Staff Highlight: Jessi Burg

by Kelly Sullivan

Happy Wednesday, readers!

This week’s blog post brings a fun Q&A about the founder of Outgrow Your Garage, Jessi Burg! Keep reading for a more in depth look at what a unique day in the life of Jessi looks like.

Where did you grow up, and what was it like?

I grew up in Southampton, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Philadelphia. It’s a very suburban town, but since it’s so close to Philly I was able to selectively spend time in the big city. I realized that big city life definitely isn’t for me.

Which do you prefer, oceans or mountains? Why?

Mountains, hands down. They’re really pretty, and I love in the summertime how much cooler it is up there. I love hiking with my spouse and my dog. Even though the ocean is also pretty, I find the big expanse of it kind of creepy. I’m more comforted by the mountains.

How would you spend your days if you had unlimited time and resources?

I already do the things I love! I like my job, I take vacation whenever I want, I like the farm I just bought and being able to take care of it. This IS how I would spend my time!

If you could live in another historical period, would you? If so, which one?

As a woman, absolutely not. We weren’t even allowed to open our own bank account without a husband’s signature until the 70’s! We’re still fighting for equal rights – so no thank you! 

What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge right now?

To be honest, there are always weird things in my fridge. The weirdest thing right now is probably sourdough starter or homemade pickled ginger. We usually have some sort of science experiment going on in there.

You’re cooking for the whole team. What is your signature dish?

If we’re talking breakfast, then I make a mean hash with potatoes, eggs, cheese and any veggies I have on hand. For dinner, I’m a big fan of gnocchi!

What was your first-ever job?

Probably babysitting, which I started doing pretty young. I also worked in a print shop when I was 12, which was my first real paycheck. I ran the stitcher, which is what you put the brochures into to staple them together, and also the folder, which folds up the brochures. 

If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?

The ability to learn new languages easily. I admire those who have a knack for this.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

My least favorite job was the last one I worked at before I started Pears to Perennials. It was my first real office job, and my boss micro-managed everything even though no one had a good idea of what I was supposed to be doing. There wasn’t enough work to be done, but I still had to keep showing up to do nothing, which I couldn’t stand. This job made me realize that I wasn’t built to work in an office.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?

I recently bought a farm, so going out and working on the farm is really pretty and relaxing for me. I also love yoga.

What’s something you couldn’t live without?

Copious amounts of time outside, which is why I decided to move to western Colorado. I get to constantly look at pretty flowers and plants, and I get to work outside a lot.

What’s in your ideal sandwich?

I’m really into curried chickpeas with raisins, pickled onions, fresh lettuce, and some juicy in-season tomatoes.

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

I’m a big fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I like the idea that no matter where you go, there’s a friendly little guide book telling you what to do. 

Name a healthy food you enjoy and an unhealthy one you find hard to resist.

I really like overnight oats, because they’re so easy to throw together but also super filling and nutritionally dense. I also have a solid weakness for a Snickers bar. When I worked overnights at Celestial Seasonings, I was always going for a Snickers bar at 2 AM.

If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?

Hard line opinions. I think that there are too many people who can’t accept gray areas, and they think that everything is always black and white. I think more people need to learn how to compromise or see other sides of things.

Want to know more about Jessi? Connect with her on social media!


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.

Guest Blog with Amy Iannone: Tips for Finding a Bookkeeping and Tax Preparer Professional

by Amy Iannone

From day one of your business, it’s recommended that you create a bookkeeping system, gather receipts, and keep track of sales and expenses. This can be as simple as writing transactions in a notebook/ledger book, on index cards, keeping receipts in file folders, keeping a spreadsheet, or using bookkeeping or tax software.

There will come a time when you will need to focus more on your business and your clients, and you will need to consider hiring a professional. Think about some of the other things you could you be doing in the time that it takes you to do your own bookkeeping and income taxes.

Ask yourself:

  • Could you be better serving your clients?
  • Could you be generating new clients or making more sales?
  • Could you be spending more time with your family? Taking a day off? Going on vacation?

Determine the following:

  • Am I doing my bookkeeping and taxes correctly? 
  • What will it cost me later if I am not?

Having a professional maintain your bookkeeping and prepare and file your tax returns will give you peace of mind and provide you with a trusted advisor to ask questions and proactively help your business.

Should I hire an employee or a contractor?

You can choose to hire an employee or an independent contractor.  Hiring an employee is more complicated and may not fit with your initial budget due to additional taxes and insurance. You will also have to train an employee on what to do/oversee their work.

However, hiring an independent contractor or a firm will allow you to only pay for the services that you need. You can avoid having to deal with payroll taxes, and you will get a professional who will have the expert knowledge to not only do the work, but to advise you on bookkeeping and tax related questions.

Where do I find a bookkeeper?

What about income taxes?

You should hire a professional tax preparer for the same reasons that you would want to hire a bookkeeper. Note that this may or may not be the same person or firm that does your bookkeeping, and does not have to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) unless your business is publicly traded, a government agency, or is in an industry that is regulated such as healthcare or education.

Note that there are different levels of tax preparers and what representation rights that they have. You can find more information here:  https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/understanding-tax-return-preparer-credentials-and-qualifications

Where do I find a tax preparer?

How do I screen a bookkeeper or a tax preparer?

Ideally, you want to find someone who understands your industry and business. Book a consultation and ask them about their experience and certifications. They should ask you open-ended questions about your bookkeeping, income taxes, challenges your business faces, how your customers pay you, how you pay your vendors, your payroll details, and how you are managing your receipts.

Find out what their process is for working with clients with regards to connecting to accounts, uploading and downloading documentation, and if they have an office or are completely online and virtual. Check out their reviews on different platforms, but do not ask them for references, as they are under a confidentiality clause with all of their clients and will not be able to give out any details.

Ask them about what services they offer, how and how often meetings are held, and if they prepare financial statements or other reports. Can they advise you with budgeting, benchmarking and cost analyses, and are they are an authorized IRS e-file provider?

Be sure to ask if they charge an hourly or a flat rate, and read their Engagement Letter Agreement very carefully for what their Scope of Work entails. Ask if they charge upfront or invoice after work is completed!

Don’t wait until April 15 or October 15 to begin your search for a bookkeeping and tax professional! Be respectful of the many hours that it took them to learn their craft and be able to keep up with the numerous and ever changing tax laws. Someone who is a good fit will help your business grow and thrive, and will be an integral part of your team.

A person smiling in front of a bouquet of flowers

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Amy Iannone is a Bookkeeping & Tax Professional who founded Professional Bookkeeping & Tax Assistants in 2017 to help small business owners get financially organized, realize their profit, manage their payroll and stay current on their taxes.
Explore her socials for Professional Bookkeeping & Tax Assistants services!


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.

Pros and Cons of Including Pricing on Your Website

by Jessi Burg

Whether or not to include your prices on your website is one of the most common questions we get here at Outgrow Your Garage. The answer is….well, it depends. This week on the blog, we’re looking at the pros and cons of making your pricing public so you can decide what works best for your business.

In today’s era of instant information, potential clients often want to know as much about a company as possible before contacting them. They read reviews, peruse your website, and look for examples of your past work. For many industries, clients may not know quite what they need or how much it will cost. This means that pricing is one of the first things they ask about during the initial conversation or estimate. 

Pricing is tricky and can fluctuate depending on your business, the season, and supply availability. Before you can even think about putting pricing on your website, you need to make sure that you have a consistent pricing structure. Ask yourself the following questions:

-Are your prices clear and consistent across all of your jobs?

-Do you have a standard list that you refer to for pricing any given job?

-If you charge by the hour, how do you estimate how many hours a job will take?

Once you know those answers, you can decide whether or not to include pricing on your website or in your marketing materials.

Here are some pros and cons to consider when making that decision for your business.

Pros

Clients have an accurate idea of the price before calling you, which bypasses a situation where they’re shocked or angry at unexpected prices during an estimate.

Clients often don’t know how much a given service costs. Adding pricing to your website can help educate clients about your industry, as well as give them a starting point for their budget. This means that if their budget is significantly less than what you charge, clients can adjust their expectations in advance, saving you time during the estimate process.

Pricing transparency makes clients more likely to trust you. Since it is common to seek out multiple bids for a project, listing your pricing on your website ensures that clients know exactly what you’re quoting them for, creating a foundation of trust. If other companies aren’t as open, clients are more likely to choose you. 

You can set expectations about how your system operates before meeting with a client. Including pricing on your website means that you have to do some amount of explaining how you get to your price, which prepares clients to work with you. Do you charge hourly or as a flat rate? Do you have packages? What’s included in your prices? Having a reference about your process makes onboarding new clients easier and streamlines the process for everyone. 

Cons

Pricing of materials can fluctuate. Over the last few years, we’ve seen frequent changes in the supply chain, and recently inflation is impacting many industries. If you can’t predict what the prices will be when you do a job because your industry is being impacted by supply shortages or inflation, keeping pricing off your website will make it easier to have conversations with clients about their options. 

You have to make sure you can update your website pricing easily if something changes. One of the hardest things as a business owner can be remembering to update your website. As soon as you list pricing or talk about how you structure your fees, clients will be attached to that price. This means that when you raise your prices, it needs to be updated on your website immediately so that clients don’t expect an old rate.

If you’re on either the high or the low end of pricing in your industry, it may deter potential clients. Are you a luxury service, typically priced higher than others in your industry? Or do you price match to meet the lowest bid? If you’re at one end of the pricing spectrum, clients looking for a mid-range option may avoid your company because they think you aren’t a good fit for their needs. If you price match, then your specific pricing is less relevant to your clients because it’s adjustable.

The decision to add pricing to your website really depends on what you’re comfortable with. If you know how your pricing works, have a set system for estimates, and frequently get questions about cost from clients, then you may decide to include it on your website. You may be in an industry experiencing rapid growth or change, making it extremely difficult to hold a steady price. Maybe your business is still learning and growing, and you’re testing out different prices to see what works. 


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.

Women in the Spotlight: Heather Van Gilder

by Jessi Burg

Today’s blog brings the spotlight onto Heather Van Gilder, master boot fitter at Boulder Orthotics. Her mission? Helping people with their feet by getting them properly aligned, so that they can continue to enjoy the activities they love. For those of you who are very active, or work in the trades and spend all day on your feet, keep reading – it is important to pay more attention to your feet, and know that it’s something worth spending the money on!

JB: Why feet? 

HVG: My background is in ski boot fitting, but I am also a board certified pedorthist – which is someone who gets referrals from doctors about people who need help with foot support/are tired of their feet hurting. 

JB: What is the process like?

HVG: The process goes something like this:

First, we need to figure out what kind of appointment is necessary. I have them fill out an intake form before they come in, and have them bring their footwear so that I can see what needs to be replaced and why. I recommend a brand of shoe, and then mold their feet in a seated position to ensure a perfect fit. I have a lab in the back of the store where I can make the orthotics on the spot, so at the end of a two hour appointment, the customer leaves with custom orthotics. The goal is 90% comfort, and I recommend that they come back in two weeks for a recheck to see how things are settling in. I also sell slippers, because some people need foot support all the time, even when they are walking around the house.

There is a break-in process for orthotics, so I recommend a set schedule for getting used to them to avoid blisters and achiness in the feet or joints as the body gets used to the support. Your bones aren’t used to being supported in those positions, so they need time to adjust. I know that it can be tough for people with certain jobs, like servers or construction workers, to switch out their insoles midday, but breaking them in is crucial.

JB: What other kinds of orthotics do you offer?

HVG: I can build accommodative and functional orthotics. Accommodative orthotics require molding the orthotic to the foot as is, whereas functional orthotics focus on getting the foot and the ankle into alignment so that your ankle bone is sitting right on top of the heel bone. Most retail stores only offer accommodative orthotics.

When I take a footprint I can tell a lot from that, like if one leg is longer than the other. You’re printed barefoot, so the width under the center of your foot should be the same on both sides. If one is significantly wider than the other, you can guesstimate a difference – a true measurement would come from an x-ray, but there are some alignment markers that help with that. If there’s a big discrepancy, you have to build that into the shoe. It’s really fun to help people with chronic pain or lingering issues from polio or childhood illness. I really like being able to help someone who was in pain leave with a smile. Teenage boys are especially fun to work with because they like to act cool, but then I can get a smile out of them. 

JB: What got you into orthotics?

HVG: I was a skier, and I went to school for archeology and was really into the bone structure and physical archeology pieces. I took a job fitting boots, and then I branched out into hiking boots and other types of boots. I ended up buying Boulder Orthotics when the previous owner retired. It’s a weird thing to admit that you like working with feet, but I really do love it, and I was required to do a thousand hour internship before I could go to school for it.

JB: What are your top tips for people who are just starting out in the field?

HVG: Spend the money and the time to address your feet. Steel toed boots and concrete floors wreak havoc on the body if you’re not supported, but a properly fitting shoe of good quality makes all the difference. Spending extra money on a good shoe will make a lot of things better – and no one even has to know you have a fancy orthotic in there. The sooner people pay attention to their feet, the happier they will be. If we were hunter gatherer people who walk through the forest all day, barefoot shoes/five fingered shoes would be fine. But pavement is much harder on your feet than a forest floor. 

JB: Tell us about running your own business.

HVG: As a business owner, I have more freedom to provide services that I think are beneficial. Other retailers may not want to offer those services, and I wanted to find my own way to help people. As a retail space, your customers come in and expect that they will get whatever they want, but when people seek me out, they want to listen to my expertise because they really just need my help. My customer service is always on point, because there isn’t anyone else there. I think about business growth all the time, and I am always trying to learn new things and continue my education. 

JB: What do you wish people knew about your business or your industry?

HVG: Although I’m technically in the healthcare field, it doesn’t feel like a doctors office. It’s very relaxed, and I wear a dirty ski apron and not a lab coat. There is still professionalism and expertise, but it doesn’t feel sterile, if you will.

Want to know more? Find Boulder Orthotics online or through Facebook here:


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.

Women in the Spotlight: Emily Soloby

by Jessi Burg and Kelly Sullivan

Happy Wednesday to all of our readers! Today we’re interviewing Emily Soloby, CEO and Founder of Juno Jones, about her vibrant spectrum of talents and a knack for business solutions. Emily has been advocating for women since the beginning of her career, and we’re excited to share her story.

JB: How did you get into the trades?

ES: I have a background in women’s studies and law. I was a domestic violence victim advocate in college, so I went onto law school to continue that work as a lawyer. Eventually, I wanted to switch careers because I needed a break. I went to graduate school to study broadcasting, where I met my husband. Together we co-own a truck and heavy equipment safety training firm. We have spent the last 13 years growing that business from a mom and pop shop into a national level consulting firm.

JB: How did you start a women’s work boot company?

ES: I have always been a boot lover. I trained in shoe making in Cuernavaca, Mexico and at the Brooklyn Shoe Space in New York. I found myself in need of some steel-toed boots that could work for both being around equipment at job sites and meeting with clients. I realized that there was a gap in the market when I couldn’t find anything I liked between the two options on the shelves. I started talking to women in various trades businesses about the lack of options in safety footwear, and decided that I wanted to change that. I’ve learned even more about boots since opening Juno Jones.

JB: Where did the name Juno Jones come from?

ES: Juno Jones is a fictional character that I created. I was aiming for a name that was easy to remember and fun to say. This character is intended to represent the modern woman – like a superhero who isn’t afraid to try new things and take on the world.

JB: What is Hazard Girls?

ES: Hazard Girls is a free Facebook community powered by Juno Jones. I launched Juno Jones in February of 2020 during the peak of Covid-19 lockdown, and we had a lot of extra time while we were waiting for the shoes to be produced, so I created the Hazard Girls group. I was starting to build a community on Instagram, and I would receive a lot of messages from women looking to be introduced to other women in similar industries. At first I wanted to direct them to Facebook groups, but quickly learned that there were no groups that were all encompassing women in male populated fields. I took the opportunity to create that group, and Hazard Girls was born!

JB: How did the Facebook group turn into a podcast?

ES: I was a guest on the Women in Manufacturing Podcast, and they loved my content so much that they wanted to give me my own podcast. Our team worked with Jacket Media Co. to create and produce the podcast. We now release a new episode every week, each that explores a different field through candid interviews with women leaders about their professional journeys. Starting this podcast has helped me grow a community to network with, and I have learned so much from amazing women in all different types of trades.

JB: What is your favorite thing about working with this population of women?

ES: My favorite thing is connecting with this community of women that have now become my friends and colleagues.

JB: What do you wish people knew about working in the trades industries/hazardous, non-traditional fields?

ES: My mission is to spread the word so that women know it is always an option for them. It’s easy to not consider those types of jobs when starting out on a career path, but there are many well paying jobs that need more women on board. I want them to know that men and women can have that same independence and financial freedom with a career in the trades.

JB: How can people who are building their businesses better support women in these fields and support that culture?

ES: Hiring women is an obvious answer to creating a diverse team. But not just women, ALL diverse candidates across the board so that you have all different voices and perspectives at the table. Oftentimes, business owners feel that they don’t have those options to hire, or don’t see many diverse applicants. One way to create a diverse team is by actively seeking out those applicants and putting structures in place to add more training where needed. This helps open doors for more on-the-job-training in order to hire women and other diverse candidates.

JB: What should men know about Juno Jones and the Hazard Girls?

ES: We find that most men want to be allies and want to support women in these different industries. They (and society as a whole) are starting to realize that yes, there is a shortage of workers across the board in many industries and yes, women are a great untapped resource. Anything men can do to support this will benefit our economy as a whole. Everyone wins!

To find out more about Emily Soloby and her many hats, visit any of the links included below.


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.

5 Reasons to Have a Project Gallery on Your Website

by Jessi Burg

This week, we’re starting with one of my favorite questions from service providers: Do I really need a project gallery? The answer is yes! If your business offers any kind of service, like house cleaning, graphic design, or HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) installation, you should have some kind of project gallery on your website. 

Why? Let’s break it down. There are a few reasons why I believe that a project gallery is one of the most important tools in your sales kit.

  1. Do More of the Projects You Love

Depending on your business, there are probably some projects that you like doing more than others. A good project gallery highlights your favorite projects – which means that clients who want those types of projects are more likely to contact you for work. 

Think about it this way: What recent projects did you really enjoy? What did you like about them? What parts got you excited? Show these off! Remember, it’s your business, so you get to decide what kind of work you want to do. 

If you haven’t already, start taking before, during, and after photos of your work. The more photos you have to choose from, the easier it will be to find examples of jobs you want to highlight. As a bonus, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from if you want to change up your gallery.

  1. Differentiate Yourself from the Competition

For most people, there are other businesses that work within your area or industry. What makes you different? Do you handle smaller projects? Do you excel at logistical management? Do you leave your job sites extra clean? Are you focused on sustainability or using locally sourced materials? In effect, your project gallery should display what it is that makes you stand out. 

What’s great about your project gallery is that it’s yours. Tell the story of your business through the images you choose. Take jobsite photos to highlight your safety protocols or your diverse crew. Show off that textured wall repair that you did as an add-on for a house painting job. How can you present to a client the things that set you apart?

  1. Educate Potential Clients about Your Industry

You might be thinking, “But my business doesn’t lend itself to pretty pictures, so how am I supposed to highlight jobs?!” This is where your project gallery summary comes in. In this case, pictures are only as good as the explanation that goes with them. Clients look at project galleries for two reasons: they want to know what you do and who your client base is, and how much you charge.

So be sure to explain your projects – including pricing. This is your chance to discuss how your business works so that your clients are prepared during a future estimate. 

For example, if you’re an electrician who works mostly in single family homes, you might have a project gallery that shows the before and after of a re-wired breaker box with an explanation of why a homeowner might need to replace their old breakers, and how much this type of project costs in labor and materials. 

What do you wish your clients knew about your industry and how you work? You can demonstrate that through explaining a common project type.

  1. Allow Clients to Qualify Themselves

If you are in an industry that first requires an estimate, you want to know that you’re what a client is looking for before you spend time with them. Clients will have a clearer idea of what you do and how you do it through your project gallery. If you’re a commercial HVAC company focusing on new builds, a gallery will help you avoid getting calls from residential clients looking to have a humidifier installed. 

As a bonus, if you include pricing in your project gallery (recommended), this will give clients a ballpark idea of what to expect cost-wise. Whether you’re a photographer or a dog walker, most people won’t know what a job costs. If clients can budget accordingly, you can avoid sticker shock during the estimate.

  1. Show off Your Work/Publicize Yourself

Lastly, you want to show off your work! Tell your clients that you’ve included their project in your gallery, and they’ll show their friends and neighbors. Include a link in your e-mail signature, on your Facebook profile, or in your response to a Next Door post. This way, more people will hear about your business – leading to you landing more of your targeted clientele.


Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?

-If you’re looking for business support, stop by our co-working sessions! Twice a week, we virtually bring business owners together from a variety of industries to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues.

-Check out our full online business course catalog for all of your operational needs! Select a course based on what area of your business you need help in, and pay a one time fee for unlimited access to its content, activities, and resources.