Commitment and Passion Keys to Self-Employment Success


Ralph Q. Summerford, CFE, CPA, ABV, CIRA
President, Forensic/Strategic Solutions, PC
Birmingham, Ala.

It was 1970, and Ralph Summerford saw nothing but grim faces in his office. And then some of those faces disappeared. They were in the midst of an economic downturn - accountants were losing their jobs at the CPA firm, and Summerford decided he wasn't going to lose his.

"Job insecurity convinced me that I wanted to be in control of my destiny," he said in a recent interview with Fraud Magazine. So he quit and started his first firm, Pearce & Summerford, P.C., Certified Public Accountants. That break began a professional journey that led to his CFE credential and the eventual founding of the highly specialized Forensic/Strategic Solutions with offices in Birmingham, Ala.; Dallas, Texas; and Los Angeles, Calif. Summerford, who is president and shareholder of the firm, started it in 1992 with just one employee - himself.

"I worked from my home for the first six months and then bit the bullet and leased an office in the downtown [Birmingham] area right in the middle of the attorney firms I wanted to work with," he said. "I set up a daily routine of calling and visiting with potential clients."

He began speaking at professional meetings and wrote for area publications. Eventually, he built a solid client base and began expanding. The firm now has 14 employees in its three offices. It specializes in providing experts for fraud examinations, forensic investigations, business valuations, computer forensics, litigation support services, data analysis, economic damages calculations, statistical analysis, fraud prevention and risk assessment, and financial distress.

Read the full article and interview with Ralph here.

Are you looking to open your own business or have you already? What is/was your biggest challenge? Leave us your thoughts in our comments section below.