Seeing the needs of a small business owner and how many hats they're expected to wear . . . I felt like there was a problem that I could help solve — taking some of that stress and weight off of small business owners' shoulders and helping them succeed and thrive.
Alicia Klausmeier is the founder and president of Dream Accounting Solutions, a full service bookkeeping firm in Colorado Springs. With a passion for serving small business owners, the Dream team also provides process and payroll management, one-on-one support, and training.
In this episode, Alicia shares how her entrepreneurial spirit and problem-solving mentality led her to address a major stressor for small business owners: money management and cash flow.
Listen to our conversation to hear how one woman’s dream allows so many others to realize theirs. For more inspiring entrepreneurial stories, visit our full library.
Joe: Hi there. I’m Joe Dudeck, president and founder of Keyhole Marketing.
Shannon: And I’m Shannon Jirik. I work for Keyhole as the assistant brand manager.
Joe: And this is Metaphorically Speaking, a podcast that explores the mysterious side of marketing.
Shannon: Hello, and welcome to Metaphorically Speaking! In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, we are thankful that you’re joining us today, whether you’ve been following along for a while, or this is your first episode, we are happy to have you. It’s actually a cold and snowy afternoon where I sit so much to my chagrin. It looks like winter is making its presence known. I know that if Joe were here, he would be whooping and celebrating in his loud tone as he can muster.
Anyway, he and I have always been pretty polar opposites on our feelings regarding snow and winter weather. He’s a big fan and I am a total Scrooge. I admit Colorado does do winter, right though. I’ll say that much, but anyway, we are not here to talk about the weather. Alicia Claus Meyer is our guest on the podcast today. And her story of entrepreneurship is just so down to earth and genuine. I actually think it reminds me of a lot of us.
She got a good education. She was equipped with a lot of skills. She had a lot of interests and potential, but there never was really a clear cut path, kind of forged for her. So as I’ve progressed, you know, her dreams and her needs evolved, and she started to see a problem developing in the small business community that needed fixing. And that eventually led her to start dream accounting solutions, which is a full service bookkeeping firm, specifically supporting small businesses in Colorado Springs.
So we know a lot of small businesses struggle with, you know, finding the time, the resources, or frankly, the desire to approach money management and cashflow. So if that’s you keep listening, thankfully Alicia says there’s hope for us all. I think because what we do on a daily basis has so little to do with math or numbers or finances. We really just have a lot of fun talking with people like Alicia, we’re just wired for it and have a passion for it.
Just puts a smile on my face. So thank you, Alicia, for sharing your story with us on this episode, we know you all will enjoy it.
Joe: So what’s funny to me, I’ve been doing these interviews for a couple of years now. And I was like, when I moved here from to Colorado from Indiana, I was always told like, nobody’s from Colorado actually, but I’ve, I’ve been surprised at how many interviews I’ve done for people who actually grew up not only in Colorado, but in Colorado Springs. And I know the same holds true for you. Maybe talk a little bit about your childhood and yeah. Just tell your story a little bit.
Alicia: Yeah, absolutely. So the nice thing is, is that I’m lucky enough to be from Colorado. I think that everyone tries to get here as soon as they can and I was born here. So it was amazing. You know, I grew up in Colorado Springs. My parents met working at Memorial hospital here in the Springs was born there, grew up in the Springs, had a great childhood, you know, lived outside every day. We had great neighbors, great friends had the mountains, had just a fabulous resources, you know, at our, at our feet.
So being able to take advantage of that was great. When I was in fifth grade, my parents built a house and we moved to fi onto a five acre lot, which actually is right now in the middle of the city. But it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. And we had horses, we had ATVs. We had, you know, I started driving a riding lawnmower over to my friend’s house and my neighbor’s house. Like, that’s how we got, so we got places. So it was, it was amazing just, you know, feeling like we had that space and had those amazing opportunities, but also we’re right in the middle of the city.
So yeah, we used to ride our ATVs across powers Boulevard before it became really busy. So I know small world, it was a small town and it’s grown now. But anyways, you know, I, I’m a proud alumni from Doherty high school, grew up just loving everything about, about Colorado Springs and had the opportunity to go away to college. And, but I didn’t want to go too far. So I went to Colorado school of mines in golden, far enough away, but still close enough to, to be able to come home and still love Colorado and the ability to go snowboarding for a day and, you know, hike for an hour and still take classes.
So anyways, I actually have never left Colorado. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I mean, I’ve traveled a lot, but Colorado feels like home and it will always be home for us. And I’m proud to be a Colorado native.
Joe: Yeah. Funny story about the school of mines. My, my nephew graduated from Breckenridge high school and we went out there for his high school graduation and we were living in Indiana and it, a lot of students were coming to school of mines and I kept thinking they were sitting in school of mine and I was like, what is going on? I have somebody people interested in this. I thought that was a dying thing. Sorry. That was not being from the area. Yeah. So do you have any, you know, childhood memories?
You know, it’s kinda funny. I just think like, do you have early memories of being fascinated with numbers or business or taxes or audits like that? Like what are some of your earliest memories growing up?
Alicia: You know, I think that anytime someone would ask, like, what’s your favorite subject? It was always PE and math. Those are the things right. You know, and you can’t count recess and lunch, but math is just kind of always something that I just got. And I liked, and I was one of those dorks where I’d get like the math syllabus a week in advance and I do all the math problems and for the week and be done with all my math homework, it was just, it just, math just comes easy to me and numbers I just get.
So I think I always have had that memory of just liking numbers and enjoying math. The piece that really kind of evolved was this understanding of analysis. And how do you use these numbers and what do they tell you besides just doing the actual math, that piece, like kind of came with my engineering kind of mindset and the work within science and, you know, data analysis that I I’ve gained over time. But yeah.
So math has always been there and then like kind of that engineering mindset using analysis and using numbers came with some time,
Joe: I guess, both of our sides, sides of our brains are firing your, your one side of your brains firing. And the other side of mine is not. Yeah, for sure. How about entrepreneurs? Yeah. How about entrepreneurship? Was there anything like, you know, a family owner or a family member or anything like that, it kind of made put a seed in there when you were younger for entrepreneurship?
Alicia: You know, I like thinking back, I didn’t re I wasn’t really exposed to people that were entrepreneurs. My parents worked corporate or corporate jobs, you know, my mom worked part-time in the medical field, so I guess I was exposed to management and administrative like work CEO type stuff. Cause that’s kind of what my dad was in, but never from like an entrepreneurial standpoint in.
And honestly, I didn’t really think I was going to be an entrepreneur for the longest time. And it wasn’t until I kind of made that leap that I was like, you know, this is right for me, this feels right. I, I need this, I can do this. And I felt confident and learned along the way, what that process looked like, but don’t, I didn’t know what I was going to do, I guess, for the longest time. And it was never.
Joe: Yeah. So once you made the leap, it felt comfortable, but you weren’t, you weren’t always aspiring to get there. Correct? Yeah. Awesome. Well, so in terms of education, you talked about school of mines, but your LinkedIn also in the kids, you got your bachelor’s from Colorado state and health and exercise science and a master’s in curriculum instruction. So kind of talk about that background eventually pointed you toward accounting navigation.
Alicia: Well, you know, when you’re, when you’re 18 years old and you’re deciding on what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, you don’t ever really know. I mean, rarely, right. So I had that engineering mindset really loved health. And I, I think the thing like reflecting back, I just love helping people and making a difference and being a problem solver. So all of those things were like, Hmm, I think maybe do engineering, maybe not engineering. It didn’t feel fit in there after two years at school of mines.
I, I transferred to CSU in Fort Collins. Yeah. I guess I took the easy route because of the way my, my credits transferred in. I thought maybe I was going to go into health into the health medical world, but after spending some time in it and said, you know, this isn’t for me either. So then I went back on the, what I wanted to be in second grade was a teacher. So let’s try this. I love helping people. I love kids and I can solve some problems. And I actually spent just over 13 years in education and public education in K-12.
And during that time really kind of, I guess, gained the skills and the knowledge to be able to take on manage manager type positions, administrative work. I spent some time in education doing data analysis and understanding student test scores and analyzing that to help make put into place intervention. So it was really like kind furred back to numbers all the time and that analysis piece.
But then in addition, I had my, I got my administrative license and that provided me a lot of knowledge to be able to feel like I could run a business and kind of on a whim. I was already doing all of my husband’s bookkeeping, accounting and taxes for his business and kind of fell in love with it. And I realized I needed a break from education. And so it kind of like fell into my lap. And, but I, going back to that reflection piece, I think that all of those things that I experienced throughout my life and education and jobs and careers and things really led up to being, building this great business and being successful at it.
Joe: What does your husband do? What’s his business.
Alicia: He is a real estate appraiser, so it’s not super complicated accounting or anything. So I had to learn on, you know, and I took additional accounting courses and certifications and things to be able to support other businesses and their needs, but it was kind of like the start. Yeah.
Joe: Yeah. That’s a good start. Good start for you to get in there. What were some, while you were doing there working at his business? So what were some of the light bulbs that were turning on for you about starting your own business? You know, where there’s some, I don’t know, needs in the industry or some personal aspirations that you started to uncover at that time of life?
Alicia: Absolutely. There is, you know, I think there’s two fold. First thing that I really appreciated about him and his business and me seeing it was the flexibility. We’ve got two young kids. We, we, I want to build a life that involves them and we’re there for them. And so having that flexibility as a business owner to be able to, oh, we’ve got a sick kid or pre COVID, like we’ve got to be home doing e-learning right. Like those abilities to be able to have that flexibility were game-changer for us, just being able to be there for school pickup and school drop off and sick days and school performances and all of those things were huge.
And then in addition to that, you know, just being in the small business world and seeing the needs of a small business owner and how many hats they’re expected to wear and do it all, but they don’t have the skills or the time to do it. You know, like I felt like there was a problem that I could help solve. It’s like taking some of that stress and weight off of small business owners, shoulders and helping them succeed and thrive. And you know, how many small businesses fail with in the first three to five years, because of so many things, but one of them being finances and understanding of what’s going on.
And so kind of being there to definitely help get through that time, provide an extra set of eyes, some weight off shoulders, all of those things. That was definitely a problem that I was able to come in and solve and a need that I saw.
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Joe: So, I mean, those are all, those are all great, right? When you’re still sort of have a job and you’re, you’re, you’re aspiring to, for those things to become reality. And then there’s that actual moment where you’re going to make that leap. Tell me about that time in time in your life when you were, you know, just ready to do that. Was there just a crisis, a moment we have to make this happen now was there, no, I’m just gonna, just gonna take that leap of faith and see what it turns out. Talk a little bit about where you were psychologically at that, at that place.
Alicia: Good question. So I think that it had been coming for a long time. I kind of got to that point and it was a struggle working in K-12 education with young kids and like, okay, I gotta figure out how to, like, how am I going to get out? How am I going to create a better life? What is this going to look like for us? And so I thought it was, I think it was coming, but then finally when I kind of made that decision and it was like, it was like a light bulb moment, right? Like ding, ding, ding, this is what I’m going to do.
And I’m going to just take the leap and I’m going to do it. And I always have stuff to fall back on. Like I have my education, there’s always going to be jobs available if I need to, I’ve got a great, great resources and the community if I need them, but I just need to take this leap and I need to go all in because if I don’t go all in, then I feel like I’m going to be half passing it. Right. Like, you know, you’re, you’re never gonna really know if you can do it and do it well, if you’re just like, I’m going to stick in a toe and I’m just going to try a little bit.
So it really was that like full leap, let’s do this and, and here we are today. Yeah.
Joe: Yeah. I just had that conversation with a friend over lunch yesterday. Her husband was on the, on the verge of quitting his business and starting a new business. And it’s that weird time of place where it’s, he’s not really, it doesn’t have the time or energy to fully commit to the new business. So there’s just a lot of that. And it probably would be better for him to make the leap, but it’s just coming to that point when you’re finally able to do that and feel comfortable about that.
Alicia: Absolutely. And it does take time sometimes to make that final decision and yeah, I dunno, prepare, put all of the things in place to make sure you’re ready.
Joe: So we’d like to ask this question of how would you describe your business to a five-year-old I feel like, especially in your space where, you know, terms like accounting and reconciliation, fiscal statements, those people glaze over when they hear those words. So like how would you put what you do in terms that we could all understand?
Alicia: So I think my daughter is five and probably this is the way that I would explain it to her, or she might even be able to explain it to someone else is like helping people understand where their money is coming from and where their money is going. And if they’re actually making money. So, you know, that’s like really high level stuff, but in good terms like, Hey, how much money do you have and where is your money coming from? Or where are you spending your money? And that’s, that really is the extent of it.
It sounds so basic, but it is complicated on top of that, but that’s the basis of what we do.
Joe: Yeah. And that’s so necessary of course, and helpful, but it is as a business owner, myself, it’s those numbers that kind of get scary, not just the math. I mean, some of it’s pretty simple math, but it’s more, I’m scared. It almost like it’s better off not knowing sometimes is how I think about it. Like ignorance is bliss, you know, that’s not true, but yeah,
Alicia: That’s a very common, common approach to accounting and bookkeeping within business. Like just check my bank account balance. I think I’m okay. Right? Like there’s, there’s some scarcity like some avoidance. Definitely.
Joe: There’s a book I read called profit first and okay. You’ve read that one as well. Yep. Yeah. It’s just the first chapter two is like he was writing directly to me, you know, all the numbers that I’m like trying to shy away from or pretend myself pretend they’re better than they really are or whatever, whatever language I was speaking to myself, like I was like, how did you write this directly to me? How did you know my story? But of course I’m not uncommon in that experience. So yeah. So then who do you, who do you serve? I mean, is it small business owners? Is it, and then like, yeah, who’s the audience you’re trying to reach.
Alicia: So the small business owners really is our, our niche and we, we work with service-based mostly, service-based like creatives providing labor services more so than retail. But that being said, I really, we just love working with business owners that want to be educated and learn and grow the, maybe there they’ve got some goals in mind and they want to be able to bring on staff and they need to have an extra set of eyes.
Maybe are, have been avoiding it for the longest time, but they really need to understand what’s going on. And so people that really want that education and true understanding a collaborative approach towards analyzing your finances, that type of thing. Those are our ideal clients, former education background, right. Former teacher. That’s what I love doing is teaching and helping, helping business owners understand, not saying that you need to understand to the point to be able to do it, do all of our job, but you need to understand what’s going on in your business.
And what does the financial statement tell you? So that’s, that’s really who we work with. Gotcha.
Joe: Yeah. And I know you, you launched this in 2019, so this was pre COVID, but obviously your model had works really well in today’s landscape. Yeah. Was that sort of a personal decision or was there something that, you know, you just hated the traditional model of somebody coming into an office, flipping through paperwork and receipts and everything else, like yeah. Was it more for your own personal life experience or was it, was it more of the, the model’s going to be broken in a certain way?
Alicia: Oh, you know, I actually, I think it was both. I think that the model was yeah, was broken. I think that as a society, we are moving in a direction of utilizing, you know, technology resources a lot more and even pre COVID, you know, fewer and fewer office spaces and more like coworking spaces. If, if that be the case that people wanting to work in an office.
But at the same time, I come from a background I’m I I’m younger, I’m used to, I’m used to technology. I’m used to utilizing it. And I think there, the efficiencies that are available to us today are necessary for the accounting world to put into place. And because to succeed with a successful business or have a successful business and succeed through this, you have to be efficient in the work that you’re doing, or you’re going to have to charge people an arm and a leg to be able to do it.
And then it makes it an affordable to smaller businesses that are just starting out. So there, yeah, there was multiple things that I took into consideration when starting the business and really approaching this virtual worlds and virtual bookkeeping and accounting. But then in addition, I wanted the flexibility and having the flexibility for my personal life was only going to happen. If I was virtual having an office an eight to five type office, it takes away that ability to be flexible and be there for my kids.
And so creating this environment has been great for me and then my staff as well, because they all have that flexibility and work from their houses during their time, you know, and can utilize the resources that we have at hand.
Joe: For sure. And I, I miss my opportunity to ask this earlier, but talk a little bit about your family. Your you’ve got how many kids,
Alicia: That two kids. Yeah. So Riker, he is currently seven years old and then Everett or Evie, is there a name and she’s five. And so second grade and kindergarten, which is a great time first year of them being in the same school together, one drop off pick up.
Joe: Right? Yeah. And then you get a little time to focus on the business as well as on their, where they’re at school.
Alicia: Absolutely. And knock on wood in school. No, COVID, e-learning
Joe: Exactly. Yep. Same here as well. We’ve got an eight year old and so far we’ve had a safe year. He actually here, his class last year was the only one in his school that didn’t go on quarantine, which is pretty amazing lucky. Yeah. Had had a couple, couple of close calls, but then didn’t have to do, which is crazy. So crazy. What’s, you know, sort of your target, target demographic, being a small business owner in the service industry. There’s many out there as well, who are in that same space. Like what’s one thing you wish people like us knew or were thinking about in terms of your business and our finances and maybe some things we, we tend to lie to ourselves about or pretend don’t exist.
Like what are some, give some thoughts that we should consider. Yeah.
Alicia: All right. So the first thing I always tell people is please don’t just wait and do your bookkeeping for tax time at the end of the year or after the year’s over. Because what you’ve done now is you have wasted a full year of important information that you could have used to help you make informed decisions about your business. When you are looking back and reflecting on the past, like a year ago, what happened last December? What happened, you know, that is a lot of wasted time for you to use information.
So really it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on in the business and really understand the other thing that I always tell clients is like, you don’t don’t do your books for taxes only like don’t create books that are to show what you have is tax deductible items. Yes. It’s fabulous. Compliance is so important in terms of record keeping. It’s great to have it all nice and neat and ready to hand over to a tax accountant, but you need to create it so that you can use it.
So if you need to know where your income’s coming from, and you need to have four different income accounts so that you can track it, create those income accounts like so that you can be like, oh, guess what? 60% of our income comes from this one source revenue source, the same thing with expenses. So really creative. So it’s usable for you. Don’t wait until the end of the year, stay on top of it. Let me think what else. And then, you know, having an extra set of eyes and actually reviewing financial statements or knowing what a financial statement says is going to be game changer for you and your business.
So yeah, those are kind of,
Joe: Well, that’s great. Free advice. I appreciate it. Yeah. That profit first book I mentioned, I mean, that was my blood for me because it just helped me realize, like, don’t look at it as this mound of cash that you can pull from and stuff has an allocated for this or for that. And you get nervous when it’s big or small sometimes. And then it balloons at the end of the month, the beginning of the next month. And then it’s like, now it’s scary again, midway through the month. So yeah, me to reprioritize and put some things in different ways and I’ve, it’s definitely been a less stressful set up for sure.
Alicia: Great. Yeah. I’ve got a lot of clients that use profit first and I, I help them with that process. And I, I think that it is a great resource for small business owners, especially those that are overwhelmed by numbers and easy, quick, like I’m going to check my bank account balances because that’s the way you feel comfortable.
Joe: Yeah. It’s a good like intro stuff. Yeah. There’s much more that you can help me with, but it’s yeah, it helps me just to sound a psychological stent. That’s not stay awake at night, you know, for sure. Exactly. So we’re, we’re close to 20, 22 what’s what’s on the horizon. What are some things you’re looking forward to in the next year or next few years for your business?
Alicia: Good question. So, you know, within the accounting world, like, especially bookkeeping, it’s very cyclical like your years, what look, what that comes down to. So we, we’ve got a great team in place, recently hired another person. So we’ve got the capacity to be bringing on new clients and helping, helping more people and small business owners really understand what’s going on. We have increased like some of our services and payroll was not necessarily the one that I I’ve done a lot of marketing, but the person we just hired as a full-time is a payroll specialist.
So providing payroll, providing additional services and then really just, yeah. Trying to make an impact in the community as been as like really a big goal. We don’t have a goal on bringing on a number of clients or bringing in like certain revenue. Really our goal is how many businesses can we impact and help along the way. And so educating more people. Yeah,
Joe: That’s awesome. And that is a nice segue into the final question of just, you know, you grew up in Colorado Springs, you’ve stayed here all these years, you know, what’s what do you enjoy most about being now being a part of the business community around here and helping other businesses as well?
Alicia: You know, I, I love that Colorado Springs really is like a big small town. Once you start making connections with people in the community, you, you find more and more people are connected. You find that you helps one person, they help someone else then your, your help, you know, it just balloons and grows. The thing that I guess I, I love about the community is that everyone is really aware of small businesses and support small businesses.
And I think that’s just fabulous being able to, to do that. And consciously people are making decisions that impact, you know, direct their neighbors directly, their friends, not, not so much of the corporate mindset. So I think that’s great. And I love just being a part of that. And, and as a business owner, I get to do that too. Right. I get to help other small businesses in the Springs and not only as customers, but like I am clients of other small business owners.
Joe: That’s great. That is good. It’s not just such a small, big town that you can ride ATVs across the powers anymore, but
Alicia: Yeah, exactly.
Joe: Exactly. Well, thanks so much for the time today. It’s really, I mean, you’re just your energy for the just is infectious and it makes the industry that’s has a, can have a negative or boring reputation. It’s really exciting. And thanks for your sharing your story with us today.
Alicia: Awesome. Thanks Joe. Thanks for having me appreciate it.
Shannon: You’ve been listening to the Metaphorically Speaking podcast. At Keyhole Marketing, we tell big stories for small businesses. If you’re in the Colorado Springs area and ready to tell your business story, we’d love to come alongside you and help you with your content, branding, SEO, social media, or photography needs. For an instant glimpse at your current marketing strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, take our free marketing evaluation, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can help tell your story.