Jessica Fox, Owner of Florida Virtual Bookkeeper, has spent the last 17 years of her life acquiring the skills and experience necessary to become a trusted bookkeeper, a creative website designer and, most of all, a successful small business owner.
"I started learning web design in 1999," she said. "I wasn't even looking into it as a career. It was more of a hobby. I taught myself HTML for use on my own website. After some time, I began helping friends set up their own business websites. At the time, I was studying International Relations and Political Science at Florida International University. I wasn't really happy and I started to question my future. I decided to pursue a different opportunity."
Fox took a temp job with a non-profit economic development organization that was in middle of financial audit. They lost their main accountant. The bookkeeper was completely overwhelmed. Fox stepped in and assisted with the audit. "They were so impressed with my performance that I was given a permanent position as a bookkeeper," she said. "I then got a certificate in Bookkeeping from Miami-Dade College in 2002. In 2003 I got promoted to Head of the Finance Department and then in 2005 I became CFO. I didn't like some of the things going on in the company, so in 2007 I left the company and began learning how to do WordPress based websites and starter websites for new businesses. I wanted to have backup plan."
In 2008, Fox left her position as CFO with the economic development organization and she moved with her future husband to Port Saint Lucie. "I was ready to leave the traffic and the stress of Miami behind," she said. "Port Saint Lucie felt safer and the people were friendlier." Over the next ten years she worked various jobs while still doing bookkeeping and website design on the side. It remained more of an unofficial side gig until February 2017 when she officially launched Florida Virtual Bookkeeper. Today, she offers "catch up" bookkeeping services and monthly bookkeeping services for new and existing businesses.
Marketing still remains one of Fox's biggest challenges. "You have to be careful with how you spend your money," she said. "You can't just buy Google ads on a consistent basis." She went through times of doubting her abilities but instead of letting those thoughts consumer her, she picked up some complex projects and got some additional training and certifications to build skills and confidence.
Fox is a very logical person and loves working with numbers. "My favorite part of what I get to do is "catch up" bookkeeping," she said. "I get clients that haven't done their bookkeeping in over two years and don't have a organized documents. You have to be like a forensic scientist to go back and look at everything. It's challenging work and it's never the same. Most of my clients have the dream and the drive but they don't know how to focus on their finances or are intimidated by it. I'm not a financial advisor, but through the services I provide, I can point them in the right direction."
Ten years down the road, Fox sees herself building more partnerships with service providers. "I want to give my clients other services that they need," she said. "As a result, my efficiency will increase so I can do more with less time. I want to eventually move from being seen as a "data entry" clerk into more of an advisory position and also help clients with budgeting." She's also writing an e-book to help entrepreneurs better understand the accounting aspect of their businesses. "It's written in plain English so they'll understand it."
Fox has some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "If you're starting a new business, don't wait to get your books in order," she said. "It can be tedious and boring and you might not want to pay someone else to do it, but don't wait. It will cost more time and money in the long run if you put it off." She also recommends the book Profit First by Michael Michalowicz. She said this book breaks down the mentality behind how to approach profitability and immediately impacted her profits when she implemented the system.