Have you ever wondered why we have so many labels when it comes to business? There's self-employed, small business owner, independent contractor, entrepreneur and much more. What does it all really mean? Can you be one and not the other? I consider myself to be a small business owner but also self-employed and an entrepreneur. Does a label really make a difference?
Ultimately, the title doesn't matter as long as you're happy with the path that you are on. To me, all these are people who are on their journey and can make their own goals like today's special guest, Shante Martin, a self-employed accountant who wants to have a balance between motherhood and her career. Shante grew up in San Diego, California. After obtaining her BS in Criminal Justice and her AS in Business Office Technology, she moved to Las Vegas and discovered a love for bookkeeping and the financial upkeep of businesses. In 2015, I was lucky to have her join my company, PKJ Consulting, as a bookkeeper and office manager. She has worked in a wide range of industries with the heavy emphasis on team operations, administrative support and customer service. In her spare time, she's an animal lover, a great mother to a hockey player and skateboarder, and an avid runner.
I INVITED SHANTE HERE today because, well, she works for me and it's her day to be in the office. But more importantly, she's the epitome of someone who has to set her own rules for her career. She started with me three years ago when I was in the beginning stages of my journey to start my company. She's been an amazing asset to my team and I call her the E-Commerce, Accounting and PayPal Guru. She's the mother to an amazing ten-year-old girl who skateboards and plays hockey for the Vegas Junior Golden Knights, which, as we all know, having a kid who plays sports takes up a lot of time. There's travel all over town and even out of the state.
I wanted her to share her journey today because I wanted to understand more of how she managed both as a mother and her career as one of the reasons that she started working for herself because she shares that same reason as to why I actually started working for myself was because I wanted to spend more time with my daughter. So, let's welcome Shante Martin. How are you doing, Shante?
Shante: Good. How are you?
Phyllis: I'm doing great. Thanks for asking. So, tell me, what was the passion behind your career and the reason why you started working for yourself?
Shante: Okay. First of all, I just want to say that I'm so happy to be here today, so thank you. The passion behind why I started working for myself is really I just want to go through every day with more smiles. I'm a very logical person. I love numbers. I love bookkeeping. It has to match. It's either black or white. It's concrete and it tells a story. Then for my personal life, working for myself, I can create my own hours, and then I can be there for my child when she needs me most.
Phyllis: That's excellent. It sounds like you and I have the same passion behind bookkeeping, of course, and our love for our daughters, which is amazing. So, tell me, how did you get the knowledge in order to do bookkeeping and to become successful?
Shante: So interesting enough, when I was in San Diego obtaining my degree in Criminal Justice, I landed a position as a receptionist and that led into a bookkeeping position. So, I started about in 2010, and in 2015 I started working with Phyllis at PKJ. I've just built my knowledge base on the job with Phyllis just by the different companies that she obtains and the new software we have to use and doing research on my own and things like that.
Phyllis: So on-the-job training, a lot of times people will start a job and they don't really know exactly how to do the actual work. One of the reasons why I actually hired Shante was because of her personality and her willingness to learn. And so, a lot of times people want to start their own business or their own company, but they don't know everything. No one really knows everything until you actually start trying to learn everything. So, it's really important to be that person that says you know what? I may not know everything, but I am going to figure that out. That's exactly the reason why I hired Shante. She has learned so much. Right now, if there's a PayPal question, she's the person I go to. I probably don't know the answer anymore because she's been a really great research and asset person to kind of figure these things out.
Let's dive in more about your journey. You told me that you moved to San Diego, you were a receptionist and bookkeeper, and of course, you started working for me. But tell me a little bit more that kind of led you here today.
Shante: Okay, so more about my journey. I guess everything kind of changed when I had my daughter. I realized the importance of time management, of work-life balance. That pretty much led me, well, through trial and error of trying to work for corporate America, it pretty much led me to become an independent contractor and working with Phyllis.
Phyllis: Great. So, tell me about how do you balance between motherhood and working for yourself? I understand your daughter is on the Vegas Knights. I actually saw her commercial. If you haven't seen it, feel free to email me and I will send you a link. But her daughter is a really great hockey player. I know Shante, she travels all over the place. She goes to California, she goes to Arizona, and amazingly, she's still always on top of everything as far as getting the job done. So how do you actually balance the two?
Shante: I think it's just important to make sure you have secured Wi-Fi everywhere. I'm thankful that Phyllis is -- it's a matter of getting the work done efficiently, correctly. There obviously are due dates and things, but if you keep on top of everything and you always have your laptop with you, I can be at a hockey tournament in Montana, I have my laptop, I'm fine. I can get everything done. There's no problem with that. That's what I love about this.
Phyllis: So, she touched on anyone who really knows me, my favorite quote. If I have a laptop and Wi-Fi, I can work anywhere. That's the one thing that I know I like about being self-employed is you kind of set things the way you want to set it. She said she's at a hockey game watching her daughter, but also able to work.
I know obviously being self-employed has its bonuses, but what is the most difficult thing about being self-employed? Have you ever wanted to go back to a full-time what people would consider normal employment?
Shante: I think it's really not that much of a struggle, but the thing that stands out most to me is deadlines. Whereas if you're working a 9 to 5, you're in the office from 9 to 5 and you're paid hourly, and when you go home, you go home. But when we go home, our laptop and our secure Wi-Fi is right there waiting for us and it's open and there are always things going on. Sometimes just realizing that it's okay to just -- if it's not due right away or it's not time-sensitive, it's okay to just play that game of Yahtzee really quick and then do it later or whenever. Sometimes it's hard to let the work aside. That's the only thing that I would -- and it's not really a struggle, but that's my thing.
Phyllis: I definitely agree with that. I, myself, have multiple laptops and Chromebooks and tablets and phones, and sometimes you have to learn how to disconnect. I know when I first started, I was working every day every hour. At 3:00 in the morning, you get an email from me. So, I definitely agree with you.
Let's talk about some fun stuff. So far on your journey, tell me what's your biggest win. Give me a good success story that you have.
Shante: I guess the biggest success story that I have is obtaining my bachelor's degree. The fact that I am now a mother and preach education to my daughter, it was really important to me as an adult, as a mother, to go back and get that degree to see the changes in her and how important it is for her to get good grades. She's already talking about college and what she's going to be and the scholarships she's going to get. That's a big win in my head.
Phyllis: Discussing scholarships at ten years old, that is amazing. I'm trying to get my daughter on that path too because college is very expensive. So, tell me about a loss or like a lesson learned, maybe a mistake that you've made and what you learned and gained from it.
Shante: Probably the biggest mistake that I've made is when I first started working with Phyllis, I got a job offer for another company which was a 9 to 5. I took the offer and I tried to make it work. I know I missed Phyllis and the bookkeeping and everything so much. Every day was just like a nightmare because I was not enjoying what I was doing. Also, my daughter had to go to before school care and after school care, which was there was nobody there for her, so she started feeling a lacking as well and it was expensive. I guess I had to try it to know that it really wouldn't work, but it also kind of set me back as well.
Phyllis: That's interesting. I mean a lot of us have that moment where you're an entrepreneur and things get hard, and so you try to go back to a traditional way and some people go back to the traditional way. I have clients all the time who they have a business, I'm doing their accounting and doing consulting for them and they love what they do, but then they get this job offer and it's a hard decision to make. You have a job that's secure, you have 401(k), you have benefits, and then you go there and then you realize that's not what you really want to do. So, a lot of those clients of mine that have done that, for some reason, always end up quitting and coming right back. If you have that entrepreneurial spirit and bug, it never really goes away.
I am someone who always tells people go for it. If it doesn't work, there's always an opportunity to get a job, but there's not always really that opportunity to go after your passion, to go after your goal. Even Shante, when she did leave, I was sad. It was a sad day for both of us, but I always am going to be supportive of someone having to go on their own path and be successful. We kept in contact, and so I said, "Hey, do you want to come back?" She came back, and it's been great and now we're doing this podcast. So, she's someone who, even though she works for me, she is always someone who is inspiring and pushes me to succeed and helps me to accomplish my goals. As an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you want that person that's in your corner that's going to kind of push you outside of your comfort zone.
I have my favorites, but this is a section that I like to call "What is Your Favorite?" Shante, tell us about a favorite book that you have.
Shante: One of my favorite books is called "You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. It's really a fun book. She goes into financial success, women empowerment, just creating do's and don'ts that lead to success. The way that she says things, she's very funny and you just want to keep reading it. She also has a book now that I'm reading. It's "You Are a Badass at Making Money." I'm only on page 30, but it is also awesome. So, if you get a chance to check it out, you should.
Phyllis: "You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. I am going to have to check that out, especially the one at making money. Do you have a favorite podcast or website that you like to go to?
Shante: My favorite website is YouTube. I just think that it's such a good resource for learning anything and everything that you want to do it yourself. I'm a big fan of do-it-yourself because I'm a big fan of time management and anything that you don't have to drive to, make an appointment to. Anything you can do yourself is efficient and it saves money too. So, I don't know. YouTube has everything. I really like it.
Phyllis: Yes, I am a believer in what I call YouTube University. Whatever pops to my mind, I go on YouTube and try to find a video for it. I also tell my daughter to do the same thing.
So, we both know that you're a bookkeeper. What kind of bookkeeping companies do you like to do the bookkeeping for? I know we have a variety of them, so what is your favorite?
Shante: I think the variety is great. That just keeps the interest. But right now, I know that you know, but I do a lot of e-commerce companies. I think it's exciting because like the financial peaks and changes, they happen pretty drastically and it's very important to keep on top of those businesses. I know that Phyllis talks with them constantly because things are constantly changing and there's so much involved with all the different websites and how they pay. So, I really enjoy that because it's very involved and you must stay on top of it.
Phyllis: Well, great. So, let's go over what we learned today. Every podcast that I do, I want to go over some tips that we learned from Shante. Number one, the knowledge that you're going to gain does not have to be traditional. As we all know, the degree that she obtained was not in accounting or finance or business management or anything like that, but she started working as a receptionist and got the opportunity to do bookkeeping and realized she truly enjoyed it. Number two, it's okay to put motherhood as your priority. A lot of us have that guilty feeling that we're working so much or maybe we want to do other things. So, she found that way to balance them both. The third, of course, is if you set up your entrepreneurial journey correctly, all you need is laptop and Wi-Fi.
With that, I really want to thank Shante for being here today in the office, although she comes in every week at this day and time. If you want to get in contact with her, go to www.pkjconsulting.com. You can also email her at email@example.com. I truly appreciate having you here today. I look forward to growing the business with you. Thank you.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to Small Business Conversations with PKJ. Want to learn more or listen to prior episodes? Go to pkjpodcast.com. Please tune in to the next episode where we will interview another amazing guest on their passion, knowledge and journey to success.