Meet Kimberly Swank. She’s a snowboarder, CPA, IRONMAN finisher, entrepreneur and ELEVATE member. To sum it up, she’s a numbers guru with a lot of letters following her name. Check it out: Kimberly Swank, CPA, MBA, MSA. She’s also the founder of Swank Accounting, LLC, which all adds up to a financial whiz. And a financial win for her clients.
We sat down with Kimberly to find out more about her and how the startup world relates to competing in an IRONMAN or snowboarding at Breck.
What do you do (for work, life and play)?
Work and play are part of my business and life. If you’re a snowboarder or skier, we’ll most likely be conducting a business meeting or two on the slopes in the winter. (let me know if you want to schedule a “meeting” this winter)
Enjoying life while working is the Swank Accounting business model. Our motto is “Finance is Fun!”
I’m the proud Managing Principal/ Founder of Swank Accounting, LLC. As a full-service accounting firm, our customers are small businesses, high net worth investors and non-profit corporations. The services we provide are CFO Consulting, Accounting, Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation/ Strategy. We’re based out of the new ELEVATE Breck location but we service all of Summit County, in addition to Eagle County, Boulder and Denver.
What’s your vision or goal for work this year?
Swank Accounting, LLC is more than a business to me. Each client is special with a different set of needs. I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Masters in Business (MBA) and a Masters in Accounting (MSA) from Notre Dame coupled with 20 years of experience as a business owner and high-level corporate professional.
Our goal is to continue to grow in Summit County while providing a customized high level of service to our clients for their accounting and tax needs. Our knowledge and experience is what differentiates us from our competitors and enables us to provide a broad range of services from bookkeeping to accounting and from tax services to CFO level consulting.
Why did you move to Summit?
One word… Snowboarding. Winter snow sports are my passion. Living in Breckenridge, you quickly learn that your level of snowboarding will be ratcheted up a few notches. When I found myself joining my friends at 4:30am to hike or snowshoe up a mountain for fresh tracks, I soon realized the different level of athlete in the mountains. I was fascinated and loved coming home at 8:30am ready to work for the day while people were just heading onto the slopes.
At the end of last season, I bought an AT ski set-up and am determined to conquer the mountain … on skis, as well as my snowboard. Look out!
What’s your motivation?
My greatest motivation is “Living The Dream.” Several life events have made me realize that every day is special and should be lived. Breckenridge affords me this privilege. Where else can you go cycling for a 35-mile ride straight up a mountain in the morning and then go work for a full day?
What’s your biggest challenge?
An intense work ethic is my biggest challenge. It’s true. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work the entire day and miss out on enjoying the mountains. I’m learning to work hard and play harder.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My client relationships, friends and my dog get me out of bed every morning. I have great people in my life. Working on surrounding yourself with people that work as a team and genuinely care about you is so uplifting and important. It’s what makes my life spectacular.
Last year, I had a client that was struggling to direct their business and had started to lose their focus. We’d meet every two weeks and go snowboarding. On the lift rides, we’d strategize and discuss business ideas. Recently I met with him and I was amazed at the turnaround. They had clearly defined their goals and were working to improve their business and financial objectives.
What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?
ELEVATE recently had a speaker/Author, Clark Vandeventer of the book, unWorking. As he was communicating the idea for his book, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. He is explaining my life.” It gave me a great reassurance that I am on the right path of my life.
Since I was 18 years old, I have been seeking the purpose and meaning in my life, my “WHY”. It is not until the last year I finally feel like my why has been found: Living a life with great people, being involved in exciting and interesting events and savoring a life with purpose and direction that adds value to other people’s lives.
How do you ELEVATE your business and your life?
Recently, I made the decision to rent dedicated space at the Breckenridge ELEVATE location. This decision has been a significant shift in my mentality and business. Being a part of this community that Amy Kemp has so expertly compiled has led to my sense of belonging and significance in Summit County. The connections and people that you meet through ELEVATE are a cut above the rest. ELEVATE attracts business owners with integrity, motivation, and a sincerity and friendliness that makes the space feel like you are coming home. I look forward to “going to work” every day.
How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?
Setbacks and obstacles are just a delay to my end goal. I feel that every time something “goes wrong” this is a chance to learn what you are really made of and grow to be something better. Growth does not happen when everything goes well. Growth happens when obstacles are in your path.
Training for a half IRONMAN when you have never done a triathlon tends to bring many challenges you do not anticipate. It is at this point that you realize that strength of mind and purpose keeps you moving forward and attaining the goals you set. You may not get there the way you think. However, when you keep focused on your end goal, it is amazing how creative you can be.
I grew up on a beach in Florida and have been swimming since I was learning to walk. I thought for sure the swim would be the easiest part of the IRONMAN race. However, I was not prepared for the mental challenge of containing the race adrenaline coupled with not being able to see in the water, having to spot your course with minimal race markers, and getting boxed in a large group of swimmers. In a nutshell, I panicked. Finding that I could not put my face in the water without panicking I quickly realized I was going to backstroke the 1.2 miles. The guidance of one of the paddleboard officials keeping me on course allowed me to meet the cutoff time of the swim by 5 minutes. Perseverance and a sheer stubbornness to refuse to give up led to this success.
What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?
I can read minds.
What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?
Never Give Up, Never Surrender. The life of an entrepreneur can have major ups and downs. Savor the ups and know the downs are short lived. It is also important to surround yourself with solid, positive, supportive friends and mentors. It can be lonely being an entrepreneur. Having people to bounce ideas off of and help with keeping you on track or even just to give you a pep talk can be the difference between succeeding or failing.