Noun 1.bookkeeper – someone who records the transactions of a business accountant,comptroller, controller – someone who maintains and audits business accounts
Meghan Blair-Valero “I don’t see problems, I see solutions.”
This definition of a bookkeeper paints a picture of someone who only speaks in numbers. But, the story behind Meghan Blair-Valero and the company she started, Fogged In Bookkeeping, is so much more than the basic definition above. The beginnings lay in survival, and for the greater good of one’s family. Now, Fogged In Bookkeeping is a successful, local business that helps other local businesses keep their finances in order and to thrive.
I was able to sit down with Meghan, talk about her beginnings, get to know her more, ask her advice, and why she decided to become a Nantucket Ally. I felt fortunate to do so. She is an impressive woman. She is smart, successful, driven, and beautiful person inside and out.
When I first met with Meghan Blair-Valero, I had just formed our LLC. Ink still fresh on the paper, we were now taking the next step towards launching Nantucket Allies: meeting with local businesses. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to meet with Meghan. I was very intimidated, to say the least.
For about a year, I had been researching local businesses and watching how each business interacted within the island community. From my research, I knew that Fogged In Bookkeeping, Meghan’s company, was on the top of my list of businesses that I needed to contact and to learn from. From my observations and research, the impression I received of Meghan was that of a focused working mother who is self-made. I am forever grateful that she would be the first business-owner I would meet with to share what the Nantucket Allies mission is all about within the Nantucket Island Community.
It has been an honor to get to know Meghan and her business. As with getting to know anyone past a first impression, I came to see that, beyond having the quality of being a focused, working mother, she was also a strong, smart, community-minded woman who loved to help anyone who needed her knowledge and expertise. Her best quality of all? She doesn’t judge you for needing it! In fact, it’s what she loves most about what she (and her company) does. “They sit at this table with tears in their eyes and they say ‘make it go away’. Deciding what I can do for them, what I can’t do for them…bringing them in as customers and solving that problem. That process is my favorite part.”
Meghan’s business’ foundation was inspired by her desire to be able to care for those she loved. “I was a 21 year old mom…Scott worked in the building trades and he got sick. And like a lot of people in the trades out here, when you’re working, it’s great. But, when you’re not, it’s not.” At this time Meghan was working for a non-profit making $12 an hour doing their money management and operations, but it wasn’t conducive to paying her family’s bills during this time. She thought, “there’s got to be a way to use my skill set and make more than $12 an hour.” Meghan took a Quickbooks class given by Christina LeBlanc. Christina and Meghan joked it was like trades for chicks. Now armed with her experience from the non-profit, and her new-found knowledge of Quickbooks, Meghan was then consistently given work by Christina and things built from there. “It started as two customers and a computer in the corner of my bedroom.” Now Fogged In Bookkeeping has an office on Old South Road that employs over nine people and counting. (Pun intended.)
So, what is Meghan’s favorite moment thus far? “There are the more obvious times when you land that big client, or it’s time for a bigger office because we’re growing. And there are the little moments, like when my daughter and her friends started a bracelet company.” Meghan’s eyes were lit from within as she explained to me the background of the bracelet company and her daughter’s role. This new little business run by 10 year olds had given each girl a separate job within the company. Meghan’s daughter is in charge of the money. “Intuitive little girls,” Meghan excitedly stated. “She came home with a pile of money and she asked for a ledger book…She spent enough time in this office, she knows she needs to write this stuff down.” During a business meeting between the girls of this bracelet company, her daughter told the other girls that she didn’t feel comfortable keeping the money in the bedroom and suggested they open a bank account. She then presented the other girls with the bank account options. “She turned around to me and asked, ‘Is there anything else we need to think about?’ ”
“That’s a successful moment. There’s a whole new generation of women who wouldn’t even question that they can start a business. That, at 10, to have the savvy to give everyone a job, to have a sense of picking the right person for the job, and that they are ready to do this. The idea that this business may influence another generation of women; their goals, their lifestyle ,and what they are able to provide for themselves, that’s a success to me.”
Meghan shared with me why it’s important to have a bookkeeper. Here is some of her insight:
“Invest in a bookkeeper when you start a business. You don’t want to end up going to a bookkeeper when you’re in a desperate moment and adding stress to your life. The longer you wait to address the issue and get some help, the harder it is to fix.
If you’re apprehensive about going to a bookkeeper: Identify why you’re nervous.
-Confidentiality/Embarrassment: They don’t want to show their “underwear” to the world. It’s not the world, I’m one person. The farthest it goes is to the secretary and me.
-If the fear is financial: Here at Fogged In Bookkeeping, the first hour’s consult is free. Come in, tell me what your problem is and I may have an off-the-cuff solution, and you’re going to walk out the door and implement it yourself. Or, if it’s more in-depth, we figure out a plan and a budget and go from there. It’s never as expensive as you think.”
Meghan’s Advice for Starting a Business:
Fear of starting a business: “Human beings in general, we have this whole lobe in our brain whose job it is to tell us that ‘this is scary,’ and we shouldn’t do it. Good entrepreneurs of the world hear this nervous-system message and say, ‘Yeah that’s nice. I’m still doing this.’ And they move forward. We all have those fears.
Build a good team: You sometimes can’t do everything as well as outside people may. “The sooner you acknowledge that your business will grow better, you’ll have a better product or service, if you learn to trust good professionals, and the better off you’ll be.
A Good Lawyer – Have an attorney to call. Something legal always pops up, and you may not have a week’s time to find someone. Have someone in your back pocket.
A Good Accountant – Have one from Day 1 to tell you the best way to organize your business. If you go an entire year and you lose money or make money without some prior planning, entity choice, you could end up sinking your business by owing a bunch of taxes at the end of the year.
A Good Insurance Agent – Someone looking out for your best interests, what’s in your budget, and what is the best long-term plan for you.
Q&A: Some fun questions I asked Meghan…I think you’ll love what she has to say.
If you had 24 hours on Nantucket what would you do?
-Beach: South Shore – somewhere where there’s not a lot of people…You have to drive down a dirt road to get there.
-You must eat while you are here…we have some of the best restaurants in the world! American Seasons and Straight Wharf are a must. If you can do one for lunch and one for dinner…bonus!
-Have to go to the (Cisco) Brewery. Everybody, no matter your social, economic, political bent, or whatever, there’s a place for you at the Brewery.
-At least one in-land excursion: Whether you take a walk at Squam Swamp or spend time in the state forest, there are great, beautiful things away from the shore to enjoy.
-Get to know the people: Meet at least one local
If you could trade Jobs with one person on Nantucket for one day who would it be?
I would trade jobs with my friend John Burdock, he’s a bartender at Pi. You meet amazing people, get to talk to them all day, and it’s not a rigged job. I would sling drinks!
Why did you decide to become a Nantucket Ally?
The time has come in our economy to think differently about business. I think we have to explore, be innovative and try something different. Here on Nantucket, it’s time for us to explore how to expand our year round economy and make a healthy ecosystem for business. It’s us, the business owner’s job, to support ourselves. Things like Nantucket Allies are interesting, different ways at looking at how to encourage our business economy. Encourage to keep it local, utilize their peers, to get to know who their fellow businesses are, and to encourage an environment that fertilizes itself. That’s why I decided to support Nantucket Allies. I wanted to see a society that is taking care of itself and not, sort-of, waiting for the outside to solve the problem.
I want to thank Meghan Blair-Valero of Fogged In Bookkeeping for sharing her time with me and supporting Nantucket Allies in our mission. She inspires me to be a better person, and has taught me some lessons on how to be a better business owner.
Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” With the help of Fogged In Bookkeeping, I know the Nantucket Allies Community will be able to flourish and succeed in helping Nantucket. Thank you, to Meghan and all of those who help her on a daily basis at Fogged In Bookkeeping!
Meghan Blair-Valero, President
Fogged In Bookkeeping
128 C Old South Road
Nantucket, MA 02584
Thank you for reading,
Dorothy Stover, President
Your Safe Harbor