Austin-based Shannon Eddings Interiors relies on FreshBooks to handle estimates, invoicing, and complicated expenses. Click here to watch Shannon's video.
Shannon Eddings always dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming an interior designer. Yet, when you ask Shannon how she started her business, she says that it was a matter of timing and luck.
She had just been let go from her job after the recession and had a 6-month-old baby at home when a contact asked if they could hire her to decorate their house.
“I took a risk and went out on my own. The rest is history,” says Shannon.
Ten years and 2 more kids later, Shannon Eddings Interiors has only grown. Each month, her team of 4—including her husband, Sam, who helps manage her accounting—works on up to 20 commercial and residential projects per month. Her work has been featured on HGTV’s House Hunters Renovations and in magazines such as Austin Home Magazine.
Despite her success and plans for future growth, Shannon is driven by the same values that helped her small business thrive at the beginning. “I love that my kids can come to work with me some days and that my office is only one mile from our house,” she says.
We spoke with Shannon to learn more about how FreshBooks has supported her Austin-based business as it has scaled.
How would you describe your design ethos?
Shannon: I’m known for my use of color and that my portfolio is pretty diverse, compared to a lot of designers. I like to really get to know my clients and invest in getting to know what they really want, so their house reflects them. So, I don’t just churn out one recycled look.
In the last year, for example, we’ve done a lot of cool custom design stuff, like a really cool custom-designed office with this amazing built-in Murphy bed for a client of ours who is an author.
Before you discovered FreshBooks, how did you manage your accounting?
Shannon: Oh gosh. Well, I’m not a business major and I prefer the creative part. So, I’ve had lots of accounting challenges.
When I first got started, I did everything through PayPal, which got tricky because they would take a fee. With job estimates, I would just draft an email and put it all in there. It was kind of a mess, and it wasn’t easy to track. I didn’t even use spreadsheets. I was very disorganized and used a notebook. Kind of old-school.
Once the business was growing, I was very overwhelmed doing it on my own. That’s when we hired employees and really started to need some great software.
A friend in the industry referred me to FreshBooks. It wasn’t that expensive compared to other stuff. It was just very accessible, user-friendly, and easy for me to figure out on my own. I think that’s why I’ve been drawn to FreshBooks—it’s more intuitive.
Invoicing that used to take many, many hours (2 full days, at least) is now down to about half a day.
You mentioned FreshBooks is very user-friendly, how has it supported your business as it’s scaled?
Shannon: We’ve started to buy and sell more products for our clients. On our bigger projects, we’ll have to buy tiles, fabric, wallpaper and things like that. We also source vintage stuff. Twice a year, we go out to Round Top—which is an antiques market here in Texas—and will buy a lot of styling items that we end up using later in projects, like cool sculptural busts, old wood boxes, and quirky oil paintings. Once, I bought an incredible, vintage rattan and velvet sofa from France for a client of mine to use in their wedding event venue for brides to take photos on.
We recently started taking more advantage of the automated expense features in FreshBooks—you know, where you can link your credit card to import the expenses and bill them directly to a client—and that has been huge for us. It’s been very helpful in capturing our expenses and not forgetting to bill people for things.
So the Expenses feature saves you a lot of time, what other features do you find useful?
Shannon: I just love the clean interface of FreshBooks and how it shows what’s in draft, what’s outstanding, and what’s overdue. The ability to do estimates and turn them into invoices are the two other things that we really value.
The invoices are really easy to figure out and our clients seem to have a very easy time paying them. The smooth way I get an email from FreshBooks when someone has paid and the ability to have bank transfers set up makes it so efficient for us. What used to take many, many hours (2 full days, at least) is now down to about half a day to knock out our invoicing.
FreshBooks has really helped us consolidate it all.
Estimates and Invoices aside, what’s next for Shannon Eddings Interiors?
Shannon: I’d never want to get so big that I lose the ability to do my own design work, so I think slow growth is good. But I’d really love to come out with my own line of something, whether it be lighting or wallpaper. I’m always interested in creating things and products.
I do think that we will continue to use FreshBooks in the future. The way you can clearly see the sales tax would keep it in line with what we need from our accounting software if we progressed into product sales.
Why do you think Austin attracts creatives and entrepreneurs?
Shannon: We’re very surrounded by entrepreneur types. People are flocking to this city and there’s room for everyone. Austin is one of those places with a lot of young people are moving here post-college to start their own thing. Especially in my industry, there’s room for growth and opportunity.
My advice for new small business owners would be to invest in a good program like FreshBooks that helps you keep it organized and see how much you’re actually making. And don’t write it in a notebook, which I did forever.
about the author
Jessica Wynne Lockhart is an award-winning journalist and fact-checker, who splits her time between Canada and Australia. She has bylines in the Toronto Star, Chatelaine, and The New Zealand Herald. She writes about e-commerce, personal finance, health, and travel. Learn more about her work at jesslockhart.com.