Industry: Media & Entertainment
Year Founded: 2015
Location: Level Office The Loop, Chicago
Tell the story of how your business was founded.
“In my early twenties, I set a goal for myself to be my own boss by the time I turned 30.
I had spent the first five-and-a-half years of my career working in entertainment business management. Business management is just an industry term for multi-family office for high net worth entertainers. I loved the industry and the ability to work on several different clients, but I disliked the lack of influence we had with our clients.
I then took my skill set and industry knowledge to a large publicly traded roll-up company in the entertainment industry. I spent two years managing the accounting and finance departments for two of the parent company’s recent acquisitions. I loved the work and influence I had with subsidiary management, but I missed working on several different types of clients.
It was at this point I recognized a need in the market. Companies in the media and entertainment industries who had outgrown their basic bookkeeping and tax services, but weren’t large enough to justify an in-house staff of accounting and finance professionals, had few firms available to meet their specific needs.
Launching Judd Financial, LLC to fill this space in the market was a no-brainer. It perfectly aligned with both my skill set and the aspects of my career I most enjoyed. Our official date of formation and the moment I became my own boss was November 30, 2015, less than three weeks from my 30th birthday. I met that personal goal and we have been meeting our clients’ goals ever since.”
What does the future look like for your company?
“The future looks great! We have clients who love us and who support our vision. We are growing and have been cash positive for some time now. Our current focus is filling out our media and entertainment company roster. Once we have built a client base in that sector to support a full team, we will begin looking to expand into other industries. By the time I retire, I hope to have grown the firm into many different verticals and to have offices in several major cities.”
When did you first feel successful?
“Never. My mentors talk to me a lot about this, but I don’t know if I ever want to have that feeling. I guess when I retire I would like to look back and feel successful, but for now I am too focused on expanding my business and providing my current client roster with a level of service that far surpasses their expectations.”
What has been the key to your company’s success?
“In the beginning, it was networking. Five years ago, I launched Entertainment Talk Shop, an entertainment industry networking event production company. It was and is a passion project that was never designed to generate any profit. My team and I host free networking events every quarter. Over the years, these events have grown in size to routinely serve 100+ guests. Through hosting these events, I have built a list of industry contacts measured in the thousands. If it wasn’t for my ability to reach out to so many professionals in my target market, I never would have picked up enough clients to become cash positive before I ran out of savings.
Now that we are a going concern, I would say the key to our success is building close, interpersonal relationships with our clients, and consistently exceeding their expectations.”
What advice would you give to startups?
“There is so much advice to give that it is hard to find a place to start!
I guess first is to surround yourself with the best people possible. I am not just talking about employees either. I mean employees, partners, vendors, mentors, and even customers. Starting off with the right people will pay huge dividends as you start to grow and encounter turbulence, as all startups will.
Second, create a well thought-out game plan with built in flexibility, and keep it updated. Sometimes the differences between life or death for a startup is the ability to anticipate problems before they happen. A well thought-out game plan will aid you in this. However, not all problems are foreseeable. In those circumstances, it’s important to be able to adapt on the fly. If you are forced to pivot due to one of these problems, then make sure to update your game plan to account for this. You don’t want to successfully navigate one large problem only to be caught off guard by another that occurs shortly thereafter.
Last, but not least, when you follow the first and second pieces of advice above and have grown to the point where you need advanced financial services, don’t forget who gave you those two pieces of advice in the first place.”