Interview With Shawanda

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be an accountant?

The short answer: 15 years. But I’ll elaborate.

I began my career as an audit intern at a Big Four accounting firm. That led to a full-time position, working with clients ranging from a Google-acquired shopping engine to a multi-billion dollar real estate investment trust.

In 2007, I took on a financial reporting role at Applied Predictive Technologies—a fast-growing software and consulting firm. Five years later, I resigned as the controller of arguably one of America’s best companies to work for. And shortly thereafter, I started my own business providing small to mid-sized organizations with growth-focused accounting services.

My parents inspired me to start my own business. I learned from them early on that if you want anything in life, you must work hard, take risks, and believe in yourself.

My mom and dad were firmly rooted in the working class yet always striving to earn extra cash for our family. In addition to their day jobs, my parents had multiple streams of income, including a side hustle as a microlender to community members. Some folks might call them loan sharks.

I got a chance to see my mom and dad’s small-time operation up-close. My mom mostly worked behind-the-scenes as the bookkeeper. In her little black notepad, she’d jot down customer names, loan due dates, amounts owed, and interest earned. Occasionally, I’d ride with my mom and dad to collect money.

Some loans went unpaid forever. That’s risk for you. But their little enterprise allowed my parents to provide our family of five with a comfortable life.

Still, I doubt I became an accountant because I wanted to “follow in my mother’s footsteps”. I chose accounting because I’m wired to do this stuff.

With a knack for numbers and an entrepreneurial spirit . . . naturally, I decided to start an accounting firm. I love what owning a business means—not just for me—but for my clients.

So, what does entrepreneurship mean?

    • Financial Wealth: Simply put, you have a better chance at getting rich! I joke, but I’m only half joking. According to The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley, two-thirds of U.S. millionaires are self-employed. This tells me that if you want to improve your odds of getting rich, you’d better start a business.
    • Freedom: You can create a lifestyle that pays the bills and feeds your soul. You can set your own hours, plunge into projects that excite you, and work when and where you want. Of course, you still have to keep your clients happy. But as an entrepreneur, you can be picky about who those clients are.
    • Creative Expression: You can create something new and awesome. If you have a great idea for a service that will make others’ lives better, you’re free to do that in your business. That’s not always the case when you work for someone else. They dictate what you’ll do and to a large extent, how you’ll do the work.

How are you different from other accountants?

I recently asked some of my clients this question, and here’s what they said:

  • I always look for newer and better ways to do things, and come up with innovations to help my clients.
  • I’m UBER organized. Like organization on steroids.
  • If I make a mistake (which is rare), I handle it swiftly and authentically.
  • I’m a very talented writer.
  • I have a sense of humor, and I’m not afraid to use it.
  • I tackle difficult projects and determine the best way to get the information necessary to complete them in an accurate and efficient manner.
  • I’m intelligent, resourceful, and driven to determine how to find the answers to any problem I encounter.  
  • I help my clients do their job faster and easier.
  • I’m a well-adjusted professional and not a nerd-recluse, a common trait of many CPA’s. (My client said this.)
  • I’m practical and it shows in the solutions I offer.
  • I have two dimples on one cheek, and I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. (Okay, my husband said this. But since I was asking my clients what makes me unique, I figured I’d ask him too.)

Who are your clients exactly?

Founders and CEOs of fast-growing technology and consulting firms. Folks who are hyper-focused on expanding their business and who need a professional to watch the ins and outs of their company’s cash.

If any of the following sounds like you, let’s talk:

Likes

  • Maxing out your retirement account each year
  • Having enough cash in the bank to pay yourself and your bills
  • Saving money on taxes and filing your returns on time
  • Being able to quickly access your company’s financials
  • Knowing whether you can afford to hire more people and offer them benefits
  • Getting the best bang for your buck
  • Quickly finding receipts and other vital documents
  • Financial professionals who speak plain English 🙂

Dislikes

  • Getting harassed by the IRS
  • Overpaying taxes
  • Being surprised with a big tax bill
  • Running your company in perpetual crisis mode
  • Living in fear of an IRS audit
  • Losing sleep over money worries
  • Wasting resources on stuff your business doesn’t need
  • Tax time frustration

Do you work with everyone?

Nope. I cherry-pick my clients, choosing to gently turn away people who aren’t an ideal match for my services and who won’t get the results they paid for. If any of the following sounds like you, I’ll happily refer you to another financial professional who’s a better fit.

  1. You need inventory tracking.
  2. You’re a not-for-profit.
  3. You need a finance professional that’s available round-the-clock. That said, I try my darndest to reply to all messages on the same day, during my office hours.

If any of the above sounds like you, we’re probably not the best accounting firm for you, and we don’t want you to waste your time or money. Is that fair?

What happens if you haven’t yet worked with people in my field?

Many businesses are similar enough that I don’t need specialized accounting skills to serve them. On the other hand, some companies need to work with industry specialists. If I know I can’t help you—for whatever reason—I’ll try to refer you to someone who can.

What personality type do you work with best?

If this sounds like you, we’ll likely get along fine:

  • You’re open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
  • You’re serious about your business.
  • You accept personal responsibility.

What results can I expect?

By working with me, you can expect to:

  • Keep track of juicy tax deductions.
  • Run accurate, financial reports with one-click.
  • Make strategic business decisions based on financial facts rather than fiction.
  • Avoid excessive tax return preparation fees.
  • Identify out of control spending.
  • Get a big picture view of your company’s financial health.
  • Gain freedom from tedious bookkeeping tasks that take up too much time.

How will we work together?

As the owner of a cloud accounting firm, I primarily communicate via email. Financial meetings are held over the phone, thru a screen sharing session, or over a video conference. You can download your financial reports from our secure, online portal—anytime, day or night.

Do you prepare tax returns?

No. I do not provide tax preparation services at this time. By working with me, your company’s finances are organized all year—not just at tax time. I’ll provide your tax CPA with the information needed to maximize your deductions and file your income taxes on time. I love helping entrepreneurs confidently write off legal business expenses that might’ve otherwise slip through the cracks.  

Do you provide free consultations to potential clients?

Even better. I provide a Get-Acquainted Call (GAC), which is the first step in our potential working relationship. Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of working together, let’s get to know each other. During the GAC, I’ll listen to you talk about your frustrations, your successes, and your expectations.

To be clear, the GAC is not the veiled high-pressure sales call you’re probably used to. Instead, my goal is to understand your needs and make sure we’re an ideal match for each other.

How much do you charge?

I’d love to learn more about your company so I can give you a custom quote. If you’re interested in working with me after reading this, let’s schedule a Get-Acquainted Call. After our call, I’ll share some pricing options that make sense for your budget. But just so you have an idea, accounting services start at around $1,500 per month and $2,000 for annual bookkeeping.

Is QuickBooks Online the only accounting software you work with?

Yes. I support all versions of QuickBooks Online with the exception of Self-Employed. I use one accounting software because it allows me to be more efficient and do other things besides learn how to use different accounting apps.