Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Natalia Zacharin, Owner of Zacharin Consulting, located in Bel Air, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an accounting firm providing accounting, bookkeeping, and advisory services. Our clients are small to medium-sized US-based businesses in the service industry. We empower and educate business owners to get financially organized, have clarity in decisions, and achieve their vision for their business, community, and life.
Tell us about yourself
I began my business out of necessity. I was a single middle-aged mom; I had just gotten a pay cut and could no longer pay my bills. It just started as an idea that I would make some extra money on the side, but it has doubled and tripled year over year, and now we are in the top 5% of businesses in the US in gross revenue, with dozens of wonderful clients, and an amazing team.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There are many accomplishments to being a business owner. They include being great at what you do, having sales skills, being influential, being a leader, being nimble and pivoting quickly, making hard decisions, and the list goes on. However, I find the biggest challenge; therefore, the biggest accomplishment is simply not giving up.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The feelings. Any feelings are hard, and they have to be met with a sense of understanding that they are just feelings and can be persuaded and manipulated. But feelings can make someone stop in their tracks, lose confidence, feel like a fraud, and give up. You have to be able to let go of the feelings.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not give up but make sure that what you are doing is IMPACTFUL and moves the needle forward. Small, consistent, non-sexy daily actions are the ones that make the biggest difference. Sales is your biggest domino and will fix most problems. Since we advise dozens of clients on their businesses, I get to see patterns of the common pitfalls and the patterns of what works. One of those patterns I see commonly is to make sure that you are not avoiding doing what feels uncomfortable. It is usually the uncomfortable things that are most important. Prioritize, let go of the stuff that can wait, and stop doing the stuff that isn't worth your time in your business and in your life. I haven't been food shopping in 3 years. I know how to. But in the time it takes to do so, I could have made the company another $60k in one year. Use time as your ally. Wealthy business people don't have more time, they have figured out how to use their time more wisely, and they keep working at this daily.
- Learn! Read books endlessly. Listen to podcasts. Become obsessed about learning. If you want to figure out how to do something, read 5-10 books on that same subject. You will start to see patterns and repetitive ideas, and those are the ones that are meaningful. Don't stop learning. Hire mentors and coaches (and do what they say, take action!). You will outgrow some of them, and that's ok. Surround yourself with people that are more successful than you are. Normalize success and wealth in your life and your mind.
- KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. You must have accurate financial data regularly and timely. And you must evaluate your business and your personal finances daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. It is not where you are today but the trend that is most important. Most people don't understand financials, and if they do, they don't know what actions they need to take to achieve their goals. That's ok; hire someone that does. Make sure they can analyze and interpret those numbers into actionable tasks for you and your business monthly. Accounting is not data entry; it is the language of your business. Everything you need to know is right there, so take it seriously and hire a pro. Are you pricing correctly? Are you offering the right mix of products and services? Did you hire the right people? How efficient are they? What will happen in 6-12 months? How much does it cost to acquire a client? What is the value of your business? What will happen if you lose 50% of your sales? Is your business scalable? Are you working too much in the business? And how do you scale from $1mm to $5mm in 3 years and break it down, step by step? And on and on and on. Know your numbers, set big goals, and hold yourself accountable. I love this time that we are living in. Anything is possible. So many have broken the 'standard' of what's possible. If your business is below $2mm in revenue and your CPA or CFO thinks that 10-20% growth year over year is great, then you should think about working with someone else. Those are outdated standards. The new standards are 100-200% growth for anyone that is under 7 figures. So find a CFO, CPA, or coach that has a proven record of doing so with their own business and with others.
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.
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