Victoria started her business in January of 2004 and has seen incredibly rapid growth and profit ever since. She only spent the first 6 weeks marketing. Since then, she has had all the clients she can handle. In fact, she tells us that she has had to cut down to “only” 18 clients so that she has the quality time that she wants to spend with her children.
Time For What Matters Most
Victoria’s creed is “family first”. Having her own successful accounting and bookkeeping service has given her the option to spend much more time with her children. She happily reports that she only works about 25 hours during the “regular” work week and another 15 hours while her children are sleeping. She enthusiastically explains how she only works Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Her children have her Thursday through Sunday.
Some of our graduates place more emphasis on earning as much money as they can, making $30 to $60 per hour. But that is only one goal with starting your own successful business. For Victoria, having time with her children was more important. The great income and flexible schedule that she enjoys gives her that freedom not available in most corporate career settings. If for you, like Victoria, you strongly feel that family should come first, you will want to hear Victoria’s exciting story.
Transcript of Victoria’s Success Story
Allen: It’s good to have you here with us, Victoria. And I know our listeners are looking forward to hearing your story, some of your experiences, some of the ideas that you have that will make their start-up easier, and smoother. So, what I would like to do is, first of all, just give you an opportunity to tell the listeners a little bit about your background, some of the things you did prior to getting your own bookkeeping business started, so they can, kind of, gauge where they are in line with your own experience. Would you mind sharing that with us, please?
Victoria: Oh, certainly! My experience is in Construction. I’ve been graduated from college with a Business Degree in 1987, and have been working in Construction Industry ever since, and worked my way up to a Finance Manager position, really more, sort of, a …because it was a smaller company… sort of a glorified Office Manager actually…
Allen: When you say a small company, what do you mean? How many employees did they have?
Victoria: They had…I think…when they started, they probably had about 16 employees and had about 25 at the point that I left.
Allen: Very good. Ok…
Victoria: I worked in every facet, in terms of Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, but all within the Construction industry. So I had received a Business Degree, and then worked into Construction, and did full-charge bookkeeping, essentially.
Allen: What caused you then to go from that to starting a bookkeeping business?
Victoria: There were a couple of factors. First of all, I had, sort of, a conflict of ethics with the business owner that I was working for, and was really having a hard time feeling comfortable performing my job every day.
Allen: Boy, I’ll tell you… that happens a lot.
Victoria: Yes, unfortunately.
Allen: Ok, so what happened next?
Victoria: And then, I also had two very small children. At the time I had left, I had one daughter that was a couple of months old, and one that was one year old. And I was having a day that was…I like to say it was one of those days…not one of those days that it’s a bad day…one of those days where “I really can’t take this anymore”…and was seriously starting to think about what it is that I could possibly do, instead of doing this particular job. And what I found…my list of wants and needs included: complete flexibility to be able to be with my children when they needed me, if they were sick, or something had come up where they needed to spend time with me. I needed to be making at least $60,000 a year. I needed to be able to have a lot of flexibility, and wanted to work an abbreviated workweek. And what I found was that … there was nothing out there that was willing to give me that package.
Allen: Well, most would say that those demands were a bit steep, wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t most people look at that and say, “You know….what do you want? You want the moon too?”
Victoria: Exactly, exactly. It was very unrealistic for me looking to go to a different employer and layout my list of needs, but they were honestly what I needed at the time. Our family financial situation had grown to such…that I needed to…you know, I couldn’t just stop and start over. And I also had children that had needs…so I discovered that the only option that was available for me was to be able to start my own business.
Allen: I see. And so you went out there and with pretty high expectations.
Allen: I mean to be able to replace a very nice income on a…you know…a part-time basis, from the get-go, was pretty…
Victoria: Unrealistic? (laugh)
Allen: …pretty optimistic. Yes, I won’t say ‘unrealistic’ because I know you accomplished it…
Allen: …but I will say that it was very optimistic in most people’s minds anyway.
Victoria: Uh-huh. Yes, that’s probably…that’s probably very true. But what I was fortunate enough to have happen is… in exploring this as a realistic option for myself, I was fortunate enough to come across Universal Accounting, and…what I was actually in quest of was information on how to run my own business.
Victoria: And I found just a world of information. As a matter of fact, when I was done printing out from downloading stuff from the Universal Accounting website, I had volumes of information on running my own business…
Victoria: … And there were two things that really came from that experience. The first one was that it made me realize that this was something that was an achievable goal. The second one was that…if I was going to be owning my own business, I would only have comfort in having clients that were Construction clients. Although, I had a comfort level with my skill set at that point, just looking at the whole picture, and looking at it realistically…I had one of those…sort of …panic moments, where I realized that I only had skills in one area. How was I going to talk to somebody that owned a restaurant when I had never even worked in a restaurant, let alone done the bookkeeping for a restaurant?
Allen: Okay, so let me recap. By this time, you had decided that you were going to start a Bookkeeping/Accounting business. You were going to free-lance, is that correct?
Victoria: That is correct.
Allen: Because that’s where your skills were. You found out about Universal Accounting Center. You got a lot of information. And at that point, you realized, “There’s a problem here. I fear because…my only accounting experience has been in a Construction business. If I walk in…If any other business wants me to do it, I would be in trouble.” Is that correct? Is that how you are feeling?
Victoria: Absolutely, absolutely. So … the next step in the process that I did was…I walked downstairs, and I got out a phone book, and I wanted to look and see how saturated the market was in terms of bookkeepers. And I’m completely going off of recollection, but I believe that there were forty pages of attorneys, as I was flipping through the A’s, looking for accountants and bookkeepers. Page after page after page of Attorneys, and then there was a little section that had maybe eight bookkeepers (?) for the city that I’m in…And I thought, “Holy cow!” How often does a business need …a small business, (and it’s all small businesses were all that I was looking at…) How often do they need an Attorney versus how often do they need a Bookkeeper? I thought, “Holy cow– I can really do this!” So that was the absolute confirming test for me that the market was perfect.
Allen: I think that’s a great test. I think all the listeners ought to try that themselves and see… And they need to recognize that there are sections for Certified Public Accountants, but most CPA’s don’t do books.
Allen: So we kinda gotta rule those out, and look for the people who really do the books. And they would find, in every city, in every state of this country, you’ll find the same thing.
Allen; After you mentioned that story to me once, I looked in our local phone book and found exactly the same thing, a little bit bigger numbers, but the same relationship.
Victoria: Yes, yes.
Victoria: So that was very, very encouraging for me. And the other thing that I had walked away from that with is this incredible realization that not only did you provide this incredible gamut of information on how to run your own business…
Victoria: …But you also had the programs so that I could continue my education. Now I walked into this, and I had a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, but I went through the classes and did the homework and walked away from it, and although it gave me confidence in my ability to learn, I can’t say that those skills were something that I actually, hands-on, brought to my job. I brought to my job the confidence that I knew how to learn, but all of that, because I wasn’t applying it day-to-day, sort of went in one ear and out the other. So I really felt like I lacked education in general. So to be able to go back to step one, with your program, and really understand the concepts of the debits and credits, and even for me –doing it for as many years as I did– there was something to be gained in every step of the process. The gem of all of that was the confidence that I had at the end.
Allen: Right. And so many people have said that. It makes it such a big difference to know because universities just didn’t prepare you for that level, that small business aspect.
Victoria: Oh, not at all. Not at all.
Allen: Ok, so you’ve made your decision and you’ve decided, “I’m going to do it”, and you see Universal. That just takes you further down that road, doesn’t it?
Allen: Then tell us what happened….I mean I always like hearing about the first client, but we had one listener ask to tell how the first five clients got there, so…let’s spend a minute and talk about how your first client came to be, and then if you just quickly review what happened to bring the other few clients in after that.
Victoria: Certainly. Well, my first client is kind of a fun story, because as unhappy as I was in my work situation when push came to shove (and I had gotten through some of the course work, and was feeling comfortable) I decided it was time that I needed to tell my employer that I would be leaving. I gave a couple of month’s notice.
Allen: Wow, that was very nice of you.
Victoria: Yes, well I felt like I needed to make the transition as easy as possible. And I will tell you why it was even nicer, is because –as much of a fantasy as you might have about going out there and saying, “You know what? I quit!”– when push came to shove, it was a very difficult thing for me to do. I was very apprehensive about going in and telling this person who had been relying on me that I wouldn’t be there to be relied on anymore.
Victoria: But it really eased that when I was able to go in and say, “You know what? I’ve decided to go and start my own accounting and small business bookkeeping business, and I’m not going to leave you stuck. I am happy to work with you, but as opposed to an employee, I will be an independent contractor.” And that was my first client…
Victoria: …It was my previous employer.
Allen: Was that …Did that work out well? Because you look at it, and it was a full-time job for you…
Allen: And now you’re trying to do it on a part-time basis. How did that work?
Victoria: It worked fantastic. They were able to hire somebody that had a lower skill set than what they would have hired a full-time person in at…
Victoria: So they saved a little bit of money in terms of who they hired and their skill level, and then I came in and did some of the higher-end stuff for them.
Allen: Wow, that was great.
Victoria: Yes, so that was fantastic, and one of the people that rented office space from my previous employer had their own small business. I started to do his books, and he actually… (you will find that entrepreneurs just have this entrepreneurial spirit. Generally, I have found they have more than one business.) So he actually had several businesses, and the rest of my first few clients all came from, again, trying to be a good soon-to-be ex-employee, I would talk to all of the people that I had contact with every day, and say, “I’m sorry. I am no longer going to be your contact. I’ve decided to go out and start my own business.” And that’s where, just in doing a good thorough job for my previous employer by letting people know what was going on with me in the situation, I got more clients.
Allen: Wow. That’s terrific.
Victoria: My situation was that I only was looking for clients for about a month and a half, and I filled to capacity.
Allen: Isn’t that great?
Allen: So you met your objective…When you say “filled to capacity”, that was not… you weren’t trying to fill forty hours a week. You were trying to fill a part of that week and still meet your financial objective.
Victoria: Yes, that’s absolutely true.
Allen: Wonderful. But you know that your story is so comforting for a lot of people. Now there are a few other questions that I have been asked to ask you. What other services are you offering, besides bookkeeping?
Victoria: Well, I am a Notary Public, and on the on-set, when I …. initially was telling people about my services, I also [was]…assisting them with pulling together information to go to a bank to get loans. I had Word Processing. Some of that type of stuff …I really don’t offer that much anymore. The truth is that once I filled up my client base I was then able to … because those people…I was getting referrals all the time…I was turning away work. I was able to start to remove the people from my client base that I was less-satisfied with…and you don’t think of that going into a business at all.
Allen: No, you don’t.
Victoria: Whoever is going to give me money is going to be my client. When you get to a point that you can be more selective in terms of, for me…and this is a big thing – I want to make sure that people are sort of aligned with my belief structure in terms of how they treat their employees, all of that – and so I have actually gotten rid of, I would say, probably ten employees over the course of the last year and a half now, or not employees, clients and I have never been terminated, but I have terminated clients and sort of been able to work myself into a situation where I’ve got the, kind of, creme-de-la-creme. So I offered more services in the beginning. And I stopped doing it now just because I don’t have time. I don’t enjoy it as much. I’m only going to do the work that I enjoy now at this point.
Allen: So, when these current clients need those types of services, what do you do?
Victoria: Well, I have people, I have associates that I work with. I don’t generally turn…completely turn work down, but it’s not me personally that’s doing the work. I’ll have an associate that I will pay that does that type of thing.
Allen: Ok, so you pay them, the client pays you, but then you turn around and pay this associate…
Victoria: A portion.
Allen: As a subcontractor…a portion of it.
Victoria: So, it’s a source of revenue, but it’s not something that I personally spend any time doing.
Allen: Ok, here’s another question. What are the success factors in your mind for a bookkeeping business? Then they’ve got [written down] in other words, “What are clients looking for when they are evaluation bookkeeping services.” I see those as two separate questions, actually myself. I mean, there are certain things that go into being successful in a Bookkeeping Business, and then there are other things that clients are looking for when they’re looking for who’s the right person for them.
Allen: So, let’s start with: In your mind, what are some of the success factors for getting started?
Victoria: Well, I think that more of it has to do with your confidence in yourself, but that all really comes from having a really nice, well-rounded training. And I hesitate to say that because it sounds like a huge Universal Accounting plug, but the truth is that confidence does come from feeling like you have a real, full education, and one of the reasons that I was so enthusiastic about Universal Accounting Center is that the program works at your own pace, which was absolutely necessary for me. I was doing it every night. I flew through the class really fast, because I needed that information really quickly so that I could get out of a bad situation.
Victoria: But what came from all of that was the fact that, when I go in and meet with clients, I feel very comfortable. I feel comfortable with what I know. I feel comfortable with the fact that I’m not taking money from someone. It’s not about that at all. I’m providing them a service that’s going to save them money, that’s going to make their life easier, and that’s going to make them happy.
Allen: Ok. So, a lot of it is just understanding, yourself, where you’re coming from. Is that correct?
Allen: …Making sure you’ve got the background, the training, the experience you need to do it, and then just going out, …(and I think you’ve said it throughout this last… this several minutes) you just make up your mind and you go do it.
Victoria: Absolutely, absolutely.
Allen: I mean, you had to look at, again- not to belabor the situation– but you were looking at what most people would consider a highly…well…some objectives that were pretty optimistic, and yet you just went out and did it.
Allen: And you accomplished it. And I think I read in the bio that you did it in…how many weeks…when you had all the clients that you could fill up… was it 6 weeks?
Victoria: Yes, six weeks was when I was filled to capacity.
Allen: I mean, in 6 wks you had achieved your objective. Now, people are sitting here thinking, you know, this will take me years to do this…
Victoria: Oh my goodness, no.
Allen: But when you approach it the right way and when you’ve got… when you’ve made a decision, it can happen pretty quick, can’t it?
Victoria: Yes, it happened very, very fast. And one of the things I get asked very frequently is, “Who is your competition?” There is a big fear in going into this that, you know, ‘I’m not a CPA, and people are going to ask me if I’m a CPA, and that is an absolute non-issue on my end. When people ask me who my competition is, I tell them – absolutely– I have no competition. Because when people are interviewing someone to take over doing their books, what you’ll find is that most people will go in and say, “Well, I can give you a detailed Trial Balance, and I’ll produce for you…” And that’s not at all what they want to hear. I now come to them from a prospective: “I’m a business owner.” I know what they want to hear. I know what’s going to make them feel comfortable, and I know what their concerns are. And the Universal Accounting Courses taught…a lot of it has to do with…it’s semantics…it’s the language that you present it in. When I talk to them about increasing their profitability, they listen. It makes sense to them. I can feel confident in helping them discover what problem areas they have, and what ways they can work through that, so it’s not a situation where I feel like, you know, anybody else is coming in and giving them that because, unfortunately, that’s what they’re looking for and they’re not finding it anywhere. I can come in and do it, and I can do it and save them money.
Allen: and you’ve just answered the second part of that question: What are clients looking for when they are evaluating Bookkeeping Services. They’re not looking for a list of processes that you perform for them. They’re not looking for: “I can do the Trial Balance, and adjust your books…”
Allen: They’re looking for somebody that will really help their business succeed. Is that right?
Victoria: Absolutely, absolutely. You know… my belief is that I come off as more of a consultant and partner. So, not someone that they’re forced because the government requires that they’re forced to write a check to. I’m someone that gets Christmas presents from my clients.
Allen: Oh, wonderful.
Victoria: You know, it’s a situation where it’s a partnership.
Allen: So, recap for us the benefits that you have found. I mean, you have mentioned the money which, of course, is a big one.
Allen: But tell just a little about your family situation: How’s it worked out with that? And your personal confidence, and so forth.
Victoria: Well, one of the things that I had done – because I had achieved some really good success right off of the bat – one of the things that I did do in error is…I had deviated from the advice of Universal Accounting, and had…
Victoria: Yes, I wasn’t thinking, and what I did was I felt like it boosted my credibility to have a really nice, fancy, classy office. And so I had gone out and rented office space in a beautiful office setting, and what I found after being there a year was the only people that found me there were the people trying to sell me things.
Victoria: I never, ever, ever had a client come in. So actually, back in October, what I did was I got rid of my office and spoke to my husband and I said, “What if we took the money that I was paying toward rent and bought a bigger house and we put my office in the house?”
Victoria: So we bought a very…a much, much bigger… three times bigger home, that’s just an absolutely beautiful home, and the whole top floor is set up as my office. And so I still have a gorgeous office. And it’s a place that I enjoy working. But with that, I work on Mondays, and I work Tuesdays, and I work part of the day on Wednesdays, and I’m off Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and spend that time with my kids, which is the world to me. I feel like I would spend the rest of my life with regret if the years that my children really want to be with me, I didn’t make sure that I was there for them.
Victoria: There’s going to be a whole lot of years that they’re not going to want to be with me, so I’m taking advantage of this now. I can certainly grow my business more, if I choose to, when they’re in school. But right now they’re a year and a half, and one of them just turned three, so they’re younger. And I spend a great deal of time with them. And I do work at night when they go to bed. I’ll go up and work or I can work – get up in the morning — and do that. So there are certainly other hours that I put in. But I’m away from my children 25 hours a week.
Victoria: And that’s the biggest thing. There’s nothing in the world…there’s NOTHING in the world that I could’ve done. There’s no other job I could’ve gone to, besides taking this route, that would give me that freedom.
Allen: You know, something you haven’t mentioned that I think is important: I don’t know how close you were to your employer, as far as distance goes, but you don’t have a commute.
Allen: Your commute is …(what?)…thirty seconds?
Victoria: Absolutely. And it’s great because if something happens where I need to just run to my office to check something… And having the experience of having an office away from my home, which again, was just a tremendous mistake (although you know, it all worked out fine because my situation is perfect now) when I needed to do something, even if it was five minutes, I still had to drive to go do it. Now I can just pop up to my office and take care of something if I need to.
Allen: And how is your husband dealing with this? Is he supportive of this?
Victoria: Oh gosh yes! Absolutely! I mean, the fact that our children have a situation that generally you only see in people that are wealthier, you know, to be able to have someone that is primarily home is just fantastic. And when there’s a doctor’s appointment, I just schedule my clients around their doctor’s appointments. I have the freedom to do all of those things that we would have just not been able to be involved in, or would have caused a lot of conflict in terms of a situation with an employer.
Allen: Well, that’s wonderful.
Allen: Well I am so glad to have had the chance to talk to you. I learned a lot of things just listening to you, and it’s so fun to find out the success you’ve had. I mean, you’ve met all your objectives and now you’re in a position where you can expand upon them if you wanted to. You have the flexibility of doing what you want to do. I’ll tell you, it’s a dream that so many people have, but just are afraid to take that first step to move on.
Victoria: Uh-huh. It’s so achievable. It really, honestly is. (I think that people are)… The biggest obstacle to achieving this goal is just making up your mind to do it.
Allen: And that is the key, isn’t it?
Allen: Well, I wanted to thank you, Victoria, for helping us. And I know the listeners appreciate the time you’ve taken from your busy schedule to be with us. And I want to wish you continued success in everything you do. It’s opportunities like this that can really make and change lives…and you’ve experienced that.
Allen (continued): Just a little note to you listeners: If you feel that you’ve got a story that you’d like to share with us, please let us know. You can write us an email at [email protected] Also, I’ve been told that there is a special offer for those who are listening at www.universalaccounting.com. That’s a website that you can go to, and just to thank you for being with us today. Again, Victoria, our thanks and gratitude to you for taking the day with us or taking a few minutes with us and explaining your story. And we wish you every success.
Victoria: Thank you so much.
Allen: Thank you Victoria. And thank you, listeners. Have a great and wonderful day. Bye now.