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“You need a person that you can trust for advice, who is seasoned in your industry or in a related field and can provide valuable insight.”

As a small business owner, Kate Ross knows first-hand the value of streamlined operations and smart bookkeeping to achieve financial and career goals.

Through strategic growth planning, risk assessment, and cash flow management, Kate helps small businesses exceed their goals. To her clients, Kate is more than just a consultant: she’s an advisor, a mentor, and a friend.

The team at Ross Business Management is committed to making the highest level of financial and operational integrity available to creative, passionate small-business owners. They are experts at streamlining operations and offer financial solutions (accounting, strategic planning, financial management, operations and HR) for small businesses so that entrepreneurs, artists, and business owners can focus on what they really love to do, and not worry about back of house management.

MO: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?

Kate: My first foray as an entrepreneur was when I opened a lemonade stand, but that’s become a prerequisite at this point! While in college I started a Hip Hop group called Hip Hop 101. It was a collective of graffiti artists, designers, hip hop dancers, and musicians. Our motto was “respect the foundation.” We put on shows and events, which were incredible because they helped to bridge the gap between students at the college and the members of the community in the small town we were located in. Members of the community were also allowed to perform at the shows, which brought people together. This was also a way for me to express my love for music and share it.

MO: What advice would you give to small business with a great idea but weak leadership?

Kate: I would say to focus on individual strengths, and play on what you are already good at. With fewer resources or poor management, it helps when people are able to hone in on what they are excited about and good at doing. Giving employees the freedom to run with what they are excited about creates more quality work. You also must find the right people, both with who you hire and also who you network with.

MO: What are the two biggest mistakes that you see your clients making that can be easily avoided?

Kate: Lack of bookkeeping, or not doing a thorough job, regardless of the size of your business. It is nearly impossible to assess the health of your business without financial reports.

Secondly, credit is extremely hard to get these days, and taking care of your personal finances is critical. Your personal finances have impact on the business (your business’ credit score is your personal credit score until you have been up and running for a while). ALWAYS file your taxes! This will come back and haunt you. It is never too late to go back and clean that up – the longer you wait, the worse the obstacle becomes. On the note of personal finances, ensuring your personal spending habits are in check and do not blend into what is happening with your business.

MO: What tips would you give to a passionate and creative entrepreneur just starting out? How can they keep the creative fires burning without getting bogged down or overwhelmed by doing everything themselves if they can’t afford help?

Kate: My first tip is to establish at least one mentor. You need a person that you can trust for advice, who is seasoned in your industry or in a related field and can provide valuable insight. They are also critical in your growth as a business owner because they can serve as a sounding board, connect you to the right people, and provide feedback as needed (and starting a business includes a lot of learning as you go, so this is key!). Secondly, establish a great line of credit. This can be done multiple ways, but as a young entrepreneur, you need to have good credit to take out loans, etc. Lastly, it is important to live into what is possible and build into your business. If you truly cannot hire someone on (or hire a contactor to do specialized work for you that you cannot do yourself), use your network – your success is only going to be as strong as the relationships that you build. Join local communities with other small business owners, get to know the vendors in your neighborhood, and make sure you are always aware of connections and strategic partnerships that could be made.

MO: Congratulations on being at the point where you can really pin point the types of projects that you want to work on. What would your dream project look like and on the flipside what type of project would you decline working on?

Kate: My passion lies in working with artists and musicians who are creating amazing work. I love being able to support artists so that they can do what makes them light up. Music is hugely important to my life, and I like being able to contribute to having more music for people to enjoy. Many artists do not enjoy or even neglect the financial and operational side of running a business, and it is a perfect partnership when we are able to combine our areas of expertise.

Businesses with a really high transaction volume and low margins are not fun to work with. Bad management is also a red flag – the leader of the organization needs to be trusted, organized, and doing something that I believe in.

MO: What are some overlooked or undervalued resources that could benefit first-time entrepreneurs?

Kate: Cloud based management tools! We love Smartsheet, Harvest, Dropbox, and Quickbooks – they are all easily accessed any time you have an internet connection, allow for transparency and clear communication amongst a team, and keep you organized. You can work remotely or be on the go and still have the ability to manage clients or a team. Staying on top of your receipts, finances, operations, scheduling, and employees from the start gives you the breathing room to learn and grow without feeling like you do not have control over your organization.

 

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