What being homeless in Vegas taught me about the importance of accounting

I was always told that being an entrepreneur was more about personal growth than making loads of cash. I didn't realize that my journey had to include being homeless in Vegas to help me grow. Next time, Universe, can you give me something a little less traumatic? Thank you. *Muah*

I launched my first company two months after I graduated from University. I was 20 years old and had finished school during one of the worst financial crises. I managed to land a job that paid $42K per year (not bad, especially since I was living in the Midwest), but since I was a manager, I had to put in at least 60 hours a week and be on my feet all day. I left every day tired, stressed and devastatingly uninspired.

One of my ads for my apparel company. I wanted to hire models, but to stay within my budget, I hired myself.

One of my ads for my apparel company. I wanted to hire models, but to stay within my budget, I hired myself.

So, naturally, I decided to start an apparel company for professional cheerleaders. I had been a NFL Cheerleader and had made some connections, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and had studied Accounting in order to prepare myself. Sure it would be hard work, but I was willing to take the risk. I watched every penny, tapped into my savings and asked my parents for a loan. On my 90th day at the job, I put in my notice. Effective immediately, since I was within my probationary period.

I was free! I now had complete control over my days and was willing to put in 120 hours per week if it meant that I was doing what I love. I came up with a budget, figured out my inventory sources, launched a website and started to hustle.

Everything was going well, until one day I realized I had a lot of upcoming expenses and no money to pay for it. 

What? How did that happen? How does a business owner who kept an eye on her bank account and was mindful of not overspending, have an issue with cash?

Cash flow was not something I had learned in my accounting courses. And business plans with projections? No, not that either.

Sure, I learned how large corporations made strategic decisions to increase revenue or scale back operations. I knew how to read financial statements. But, none of that was applicable, and overly complicated, for my small business. And although I was using a bookkeeping program, it wasn't giving me the real-time information and insights that I needed.

It was then that I realized that accounting's true function was to tell me a story so I could make decisions. A story about how my business did in the past, how healthy it was in the present moment and any issues that may arise in the future.

Until then, I had just been relying on my bank account to tell me the story. And it wasn't until it was too late, that I realized that this was only half of it. 

My journey after my failed business took me to the Grand Canyon, Vegas, the Eastern Sierras and finally San Francisco.

My journey after my failed business took me to the Grand Canyon, Vegas, the Eastern Sierras and finally San Francisco.

At first I thought I was a failure. I now had to find a job in an economy where there was nothing available for an "over-qualified college grad." My job search included a homeless stint in Vegas (thank goodness it was brief. Entrepreneur is another name for a hustler, honey.), huge amounts of debt and unforgiving calls from Sallie Mae.

I was pretty depressed until I managed to land a job in the Accounting department for a company bringing in over $150M per year. Something inside me said that I needed to see how other companies dealt with this thing called "cash flow" and "business planning".

Suddenly, my eyes were opened. Cash flow issues is something that EVERY business deals with.

The company I worked for had to hold checks during certain periods of the year because of the lack of cash.

They were also using a desktop bookkeeping program and their reports were created manually.

Which meant that they never had real-time financial information and their reports took days, sometimes weeks, to create. Let alone analyze and use to make decisions.

It was during this time that I came across cloud accounting and realized immediately that this had to be the Future of Accounting or small businesses like mine will continue to go out of business. (If you haven't read my post about cloud accounting check it out here: Cloud Accounting- My Love Story)

 If the small business was to survive they needed affordable tools that will help them paint an accurate financial story. Tools that combined their bank accounts, with their invoices, with their inventory, with their outstanding bills and create reports that were in real-time. 

Not only did these tools do this, but they also allowed an accountant to spend more time with the business owner. And help them see the future in a holistic sense. 

When I gave being a business owner a second chance, I catered my bookkeeping services to the beauty and fashion industry.

When I gave being a business owner a second chance, I catered my bookkeeping services to the beauty and fashion industry.

Before these tools, accountants spent a lot of time working on transactions that happened in the past. Sure, financial organization is great, but how is that going to help a business owner have enough cash? From my personal experience, very little. It's only a piece of the puzzle.

After a few years working a 9-5 job and studying businesses tirelessly, I decided to give it another shot. This time it was to provide accounting and business planning services to help other entrepreneurs avoid the heartache that I had experienced.

Because it does you no good to make six figures in your business, only to realize that you can't pay your expenses.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to speak at this year's QB Connect. A conference hosted by Quickbooks that will bring accountants, small business owners and software developers together. It's the beginning of the change in the accounting industry to increase communication between financial professionals and their clients.

My chat will be about how app developers can get in touch with more accountants to show them how their product will save them time and allow them to be more of a value to a business owner who is desperately trying to make her dream come.

As a small business owner myself, the Future of Accounting is exciting. And critical if we want to see our small business community survive and thrive.

Danetha Doe is a product launch strategist. She helps businesses streamline their accounting, create solid business plans and launch new offerings. You can view her portfolio, here 

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