Walsh

A Helping Hand

Written by Stephanie Vozza

As the owner of the St. Clair Shores-based accounting and tax services firm Accutrak Services, Shaniece Bennett is a natural with numbers.

But her superpower is helping small-business owners.

Bennett, who earned an MBA from Walsh in 2004, noticed that some of her small business clients didn’t have access to capital or weren’t able to secure contracts because they didn’t have the in-house financial expertise necessary to create a financial statement or business plan.

I hate to see people with potential not get to the next level in their business, she says. This grew into a desire to advocate for small businesses and help them get to a better financial position. I try to make accounting easier to understand.

In addition to coaching clients, Bennett serves as a faculty member for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which provides business owners with practical skills in topics like negotiation, marketing and employee management. She uses her platform to promote causes related to small business.

“Whenever we get an opportunity to speak to elected officials, I’m always one of the first volunteers,” she says. “I also attend networking events put on by large banks and accounting or legal firms. One way I advocate for small business is by talking about what I see to be major issues facing them. I share my clients’ stories, so folks understand a small business perspective.”

Bennett also offers her assistance to local university incubators as well as the Pure Michigan Business Connect Partner, which is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“Any opportunity I get to help small business increase access to contracts, I’m willing to jump on board,” she says. “Small businesses don’t always have resources to pursue these actions on their own. If I can partner or tag along and be an outreach advocate, I will.”

As a member of the Walsh College Foundation Board, Bennett also helps students secure funding to attend school.

"My undergrad degree wouldn’t have been possible without scholarships, she says." "I want to raise dollars to assure students who may not have access to aid or enough scholarships could get a college education and finances would not prevent that."

While she does much of her advocacy work pro bono, Bennett says her reward is seeing the ripple effect of her efforts.

“I have seen the families that can thrive and kids who can go to college,” she says. “Once you get a feel for watching people grow, you want to see more and more. If I can help, I will.”

           

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