While I find it beneficial to be grateful for what I have throughout the year, this is the time of year when we all seem to focus on the things for which we are thankful.
I’d like to share some of the things I am thankful for here in my blog.
This past Sunday we were told not to forget the Giver, so let me start by acknowledging that God is my provision and it is to Him that I am thankful!
I am thankful to my clients for trusting me to manage their bookkeeping and for allowing me to introduce them to Profit First!
To show that the little things count too, I am thankful for the large Dunkin Donuts coffee that I just ordered with the free beverage coupon I received a few days ago.
I am thankful to be living here in Tampa where it tends to be sunny most days. After living here for the past year, I now truly realize why it is called the Sunshine State. I love that I can enjoy the beach year-round! And a special thanks to Tim, my boyfriend, for making it so easy to choose Tampa over other warm, sunny, by-the-beach and near-a-major-airport places. I can’t mention being thankfulness and Florida without mentioning being thankful for my health and safety after Hurricane Irma hit in September. After the storm, things were really put into perspective for me, as others were far worse off than myself and I have God to thank for watching over me and trust in Him to care for and watch over those whose lives were impacted on a bigger scale than myself by Hurricane Irma.
I am thankful for all the awesome people I have met in the past year and a half here in Tampa. I love my church, Relevant Church in Ybor City. I love my BNI (Business Network International) Chapter; it’s full of encouraging, giving business owners. Another wonderful perk of BNI in the Tampa Bay region is access to Asentiv’s referral marketing training. I am so thankful for my Referrals for Life group and for Tiffanie Kellogg! Tiffanie does such a great job cutting through my hazy explanations of what I do and to whom I want to serve, turning it into clear, concise language that speaks to those who need my services. Every interaction one has can be considered a networking opportunity and I look forward to making more connections in the future and growing my network.
As much as I love living in Florida now, I am thankful to still be able to serve clients in Pennsylvania and for choosing to be part of PowerMatch. Sara Rosenberg does such a great job connecting me with people up North who can in turn connect me with more people who need help with tracking their finances. I am thankful to have a business that can work with anyone around the world who has access to the Internet.
I am thankful that I attended Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins earlier this month and got to walk on fire!
I am thankful to have the opportunity to be the VP of Fem City Tampa and help President Amanda Vining grow our Tampa Bay chapter as a space for women to encourage each other in our businesses as well as develop deep friendships.
I am very thankful to have discovered Yanik Silver, author of Evolved Enterprise and Giovanni Marsico of Archangel. The work that these two are doing is exactly what I want to do—heal the world through entrepreneurs! I am also thankful that I am finding social entrepreneurs and groups that support them as they learn and grow right here in Tampa.
Finally, I am forever grateful for my sons, Tom and AJ. This is for many reasons, but most importantly because I know that God gave them to me to love so that I would better believe and accept the love that God has for me.
What would it take for you to walk over hot coals? For me, all it took was a little motivation from Tony Robbins.
Last week, I attended Unleash the Powers Within, hosted by Tony Robbins. I’ve been a fan of Robbins’ work for some time now, but never had the opportunity to attend one of his events. Unleash the Powers Within was held in West Palm Beach, which is just a few hours drive from my home in Tampa so I decided to go.
For those who are not familiar with him, Tony Robbins is an American author, entrepreneur and life coach. He is most well known for his live motivational seminars like the one I attended. In 2016 he released the popular documentary I Am Not Your Guru, which is now available on Netflix. If you have the time, check it out to get an idea of who Robbins is and what he does.
Aside from the motivation and inspiration I received over the days I was at the event, a highlight was walking on hot coals. This was something that I had never done before but was willing to give a try. The coals were spread over a distance of about 30 feet, which at the time sounded like a mile. When it came time to walk over the coals, there were hundreds of other participants around giving us encouragement and enhancing the trancelike stance that I felt. Before I knew it, I was across and felt nothing. It was almost so easy that it felt anticlimactic in a way. I only have a small blister on my foot to show for it, but I would totally do it again! This is the power of Tony Robbins.
Another thing that I did at the event was make two commitments. One was to be easy and the other was to be hard. For my easy commitment, I chose to start stretching my back daily, which is something I know I should do but do not make the time to do. My hard commitment was to grow my business while looking at things over a ten year window. I also got to do some networking at the event. I met a few people from the Philadelphia area like myself and connected with a few more people on Facebook after the event.
I can easily say that I would attend a Tony Robbins event again and recommend anyone seeking inspiration, motivation or is simply curious to check one out too, or even watch his documentary on Netflix.
With Halloween around the corner, I’d like to join in the festivities by sharing some scary tales from the world of bookkeeping. With all of the numbers involved, bookkeeping on its surface can already seem scary to some. Once you hear a few horror stories from within, you’ll see how scary things really can get.
A few years ago I was personally involved with a bookkeeping horror story. A business owner had a friend who ran into some tough times, so the business owner gave the person a job doing her books. After three years of employing this person, the books showed a large profit when in reality the company had huge losses due to deliberate improper bookkeeping practices. She now owed a lot of money to the IRS and when they came knocking for the money she was unable to pay up. After this misconduct by her bookkeeper, she hired Clarity Finances and an accountant to right the ship. In a way, there is no happy ending for this story as the business was forced to close, a friendship ended and the business owner went back to her former career.
Some simple searching around the internet will show you tons of stories like this where a business thinks things are running smoothly until someone else takes notice of the errors or worst of all the IRS steps in. There are some check and balances that can prevent such horror stories. A common theme you will see in many of these stories will be that no one was watching. It helps to have a few different sets of eyes on your numbers. Keep an eye on things like petty cash, which can be manipulated rather easily. As scary as these things can sound, ill intended mistakes in the numbers of a business most often times are rare. To cover all of your bases and assure accuracy, it’s best to have an outside accounting firm or bookkeeping company, like Clarity Finances look over your numbers.
So I don’t scare too many people, I’ll finish this week’s post with a story that has a happy ending. I had a client who was building a new home and she wanted me to look over her numbers. I noticed a discrepancy in the numbers on her invoices where she would have overpaid by roughly $30,000. This mistake was not intentional by the contractor; it was just that without an extra set of trained eyes, the error would go unnoticed. She and her family have been living happily in this beautiful home for the last five or so years.
Hearing stories like these may make you feel nervous about your numbers, so it is imperative that you have the right people on the job. Clarity Finances is here for the business owners who seek trust and accuracy in their bookkeeping.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Here are a few bonus tips for business owners to ensure accuracy with their numbers:
Don’t have the person who signs the checks also sign invoices.
Don’t make the checks easy to sign out so that suspect purchases cannot be made.
Get a second or third set of eyes to look over things like invoices.
Reconcile your accounts with your bank.
Always consider a third party to look over your numbers.
As I wrote in my previous blog, I am now a certified Profit First Professional. As of January 2018, all of my clients will reap the benefits of my application of Profit First principles I have learned throughout my Profit First Certification. But what does this mean exactly?
Just around the time of the first Profit First book being released by Mike Michalowicz, I was struggling to grow my business rapidly enough to cover the expenses of a five-figure marketing coaching program and an additional full-time employee. I saw that having to cover the costs of these things in addition to my normal business expenses would put my business in poor financial health. After doing some research on Profit First and reading the first book in the series, I realized that Profit First was the answer for both my business and for my clients’ businesses.
Being a bookkeeper, I knew how to track the numbers, but wasn’t setting sustainable financial goals to guide my business decisions. Two of the main principles of Profit First are to be disciplined and thoughtful with your money. I was too busy chasing after revenue without paying attention to how much money was being spent by my business and the cost of this revenue chasing can really add up. With the principles of Profit First under my belt, I could really see more clearly how decisions based off emotion without due diligence can be a problem.
Profit First will shift your mindset on how you view your numbers. You will have a better understanding of how your money goes in an out. You will discover new, creative ways to increase profits. There will be no more sleep lost over wondering if your business will have enough money to meet payroll. You will enjoy taking a quarterly distribution from your profit account. You will have the money to pay your taxes sitting in an account ready when you need it.
While Profit First is not a complicated system, doing it alone can be challenging. Clarity Finances will be there to walk you through the process, helping you choose financial goals that will improve your business and enable you to give in a BIG way.
We start with a Profit Analysis, providing a roll out plan and meeting with you regularly to track your progress all while providing encouragement as you need it to celebrate your successes.
When businesses get their numbers right through Clarity Finances and the Profit First system, they can play BIG and give BIG.
This past weekend I attended ProfitCON17 in Morristown, New Jersey. This was my second time attending a ProfitCON and just like the previous time, I came away with such good insight.
I am also proud to announce that I have completed the certification process of becoming a Profit First Professional. Starting in January of 2018, all of my clients will reap the benefits of my application of what I have learned throughout my Profit First certification. To put it simply, with The Profit First System, the business owners will pay themselves, have their financial numbers to the utmost accuracy and all this will help accumulate wealth for themselves and their businesses. My foremost goal however is to have my clients give back, in a BIG way, once they accumulate wealth and have their numbers accurate.
I’ve found such inspiration in the stories I’ve heard from other entrepreneurs who have implemented Profit First into their businesses. Entrepreneurs like Mastery Member John Briggs who said, “The math is simple. One hundred percent of the Profit First Professional members who apply the organization’s benefits, grow. Period.”
Ultimately, I want to achieve my dream of having a successful business that gives back and clients who do the same. Mastery Member Lori Petersen spoke on how being a part of the Profit First Community helped her achieve her dreams saying, “I have more than doubled my company revenue since joining PF two years ago, but that is not the most remarkable part of my experience. I have been unequivocally supported every day by this great organization. I never before have had so much support in achieving my dream.”
In January I’ll be going on a mission trip to Jamaica with Creators of Hope. If you are not familiar with Creators of Hope, feel free to follow the embedded link to their website for more information and how you can get involved. According to their website, “Creators of Hope brings clean, dry housing to Jamaica’s most vulnerable populations-children, the elderly, and single mothers-in the most poverty stricken rural areas around Porus, and beyond.” I’ve wanted to help on one of these trips done by Creators of Hope for a long time now and I’m glad to be able to lend a hand. I’ll be there for about a week and most likely will post a blog post about my experiences, so stay tuned!
Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, we were bracing ourselves for Hurricane Irma in Florida. Where I live in Tampa was expected to get hit pretty hard. Having just moved to Tampa from Pennsylvania, this would be my first experience with a hurricane.
Since this was my first hurricane and not Florida’s first hurricane, they were as ready as they could be. Evacuations were arranged and I looked up where I would have to evacuate should the need arise. My evacuation point was the elementary school down the street from my apartment so I figured that I would ride out the storm at home. If things were to get really bad, I would use my bathroom as a shelter, seeing how it was the only windowless room in my apartment. Fortunately, things in my part of Florida did not get that bad. On Sunday morning the sky looked menacing and I, like the rest of the state, prepared for the worst and prayed for the best.
By the time Irma made landfall on Monday it was downgraded to a tropical storm and then to a tropical depression. A friend of mine on her blog summed up her thoughts on the whole ordeal as “feeling blessed, yet guilty.” The fact that the storm was not as bad in my area meant that other areas would not be as lucky. As of Wednesday when I wrote this blog, the Florida Keys, Miami and the southern most parts of the state are still reeling from the storm.
Having lived in Pennsylvania for most of my life before moving here to Florida, the hardest weather I had to deal with was blizzards. The snowstorms we got in the Northeast pale in comparison to the devastation of a hurricane. The worst we ever seemed to have it was back during the Blizzard of 1995 when the snow came up and literally blocked out doorways; even then we were stuck at home for a couple of days. In fact, I don’t even mind shoveling snow that much since I can’t stand getting cooped up inside and I always had help from my two energetic, young sons.
So my first hurricane is in the books. I’m still here and I still love Florida. I was never afraid and felt safe which I am sure is because of some wonderful friends and family up north praying for me! Also helpful were my Florida friends who have been through a hurricane or two are tough and were up for the challenges a hurricane can bring. Some give credit to mounds built by the Tocobagan tribe that they built along the Pinellas Peninsula for protecting us from the storm and storms in the past; Tampa hasn’t taken a direct hit from a storm since 1929. All I know is that I am thankful to be here for another day.
My church is putting together a clean up effort and I will help once things settle a little more and they just need able bodies, rather than first responders or professional contractors. Next weekend I will be flying back to Pennsylvania to see family, clients and to attend PROFITCon17! Last year’s conference was amazing and I can’t wait for this year’s event and the opportunities that it will bring.
Due to the storm, our series on Giving Back Through Business was put on delay. Check out the blog in two weeks for our next piece in that series.
In continuation of our series on giving Back Through Business, I’d like to talk today about the meaning of social enterprise. A social enterprise in terms of business can be categorized as for profit or nonprofit. An article by the Stanford Social Innovation Review pointed out how social enterprises are becoming more popular because they combine the charitable aspects of nonprofits with the revenue generation of for profit businesses.
Companies that are social enterprises are sometimes registered as B-corps, which are “for-profit companies that are certified by the nonprofit B-Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.” According to bcorporation.net there are more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries in over 130 different industries.
I recently got to see first hand how this business model could be implemented in my local Tampa area at Inside the Box Café & Catering. ITB is a social enterprise of Metropolitan Ministries. At the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce I got to hear Chely Figueroa talk in detail about what ITB does. ITB provides culinary training to those in the Tampa community transitioning from poverty and homelessness. Proceeds from ITB food sales go directly to feeding the hungry and helping the participants in the program improve their lives. ITB has a vested interest in giving and the results are clear; it works. I liked the story of Inside the Box so much that I scheduled a tour of the facilities for later in September. Stay tuned for updates and check out ITB for yourself.
If you’d like to learn more about social enterprises visit socialenterprise.us to read about a movement of over 1,000 social entrepreneurs that span 16 chapters across the United States.
If you read through a few of my blog posts, you’ll notice that I cover various subjects. I try to write about things that are current and relate to the world of finance. I pick topics that are not only of interest to just me, but also you, the reader. In the past there have been blog posts as part of a series in a larger project. A couple examples are the series of blogs that I wrote on Traction by Gino Wickman and the blog posts on Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. The next blog series will be similar to the previous posts yet different. These posts will be in relation to the world of finance but will be on something even closer to my heart: giving.
Over the next few weeks I plan on talking to a few different businesspeople who, like myself, make giving a big part of their business model. We may give in different ways and to different places, but what matters most is consistent giving be it donations of dollars or time. We all worked our way to where we are now and those are positions of power. Whether quoted from the Bible, the French Revolution, or in Spiderman from comic book icon Stan Lee, the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility;” I feel this quote describes our situation best. Our companies are of various sizes and work in various industries, but as business owners, we have a responsibility to our clients to give them the best service we can and to serve our fellow man, regardless of them being a client or not, to make the world a better place.
After our previous blog post on microfinance, my mind really started to race…in a good way. Seeing how possible it is to help others, whether they live in your neighborhood or on the other side of the world, made me want to find out more. I figured that I could talk to clients and fellow business people on how they give and why. For me, some of my favorite places to give are Rotary International, Unstoppable Foundation, SheIsSafe, YoungLife and my local church.
For this project to be a success and to reach its ultimate goal, I’ll need your help. If you are interested in talking to me about how and why you give, leave a comment on this blog post or email me at Julie@clarityfinances.com.
Since I work in the finance industry, I like to stay abreast of as many things in the financial world as possible. Recently, I have had an interest in learning more about microfinance or microloans. According to the US Small Business Administration, “microloans provide small businesses with small short-term loans for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment.” The US Small Business Administration Microloan Program was established in 1992.
While the SBA is not actually the one that does the lending, they do connect businesspeople with specially designed intermediary lenders. These intermediary lenders are nonprofit organizations that have experience in lending.
The average microloan is around $13,000 with the maximum reaching up to $50,000. Larger banks sometimes may be unwilling to loan amounts of money less than $50,000, which makes microloans fill an essential niche in business development. When starting a small business, the owners may not have the past experience or credit rating to be approved for loans.
If you are looking into becoming a microloaner yourself, there are resources for that as well. Websites like Kiva will help parties come together for lending. The lending can even be as low as $25. Kiva has a transparent business model that enables the microloaners to get in touch with the small business owners with whom they are loaning money. And according to their website, there is a 97 percent loan repayment rate. There are many services like Kiva out there, so do your research on what you think fits you or your business’s interests best and get out there and engage in some small scale business development!
It can be quite simple to become involved in microloaning, no matter what side of the equation you are on. If you are a small business owner in need of some capital, the application process seems to be straightforward and if you have the right mindset and a professional business plan you’ll be on your way. If you wish to loan small amounts of money like on websites like Kiva, it is only a few clicks away. Like qualifying for any sort of loan, it depends on your financial situation, credit rating and more.
If you are interested in finding a microloaners in your area, check out the list on the SBA’s website. In my opinion, entrepreneurship in its best form is when both parties benefit and after doing my research on microloans, this seems to be a solid avenue for that kind of business.
Let me know what you think of microloans, if you have ever been involved in microfinance or if you have any services that you recommend to those who have an interest in getting involved in the world of microfinance.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day! This federally recognized holiday gives many people across the country the day off. While we use this free time to reconnect with friends and family, attend parades and watch fireworks at night, we should also be reflective.
We are fortunate to live in this country. Compared to other countries, our country could still be considered in its infancy. In a relatively short period of time, the United States has risen to its current status. In a country of 300+ million people, we will not agree on everything. In today’s climate, things seem particularly divisive. No matter for whom you vote or what is in your Netflix cue, I would like to think that the majority of us still love this country.
As I’ve highlighted in a few of the most recent Clarity Finances newsletters, there seems to be a shift in consumer culture. Over the past few decades many of the Mom & Pop stores were replaced by the chain stores and strip malls. Now there seems to be more emphasis on patronizing local businesses. As a fellow small business owner, I love to see other small businesses get recognition.
I love the freedom that comes with having my own business. I am free to create the culture I want for my business, free to add services to my company, free to decide to donate 10 percent of revenues to charity, free to choose to which charity I donate, free to choose who I work with, free to be flexible with my schedule and free to travel without the boss’s approval just to name a few. It also means I am responsible for any results good or bad; but I am ok with that!
When I was a kid the Fourth of July varied from year to year but only between two options: spending the weekend with family at Long Beach Island, New Jersey with the days spent on the beach and watching people set off fireworks at night or staying in Narberth, Pennsylvania and hanging out with friends at events that went on all day at the playground. I think Narberth still has some of the best fireworks in the area.
My immediate future holds a lot of traveling. I’ll be back in PA from July 13-16 to celebrate my birthday. From June 16-19 I have a business retreat at Bay Head, NJ. I’ll be back to Downingtown, PA from July 20-24 to celebrate my son Tom’s birthday and to see some clients. The last week of July will be a lot of catching up back in Tampa.
Here’s to a fruitful rest of the summer,