introducing lori aveni: my shoebox bookkeeper | raleigh mompreneur feature
Welcome back to our monthly feature on local mom entrepreneurs! Today I am proud to introduce you to Lori Aveni, owner of My Shoebox Bookkeeper. Lori will be one of my fellow speakers at the first Raleigh Mompreneur conference on the 22nd of this month (ACK!) Read on to learn all about Lori!
Lori, thank you for joining us this month! Can you please start off by telling us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Beckley, West Virginia. I met my husband, Scott, when we were both students at Wake Forest University. After graduation I followed Scott to the Washington, DC area, and we were married in 1994. We have two sons, Patrick (age 10) and Michael (age 7). After fighting the traffic for twelve years, we decided to leave DC and return to North Carolina where we had met, so in 2006 my husband accepted a job in the Triangle and we moved to Apex.
Tell us about My Shoebox Bookkeeper!
My company is My Shoebox Bookkeeper. I’ve met so many people who are so talented and successful in their business endeavors but don’t have the time to devote to managing their books. I work remotely or on-site for a variety of clients to meet this need. My work ranges from clients I see just 2-3 times a year to those for whom I assist on a daily basis.
What inspired you to start My Shoebox Bookkeeper?
I was working in nonprofit management when my oldest son was born in 2002. I left the job to be a stay-at-home mom. When my younger son was born, a former co-worker contacted me to ask for my help as a bookkeeper for a local nonprofit organization that was rapidly growing. Although I had no training in accounting, she said she’d rather train someone than to post an ad in the newspaper and wade through countless resumes. I agreed, and she taught me the basics. I realized I really enjoyed the work. After we moved to North Carolina, I continued working for the company remotely as they expanded their reach into seven states. I also returned to college to study accounting. In 2010 the job had grown to almost full-time and I decided I needed more flexibility.
Around this time, I had a conversation with a good friend who had recently started a business and needed help with setting up her books. She encouraged me to start working for myself so I could set my own hours and make more money. I tested the waters by picking up a couple of small clients locally. A few months later I left my job and worked for these clients while attending college part-time. Over the last few years my client base has grown, primarily through word of mouth. Recently I added payroll and notary services to my offerings. I completed my accounting classes in December and am currently studying for the CPA exam. It’s a four-part exam and I’ll be taking the first section in August. I also work a couple days a week for a local CPA, with more hours during tax season. I’ve learned so much from her and her team.
What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
I love the flexibility of being my own boss. It can be stressful at times knowing the buck stops with me, but overall it’s been a very rewarding experience to start my own business. I have a supportive family and an amazing network of friends who are always willing to be a sounding board for me.
What do you hope your clients take away from their experience with you?
I want to make things as easy as possible for my clients. If they have a shoebox full of receipts (and most of them do!), I want them to feel comfortable handing off that box and knowing they will receive the receipts back in an organized binder and with an accurate electronic record. I don’t do tax returns but my goal is to have my clients’ records in good order so they can spend less time with their accountant and save money on their taxes.
How do you manage motherhood and your business?
It’s so hard when you work from home, because you live at your office. The temptation is strong to check email or do “just one more thing” at odd hours. At first, it was hard for me to block out work. If I heard my email notification or received a phone call on the weekend, I didn’t hesitate to answer. This wasn’t fair to my family or to me. I was becoming burned out. So I defined my business hours and operate as “out of the office” outside of these hours. Normally I don’t check my work email on the weekends, nor do I answer my business phone. I let my clients know when I’ll be on vacation and unless there is a time-sensitive task that simply can’t wait, I am completely cut off from work during those times.
What is the best thing about being a mom?
I love watching the changes in my boys as they grow. At every age they are learning new things and becoming more independent, and it’s fascinating to me to see how their personalities develop. It’s almost impossible to believe ten years have already passed since I first became a mom! I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our family.
What is your favorite tip to share with other Mompreneurs?
You should always set up a separate bank account that is used solely for business income and expenses. It’s fine to withdraw money to deposit into your personal account to pay yourself, but you should never use your business account to buy groceries, pay for a vacation, or go shoe shopping. I see this all the time. If someone else does your bookkeeping, mixing personal expenses makes it more time-consuming to do the work, ultimately increasing the bill. If you handle your own books, mixing personal expenses makes it more likely that you will either miss a deduction or accidentally include a personal expense that is not deductible. And if you should ever be audited by the IRS, having your accounts mixed will make things more difficult, increasing the likelihood that the auditor will find an error on your tax return.
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