Dr Balakrishna Alva
Recently I had a chat with Cathy Akinkunmi of Beautiful Linen Rentals, from Halifax, Canada. She is responsible for making the happiest day in a girls life absolutely perfect! Yes, she's a wedding planner and takes care of the 'little details' that matter the most. Beautiful Linen Rentals offers consultation, planning and rental services for events and weddings.
I have been involved with a non profit organization volunteering my time in event planning, organizing fund raisers, banquet etc. I take care of the aspect that you can term as "details" which for me is all the prints, linen etc. I'm always excited when there is an event to plan and I love to take care of the table setting, linen and the overall room decor.
So the idea to start the company has been at the back of my mind for a while but I needed a real ah-ha moment to get started. That happened while planning my daughter's 10th birthday "Princess theme" party. Back then, I couldn't find a rental service which provided affordable linen and decor. That's when I knew there is a need and gap to be filled.
Nothing compares to the sense of gratification in running your own business. During the busy wedding season, I often work for more than 16 hours a day, which is normal and I won't have it any other way. I wear a lot of hats but I do have reliable staff to whom I can delegate. My motto is "sell your strengths and hire out your weaknesses". This has been quite useful because I know what to take on and what to outsource, a very fine balance. As a business owner and a relatively new one at that there's always decisions to make, work to do and many relying on you for answers to solve day to day business issues. I am a lifelong learner!
Being a start up we were very cost conscious and we were looking for an accounting solution. Since none of us have accounting background we wanted a tool which was very simple to use. We were using Tally but it was complex and had an age old interface. It required accounting knowledge. In Zoho Books, I saw three main features; Money In, Money Out and Bank synchronization and I felt that it is fit for a layman.The new user interface is too good, very easy to use and gives us instant reports. Business owners like us can actually concentrate on the business rather than finance and accounting.
Many in the past few months but the best are the phone calls, email messages, facebook page postings that I get from the brides whose weddings I've set up. Moments I cherish are when they say that everything was more than what they had hoped for and 'perfect' is one of the phrases often used.
Have Conviction: Starting a new business is a major commitment and should be undertaken only with conviction. If you are still iffy, maybe wait till you are sure.
Passion and love for what you do: It is important also to love what you do, because the road can be lonely but the conviction and love for your new endeavor are the things that will keep you focused and keep you moving regardless of the start.
Have reliable employees: Good, reliable employees that share your conviction cannot be overemphasized
Good networking matters: Developing good friendship with other business owners in your locality is always a good way to expand your network and be able to ask for help or advice whenever you need.
Get a hang of your financials: Be smart about your accounting, cash flow etc, as these can cripple even the best business intentions if not well planned out.
I use many templates with my terms and conditions well stated. I can customize these as per my clients. And this really is doing business the smart way.
I started invoicing with excel. Good old excel is okay but not for the volume I am beginning to deal with now and it lacked a few features. I tried my hand at the desktop version of an accounting application, but that didn't go quite well. I wanted an online accounting application so I could access my information from anywhere. Also, so that I need not have to install it every time I change my computer. The applications I tried were either too complicated or required a lot of time to learn. Time which I didn't have at the moment. I came across Zoho in Google search results for the best and simplest accounting application for small business. I signed up for the trial and at the end of the trial I was sold!.
I don't have accounting patience. Even though I hold an MBA, accounting has never been my forte. Couple of things I find about Zoho Books is that,
It's fast - I can view a synopsis of how my business is doing at any point in time via reports. All the important financial statements are available within 3 clicks and maybe 3 minutes.
It's easy - In my business, I send out quotes often before invoices. I can easily convert those quotes into invoices. The ease and speed with which I can edit invoices leaves even my clients amazed, they credit me for been very prompt, I credit Zoho for that. Recently one of the loan agencies I work with requested some financial information in the middle of my crazy busy season and I was able to send that across within minutes, I felt like i knew what i was doing!
Customizable - I use many templates with my terms and conditions well stated. I can customize these as per my clients. And this really is doing business the smart way.
Accountant friendly - My accountant was able to log in and file my tax returns last tax season and that is a big one for me. He did agree with me that Zoho Books works.
Time Saver - Cloning of an invoice has helped me avoid a lot of data entry. The ability to download my banking information and auto populate my expenditure etc is just awesome and saves a lot of my time. I am more confident of tax time now than I have ever been. All transactions are well captured, no misses! Zoho gives me the opportunity to free up valuable time to focus on other issues, issues which I cannot delegate at this point in time. For all these, I am grateful
We spoke for a few more moments about the various bridal shows she attends and her keen interest to learn photography.