They are ready to go back to business as un-usual
The business context has changed since the spring of 2020. The pandemic has forced many businesses to re-evaluate the way they do things. Priorities are being reviewed. Numbers are now more than ever a key topic of discussion and new questions are being raised.
Two years after the “I am boring” campaign, we reached out again to CPAs Geneviève Forgues-Lapointe and Pierre-Luc Laparé to see how their training and acquired skills have helped them overcome the challenges of the pandemic more effectively. They share a few interesting lessons for anyone who hopes to become a CPA.
We talk about buying local, supply chains and strategic positioning with CPA Geneviève Forgues-Lapointe, a participant in our “I am boring” campaign.
Founder of a clothing business for young children, this CPA has managed to stay the course during the pandemic by anticipating future challenges. Conversation with a businesswoman who has not given up.
SMALL BUSINESS. BIG CHALLENGES.
Interview with CPA Geneviève Forgues-Lapointe
We caught up with Geneviève Forgues-Lapointe, CPA and founder of Les petites natures, two years after she participated in the “I am boring” campaign.
Hi Geneviève. It has been two years since we last saw each other. What has changed for you?
What has changed is the confidence that I have gained. The decisions that I have made and the risks that I have taken since 2018 have paid off for my SME. Trusting my instinct is easier said than done! It’s normal to have doubts in the beginning. But confidence grows with experience.
The pandemic has disrupted the entire entrepreneurial landscape in this country. How have things gone for Les petites natures?
Actually, for us, at first it was… really intense! My sales in the second quarter of 2020 jumped 400% compared to 2019. I call that a “nice” problem to have.
400%, that can definitely change your plans. What do you think caused this increase?
You are a businesswoman, but also a CPA. Which CPA skill have you used in the last few months?
My strategic vision, without a doubt. In the spring, I saw that we were going to hit a wall in the fall if we didn’t adjust our strategy. The plants were closed, there was a shortage of raw materials and the clothing makers were working on medical gowns and masks. I had no choice but to turn to new suppliers abroad to keep up my sales and revenue. To succeed, I created a second division, with new positioning and different products made elsewhere.
Where do you start when creating a second division?
You start with the numbers! To make it work, you have to know whether you are profitable and, to find that out, you have to calculate your production cost. That’s the type of situation where my CPA expertise came in very handy.
Speaking of CPAs, do you think their role will change after the crisis?
Maybe… But I do think we will stop seeing them as “party crashers.” Because when everything stalls in a business, who does everyone turn to? CPAs!
Finally, have you learned anything from the pandemic?
I’ve learned that there are wonderful advantages to being a small business. Let me explain: When a crisis like this arises and the economy is put on hold, you still have to keep paying your fixed costs. And the lower they are, the less exposed you are. That helps you sleep better at night!
Pierre-Luc Laparé successfully combined his business flair and CPA rigour to create Golf Avenue, an exclusively online business that specializes in selling second-hand golf equipment.
Spring 2020 was a critical phase in Golf Avenue’s development. Profile of a CPA business owner who has created a flourishing organization.
How did golf Avenue correct its swing?
Interview with CPA Pierre-Luc Laparé
We met Pierre-Luc Laparé in 2018 during the “I am boring” campaign to talk about the CPA profession. Two years later, we meet him again to talk business, pandemic and fatherhood.
Where do I begin? Ah, yes! I am now a father! As for Golf Avenue, it has been quite a journey, with good growth internationally. Our company is also expanding. We started Cycling Avenue, which has the same model that we use for golf, but for bicycles.
You’ve been keeping busy! Two businesses, a baby, a pandemic… How did the lockdown affect your business?
2020 has been like a roller coaster. It started off with a bang; there was growth both here and abroad, and then in March, everything stopped. We’re talking about a 50% drop in sales. Our sales curve, unlike COVID’s, flattened from one moment to the next!
So the lockdown hit you pretty hard then. Did you have to make tough decisions for Golf Avenue’s survival?
When things went south, I think the entire team managed to keep its cool despite the uncertainty. We decided to take 80% of our salaries for a time. It is fixed cost adjustments like this that keep a business alive for a while longer.
As we gradually came out of lockdown, the tide changed for Golf Avenue. How did that happen?
Our business returned in synch with the reopening of various countries. The United States got the ball rolling in mid-April. Once golf courses reopened, our sales recovered in the U.S. market. Canada followed by reopening its courses in May and then it was Europe’s turn. And when they reopened, we pretty much caught up on all our lost sales.
You mean that golf has become more popular?
Clearly. Once people couldn’t travel and had to maintain social distancing, they turned toward sports, especially golf.
Absolutely! At the beginning, when our sales dropped, we came up with dozens of scenarios and budgets to prepare for the worst. Then, when everything reopened, we were ready to meet the demand, because we had already done the work ahead of time.
And beyond the numbers?
Well, for me, CPAs have 360-degree business training. I had to show leadership. I had to act as a strategist and motivate the teams. It was hard work!
Has the pandemic changed your vision of a CPA’s role?
I have always believed that a CPA’s role is halfway between theory and practice, between high-level strategy and the reality on the ground. I think that an unusual year like 2020 will convince more business people to share my vision of a CPA’s role.
Finally, can you share a lesson that you learned from the pandemic?
Honestly, I think that the pandemic was sort of a reality check for many business owners. Regardless of its size and roadmap, a company is always a little fragile. No one could have foreseen what has happened to us this year. You have to know where you stand financially if want to be agile and make quick decisions. Business is like golf: When you’re trapped in the sand, keep your focus. You will eventually get back on the green!