Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rachel Barnett, Founder of Gentle Frog, located in Bellevue, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Gentle Frog, LLC is your go-to place for help with QuickBooks bookkeeping. We provide one-on-one training over Zoom, tons of free information in the form of hundreds of blog posts and YouTube videos, paid courses on using QuickBooks Online, as well as done-for-you bookkeeping.
Our customers include small businesses that employ an in-house bookkeeper or owners who choose the DIY route for their bookkeeping as well as other bookkeepers who are stuck or have questions about how best to serve their clients.
Tell us about yourself
I owned and operated Primarily Bookkeeping, d/b/a Your Bookkeeping Fairy Godmother, a Seattle-area bookkeeping firm, for six years, until selling the firm in 2018.
Following the sale of the business, as part of a non-compete clause, I was unable to provide bookkeeping services for two years. My former bookkeeping clients kept telling me I was an amazing QuickBooks teacher and mentor. So, when I failed to get the job I wanted at the local movie theater, I started Gentle Frog.
I'm actually not a big fan of talking to strangers. But I have a passion for teaching and helping others that motivates me every day to hop on calls, put a smile on my face, and help anyone I can with their bookkeeping.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been the ability to create various ways for people to learn from us. Whether it's through blogs, videos, courses, one-on-one training, or group coaching, we've built an extensive platform that caters to different learning preferences.
But what really makes me proud is the sheer number of business owners we've been able to help. We're talking thousands directly and even more indirectly. Just thinking about our YouTube followers alone gives me a sense of how far our reach has extended. And not everyone clicks that follow button, but they're still learning from us!
It's more than just numbers, though. It's about knowing that we've helped a boatload of people learn things they didn't know before. We've contributed to their growth and success, and that, to me, is an incredibly big deal. That's what makes all the hard work worth it. It's not just about growing a business; it's about making a real difference in people's lives.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being a business owner is the emotional roller coaster. You've got sales ups and downs, which can drive you crazy. One day, nobody's buying, and you're contemplating getting a "real" job. The next day, everybody's buying, and you're overwhelmed with work, scrambling to get everything done.
There's the hiring and firing game. Finding the right people feels like an impossible task sometimes. You might think you've found the perfect person, you really like them but discover they're not the right fit for your business. Having to tell someone they have to go can be heart-wrenching, but it's part of being a business owner. And in my line of work, dealing with clients is one of the biggest emotional roller coasters. One day you're hitting it out of the park, helping people with their problems. But sometimes, I have to say, "I don't know." I know nobody has all the answers, but I still feel terrible telling people I can't help.
The emotional tug-of-war never really lets up. Some days you're on top of the world; other days, you're learning the hard way. But through all the panic moments, wrong hires, trend-chasing, and those tough "I don't know" conversations, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Being a business owner is challenging, but it's also super rewarding in so many ways.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Educate yourself about business ownership: Running a business isn't something you can wing – there's a lot to learn! It's not like taking a quick course to learn a skill; it's about understanding the whole landscape of business ownership. Look into resources like SCORE.org, Small Business Development Centers, or take some actual business courses. Don't be afraid to reach out and have informational interviews with people in the industry. I do this all the time, and it's such a great way to get insights and real-world advice.
- Go for a minimum viable product, not perfection: I can't stress this enough – don't let perfectionism hold you back. I've talked to so many people who are stuck, unwilling to launch their website or product because it's not "perfect." Guess what? Google doesn't care if your website's perfect. Neither do your potential customers. Get it out there, let people find you, and then you can always tweak and improve later.
- Network and make friends in your industry: Relationships matter big time. Make friends in your industry, whether it's through local meetups, online platforms like social media groups, or any other way that you can connect with people. Sharing experiences and having a support network can make a huge difference in your journey. I've seen firsthand how these connections can shape a business's growth and success.
- Bonus tip related to #3, surround Yourself with Entrepreneurial Friends: This isn't quite a tip, but more of a life hack for the aspiring business owner. Having friends who understand the entrepreneurial journey can be incredibly comforting and empowering. They'll cheer you on when you succeed and pick you up when you stumble.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.