expert interviews May 19, 2021

Want to build your ergonomic consulting business? What about scaling it instead? 

For every new piece of content I put out, it’s always my aim to provide as much valuable information as possible to other Ergonomics Professionals who are looking to start their own consulting business or scale and refine their current business. 

For this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela MacDonald of Angela MacDonald Consulting. Angela has a wide range of expertise, including managing multi-million dollar projects and being senior management responsible for a ten million dollar budget. She does financial reporting, budget management, forecasting, and strategic planning. Through her experience, she discovered a holistic approach that ushers businesses towards true transformation and lasting growth. She’s using this to help startups scale their businesses.

I asked Angela about her accounting background and some of the important factors that business owners need to consider to keep making progress. Here are some highlights from the interview, make sure to listen to the podcast episode to get all her amazing business tips! 

Interview With Angela MacDonald, MBA, CPA, CMA 

Q: Many of our listeners are considering transitioning from being an employee to being self-employed. What are some factors that people should consider before making the leap?

A: I think an awful lot of people jump into it without any sort of plan and just say, “We're going to make it work.” So just really sitting down with a pen and paper, figure out your plan, and look at your options:

  1. What am I going to do if it doesn't go that way? 
  2. At what point am I going to have to get a part-time job? 
  3. How long is it going to take me to make the first sale? 
  4. When am I going to get a customer realistically? 

If you try to create a budget for starting your business or whatever it might be, you’re going to be wrong 100% of the time. It's probably going to take you longer to make that first sale than you thought. It's probably going to cost you more to do something than you thought. But I think having a plan is still worthwhile. There is no right or wrong answer. As long as you've thought of all the options through, I'm never going to tell somebody not to try.

Q: Ergonomic consultants would sometimes work with large corporations that involve hundreds of office assessments, and there's just no feasible way to simultaneously do that while doing the marketing and the administrative parts of the business. So depending on the project, they may need to hire help. When it comes to hiring contract workers or getting help, are there some general tips you could recommend to make the transition a little bit easier?

A: What I would suggest is to have ground rules in the onset. It could be like a weekly check-in. So at the end of every week, you check what you’ve completed, what needs to be done, or what you’re going to be doing this week. 

In your first year in the business, you probably have to hire contract workers. That's just the basis of what it is. I would pay really close attention as to how much you're paying the contract workers. Because at some point, they're going to be billing you more than if you hire someone. Maybe you're paying a contract worker consistently for 20 hours a week of work instead of having a full-time staff for the same cost. So pay attention to how much you're spending versus the benefits of not being in a contract situation and getting a long-term employee because you can have them for the same cost. 

It’s a bit of a risk too. Let’s say you know you can employ them for eight months, but what about after that? I mean, when we look at clothing stores, they don't know that they're gonna have sales next month either, right? So you do have to take a bit of a risk in hiring that person, assuming that the work is going to show up to keep them there.

Q: Many of members in the Accelerate program ask questions related to invoicing. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

A: Invoicing is really important, especially if you're starting out because if you're starting out, you don't have a lot of sales. The one thing I would recommend is to make sure that you invoice projects as soon as they're completed. 

Alternatively, when you’re doing bigger projects or large contracts, I would always get some sort of upfront payment or some sort of progress payment. Asking for money upfront is something many people often feel kind of gross about doing, but I can promise you that it’s pretty standard across the corporate world.

Depending on how big the project is, you may want to break it into more than two payments. So if it's something that’s going to take six months to do, maybe you do four progress payments so that you can get the money in your pocket. This is helpful because if that project is your only work for six months and you bill them at the end, what are you going to live off of for that half of the year? So look at the contract and set up policies.

 Q: You mentioned bookkeepers for a moment there. Many people are doing bookkeeping themselves, but they're quickly getting to the point where they realize they don't have the time to keep on doing it themselves. So is there a point of time that you would recommend bringing someone to help keep those books in order?

A: It depends on the person. If you don’t like bookkeeping, hire somebody from the beginning. If your business is really small, it’s not going to take them long. They might only charge you for one hour a month. 

One thing I do recommend is if you're small and you want to do it yourself, get some sort of training to be able to do it. Bookkeepers usually offer some training to show you what to do and set you up. If you do it regularly, you might not hate it. Another thing is that if you get used to looking at the reports on a monthly basis, you'll want to be up to date because you’ll want to pull that information. 

Q: I loved your point when you said bookkeeping brings clarity to your overall cash flow, which is so important in our business. Are there any key things that we should keep in mind when we're looking to hire some help?

A: There's so many different places to look for accounting help. If you're just starting out and you're small, some places are not going to give you that much attention because they’re used to catering to larger businesses. So right away, I would look at who you're asking and what their client base looks like. The biggest thing is to ask business owners in your network like, “Who have you liked and disliked?” or “Do they actually give you information about what you could or couldn’t do with your business operation?” I think word of mouth works well in that sense. It all comes down to their customer service and their ability to provide you with advice that you understand.

Next Steps 

And there you have it! If you have any questions for Angela on how to grow your business to the next level, check her website and get in touch with her.

This interview is just scrapping the surface of everything that the Accelerate program can bring to you! To learn how Ergonomics Consultants grow and scale their businesses, sign up to the waitlist for the Accelerate program. I'm going to be opening the enrollment for the Accelerate membership at the end of June 2021. 


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