[caption id="attachment_9660" align="alignright" width="300"] 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.
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 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.
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.
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"] 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"] 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"] 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"] 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"] 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“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.”
PayrollShaun 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 Andy 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.” AccountingDiane 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.”
ProcessesSonia 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.”
Jeremy Chavarria has set ambitious goals for his business, FreshScapes. Find out how FINSYNC is helping him get there. By FINSYNC When it comes to customers, Jeremy Chavarria definitely knows his ABC’s: Always Be Communicating (and also closing, of course). The owner of FreshScapes, a landscaping company based in Austin, TX, spent the majority of his career selling for other people, but now that he has his own company, he’s working even harder to close deals and keep customers. “Basically, my whole life I’ve been trying to sell something to somebody. Now that I’m older, I find myself probably selling more than I was when I was working for someone else selling,” he explains. “I’m trying to sell something to someone right now!” The always-on-the-go family man had a chance to talk to us about the joys and pains of being a small business owner, and his big plans for the future.
What are some of the biggest rewards of being a small business owner?Financial independence. Being able to do the things I always dreamed about doing. You work hard, you play hard; that’s my motto, I live by that. I work extremely hard, and we play extremely hard. My thing is being able to pay off debt, being able to give my kids the opportunities that I didn’t have. Also, being able to work with people like my nephew and cousins who work for me, and friends who work for me. It’s putting as many people as I know close to me who want to work and achieve the same goals as me.
What part of your job gives you satisfaction?When you work in landscaping, you truly see what you did. It’s kind of like a doctor; somebody’s sick and you go in and treat them, then you see them a week later, out-and-about saying, “thank you so much.” That’s the satisfaction I get out of my landscaping. You take an area that’s dried out, doesn’t have any water, looks bad, and you give it a shot in the arm, and you see the fruits of your labor and that means a lot to me. People walk by and see it and say “Amazing job, man,” and it’s awesome.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a small business owner, and how has FINSYNC helped you with them?Here’s the thing that really turned me on to FINSYNC. The year before we probably had to write off $45,000 in unpaid invoices. So, definitely on the invoicing side of things, the reoccurring invoices. A lot of my business is reoccurring, so I send out invoices every month, and FINSYNC will generate the invoice and send out an email to the customer. That’s absolutely been the biggest benefit, it’s really helped us.
So, would you say FINSYNC has made your life a little bit easier?Oh, I would say a lot easier! I would say it’s relieved about 70% of my stress on invoicing alone.
What advice do you have for those who are thinking about owning their own business?From the very beginning I would say get all your ducks in a row about how you’re going to do your accounting and invoicing. Make sure whatever you do, you get something in place from the very beginning. I feel like the money we spend with FINSYNC per month is a steal. Save yourself a couple of cases a beer a month and get this right now. Get this type of instrument that can help you with your business right now.
What’s next for you?I have goals and I’ve set my goals very high! I want to grow my business — not too much where I can’t handle it, especially in terms of customer service, I’m very particular about that. But I want to slowly grow my business. My son is fifteen, and I want him to have the option to take it over. I love being a family-owned company … And I think in the next five years, I want to be a $10 million company.
Travis Peters shares how a long career in manufacturing administration and a knack for organizing systems (and cattle) led to a small business journey that has been quite a ride. By FINSYNC The longer you work in an industry, the more you notice the problems it faces. Then you start to build potential solutions. Work in a space long enough, and you could end up with a lot of solutions. The longer you work with cattle, the more proficient you become at moving groups in a single direction. In his spare time, Travis sharpens his skills as he works cattle with his family in Northeast Texas. After wrangling a herd of cattle all weekend, reigning in administrative processes seems like a breeze. That’s where Travis Peters found himself when he started Impelos, a provider of back office software solutions for manufacturing companies, an industry for which he had developed profitability solutions over a period of years. When Travis and Impelos needed to improve their own administrative processes for finances and invoicing, they turned to FINSYNC. We sat down with Travis to talk about how his journey began and continues to grow today.
What inspired you to start Impelos?There’s a significant need in the American manufacturing industry for optimized processes in the administrative workspace. Having previously done this throughout my career, it’s been a thrill for me to be able to remove processes through lean thinking. I use lean thinking to design software, as a contractor and as an employee. Over the years, I’ve developed a suite of productivity tools that relate specifically to manufacturers. My goal with this business has been to bring those tools to a broader market.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced running a small business?Cash flow has been a big one. Being able to run the business without debt and managing our investments into the business. Also, ensuring that clients are paying and contractors and vendors are getting paid in a straightforward fashion. Those have been the biggest challenge. Another challenge is from a sales perspective. Bringing a potential client into the fold to use our product takes a long time. It can be challenging to convey to a client that’s building 30 to 40 custom units a day how our software can freeze administrative overhead where it is today while expanding capacity by 300 to 400%. Managing our team is also really important. We have employees and contractors. We use FINSYNC to manage payments for both, as well as all of their related financial needs.
What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned growing your business?Every business I go into is different. They each have their own market niche and competitive advantage. That inevitably leads to a different solution as they produce and market their product, fulfill orders and deal with their vendors. That’s been a fun part — discovering how companies choose to differentiate themselves. As far as running a business for myself, using a method called “profit first,” I’ve found it’s pretty lightweight to manage the financial operations for this business. That’s been a really fun journey for me to be able to make sure that as revenue comes in, the money is allocated appropriately ahead of time. That way I don’t find myself in a bind later.
What prompted you to start using FINSYNC?We had tried Quickbooks and several other solutions. They all prevented us from getting visibility into where our cash pain points were going to be. Early on in the business we often found ourselves running out of cash unexpectedly. Whether something someone had purchased on a credit card wasn’t foreseen, or a client payable wasn’t paid on time and we didn’t anticipate that, these situations became a problem. Working with FINSYNC we were able to get a lot of visibility to anticipate the crunches and prepare for those situations.
How has FINSYNC helped you overcome your challenges?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.
Any advice for small business startups out there?Strongly consider the profit first method to ensure your most valuable employee gets paid. That’s you, the entrepreneur. You can’t do that without good financial planning. FINSYNC helps with that.
Callie Ogden talked to us about capitalizing on an industry need, forging her own path and embracing entrepreneurship — with a little help from back office automation. By FINSYNC As the Founder and Director of Event Vines, Callie Ogden helps enhance the event industry by connecting everyone in it. The former Director of Events for Wanderlust Yoga, Callie gained experience in the event industry and developed a wanderlust of her own, into entrepreneurship. Wanderlust Yoga and other venues and vendors in the Austin area all struggled sorting through connections, contacting and evaluating options and booking events. Callie went into warrior’s pose to develop a network to simplify the event management and booking process. From that seed, Event Vines bloomed. As Event Vines expanded to create tools to help event professionals connect, Callie soon learned that her own business would need tools to enable her to reach the next level. She turned to FINSYNC to help improve invoicing, automate repetitive tasks and allow her to focus on business growth.
What inspired you to start Event Vines?I was working in both the event and real estate industries in Austin, and I noticed a lot of similarities, but the event industry has way fewer resources. Then, I saw a need for an event industry directory (modeled after MLS) and a la carte event services, especially for white-glove buyer support (functioning similar to a Realtor). I did about a year of research with venues, vendors and event planners while I built the directory and then launched in Austin just in time for the SXSW Festival in 2017. I’m so glad I made the leap into entrepreneurship!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a start-up?My biggest challenges are administrative. Since there are a lot of moving parts with Event Vines, between the directory and the services, there is a continuous stream of administrative tasks ranging from emails to vendors and clients, invoice payment and collection, and more. As a bootstrapping start-up owner, I would initially juggle most of those time-consuming tasks on top of sales, event sourcing, booking and marketing. Each year I’ve gotten more efficient by outsourcing and managing the administrative tasks, so I can focus on building the business and team.
What’s the best thing about being a small business owner?Freedom! Event Vines is growing on my terms — so I have full creative freedom to shape the services, brand and offerings. I also enjoy the freedom to work remotely and according to my own schedule.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?Collaboration is a powerful tool! In marketing and event sponsorships, you can combine forces with other business owners to share expenses, the workload, and audiences. This has been really advantageous for me. It’s also important to build for sustainability rather than as fast as possible. I’ve learned to be strategic with how I spend my time and my money.
Any advice for small business startups out there?Pay close attention to what is and is not working for your business and promptly adjust as needed, whether it’s technology or hiring a contractor or just getting support. Don’t let the thing that isn’t working linger.
What prompted Event Vines to start using FINSYNC?Before FINSYNC, we focused primarily on online sales and used Stripe and Quickbooks. This presented a limit for how many online invoices I could send. I needed a platform that would allow unlimited invoices and vendor payments since that is a large part of what I’m doing in my business. FINSYNC can do that and has many other features that are valuable to me.
Has FINSYNC helped Event Vines overcome any specific challenges?FINSYNC gave me the tools and the customer support to manage my business accounting. I feel more confident in my ability to juggle administrative tasks that come with invoicing and paying out vendors because I have FINSYNC. I can simply CC them on an email, and they can follow up if an invoice hasn’t been paid by the client, and that is a huge relief. Before that, I had to follow up on everything personally. It just takes things off my plate to have the service and also the automation. Most of the events I do involve booking at least 12 different vendors. Then I have to pay the venue, and they all have different payment schedules. That’s where the concierge service has been super helpful. I can loop them in on an email to make sure I’m collecting payment when I need to and sending checks when I need to. I also like that I can have all my checks mailed to FINSYNC, and they handle the deposits through their lockbox service and make sure it is all recorded. That has been super helpful — less things for me to do.
What are the biggest benefits Event Vines has experienced using FINSYNC?FINSYNC has an amazing customer support team that helps you learn how to use their solution and set it up. Their concierge service, invoicing, and bill pay have been the most beneficial for improving my administrative workflow. It doesn’t take me as long to complete tasks, and it gives me more confidence. I know I’m not forgetting to get something paid or to get paid. FINSYNC gives me peace of mind.
Finding the balance between creativity and commerce is one of Galen Dalrymple’s biggest jobs at Polymath, a creative agency with a focus on nonprofits where he works with his son. By FINSYNC From decades working in business management at big tech companies to a stint as a pastor leading a church in Northern California, Galen Dalrymple’s path to Polymath has been a long and winding road. As a full-service creative agency, Polymath provides digital marketing, video, content and branding services to amplify the story and strategy of nonprofits and other businesses. Galen is the COO at Polymath, where he’s in the unique position of working with his son, founder Tim Dalrymple. The yin to his son’s yang, the left brain to his son’s right, Galen talked to us about the importance of balancing art and commerce when running a small business anchored in creativity — and how FINSYNC has helped Polymath master project cost accounting.
What makes Polymath different than other creative agencies out there?We work with a lot of nonprofits, which is also one of our challenges. We love to work with organizations that are doing morally significant work in the world. They have a cause and it's a good cause and they believe in it. They need to tell their stories, and we think of ourselves as their storytellers. We work hard to give them a really great product on margins that can get pretty thin at times just because we believe in what they're doing. It’s fulfilling work, and you feel like you're making a difference and helping them make a difference, but it creates some unique challenges for us. We have to watch our nickels and dimes.
What do you like best about working for a small business?Getting to know the people so well, not just the employees and the contractors but the clients. The depth of the interpersonal relationship in a small business is just really fulfilling. It’s knowing the clients, knowing the people that I work with really well, and we have a great time together. I've worked in companies of several thousand people and managed budgets for a 55 million dollar department. Sometimes big businesses can seem to be nameless and faceless places. We're more like a family, really, and not a corporation or a business.
What’s the biggest challenge of running a creative agency?Creatives generally don't think in terms of dollars and cents. They think in terms of beauty and aesthetics and enhanced functionality. And they want to design and deliver the most elegant thing that they can think of in their creative brains. Getting them to think about profits isn't easy. It’s the nature of creatives to take whatever time it requires to produce an exquisite product, and I appreciate that about them — wanting to give clients the very best thing we can, and we try to do that. But when you can show them in terms of hours and dollars how it affects the project and company overall, and by extension their own wallet, it helps them to see that there’s a happy middle ground somewhere that you have to hit.
As a small business, has Polymath faced any other challenges?We're small in terms of personnel and revenue, but small businesses face the same kind of financial decision-making challenges as the big companies do. We’ve got a smaller margin for error. A really bad decision can sink a small company faster than a bad decision can sink a big one. 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. Our time tracking vendor didn't connect to QuickBooks. We couldn't really have a project cost accounting solution other than Excel spreadsheets, so 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.
What made Polymath start using FINSYNC?I knew we had to have a better sense of where we stood as a company. 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. QuickBooks can do payables, payroll, receivables, and general ledger kind of stuff. However, the project cost accounting was virtually non-existent. Time tracking didn't exist at that point either. Our accountant was a certified QuickBooks professional, but he couldn't figure out how to use QuickBooks to get what 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.
How has FINSYNC helped Polymath with project cost accounting?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.
Any advice for small businesses out there?In small business, you still need to sweat the details. It might seem like a dollar or two here and there, and that might not seem like much, but it all adds up and small businesses don't have the capital reserves as a general rule to be frivolous. Getting the tools that will give you the instantaneous information that you need in a way that's easy to consume and understand is really important. I don't know how a small business can operate without actionable intelligence anymore. I don't know how any business can. Many times, it can be a tool that you don't have that can submarine your ship. Many small businesses don't have project cost accounting, and I don't know how they make decisions without it. At best, you're guessing.
|Cash Flow Management|