“I always say it takes time. It’s more of a race, not a sprint when you’re building content and you’re putting everything online. You’re not going to start to move up until they see that it’s consistent.”

– Kelly Gonsalves, Totally Booked New York

Today I’m speaking with Kelly Gonsalves, Founder & Chief Visionary of Totally Booked New York, Totally SEO, Ideation: Think Forward, & Leading Lady Machine Works

In this episode, we talk about . . .

  • After successfully co-founding three companies, Kelly shares advice for future co-founders.
  • What is SEO?
  • When accountants and bookkeepers should engage professional SEO support
  • Transforming the accounting world through agreeing on the standardisation of what good books should look like
  • The tech stack for an Etsy store
  • How working as a bartender and waiter lays a foundation for delivering excellent customer service (and always tip well when you are in a culture that relies on tipping!)

Are you speaking to us from New York today? Tell us something exciting happening in New York for all of us who desperately want to go there again?

Kelly: I am in Queens, New York, which is part of New York City. Actually, yesterday was the big Puerto Rican day parade in the city. And then coming up, we have a pride parade at the end of the month. So I know that’s a big thing that brings a lot of people in, by me it’s a little quieter. I’m more on the outskirts if you will. So. Lots of trees and greenery, thankfully parking, which is like a bank thing in New York City. And so it’s a little quieter around here, but I like the neighbourhood it’s nice and quiet and I get to walk my dog and everybody’s nice to each other. So I’m good.

Heather: New York has a massive reputation cause it’s on so many films and TV shows I was watching. This is us yesterday and they accidentally ended up in Queens as well. So. And it’s, it’s a, it has such this reputation, but, we met in New York and it was such a beautiful city and I just had such a wonderful time there. I do have something controversial link, New York too. I’ll ask you.

What did you think of Alicia Keys singing ‘Empire State of Mind’ at the Queen’s Jubilee and swapping out New York for London?

Kelly: I mean, I try and see it as like the queen has done some remarkable things. Just being the queen for that long. Maybe she’s earned it. It’s not a huge deal. I think we can loan it to her for this one occasion.

Heather: Oh, it was, I was, it was lovely. It was very gracious. And, I, I did enjoy it. Rod Stewart wasn’t happy with it. Wasn’t happy that he had to sing sweet Caroline. Instead of his songs, that was a bit odd.

Kelly: That’s all weird. I could see being upset about that.

Heather: He actually said, I don’t know why they’re making me sing this song, but anyway,

Kelly: I feel like it’s the things you have to do for show business.

Heather: Like, oh, you think it’s 70 years old, Rod Stewart doesn’t have to do things like that. You know, it’s like, oh, do you still have to do things like that when you’re that big? And he, he has songs cause they said they wanted the whole audience to sing, but he has, we are sailing. Everyone knows the words, the way to sailing we’re sailing. I mean, that’s what I did. It was a soccer sing-along song. Apparently. That’s what it was. So we, we met, when you kindly invited me to speak at the New York. Now you see NYC is that city, New York City, New York city meetup group for pro advisers.

So the backstory for those listening in is, I just put out on Twitter, that I’m coming to New York and I’m like with my fingers crossed, hoping to try and make it tax deductible. Can I speak to anyone there?

We met when you kindly invited me to speak at the NYC Meetup group for ProAdvisors 

Kelly: Yeah, it was so great to meet you. Like the timing lined up perfectly. I said, if you were coming to New York, we will plan a meet-up. Let’s do it. Like no problem. And we had that cute little room. Everyone was like, kind of squeezed in, but I felt like it was a pretty good meeting overall.

Heather: Yeah, well, you somehow got delivered New York pizzas, which are like bigger than the table. So, but it was, it was a wonderful experience and sometimes you need those intersections to catalyse excitement. And a lot of those people still contact me from, from that, session and, you know, accounting and technology is an international language that we can go and meet new communities.

What’s happening with that Meetup group today?

Kelly: We’ve been mostly communicating online because up until recently, everyone’s been a little scared still to meet up with strangers, which I completely understand. We did try and host a meet-up ahead. I think it was in December. And we were like, all right, you know, everyone had kind of RSVP and we looked like we were going to have maybe 20 people or so, and then they announced Omicron virus and we were like, okay, well, whoever is vaccinated and comfortable.

Kelly: You’re still welcome to come. Milia was gracious enough to host. They have a big office here in the city and some of their staff was like in, from out of town. And so we, it was basically myself, three other accountants and Milia’s staff, which it worked out fine. We had a good time, but the timing of it wasn’t great.

Kelly: I’m figuring if maybe I can get in the outdoors. For probably July, that might be good luck. So I’m hoping that people still want to, you know, meet with strangers. It’s kind of weird now though. So I understand the hesitation.

Heather: Some absolutely. It has been challenging and I run a meetup group here in Australia and it has been challenging navigating that and, being concerned for the community. And, and trying to keep some sort of momentum there, but it is what it is and we’re navigating and hopefully coming out of it.

How did Totally Booked New York start? What does it look like? What does it feel like now?

Kelly: I started my business seven years ago, which is so weird. Because it feels like it was yesterday. But, and I’ve told this story before, but I’ll quickly tell it. I was working in a, it was working for a. And the founder and I were not getting along. We even burn bumping heads constantly. And the, the whole kind of setup was that he had hired me and a couple of other people because he wanted people with real-world experience, you know, quote unquote.

Kelly: And so when we would give him our real-world answers, he was not a fan. So, I was one of many to go, come and go from that company. And it was kind of like, we were playing chicken, like, who’s going to call it first. Who’s going to just call it quits. So if. And I always say, this is like the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Kelly: So he fires me and I said, oh, okay, cool. No, no problem. Do you, do you need anything else? Do you need me to sign anything? Is there anything that we need to do? And he was like, no, like he’s never seen somebody so happy to be like, oh, I guess. And so I walked outside, I called my aunt and I said, I said great news. He fired me. Okay. She said, great. I’m actually hosting a QuickBooks class starting next week, and now you’ll have time to be there. So make sure that you get there. And I did, and that was seven years ago. So when I first started. I haven’t taken a lot of referrals from my aunt, obviously, who had kind of trained me and taught me all the things she’s been a ProAdvisor for 35 years, you know, trained in QuickBooks, certified in QuickBooks, also trains other people help small businesses.

Kelly: And so at first I was just kind of hopping around, going to different offices, different, client locations, helping with cleanups, learning how to like really work the program. And then. I grew it, I decided that I wanted to actually, I shouldn’t say that I went to a conference where I then met like a thousand other people that do what I do. And I was like, oh, okay. This is way bigger than I knew anything about. Cause I was kind of in my bubble. And so. I went to this conference and I learned more about QuickBooks online and apps and technology. And I was like, oh, okay. It’s like, there’s a whole world out there that I would like to explore. So almost immediately I came home and within a month I told all my clients, we were going online. I started using more apps to automate some more things. I just was able to take on more clients then, because I wasn’t, you know, taking the train in between client locations and trying to figure out how I was going to get home or what, at what time I had to leave my house, stuff like that.

Kelly: Once I went online, I almost doubled my business, actually. I think towards the end of that year, I doubled my business. Kind of been doing the same ever since, you know, obviously I’ve hired people in between. I have some contractors that I work with to do the more day to day, the more mundane if you will. But the stuff I enjoy, like exploring apps and figuring out technology and how to fix things and like the problem solving stuff, that’s all still very much me. So yeah, so it’s, I mean, it’s grown a lot. I have to say, I’m, you know, utilise some social media a lot. I started blogging and just adding to my website, making sure that I kept it active and that people knew that we were very much a business that we were looking for new clients and it worked.

Heather: So did you find when you came back from that conference and you said to your client base, okay, we’re all going online.

How did your clients’ base receive your evolution to becoming an online business?

Kelly: I didn’t get any pushback. Actually, one of my clients said, will this make it so that you can be more efficient? Will you be able to get more done?

Kelly: I said, yeah, absolutely. If you contact me on a Tuesday and I’m at another client’s office, I can’t really help you from where I am. And so now I have more flexibility to be able to do things throughout the weeks, but my out not concentrating on this three hours that I’m here, you know, on this one day. And I said, Do you need anything from us? Nope. I’m just gonna move you online. And that was, that was it. There was really no pushback.

Heather: It is interesting hearing. Cause obviously you hear in the community, some people deal with all of this pushback and then other people don’t. And, and I wonder if it’s just through the way that we attracted their clients in the first place and how that they’re able to cope with evolving to that next level.

Kelly: And, Oh, sorry. I was going to say, I think it’s also sometimes the type of business. I can totally understand that like an auto garage or somebody that has something more going on in person might need somebody on site. You know, it’s a little bit more difficult to adopt or adapt, I would say to that system. But the clients that I had at the time and the clients that I take on now are all very comfortable being remote. Thankfully.

Heather: Awesome. Very good. Very good. So as well as starting your own business, Kelly, you have co-founded three other companies.

What advice would you have for someone who’s interested in co-founding a company? What have you learned through that process doing it three times now?

Kelly: Find a good partner. So I have thankfully had some great partners. It doesn’t feel like I’ve taken on a little, all the work. I would like to think that they don’t feel that way either. I work with Chris and most closely, Kristen Nies Ciraldo is one of my business partners and we kind of play off of each other’s strengths. So there’s some areas where I’m more diligent. There’s somewhere she’s more diligent and thankfully we don’t crash a lot, or clash a lot. So it helps that we’re, you know, kind of constantly. Helping out on the other side of whatever the other one is doing, if that makes sense. So yeah, find good supportive partners.

Kelly: Also, there’s something about building a business with somebody that you’re going to get personal. You know, there’s going to be a lot of stuff that you’re going to share with them there. You know, I mean, I’m constantly on the phone with her on zooms with her. So she knows all about my dog and where I live and we’ve done, you know, zoom calls where I’m walking around my neighbourhood and she knows what’s going on with my family.

Kelly: If I have to, you know, take some time off or do something along those lines. So just know that it’s. I, I say this with any relationship, friendship, business partner, romantic relationship, it takes work and it takes effort. And so you’re going to get out of it, what you put into it, but also the respect and the time that you put into it is also going to affect how that other person feels towards you.

Kelly: So it’s. I don’t like being in a relationship. So make sure you pick the right partner.

Heather: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll thank you for sharing that. Now I know that I’ve had, I’ve co-founded and, it’s gone badly wrong.

Kelly: I’ve been there too.

Heather: We didn’t have the paperwork done upfront. So they just took everything. Yeah, but it is what it is. I learned from that. It impacted my trust levels, but after a year, it was like, maybe we should start paying me now. And they’re like, yeah, just nothing but anyhow. It’s about you. Not me.

Kelly: Well, no, I mean, I’ve been there too. I’ve been there where partnerships have gone wrong. And I would say in those situations, especially depending on. Their relationship to the community or what you’re doing or what you’re building, whatever that looks like. I’m trying to dissolve in the nicest most mutual way possible, in that situation. But also it gets, I mean, they always say like, don’t work with your friends and there’s all this advice. And part of that is just that there’s going to be some difficult things to discuss. There’s going to be some ugly sides of people that you don’t want to see or didn’t expect. So those are all gonna kind of come to light. Like I said, you’re, you’re kind of constantly working with this person you’re constantly in touch. And so you get to know them better and sometimes it’s not always a good thing.

Heather: Yeah, absolutely agree. Absolutely. Agree with that. Thank you very much for sharing that, Kelly, and hopefully that’s useful for people too. So one of the companies that you’ve co-founded is Totally SEO.

Can you explain to our listeners what SEO is and why it’s important?

Kelly: Search Engine Optimisation. That is what SEO stands for. And I kind of always explain it as it’s the way that Google and, or Bing, but really Google, especially in the U S prioritises where you come up in a search. So it’s going to look at your website and do not think that you are mutually exclusive your website, your social media, even your phone number, email address. All of those things are things that Google is very aware of. They know who you are. They know who built the website. They know who’s behind it.

Kelly: They know that you are connected to your Twitter and your Facebook. And so I always say that all of those things are really important, right? So keeping her up, staying active, keeping your social media active, all of those things are going to affect how you come up in a search. What I started doing when, like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to grow my business. I started looking for low cost ways to be able to be found on the internet. And I was like, I want people to find me on Google. I can’t rely totally on word of mouth. How can I get my name out there? How can I get my website out there so that people, you know, click in. And so I started blogging and that was, I know it sounds really simple, but.

Kelly: That’s really what the main drive was. I started blogging. I started sharing those things on social, and it generated more leads and you’re doing it in a way that you’re strategically speaking about a subject that your client base would be looking for. I would say that’s important because as accountants, we tend to feel very technical and use a lot of big words. We don’t always break it down. And so when you’re writing these different pieces, you’re wanting to do it so that your client who might be searching for you, you’re using their terminology. So I’m not putting in debits and credits. I’m not talking about journal entries. I’m talking about why do I need to book. What’s a bookkeeper versus a CPA. Why do I need to reconcile my books? Stuff like that is what they’re going to look for. And if you’re putting out content that is answering those questions, you’re going to move up on the search for those things. Another way to do it as geographically.

Kelly: So if you’re looking to find clients who, you know, your home area, so New York city is still quite large, but New York city. You know, bookkeeping in New York city ProAdvisor QuickBooks stuff that I’m trying to make sure my clients are searching for and that I’m showing up in those searches. So that’s what I strategically focused on, you know, what’s the profit and loss stuff like that, that they might be searching for. And so in turn, it provides more. And then obviously it’s kind of on you to close those leads, but I mean, it’s a numbers games in the more leads coming in, hopefully the more you’re increasing your business. And so I was lucky that I apparently I’m not too bad at sales, so it did help me actually grow my business.

Heather: Okay. Excellent. And, and I’m, I’m a really big advocate for, blogging as well. And I think you did a really good job of explaining how to teach, to use words that they actually are typing in, not the words that we in the industry are using to each other. And I see another mistake that you possibly see as well that accountants and bookkeepers use as they. For the accountants and the bookkeepers, but not for their client base. And it’s like, that’s fine, but who are you trying to get through the door? You’re trying to get another accountant at the door. You’re trying to get another bookkeeper in the doors is if so, then that’s fine. But if not write it for your, your client base.

Kelly: No, not to be hypocritical. Because I’ve also written for, you know, different accounting publications, but it also helps me. Backlinks tying back to my website. And again, as I said, those social profiles, like Google knows that I am all of the same things, right. My company site, my Twitter, or my Facebook, et cetera, those blogs being published on other websites saying, Hey, you know, Kelly wrote this and tying back.

Kelly: That also is a huge help. I also don’t think I explained what the company does. So basically that process I explained we do other bookkeepers.

When do an accountant and bookkeeper need to engage with the services of an SEO expert? Can you explain what your company does?

Kelly: Thank you. I was like, I did not segway that very well. So we, I call it beginner SEO. So I look at it as you’ve set up a website and a lot of people do this, they set up a website and they really don’t ever go back to it. We do bookkeeping and accounting services. We, you know, help you clean your QuickBooks, whatever it is.

Kelly: And the reality is you may not be changing your services, but you have to kind of remind Google that you’re still there because. When your website sits dormant, they just figure that you’re maybe not interested. You’re not really looking to pull in. Let’s say you’re not looking to move up on that search. No, the goal is to get to the front page when somebody looks for something. So they want to make sure that you’re active. They have these little bots that crawl your website, et cetera. So I always say that we’re more like beginner, SEO. We’re going to take a look at your website. We’re going to try and help you optimise. What’s already there. So. Too technical if it’s not using the right keywords, if we want to really focus in on that, we look at how you’re being found right now. So sometimes you may not realise it, but something as silly as what you named a photograph can also help. I mean, it helps Google, but it helps you possibly wind up on the wrong page or the wrong search.

Kelly: And so if you’re showing up in searches that are not really helpful, So the client to find you for what you’re actually doing, we’re going to bring that to your attention as well. And then we start blogging. So we ask you how you want to be found. We turn that into what the client would be looking for. So, like I said, that beginner stuff more, and if it’s a bookkeeper, it might be. Why do I need a bookkeeper would be one of the first ones, what we do versus maybe what a CPA does, that kind of stuff. And then I always say it takes time. So it’s more of a race, not a sprint because while you’re building content and you’re putting everything online. Google is like, all right. Yeah, we see you. Hmm. Okay. Let me see what’s going on here, but you’re not going to start to move up until they see that it’s consistent. They see that the same keywords are being used, all that kind of stuff. It’s, it takes a little bit of time, but we offer a different two different levels, very basic of one blog a week or two blogs a week. And we optimise them to the keywords that you want to be found by.

Heather: Excellent. Thank you very much for sharing that. And I’m a really, really big believer in, blogging to put weight on what you’re doing out there. And it sounds like very much for you that I was blogging about what I was doing and just managed to keep attracting those clients. And it’s interesting. Cause I spent a lot of time in the advisory or the management accounting space before people were even saying that that was possible in the small business space. And I had a constant flow of clients, but it’s because they kept doing. That’s all I can put it down to because I see so many accountants saying they can’t get that kind of work. And I was like, I was inundated with that kind of work. So I don’t understand what’s happening there, but I would never do their tax. I was never, trying to do their tax. So, yeah, but I think the advisory stuff too. So obviously I’ve met you, you’re a big personality or a strong personality, and I know, and that’s a good thing, right?

Kelly: I think some of it is confidence because I think that a lot of people have the know-how right. They have the knowledge of maybe what a technology like an app might need to make their. Their tech work, but they don’t always speak up. Some people won’t reach out to the company and say, Hey, I see how this could be done better. You know, pay me a fee and I will show you how to fix it. So I think some of it is more competence than anything else. I think that a lot of people do have the ability they totally could handle it. It’s maybe just, they don’t realise that. They have to ask for it, speak up. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. You’re probably completely right.

Heather: It’s a confidence thing because I feel that there are people out there who are far better than me, but I was getting the work and I was like, I don’t know what’s going on there. And I sort of put it down to regular blogging, but yeah. So another company Kelly that you founded you’ve co-founded is ideation think forward, which is transforming the accounting industry through innovation and collaboration.

What is the purpose of Ideation: Think Forward? What are you doing and how can people get involved?

Kelly: Ideation kind of took a turn last year. We decided that we wanted to go into the, the direction of being a nonprofit. So what we want to do is create a standardisation of what I’m going to say in simplest terms, what good books look like? So not how to get there necessarily. We’re not looking to teach you how to do bookkeeping or teach you, you know, about how. Create a set of books, and complete a set of books. We’re looking to set a standard for what, when a set of books is complete. When you close a month, when you close a year, what does that look like? If it’s done correctly, somewhere along the lines of gathering the community to saying, you know, what’s missing, what are we looking at? What are we looking for? Making that into a. I would say probably more along the lines of a publication of some sort, that’s going to get us out there, white paper, whatever it is, certification probably. And then using that to spread the word of what, you know, books should look like. Unfortunately, When you first start, especially thing, they tell you reconcile the bank and the credit card. They don’t always talk about assets. They don’t always say what other stuff can kind of creep in. And every business is different. We’re not saying that, you know, out the gate, we’re going to have all those things covered, but we do want to look at what a basic set of books look should look like when it’s done, when, when they’re done and should say. And then the other side of that is we want to help accounting students understand what they’re actually going to be doing. So a lot of times accounting students go to school and they’re kind of in this bubble, they’re taught, you know, teach arts and debits and credits, and then they go start a job and they sit behind a desk and you do a lot of data entry. I don’t think that. Anyone ever really fully shows them, or most cases shows them that there’s other jobs out there there’s other things they can do with that knowledge, right? Like all the technology that’s out there. I mean, there are people now there’s accountants that are just helping, tech companies they’re helping, create. I mean helping apps make their products better. They’re helping larger accounting firms, just source technology. They’re not doing any of the bookkeeping work or the tax filing. With our, I’m gonna call it a certification saying what this should look like when your books are done. This is what this should look like. Then going to an accounting student and saying, Hey, when you apply this to an actual disease, This is what you might be doing, but then also here’s some other outlets of things that might interest you.

Kelly: And with that, hopefully evolving it into, some sort of hiring agency type of situation where we can help students actually work in firms, maybe smaller firms that are looking for somebody to come in and learn their way of doing things, but learn what they’re actually working on and hopefully help the community find. The students and help the students not hate what they’re doing when they go, when they wound up at a, let’s say a big four and they’re stuck at a desk and they never see a client and it’s not what they thought they were signing up.

Heather: Yeah, absolutely. That sounds like a fabulous, idea and big, hairy, audacious goals. So, well done on pulling that together. It sounds like, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in terms of the first half of what you’re talking about, there’s a solution out of Australia called expert. And what it does is it uses, AI and machine learning. And it goes in and it looks at your file. And has about 75 or 80 things that it looks for and it surfaces if there are issues. So for instance, if it doesn’t have the right registration, if the invoice, the registration number attached to the invoice, doesn’t match how the tax has been coded. It will highlight that for you, someone wondering whether if, if you come up with the parameters.

Heather: And then a solution like expert could then go in over a file and a surface when, when there’s issues like accounts are not reconciled. And, it could be like, you only want 10 asset accounts or something like that, whatever the definitions are or whatever the parameters you’re going to put it.

Kelly: I think what we’ve seen with the, so we had one here recently and then they were acquired. But the issue that we saw with that was that there was no, there was no source of truth, so to speak. So if I go in and I reconciled the bank to say that it should be a thousand dollars, you know, closing balance and. I it’s checked off as reconciled. What we were seeing was all that the software we’re seeing is that it was reconciled. There was no checks and balances on the other side. And so a lot of times it was more, did these things get done? Check checklist style more so than are they correct? So I’m not sure. There’s. I mean, there’s probably a better technology out there that would cover some more in-depth things. But what we were seeing here is that they weren’t, it wasn’t robust enough to say this is absolutely correct. You know, this is what it should look like. This is, this is matching the bank and all of those good things.

Kelly: And I think you should definitely work on what perfect is with your community work and what perfect is, but we should be able to bring tech in there to do it, use that as an analysis point.

Heather: And at some stage, the humans and the machines meet.

Kelly: I am pro-technology so that will not be an issue.

Heather: Excellent.

How can people get involved?

Kelly: So we do have a website and there is a form that they can sign up on. And I want to say, it’s let me pull up my website.

Heather: Yes, it was the front page.

Kelly: There we go. So there’s a form there that you can fill out and that’ll come to me so that we can, you know, just basically reach out. We’re looking for, it’s going to be more people that have some thoughts around what that certification might look like, what it should look like when it’s done, how technology can be, like, let’s say woven into that. If it’s where QuickBooks can pull in the bank statement, how can we leverage that to make sure that, you know, it’s correct when it’s done or something along those lines? Like if there are different ways to look at. Correct or open to that. And also it’s going to be, I mean, it already is, but the more people involved, the more research we can cover more ground we can cover. For sure. We would like to put out some white papers to anyone that’s interested in giving us their opinion, their information, their knowledge, they want to share. You know, I’m very big on. Sharing what I’ve done and what I know and what I can teach other people. So, anyone that kind of has that mindset, we are happy to hear from you.

Is the Ideation initiative US-centric, or do you think it’s more global-centric?

Kelly: I think we will probably start with the US. But then I would say there’s no reason it could have been global. One thing about our industry is that like, we kind of all agree on what’s. Well, we should all agree on what a complete set of books look like. What a good set of books look like. What it looks like when it’s done that kind of thing. So I can’t see why it wouldn’t spread to other regions.

Heather: Excellent. Yeah, look, you know, you’ve got your tax element, which obviously that will be nuanced for regions, but to an extent the other areas, as, as you said, it could be very interesting in terms of what, what it should actually look like. So I think people listening and we’ll definitely get in touch with you about that, so thank you for sharing. And the fourth company you founded.

Kelly: Oh my gosh. You’re gonna hear me blush.

The fourth company you founded with a past cloud stories guest, the lovely Kristen Nies Ciraldo is “Leading Lady Machine Works”

This is an Etsy store selling accounting and work-from-home merchandise. So how fun. So what’s really interesting here is bookkeeping is quite a process and routine orientated. And each of the companies you’ve co-founded one by one is more creative and engaging the right side of your brain. So one of the t-shirts you sell in the store. Don’t sell your time, make them subscribe to your mind. So if someone wants to subscribe to your mind, Kelly, they’re going to get a very active brain?

Kelly: Yes, for sure. My poor friends and family have to listen to me ramble on all the time.

What tech stack do you have in place for your Etsy store? I’m particularly interested in the reconciling sales side of it and how you’re dealing with the infantry side.

Kelly: So we are print on demand. So thankfully there are websites and services out there where we do the designing part. And when somebody places an order, it goes to, that company, it’s a warehouse, they print it and ship it to the person that bought it. So direct ship. We’re not holding inventory, although we have in the past for. More, a special order type things like we’ve done custom gift boxes for Intuit, and some other larger companies where they wanted to put together some different pieces into just one box to send out. And I’ll share some pictures with you of what my living room looked like with all of the boxes, kind of piled up.

Kelly: But for the primary. Sales part of it. It is someone places, an order. It goes to this other company and they print it and ship it. We do the design part and we set everything up on Etsy. And then on the backend, we actually currently use a bookkeeper to pull in all the sales into QuickBooks. Because we’re both QuickBooks online oriented.

Kelly: So everything comes into QuickBooks. So thankfully that kind of eliminates the need for inventory. But we do use, so we use relay as our bank, cause it’s an online bank and then works federal with QuickBooks. We use bookkeeper to pull in our sales. We don’t have, I wouldn’t say we have a lot of expenses because it’s usually just the cost of goods, right? Like we’re actually making the product and sending it out. I do have, I now have a, printer for shipping labels because I learned how to create shipping labels. So I do have that. And so sometimes shipping is one of our costs, but we use, Shippo, which pulls everything in if we want to, but ultimately everything goes into QuickBooks and most of it’s online. So in some weird way, even though it’s a physical product, it’s still very remote, meaning we don’t have to have a location or hold inventory. I’m definitely not using my hands to put these things together. I am not that talented. So I am glad that we just get to design it and have fun with it. And then. They make our products look really great and send them out for us.

Heather: You are the queen of the hustle and the slide business, aren’t you?

Kelly: Yeah, I think we both needed somewhat of a creative outlet. Right. So a lot of what we do is, like you said, it’s very process driven. We’re kind of doing. Some repetitive things, right? So I have primarily e-commerce clients, Kristin has restaurant clients. And while both of those are fairly robust, we’re still doing the same thing kind of over and over again sometimes. And so being able to, you know, doodle around. Designed some things be sometimes it’ll be someone on Twitter and then tag us in something that t-shirt came from a LinkedIn post that somebody had said, Hey, we need a t-shirt for this. And someone’s like, Kelly can make t-shirts. And so that just kind of drove us to create a little series of shirts that, spoke to what they were talking about on LinkedIn. Okay. So we can send that back and say, Hey, we, you know, we created the t-shirt that you liked. And then that also gave us these ideas. And if you want it on a mug, we can do that too. So, you know, just kind of offering to see if anybody was interested and thankfully, you know, the, the community has been super supportive, at sea was difficult at first. But now that we’ve kind of worked with. All of the kinks where, you know, we’re happy with it.

Heather: Yeah, that’s excellent. I think it’s really exciting to do something different and especially with you in e-commerce, it does give you empathy and an extra understanding of actually on, on your clients and what they’re going through, because I know I’ve gone into e-commerce clients and they’ve got a massive warehouse and they’ve got stocked everywhere. And then they’re like saying, and we’re selling on 16 different platforms and I’m like, how are you getting the data in? And then they just show me a collection of post-it notes. It’s like B all the green ones are these ones and all, like, this is a nightmare. And that’s definitely cringing. Yeah. And, and, and they’re like, oh, it’s not that bad.

Heather: None of that. I can handle it. And I’m like on your e-commerce at any point in time, someone can feature your earrings on Kim Kardashian and then. You’re completely crushed because you will not be able to, to, to serve, serve, and, and in e-commerce, you kind of want that scalability. So you want your processes in order. So I’m very grateful that you shared that tech stacks that hopefully other people can hear that and adopt that and, and, and, and, and potentially run with it, whatever they’re doing.

Kelly: I would say. And also, I’m sure you have seen this, not just the, the products part, but now, so yes, you can be selling on 10 different marketplaces. And now you can take 25 different forms of payment, PayPal, Affirm,…. We’re going to use directly with Etsy payments. We’re going to look at, oh, you want an invoice? We’re going to send you a QuickBooks invoice. Like there are so many ways to collect money. Now. It is absolutely crazy. And so you have to then account for it. And this is the thing that you never fully realised. Like you have to account for what the full sale was, what the fee was when you took that. How long has it even cashflow? How long is it going to take to get to you? You know, are they holding it for a month? You know, at seeing eBay, et cetera, they’ve all been Amazon.

Kelly: Forget it. They’ve all been known to hold onto your money. So it’s like all the things you kind of have to take into account. Okay. When you’re first starting, it’s really difficult. Like nobody really tells you that stuff. So it was a learning experience. And so anyone that comes to me and they’re like, I’m selling in five different places and I’m not really sure what’s going on or where my money is. Like I totally got it. That’s fine. Let’s figure it out. I understand.

Heather: Yeah. And that payment comes in in batches and then you’ve got to match it to all the different amounts. And I know that there’s some tools out there that assist with that, but, you, you want to get out of the way the, the, the e-commerce entrepreneurs, but also you got to get these things in place. Otherwise it’s, it’s, it’s gonna crush. Yeah, so at some stage. Excellent.

Like me, you worked as a bartender and a waitress for many years. How did this experience grounded you in delivering the client experience that you offer to your clients?

Kelly: Oh, yeah, a hundred percent. Ironically, we went out to eat yesterday. It was a big group of us and one of the girls had left early and some of us didn’t agree with the amount that she had tipped. And I said, I don’t think she’s ever been a waitress or a bartender because when you are, you, very much understand, how that goes and how difficult it can be. You’re dealing with different personalities. You’re dealing with people that have had a bad day. People who have had a good day, you know, some people are coming in to celebrate, but sometimes you’re getting the person that’s disgruntled or, you know, really just had a bad day and they kind of take it out on you. And so. Having to kind of grin and bear it and smile through those things. I think I learned a lot. I also started young when I was doing that stuff because even I was, so you said I’m a hustler. Like I’ve been working since I’m 14. I was just like, give me a job. Even if it’s in the summer, I’ll babysit, I’ll I’ll bust tables, whatever it is. And so. I, you know, I kind of just stayed, it was always my fallback safe space.

Kelly: I can always, you know, pick up a job in a restaurant in the city or something. And thankfully in New York city that pays really well. So, yeah, I think you, you learn a lot. You, you get people from, I learned about, you know, foreign currencies and how tipping works in other countries, because you would get, people coming in to the city as tourists. And you’re like, Hey, I didn’t get a tip. They didn’t do that on purpose. They don’t do that where they’re from or whatever it is. So I just, I feel like I learned a lot of, is it street smarts or common sense? I’m not sure what the right term for it is, but I definitely learned a lot from it. And I think it’s also given me some kind of, better perspective on personalities and understanding people, definitely in reading people.

Kelly: So I’m, I’m grateful for it. I personally think that everybody should work in a restaurant at least one summer out of their lives, just to kind of understand how that goes.

Heather: Yeah. Yeah, no, I completely agree. I felt that being able to bounce through different personalities so quickly, and, being able to serve them and, and being able to talk to them and deal with what they’re having. Because here in Australia, we don’t tip and for us, it’s kind of offensive. So if someone came and put money in my hand, It was offensive to me. And I would just like, what did I do wrong? Why are you giving me this money? So, but in the end I was working in quite a big international hotel and was just tipping and. Yeah, but it’s just, just, it’s just a completely different culture so that the tipping side is one side of it. And when I was in, America, I was literally everyone and they given them enough money. Are you sure? It’s okay.

Kelly: When I went to Ireland, I was young and it was the same thing. My mom’s like, no. Oh, yeah. Sorry. I didn’t know.

Heather: Yeah. So, it is interesting, but I definitely think that face to face in real life interaction is, is, is beneficial for young accountants to go through. If they’re studying and they’ve got the extra capacity, something to consider rather than potentially going and doing bookkeeping, I would actually consider it foundational learning for you. Plus it’s your money.

Kelly: If I have kids, they will be working in restaurants when it comes time for them to get a job. There’s no question about it because you also have to, it’s like thinking on your feet, you have to be able to come up with an answer almost immediately. You have to know, you know, what’s in the kitchen. What we’ve run out of. What’s the specials for the day. Does anyone have allergies? And then you’re also having to do all of it, kind of with a smile on your face, at least if you’re doing it right. So. I think a lot of it also taught me like a little more confidence, kind of like putting on a performance, you know, I’m very uncomfortable now speaking in front of a room, but a lot of it was, I mean, you did not know always what you were going to get when somebody sat down. So it was very, hi, I’m Kelly. Nice to meet you. I’m going to be your server today. You know, here’s, what’s going on. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you need, you know, those kinds of things.

Heather: Yeah, yeah. And serving them, but in so many different ways, so, yeah. Awesome. It was good to talk about that.

Heather: So congratulations Kelly, on the many, many accolades that you have earned over the years.

You’ve been named the top 10 Pro Advisor in the world. What does this mean for you?

Kelly: So 2019, I was the top up and comer for the top 100 insightful accountants, top 100 pro advisors. And I have thankfully remained on the list since, again, this year I was named as part of the top 100. So to be honest, I think part of it is, you know, recognition and a little bit of validation. The other part of is I’m proud of myself, you know like my friends and family don’t fully understand the accounting industry or our community, but when something like that happens, my mom’s like, oh my gosh, that’s amazing.

Kelly: You know? So I think part of it is, to the people that aren’t necessarily in the commercial. It’s something that they, they recognise and they understand, which is important. And it also doesn’t hurt to have it on my website. So, you know, clients don’t always understand the stuff that we apply for, or that we, compete for us, so to speak.

Kelly: But when you say I’m a top 100 pro advisor, you know, they’re like, oh, Really. Cool. Awesome. Sounds good. You know, like somebody must’ve known that you knew what you were doing to give you that award. So I’m, I’m mentioning. Yeah, I guess it makes me feel really proud, but, a big part of it is that it’s it’s validation and recognition, for hard work, you know, like we work really hard at what we do and it’s not, I know a lot of people say, oh, it’s not rocket science.

Kelly: Oh, I could do this. I just don’t have the time. You know? Comments that potential clients make, but when peers recognise that you’re working hard, it’s important and it, it really does it boost your confidence. It definitely gave me some validation. I totally had an imposter syndrome for the first couple of years. Then I was in business. So. That’s also a big boost. And I always say to everyone else, like apply for these things. You never know. You never know a lot of people think, oh, I’ll never get it all. I won’t make the list. Just supply. There’s no harm in applying.

Heather: Yeah. Excellent. Part of the, one of the benefits of applying is you actually get self-reflection, which, especially when you’re a small business, you don’t get a lot of time for self-reflection.

Heather: So it’s a structured way to go through self-reflection, which can be beneficial. Challenging, but also beneficial. So you’ve mentioned to me the book, ‘Everything is Figureoutable’ by Marie Forleo impacted you. So you mentioned that that book impacted you.

Can you share with listeners what you like about this book by Marie Forleo?

Kelly: Yeah. So Marie Forleo, I want to say that was probably two years ago. I think it was her second or third book. The philosophy that literally everything is figureoutable is a big deal for me. So a lot of times, I’m going to give an example this weekend, I was building a dress. One of the pieces broke and I was very upset and I was like, Aw, man, what am I going to do?

Kelly: I put it back together. And I put the screw in a different place because I had to figure out how to fix this, this physical thing that was in front of me. And so she talks about a lot of challenges even growing up, you know, it was like there was a radio that her mom had and it stopped working one day and she’s like, oh no.

Kelly: And they tinkered with it. And they fixed it. Like the philosophy that. If you put enough effort into it, if you think about it, if you bounce ideas off of somebody, if you want this thing to happen, if you want to fix the thing or create the thing, whatever it might be, you just have to figure out the path to get there.

Kelly: And so the whole idea of. I mean, it sounds small, but you can do whatever it is that you want. You just have to figure out the path to get there. It is figureoutable and I mean, I still think back seven years ago I was working in a crappy startup and I’m like, I gotta change. I gotta make some changes. Fast forward to now, I’m much happier. I get to take vacations. I have a flexible schedule. You know, I get to go visit my mom in Florida a couple of times a year and stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I stayed in a corporate setting. Cause it was. So I look at it like your life, your path is figure out-able.

Kelly: You just have to figure out how to get there, and kind of pave your way. And sometimes you’re going to be the only one on that path. So you’re going to be the person that’s figuring it out. You just have to keep going. So that’s really what she talks about. That’s kind of the overall message, but very inspiring for me.

Heather: Excellent. Thank you very much for, sharing that with us, Kelly. I’m sure other people will find that quite interesting. So, Kelly, thank you so much for joining me today.

How can people get in touch with you?

Kelly: My website would probably be the best way. So it’s just Totally Booked.nyc instead of.com. And there is a form on there and that you can fill out to reach out if you have questions. And that’s, if you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, shoot me a message. If you are a potential client with a small business, shoot me a message, whatever the case is. If you have any questions, if there’s anything I’ve mentioned that you want to know more about, I am always happy to get on a zoom call and, and share whatever it is that I can, that will help, you know, your path or whatever it is that you’re working.

Heather: Thank you so much today. I’m Kelly for joining us and sharing your insight and wisdom with us. We’ve really appreciated it. And I’m sure the listeners of class stories will have benefited from it.

Kelly: Thank you. I’m so excited. Thank you so much.

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