In this Q&A series I will aim to talk to people from different backgrounds about the role accounting has played in their career development or business practice.
Jonathan Longnecker is the cofounder of FortySeven Media, a web design, brand and digital content development company. FortySeven Media prioritises good design and highly functionality to ensure quality outcomes for their clients.
I love seeing creatives making a living out of their passion so I reached out to Jonathan to find out about his foray into business and how accounting might have played a role in the development of FortySeven Media.
AP: In FortySeven Media’s start-up days, I’m guessing you would have been focused on securing clients and jobs and creative development. What was your approach to business development and administration? Did you seek outside advice or assistance?
JL: Initially yeah we were just trying to get clients in the door. But sometime around 2008 we decided to really be ourselves and launched a new brand with loads of personality and fun. Before we were hiding behind something more corporate, but the new site let us attract clients that we really wanted to work with.
“..we realized quickly that things like invoicing, sales tax and income tax were best left to professionals.”
While I check in and reconcile all our expenses and deposits, we realized quickly that things like invoicing, sales tax and income tax were best left to professionals. We hired a fantastic accountant back around the same time our company started to take off, and he’s always done our business and personal taxes. We also have someone part time that files and pays sales tax, double checks everything, and make sure we’re doing things properly. And for a guy who doesn’t love math or complicated accounting, they’re worth every penny I pay them.
AP: Alongside FortySeven Media it seems you’re invested in a few side projects, including an awesome travel blog, BareNeckers, and Freakishly Profitable, a workshop series designed to help set small business’ up for success. Obviously you’re not spending countless hours bogged down in accounting administration. What kind of technology or services do you employ to assist in business administration?
JL: We’ve used a couple of different solutions over the years. We started out with the inevitable Quickbooks and loathed every second of it. Then we moved to LessAccounting, which served us for quite a few years. It was a perfect mix of simplicity and utility. When my partner left the business last year, everything on the backend of the company had to be re-tooled so I took the opportunity to switch to Xero. I did this mainly because of it’s tight integration with Harvest, which is what we use to track our time, invoice and accept digital payments. Before with LessAccounting we were creating all our invoices twice and wasting lots of time. When I make an invoice in Harvest now, Xero sucks it in and even reports when things have been paid. It’s pretty sweet.
AP: Within FortySeven Media you offer a range of services, including digital content development and branding. Why did you decide to add a range of services to your portfolio? And, does accounting/an accountant assist in making a decision to diversify?
JL: What I do at FortySeven Media has really just grown organically over the last 10 years. I started out in print design, taught myself HTML and CSS and then a Content Management System so I could build large content driven sites myself. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about creating content, developing businesses and processes and solving problems. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from my accountant over the years, but it was more for specific ways to setup things on the backend rather than business advice.
AP: Freakishly Profitable’s workshop program outline looks really engaging and seems to cover a wide range of business development activities for start-ups. Here is your chance to give me the elevator pitch – what are the benefits in signing up to the workshop program? Do the workshops draw on your experience and learnings from your involvement with FortySeven Media?
JL: Thanks! Freakishly Profitable is actually the culmination of not just my last 10 years running my own business, but two other great guys as well. Nate Croft at PlotWhole and Austin Church at Wunderbar. Several years ago we launched a business training site called Kicktastic. We made videos, wrote articles and interviewed people like crazy. And we learned an incredible amount in a short time. We were able to apply what we learned to our own businesses (like FortySeven Media) and saw great results. Freakishly Profitable is a streamlined version of what we learned – specifically focusing on how to grow a profitable business. Download the PDF and take notes because it’s fast and furious, but chock full of practical, useful tips to be profitable.
Follow FortySeven Media on Twitter.