Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Robert Gauvreau, the founder and CEO of Gauvreau Accounting Tax Law Advisory. Gauvreau Accounting Tax Law Advisory was established in 2008 as a CPA firm built to help entrepreneurs advance their businesses through proactive financial services.
In addition to traditional accounting firm compliance solutions, we enhanced our offering to encompass the strategic financial advisory services and leadership coaching needed to help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.
We’ve created an online coaching program, The Million Dollar Peak Performance Program, to scale our ability to instill business owners with the knowledge and confidence they need to achieve success. Entrepreneurs can engage this program through independent, on-demand, self-paced courses, or through our Virtual CFO program which is comprised of group coaching and personal financial advising.
We have also recently expanded our suite of business professional services (specialized tax, wealth management, and business financing) to now offer legal services such as corporate restructuring, real estate acquisition, wills and estates, and more.
So when we started in 2008, the very first year, well, obviously we started from zero in 2008 with only a few people. There were three of us. And I remember at the time, I did essentially every piece of output that went from the office went through me. I did all of the tax returns. I did all of the year's ends. I did everything. It was a lot.
But that year we did $220,000 of revenue, year one, 2008, and in 2023, we are going to surpass $10 million in revenue, about 90 to 100 employees. So substantially changed over those years. I was looking back, and someone had asked me the other day if we are turning 33, I'm 40. And they said, can you reflect on what 33 looked like for you?
So I went back and looked at my business seven years ago. Halfway through the journey and it had been my 33rd year and it was our first year getting over that million dollars in revenue and going from zero to 220K in year one to getting just over a million eight years in and thinking that we've essentially 10X our business in seven years since then.
So seven years ago just being over a million and this year just being over 10 million, that's pretty wild and a pretty incredible track record. And so our goal is to do the same thing over the next ten years is to go from 10 to 200 million and we have the plan and process in place to get there.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
One of my first jobs was in the sports retail marking field, and it helped me discover my entrepreneurial spirit. I was able to experience for the first time that when I was informed enough to offer a solution that made clients happy and was a win for my company, not only did I receive recognition, but I also became a contributing force in the success of the business.
When I started University for Business Administration, I realized I would be graduating with 2,000 other people who had the same experience and education as me. Wanting to differentiate myself, I decided that my strengths in accounting and finance, my natural ability in helping others, and my energy for entrepreneurship created a unique opportunity to enter, energize and make a difference in the accounting industry. It's proven to be a successful journey so far.
In 2007 I made an incredible leap of faith that has proven to be one of the greatest instinctual decisions of my life. I had a secure job at a large global organization, and my wife and I had just bought our first house and were expecting our first of two children. I had just bought my first new car, we had no savings … and … I decided to quit my job and start my own business. That is just what entrepreneurs do!
In 2008 when I jumped from working with a global accounting firm to starting my practice, I couldn’t have imagined the impact we would have. In combining my accounting experience, my passion for helping business owners, and being an entrepreneur myself, we’ve had the great pleasure of growing something incredible, to now being an industry leader across North America.
There have certainly been some great moments and some challenging moments throughout my journey, but to now be here with a team of more than 80 professionals is an incredible accomplishment. The fact that these 80 incredible people are helping so many entrepreneurs fulfill their journey and maximize their impact is proof that we are accomplishing what we’ve wanted so far, with so much more to come.
Setbacks are 100% a vital part of growth and becoming stronger.
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
The main challenge we faced in our early phases of growth was attracting and recruiting the right people. As a small business establishing itself, we were limited by resources to expand the way we wanted to.
Additionally, operating in a conservative industry there was the added challenge of finding the right professionals who were willing to leave a secure position at a larger firm to join a small business.
As we gained more momentum it became easier to attract and retain the best candidates and scale our capabilities. The reason we were able to achieve all that we have is because of our willingness to take a chance to invest in our team and innovation.
Without these calculated risks we wouldn’t have achieved the growth and momentum that we have today. These investments have enabled us to create high-impact, innovative services that distinguish us in the marketplace and allowed us to scale at an accelerated rate.
I have made significant investments to work with the best of the best business coaches and communities to learn from their success in areas outside my expertise and industry. Their guidance has been invaluable and the experience inspiring. If you are unwilling to invest in yourself, expect that it will take you longer to reach your goals, if at all.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The public accounting industry is a largely well-respected, global industry with lots of large and small competitors that are all slightly diﬀerentiated in how they approach their business and the solutions they oﬀer.
Our key diﬀerentiator is that we focus on working exclusively with business owners and we continue to innovate solutions that will help advance their future success. For me, our contribution towards change in the accounting industry comes down to two key areas.
The ﬁrst is our involvement in innovating new creative solutions built on proactivity to help entrepreneurs continue to be successful and build ﬁnancial wealth for their future. This is a key diﬀerentiators versus the other solutions our industry traditionally oﬀers which are more historical-based compliance and reporting.
The second is a change in culture and conventions. Traditional public accounting ﬁrms all oﬀer the same thing and work inside a perceived box of calculating numbers, trying to ﬁgure out how to minimize taxes, or uncovering complex problems that happened in the past.
We pride ourselves on being diﬀerent in how we approach our culture, our clients, and our innovative solutions.
We are invested in growth through innovation, always focused on producing the next best oﬀering for our clients so that they can be a step ahead of their competitors.
I believe one of the reasons we have become top advisors in our space is that we are entrepreneurs first. We have encountered many hurdles and overcome various challenges throughout our journey so far.
We know that jumping into new spaces will bring challenges, but we aren’t afraid to invest in innovating because it provides greater growth opportunities for us and provides our community with the support they need.
Financing the business, I remember before I started I bought the small bookkeeping business and personal tax returns in 2008 and the business was I think $250,000. I went to TD Bank and I remember walking into the bank manager obviously I didn't have any money to acquire the small business.
And the bank manager had his newspaper up and his feet on the desk when I walked in it was a scheduled appointment and I didn't just show up he was waiting for me. I walked in and he goes, what makes you think that you're going to get any money from any banks? And essentially said, Well, if your mom and dad want to sign off on this, then maybe we'll consider it.
And I was like, that's not happening, I'm not getting my parents to do this if I can't do this on my own, then I'm not doing it. This is not a Doug and Sue Gauvreau situation. This is me if I'm going to be able to do this for myself. So ultimately ended up leaving TD Bank at that time and I had the meeting and I went to the Bank of Montreal. It was Harris private banking at that time and I walked in and it was a completely different situation when I walked in. They brought me into the boardroom, they asked me if I wanted a drink, and they sat me down in these leather chairs and they essentially said, we believe in you and we're going to fund this loan.
Essentially, they funded the initial start-up cost of the business, which was amazing. And then ultimately bootstrapped it from there, meaning that we essentially just used the cash flow from the business to continue to grow and reinvest in the business from there.
Absolutely credit cards have been used. Loans have been used to acquire equipment and assets and leasehold improvements. And even later on, we made one acquisition and the bank helped fund that acquisition as well. So financing has been a key element, but we have still retained, you know, 100% ownership of the company without giving up any equity along the journey, which is going to prove to be a really valuable wealth accumulation strategy in the long term.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Well, one piece of advice I would say is that building a team and training that team delivers things that you can do is going to give you the ability to grow faster and go farther and help more people. If you're focused on maximizing your impact, you need to look at building a team and training them to have them deliver your level of quality of value and deliverables.
Because for you as a business owner, you're going to be capped at how much you can do and how many people you can help. If you build a team and that team is scalable, your ability to influence and impact the world in a greater way is much higher.
Some other growth advice recommendations for aspiring Founders, know your numbers, know your plan and know where you're headed. You know there's the one quote that says, 'If you don't know where you're going, how do you know what road to take?" And it's very true. Without knowing the destination, how do you plan it, and what steps do you need to get there?
And it's really important to have the end in mind so that we can build out the appropriate path on how to get there, what actions to take at certain times when to go on offense, when to be on defense, and how to plan out your financial outcomes. And you know, one other piece that I would add into that knows where you're going. It's also knowing where you are so that you can build that pathway.
Knowing where you mean understanding the true financial picture of where your business is at and where you're sitting right now inside your business, how your business is performing. Because if we want to take it to another level, we have to understand what's happening right now and what tweaks need to be made to get to that next level.
Keep things exciting, and fun, and build something you can’t imagine not being part of.
As the business continues to evolve and the capacity for us to take on is continue to evolve, we've been able to enhance our marketing and our traffic in and to have paid online marketing, Google ads, and Facebook ads, driving traffic to sales, funnels to book appointments with our team. I do a lot of speaking so essentially we put our brand on stage, give a whole bunch of value, and book meetings from there with prospects. That's been super valuable and most recently looking at strategic partnerships where we've got partners who we can align with, who need the services that we offer to help better serve their clientele.
I'm going to start this by saying why we do what we do and I've been reflecting on this a lot lately. We work with a thousand clients across the world. Those thousand businesses, essentially have 1000 clients on average or 1000 patients or 1000 students or a thousand customers or purchasers or whatever that looks like.
So they can impact a thousand lives.
And I think of salon owners, for example, every person that goes into a salon and goes in there to get fresh enough to get more confidence to feel good about themselves. And you think of the salon owner as the epitome of the impact that you can have in somebody's life. They leave with a smile and more confidence. Those thousand businesses that we can influence impact, help be more successful, reinvest, grow, and help more people.
Those thousand business owners impact the lives of 1000 people. And right now, that allows our impact indirectly to be a million people. The reason we do what we do is that we want to positively empower business owners to maximize their impact in changing the world. And that's exciting and that's something that we are aligned with.
While we continue to innovate and disrupt our industry and our space and create professional services with a focus on a client journey and enhancing that to ensure that the journey is smooth, the journey is rewarding and that they're maximized seeing the outcome of their results.
Looking at disrupting the industry that's been pulled cold and boring and making it better now, part of the way we disrupt is that we create specialized services, but we're not just the CPA firm and tax firm and bookkeeping firm, we also have a legal team.
We've got a legal firm in-house, we've got a coaching business, and we all continue to enhance the services that we have as part of our organization to become that one-stop innovative shop for business owners again so they get all the resources they need to maximize the impact and change the world. We want to change the lives of 10 million people every single year.
For us, we're lucky we've got a reoccurring business model where essentially our existing clients need the same services on an annual basis. Our bookkeeping clients need it every month.
Our tax and accounting clients need it on an annual basis and our legal team needs or our legal clients need one-off services on an ongoing basis. Our coaching clients are also every month. We focus on retention. We retain those while we focus on capturing our Net Promoter score, assessing how our client's success is assessing their journey with us, and continuously and constantly improving that journey to make sure that clients want to continue to work with us.
We're not perfect. We just strive for perfection along this journey.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We've got the scalability set up to deliver the products and services that our clients need to be successful. So we're looking at continuing to try and scale that up as fast as possible so that we can maximize our impact. The ultimate goal is to continue to have an overall profitability of 20 to 30% for the business unit.
As far as our profit margins go, as we've continued to evolve and add team members, our gross profit has lowered over the last couple of years, partially because we're investing in creating capacity for growth, our gross profit and our cost of goods sold, really our labor costs and wages for our professional staff who are delivering these services as well as for our law firm. Any legal filing costs that are associated with filing as well.
And we do offer accountancy like tax insurance so that if people get audited by the IRS or by the Canada Revenue Agency, they can buy insurance premiums that would have us be paid for to represent them. One of the other costs we have is the fees for the insurance premiums that we have set up in there.
Our cost of goods sold, our employees, our professionals, our team, that's revenue-generating, and any of the specific costs related to delivery on that. So our profit margins have ranged, currently, it is just above 50%, as far as gross profit striving for that 60% profitability level, which does become challenging when we continue to hire in advance to build that capacity up customer acquisition costs.
So let's talk about plans to expand to new products, audiences, and regions. So as far as regions go, you know, we've expanded across Canada over the last five years into the United States in the last year and a half, looking to continue to further expand on that, specifically focusing on a few pockets of locations. Toronto is certainly a large focus for us in the short term, same as Ottawa, two major metropolitan areas in Ontario and truthfully in Canada.
Those are some pretty substantial populations which are great. And then looking at the US as well, with 380 million people that we've just barely started to touch on and you know, an expansion on that side may not be specifically a region or a state, but more so audiences.
Some specific audiences that we've been targeting and focusing on; we've got salon owners, which has been a huge focus, we've got online coaches, and business coaches, has been a focus for us looking to expand in that area as well. Online fitness instructors are a great space for us, law firms and that's all across. These are all across North America, regardless of their location. And that's another huge one for us.
Professionals are always a great audience, real estate investors. We have a large population of real estate investors and contractors would be our other major focus. So anyone in the plumbing, electrical development, construction, handyman landscape, or any of those sorts of services, we have a large audience of clients in that space as well.
We have no specific plans to expand our products except to continue to evolve them and continue to offer very specialized services within those markets. However, should the opportunity arise to expand into a new product or service offering that's well aligned with our model of having the one-stop shop for business owners, we would certainly look at that as an opportunity that we may want to jump into as well.
Short-term goals are continuing to focus on the alignment of our team as we continue to grow, continuing to focus on a proactive hiring and recruitment strategy, making sure that we have resources available to continue to deliver, tightening up our planning, and focusing on innovation, making sure that anyways we can continue to innovate our services are deliverables in our outcomes for our clients that is definitely on the forefront.
Long-term goals, we're looking at a ten-year, $100 million business, and that would put me at 50 years old, so not even close to done yet, but 100 million dollars, I feel it's very attainable.
We need to continue to learn what it takes to be successful at that next level of business. We've hit that $10 million mark, but now we're focused on understanding what it takes to be a $20 million company. The resources, the team, the levels, the technology, capital, and infrastructure of what it takes to get there. Our ten-year goal from this year forward is to get to $100 million in revenue.
We have a thousand clients now and we would be 10X that it would be 10,000 clients, 1000 customers each that would be positively influencing the lives of 10 million people a year, which I think is pretty incredible.
And, if we were to look at expanding that even beyond I think our further goal is to get it up to that to $250 million range over a 20-year span. That's, you know, essentially 25 million people every year, which is getting close to the entire population of Canada so being able to influence that many lives is a pretty cool mission.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Setbacks are 100% a vital part of growth and becoming stronger. For those in our coaching program, we often discuss their feelings associated with taking two steps forward just to inevitably take one step back. Whether it is a delivery issue, a team issue, a cultural issue, or a financial issue, that step back comes with a feeling of defeat.
But the longer you are on your entrepreneurial journey, the more you come to understand that the greater the advancement you aim to make in your organization, the greater the risk of challenges you will face. The learnings you encounter in overcoming these challenges make you wiser, stronger, more resilient, and better prepared for future challenges ahead.
At the same time, there are ways to mitigate risks and future setbacks to ensure that net positive growth can occur, and that future goals and growth can be accomplished if you have the right plan in place. Any entrepreneur on their journey to grow or create something new would be in denial if they said setbacks haven’t taken place.
For sure on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, there will be challenges that feel like they’ve set you back on your journey, but these learning opportunities are really experiences we as entrepreneurs need to continue to grow.
In my position as a business advisor helping entrepreneurs grow and scale their business, having these setbacks regularly help us understand the best advice and guidance we can provide to those we work with.
Over the years we have certainly had challenges related to growing a team, establishing a culture, facility constraints, adaptation to different technology, the global pandemic, increased competition, and cash flow constraints through continuous investment.
These are all setbacks we have faced and so to have many entrepreneurs, and the resiliency shown in overcoming them are key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. You need to be resilient to continue to grow and strive for future success.
Back in 2016, I received an interesting phone call from the office of Tony Robbins. Tony and his team were looking to build a team of ‘Global Accounting Advisors’ to help support the attendees of his business mastery event by helping them understand their numbers and save tax money.
The phone call I received was because I was recommended to Tony’s organization as a great partner to join as the Canadian Partner of the Global Accounting Advisors. Who could say no to an opportunity to work with one of the greatest business speakers in history?
I worked with Tony and his team for a few years, and it was an incredible experience, once that brought significant value back to my team of professionals and our ability to grow and scale our operation across North America.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I'm a huge advocate for QuickBooks Online. So without question technology and bookkeeping is extremely powerful.
Another favorite, I love loom is a tool to be able to communicate and deliver messages to people and get their reactions and responses too, that's great.
We use a billing and proposal software solution called ignition. It essentially allows us to deliver proposals electronically and get electronic signatures from our clients as well as collect payment automatically, especially for those recurring monthly incomes.
Then Karbon is also our project management tool where we track all of our accounting and tax and bookkeeping ongoing obligations and due dates. It's a pretty incredible tool.
For our legal team, we use Clio. Clio is also a very valuable business partner of ours and it's allowed us to focus on expanding our services to legal firms across North America. The Clio software is essentially an all-in-one solution that allows us to track leads and allows us to track project management. It allows us to invoice and collect money directly. Clio is an incredible program and excited to continue to use that.
HubSpot would be the other one as far as tracking leads in having electronic calendars and booking links to allow clients to book directly has been a huge time saver, and has helped schedule some of the executive's lives. It also allows us to track the progress of our business development and the leads that are being captured and our ability to move those prospects from an initial lead into closing a deal.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The first mentor I had was my friend Rob Nixon. Rob is the world's greatest business coach for accountants. Although he lives in Australia, he was and is always worth the difficult time change to connect with. Over the years he has expanded my mind and has helped me achieve great results.
Since 2008, I have invested heavily in becoming the best version of myself, both as a finance professional and as a leader and CEO. There is no greater return on investment than investing in what I am capable of achieving.
This has allowed me to work alongside some of the world's greatest entrepreneurs and business coaches including Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Grant Cardone, Kevin O’Leary, and many more. The ability to learn from others how to achieve outcomes faster is one of the greatest ways to accomplish great things and do so in less time. To me, this is the meaning behind ‘you need to spend money to make money’. And I live by it.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
First, do something meaningful to you and surround yourself with collaborative experts that share your values. Keep things exciting, and fun, and build something you can’t imagine not being part of.
Facing a challenging success journey, I hardly had time to embrace the little joys. Now that I'm more experienced, I feel that if I had known some of the following priceless pieces of advice, I would have enjoyed the process of the business establishment more.
Never be too hard on yourself and give yourself a break once in a while. There are going to be times when things don’t turn out as planned and you may feel discouraged by these failings or setbacks, but that’s all part of the experience. Embrace it. Learn from it. Focus on making small incremental, and positive progress as you continue to move forward. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so brace yourself for the journey and continue to find new ways to keep yourself inspired.
Some of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make when they are starting out is burning themselves out. Four pieces of advice to avoid burnout and continue to thrive:
Take your big vision and break it into small, daily goals/tasks. Burnout happens when you increase your efforts over some time and do not generate increased results. By having daily goals that you can accomplish, you can achieve momentum. Momentum defeats the feeling of diminished results.
Protect your sleep – the body and the mind need rest. Without the proper rest, we aren’t able to fully recover, and perform at our highest level
Exercise – our body and mind need movement to keep us strong and full of energy. Without energy, we are susceptible to burnout.
Take a break – we all need to check out from time to time. It allows us to clear our minds and think about other things. Taking a break allows us to remember how much we value what we do, and start to think more creatively about how we can do things differently.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for talented and passionate professionals to join our growing team.
We are an exceptional team made up of high-performing individuals who are committed to growing personally, as well as growing together as a team. We have a passion for service, helping our clients increase their impact and achieve financial freedom in their lives.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings