CEOs w/ Priceless Plan Interview ft: Ashley Harris

CEOs w/ Priceless Plan Interview ft: Ashley Harris

Ashley D. Harris not your “average” finance and accounting professional. She is the vibrant, creative and energetic Founder and CEO of Behind the Numbers Financial Consulting, LLC, a boutique financial management company located in Houston, TX and the soon launching The Financial Success Institute, a personal financial education brand.

Known as The Growth CFO and Business Financial Educator, Ashley uses her 14 years of financial and managerial accounting, audit, tax and personal finance experience to coach, train, and consult growth-oriented and financial success driven entrepreneurs on how to implement financial systems in their business that will help them achieve long-term business growth, sustainable profits, and cash flow.

She also helps entrepreneurs increase their financial IQ by teaching on business finance fundamentals that will help them to become financially savvy CEO’s and make sound decisions.

Ashley’s business motto is:

Know Your Money, Know Your Numbers, Grow Your Business!

What is the name of your business, what do you do in business and how long have you been in business?
Behind the Numbers Financial Consulting, LLC and I help and teach growth-oriented and financial success driven entrepreneurs and established business owners to implement financial systems in their businesses that will create structure, eliminate money leaks, increase profits, maximize cash flow, and minimize taxes. I have been in business for 5 years.

How did you get started in your business?
I call myself a second-time entrepreneur because I left my cushy corporate audit career about 5 years ago to start up an accounting and tax business with a partner. At the time, I thought well if I can do this for an employer, I can definitely do this for myself. I thought about all the issues that large corporations faced when it came to financial issues including low cash, poor systems, overextending credit, and tax troubles even though they appeared profitable but failing at the same time. And guess what, entrepreneurs and small business owners faced the same thing. Not only that, they had no one to really teach them the ins and out of managing their business and personal finances. I took all my savings (including my 401K) and went full speed into the business.

The partnership failed, I was between a rock and a hard place and had to return back to work a year later only to make less than what I used to make. However, it wouldn’t belong in that part-time accounting position until they made me the full-time Controller / CFO of the company with more pay than I had ever made in my career. During that time, I never gave up on my business, Behind the Numbers Financial Consulting, as I was starting to pick up smaller clients while working and I also learned so much more when it came to overseeing and managing a company given that my decisions made a huge impact on operation. About 3 years into being employed, I made the decision to go full time into my business in September 2015. And since then, things have been going great in my business and I’ve been able to help numerous entrepreneurs and business owners turn financial chaos into financial clarity and take control of their business finances.

What are the plans that you had for your business when you first started?
The plans I had for Behind the Numbers Financial Consulting (May 2012) when I first started: 1) obtain 3 new accounting and bookkeeping clients per quarter at a minimum monthly billing rate of $250/mth (of wow, how times have changed, I know and understand my worth now) 2) host a free bi-annual business tax and business finance workshops for marketing and client acquisition 3) establish personal financial coaching programs for millennial career women 4) obtain a roster of 25 tax prep clients with minimum fee of $150 (geesh what was I thinking at that time…it was a starting point).

Priceless Plan Ashley Harris, Priceless Planning

Those were my 3 plans when I first started Behind the Numbers Financial Consulting, LLC in 2012. Of course, as I’ve evolved, these plans change as my vision changed.

What are the daily/weekly/monthly tasks that guaranteed the execution of your plan?
I will be honest, at first, I was scared to network and connect with people. I am an introvert. But if I can get close enough to someone in a networking setting, the introvert would turn into an extrovert.

I can say attending networking events (including business meetups), volunteering with local organizations and letting them know what I do, sending out letters to small companies to market myself (this was all in 2012/2013 – so thank God for social media now), continuing to educate myself on what I didn’t know and what I needed to learn, and getting a coach were some of the tasks that I performed at that time. It was not necessarily done by daily/weekly/monthly. Because early on, I was doing it all without really breaking down how often I would do it. I would just do pretty much every day.

I’m here to teach entrepreneurs and business owners how to think like a CFO, operate like a CEO!

What does your business teach individuals?
I’m here to teach entrepreneurs and business owners how to think like a CFO, operate like a CEO, create financial systems, understand the numbers to make the best financial and business decisions all while eliminating money leaks, increasing cash flow and maximizing profits.
What is the 1 signature thing that makes your business stand out from others?

Being me. I have always been myself. I don’t try to be anyone else. How I speak is how I speak, in person, via email, on the phone and when I am presenting / training.

My business is all about educating first. Not many in this field truly provide the education to where the common small business owner or entrepreneur can make sense of it without being overwhelmed.

What do you think other businesses need to stand out in the competitive marketplace?
Outside of providing great service, I would say stay true to your business mission, vision, and goals. Every business is unique and your uniqueness in alignment with your business mission, vision and goals will help you stand out in a competitive marketplace.

What has been your biggest highlight of being in business so far?
My biggest highlight in business has been the exposure that speaking and training has brought me. I’ve always had the drive to teach and educate on business and personal finances.

What would 1 bit of advice that you would give to someone thinking about starting a business be?

The one bit of advice I have is:

Starting a business based on passion may not always be the best route. If you have transferable skills, start a business utilizing those skills first.

Your skills pay the bills. Passion does not always pay right away. Once you make the monies with your skill set business, you can then use those monies to then start a passion purpose business.

Starting a business based on passion may not always be the best route. If you have transferable skills, start a business utilizing those skills first.

In 5 years from now, where do you see your business?
In 5 years, I see my business…

  • With multiple financial consultants and outsourcing staff working with business clients nationally and globally,
  • As a leading business finance and tax education company providing training to mid-tier and large companies and programs for the DIY learner

What is 1 fun tidbit about yourself that you would like to share?
I am an avid thrifter. I love thrift shopping.

Can you give us some deets’ on some of your upcoming business plans?
For Q4 2017, I am launching 2 courses (one centered around small business taxes and one around small business financial blueprint). For 2018, I will be opening up a membership program for emerging and growing entrepreneurs who need the accountability with keeping their business finances on track plus the support of a group.

Are there any other business gems that you would like to share about your business experiences, plans, or lessons?
Sure, most definitely.

  1. Only go into partnership with someone who you are definitely in alignment with and have same vision long-term
  2. Learn to delegate early on in your business so that when or as your business grows, you are not doing every single task in your business which can cost you more money in the long run (i.e. miss out on new clients or business opportunities because you were too busy doing all of the work instead of building).
  3. Always review your numbers and know where you stand. This is vital to making business decisions and charting a path to growth.
  4. Focus on 1 to 3 core offerings instead of being a jack of all trade. Know exactly what it is you are good at that you can offer and execute with no problem.
  5. Take time for self-care. It is highly needed for balance and sanity.

Get to know more about this CEO with Priceless Plans!

Instagram: behindthenumbersfc
Twitter: behindnumbersfc
Facebook: Behind The Numbers FC
Linked In: Ashley D. Harris
Visit her website: www.behindthenumbersfc.com


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Dr. Sidjae

Sidjae Price is the Founder, and CEO of Priceless Planning, blogger, public speaker, and Ph.D. candidate. A teacher by nature, Sidjae's purpose is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs fight the overwhelm feeling with techniques and strategies in business planning, time management, and productivity.