Case Study

From tax prep to whole-business perspective, and growth

Running your own business can be an all-consuming and overwhelming venture all on its own. But throw in young twin children, pets and commuting 20 miles down Highway 200 into town where your store is located, and you quickly start questioning if you have time for even basic human needs like eating and sleeping.

Meet Karahan and Cheryl Balli, owner–operators of jeweler Studio Pandora in Missoula, Montana, and Ashland, Oregon. In 2004, Karahan, a master goldsmith, started this business out of his passion to design and create custom jewelry focusing on wildlife design and elk ivory. “And who doesn’t want to be their own boss, make the decisions, and not have to answer to others?” he asks. But being an expert in your merchandise is not the same as being an expert in business. The Ballies learned quickly that having a relationship with a business consultant is key for advice or second opinions on staffing, leases, operations, lending … and anything else that comes up.

“When you’re operating a business, going at it alone isn’t a good option,” Karahan said. “So having JCCS as a partner is essential. We did originally go to them for our tax preparation, but over the years we’ve discussed and planned countless items that go far beyond taxes.”

One of the most difficult areas for retailers to understand is the accounting behind inventory. With the couple’s knowledge of what and how they order, the Balli-JCCS team worked together with JCCS’ knowledge of accounting and inventory management and tracking to create an effective and efficient means of dealing with this piece of any successful retail shop.

A few years ago, the Ballis questioned their retail space and services. Wanting to analyze and improve their business performance, they were looking at ways to increase revenues and/or bring in revenues from new sources. Dave Gilmer, a CPA at JCCS, met with them at the store.

“We had our own ideas related to some extra space we had. We had considered things from setting up the area for bulk repair and orders, to completely different services like having a coffee shop. We had even done research on what that would take and the schools required to get the skills to make good coffee,” Cheryl said.

“I’ve seen friends, family and clients make that decision before and the results that come with it” Dave said. “When you already have expertise in one area and there are options to make changes or expansions there, then the likelihood for success is better than going into a new area with no expertise or experience.” Existing experience with vendors, customers, equipment and inventory, makes it easier to predict the cost, revenue and success. The meeting also focused on long-term goals and personal desires. In the end, the chosen direction went both steady ahead and west … and not to coffee.

“We have family in Oregon, and with the kids being young it is great to spend more time around my parents,” Cheryl said. “We found and opened a retail space in Ashland. Dave helped us with discussions on entity structure, costs and how the interaction between the two locations would best work. This has been a very exciting year. But our plan isn’t complete yet. It takes constant work and follow-through to reach those long-term goals.”

Ultimately, that is what we of JCCS desire. We enjoy preparing tax returns and knowing how to structure transactions for the best tax effect. But working in conjunction with our clients on their business operations – identifying benchmark targets and helping blend personal and professional goals into one cohesive plan – that is really why JCCS is in business. As Dave said, “I find my success in the success of my clients. And the more I can interact with them, the more we can partner up and determine the long-term goals and the steps to take now to get there, the better it is for everybody.”