A HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM HELP COMPANIES CULTIVATE LEADERS AND FOSTER CULTURE  

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“We help company leaders recognize that the most important components of the company are the employees and the customers.” As leaders, they must be intentional about creating the kind of culture that dignifies both”. –  Allyson & Derek Young, Founders of YMG Enterprises, LLC

What inspired you to start YMG Enterprises, LLC?

Allyson: We started YMG Enterprises, because we had an opportunity to combine over 40 years of corporate experience working in executive leadership, to help CEO’s understand and develop strategies for creating a healthy corporate culture.

Derek: We realized that we could transfer what we did for two employers into a viable set of services for a wide array of corporate, government, education, non-profit and religious organizations from various sectors.  We realized that our success in shaping culture for one or two employers could translate into helping multiple organizations create a legendary culture.  We wanted to expand our belief that amazing things happen when we combine culture and strategy.

What has been a great example of a company you worked with that implemented a positive workplace culture strategy? 

Allyson & Derek: Several years ago, we were introduced to a medium sized services company with several hundred employees located in five locations.   Even though the six major departments within the company were tasked with working collaboratively to serve their customers, they had allowed silo-thinking and disrespectful communication to ruin the quality of their environment and lessen the impact of their service.  Fortunately, the senior leaders of the group were open to outside support.  Following a deep dive culture assessment with leaders and front-line employees from every department, we  were able to design a targeted culture strategy that addressed the most prevailing culture killers.  Using the input of the members of the organization we delivered an 18-month, quarterly training program that systematically helped leaders and front-line employees practice and review the impact of new behaviors that promoted teamwork and respect.  The multi-layered partnership accelerated how quickly each member of the team accepted the new approach.

What does a typical day look like for your team?

Allyson: We have been in business together for 13 years.  We assess each project to determine the best way to engage. There are times when Derek is the project team lead and other times I may lead an engagement. On larger contracts, we work together.

Derek: While each day is different, our typical day includes a mixture of new client development, program design, business management and knowledge-building.

How do you manage work-life balance?

Derek: If you think about the time you spend working, driving to and from work and thinking about work–possibly 60-80 hours a week—balance is practically impossible. If you have life goals, it will be challenging to have balance. If you have children or aging parents it will be hard to have balance.  We encourage our clients to avoid looking for balance and choose to look for quality relationships in every area of their life.

Allyson: When it comes to how we handle work-life balance, we value quality time with each other. For example, one of us may have to be out of town for a week, so we ensure that we schedule time together when the other returns. We take the time to spend with our family on Sundays after church, by celebrating all birthdays, attending their sports and special events and helping them excel in school.

Could you share what you loved most about your NBIC experience?  

Allyson: We heard about the NBIC’s business plan contest and entered. We learned more about the NBIC during the competition.  We decided to become one of the NBIC “Biz Owners” and set up our office at the Incubation Center.  We were there for 3 years when we determined that our business is everywhere we are, so we inquired about how we could continue being a part of the program without maintaining an office within the Incubation Center. The Growth Enterprises team established a unique set of terms to which we agreed and eventually they decided to create the “Incubator Without Walls” program for “Biz Owners” who did not necessarily require office space. As members of the “Incubator Without Walls” program, we were  able to continue receiving the coaching and mentoring, and continue benefiting from the camaraderie with other “Biz” Owners.

Derek: Most people are subject matter experts who are trying to become entrepreneurs. Therefore, it is important to be in a network of like-minded people. It is extremely valuable to have an experienced business partner remain focused on your progress and growth.

Is there one business resource or tip you would give to readers just starting out in their business?

Allyson: The first thing I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs is to understand the need to be properly structured. Don’t believe the hype that all you need are business cards. An entrepreneur must learn how to become a legal established entity according to the structure selected, whether sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation. The average person has no exposure to what it means to own a company from the perspective of legal structure. It is important and necessary to seek the advice of an attorney and participate in various workshops which teach entrepreneurs the requirements of owning a business.

Lastly, what can Music City expect from YMG in 2017?

Derek:  YMG will continue to ‘sharpen our own saw’ in the areas of client assessment, program development and business partnerships.  We look forward to offering our most popular training series in an online format to help a broader group of individuals and organizations benefit from the lessons we have learned.  We hope to establish new partnerships with leaders who are seeking consulting, training and speaking services that will help them build a legendary culture.

A NASHVILLE IMMIGRANT + CPA LOOKING TO GO INTERNATIONALLY 

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“Everything we want to do in life starts with who we are.” – Dawit Aynachew, founder/partner of KBMD

Describe your company and mission? KBMD is a team of seasoned professionals focused on effectively and efficiently carrying out the public trust placed on CPAs and facilitate opportunities for the creation and maintenance of wealth for our external and internal customers. We provide certified public accounting services, and are one of the very few AICPA members in Nashville that are also members of the Governmental Audit Quality Center of the association.

 

What inspired you to start KBMD? Everything we want to do in life starts with who we are. One of my partners is my sister and I met my other partners while working in the accounting field.  As immigrants, each of us saw how businesses were changing in Africa. There was a great need for our culture to  provide these types of services in our country and beyond. I don’t think most people realized that CPAs are a very US thing but only 1% of CPAs are people of color. So, we decided to form KBMD to provide accounting services and also help other immigrants from Africa looking to get into the financial sector. Africa is a wealthy country but the people who are benefiting are not Africans. We wanted Africans and African Americans to be a part of the entire economy. It is difficult work to do but we are passionate about our mission.  

 

What makes KBMD unique and different than other accounting firms? Our firm provides all of the core accounting and financial services; however, what makes us different is our social impact component. We inspire immigrants looking to become CPAs and give them an opportunity to study for their certification under our organization. For many, the perception is that if you don’t work for one of the big 4 firms it is very difficult to get into this field. We help to remove those misconceptions and provide real opportunities for people to create a career.

 

Are you a Nashville native? No. I left my country when I was a teenager, as Ethiopia was a communist country. There was  killing in the streets and many ugly things happening that I wanted to escape. I moved to Kenya and several other countries in Africa before coming to the United States. My first job was at a yarn company making $3.80 per hour. This was actually an important lesson that led me to realize that I needed schooling in order to be successful. I attended school in North Carolina and Alabama, before moving to Nashville in 1993. My first job was with the State of TN working under the supervision of a CPA until obtaining my licensing in 1995.

 

Why Nashville to start your business?  Unlike the rest of TN, Nashville has a level of diversity. People are more accepting and have a desire to mingle with different cultures, which provides a great opportunity for us. Also, the number of people moving to the city from other parts of the country each day is very encouraging.

 

What does your typical day consist of? Balancing multiple client needs and growing your business?  My ideal day really includes the challenge of staying away from emails (lol). Communication and documentation pretty much sums up our day.  I normally start my day by checking emails, as the goal is to always ensure communication is top notch with your clients. Then, I normally dive into each of our clients needs at the time. Our work is diverse so I could be working on taxes, an audit review or other time sensitve projects. The main thing is making sure to always review and know your schedule so that proper information is completed and submitted on time for each client. We accomplish the accountability piece by reminding them of upcoming dates/deadlines and projects that are required of them to stay compliant.

 

What would you suggest to small business just getting started?  Don’t get into a business you do not know yourself. If all of your life you were a physician but then decide to start a restaurant, you must know first know the restaurant industry. Many people jump into an industry without knowing how it works. If you only depend on hiring people to execute your business, you are really asking for trouble. You must love it, and  if not, don’t do it. Lastly, expect the unexpected; difficult to do, but needed. You may expect to hire the best person but be prepared for how you will handle hiring the worst.

 

How do you balance work and your lifestyle? The good thing about KBMD is that we have the ability to work from anywhere which provides that balance for me and my wife. However, I honestly think the line between personal life and business is fading. You can be watching TV after work but then realize you need to send an email, so you do it. I guess the nature of business (now) is forcing us to accept the fact that personal and business life will be intertwined.

 

Why did you choose NBIC to be a part of your small business journey?  A couple of the partners started analyzing our abilities to take our business global and realized we needed to educate ourselves more on the actual business side of things. We thought NBIC could help us, so we applied to the program. NBIC has really helped us galvanize and succinctly move toward our goals. When you are trying to achieve what you have been dreaming of it can be hard and NBIC provides the support and resources we need.

 

Lastly, what can Music City expect from KBMD in 2017?  Our firm would like to become 8(a) Certified, which will allow us to compete with bigger companies on large contracts.  We have obtained two contracts with Metro that will last for 5 years which is a substantial win for our firm. We are also hoping to create relationships with other branches in Metro.