Tell me about how your business got started.
Lozelle Mathai has led a remarkable career with some of the largest names in the fashion industry before making her way to the Pacific Northwest. Where she lived on the East Coast she’d worked as a Controller at Louis Vuitton, a Finance Director for Coach, a Financial Analysist at Tommy Hilfiger, and as a Finance Manager at Este Lauder. With her years of experience working in finance for these larger-than-life Fortune-500 companies, combined with her dual degrees in accounting and finance and an MBA in International Business, Lozelle had made her mark as an expert in her field, and in a market where success is notoriously difficult.
“The interview processes were grueling,” says Lozelle of her many Fortune-500 interviews. “These companies don’t hire dummies,” she jokes, “but being an African American woman from the East Coast, you to have all of these degrees and certifications, and you have to be on-point—constantly.”
Along the way Lozelle met her husband, Yosef, on the first day of his residency and in the throngs of pursuing his Medical Degree as a resident. The couple decided to move to Arizona for Yosef to begin his fellowship, which meant looking for a new job in an entirely new State for Lozelle. In one of the most challenging and competitive markets, she had built a successful career as a financial expert. Now, in Arizona, she faced the obstacle of building that career once again.
“When I got to Arizona, I was overqualified for everything,” Lozelle says disappointedly, “and I had never heard that before.”
After some searching, an opportunity came along and Lozelle found herself working in Finance once again, but this time for a company in the Medical field. This wasn’t an area that Lozelle had worked in before, however with all of her time spent alongside her husband during his residency she found that she now possessed an extraordinary amount of knowledge on the financial intricacies of the Healthcare industry and was able to carve a new path from that gained experience.
Before long, Lozelle and Yusef welcomed their first child into the world and their family priorities began to shift. Lozelle decided to stay home with their newborn son and pursue a more flexible job option in bookkeeping. Although becoming an entrepreneur is an incredible challenge, and Bookkeeping was certainly something that Lozelle could do, it was never her focus. So she took this opportunity to continue working, but under her own terms with the flexibility to take care of her family at home.
Over a short period of time Lozelle’s new business, Closing Your Books, LLC, was growing larger than she had anticipated. She also realized that the majority of her clientele were women entrepreneurs in need of guidance in growing their own business.
“I saw that small to medium businesses lack the financial forecast, financial outlook, and financial preparation for the future,” she explains. “Many of my clients didn’t ask any questions once I completed their books. I would tell them, ‘You should have questions!’”
This development caused Lozelle to begin incorporating an educational component to her bookkeeping, helping her clients gain a better understanding of what their financial statements really meant and how to use that information to make better decisions.
It was in that gap, between simply ‘keeping your books’ and strategically working to ‘grow your books’ through successful planning, that Lozelle found her niche. Recognizing her skills, Lozelle realized that she could offer far more than just bookkeeping to her clients; she could offer growth and stability.
After Yusef had completed his Fellowship in Arizona, Lozelle and her family made the decision to move to Oregon to pursue new opportunities. It is here in Tualatin that both Lozelle and Yusef own and operate their own businesses, each offering our community an incredibly valuable level of service.
Today, Closing the Books continues to flourish with Lozelle working to help our area’s business owners grow and expand their business.
“Businesses will have a bookkeeper and tax accountant, and that is where it stops. It should not stop there,” Lozelle says caringly. “Closing Your Books is the link that bridges these functions together while helping businesses reach the next level of growth.”
To learn more about Closing Your Books, LLC and how to begin developing your businesses plan for success beyond bookkeeping, visit https://closingyourbooks.com/
What problem does your product or service solve?
Closing Your Books provides Financial Controller and CFO services. They act as a devil’s advocate for your business and look at all financial repercussions. They oversee the bookkeeper’s work, monitor cash flow, and act as a second set of trained eyes on your business’s financial books.
“The buck usually stops at the marketing strategy and the bookkeeper with nothing in-between,” Lozelle says pointedly. “If you spend $5,000 on a marketing ad to boost your SEO, how much of that marketing converted to cash and how quickly? These are questions we need to be asking to focus on what is going to drive your business to surpass your financial goals in the next year.”
It is through this trained, methodical approach to managing finance that Closing Your Books works to solve the problem of being ‘reactive’ instead of ‘proactive’ when it comes to your business.
“Accounting and bookkeeping is past data,” Lozelle explains. “Finance is forward-thinking, and that is where we are able to look ahead to your future growth and success.”
To learn more about the services provided by Lozelle and the Closing Your Books team, visit https://closingyourbooks.com/services/
What is your business philosophy?
“Closing Your Books philosophy is to always have our client’s financial back,” Lozelle says. “We ensure their business is taken care of together.”
This is done through their proactive approach, continuous conversations, excellent communication, honest advice, and different reporting forms, ensuring everyone within the business is on the same financial page.
How does your business give back to the community?
Lozelle Mathai, CEO of Closing Your Books, LLC, sits on the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington finance committee. She also is co-founder of the Black Advisory Business Council, established in partnership with the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.
On top of her other community works, Lozelle is also a Finance Professor at Portland State University and sits on the Educational Advisory Counsel at PCC. She also has been contracted to instruct Financial courses for students at PCC who are pursuing entrepreneurial careers in Tattoo Artistry and other like industries.
“I want students to recognize there is more to accounting than just being a CPA,” Lozelle says. “You could be a fraud analyst and work for the FBI, you could be a certified managerial accountant that works for Target or Wilco on supply chain. Every business needs this, so my goal is to help these colleges to change their views on the field of accounting.”
If you could say one thing to the people of Tualatin, what would it be?
“Always be proactive with your finances. Your financial team should not care more about your finances than you. Don’t give all the keys to your kingdom away and be active in your financial wellbeing. Also, I would say to ‘be ready’ so you don’t have to ‘get ready’ and have a 3-6 month financial reserve in the event you should need it.”
Closing Your Books, LLC
Lozelle Mathai – MBA, CFEI