Kabbage spoke with Kabbage customer Cristina Garza, owner of and Chief Number Cruncher at Accountingprose. Garza serves a wide variety of small businesses – from technology startups to creative agencies to professional service organizations. Garza and her team work tirelessly to ensure passion-chasers can continue successfully chasing their passions. To keep up with these small business superheroes, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!
It started with a monk. A monk who happened to run the organization of which Garza was the CFO. They’d spend their days traveling the world, meeting and working with people from any country you can think of. They’d teach meditation and yoga. They’d visit monasteries, which stimulated Garza’s intellectual and introspective passions that she still carries over to her day-to-day life. Garza’s side hustle at the time was helping small businesses with their accounting needs. Through this, she built her business naturally. She found joy in helping small business owners succeed at what they loved doing, and eventually, she decided to pursue her own passion and start her own business: Accountingprose.
Accountingprose, which launched in 2010 and went full-force in 2012, gets its name from their mission: They want to tell beautiful stories (or, prose) through accounting. “Small businesses are my passion because everybody has a story that they want to tell, or they want to pursue their passion,” Garza says. “I think by offering small business accounting services to them, I can help them do their best work and do what they love.”
Her passion for helping others goes beyond her clients – it extends to her employees as well. “I think that my employees really are excited about having a great work-life balance and feeling like they’re being respected,” she says, making sure she honors her employees and their lives as much as she can. “I’m doing this for everybody: for my staff and for my clients.”
Accountingprose offers cloud-based accounting and payroll for small business owners around the U.S., and they’re not limited to specific regions since they’re entirely based online. They also offer bookkeeping services, end-of-month financial statements, income statements, balance sheets and much more. Clients have come to them from Xero, Yelp and word-of-mouth marketing.
“Our clients really love us because we really love our clients,” she says. “So we really make sure that we take care of all our referrals too because I want to be sure that we’re doing right by our clients.” Her clients don’t go into business for the accounting side of it, she says, but because it means something deeper to them. “If I can help them do their best work – do the work they’re most passionate about – they’re happier,” Garza says, “and that’s just making change throughout the whole world. I love it.”
What largely drives Garza is her ability to help others. She spends most of her days constantly thinking about what she can do better and how she can better serve her community. To do this, she focuses on goals, the larger picture and what she can do to accomplish them. She celebrates her small triumphs while walking around Denver, listening to everything and absorbing it all in, not letting anything distract her. This is where she finds herself. “I feel like I have my best thoughts when I’m just walking around with nothing else going on,” she says. Her awesome clients and staff help drive her as well. One of her rules is only working with those she can sit down and have a beer with – and this strategy has worked.
Over the last five years, Accountingprose has flourished. “We’ve grown from one to eight, now to 10 employees,” she says, “and I don’t see us slowing down anytime soon.” Garza says she uses her Kabbage funds to help build this growth through proactive hiring, onboarding and payroll. “Having Kabbage funds just waiting for that period of growth is exceptional because I know that I’ve got everything covered,” she says. “There’s nothing to worry about.” Part of Accountingprose’s sustainability is ensuring a high ROI on their employees.
For example, Garza illustrates, if one staff member is being paid $50,000 a year, she expects a three-fold, or $150,000, in revenue from that one individual in return. Another aspect of Acountingprose’s sustainability comes from ensuring that the clients and employees they take on will be a good fit to the long-term, which ensures success on both ends. “Success looks different for every customer,” Garza says. “Some customers are really focused on the bottom line. Some people are focused on time or lifestyle. So, when we begin working with a client, I’m really clear to ask the question: ‘What’s keeping you up at night?’ Or, ‘What are you really trying to accomplish short and long-term?’”
One of her most meaningful successful moments as a business owner was with a client who kept their books on a manual ledger, doing everything by hand. The client was a couple who owned and ran a dude ranch for almost 40 years. They were nearing retirement, the husband was sick, and they wanted to hand the business over to her son, who wasn’t into doing everything manually. Eventually, Accountingprose swooped in to help, moving everything over to digital and into the cloud, which cut the client’s time spent on accounting from 30-40 hours a month to 5-6 hours a month. At first, Garza was nervous the wife would be resistant to this new change, but when she saw how much easier the process was, she was thrilled. Now her son runs their business – a dream which Garza’s client didn’t think was possible before.
“It made me really happy because we were able to help somebody who probably felt like she didn’t have any other opportunity to step away,” Garza says. “It really made me joyous and proud of my team for holding her hand through the entire process and making her feel comfortable, so she could do what she wanted to do, which was retire.”
Garza takes this joy to heart in her business as well as her personal life, which she’s immortalized with a Sasquatch tattoo on her arm, adorned with hearts and her life’s motto (“Live free or don’t”). She sees this as a self-portrait and believes you have a choice every day on who you want to be and how you want to live – and she chooses to be free.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about what my actions say about me,” she says, “and what I can do to make a difference in my clients’ and my employees’ lives.” With any and every situation, Garza looks at the bigger picture holistically; not just in the moment. She brings this into her business as well. Her business’s focus is on building a tribe of awesome partners, not just getting clients and making money. “At Accountingprose, we’re small business superheroes,” she says, “and we do good work for good people.”
For more stories about women in business,