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Gibsons business up for award

Dianne Mueller on the pier at Armours Beach, not far from her Gibsons home. Her bookkeeping business has been nominated for a Small Business BC award. Donna McMahon photo

Gibsons resident Dianne Mueller was taken by surprise in December when her company, Soma Small Business Solutions, was nominated as Best Company for this year’s Small Business BC (SBBC) awards.

“I did not find out that one of my clients had nominated my company until the day before voting closed,” said Mueller.

“I remember telling the fellow that called me from SBBC that I was honored, but of course, with only one day left before voting closed I certainly would not be moving on to the top 10. The other nominees had been nominated weeks ago.”

“That’s when I learned the amazing power of social media because before I knew it, hundreds of my bookkeeper friends from across Canada, and of course family, got busy on social media and by midnight I was in the top 10.”

Mueller is now a semi-finalist for the award, which will be given out at SBBC’s annual gala in Vancouver on Feb. 23. Another local company, The Gibsons Butcher, is also a semi-finalist for Best Employer and People’s Choice.

Mueller, who moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2014, is part of the 20 per cent of the  Gibsons workforce (2016 Census) who are able to work from home. She said she realized a few years ago that technology had made it possible for her to carry on her business from anywhere.

“I thought: you know what, I don’t need to be in Vancouver. And they [the staff] don’t need to come into the office every day.”

Mueller started her career training cashiers for Canadian Tire, and then ran the office for her husband’s business, Wolf Industries. She founded Soma Business Solutions in 1997 and began running the company full time in 2002. It has become a family affair. Her son, daughter and daughter-in-law all work for her from their homes across the Lower Mainland. And the days of getting boxes full of receipts from clients are long gone. Their operations are “95 per cent paperless.”

Mueller said that it was her clients who first started pushing to make better use of technology because they wanted “real time information” to help them make decisions, rather than having to wait for weeks for financial statements to be prepared.

Mueller is also one of the co-founders of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada which has grown to almost 2,000 members. In 2014, she traveled to London, England to receive the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers LUCA Award for outstanding achievement in the profession.

Training is one of Mueller’s strengths. Among her courses is a three-hour webinar, entitled “Your First Year In Business – A Financial Overview” that she delivers through Small Business BC.

“I love helping small businesses and their growth strategies,” said Mueller.

Mueller says she is up against stiff competition for the award and doubts that she’ll win, but she doesn’t mind. She is thrilled that one of her clients took the trouble to nominate her.

“That’s the win for me.”

Donna McMahon

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