August 30, 2021
Emma speaks with Kate Strathmann of Wanderwell about profit, margin and setting standards for yourself and your business to build a better foundation before you start your marketing.
In this episode Emma speaks with Kate Strathmann of Wanderwell about profit, margin and setting standards for yourself and your business to build a better foundation before you start your marketing.
01:53 Business Finances
06:53 Healthy Financial Foundation
09:48 Scarcity Mindset
12:14 Using your numbers
17:18 Assessing past spending
19:17 Team communication
36:30 Website traffic
38:12 Favourite place on the internet
39:08 What are you looking forward to most?
40:45 What to do next
41:32 What makes a good bookkeeper
Find Kate Strathmann
Kate Strathmann 0:00
One of my favorite questions to ask people is when I work with them on sort of strategy is, what are you really trying to do with this business?
Emma Peacock 0:16
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode I spoke with Kate Strathmann of Wanderwall about profit, margin and setting standards for yourself and your business to build a better foundation before you start your marketing. Kate Strathmann is a multi disciplinary business owner and rebellious spirit. She's the owner and director of Wanderwall, a consulting and bookkeeping practice integrating financial expertise with an empathic vision forward approach to bookkeeping, and leads with the belief that businesses can help create a more just world that centers people, community and the environment. I hope you enjoy listening to this chat about bookkeeping and business and that we can spark some ideas for you or help you understand more about your books. Welcome to the podcast Kate, to get us started. Tell us about you and your business.
Kate Strathmann 1:01
Hi, Emma, I'm happy to be here, um my name is Kate Strathmann. And I'm the founder and director of Wanderwell. And we are a consulting and bookkeeping and financial services practice that focuses on reimagining ways of being in business. So we spend a lot of time with folks on kind of less harmful ways to be in business, more creative ways to be in business. And ultimately working in service of people's values that kind of core missions with themselves. I'm kind of the the rabble rouser in residence there in and probably in any place that I show up. So I'm happy to talk about money today. And then also my sort of take on things as well.
Emma Peacock 1:53
Awesome, so great to have you here. So one of the best things about knowing the income and expenses of your business is that you're then armed with that information when creating your plan for the future. So both that historical information and maybe a budget, but once business owners have those financial numbers, how should they be using them to inform their financial, their financial decisions and their marketing decisions?
Kate Strathmann 2:17
Sure. So I want to kind of answer this question backwards, by by starting to talk more broadly about like money in business and what those things are and how they work. And I think the first thing I'll say is one of the definitions that I use most frequently about a business, or businesses in general is that a business is a repeatable process that makes money. And the really key parts of those are the repeatable, and then the makes money. Because like, I could bake a couple pies, put a table out in front of my house tomorrow, and like sell them one day. And that wouldn't necessarily become a business, if I just do it that one day, I can also bake pies and like, bring them to my neighbor's house. And that could give me a lot of personal gratification and like build our relationship together. But I am giving them away. So there's not necessarily money involved. And so, you know, all that's to say is that like money has to sort of move through these things. Otherwise, we're talking about a hobby, usually. The other thing about businesses is that they're also structures for meeting needs and being in relationship. So that's with customers, workers, with community with ourselves. And there's a lot of different reasons that people create businesses. Sometimes it's for money. We need to make a living, we all live in an economy in which most of our needs are met through a marketplace through money. But there's also all sorts of other reasons that people are motivated to do this. But I think because of the nature of the economies we're in, and that we do need to meet our needs through money. At the end of the day, that's that's part of the like, process that makes money definition of businesses like there has to be cash flowing through a business or it doesn't work. Or it's something else, which is cool, too. And then I think the other piece of it that I spend a lot of time on to kind of start moving back in the direction of your question is, you know, whose needs are met and how well those needs get met is generally a function of both how money moves through business. So how is it structured, what's the model? What kinds of decisions are being made, but it's also directed by the kinds of values that guide a business. So, you know, we think about things like, their sets of values that lead someone to pay their workers abundantly to donate and support others to redirect resources to the community, all those kinds of things. And then there are values that lead us to like Jeff Bezos, and Amazon. And those are I would put those perhaps at opposite ends of the spectrum. You know, and those are like the typical capitalists like maximize profits, people are expendable, squeezed labor to get every last penny out of it. And those are very different sets of values that run through business and kind of guide the decisions. So you know, the numbers, once you actually have a sense of those in like the data and what they mean, and how your decisions are impacting how money flows through a business, it opens up a whole ground of choice too I think, from my perspective, really got further in alignment with values and ensure that the way that you're making decisions, aligns with values, and then but the money actually flows through accordingly. Because if you don't have any vendor information, who knows what, like, things can go sort of out of whack pretty quickly, in that regard. So, you know, I'm really talking about questions about like, what are my values? What are my personal priorities? What are my priorities in my business? And that those are really the things that like having the numbers starts to open up being able to inform and kind of get feedback on.
Emma Peacock 6:42
Yeah, it's almost like the precedent before you start doing everything else that is interwoven with the numbers as well as everything.
Kate Strathmann 6:53
Emma Peacock 6:53
So what makes a healthy financial foundation for a small business?
Kate Strathmann 6:58
Yeah, I think kind of like what I was just saying, I think one of the key indicators is, whether the numbers are in alignment with values and goals or not. So that can be like, I really like the there's, there's the sort of metaphor that I like to use around like, you know, imagine you're playing in a sandbox as a child, and you've got a bucket of water. And if you just like dump the bucket out on the sand, that kind of goes nowhere, and you just get like wet sand. Or you can create channels, like rivers and things like that, and then pour the water in and actually directs and goes somewhere. But sort of like what you're doing in a business model, and with how, you know, decisions about how you make money, how you spend money, those create riverbanks that channel resources in different ways. So, you know, back to the like, if you wanted to squeeze profit out of workers, and that was your value system and your priority. You know, that would, that would lead you down one path. If that's not what you're trying to do. And you don't have enough money coming in, and you can't pay people enough, or you don't know, have a clear picture of your financials. And so you're making sort of intuitive decisions about what to pay people or just trying to make sense of it based on gut that can really lead to kind of like misalignment and sort of shaky foundations. Which leads me to sort of the other basic thing, which is, is there a margin? Is it profitable. And, you know, I look at profit from not trying to like maximize and squeeze individual wealth out of a business necessarily, but as on one level, if you don't have profit, your business is running paycheck to paycheck. So at some point, because things ebb and flow and pandemics happen, and, you know, that kinda stuff, like if you don't have extra, at some point saved and save it away, you know, that that tends to even out and buffer uncertainty. So there's a little bit of risk management that happens in that. And that's another word. You know, margin is another word for how much space do you have between what you're making and what you're spending? And so that's one like, super basic one. But I think it's a really important one to kind of get a handle on and I think one of one of the ones that has the steepest learning curve on it too for folks.
Emma Peacock 9:48
Yeah, I find personally with the margin. If my span of time that I know I'm like good for I just start thinking more in advance. What can I do that will improve the business in 3, 6, 9 months? versus like, how am I going to make enough money next week? So it actually changes almost everything in how No, maybe not totally how I operate the business, but definitely how I market it. So having that, which is obviously more of like a psychological thing, I mean, technically, I need to worry about it, if I don't have the margin and the, the the gap there of now versus when my bank account will run out. But it has those flow on effects as well.
Kate Strathmann 10:36
Yeah. Well, I think, you know, what comes to mind, what you're talking about, is really about like scarcity. And, and in, especially in terms of marketing, like, if you feel like, Oh, I'm solid for the next six months, then that has an impact on how you show up in marketing, how you show up in sales. And moving from a place of like, Oh, I have enough, we're solid, we have a good foundation. That's a very different vibe, than, oh, God, I don't know how I'm gonna make payroll tomorrow. Or actually, I don't even have the number like I don't have the visuals on what the money is doing in the business to know whether we can make payroll or not. And that kind of thing like that can create a lot of pressure on marketing that can go sideways, of course. So you know, it also it gives us sort of foundational lens on like, all of those kinds of things that play out more publicly in terms of like, whether we even need more customers or not, or clients.
Emma Peacock 11:50
Yeah, that's for sure. Yeah. It's almost like, if you'd had no idea what your numbers are, you could potentially be going down a road that you don't even need to go down, because you're already maybe at capacity, or something like that, where you just, you're actually going on almost like a wrong path solely because you haven't got the numbers to look at.
Emma Peacock 12:11
Kate Strathmann 12:13
Emma Peacock 12:14
So on that note, how can understanding financials, help you focus more in business, and establish more sustainable business practices over time?
Kate Strathmann 12:26
One of my favorite questions to ask people is when I work with them sort of strategy is, what are you really trying to do with this business? And, you know, in, in service of the sort of focus part of it, I think, understand the financials that it opens up choice. So if you know, if you have that feedback mechanism of Okay, I made a decision, did that lead to growth in revenue, growth in profit? Am I spending more than I thought I should be? Can I hire someone? Like any of those kinds of things, those decisions will all show up in the numbers. And then over time, you can kind of see the impact and like the different levers that you can pull to have different effects. So you know, you invest in people, hiring, you expand your team's capacity, that's generally a lever that down the road should lead to increased revenue. Same thing with marketing, like you invest in marketing, whatever that looks like, in a particular business, at some point, that should have an impact on revenue pretty directly. There are other levers that don't, which are, like rent for an office, that's just a fixed expense, you can do whatever, it's not going to make your revenue change over the long term. So some of that's like giving you a sense of what are my kind of levers for change? What impact do those have on top line, bottom line, all the in between lines, those kinds of things? So then, you know, you can start to align, the decisions you're making and get the feedback mechanism of Alright, what effect are these actually having on the business? And I think really gives people a better sense of how to align to goals. So like if I'm, if I'm trying to spend less time in the business, say like, I'm working too much, I know that. And so my goals involve like streamlining or simplifying the business model or something like that. You know, I might like at Wanderwell look at our different revenue streams, and see which one makes sense to scale back, see which one makes sense to lean more into is consulting more profitable? Is bookkeeping better to scale those kinds of things. And then start to align the kind of decisions to continue to, like support the business or not. So like, you know, back to the sandbox, like we get to decide what channels we make and kind of what direction we want things to go in. And like, where do we want resources to go? Is it important for me to pay myself more? Is it important for me to redistribute profit more like in my community, because that's actually a really important goal to me? Do I know I really want to hire someone because I'm, like, really dang tired. And I'm doing too much work that shouldn't be on my plate anymore. So a lot of it's like, you know, being able to understand how resources are moving. And then like, Where do you want to create channels differently, to create flow. And without that clarity, you don't really get a feedback mechanism of like how it's actually working or not. So I could decide I want to like spend less time in the business and just like peace out for a couple months. And maybe that would work, maybe I have enough saved up, maybe I have the right team in place, or whatever. Or maybe I'm just making a decision based on like my needs, and it's gonna have a negative impact on the business and like, we're not gonna be able to hold that. So I think it's sort of just a sounding board in a way of like a back and forth of like, making decisions, what's happening as a result of them? Are they going in the right direction? Are they not going in the right direction? Are they in alignment with my values? All of those kinds of things?
Emma Peacock 16:46
Yeah, it's almost like, well it is like your knowing your numbers, is not only part of helping you plan for being more sustainable in business, but it actually allows you in the day to day to wait, how's it different from planning?
Emma Peacock 17:08
It didn't make any sense. I lost my train of thought there was something in my head there about like, it helps you plan for the future while also making decisions for today, but I don't know, I lost my train of thought.
Kate Strathmann 17:18
Yeah. Well, or maybe like, you know, the decisions you make today have a longer term impact, too. And this is like, you know, in bookkeeping, one of the things we're always doing, because, like bookkeeping is about past decisions and organizing them. So it's about it's about getting like, okay, Emma You did all of these things last month, you've decided how to make money and spend money. here's, here's that data that tells you what you actually did. And then you use that for, like, is this what I wanted to have happen? Does this put me in the right direction does it put me going off in a different direction that I didn't want to go to like, it's, you know, it's that sort of play between past present future that we're even as business owners. And like one of the major grounding tools for just seeing how that plays out.
Emma Peacock 18:15
If you're listening to this episode, and wondering how you can market your own business, I might just have the solution for you. The Marketing Apiary is the one stop shop course for digital marketing and teaching you everything you need to know to be seen, make sales and grow your business online. With videos across honing your wantability, putting your best foot forward, getting the numbers straight, helping people find you, content marketing, growing with advertising and passing the torch to your team, we cover every platform and angle you can approach marketing through a process I call the Seven Stages of Sweet Marketing. Since DIYing everything alone and molding everything for your business can bring up a lot of questions, and maybe some decision fatigue, we have q&a calls every two weeks, so you can submit your questions and receive answers customized for your business from me, even if you can't attend those calls live. To find out more, you can pause the episode and go to themarketingapiary.com or find the link in the show notes once you're done listening for now, let's get back to the episode.
Emma Peacock 19:17
You did touch on team there. And so I have I mean it's sort of a selfish question. But what I find when I'm talking to people about their business who have a team, one of the things that we almost have to talk about before we talk about marketing is A) Can their team handle the influx that we may have. But also B) how can we use their team to improve our marketing maybe they have different skill sets. But sometimes what that comes down to is maybe their team are at full capacity or their team are new or they maybe have high turnover. So they don't want their They don't maybe want their team members to be in marketing photography, because that person has only been with them a little amount of time, or they have a historical high turnover. And when I've been working in businesses, what I have found is one of the biggest breakdowns is almost not a lack of communication, but kind of like there's some there, but not maybe enough oftentimes, for businesses, it is that they don't purposefully build processes for communication, and that they will look up one day and realize that they've unknowingly created something that they didn't like, or that it's led to less productive staff, or a hike in turnover. And there's almost like an indirect cost there. Sometimes you don't totally think of like, because it's not a line item. of higher costs of of team turnover. But in the in the end, it means that you're losing out on some of that profit. Your team specifically works remotely. So in my experience, what that has meant was that we weren't able to then rely on that face to face communication at a moment's notice if I all of a sudden realized I needed to talk to someone about something. So how do you purposefully structure communication and processes for communication with your team with them being based remotely?
Kate Strathmann 21:30
Yeah. So we've been remote for a while, meaning years, and we've also been hybrid although that's not true anymore. So we had some folks that were in Philly, where we're based, some folks outside of that. And now, even pre-pandemic, we were all remote. So in that regard, kind of just kept on trucking. But, you know, I think it's such a big complicated question teams, there's just, there's so much with working with humans and figuring out how to work together as humans. And for us, and I think this is largely true for remote work, but not, you know, it really depends on what kind of culture you're trying to create. But for us, I think that the two biggest pieces probably are hiring self directed, folks. So that's something that like we interview for, is people that have skill or experience with self management, have been in environments where they've not been super managed or directed before, or have demonstrated that they're able to, like, take something and like, keep going with it. Partly, that's the remote work thing. But partly, that's just our work culture, which is that it is super autonomous and flexible. So our vibe is like, a lot of high performing individuals getting their work done on their own time. So we don't have a lot of meetings. We don't, there's, there's just there's not a lot of the Oh God, I need to get a hold of someone right this minute or things are gonna go up in flames. And that sort of brings me to like, I think the second thing, which is we've, we've really created a low urgency, work culture and work environment. That's both internally, like kind of our expectations with each other like we generally, because different people have different schedules and needs is, you know, it's not like it's hard to get ahold of people necessarily, but the the expectation isn't instantaneous, like you might hear back from someone four hours later, not five minutes later. And so our works calibrated too, for that to be okay and functional. Seems true with all of our clients and like how we build relationships with clients. So we kind of train them to be on that low urgency boat, because if they felt like they were having emergencies all the time, and they could get ahold of us, it would completely conflict with the internal work, the work culture we're trying to create, and also having like flexible and autonomous teams. It's something I've seen a lot where like, companies will say they have flex time and like try and create this whole culture. And then they give their they train their clients and give their clients permission to set fires, like, you know, have urgencies come up all the time. And then it's like you're totally disrupting all of your team's autonomy around their schedules. And those things don't work together. So that's a big one. It's just Like, there aren't really true emergencies in what we do, it's just not possible. So for the most part, that means like, we're doing it, we're proactively communicating, but without having it to be like completely instantaneous all the time. The other things they do are, we do have like an anchor, all team meeting once a week. And we have some hierarchy in our organization, but we're relatively flat, and we often work in a circle. So that's the kind of everybody's accountable to their own work and bringing that forward. And we have a structure we use every week, where, and I show up as a team member, the same as anybody else in that structure. So that's one of the main places that we all know what's going each other is working on and kind of can clear problems and like, resolve stuff that needs to get resolved. And then we'll have like ad hoc meetings and do slack and stuff like that. But I think I think a lot of it's just about creating a lot of accountability, self management expectations, and then we document the shit out of everything, I think is the other one. So that's always a work in progress. But like, we use Notion, and that's the brain and kind of everything just has to get documented. And then it's, it's a matter of like, do people know how to find it, which is always something that we're working on. But yeah, that's a lot of it. It really takes a kind of holistic approach, I think, in a lot of ways of understanding how all of the different policies kind of ways of working, either complement each other or work against what you're ultimately trying to do. You know, so like, if we were trying to create this culture, and then I hired folks that weren't used to self management or had a hard time with that does not work. Or, you know, if we had a lot of urgency in our clients or all of a sudden, like, threw up a phone number, and people could call us all day long. That would also be super disruptive to kind of like work culture and sort of how how things work there.
Emma Peacock 27:19
Yeah. And so is it in your anchor meeting that people talk about maybe like training they need? Or do you also have, like, do you also have personal performance meetings with people? How do you structure that in terms of like, up the chain feedback loop?
Kate Strathmann 27:38
Yeah. So I do, I do one on ones with everybody about once a month. And that's some of that's just like, Hey, how are you doing? What's going on, like place to just chat and get a sort of deeper sense of how people are doing then can often happen in the like, day to day. I'm actually in the process, we have a project around sort of revisiting how we do performance checks and things like that. So that's, that's a stay tuned. Because Because I am, who I am. And because Wanderwell is the way it is, we can never, like just take something off the shelf and plug it in, like, I have to do a sort of like, how does this align with the rest of our work? Does this get us where we need to go? I'm, I'm allergic to like the status quo and paths that have been followed by people before, which certainly creates a lot more work. I don't recommend that all the time. But like, definitely look at that again. But yeah, I think are all times definitely when a lot of stuff gets surfaced, we also have a really collaborative team culture. So we'll use slack for like, you know, stuff that comes up with clients or problem solving. The team organizes a lot without me to do support and mutual support. So it doesn't all come like up up channel, a lot of it's sort of distributed around, you know, and also who's who's really good at particular kinds of problem solving. Like, maybe you want to go to Laura for like kind of how to work with a client and communication because she's really good at that, or, you know, those kinds of things. And then, uh, you know, to be frank, I do a lot of training around, kind of redirecting certain kinds of problem solving and day to day stuff away from me. And, you know, working with the team as a whole, and this is an ongoing project as things evolve of, like, you know, things that I would expect a team member to be able to resolve without even telling me about it. And so when those stuff comes up, like it's, it's like I sort of pause now, and don't really answer like I sort of have a set of questions of like, what do you actually need to know what have you tried already? Those kinds of things to just like continually be exercising muscles around. Kate's not everybody's problem solver, because I've been in that role for sure. In the past, and ultimately, I mean, what that blocks me from is probably marketing stuff, actually. And doing a lot of like writing and sort of deeper work. But I think some of that's also it's just like practices that have to happen all the time around how people work together.
Emma Peacock 30:31
Yeah, I think that kind of all comes back to like the practices that you do all the time, like the regular weekly meetings and the one to ones every month, so that you're having a communication so that if someone has, you know, something they want to talk to you about, they have an opportunity already set in the calendar to talk to you about it, rather than what can sometimes happen in in person businesses, there's almost an illusion of I see you every day. So you can tell me about it anytime, which is not true in so many different ways. Like, they think you're busy, they think they need to set a time. They think setting a time might blow it out of proportion, like it's becoming a bigger deal than it needs to be. So many different things if you don't have that structured, almost like not systematized but just regular communication, and like, constantly looking at how you can improve different things. But on that point of like looking at things and digesting it before you just plug it in, I almost feel like in a way, so many employees are also allergic to just plugging it in, like, in a way, the way that you're going about it is actually better for so many people rather than like, and today we're going to do this whole thing that will not necessarily upheave everything, but it will feel like it will so there's also that happening.
Kate Strathmann 31:58
Yeah, definitely. Well, I think that's like, back to the remote work thing. I think of about it as almost like, you have to be really conscious of creating containers for different types of interactions and different types of work. And not like mixing them up too much. So like, I might talk to everybody during the week or like you know, I have regular check in meetings with like, our ops person and my executive assistant, but like, those aren't the same thing as like, our agenda is your agenda. You know, so I think some of it's like being clear on what the container and the purpose of the different pieces and ways we communicate are. And that's also something that requires training like, like, I remember, like, it felt very intuitive to me that slack was where everybody should be doing internal stuff. But that's not necessarily clear to anybody entering the company, like maybe they're used to using email in a different culture. And so, you know, that kind of stuff, I think, also it just needs to get explained and trained, and, like clarified for people, so they actually know what, you know, what our channels are for communication and like, where to have certain kinds of conversations. I had a client recently who had, you know, was having one of those, like, Why didn't my employee tell me this moments about something big. And, you know, and it was kind of it was one of those things of like, well, there's not a container for this. And that puts an awful lot on the shoulders of your employee when you hold more of the power. And I think, you know, some awareness of that of like, you know, employees have to overcome some power hurdles to do some of those kinds of, you know, deeper conversations if you're not creating space for them as a leader. And you can get there culturally, but it takes a lot of work to create that kind of culture if you're not doing it consciously.
Emma Peacock 34:14
Yeah, so it's almost like easier in a way to sit at least a lot of containers like that you can think of and then add one if you need to down the road. And just kind of set the set the standard of how, when, and what we're going to be communicating about and what for and then having check ins on whether it's serving people serving the client or if actually, the way that we were using slack or email is not working like it's causing friction because the way that people are talking in slack is being misread when if they just jumped on like a five minute call scheduled five minute call, they both prepared for that meeting and sat in a situation where they were talking face to face, then it would almost change the whole outcome and feeling of that meeting.
Kate Strathmann 35:11
Emma Peacock 35:12
And that exchange.
Kate Strathmann 35:13
Which is, which is much about, it's about, like, you know, all groups of people create norms together. And anytime you have, like, we have a bunch of new people joining, because our teams expanding. So I'm a little bit excited about that, in a way because we get to reset norms again. And not that there was anything bad happening. It's just like, it's a good opportunity to shake things up. But that stuff happens all the time, where it's like, Oh, we don't, we don't just call each other during the day. And it's like, well, why not? And, you know, it's just something that a group of people silently decided together.
Emma Peacock 35:13
Because, like, we like it that way.
Kate Strathmann 35:53
Yeah. And, you know, and it's always, it's always funny to me how much that stuff comes up, like in a team of like, well, that's not how we do it at wanderwell. And, you know, it's like, well, who decided that? And it's usually like, Well, nobody did, we just kind of like evolved that together. But those are, those are things and especially it's like a rebellious spirit. I like to kind of poke at that stuff from time to time. But it happens in any kind of group of people. It's just how how we roll as humans.
Emma Peacock 36:30
Yeah, perfect. Okay, so let's move on to the quickfire round. So I mean, short answers are great, but also explanation. You know, longer answers are also cool. So where do you get the most of your website traffic from?
Kate Strathmann 36:46
I laughed when I read this one, because I was like, I don't know. I haven't looked at that in years. We get most of our business from referrals and word of mouth still and have for 10 years. So I don't track a lot of metrics around like, organic traffic like that. Because they don't really tell us anything we need to know. And so yeah, it didn't make me want to go look it up.
Emma Peacock 37:17
Yeah, nice. I mean, I guess the thing is too like, so what I tell my clients a lot, is that what we're trying to get towards is word of mouth and referrals. Like that's the goal, and all these other things that we're doing along the way, are building up your customer base, and like getting in front of people who will love what you do so much that they will refer you to everyone they know, who is your target audience, whether that's like any business owner, or whichever. So yeah, sometimes when you don't know, it's because it is word of mouth and referrals. And so it doesn't really matter whose coming to your website. Because sometimes those referrals go straight to your inbox.
Kate Strathmann 38:05
They get on the contact form, they get on the email list. And that's how I know that they're there. But yeah,
Emma Peacock 38:12
Otherwise they're just anonymous browsers. What is your favorite place on the internet right now?
Kate Strathmann 38:20
Um, this is a really weird answer. But um, so my girlfriend, and I are in rural Vermont for a spell right now. And there's a this is just a Vermont thing. There's a set, there's a website and kind of set of forums called front porch letter for different tiny towns in Vermont, and getting the feed on those. It's been amazing. Like, we actually, you know, have our glass of wine at the end of the day, and like, read the digest together. Because it's like people giving away chickens or like talking about their neighbors for you know, there's like so much interesting stuff that's very outside of our normal urban life. So I've been very much enjoying that.
Emma Peacock 39:08
I love that, that's so awesome. So what are you looking forward to the most in the next year of business?
Kate Strathmann 39:18
I'm really excited we've been, so we've been expanding the team. We are we'll have three new people in by kind of the time we hit the fall. So I'm just really excited about the, you know, increase of impact that we'll be able to have together and some of those growth projects we're going to be able to work on as an expanded team. We're also part of that expansion is kind of shifting my role into freeing up time for more marketing, and sort of writing and thinking and speaking and doing podcast interviews. Things like that. So I'm really excited to be able to kind of shift my time more into that deeper creative work.
Emma Peacock 40:08
Nice. What are you looking forward to the most in the offline world?
Kate Strathmann 40:14
Well, summer in Vermont is amazing. So I was just telling a friend that I'm kind of reorienting away from linear time into like, summer berries and bodies of water time of like, I'm just gonna organize my summer around all the amazing food we can get here, making pies, going for swims in lakes, and spending as much time as possible doing those things.
Emma Peacock 40:45
If someone is listening to this episode, and they want to know more about their numbers, what is the one thing you recommend they do next?
Kate Strathmann 40:53
Hmm. Well, I could give a self serving answer which is also true, which is get a bookkeeper. I think I think the the biggest thing is to start to look at the real numbers regularly. Because it's definitely something that takes time to learn and get intimate with. So if you're not getting those in a sort of squeaky, clean, organized fashion, that could be from a bookkeeper. It could be from a very elegant spreadsheet, depending on what you need. But I think that's the first step is to like actually look at them all the time.
Emma Peacock 41:32
Bonus question that I just thought off off the top of my head. What would you say is the main difference of like a good bookkeeper rather than just someone who like balances the books?
Kate Strathmann 41:45
Oh, that's a good question.
Emma Peacock 41:47
What's the core like thing that differentiates them?
Kate Strathmann 41:51
Yeah, well, so I think that two things to know are it's a real technical skill. I think it takes about four or five years for somebody to kind of build expertise and get mastery in that. I've never seen a business. So I've seen one business owner in maybe 1000 be able to do it themselves competently. And that was definitely not me. So I think one thing to know is like, you know, it's it's not something just anybody can do. And then I think the second thing is proactivity. This is kind of true in like accounting, finance, bookkeeping, practices in general. I have some theories about why that you know, could share offline with people if they're interested, but for whatever reason, professionalism, those practices, the norm is having to chase people down for information. Like whether you need to like harass your accountant, or like, see if your bookkeepers actually reconciled the last month, can you get a report those kinds of things. So that's kind of the norm, unfortunately. And so I think the real difference and this is something that we're really kind of obsessed with at Wanderwell is just being super proactive. Like we tend to harass our clients much more than they harass us. And that's the goal.
Emma Peacock 43:28
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host, Emma Peacock, and today, our guest was Kate Strathmann of Wanderwell. If you're in search of a bookkeeper, you can find more information at wanderwallconsulting.com. If you're enjoying the podcast, I'd love it if you could share it with a friend. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast and handy tips for small businesses marketing online, head to honeypotdigital.com