We had the good fortune of connecting with Lara Azoy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lara, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein Just keep going…I probably would not have chosen this principle in February (pre-pandemic) but today, it is one of the most important values in my personal and professional life. Life has thrown so much at all of us this year. And there have been so many moments over the past few months where I have just wanted to stop, to give up, to run away. Between losing a few clients due to the pandemic, my local co-working space ceasing its own business entirely, and having my two young children home and out of school, I’ve thought so many times, should I still be doing this? Does this make sense for my life right now? Is my business still adding value to my team’s careers, my clients’ businesses, and my life? Time and time again, sometimes in tears and other times without, I’ve decided each time that to “just keep going” is the best choice. My response each time has looked different and has shifted different parts of my business and life on a different course in order to make it work. This has created great change in my business and my personal life over the past few months and much of it for the better. With these changes, my business has actually experienced some top-line growth and I am spending two days per week less working in my business (due to balancing virtual learning with my two sons). I have been more confident in hiring out for help on certain projects helping me feel more confident in delegating responsibilities that I have always viewed as “mine.” My clients have trusted this process, me, and my team and have stayed with us on this crazy ride. The team has stepped up and taken on additional responsibilities and their hard work and dedication to the firm has really helped us just keep going and in it all, we actually just keep GROWING! For these things, I am grateful.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
L.A. Financial Management offers outsourced full-service accounting, controller, and CFO services to small to medium businesses. We specialize in education, healthcare, and non-profit clients. We have built a strong yet nimble organization that focuses on helping our clients grow their businesses. Our brand is about quality and building trusting relationships with our clients. We are individuals that want to do our best work for our clients. We take pride in our achievements, but we work to ensure that those achievements are more than just getting it done and off our desks, rather we aim to add value and be trusted advisors to our clients. We have continued to grow to where we are at now with well-defined and daring goals, flexibility on how to achieve these goals, and a few (or more) leaps of faith. Our team cares about the success of the firm and that shows through in their work and dedication to our clients. I think any small business owner will tell you that we are working to overcome challenges on a daily basis. If we are not strategizing on how to make things better or increase output and client satisfaction, then we are stagnant and on our way down. I have struggled with turning all of our business development activities to fully virtual but continue to try new strategies each day. I look to rely on others that are skilled and specialize in these strategies to assist us with our plans as we adapt to a new way of working. Being open to trying new things and being ok with failing have proved to very valuable skills for me. Our firm is small but all of us are moms, we have children ranging from toddler to high school aged. We work together to support each other as teammates but also as parents. We each understand the coordination that comes with being a working parent and we don’t bat an eye when one team member may need more support than usual. This has helped create a strong, trusting yet flexible environment within the firm and as a result we can continue to provide excellent service regardless of what is happening in our personal lives. As a team, we are proud of our success here!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
You can’t come to LA without visiting the beach! I would go for Will Rogers State Beach, it’s a nice part of the beach in the Pacific Palisades, very family friendly. And we can do this in pandemic times! Some of these others, we’ll have to wait until we’re back to a more normal life. One of new must-sees of L.A. is the Rooftop Bar at the InterContinental in downtown. There is an amazing view with yummy drinks, definitely a one-of-a-kind experience in the city. Dodgers Stadium for a Dodgers game! It is an iconic stadium for a traditional all-American baseball game. In terms of museums, the Natural History Museum (NHM) and the Skirball Cultural Center are my two favorites. There is always a new exhibit at NHM and Noah’s Ark at the Skirball, along with the views and serenity of the locale is a must-see. Around the city, we could spend a day or two driving around to check out local artists’ Kobe and Gianna murals that really speak to the love that this city has for the NBA great and his impact on women’s sports in the area. In my opinion, LA is home to the best Mexican food in the country and it isn’t hard to find. But one of my favorite spins on traditional Mexican cuisine is at Mercado. There are a few locations around LA. There we would order jicama shrimp tacos and cauliflower al pastor and have a variety of Mexican wines, tequilas and mezcals from which to choose. There are so many other things that we could do, but these are some of my personal LA favorites!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Shoutout for certain, must go to my husband, Alex. He is my biggest supporter. He listens when I’m frustrated, when I’m lost, he reminds me why what I am doing is worthwhile. He is a full-time employee and so his flexibility is minimal, but he has taken on more household responsibilities so that I can help the kids with their learning and maintain my business. I feel like we are truly a team when it comes managing everything that needs to be done. He makes lunches for all of us every day, he maintains the outdoor area for our virtual learning pod, he does the dishes all day every day, he takes full responsibility for our sons on weekends so that I work on my business, just to name a few things. He takes pride in being a hands-on dad to our two sons. In all the shifting we’ve done this year to make our lives work, I am reminded of the book, The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. To continue to succeed in these times, it is even more obvious to me that working on my business, versus in my business is truly how growth will continue for us. Bearing the weight of all responsibilities of the business, is just not going to work given all the things that need to be balanced as a working parent. We, as a team at L.A. Financial Management, used some of our downtime early in the pandemic shutdown to set up automated internal process tracking in hopes of achieving increased productivity and team member accountability. The fruits of our labor here have truly achieved both goals in a very short time. My team deserves all of the credit here!