Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked. Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.
We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations in 2023 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
In March 2023 we spend time with Jeremy Little Partner at CMPR Attorneys. Jeremy practices in the firm’s Food and Alcoholic Beverage Group with an emphasis on business formation, business growth, the purchase and sale of companies, and alcoholic beverage compliance. In his work, he counsels various companies, including many in the food, beer, wine, cider, and spirits sector. He assists in developing plans for growth, re-organization, and purchase and acquisition of other businesses or land. Jeremy has helped both start-ups and seasoned companies raise capital to start operations or increase production and sales as well as navigate the regulations imposed by the ABC and TTB.
Prior to joining CMPR, Jeremy practiced law in Sonoma County for 3 years, and before pursuing his career in law, taught high school for eight years. He also taught sea kayaking, leading guided tours in Southern Maine. As an amateur winemaker and brewer, Jeremy has a keen awareness of the happenings in the alcoholic beverage industry, and of all processes involved.
Tell us a little more about your decision to become an attorney and your journey to become partner a CMPR?
Being an attorney was always a possibility coming out of college. Still, I decided to follow a different path – and became a teacher. After 10 years as an educator in various settings, I decided to make a switch and started law school. I enjoyed teaching and coaching, but staying in that world was challenging for the long haul.
The journey to partnership took just as long and, in many ways, was more challenging. Breaking into the local business community for someone not from California – let alone the North Bay – took significant time and energy. It takes a concerted effort for the decision makers to know, like, and trust you.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
Time. Work/life balance. Entering the legal profession at the same time my two sons were born was a strain. I fully jumped into both roles and didn’t reduce time in one area to the detriment of the other. To ensure a balance is like juggling chainsaws. I found a way to be intentional with both my time for my children and my investment in creating a viable book of business professionally.
Professionally – our community is fantastic, and people from here rarely leave, so you have generations and people that have grown up here and already have a network and strong relationships. The challenge for me was the time needed to be known as a reliable, sophisticated, practical business advisor.
What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?
CMPR has opened two offices in the last 3 months. Therefore, my main goal is to maintain the success and great culture of CMPR while integrating and successfully transitioning these new offices and 7 new employees. We stand for excellence, teamwork, and caring – ensuring our culture stays intact across our distributed workforce.
My sons are now in high school and very competitive athletically and academically. I continue to support and cheer them on and be there with them through graduation.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?
I am trying to remember ever receiving advice. I’ve gleaned different pieces from mentors and others I’ve admired as I’ve worked professionally for the last 30 years. One important element is to see the tree AND the forest. Every little detail matters and is important, but you must maintain sight of the end goal. While I am working on an M&A deal, it is always with the intent to close successfully. You have to care for and attend to thousands of small and extremely important details to do so. Every tiny detail is a step toward a successful closing. Likewise, every client has important needs, and one is not more significant than another as I built a book of business.
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?
Initially, the focus is on learning as much as possible about the legal profession and the nuances of different businesses – to become a partner (an owner of a firm). Rarely do people discuss the business of running your business – the focus is more on the business of your clients. The two are very different, and understanding the differences is an essential distinction for those moving through their law career.
What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?
Listen. Participate. Engage. Be thoughtful about all of it. Most people can see right through fake sincerity. To be a good leader, you need to be authentic and provide opportunities for everyone to succeed.
Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?
I took a circuitous route to where I am now. I was raised in Maine – my parents are still there, and I return every summer. Maine (and its culture) is a big part of who I am and how people know me. Part of my educational journey led me to live in the woods of North Carolina for 2 ½ years with at-risk youth. It was one of those “toughest jobs that you’ll ever love” kind of experience. It was very intense and very rewarding. Last – is my love (obsession) for Boston sports teams. I raised my sons correctly, and they continue ardently support the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and Red Sox!
This is a question about the foundation of someone’s success. We are influenced by early learning, and we all have something that sticks with us and helps us define who we are and what we want out of our careers.
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Canine Companions (https://canine.org/). Canine Companions is leading the service dog industry so their clients and their dogs can live with greater independence. They provide service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings. Since our founding in 1975, our dogs and all follow-up services are provided at no cost to our clients.
Independence shouldn’t be limited to those who look or live a certain way. Disability reaches all races, classes and backgrounds, and Canine Companions will too. Clients come to Canine Companions because of our reputation, the quality of our dogs, the experience of our training staff and the desire to lead life with greater independence. We are committed to providing services to all qualified clients.
Join the Protea Financial network. Contact us now and let’s see how we can partner together and help each other!