From Fright to Flight

Lead Accounting Firm Soars With Help From the Florida SBDC at FAU

From Fright to Flight

By Shavantay Minnis

Debbie Bailey spent the first 25 years of her accounting career hiding behind numbers, fearing that no one would trust her with their financials, all the while longing to build her own company.

But, with guidance from the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Bailey finally learned to conquer her fears, and successfully built LEAD Accounting Practice in Broward County.

“Excellent mentorship was what I needed, someone who recognized that I had the ability to make a difference in the small business world and was willing to guide me,” Bailey said.

Through an invitation from a friend, Bailey attended an event hosted by the Urban League of Broward County, a community-based organization dedicated to assisting individuals in education, entrepreneurship, jobs, housing and health. There she met George Gadson, a business consultant specializing in creative economy entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations with the Florida SBDC at FAU.

Meeting Gadson was the catalyst that led her to realize how tired she was of her fear of growing her business. It could no longer control her life if she wanted to take charge and run her own business, Bailey said.

“He was exactly what I needed. He taught me how to walk into a room filled with chief financial officers, directors and presidents and have the confidence to earn their respect and gain their trust,” Bailey said. “His instruction and guidance were strategies to showcase my expertise, he also taught me how to connect with people, how to build solid relationships and how to network with a purpose.”

His initial advice was all it took for Bailey to continue working with Gadson and the Florida SBDC at FAU to open Lead Accounting Practice in 2019, a firm that helps small businesses with financial reporting, account records, coaching and business growth.

Now after more than a year of operating on her own, Bailey is confident enough to stand in front of a room and teach accounting classes with the Urban League of Broward County. She also offers accounting tips in short videos to her social media community. And recently, Bailey earned six different awards totaling more than $200 thousand from the work she has done with her business.

“I knew I had the potential and the experience, but it was George who helped me realize that I had nothing to fear and everything to gain,” Bailey said. “It took some time and practice to overcome but the number of small businesses that I’ve been able to help makes the fear worth it.”