Meet Kali, Founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, Who Made the Switch from Spreadsheets to Easy Cloud Accounting

Kali Hawlk manages her rapidly growing marketing firm on FreshBooks, a simple cloud accounting solution. Here's her story.

I entered the world of entrepreneurship in late 2016. For most of the year, I straddled the line between a working a full-time marketing job and running my business, Creative Advisor Marketing, on the side. It wasn’t until October that year that I decided to break free from the 9-to-5 for good. I switched to full-fledged entrepreneurship with a goal to grow my inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisors communicate their value in a way that grows their pipeline of prospective clients.

I watched my firm grow exponentially in its first full year. I acquired more clients, increased my revenue and kept my costs down. But amidst the excitement of building a thriving business in a short amount of time, I quickly realized I spent far too much time on administrative work.

Although it wasn’t putting an immediate strain on my business, it was bogging me down and keeping me from being as efficient as possible. I could also see that as I continued to grow, so would the problem. Managing all the back-office tasks would only become harder to handle myself.

What Life Was Like Managing My Accounting—Not on the Cloud

I’ll admit it: when it came to accounting, I didn’t really manage it. I had a lot of spreadsheets and manually tracked and invoiced everything. Spreadsheets slowed me down and put me at risk of making big, expensive mistakes because I operated without a backup system.

The problem was mostly internal, but the haphazard, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants nature of my accounting sometimes turned into a client-facing problem via inconsistencies and little mistakes that clients could see on an invoice. At times, I feared I looked more like a clueless freelancer than a legitimate business owner.

Knowing my process needed to be more professional if I wanted to grow a sustainable business, I started to seek a more workable, efficient, put-together solution.

Choosing the Cloud Was a No-Doubter

As a millennial, choosing to put my accounts on the cloud wasn’t really a tough decision. It was more like a default; every other system I used, personally and professionally, was backed by the cloud. Using the cloud was the most sensible move for my business.

In an accounting solution, I wanted two main things: a low-maintenance system and the ability to produce professionally crafted invoices and proposals or estimates. I already knew, from my manual spreadsheets, how time-consuming and downright painful accounting could be without the right systems in place. Turning a slow, inefficient process into a quick, simple, and smooth one was a requirement.

And of course, creating and sending an invoice was just one part of the accounting I needed to do. Once all those documents were sent, I needed to easily track who paid what and when.

Accounting Made Simple

Rapid growth was a good problem to have, but I knew my accounting would suffer if I didn’t make the switch right away. I started using FreshBooks in early 2017—six to seven months after starting my business.

I’m thrilled that FreshBooks has saved me so much time, which frees me up to focus on activities that actively grow my business. Before FreshBooks, I didn’t really give myself the time to do some crucial tasks since I was bogged down in spreadsheets.

I now have the space to do more creative work and business planning, as well as more hours in the day to work on client deliverables and the tasks required to bring in new accounts to the firm.

Today, Invoicing Is Quick and Painless

In FreshBooks, I love having the ability to duplicate invoices, so I don’t have to build everything from scratch. What’s more, I can quickly turn estimates into invoices, which is really powerful and useful—such a time saver!

Growing My Business with FreshBooks

Using FreshBooks over the last year has helped me manage one important thing: time. With less of it spent on accounting and paperwork, I’ve been able to grow my client base, as well as see increased profits! That’s not something a lot of business owners can say they’ve accomplished in their first year, so I’m grateful FreshBooks has helped enable me to do what I love—and make a living.

Looking into the future, I definitely think FreshBooks will become even more of an important part of my business. I just hired my first team member, so FreshBooks will be there to help me track her time and manage her expenses. I’m looking forward to digging into more of FreshBooks’ capabilities as we continue to expand and grow.

As I see it, here’s the bottom line with FreshBooks and why I would encourage any solopreneur or new entrepreneur to consider it: there’s really no barrier to entry. It’s easy to use and, as a busy small business owner, you don’t need to spend a lot of time learning the software.

Most importantly, as I see my business grow beyond its first year, I’m able to take FreshBooks along for the ride with me.

about the author

Founder, Creative Advisor Marketing Kali is the Founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, a marketing firm helping financial advisors communicate their ideas to prospects. She uses FreshBooks to help run and grow her business.