Bookkeeping is not as hard as you think. The moment you decide to make money from your art, you’re a business owner.
You might not think about it that way, but the very fact that you’re trying to make money from the thing that makes you happy means that you are already an entrepreneur.
The good news is, there are a lot of resources available for people like us—people who want to turn their passion into profit without sacrificing their creativity.
In this episode, Mica interviews Aaron, from The Accountable Artist. In this interview, Aaron shares why bookkeeping is not as hard as you think and why he’s passionate about helping artists and other creatives take control of their bank accounts and learn the basics of accounting.
Aaron is a musician who also happens to be great at accounting. In addition to pursuing a career as a vocalist and songwriter, Aaron has spent 20 years managing the finances for companies of all sizes. His many years of experience in both the creative and corporate worlds have presented Aaron with every conceivable business challenge – whether it be single-handedly planning travel for a 4-person rock band plus string quartet across the United States for a music festival or managing the finances for a multi-million-dollar corporation as it grew from 20 to 20,000 employees. As Aaron’s creative colleagues got word that he had not only mastered accounting but could explain it in a way that made sense to creative people, they began asking him if he could help them understand their finances. Aaron created The Accountable Artist in 2019 to respond to the demand. Aaron’s goal with The Accountable Artist is to build a world in which creatives aren’t daunted by accounting.
Make sure you listen to Episode 002: The Power of Saying No
[00:00:00] Mica: Welcome to the third episode of The Savory Shot. I'm your host with the most Mica McCook on today's episode, we're going to talk about a topic that many of us put off: bookkeeping. Um, I chose this topic because I believe bookkeeping is the most important thing, if not the first thing, a food photographer should learn.
And I don't know about y'all, but I have a love, hate relationship with money. I love what it does for me, but I hate talking about it. I hate thinking about it. It feels like a dirty word. It's just uncomfortable to talk about. I call it the "Big Ass Elephant." But the truth is, y'all, that money is actually one of the most exciting tools in our toolbox.
If you learn how to manage it responsibly, it will help you do things like [00:01:00] pay your rent on time, eat out at more than one restaurant per month. Buy blankets for your cat, instead of just keeping her wrapped up in a towel all winter. The good life, y'all. The good life. I know that many of you listening are into food photography.
Maybe it's your livelihood. Maybe it's a hobby that's just starting to turn into something more than that. Whatever it is, it's important you figure out exactly how to set the foundation, because if you don't, you'll lose your money. Y'all when I first started my first photography business, my books were a mess and I paid dearly for it.
Many creatives come from a place of loving what they do so much. And, and they just want to be able to create and share their art with the world.
But as soon as they start selling their services, all of a sudden there's this whole other side to consider: taxes, bookkeeping and [00:02:00] finances. It's enough to drive you mad. It's overwhelming. Am I right, y'all? I'm so excited about today's interview, y'all. Because a) it's my first guest.
Heyooo and b) this first guest has been working with money for 20 years. Vain on y'all's y'all that's a lot of years he's worked with million dollar corporations and single person businesses alike. He knows his stuff inside and out. He also happens to be my husband. Aaron is an accountant who specializes in helping creatives run their businesses by teaching them how to manage their books.
Y'all, I'ma repeat that for the people in the back. He's an accountant and he specializes and helping creatives. Like you like me run their businesses by teaching them how to manage their books. He's seen firsthand how consistent daily actions can transform a [00:03:00] business, but he's also seen how bad habits can ruin a business.
And he wants to help keep that from happening to all of us creatives. But. Before we get into that, let's start the show.
[00:03:47] Mica: Welcome. Aaron, my husband
[00:03:50] Aaron: It's so good to be here.
[00:03:52] Mica: My Guinea pig.
[00:03:54] Aaron: Eh, you know, someone's gotta be it.
[00:03:57] Mica: Thank you for being it. Are you familiar with slam poetry [00:04:00] and how it works?
[00:04:00] Aaron: Well, hopefully I don't get slammed
[00:04:04] Mica: My husband, the king of corny jokes. So slam poetry. It's a competition. You have three teams that or five teams, I believe. That go up. Each person performs a poem and you get a score from zero to ten. They dropped the highest score.
They dropped the lowest score and in the scores in the middle are what you walk away with. Now, the later you perform, the theory is that people get more drunk and. Get a better score. No one wants to be the sacrificial lamb. So the host goes up and does a poem to get everybody warmed up so that the first team that goes up don't have to take one for the rest of the competition.
I'd like to think that you are that host being the sacrificial lamb for the rest of my guests, but you have some really valuable knowledge to drop to listeners. So I [00:05:00] think this is going to be great for whoever listens to this podcast.
[00:05:03] Aaron: Oh, thank you. Yeah. I only brought water to this one, so I'm afraid I won't be getting drunker afterwards.
[00:05:11] Mica: Well, let's, um, let's get into this. I invited you to be a guest because you are knowledgeable in accounting, which I feel like it's the first thing that every new photographer should know about before jump right into taking clients' money, they need to have that foundation set .
When I started my business, I just started a bank account. And then that was that. Eventually you took over my books and you realize how much of a mess my books were. You helped me clean everything up. So I think that you would be really cool to have on the show to set the foundation for the show.
You run The Accountable Artist. What's the story behind your business
[00:05:56] Aaron: When I started The Accountable Artist in [00:06:00] 2019, I've been doing freelance bookkeeping and I'd been doing accounting work in my day job for a long time.
I'm also a musician, I'm a vocalist and keyboardist. So I have my creative side as well. For years, a lot of my creative friends particularly in the music community would realize that not only did I know about music, but I also understood how to set up bookkeeping, how to do accounting work.
Usually around this time of year, a little bit earlier, I would get a lot of questions related to accounting. They're just different questions here and there. I would answer people's questions. Then I started to realize, you know, I, I like helping people, especially in the creative fields.
I'm good at explaining this stuff in a way that creative people understand. Maybe I could find a way to fuse the two sides of me into a business. I started doing some freelance consulting work and helped a couple of my musician friends. They were my [00:07:00] Guinea pigs. I realized that I wanted to create a world where creative people are not daunted by accounting. It's like when you learn a creative art, you're learning a language and you're learning a way to communicate with people. What I'm teaching people, how to do is how to communicate with numbers.
It's a skill that all of us need to know as business owners, but it's one that unfortunately is not taught to people unless you want to become like a business major and maybe go down that path. But for people who are creative entrepreneurs, they still need to know this stuff.
I realized that I can help people really make this more accessible and more easy to digest. That's why I started The Accountable Artist.
[00:07:43] Mica: You mentioned that creatives struggle with understanding their finances and understanding the financial side. Why do you think creative struggle with accounting so much?
[00:07:55] Aaron: Great question. I think there's a couple of reasons. I'm self-taught with [00:08:00] accounting.
I didn't take any accounting courses in college or high school. I was fortunate that my dad built a career doing entrepreneurship. He did consulting work for many years and he was actually a CFO of a company. He taught me a little bit, but honestly, a lot of what I learned, I learned from
trial and error and going through a lot of books. I think that's really where a lot of creative people find themselves because there are courses you can take in accounting, but my experience has been is that they're super dry, very academic geared towards people who want to be, because people who want to become a CPA is, you know, certified public accountants.
Unless you're interested in doing people's taxes for a living or maybe being CFO or, or a controller or something like that. Those kinds of courses may not hold your attention. May not be something that particularly interests you. So I think [00:09:00] part of why a lot of creative people don't learn accounting is because it's just not accessible. It's not presented in a way that makes sense.
I get it too I always tell this story to people, but I started working for my dad.
[00:09:16] Mica: Oh my gosh, I know this story. Sorry to cut you off Aaron. I know this story and I crack up every single time I hear it. Go ahead. Go ahead.
[00:09:25] Aaron: Yeah. When I graduated from college, I came back to Austin.
I went to Tufts university in Boston. I came back to Austin trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my career. I had majored in music and spanish. I knew I wanted to do music, but I also needed to earn a living at the time. My dad had just sold his consulting business and was reinvesting in residential real estate.
He called me in and he's like, "Ah, I might have a few things you can do while you're looking for a job." Had me come into his office, he gave me a stack of papers and he said, "All right, I've [00:10:00] got a bunch of expense reports here. I need you to cut the reimbursement checks."
He gave that to me and I said, "Well, okay, I've used a spreadsheet to keep a budget but I don't know anything about what you're asking me to do." He's like, "You'll figure it out. Trust me. It's not that hard. Here's your laptop. It's got QuickBooks on it. So go ahead and get started with that."
I started using QuickBooks and there was probably, you know, 30 or 40 receipts there. I started writing a check to each of the vendors on the receipts. I came back to my dad the next day with a huge stack of checks for him to sign. He's like, "What is this?" I said, "Well, you asked me to cut reimbursements."
He said, "No, these are things I paid for. You're reimbursing me." I said, "Oh wow. Okay. So I've got a lot to learn about accounting." He's like, "All right, I'm going to help you out here. Here is a QuickBooks For Dummies book and here's Bookkeeping For Dummies. Now go ahead and read up
and if you still have questions, then come back [00:11:00] to me." That was my trial by fire and to all the creative people out here, I'm sure you've probably had your, your moment where you maybe wrote too many checks or, or did something else that in retrospect doesn't make a lot of sense.
I've been there. I've done that. I know what it's like. I want to help save people a lot of hours that I went through when I was younger.
[00:11:22] Mica: I love that story. I think it's so funny. The listeners don't know your dad, but most of them don't, I I'm sure that we might have a few listeners that are family and friends who have met your dad and will get a real kick out of that story.
I know that I do. I love your dad to pieces. It's such a funny, funny, funny story. Let's talk about your background as a musician. How do you think your background has helped you in your role as an accountant?
[00:11:51] Aaron: I always tell people that accounting is a language. It's learning how to communicate with numbers.
You're telling the story of your [00:12:00] business with your numbers. For me, it was very similar in a lot of ways to learning music. When I went to school, I had to study music theory. So I had to learn what are all the notes? What are they names? Where are they on the staff? How do you read music?
All these things I had to go through. It was all very systematized. There was a logic to it that I could follow. I always hear people say, music is the most mathematical of arts. And I do tend to agree, but I think really any form of art has theory to it. There, there is some piece of craft that you have to learn to understand.
I know for you with photography, there's color theory, there's light, there's learning how lenses work and all that. It's analogous in accounting that, for example, one of the things I teach in my, in my one-on-one coaching, as well as my course is the accounting equation, which is, equity equals [00:13:00] assets minus liabilities. That's like one of the foundational pieces of accounting. And I go through and break it down and talk about this is what equity means.
This is what assets are. This is what liabilities are. This is what it means in theory. Now I'm going to show you how it all fits together and practice. When I work with students, one-on-one we usually go through their actual books. I show them in their own accounting, how all these pieces fit together.
I think for a lot of people who are creatives, if you've been in business for any length of time, you've probably heard a lot of these terms tossed around. Or if you've ever had to go to a CPA or filed your own taxes, you probably hear this stuff, but it's like, how do you connect all these pieces together and presented in a coherent whole?
That's where I feel like learning accounting is very similar to learning music or any other art. Where you do learn all these pieces and you learn how to put it together and create something [00:14:00] out of that.
[00:14:00] Mica: Yes. Just mentioning those accounting terms. Oh. When you first took over my books, I know that those terms scared the living crap out of me. I want to ask a question, but I want to ask a tail end question. What do you think is the most important thing accounting wise that
[00:14:19] Mica Overdub: creatives should start doing from day one?
[00:14:22] Mica: Before they've opened a bank account. Before any of those things.
[00:14:26] Aaron: Getting yourself in the right mindset. I always ask a question to my students in the beginning is what does it mean to be in business?
[00:14:35] Mica: I love that. What does it mean to be in business? Love it.
[00:14:41] Aaron: Yeah. It's, it's like one of those things that's like, oh, this should seem really obvious, but it, it's not always. The key to understand is being in business means that you have a profit motive. You don't necessarily have to be making money to be in business. The moment you decide, you know what, I want to [00:15:00] make money doing photography.
I want to make money making music or acting or whatever, then you're in business. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to, who didn't realize that, that they were not tracking business expenses because they didn't have any income coming in. They're like, "Well, I'm still trying to get business, so I'm not in business yet."
I'm like, "Well, actually you are." That's really the most important thing I think is everything else comes out of that.
[00:15:28] Mica: The moment you decide, I want to be A, therefore I need to start conducting everything I do related to A, as a business.
I remember when you took over my books that I operated under one singular bank account and I could see your brain explode.
You'd ask me about a charge and I'd be like, "I don't know. It was seven months ago. How am I supposed to know?" You said, "This is why you need a bank account. You should have all of this separated because you can't tell the [00:16:00] difference if this is a personal charge or a business charge."
I wasn't in the right frame of mind when I started, I was just excited at the idea that anybody would pay me to take pictures. I didn't think of it as a business. What has been your experience working with artists and helping them manage their business finances?
[00:16:20] Aaron: The biggest part of it is getting people to feel empowered to do this. There are a lot of barriers for creative people with learning accounting, that this can feel very inaccessible.
You have this thing in front of you and it seems too daunting. So you avoid it at all costs.
[00:16:39] Mica: Until it's tax time. Then you're freaking out. You're like putting out some weird Facebook posts about, "I need someone who knows how to do taxes!"
[00:16:46] Aaron: I want people to feel empowered to, to be able to do this stuff because you could hire a CPA to do all your bookkeeping, but I found that most people, either one, don't have the budget [00:17:00] to afford that.
Or number two, they're just not at a place yet where they're actually that busy, that they really need to hire somebody to do that. Because accounting is so foundational to any business that it is a skill that all of us need to know, and that any business owner really needs to understand how am I doing?
What's the health of my business. The biggest challenge from the get-go is to clear up sometimes either clearing up misconceptions or just clearing up this limiting belief that I can't do this. I need to go to a professional to do this. And the truth is that most people can learn how to do their own accounting and should learn how to do their own accounting.
I think moving through that, that initial difficulty, I've found most people learn this stuff very fast.
[00:17:48] Mica: You raise a good point about that. It's daunting at first, but once you learn the language of whatever it is, you're trying to learn, in this case, bookkeeping and [00:18:00] accounting, it doesn't become so daunting. On your Instagram, you call yourself artist friendly. Will you tell the listeners a little bit about that and why you chose to specialize with artists?
[00:18:11] Aaron: Being an artist myself, I have a unique position in the accounting world and the creative world to know both sides. One of the things I know working with a lot of CPAs over the years in the corporate world and, and with creative people is that the kind of training a lot of CPAs get is really primarily focused on tax returns.
They're mostly concerned with just helping make sure that you get everything correct on your tax return, but they're not necessarily going to be concerned with, do you understand what I'm telling you here? Or do you, are you going to be able to do this on your own going forward? They're going to catch that fish for you, but they're not gonna show you how to fish.
What I think of what is artist friendly? I think of empowering people to do this [00:19:00] themselves. It starts with the empathy, part of understanding where artists are and what they're going through and the unique challenges that come with being in a profession where you probably learned all there is to know about your craft in school or from private lessons or experience, but you never got the instruction on how to run a business, especially the financial side of things.
But most people who are creative are very busy and they don't have the time to spend researching all these problems.
Even if they do, they may not get the full story. That's where I feel like making things more presentable and manageable for creative people. It's not going to take an entire semester to learn this stuff. I believe it can be done in one to two months with, with consistent practice as well.
[00:19:51] Mica: You mentioned earlier that creatives are taught, their craft and how to be, whatever it is that they're trying to be, [00:20:00] or they learn it, their experience, but they don't learn the business side of things. That is such an important thing to highlight because I look at it as a balance scale.
A lot of creatives go out into the world and it's unbalanced. They've got the creative side already figured out, but they don't know how to make it a business, how to earn money, doing whatever it is. The first time I went to school, I was a theater arts major.
By the time I left school, I could do pretty much anything in the theater. I could act, I could write, I could build, I could sew. I could do all of it. But what I couldn't figure out was how to earn a living. Creatives are set up to sink or swim.
In addition to your course, what are some resources that creatives can seek out to learn how to run their business or to learn the business side?
So it's not so intimidating and daunting.
[00:20:55] Aaron: There's a number of challenges. We all face really for any [00:21:00] business, but especially creative people that oftentimes there's a, a huge disconnect with creative people, between their level of skill and proficiency and how well-known they are.
A lot of that comes down to marketing, right? Understanding how to market yourself and how to find the right clients, as a creative entrepreneur, I think is super important.
Understanding that goes hand in hand with accounting. Accounting is going to be more. The, the foundational, "Here's how I report everything and keep track of everything.
[00:21:35] Mica: A daily thing, right?
[00:21:36] Aaron: Yeah. Yeah. Here's the health of my business. Here's how I'm doing.
[00:21:40] Mica: You mentioned health of your business. What do you, can you explain that a little bit further? What you mean by that?
[00:21:45] Aaron: Yeah. When I think of health of business, I use a lot of different reports to figure that out the most common ones I always teach people in my course are the income statement, which is also known as a profit and loss, speaks for [00:22:00] itself, but Hey, how much money did I make?
What were my expenses? Then we have a balance sheet which talks about your, how much equity is in your business versus your assets and liabilities. I also look at a statement of cashflow to see how fast is your money coming in? Where's it going? Because I can say this from being in the corporate world, that you could have amazing sales, but if people are not paying you quickly enough for those sales, then you could still have problems.
There are a couple of things that every business owner needs to look at. And I always tell people all this stuff so that you can put together a budget and figure out how much am I earning and spending versus what was I hoping to earn and spend and compare the two.
I tell people to periodically look at this stuff so you can make changes as you go and be faster on your feet.
[00:22:51] Mica: So that if you see that nice instrument and you go, "Ooh, I've got enough money in my bank account to buy this." [00:23:00] Instead of impulsively buying it, you should go back and look at your, your reports and say, "Okay, well I have the money now, but I do owe so-and-so later on.
If I buy this thing, I'm not going to have the money to pay that person." Let's talk about your course Accounting For Creatives. Who is this course for? And why should people sign up for it?
[00:23:21] Aaron: As the title suggests it's for creative people.
Any type of creative business. I've worked for years in corporate jobs, I've worked for retail stores. I've worked in consulting businesses. I've worked with one-on-one people. So I know all, a lot of different types of businesses. What I try to do in this course is
keep the theoretical knowledge as friendly as possible. So I'm not bombarding people with too much theory, but just enough to really understand the basics. A lot of accounting and bookkeeping textbooks are not necessarily written with an entrepreneur or business in mind.
[00:24:00] They're written more for the budding CPA, I'll say. It's a different kind of focus. My audience is going to be people who either already have a business or are thinking about formally starting a business. They're going to need to learn this stuff quickly. I've presented a number of units, but nothing too overwhelming. It's enough for somebody to
understand how to run basic bookkeeping day-to-day and understand how their business is doing. Anybody who is in a creative field will appreciate some of the examples that I give, because they are ones that have come up in my day to day as a musician and stuff that I've seen you, Mica, go through.
Obviously, when I do one-on-one coaching with people, I get to know the person I'm working with. So I can tailor more examples specifically to their business. But I do think that the course is written in such a way that people will really be able to follow along and be [00:25:00] able to apply it to their creative.
[00:25:01] Mica: I've seen the course, I've completed the first lesson and I can definitely say that it's tailored to creatives. This is a random question that just popped up in my mind. How often should we check our books?
What's a, a routine schedule? Like, is it check your bank account every day, then write down your expenses on Sundays. What would you recommend to maintain the health of one's business?
[00:25:32] Aaron: That's a great question. I do actually address this in the course because I've had enough people ask me this question before that they want to know.
I always tell people that it depends on a number of things.
The biggest thing I look at is what is your volume of transactions? Do you have a heavy volume of transactions every week, or is it pretty light? For people who have a lot heavier transaction load, it might be beneficial to look at [00:26:00] your bookkeeping a little bit more frequently, but I found it kind of averages out to once a week for most people.
I think that just pick a day at a time and make that your I'm going to look at the books. I'm going to get all my transactions in order, check my bank account, check my reports, make sure I'm on track because if you do it less frequently, I find that number one is just like practicing any art. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
So you obviously want to get the practice in, but you also want to make sure that you have a really complete picture of how you're doing and these kinds of things can move very fast. So if you're only looking at it like once a month, you're really not getting the complete picture.
[00:26:45] Mica: What's one thing or two things if you can think that artists don't do enough that they should be doing?
[00:26:53] Aaron: I can think of a really simple one: document everything.
[00:26:56] Mica: Everything as in like.
[00:26:58] Aaron: Document your transactions. [00:27:00] The one I tell people that's the easiest one to do. And it's like the low hanging fruit is save all your receipts.
[00:27:08] Mica: You're always haggling me for receipts. You're like, " I see a transaction on your bank account. Where's the receipt for that?" I'm like, "Well, if you see the transaction on the bank account, why do you need the receipt?"
[00:27:22] Aaron: It's not just to protect you in the case of an IRS audit, but it would be also for you for your own records to make sure, you know, "Hey, what did I pay for?"
Sometimes you see a receipt from Amazon. You're like, well, Amazon sells a lot of different things. What did I actually get from them? It's really up to the individual. If you're old school and you like paper and filing cabinets, then go ahead and print them.
I try to move people to a paperless system. I've found that most people nowadays are looking for ways to do that. QuickBooks Online, for example, you can actually attach receipts and files to transactions. If you [00:28:00] ever need to see the backup people use stuff like Google Drive or Dropbox to do that, but I always tell people whatever you do, make sure you document it.
The other thing I tell people is pick a workflow, pick a process and be consistent about it. The consistency is really super important because like I was saying a moment ago, practicing something, the key to getting better is not just doing the practice, but doing it consistently.
[00:28:27] Mica: Like a muscle you're strengthening it. Would you agree with me that creative should invest in their financial education, just as much as they would as their craft?
[00:28:37] Aaron: Yeah. I've had people wonder why is this important? How am I saving myself time? If I'm having to now spend an hour a week doing accounting? And how am I saving myself time if I'm spending all this time on your course? And I say, you got to think about the long run. I can't tell you how stressful it is for people when it's a week before [00:29:00] tax time.
You suddenly realize you have a year's worth of transactions that you never tracked, and you don't know how you're doing. Are you really saving yourself time by avoiding something? My answer is no, I think you're actually creating more work for yourself in the long run by not doing these things.
[00:29:17] Mica: I know you're a big advocate for QuickBooks. What are some others that you think would be a good beginner?
Like let's say they're not ready for QuickBooks quite yet. What would be a great alternative?
[00:29:31] Aaron: QuickBooks is the best on the market for small to mid-sized businesses. When I say small, I mean, you could be just one person with, with few transactions or, or would many transactions.
Yeah. It's very user-friendly. I like it. QuickBooks online is web-based.
[00:29:47] Mica: I love the app.
[00:29:48] Aaron: The app is good.
[00:29:49] Mica: It's got a built-in mileage tracker, which is. Chef's kiss, very handy for me. It does the auto tracking.
[00:29:59] Aaron: There's a couple other [00:30:00] ones that I know people use. I've worked with a number of artists who use Freshbooks or Xero. That's X ERO. I know some people who are even simpler than that and they keep track of everything in a spreadsheet. So there are a couple options out there.
The reason I use QuickBooks is because I call it the category killer, it can do everything and more. Uh, so a lot of the other software programs I've used can do a lot of the same things that QuickBooks does, but then there might be one or two things that I think are important that are missing from that.
QuickBooks can do a lot of workflow building that maybe a lot of other accounting programs don't have as well. For example, I travel all the time for, for music, gigs and recording, and I need to track my mileage.
[00:30:53] Mica: So, if you don't have an accounting software to keep track of your books, you should [00:31:00] look into QuickBooks. If a creative doesn't have a bank account, what kind of bank do you recommend? They get one from and what kind of, what documents would they need to open said bank account.
[00:31:15] Aaron: I say, go with whatever bank gives you the best deal, because it's different for everybody.
For people who are small entrepreneurs, it might be a matter of who is going to give me the best array of features and charge me the least. I can't tell you how frustrated I was when I was with a bank for many years. And they kept nickel and diming me with, if I overdrafted, or if I forgot to do something $35 charge here, $25 charge there.
I switched. I switched to, uh, yeah, I switched to University Federal Credit Union because credit unions are nonprofits. Their philosophy fits more in line with what I was looking for. Their goal is not to make a profit, it's to serve [00:32:00] the people that bank with them.
I've had a much better luck with them, not getting hit with so many fees and just having the customer service. That was a little bit more personable, but I'm not here to bad mouth, any bank in particular, this is just been my own experience. I think it really depends on the individual, what's available in your area.
What might be something that fits in with what your business is trying to do? As far as setting up a business bank account, really, it's simple. When I set up my bank account for The Accountable Artist, they just asked me for my ID. They asked me for something that showed my company's tax ID and then showed that I had formed a company. I brought my articles of incorporation from the Texas Secretary of State. I brought my employer identification number assignment from the IRS.
In about 30 minutes, I was set up. I had a bank account.
[00:32:55] Mica: I have two more questions and this is just more [00:33:00] curiosity on my end. I don't know if it'll bring value to anyone, but it might, who knows? I want to know what your relationship with money was like when you were growing up. Did your parents help you learn to manage it responsibly?
[00:33:11] Aaron: Yeah. I actually alluded to this earlier, but when I was in college, my dad made me keep a budget.
They give me some money every month to help me with living expenses while I was in college. I did do some part-time work to supplement that. It got me in the mentality of, I need to be tracking what I'm doing and I need to be responsible about it. Those are lessons I've taken with me to my business career, to my music career. And those are things that I try to help artists understand too, because let's face it. It's challenging building a career in a creative business, I think is one of the hardest,
[00:33:49] Mica: With very little resources to learn how to do it. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:33:54] Aaron: It's hard. And I know plenty of people who are, who didn't have that kind of [00:34:00] mentor growing up to teach them about money.
So that's an extra challenge for many people. And I don't judge, I think everybody is coming into this at a different level. When I work with people one-on-one to recognize, "Hey, it's okay. If you don't know this stuff. That's why we're learning." I meet every student at that level because we all come from different backgrounds.
Some people I've met already know quite a bit about accounting, but they're having trouble putting the pieces together. Then I've met other people who have never learned any of this stuff before. There might be additional things that we have to go through and that's fine.
Having my dad and my parents as role models really made a difference for me. And I don't think I would be doing what I'm doing right now without them.
[00:34:47] Mica: Would you say that because of your parents teaching you how to manage your money, that this helps you balance your creative side with your more analytical side?
[00:34:59] Aaron: I [00:35:00] think so. I think to be successful in a career and really in any job, but especially in a creative career, you have to be able to balance the creative and the analytical sides. You could be absolutely amazing at your craft, but you could wind up like one of my idols, Wolfgang, Amadeus, Mozart. If you ever, you ever seen the film Amadeus that is partially true.
He did die poor and he had a really hard time managing his finances.
[00:35:30] Mica: What did he die of? Was it syphilis?
[00:35:32] Aaron: Maybe somebody else. He died very young and I was reading about this recently that he actually wrote several letters to friends begging for money.
[00:35:41] Mica: Oh boy, I did not know that.
[00:35:43] Aaron: Yeah, it was very sad. Obviously the starving artist thing is a real thing, but it's also a concept that I think is too prevalent in our culture and needs to-
[00:35:55] Mica: And it's glamorized. You shouldn't have to sacrifice a roof over your head.
[00:36:00] Like maybe you don't want to be a millionaire, but it would be nice to not have to choose between buying groceries and putting gas in your car.
[00:36:08] Aaron: Exactly. You brought up something earlier, which resonated with me. You said balance. It's really important to find balance in everything in life.
But as a creative person and a business owner, you have to be able to find that balance because if you're in this for the long run, the only way you're going to be in this for the long run is to understand both sides of things. I've met people who are extremely creative, but they get burnt out very fast because they didn't have that foundation to help them.
I've also met people who are extremely cautious and they're really solid when it comes to understanding this, but then they're afraid to take the risks that is needed in starting a business.
[00:36:52] Mica: I love courses like yours because I don't like the mentality of sink or swim. So many [00:37:00] creatives who have left the field to get a more, responsable job. I feel like they would have been so much more successful had they known how to balance this all out. Courses like yours teach creatives how to make a living doing what they love. Instead of spending years learning the hard way, here's a guided course to teach you the right way without you having to lose your mind and your money and your house in your home to do it.
A course like this forced me to take a hard look at my business and how I run it and the decisions that I make to keep it going. Also your course has taught me to think in terms of longevity, I'm not going to be young forever.
I'm going to be at a point physically where I can't do photography. So what's the plan for that? What happens after I retire? Am I going to have enough money in my savings to [00:38:00] support myself?
So where can people buy this course and what do they get in this course?
[00:38:09] Aaron: Excellent question. So again, the name of my business is The Accountable Artist. So if you go to the accountable artist dot com, you'll find the link to my online course. I have six modules there and it's all self-paced self-taught. I try to keep this friendly. I keep it light on the theory but just enough to really understand the fundamentals and know how to run a business.
I do freelance consulting work. If that interests you, there is a link on there to set up a phone consultation with me where you can walk me through where you're at and what you're looking for. I also do hourly consulting work for students who completed my course or my one-on-one.
[00:38:53] Mica: Awesome. Do you have an Instagram or Facebook?
[00:38:56] Aaron: I do. Yeah. It's facebook.com/the accountable [00:39:00] artist and instagram.com/the accountable.
I haven't been quite as active on the social media as I was in lockdown during the pandemic. But I am still very much active with helping people out.
[00:39:12] Mica: So if you have any questions after this episode, we have shownotes. I have shownotes! You will be able to find his website, his social media, but if you ask him a question on social media, he is very responsive.
[00:39:26] Aaron: Yes. Yeah. I get a lot of questions from people about different topics. Sometimes that opens up a larger discussion with people about, " I have this thing and then I have this thing." I do give people the disclaimer that I am not a CPA. So if you have specific like tax questions, if you don't have a CPA, I can always refer you to a couple that I know in the Austin area, but for tax advice, you do want to go to a CPA. They're going to be able to keep you advised on the latest tax laws and make sure that you're doing [00:40:00] everything the way the IRS wants you to.
My teaching philosophy is more focused on kind of general business, general understanding of how accounting works. Think of it as the difference between maybe going to the doctor for a specific issue versus going to a wellness coach.
[00:40:16] Mica: Well, Aaron. My love. Thank you so, so very much for being a guest on The Savory Shot Podcast. Are there any last words or anything that you wanted to talk about that I didn't ask in today's interview?
[00:40:36] Aaron: No. You asked a lot of great questions and I really appreciate being your guinea pig on this show.
I had, like, I had a good time and, uh, wish you the best of luck with your future episodes.
[00:40:47] Mica: Thank you, so much. Okay, well that concludes the interview. Thank you so very much. And, uh, signing off. Thank you for listening.