Katie Otto: From CFO to Independent Accounting Professional.
Why did you step back from full-time employment?
I wasn’t happy working full-time. It was sucking the life out of me. I had some physical ailments that were probably computer-related and I wanted to be a more present mom too. I just needed more flexibility. Employers always talk about work-life balance, but I felt the only way I could that was by being my own boss.
What surprised you most about the transition?
Probably the weight off my shoulders. My body and soul were much more relaxed. I felt a lot more alive. You feel it mentally and physically when you aren’t fighting against the forces of what you need to do when you aren’t in control of the choices.
What are you doing to fill your time?
I’m running my own business now. I started out supporting one startup as a part-time CFO. Word got out that I was doing this and it surprised me that other startups were requesting my help too. After a few months I had three clients that kept me as busy as I wanted to be. Now, I’m supporting four companies—bookkeeping, monthly and quarterly financials, board meetings, some HR work. The challenge is that I really like what I’m doing, but if anything, I’m working a little bit too much. So, I’m starting to turn to sub-contractors to help. I like to hire people in transitions who want to earn money, but don’t want a conventional job. One is my 80 year-old father. Another is a stay-at-home mom who has been out of the workforce for 10 years.
How did you decide to pursue these opportunities?
I’ve been the breadwinner in our household. We have a nonprofit cat rescue organization that my husband runs. I knew I needed income to support our family, but I wanted to find a better balance for myself.
What advice would you give to someone in the same circumstances?
Generally, be selective about who you work with. I lucked out. The first few companies I got connected to were great and I enjoy the CEOs I work with. Some that I talked to it didn’t feel like a good fit, so I let those opportunities go. It keeps it positive to find people who respect my time as much as I respect theirs.
Given your vast experience both professionally and personally, do you have a top 5 or 10 list of things that you would tell people if they would like to follow in your footsteps or follow a similar path?
-Figure out a good organizational structure from the start—sole proprietor, LLC etc.
-Check with the state and municipality to figure out taxes, fees etc.
-Keep deadlines straight. Come up with a way to stay on top of those, calendar reminders work great for me.
-Interviews are a good way to assess fit all around. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it isn’t a fit.
-Less is more because it allows you to maintain your reputation.
-Consciously make space for things that relieve stress. Schedule them like you would anything else.
For more information about being an accountant, check out our Amava Spotlight.
Katie is a creative. She makes things happen in her life. Amava is one of her clients.