Host: Taylor Arndt
Co-Host: Michael Babcock (Podcast Editor)
Topic: Starting a Business in 2023
1. Why January is a great time to start a business
New tax year and organized finances
2. The importance of planning and preparing before starting a business
Defining what you want to serve and have a clear plan in place
3. Evolution of a business: How Payown Media started and changed over time
Initially started with website work, then added voiceover work and expanded to live streaming and video media
4. The flexibility to adapt and change as the business grows
Starting a business requires planning and preparation, but it's also important to be flexible and adapt as the business evolves. This entrepreneurship series will provide valuable insights and tips to help you get started on your own business journey in 2023.
Thanks for tuning in to the BookSight Podcast. Make sure to tune in next week for another episode on accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tasks.
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’s your host, Taylor Arndt.
TAYLOR: Hello everyone. Welcome to the BookSight Podcast, episode 7. And in today’s episode, we’re going to be starting the long awaited entrepreneurship series and I’m super excited to get this series on the road. With me I have Michael Babcock, who is my podcast editor.
MICHAEL: Hey, this voice might sound a little familiar to people who’ve listened.
TAYLOR: Absolutely, yep. He does all the voiceover work for the intros and outros, so yeah. I hope you guys have recognized his voice. And we’re going to be doing a discussion about starting a business and the things that you need to know if you want to start your own business in 2023. So it’s going to be a great episode. We’re going to be doing a few of these and yeah, I’m really excited to get this series on the road. And I think that for anyone who knows, my opinion, if you can start a business in January or the beginning of the year, it’s just a lot easier. What do you think about that, Michael? Do you think that?
MICHAEL: Yeah, I think so. I started my business in February, which was not a horrible thing. I'm glad I started in February and not in like November.
TAYLOR: Yeah, and my recent business was started in September. So of course that wasn’t great either. But again, I kind of needed to start it. What I would say is that this time of year is the best time of year to get started because it’s a new tax year and everything will just be a lot more organized in a sense, right? You’ll have all your ducks in a row rather than starting in the middle of the year. Definitely a great time to start your own business. Before you start your own business, though, we need to talk about what you want to serve, right? We need to talk about what you want to do because obviously you can’t just walk into just starting a business blind, I mean, you can, but you want to kind of have some plans and some ideas of what you want to do. And I think this is super important. You know, you want to plan out what you want to do and have kind of an idea and then try to execute that. So, Michael, how did you plan out your Payown Media business?
MICHAEL: I didn’t. So I’m horrible about that. And when I launched Payown Media, it was because some clients were kind of dropped in my lap and I couldn't complain. And I’m like, Oh, if I’m going to do this, I need to take it a little bit more serious than I have in the past. What I started doing, though, is not necessarily what I am doing now or what I like doing now. And I think that’s something people should realize. You can start a business with an intention and plan, but chances are that what you actually end up doing will end up changing. So I started a business because I said, Hey, I’m doing some website work , and, you know, I want to actually take myself seriously and get this done. And then like two months later, someone reached out to me and said, Hey, can I pay you to do some voiceover work? And then like another month, two months later, I think it was July or August. Someone also reached out, it was August because it was after convention and they said, Hey, can I pay you to stream my community call? Well, it wasn’t a community call. It was a Zoom call for their community. So when I say community call, not meaning ACB community call. So I did that. And then, you know, people started reaching out and talking to me about podcasting and editing their work and doing the voiceovers for their intros and outros and a few other things. And then I realized Payown Media doesn’t have to just be audio media. Payown Media could be, you know, live streaming media, could be video media. It doesn’t have to be stuck with that one thing.
TAYLOR: Yes. That’s super important, Michael. And I think that’s also true with me, right? Because yes, I’m going to be doing bookkeeping and things, right? But, you know, it’s almost like what happened to you, Michael. Remember, because I don’t know if I told you the story though. I was at the ACB, American Council of the Blind, Texas Convention and I told a whole bunch of people, I said, you know, that I’m a bookkeeper. And their first question to me was, can you prepare my taxes? And then I’m like, well, no. But then everyone’s like, I want you to prepare my taxes because I don’t trust any of the other tax preparation software or services because I’m blind and I want someone who can relate to me. Well, after getting that question about five or 10 times, I’m like, okay, so I really need to figure out doing taxes for people. You know, so I guess it’s all that sort of thing, right? You want to try to figure out what will help you. I mean, it’s also what the clients want and what your market wants. And I think having a plan is good, but you also need to be able to change.
MICHAEL: Have a plan, but be flexible with it.
TAYLOR: Right. Yeah. definitely super important. So I guess the other thing too, when we’re trying to figure out planning is always pricing because if we undercharge, then we don’t get enough for ourselves. Michael, you’re laughing. Why are you laughing?
MICHAEL: I laugh at that because I was talking to someone the other day, yesterday, and I told him, I said, you know, this new project that I got, I think I undercharged myself. And then I started explaining to him what I’m doing. And before I even got halfway through, he stopped me and he goes, yes, you’re undercharging yourself because you’re actually taking the time to go do some of the little things that most people wouldn’t. And just to do the basics, you should charge one price. But if you’re going into it as far in depth as you are, you should charge a little bit more for that. And then in 2016, I followed a gentleman named Darren Monroe and his business was based on charging more money, niching down to a specific group of people, maybe bakers who bake, they take cakes for weddings or, you know, podcast hosts who produce podcasts for nonprofits, but niching down to what you want to do and then charge more money for that boutique service, for that service that you can provide and the stories you can tell that no one else can. So yeah, pricing is very important and you will undercharge yourself. You will undervalue yourself for a little while. Because Darren used to always say you are more valuable than you think.
TAYLOR: And that’s super important. I mean, you know, for me, right, just trying to figure out pricing, especially because I’m somewhat new to the industry, which I mean, I think I’ve figured out a degree, but then if clients come to you be like, well, it’s too expensive, then I’ll be like, well, okay. I said, well, how expensive would it be if for some reason you got tax penalties because you didn’t report all your income? But then more realistically, I’m like, well, I said bookkeeping and payroll is a pretty expensive thing that you have to do, right? Payroll and bookkeeping together are not cheap. And so it’s all about trying to make sure that you can deliver what the client wants and then be like, well, I have to charge this much because of XYZ.
MICHAEL: And stay out of your own head, a lot of times we get into our own head and say, oh, this only took me 20 minutes to do. So I shouldn’t charge for what I would charge on an hourly rate. But the point is it only took you 20 minutes to do because you spent hours or days or weeks learning how to do that. So therefore you should start getting compensated for the time and energy that you spent to try to learn what you’re doing for your clients or researching the product that you’re selling to the individual. This has mostly been service-based tips, but yeah, definitely realize that, again, you’re more valuable than you think.
TAYLOR: Yeah, I mean, because we both run service businesses. And I mean, who knows? Maybe I’ll try to get someone on this podcast who runs product businesses as well to try to give their perspective. But since we’re both service-based business owners, we kind of talk about it from a service perspective. And yes, it’s very important to try to figure out how you’re going to price your services. And whether you want to do an hourly or you want to do a flat rate or a monthly retainer for some kind of clients, like bookkeeping and stuff, it's all dependent on what you are trying to do.
MICHAEL: And that monthly retainer is also nice to give you the assurances of income. And instead of you saying, well, did I spend 20 hours on this or did I spend an hour and 20 minutes? So I am very fond of the monthly retainer aspect unless people take advantage of it, which that does happen to.
TAYLOR: Exactly. And that's, you know, I think that's something that's really important because I'm trying to figure out monthly retainers right now for a couple clients. And I'm just like, well, okay, here's the thing. You know, for example, if I say your monthly retainer is $400, okay, what does that $400 include? And what will be charged on top of that $400 additional, right? So it's all about trying to figure out what's included and what is not included. And making strict terms. And along with pricing, come making sure that your butt is protected. Well, what does that look like? Contracts. Now, Michael, how do you handle contracts?
MICHAEL: I use a tool called WPEsign. We purchased it a couple of years ago and bought the lifetime membership because I didn't want to pay DocuSign or some of these other tools for a half-hearted accessible slash non-accessible experience to create the contracts. Don't get me wrong. Making contracts with these tools is great, but if you're a blind business owner who needs to create a contract, it may not be the right solution for you. So we investigated a couple WordPress plugins. I like WPEsign A because we were able to get a lifetime. B, you write up your post. So it works out of WordPress. So you write up your contract or you use some of the sample contracts that they can provide you. And then you just paste it into the window for WordPress. And then you can set some parameters. And the nice thing about it is it has a full audit trail. So if Taylor clicks on a link in an email that I sent her, it will audit that fact that she viewed the contract. Or if I click on the link that it sends me and I checked the box to sign it and then I put in my name or I use my saved signature, all of those steps are audited so that the plugin can keep track of it, but most importantly to me is the fact that WPE sign is, I would say 90% accessible. There are a couple of little unlabeled buttons that get in the way, but once you get comfortable that it's not hard to do. And it is very intuitive and secure.
TAYLOR: Yeah, Michael, that's a really great tool. And how did you make your contract? Did you have like an attorney draft it for you?
MICHAEL: I used Chat GPT, duh.
TAYLOR: Well, no, not duh, because it was only around a couple of months or weeks ago.
MICHAEL: No, so WPEsign has a lot of sample contracts that you can get. Sometimes they offer them for free. Sometimes they're added on to the plugin. And so I just took some of those and then tailored the wording around what I needed in a contract specifically. And here's a cool feature that not a lot of people know and I didn't know until Damashi told me. There's a redirect after signing edit field. And if you go create an invoice in Stripe, for example, you drop the link in the redirect field. So once Joe signs the contract, he's taken to his invoice so you can pay his first invoice.
TAYLOR: Yes, I knew where you were going to go with that. And you could do the same thing with QuickBooks, y'all. If you're a QuickBooks user, I know I've got a lot of accountants who may not be so much Stripe fans because it can be a pain in the rear end to reconcile with QuickBooks. I'll get into that later. But you can use QuickBooks invoices or whatever tool you guys prefer.
MICHAEL: Yep. As long as it gives you a link.
TAYLOR: Yep. Or BYF if you guys have the Belge firm portal. So yeah, Michael. So let me talk about what I did because I did something slightly different. So what I did is I first off, because of the field that I'm in accounting and bookkeeping, I want to make sure that my contract was good and spot on because I didn't want to get sued. But more importantly, I want to make sure it was professional. So I did something that I don't know how much I'd recommend you do it, but I went on Upwork and I looked for an attorney and I actually found a really great attorney in Dallas who is a business attorney and she drafted a great contract for me. I think she only charged me like a hundred bucks and I have this contract I can use for all of my clients. And then what I do for signing the contract is I use Adobe Acrobat. So Adobe Acrobat, you're able to get signatures from clients. And I find that is a really great tool because I already pay for Adobe Acrobat anyway for my business. So if I can already use Adobe Acrobat for having contract signatures, then that's a win-win.
MICHAEL: Is that experience accessible to set up for the contracts?
TAYLOR: Yes. Absolutely.
TAYLOR: Yeah. DocuSign is not. Or even other forms that my clients need to fill out. I can do that through Adobe Sign as well.
MICHAEL: Very good. Glad to hear that. I might have to poke with that just to have experience with it.
TAYLOR: Yeah. And if you have Adobe Acrobat, I don't know, do you buy Adobe Acrobat for your business?
MICHAEL: Nope. Right now I do not. I'm on the Mac. I'm just using Preview.
TAYLOR: Oh yeah. But if you're not on the Mac like me, it's very helpful to have. Also, it’s very helpful for accountants as well because let's say you get a whole bunch of PDF bank statements. I got a bunch of those the other day. I can easily convert those things to CSV and import them to QuickBooks. Although I am going to be creating my own program actually to do that eventually with ChatGPT. I'm going to try to create a program that will convert bank statements to CSV from PDF. That's an accessible option. Yes, you can use Adobe, but I want something a little bit more specific for bank statements. So be on the lookout. I might be posting a GitHub link if I can figure that out.
MICHAEL: That would be nice. That'll be fun.
TAYLOR: Because I do have a little bit of a programming background for those who may not know. I don't talk about it much because I don't do it much, but if there's something I want to work on, I can go ahead and do it. Yeah. So I was doing programming for about three or four years. So I have some background, but you know, that's kind of how that works. So yeah, I'm super excited about that, trying to get that. But yeah, we'll have to kind of play around with some of those tools, Michael. And you know, in terms of invoicing, because you mentioned invoicing, and I thought that's a good transition because we've talked about all the basics, right? We've talked about the contracts. We've talked about the pricing. But how do you actually collect your money? Super important question.
MICHAEL: Yeah. See, this is kind of one of the struggles that I have sometimes is how do I collect my money? I am invoicing in three different tools. I definitely want to consolidate that and I'm working on that. Four, if you count Fiver when I got to send a custom gig offer to people.
TAYLOR: Well, yeah, that really doesn't count because it’s its own platform.
MICHAEL: The first tool that I use mainly for credit card processing is Stripe. I log into invoice.new. And if you didn't know, you can go to invoice.new in your web browser and that'll prompt you to log into Stripe. And then when you log in, you can create a new invoice. This is used primarily for people who are going to pay me with a credit card. And honestly, I've done one invoice since I started my business this way through Stripe, but I have done it. The second tool that I use, and I guess I do actually use for now that I think about it, the second tool that I have used is QuickBooks invoices. So I do use QuickBooks and I've gone into there and sent a couple of invoices. It was a lot easier on Windows. It's not the most fun to do on the Mac and that may just be a Michael's mind is broken on the Mac thing or it's a quickBooks issue.
TAYLOR: No, I don’t think so, Michael.
MICHAEL: Yeah, so that's the one that I use.
TAYLOR: Yeah Michael, it’s pretty inefficient on the Mac.
Michael: I understand PayPal invoicing. I've used that as well to send to a couple of clients who only want to pay with PayPal. And then I have a client in Canada who pays me via check and for their invoices, I have been using Invoice Ninja to generate their invoice. And then I just email them over the PDF file.
TAYLOR: Okay. Wow. That's a lot of tools. So are you planning to consolidate or what's your plan for that?
MICHAEL: Yep, I will be consolidating. Probably I got to play a little bit more with Stripe. That may be my solution for a lot of my things, even my Canadian client, because I can download a PDF invoice. And that's really ultimately where I'll get is to stripe and PayPal because some people, believe it or not, don't trust, you know, small businesses with their card information and they'd rather put their card information in PayPal. I get it. I understand. If you're going to give me money, I'm going to take your money the way you want to give it to me. And for those clients, I'm going to use PayPal. So I will be consolidating to stripe and PayPal probably.
TAYLOR: Yeah. Okay. So that's really interesting. And I'm sure that everyone has their own situation. So did you ever take ACH payments, Michael or just credit card?
MICHAEL: I did not do ACH payments, but I can do ACH payments through stripe and through Quick Books as well.
TAYLOR: Yes, you can. So that's also an option too, because that would actually, if you use ACH, it reduces credit card processing fees. So always a great tip for y'all is, you know, do ACH when you can. So my scenario is pretty simple compared to Michael's. So primarily right now I'm using Quick Books invoices and that's attached to Quick Books payments. Now, I have the online advanced version of Quick Books. Well, I technically have the accountant version, which is technically the advanced version. So I can technically do auto pay invoices through Quick Books if I really wanted to, where clients could just set up their recurring invoices through Quick Books and have it auto pay every month. But of course, if you're not an advanced user, I don't recommend you get advanced unless you really absolutely need it because it's too expensive for the average person. Then you know, you can't really do auto payments through Quick Books and then I recommend Stripe. And of course Stripe is a good option. But like I mentioned earlier, it's a pain in the butt to try to reconcile with Quick Books unless you have a great app partner that will help you. So yeah, that's a whole other topic we can get to later. I just wanted to mention that that I primarily use Quick Books. It works really well. And I have a Quick Books checking account, which is my main bank account right now. And then everything gets put into Quick Books checking and I'm able to use that money for everything I need to, including running Michael’s payroll every month for the podcast editing.
MICHAEL: And with Quick Books checking, if I remember right, you can even add your cards to Apple Pay and use it wherever you want and stuff like that. So it's super convenient. It's all in one place.
TAYLOR: Yes. And the other thing too is you can actually create envelopes. So how is this beneficial? Well, imagine, you know, you watched or listened to Dave Ramsey, you know how he would always say, oh, put your cash and envelopes for this, this, that and the other thing. Well you can do the same thing with Quick Books checking. You can have different envelopes. So for example, I have envelopes that say taxes, conferences slash convention. And I think I have a payroll envelope. So what happens is I transfer different amounts of money each month into those envelopes. And then every month they earn 1.25% interest.
MICHAEL: Oh, wow. Oh, yeah. That's interesting. Huh. I'm gonna have to look at this.
TAYLOR: I think it's 1.25%. Yeah, it is pretty good. And of course, if you make over $10 of interest every month, I'm sorry, every year, you will be issued a 1099 INT from the IRS or from Quick Books that will go to the IRS.
MICHAEL: Gotcha. Good to know.
TAYLOR: If you have those accountants out there, go ahead, watch out for your 1099 INTs because they're probably flying in hot right now because it's tax season. So, you know, watch out for that. But yes, Michael, I would recommend looking at that because yeah, I'm gonna save up some for some conventions because I'm gonna be going to some conventions and my ideal thing is to pay it out of the business account. So when I transfer money every month, I think it will add 1.25% accrued interest every month and I just keep letting it pile up, pile up, pile up, you know, don't touch that money. And then, you know, when I need it, I can transfer it to the main checking account.
MICHAEL: There you go. That's awesome.
TAYLOR: So, what a great way to have your money work for you. Even just a little bit. So, yeah, Stripe, Quick Books, PayPal are all viable options. So now that we've collected our signatures on our contracts, we've talked about invoicing, you've got the payment from your client and you have figured out all your other ducks in a row, it's time to onboard your client. Now, onboarding your client can take a lot of different forms and I know like you just laughed, right? So, onboarding your client, first thing we need to figure out is we need to share files back and forth. So, typically, Google Drive, Dropbox, I just got a video from a Fiverr video editor on a platform called WeTransfer, but it's all over the map. So, how do you share files with your clients, Michael?
MICHAEL: I have two tools that I use and that's primarily Dropbox and then Google Drive. Damashe, friend of the show and friend of everyone all around, uses Sync, S-Y-N-C. And he's told me a bit about it. And one of the reasons that I like Sync is you can send someone a link and then they can upload content to their folder and then you can also set an expiration date and time for when a link expires if you send someone some content. It is encrypted and super secure. So he's using that and I've been thinking about poking at it, but right now my client communications is sent through Google Drive or Dropbox.
TAYLOR: Yes, and that's actually a good thing you mentioned that, Michael. So, that Sync. I'm really interested in that because of course, me dealing with accounting, I also have to send tax returns and of course, I don't know how secure I feel about sending them through Google Drive or Dropbox. I know you're more of a security person than I am.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I'm not down with that. I'm not down with that personally. I would say a tool like Sync would be worth looking into and it's really not that expensive. You get a lot of features for free. You're just paying for the upgraded storage and a lot of people who need to keep data encrypted and secure are looking at Sync. One of the accountant friends that I have, she's recently moved her business, all of her client files and folders are housed in Sync instead of third-party sharing, instead of another third-party sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
TAYLOR: Yeah, and there's also some I'm going to look at because I mean, once I get I’m absolute goat rodeo, I could talk about more of that later. But once I get my website, I am in a firm portal, but it's also good to look at other options too just in case. And of course, right now, since I'm waiting on the website, it's all that kind of thing. But yeah, definitely document storage is essential. Now in terms of client communication, Michael, how do you communicate with your client?
MICHAEL: Email. I could move everyone to something else, but right now email is for the most part working well.
TAYLOR: For the most part. Why do you say for the most part?
MICAHEL: Because sometimes I miss emails and stuff. It's just general communication that happens. I have to say I am very blessed to have a lot of decent clients who, if they don't get a response from me in a day or two, they'll either call or send me a text to make sure that I got their message. So that's definitely helpful for me.
TAYLOR: Yeah, so for me, it's a little bit interesting. So I do email, but honestly, a lot of my clients, not that I don't know if I really like this or whatever, they have found me on Facebook and decided to communicate through Facebook. And well, I think that's somewhat okay. If I'm communicating accounting data, I will definitely soon take that off of Facebook as soon as I can, because I do not want to be talking about tax returns on a Facebook messenger message. But for general stuff, sure, if you just say, hey, I uploaded something to the folder, fine, Facebook, whatever. Right? I mean, in some clients have communicated through my Facebook page for my podcast, which has been interesting. So it's all over the map, y'all. I mean, that's just how it goes. And I think email is a good tool. And I think trying to keep everything straight, I know that something I'm having trouble with right now is trying to keep all the things, because I get so many emails. And so I think that's something that's really important. And just trying to get all that in one place. I guess the last thing we'll talk about before we end our episode is keeping track of projects.
MICHAEL: So I'm using Todoist. I’m still using Todoist.
TAYLOR: Are you still using IT?
MICHAEL: Yep. Yep. I still use Todoist. It works very well on the Mac. Every once in a while, I forget to use it or I don't go in and check things off. But for me, my major project management is A, Todoist, or B, I have this thing called a Marty. And Marty will call me and be like, did you finish this? Did you do that? And so that's my other project management tool, too.
TAYLOR: And by the way, Marty is not a software.
MICHAEL: Yes, yes. He's a real human. I should probably clarify that.
TAYLOR: Yeah, you should. Because I'm sure if you didn't, all my accountant friends would be trying to ask me, who is Marty?
MICHAEL: Googling where do I download Marty from?
TAYLOR: And they wouldn't get anywhere. Yeah. So, y'all, that's kind of everything that I wanted to talk about. I mean, I use Microsoft Todo. And has Todoist improved accessibility at all, Michael?
MICHAEL: I am probably not the best person to ask that question to because I'm not an expert in accessibility. I will say that things have become a lot more efficient when browsing through the web interface and on the Windows app. The best deal is to still disable your virtual viewer or browse mode when you're using it with a screen reader. And then you can just use the arrow keys to go up and down, tap the letter E to complete a task, and then type like GP to go to a project or Q for quick ads. So there's a lot of keystrokes. It's just one of those you've got to get used to using it. But once you do, it's very efficient both on Windows and the Mac.
TAYLOR: That's a really good thing to know. Like I said, I'm using Microsoft Todo. Everyone's like, use Microsoft Todo. But there's a couple things that I would like to use Todoist for, especially when I get a new listener message in my podcast. You know, I can make sure that I have that in a separate Todoist. And speaking of listener messages, y'all, I'm going to have to do a whole separate episode of this because I have gotten at least 10 to 15 different listener messages. That's going to be for I'm just going to have a huge listener message show later on. But we've got this, we've got this business series that's going to last for a few more weeks and I'm super excited because we'll talk about marketing, we'll talk about, you know, getting clients and, you know, content generation. So we've got a lot more topics to talk about.
Taylor’s Financial Services is a full service bookkeeping and payroll firm. So if you are needing some more help with your bookkeeping and payroll, I know that it is tax time and everyone is feeling extremely busy because they need to get payroll done. If you're trying to figure out how to do your 1099s or you're just trying to get your employees paid on time, Taylor’s Financial Services can help. If you'd like to know more, contact Taylor at Tayfinance.com and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Thank you for tuning in to the BookSight podcast. You can find show notes, transcripts and ways to support the show at booksight.net. Let's get social. Follow us on Twitter at booksighttpod and like us on Facebook at booksightpodcast. You can also connect with us on mastedon at accounting.social. Our host Taylor Arnt is on Twitter at TayArndt and her website is at 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 payown Media production.