Editor’s note: For our Women in Business issue, we invited women in our local business communities to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina.
Melissa Blaha is the owner of The Tax Raven.
Xpress: What is the best advice you were given about launching your business?
In 2021, I established The Tax Raven, a home-based bookkeeping, tax preparation and small-business consulting firm. The process was one filled with uncertainty, constant worry and lack of sleep. It felt very much like giving birth. The best advice I received at the start was to thoroughly vet each merchant processor, software company and vendor as if they are applying to be a nanny to your newborn.
What is the best advice you’d share with someone just starting out today?
You have to prepare for growth before it happens. My business grew quicker than I thought because I underestimated my value. That is why it is important to know your worth and plan staffing for when your business grows beyond your workload capabilities. It is hard to recruit, hire and train once you are buried under a mound of work.
As a woman, what unique challenges have you experienced within your industry, and how have you overcome these obstacles?
Women should consider how self-employment income affects the whole family’s finances from student loans to health insurance. Women starting out as sole proprietors can find themselves owing money or getting a smaller tax refund than expected, which can jeopardize their business cash flow. It is important to get tax and accounting support as soon as you begin to plan your business to minimize tax liability and increase revenue. Don’t be afraid to reach out to utilize all available resources within our community, including small-business consulting. As a new business owner myself, it has been a pleasure working with many entrepreneurs who face these planning decisions as their businesses grow. The support I offer to my clients is so necessary that I hope to establish a “tax school” to educate our community and support the development of small businesses in the years to come.
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