January 22, 2021

Owning a business is all about the success, the failures, all of it, but nobody seems to talk about the struggles that we have. Today, I want to talk about the real things that business owners struggle with, and then how they get success after that. 

"Don't oversell yourself, be authentic" 

Join me as I talk with Christie Varner SEO & Founder of Victory Advisory Services. Christie shares her struggles with owning a business and how everything shouldn't have to "cost" a small business owner! 

If you would like to listen to the live show you can do so here! 

 

Karen Holcomb:

Good Morning. Thank you so much for devoting your time to me for this segment. I greatly appreciate it. We all  want to hear about your struggles and your success. So why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about you.

Christie Varner:

Okay. Let me just start with who I am as a person first. I'm Christie Varner. I live in Texas. So you may pick up that from my accent. But my dad was a Michigander. Are you still in Michigan?

Karen Holcomb:

I am. I'm still in Michigan. :)

Christie Varner:

We have three children. I know, so fun! I have a boy, girl, boy. So 23, 22 and 19. I saw you have a college aged child too, right, Karen?

Karen Holcomb:

I do, yes. My 18 year old just moved out to Colorado to pursue his career in gunsmithing. 

 

Christie Varner:

I love that you speak to female business owners and I am there with the mamas who are, got the littles and they're trying to get it all done. You and I both remember that stage where there's 45,000 things that you have to do just to be a mom, much less a business owner or a wife, but this is a whole new thing. This older kid thing, it's hard, right? It's a hard transition. So I'm a few years ahead of you in this journey. So I'm there for you girl! So ask me anytime. I'm constantly looking for mentors in my life personally and professionally, and I'm constantly trying to pass that on to other people because I am forever saying we're better connected. So you will get through this girl. Faith is important to me and I am constantly praying because wowzah, I wish this could just, like you said, I wish there could just be a handbook for like, oh, okay.

Karen Holcomb:

Yeah, absolutely. I get it. And I'm sure I'll be contacting you a lot about business stuff  and mama stuff, like, how do I do this?

Christie Varner:

 I'm all in. I'm a girl's girl, always. I work with a lot of men because I'm an accountant and a CPA. So I do work with a lot of men, but I always say like, I'm the one that if I meet you and your husband is in a room that I will gladly say hello to your husband, and will gladly be friendly with him, but next thing you know, I'm going to be talking to you about all the things.

Karen Holcomb:

Yes, I absolutely agree with that! So tell us a little bit about your business.  When you opened it and then what your struggles were and how you overcame those struggles.

Christie Varner:

 My business journey is long, it's over 20 years. So I started in 1997, actually, when I had my first child and I'm an accidental accountant and that's another story for another day, but it came out of my love of travel and seeing the world, and also my love of my husband. So I never meant to become an accountant. So for those of you in your audience who are listening right now and for you too probably Karen, here you are like, "Oh my gosh, like all things, accounting, all things finance, like yuck." Bury your head. I understand that because it was never my passion at all, but it was what I fell into because of love of travel and love of my husband. So anyway, just, after I became an accidental accountant, I became a real accountant. I'm a CPA.

Christie Varner:

I worked for KPMG, became a manager, all that. Worked as a controller for an ad agency, which was  super fun. But then I had a child, totally planned to stay on the career track, that's just what my background was. I didn't know differently. I just thought I would work and had that moment where I was like, oh my gosh, I really want to stay home with my kids. So I stayed home, but we needed money. So the first reason that I started in business was we needed money. And literally my first business was like, anything I can do for money. So some of your audience may relate to that. That may be why you started your business. Like you just simply need the money and I can relate to that. And that's how I worked.

Christie Varner:

 I literally went from being a CPA, all that in a bag of chips, to stuffing envelopes and putting stickers on things because I just, we simply needed the money, but it taught me some things along the way, to humble myself, perseverance, keep your goal in mind. My goal was to make money. So it didn't really matter how I did it. I needed it to work with my own schedule and I needed it to work. So that's how I first started. Then from there, I was like, oh my gosh, it turns out I'm a CPA. Maybe I can do something other than just stuff envelopes. Not that there's anything wrong with stuffing on envelopes. But as my kids got a little bit older and I had a little bit more time, I started as a consultant and that's what I've done for the last 20 years is I've been a consultant to businesses.

Christie Varner:

So what I did up until recently was I would work with primarily CFOs for larger companies. And they would hire me to come in and help them with a project.  It was typically a project that I did not know how to do. So let me just say that again for your audience, who is like, I don't know how to do that. I got hired to do things I didn't know how to do. Okay. The way I got hired to do that was with authenticity. And I always say that to people, don't oversell yourself, be authentic. So what I would say to people is I assume that the reason you're hiring me is because you either don't know how to do this, or you don't want to do this.

 

Christie Varner:

I don't know either, but I will take your problem and move it from your plate to my plate. I'm very resourceful. I go to Google university. I have lots of friends and I'll figure this out and when I need your help, I'll let you know. And that served me so well. Now, I coach females, especially going back into the workplace who are so afraid to go back into the workplace or to start their own thing and put themselves out there because they're like, I don't know what I'm doing. I haven't, and I'm like, just be authentic, but the fact that you are a business owner means that you have that idea and follow through. 

So many people have ideas like, oh, it'd be great to lose 10 pounds. But there are very few people who are like, oh, but I'm going to like to stop eating the Snickers after dinner every night. Right.  There's a difference between having the idea and the follow through. So your audience, which I'm so excited to be part of, is those are the go getters who have already made the decision. So you don't have to oversell yourself, but you have to own that and be confident.

Christie Varner:

 I did that for 20 years and it was great. And I would always tell my clients, it's got to work around my kids' schedule. So my kids felt like I was a stay at home mom, but I was really, consulting and working for myself, learning all sorts of different random projects. I did stock option compensation. I did benefit plans. I did all sorts of things. And what happened was I also started a side business and it really taught me so much more. I got into what it was to be a small business owner not knowing what I was doing. Well, my hobby is learning. I told you, I went to Google university. My kids tease me. I'm always on Google and YouTube. And I'm like, girls, we can learn anything. Right? Everything's available for free out there.

Christie Varner:

So anyway, about a year ago, last fall, my kids were in college and I was in a place in my life where I was working a lot more because I just had clients that needed me and I enjoyed it. But I had helped some clients with some smaller operational companies and I also had my own separate side business. I'm a serial entrepreneur, always thinking of new ideas. And I just had this moment. I was actually attending the Rachel Hollis Business Conference in Charleston.  She talked about, and if you're not familiar with Rachel Hollis, she has a high school degree and runs a multi-million dollar empire now. And she always says that she went to the internet university also. So she's just like, I built that off nothing.

Christie Varner:

She talks about how she was sitting there, she would go to these business conferences. She was doing well financially.  She had accountants and she had financials and all this stuff, and she didn't understand them. She didn't understand what her numbers were telling her. And she's like, it was embarrassing to not understand it at that point. And she said she went to a business conference where she  always sat in the front row for all the accounting and financial talks, which no one does in my experience.

Karen Holcomb:

Right. People are always like, "Oh no."

"It's not fair that small business owners and  your babyish entrepreneurs who are just starting out, don't have access to financial expertise."

Christie Varner:

Which I understand. But she said she sat there and the person started explaining it in language that she could actually understand. And she started crying because she was like oh. And so it was at that moment that I was just like, it's not fair. It's not fair that small business owners and just your babyish entrepreneurs who are just starting out, don't have access to financial expertise. So  I decided at that moment, I was like, you know what, I'm just going to do this. And so I let my other clients know and I made the decision to go all in. Now I only consult with small business owners, helping them set and implement, not just decide, but set and implement strategies to achieve their goals.

Christie Varner:

I  also host a Facebook community because I realized there were even smaller people who couldn't afford consulting nor should they yet, you don't need consulting yet if you're just starting out. So I started a free Facebook community called Small Business Finance Simplified, because I was like, that's a way for me to give back, because Karen, if you ask me a question and then three other friends asked me a question I'm going to spend all this time answering all these questions. Whereas if I answer it in a group, then however many watch the video or read the answer can learn. I just feel like it's a way to give back.

Christie Varner:

So what I do for my job is I consult with companies ongoing who are ready for that. What I do for free is just pour that out. I try to be in the community with other people. And so, I try to give my accounting and finance tips, but I try to learn from others. Like your marketing girl, I'm like, oh, I know nothing. So I struggle, and if I'm going to share a struggle that I've had in my most recent  times, this whole starting a new thing, like I went from working word of mouth for the last 20 years, which was amazing and a blessing to like, I have to find clients because I worked for CFOs. Well, by definition, they already have the financial expertise. So they were not my market. The people that I felt in my heart needed to be served were people I didn't actually know.

 

Karen Holcomb:

Absolutely.  I work with small businesses because they're small, they're not corporate. Corporate has everything at their fingertips. They can get whatever they want and they can afford it. They never have to worry about that budget like a small business owner does. So, I found that ... because I had a boutique before this and I found in that area that nobody had access to the correct marketing that they needed and if they did, they couldn't afford it. And so that's when I saw the problem and it needed a solution.

Karen Holcomb:

And the other thing I think is if they don't know how to do it, then they try to Google it. But at the same time, they don't have time to try to find it.  I think that's when they come to us.  I'm upfront with my girls, I'm all about being honest.  there's no point to ever beat around the bush. It gets nobody, nowhere. I let them know it's not something that I do or it's not something that I have done, but here let me try to figure it out for you.  I feel like when companies, a small business company, takes time for another small business company, that's when we will become bigger. I think someday small businesses will overtake those corporations and you know what, I'd rather shop at a small boutique or a small mom and pop store than a Walmart or a Meijer's.

Karen Holcomb:

 I feel like a lot of small business owners  don't really have that mindset that they think that, oh, I'm a small business, so now I need to get up to corporate level, even though they don't want to be considered corporate, but they need to get up to corporate level where they can just have everything at their fingertips. it doesn't work that way, unfortunately in this world. And especially, with COVID. COVID knocked a lot of girls down that have already built their empires and thought they were doing great and on the rise and then COVID hit and it's like, boom, just kidding. So I'm really all about that authenticity and helping the small business owners.

Karen Holcomb:

I love that you have that mindset like that. I really do hope that my girls on this forum will connect with you because I feel it's huge. Every company should have accounting in place. They need to know where they're going with their numbers. 

Karen Holcomb: 

Another reason everyone needs you is around tax time! When it comes tax time, let's nix this year, but any other year on a normal year, when it comes tax time, I don't know about other girls, but I am pulling my hair out. I dread it. I want to wait until the very last day for that deadline to get it all done because I went all year without getting my crap in order. This is where I feel like you would come in and help throughout the year so at the end of the year, we're not going crazy trying to figure out, oh gosh, where's all my receipts? Where's this? Where do I put this? So I love this. I absolutely love this.

Christie Varner:

It's so funny you said that.  I'm going to start doing it weekly, but I'm calling it Accounting Accountability. So Karen, you should block your time out.

Karen Holcomb:

I did.

Christie Varner:

Oh you did? Oh good.

Karen Holcomb:

I saw the event and I'm like, oh my gosh, I need this. So it's already clicked that I am going!

Christie Varner:

Yes! Your numbers are a golden insight to achieve your goals. So what I do, what I'm passionate about is strategy. I'm like you guys, this is what the big guys have. They have people like me who come in and I'm like, oh, so we take your numbers and then we go from here to there and this is how we do it. So that's the advantage that they have. But you're like, I don't even know what the numbers are. So since I am that accidental accountant, I always laugh that I'm the odd man out in the room of accountants, because I'm always like, you all stop talking acronyms. Nobody actually cares. Let's just use real words. I can't remember that. I just Google it. So I am forever using simple words and analogies and stuff like that.

Christie Varner:

I know  a lot of people just look at their finances as something to dread, something for tax time, something whatever, instead if you'll be like, oh my gosh, I got the golden insight to achieve my goals. That's what it actually is. And so then it becomes not about taxes. It becomes about achieving your goals. And I'm holistic so I always say like your goal, my company name is Victory Advisory Services and the reason it's called that is because I'm about victory. But I always tell people I'm a weird accountant, because I will tell you that victory is not just a profit number. I truly believe it's also a lifestyle goal. So when people are like, I love my job, I just need to grow my profit.  I'm like, tell me about, your business. They usually say, well, I'm working 80 hours a week, but I just need to get to this number.  I'm like, no, your job is not good. Working 80 hours a week, I don't believe in that. So I'm going to work with you also on a lifestyle goal.

Christie Varner:

So if you come to Accounting Accountability, you have access to a 25 year CPA. Because I'm going to sit there right alongside you guys working on my own accounting. Then if you look up and you're like, I don't even know how to do this, ask me. If I know I'll answer the question. If I don't know, I'll try to Google it for you and get you the answer because probably I can read that kind of Google stuff more easily than other people. So we all need community.

Christie Varner:

I relate to you as small business owners because I'm a small business owner. If you have a big old CFO, you're not my target market because my target market is those people that just aren't at that level yet.

 

Christie Varner:

Another thing that I did to overcome  struggle was starting to recognize that I couldn't do it all. I needed to get into a community like your group, that's what you're doing for these people is not just providing the insight that you have. Same thing for me.  I started to realize that, if I'm the smartest person in the room, I need to get in a different room. I need to get around like-minded people who have a goal and a vision. I'm in two mastermind groups that I meet with weekly now. And those girls, they're serious about going places. I can bounce my ideas off of them.

Christie Varner:

I also outsourced. I mean, I tried to design my website and I worked with it and I finally was like, Christie, this is not your zone of genius and you are wasting so much time. I learned to outsource the things that are making you crazy.

I always tell my clients to automate, eliminate, delegate."

Christie Varner:

I always tell my clients to automate, eliminate, delegate. I am applying these same rules to my business. So that's just one more piece of advice I have. I'm like always tips, tips upon tips. So that's just another tip.

Karen Holcomb:

Yes.  I absolutely agree.  I feel like a lot of girls who are small business owners feel like they have to wear all the hats and you really don't.  If you can outsource it, outsource it because when you own your company, that's your expertise right there. If you're a boutique owner or if you are a realtor, that's your expertise. You shouldn't have to try to figure out a website or have to figure out your accounting, outsource that.  I'm a huge believer about that.

Karen Holcomb:

Another thing you  mentioned was community. I absolutely agree with that. This world, especially for small business owners, we should be about community over competition. Sadly, the world is all about, well, that's my competitor, that's my competitor. But it's like, girl, you can learn from that competitor.  You can be best friends with that person. You got to open up.  I think everybody's like, oh, they're going to steal my ideas.  it's like, honey, your ideas are already over the internet. You probably took that idea from somebody else, but don't want to admit it.

Christie Varner:

I stole every idea from somebody else. I'm right up front.

Karen Holcomb:

Right. It’s how you learned! I feel  a lot of the girls' fear is because they, one should know it all, two, it's a competitor so we can't be friends. Who says you can't be friends.  That's what we need to change about this world. We need to be about community over the competition and you should be about a tribe.  I feel, this is why, one of the reasons why I built this group is to have a tribe of business owners. We can bounce ideas off each other and reflect. What I went through, you're probably just not going through, so I've got advice for you and vice versa type of thing.

Karen Holcomb:

Tell us what's your last piece of advice that you would offer the girls who are listening?

Christie Varner:

Okay, I'm going to give you two. One is instead of feeling overwhelmed all the time, Michael Hyatt teaches to list out all the stuff you've got to do in a day and pick the three that are the biggest, that are the most important to get done today. I started that this year, and it has helped me enormously. We're women so we got a lot of hats, not just business owner hats. We've got a lot of hats just in life. So sometimes in my three is something completely personal, but it's the most important thing to accomplish for the day. 

"When we fail to plan, we are planning to fail."

Christie Varner:

My  last action tip is when we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.  I tell my clients this all the time, if you tell me that you want to get to a certain revenue number and you don't have a plan to get there, you're not going to get there.  I would like to lose 10 pounds, Just deciding that you want to lose 10 pounds, that's way better than I want to lose weight because at least you made a goal. But it's not going to magically happen, there's a system to figuring out how to get from where I am today to losing the 10 pounds. You can figure that out, like in your brain, you already know what those answers are. It's the same in business. We just have to figure out what the action steps are. So I mapped that out in a little training that I did two weeks ago.

Christie Varner:

 So what I would say is take the action step of thinking of a goal and then working out the steps to get there. The way to do that, my secret tip is to reverse engineer it, start with the goal and then figure out which are the biggest steps that have to happen and you work backwards.  I usually tell people three to five steps and then it's so much more manageable. Instead of now trying to get to this giant goal that overwhelmed you, you're just trying to get to that next first little step.

Karen Holcomb:

I love that because so many people, myself included, do a vision board. I feel this helps us take it a step further! 

Christie Varner:

I'm so glad it was helpful. Like I said, I teach my clients that all the time. So that's the tips that I teach to the big clients, I'm going to teach it to the entrepreneur that started their business yesterday. It doesn't matter. You can apply this to your personal life too. Like I said, that's why I always try to make it be an analogy that everybody understands. If I want to get from here to New York and I have a vague idea that I want to be in New York, I am not going to work without a flight plan. It's not, I got to have a flight plan to know how to get there. If you want to achieve anything in your business, you have to have a plan to get there, or it won't. I mean, if I just get on a plane and hope to somehow get to New York, I might, but probably not. Without a flight plan, I probably won't.

"You might get to your goal and honestly, if you get to your goal without a plan, you probably weren't dreaming big enough."

Christie Varner:

You might get to your goal and honestly, if you get to your goal without a plan, you probably weren't dreaming big enough.

 

Christie Varner:

I believe in all of you, the numbers, the data is the insight that you need to get from where you are today to where you're going to go, and you can do it. There's nothing special about me. I have worked with all sorts of business owners and I will be honest, there was nothing special about them. They just figured out how to use what they needed to get there.

Karen Holcomb:

They figured out their flight plan.

Christie Varner:

Exactly. They figured out the flight plan.

Karen Holcomb:

I am so thankful for you joining us today. I'm going to touch base with you more offline!

Christie Varner:

Sounds good. It was so fun to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. I really, really appreciate it, Karen.

 Karen Holcomb: If you guys have any questions for Christie Please comment below or, you can reach out to her at her website , Instagram, or Facebook! 

Thank you for joining our podcast about Struggles to Success. If you would like to be a guest speaker please email me at: info@boutiquemarketingstudio.com

Welcome to my Marketing Studio tribe! Every business has a story. Let me help you tell the world! If you are an entrepreneur you have come to the right group. I am looking for all boss babes & boss dudes! Here we can all ask questions and share tips on running a business! Xo, Kiki If you need help with Marketing please reach out to me! Website: http://www.boutiquemarketingstudio.com Join my tribe for FREE Marketing tips, daily!! https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketingstudio



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