Welcome to the BookSight Podcast, a weekly show dedicated to accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tasks. In this episode, I introduce myself and talk about my journey as a blind bookkeeper and business owner. I discuss my interest in Bookkeeping and how I am in the position that I am now.
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What is BookSight?
your weekly Bookkeeping and small business podcast with a unique perspective. Join Taylor Arndt as she talks about being a blind Bookkeeper.
Intro: Welcome to Booksight, a weekly podcast dedicated to accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tasks. Here is your Host Taylor Arnt.
Hello everyone. Welcome to my new podcast Booksight. And in this podcast I'm going to be talking about my journey as a blind bookkeeper and other challenges and other things that I do running my own business. And I'm also going to talk about accessibility and just different things about being a woman and also being blind in the bookkeeping and accounting industry. My name is Taylor Arnt and I live in Austin, Texas. I originally am from Michigan, and that's where I grew up, but I moved to Austin about a year ago after I got a new job and I needed to relocate for health insurance reasons, and of course to be with my boyfriend.
In this podcast, what I really want to do is I want to highlight my journey. Like I said, I want to talk about different challenges, I want to talk about different things that I'm doing, and I also want to do some interviews with different people. And I just kind of want to talk about my journey being a blind bookkeeper and owning my own business and dealing with different software, just kind of everything like that. What got me interested in bookkeeping in the first place? You may be wondering. Well, it's a very complicated story, but it really starts when I'm very young. I was about, I don't know, 7 or 8, and my mom went to school for some kind of accounting field. I don't remember what she went for, but either way, I remember the memory very vividly because I was in the kitchen and I saw these textbooks that were laying on the table, and I was very intrigued. I'm like, ooh, what are these textbooks, right? Because I just saw these new things and I couldn't read them because they were completely inaccessible to me being blind. And I'm like, what are these textbooks? What are these things that I want to be able to read?
Well, it turns out they were accounting textbooks because my mom had an accounting class, and me being very young, I barely knew what accounting was. I didn't really know at all. Alls I knew was that she'd talk about it and she'd be like, I am in accounting, doing this and that kind of thing. And here are my textbooks. Well, one day I got a hold of these textbooks and I'm like, I want to read these textbooks. So my dad kind of had the luck of the draw, and he literally read me basic accounting textbooks at the age of 7 or 8. And I was learning about what a balance sheet was, and I was learning about basic accounting terms, and I'm like, Ooh, I love this stuff. I didn't really think I did, but I learned that I really liked it.
The next thing came along where it was time for me to go to college, and I really wanted to do computer science because that's what I have always wanted to do. I wanted to be a software developer. Well, in the combination of being a software developer and realizing that there was so much math involved, and also realizing that we were in a global pandemic, and the university I went to didn't have everything they needed to be able to survive the pandemic. And I lost my job helping students at the university. I was working at the Office of Information Technology, and I was helping blind students on campus with their web accessibility needs. And during the pandemic, I got laid off and instead of sitting on my behind all day just collecting unemployment from the state of Michigan, which by the way was really, really high because of the Covid Pandemic, I decided that I was going to get off my butt and I was going to start a business.
But I didn't start a business in finance though. I started a business in website development because I always liked doing websites, at least I thought I did. And I did that for two years, and I realized I hate website development. I hate it with a passion. I don't like it at all. I mean, of course I'm blind, so I had to hire out subcontractors and well, did I mention that I was doing payroll too? Yeah, I had to do payroll for my subcontractors. Of course, it was just 1099 payroll. But then I soon realized that I was spending more time in QuickBooks than I was actually designing clients' websites. So I then realized that maybe I needed to switch my path. I didn't really think about that though until I moved to Texas when I really had a good opportunity to.
So I started a new job at a web accessibility firm, and I had a great opportunity. I had a lot of time on my hands, and I'm like, I want to explore my other interests. I went ahead and explored my interest of QuickBooks and bookkeeping and finance. I went to the QuickBooks ProAdvisor certification. I took that training in three days. I couldn't stop studying it, after work I'd go ahead, study it, and then eventually I was ready to take the exam. I learned a lot. And then I also was able to help my boyfriend with his books, and I've been practicing ever since. Finally, in September, I decided that I was going to bite the bullet, and I went ahead and opened up my business, Taylor's Financial Services. And right now, I feel like it is a great time to be a bookkeeper because they're in high demand. And not only that, but me as a blind bookkeeper, there's not a lot of us out there.
So I'm able to position myself in a very unique situation where I'm able to help clients and I'm also able to educate them about accessibility. Not really accessibility in the traditional way, but I'm able to educate them that no matter what kind of disabilities you have, you can do anything you set your mind to. You just might have to find alternative methodology.
Back to my high school days. There's another factor that really, really made things interesting in terms of finance. You see, my dad, he is a very financially savvy person. He works at a construction company and he loves Dave Ramsey. Him and Dave Ramsey it seems like our best buddies, and if he had the opportunity, he'd probably go to Tennessee to meet him in person. Dave Ramsey is a radio personality, and he helps people to get out of financial trouble. He has a whole bunch of different books, and he has a whole Empire Ramsey Solutions. But either way, he hosts this radio show, and you know what my dad make me do? He'd make me listen to it when we were in the car, and not only he'd make me listen to it when we're in the car, but after that person was done, he would ask me, he's like, Taylor, how would you help this person? I don't know why he'd be asking me these questions. He'd be like, so how would this person get outta debt? How would you advise this person? Or all of these kind of scenarios.
Sometimes I'd be riding with him in the car and he'd be out going to have to get gas or something, and then he'd ask me to summarize what happened when he was gone. All of these things led to another, and then I realized that I love finances. I mean, I love money.
I don't know who doesn't. But more importantly than that, I love dealing with money and I love helping people deal with money. I'm not really interested in the personal finance side as much as I am the business finance side, but either way, combined with my dad and my mom, it really made for a very interesting combination of factors.
Now here's the other thing too. My entire family has some kind of businesses that they run. My uncle runs a landscaping company. My sister and her husband run a concrete business. My grandmother on my dad's side runs a skincare business as well as other businesses. And either way, that's like three or four businesses in the family. So I had a lot of mentors and I had a lot of people that really helped me along the way. I've been running businesses, y'all since I got outta high school. I mean, I've been running website design businesses, or I don't know some other random businesses, and I'm like, I'm just going to run businesses because I had nothing else better to do. I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I didn't really do any after school activities, and I'm like, well, I might as well try to make some money. So what, I went ahead and started some businesses and it worked out very well. But then I went to college and I didn't have a business for a little while. I worked as a WSU employee for a change, and then I went ahead and started my other business as soon as the Covid Pandemic hit. I really like that business, but then I realized that I don't like website design. So here we are today, I work for a big accessibility testing firm, and I have a bookkeeping business on the side.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how do I do bookkeeping if I'm blind? That's a very valid question and I'm glad you asked. The short answer is, I use a screen reader. And a screen reader in layman's terms, is a piece of software that is either built in to the operating system or can be downloaded and it helps a blind user or even learning disabilities navigate the screen. So let me explain. You see, I am in a Zoom meeting right now. That's how I'm recording this podcast. And of course, in order to record this podcast, I had to open up the Zoom app. I had to start recording, and of course I had to do a whole bunch of mics set up, but either way, my screen reader reads out everything on the screen to me. And I don't use a mouse, that's something else. I don't use a mouse. And alls I do is I use the computer via the screen reader, meaning that I use the computer just by keyboard commands alone.
So let me go ahead and demonstrate. I'm going to go ahead and turn on my screen reader so that you guys can hear how fast it talks. I wasn't planning on doing this, but I want to be able to show people how I operate. So let's see. Go ahead and I'll show you guys how fast, because here's the thing, as a blind person, I am so used to hearing speech that my screen reader reads at a very, very fast speed. So usually when I'm doing demonstrations, I have to slow it down, and I'm going to do that too as well. But I'm also going to have it at full speed so you can hear how fast I hear things, because if I don't have things at a very fast speed, how am I going to compete with my sighted colleagues when I have to be able to hear things? They could just look at the page. So having a speech at a very fast rate helps me to be able to read things at the same speed that my sighted colleagues would, although it's in a different modality. So while they look at the screen, I listen.
So let me go ahead and demonstrate that way you guys can hear what it sounds like and you can kind of get a taste into my world. [Inaudible] All right, so you hear my screen, you hear a very fast voice, I'm sure it's pretty fast, and it is probably a little bit robotic to you, I'm sure. So let me go ahead and show you guys how fast it talks. You're probably thinking, oh my gosh, that is way, way, way too fast. And I'm sure it is. So let me go ahead and slow it down for you guys can be able to hear this. And you notice I'm not using a mouse, I'm just using up down, left, right? I'm tabbing, I'm going through menus and I'm, I'm navigating in a different way, but I'm able to do things an equivalent way most of the time as my sighted colleagues. Let me go ahead and go to the QuickBooks webpage so I can demonstrate. I'm not going to log into QuickBooks, but the reason I showed this in the podcast is because obviously you can't see it, right? So it kind of gives you an idea, right? Your screen is black right now, you're in a podcast but I'm showing you a screen reader. And of course it's almost like you have a black screen if you're totally blind. That's kind of how it works. You can't see the screen at all.
I kind of like that I did this because you guys can hear my world without actually seeing the visuals. And oftentimes when people are learning to use screen readers, especially if they are low vision, as they call it, where you have partial site, they will actually cover up the screen so you can't actually use it. So it's kind of an interesting way that I'm actually showing you guys this. So what I'm going to go ahead and do is I'm going to go to my Google Chrome, and the way I'm going to do that is actually not by clicking on it, of course, but I'm going to go to my desktop and I'm going to actually press one letter, and that's G, it's called first letter navigation. And it's basically my superpower. What it does is it helps me navigate through things fast. Obviously I can't click on things. So first letter navigation helps me to be able to listen to things. And if I know exactly what I want, I can press the first letter of that, application, and it will jump me right there. Let me demonstrate. So I'm going to press Windows D for desktop.
Google Chrome Enter. And now I get my Chrome profiles. I love Chrome profiles. It, what it does is it helps me separate between my work, my fun, my YouTube, and my other stuff. So I'm going to find my TA finance profile, which is for my Google accountant for my business. All right? I'm going to go ahead and search. And that's actually called a Screen Reader find where I go ahead and search for things on the screen that I know are there. Okay, so I am at my new tab and I'm going to go ahead and type in quickbooks.intuit.com,
I go there so much that it just decided it was going to autofill it. And you may be wondering, this is a very big website and ensure it is. And so how do I navigate around, right? There are so many elements and so many things that I want to do. Well, the easiest way I can do that is I can use what are called landmarks.
Landmarks are kind of very awesome structural navigation elements that help me navigate. So these include buttons, links, lists, and if you're a good web developer a lot of you guys are not. But if you're a good web developer, you will make sure that your websites are accessible and by making your websites accessible, people like me can navigate your website. So if you are a website developer or you are a CPA firm and you develop websites or you have a website for your firm or who knows, just try to keep people in mind that use screen readers because it's very important. If things are not accessible, then it makes things a lot harder.
So QuickBooks is fairly accessible, but it's just a great example. This is just the landing page. So let's go ahead. I'm going to go ahead and go by my links. What I'm going to do now is I'm going to just search for what I want. So there's a bunch of links on this page and I could press the first letter of that link I want to go to as well. So first letter navigation works and it helps me to be able to navigate very, very fast because a lot of times people are like, how do you find this so fast? Or how do you keep up? My secret, first letter navigation, y'all. So let's see. Let's see what's on this
So you notice that there's a bunch of links. I can also filter by buttons as well. So if I want to log in, I'll show you guys what I do for that. I just press tab. Look at that, sign it. But I wanted to demonstrate that anytime I press a letter, it will go ahead and navigate to that link there. So this is just a quick screen reader demo. The purpose of it was just to kind of show you about my world and show you kind of the basics of how I navigate. There's a lot more intricacies, but that's just kind of a basic overview. And the recap of this is that if you are someone who owns a CPA firm or you are a bookkeeper or you are a web developer, or you have any influence in terms of making websites or you even have a website for your small business, I would really, really encourage you to make your website accessible and make sure that it is accessible by everyone with different disabilities. Because a lot of websites are not accessible.
If websites are not accessible for people with disabilities, do you know that they'll just turn away and go to your competitor? So it's something to keep in mind. A lot of blind people or other disabilities, they are going to need help with their taxes. That's just an example. But make sure that your website's accessible. Make sure you're inviting to people with disabilities. It's very important that you guys help people with disabilities and that you guys make your websites inviting because trust me, people with disabilities make up a huge economic market. And if you don't cater to them then you're losing a ton of business. So anyways, that rant is over. Let me go ahead and again, stop the screen reader because we're going to talk about some other things, but I just kind of wanted to give you a glimpse into my world.
I hope that gave you a good introduction to how I navigate the web. And of course, like I said, there's a lot more to this than what I showed, but I really hope that this was a first step in terms of, how I navigate. And the other thing to know is that I prefer QuickBooks online by a long shot. And I know a lot of you guys are going to be moaning and groaning being, I don't like QuickBooks Online. Something you guys have to know about Mia is that I am not your typical bookkeeper. I'm also not your typical practice owner. My firm is very high tech. Again, I used to be in the tech industry before I got into bookkeeping and I use Tech Tools to my advantage. I make sure that everything that I do is cloud-based and I don't do anything with desktop.
In fact, I was on tax Twitter, if you guys don't know what tax Twitter is, y'all should probably check it out. It's basically a place where all these tax professionals come. It's a hashtag so I post a lot in there. Something that we were talking about a couple days ago is QuickBooks Desktop versus online. And I know this is going to be a big bear to take, but I'm just going to go into it right now. So I've literally said on this thread that I am a QuickBooks online user through and through. I don't even have a subscription to desktop. Frankly I don't even know how to use desktop and I'm not even interested in using it because the thing is that the accessibility of QuickBooks online is so much better. And if an product is so much more accessible, then I'm going to use it because I'll be able to make more money.
Well, not only that, but I'll be able to use the product in the first place, which is kind of important.
My advice to you is I understand that a lot of people like QuickBooks Desktop and they may be, stuck in their ways of using QuickBooks Desktop, but I urge you guys to check out QuickBooks online. It's not as bad as you guys think. And also keep in mind that Intuit eventually is going to be phasing out QuickBooks desktop. I know y'all don't want to hear it, but the point is, is that a lot of things change. We have to be able to adapt to change. And I know that's very difficult. I know that people are like, I want to do this because this is my way. But with everything going on in the world, being able to adapt to change is so important. It's so important because you never know what the next product is to come down the pipeline.
I was listening to the cloud accounting podcast, if you guys have not checked them out, I don't know what you guys are doing, but I discovered them, believe it or not, when I was going to Michigan. So my family, like I was saying earlier, lives in Michigan and that's where I grew up. So I was going to a convention related to blindness. Actually it was a convention called National Federation of the Blind. And I needed something to listen to on the way to Michigan, I was flying Allegiant, so they didn't really have Wi-Fi on the plane. I'm like, I better just download stuff. I didn't really know what I was going to download. So I go on YouTube and I just type in accounting podcasts because I don't really know. I'm pretty new to the industry.
The first result that came up was Cloud Accounting podcast. I'm like, Ooh, that sounded great. So I downloaded like five or 10 episodes and by the time I got off that flight in Michigan, I maybe listened to like 2 or 3 and I couldn't stop listening to the Cloud Accounting podcast y'all. I was learning so much about the accounting industry that I had no idea about. About the CPA 150 hour problem or the shortage of CPAs and Crypto and FTX and oh my goodness, I was learning a lot of stuff and I'm just like, I can't stop watching this podcast. So I was listening to Cloud Accounting podcast basically on the plane wherever I went, so I had to go there and back obviously. And I was even listening to it in my free time when I was at my family's house. I know I probably shouldn't, but I just couldn't stop listening to it.
And then of course the other day I was listening to the Cloud Accounting podcast and I listen to another podcast that I like, it's called The Accounting Twins. And what this podcast is there's two twins, Norma and Becky and one is going into public accounting where they're getting their CPA and the other is going into private accounting where they're going to get a job in industry and they basically talk about their different paths, so one is going to graduate school and getting a 30 credit hour classes for their CPA. And then the other is going to the work world workforce. And they talk about the contrasting between CPA and private. And of course me as someone who never went to school for accounting, I have found that very interesting.
Of course the other reason too is that I am young, I know I sound young and that's because I am. And these accounting twins, they're very young as well, they're basically my age. And so I found it really, really great because I was able to relate to them. And I was going home from the Zero Roads Show, I went there in Austin and I won a Yeti cooler, which is always awesome. But I was going home and I went home and I was just so tired. So I literally listened to like two seasons or more of the Accounting Twins podcast. I couldn't stop listening to it. So all of this being said, I'm probably rambling right now, but the thing is, is that I'm just truly grateful for everything going on and I'm going to be kind of doing these episodes where I just talk about whatever's on my mind. It's going to probably be all over the place because I am all over the place, I have ADHD so I'm just all over the place.
The point is, is that I have grown so much and I just fell in love with bookkeeping, I love it. I've got, like I said, two clients right now. I've got my boyfriend who runs a software company and then I've got a hair salon and it's just been really, really great because I've been able to grow so much and help them. And they don't care about my blindness, they don't care because they know that I can do the job well and they really like that I can pay attention. And so just because I'm blind or just because there's another disability does not mean I can't do the bookkeeping job well. In fact, sometimes people say that I could do it better because I pay more attention and just kind of like the name suggests right Booksight, I have the sight I guess to make my books good, right? I, pay attention to details and I make sure it's all right.
My moral, of the story is y'all don't have to be afraid. If you are in this situation and you're thinking about being a bookkeeper and you want to start a side hustle, what are you waiting for? There's so much work out there to be had. It's a great thing to do and it's awesome if you like numbers and you like finances and doing bookkeeping and great thing to do is go in the demo company and even try to do bookkeeping for yourself, heck, set up a QuickBooks account and see if you like tracking your personal finances if you really wanted to do that as a start and just kind of see if you like it and then from there, go on.
So that is kind of what I wanted to talk about today and I really am thankful that I decided I was going to start this podcast because it was kind of an idea. I guess one more thing though is last night I went to the Fresh Books Meetup. Fresh Books is another competitor to QuickBooks. And I walked in the room and they were like, hi Taylor. And I'm thinking to myself, how do these people my name I kind of crazy. So it turns out that I was talking to them and shout out to Bookkeeping Side Hustle Kate, if you guys haven't checked out her channel, please do. You guys are missing out a lot. She posts a lot of great videos about bookkeeping and different things like that. I'll have a link in the description of the show notes.
Kate basically pulled the people of fresh books that I was coming and that they should probably do some research about accessibility for the blind. If that doesn't say anything about the community of bookkeepers and how many people want me to succeed in everything else, y'all, I don't know what does. I've never been treated so nice in my life. These fresh books, people are awesome, Shannon and Twila and Alex and oh my gosh, everyone is just awesome. I'm going to be actually working with Fresh Books. So I don't know. And of course then we went out and I went to like a get together after the thing so I didn't end up going home till like 11:30 or midnight last night. Of course I had to work this morning, but y'all, it was so worth it. I made great connections and of course you could not forget about Matt and Cameron from Callbox. Oh my gosh, because they were raffling off some AirPods Pro.
Let me explain what Callbox is. They're actually a local Austin company and what they do is they help automate your AR accounts receivable. So let's say that you've got a client who just doesn't want to pay and they just don't want to pay you at all. And you're kind of thinking as the owner, oh my gosh, I don't want to chase this client because it's awkward. They're going to see I don't have any employees. There is a solution y'all, it's called Callbox. So what Callbox does is they kind of help you to be able to automate your accounts receivable. So they plug into your different accounting software, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero, all of those things. And they basically are an app partner and they can help you automate your accounts receivable, they can help make phone calls to your clients or kind of show you different reports about your accounts receivable and all that kind of fun stuff.
So Matt and Cameron shout out to them again, I'm going to put a link in the description, check out Callbox and they're pretty great. But long story short, they did a AirPods Pro raffle last night and I didn't win, but hey, it's okay. They were all kind of making a joke. They're like, man, Taylor wins everything. I'm like y'all, I really don't. I actually don't win hardly anything. So I said that was kind of an anomaly. But long story short, y'all, these people, if you guys haven't gone to Austin, you guys probably should. Why not? Everyone needs to come to Austin. We need to have a big get together and just, all these accountants, everyone needs to come to Austin. I know hopefully we're going to have some more meetups coming up, but everyone is just so friendly.
I wasn't sure what was going to happen when I was going to be a blind bookkeeper. I wasn't sure how good of reaction I was going to get. I wasn't sure who was going to treat me well. If anyone would treat me well, I wasn't sure because again, there's not a lot of blind bookkeepers out there. It's kind of a different thing that is not very common. A lot of blind people go into tech or the rehab or government professions, but there's not a lot of blind bookkeepers out there. So I want to be the one who helps to make bookkeeping accessible. Not only accessible, but I want to show that I can do it and I can be successful.
Okay, I've been talking for way too long and I am going to go ahead and end this episode. So where you can find me online, you can find me on Twitter, of course Tax, Twitter, you can also find me on Mastodon. Speaking of Mastodon, I have an accounting server. So I have created a server for accountants to join and basically it's called Accounting Net Social. And I'll put a link in the description and show notes. But basically if you are an accountant and you want to go at another platform besides Twitter, go ahead and join my accounting social Mastodon We talk about everything and everyone's kind of awesome there. And so if you want to join, feel free. Also, like I said, I'm on tax Twitter I'm on Twitter as well, but TayArnt as my username. And eventually I'll be creating a podcast Twitter as well. So that is where you can find me online. And with that being said, everyone have a great day and we're going to talk soon. I'm going to try to do these weekly, but man, this was a lot of fun. So all right everyone, have a great night everyone, and we'll talk soon.
Outro: Thank you for tuning in to the Booksight podcast. You can find show notes, transcripts, and ways to support the show @booksight.net. Let's get social, follow us on Twitter @Booksightpodd and like us on Facebook at Booksight podcast. You can also connect with us on Mastodon on @accounting.social. Our host Taylor Arnt is on Twitter @Tayarnt, and her website is @tayfinance.com. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review and let us know what you thought. We'll be back next week with more tips and insights on accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tasks. This was a pay on media production.