Accounting Heart celebrates its third birthday this month. So, I have used the occasion to reflect on my expectations versus the reality of starting my own business, the highs, the lows, my fears, the people I’ve met, the constant evolution and the things I have learned along the way.
There is never enough time!
At 8:30am on Monday, 30 May 2016, I went up-stairs, sat down at my desk in my home office and started work. I only had a hand full of clients that I needed to set up on my accounting system and being at the end of the financial year, there wasn’t an abundance of work that needed to be completed for those clients. This was great! I was going to have time to ease into life as a business owner, having time to set things up just as I wanted and the flexibility to sneak in a yoga class mid-morning at least once a week, if not more. Wow!! I couldn’t have been more wrong on this one!! The reality is that there is NEVER enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do. Owning a business is 24/7. Even in my down time I find myself always thinking about it.
I can’t imagine doing anything else
In 3 short years I feel that I have much to celebrate and to be grateful for, my highlights have included:
- The joy of welcoming the clients who took a leap of faith to join me at Accounting Heart and the many new clients who have joined us since. Without our gorgeous clients Accounting Heart wouldn’t exist.
- Meeting so many wonderful and inspirational people! More on this later.
- Moving from my home office into Inspire Cowork, where I have the benefit of sharing an office space with over 100 other businesses. This has not only provided some fantastic collaboration opportunities with other business owners but has given my business both a professional working space for my team and meeting space for my clients.
- Growing the Accounting Heart team from just myself to Paula Farrugia (Chartered Accountant), Sharon Horwell (Practice Administrator), Melani Aballe (Accountant) and our newest recruit Nariman Demetri (Chartered Accountant).
- Each new piece of software that we introduce that makes our life easier and the practice more efficient.
- Getting my business to a point where I could take 4 weeks off to travel to Europe with my Mum. I couldn’t have done this without my wonderful team and the systems set-up to run my practice.
- Meeting our annualised revenue target set for year 3, four months ahead of time.
- The personal satisfaction of making all of this happen! I truly feel that owning my own business is the most natural thing in the world. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When frustration bites
If being in business were easy, then there would be more people in business! With the highs come the lows. There is no better word than ‘’frustrated’’ to sum up how I feel on my low days. Many a time I have been to have a massage or acupuncture session to have my therapist ask “are you feeling frustrated?” Mmm….”yes”… There is a special place just under your shoulder blades reserved for this feeling, and when frustration strikes the pain is intense!! So, what makes me frustrated to the point of losing my sh#t? Frustration strikes:
- Each time I try to do something new. For example, when I implement a new piece of software that works like a dream in the demo and then takes 2 weeks to configure and work out how to use. I have implemented many new pieces of software over the past 3 years so that is a whole lot of down time.
- When I have lots of different projects that I am trying to complete and not feeling as though each project is getting the attention and consideration it deserves.
- Because ultimately I am responsible. Everything that happens in my business is because of a decision that I have made. In the early days I suffered from decision fatigue. I didn’t realise that being in business would require so many decisions, from strategic direction to how things are going to be filed in our new paperless filing system. All of which have a lasting impact.
- Every project takes longer than planned.
- When I mentally hit the wall. There have been times of intense mental effort to get work done. For example, when I got back from Europe I worked long hours for an 8 week period to catch up. By the third month I was spent. We were half way through October and had hardly billed a cent. Frustration comes from not being able to push through these times.
- During the times when I have been unable to work for periods of half a day to 2 weeks due to recurring temporary vision loss in one eye. After 2 surgeries hopefully the issue has now been fixed and I can just get on with business.
Fear never leaves
Fear is ever present in starting a business and running a business. Aside from the general fear of failure common for most business owners, I fear that:
- I won’t get paid when I see my debtors balance growing, putting a strain on cashflow
- I haven’t completed enough work when I see my debtors balance shrinking, putting a strain on cashflow
- I won’t have enough work for each new Accounting Heart recruit or when an existing team member takes on more hours, putting a strain on cashflow
- There is more work to do than hours in the day and that something important won’t get done
- That I am spending time doing the wrong things and that when I am doing the doing, I should in fact, be focused on doing business development or taking care of administration and vice versa
And the list goes on. The common theme is lack of cash and lack of time, I think you get the picture.
People I have met
I have met many business owners who have shared with me their stories of feeling lonely in business. Fortunately, I have never felt this way and that is because of all of the wonderful business owners and supporters that I have met on my journey. While there have been many wonderful people, there are just a couple to which I would like to give a special thank you to, who have really helped in keeping my frustrations and fears in check:
Maria Cook, without Maria I would not have had the courage to start my own business. She has always been there when I have had a massive decision to make, and together with the Business Accelerator Forum ladies are the reason why I have never felt alone in business.
Bryan and Eli Cook, have given Accounting Heart its visual identity and are instrumental in bringing the brand to life.
Karen Moloney, I have lost count of the years that this clever lady has been on my case about content and digital marketing. It has been, long slow work but we now have our monthly newsletter and blog post, together with our signature content with a few more goodies to come all thanks to the seeds she has sown and her gentle encouragement.
Sarah Denby-Jones & Virginia Muzik, have turned ideas into action and content by consolidating all of the stuff that is in my head into a coherent message to take to the world.
The Accounting Heart Team, I feel so blessed to be working with such wonderful women who have my back.
There have also been many collaborators and referrers to which I say thank you.
Accounting Heart is in a constant state of change as I love to learn new things and am continually seeking to improve the way we do business. Nothing brought this home more than seeing the mock-up of our second website, which we are currently working on, and is scheduled to go live in May 2019. There is a vast difference between the old website, which reflected where the business was at in 2016, to where it is now. You will be able to see this for yourselves in a few short weeks.
As part of the website project I have developed 4 service packages making it easier to select the suite of services that is right for your business. You are now able to select from:
Green & Keen – This service is a perfect one off service for business owners just starting up and with lots of questions.
Work Smarter – Is a package designed for small and micro businesses that have better things to do than think about accounting and tax compliance, who would also like some insight into their numbers.
Grow for Gold – If you have a vision for business growth and need some strategy and accountability? This package is for you.
Freedom Accelerator – Is ideal if you want to fast track your business growth. This package puts you in total control of your financial future, with our regular 1-on-1 support.
And of course we can design a suite of services just for you if there are services you would like to add or take out.
I have also been working on our signature 4 Pillars content. I have really enjoyed seeing this come to life. I can’t wait to share with everyone when our new website goes live, when you will have the opportunity to sign up for our 10 day challenge to build a rock solid future proof business.
The things I have learned
One way to sum up the last 3 years is as a learning experience. Each day I learn about something, someone and myself. I have learned that:
- The reality of being in business ended up very different to my expectations.
- You can’t build a business on your own. It is the people that you meet in all of their various forms that make your business. Working with people with aligned values is the foundation for rewarding relationships.
- Change is constant and necessary.
- There is always a new system to implement and no end to the money you can spend on monthly software subscriptions to supposedly make life easier.
- Patience is not one of my virtues. I am impatient and want everything done yesterday. Frustration boils over when I hit a perceived roadblock.
- I have probably wasted too much mental and physical energy contemplating fear and frustration.
- The best way for me to turn off from work is to leave the country. I find that being in a different country and immersing myself in a different culture where I am thinking about the here and now works a treat. As I write this, I am on my way to Japan for a 2 week holiday as a personal celebration for the end of the 2019 financial year and to come back refreshed for the 2020 year.
- Looking after health and wellbeing is critical. There is nothing like taking time out to refresh the mind, body and soul (even though I find it hard).
As you can see it has been a jammed-packed 3 years and despite the frustration and fear I have enjoyed every second of it. Thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey so far.
If you would like to take a sneak peak of our new signature content you can sign up for our 10 day challenge to build a rock solid business to future proof your business here. You are also welcome to join our closed Facebook Group.
How can we help?
At Accounting Heart, we understand finances may not be your strong point. So, you’re invited to book a FREE Discovery Call where we can find out what you need and how we can help.