Resilience and Results with CapForge’s Matt Remuzzi

Episode Transcription

Glenn Harper [00:00:00]:

Well, hello, everybody. Welcome to another edition of the Empowering Entrepreneurs podcast. I’m Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith [00:00:04]:

I’m Julie Smith.

Glenn Harper [00:00:05]:

What’s going on, Julie?

Julie Smith [00:00:06]:

You know, we both have Starbucks, so we’re back back on it today.

Glenn Harper [00:00:09]:

Thought we were giving it up.

Julie Smith [00:00:10]:

Yeah. That didn’t last for a while.

Glenn Harper [00:00:11]:

It didn’t last. Well, the good news today, we got a great guest today, and I’m betting he wishes Starbucks because he’s over on the the West Coast, and it’s bright and early over there. It’s, we have a great treat today. Matt Ramuzzi, owner, founder of CapForge Bookkeeping and More. How great is it? We have another entrepreneur who’s moonlighting as a bean counter. His mission is to make easy to read timely financial statements so clients can have the data needed to make financial decisions with their businesses. His passion is contagious as his mantra of I am Matt, and I love Counting brings a tear to my eye. So thanks, Matt, for being on our show.

Matt Remuzzi [00:00:46]:

No. Thank you for having me.

Julie Smith [00:00:48]:

He’s, he’s wondering where your tenkey is. Like, as you answer questions, Glenn has this really bad habit of, like, he can’t answer a question without touching the tenkey in some way, shape, or form. So

Matt Remuzzi [00:01:00]:

Well, I will be the 1st to admit, I am not an accountant. I, the closest I got to accounting Was, I got my MBA. So, you know, we had some accounting classes there, and I did get my enrolled agent. I went through that process, took the test, But I will be the 1st to admit, I am an entrepreneur. I’ve owned lots of businesses. This iteration is just the latest and greatest Of things I’ve gotten involved in, but, I am not the person to be touching your books or tax returns.

Julie Smith [00:01:29]:

Well, I can’t I can’t wait to hear how this journey It shakes out because Glenn’s gonna hold out hope that maybe someday I’ll be in your same boat, I think.

Glenn Harper [00:01:36]:

They’re saying there’s a chance here. No. I can’t comprehend the fact I I thought for Sure. That you were gonna be a hardcore bean counter. Now, you know, I’m all depressed now. I don’t know how I’m gonna deal with this. I’m totally kidding. It’s all good.

Glenn Harper [00:01:48]:

You know, it’s funny. You know, when we try to get when we get our guests on a show, we just try to get to know them a little bit and just have a little fun as to until we delve into the journey and such. And, you know, It’s you know, Southern California, do you do have a bit of a surfer dude accent? Have you been refining that over the years? Is that something you just picked up lately?

Matt Remuzzi [00:02:07]:

Yeah. No. I think it’s, probably because I do surf. So, you know, out in the water with all those guys, you can’t help but, you know, Kind of, blending in. Right?

Glenn Harper [00:02:16]:

You you go on a fit in. I I hear you’re from Westlake Village, California. It’s an inner city suburb, Has a population of 8,029 people. So it’s just east of Hidden Valley. Is that where the ranch dressing comes from? Is that the valley?

Matt Remuzzi [00:02:29]:

I I think that is. I think that’s where Thousand Oaks, Thousand Island, Thousand Oaks Dressing ran. Yeah. I’m not sure, actually. They they didn’t get me involved in that family business.

Glenn Harper [00:02:38]:

But, You you missed out. So, yeah, it sounds like you went to, you know, a smaller school, obviously. And, how’d that? Was that different when you jumped in to go to college and stuff, or was the small school your kind of cup of tea?

Matt Remuzzi [00:02:51]:

It, no. It was Fine. It was good. There was actually a lot of people, who lived in our neighborhood, had jobs in San Fernando Valley and LA proper. A lot of folks actually from the movie and film industry. So, it was a smaller town, but, you know, we were definitely solidly upper middle class. So, You know, got a good education there. And then I went to, University of California San Diego for college and then subsequently I only went to San Diego State University for my MBA, which had an entrepreneurship track, which is why I I really wanted to go there.

Matt Remuzzi [00:03:25]:

I was I knew always knew I wanted to my own thing. I just never knew what it was gonna be. So I thought, well, maybe I’d go to the entrepreneurship program, and that’ll help me figure it out. It didn’t, but it gave me a good background.

Glenn Harper [00:03:37]:

Why did you have to go so far away to school? Is what, like, 70 miles away? Why didn’t you travel far, far out in the world, or did you just wanna stay local?

Matt Remuzzi [00:03:45]:

Well, in state tuition played a role in that decision. But, also, you know, if you’ve been to San Diego, it’s a Pretty tough place to, to not fall in love with.

Glenn Harper [00:03:56]:

Yeah.

Matt Remuzzi [00:03:56]:

And, you know, once I got down here, I never left.

Glenn Harper [00:03:59]:

Do you think that, Yeah. What was your undergrad degree in? Psychology. Oh, jeez. Okay. That’s that’s a toughie there. Are you analyzing us right now? It’s Probably get a lot of material.

Matt Remuzzi [00:04:10]:

I didn’t wanna say anything, but I didn’t know body language.

Glenn Harper [00:04:13]:

Elaborate. It’s all good. No. You know, it’s, when you said you Always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Is that something that you your parents did? Did you have an uncles? Did you have friends? Like, how did you know what that even was?

Matt Remuzzi [00:04:27]:

No. I I honestly think it skipped a generation. My grandfather who hit my on my father’s side, who passed away before I was even born, he was somebody who owned lots Lots of different businesses over the course of his life. And then my father was an engineer. He only had 2 jobs his entire life, 20 years at 1 company, 24 years at another company. And he always told me, you know, entrepreneurship is for you know, that’s a weekend gig. Get a real job, If it’s a steady paycheck, and then you can mess around with that hobby on the weekends. But I always just knew I would be a lousy employee, And I really wanted to sink or swim on my own merits.

Matt Remuzzi [00:05:05]:

It’s like, you know, even I was always having business ideas. I always liked sports. Like, I like track and tennis where if I won, I won. If I lost, I lost. But it wasn’t like I had a good game, but the team lost. That kind of stuff always drove me nuts. So I think it was just hardwired from the beginning that, you know, this was my path. I just didn’t know What specifically? But I knew it would be something.

Julie Smith [00:05:29]:

I’m just curious. What defines making a lousy employee? Like, how did you come to that conclusion?

Matt Remuzzi [00:05:35]:

Well, I was we’d be in meetings, and I would say, hey. I have an idea on how we could make things better. And it’s Listen. And then they go, well, I don’t know about that. And then I said, but I have another idea. And and then he go, shut up, Matt. Alright? Just, you know, Stop talking in the meetings. But it was so frustrating because, you know, I felt like I could make a contribution.

Matt Remuzzi [00:05:56]:

I could help Overall, make things better, and nobody wanted to hear it. So I I gotta just you know, I’m not cut out for this. I mean, Even if my ideas are bad, I need to be able to at least try them out instead of being shut down before I could even, you know, get the get the data.

Glenn Harper [00:06:13]:

Yeah. Yeah. I think for me, it was I I didn’t like people telling me what to do. I just didn’t didn’t like that. And I’m like, well, f you. I’m not doing that. And then that 1 song came out Or I Won’t Do What You Tell Me. It was the greatest song ever.

Glenn Harper [00:06:23]:

And, like, I’m not doing that. And it was, part of the thing where, again, stupid people tell you what to do, but you get to at least choose. Do you wanna engage or not engage that, which is kinda nice. And, again, to your point, it’s funny how you probably made an iteration. Julie’s gonna trim out chime in on this because I know this is she loves this part. But like you said, you wanna do the individual sport where you are successful on based on what you do. But at some point, when you’re an entrepreneur, you gotta build a team. Right? Absolutely.

Glenn Harper [00:06:50]:

And so that revelation, when that hits you, was that like a 2 by 4 to the ridge of your nose, or was that just something that just Slowly

Matt Remuzzi [00:06:57]:

happen. No. I mean, I wasn’t it wasn’t that I was against working with other people. And, obviously, you hit a ceiling pretty quick as a one man business. But I didn’t wanna have to enforce stupid rules or, You know, do things that I didn’t feel like, made a lot of sense. So I had no problem, you know, recruiting people Well, to be part of the team and and being a team leader, I just didn’t wanna have to pass down rules that other people I mean, one of the turning points for me, Although it wasn’t where I started being an entrepreneur finally, but I was working as a restaurant manager, and the district manager above me hired 2 new assistant managers. And I was then told that I had to let 1 of my assistant managers go to make room for these new hires that she shouldn’t have hired in the 1st place. So I was literally told to fire somebody, one of my 2 assistant managers, both of whom were excellent, who I’d kind of, you know, trained up and gotten to where and we were You know, at that point, we’ve gotten store of the quarter in a 25 store system.

Matt Remuzzi [00:08:00]:

And, you know, just I’m tell I’m being told to fire somebody Who didn’t deserve to be fired because of someone else’s poor decision making and planning. And I just broke at the I said, if you make me fire this 1st, not only am I not gonna do it, but I’m going to quit. And she said, well, okay. Then I’m gonna fire them, and then I quit. And then I got calls from, you know, the c suites. Hey. You know, you’re one of our best. Can you come back? No.

Matt Remuzzi [00:08:22]:

I I’m not working at a place where I’m told to do something I know is wrong and forget it. And, you know, so It was just one of those things. Like, I’m not doing it. So that’s why I say, I guess, I’m a I’m a bad employee in the sense of other people, You know, might have thought, hey. That wasn’t a good decision. You’re not following the rules and whatever, but I just couldn’t do it.

Glenn Harper [00:08:42]:

We have we have, some good authority that The real reason why that end is because you didn’t like Hawaiian shirt Friday.

Matt Remuzzi [00:08:48]:

Well, I mean, there was that too.

Glenn Harper [00:08:50]:

Yes. Because that that was usually the straw that breaks people’s back because they don’t have a good Hawaiian Sure. And that’s very important to have. When you you know, all of a sudden, you know, you you grew up in, you know, Southern California, then you You did school there, and then you ended up in Carlsbad at to as your home base. Like, you never really went far from home. Did you just wanna stay close to Legoland? I mean, I’m trying to figure out Why you never left it? You don’t like the seasons and, you know, snow and

Matt Remuzzi [00:09:16]:

Yeah. I mean, I love to travel. I’ve actually We’ve been to 55 countries at this point. So I love to go and see other places. I think it’s a great way to get new perspectives and and see how other People do things. But, again, I just haven’t found a better place to come back home to than here in Earl’s got it. Yeah. You know, I’m not a fan of shoveling snow or cold weather.

Glenn Harper [00:09:43]:

I just don’t know if we can be friends or not. I this is crazy.

Julie Smith [00:09:45]:

Well, I just think I’d wanna go join him. You can stay here with

Glenn Harper [00:09:48]:

the cold. You know, it’s funny. Southern California is just an amazing place. It’s just hard to comprehend that, you know, with all the things that happen in California, that people would stay at the same time. Why would you ever leave at Same time, so you’ve gotta be wrestling with us constantly. But I think you probably found a community, an area where you’d it’s somewhat it’s probably a normal place. It’s It’s not like what you see on TV, and you guys can thrive there. I I’d imagine that’s the situation.

Glenn Harper [00:10:13]:

Right?

Matt Remuzzi [00:10:14]:

Yeah. I mean, Carlsbad, it it feels like a small town and San Diego Still. I mean, it’s grown up a lot since I got here 1st, but it’s not like LA at all. LA is a big crowded, noisy, polluted place. San Diego still has much more of a small town feel, and Carlsbad within San Diego is a great place to live and grow up and raise a family. And so, yeah, I I’d I’d have a hard time leaving, but, yeah, I’d love to go and visit other places. I just wanna come back here.

Glenn Harper [00:10:44]:

Bismarck, North Dakota in January is supposed to be really hopping. You wanna be there.

Julie Smith [00:10:49]:

Oh my gosh. So when when you were growing up, Take us back. Did you cut grass? Did you sell rocks that you painted? What it when was the first time you were like, oh, I, You know? I’m gonna make a lousy employee. I’m really good at doing this on my own.

Matt Remuzzi [00:11:04]:

I, well, I wasn’t good at doing it on my own. I mean, I I started delivering newspapers, which, you know, it’s not even a thing anymore. But when I was 12, I started doing that. And I always had a you know, I was gonna Paint T shirts and sell candy at school. And, you know, I tried a lot of different things, but nothing ever really took off. I didn’t have the, You know, the right idea and the right motivation at the time to really do it. It wasn’t until, after the MBA program, I got a job as a Small business consultant at a consulting firm, and I got hired in May of 2000 and laid off in October of 2000. They were one of those companies that added .com to their My name got some money, and the money ran out.

Matt Remuzzi [00:11:45]:

And it turns out that wasn’t really adding .com to your name wasn’t really enough to run a you know, to base a business around. But at that point, I knew there were still people out there that needed the service. So I thought, well, I’ll work as an independent consultant, you You know, until I have to go get a real job again. But there was enough people out there that needed it, and it was enough of a runway for me that that was the last time I ever worked for anybody was October of 2000. So

Glenn Harper [00:12:12]:

Was it

Matt Remuzzi [00:12:12]:

was I needed something to do that I could do that would be sustainable. And when I was 12 and 14 and 16, there wasn’t I didn’t have the ability to to make it work. But

Glenn Harper [00:12:22]:

You know, it’s it’s it’s funny when we have our our guests on the show, the entrepreneur mind spirit. It’s just, You know, it’s just a different mindset in in how we think about things. And when that first, quote, real job didn’t happen out of college, Was it and, again, I’m just curious. And you may may not have thought about it, but at the time, we were like, oh my god. That didn’t work out. I gotta do the side hustle. Oh, maybe my dad was right. Maybe I should just get a real job.

Glenn Harper [00:12:50]:

And you’re like, no. Wait. I can’t do that. No. I wanna do this thing. Did you have that arm wrestling competition going on in your head or what?

Matt Remuzzi [00:12:56]:

I it was really just cash flow. Right? If I can put enough money in the bank every month to not have to get a job, then I’m happy. And, obviously, you wanna grow it and, you know, build more of a cushion and get it sustainable, but I was not out with a resume, you know, trying with a stock up plan. I was as long as there was enough money in the bank to pay the rent and feed myself, I was going for it. This I felt like this was as good a chance of any. If it didn’t work out, I’d borrow some money from my parents and go get a job. But I was, you know, I was gonna run the bank down to The last dollars to try it.

Glenn Harper [00:13:32]:

It it’s I guess, the the point to that would be, listeners, is that you you were gonna give it your best shot Before, you immediately you didn’t you had you had an obstacle. You didn’t quit. You’re like, well, I’m gonna just keep working this through and keep going. Because imagine if you would’ve just said, oh my god. This didn’t work out. I guess you got a real job. Where would you be today? Right? So taking it that extra step is probably a a good thing that you did. Right? I mean, look at you

Matt Remuzzi [00:13:57]:

now. Exactly. Yeah. Persistence is the number one trait of any entrepreneur, I think. You don’t have to be smart. You don’t have to gone to the best Schools, you don’t have to have a ton of money behind you. You just have to not quit. And eventually, you know, as long as you’re

Glenn Harper [00:14:13]:

As long as

Matt Remuzzi [00:14:13]:

you’re able to still pivot, right, you don’t you don’t give up. But you don’t that doesn’t necessarily mean you just keep doing the same wrong thing over and over. You gotta learn that you’re, You know, learn from your experience and pivot as you need to, but you just don’t quit. I think success is inevitable at that point.

Julie Smith [00:14:28]:

So you’re running or you’re doing this business consulting. It’s your 1st first stab at this entrepreneurial journey. Walk me through it. What does it look like? Do you build a team? Where where and then where do you go from there? Where what makes you have to pivot?

Matt Remuzzi [00:14:42]:

Oh, yeah. So, I mean, the Writing business plans was a good gig because it paid pretty well. I was good at writing, and I’d had enough experience putting financials and productions together and writing plans. The the real struggle I had with it was, even from the early days, people would come to me and say, you know, I have a plan that I’m gonna put, you know, I’m gonna boil the ocean, basically, and I and and I’ll pay you $10,000 to write the plan that proves I can boil the ocean. Like, oh, I know you can’t Oil the ocean that I’m so I’m do I take the money and write the plan anyway, or do I tell you this is a poor idea, think of something else, but then I’m out of a job? So I struggled struggled with that a bit. So what I pivoted to was I built some software, that would let people write their own plans And do their own financial projections. Even if you didn’t have any accounting experience, you could put together projections. We’d create a, you know, P and L and a balance sheet and a cash flow statement for you and A template to write your business plan and kinda how to do the research and do your citations and build a pitch deck.

Matt Remuzzi [00:15:45]:

And then I sold that software. In In that way, I figured if you wanna write a boil the ocean plan, go for it. You paid me for the template, but you your your plan is your own. Sort of stuffing your website with the right keywords, and so I got a lot of traffic and did a good volume of business. But I could already see that the writing on the wall there, that wasn’t gonna last. So as it turned out, there was a catering company that came up for sale, and I thought, well, I’ve got all this restaurant experience. I’m gonna buy the catering company to diversify My income, which I did. I bought this catering company, from this brother and sister who were fighting like cats and dogs, and they were Not running the business well, but it was a good business.

Matt Remuzzi [00:16:33]:

So I ran that for 4 years and turned it around and sold it for a nice profit. And I thought, ah, okay. Here’s what I’m gonna do now. I’m gonna become a business broker, and then I’m gonna find my next The acquisition. I’ll be in the perfect position to get these businesses before they even list. I’ll buy the ones I like, and I’ll sell the ones I don’t like. So for 4 years, I did that. I sold 36 businesses.

Matt Remuzzi [00:16:55]:

I never bought 1. I could never find 1 that I thought was any good that I wanted. But what I kept seeing was every time I’d go to a business, It’s okay. Let’s figure out how much this thing is worth. Let’s take a look at the books. And they go, oh, the books. Yeah. That’s a sad story.

Matt Remuzzi [00:17:11]:

You know, they’re 6 months behind, or they’re all wrong, or uncle Jim does them, but I don’t think he really knows what he’s doing or you know, there was always a story about why they were such a disaster. So I thought, okay. Maybe the opportunity here instead of buying a business, maybe the opportunity is go into the small business bookkeeping world Because there seems to be a huge demand for quality books and a very small supply of quality bookkeepers. And that’s what I did in January 2012. And, You know, here we are, 1200 clients, 70 employees later, clients, you know, in every state in the US, and, you know, it turned out to be hugely successful. But at the time, I just thought, oh, maybe this is an opportunity. We’ll pivot once again and see what happens.

Glenn Harper [00:17:54]:

So knowing that you don’t you don’t do bookkeeping account, did you do the 1st bookkeeping, or did you hire somebody right away?

Matt Remuzzi [00:18:00]:

No. So I I took some refresher classes on QuickBooks because I’d done my own for some of the time with the catering business. And when I had the software business, I’d done my own. So I took some refresher classes on QuickBooks. And I knew I could, you know, get it done enough, well enough. But within 6 months, I had enough client base Built up that I leased an office, and I hired the 1st person. And I said, okay. Great.

Matt Remuzzi [00:18:23]:

You know, you do all of the bookkeeping, and I’ll go find more clients. And so we kinda built it from there, and I haven’t really touched any books personally in 10 years. But that’s okay because my strength is Going and talking to small business owners. All those years of business brokering really gave me a great leg up on how to talk to small business owners. And What would happen so often is we talk and meet them. I’d say, hey. You know, great business you’ve got here. What are your plans? What are your goals? What do you think is, you know, your strengths and weaknesses? How can we help? We talked for 45 minutes because they didn’t load to me because no their, you know, spouses didn’t wanna hear about it.

Matt Remuzzi [00:19:00]:

Friends didn’t wanna hear about it. Employees, certainly not gonna talk to them about stuff. So they talked to me, and after 45 minutes ago, I should really get back to you know, you asked you called originally about bookkeeping, and they go, oh, you’re hired. I don’t you know, we don’t even need We didn’t need to talk about that. I already know I like you because you’re not like a typical accountant, which worked to my favor.

Glenn Harper [00:19:19]:

You know what’s funny? As we, You know, we’re in the same business, and it’s really the numbers are what the numbers are. They just there were more we wear a psych psychiatrist hat, Psychologist had, and and and that’s we morphed into it as a talent. So if you go into that role, you really get a good rapport with your clients, see what they really want because they’ll unload on you. You you you edit a whole different way. You add the shrink degree, then you get your MBA to know some things, then you know your own books, then you goes back around. So You did it the opposite way of a normal account would do it, but you don’t even wanna be an accountant. But, again, it’s about that relationship with your clients that you have. And I would imagine We have the same success that you have, but that is is just getting to know your clients, see what they really want and what they’re needing, and just be there for them because they have nobody to talk to.

Glenn Harper [00:20:04]:

So now Yeah. You get to use your Psychology degree, you get to use your MBA, and you get to use your entrepreneurial thing. That’s that’s pretty awesome.

Matt Remuzzi [00:20:13]:

Yeah. I mean, it really all my previous experience kinda came together to make me really well suited For this role. Plus, I mean, all the business brokering experience too, you know, I could bring that. Like, if you’re thinking about selling your business down the road, I can tell you right now things that buyers care about and things that you’re doing now that hurt your business, like commingling it with your other personal stuff and your other, you know, side hustle of Airbnb, and let’s clean this up and make it really presentable to a buyer and maximize the value. And they go, I had no idea. I know you didn’t, you know, but let’s now that you know, let’s work on this. Let’s if you wanna, you know or a lot of people don’t even realize their business has value. Right? So let’s talk about what is your future plans? Like, well, I don’t know.

Matt Remuzzi [00:20:58]:

I guess I’ll just hand it off to my kids. Well, your kids don’t want it, or I guess I’ll just Close it down. Close it down. This thing could you know, you could sell this for $1,000,000, so let’s think about this a different way, and and they really appreciate. Yeah. That that The advisory piece is what they value, though. You know, here’s your p and l and balance sheet. They don’t I I I don’t even know what this is.

Matt Remuzzi [00:21:17]:

I’m you know? So

Glenn Harper [00:21:18]:

Yeah. Nobody can read that. Even the accounts can’t read it really. But, but do they just really wanna know what they owe and how much they probably made? And other than that, That’s really about what’s next. And, again, just having that relationship is where it’s at. Do you feel like you know, do you have, like, a dream client that you would want, Or is it just you just like people that, you know, need help and you wanna help them? Is that why would that one motivate you?

Matt Remuzzi [00:21:43]:

Yeah. I mean, we’ll take, You know, anybody that’s a good fit as far as we can do their outsourced services for them. But I love to work with people who are open and coachable and, you know, are asking for advice. Right? Sometimes I’m sure you guys run into all the same client types We do. Right? There’s a few people who imagine they know it all. Usually, they’re the ones that know the very least about anything, but they wanna tell you how to do stuff. Okay. And then, you know, they’re all the way to the opposite and the people who just wanna call every 15 minutes and ask you, you know, is it okay if I buy the Starbucks? Like, well, come on.

Glenn Harper [00:22:20]:

Figure it out later.

Matt Remuzzi [00:22:21]:

Coming. I’m not your parent. Right? I you know?

Glenn Harper [00:22:25]:

The whole But there’s

Matt Remuzzi [00:22:26]:

in between people who are kind of looking for, look. I think I have a good business, but how can I make it better? What what should I be thinking about? How could I Grow it and, you know, those are I love working with folks that wanna, you know, do better with their business, and I can I can help him out with some of my experience and advice?

Julie Smith [00:22:44]:

So it sounds like you were able to build a pretty big team, and it sounds like your team’s, you know, spread amongst the United States, per se. What do you think you know, I think Glenn and I run into this, and I think the industry, and I even think Any business can relate. How are you finding talent and retaining that talent to ensure that The same level of service is given by each person as you would. Right? I think that’s really hard as an entrepreneur.

Matt Remuzzi [00:23:14]:

It definitely is. One of the best things I had when I first started after college, you know, going into restaurant management because Psychology wasn’t really a thing I wanted to do and certainly wasn’t any jobs open. I had some really good mentors early on in management, And I just decided my philosophy was gonna be I wouldn’t wanna work anywhere that I wouldn’t wanna work. Right? So I wanted to Treat people fairly and value them and and appreciate them and set clear expectations of what I wanted them to do And really lay everything out. Right? This is how I want you to write emails. I want there to be a greeting and an ending and I you know, put some personality into it And be a be a human when you interact with people. And we really try to hire people who not just have the accounting skills we’re looking for. That’s Really secondary.

Matt Remuzzi [00:24:05]:

It’s the customer service first and the personality that we aim for. And so even our the job ads, all of which I’ve written, They don’t sound like the typical job ad. Right? Because if you imagine, you’re looking for an accounting job and you read through 50 or a 100 job descriptions, and they’re all kind of bullet points of know this, know that, you know, so many years of this and that, but there’s no personality. And then they get to ours, and they go, wow. This looks like it was written by a person. And, you know, then you visit our website, and there’s a picture of our team. And, you know, you can see me on podcasts and, you know, videos and all kinds of stuff. And, Nicole, you you’re it just seems like a cool place to work.

Matt Remuzzi [00:24:44]:

You know? Like, people are valued there and respected, and and, you know, we’ve had a lot of our employees for a long time. I think that comes through in the job ad and the interviews we do and how we treat people and talk to people. And I think that’s what Helps us. That’s as good of a recruiting tool as anything else. Right? The good people have an option of where they wanna work, but I think most people would rather work somewhere Where they’re treated well and not just sort of ground down, and we need 50 hours a week from you of this much production and shut up and go do it.

Glenn Harper [00:25:17]:

Back in the good old days. I’m kidding, of course. You know, one of the things you kinda hit on it. You know, We’re always curious when somebody becomes an entrepreneur. Like, you know, you either gotta go figure it out on your own, go through the school of hard knocks, and and get your wisdom to experience, Or you find a mentor that may wanna help you with that. It sounds like you mentioned you had a mentor when you were in the restaurant business on the management side. But when you made the jump over To doing your own gig, do you have did you have a mentor that kinda coached you with that, or you just had to do it all on your own?

Matt Remuzzi [00:25:49]:

No. I I really didn’t. In fact, at this point now, there’s a handful of accounting firm owners that I talk to where I feel like, you know, our firm is quite a bit bigger than theirs, and they Like to run questions by me. How did you figure this out? How did you solve that? And I’m I’m happy to play that role. But when I was doing it now, I just was kinda making it up as I went along. And I’ve subsequently found out there’s stuff that we’ve kind of invented because of necessity that other people are like, oh, wow. That’s a good idea. I had never thought of doing it like that, but That makes a lot of sense.

Matt Remuzzi [00:26:19]:

Like, with our bookkeeping, we split the bookkeeping into 2 teams. We have new client team and an ongoing team. Because what would happen in the early days is we’d have somebody with, you know, a bunch of recurring client work. Every month, they’d be doing the books, and then we get a new client that I would come in and go, I need 3 years of ketchup. Well, that would blow up anybody I gave it to. Right? They don’t have time to do a 40 hour project on top of all their Monthly recurring work. So we created our new client department, which was specifically just for catching people up, getting everything together, and then they would hand it off to the Ongoing team. The ongoing team only takes it from that current month and carries it forward monthly.

Matt Remuzzi [00:27:01]:

And everyone not everyone, but A good number of people who I’ve shared that idea with go, oh, wow. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. We should think about doing yeah. That that and and I’m not claiming that I invented that. I mean, I invented it because I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m sure there’s other people out there who’ve had the same idea and do things the same way, but It seemed to be a novel idea to a lot of people I’ve talked to. We just kinda said, this just seems like it makes more sense.

Matt Remuzzi [00:27:27]:

The the the challenge is always, well, clients select to get handed from 1 person to the next. But as long as you kind of set the expectation from day 1, look. Here’s how we do it. We have a new client team, and then when they’re done with you, you’re gonna go to your permanent ongoing point of contact. Set the expectation from day 1, and then it’s not a surprise when They change people, but that worked really well for us. And we’ve onboarded as many as 80 clients in a single month without blowing ourselves up Because I think we made that decision, but that was not something anybody told me about. We just kind of

Glenn Harper [00:28:01]:

Figured it out.

Matt Remuzzi [00:28:02]:

Came up with.

Glenn Harper [00:28:03]:

Yeah. I think that’s the you know, the necessity is the mother of invention. Right? And if you’re with an as being an entrepreneur, when your back’s against the wall and And you got it figured out and there’s nowhere to go. That’s usually when the best ideas come come out. Right? Because you you you can’t go back. There’s nobody to talk. You have to figure it out. You gotta sit down and grind it out.

Glenn Harper [00:28:20]:

So that’s kinda cool You could do that.

Matt Remuzzi [00:28:23]:

Well, and the number one thing you hate to do is say no to business. Right? So, you know, you don’t wanna say yes and then do a bad job, But you don’t wanna say no. Right? Here’s somebody coming in wanting to pay us money to do work. Let me figure out how we can do this without, You know, blowing it up. So okay. Well, that’s why don’t we hire somebody just to take the new client? Okay. Yeah. Makes sense.

Matt Remuzzi [00:28:45]:

And there we go.

Glenn Harper [00:28:46]:

Yeah. The whole, you know, if you’re evaluating yourself from a psychological standpoint, you would probably be in the, you know, the cycle range, right, of doing what you do for a living. Right? Like, No sane person would choose what you’ve chosen. But as an entrepreneur, like, yeah, that takes total sense. We can do that. It’s the it’s the craziest thing how you get from a to b as an entrepreneur. Right? It’s Like, no that probably I don’t know. Was that even in the manual when you took it in, in college that I don’t know if it was even there.

Glenn Harper [00:29:14]:

They they They left that out, the real life thing. Right? They’re like, oh, this isn’t fantasy world. Yeah.

Julie Smith [00:29:21]:

So we talk a lot of and Glenn kinda talked about the journey, but, You know, there’s always these peaks and valleys, and we always feel like it’s always in the valley of where you you know? And you always get to the peak, right, of wherever that is. And You kinda talked about out of necessity and things like that. But is there a valley that you can you know, as you reflect on your journey that really sets you up for the success that you have now.

Matt Remuzzi [00:29:45]:

Well, I mean, it was definitely a challenge. My My goal once we kinda got past the, okay, we’re gonna make enough money every month to pay the bills, the next challenge I really wanted to get to was having 10 employees. Because I felt like once you get to 10, if you lose 1, you only have to split. You know, each person takes an extra 10%. That’s manageable. Right? But when you only have 4 or 5 employees and one quits, now everybody’s workload just went up by 25%, right, if you were kinda at capacity. So I, from the beginning, was just focused on growth to try to get to those next stages. And there were definitely some struggles where, You know, you have 4 or 5 people, and one of them turns out to be not good.

Matt Remuzzi [00:30:29]:

But if you let him go, now you’ve really over overloaded everyone else who is good. So those were the but you don’t have enough money to hire a 6th person to take and then, you know, do it. So, Yeah. I mean, it’s been a we’ve been on a pretty solid, steady growth pattern, but there were definitely times, months and even years where I thought, Oh, this is maybe this is more headache than it’s worth. This is a struggle.

Glenn Harper [00:30:56]:

It’s a nonstop, Internal monologue all entrepreneurs have. Like, why am I doing this? Well, why wouldn’t I do this? Well, why would I do it? And it’s just the toughest thing ever. Do you, Do you have any over your last journey of doing this iteration at churn right now, do you have any, like, son of a biscuit moments? Like, Man, I wish I had done that different. I wish I coulda done that. Do you have any things that was really impactful that says, man, if I had just known that then, my where I would be today would be so different. It’s not Not like a regret. It was just like you recognize, like, oh my god. Why didn’t I know that back then?

Matt Remuzzi [00:31:30]:

Yeah. I mean, I think if we had brought tax And much, much earlier, we would be, you know, double the size at least that we are now. We but, You know, in the early days, not being a tax or bookkeeping person, I always thought, well, bookkeeping makes a lot of sense. It’s monthly recurring revenue. Right? The need is Perpetual. Tax seemed like a struggle with, you know, there’s a busy season. Everybody works crazy hours. And then after the busy season, you know, it’s Dead.

Matt Remuzzi [00:32:00]:

It’s crickets. What do you do with all those folks that you brought in to you know, you don’t wanna lay them off and try to find seasonal work. So I stayed away from tax for a long time. And in hindsight, it it would have been better to learn the tax and bookkeeping side And get it meshed together from the early days. It would have been a lot easier to get my arms around the whole thing trying to bring tax in after we had nearly 800 clients. You know, everybody wanted tax. There’s no way we could even meet the demand, and they were so busy with the bookkeeping side. The tax didn’t really get the attention It needed for me until much more recently where I realized, like, if I don’t get in there and and figure out tax the way I figured out bookkeeping, we’re never really gonna be successful at Oh, so it wasn’t a mistake in the sense that, you know, I oh, like, oh, wow.

Matt Remuzzi [00:32:49]:

I really screwed that up. But If I had it to do over again, I think the 3rd or 4th person I would have hired would have been on the tax side, and we would have grown those 2 together Instead of trying to do it much more down the road. But, you know, again, you never get it all right.

Glenn Harper [00:33:05]:

You know, that that sweet Sound of the siren of tax. Like, oh, should I do it or should I not do it? Should I do it or should not do it? And, ultimately, When you do it, it’s really not that bad. And it’s really something that completes the whole circle for the client because you you know everything about them, and now you plug it into text. Now you can advise better on the front end, which is what you’ve finally figured out. But, again, how long did you did it take you to to make that revelation?

Matt Remuzzi [00:33:31]:

So we added it in our 7th year. K. And and yeah. I mean, I also again, it was frustrating because we’d have people who They say, hey. You guys did a great job with the books, but my CPA said they can do the books and the taxes, so I’m gonna cancel with you.

Glenn Harper [00:33:49]:

Yeah. You hand it to them on a silver platter, and they don’t realize the value of it. Right?

Matt Remuzzi [00:33:54]:

Yeah. So I’m like, alright. Well, we need to stem that, You know, outflow by being in. Yes. I mean, we can advise. We can give you a clear, better overall picture if we’re seeing both sides instead of just doing the book. So I think it was you know, there’s a certain I wanna specialize. I wanna just do one thing really well, but tax Accent books go together so clearly that I don’t think we’re not, you know, we’re not harming ourselves.

Matt Remuzzi [00:34:18]:

We’re not diversifying too far by having those 2 In house.

Glenn Harper [00:34:23]:

I think the, the quest we would call that the moment where, as an entrepreneur, you recognize you have a client, And it’s a lot easier to service your client with more options than it is to get a new client. So why not just offer more offerings to your current client base, And you can expand that way. And that that moment hits you, and and there you are.

Matt Remuzzi [00:34:45]:

Yeah. No. I think it, you know, It was always there in the background, but it seemed too risky and too complicated and too much of a management struggle. So, you know, held off. But then at a certain point, you just go, yeah. This is we need we need to dive in.

Julie Smith [00:35:01]:

So I’m gonna ask You have a really hard question.

Glenn Harper [00:35:03]:

It’s a hard one.

Julie Smith [00:35:04]:

I’m pivoting hard. What is your superpower?

Matt Remuzzi [00:35:09]:

I think my superpower is Being good at delegating. I think a lot of entrepreneurs, and I mean, I’ve talked to thousands of entrepreneurs, Get stuck with the idea that I’m the only one that can do this. I have to make these decisions, or I don’t wanna let this go. And I think my superpower as far as being able to grow a business and be a successful entrepreneur who you know, last year, I took 8 weeks of vacation. You can only do that if you build a system and you empower people And you allow them to go and do things that you would normally do. And even if they don’t do it exactly the way you do, You don’t melt down about it. Right? Okay. Here’s here’s what you did.

Matt Remuzzi [00:35:55]:

I understand why you made that decision. Here’s how I would think about it. And next time, I think this is how, you know, you wanna Thinking but you have to be able to let go. Otherwise, you can have a very successful business. You can make a ton of money, but you are, you know, chained To that business for the duration, if you’re not able to step back, let things go, bring people in, build systems, and empower people to Sometimes screw up or do things the way you wouldn’t do it. I’ve seen emails go out where I cringe. Oh my. I can’t believe you.

Matt Remuzzi [00:36:27]:

What? Or, you know, advice given or whatever it is, but you just have to bite your tongue and kinda say, okay. Well, here’s how I would have thought about it. Here’s what I would have done. And, You know, next time it comes up, let’s see how it goes. But you have to be willing to do that, and I think just a lot of people the same Control want desire for control, right, that makes us an entrepreneur in the 1st place then becomes very difficult to step back from.

Glenn Harper [00:36:55]:

And I and I think to that to that point is at some point, you wanted to do business where you’re kinda doing the work, And then you have the light bulb that says, wait a minute. I wanna build a business. Were you gonna be more of an owner investor? And that’s a that transition is like, well, I can’t do this I control everything. And, again, that’s what all entrepreneurs I struggle with and everybody struggles with, like, how much can you give up. Right? But, when you make that transition, then you get the Freedom that you’re talking about. So all you entrepreneurs listening, you know, you’re gonna have that crossroads someday. Choose wisely. Absolutely.

Julie Smith [00:37:27]:

So what is your end game? You get 8 weeks vacation now. What what are you gonna do?

Matt Remuzzi [00:37:33]:

Well, I mean, that’s a good question. I in January of 2022, I promoted 2 of the women who work in my firm to be the co CEOs With the explicit plan of being able to step back and focus really just on the growth of the firm And also have the ability to step away completely from time to time as I wanted to. And so, you know, at some point, Far down the road, you know, maybe an exit will make sense, but maybe it’s different. Maybe it’s an employee stock ownership transition Or you know, who knows? If I think what most people are shooting for is the financial and time freedom. Right? So If I get to that, and I feel like I’m most of the way there already, then, you know, suddenly an exit for a big Liquidity event doesn’t seem nearly as imperative. Right? A lot of people build the business to grow so they can exit and have enough so that they’re set for the rest of their lives. But If I’ve got people running the business and there’s plenty of cash flow and there’s plenty of time, then, you know, an exit is less of a priority. But, You know? So I don’t know.

Matt Remuzzi [00:38:42]:

We’ll see. My my kids are 14 and 10, so the 10 year old is 8 years away from being out of the house going to college. So I feel like I’ve got an 8 year runway to Decide, you know, before I have to do anything. And and then even then, maybe I don’t maybe I just become like the, You know, owner emeritus or something. I check-in a couple times a year and

Glenn Harper [00:39:01]:

Yes.

Matt Remuzzi [00:39:02]:

That’s it.

Julie Smith [00:39:03]:

I love your answer because you really Didn’t define what that end game is because there probably isn’t one. Right? It’s it’s really hard to stop when you’re in that entrepreneurial journey and you’ve built something that you’ve built. It’s maybe pivoting and changing a little bit or maybe who knows? Maybe you go back into owning a catering company. Who who knows what it is?

Glenn Harper [00:39:22]:

But The end of it.

Julie Smith [00:39:23]:

I definitely think that itch itch will always, for whatever reason, be there.

Matt Remuzzi [00:39:28]:

I it’s like to me, it’s like in climbing a mountain. Right? You You’re you feel like there’s a peak and you get to it, but then you look and there’s a higher peak beyond. And it’s it’s very hard to say, okay. High enough. I’m gonna go back down. Well, Maybe I can make the next one. And you keep going and Warren Buffett at 93 or whatever he is, right, is still running Berkshire. You know, he still enjoys it.

Matt Remuzzi [00:39:53]:

Right? If you enjoy it, then it doesn’t feel like work anymore.

Glenn Harper [00:39:56]:

Hey. Does he have a cell phone? I think he has a flip phone maybe and lives at the same house. But To your point that the the great thing about your entrepreneurial journey is you’re at that point, really, probably right now, Where you have you have options. And as an entrepreneur, that’s what you want. And the options are you could sell and have liquidity event and retire and probably do great, Or you could just continue milking this annuity and do great and be actively involved. But the end of the day is you sitting around doing nothing all day is never gonna be a choice. So however you choose, it still might be you step back on this and just have the annuity of it and go start something else. It But you have choices, and and that’s the whole point about being an entrepreneur is having options.

Glenn Harper [00:40:38]:

When you’re an employee, you don’t really have many options, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Matt Remuzzi [00:40:44]:

Yeah. No. I I I completely agree. I think it’s the freedom to decide what you wanna do next is really the goal that, you know, we kind of all work for, And that’s where, you know, it gets interesting. But, yeah, I’m not in any hurry to kinda give it up. I and it’s not really anymore about, you know, making more money. That’s Nice. But, you know, really, to me, the more interesting goal is and how big can we get it? How many clients can we serve serve and help and and make, you know, their businesses better.

Matt Remuzzi [00:41:13]:

We’re at, you know, over a1000 now. Can we get to 2,000? Can we get to 5,000? Can you know? And there’s always more you can shoot for. So there’s no there isn’t a clear, like, okay. When I get to x1000000 or I get to this many employees or something, I go, that’s it. That’s where I walk away.

Glenn Harper [00:41:30]:

No. You you’re not programmed like that. There’s all like you said, the next client’s the next mountain, the next peak, the next peak.

Julie Smith [00:41:35]:

Your answer’s exactly what we expected, if we’re being honest.

Glenn Harper [00:41:39]:

Well done. We sort of trapped you in our psychological trap. So, hey. Do you wanna you know, we love you being on the show here. Do you wanna give a little plug your biz, and we’ll put it out there?

Matt Remuzzi [00:41:51]:

Yeah. I mean, for anybody that’s, you know, interested in finding out more, capforge.com has all our info, our services, you know, about our team and, you know, other other appearances and podcast stuff I’ve done. So, yeah, anybody interested is welcome to check it out. I’m always happy to have a conversation. And and, you know, even other accounting firms. You know, if you wanna just kinda share stories and swap ideas and and trade, you know, best Practices, I’m happy to do that too. Like I said, there’s a handful of accounting firm own owners that I talk to regularly now as it is about, you know, trying to I’ll figure out how we can improve. I don’t feel like we’re I mean, there’s so much business out there.

Matt Remuzzi [00:42:30]:

It’s not competitive. I’m not taking clients from you. You’re not taking clients from me. We’re all just trying to do a better job serving the clients that we have. And, so, yeah, I’m happy to talk to anybody who’s interested. Good.

Julie Smith [00:42:41]:

Glenn’s gonna have you on speed dial.

Glenn Harper [00:42:44]:

Just for fun. No. It’s, it’s just the damndest thing. Accountants historically never talk to other accountants. Like, that’s, like, sac you would never do that. But today, why not? There nobody is gonna be fishing in your pond. It’s fine. There’s plenty of work out there.

Glenn Harper [00:42:58]:

Why can’t we elevate the whole profession, which is really I think our mission is you know? Yeah. There’s some accounting stuff there, but it’s mostly entrepreneurs, but it all ties in somehow. But we’re We’re just trying to elevate everybody. And why is that such a bad thing? There’s plenty of fish in the pond. Right?

Matt Remuzzi [00:43:13]:

Well Absolutely.

Glenn Harper [00:43:14]:

But certainly appreciate you being on Jo, Matt, I hope you, got up early enough today that, you have a a very long productive day instead of a short day. You probably get up cracking new normally, but now you get to have a full, full day. So We really, really appreciate it, and, you know, thanks again for being on the show. I’m Glenn Harper.

Episode Show Notes

Welcome to another insightful episode of Empowering Entrepreneurs, with an incredible conversation with Matt Remuzzi from CapForge.

Matt shared his inspiring journey from writing business plans to revolutionizing bookkeeping, proving that with persistence, innovation, and a customer-first approach, success is not just a possibility, it’s inevitable.

His entrepreneurial spirit, rooted in a legacy of business ownership and fueled by an aversion to the constraints of corporate culture, has led to the triumphant rise of CapForge.

Matt’s advice? Focus on relationships, listen to your clients, and always be coachable. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers; it’s about creating value and understanding the story behind them.

Entrepreneurial Principles: “I mean, it wasn’t that I was against working with other people. And, obviously, you hit a ceiling pretty quick as a one man business. But I didn’t wanna have to enforce stupid rules or, You know, do things that I didn’t feel like, made a lot of sense.” – Matt Remuzzi

Top Takeaways

1. The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Matt Remuzzi’s journey highlights the quintessential entrepreneurial drive, beginning from his college days and influenced by his grandfather’s business endeavors. Aspiring entrepreneurs are encouraged to draw from his persistence and determination to succeed.

2. Pivoting and Persistence: Remuzzi’s story teaches the importance of adaptability and persistence. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to pivot their business model when necessary and understand that success often requires steadfastness through challenges.

3. Innovative Business Practices: Matt’s approach to bookkeeping—separating teams for new clients and ongoing clients—illustrates the value of innovative structures within a business to effectively manage workloads and improve client service.

4. Building Relationships: Successful entrepreneurship, as evidenced by CapForge’s philosophy, hinges on strong customer relationships and a value offering that extends beyond standard services.

5. Recruitment and Culture: Focus on hiring individuals with exceptional customer service abilities and personalities that fit the company culture to build a committed and efficient team. Remuzzi believes a respectful work environment and employee appreciation are key to retention.

Workplace Environment Philosophy: “I wouldn’t wanna work anywhere that I wouldn’t wanna work. Right? So I wanted to Treat people fairly and value them and and appreciate them and set clear expectations of what I wanted them to do.”— Matt Remuzzi

6. Continual Learning: Entrepreneurs like Remuzzi who did not have a mentor emphasize the necessity of continual learning and growth. Mistakes and lessons learned are powerful tools for improving business acumen and operations.

7. Holistic Service Offering: Remuzzi regrets not integrating tax services into his business earlier. A comprehensive suite of services can provide added value to clients and enhance business growth.

8. Employee Empowerment: Considering future transitions such as employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) reflects a commitment to employee empowerment and long-term business sustainability, worthy of consideration for growing businesses.

9. Client Selection: The importance of working with clients who are open and coachable is highlighted, pointing to the necessity of selective client acquisition strategies aimed at long-term engagement and mutual growth.

10. Challenges of Scaling: Entrepreneurs must navigate the complexities of scaling a business, including managing employee workloads and transitioning from daily operations to focusing on strategic growth and even planning an exit strategy.

Memorable Moments

00:00 Entrepreneur Matt Ramuzzi offers accounting expertise.

04:27 Entrepreneurship in family, but discouraged by father.

06:57 Reluctant to enforce rules, focused on team.

11:04 Struggled with different jobs, then became consultant.

14:42 Pivoted from writing plans to developing software.

19:19 Morphed into psychiatrist role, built rapport, successful.

20:13 My experience suits the role and expertise.

23:14 Valuing people, setting clear expectations, hiring selectively.

26:19 Bookkeeping split into new client and ongoing team.

32:00 Regret for neglecting tax, impacting business success.

35:09 Delegating is my superpower for success.

37:33 Promoted co-CEOs and considering future transitions.

39:56 Entrepreneurial journey brings options for future ventures.

Matt Remuzzi grew up in a thriving neighborhood peppered with professionals from the movie and film industry near San Fernando Valley and LA proper. The community was small yet affluent, fostering an upper-middle-class lifestyle that provided Matt with a solid foundation and a good education.

He later channeled his academic pursuits toward higher learning at the University of California San Diego, where he completed his undergraduate studies. His thirst for knowledge and a drive to innovate propelled him to San Diego State University, where he earned his MBA with a keen focus on entrepreneurship, a pathway that aligned with his ambitions and aspirations for the future.

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