Philip’s websites: https://www.bythenumbersbanda.com
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Okay, welcome back, everyone. Today’s guest is still up r&r. Philip has been doing bookkeeping and accounting for 37 years, he started right out of high school working for his mother’s bookkeeping business, which he still runs very successfully today. After moving to Colorado in 1997, he decided it was time to start his own business with a young daughter at home, he knew that being his own boss was the best way to have a successful business and still be able to be present at home. And with that, by the numbers, bookkeeping was born. Being a business owner has also given him the freedom to pursue two longtime passions of his networking and volunteering. It usually takes about five minutes of getting to know him to know that he just loves to talk about about just about anything. Philip, welcome to the show. It is great to have you on today. And I can’t wait to hear your story.
Phillip Aronhoff 1:08
Thanks, Katie. I appreciate it. Glad to be here.
Katie Brinkley 1:11
So Phillip, let’s start at the beginning. Tell us where you grew up and what your life was like growing up.
Phillip Aronhoff 1:15
So I grew up in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley in Sherman Oaks. I went to elementary middle school in high school, probably within about 10 miles of where I live. So they were all pretty close, could walk to all of them and walked quite a bit to middle school, high school and elementary school. I have two older sisters. My parents still live in the same house that I grew up in. My mom still runs her business today. One of my sisters works for her. So that’s kind of where I grew up. And, and where I lived. I was raised in California and didn’t move here until you know 1997
Katie Brinkley 1:57
What brought you out here to Colorado.
Phillip Aronhoff 1:59
I was married at the time and my wife’s family was here, her mom, her aunt and cousins. And honestly, I loved Colorado. My mother in law lived up in Fort Collins, I really loved Fort Collins, the small town feel. And my original plan was to move Fort Collins. That’s kind of not how it worked. But I was ready for a change. I’d lived in California, obviously my whole life. And I didn’t necessarily want to raise my my daughter in California, I was looking for something different. I was just looking for a way to be be spent be with her and spend more time with her. So.
Katie Brinkley 2:41
So can you take us through your career journey where you started out? I know you started at your mom’s? But how did that eventually turn into your own company? Any other professional stops that you took along the way? Sure.
Phillip Aronhoff 2:54
Well, I worked for my mom for over 10 years. In California. It is where I got all of my training and where I learned how to do the accounting. And I still use some of the techniques that she taught me today. I did along the way work in the private sector. So I’m in California, right after right before I got married, I was working in the for one of my one of my mom’s clients full time. But the drive was a long drive. I think in in a few year period, I put almost 90,000 miles on a car, driving back and forth this client, it was a lot of driving. And so I then took another position in the corporate world. But he was always concerned about money. And I was always worried about getting paid. And so I figured if I was going to worry about getting paid and might as well start my own business. And so probably about six months to a year after I got married, I started a business in California and ran that business there until we moved to Colorado. So I always liked being an entrepreneur. I like when I worked for my mom, it was almost like running my own business. We had a lot of freedom. And you know, she encouraged us to bring clients and to do things like that. So I did that. I started my own business there ran it, I think, you know, I was pretty successful there. I mean, I, I started it, I went what I did is I went and I looked for part time, bookkeeping jobs. And when I would find one, I would go in for an interview, we would talk and I would say, hey, look, instead of hiring me as an employee, why don’t you just hire me as a contractor? I’ve started my own business. I’m doing this and that’s how I grew my business in California in the beginning. I did some work for a CPA firm in California. As a contractor, I worked for a law firm as a contractor. When I worked for that law firm, I got introduced to QuickBooks That was my first experience with working in QuickBooks. So that was in the mid 90s. And so I taught myself how to use QuickBooks. I never took a class, I never did any of that. And that’s kind of how I started my career and how I started being started my business in California, then when when you get to 1997, I moved here.
Katie Brinkley 5:23
And it just made sense to I mean, you’re already contracted, you can do everything remotely anyways.
Phillip Aronhoff 5:29
Yeah, well, that was kind of hard, then at that time, to be honest with you, the technology that we have today was not in place in 1997. It was just just kind of starting. So when I first moved here, I again, I went back and I worked in, in corporate America. But I’ve always worked in accounting my whole career, I’ve never done anything else. I’ve always been accounting. And it is funny every time I think, well, maybe I’m done running my own business. I go work in corporate America for a very short while and realize now I really like for myself. And so that’s Go ahead. And that’s kind of why I am where I’m at now. And that’s where by the numbers came from. I really do love working for myself and having that freedom and flexibility.
Katie Brinkley 6:24
And I know that a lot of entrepreneurs go through that difficult time of being like, well, maybe it would just be easier if I went back and worked at a corporate corporate job. What advice would you give someone that that’s kind of struggling right now with? You know, man, I just can’t do this anymore?
Phillip Aronhoff 6:43
Um, well, my best advice would be is to really sit down and maybe maybe even take out a piece of paper and write down really why you feel like you can’t do it anymore. Um, you know, I know, I know, for me, there was one instance in my life where I was going through a divorce, and it just was really, really hard to go through that and to run a business. And so but but I would say, yeah, really sit down and write it out. You know, take the pros, take the cons, really sit down and think about it. You obviously started this business for a reason. There was a passion there, there was something there. And so I think sometimes we forget about that. And I think sometimes we lose that. And I think we need to sit down sometimes. And just think about that. And go back to that. Why did we even start this in the first place. And that that would be my best advice. And I know, the times right now are extremely tough, and extremely difficult. I’m even myself, I tried to look and find, you know, maybe something else that I can do along with what I’m doing to try and bring in some money, and maybe do that instead of just kind of walking away, maybe find some other things or whatever. But still still still figure out why you started that business in the first place. I think if you do that, I think you’ll get back there. And I think you realize that you need to keep doing what you’re doing.
Katie Brinkley 8:08
If you could go back and do anything differently on your journey to where you are now. What, if anything, would you change?
Phillip Aronhoff 8:15
Ah, what would I change? Well, I maybe would take what I’ve taken some chance, more chances than I did before. I had a young woman that was working for me a long time ago. And this was right when I started to go through, or things were not good in my marriage, whatever. And she had come to me and said, you know, she was working for me part time and she was on she was awesome. She was amazing. And she said, You know, I really need full time work. You know, I think I was giving her about 20 hours a week. And she said, You know, I really need to get to 40 hours a week. And I tell the story a lot. Because I panicked. I wasn’t confident enough that I can go out and get her 40 hours a week. And I wasn’t really I needed. What I should have done was say, Hey, okay, great. Let me think about how we can get that done. I just didn’t think I could get it done. And I didn’t ask her well, how soon do you need it? And so I just said to her, I don’t know if I can do that. And so she went and got another job and things with my business didn’t go as well after she left. So if I could fix one thing, I never would have let her leave. I would have said okay, well what do we need to do to get you to 40 hours? I can’t do it tomorrow, but we can do it gradually over time. And I think that’s something I would definitely definitely have changed.
Katie Brinkley 9:44
Yeah, I’ve I’ve learned that if you one of the best part for growing your business is trying to find and hire people that do your work better than you do. Yes. What what is your business model look like for finding and engaging in Selling to your ideal clients and customers these days, what type of marketing Have you found that works best for your business?
Phillip Aronhoff 10:06
So, so I found this gonna sound really weird. But what I found that works really well for me is helping others first. Um, I was fortunate enough, probably five, six, maybe even going further than that, to get introduced to a local business talk radio show here in Colorado, called the experience pros radio show. They no longer on the radio, but what I learned from them was it is better to help others first, and then reap the benefits of that. And that’s a lot of what I do. I grew this business, originally by doing a lot of that meeting, going out and networking, meeting people, and introducing them to other people that were a great fit for what they needed or doing. And in doing that, I found that I was getting referrals very easily, because everybody remembers the guy that introduced them to this person that has enabled their business to grow. And so I try to do a lot of that now, obviously, right now, I can’t do much of that. But I really try and do that I feel like making introductions is is the best way that I can grow my business. And then to be honest, really doing great work. Giving the client the best service they’ve ever had, for me, is the best way to grow my business, there are a lot of people out there that do what I do for a living. And there are a lot of people out there that aren’t very good at it. And, you know, we’ve all heard horror stories. So I really try and give my, my clients the best customer service they’ve ever had. Um, I mean, I do some stuff on Facebook, I do, obviously, I’m on LinkedIn, I’m going to be doing something new. Once at launch, it’s it’s kind of a electronic business card. But it has a whole back office that you can do. SMS drip campaigns, you can send out for people to opt in, has a lot of features. Just besides being a business card, you can put videos on your card, that when you when when you tap this card to their phone, it gives them all your contact information, a picture of you, you can put a video in there. So I’m going to try that too, as well. And it’s a way also to generate some revenue and other other ways with it. So that’s kind of the stuff that I do. And then I volunteer, I do volunteer work, I try to get out in the community and volunteer. And that’s a great way to meet people as well.
Katie Brinkley 13:03
Now tell us what type of networking events that you go to or how you’re able to network with other business owners.
Phillip Aronhoff 13:10
So I have a couple that I go to, um, one is called Meet and Greet Chatfield, it only meets a couple times a month. So it’s not taking up a ton of my time. But there’s a lot of good quality people in there. So I’m looking to network with great people, right people that are think the same way I think. And so I do that, and then I have another group that meets on Tuesday afternoons, that’s second and fourth Tuesday of every month. So I do that. I’m also a member of the chamber. What used to be the Highlands Ranch chamber, and now it’s called something else. I can’t remember what it’s called. I like that chamber because it’s kind of small, and a lot of great people in there. Um, you know, and then I, I mean, I look, you know, I try and when I meet new people, I’ve tried to find out what are they doing? How are they networking? And what are they doing for networking, and what’s working for them, I try and do that, as well, I try and try and find out what’s working for other people. Because I mean, I’ve done the BNI eyes, and I’ve done things like that. And those are great. But I’m also I’m also looking for a real specific type of client, really someone that values what I do and what I can bring to the table for them. And so we’ve, I have a partner that I work with, and we’ve developed a questionnaire that we’ll send out to people that we meet. And if they don’t want to fill out the questionnaire, then they’re probably not the right type of client. For me.
Katie Brinkley 14:43
That’s a great way of finding the not only the type of client that you want to work with, but the clients that the right fit for you and I think that a lot of times people will just especially when they’re just starting out we’ll take any client because it’s money, but there’s so important to find the client. That’s the right fit. And it’s going to be a good relationship for years to come.
Phillip Aronhoff 15:05
Yeah, yeah. And I was one of those people that you talked about, I would take almost anybody, right. And sometimes I would work and I would develop great relationships and great clients. And sometimes it was a nightmare. And so I think one of the great things about where I’m at now in my business, and in my career, is that I’ve been doing it so long that I, well, there was a time where I used to undervalue my service. And I think a lot of people go through that. So now I charge, I charge a good rate, I also have some packages, but I’m charging what I’m worth. And I think when you do that, people look at you differently. And they want to do business with you, because they see that you value, what you do. And they want to work with people like that. So
Katie Brinkley 15:58
and that is a difficult thing as an entrepreneur is pricing yourself correctly. Because you really don’t understand what your competition is really charging. Because a lot of the time, you’re not sharing it publicly online. And so when you do find a good price to price, what you’re worth it when you’re going to be able to have more important clients that are more interested, you know, we’re more on the right path of being a good relationship, as opposed to just, oh, well, it’s an extra $200. But you know, I don’t like the person, you know, whatever. It makes way more sense to price yourself correctly. How was that trying to navigate that path to pricing yourself correctly,
Phillip Aronhoff 16:44
it was difficult, because I’ll be honest, I priced myself higher than even what my mom charges in California, and she’s been doing it much longer than myself. So that’s a whole hurdle to get over, right? Here’s someone you learn from who taught you or whatever, and she’s totally under charging. But you know, that’s, that’s who she is. And, and so it was difficult, because, you know, I’m charging a rate now, that’s probably right in balance with what the market is charging. I’m a little maybe a little bit lower than a CPA, which is fine. But, you know, I’m charging an amount higher than I was charging before. And it’s just getting used to it. And it’s, and it’s understanding that people are going to tell you no, and they’re going to say it’s too expensive. And you just have to understand that that’s just not the right fit. It’s just not the right client for you. And, and you have to be okay with just walking away.
Katie Brinkley 17:42
One passion that so many business owners and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle, not the other way around. How has that played out in your story and approach to running your business? Well,
Phillip Aronhoff 17:54
it because I agree, right? I mean, there are things I like to do, and they’re not, they’re not cheap. I mean, I’m a big hockey fan. So I’m a season ticket holder with the avalanche here and and so I like to play golf, and enjoy doing those things. And if I want to be able to do those things that continue, I have to charge what I’m worth, right, I have to say, okay, these 37 years, I’ve learned a lot over these 37 years. And it’s worth something. And I think sometimes we talked about business owners thinking that they can do it anymore. And I think part of that is they’re not charging enough. And they’re, they’re feeling frustrated. Because they they know they’re worth more, and they’re just not charging it. And I think sometimes that’s why we walk away, because now we got to work so hard to make money. And it’s not that I don’t work hard, but I want to work smarter. You know, if I have, if I have 20 clients that are paying me a really good rate, then I don’t need to have 100 of them, you know, 30 or 40 of them is going to be able to do what I want to do. So it’s just a mindset and it took me it, I’m still have a problem with it. Sometimes when I meet with people, and I have to remember this is what I charge. And you know, if it’s more than they want to spend, then I mean I understand and I’ll try and help them find someone that they can afford, but they’re not the right
Katie Brinkley 19:25
fit for me. Now I know when you first moved out here to Colorado and started your own company. One of the main reasons for staying out of the corporate world was to spend more time with your family and work the hours that made most sense for you. Right How has that continued to play into your life? I know your daughters are grown now. But how has that played into your life still to continue with your own company and the remote work being the driving force?
Phillip Aronhoff 19:53
Well, both my daughters were very active. My oldest daughter was a competitive softball player and basketball player So when she was doing all of that, and obviously, it allowed me the ability to be there. I mean, I can probably count on one hand, the number of games I missed that she played throughout her career. I mean, until she got to college, it was kind of hard for me to get where she was and do that, but I didn’t miss a game for whole high school career, and stuff like that. And then my younger daughter was a dancer, and on the palms team at Columbine High School. And so I was able to be there and participate in that and be a part of her life that way. And for me, it’s just being a part of their life. I mean, I often say if I could make money, being a dad, I would do that all day long every day, you know, 24/7 I love being their dad, and I love watching them grow. And, you know, now they’re 18 and 26 years old. And, you know, my youngest is just about to graduate and head off to college. So, you know, I mean, it’s gratifying for me, that I was able to do as much as I was able to so and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change that for anything. What is
Katie Brinkley 21:12
the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? And how has that impacted your business or your life?
Phillip Aronhoff 21:18
Hmm, best advice I ever received? Um, wow, probably, I would have to say, it would, I would go back to the two people that did the experience post great rodyk radio show, Eric Raymer, and Angel tosee. Both still good friends of mine. And it was always just be yourself. You know, you don’t have to go to you don’t have to impress just be who you are. And if you if you if you are that person, people will see that people will see you being genuine, and you’ll be able to develop great relationships that way. And so like, when I would go network, I very rarely would talk about me and my business. You know, if they asked me what I did, I would tell them, but but I would try and spend as much time as I could learning about them. And, and just being genuine and being myself. And I think that is the best advice I could give anybody just be who you are. You’re obviously doing what you’re doing for a reason. And allow that passion to come out. And if you do that, you will attract people, you just will
Katie Brinkley 22:30
fill up this has been such a great conversation. Where can we find you out more information about you and your business online,
Phillip Aronhoff 22:38
you can reach me by phone 720-837-0860 You can also find my website which is www.by. The numbers B as in boy a n d a as an apple.com. And you know, you can book a 30 minute, you know a free introductory call with me on my website. They can find me on LinkedIn, they can find me on Facebook, so they can find my business on Facebook. And that’s where they can
Katie Brinkley 23:15
find me. Awesome. Well, thank you again for coming on the show today.
Phillip Aronhoff 23:18
Katie Brinkley 23:21
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.