Audits are rarely glamorous, but having a good internal auditing firm on your side can streamline your business and make your company more cost-efficient. Aviva Spectrum was founded on the principle of delivering the best experience to its clients, while still adding value to their financial process. NGLCC sat down with Sonia Luna to ask her a few questions about starting her certified LGBTBE, Aviva Spectrum, and a few tips for LGBT entrepreneurs looking to improve their companies.
Aviva Spectum in the Spotlight
• Name of founders: Sonia Luna
• Date founded: 06/09/2004
• Date certified: 2008
• Location of business: Los Angeles, CA
• Number of employees: greater than 10
1. What is Aviva Spectrum?
We are a revolutionary internal audit, book keeping, and BlackLine systems implementation consulting firm. We leverage the latest online power cloud software to streamline the internal audit and account reconciliation process. We are the leader in aligning internal audit functions with financial transformation concepts and results. We can achieve over 50% automation to the financial close process and reduce compliance risk at the same time.
2. How did you get your concept or idea for your business?
I was flying back to the U.S. from South America after attending a wedding, when my idea hatched! I wanted a better work life balance but still loved my compliance auditing profession. I had only known what it was like working with big public accounting firms, and I’m grateful for the experience, but I always felt there was something else. That’s where Aviva Spectrum was born. I listed out my pro and cons of starting my own business. My then-girlfriend, Natalia, who is now my wife, gave me such optimism and support that I felt this was my chance to start my own firm with my own rules. My friends at the time kept saying "Good luck!" or "Gosh, that’s risky!" during my first two years being on my own. It was tough, because I had no clients and had to find them all on my own, but now it’s been over 14 years running my own consulting firm.
3. What is unique about your business?
I often get asked, “What makes our firm unique, while still delivering similar services as your competitors?” My response: “It’s my team!” We solve big compliance and financial close problems and can actually save our clients money over and over again with our proven track record. Our staff have the work/life balance they always wanted and they are happy and yes, very productive professionals. We have some of the highest ranked and recommended staff on LinkedIn because we deliver on our promises to our clients.
4. What were you doing before you founded your business?
I was working as an audit manager at Ernst & Young LLP in Woodland Hills. I had a great team and support system. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned at Ernst & Young and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I’m still connected to the firm through my volunteer service on the EY Alumni Council of Los Angeles.
5. What are your goals for your business?
I have several goals for the business. I want to provide more and comprehensive benefits to my employees. I want to add and leverage technology that aligns better with our client service model. We’re getting there but it’s slow moving because we allow all employees to have a say on what we’ll buy and how it will work. We have a lot of ‘lessons’ learned when we have tried different types of technology to help us streamline our business. We’ve tried countless online storage programs, accounting packages, project management software. You name it, we’ve probably have tried it, but the great thing about our team is that we’re constantly learning new ways to improve our performance.
Another goal is to have everyone participate in the sales cycle of the firm. We share, communicate and train our team members about the entire sales cycle so they can understand how we can identify, attract and service our client. This gets everyone excited about how they can participate in growing our firm, including having input about our sales strategies. We work really well when we need to pivot away from something that clearly isn’t a fit for our organization.
6. How has being a member of the LGBT community impacted your business?
Being a member of the LGBT community makes me stand out from the crowd. I feel counted and heard. Our economy and quite frankly our US culture was built on leveraging our diversity. I have been invited to participate in subcontracting opportunities because of my NGLCC certification and I’m proud that I also volunteer to help certify business located in Los Angeles County. I’ve been volunteering for over 6 years by getting new businesses certified and offering free advice on what they should do next after their certification gets approved.
7. How has being a Certified LGBTBE through NGLCC impacted your business?
We have now received one major contract with a very reputable Big 4 firm because we are both highly qualified and NGLCC certified. It has been one of the best years we had as a business, and I look forward to entering into more contracts like that in the near future.
8. What advice would you give to an LGBT person starting a business?
The advice I would give to an LGBT person starting their business is to be true! Be true to who you are. Be true to your customers. Be true to the service that you are passionate about delivering. Delegate those activities you know you struggle with like book keeping or sometimes human resource activities. As soon as you can, start identifying those areas you know you are weak in or you simply can’t stand. Find a great service provider and let them handle those mundane things that drag you down. You’ll find that when you do this, your mind becomes clearer on what you’re really good at and this will inevitably give you more time to focus on your core strengths.The original article can be found here