Marketplace: Flatirons Business Solutions aims to help entrepreneurs
Ben Pittsley has seen it time and again. An entrepreneur will create a product or an idea and successfully send it to market — then have absolutely no idea what to do next.
“All of a sudden, the market takes it and they don’t have enough time and they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They don’t know how they grow from where they are today to where they want to be.”
That’s where Pittsley comes in. The business he and his wife, Allison Pittsley, started, Flatirons Business Solutions, provides the financial expertise to help late-stage startups and growing small businesses get to the next level. It provides services such as bookkeeping, tax preparation, cash management, strategic planning, and revenue and cost trend analysis — all the skills that are crucial for entrepreneurs but tough for those without financial expertise to manage.
Ben Pittsley said Flatirons Business Solutions’ part-time services are designed to bridge the gap for companies between their seed stage and when they become large enough to take care of their finances in-house. It can be a tumultuous time if entrepreneurs don’t know how to manage it, but Flatirons aims to take away much of the stress.
“Eventually, they hopefully will become successful to the point where they do require that full-time role, and we’ll work ourselves out of a role with them,” he said. “We’ll help them transition to a full-time staff or full-time bookkeeper or CFO, whatever it may be. But we are that stopgap because otherwise, they get into a vicious cycle.”
The Pittsleys started the company four years ago in Boulder, Colorado. Ben Pittsley had spent half of his career picking stocks at mutual fund companies, before joining an energy company and working in mergers and acquisitions. But his work left him unfulfilled.
So he started Flatirons Business Solutions with his wife, a certified public accountant, as a hobby. Then, when he left the energy company, his newfound flexibility proved to be the perfect opportunity to expand the business and integrate it into the flourishing startup scene in Boulder. Their recent move to Park City was, in part, because they see the same opportunities here to help startups.
“I wanted something that, at the end of my career I could point to and say, ‘I helped build that,’ as opposed to numbers on a screen,” Ben Pittsley said. “This is something that, at the end of the night, you can go to bed and think, ‘Wow, I actually am helping someone.’ And that was far better than even my corporate role.”
The amount of work companies require varies. Initially, Flatirons spends 40 to 80 hours going through a company’s books, or “laying the foundation.” Sometimes, Ben Pittsley said, accounting errors are found that save a company loads of cash.
“At times, (Allison has) gone back and been able to refile three years of taxes and recover capital they had given to the IRS, thinking that they owed a certain amount of money and they were wrong,” he said.
After the initial work, companies are free to choose how much they utilize Flatirons. Some businesses need five hours of attention a month, while other require 15 hours a week. Prices are based on hourly work, and contracts are month-to-month, meaning companies are free to cancel the service at any time.
Additionally, Flatirons attempts to make the process as pain-free as possible. That means the Pittsleys will conduct meetings over the phone or on Skype, or meet with their clients on-site.
“It basically is client-driven,” Allison Pittsley said. “But a lot of these companies, they don’t want to see it, they don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to think about it: ‘Just update me at the end of the month and tell me what the numbers are.’ We’re able to really operate behind the scenes.”
The Pittsleys are eager to dive into the Park City business scene. They are hopeful entrepreneurs here will be keen to utilize their company. Starting Flatirons has been one of the most rewarding experiences of their careers, and they’re excited about sharing their knowledge with others.
“Working with people who are excited about something,” Allison Pittsley said, “is so much better than working with people who are just a cog in the wheel, winding through.”
Flatirons Business Solutions
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