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Last Updated on September 14, 2022
Struggling with your business finances? These money management tips will help you get clear on your finances, grow your profit beyond 6-figures, and keep more cash while doing it.
Do you want to grow your profit?
Then knowing your numbers is a MUST! Many entrepreneurs put their heads in the sand when it comes to money management, because it can get just so darn confusing and overwhelming.
If that’s you, then this episode is a non-negotiable listen! No need to feel ashamed of wherever you’re at, but I beg you, please empower yourself to understand your numbers and finances so that can continue to build a business and a life that you love.
If you’re already somewhat familiar with your numbers but are ready to grow to multi-six or even seven-figures, in this episode we’re going to talk about how to do just that.
Before we dive in, let’s clear on some of the terms we’ll use in this episode:
Alight, it’s time to get clear on your finances, grow your profit beyond 6-figures, and keep more cash while doing it!
My guest today, Dondrea Owens, is a CPA who has been helping women entrepreneurs know their numbers and grow their profit since 2017. It’s her mission to be a resource for business owners who want to make smarter investments and take home more money.
Before starting The Creative’s CFO, Dondrea spent a decade auditing the financial statements of profitable companies at a top national accounting firm. Between both her education and professional experience, she has the skill (and the passion!) to educate and empower business owners in a way that helps them grow more profitable and sustainable businesses.
Thanks so much for joining me this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for The Success with Soul Podcast on Apple Podcasts so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.
To determine your free cash flow, count your total sales or cash that’s collected, and then deduct your expenses. The result is what is called free cash flow.
You can try the 50/30/20 method, where you divide up your free cash flow into percentages. You pay yourself 50% of the profit, then 30% is set aside for taxes, and then 20% goes to business savings for future investments (like employee salaries or other hiring needs, coaching, software, etc.).
Every business is different, so you may need to pay yourself 70%, set aside 20% for taxes, and then have 10% left for business investments. This is why working with a CFO or other financial advisor is crucial, so you can really grasp your numbers and run a sustainable business that works for you.
Don’t commingle your personal and business expenses. Set up a separate bank account to track your business income and expenses to make for easy reporting and financial management.
Another tip: don’t take on too many expenses, or label everything as an investment if it doesn’t have an ROI. You need to be able to measure your return, whether it be in more money, more time, or more energy. You also need to be charging enough for your products or services so that you can build a sustainable business in the first place.
Kate Kordsmeier 0:00
Well, Hey there. Welcome back to the Success with Soul podcast. I'm your host, Kate Kordsmeier. And today, I am so excited to be diving a little bit deeper into some, let's call it intermediate to advanced level topics for entrepreneurs. So I know a lot of you are beginners, or maybe just have an idea or are in the early startup phase of your business. But I know there's an equal number of you out there who already have a business and are ready to scale and start bringing in maybe even more than six figures. And so I am thrilled to have Dondrea Owens with us today. She's a CPA who has been helping women entrepreneurs know their numbers and grow their profits since 2017. So her mission is to be a resource for business owners who want to make smarter investments and take home more money. And she has an amazing company called the creative CFO. She's a virtual CFO, educating and empowering business owners in a way that helps them grow more profitable and sustainable businesses, which is what we are all about here at Success with Soul. So today is a good one. And no matter what stage of business you're in, I think you'll get a lot out of it. So without further ado, let's get to it. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier x journalists turned CEO of a multi six figure blog in online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kate create a thriving business that impacts 1000s and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic, soulful, step by step strategies from Kate and other experts, you're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur, Kate Kordsmeier. Hey, Dondrea. Welcome to Success with Soul.
Dondrea Owens 2:11
Hello, thank you. So glad to talk with you.
Kate Kordsmeier 2:15
We were just chatting about how we're both Georgia girls. So I love having local people on the podcast doesn't get to happen very often. So this is exciting. Yeah, super exciting. Yeah. Tell everybody a little bit about what you do. I think you have such an amazing business model.
Dondrea Owens 2:32
So my name is Dondrea Owens, I'm a CPA and virtual CFO for women entrepreneurs, who really want to get clear on their numbers and be able to pay themselves more and live the life of their dreams.
Kate Kordsmeier 2:45
I love this and your company is called the creative CFO. Right, right. And so what is the difference between like a CFO or hiring an accountant or a bookkeeper?
Dondrea Owens 2:56
Yeah. Okay, so there's pretty
much levels to it. So a bookkeeper, we would work with to do the data entry portions. So that person is inside of QuickBooks, they're categorizing transactions, they might be doing bank reconciliations and things like that. So the bookkeeper is the very first step. And then the accountant takes the report that comes from the bookkeepers work, and then analyzes that report to make sure everything makes sense. That's the point where we find errors in the reports, or maybe the way things are categorized. But they really put it in a way that makes sense for the business owner. And then when you get to the CFO level, that's when we're talking more about strategy. That's how we can manipulate the upcoming view or the future view. So it's the forecasting for that particular company. So I always say the accountant gives you the historical view, the CFO gives you the future view.
Kate Kordsmeier 3:50
I love that super clear way to think of it. And when do most of your clients come to you? What stage of their business? Are they in? Are they just starting out, or they already are making a certain amount of money when makes sense to bring on a virtual CFO.
Dondrea Owens 4:05
So you've definitely already been making money, you are very profitable. And you've just you just need direction on what to do next, how to grow the sales, how to minimize your expenses, as much as possible, I call it streamlining. Because there's really no way to minimize expenses. When you're running a business, it does get pretty expensive sometimes. So we look at that. We also look at the investments that you should be making in order to continue growing, because it's not all about just getting the expenses as low as they can possibly be. Sometimes the expenses actually need to go up so that the revenue can go up. And so it's just having those conversations with the CEO to see what the vision of the company is, what resources are available for us to use and what's the best use of those resources.
Kate Kordsmeier 4:54
Okay, so this is really interesting. One of the first thing you said that caught my attention was Sometimes we think we have to minimize our expenses. But actually, a lot of times we have to add expenses so that we can grow. Let's talk about this for a minute. Because I think so many people feel the opposite. And like, Oh, I can't spend that until I'm making more money, right?
Dondrea Owens 5:17
So yes, so at a certain point, we've streamlined the expenses as much as possible. So we know that every expense that's currently on the books is necessary to run the business. And from that point, we either need to make more money, actually, that's the only thing that we need is to make more money. But to do that, sometimes we have to spend money to make money. And to explain a little bit about what that means is, sometimes it means that you need to bring on an advertising and marketing person to help you get more visibility and grow those sales. Sometimes it means that you need to expand capacity, which means bringing on other contractors, or maybe part time employees who do what you do and can serve clients. So it's all of those things that you know, might need to come into play either increasing the capacity or giving you more visibility so that you can grow that top line and grow the sales. Right, right.
Kate Kordsmeier 6:11
So and this is interesting, because you know, everybody has a little bit of a different opinion on that, do you have to spend money to make money because it is such a chicken or the egg scenario, right? I can say from my personal experience, every time I've invested in my business almost every time of course, there's been some bad investments that didn't go as planned. But that's what's got. That's what's propelled my growth. That's what's taken me to the next level. And I never hired that VA, if I had never, you know, taken on that added expense, or brought on more strategy or more support, I never would have been able to get to that level. Because I think we're so conditioned to feel like we should be able to do everything ourselves.
Dondrea Owens 6:51
Yes. And when you're a one woman or one man show, it's really hard to be in all places of the business and fully show up that way. Because if we're being really honest, you are not a genius at everything in the business.
Kate Kordsmeier 7:06
much as I would like to think I'm perfect at everything I do. And you know, I can wear all the hats, I really can't.
Dondrea Owens 7:13
Right, and you really shouldn't. So there's, you know, remove that pressure from yourself and look at what is going to open up the most space and an opportunity for you to really grow.
Kate Kordsmeier 7:24
Yeah, yeah. And so let's say people are listening, and they're like, okay, I agree, but I physically don't have the dollars, you know, in my account, how do you recommend people like smartly invest into their business if they don't have the money yet?
Dondrea Owens 7:43
Yeah. So I say start really small. And what that could look like is, and I give people reasonable goals, I say, there's no need to go out and get a VA who has a package for 30 hours a month at $900, you absolutely cannot do that. But could you afford an hour or two? from someone who could take something off your plate? And you could go and do something revenue generating in that time? And if you still can't, what would you need to sell or do in order to be able to afford those couple of hours to open you up for revenue generating activities? So it's a great way to really put it on yourself about how to increase is to say, Okay, well, if I sold one intensive, that's three hours of my time, and we'll just say, $600? If you did that, with that $600. How could you invest in some support in your business to then go off and do something else?
Kate Kordsmeier 8:44
Right? Yeah, yeah, I love thinking of things of like, what would I have to do in order to cover this cost? And, I mean, I, I do that for a lot of things. Like, last year, I invested in this really expensive group coaching program, you know, like $25,000, or something like that. And I thought, Okay, well, they're teaching me how to sell high ticket programs myself. So I don't actually have $25,000 in cash just sitting around with nothing to do. Right. So, but what would I need to do in order to make that money? And it was like, well, that would really be two to three sales of my own high ticket program. And do I think it's reasonable to expect that I could learn how to sell two or three sales from that for me, I was like, of course. So then you kind of, you know, that's how I sort of not justify that's not the right word, but like,
I measured the return. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Okay, so
the other thing you said earlier was about sort of how sometimes our gross revenue might grow. But do you see it happening where a lot of times, and the entrepreneur themselves like their take home doesn't always grow with the gross revenue Like, I know that personally, I have taking home the same amount of money personally, that I was when I was making $200,000. I'm taking home the same amount when I'm making $500,000. Because my expenses have grown so much with it is that common?
Dondrea Owens 10:17
It is common. But it's one of the things that you definitely have to look out for. So my approach with CEOs and small businesses is that we approach it with you in mind first. So just like we set the revenue goals for the business, we also set personal pay goals for you. And so by approaching it from that direction, we also get to see Well, what would the expenses look like? And is that reasonable? And so we sort of get to, you know, a middle ground a balance between that hefty salary that the CEO with love and really deserves, and then what is actually feasible for where the company is and what it takes to grow? Because sometimes it's not all in the salary for the CEO. It's actually in the time. Yeah, yeah. And so what we see with those CEOs is that they are spending less time in the business, but the business has tremendously grown, even though their salary is staying around the same area.
Kate Kordsmeier 11:16
Right. But I think that's so true to like to put you in mind first, because there was a time a few years ago, where, you know, I was paying myself like $50,000, and it was just like, what am I doing all of this for? That's all I'm gonna take home. Like, why this is so much stress and so much time and energy and effort. And I really had to reposition the way I thought of everything to say, Yeah, why am I doing this if if only to pay myself that much. And so I just decided to give myself like a triple raise, and was just like, I'm going to just figure it out. Because otherwise, this is not worth it. And I could just go get a regular job.
Dondrea Owens 12:00
Exactly. You know, we see, we've seen that with clients when they first come in, and it is jaw dropping sometimes. But you know, the creative CFO is a judgment free zone. But we will let you know when you are sacrificing self for, for the sake of of expenses is what we say. We've seen it where owners aren't paying themselves, but they've got five or six people on their team, who they are paying. So it was me? Yeah,
Kate Kordsmeier 12:29
yeah, that was me. And it's a it's a toxic environment to get into as well. Because it's the employees didn't ask you to do that, you know, none of my rights that you should pay me instead of paying yourself. But my, you know, like, my, my human brain can't really grasp that. And so I started feeling like resentment towards my employees of like, yeah, you're getting a paycheck. And I'm not even though that was my decision. Right? And it just yeah, once I realized that that was happening, I was like, this has to change. I mean, it's not sustainable. First of all, and I, you know, and I think, um, well, I have so many follow up questions for this. So let me let me backtrack. And I could just, like spew out 30 questions at once. Okay. So speaking of employees, once your business gets to a certain level, and you are ready to bring on employees, or you know, really team build, do you feel like it's a better financial decision to have contractors versus employees?
Dondrea Owens 13:32
Well, here's the thing with that. It's not really, that one is financially better than the other, it really boils down to what the IRS says, right? So you've got those, the definition of an employee and the definition of a contractor, according to the IRS, it's how much you can, how much you dictate about the work that they do, like when they do it, how they do it, what resources do you provide for them to do the job? And, you know, do you provide them with reimbursements and benefits and things of that nature, that really determine whether a person is an employee or a contractor? Right. So I veer to that definition, more so than I do, you know, anything financial? Is it more expensive to have an employee? it possibly could be, but contractor rates are often really high, too, because they shoulder all of the costs themselves? Right? It just really depends on how much you're utilizing that person before we can really determine, you know, and plus how much autonomy they have in their work. So some contractors have their own business, and they can work for other people and all that and that's great. But they also have really high hourly rates. Right, but the only using them for a short number of hours. They could be more cost effective than having an employee. Right. Yeah.
Kate Kordsmeier 14:54
Okay. So yeah, it would depend on what are your needs, and I need somebody working, you know, 30 40 hours a week, or is it something that's like maybe five or 10 hours a week. And that can make a big difference to the other thing, which isn't really money related, but just kind of energetically, I found that I really prefer employees to contractors, most of the time, if the if the workload is there, because there's that all in mindset, and you're so deeply invested in each other in a way that when you're just a contractor, and maybe just a client, one of their, you know, many clients, you just don't get that same kind of like commitment that buy in.
Dondrea Owens 15:35
And, you know, it is rare that you do find contractors with that buy in, I actually have had success in the other direction, where a couple of the people on my team don't want to be employees, they like the autonomy of being a contractor. I've tried my hardest to convince them otherwise. But I do still have that buy in from them, which is amazing. But it's it's certainly one of the things that you can hire around. If I had not done it, I would not have believed it to be possible. But it is possible to get contractors who have had that buy in, but I will tell you this, they don't have many other people who they are supporting. Right. So it's not that you're walking into, you know, a relationship with someone who has an agency style business of their own. These people are really just really keen on being support. Right? Yeah,
Kate Kordsmeier 16:31
exactly. Okay, I love that. So let's shift gears a little bit. When it comes in the very beginning, you were talking about your business, and really helping women, like see their money and pay attention to their money and know their numbers. And I do think that I mean, for people in general, but especially women, this is something that I think can be really hard for us to do, it can be so much easier to just sort of like bury your head in the sand and pretend that it's not happening, and it can be scary to look at. So how do you help women kind of make that shift?
Dondrea Owens 17:08
Yeah. So you know, we spend a lot of time educating our clients. And we do that a couple of different ways. It's through conversation. So making money a palatable subject for them. So knowing that when we get on a call together, like I said, it's a judgment free zone, we can talk about money, you can say all of the crazy things that you think you don't know. And it's always my job to really show you how much you do know, no matter how small that is. But we can just say, give yourself credit for knowing this. And then let's educate in small chunks. You know, as we're going through the reports, we, we do something a little bit different. We don't just use the reports from QuickBooks, which is the software that we use, we build custom reports for our clients. Those reports have graphs, they have the same metrics every month. And I think what it really helps our clients to do is to be able to get comfortable with looking at numbers on a report and not feeling like it's all gibberish because you see the same thing every month. And so doing that there's a level of comfort that they develop. And then after that, it becomes confidence. Right? Yeah. So that's our that's our mission is to educate and empower. And we do that through sound financial reporting, and conversation. Love it.
Kate Kordsmeier 18:34
So what are some of the mistakes that you see a lot of women entrepreneurs making when it comes to money in their business?
Dondrea Owens 18:43
Yeah, the biggest one is what we call in the professional world commingling. It's where there's no separation between personal and business when it comes to financial transactions. So that's someone who's using their personal bank account to fund the business to fund their life, everything and it's all mixed in together. And that's the greatest source of confusion.
Kate Kordsmeier 19:07
Interesting. And now, in this case, do you feel like it Matt, it makes a big difference, like you have to make sure that you're registered as an LLC or an S corp or something like that. Is that kind of one of the first steps or is that separate?
Dondrea Owens 19:23
the you know, the first step is to just untangle the finances? Right? Because once we do that, then we can determine if there is even a need for you to separate yourself from the business yet. I think so many people when they start a business, they want to, you know, form a legal entity that's setting up an LLC, or maybe I should be taxed as an S Corp. So they want to make that election and really The truth is, you could start a business without doing any of those things. And yeah, default you're a sole proprietorship like let's first see if you really have a business before you start spending money and setting of entities. I am so glad you said that because obviously, I am not a financial professional. But I have so many women in my course the six figure blogger Academy, who barely even have their website built out yet and are already worrying about filing as an SLS and FLC
Kate Kordsmeier 20:21
as an LLC. Soc has the student library. I don't know where that came from. So, you know, they're already worrying about like the legal entity piece of it. And I say the same thing to them where I'm like, Look, I mean, consult with a lawyer or an accountant, you know, somebody who really knows, but my unprofessional opinion is, let's see, if you even like doing this enough in the first place to make it a business, let it if you even are able to start making money before you worry about how you're going to file your taxes, because it's not illegal, you know, to just start as a sole proprietor, and then as you grow, figure out what makes the most sense from there. But it seems like putting the cart No, the horse before the cart, the cart before the horse I always get Yeah. I'm all over the place today. Yes. So I'm glad that you that you agree, that gives me a little bit of confidence that Okay, that was good advice.
Dondrea Owens 21:23
Yeah, that's great advice. Because you know, a lot of the times too, you go through several iterations of your business before you finally decide what it's going to be, you might even change the name. And then we're talking about either filing a DBA to, you know, do business as this new name that you have, or just changing the registered name is just, it's way too, too much hassle to put yourself through, if you just could avoid it, you know,
Kate Kordsmeier 21:52
totally. And I think that's so important, too, is just like, regardless of how you file, your business is going to change and evolve, especially in those early years as you're just figuring it out. And you have to try things to decide whether or not you like them and feel good to you. Does this work? Is this profitable? I think people often in the beginning get so caught up and like whatever they decide today is what it's going to be forever,
Dondrea Owens 22:19
then. That's not the case. It is not I can tell you so many business owners that I've worked with, have either had name changes or have pivoted in services, and nothing stays the same, right? grow and evolve, and you basically do what is best for the business. Right? Right. Yeah.
Kate Kordsmeier 22:42
Okay? So commingling is one of the biggest mistakes you see women making? What's it? What's another one,
Dondrea Owens 22:49
another one is taking on too many expenses. Okay, and labeling everything as an investment. I can't tell you how many times you know, we've gotten messages from clients who say, I really want to make this investment in my business. And we have to have a tough conversation and say, while this is an investment, it is an investment of money and of time. And if you're telling me that you want to invest in let's say, a six month course, at what point during that course, do you expect to start seeing a return, because if it's at the end, we are in for six months of expense, right? It's not an it's not an investment, if we don't have a return from it. It's so it's being prepared for those things. The way that we have our clients allocate their profit is to pay the owner to save for taxes and to save for the business. And so we start that no matter what's going on in the business. And no matter what percentages, we start those allocations that and so what it does for business owners is it gives them a pot to pull from when they want to make those types of investments. So that it's not such a financial strain, even if it might be you know, a team time issue. And another thing that we look at is we actually talk about what they're trying to invest in. And if it would be more feasible to take whatever amount they were going to invest in this course that takes time or whatever it is, and we say, Would you be better off hiring an expert to actually do this for you? Mm hmm. because our goal is always to grow revenue. And, you know, but you don't have to be an expert at the thing to do that. You can hire an expert, right? I come out a lot better.
Kate Kordsmeier 24:47
That's so interesting. And I feel like it's something that I'm constantly reevaluating in my own business is like, do I want to learn how to do this? Do I want to hire an expert do I and then there's sometimes this third option of Maybe the choice is I'm going to hire somebody to do it for me. But they're not an expert. They're, you know, maybe a VA level. And then I'm going to also buy the course or the program, and they're going to take it. And that can sometimes be less expensive than hiring the expert straight away.
Dondrea Owens 25:19
Absolutely. I'm such a fan of that. I'm so glad you brought that up. I've had clients purchase courses for their support their contractors, their VA is, and I think it's so good, because it's not saddling you with the time commitment. But it is still getting you that benefit. And it also gets the buy in from those people because they feel like you invested in them as well. Yeah, such
Kate Kordsmeier 25:43
a good point. Yeah. And it's great because it takes no extra time from you as the business.
Interrupting this episode with an important PSA, you are more than your business. You are a whole person, though you created your business to have freedom and flexibility hopefully, while also creating massive impact and income. Sometimes you feel like your business is running you instead of you running your business. But it is time to change that. That's exactly why I designed the Success with Soul incubator. I've learned that the bigger you grow, the more self care you need. But you can't do that without self managed teams and hands off systems, which I teach you how to create inside the incubator. This is for all the spreadsheet nerds who are ready to dig into their data actually know what to do with it and grow their team and support systems so you can spend less time in your business and more time enjoying your life. holistic systems are just one part of my four part framework, which you can learn more about by going to Katekordsmeier.com/apply when you apply now for your spot inside the incubator, you'll also get access to our exclusive to our private workshop for accepted applicants. This is a private invite only advanced level workshop, where you'll learn exactly how to scale to 50k a month on autopilot without live launching paid ads, social media or selling your soul. The application only takes five minutes and there is no obligation to enroll. Once your application is accepted, you'll learn my exact four part framework to grow your traffic organically scale your passive income with evergreen funnels, and do it all without burning out. I'll explain everything you need to know about the incubator program. So come on over and apply now. Again, that's Katekordsmeier.com/apply. So you mentioned allocations. And I have a note here that you have a 50 3020 method. Is that kind of what you were talking about with allocations. Yes. So it's more
Dondrea Owens 27:56
Yeah, so with all small businesses, we like to approach any type of you know, personal pay, saving for taxes, you know, things like that, we look at your profit to do that. Because we've already gone through and streamline expenses as much as possible. We know what your revenue looks like or what it even should look like from a goal perspective. And then after that, you're just left with profit. And for most business owners, that is what we call free cash flow, because you count the sales that come in the door, or the cash that's collected, and then what goes out in terms of expenses. So what we're left with is free cash flow. So with that we're able to pay you, and that's the 50%. Now, not all business owners will live at that 50% mark. For some people, it's a bit much, especially, you know, right? When you hit six figures just over that mark, just paying yourself 50% of profit is probably not going to get you the number that you need. So we adjust that percentage according to where people are profit wise. For some people, it looks like 70% of their profit pays them 20% is set aside for taxes and then 10% goes to the business savings. For some high earners. That number is closer to 50 for personal pay 30 for taxes, and then 20 for business savings.
Kate Kordsmeier 29:16
Okay, yeah, but we adjusted according to to where the profit lies. And is this like a target that you're trying to get everybody to eventually but they start off at, you know, a different starting point, or does it really just vary based on the individual business and, and the CEO and their goals? Yeah,
Dondrea Owens 29:36
so 50/30/20 is the target. But it can vary up to like I said, the 70/20/10 but anything past that. We've got issues. And so what we're really doing with those business owners is saying, this is your target sales collection for the month. This is the number we're trying to get to and here's how we can get there. So we're looking at their offers, we're looking at the pricing of those offers as compared to the value that they bring, as compared to the market. Some, in most instances, we help our clients reset your pricing. Very few clients come to us with their pricing on the mark.
Kate Kordsmeier 30:18
Yeah. And what do you feel like is the this? I mean, I'm assuming you're helping clients usually raise their prices? And so what's what's kind of the common denominator? You know,
Dondrea Owens 30:31
there's a mix of things, there's imposter syndrome. There is, well, I see what other people in my industry are charging. So I just went with what was competitive. Right. And the thing that we have to say about that is, but you don't know what their expenses are. Right? And we don't know if they set that price. Right. Nor do we know, you know, or are we comparing value? Really? Right? We
Kate Kordsmeier 30:55
don't know what they're, you know, in most cases, we probably don't know exactly what the delivery is of that offer.
Dondrea Owens 31:02
Yeah, so we help them to find you know, differentiators and their, their offer versus others. And then we say, Okay, what, why do you offer this, and what's the true value of this. And we work with enough people in the online and creative space to kind of know what's reasonable, and what's valuable and what that market is looking for. And we're able to help them in that way. But we also look at what it takes for them to deliver the service in the way that only they can, you know, and that looks different for everyone.
Kate Kordsmeier 31:34
Right? And so what would some examples of that be? Right?
Dondrea Owens 31:38
So I'll use the example of a graphic designer who has Junior designers on her team, she may have, you know, a client manager, like a project manager on staff, they may buy all the fonts and all of the licensing for photos, and any type of like music or anything that's on the website, all of these things. Basically, she's a one stop shop. And the clients pay for nothing but her service. So every other peripheral is added on. So we have to take those types of things into account, because that looks very different than the web designer who then invoices her clients for reimbursements for all of those things.
Kate Kordsmeier 32:17
Dondrea Owens 32:18
So we've got to look at that. We also look at things like delivery windows. So for the graphic designer who is delivering a full five page website in a two week turnaround. That's premium service, as opposed to one who takes 12 weeks to get back to you. Right, you know,
Kate Kordsmeier 32:38
yeah, that's so true. Mm hmm.
Dondrea Owens 32:40
So it's looking at all of those things, and then also looking at who that appeals to, and what they're willing to pay.
Kate Kordsmeier 32:47
Right? Yeah. Because just just because you're a graphic designer, and they're a graphic designer, doesn't mean you're targeting the same types of people. And somebody one graphic designer, maybe like, our specialty is quick turnarounds, and you know, that you can, and somebody else's is totally different. And so they're going to charge totally different, you know, have different frameworks for what they charge. Yeah. So I want to make sure I understood too, with the 50/30/20 method. This is what you're looking at from your gross revenue last year expenses, and then what you do with that money that's remaining?
Dondrea Owens 33:25
Yes, that's correct. Okay.
Kate Kordsmeier 33:27
So then, do you also look at like, what percentage of their gross revenue is going towards expenses and adjusting that number? Or do you have a target that you'd like to see that around?
Dondrea Owens 33:39
Yes, we do. So we look at that number, and we never want to see it more than 70%. So at a minimum, what we call your profit margin, that's what's leftover of your sales should be 30%. Now, I know with online businesses, because I've worked with enough of them to know that somewhere between 30 and 50 is really reasonable. We've got a lot of business owners that hover around that 50% profit margin, because your costs can stay really low as an online business. Your big biggest expense really will eventually become your people, especially because we work with service based businesses the most. And there's no like cost of goods sold per se. There is cost of services like with subcontractors who deliver things for clients and processing fees and so forth. But you really can reach a profit margin of between 30 and 50. Now, we've got some overzealous copywriters on our client roster. And they will laugh when I say that, but they are hovering around 80 85%. Wow. Must be nice, right? Yeah. But when you think about that business model, though, it really is just, it's just people that right, there's no other real expenses.
Kate Kordsmeier 34:55
No, and I'm glad you said that because I had this conversation with my own accountant last Where she said, Kate, your payroll expenses are too high. But then I, we looked at all the other numbers, and I said, but this is basically my only expense. That's it. I don't have any, you know, I mean, I have a couple $1,000 maybe a year and software and tools. And I mean, like you said, there's stripe payment processing fees and stuff like that. But yeah, it's so minimal compare. And so then once I pointed that out, then she was like, Oh, yeah, you're right. I mean, so that's totally different. So, yeah, normally, I think she would, you know, you would look at a brick and mortar business or a non online business and say, okay, we want to keep payroll to X percent. And I was far exceeding that. But yeah, like you said, but your models, people,
Dondrea Owens 35:48
we did this really interesting thing with clients. And our clients get tickled when I tell them, I do this, because, and they're always like, Can we see the ranking? And I say, No, we benchmark clients against each other. Because we do work with the same niche market. In the online space, we take our clients, and we compare everyone's books against each others interesting. And that gives us a clear view of who's doing what and how they're doing it, and what's working for them, as opposed to what might be working for someone else. And then for anyone who might be experiencing some, some struggle areas, it helps us to better advise them and give them you know, some real strategy on how to grow those numbers in their own business. And I think that is a really valuable aspect to having someone who's really niche down in your market. And there's lots of us out there. But that is one of the benefits of really searching for, you know, a virtual CFO or an accountant who really understands what it is that you do. And how Yeah, and how those numbers play on the financial reports, because that's where the real help comes in.
Kate Kordsmeier 37:03
Right. And I think having a virtual CFO is something that, like you said, it takes it so much beyond just here's your p&l or I filed your tax return, it's really having somebody on your team who can say, Okay, here's some it's more strategy.
Dondrea Owens 37:19
Kate Kordsmeier 37:20
And that's, I think, something that all business owners are usually looking for, especially when they start getting to that, okay, I'm looking to grow beyond six figures. Yeah,
Dondrea Owens 37:31
Kate Kordsmeier 37:32
The first six figures can be in some ways, I think the hardest, because you're just getting started, and you're having to figure everything out for the first time. But once you start making and this is just in my experience, and a lot of my peers that I've heard from that, that the one to $200,000 a year in gross revenue. Once you do that a few times, you're like, well, this is easy it now the hardest part is like how do I actually scale my business? And, you know, you people think to Oh, wow, you're making $200,000 a year? And you're like, Well, I'm not. Right. But my business is, I certainly am not.
Dondrea Owens 38:11
You know, though, and that's one of the first goals that we set for people who haven't hit that yet is to hit six figures in sales. And it is such a confidence builder. And I always say that, it really shows you that you've got a legitimate business. Now, the next move is six figures in profit. That one's a little bit harder, but it's not, you know, it's still doable. And then we get to six figure pay for the CEO, right. And so it's setting those those sort of benchmark goals for yourself. So that it does feel attainable and manageable. Because I will tell you going from, you know, just over six figures to a million and a year is no easy task. But sometimes that becomes the role. And so we have to, we have to set realistic expectations with business owners as well about what that looks like, you know, as compared to today. And to also let them know that most businesses don't operate that way. We're in a unique position in the online space to really grow quickly. But even that is not you know, most businesses are growing five to 10%, I think is what's in the budget on the norm. But we really have the opportunity to exponentially grow. And sometimes that growth can be 100% growth over a year. Yeah. And to really give credit to that. Yeah, yeah.
Kate Kordsmeier 39:47
Yeah, I it's interesting. You say that because that's definitely been my experience too. Like that first year. I mean, damn, that was a really hard year in business and years. There's so much growth and figuring things out, and it's very stressful. But I made $75,000 in my second year in business and gross revenue, and every year since then it has doubled. And that I feel like in a normal business, that's probably not would not happen, right? Yes. So, and this, this is reminding me to have this conversation I was actually having in one of my group coaching programs where I think the word mindset is thrown around so much lately that it's kind of become a little bit meaningless. But what we realized in this conversation was that it's almost more of an identity shift that needs to happen, rather than, like breaking through this limiting belief or something. And so one of the questions I wanted to ask you about this is like, what are the women doing who have sustainable businesses? What are they doing to run it from the CEO, perspective or identity? So I feel like that's one of the biggest shifts that like when you do that everything changes?
Dondrea Owens 41:03
Yes. I will say with those women, they are heavy on the delegation, huh? Yeah. They have people on their team who they really trust, and who are really skilled and experience and they let them do their job.
Kate Kordsmeier 41:21
Yes, that's really good.
Dondrea Owens 41:24
Yeah, it is.
Kate Kordsmeier 41:25
It's hard to find good people, it's hard to let go of control. It's hard to trust people to do things as well as you could do them. And in most cases, you know, if you're hiring, right, you should be hiring people who can do it better than you could do them. Absolutely. Oh, that's such a good point.
Dondrea Owens 41:44
Especially because you are coming right off of the heels of having to do everything yourself of having to be a mini expert in it. All right. And you really can't bring in someone that, you know, in highly technical areas, you couldn't bring in someone who you had to train from the ground up. Right? Really, you need someone who is better than you. You're exactly right.
Kate Kordsmeier 42:08
And once they are, then it's much easier to let go of that because you're like, Oh, I was terrible at that. Or, I mean, I've had this thing, like, I hate social media. This is one of the I talked about it all the time. I really don't like spending time there. And so sometimes I've hired people who are not social media experts, there, they look to me for the strategy. And I'm like, I don't know the strategy. I don't want to know that. Somebody else needs to do it. So then I'm like, okay, that's when you go, I need to hire somebody who is an expert in this thing, instead of hiring somebody maybe cheap, and then just trying to like, get them to do it your way when it's like, well, my way wasn't really working. So let's get some knows what they're doing.
Dondrea Owens 42:49
And I'm glad you brought up that point as well. Those women also have systems and processes that are documented.
Kate Kordsmeier 42:57
Dondrea Owens 42:57
yes. That's a big one. I think they, you know, they really go out of their way to document what they do. They do videos for it, all of those things. They, their team is well supported. Yeah, I should say. And so it makes them really comfortable sitting in that CEO seat, but it also makes the people on their team feel like, you know, if I did me something, I could go to her for it. But I've got everything I need right here.
Kate Kordsmeier 43:26
Yeah. Yeah, I'm so glad you said that. Because that's what my focus has been the last couple of years in my business, particularly this last year is like getting all of those slps together, getting your project management system in place, having somebody who's actually managing it, that's not me. And because at first, you know, you realize, okay, I'm starting to hire all this support, and I've got, you know, individual people and these individual roles, and then your job goes from like, okay, now I'm not doing all those things myself, but now I'm managing all of these people. Yes. And then you have to hire somebody to do that.
Dondrea Owens 44:06
You do, because you don't want to be bombarded with all of that. That's when we say people introduce the buffer of the integrator or the Chief of Operations. And that's when things really take off because it allows you to have that bird's eye view of the business and be able to set strategy and make decisions without feeling like now I've got to go get my hands dirty. Yes.
Kate Kordsmeier 44:32
Yeah. And it is it is a long process. At least it has been for me, I mean, I'm also very impatient. So it probably hasn't been that long and I'm just to be on the other side of it. But yeah, it's it's hard to download your brain and to other people.
Dondrea Owens 44:48
Yes. Oh my gosh, that's such a great way to put it. I have been doing the same thing in my business lately. You know, my team is excellent at what they do, and They think in this for them, they asked me questions, because if not, things would just live in my brain and only my brain. But you know, they asked me questions about why I made certain decisions, or why I advise clients in a particular way, you know, because I let them in on the call, right. And that has been so helpful for me to just see how much of this stuff was in my brain and actually needs to be put somewhere so that someone else can do some of the work.
Kate Kordsmeier 45:26
Right. And I have to remind myself frequently that because often, I'll be like, Oh, it's just quicker for me to do it than it is for me to explain it. remind myself, but in most cases, if you explain it once or a few times, that then you have downloaded your brain into that person, or at least that aspect of it. And that then they don't have to keep coming to you with questions. And you don't have to be the one to continue doing it. But it's like, you have to make that upfront time investment to get the long term time and time return back.
Dondrea Owens 45:59
Absolutely. You know, I've even had had a really good business coach, tell me that. Even if I couldn't hand out the entire project, what pieces of it? I mean, because with me, we had to do baby steps at one time. So which parts of the process? Do you feel comfortable handing off? And you know, for a long time with certain things, it was okay, I think I could let her put it all in the email with the attachments and send it. And then we move back to I think I could let her actually run the reports, and then do it. And then it became, I think I could just shoot her an email and she could handle the rest,
Kate Kordsmeier 46:37
you know, exactly. It's such a like, liberating moment when you take those baby steps and then you like, then you ultimately see that result of I think of like a copywriter that I hired years ago. And I used to have her Okay, submit the Google Doc first and I'll review it, then put it in WordPress and I'll review it, then I'll edit it, then I'll give you these this feedback. You know, it was such a process and then beginning you're like, Oh my god, I could have written this myself, like hours ago. But then, little by little like you start handing off more, and they get more practice and more experience. And now I'm like, I don't even review it. It just goes out. And I just trust that it's going to be close enough.
Dondrea Owens 47:17
Exactly. Yep. And that is the gold.
Kate Kordsmeier 47:20
That is the goal. And Rachael Rogers actually said this quote on a call I was listening to once where she's like, 80% is the new 100%. Because we just have to accept that like, good enough is good enough sometimes. And if we're trying to make everything 100% perfect, exactly the way that we would have done it ourselves. If we did it like we'll never grow.
Dondrea Owens 47:39
No, it's not getting done. Right. Yeah, you're right. Yeah,
Kate Kordsmeier 47:44
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Dondrea Owens 50:07
Yeah, so we, at that point, we set up what's called a payroll reserve. And it's just another savings account where we have the team's salary saved by the month. And so for some people, that's one month, actually, that's the first goal. Some people can start that out with a full three months of paying the team. But we found that 90 days is typically enough time for you to notice any issues that are coming up, like, let's say, like COVID. And you see where contracts are going to be ending or services are ending, and you need to regroup. 90 days seems to be the period of time that's needed for us to make some changes and start seeing some results. Yeah, bottom line. Yeah. Okay,
Kate Kordsmeier 50:53
that's really helpful, like, so 123 months is a good amount to haven't haven't reserved so that, you know, you can pay at least that much. And by that point, they should be getting you a return on that investment.
Dondrea Owens 51:06
Yes. I'm sorry. And as you grow, that number also grows. So, you know, if we're talking about a business that's got a million in sales, and it's got to have the team, sometimes we get those savings up to a year of revenue. Yeah, yeah, you have, you have to really start thinking about, you know, preserving the livelihood of a business like that looks very different than, you know, I'm just a multi six figure. So you know, two to $300,000 in sales and those expenses. When you get past that, Mark, you've got significant commitments that, yeah, those might not shake out in 90 days. And so we sort of look at the risk of those things. And are the contracts long term? Or are we depending on sales people, all sorts of things come into play there. Right? Yeah.
Kate Kordsmeier 51:59
So how do you know really, if a financial investment, like a new team member is giving us that return? Especially there's some people that you hire like, okay, Facebook ads is easy, because you go, Oh, I spent x and I made y. And there you go, Hmm. But there's most things aren't quite as cut and dry.
Dondrea Owens 52:18
Right. So we've our people, we are looking to see an increase in revenue, because you brought them on. And if not an increase in revenue, there's gotta be some time when somewhere on somebody's books, whether it's the CEOs or someone else on the team, because sometimes the team just needs a bit of breathing room, we have seen where, you know, people have had, the team stretched pretty thin and bringing on another person didn't necessarily increase revenue, but it did increase the team's margin, and resulted in less errors going out the door. Yeah, that's possible.
Kate Kordsmeier 52:57
That I'm glad you said that. We had Natalie Gingerich on episode 42 of the podcast, and she is a Director of Operations specialists, and hiring specialists. And she talks about the Ty's method, which is a return on time, investment, energy and stress. And there's like lots of things within that that, yes, of course, you want a financial return on your investment. But that's not the only thing that could make it worth it to have to make that that, you know, to cover that cost basis. Right. Absolutely. Love it. Okay. Now, I know you can't answer a specific Tax Questions. And of course, it varies by state, and we have some international listeners. So I won't get into like the nitty gritty there. But I wonder if you have a few tips for feeling better prepared for taxes. I think this is such a common fear or question that our community has.
Dondrea Owens 53:51
Yeah. So one of the things that we do to prepare for taxes is with doing the 50 3020 method or some derivation of that. It's the planning for it. It's setting aside that profit, just so that you don't see the number and think, Oh, it's available to me. No, it is not, it doesn't belong to you. We're going to put it in a separate account. So that's one way. The second way is by making estimated tax payments, according to the IRS schedule. Yeah, that helps not only get ahead of a tax liability at the end of the year, but it helps you avoid penalties for underpayment. So that's one of the things that we see there. Outside of that, just understanding in your mind that taxes are part of the ballgame.
Kate Kordsmeier 54:39
Yeah, and you know, it's interesting, I had this come up with a friend recently where she into me, I was like, This feels like a mindset block or something. But she said, Well, I don't know if I really want to make more money because then I have to pay more in taxes. And I was like, I feel like there's something backwards about that. I want to know your thoughts on that that fear. Listen,
Dondrea Owens 55:03
I did a post about this a couple weeks ago. Because I've had people tell me, oh, I don't want to owe so much in taxes. And I'm like, at, we have two different goals, because the higher the tax bill, the higher the rest, you know, like, what are you saying to me right now. So the way to look at this, or one way to look at this is, let's say I have $1. And out of that dollar, I pay 30 cents for taxes, I'm still left with 70 cents, every dollar I make is not going to be that way. And I'm okay with that. Because I will take 70 cents, every single extra dollar. Like why would you say no to that?
Kate Kordsmeier 55:46
Right? It's 70 cents or zero? Right.
Dondrea Owens 55:53
And the best way I've also put this to clients is because this comes up at the end of the year, every single year. And we have to educate around this is clients wanting to take on additional expenses at the end of the year to reduce taxes. Interesting. Yeah, as a strategy. I don't know who puts this out every year, but every year I hear about it. There are certain instances where this is actually strategy. And then there are certain instances where it's just wasting money. You know, if you are planning to make a purchase at the top of the year Anyway, let's say it's for equipment or computers are things like that. And you want to speed up the purchase and make it in that year to say, you know, to have additional expenses and be able to save, that's one thing. If you are taking on a random expense that you otherwise would not have taken on, it makes no sense. So I had a client asked me a about a $10,000 retreat that she wanted to go on. And it wasn't necessary for the business or anything, but it was sold to her as a tax write off. And so we had to look at that. 10k and I said, Well, you know, what, this 10k that would have been in profit, you might have paid 3000 in taxes on it, and you would have taken home 7k to write it off, you are going to save 3k in taxes. Would you rather have 7k in your pocket or save 3k in taxes? It seems that
Okay, look at it. I'll pass.
Kate Kordsmeier 57:26
it reminds me of and I'm so guilty of this, like when you go to checkout when I'm shopping online, and it's like you're $20 away from free shipping. Oh my gosh. All right, well, let me go buy something I don't need. And I don't even really want just to avoid paying 695 and shipping.
Dondrea Owens 57:45
Yes, absolutely. Yeah, it's the gimmicks.
Kate Kordsmeier 57:51
Well, I'm so glad you shared that. So this has been so helpful. We have a quick lightning round that we do with all of our guests. But before we get there, I'd love for you to tell people where they can find you. And maybe what kind of services you I know, you mentioned, what the difference between, you know, accountants and bookkeepers and CFOs. But if you want to tell people more about how they could work with you, I'd love to give you the opportunity to do that.
Dondrea Owens 58:15
Okay, well, I'm on Instagram at the creative CFO. And then on the website, the creative, CFO calm, and we work with clients really just in a single way. And it's on retainer, once a month. We do all of the bookkeeping for you all of the accounting and then CFO strategy as well. So that's it. We've got two levels to that based on where you are in business because we have two different goals based on where you are. But that's pretty much the only way to work with us right now.
Kate Kordsmeier 58:47
Okay, awesome. Love it. Um, okay, lightning round. So just first thing that comes to your mind, what's your favorite way to make time for self care?
Dondrea Owens 58:57
I'm actually going on a staycation this weekend. Oh, yes. By yourself by myself. Oh my gosh, the family's gonna drop me off. And then I'll spend two nights alone just recuperating. I have not done this. Oh my gosh, since we've had kids so yeah, it's it's time but just on the regular I love to read me and so I read so many books on Kindle romance novels, not business books. So that's that's primarily how I make time for self care that was reading
Kate Kordsmeier 59:34
Yes. Okay. Great. Um, one tool or strategy used to help with time management toggle. Yeah,
Dondrea Owens 59:44
I'm Yeah, when I'm really feeling like I'm productive and need to prove to myself otherwise. I will check my time using toggle.
Kate Kordsmeier 59:52
So smart love it. And as a reader, what is one of the most powerful business or maybe mindset or entrepreneurial books you've ever read?
Dondrea Owens 1:00:02
Yeah. The 4 agreements.
Kate Kordsmeier 1:00:05
Oh, I haven't heard of that one.
Dondrea Owens 1:00:07
Yes. That was big. The first agreement for me, I think kind of did me in. So check it out if you get a chance.
Kate Kordsmeier 1:00:14
It's called before agreements.
Dondrea Owens 1:00:16
The four the four Number Four Agreements.
Kate Kordsmeier 1:00:20
Okay, good. I'm glad I asked. Okay. The Four Agreements. Yes. I'm gonna look this up right now. I love when people you know, there's a lot of books that most online entrepreneurs have read and recommend. And of course, that's great. Because they're, they're popular for a reason. But I love when somebody gives me one that I'm like, Oh, I don't know this one. Yeah,
Dondrea Owens 1:00:38
it ranks up there with the alchemists for me, which Oh, yeah, ironically enough, I kept in a drawer for three or four years before I ever read it. But then when I read it, it was like the perfect time. We're,
Kate Kordsmeier 1:00:50
well, the good. That's when you like, just trust divine timing. Like, you'll read it when you're meant to read it. Maybe you would have picked it up years ago, and it just wouldn't have hit you. Right. So I think so. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, what is a quote or mantra or an affirmation? You're telling yourself,
Dondrea Owens 1:01:08
one from my dad came to mind first? And he said, must it? Well, he tells me this all the time. It must be mighty bad when if it never changes direction. And for him, and his advice to me, it's that no matter how things are going, you've got to have yourself ready for when they switch directions. And you got to know that that's just a natural part of life. So whether it's on the upswing, it's coming down, or if it's on the downswing, it's got to go back up. You just got to go with the flow. Oh, I love that.
Kate Kordsmeier 1:01:43
What a good reminder. Yeah, that's good. Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on. Dondrea was so great to chat with you.
Dondrea Owens 1:01:52
Same here. I really enjoyed it.
Kate Kordsmeier 1:01:59
Wait a minute. I know I know you're eager to get back to your life. But before you turn off this episode, I want to share something super quick with you. I know you're probably sick of hearing other podcasters ask you to leave reviews. But here's the deal. If you like a podcast, and you want them to be able to continue delivering you free episodes every week, we need your support. If you subscribe on the apple podcast, Google podcast, app, Spotify, or wherever you listen, it makes it possible for me to continue to provide free helpful content and bring you amazing guests. And if you take it one step further by giving us a rating and review with your honest feedback, we can improve better serve you in the future. And you could even be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Because if we don't get the reviews, we don't get the rankings and it makes it a lot harder to continue justifying the cost and time expense of producing a podcast every week and convincing amazing guests to come on the show. And of course your reviews are super helpful and motivating to me personally and I love hearing from you
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