We had the chance to connect with Mike Fuller, who spoke to us about his journey to business ownership and his passion for helping others become successful in their careers. His company, Elite Source Solutions is a recruiting company founded in 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee and Tampa, Florida. They provide talent ranging from professional services to technical staffing or IT recruiting services. As the business has grown, their focus has become the Southeast while they periodically work in other markets as well. Mike was kind enough to share some thoughts with us about starting and running a business:

What inspired you to start Elite Source Solutions?

I always had a passion throughout my career to start something of my own. Previously, I worked for another staffing company. After 12 years of working there, I felt like I was ready to take on a new challenge. I was ready for something new, and I knew I wanted to build something that I could be proud of.

What are some of the biggest rewards of running a small business?

It is extremely rewarding to watch people grow in their careers. I enjoy being able to mentor and directly help and watch others achieve success. Several of our recruiters and entry-level positions come right out of school with no prior work experience other than their degree. Watching them grow and achieve success and maturity in business is by far the most rewarding thing. Watching the company grow is so rewarding as well. It is incredible to see how we started with nothing and as time has gone by, we have gone from crawling to walking and hopefully soon one day we will be running. It is so satisfying to see that.

What are some of the biggest challenges of owning your own business?

You never know what your day is going to hold. When you start off you are doing a little bit of everything. At first, I was running the business on my own. I found myself doing everything from accounting to sales. It is also challenging when you have no revenue coming in at first. There is always so much going on. You really have to learn to prioritize and be good at time management in order to run a successful business.

Why did you choose to start working with FINSYNC?

FINSYNC was the option that had the best value for the cost. I looked at several other platforms and FINSYNC offered the best overall value. If I ever had an issue with anything, I knew that I could call and a real person would answer the phone and could help me through it. The quality you get for the cost was a no-brainer. I would recommend FINSYNC to any small business.

Has FINSYNC made running your business easier?

It definitely has. A lot of small things that are needed are easily accessible. For example, when I need certain documents, I know where to find them. The reporting, invoicing, and payroll is all located in one place. We are able to gather reports quickly and efficiently. The software is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

What advice do you have for those who are thinking about owning their own business?

Nowadays it's common culture for people to come directly out of college and want to become an entrepreneur and start their own business right away. I think this is great, but I feel like learning is so important. If you have the opportunity to work for another company and really get to know the business and work your way from the bottom up, I think that is very valuable. This is a great way for you to learn what to do and what not to do once you build your own business. Learning about challenges and how to overcome them is so valuable. Success takes time.
[caption id="attachment_9660" align="alignright" width="300"]Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Darren Smith, Traipse Darren Smith[/caption] Darren Smith spoke to us about finding the right balance of visibility and control over accounting and admin tasks while staying focused on running his startup, Traipse. By FINSYNC The mobile app startup Traipse guides users through streetscapes, historic landmarks, and locally owned businesses while challenging them with scavenger hunts and puzzles. When Founder and CEO Darren Smith aimed to solve the puzzle of accounting and payroll, he found a guide in FINSYNC. We spoke with Darren Smith about how Traipse got started, the challenges and successes he’s faced as a startup, and how he’s found the right balance of oversight for his accounting.

What inspired you to start Traipse?

I started with a background in urban planning and have a passion for the historic business district as an important piece of the economy, and of our society. That was the underlying thing for me. Then, for about ten years the Washington Post ran an annual event called The Washington Post Puzzle Hunt which brought thousands of people downtown to solve puzzles they had set up. Before that, my hometown radio station used to do a treasure hunt where clues would be posted in local stores. So the idea was a combination of those things — a way to engage local merchants and to get people out exploring and learning about different places, whether or not they live there. That got my brain thinking about how something like that could be built to run at any time. I set out to create an app that lets people in a neighborhood or business district solve puzzles built around things that are always there: signs, statues, etc. 

What are some of the biggest rewards of running a small business?

The flexibility is nice. There are things that I never anticipated in terms of what it does to your psyche. To always be thinking that you need to be working to build the business. But, particularly early on, for the first years of my son’s life, I was able to be home with him three days a week and work on the early stages of the business. That was great to be able to do that. In terms of the business itself, it’s really cool to create something and then hear from people who have used and enjoyed it. We hear from people who have walked through an area hundreds of times and never knew or noticed something. Or to hear from local merchants who are able to increase business from the added foot traffic. That piece is unique to our business and makes it really rewarding.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a startup? 

For someone who had not done this before, and didn’t come from a business background, there was a lot of learning I had to do and mistakes that were made. Things that if I had known six months ago I could have avoided. But there’s no instruction manual. Some of the challenges related to capital, especially with a business like this where you’re trying to build a user base while making sales. Our model is we have contracts with local tourism and business development organizations. So we’re trying to please a lot of people. Sometimes the things you need to do to build a user base versus a client base can make it difficult because you are allocating resources to two different areas. It is the challenge of a B2B2C business. 

Why did you choose to start working with FINSYNC?

We’ve been FINSYNC users for a long time. I hadn’t done really good accounting of the business to that point and I was about to start getting everything into Quickbooks. When I heard about FINSYNC, it sounded like it was more tailored to the needs of a startup and had other tools that no other provider had at that point. It was very appealing to me. It seems easier to manage as a business with investors and various revenue streams. We haven’t really taken advantage of a lot of the FINSYNC features. I hope to be able to do that in the future. We’re currently laying the foundation needed to do some of those more advanced things. I’m looking forward to getting to the point where we’re able to take advantage of the different possibilities.

What challenges has FINSYNC helped solve?

I feel like it’s the right place on that spectrum of hands-on and hands-off. It is the most affordable solution that I know of that allows me to manage accounting, payroll and other administrative tasks that as a startup founder I don’t want to be dealing with. I also don’t want it to be a black box that I’m not aware of at all times. To me that was the biggest advantage.

Do you have any advice for other small business owners?

You need to figure out early on where on that spectrum you want to be. Also where you can be in terms of how much you want to manage your own accounting and how much you want to or are able to turn that over to someone else. Most startups can’t afford to pay a full-service accounting firm to do all this stuff for them. FINSYNC allows a founder to affordably turn some of that over to other people who know what they’re doing. It allows you to have some automated processes, synced accounts and other features that allow you to generate reports very easily and create the types of things you need as a founder. My advice is to figure out early on how you’re going to address your accounting and payroll as a business. Then, figure out what tools are out there. Focus not just on the functionality they offer, but where on that continuum they allow you to be to suit your needs.
[caption id="attachment_8543" align="alignright" width="214"]Spotlight on FINSYNC Specialist: Neisha Casey, CPA Neisha Casey, CPA[/caption] As an independent CPA with a zeal for deploying her skillset in diverse ways. Neisha Casey brings a holistic approach to helping small businesses achieve success through FINSYNC’s Services Network. By FINSYNC Neisha Casey had already been working for years as a CPA. She began to sense that her need to focus exclusively within a niche industry might be making her professionally unmarketable outside of that particular niche.  As a lifetime learner who thrives on variety and acquiring new skills, she decided it was time to turn her focus to other opportunities. Ones that would allow her to leverage her skills while gaining exposure to new industries and perspectives.   We had the opportunity to catch up with Neisha to discuss her journey. Also, get some takeaways for small businesses and independent contractors. 

How did you decide to become an independent CPA? 

I decided to become an independent CPA because of the variety of work and flexibility. I enjoy variety in my work and the opportunity to gain new skills and exposure. FINSYNC affords me the opportunity to take on clients within various industries. Also, independently manage the workload to meet the client’s needs. Flexibility is also a major advantage, especially because I have decided to further my education. Although my new career path pivots into analytics, I am able to continue to utilize my accounting background and expand my skills. 

What are the benefits and rewards of being an independent financial professional? 

The benefits of being an independent professional are the flexibility and exposure to different clients and industries. When I’ve taken on different roles in my profession, it was always with the intent to diversify my skillset: What can I learn from this opportunity that I did not necessarily learn in my last opportunity? Sometimes, the best way to diversify a skillset is to gain exposure to multiple industries. The added benefit of working independently is flexibility. I set my own schedule to complete work within the specific timeline communicated. 

What’s the most challenging part about being an independent contractor? 

Sometimes communication can “get lost” in the context of an email or text, and even by phone. Verbal and nonverbal cues play a major part in communication. It becomes very important to become cognizant of every written dialogue. Also, provide clarification if communication is even the slightest bit unclear.  

What inspired you to join FINSYNC’s services network? How has joining FINSYNC impacted your career and career trajectory? 

I was still working as an accountant when I was contacted by a FINSYNC representative to discuss a remote opportunity. My first thought was: How am I going to be able to manage the workload of two jobs? After giving it more thought, I decided that now was the right time to pursue career interests while also continuing to hone my skills as an accountant. My long-term career trajectory combines both my finance and accounting backgrounds as an entrepreneur. Working with the FINSYNC Service Network allows me the opportunity to balance my goals while also making the full breadth of my skills available to clients.  

What company were you paired with, and what do you do for them?

My first client through FINSYNC’s network is a prominent photographer based in the Atlanta area. Therefore, I handle their bookkeeping and reporting.

What’s your working relationship like with the client?

I like to keep it professional, but also personable. We keep the lines of communication open and work together to meet deadlines. 

How does FINSYNC’s platform make your job as an accountant easier?

FINSYNC’s platform is very user-friendly. As a result, it helps to streamline and optimize efficiency for all parties involved. 

Would you recommend FINSYNC’s virtual assistance network to other independent skilled professionals?

Absolutely, yes. I highly recommend FINSYNC’s virtual assistance network to other skilled professionals. The entire FINSYNC team is very interactive and makes certain each engagement runs as smoothly as possible. I’ve never met a more supportive and encouraging work group. In addition to flexibility and diverse work opportunities, the FINSYNC team is what makes the network unique. Allowing for an even more rewarding experience.

Any advice for other independent professionals out there? 

If you desire variety and flexibility within a supportive virtual team environment, look no further than FINSYNC. 
Kathy Pieper spoke with us about successfully navigating her way through the rewarding journey of small business ownership with a little help from her credit union, RBFCU, and FINSYNC’s all-in-one payments platform. By FINSYNC Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Kathy Pieper, Learning Cycle Tutors 1 It’s been a busy year for Kathy Pieper, who took over Learning Cycle Tutors on the first day of the new year. Mike Shenk originally founded the business in 2015. He had recently retired from active military duty. Mike was considering moving his life in a different direction around the same time that Kathy relocated to central Texas from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The stars seemed to align as the two began discussions, and Kathy officially took over the business on January 1st. She was first introduced to FINSYNC by Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU). About the same time she was considering this exciting new venture. RBFCU started to offer it’s 60,000+ business members access to FINSYNC’s cash flow management platform last year to support the credit union’s ongoing mission to help their business clients succeed through better financial management.  As Kathy stepped into her new role running Learning Cycle Tutors, she found that being able to access her RBFCU account information through the FINSYNC platform helped simplify the process of taking over an existing business, and set the course for future success.  We sat down with Kathy to learn about her new venture with Learning Cycle Tutors, and to find out how FINSYNC and RBFCU helped make the challenging journey a little bit easier.

What are some of the biggest rewards of running Learning Cycle Tutors, and owning a small business? 

I’m passionate about the work I do with my students. I love the one-on-one relationships I build with my students and their families. And nothing compares to being your own boss!   And the biggest challenges? Health insurance!

How were you first introduced to FINSYNC?

When I set up my business account with RBFCU. They mentioned that this service was available. In the past, I've used various versions of Quickbooks. I never felt completely satisfied. Once learning about the benefits of FINSYNC, it only made sense to try it! I've been very satisfied and the learning curve has been well worth it! 

How has FINSYNC helped you get up and running with Learning Cycle Tutors?

FINSYNC has been a wonderful and affordable alternative to other accounting packages out there. It’s easy to use and the customer service is outstanding! I’ve found the software very easy to learn. In addition, whenever I have a question Nathan has been readily available to help me figure things out! 

What FINSYNC features have benefited your business the most? 

I like the all-in-one model, the ability to accept many different methods of payment from a single platform, and that everything is synced from my bank account. 

Has it been helpful to access your RBFCU account through FINSYNC’s platform? 

Yes, that was one of the strong selling points for me — that I can access my account information through FINSYNC. Working with RBFCU and FINSYNC together has made it much easier for me to get Learning Cycle Tutors off the ground! Thank you! If you’re an RBFCU business member, consider signing up for Business Elite Pro. It includes FINSYNC and other benefits to help you grow your business.

A master of many trades who loves to invest time in her clients. Jennifer Brenner understands what it takes to help small businesses succeed through FINSYNC’s Services Network.

By FINSYNC 

Jennifer Brenner’s path to bookkeeping genius wasn’t necessarily a straightforward one. A former social worker looking for a way to be independent yet still help “save the world” in some regard, she was taken under the wing of a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) friend to learn the ins and outs of bookkeeping, and the rest is history. 

The Portland, OR native (who runs a non-profit in her spare time) named her company after her love for tattoos as well as the fact that black ink in a ledger historically meant that your money was in good standing.

We had a chance to chat with Jennifer to learn more about her journey and get her advice for small businesses.

Spotlight on FINSYNC Specialist: Jennifer Brenner, Bookkeeper  

How did you become an independent bookkeeper? 

I used to be a social worker, and I was looking for a way out of that industry into a different one. My friend, who was a CPA, offered to teach me bookkeeping. I started doing that with her part-time, then went to a bookkeeping school, and then I went to accounting school and got an accounting degree. 

I was looking for a way to be independent but also still help people because as a social worker we’re always out to save the world. This was a way for me to still be helpful, but also be the master of my own time and earn a living wage.

Once I started fully focusing on bookkeeping, by word of mouth my clients would tell other people. Other people would begin to contact me and before long you’re running a business

What are some of the biggest rewards and challenges of being an independent contractor?

The biggest reward is being the master of my own time. I put in what I get out. It’s very much my energy. I know where it’s going and what I’m supporting, and it’s very fulfilling running my own business. 

The challenges are always the variation in cash flow and managing that. It’s not like a wage job where you are certain you're getting a specific number of hours. It's variable. Also, with the nature of what I do, I'm by myself a lot and that's always a little difficult. You have to be very disciplined with your time and also managing your money. 

What has it been like to partner with FINSYNC through the Services Network? 

I really enjoy the people at FINSYNC that I’ve spoken with. The team is very supportive, very responsive. They have all the tools in place to help facilitate an easy relationship. They are there throughout my engagements to make sure everything's going well.

What advice do you have for small business owners out there?  

Create your own business accounts that are just for the business, and don’t use them for personal use. Generally, every business either survives or fails within the first three years. Budgets for your business are key: your projected cash flows, your projected expenses. 

And don’t give up. It’s going to be hard running a business, but it’s also very rewarding. If it’s something you really want to do and it’s what you want for your career, make sure you really want to do it because you’ll be doing a lot of it. 

How do you help small business owners who are just getting started?  

By spending time educating new business about which business structure they have, whether they’re single-member LLC or S corporation or C corporation. I cover what the tax ramifications are and how they affect personal tax returns. It's important for me to look at things from the umbrella of taxes because I came from preparing taxes and that’s usually a big concern for people. 

I also spend time educating them on estimated taxes for the business including S corporations, and their personal returns, and then running payroll for themselves. What it is to have a salary, depending on what kind of corporation they are, what kind of salary they can pay themselves but maintain the greatest tax benefit. 

I do a lot of educating on what it means to have a set of books, such as help them interpret a profit or loss, balance sheet, or a statement of cash flows. 

What’s the biggest accounting mistake you've seen a small business make? 

The biggest mistake that I’ve seen is business owners trying to do their own books. Doing your own books is the quickest way to create a mess. Especially if you don’t have a background or aren’t well taught.

My advice is: The skill that you start your business with is the thing that makes you money. Your best use of time is to use those skills to make your money versus trying to learn the whole accounting theory of debits and credits and trying to do your own books. It’s worth the money to pay someone well to do your books. 

If you don't value your bookkeeper, your business is going to suffer. I have clients who every year insist on doing their own books. Every year I end up having to charge them a lot to clean up their books.  

What should small business owners know about working with their bookkeepers? 

I would encourage people to communicate with their accountant or bookkeeper. When they ask you for something, like documentation, or say “Hey, we have to get this in by this deadline,” respond appropriately. 

Many people tend to stick their head in the sand when it comes to the financial part of things. Responding to requests from your bookkeeper or accountant is very helpful for the relationship. 

When somebody has a bunch of clients and they have to ask you 20 times for something, they're going to stop asking after a while and then your accounting will suffer. Do it as soon as possible.

What bookkeeping tasks should small business owners tackle now so they aren’t scrambling later in the year?

If they’re a new business, getting their books and bank accounts set up. If they’re an existing business, in terms of bookkeeping, it’s important to create their budget for the year. 

For me, January is the ending of the year before, but it’s also the beginning of the new year. If you're a single-member LLC or you're a partnership and you’re wanting to move to S corporation or you’re wanting to create a corporation, January is the time to do that. It's good practice to get going at the beginning of the year.

Tara Rhodes didn’t exactly choose the beauty business. It definitely chose her, and has been enriching her life ever since. By FINSYNC Tara Rhodes had been a proud small business owner of her own salon for 15 years when she remembered making a promise to a friend. Back in beauty school, she and Tanya Rollins had agreed to partner on a beauty service business, and Tara realized it was time to expand her empire.  Founding Hello Lovely Hair, Skin & Nails LLC, based out of Live Oak, Texas, wasn’t an easy decision for Tara. In fact, she admitted it was a little scary. “It was really taking a big leap of faith, to go big or go home,” she explained. With a lot of hard work, the support of family and friends, and trust in the unknown, it ended up being the ultimate investment — both personally and professionally. 

We had the opportunity to touch base with Tara to find out the amazing reason why she chose the beauty industry, the importance of what she does, and how the decision to get  FINSYNC through her credit union, RBFCU, has been pivotal in her business’ success.

How did you get into your field and end up owning your own business? 

My godmother, who was an aunt of mine, did hair and she got cancer. And I promised her that I would open a shop for her. Thank God that worked out, because at the time I was 12, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. What if I was terrible at it? What if I didn’t like it? So God definitely had his hand on it because it ended up working out and it’s been the most fulfilling thing I could ever imagine.

How has owning your own business affected you on a personal level?

I'm super passionate about the relationships that I’ve built. This may sound weird, but hair and all the beauty services ended up being a much smaller part of what I love about my job. It’s really been about building the relationships that have really helped shape my life.  For instance, one of my business partners started out as my client. A former client is now my sister-in-law and I have nephews as a result of that. I feel like this career path and the direction it’s gone has really molded and shaped and enriched my life in a lot of ways, both personally and professionally. Even when I’ve struggled, it’s been so cool to see how it’s all come together.

What are some of the biggest rewards of owning your own business? 

I think the biggest thing for us is to build each other up as women. It’s the next stage of our lives and our careers, and we’re really trying to feel empowered and build each other up to show what we're capable of. We love being able to offer more to our clients and expand the business, and it just feels really good to bite off this much and prove to ourselves that we can do it.

What are some of the challenges of owning your own business? 

The biggest thing is there's no definite. We want to say: ‘We need to bring in this much money by next month,’ but the industry ebbs and flows. So the unknown of planning can be very difficult because some things are out of our control.  When you're starting a business, the first few months are kind of like jumping off a cliff; you've already bitten it off and you're just hoping it comes to fruition. You're hoping you’re going to make that rent payment, or that those clients are going to show up. I would definitely say it’s the unknown.

How has FINSYNC helped you with some of these challenges on the financial side of things? 

FINSYNC has definitely helped us streamline our payroll. That was a huge worry of ours — figuring out the percentages and the dates. It was a huge weight off of our shoulders to find a company that was super open to helping us with any questions we had, and went above and beyond whenever we had any issues. So for sure, it's made it easier having one less thing to worry about. We don't have to worry about payroll now because we feel like we're in good hands.

Did you consider any other software prior to FINSYNC?

Initially we were going to use the payroll that came with the scheduling we had, and then it turns out that it didn't provide half of what it advertised that it did. So we feel really positive about FINSYNC, which came in and kind of saved the day!

What advice do you have for those looking to start their own business? 

I would definitely ask other business owners what has worked and what hasn't, and then really do your research about reputable companies that are going to take care of you. I think the advice of other business owners is priceless, but also just do your research about who provides what and who's really going to make that happen. And FINSYNC has helped with that for sure. 
Independent accountant Mark Wright found a remote position that fits his schedule and lifestyle through FINSYNC’s virtual assistance network. By FINSYNC Spotlight on FINSYNC Specialists: Mark Wright, Accountant 8 For small businesses looking for help with their accounting, bookkeeping, human capital management, financial analysis or corporate strategy, independent contractors can be a fantastic choice for a cost-effective and experienced expert. The FINSYNC virtual assistance network has a carefully vetted selection of professionals looking to help businesses. 

One such independent skilled professional is Mark Wright, an accountant who was paired with a FINSYNC client to serve as their cloud controller. Finding an accountant like Mark can be difficult, especially when he spends time traveling across the country in an RV with his wife. Luckily, every campground they stop at has Wi-Fi, so he’s always available remotely. 

How did you decide to become an independent professional?

I've been doing this for 34 years now and probably about a third of the time I've been working as an independent professional. Right out of college, I got a job as a controller for a government contracting company. It's very extensive when you deal with the government as far as what they're looking for, and we had to do a very in depth audit every year.  The CPA that did the audit loved the information I gave him because it was clean, and he didn’t really have to do anything with it. He was a CPA that had hundreds of clients all over the world and he told me, “if you ever want to go out on your own, there's a lot of incompetence in the accounting field, and I can give you a lot of work.”

What are the benefits of being an independent contractor? 

Obviously, flexibility is the biggest thing. You can move things around if you need to. If you need to go away on vacation, you can basically do it from everywhere. Now there's Wi-Fi everywhere, so there's a lot of flexibility. You’re working on your own, and so you know … you take care of your own stuff, and I like that. 

What's the most challenging part about being an independent contractor?

I'm a people person so sometimes it's hard to not get out. You're not in an office every day, you're not around a lot of people. I think anybody working from home, no matter what field they work in, has to find a way to be active in the community and to get outside. Do things like exercise to balance it out, because otherwise you would never leave your house.

How did you learn about FINSYNC's virtual assistance network?

Searching on Indeed, looking to pick up some more remote hours, and I saw an ad of theirs. I responded and had to go through the process of interviewing, getting certified with their proprietary software and getting familiar with it.  I went through that and they had a client in Dallas, Texas that they thought would be a good match. Finally, I interviewed with them, and I've been working for them ever since.

What do you do for Peisner Johnson?

Pretty much everything — accounts payable, accounts receivable, handling all the general ledger, payroll — I'm really their one-person accounting team, soup to nuts. One issue I deal with is billings. They have a lot of monthly billings they do based on tax returns, and a lot of subscription billings. I’m not going to say it's complicated, but there are a lot of intricacies.

What's your working relationship like with the company?

I think it's been good. They would have to testify on that, but I think it’s good that the former controller, Mike, did stuff online with me to make a smooth transition. There have been a few little things that came up that I wouldn’t know about, and the people there have been great and very helpful. It’s been a great experience so far.

Would you recommend FINSYNC's virtual assistance network to other independent skilled professionals? 

I definitely would, especially if they’re looking to do something where it’s totally remote. The whole platform allows you to do everything on a remote basis. I've been doing this for 34 years and there are some clients I’ve worked for directly as an employee where there was just no way you could do the job remotely from a logistical standpoint.  If you’re a client that has the ability to work with professionals remotely, the FINSYNC platform provides cost savings and efficiencies. Everything is cloud-based and backed up. All documents are saved online — invoicing, bills, anything — so it’s all paperless and saved.  The support from FINSYNC has also been tremendous. They really stand behind you and make sure that there's no issue with a client or with anything you're doing. If you do need help, they’re available to talk to and their response is excellent.

Any advice for other independent professionals out there?

Keep looking. It's hard to find the perfect match, but FINSYNC can help. Remote work for accountants is definitely becoming more acceptable, and I think over the next five to ten years it's really going to blow up. A company can save a lot of money using a remote employee, and if they’re open minded, it can really work well. Anyone that wants to get into this and go remote needs to just keep plugging away.
A true entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to wear many hats helps Mike Rowan steer his forward-thinking marketing agency to success. Find out how FINSYNC helps him continue to pave his own way. By FINSYNC [caption id="attachment_5377" align="alignleft" width="200"]Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Mike Rowan, KPItarget Mike Rowan, KPItarget[/caption] When it comes to Mike Rowan’s professional journey, impressive is an understatement for this jack of all trades. After mastering several areas of business for others, Mike decided to go out on his own with his robust skill-set and experience. Not once, not twice, but three times. Even though it hasn’t always been easy, he assured us that it’s all been worth it — as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. “If you believe in your concept, believe in your team and believe in what you're doing, really the only thing holding you back is the ability to work hard,” he explained. “And that’s something that you have direct control over.” Digital marketing is the industry you can find Mike thriving in today, running his multi-faceted marketing and media agency, KPItarget. He took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the rewards and challenges of being a small business owner. He shared some advice for those looking to pave their own way.

What sets KPItarget apart from other marketing agencies?

A lot of firms claim to be data- and audience-driven, but we really are. Every aspect of what we do is focused on that core philosophy. When you bundle that on top of robust analytics tracking and complete transparency with clients, it provides a winning solution that a lot of agencies promise. However, very few deliver.  Responsiveness, customer service focus and excellent communication means you'll never have to worry about being unable to reach us. We’re never out of pocket. I think when you combine our data- and metrics-driven approach with exemplary customer service, there are very few firms out there that deliver that combination.

What are some of the biggest rewards of owning your own business? 

Honestly, it's having complete control of our company’s destiny. You get out of it what you put into it. What I've found is that the harder and smarter you work, the more potential rewards you get to glean. You get to hire smart people, develop relationships and work with great clients. It's an all-encompassing, wonderful experience for the most part because in our industry we get to deal with a lot of different types of companies. We're not restricted to working only with Fintech, or SAS, or CPG companies. We get to play with a lot of different types of companies and really influence their success through digital marketing.

What are some of the challenges you face as a small business owner?

A lot of our challenges deal with cash flow management. In today's world of net 30, net 60, net 90, and I’ve heard of some companies going to net 180, cash flow is just an extraordinarily important part of what makes a business tick.  Obviously if you have employees and you're honoring your obligation to them and paying them on the 1st and the 15th of the month, and a client may be paying you net 90, you have to develop a large enough buffer to make that happen.  That’s probably the biggest challenge these days from a projections and cash flow perspective, along with having the proper tools to manage all that in a way that helps the business hum along. It can be very problematic, especially given the terms that continue to shift outwards and outwards and outwards.

How has FINSYNC helped with some of these challenges?

FINSYNC’s software and their lender network really gives you a nice one-two punch. Beyond helping us manage cash flow, it helps us foresee trends and future needs, and predict surpluses and dips into the red. FINSYNC really helps us to be proactive in running the business, as opposed to reactive. They also provide the partnerships and the tools, whether it’s bookkeeping or accounting or financing, to really serve as an all-encompassing resource to run your business. 

Has FINSYNC made running your business easier?

There's no question. The simplicity makes it a lot easier to run my business. With every aspect of FINSYNC’s software, whether it's the cash flow management capabilities, financing, even bookkeeping and accounting — they really provide all the tools and resources that I need to run my business in one spot, which is very important to me.

You recently refinanced your line of credit with FINSYNC. What was that experience like?

It was completely seamless. The application process was simple. First, I had to sync up our bank accounts. It was very easy to do once I dug out my username and password. It took a couple of minutes for all the transactions to import. After that, you just hit the submit button. It was that easy. I had lenders calling on me within the same day.  FINSYNC was great throughout the process, not only answering any questions I had leading up to it, but after the fact. This is not the type of company that’s just looking to resell your information to a million lenders.  I even touched base with their customer success team. I told Santi I wanted a loan with no personal guarantee. One that isn't tied to me. Then, he was able to talk me through which of my potential matches was the best fit.  Obviously, interest rates are very important as well. He was able to take the information and match me up with a lender that met my specific needs better. With other providers, you're really just a number. You're going through the process and then all of a sudden you end up getting 20 phone calls a second and it quickly becomes unmanageable.

What advice do you have for other small business owners?

I would advise them against doing what I did for the first couple of years, which was winging it. Software like FINSYNC is as affordable as you want to make it. I think we first signed up for their base package. It was a great value when I saw it was really equivalent to 3 or 4 pieces of software in one. At first, I made the mistake of trying to manage everything through a spreadsheet and cutting checks manually. Plus, I fell victim to what is considered “easy” by immediately running payroll through one of the larger companies out there, but it cost an arm and a leg and still required a lot of my time. Tools like FINSYNC ensure that you don't have to do it yourself, at a fraction of the cost.  It really helps manage your business smarter. You end up saving quite a bit of money from an opportunity cost perspective. You can assign an hourly rate to what your time's worth.  When I was just starting out, I would balk at a piece of software that may cost $50 or $100 dollars a month, without realizing that the software would save me five hours a month. So effectively I was losing money by not buying the software. It’s an investment that will absolutely help you scale your business better. 
Small business owners speak up about how FINSYNC has helped them simplify cash flow management with real-world examples from their day-to-day operations. By FINSYNC For small businesses, cash flow management is crucial to success. However, it can also be time-consuming, confusing and often overwhelming.  FINSYNC’s platform makes managing small business cash flow on a day-to-day basis easy to understand (even at a glance). The right tools can give you the confidence to consider the bigger picture. That way you can make decisions that will give your business an edge in the long-term.  Getting to know our clients on a personal level gives us insight into how important successful cash flow management is to their business. Hearing how we help them accomplish their goals is incredibly rewarding. Here are a few highlights from our Spotlight on Small Business Owners series. Our clients talk about how FINSYNC can help simplify cash flow management and contribute to business success.   [caption id="attachment_5316" align="alignright" width="300"]Small Business Insights: 4 Ways FINSYNC Simplifies Cash Flow Management Erik Fogg, Founder/Sales, ProdPerfect[/caption]

Predictability & Centralization

FINSYNC has helped us create a level of predictability around what we’re spending and taking in, and what we’re likely to spend and take in, so that we can make budget decisions in order to keep the pace that we’ve been keeping. That’s been mission-critical for us. I need to be able to report what our revenue looks like. We need to be able to raise money on this. FINSYNC helps with the centralization of everything. The platform can do everything I need as far as paying people and taking money in. It knows where all that money is and where it’s gone. And I can print a report on it, which is great. We don’t have anyone who’s going to sit there with a spreadsheet and do that all day. There are only three of us, and two of us are trying to build a product. That’s one of the biggest challenges that FINSYNC has helped us solve. I don’t have to do the work, and I don’t have to hire someone. Everything is in one place and we’re able to tack on FINSYNC’s bookkeeping concierge. At the end of the month, I can go look at my books and know how we’re doing with the budget. In fact, I can look week to week and know how we’re doing with the budget. And I can make decisions on it with a short amount of time and a very tight level of data.”  

Clarity

[caption id="attachment_3245" align="alignleft" width="165"]Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Sonia Dumas, CurioHaus Sonia Dumas, Founder, Curio Haus[/caption] “For me, FINSYNC brings clarity and confidence both to our processes and cash flow management. From the FINSYNC command station, I can see the financial health of my firm on a daily basis. It simplifies cash flow management within our business. I love that I can monitor the profitability of client engagements. The cash flow dashboard when you first login can either give you a heart attack or it can make you rest well at night. It can push you to say, okay, I have a 45-day window to bring in another client or do something different. And it’s good to have that kind of head’s up, versus talking to your accountant or getting statements once a month only to find out you’ve got two weeks. The other thing I love is being able to know where to quickly trim the fat on value-depleting expenses and say, how can we become leaner in certain areas, or where should we become a little bit more generous in certain areas? Especially if it’s client-facing, and it’s going to improve the value of our relationships with our clients.”    

Simplicity

[caption id="attachment_4389" align="alignright" width="300"]Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Galen Dalrymple, Polymath 1 Galen Dalrymple, COO, Polymath[/caption] “Everything we do is pretty much on a project basis. By having the time tracking built into FINSYNC that automatically updates costs and projects, and being able to track expenses, I can go in at a moment’s notice on any project and see what our budget for the project was. I can see how much we spent in labor and how much we’ve spent in expenses and what it looks like our projection is going to be.  And we use that historical data on future projects. Having all that information in FINSYNC, it’s just a matter of running a report and you’ve got that information. We use that to price out future projects so that future projects are more profitable than past ones. Having the information in FINSYNC that we can pull out to make better decisions has the biggest impact on us in terms of cash flow.”    

Foresight

[caption id="attachment_4724" align="alignleft" width="218"]Spotlight on Small Business: Travis Peters, Impelos Travis Peters, President, Impelos[/caption] “Cash flow has been a big [challenge]. Being able to run the business without debt, manage our investments into the business, and ensure that clients are paying and contractors and vendors are getting paid in a straightforward fashion has been the biggest challenge.  With the cash flow tools that allow us to see where our financial trends are, we’ve been able to look forward and see where potential problems might arise. This allows us to plan accordingly rather than having sudden surprises.”
Small business owners speak up about how FINSYNC has helped them save time with real-world examples from their day-to-day operations. By FINSYNC We don’t have to tell you how busy small business owners are. Between putting out fires and making sure your employees get paid, finding the time to pursue timely growth opportunities can seem impossible. FINSYNC’s suite of software tools can help you free up precious time to get back to growing your business. From streamlining back office operations to simplifying cash flow management, we’re here to help you manage your business better, with less effort.  But don’t take our word for it. We love speaking with small business owners from across the country for our Spotlight on Small Business Owners series. Here, we share some of their insights about how FINSYNC has helped save them time. 

Consolidation

Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Galen Dalrymple, Polymath 1

Galen Dalrymple, COO Polymath

“We were using various tools and none of them talked to each other. We were using QuickBooks Online for our receivables. Later, we added the payables part to it, but it wasn’t connected to payroll, nor was it connected to time tracking, nor to our project management data in Excel for project cost accounting.  I was spending a lot of time trying to get the data we needed from one tool and then patch summary information to other tools and make sense out of it all. It was very costly and very burdensome.  FINSYNC pulls all the data together so I can make sense out of things. It was the only platform we found that did everything we wanted. The only platform that really seemed like it did project cost accounting well in a way that made sense to me was FINSYNC.”

Payroll

Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Shaun Lapacek, Rock N Wool Winery 4 Shaun Lapacek, Founder Rock N Wool Winery “I have absolutely no concept of how to deal with the whole payroll system. I can do all of that stuff for myself, but when it comes to filing for other people, that’s where I was kind of going crazy. The paperwork’s the worst thing.   I had talked to Square originally and they want to nickel and dime you for everything. They wouldn’t be flexible with me for what I needed. That’s why I went to FINSYNC.   FINSYNC was great. They were able to accommodate how people got paid, what taxes got taken out and it’s very easy. They’ll send me reminders about running payroll and things like that. It’s so nice to have that completely off my mind. It’s a hat I don’t have to wear. FINSYNC really allows me to focus on what I want.”

Payments Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Andy Rostad, Media BeyondAndy Rostad, Executive Producer Media Beyond “I used to have 30 vendors, some of whom did not participate in our digital ACH wire transfer program, so they wanted paper checks. In order to create a paper check in my old software, I would have to buy special printable paper, line those up with our printer and send them through, and there would be misalignments and duplicate check numbers. It was just a nightmare. 

 

When I found FINSYNC, they said you can send somebody an email, and they can elect whether or not to get a paper check, and we’ll handle that for you for a trivial cost. That saved me hours of headaches and let me focus on my business. That’s just been the FINSYNC way — it’s really easy to use. We don’t have a ton of complex needs, but whatever I need, I can do quickly and get back to creating content.”  Accounting

Diane Bloodworth, CEO Competitive Sports Analysis “FINSYNC has made my business more efficient. They’ve made my time more efficient. Accounting and bookkeeping is something that’s very important to the business, but I don’t like spending a lot of time on it. So it’s helped make my time, and therefore the business, more efficient. They really have just made my accounting and bookkeeping life so much easier, especially with payroll. I have a lot of hourly interns on payroll right now, so it just makes my life so much easier. I’m not an accounting person, and I find the system really easy to use. I’m very grateful.” 

Processes

Spotlight on Small Business Owners: Sonia Dumas, CurioHaus Sonia Duma, Chief Marketing Officer Curio Haus “Time is my most valuable asset. At this stage in my life, I don’t have time for another app that adds complexity to my world. I have a drive for simplicity. As executives we’re in this ever-vigilant battle to make our lives more simple.  I was looking for a way to streamline our processes. How can we streamline marketing and communication so that it’s simple, effective and relevant to both our team and our clients? Everything about FINSYNC is very intuitive and simple, and the customer support team is fabulous. At the end of the day, it’s a relationship — these people are part of my financial team. FINSYNC, on some level, is a part of my financial team.  They’re in the day-to-day because so much relies upon what their system does. And only seeing it get better — I love it. I can’t see myself on another platform.”  
Services FinSync Quickbooks Bill.com Gusto Expensify TSheets Harvest
Payments
Bill Pay
Invoicing
Accounting
Payroll
Expense Reimbursement
Time Clock
Time Sheets
Projects
Cash Flow Management