Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Member Highlight: Dr. Leigh Ann Spell

I am a speech-language pathologist and former professor who decided to venture outside my comfort zone in 2012 to start my own speech-language therapy private practice specializing in helping individuals with their professional speaking skills (including accent modification) as well as in providing traditional speech-language therapy services.  I am originally from Ohio and moved to South Carolina in 1987 to attend the University of South Carolina for graduate school.  I met my husband while in graduate school and we have two children who are currently in middle school and high school.  I returned to USC and completed my doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology in 1996.  After teaching as a professor at Columbia College for 16 years, I decided to make my part time private practice full time.  I enjoy traveling around the world and meeting/working with people from different cultures.  As the President of the Columbia Council for Internationals (CCFI) board, I meet many international students and visitors who come to the Columbia area.  I love working from my home office in Ballentine and have enjoyed taking on this new role of entrepreneur.

Accent Connections is a private practice in speech-language therapy with two areas of focus.  First I provide an accent modification program that helps students and professionals around the world improve their American English communication skills.  Accent modification, also referred to as accent reduction, dialect coaching and foreign accent management, involves identifying and changing patterns in speech and language production that may be causing individuals to not be understood or even misunderstood when they communicate in English.  This program is taught either face-to-face or online through video-conferencing technology.  The main goal of this area of Accent Connections is to help professionals build intercultural connections through effective communication.  In addition to accent modification programs, Accent Connections also provides speech-language therapy services for both children and adults who demonstrate communication, cognitive and swallowing disorders.  I have extensive experience in working with individuals who demonstrate disorders of:  speech (articulation, phonological, fluency and voice problems), receptive/expressive language (semantics, syntax/morphology and pragmatic problems), cognition (attention, orientation, memory, problem solving, organization, abstract thinking and executive functioning difficulties) and swallowing.

My biggest career accomplishment was completing my Ph.D. which allowed me to enter academia and get a wide range of experiences in all areas of the field of speech-language pathology, including starting my own private practice.  Through my position at Columbia College, I not only got to learn/teach about the many different settings and areas of specialization in our field but I was also fortunate enough to be chosen to teach in a summer program at Sookmyung University in Seoul, Korea in 2009.  This helped me expand my knowledge of accent modification and teaching English as a second/foreign language and set me on my path to developing my specialized private practice for international students and professionals. 

I recently joined SCWIB and have already seen the great support that the organization provides its members.  As an individual coming from an education and health care background, I am grateful for the business connections and knowledge that members can help me develop.  I am also looking forward to the day when I can help give back to and mentor other women who are stepping out of their comfort zones and developing their own businesses.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Member Highlight: Sandy Rockwell

Sandy Rockwell: Simplified Bookkeeping Solutions, LLC

1. Tell us about yourself.

I am originally from Nebraska.  My husband and I, along with our two small children, moved to South Carolina to start our first business in 1984.  I am a wife of thirty-seven years, a mother of two children, and a grandmother of four grand children whom I adore!  I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior thirty-nine years ago.  He has given me the strength to endure the various trials that I have weathered as well as the joy for a future of purpose.  I enjoy the outdoors, and a good hike or a long walk are how I like to relax.  My husband and I have had two dogs over the years.  Our first dog lived seventeen years, and our newest one is five years old and has become a sweet family member.  I love to cook for my family and friends.  I enjoy watching the cooking channels for new ideas and new places to find great food.   

 2. Tell us about your company.

As an entrepreneur, I have a vast array of business experience that spans over twenty years.  Four years ago I started Simplified Bookkeeping Solutions.  Having a complete and accurate set of books is critical to the success of a company.  I knew that I could use my expertise to help small business owners.  I have knowledge in several accounting programs but have chosen to specialize in QuickBooks.  I became certified as a Professional Bookkeeper (PB) and a QuickBooks Specialist (QS), and I am a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor with Intuit for five consecutive years.

Service base businesses and non-profit organizations are the types of businesses that I target.  I provide QuickBooks training, freelance bookkeeping, coaching, and business evaluations. As a profit and growth expert, one of my primary roles is to ensure that business owners have the historical data that is needed to make accurate planning decisions.  

Most small business owners need help setting up their business properly during the set up of their books.  Capital can slip through cracks when it comes to filing tax returns. Tax professionals can only work with the numbers they are given and if not recorded properly over the year, deductions can be missed and expenses that could have been recorded are lost.  The sum total of missed deductions can be a sizable loss to a company.  In addition, having accurate records will save a lot heartache if the IRS ever calls!   

 3.     What is your biggest career accomplishment? 

My first career accomplishment would start with my role as a mother.  I feel that the role of a parent is a huge career whether a mother works outside the home or not.  Nothing gives more of a sense of accomplishment than to see our children develop skills to advance their role in society and know that your leadership has been a part of that.  

The next accomplishment that I am very proud of is deciding four years ago to take on the adventure of starting my own business.  With the changing workforce and economy, I knew that I had the necessary skills to start a business.  The knowledge that I had acquired over twenty years in business managing the office, keeping the books, and having a staff of eighteen employees, left me asking myself what I enjoyed most in business.  I feel that efficient and accurate accounting books are the backbone to a business; it is like steering a ship without a rudder without correct history and information.  Accurate numbers, or a good set of books, give understanding of past decisions, as well as direction and knowledge on important future decisions.  It is time consuming to track receipts and enter the information, and I understand the enormous amount of effort that it takes to run a small business, as well as the value of having the knowledge needed to keep a good set of books.  I also realize that business owners understand income and expenses; however, fixed assets, long term liabilities, current liabilities and balancing the books are just a few of the areas that get neglected even though they have a tremendous affect on a business.  

When computers first became a part of doing business it was a huge move for me to leave a manual set of books and convert to a computer software program.  Today things are moving so fast in the software and computer industry it is hard for those of us who specialize in this area to try to keep up!  Even at Intuit they are finding it hard to keep up with the changing technology.  It has become more costly to do books on a manual system than on software programs, but keeping up with the changes is an overwhelming task for the small business owner.    

I decided that this is where I could help.  I expanded my education by acquiring the certifications that would support the type of business that I have started.  I have chosen to specialize in the service industries that work with job costing and non-profit organizations since these industries were where I had attained my business experience.  It has been very rewarding to see the changes that I have been able to be a part of with my clients over the past 4 years.  Those who had overwhelming issues with their books have been turned around, and now the owners understand their own numbers and what they mean to their success.  It is a great sense of accomplishment when those who had no smile when I started with them are smiling now!  Helping others acquire accurate information that will change their lives and the businesses that they are relying on to support their families is a great accomplishment.  I am thankful that I stepped out in faith to help one small business at a time overcome the challenges of managing their company books.    

4.     What does SCWIB mean to you?

I feel like there are always opportunities to gain from organizations such as SCWIB.  You have a chance to gain new friends and also grow professionally through various speakers and events.  I enjoy meeting and socializing with other women in business.  The organization’s founder, Rose Jackson, has dedicated much time and effort to promote women in business and is also a very dedicated and respected member.  I am going on my third year as a member with SCWIB and I highly encourage other women in business to seek out opportunities to partner with organizations like SCWIB.  The fee is minimal for all the tangible benefits that can be gained.