Sara Lobkovich, Founder of Red Currant Collective shares her journey with establishing her business and scaling with FreshBooks.
Company: Red Currant Collective
Industry: Business Strategy
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
No set processes for bookkeeping and getting paid
FreshBooks Invoices and Expense Tracking
Throughout her career, Sara Lobkovich has honed in on her expertise in adult learning, instructional design, and helping teams understand their strengths to work together and achieve peak performance. She has oscillated between being an entrepreneur and holding full-time positions across technology, law, marketing, and strategic ops.
Her latest passion is her own company, Red Currant Collective. The company focuses on OKR coaching, business strategy, conflict resolution, and sustaining organizational momentum.
“OKRs are about increasing organizational performance and results, and, done with integrity, help organizations improve inclusion, belonging, and increase well-being and humane conditions in the workplace,” Sara said.
With Red Currant, Sara was looking to translate her passions and career experience into a viable business, but scaling her business quickly while starting with no revenue was quite the challenge. By seeking out FreshBooks to handle her payments, invoices, and expenses, and Bench to fill in her accounting workflow, Sara was able to focus on growing her business with confidence that her books and finances were in good hands.
Talk to me about Red Currant. What made you decide to start your own business after stints of full-time employment?
Sara: Red Currant Collective is a strategic impact consultancy. The main services we’re focused on are around objectives and key results (OKRs) for organizations to build momentum throughout all areas of their business.
I formed the business in January of 2020, but I took on some full-time work amidst the pandemic and officially opened Red Currant in March of 2021. We’re relatively new, but we’ve exceeded my own expectations in terms of revenue and growth so far, so I’m really happy and excited about where we are headed.
Accounting tends to be an afterthought for small business owners. How did you initially feel about handling your finances? Empowered? Terrified?
Sara: The scariest part for me of starting my own business is the financial operations of it. It’s not my zone of genius or competence. I knew I needed help with this area, and my husband is also a small business owner on the blue-collar side.
I learned through his business that outsourcing what isn’t in my area of expertise could only make things run smoother, and I made that decision to immediately look for a good way to outsource both the bookkeeping and the financial component of my business before I actually needed to. It was important to me to find a platform I trusted and the best tool for the job.
So you knew you were gapped when it came to finances, and finding a solution was more of an exercise in foresight?
Sara: Exactly. There wasn’t a pain point necessarily. It was more just the awareness of knowing the bookkeeping and financial side of things was not my strong suit. For me, it was important to invest in a tool like FreshBooks to fill that gap and give me confidence on that side of my business.
I don’t have to spend a moment worrying about my finances. I know this is not super sexy to say, but it just works.
How did you hear that FreshBooks and Bench work so well together?
Sara: I used FreshBooks at a previous business years ago and loved it, and Bench was also recommended to me by a colleague. Knowing I needed help in this area, I didn’t even do a trial. I just signed up and took the leap of faith, and I have absolutely been blown away by the effectiveness of FreshBooks and Bench together.
We’re trying to get my husband to move over to FreshBooks, but there are some industry-specific details in his inventory management which make that tedious. It’s so much less of a hassle using FreshBooks, though! We’ll migrate him eventually, [laughs].
Being a new business owner at the time, did you look at other solutions in your search for an accounting tool?
Sara: I looked at a few other options, but considering where my business was starting from zero, anticipating rapid growth, and needing an extremely easy-to-use tool, FreshBooks stuck out to me, and I’m so glad I went that way.
How has FreshBooks fast-tracked your business growth?
Sara: I knew I needed it for invoicing, and I knew I needed expense tracking management, so basically bookkeeping. I also really wanted something I could accept online payments through, and that’s been of tremendous value for me. Lately, I’ve actually been really annoyed when clients won’t use the online payment option, [laughs]. I have a client right now who’s asked me to send them my bank routing number and account numbers so they can pay me. And I’m like, come on, just pay me through FreshBooks!
You mention the tremendous value you get from FreshBooks with tools like online payments. What would you tell other business owners considering FreshBooks?
Sara: With FreshBooks and Bench, I don’t have to spend a moment worrying about my finances. I know this is not super sexy to say, but it just works. And for a business owner to subscribe to platforms and services and then have them over-deliver on their promises, it just makes a huge difference.
I would say it’s never too early and never too late to get on board with FreshBooks. When I wrote the first check for that first month of service, I didn’t have any real revenue yet. It was difficult because it felt like I was spending money before I was making money. However, the FreshBooks support team worked with me going back to the very beginning of my business, only a month or two after I really started operations. They helped me account for everything from my owner contributions, to the startup of the business, from my personal finances before the business was formalized and held my hand through that transition from being a personal project, spending money on my future business all the way to being an up and running LLC with business finances.
So, when I think about tax time coming up and my overall readiness, I have so much peace of mind. I’m thrilled that I signed on early because things were so simple in the first couple of months. But now, as things get a little more complex, I have a solid foundation with a few months of finances that are crystal clear and accounted for.