Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Accidental COO

It's been a year since we opened Bryan Alexander Consulting, LLC. The business went live on June 1st, 2013. So, I thought I'd write a little bit about how that's been going.

We had been planning on opening a consulting business for a while, but the timing was somewhat involuntary. Bryan's departure from his last position, although amicable, was abrupt. We had about a month to put together a working business plan.

Fortunately, this was not completely foreign territory for me. As I said, Bryan and I have been looking at this for some time. With the help of various friends and allies, I wrote the operating agreement, obtained tax ID numbers, insurance of various kinds, business licenses, accounts etc. I searched for and hired an accountant who steered us through the minutia of tax regulations.

Bryan and I delved into books on business how-to's and the nuts and bolts of running a consulting firm. We decided that the name should be Bryan Alexander Consulting due to his name recognition as opposed to the more inclusive but not nearly as recognizable Alexander Consulting.

This has been a little tricky for me, as it has led some people to infer that the business is only Bryan's, however that's been the only downside. The fact is, he sets up his gigs, and does the actual speaking and consulting and I pretty much do everything else. The brand recognition more than makes up for the occasional misunderstanding.

From about June of last year, to the 15th of May, I have been insanely busy. I have had many days that start with 7:30 AM meetings and finish with 8:00PM meetings. Last summer, I took two online business accounting courses to update my skills.  I also took the opportunity to take some of the workshops offered to business owners through the state of Vermont.

Our date nights now consist of going to a coffee shop with our computers, syncing calenders, going over profit and loss statements, and discussing cash flow. Then we still have one child in High School and the other taking classes at the local community college.

In January, I designed and taught a class for Emergency Medical Responders that ran until May. It was well received and teaching EMS classes will likely be another income stream for BAC.

The homesteading mindset has been a huge help throughout these challenges. I always say we're not preparing for the end of THE world, just OUR world. The deep panttry and minimal credit card debt were a real boon; because we had planned for contingencies that might disrupt our income, we were able to start-up BAC with minimal disruption to our lifestyle.

I have had a few people ask me if running a business with my husband affects my marriage. I have to say that it only affects it in a good way. Working for ourselves takes a lot of the tension out of making a living. Now we know our time and talent is going towards our own enrichment, both literally and figuratively.

Going from full time SAHM and homesteader to business owner has had some bumps. We have had some of the "Mom now has a job" adjustments within the family and I have lost at least one friend because she took my sudden unavailability very personally. I find that casual acquaintances reacting more favorably to me is uncomfortable too--it shows how badly thought of stay-at-home moms are. Suddenly, I am a person of credibility because I am doing this for money?

In truth, my job as Chief Operating Officer of BAC and my job as homesteader and mom are pretty much the same. I make sure the bills are paid and that the day to day stuff is taken care of. I keep calenders straight and run the reports. I continue to do my jobs with the Fire Department. I fix the plumbing, make sure the car fleet (we now have 2 cars, so that's a fleet for us) is maintained, maintain supply inventories, and anything else that needs doing.

Last weekend, the projects were planting and chicken coops, on Monday it was insurance and mileage statements. Nothing new here, just more of it.

Here's a video of Bryan talking to Cliff at CNI this year. It's long, but worth a listen if you're into technology and the future.

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