In April 2014, I took a leap of faith and followed my heart – not a relationship or a location change. I started my own company. I am one of those rare people that has a passion for numbers, and I love bookkeeping and accounting. I wanted to create my own company and serve those that are not so passionate about numbers. This is how Tally Up Accounting Services came to be.
There really is no one way to start a business. Sure, there is a long list of things that you need to do, but each journey is different. Opening my own accounting and bookkeeping company was something I was passionate about and I wanted to do it in a way that felt right for me. This was not a whirlwind situation that I threw myself into. Not a jump or dive – a leap, some might even say a hop. I took it slow. And I am glad I did.
Find the pace that works for you – often when we hear about successful business owners, we hear about how they just dove into the adventure head-first and never looked back. Sure sounds exciting, but that may not be the path for everyone. Some of us prefer to dip a toe in, then maybe an ankle before we go all in and that is perfectly fine. Your situation and your business are unique to you. Follow the pace that works for you and remember to enjoy the process. Why else would you be taking on something as amazing as starting your company if you are not going to enjoy the process?
Personally, I kept a full-time job while growing my business until 2020 when I went to part-time work and finally in May of 2021, I took the step to focus on my business full-time. I let my company grow in the timeline that felt right and I did not force it. I did what was right for me.
Mentors are a must have – whenever you start a new project or hobby, you look to experts in the field to learn from, right? Starting a business is not any different. Mentors can help you navigate the ins and outs of getting your business off the ground. They can help you see things that you may not have considered such as tax structure, hiring, marketing, and so much more. Mentors can be great sounding boards to review and discuss business decisions you are considering.
Mentors can be personal relationships with other business owners or more structured situations with business coaches. Either way, having someone to help you understand this new landscape is invaluable. Plus, finding a mentor may be easier than you think. There are several professional organizations that will connect you to business owners willing to help, often for free. Why would they offer free assistance? Successful business owners understand the value of mentoring because many were once the mentee themselves. When you are a successful business owner, you will likely want to pay it forward as well.
Create a network – In addition to mentor relationships, be sure to build your network of other business professionals. Referrals are a key part of any company’s sales activities, but beyond that, having a solid business network is a great asset to have. Not only does it help to have options when you need a service for your business, but you can use your network to help your clients as well. My company works on financials and accounting, but we do not do taxes. If one of my clients needs tax assistance, I want to still be able to assist by offering referrals of other businesses I know will provide them with amazing service. Not only do I help my client, but I also get to support a fellow business owner. Win-win!
Know the value of client appreciation – your clients are the lifeblood of your business and it is vital that you acknowledge that early on. They are helping you live your dream. This does not mean you have to put up with nightmare clients or customers (it happens!), but make sure your clients are happy with the product or service you are providing. Check in with them regularly to make sure they are satisfied or if they have any additional needs you can assist with.
As an accountant, I meet with my clients monthly to go over their financials. However, I make sure to check in with them throughout the month to see how their business is doing. As a business owner, I know that business conditions can change quickly and I want to make sure they have their needs met. As a business partner invested in my clients’ success, I want to offer assistance with issues that may or may not be accounting related (see section above about sharing resources and referrals).
Not only is checking in with your client good customer service, but it is also more cost effective to retain customers that constantly bring on new ones. Plus, happy clients can be your best testimonial and referral sources.
Understand your financials – As an accountant and bookkeeper, I must take a moment to discuss the importance of understanding your financials. Money is what keeps businesses alive and knowing how to manage it properly is what can make or break a business. Know how your money is coming in and how it is flowing back out. Create a budget and look at where your money can have the most impact – salaries, marketing, customer service, etc. Unless you love numbers as well, I suggest you work with an accounting professional to review your financials and establish a plan to reach to your goals.
Create a support team – While you may be super smart in one (or multiple) areas – finance, marketing, operations, whatever, there are going to be areas that are not your forte. Build a team of people that can fill in the gaps for you. When I was new to the game, I had a financial advisor and tax accountant advise me and as my business grew, I brought on a marketing consultant to my team. Having these people on my team and tapping into their expertise helped me create a stronger foundation for my company while allowing me to focus on what I love – bookkeeping and accounting.
Whether you hire internally, hire a contractor, or even have a friend in that field, make sure you are getting all your business needs met. Trying to do it all yourself can fast-track burnout.
Have faith in your capabilities – you are more amazing than you realize. Owning a business will have its ups and downs, but with the right support in place, you can do this!
Remember, it is your journey, your passion, so enjoy the process.