Local businesswoman Kristi Gelas had a toddler at home, was pregnant with her second child, and worked a busy corporate job in administration and business management when she recognized that her life needed an overhaul to balance it all. Like many new moms, the struggle of juggling family life and career was going to take some creativity.
Kristi’s background was in the corporate world, most recently as a business manager for a multi-million dollar company, working on auditing, payroll, invoicing, and financial reporting. Kristi knew that she had always had a propensity towards numbers, and she was good at organization and analysis. But it was her experiences running small businesses — a small coffee shop and a guide company — that drove her towards helping other small businesses manage their books. “I knew that most small business owners don’t have that experience, and they try to do everything themselves.” Combining her affinity for business and numbers and recognizing a need to be filled, a seed was planted, and the idea for Wildflower Bookkeeping began to grow.
Kristi was excited about the prospect of helping business owners with financial goals and planning and quickly got to work, developing a two-year plan to launch her new company. Hoping to create more flexibility in her professional life, she planned to build the bookkeeping business by working at home, while continuing to work her corporate job. Once she had reliable income from her new business adventure she would leave her corporate career. Kristi enrolled in a bookkeeping course and began building a website, and then — five months into her two-year plan — she was laid off from her job. Some people might have been devastated by that news, but not Kristi. “It was a sign!” she explains, undaunted by the sudden acceleration in her plan.
Forced into quick action, she decided to lean into her new path and get to work. Kristi finished her course, put the finishing touches on her website, and became the proud, new owner of Wildflower Bookkeeping. She announced her opening on Facebook and received her first client through a friend. And just like that, Wildflower Bookkeeping was born!
Wildflower Bookkeeping provides monthly bookkeeping services for small businesses, offers payroll support, and helps with document management. By building relationships with her clients, Kristi listens to their business goals and helps them with organizational tools and financial support to help keep their books in order. “I really love the relationships I have built with my clients over the past few years. I’ve met some amazing people. I know their kids’ names and ages, and some have become friends,” Kristi says of her clients. “A bookkeeper needs to be a trusted advisor you can go to with your questions, someone who can offer support for your financial needs.” That kind of trust has made her a reliable bookkeeper and a close friend to many of the business owners she supports. This reliability and trust have helped her business grow from one client to nearly twenty in a little over two years.
Like many women in business, Kristi finds herself balancing the growth of her small business and life with her husband and two young, high-energy boys. Kristi says the best thing about being self-employed is the freedom. “I love being able to be here when someone in my family needs me.” Being a mom and running a business has its struggles too. When asked about what has been the most challenging aspect of being self-employed, she laughs as she says, “The freedom.”
Those two high-energy boys are kicked out of her home office multiple times during our conversation. “It’s like a three-ring circus,” Kristi sighs. And most women can agree; anyone who tries to raise a family and run a business at the same time will most likely peek over their shoulder from time to time to see when the clowns are making their entrance. No sooner than the little footsteps and voices had been ushered out — I heard them nearing again.
Before we finish up, I ask Kristi for her best (free) financial and organizational advice. “Keep your receipts!” she says. “And keep good records!” Kristi shares that, despite conflicting opinions, businesses make it harder on themselves when they are disorganized in their recordkeeping. She continues by stating, “File and pay your quarterly taxes on time, and set aside enough money to budget for this every month.” Kristi says that businesses wait until they have a crisis at tax time before they commit to this. Better to avert the crisis and do it now.
Kristi has excellent resources and recommendations to help make bookkeeping more manageable. Her million-dollar advice is something I believe rings true for everyone, either in business or out. “If you’re overwhelmed by your goals, make each step a mini-goal so you are slowly achieving your goals and feeling accomplished along the way. Does that make sense?” Yes, Kristi, it does. It really does.
You can learn more at wildflowerbk.com.