch on the very essence of community empowerment and personal growth.

Firstly, access to education. Limited access to quality financial education is a significant hurdle. In many underserved communities, the resources to teach essential financial skills are scarce, leaving a gap in knowledge that prevents economic advancement. And the challenge of language barriers cannot be overstated. For non-English speakers, accessing financial services and understanding complex information becomes exponentially more difficult, creating a substantial obstacle to financial literacy and empowerment. 

Cultural differences also play a critical role. There's often a hesitancy towards traditional banking and credit systems, influenced by cultural experiences or mistrust in financial institutions. This can lead to a reliance on less secure or beneficial financial practices.

We begin by providing foundational knowledge in financial management, tailoring to the unique needs and understanding level of each client. This might include basic accounting principles, how to read financial statements, or understanding cash flow management. We have partnered with local organizations and the City of Seattle to provide one-on-one consultations and workshops to the community.

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We begin by providing foundational knowledge in financial management, tailoring to the unique needs and understanding level of each client.

What advice do you have for other accountants looking to start their own business?

Starting an accounting firm is not just about the numbers; it's about building relationships, continuously learning, and creating a network of support that benefits both you and those around you. Invest in Education. The field of accounting and tax is ever-evolving, with new laws, technologies, and client expectations constantly emerging. It's vital to stay ahead of the curve. Invest in your education—not just at the beginning but as an ongoing commitment. This could mean pursuing further certifications, attending workshops, or enrolling in courses that expand your expertise in specific areas like tax planning, QuickBooks Pro-advisors, Public Speaking, etc. 

Rely on Your Community. The support of a community can be a game-changer in the early stages of your business and beyond. This community can include fellow accountants, business owners in other fields, and even clients. Engage with professional networks, join local business groups, or participate in online forums. Additionally, consider how you can give back and support others—building strong, reciprocal relationships can lead to new opportunities and deepen your connections within the industry.

What challenges do you feel are unique to women business owners?

Access to funding. One of the most significant challenges is obtaining capital. Women entrepreneurs often face hurdles when seeking funding from banks, venture capitalists, and angel investors. Also, balancing business and personal life. Many women business owners also wrestle with balancing their professional and personal lives, especially if they are primary caregivers in their families. This balancing act can impact their time and energy for business activities, networking, and professional development.

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Starting an accounting firm is not just about the numbers; it's about building relationships, continuously learning, and creating a network of support.

What challenges do you feel are unique to women accountants?

Representation in leadership. While women make up a significant portion of the accounting workforce, they are underrepresented in leadership positions. Breaking through the "glass ceiling" to achieve leadership roles such as partner or executive can be challenging, requiring not only exceptional performance but also navigating workplace politics and bias. This is one of the reasons I decided to start my own practice. Representation is key in every community. 

What has been your proudest moment?

The process of sharing knowledge, whether it's about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, or tax planning, has not only allowed me to empower others but has also deepened my connection with my community. Witnessing the tangible impact of this education — seeing individuals and businesses thrive with the tools and insights I've provided — has been incredibly rewarding. 

Becoming a speaker and educator in my field has expanded my role beyond the boundaries of traditional accounting, allowing me to contribute to my community's growth and prosperity in a meaningful way. This evolution of my career into areas where I can directly influence and inspire others has been, without a doubt, my proudest achievement.

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?

Certainly, the women in my family have been a huge source of inspiration for me. My grandmother spent her entire life working hard, and my mother, now retired, raised us on her own while working full time. My sisters also played a significant role in shaping who I am today. 

There is a saying in Spanish, "Contra pereza, diligencia." This translates to "Against laziness, diligence." The concept of 'diligencia' in this context is more than just diligence as understood in English; it embodies a virtue of proactive effort, meticulousness, and a firm approach to tasks at hand. It suggests that when you lack motivation, the antidote is not merely to wait for inspiration to strike but to actively engage in diligent work.

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As a small business owner, it's easy to feel like you need to do everything yourself, but learning to trust my team, automate processes, and set aside time for my well-being are key strategies I'm working on.

How do you maintain a work/life balance as a small business owner? 

I must be honest; achieving a true work/life balance, particularly during the busy tax season, remains a work in progress. The nature of our business means there are times when the scales tip more heavily towards work. Recognizing this, my goal is to create a more sustainable work/life balance in the near future.

I haven't mastered this balance yet, but it's a priority for me. Acknowledging the challenge is the first step towards improvement. As a small business owner, it's easy to feel like you need to do everything yourself, but learning to trust my team, automate processes, and set aside time for my well-being are key strategies I'm working on. 

What’s your “power song” and why? 

I have a playlist of power songs! I love everything from the traditional Latin sounds of Salsa, to Merengue, and Cumbia. Other songs on my playlist I listen to before a presentation include “Freedom” by Jon Batiste, “My Shot” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. I could go on! This playlist was shared by a mentor, Misty Megia. She is a woman I admire deeply and who helped me become a public speaker.

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