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How Financial Literacy Fueled This Branding Agency’s Growth

Date: March 9, 2021

Overview

Rachel Zorel of 7 Layer Studio, a one-woman branding agency, was looking to make her first hire so she could grow her business, but she did not know if she could afford it. The owner struggled to understand the financial workings of her business and lacked confidence in her bookkeeping skills. As a CEO typically does in the early years of starting a business, she was a one-woman wonder, wearing multiple hats and she knew that the figures she was looking at each month were not accurate. As a result, she felt paralyzed and couldn’t make important business decisions with clarity and confidence. She dreamed of building a branding agency that would provide a meaningful lifestyle for future employees, make an impact for her clients, and leave a legacy for her children.

Challenge

Many entrepreneurs start their business because they are great at what they do. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean the business owner understands the financial aspects of running and growing a business. As a result, the path to business growth isn’t always clear and is often full of obstacles lurking under the surface that are extremely difficult—and expensive—to resolve if left unchecked. 

That’s exactly what founder and creative director of 7 Layer Studio, Rachel Zorel, discovered when she set an ambitious goal for growing her business. A one-woman design studio for several years, Rachel had been using independent contractors since she started her business. She knew that building a larger, more impactful business would require a bolder direction and she was unsure of the financial and legal implications that would arise. 

At the same time, Rachel felt restricted by her lack of knowledge and confidence in her finances. She sought out guidance on how to achieve her business goals without risking her vision or putting a strain on the company’s finances. 

Taking Action

7 Layer Studio turned to CP&A for both tactical help and strategic guidance. Our first step was to clean up her books, giving Rachel some much needed clarity and confidence in her business finances. For the first time ever, she was able to see which parts of her business were succeeding and which were struggling. With a sharper picture of the business finances, we were able to work with Rachel to develop and execute a plan to address her most pressing obstacles while leveraging her competitive advantages. Our plan addressed a variety of essential financial levers for businesses, including how much to save each month, the amount of operating expenses 7 Layer Studio needed to have available, how to strategically minimize her tax burden, how to save for taxes, and what to do to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest. We also shared compensation guidelines for Rachel’s potential employees, which would both satisfy her employee’s financial and morale needs while still leaving room for the studio’s profit. 

Results

As part of our plan, we forecasted out and budgeted for the first new-hire within the first six months of working together. 7 Layer Studio took our guidance to heart and within the first 12 months, the company is not only performing above industry averages but has grown from zero to four employees with additional new hires planned over the next 24 months. Rachel is committed to following our plan, and as a result, has continued to scale the company’s revenues by approximately 20 percent, got a new studio space, maintained every one of her employees with 0 turnover, all while slashing her tax burden by more than 65 percent. Not to mention, all of this was accomplished in the midst of a global pandemic! 

Most importantly—to us and to the client—our ongoing consulting and support has helped Rachel create the type of design agency she’s always wanted, one focused on lifting others up while delivering exceptional branding and design services to her community. During the pandemic, we have continued to work with Rachel to ensure that she has all the financial tools at her disposal to keep her employees working and her business growing. Where similar businesses have faced existential crises, Rachel’s business continues to thrive, making a positive impact in the lives of her team, her community, and her own family. 

CP&A has not only provided stellar financial services, but an invaluable amount of wisdom and guidance for growing my business. The benefits I have seen are numerous—from reaching and exceeding sales goals, to hiring new employees, to implementing quality control and management best practices. I cannot recommend CP&A enough!

    —Rachel Zorel, Owner, 7 Layer Studio

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