There are not a lot of people who claim to enjoy completing tax returns. There are even fewer who enjoy it so much that they decide to do it for a living. Trucking industry financial expert Vanessa Gant is one of those few.
“I went to (a tax service) and let them do my taxes. And then I wanted to see if I could do it myself,” she explained. “I came home, and I did it myself, and I came up with the same numbers that they did. It kind of sparked in me.”
In her own “bootstraps” story, Gant earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Strayer University and then a master’s degree in business administration at Webster University. She accomplished all of this while working, first at a freight forwarder and then a drayage firm — and all the while raising two boys as a single parent. Her first child was born while she was still in her teens, she noted.
“I got into that accounting job and realized that if I wanted to make more money, I needed more education,” Gant explained. “At that time, I had some education but not a lot of experience. And in our field, education coupled with experience is what is going to take you to the next income threshold. That’s kind of how it started.”
Gant’s hard work paid off when she became the chief financial officer (CFO) at National Transportation Services. Later, she gave up that job to focus on her family, and she started her own business, proVision Accounting Solutions.
“When I finished my MBA, I wanted to be in more control of my time. My middle child was growing up being quite the athlete and I really needed to be where he was,” she explained. “I’m going out on my own so that I can be present for my kids without having extra permission.”
Gant is happy to talk about the services she provides to truckers through proVision, of course, but more importantly, a great deal of her time is spent in charity and volunteer work. She often speaks at seminars and training sessions, helping others build their businesses successfully. One recent event was “My Money Matters, Jr. Edition,” in which Gant teamed up with Legacy Builders to teach financial literacy to girls ages 10 to 18.
“I absolutely love serving,” she said. “I love being able to give back to my community, in any way that I can but definitely from a financial foundational point of view.”
Gant is also one of the founders of Leading Ladies of Logistix, a group that seeks to empower women in the transportation and logistics industries. The group provides connections and mentorship for women seeking to build their business skills.
Gant believes that properly managing money can make a huge difference in everyone’s life.
“Money isn’t everything,” she stressed, “but it can help us get a lot in life if we truly understand it and how to manage it. And I’m a firm believer (that) if my client or anyone that I’m talking to understands how to manage their personal funds, it makes it easier to manage their business funds.”
She often appears on a local television station, offering financial and tax advice as “The Money Architect.” Her Facebook page contains numerous posts offering free advice to all, such as “know the difference between bookkeeping and accounting.”
Her answer to that question?
“Bookkeeping is organizing your financials, tracking your income, your expenses and (ensuring) that everything is right where it needs to be,” she said. “Accounting is the fun part, right? This is where we start talking about strategies, looking at profit margins, looking at what’s making you money and what’s not making you money.”
And what about that “Money Architect” moniker?
“I design and create,” Gant explained. “I help everyone design and create a plan to create a healthy financial foundation for their business — or just for themselves individually.”
As a person who loves numbers, an accounting career made sense for Gant. Specializing in trucking, however, took motivation from a different source.
“That was what I had done for 17 years, on the corporate side,” she said. “I simply put what I did in the corporate world, tweaked my audience a little bit and did it on the other side, and it doesn’t feel like work.”
When asked what advice she would give owner-operators and small fleet owners, or for those just starting out in the trucking industry, she said, “You cannot grow or scale your business if you don’t know your numbers.”
Gant went on to explain that most of her clients say they want to add trucks or trailers to their businesses, but many don’t know their numbers well enough to make sound financial decisions. It’s important to find a trustworthy advisor to help.
In addition to helping her clients, Gant has written an e-book titled “10 Financial Mistakes that Put Truck Fleet Owners and Owner-Operators Out of Business.” The book is available, free of charge, at vanessagantmba.com. The publication is also available as an audiobook that drivers can listen to while on the road.
When she’s not crunching numbers and helping clients, Gant can usually be found spending quality time with her family.
“I absolutely love hanging out with my family. I love hanging out with my friends,” she said.
Living near the coast, she also loves time at the beach. Thanks to her husband, she said, she also has a deep interest in sports.
He’s kind of walked me over to the ‘dark side,’” she said with a laugh. “We like to travel to cities that have sports arenas and sports teams so that we can attend games.”
Gant’s younger son, now 18, was the quarterback of his high school football team and earned a track scholarship to college, so she especially enjoys track and field events.
“I’m watching track all the time,” she said. “Anytime there’s any type of track going on, I’m watching.”
After starting adulthood as a teenage single mom and working her way up to being CEO of her own firm and a popular mentor to others, Gant says she’s determined to help others achieve their own success.
“I wake up every day to do what I love, serving the people that I love to serve,” she stressed. “For me, choosing this work was a no-brainer.”
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.