Alexandra Sleightholm, owner of Care of the Dog, a dog walking company based in Toronto, shares how she uses FreshBooks for her invoicing.
Throughout my working life, I bounced around a number of different fields but never quite thought I’d find myself doing what I do today.
I’ve always loved animals, but what really pushed me to start my business was after my dog passed away. For a while I lived in a place where I couldn’t have pets but, growing up with animals, I felt like I needed them in my life. So Care of the Dog was my way of doing that.
I’ve been running my business for 7 years now and experienced some slow, but incredible growth since I started.
Letting Go Was Hard: What Happened When My Business Became Too Big for Me
My dog walking business went through steady growth—and I loved it. I was able to add clients at my own pace and grow in a really natural, organic way.
But after 3 years of being the sole dog walker for my business, I knew it was becoming too much for me to handle on my own. At that point, I was walking 12 dogs multiple times a week, and it was becoming difficult for me to keep up.
For many people, the thought of growing a team is a huge milestone. You get to share your baby—the business you created—with other enthusiastic, like-minded people. But for me, hiring a team scared me. It was difficult to let my business go, in a sense.
It was surely a bittersweet experience but became so much more of a reward at the end. Now I have an amazing team of 3 behind me, who are able to give a personalized service to each of the dogs in a small community in Toronto.
Before Cloud Accounting, My Notebook and Spreadsheet Were My Secret Weapons
How did I invoice my clients? Let’s just say that I exchanged no formal documentation with my clients. In the beginning, I had clients pay me at the end of each week, then I’d document it in a notebook.
When tax time rolled around, I’d transfer all the information from my notebook to a spreadsheet and try to make sense of it all: payments, expenses, clients, everything.
It Was Time for Change: I Needed a Better Solution
I needed help managing the administrative side of my business, desperately. And I needed to change everything I did about accounting.
I knew I had a big problem when I started making mistakes in my logging and accounting. That really triggered the need for change and better organization.
Invoices, Done Right
As a dog walker, invoicing is a huge part of my business. At the end of the day, It’s the single document that helps me get paid. In FreshBooks, I rely the most on (and love) the recurring invoices feature.
The fact that I can have all my invoice information laid out and prepared for me is the best. Without it, I would have trouble running my business and making sure I send my invoices right on time. What’s even better, is it helps me be a more professional business owner. And my clients can sense that right from my invoice.
Knowing I can rely on FreshBooks to help me stay on top of my invoices, I have more time to do other things in my business.
I have more time to spend on marketing, meet with clients and, ultimately, grow my business. It’s been extremely helpful to dedicate my days towards answering client emails and calls, rather than worrying whether or not I logged a paid invoice in my notebook.
I Trust FreshBooks to Help Me Do Right By My Business
I feel very close to FreshBooks. Over the years, I’ve been able to reach out to their Support team to ask questions and give suggestions. The great thing is: My comments have been heard and acted upon. I feel like it’s been such a natural relationship and an essential tool for my business.
Comparing how I ran my business back then to now, I definitely wish I found my solution sooner.
My advice to small business owners: As soon as your business hits a point where you feel overwhelmed, that’s the moment you need a platform like FreshBooks. It always brings me back to the time when my little book was just not enough.
I’m sure I’m not the only person record-keeping in a journal or spreadsheet. I think that everybody has that moment in their business growth—the moment of panic, and “what’s next?”
But when you feel like you can’t handle it anymore, remember your business is just getting to that perfect point. You’re growing. You just need to find the right tool, and FreshBooks is that for me.