Before launching Storehouse Treasures in September 2009, Jim and Anne Bradshaw both worked in completely different fields. Jim spent the previous 22 years as an ordained minister for the United Methodist Church and Anne taught at a private school. Jim had some Accounts Payable experience prior to the ministry, but neither had experience owning and running their own business. However, as Jim shared, the call to serve his community, outside the church, was something he couldn't ignore.
"Similar to how I joined the ministry, I also stepped out of it because of a calling," Jim said. "I took a short sabbatical, but knew that if I didn't work I didn't eat. The idea to start a bookkeeping business was partly driven by my experience in high school and my first job as an Accounts Payable clerk out of college. In 1979, while still in high school, I was the Volusia County Future Business Leaders Accounting Champion. At the time, I was very proficient in bookkeeping."
Shortly after they opened their business, Jim and Anne moved from Sanford to Palm Coast. They identified Flagler County as a great place to grow their business and make an impact on the community. Jim did some work with a non-denominational church and Anne worked part time as a substitute teacher while they built out the business and added more clients. Along the way, Jim learned Quickbooks and became Certified Pro Advisors. As Jim shared, it was his involvement in a networking group that really tipped the scales for the business.
"One of the first things I did when we moved to Palm Coast was to join a BNI chapter," he said. "I got very involved and worked hard to establish our reputation. The first person in our group to hire us to do her bookkeeping was Linda Niday with Pillar Mortgage. That really opened the door for us and led to a lot of referrals. Today, over 50% of our revenues come from BNI."
Despite finding success through BNI, Jim shared that the early years were not easy. In fact, it took nearly three years before he was able to pay himself a living wage. While living off inheritance money to help bridge the gap, Jim and Anne pushed forward with faith and learned how to get and keep more clients. They also utilized resources such as the Business Assistance Center and the local SCORE chapter. Jim shared that his meeting with SCORE was particularly impactful.
"They took their time with me and helped me to recognize that I could do more than just bookkeeping," he said. "We added payroll and other administrative services as a result. Eventually we were able to hire an employee, which allowed me to become more of a manager."
For Jim and Anne, their focus is strictly on bookkeeping and the other administrative services they provide. They're not interested in tax returns or doing the work of a CPA. As such, CPAs have become excellent referral sources and partners.
Looking ahead, Jim and Anne have a goal to be absentee owners within two years of this coming September. They want to move to the mountains of Georgia or North Carolina to focus more on their Christian teaching ministry. Jim plans to hire an Accounting Manager to oversee the employees and to acquire a physical space within a year.
Jim has some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "My recommendation is to utilize local resources such as the Business Assistance Center and to meet with SCORE mentors," he said. "Share your ideas with them. They'll help to deflate any wrong perceptions and they'll see red flags that you might miss. Also, it's important to think about the income your business is going to provide for you in the long-term. Lastly, be very careful how you communicate via emails. Don't take the bait. If a client is upset, respond and say, 'Let's try to get this figured out'. Be willing to understand things from their perspective. Along those lines, take the necessary time to form good relationships with clients and employees and think in terms of having an open-hand."