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Protea Conversations: Theresa Wray

Protea Conversations: Theresa Wray

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 January 2023 we spend time with Theresa Wray owner of Clarity & Co.

Theresa’s career in the wine industry spans 17 years, helping wineries, importers and distributors turn their marketing challenges into successes. Her corporate experience includes 13 years with Maisons Marques & Domaines, leading marketing operations for the renowned luxury portfolio of brands.

She started Clarity & Co in 2020 to continue this work with a more custom approach. Clarity & Co specializes in marketing and US market consulting for wine & spirits, and partners with both domestic and imported brands. Theresa graduated from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast, and holds the WSET III Advanced wine certification. Learn more at www.clarityandco.com.

Tell us a little more about your decision to focus on marketing and how you specifically got involved in the wine industry? What made you decide to start your own business?

I graduated from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast with a major in Business/Finance and a minor in Spanish. Early on, I did short stints at investment and insurance companies, peppering in some travel. These positions didn’t quite feel like the right fit, so after a little soul-searching, I decided to pursue work at a Communications agency servicing many industries. I later moved to a marketing & communications role at a fantastic wine importer. Working with a portfolio of international wineries is where I felt at home and thrived on the challenges it presented.

Launching my own business was a goal I had considered for a while, but I didn’t act on it until 2020. This decision was driven by wanting more control over my schedule (something especially important for parents in 2020!) and wanting to help clients with a more custom approach. After many years in corporate positions, it was a challenge that I was ready to take on.

Protea Financial Wine Marketing

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

I always strive to find the right mix of family time and professional endeavors.

There is never a perfect mix, so the challenge is to manage it well. I believe strongly in making time for exercise and continuous education, so I’m also always looking to carve out time for those things.

What are your short-term goals for your career and yourself?

I’m continually trying to identify specific challenges that small to mid-sized wineries face related to marketing and operations in the US market.

Pin-pointing those challenges and offering specific solutions is the short-term goal. I enjoy connecting with other like-minded professionals about this!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

Sometimes you have to step back to see the big picture, and you can only sometimes see the answer when you are laser-focused and moving too fast. Give yourself space to reflect and be true to yourself.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

It’s OK to make mistakes. Early on, I was a bit timid and worried about asking the wrong thing. It’s true for any industry or challenge: It’s smart to observe first, but don’t be too shy. Try new things. Reach out and ask questions.

What advice do you give to others to help them be better leaders?

First, talk to your team to see how you can help them be more effective. Next, talk to people outside your discipline and your industry; you will always walk away with a new perspective.

Protea Financial Theresa Wray

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time on the basketball court and soccer field. Now I find myself doing the same, but this time it’s for my 2 daughters. My husband and I laugh at ourselves often, showing up with everything – chairs, water bottles, snacks, you name it!

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. 

Protea Conversations Let You Expand Your Network

Connect with industry leaders and expand your network. Our goal here at Protea Financial is to work with people from every industry possible. Reach your goals with the help of people who care. 

How to Speak the Same Language as your Sales and Marketing Counterparts

How to Speak the Same Language as your Sales and Marketing Counterparts

The Wine Industry has a common language, but do we use it between different disciplines? 

Stick to 3 rules to empower your colleagues…so that they can help you do your job better.

Many wineries and businesses find themselves hesitant to hire outside help because it seems like heavy-lifting to onboard a new person. Similarly, departments within the same organization can shy away from efforts of collaboration, citing concerns of extra unnecessary work. 

Whether working with outside agencies/consultants, or making new efforts cross-functionally, a lot of that headache can be minimized with proper communication.  This can especially be true between finance teams and their sales and marketing colleagues.

The Real Estate industry will tell you their guiding principle is “Location. Location. Location.”  In the crowded wine industry, to succeed with both consumers and the trade, the rule is “Communication. Communication. Communication.”


Consider this classic scenario in the wine industry:  

Sales & Marketing develop a campaign that is projected to meet goals and bring home some revenue. The salaries of those positions may even depend on the campaign’s success. Finance colleagues develop a smart protocol for tracking things properly and sustainably. Then, when the campaign indeed turns successful and everyone should be high-fiving (or toasting) each other, they are instead losing sleep and scrounging together elusive details on both sides.

The added stress is often a consequence of mutual, sub-par communication.  How did we get here? The wine industry is magnetic and draws people in from all over the globe.  Many are strong communicators and even speak multiple languages.  However, there is so much focus on brand communication, that we sometimes overlook the importance of internal communication. The way we communicate internally can be the difference between sleepless nights and win-win success stories.

This begs the question, how do we improve the way we communicate between different disciplines, in order to get the win-win? 

While Finance cannot control the outcome of Sales & Marketing initiatives, they can likely control the process with a few guiding principles.   These principles can be viewed as 3 rules to speak the same language as your Sales & Marketing counterparts.

Are you in a finance or operations-related position in the wine industry?  Here are more details on the 3 rules to speak the language of Sales & Marketing, and empower them to help you.

Protea Financial Communication Between Sales and Marketing

1. Make things simple!

Simple is indeed harder. Take the time up front to create simple processes that help your colleagues communicate with their VIPs.

Simplifying Life for Colleagues is an Opportunity to Build Respect.

Examples: Sales colleagues’ VIPs are likely their top accounts. How can you think one step ahead, and simplify this communication for them?  Sales & Marketing colleagues are often led by the “more is better” approach, since more efforts often lead directly to more sales. This can lead to what appears to be messy efforts in the eyes of Finance teams.  If you can offer streamlined communication and a more simplified process for closing and reporting deals, it will count as success, both for you and for them.


2. Provide tools.

Learn about the challenges of your sales and marketing counterparts so you can improve the tools to help everyone succeed together.

Providing Useful Tools is an Opportunity to Create Efficiency for All.

Examples: Sales & Marketing colleagues often cannot predict outcomes as concisely as desired. A proper planning process would require accountability but also allow for realistic wiggle room.  Another challenge could be simply keeping up with the number of active promotions and campaigns, and understanding different rules and processes required for each.  Picture a sales professional who is expected to travel often or pop into account after account, without much scheduled office time. The frustration of sitting down to wade through emails can be real.   It might be time to look closer at the reporting process. Are the guidelines and possible forms streamlined/available on one platform for easy access? 


3. Invest in the relationship.

Sales & Marketing often rely heavily on relationships. This is the lens through which many deals are made and it is especially true in the wine industry. 

Investing in the Relationship is an Opportunity to Open up Communication.

Examples: The best sales professionals are often quite personable and have an ease of verbal communication. They might shine on the spot, but not always thrive in the rigid nature of reporting to their finance colleagues.  Find common ground with these colleagues in order to play their game and partner in a way that feels more comfortable to them.  Perhaps a regularly scheduled check-in meeting would help tie up loose ends? You might even learn something helpful, like how your deadline always falls on their big travel day.

In short, Make Things Simple for your customers.  Provide Tools for your trade partners.  And, Invest in the Relationship of both parties.  The above “rules” are quite simple in nature, but are often overlooked in a crowded, product-driven industry.  If we go back to the basics, we are reminded that often simple is harder, but simple is better.  Communication plays the leading role in being “simple”, and this leads to team success.  

Protea Financial Grow Your Company with better Sales and Marketing Communication

Communication is an Incredible Asset in the Wine Industry

Strong communication is a theme that successful brands and teams will carry through from internal team communication, all the way to brand communication for consumer and B2B initiatives. One could say that successful communication about brands and products in the industry usually follow the same 3 rules, and they often come down to communication, communication, communication.

The win-win scenarios may take more work up front. However, after the investment in clear messaging, streamlined tools, and collaboration, we will all be toasting each other in the end.


About Clarity & Co

Clarity & Co’s mission is to offer marketing consulting, trade relations, and project management services to the premium wine industry, and to do so with clarity and collaboration, or Clarity & Co.  Owner Theresa Wray is a marketing & communications professional who believes in the power of communication to transform brands and teams.  For more information, visit www.clarityandco.com.

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Let the people behind Protea Financial help improve how your company runs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help. 

3 Steps to Set Your Business Up for Success in 2023

3 Steps to Set Your Business Up for Success in 2023

As we begin a new year, I reflect on two common (and related) questions I’m often asked by business owners or leaders: 

“How can I set my business up for greater success this year than last year?”, and 

“How can I accomplish this without working even more hours?”

These three key steps will surely set your business up for a very strong year ahead.


Identify Clear, Desired Outcomes for Your Business, Before Developing Detailed Plans

In January 2024, as you reflect on your business in the prior year, what specifically do you want your business to have accomplished? You would be shocked to know that only 20% of people set goals. And according to a Harvard Business Review study, those who set goals are 10 times more successful than those who don’t. Why is that?

You (and your teams) are more productive if everyone is focused on specific achievements each day, week, or month. You can start by giving your team direction, which then increases productivity. The goals provide clarity and enable everyone in your organization to understand exactly what you are seeking from the company.

By having clear expectations, you can hold yourself and your team accountable for results. No one can say, “I didn’t know what we were trying to accomplish,” if you make it very clear what, in fact, your goals are for the coming year. Contrary to what some may think, good employees actually embrace accountability. Like you, they also want a “scorecard” to evaluate their performance. Accountability also increases employee engagement, strengthens performance, improves attitudes, and generally creates an environment that energizes your team.

How should you set goals? Is there a specific format that works best? Many people prefer S.M.A.R.T. goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (meaning some deadline or allotted time frame). Some companies set KPIs – Key Performance Indicators for their teams. With KPIs, you (or your team leaders) work directly with individuals to determine what results will demonstrate success and achievement of your goals.  

I always prefer simplicity. I often ask people this: what are some résumé-worthy accomplishments that you want to achieve at the end of the year? In other words, consider the three or four desired outcomes you would include on your résumé for the following year. If you wouldn’t have it on your résumé, it probably isn’t a true “needle-moving accomplishment” for your business. 

I often hear people get hung up on whether something is a “goal” or an “objective.” I prefer to use the term “desired outcomes simply.” Perhaps your desired outcomes are financial and very specific. Or the outcome you desire may be less easy to measure, but you will “know it when you see it.” For example, you may realize that the key to your success this year is to develop a strong team that works together better. Measurement of success of that goal may be difficult, so paint a picture. What will a “strong, cohesive team” look like? How will you know? Paint a picture so that you and everyone on your team can clearly articulate what that outcome looks like.

Protea Financial Identifying Business Outcomes

Move Away from Dysfunctional Team Tendencies

In his bestseller: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni writes that teams that excel in 5 main areas are more likely to be high-functioning, cohesive teams. The five areas are: 1) Trust, 2) Conflict, 3) Commitment, 4) Accountability, and 5) Results. Many companies, however, fail to focus on building the foundations of the team and never achieve the results they genuinely seek. Each of these five areas can be developed, but the leaders must create an environment and commit to spending time to make these work. In particular, the first two areas can be addressed by an owner/CEO who cares and who wants to create meaningful improvement in their company.

The first, and I believe, most critical focus is “Trust.” Dysfunctional teams have an absence of trust, aren’t “real” with each other, and demonstrate invulnerability. High-functioning teams, however, trust each other. Deeply. They respect and accept each other. They are comfortable being vulnerable, and they trust the needs, competence, strengths, and character of each other.

Trust obviously doesn’t happen “overnight.” As a leader, you can create an environment that inspires trust. You can acknowledge, listen, and reward people who are willing to be vulnerable – to seek improvement. You can encourage people to challenge “sacred cows” or processes that need to be fixed, but no one has been willing to speak up. When people confront you in a manner that is genuinely seeking positive change, you should listen. Acknowledge that you hear what they are saying, and take the comments to heart. You certainly need to be able to differentiate between people who are being constructive vs. destructive. But don’t immediately get defensive. If you want to know what is going on in your company and what truly needs to change, then show respect to people willing to take a risk, speak up, and be vulnerable.

The second characteristic of high-functioning teams is dealing effectively with conflict. Do you encourage open, candid dialogue and constructive conflict? Or do you seek artificial harmony where people can’t discuss real issues, avoid conflict, and speak up …often because people in power don’t listen.

I once led an internal company workshop among the key organizational leaders. One of the people said that they felt that sometimes the CEO would gain agreement in the leaders’ meeting to a new process or rule. Still, the CEO would more-than-occasionally take actions after the meeting that appeared to not be in accordance with what had been agreed upon by the leaders. At that moment of our meeting, the CEO had the opportunity to have a candid dialogue and deal with conflict constructively. Instead, the CEO fired back that the person making the “accusation” was wrong and demanded they come up with another example because “clearly they didn’t get this example right.”

Instead of creating an opportunity for positive dialogue and discussing real issues in the spirit of finding positive ways to change, the CEO chose to shut down the conversation. In doing so, he created very bad feelings among most of the leaders and effectively shut down any good that might have come from a discussion. In the end, instead of a positive workshop that could bring the team together, the result could have been better. Team members shut down, trust was crushed, and commitment by each of the leaders was not able to be developed.  

Protea Financial Building Successful Teams

Measure Sales Activities … not Just Sales Results 

The third step you can take in 2023 to create meaningful improvement for your business is to focus on measuring sales activities, not just the results. Pick a small number of activity-based metrics and then stick to them.

One of the biggest sales management mistakes companies can make is to focus on sales results rather than on sales activities. At first glance, that sounds strange. Our inclination in managing sales is usually to focus on results! So why should you focus on activities more than results?

Results are typically lagging indicators – meaning that the results lag behind the activities that drive the results. If you are measuring results for products or services with longer lead times and you don’t get the results you seek, it is too late to make meaningful changes to affect results that year.

Think of the example of weight loss.

You set a goal for the new year, let’s say, “I want to lose 36 lbs. in 2023.” You decide you can achieve this over the course of the year. If you focus only on measuring the results at year-end, it is too late to change if you miss your target. Even if you measure the results monthly but not the activities, you will learn sooner that you are missing your goals, but you won’t necessarily understand why and what to do about it. Instead, consider developing a clear strategy and measuring the activities that will drive weight loss. Each week, you set activity goals: consume X calories by eating specific meals each day and exercising X minutes each day. You don’t control the scale, but you do control the activities that drive the results. You know immediately how many calories you have consumed in a day or whether you ran for 30 minutes per your plan.

The same approach should be followed with sales management. Set realistic goals (SEE #1 ABOVE). Then, develop a strategy and plan of attack. For example, what activities do you need to do in order to bring 20 new prospects into your pipeline? Are you following those activities? How many follow-up calls will you likely need to make to close a deal? Are you making those calls?

For consumer products like wine, identify reasonable and achievable goals. Then determine the activities needed to generate those results. And track those activities. For example, how many retailers do you typically need to meet to close 10 sales? Are you conducting all those meetings? Or how many wine tastings do you need to have in order to generate your desired wine club memberships? What are the activities that will drive tastings? Identify and track those activities.  

If you are interested in learning more secrets to measuring and managing sales performance, I recommend Jason Jordan’s book, Cracking the Sales Management Code.

In summary, I encourage you to take these three steps in 2023 to propel your business forward. 

First, identify clear, desired outcomes for your business before developing detailed plans. Second, move away from dysfunctional team tendencies. Instead, invest time and energy in building trust and creating an environment where your team manages conflict directly and respectfully. Finally, focus on measuring sales activities – not just sales results. Determine the activities that will drive the desired results, then monitor, track, and hold people accountable for those activities.


Carter Welch is an accomplished business leader, consultant, and coach responsible for driving success in numerous businesses, large and small. A former Procter & Gamble and Pillsbury executive, he focuses today on guiding small business owners to identify obstacles, overcome fear, develop winning strategies, lead organizations, and ultimately, achieve great success. He can be reached at 707-339-2842 or by email at carter@carterwelch.com.

Let Protea Financial Become Part of Your Success in 2023

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How To Create A Budget

How To Create A Budget

We are entering the new year, which means many people are setting goals for the new year. As a business owner, you should be doing the same thing. Creating a budget is one of the best practices you can start for your business.


What Is a Business Budget and What Are Its Benefits?

A business operating budget is a financial plan that outlines a business’s projected expenses and revenues over a specific period, usually a year. A budget is a key tool for business owners and managers to understand the financial performance of their business, make informed decisions, and plan for the future.

A well-thought-out and designed budget will allow you to make better business decisions and feel more in control of your future. If you are still not sure you need a budget, here are some of the key benefits of having a budget:

  1. Improved financial planning: A budget allows you to plan for the financial needs of your business, including projected expenses and revenues, if you need to hire, if you need to invest in new assets, and, more importantly, if you have the cash flow for your business goal. By creating a budget, you can identify potential financial challenges and opportunities and take steps to address them.
  2. Enhanced decision-making: A budget can help you make informed decisions about allocating resources and making trade-offs between different priorities. The budgeting process should inform you what you are limited to doing by your current business setup and if you need to take action if you want to expand or grow.
  3. Increased accountability: A budget can help you hold yourself and your team accountable for meeting financial goals and targets. By regularly reviewing your budget and comparing it to actual performance, you can identify areas where you are over or under budget and take corrective action. It will also provide the road map on how your team can spend and give them direction to execute their goals.
  4. Improved communication: A budget can help you communicate your financial goals and plans to your team and stakeholders, such as investors or lenders. This can help ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same financial objectives. It can act as an early warning system for potential issues and provide guidance on financial needs if you are planning for growth or expansion.

Now that we have established that a budget is important and a worthwhile exercise, the question is, how do I create a budget?

Protea Financial Creating a Budget for Your Business

Budget Creation Basics

Here are the basics of building a business budget:

  1. Determine your budget period: For most, this will be the next calendar year but the first step is to choose a budget period that aligns with your business goals and objectives. For example, if you are starting a new business, create a budget for the first six months, the first year, the remainder of this calendar year, and the next. Setting the budget period allows you to think about a period and focus on those goals and expectations.
  2. Identify your budget categories: You will need to determine the categories of expenses and revenues relevant to your business. Common types of expenses include payroll, rent, utilities, marketing, and supplies. For income, the categories include sales of products, service fees, and grants. There may be subcategories under each of the main categories. By know which revenue and expenses you plan on budgeting for allows you to become more granular and focused in your approach to building this plan.
  3. Gather financial data: Collect financial data from past periods or other sources, such as market research or industry benchmarks, to help you estimate the amounts for each budget category. For most businesses, starting with historicals is a great place to begin. Your history will give you an idea of your future and allow you to adjust based on the information you have or the new projects you plan to implement.
  4. Create a budget template: Use a spreadsheet or budgeting software to create a budget template that includes all the budget categories and subcategories relevant to your business. You can either build your own, hire someone to build a template, or download one from a reliable source.
  5. Estimate expenses and revenues: Using the financial data you have gathered, estimate the amounts for each budget category for the budget period. This is the work part. Once you know what you plan to budget for, you can do the hard work. Most good budgets will take into account information from your team. Gathering insight and information from the people who are meant to execute the goal will allow you to gain buy-in. Also, most good budgets will take a few rounds. This is a necessary process and not one that should be rushed. Once all information is gathered, it should be reviewed with all stakeholders and adjusted as necessary. Obtaining insight from others will help get everyone’s approval that it is achievable and ensure everyone is working towards the goal of execution. 
  6. Monitor and update the budget: Budgets are a tool that should be used to drive the business towards its goals. It is important to regularly review and see how you are performing towards these goals. The review should provide insight into where you need to improve and where you are doing well. It is also necessary to update the budget as required. Your business environment might change, and different opportunities and pitfalls may arise. It is critical that the budget stays accurate and reflects these changes in your business’s financial position or goals.

With these steps, you can create a comprehensive and accurate business operating budget that will help you understand and manage the financial performance of your business. A well-executed budget will provide you and your business insight to move toward your goals.

Protea Financial Business Budget

Protea Financial Can Help You Create a Budget for Your Business

Now, remember, the budgeting process takes work. Sometimes you will need to get help. If you do not have the capabilities internally or want additional insight into the process, consider outsourcing your needs. Reaching out to an outsourced option like the professionals here at Protea Financial might be a great way to get the best out of your budgeting process by bringing in experts. Contact us today and we can help!

Let Protea Financial Help You Create a Budget for Your Business

If you want help learning how to create a budget for your business, or you need someone to do it for you, contact the professionals here at Protea Financial.