Katie Fisher tells us how she went from tax accountant to financial business coach. And how simple systems and habits can make a huge impact on your financial success.
Katie Fisher of KD Creative Balance mentors and teaches business owners how to take profitable action steps. Her students learn how to build their sales platforms, understand their numbers, and use online marketing strategies to make an impact.
Connect with Katie Fisher
You can learn more at KDCreativeBalance.com, follow her on Instagram @kdcreativebalance, or on Facebook at Creative Balance. Plus you can listen to her podcast Behind the Books.
Connect with Brittany Singer
You can reach Brittany on Instagram at @executiveorderpodcast and Facebook at Executive Order Podcast and on Twitter at @ExecOrderPod. If you have ideas for topics or guests you'd like to hear on the show please send a note through any of these channels.
Connect with Zenia Organizers
You can also learn more about Brittany's Organizing business at ZeniaOrganizers.com . If you're interested in getting support and assistance with getting your life or business organized once and for all send her a message at email@example.com
Facebook: Zenia Organizers
Brittany Singer 0:00 Hi. Katie I am so excited to chat with you today I know that the work that you do specifically really has such a necessity for organizing and organization. I'm excited to hear about how you came into the work and how organization helps you both as a business owner, and how you're able to help your clients.
Katie Fisher 0:28 Well, thanks for having me Brittany I'm so excited to be here. So a little bit about me and kinda like how I got started, like we were kind of talking, before I got started where I'm at, as kind of a necessity and kind of had to figure it out along the way. And so when, when we were first starting out I didn't really have a system. I'm like okay I know that I need to keep receipts, and that was probably and maybe like customer contracts. But that was like the jist of what I knew I knew very very little about like getting started and keeping records and how to keep things organized and things like that. We're about 15 years in now as small business owner, so I learned a little bit. Along the way, which a lot of has been through trial and error but in that journey, I got a degree in business administration with a minor in accounting and started a tax firm. And what I learned through that journey is that toxes specifically require a lot of organization. Just for the benefit of accuracy. The more organized, your records are the more accurate they are typically. And so that was kind of where my own struggles started to like peek through a little bit through other people seeing other people. And I'm like, Oh, that's a unique way to organize it or you know giving like seeing, I had one. One sweet sweet lady that owned a convenience store, and she would I did her bookkeeping quarterly, and she would bring me all of her records and trash bags. So,
Brittany Singer 2:11 oh yeah I've seen that method before
Katie Fisher 2:15 I do still have a few tax clients that I do and they're the shoe box, kind of people they always bring me, and their records quarterly as well in the shoe boxes so I've always teased him, year after year like this year I'm buying new a filing cabinet we're not doing this anymore, but I organized them and return them back to it. So, for me, I think that probably the most important thing when getting your business finances, organized is really finding a system that works for you, so I can give you like a lot of ideas. I can tell you what works for me I can tell you what works for other people, but if it doesn't work in your daily life, you're not going to implement that and you're not going to use it. And so,
Brittany Singer 2:59 yeah, absolutely.
Katie Fisher 3:01 People sometimes laugh when. So in, in I have a coaching program and a couple weeks ago we talked about implementing business systems, and I literally talked about the exact thing I'm going to share with you guys and they all were like Katie we thought we were literally going to talk about like, you know, systems like on our computer or something. And so they, they kind of got a little chuckle out of it but they're like this is so beneficial because a lot of us are moms and wives and running businesses and have normal life going on that oftentimes we overcomplicate things thinking that that's going to make our life easier when it really doesn't. And so some of the systems that I've put in place that have been the most helpful for me as a small business owner, are just a few, few things. So one I dedicate one day of the week, my day is specifically Fridays because we have payroll in our business. So every Friday I pay whatever bills I can or whatever rebels we have for that week, and manage payroll balance a checkbook. But an important thing there in creating systems and being organized, is that I get our mail, and I opened our mail, every single day. Okay so this may sound super, super like simple super silly like you're like, why do you, why do you do that why does it make sense for one it takes all of the junk that I don't need lying around on my desk. I immediately throw it away. We get a ton of junk mail. And so I just immediately discard that open up the things that I need, and I have, I know you guys can't see becasue this is a podcast, but I have like a little file thing that sets on on the corner of my desk, and I put all of our unpaid bills in the first slot. So then when Friday come. I know that anything that is in that first slot needs my attention. May sounds like, like I said, super simple, super easy but that is one thing that for one has helped me stay on top of our finances and to make sure that I'm productive and efficient with my time when I sit down because every bill that I need to pay is right there in front of me,
Brittany Singer 5:14 I think that's important especially simply getting rid of the junk and so yeah that can be the junk mail, but any bill you get that's still coming to the house, it has, you know, maybe a sheet that's talking about you know the the changes in, I don't know I know that my electric company is changing the pricing right now right you're getting an extra sheet and each bill. And then you have the envelope and it's like okay I only need this one sheet that says, this was my usage. This is what I have to pay. So if you're able to throw three pieces of paper along with that makes it so much easier that you just have the one exact thing that you need.
Katie Fisher 5:48 Yes, exactly. Yeah. And so from there once it's paid obviously I track that or whatever in my checking book but I still as a business owner, I need to account for that in my accounting software. And honestly, sometimes I just don't want to deal with it I don't want to do it all. And so I'm like okay, so I have a separate area in my closet. I have like a craft closet that has a shelf on it, and I have a bin in there that all receipts, all paid bills. That's where they go. Until they are put into the accounting software, and double check. So I double check all of my bills and all of my receipts against my bank statements and credit card statements as I'm entering them. I use an Excel spreadsheet and QuickBooks. So as I'm entering them into my accounting software. I double check those transactions and then from there I organize them, and then we'll file them. But having that extra in between place helps me know, again what needs my attention and what needs to be done with them. So now, once they're in this you know tote in the closet, I know once a month I need to take that out. I need to organize those and I need to put in my accounting software. And then from there, I know that okay now they've been put in. Now they need to be filed accordingly in my file cabinet. So just having those simple systems in place for me I think it helps me a lot with time management, just because I'm able to break things down into bite sized chunks, without having to worry about the progress that I've already made or having to like shuffle through and figure out, Okay, this needs to be paid this has already been paid or this needs to be put in but this has already been put in. And for me it's really helped with like accuracy in my bookkeeping because I don't I don't have to worry about doing it all at one time.
Brittany Singer 7:40 So, when,when it comes to the receipts do the receipts go onto your desk first or immediately into the tote?
Katie Fisher 7:47 Immediately in there. So after I have paid them tracked them in my checking account log, I put them immediately in that little bin and I keep them.
Brittany Singer 7:58 Oh, so these are the receipts from the paid bills not necessarily like a run to staples or what have you.
Katie Fisher 8:04 All have receipts. So yeah, from the pay bills on turntables Yep.
Brittany Singer 8:10 And then how long does it usually take you at the end of the month when you are reconciling?
Katie Fisher 8:17 Yes, so I am going to be a little bit honest here, so I do mine a little bit differently. So how I will do it typically. So what I'll do is I'll take the bin, out of the closet, and I will separate all of those receipts by expense category. So, based off of what business expense they are so say advertising. Cost of Goods Sold fuel, those kind of things I will separate my receipts into those categories. That's where that's my next step, typically, and then I'll put like a big old clip on them that will tie all those receipts together. And then from there, I choose what category. I want to deal with so it depends on like how much time I have that day. If I only have 30 minutes, I'll grab the smallest stack of receipts and my bank statements that corresponds with it. And I'll go to town on that and get what I can get done. And then I'll file those. And so I know that anything that's like in a paperclip, those have already been organized and they're ready for me to grab them and put them into my accounting software. So I like to use like a time blocking method for my work scheduling, or I do like batch working. So if I know like i said if I know that I, you know, have a couple hours. Then, I may dig into three or four expense categorie. But if I know I only have 30 minutes, I'm going to grab one and I'm going to get it done. So it's not always about how much time do I spend on it every month because sometimes there is like, not all the time is every single month like closed down. I just make sure everything's closed out by the end of the year, for me, but as a new business owner, it kind of is important to make sure that you have it closed out. But like I said I'm using a couple different methods to track it and so for me just knowing like what my cash flow is what my accounts payable accounts receivable are that is more important to me. Then, well, and I do like every quarter I do have to make sure I have a close out for estimated tax payments and tax planning and things like that. So you know it's important to kind of be on top of our records and and know whether we you know we're gonna owe the IRS something or not. So I try to close mine out at the end of every quarter, at minimum. But like I said I kind of separate mine into categories and that's how I address my bookkeeping rather than like month by month.
Brittany Singer 10:39 I think that, especially like you said that there's so many steps to it so I think for someone, as you said in the beginning that everyone's system is going to be different you know you have to adopt the system that works for you. But what I like so much about yours is that it's not all happening at once, you know you're doing this phase and then you're doing this phase and then you're doing this phase. And I think that for some people that can be really manageable. And in addition, you're saying okay well if I only have 30 minutes, I'm not even going to look at this and think, oh okay well I'll try to tackle this or say oh like couldn't possibly do anything you're gonna say what can I get done in 30 minutes? And go with that smallest thing that's still manageable it's still digestible. And you'll feel good that you got at least one more piece done in that.
Katie Fisher 11:21 And I think that's oftentimes why people get so far behind in their bookkeeping is because they think that they have to handle it all at one time or that we have to have this big fancy file cabinet or, you know, some elaborate system and you don't. Grab a, an Excel spreadsheet and separate them out by expense category and you are good to go. You know, you don't need a something super fancy, you just need something that works for you.
Brittany Singer 11:48 Right, one more question around that. As far as the credit card statement or bank statement. Are you using only one card for all these expenses, or are there different cards for different types of expenses
Katie Fisher 12:01 Yeah so I wish. Okay, so how we have chosen to do it in our business so we, like I said, we own a construction company I don't know if I shared that with the listeners yet, but we own a construction company we're about 15 years in, and we have seven people during season that work for us so that is a lot of people to manage. So seven people. I don't, I think we have six or seven vehicles that all have fuel in them. So foremen gets an expense card, and then my husband has one. So we have two credit cards and, oh my gosh, just to put in a shameless plug here, we use the Capital One Spark card and you guys, it is amazing, like, amazing, I absolutely love it. Like we get notifications on our phones so we know where they are and what they're buying and what they're spending on. We can also set credit limits. And it breaks things down by category so it makes my job, super super easy so I love that and then we use an American American Express card. So for business transactions. That is, we add two cards. And there are a lot in the construction industry. A lot of things are like on on payment account, I guess you would say or billing accounts and so we get billed on the 30th of each month. And so I take the, I pay those with our checking accounts. So, there's, there's not a ton of transaction. However, we do have a couple personal credit cards, and like I said it's normally it's always my husband's, but he will you know like if he doesn't have his card or he's given one of the other guys his card to run somewhere. I always have to make sure I double check our personal credit cards as well, because sometimes business transactions may get in there, even though we try to be super disciplined about it. Because it is really important that you beat your, your business and your personal funds separate. It just happens.
Brittany Singer 14:05 I will second, all of that, as I just sent over this past weekend. Right now we're recording it's the first week in January, and I was reconciling all of my purchases. And I didn't have a business credit card until halfway through the year so I had things on, you know, a bank card I had things on a personal credit card and I have my Capital One card now I absolutely love it I will completely second that Spark card, and I'm looking forward to an easier time reconciling 2021, at the end of this year because it'll all be on one card.
Katie Fisher 14:39 It definitely makes it easier when everything is, you know, it's nice in a couple places, but don't assume that it's going to be that way you know don't assume that, oh it just because it's my personal account, or my business account, everything is going to be in there because you can miss some big things by not double checking those personal accounts.
Brittany Singer 15:00 That's a good point, what, what would you say are things that you find your clients or or anyone in general, might be missing on their personal accounts?
Katie Fisher 15:08 Yeah, so most of the time it's like are reoccurring transactions. So like, Canva for instance or I use Trello. So things like that that you know we put in our credit card at the beginning of the year, especially if we're new in business we put in our credit card at the beginning of the year and then that we're maybe even paid for it for the entire year. You know, then that's coming out of our personal account every month and we're not even realizing that that's happening, whether that's a business expense. Or if we like signed up for memberships, or something like that, our coaching programs that we pay for them with our personal credit card or debit card or whatever those it as long as they tie directly into your, your business and your trade then those are actually business expenses not personal expenses. And I think those are probably the two most common thing people miss.
Brittany Singer 15:58 That's a really great point. So it sounds like. At this point in your business at least that you have great systems that are working for you. Has that always been the case what has been your relationship with organization throughout your life?
Katie Fisher 16:12 Yeah, so that has not always been the case. I actually, I think that to like go all like back to childhood and things like that but I think that it often does affect like who we are now, and I did not grow up in an organized home. My mom kept all the things, whether they were important or not she kept everything and for me I have learned that as an adult that has caused me a lot of anxiety, and so like when I first like got married and got my own house and all those kind of things. I was super like crazy about it. You know, I was like, my house has to be clean all the time and I don't want to have extra stuff that I don't need, and it really like kind of stole my peace. And since I've had kids, and since I've just done a little bit of work on myself I've realized, okay, you know, organization is great minimalism is great, but you don't have to be like crazy about it either. You know, so it hasn't always been that way for me, I struggled a lot with it I struggled a lot with like figuring out systems, because I was one of those that thought like in order not to be like I grew up I thought that I had to have this, you know, fancy well oiled super organized system that had to be over complicated that caused me stress and anxiety anytime I tried to implement it, or use it, and I didn't realize that really organization systems can just be simple as having some place to put your stuff. Having a dedicated place for things. I think has been the most enlightening thing for me, even just in our whole entire house, you know, just having a place where things belong and knowing that you can always find it in that place. To me, that has been the most beneficial thing.
Brittany Singer 17:57 I think that just as I'm hearing you talk about you know these really complicated systems, and I just kind of makes me think about like when someone's starting a new diet or a new exercise regimen, they're like, I'm going to do CrossFit get to this I'm going to go all in I'm going to do fasting and it's like, Whoa, okay, it doesn't it doesn't have to be all of that, you know, it could just be you're going for a walk, 30 minutes a day or whatever it might be that it's a much smaller. Maybe not as shiny and like exciting, this other thing.
Katie Fisher 18:29 I think that we do like try and make it exciting like let's go to the store and like, buy you know this fancy file cabinet and all these things. And we think that like if we have these shiny folders that that's going to make us file our, our tax stuff and it's it's not it's not
Brittany Singer 18:46 I have yet to work with a client that does not already have some sort of organization bins or folders or the containers for your pantry, whatever it might be whatever room we're working in. They have it, they bought it they spent money on it. But they're not using it or they're not using it to maximize their space not using it to maximize their lifestyle, they're using it because they saw it on Pinterest and thought it looked nice without really thinking about, or considering how it really works into their own lifestyle. And I just can't say enough times over just the very simple thing of opening up your mail when you get it. Just. You're right. It sounds so silly because it's so tiny, but everyone gets junk coming in. Has it spot maybe in the kitchen or by the front door or on a pile in your office wherever that spot is for you in your home and in your life that just kind of gets a little crazy but if you're opening it up every single day or every other day, whatever your system might be, and you're just saying like okay this is literally the only one piece that I need from this. Toss everything else, it doesn't feel as overwhelming because the pile never gets that big.
Katie Fisher 19:57 Well and for me to like it was more of like the financial part of it. That was overwhelming and that I find a lot of my students are overwhelmed by like they don't open the mail because they know that it's bills and they know that that's gonna cause them to have to pay money or whatever and it's gonna cause financial stress for them. And so they just avoided it and so that's kind of like how it started. For us it's like okay no we're gonna tackle this weekly, daily, however we need to do it but we're gonna get on top of it and so I think that you can almost be like a two part like to trigger killing two birds with one stone kind of thing like you're going to get more on top of your finances because you're handling them and making yourself aware of them on a regular basis, and you're eliminating clutter and disorganization from your space,
Brittany Singer 20:48 I think, along with that was getting that handle on it and perhaps getting more understanding on your finances to is that once a month, you're going back and you're entering in all those costs for the past month. So you're starting to see some patterns and some patterns that aren't actually being helpful. Some places that you're spending money that you think would had helped you do X, Y or Z but x y and z hasn't really happened yet we've spent this money. It just makes you be a little bit more intentional and reflective on what you have done and what you've spent. I've heard you allude a little bit about your husband might have a little different organization style is that right?
Katie Fisher 21:26 Maybe this little bit. My husband's. He's so funny because when it comes to you know construction or our trucks or anything like that. He wants to clean and neat and organized, his job sites are very clean and neat and organized which is super strange, but I think that that's part of what has made us like so successful is that he keeps his job site, very clean, and people pay attention to that and they notice that because that's not something that you often find in the construction industry. So, yes, his organization style, I think, in our workspaces he and I have very like similar organization styles. However, at home, they're very different. It's kind of wherever I take it off it lays, I mean, but that's okay I love him and I appreciate him and so I I take care of it. But, yeah, when it comes to like his personal space.
Brittany Singer 22:22 But that you'll keep him even though, you know, personally. So this I think that there has been so many great helpful pieces that you talked about today is there anything else that you you know would like to share in the way of either paper clutter or filing or bookkeeping that you think are really important for listeners?
Katie Fisher 22:47 Yeah, I think just having a place for things is probably the most important thing, and don't overcomplicate it. So, if a basket works for you then use the basket. If it then works for you then use a bin. And I do think like, because as this is. This episode will be coming out during the tax season I think probably one of the most beneficial things that I have found is. So, in 2016, we were audited. And when you get audited, you typically get audited for the year before and then the year after, so they focus on one year but then they request records from the previous. The year before and the year after. And in doing that, I have all of my receipts records and things, and just like your regular folder you know the ones that you open. Right. But when you're working with three years at one time I found that, as I was like, trying to file them and copy them and all of those kind of things that things were enough inside of the other one and then they were like in folders that they weren't supposed to be just from being shuffled around for three or four years you know inside of the box that I had them in. And so I found myself in that case that I had to like go back and reorganize everything and so one of the things that I started implementing during tax season that I found the most beneficial was like those big envelopes. They're like the tan ones I don't know what they're called. But you know envelopes. Yeah and you can literally like take a full sized piece of paper in there and they have like the little hole downtime on them. Okay, so I now use those on a, like a quarterly monthly basis depending on how many transactions I have. So, I will literally take all of my receipts, like I was talking about in the beginning, how I separate them by expense categories and then I filed them. So what I do now is, once I'm done like once I have them put into my accounting software. I will put them into those Manila envelopes and I'll write on front on the front of that envelope. What, what it is and then how much the receipts total. On top of that envelope and then I'll file that Yeah, then I'll file that into my file cabinet because throughout the year like we have returns or we need to access that or whatever I want to be able to have quick access to it, but I have found I eliminated that last year. And I found that has been the best thing ever whenever we filed our taxes, it made it so much easier. Like I was able to double check all of my numbers and make, make sure that everything reconciled because I was able and even on my bank statements I'll put now. Okay, this is the amount that I have receipts for and this is the amount that I don't have receipts for. And so I'm able, you know to double check things that way. And so it really just for me created another organization system that also gave me a way to double check myself
Brittany Singer 25:41 Right it's another kind of foolproof foolproof fail proof. I guess fail proof. Fail proof and fail safe way of making sure that everything is there. And like you said the I can only imagine having the regular file folders open, three years where things shuffling around. Yeah. And it stinks it's always one of those times that like, Oh, my gosh, that, you know, you actually learn and create a new system.
Katie Fisher 26:10 And to make it like worse. We have just moved and so we were like in a transition house because we sold our house and our new house wasn't done yet. And so you've got right now. You got to be kidding me. So, but we made it happen and it worked out but that was one of the things that I learned from it. You know, I need a way to be able to quickly reference previous years. So that,
Brittany Singer 26:40 where can listeners find out a little bit more about you or be able to work with you.
Katie Fisher 26:46 Yeah, so I have a podcast as well and it's creative balance with Katie Fisher, and we kind of talk about all things business. I bring in a lot of guest experts. And then of course I talk, you know, business Finance all those good things. I primarily hang out on Facebook and you can find me at creative balance.
Brittany Singer 27:04 And is there a website that people can find you at?
Katie Fisher 27:08 Yeah. Yeah. So my website is kdcreativebalance.com
Brittany Singer 27:12 Thank you so so much this was such a pleasure. I definitely have learned a lot. I'm sure that the listeners I've definitely learned a lot, and I just appreciate your time and the chance to be able to chat with you.
Katie Fisher 27:24 I love it. Thank you so much.