“We the Prosperous” – Meet Alaia

Customer Stories, Self-Employed DSC01592_V3

Every Intuit customer has their own unique story. Along each of their journeys, they find passion, share advice, take risks, celebrate success, and form a community of their own.

From small business owners, to the self-employed and those simply seeking ways to be more financially savvy – we’re here to be a part of each story and champion our customers as they take steps forward on their path to prosperity. Hear how the power of many comes together to support the business of one with #WeTheProsperous.

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Meet Alaia Williams. She is a self-employed solopreneur, a business consultant, and a user of QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Online. She’s shared her goals, advice, inspiration, and definition of prosperity below.

Intuit: Alaia, what are some of your goals for the upcoming year?

Alaia: I’m looking to expand my audience beyond small business owners and other solopreneurs to also include larger companies that possibly have sales teams. I’d love to do trainings and workshops with those kinds of groups.

Intuit: That sounds like an exciting expansion opportunity! When you’re thinking about your work and your goals, who are you inspired by?

Alaia: This is such a big question! There are certain kinds of people that I’m inspired by. I’m inspired by a lot of friends and business colleagues who aren’t on the exact same path as me, but are also growing businesses and raising families.

When I see other people who are able to accomplish as much as I am (or even more), are able to manage taking care of themselves, and a family, it inspires and motivates me to look at how I use my own time.

I also look up to people who are very clear on what they want and just go for it. They know that’s what they want and they’re going to do what it takes to get it. I admire that “stick-to-itiveness.” Sometimes it’s not even business owners. I admire friends who are pursuing their own career paths who are taking the right steps to make something happen, no matter their field.

Intuit: Sounds like you a have a big network of inspirational folks. What do you wish someone had told you before you started your self-employed journey?

Alaia: Honestly, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. When I was thinking of starting my own business, I read books and blog posts saying you should have a certain amount of money saved away before you quit. But I was kinda “eh” about it.

I already had clients and thought it would be easy to fill time with others, so I just launched into my business when I thought I was ready. I wish an actual person I knew or someone closer to me would have said: “have money saved, have a plan, or if you’re leaving a full time job, make sure to have a part time job for some financial stability.”

We all have ideas and passions, but it doesn’t always click. Passion isn’t enough. The fact that you’re good at something isn’t enough. You need every tool, every resource in your arsenal, and something stable to count on, so you aren’t making business decisions from a place of “I just need money.”

Sometimes it’s not just about knowing the things you need to do. It’s more about hearing the right advice from the right person.

Intuit: Based on your experience, what advice do you have for others looking to start their own business?

Alaia: The biggest piece of advice I have is to plan, plan regularly, plan often. Planning is one of those things that some people do, but not often enough.

I don’t mean overschedule your life, but people often jump into their business without a plan because they just like their idea. I jumped in without a plan and thought “this is working, so I’m going to keep doing it.”

Knowing what I know now, I’d say have a plan for launch. Have a plan for client acquisition. To go along with your plans, figure out your systems. Systems are the foundation to your business and systems help your put your plans into action.

People fall into extremes: either no plans, no systems or they over prepare and over analyze and over compare to what other people are doing.

When you’re getting ready to launch an idea or a business: have a plan, have systems in place, and be ready to constantly tweak your growth strategy.

Intuit: Those are really helpful tips and easy to apply. What’s been the most surprising and challenging part of building your business?

Alaia: I feel like I’m surprised all the time. Mostly, I’m surprised that despite how hard it is, I’d still rather be doing this than having a traditional, 9-5 job.

Doing my own thing allows me to be creative in the sense that I can pursue the kind of progress I want to pursue and I get to work with a bunch of different clients. There’s never a feeling of today feels just like yesterday.

The most challenging part: I think it’s always consistency and consistent growth. Especially as a solopreneur. If I were in a product-based company, it would be easier to track growth and projections based on sales. But in a service-based business, you can look at patterns throughout the year for business flow, but it’s not always like that. My business depends on the economy, the audience, the time of year, and something that worked last year may not work again this year.

Intuit: As a planner, it makes sense why that would be challenging for you to juggle the unknowns! Who do you lean on for support or for questions about your business?

Alaia: I think I have a lot of good peer support who have been doing it as long as I have, in the same industry. These are my accountability partners, business colleagues; some people I’ve known for a year or two, some for ten years.

It’s nice to have a variety of people in your network that you can go to. I’ve noticed that when you get close to people, they won’t always be as honest or they may soften their answers. What I love is having some people in my life that are really sales-oriented. People who are in the financial industry who love sales and know how to frame the things they sell are great for me to ask clarifying questions and help define what it is I’m offering.

Intuit: Sounds like you have a great network. And Intuit is proud to be a part of that community of support as well! What initially drew you to QuickBooks?

Alaia: I started off as a Mint user actually! Then I started using QuickBooks Self-Employed in the beginning of 2016, and moved on to QuickBooks Online from there.

Once QuickBooks Self-Employed came about, the product made total sense for my business. It was a great entry point into all that QuickBooks had to offer. I still use it, I have clients that use it.

What I love about it is that the products give you room and flexibility for how and where you grow your business, and they grow right along with you.

Intuit: Other than QuickBooks, what are some of your prosperity hacks that help you feel successful each day?

Alaia: First of all, I can’t say it enough: planning! Every day. It’s the first thing I do. This really helps me focus because there are so many things to be done. Planning helps me question myself constantly: “is this getting me closer to where I want to be?”

Secondly: measuring and reviewing. Tracking progress, reviewing before you make your next plan is key. Eventually you start to see patterns, and if there’s a goal or task or project that you keep carrying over and not accomplishing for some reason, you have to stop and ask yourself why it’s not happening. Do I not have the resources, is it not actually important, etc. Doing a review frees up the energy for you to go do other things.

Third: Have accountability. When you have a job, you have built in accountability with your boss, managers, investors, and peers. Many of us are self-motivated, but it’s easy to get off track, work in silos, etc. Have accountability partners or groups that you can bounce ideas off of or run things by who are similarly motivated to get things done. This helps with reviews and feedback in that you know you have a little backup.

Lastly: self care! This is something that helps that I don’t do enough. Taking breaks or getting enough sleep. Basic stuff we hear all the time whether we’re entrepreneurs or not. When we’re running our own business, we always think there’s something else that can be done, someone else who can be helped. So you stay up an extra 30 mins, or get up an hour earlier, and what often gets sacrificed is our health. Taking care of yourself helps down the line with productivity, being  clear-headed, and being able to jump into the day.

Intuit: Love all of those tips. So important to take care of yourself so you can focus on the other elements of your business. Thanks for sharing all of these stories, hacks, and pieces of advice.

Find out more about Alaia’s path and her definition of prosperity below.

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