One of the scariest things about running your own business is that everything is on you. So, when you are DIY-ing your financials that can feel EXTRA scary. That's why I asked Lisa of Timeline Organizing to talk about it. When I first met her, like a lot of organizing types, she was clearly very put together. But what impressed me most about Lisa is how sensible she was in her approach and was not into one-size-fits-all solutions. Which is a relief because I know my business doesn't look like everyone else's and I don't want to be judged against them. Lisa gets it-- read on and learn from her!
Q: Tell us about yourself-- your name, business, your typical client, how you got started, where you are located!
A: My name is Lisa Suchesk; I started my business, Timeline Organizing Consultants, in January of 2010, so I’m about to celebrate six years in business. I work with small business owners – especially solopreneurs – to set up systems, so that there’s never any question as to who-does-what, what-goes-where, and how-much-money-is-being-made. The primary focus of my business relates to creating financial organizing systems, including QuickBooks training and bookkeeping services. I’m located in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, CA.
Q: What does a typical session look like with you?
A: No two sessions are exactly the same, because every business owner has a unique set of circumstances and needs. However, every initial session with a new client is an assessment, where I carefully listen to the client’s frustrations and organizing wish-list. Then, I create an action plan to put to use during our next session.
Q: If someone is going to meet with a bookkeeper, how is that different than meeting with a financial organizer?
A: As I see it, a bookkeeper – client relationship is more cut and dried, in that the client gives the bookkeeper access to financial receipts and docs, the bookkeeper enters data in a program, and then prepares financial reports for the client. There’s not much creativity or customization (which is a good thing...you don’t want creativity with numbers!). A Financial Organizer, on the other hand, sets up systems that clients can use themselves in the daily running of their businesses.
Q: What should people have prepared on their first meeting with you?
A: For financial organizing services, including setting up a QuickBooks file, clients need bank, credit card, and any loan statements, current Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable info (aka who owes you money, and who you owe money to,) and client, vendor, and inventory lists. Once I have this information, I typically set up the file off site, then conduct a training session with the client.
Q: What's the biggest mistake you see small businesses making when it comes to organizing their finances?
A: Not paying enough attention to the numbers! How much does it cost you to make product X? What’s your profit margin? How much do you spend on materials and supplies? How much money did your business make last month? Last quarter? This year-to-date? How does that compare to the same periods last year? Without a solid accounting system – and the ability to run reports – these questions are tough to answer. You’ll never know how healthy your business is unless you pay careful, regular attention to the numbers.
Q: Why do you think people struggle with organizing their money?
A: There are a lot of powerful emotions connected to money – including fear. Many people know that they need to untangle their finances, but they procrastinate because they’re afraid of what they’ll uncover. Even if business owners are in decent financial shape, doing the books is often their least favorite task, so they put it off. Finally, I’ve worked with clients who run a business, but don’t focus on making money. They’re driven to share their art or service with the world; money is of secondary importance. I understand and respect this. However, you won’t be able to continue sharing your passion if you can’t support yourself. This is why it’s so important for all business owners to pay attention to the numbers.
Q: Anything else?
A: It’s incredibly liberating to get organized, especially when it comes to finances. Many clients have told me that they feel as though a great weight has been lifted once they have a better grasp of their business’s finances.
Q: Where can people find you online?
Or, feel free to email me at lisa at timelineorganizing.com