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In today’s fast-paced world, diversifying your business portfolio is a critical component for success. Here, certified public accountant, entrepreneur, and business owner John Savignano discusses the benefits of having a diverse set of business assets — and his personal secrets for success.
John Savignano’s Thoughts On Business
Using Accounting As A Springboard To Business Success
“If you want to be in the business world, you should know the basics of accounting,” Savignano says. “Accounting gives you a lot of opportunities to go into other areas, even nonbusiness. [Accounting] is just one aspect of the business world that’s sort of basic.”
An ideal approach to career development is creating a robust skill set that serves as a foundation for multiple different types of work, Savignano explains. As someone with many unique experiences in different types of roles, Savignano drills down on what sets him apart from his competitors and peers.
“Just having a whole plethora of experience is great. I compare it to my friends who just devoted all their time and energy in terms of, let’s say, building a practice — and some of them have built some nice practices, but I see them as boring, very boring people,” he says. Well, this may sound abrasive, Savignano elaborates on what he means, and how other CPAs and entrepreneurs can borrow these strategies to build their own success.
“Even though they’re concentrating on doing well, I think they’re limited in their own way in that they’re sort of isolated, not willing to explore different things, or afraid. I can actually see the difference between myself and others,” he elaborates. “And when I meet people, especially new clients where they’ve interviewed other accountants, the first thing they say is, ‘You’re different from everyone else,’ in terms of accounting. They get that vibration pretty fast and they see that I’m very well-rounded and whatever they throw at me doesn’t seem to irk me or get me surprised, and we just deal with it.”
Taking Risks Can Pay Off
Diversifying your abilities is just one strategy for creating a successful professional career. John Savignano suggests that taking risks and putting yourself in situations that may initially make you uncomfortable can also elevate your skills and the services you are able to provide.
“I can say up until this point in my time, there’s probably nothing I haven’t seen or heard,” he says. “When people bring problems to me, it’s not shocking anymore, especially with my latest project of being in and out of court. I treat it as a positive because it just makes me overall a better person.” Having a thick skin in the business sector is valuable, but Savignano issues a word of caution against purposely seeking difficult or stressful cases.
“I’m not saying everybody should go through that experience,” he warns. “But when you’re out of it, [you can see how it] just teaches you things or shows you things that we sort of take for granted.”
Challenges Of Entrepreneurship
Despite his success, John Savignano describes some of the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur, particularly in the accounting sector.
“I remember the biggest challenge because I did this all by myself, working from my kitchen table during my early career days. I would have a one-on-one with the client. I would actually do all the work. I would prepare the work, deliver the work bill, and collect,” he elaborated. Even though this approach was exceedingly time-consuming and difficult, Savignano says there were many benefits to it, primarily in the client experience.
“Clients loved that service. It was a one-on-one service. They felt like VIPs; they couldn’t get that service elsewhere. It was a great value,” he pointed out.
But as his business grew, providing each client with personalized service became untenable and it was time for Savignano to hire his first employee. “The big decision at that time was when I grew too much — I just couldn’t handle this — is hiring the first person,” he says. “At that time, I was concerned about sharing the wealth, that’s No. 1. No. 2, losing that one-on-one contact. Even now, there are a number of clients that I’ve spoiled who only want to work with me.”
Managing A Business Does Get Easier, John Savignano Says
As you get the hang of things, juggling managing a business and diversifying your profile with any other projects you have going on becomes easier, according to Savignano.
“After the first time, hiring No. 2, 3, 4, 5 was a lot easier. And I focused my attention on not only servicing clients but getting new clients because I was sort of at a chase,” he elaborates. “If I’m hiring people, I have to bring in new clients. If I was spending time with clients and we weren’t as efficient and getting new clients, we wouldn’t be in business. You had to keep the wheel turning, sort of. Once you get through that hurdle, the rest is easy.”
Variety In Your Portfolio Prepares You For Business Management
One of the main takeaways that Savignano stresses is how having variety in your professional portfolio prepares you for business management.
“You should focus on getting as much experience as possible in as many different areas that you can,” he advises. “By the time you get into your 30s, you’d better decide which of those experiences you like. If you’re in your 20s — and I find today that when I’m dealing with the younger folks at a college — it’s always ‘How much money are you going to pay me?’ and all sorts of stuff like that.”
John Savignano currently lives in New York, where he manages a multimillion-dollar public accounting firm Savignano accountants & advisors. He also serves as a part-time adjunct professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business in t New York. He belongs to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Public Accountants, among other professional associations.