Valaise Smith is one of the newest additions to TechTown Detroit’s Ask an Expert program and Professional Services Network. The Ask an Expert Program offers entrepreneurs one-on-one guidance from industry experts. The appointments are free, 25-minute consultations to help you with growing your business. Our experts have a range of skills and specialties that they are excited to share with you!
A lifelong Detroiter, Valaise Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in finance from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, a Certified Minority Business Enterprise, and an inaugural scholar of the Goldman Sachs Black in Business Program, One Million Black Women.
Valaise worked for the same company for many years before opening her own business. Unfortunately, the company that employed her had to close its doors in 2014. At that time, she was faced with two choices: find a new job in the corporate world or take her knowledge and expertise out on her own. From there, her company Tried and True Financial Services was born in January 2015, and she married the income tax preparation skills she had developed with portfolio reconciliation (i.e., bookkeeping).
Valaise was putting in the work for her business on the weekends while maintaining a full-time corporate career. When the pandemic hit, Valaise participated in the great resignation. She decided to focus solely on growing Tried and True Financial Services.
TechTown’s Entrepreneurial Education team had the chance to sit down with Valaise and discuss her experience and learn about her journey to entrepreneurship. She provided excellent advice for aspiring entrepreneurs through the Ask an Expert program!
Q&A with Valaise
What is your expertise?
Seeing that there was a large need in the marketplace, I wanted to find a way to help my clients develop more simplified processes for day-to-day financial decisions. Identifying that need prompted me to develop the ABCs of finance, which helps business owners to simplify their accounting, budgeting and credit processes. I work with clients to support these needs while assisting them with income tax preparation and bookkeeping.
What is your favorite part about working with clients?
I enjoy helping clients transform their fear and frustration into fulfillment. Whether it is guiding them through their accounting, budgeting or credit roadblocks, I love helping remove those barriers so that they can reach their goals and be successful. Specifically with TechTown’s Ask an Expert program and my company Tried and True Financial Services.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to new entrepreneurs?
The biggest piece of advice I would give to entrepreneurs is to stay organized and pay attention to details. Organization is critical to the success of a business in every aspect, which includes managing the finances well. Research proves one of the primary reasons small businesses fail in their earlier stages is poor cash management. Therefore, it is critical that systems are put in place to stay organized and that business owners are always paying attention to the details.
What do you think is the biggest mistake that business owners make when it comes to managing their capital?
Business owners often move too fast. They are moving so fast that they are not spending enough time effectively managing their business finances. Entrepreneurs who operate in other industries are often so passionate about their product or service that they rarely carve out time to spend reviewing their numbers. I always say, “do what you do best and delegate the rest.” You should delegate to someone who has a greater focus on it. Yet, it doesn’t mean you never take the time to review the numbers/data for yourself to ensure your business remains profitable.
What are some strategies you would offer to small business owners to manage their money more effectively?
No. 1: Hire help. An accountant and/or bookkeeper should always make the list when it comes to key positions every small business owner needs.
No. 2: Have established goals in place. This prevents unnecessary and wasteful spending, and it keeps you on track regarding what and when to spend.
What are some key pieces of advice you want to share with entrepreneurs for this upcoming tax season?
For this upcoming tax season, filers should consider the new Inflation Reduction Act. One of the goals of the Inflation Reduction Act is to tackle inflation by reducing the deficit over the next 10 years. The bill is going to affect consumer pricing and the prices that we pay. There are a few potential tax impacts that small business owners should keep in the back of their mind.
The Inflation Reduction Act is also focused on IRS (Internal Revenue Service) enforcement. The suspicion is that they are investing in a task force, which may translate into more audits. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get your accounting in order. Accurate tax filings and adequate books and records will keep you below the radar. If you are approached by the IRS, make sure you respond quickly and have your documentation in order.
Learn more about Ask an Expert and schedule an appointment with Valaise by visiting our Ask an Expert page and clicking on the “Accounting + Finance” tab. She is eager and ready to support your business’s financial needs!