Transcript Episode 41

Episode 41: Investing in Your Business Infrastructure to Build a Team with Amy Northard


Transcript Episode 41

Stephanie Skryzowski

Welcome to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship Podcast, the show for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone, expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way.

I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globe trotting CFO whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in!

Hi, everyone! Welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski and today I have with me, Amy Northford.

Amy is The Accountant for Creatives. She is a certified public accountant – that’s a CPA, who specializes in working with creative small business owners to make taxes and bookkeeping less stressful.

She has a passion for helping small business owners wade through all the financial things it takes to start an operated business so they can focus on their craft. In addition to preparing tax returns and bookkeeping for clients all over the US, Amy enjoys teaching small business financial basics, through her online course “Be Your Own CFO”.

So, Amy and I are in a very similar line of work when it comes to managing the numbers for small business owners.

And I’ve really been following along with Amy’s journey online for several years. We got to meet in person at a conference a couple years ago and it’s always nice to just have another friend in the industry that you can learn from and share. And we pass referrals back and forth all the time. So, it’s great to have another colleague in the same space.

Today, on our podcast, we talk all about Amy’s journey as an accountant, how she started out, how she came to have this amazing lifestyle business that she runs today. And we talked a lot about her team. So as like most of us, she started out just herself in her business, and now has a team of like eight I think she said full time employees. And so it’s a big leap, going from a solopreneur to hiring your first and then your fifth and then you’re eighth full time employee in your business.

We talk about some of the challenges that she has faced over time, and also the things that she has done to really help her make really big investments into the infrastructure of her business. So I’m excited to share this conversation with you all. I hope you enjoy it. And without further ado, let’s go talk to Amy! 

Hey, everybody, welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship Podcast. I’m really excited to be here today with my guest, Amy Northford.

Amy, welcome!

Amy Northard

Thank you.

Stephanie Skryzowski

So I feel like I’ve been following you online for a really long time. In fact, since the early days of my business, and you’ve kind of been like okay, she’s doing something that I want to do. And you’ve always had this really beautiful online presence. I feel like you’ve always had a really nice website and like, Instagram and everything. I’ve been following you for a long time.

And we actually got to meet in person a couple years ago at a conference. And now we’re just kind of surviving the tail end of a pandemic, and through tax time, and everything else. So, I’m really excited to talk to you today.

Amy Northard

Yeah, same here.

Stephanie Skryzowski

So I always love to ask, I love to hear about people’s journeys, and how you started your career and how you landed doing what you’re doing now. And then maybe also, tell us a little bit first about what you do now.

Amy Northard

What I do now is run a virtual CFO, CPA firm, where we started to kind of expand into the CFO services. But we really started out with just being a typical CPA firm. Doing tax returns, then we dived into doing bookkeeping, and that kind of evolved, you know, as we saw what our clients were needing, some just needed bookkeeping, some just needed taxes. But there were definitely some that just needed more strategic help with their numbers.

So we’ve kind of expanded into several different levels of services. You know, when I said we started out with just taxes that was when it was just me. So in my mind, I couldn’t do a bunch of people’s bookkeeping myself. I wasn’t ready to start hiring anyone. And it ended up being my mom, who was my first hire because I was so nervous about hiring someone. She had bookkeeping experience. So she helped me with bookkeeping, she still works with us now, part time.

She was my kind of first dive into hiring contractors and I knew like their information would be safe with her and that kind of thing. But even before that, I did the typical route of doing accounting classes and well, I don’t know if it’s typical, but I did accounting classes in high school per my dad’s suggestion. I liked them. I really liked the methodical organization of all of the information, everything kind of place where it went. And it was just fun for me to see the small business side of accounting, because I’ve always loved small businesses.

In college, I did accounting classes, got my CPA license after college while working full time. And a couple years in, I was like, I don’t know if I can do the typical partner track of this company and be here working in these cubicles, long hours, not seeing my family. At that point, it was just, I just had a boyfriend. But I was thinking long term at that point, I was like, we get married, have a child down the road. I don’t want to be here.

And then one of my co-workers during tax season, I think that was probably the pivotal point was during tax season, her husband passed away suddenly. Really unexpected. It just shook the whole office and made me think like, okay, she was stuck here. And the office hardly saw him right up until that point. That was kind of like my turning point of like, okay, I’m not happy here. I want to be around at home more. So I need to make this change quickly.

And I thought just, you know, leaving public accounting would be the answer. I’ve heard this from other accountants, too. I feel like it’s a common path of like, okay, if I just get off public accounting, it’ll be better. And then they get into corporate accounting, and it’s not any better. So then they start their own business, and it ends up being a lot better. You know, there’s still the ups and downs of things. But it’s just nice to be home, have lunch with your family, if you want to, and that kind of thing.

So once I left public accounting, I didn’t just dive full into my business because I wouldn’t have had health insurance. I didn’t have enough clients to cover, you know, pay for all of my living expenses. So I took a part time job at an association, doing something that wasn’t related to accounting at all, it was a super easy job 30 hours a week. And my dad freaked out, he was like, what, you just got your license, and now you’re working at this, like, admin job that doesn’t use your skills at all. And I was like, Alright, calm down. I’m building this thing on the side and doing well.

So about like a year and a half into that it was too much to do everything together. I gave my two weeks at that job and went full time into my business. And then it’s just kind of grown ever since!

Stephanie Skryzowski

That’s awesome. I feel like your story is a little bit rare in the sense that most people don’t start out with the career path that they’re on right now, like, didn’t start that in high school. And it sounds like that’s kind of the path that you followed. And the way of you living that out, has looked a little bit different from public accounting to now doing the business that you own today. But that’s pretty interesting. Has your interests ever kind of deviated from wanting to be an accountant? Are you like, this is my calling, it’s what I’m really good at. It’s what I like to do. So like, I’m good.

Amy Northard

I mean, I think it’s funny, because to be 100% honest, I don’t think I ever would have thought like, Oh, I’m dying to be an accountant.

I have loved doing more crafty things, more artistic things. And I didn’t have a better idea of what I wanted to do going into college. So my dad was the one like, okay, like, we’re in an economic crisis right now, this is a safe option. And I was like, okay, you know, I know I can pay my bills with this type of job, when I graduate. The hiring rate is good for it and that kind of thing. So it was more of like, not necessarily a passion the whole way through, but started out as something safe to do.

And then I put all this time and effort into it, how am I going to make it into something I do have a passion for. That’s kind of how I got into working with creatives and that kind of thing. Because I’m able to, you know, I love following my clients on Instagram. I get a peek into their lives and what they’re doing and all their fun stuff.

Also, kind of the nerdy side, is getting to see the back end. You know, everyone sees large numbers on Instagram and all these glamorous things. We get to see like, is that true? And if it’s not, maybe they’re having a six figure launch, but what did it look like on the back end? Which, I think the nerdy part of me loves to see that nerdy and nosy.

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yeah, I totally agree with you. It’s really interesting because I feel like… I don’t know about you, but I have shiny object syndrome all the time. Or I’m like, Oh, they just like, did this casual little launch thing and they said they made you know $300,000. Okay, I can do that too! But then you’re on the backside were like, oh, and they spent like 200,000 in ads. Okay, actually, maybe it’s not worth the effort for me. So, yeah, I love being able to see that as well.

Is that how you landed on wanting to serve creatives? Is it because you were like, well, you know, I like accounting, but I’m also kind of a creative person. And so like, let me do accounting for these creative people. Or did it just so happen that those were the first clients you got? Or like, how was that your niche? Because that is what I think of you for? Well, I mean, that is like your tagline for your business, The Accountant for Creatives. How did you land on that?

Amy Northard

I think it’s kind of a mixture of that was like my tagline from day one was, that’s who I want to work with. So the accountant for creatives. And my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was a web developer, web designer. He created my website, he knew what I like, I would show him pictures and examples. He kind of put that all together to attract a more creative audience.

And then I started to get a lot of photographer clients, one of my very first clients was like a mentor to photographers. So she had a large audience of photographers that kind of kicked off the photography side, we have a ton of photographers, and you’re familiar with how word of mouth spreads. So we got into that.

That kind of spread into the wedding industry. We have a lot of wedding planner, wedding clients. And then my husband does all the SEO stuff. So we come up in searches pretty often for creatives. And people just find us that way. They even think we’re located in a lot of different places that we aren’t. We’ll come up like, if you search like Portland accountant for creatives. And I don’t know if this is actually true for that one. But like, we come up in a lot of searches where people add their locality. And someone was, like, I’m in the car. Where’s your office at? And ultimately, this is gonna be a phone call. We don’t have an office!

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yeah, oh, my gosh, that’s so funny. I love that strategy, the SEO and coming up in searches. I think that’s huge. Well, props to your husband, because I’ve always really liked your website. So yeah, that’s awesome. Overtime, so it started out as just you doing this kind of side hustle, and then you quit the job. And then you’re all in. Your husband, maybe boyfriend at the time was kind of working with you and helping with certain things. But if I look on your website, right now, you have a pretty big team. And then you said you hired your mom as your first hire.

So once we got past Mom, how did you figure out like, Okay, I need and or want to hire more people? What was the trigger that made you realize, oh, we need more people.

Amy Northard

I think the trigger was just working crazy hours. I feel like I have seen if I look back over, like the last eight or nine years, there’s definitely times where it gets really hard. We’re working really hard. And I’m like, why am I doing this? I don’t, I don’t enjoy this anymore. And that is usually the breaking point of like, okay, we have to hire someone to come to relieve some of this workload.

We only probably within the last six months have gotten to the point where we’re being a little bit more proactive in hiring. And then we can fill their spot. But up until last year, it really felt like we’d hire someone, they take the pressure off. And then we take on so many new clients and get back to that point, and then have to hire someone.

So that’s kind of been how the internal process has gone. We started out with contractors. So we had several contractors doing a few clients. And some of them contacted clients directly. Some of them would send me their questions, and I would pass those on to clients. We’ve had different relationships with the contractors and how they work with our clients. But then we had a tax event where we had a CPA doing contracted tax preparation and review. And she was awesome. She was phenomenal. But she moved during tax season.

I can’t say anything bad about that, because I just moved her in. And like, you find the house, you got to go for it. But being a contractor, she could say, okay, I don’t want to do as much work or I’m gonna stop doing work at any point. And that was my realization. We might be able to have contractors do some things for the business in terms of client work, but our main manpower needs to be employees.

So right after that we made the switch. That was also I think, Jimmy, so my son had already been born at that point. But he was just a little baby. So he was home with us full time for his first year and we needed help. That was kind of our shipping point of starting to look at employees. Beyond just managing contractors, had never managed people before. So that was a learning experience for sure!

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yeah. Going back to what you said about being proactive about hiring people, that could have been me saying everything that you just said, because we’d be in the same place, we’d be totally overwhelmed. And then, okay, let’s hire somebody! And then they relieve the pain, and then you take on new clients, and then we’re all totally overwhelmed, and then they relieve the pain.

We, in the past year, probably really more like six to eight months have gotten into that more proactive hiring space as well. And it has made such a difference, I think, for all of us, but it can kind of be a little bit scary. Because there’s that fear, I think at least there was for me that like okay, well, if I hire a full time employee, because we’re doing the same thing. No more contractors, just full time employees. What if there’s no more work? Like, what if the clients just stopped rolling in like they have been? And now I’m like, saddled with this full time employee. So did you feel that way? as well? And if so, how did you just push yourself past it?

Amy Northard

Yeah, I mean, we have slowly started to shrink the time frame that we take new clients. And because of this, we started doing a waitlist for clients. I don’t know that I would recommend this process or not, because since we take such a limited number of clients, now, the waitlist has grown.

So for me mentally, having the waitlist has been kind of nice, because it feels like I have a stream of people that I can reach out to. When we get to that point, if we ever do, where it seems like the inquiries have stopped coming in, we kind of got to the point with hiring enough people then… Like, I had seven calls yesterday for new clients to partially just for that panic of like, okay, we have all these people starting, we just hired two people, like within a month. And what are they going to do?

First of all, it’s going to take off some pressure. We’re going to have someone stepping in for another employee’s maternity leave, but are they going to have enough stuff to do? So I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. I kind of like, took a ton of meetings last week, 10 meetings this week, and have some stacking up after my vacation is done. And then we’ll probably pause, let them all get on board and see where we’re at with things and decide if we want to take more.

But that feeling of oh crap, we’re responsible for like eight people’s livelihoods. And if this goes down, it’s not going to be good. That is a very real concern when you’re hiring people, and even the thought of like, Okay, should we shrink back? What if it went back to just me? What would that look like?

I mean, we’d have to get rid of so many clients and disrupt their lives with stopping and finding a new accountant and stuff. So we’re kind of on this train of like, okay, there’s no going back. We’re here and we’re probably going to keep expanding to who knows how large.

We’re trying to not do it too fast, though. Because I’m sure you hear too, like, clients come to you. And they’re like, I never hear from my accountant. They just fell off the face of the earth. We are trying our hardest not to be like that.

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yeah, I literally say the exact same thing. Yeah, I’ve heard that story so many times. And I’m like, I don’t understand how those people are running a business.

Amy Northard


Stephanie Skryzowski

But to your point, maybe they just got in over their head, they just grew too fast and need to slow down a little bit to make sure you take care of the clients that you do have. And I think that’s a really good lesson for any industry. Because at the end of the day, you know, if you’re thinking about making money, you already have clients that are paying you money. So instead of constantly just chasing more, more, more, more, more, just spend some time focusing on the ones that you do have. Nail down that client experience before you go out and take more.

And so I think that your process of having a waitlist and strategically onboarding clients, when you know that you have capacity to do that is really, really smart because it’s balancing your own internal workload, but also making sure that their experience is a really high touch and really positive and you’re not just putting them through the, you know, the factory.

Are there any other special things that you do to really make that client experience really strong or set yourselves apart from other firms who you know, have the story like, Oh, I haven’t heard from my accountant in six months.

I feel like with your numbers with people’s numbers with their money. It’s like a very sensitive thing for a lot of people and It’s often a source of, can be a source of fear or embarrassment, or shame or guilt that maybe their numbers aren’t what they want to be or what they think they should be. And so, yeah, how do you put that special touch on the way that you serve your clients?

Amy Northard

First of all, going back to communication, we internally have a rule of like, okay, please respond back. Even if it’s just, I’ll get to this tomorrow, respond back to the clients within 24 at a maximum 48 hours, kind of depending on where we’re at in tax season. But that’s our ultimate goal is, at least let them know that you’ve got the email and you will be getting in touch with them. And that solves a lot of people’s stress of like, are they gonna fall off the face of the earth, like my last account did?

And then we do a video call with all of our clients when we start their bookkeeping, or virtual CFO services. So that lets them see that we’re normal people, we are not scary, scary guys just here, like working away. And you know, we are normal people just like them, we are passionate about their business. They can see that there’s a friendly face, if you just start off with just email contact, it is a lot tougher to get that relationship.

So even with all of our clients, we do that initial phone call at a minimum, just so that they can hear at least that there’s a real person on the other end, and I’m not scary, and I’m not mean, and that we’re here to help them figure out their financial side of their business.

Stephanie Skryzowski

I love that. I think that putting the personal touch on it. And even if it is just, you know, a phone call, so they can hear like, oh, okay, this woman is really nice. I don’t need to be nervous about my taxes or whatever. I love that.


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Stephanie Skryzowski  

Actually, I kind of want to circle back to your team. And I know that you have made it a priority to do retreats with your team. And I have to and so I’ve kind of seen what you’ve done on Instagram. But how did you make the decision to make that investment because it cost money to bring everybody together?

So how did you decide like, Okay, I really want to make this investment into the business and into the team and bring everyone together? And what do you do at your team retreats? And kind of what do you think your team gets out of it? How does it change your business? Because I know we have a lot of listeners that are in the earlier stages of their business, but do still have people on the team. And we’re all like, probably everyone listening to this is in a remote work environment.

Like I know, I haven’t even met a number of people on my team in person ever. We hired a lot during COVID. So anyway, yeah, tell us a little bit about your team or traits and making that investment and the purpose and what you guys all got out of it and talk to us about that.

Amy Northard

So we were going to plan our first one last year, we were going to be going to Lake Tahoe. And we’re all excited. And obviously that didn’t happen. So we shifted to going this year, we kind of had to fit it in before one of the employees went on maternity leave, and you know, between tax deadlines, but we really wanted to make the investment to first of all, show our employees, gratitude for all the hard work that they have put in for our clients for our team in general.

Also, there’s just a certain kind of bonding that you get when you’re in person versus virtual. You know, we try to do team lunches every month, which entails everyone going out and eating on camera together. And that’s I mean, it’s fun. But it’s different, you know.

At first I was like let’s do all of this talk about all of our personality types and do all this learning stuff. I thought that would be good to kind of mix in but as I kind of looked at like our time frame and just more wanting this retreat specifically to be more about relaxing and kind of a thank you and let’s just bond as a team. That stuff kind of fell off. We did have some discussions about email management and how to say no to your clients or to the clients like how to set up boundaries to clients.

We had those conversations, but it was more like something that we talked about after breakfast around the dining table, you know, wasn’t anything super formal. And the rest of the time, you know, we did airboat, we had meals out together, we rented chairs on the beach and just relaxed. I mean, we only had two full days of our team retreat.

But you know, things like that we had a beach fire pit that was set up for us with s’mores and stuff. So it was just nice to have all this downtime, where we could just have those kinds of conversations kind of felt like going to camp like, you don’t have anything super important you have to do. You just get to learn about people and, and what they enjoy doing and their family and their friends and that kind of thing.

Stephanie Skryzowski

I love that so much. And I’ve been, a little bit, struggling with it. To be honest, we’ve done a few virtual team retreats, which have been lovely, but it’s at the end of the day, we’re all on zoom all day long. So doing more Zoom team retreats, it’s a little bit tiresome!

But I’ve been like, oh my gosh, would the team, as big as it is right now… this is gonna be a big investment, like a very big investment. So I’ve been like, kind of going back and forth. But I feel like you just encouraged me, I’ve been trying to assign an ROI to it to this investment into the business like, Okay, if I spend this amount on the team retreat, we’re gonna get this out of it.

From what you just said, it doesn’t seem like you can really put a price tag on that.

Amy Northard

I mean, I think the price tag is for having people have that bond so that they are less likely to see a shiny object and go for it. Having everyone feel more connected to the company and the team. That was our investment. We want long term employees, not short turnover employees who are just here until they find the next better thing, we’re hoping to be the next better thing.

And by having that thing for people to look forward to, you know, if they’re considering looking for another job, hopefully, the promise of a team retreat next year with everyone and you know, having a good time. And basically a free vacation for a few days is enough to keep them on the team still happy and excited to work with the clients.

So for me, it’s like, this is an investment into our infrastructure and not having to have a high turnover and having to spend the time training new employee replacements, because that can be costly, too. So we kind of had a rough budget of like, okay, what’s the average we want to spend per person and kept it within that.

We didn’t do anything fancy, like we didn’t have any care meals, we just, you know, we went out to restaurants together, the only thing I think we really saved money on was probably breakfast, we had coffee and like stuff in the grocery store in the mornings while we looked at our emails, and that was basically the extent of our workload for the few days.

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yeah, oh, my gosh, I love that so much. I feel like you’ve just convinced me. Like, you’ve just convinced me to just do it. Because there is really something to be said for that in person time. And I love how you refer to it as like an investment in the infrastructure of the business, like you can invest in a new software, or you can invest in whatever. But at the end of the day, your people are your most important asset. And so if they leave, that causes the most pain.

I feel like, I don’t know, you could switch from Asana to ClickUp or, you know, if one system goes down you can migrate to another system, it’s not like a big deal. But an employee who has a big client portfolio, if they were to just up and leave because they saw something else that seemed like a better offer, that’s going to be a pretty big hit to the business. So I love that. That’s the way you looked at it. And I feel like you’ve just convinced me to book something now. So, thank you. Awesome!

I would love to know I asked a lot of guests this question, but how do you manage your numbers in your own business? I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced like, what is that saying the cobbler’s children have no shoes, something like that. Like we have this very intensive process that we go through this great forecasting tool for all of our CFO clients that we use. And then I’m like, wait a second, why am I not using that for my own business? Like how do you manage your own numbers and your forecasting and your cash flow stuff? What does that look like for you?

Amy Northard

So starting out, I probably didn’t really have a great process. For my own stuff, you know, I would get months behind on bookkeeping. At one point I had my mom do it because I didn’t feel like I had the time to do it, even though I was doing it for other clients. And then, you know, a few years after that, I was like, I just need to take it back myself so that I can see these numbers and see what’s going on. We use QuickBooks for our bookkeeping, that’s what we use for probably 99% of our clients. And so it just made sense.

But I mean, to be honest, when I very first started my business, I was like, I’m just gonna do a spreadsheet. And that was fine when I had like, five clients, but that didn’t last long. So we’ve been in QuickBooks for a long time. And my husband and I, since he came with me full time, about five years ago, we would do meetings after tax season. A lot of people do like meaning at the end of the year, or like, at the beginning of the year, we kind of had to wait until tax season was over. Because, December we’ve got the holidays. And then January, we kind of jump into like 1099s, and everything else, and we’re in tax season.

So we would give ourselves a little break, and then go out for breakfast, bring our laptops and devote some concentrated time away in a new setting where we could look at our numbers plan, you know, what’s our goal? How many clients do we want to take on, because if I have a goal, I’m way more motivated to onboard a certain number of clients rather than just feel like it’s just constant. If I can meet my goal, it’s super exciting, but not having any goals around things and just always feeling like you have to grow forever and have nothing to reach didn’t motivate me.

We kind of put those goals into place. Figure out if we do onboard this many people, here’s when we could hire. Then last year our son was with us all year. James kind of ended up being you know, his day to day caretaker, James would help me with some internal things. And then him and Jimmy would do projects, you know, little things around the house that they would hang out. So we didn’t end up doing that meeting last year.

Last year just felt like a whirlwind of like, non stop, you know, I was focused on helping clients with PPP loans and forgiveness. And you know, just making it through looking at their projections. So, last year, I skipped really planning. First of all, it was kind of like, what we were talking about is like we got to this pain point of being so busy, we have to hire someone. That was my point, instead of planning ahead, just going off of the pain that we were experiencing.

This year, actually, like probably two months ago, we have just gotten out of tax season and I was behind on our own bookkeeping, like a couple months hadn’t done it yet. And then, the same thing happened. Like it was another cycle. Like I got focused on client stuff and onboarding times on our books for a couple months. And then we were ready to hire another person. James was like, You need to finish our bookkeeping before we hire someone, so we know how much we can pay them. So it feels like you know, we’ve been kind of behind. And that’s not obviously what we’re preaching to our clients of planning ahead and looking at cash flow for things. But yeah, it definitely feels like something we put on the back burner, because it’s what we’re focused on for clients all the time.

Stephanie Skryzowski

It’s so funny. Yeah, so the same exact situation. I’ve always done my own bookkeeping as well. And I thought about outsourcing it or having somebody like my assistant or operations manager do it. But yeah, it’s hard, because it’s like you are so focused on serving your clients that it’s like, yeah, my stuff’s not important. But I love that until COVID, that you had this regular cadence of getting outside of your environment. And just planning and setting goals for a couple days.

I feel like especially when we live so much of our lives online, and I follow, I don’t know about you, I follow just tons of businesses and marketing people and all these people on Instagram and podcasts and everything else, you can really easily get into that trap of growing for the sake of growing and like, yeah, you can grow infinitely, but like, Why?

Why are we actually doing this? And does that feel good? Like, does it feel good to hit six figures? Does it feel good to hit seven fingers? Maybe but also, maybe not. So I love that you set aside that time separately to really think about what your goals are and the purpose and I’m also a little bit glad to hear that I’m not the only finance person that falls behind on their own bookkeeping.

Our clients. No, no, you can bet their bookkeeping will always be done by the 15th of the month but like my own, I don’t even know what’s going on there. So glad to hear that. Awesome. Well, I will start to wrap us up and I always like to ask a couple questions at the end, mostly because I’m just like fishing for new ideas for myself. But obviously you own a business, you have a little one at home.

I’m always thinking about productivity and being efficient with my time. So what’s your favorite productivity hack or tip that you use in your business or your life?

Amy Northard

I would say, up until we moved to this cabin, I would have a paper planner that I would keep, in addition to like, all of my meetings would be on my Google Calendar.

Every day, I would rewrite my to do list on the page. And I loved that, it worked well for me. But when we moved, all my stuff was packed up, all my papers were gone. And I was like, I just had to force into completely being digital with all my notes, and my to do list. So I started using the task option on Google Calendar. This is probably like old news to most people. But I add tasks on there now! Instead of having my to do list, and I still get the satisfaction of marking it complete.

Stephanie Skryzowski

That’s important.

Amy Northard

But I can move it without having to rewrite and take the time. Like, if I’m not going to get it done today, I can move it. Or if I add all these things to my to do list, I can kind of spread it out over the week dragging and dropping on the Google Calendar versus, just having this long list every day that rolls forward. So it kind of lets me spread that out based on you know, what I’ve got going on, and that kind of thing. So that’s been my recent productivity hack.

Stephanie Skryzowski

I love that. And this is not old news to me because I feel like now I see my Google calendar right now I see the little task them, but I’ve never used it before. So good to know. I like that. Thank you. Okay, so my next question is, what is a favorite book that you’ve read? And let’s say everyone always asks, well fiction or nonfiction? Let’s say nonfiction, favorite nonfiction book.

Amy Northard

Okay, so we have been looking for a cabin for years. So it’s not like a COVID thing that we just decided to move out into the woods. We’ve been looking for a cabin forever. So the past few years, I’ve been really obsessed with interior design books and got into gardening last year. And a few weeks ago, I was at our farmers market. I was talking to this vendor there. And he had a book on his table. And it was written by his dad, his dad used to write for like a newspaper column of all of these, like people would call in to him.

This was like in the 90s people would call him with their questions. And then he would write a newspaper column on, like how to farm grapes in southern Indiana, stuff like that. So this book is like all of that stuff combined into a nice cohesive book. And I welcome to having some land in southern Indiana where we’re at now. I read a chapter about finding grapes. And then the next day, I found some grapes on our property like rhubarb. Oh, cool. There’s some rhubarb. Yeah. It’s completely non related to a lot. But it is so enjoyable and applicable to outside of work for me. I love it!

Stephanie Skryzowski

Oh, my gosh, that is so fun. What a fun discovery. And I love that you didn’t share a business book. You weren’t like profit first. 

Amy Northard

I am. I mean, I do read my fair share. But I love for me outside of work! I need something to fill my cup back up. Extracurricular activities and doing stuff outside. You know, especially after being inside at tax season and all the crazy weather. It’s nice to have something completely unrelated to focus my attention on.

Stephanie Skryzowski

Yes, that’s such a good reminder. We can just so easily get sucked back into if you’re not in your laptop, then you’re on your phone, scrolling Instagram. It’s so good to have something that you can go to just separate yourself from all of that. I am working on that. I’m working on that.

Alright, my last question is imagine that you had a weekday just completely free from all work, all obligations. What do you do?

Amy Northard

Good question. Well, we started taking Friday’s off in the summer a few years ago. So, we kind of get to live that scenario out on Fridays. We’ve started to go to this little apple orchard nearby. We initially just went there for getting some groceries from their little firm stand. And then found out they have a petting zoo and all that kind of stuff.

I love just kind of running like aimless errands or around town now that I can, you know, going in places and, and that kind of thing. You have a new appreciation for those little small, fun things we used to never think twice about. Since James spends the week with him, Jimmy and I go, we spend, to have a mom and Jimmy day. Kind of just see where the day takes us. I think that’s a lot of fun.

Stephanie Skryzowski

That is so fun. And I feel like the age that your little one is at, they have fun doing anything. And so it doesn’t have to be like a big grand thing. Like they just love being with you and hanging out and exploring. And yeah, I love that. Oh, that’s so fun. I like to do the same. We have several farms near us too. And you can pet the animals and feed the animals and go pick fruits and yeah, love it. Awesome.

Well, I’m going to wrap us up here. And Amy, thank you so much for chatting with me today. It was just so great to hear from you and how your business has grown. And how you’ve kind of balanced all of the things in COVID and beyond especially related to growing your team. So thanks so much for sharing with us.

Amy Northard

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Thanks for listening to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on instagram @stephanie.skry and I’ll be sure to share. Thanks for being here friends, and I’ll see you next time!

Transcript Episode 41

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