Our third B-Side session, The Money Game: Finances, Accounting & Taxes, helps inform designers how maintaining the numbers side of your biz will actually give you more time to focus on the design side. On May 18, CPA Jessica Jones will cover the basics of financial literacy for designers and other creative professionals, introducing some recommended techniques for achieving financial goals and providing resources for working towards a more organized creative business. In preparation for next week’s class, we learned a little more about Jessica.
Artist turned CPA, Jessica knows both sides of running an maintaining a business. Her accounting firm focuses on providing artists and creatives the services and information they need to manage their money.
How did you become an artist and a CPA?
I fell into accounting completely by accident while I was doing odd jobs to support my art. Suddenly it just clicked that this was what had been missing from my arts eduction. I knew that if I was going to teach other artists these basic business skills, I would have to embrace the field completely. I decided to get a Master in Professional Accounting, and then the natural next step was to complete my certification as a CPA. It was a very empowering experience to succeed in such a different world.
What was the motivation behind creating Jessica Jones PLLC? (I’m a one-member firm)
Right around the time I completed my testing to become a CPA, a good friend and former arts professor asked me to help him with his business. He said he needed an accountant/bookkeeper/financial advisor. Of course those are three entirely different jobs! I was auditing large companies for a public accounting firm at the time, though, and I knew that wasn’t I wanted to be doing. I decided to take the leap to go out on my own and start figuring out how to provide these services to artists and self-employed creatives. It’s a model unlike any other accounting firm I’ve ever seen. It’s been a real adventure navigating this new territory, but I keep hearing that there is a huge need for what I do, and I’m having a great time.
What is the most common accounting mistake you see most creatives who own their own business make?
I would say the most common accounting mistake is simply not doing their books at all. A lot of people see it as a chore they have to do around tax time, rather than a tool for their own success. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown someone their own income statement for the first time and it just blew their mind. Suddenly they have all these ideas about what they should be doing differently. It’s like they’ve been wandering around in the dark and I turned a lamp on.
If you could teach every creative business owner on thing about accounting, what would it be?
I would teach them to ask questions and find the answers. There’s no single most important fact or resource. The key to accounting is understanding that the information is out there, you just need to go find it. Not sure about a deduction? Look on irs.gov. Question about sales tax? Call the NC DOR. Want to know how much you’re spending? Add up all your expenses. The information is there. Financial professionals don’t have some secret library, they just put in the time doing the research.
Why are you excited about teaching at the B-Side?
I spend most of my time working with people one on one. It’s very rewarding, but this information is so important, I don’t want the number of people I teach to be limited by the hours in my day. I’m really excited to see creatives engaged with these topics as a group, and to see people coming together to learn and share their experience. Lost of other industries work together to support their whole field. I love seeing that same community strength among artists and creatives, and I’m thrilled to contribute to it.
Register for Jessica Jone’s B-Side class here. See you there!