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PODCAST: Running an accounting firm in rural Ohio

Written on May 1, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

When Shayna Chapman, CPA, transitioned from working at a large firm in the city to moving back home to rural Ohio, she learned quickly how differently business was done.

“I learned that you can't run a small business the same way,” she said on the latest episode of the State of Business podcast. “The people are different, attitudes are different and businesses are different.”Although Chapman is now the owner of Shaynaco LLC in Gallipolis, her original plan wasn’t to be a business owner.

“I didn't know that I always wanted to run my own business,” she said. “I grew up in the 80s. What I really wanted to do was wear fancy suits and put on shoulder pads and go to a big city and work in a big building and help run somebody else's big business.”

But after moving back home to be closer to her family, she and her husband took over an accounting firm. She comes from an entrepreneurial background and said not much about running a business surprised her, but that technology is one of the most significant differences when comparing rural Ohio to bigger cities.

Sometimes the phone service is down, and she has trouble reaching her clients. Even encouraging people to work via the cloud can be difficult when they don’t have the technology to support it, she said. She’s learned to compromise with her clients while also making sure her firm is as technologically savvy as possible.

One aspect of the business that did come with a learning curve was managing people. Being in a rural area means she doesn’t have many options if employees choose to leave, Chapman said. As a result, she’s intentionally created a flexible, open culture for her staff where they feel supported and want to stay with the company.

“The way we deal and manage people is probably different in a large firm, where we take care of ourselves and we treat our employees like family,” she said. “What I've done is create an infrastructure with my employees where we work a lot on trust.”

The tenure of the employees is a testament to this environment, as Chapman said the employees with the fewest years at the firm has been there for 11 years.

“The idea of pushing people for the firm all the time gets replaced with pushing people for the better of the people, the clients and their business,” she said. “It's a different way to look at it. But I've learned that from being in a rural area. It's the people you focus on, and then everything else will start to fall in place.”

Listen to the episode