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Jayne Havens is a certified sleep consultant and the founder of Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. As a leader in the industry, Jayne advocates for healthy sleep hygiene for children of all ages. Jayne launched her comprehensive sleep consultant certification course so she could train and mentor others to work in this emerging industry.

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Keeping Good Books with Jennie Stowe

Keeping Good Books with Jennie Stowe


Jennie is a doula turned bookkeeper after the birth of her own babies. As a certified bookkeeper and QuickBooks ProAdvisor, she has combined two of her passions by specializing in working with birth and postpartum professionals. 

Keeping Good Books

On this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast, Jennie shares: Keeping Good Books 

  • The differences between a bookkeeper and an accountant
  • How to choose a bookkeeping platform such as Wave or QuickBooks
  • Why it’s so important to keep good books when you are running your own small business
  • When it’s the right time to hire some help!

Keeping Good Books 

Links:Keeping Good Books 

Website: Stowe Bookkeeping
Online Course: Bookkeeeping for Doulas & Other Birth and Postpartum Professionals

If you would like to learn more about the Becoming a Sleep Consultant, please join our free Facebook Group or check out our CPSM Website.

Book a free discovery call to learn how you can become a Certified Sleep Consultant here.


Transcript:Keeping Good Books 

Intro: Welcome to Becoming a Sleep Consultant! I’m your host Jayne Havens, a certified sleep consultant and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management.

On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.

Jennie is a doula turned bookkeeper after the birth of her own babies. As a certified bookkeeper and QuickBooks ProAdvisor, she has combined two of her passions by specializing in working with birth and postpartum professionals.

Jayne Havens: Jennie, I’m so excited to have you here today. Welcome to the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast.

Jennie Stowe: Thank you so much for having me, Jayne. I’m happy to be here with you.

Jayne Havens: Before we get started, tell us a bit about you. I know that you’re a doula turned bookkeeper. How did that transition come about?

Jennie Stowe: Yes, so going way back to high school, I first fell in love with bookkeeping then. I thought I was going to be an accountant, and then I realized I was not going to be stuck behind a desk working for somebody else eight hours a day, staring at a computer screen. And my other love was babies and moms and helping them during that time. So it just kind of made sense to roll right into becoming a doula.

So I did that for a while. Then when I had my own kids, I wanted to be home with them instead of being on call. That’s when I went back to bookkeeping. I started my business and have been really loving the fact that I’ve gotten to put both of those passions together by doing the bookkeeping for other doulas and birth and postpartum professionals. It’s been really cool.

Jayne Havens: I love that. I think we’ve been working together since the beginning of this calendar year, if I remember correctly. Right?

Jennie Stowe: Yeah.

Jayne Havens: I wanted to keep my book simple and transition to support with bookkeeping in January so that everything could be organized for the new year. I have to say that it’s been pretty life changing to work with you.

For those listening, can you walk us through what it looks like to have a bookkeeper help you? What does a bookkeeper do? And maybe explain how this differs from hiring an accountant.

Jennie Stowe: Sure. Sometimes there is overlap because you have bookkeepers who do tax prep. You have accountants who do bookkeeping. But generally speaking, if you separate them, bookkeeping is all about tracking the income and revenue in your business in a way that follows guidelines, and making sure that things are accounted for precisely.

In bookkeeping, it’s all about balance and accuracy. We want to know where every single penny is, which I know is a little more detailed than a lot of people like to go. But that’s why there are certain people whose brains are wired that way. In bookkeeping, we generally are tracking every single transaction that goes through your business and making sure that we’re categorizing things properly so that you actually know what’s happening in your business.

We’re reconciling accounts which, again, is accounting for that accuracy and making sure we know where everything is so that we’re not missing transactions here and there. Then it’s very easily passed off to an accountant or a tax preparer when tax season rolls along so that you have your records all in order, and they just get to take over, prepare your taxes and hand it back to you, so to speak.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, and that has been so life changing for me. Because I don’t know. My eyes were like allergic to my books. I just couldn’t look at it. It was so overwhelming. I think — correct me if I’m wrong — when we got started together, my stuff was fairly organized, right?

Jennie Stowe: It’s fairly organized.

Jayne Havens: I have all of my expenses on one credit card. Everything that I spend money on in my business is, I use the same credit card for that. Then all the money that comes into my business, pretty much all comes in via credit card payments which go to my checking or savings account. I have some money that comes in by PayPal, which is annoying and frustrating for both of us. But it’s mostly coming in by credit card payments or even like bank transfers that all go to the same bank account.

Am I correct that when money coming in and money going out is all in the same place, that’s the easiest way to do it, right?

Jennie Stowe: Yes, 100%. You want to have your business completely separated from your personal. When it’s separated and it’s just in those business checking and credit card accounts, it’s so much easier to keep track of — both for you and for a bookkeeper coming in.

One of the things for you that we switched over once I started taking up your bookkeeping, we split out your revenue between your different revenue streams. So now you can see what you’re making from your course versus your consulting work.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, which was actually really interesting. Because people would ask me all the time, like, “What percentage of your income comes from consulting? What percentage of your income comes from online course sales?” I would literally say, like, I don’t know. It just sort of never really mattered to me. It still doesn’t really matter so much, but I do enjoy looking at that monthly report that you share with me every single month.

One thing that I noticed in our last meeting, which I’ll share with everybody listening, is that one thing I’ve noticed recently is that my consulting income sort of dips every other month. I’ll have a big month financially for consulting, and then the next month is lower. Then the next month is higher, and the next month is lower.

I think that that makes sense. Because when I’m busy working with clients, I have less time to market my business. So then, the following month becomes slower. Then when it’s slower in my consulting business, then I have time to market. Then the next month is higher. So it really makes perfect sense. I never really would have been able to see that if we hadn’t started working together, and I wasn’t being presented with this document. I don’t even remember what it is. What is that document that you shared with me?

Jennie Stowe: It’s the profit and loss report, and I show you the report that breaks it all down by month.

Jayne Havens: Okay. So that was actually going to be my next question. It’s like, what are the essential documents that small businesses should maintain, and how do you recommend that somebody who isn’t a bookkeeper would maintain these documents?

Jennie Stowe: So do you mean documents as in like—

Jayne Havens: Like the profit and loss statement. How does somebody generate that? If they’re not working with you, how do you find that in your own business?

Jennie Stowe: If you’re using a bookkeeping software, there should be somewhere where you can generate that. If you have QuickBooks Online, you can go to the Report Center. They have a whole list of reports, and you can choose the ones that you want to see.

Wave, I assume, is similar. I know they can do the profit and loss and the balance sheet. They don’t have as many reports. It’s not as powerful of a software.

But yeah, you want to generally be looking at the balance sheet which is going to show you — well, the balance sheet is basically an equation. It’s assets equals liabilities, plus equity. So you get to see your assets which is what you own, your liabilities which is what you owe, and then your equity is what’s leftover in the business.

Jayne Havens: So let’s break that down. Hold on. Let’s slow down for a second. So the assets would be like money in the bank, right?

Jennie Stowe: Yeah, think accounts if you happen to have — for most of your people, they’re probably not going to have a lot of other assets. Sometimes people will have a vehicle or an office space, or not an office space but a building, something that you own. That’s an asset.

Jayne Havens: But in our case for a service-based business, our asset is the money in the bank, right? Then our liability is like whatever we owe on our credit card, right? Then what was the third thing that you said?

Jennie Stowe: Equity. Equity is going to be any owner’s investments, which is what you’ve put in, money you’ve personally put into your business.

Jayne Havens: Like startup capital. When I first started my business, I think I put $5,000 into a business checking or savings account. That was my startup capital. I used that money to fund initial expenses to get up and running, whether it was having a website built or whatever, buying some stationery, like the things that you need to buy when you’re starting a business. So that would be your equity.

Jennie Stowe: Yeah, so that’s your owner’s investment. That’s what you’ve put into the business. Then owner’s distribution is what you pay yourself. Ideally, you’re paying yourself regularly. That number should grow throughout the year. Then the other things under equity are going to be retained earnings, which you don’t need to know a lot about. But then, the other important one is, that’s where your net income shows up for the year. That’s all under your equity on the balance sheet.

Jayne Havens: Okay. And net income is your revenue minus expenses, right?

Jennie Stowe: Yes.

Jayne Havens: Like what you’re actually able to keep after you bring money in. Then you spend some money to keep it going, and then you have your net income.

Jennie Stowe: Right, yeah. So that’s kind of the balance sheet in a nutshell.

Jayne Havens: Okay. And so it’s interesting. Before I started working with you, I would generate one of these documents for my accountant at the end of the year to show them my profits and losses. But I wasn’t doing this monthly. I was just doing it at the end of the year.

It’s actually really nice to see month over month that my income, my revenue, is relatively stable. It fluctuates a little bit, but it’s relatively stable. Then my expenses are also relatively stable. So I can see at the end of each month that I’m earning a certain amount, I’m spending a certain amount, and where are my highest expenses. Could any of them be reduced? You really get a good picture of what’s actually going on in your business, when I never really was looking at that before at the beginning of this year. So it’s been pretty eye opening.

Jennie Stowe: That report would be the profit and loss or otherwise known as the ‘income statement.’ Like you said, it just lists out your revenue. It subtracts out all of your expenses, and gives you your net profit at the end. That one is definitely the one that most clients enjoy looking at the most, because it gets right down to what’s happening in your business every month.

Jayne Havens: Let’s talk about Wave versus QuickBooks. I’m sure there are other options on the market.

When I first launched my business, I used Wave, which is a free platform that is, I guess, similar to QuickBooks but perhaps not quite as robust. It was working for me. I used it for several years. I only switched over to QuickBooks because you basically made me.

Jennie Stowe: Because that’s what I use in my business.

Jayne Havens: Do you know what the advantages are?

Jennie Stowe: Yeah, Wave is great when you’re starting out. You don’t have a lot of money to throw at software subscriptions and such. And when there’s not a lot going on your business, Wave is great. If you’re keeping your own books, go for it.

Like I said, it’s free. So it’s not going to give you the same substance, if you will, as something that you’re paying for on a regular basis. It’s just not as robust. You can’t pull up the same reports. You can’t specialize things and customize in the same way. It is a little bit more limited. But again, if you’re a really small business and you’re keeping your own books, that’s totally fine to use Wave.

But then, moving on, if you expect your business to grow or to become more complicated, you are going to need something that is able to handle a lot more and give you more information. I personally use QuickBooks Online for all of my clients in my business, and it just kind of streamlines things for me in my brain. But that doesn’t mean Wave is a bad thing. It’s just not how I personally do it at this point.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, absolutely. Can you speak to how accurate bookkeeping will help you with tax preparation and compliance come tax season?

Jennie Stowe: Yeah, obviously, having your books kept accurately is going to make sure that you’ve accounted for all of your revenue coming in. You’ve accounted for all of your expenses. There’s not money missing.

Also, a good bookkeeper or when you’re doing it yourself, you want to keep things categorized as precisely as possible so that when you hand it off to your tax preparer, they know exactly what those expenses are and you know what that type of revenue is. So then, they can get you the best deductions and all for what you have going on in your business. The more precise and organized you are, the better they’ll be able to do their job, and the more money they’ll be able to save you.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, it makes sense. I would imagine that you are most often hired by those who already have established businesses. I’m wondering what sorts of mistakes you see when you take over and clean up a new client’s books.

Jennie Stowe: Sure. There are a couple of things. Sometimes I get multiple six-figure businesses who have never done any bookkeeping. They’re totally going off of their bank balance. So that does exist. You can sort of run a successful business, but you don’t really know what’s going on when you come from that. That is one thing. You need a bookkeeping software. You need something to keep track of your business even when you’re doing it yourself.

Then the next big mistake, I’d say, is people who have a software but either don’t know how to use it or don’t keep up on it. It’s way behind. Things are a mess. Then a bookkeeper comes in and has to sort through it all. That’s going to cost you a lot of money. It’s going to take a lot of time.

Those are the biggest things. It’s either not having a software at all, not keeping any records, or not knowing how to do it, or just not putting the time in.

Jayne Havens: For me, I was not putting the time in to keep my books up to date. I was doing a good job of like all of my money spent was on the same credit card. All of my money coming in was going into the same bank account. All the transactions were there, and it was all linked to my Wave account.

All of the transactions were inside of my software, but I was never logging into the software to tag each expense. If I spent money on office supplies, or if I spent money on continuing education, or maybe a virtual assistant, I wasn’t tagging those expenses for months or even like almost a year at a time. Then it would come time for tax season, and I didn’t properly keep good books. Then I would spend hours trying to backtrack and remember what all of those charges were. And it was miserable. I hated it.

Really, that’s the main reason that I hired you. It was sort of like an accountability thing. I knew I was capable of doing it on my own, but it was just sort of my least favorite activity. And without a fail, every single month, Jennie emails me, “It’s time to upload your credit card statements. It’s time to upload your bank statements.” Then together, she’s able to categorize some of them without me at this point.

Because she sees the same charges from the same vendors come monthly, or she just knows what my business looks like. So she doesn’t have to ask me, “What’s this? What’s that?” She knows most of them. But then every month, there’s a few charges that she doesn’t know what they are.

And because it’s only been 30 days, usually, my brain still remembers what they are, as opposed to if I waited eight months like I did last year, then it’s really hard to figure out what is that random charge. I have no idea what that is. So I think a big piece of it, at least for me, is just sort of keeping me on track with what I needed to do to be organized come year end. For me, that’s what it was.

Then just based on this morning, I asked in the CPSM Facebook group for students and grads — I let everybody know I’m going to be interviewing my bookkeeper — what questions should I ask. Somebody asked like, “What are some of the least obvious business expenses that we might be forgetting to track?”

Well, when I hear that question, I’m thinking, well, you shouldn’t be forgetting to track them because they should just be on your business credit card. So if you’re the type of business person who’s just at Target buying packing tape for your — I send out a thank you gift for my clients at the end of working together.

And if I’m buying more packing tape to pack up these packages, if I’m just throwing that in with all of my other expenses at Target on my personal credit card, then I’m not tracking it. But if I remember to do two separate transactions and run all of my office supplies on my business credit card, then we’re not really having to remember to go back and look at receipts and all of this crazy stuff. I don’t even get started with that.

Jennie Stowe: Just to answer that question a little bit more, some of the things that people tend to think about, like, oh, what else should we be tracking, are going to be home office deductions and things like that, which are not going to be on your books. It’s not going to be part of your bookkeeping. But you track it and hand it off to your tax preparer, and they’ll take care of that deduction on your taxes. That’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize. It doesn’t actually go on your books. That’s just a little side note.

Jayne Havens: When do you think is the right time to hire a bookkeeper? Do you think that monthly or annual revenue should be at a certain point, or do you think this really varies from person to person or small business to small business?

Jennie Stowe: It can definitely vary, like you said, by person to person, business to business. But I would say, generally, if you’re making 8k a month consistently, then you should definitely hire a bookkeeper. Before that possibly. But at that point you’re making enough money that you have enough going on, you probably don’t have the time to invest to do it well, you should probably pass it off to somebody else who knows exactly what they’re doing and can do it better than you, just because that’s their specialty versus your specialty.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I definitely waited way too long. I held out for a really, really long time. And it just got really, really overwhelming. I don’t want to say messy because, at least, I had the systems in place to keep it organized. I was using Wave. So it was tracking, but it got really, really hard.

When your income is at a certain point, and you’re generating a certain amount of revenue and then also spending a certain amount of money every month on random stuff for your business, it’s very difficult to go back and backtrack all of that accounting if you’re not doing it regularly.

Jennie Stowe: Yeah, especially when you don’t have the motivation to keep up with it on a monthly basis and you’re waiting so long, it becomes very overwhelming.

Jayne Havens: That’s what was happening for me. So for those who are not yet in the place to hire a bookkeeper, what advice can you share so that they can be independent with keeping track of their business finances?

Jennie Stowe: So if you’re just starting out in business, you’re not really making a consistent revenue yet, then you’re starting out with a spreadsheet, or Wave, or something like that is fine. Just have records somewhere. Make sure that you are tracking so that by the time you get to tax season, you have something to hand off to your tax preparer, and you know that everything’s accounted for.

Once you get to that point where you are making consistent revenue but you’re still not able to spend a few $100 a month on a bookkeeper, then you want to make sure that you have a software in place, and you know how to use it and you’re keeping up on it. If you’re doing all those things, you’re going to be okay until your business is at the point where you can hand it off.

Jayne Havens: I know that you support family. Not families. You support business owners one-to-one doing bookkeeping, like you do for me. But you also offer an online course to teach people how to do their own bookkeeping. Is that right? Will you share a little bit about that, what that looks like?

Jennie Stowe: Yes, so that is for those people in between, like I said, where your business is established, and you have stuff going on all the time. You’re making money. You have expenses, but you don’t really want to spend on a bookkeeper yet.

I created a course to walk you through setting up QuickBooks Online for your business and then exactly how to customize it to your business and use it on a regular basis, how to categorize your transactions, how to reconcile your bank accounts, how to review the reports like the balance sheet and the profit and loss report, like we talked about. I walk you through all of that in this course so that you have the information and the knowledge you need to keep your books properly, until it gets to the point where you don’t have the time and you have the money to hire it out.

But at that point, if you’ve kept up with it, you’re just passing it off to a bookkeeper instead of them having to come in and start from scratch or clean up a big mess. If you know what you’re doing, it just sets you up for success in every way.

Jayne Havens: Perfect. I will make sure that we leave in the show notes the link to your course. Are there other places? Are you on social media? I know that you’re on Facebook.

Jennie Stowe: I’m on Facebook.

Jayne Havens: Do you have Instagram?

Jennie Stowe: I do not really have Instagram. I’m on there, but I haven’t done anything yet. That’s one of my goals. It’s to actually get active on Instagram.

Jayne Havens: Okay. Down the road. Actually, today, September 22 — which is when we’re recording this, but it’ll be released in a week or so from now — today is my one-year anniversary off Instagram, which I’m super excited about.

Jennie Stowe: Oh, wow!

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I haven’t posted to my Instagram grid in an entire year. I posted stories every now and then, but it’s usually just pictures of my kids when we’re on vacation. Nothing really work-related. It feels really good. So I asked you this question. And it’s like, I’m not really on Instagram either. So no pressure to be on there. I just want to make sure that our listeners can find somewhere to connect with you.

What would be the best way for them to connect with you if they want to explore working with you one-on-one or enrolling in your course?

Jennie Stowe: Yes, so you can find me on Facebook and connect with me there for either of those options or on my website. Again, you can connect to either one. The course is there, as well as a connect place to send me an email.

Jayne Havens: Okay. Perfect. I will leave it all in the show notes to make sure that everybody has access to you and can reach out to you. Thank you so much for educating our community today, our listeners. Thank you again for everything that you’ve done for me and my business. I am beyond grateful.

Jennie Stowe: You’re welcome. It’s always a pleasure working with you, Jayne.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.

If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode.From Teaching to Sleep Consulting

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