Financial Success Secrets of the Self-Employed

by Lois Leonard

3 min read

She calls herself an accidental entrepreneur, and she’s not kidding. Ten years ago, professional organizer & business systems expert Alaia Williams was all set to work for the nonprofit sector when she threw a wrench in her own plans. She was disorganized and things weren’t working.

Williams started spending hours researching business organization products and services. She’d test them and then call the companies that made them to offer suggestions and get the scoop on upcoming releases.

Eventually she began to identify processes that worked — and ones that didn’t. Instead of keeping all of her hard-won knowledge to herself, she thought, “Why not share what I’ve learned with others?”

And with that, One Organized Business was born.

Based in Los Angeles, Williams connects her clients with the solutions they need to get them closer to being successful — no matter what that means for them. Through professional training, Williams has helped clients do everything from invoicing to outsourcing, and she even helps them clear their workspace clutter so they can get stuff done.

But to teach someone else how to be organized means Williams also has to have things in order. And to her, the first order of business is managing her money.

The Hardest Part

Like many who are self-employed, budgeting is Williams’ biggest pain point. Because not every client is on retainer, her income goes up and down each month. Without consistency, planning for product launches or business conferences gets quite tricky.

Williams used to have problems with invoicing her clients and she understands that many other small business owners are in this difficult position as well. “A lot of people feel uncomfortable about sending out an invoice,” Williams says. They have fears about offending clients, making errors or seeming like a nag. She also understands that some people who are self-employed aren’t good at handling the administrative parts of their business and don’t like having to stop what they’re doing to send out an invoice. “But businesses run on money,” she says. “If you don’t invoice, you don’t get paid.”

To streamline the process, she suggests having an automated system that handles everything. She explains: “Technology has gotten a lot better since I started my business. I was accepting a lot of checks when I started out … and collecting money was a pain.” Now she avoids invoicing issues by billing her clients upfront and then providing her services.

Williams started out not knowing much about business. By her own admission, she was earning and spending money without any business sense or savvy. When she realized just how important organized systems were, her whole business changed. She went from organizing client’s homes and offices to helping them organize their entire work and life systems.

One game changer for her was what she calls an all-in-one financial tool. “Now having QuickBooks Self-Employed makes it all really easy,” Williams claims. “It helps me make my budget and get insights into my business — how it’s growing and changing, and where I am in that scale of peaks and valleys during my entrepreneurial journey.”

Solutions for Success

Williams loves QuickBooks Self-Employed app. It’s great for contractors, freelancers and the self-employed because the app enables users to create and send professional invoices, store receipts using her camera phone and categorize spending. It also features automatic mileage tracking, which makes it easier for users to find potential deductions.

“I really like to keep things streamlined,” Williams explains. “Even though I love systems, I want to have as few of them as possible to keep myself organized.”

Founder of the At the Helm: Women in Biz Conference and creator of the Entrepreneur Connection, a 900 member strong networking group in Los Angeles, Williams is always coordinating conferences or attending them herself. At these events Williams can be found doing two things: coaching others on how to optimize their business and recommending QuickBooks Self-Employed.

“I pretty much can’t stop talking about it,” Williams says. “I recommend it all of the time. Using it will really free you up to do the things that you actually want and have to do in your business.”

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