Meet Dondrea, The Creative’s CFO
This series allows you to get to know the women of the Little Black Desk Academy and the experience they bring to the conversations. I hope you enjoy meeting each of these ladies and join them in conversation.
The Creative’s CFO
A boutique accounting agency for online business owners and creatives.
Why did you want to be a member of Little Black Desk Academy?
Little Black Desk Academy is a community of women who are inspired to lead full lives – both personally and professionally. We’re open and giving of our expertise and foster an environment that is rich in encouragement and direction to live our best lives. It’s my first stop online for business advice and a fresh perspective, and I’m so happy to be part of the community.
Tell us a little bit about your professional experiences and your strengths.
My professional background includes 10 years in public accounting, where I retired as an Audit Manager. During my tenure, I also grew my own stationery and small brand design company, which served as my introduction to the creative community. I merged the best of both worlds in 2017 and offer CFO services to creative entrepreneurs who need direction and strategy for their growing businesses.
My strengths are a teaching spirit, curiosity, and a willingness to help others find confidence and success.
How long have you been in business?
I didn’t intend to make this my business. I took my first client in June 2017. The referral came from a friend I’d previously worked with in public accounting. She’s also a part of the local creative community and referred a wedding planner to me. I enjoyed the work I did with her, and I decided to take my second client, a graphic designer, in September. Before I signed my third client in November, I filed for an LLC.
How long were you in business before you found your groove? And how did you get there?
My lightbulb is 100% on at this point. When I first began the business, I thought entrepreneurship meant that I would do #allthethings. That’s no way to grow and scale a business, and it’s just downright insane!
Being a part of the Little Black Desk Academy has definitely been influential in preparing me to run a real business, not just a side hustle or hobby. I feel like I have a process for marketing, securing clients, onboarding clients, doing the work, and delivering – things I wouldn’t have thought I needed before when I operated from a mindset of a “business of one.”
What’s your favorite part of owning your business?
The fact that I get to partner with creatives is a huge bonus for me. I love to see people who have taken something they’re passionate about and turned it into a business. I also like the flexibility of setting my own hours, writing informational blog posts, and interacting online with other entrepreneurs all over the world.
When everything seems to be going wrong, what pulls you through?
Prayer, my children, a good laugh with my husband, and music
Tell us about the biggest lesson you’ve learned.
Under-promise and over-deliver! I seriously have the best intentions, but I can say yes a bit too quickly. I took on way too much work at the beginning of the year and detangling that web took its toll on me and my family. I’m still a work in progress when it comes to taking on too much work, but I’m much more aware of it and am learning to commit to less. Having accountability in this area has helped!
What is your favorite process or system?
Hands down, the Client Onboarding process. Nothing’s worse than wanting to work with someone and then finding that they don’t have a clearly defined process so that you can get started. From the business owner perspective, I want to establish trust with clients through the organization on day one. I’ve found that my clients appreciate having this process clearly defined and felt less overwhelmed getting started because of it.
What’s your must-read business book?
It’s a small booklet that is a very quick read. In it, he discusses the mindset of millionaires. My favorite takeaway is that millionaires have no problems talking about money.
I think one of the greatest problems we face with our business finances is simply not talking about them enough. We have taboo topics – some of which we brought with us from corporate America – like not discussing our profits or wages. It is just not feasible as entrepreneurs to keep that same mindset and expect tremendous growth. You have to allow your mind to evolve beyond it!
What are your 1-year and 5-year goals?
- 1 YEAR: Grow my team to 4 people with an in-house business advisor, tax accountant, and a bookkeeper and to grow my retainer clients to a monthly revenue of $14,000.
- 5 YEAR: My 5-year goal is to transition to a full virtual agency with employees – accountants, bookkeepers and virtual assistants – where I function in a more managerial role and a face partner for high earners.
What’s one piece of advice you would give your fellow entrepreneur?
Push through the hard parts of your business. On the other side of your challenges is understanding and a solution.
What do you want to learn from your peers in the Academy?
I hope to gain fresh perspectives from business owners in different industries and apply those to my own business to make a difference. I also hope to learn the financial issues my peers struggle with and offer support through producing content – blogs, worksheets, etc.