Dear readers, I have a great privilege to offer today. An interview with my oldest child (oops...she probably doesn't want me to say that - but, she is the eldest)...Chloe DiVita [btw, that's pronounced 'Cloe,' like 'aloe' - NOT C-loE like Mar-E.]. Chloe lives far, far way on another planet, with her husband, Matt, and my granddaughter, Miah. Okay, it's not another planet, it's Colorado. But, that's soooooo far from NY that, it might as well be on another planet.
Chloe has always been an over-achiever - she applies herself to her work (and being a Mom) with an ethic I don't see in a lot of young people under 30, these days. I'm including her in my Smart Woman Online series because she has her own business, and she blogs. I think her comments are worth sharing, not because she's my daughter, but because she is so different than I am. She's working hard to build a business, while bringing up a daughter, and being a wife. I was a stay-at-home Mom, who did not have to juggle all the balls that Chloe is juggling. I'm proud to say she does a stellar job. As do many, many young women today.
She is representative of the generation of young women we call Gen X. She's careful about her health and her appearance, but not to a fault. She's devoted to her daughter, but doesn't think HER life should be lived through Miah. And she's a strong, smart, involved businesswoman, with a focus on how her work contributes to the world order, not just the bottom line. Read on for more...
Yvonne: Most of the readers of this blog are baby boomers, both women and men - I'm not sure how many younger women read it. I know one of the reasons you visit is because...I'm your Mom...but, which content or focus do you like best? In the marketing to women space, what concerns you most?
Chloe: I enjoy reading about women trying to break the marketing trends that people believe we are looking to be marketed in. Recently, Dove has done an excellent job at this. Their Real Beauty campaign has struck a cord around the world, and I hope it has a real impact. It was great to see that acknowledged on Lipsticking. Whether it’s hitting home for baby boomers or Gen Xers, doesn’t really matter.
I think my generation has a lot in common with the working women of the baby boom era. I see the same drive to make a difference in most women. Our methods may be different, but our end goal is usually the same. It’s that striving for making a difference - and that's what draws me in to this blog, more so than just because it’s written by my Mother!
I also believe that competition has become so fierce that marketing can be a make it or break it item. If women are not impressed with what is presented, or how, we simply move on and find what we are looking for somewhere else. We expect to be treated with respect, spoken to on a level that is far from condescending, and heard loud and clear. If a company cannot fill us with those feelings they will be overlooked quickly.
Yvonne: You are a talented young woman - I should know, I'm your Mom - you have accomplished a lot in your young life. Do you think much of what you've achieved is destiny - or - good, old fashioned hard work?
Chloe: I attribute most of my accomplishments to hard work, but there has definitely been some uncommon coincidences along the way that make me believe I’m destined to accomplish more. Part of that has been watching my Mother continue to defy the world around her and push the limits. With an example like that, how can I not succeed?! Not to mention that I easily get bored so I’m constantly finding ways to push the envelope a little further, and learn a little more.
Yvonne: We have to talk about...Miah! Let's go wayyyy back to the day she was born - what do you remember most? What's changed about how you view motherhood, since Miah's birth?
Chloe: The two things I think about most when I think about the day Miah was born are how perfect her little lips were, and how worried I was that her head would stay cone shaped! I also remember not wanting her out of my sight, and staring at the clock every second she was gone to have her first picture taken. Miah’s birth made me finally relate to, and understand, the saying, “Because I said so!” I can’t tell you how much I heard that growing up, and now it’s become one of my most popular responses. Becoming a mother brings a new understanding of what it is to be a mother, and why your mother did/said all those things growing up. It’s an amazing revelation.
Yvonne: On to your work - tell us about DiVita Inc.
Chloe: I incorporated DiVita & Associates, Inc in April of 2003 after 10 months of self-employment. It was really a timing thing. The job I was working in, in June 2002, pivoted on a good stock market, and that had crashed and wasn’t recovering. So all of a sudden my job went from full time to "occasional" part time.
Having learned to see the glass as half full from my wonderful mother, [I didn't tell her to say all these nice things about me, honest! Maybe it's because Christmas is so close...hmmmm] I decided to take advantage of the 6 weeks it would take to wrap up my position to start marketing myself as an independent bookkeeper. I had previously spent about 4 years at a local CPA firm that I still kept in contact with. I decided to visit them, along with some other associates I had and get the word out that I was seeking clients.
By the time my 6 weeks was up I had 4 clients requiring about 30 hours of work per week. It was a good start, so I went with it. My whole business grew by word of mouth, and before I knew it I had more work than time. Thus, incorporation and the hiring of my first employee. Since then the business has continued to grow, and over the past year at an alarming rate. I’m on track to nearly double my billings in 2006. Of course, with a staff of 5 and an office now, my expenses have gone up, too!
Yvonne: Why are you in a numbers business? You know I can barely add two and two! How did you get so smart?
Chloe: Numbers are only part of accounting. There is much in customer relations – when you are dealing with people’s money they tend to want to talk to you a lot and feel confident in you - and rightfully so! Number crunching and formulas do come easy to me. I’m not sure why. I did take a Calculus class in college because it was an easy A! I guess I just like problem solving and numbers, and that I am slightly crazy…ok VERY crazy. But in a good way. I try to balance being number smart and being people smart because it’s much easier to explain the numbers if you can relate to the person.
Yvonne: What role does the Internet play in your business? I know you just started a blog - how is that going?
Chloe: The Internet is a crucial to my business. Not only do we have online banking set up for most of our clients, but there are merchant accounts, credit card accounts, web based time tracking applications, an internet file sharing program, and more. When the internet is down for any reason, we all cringe because we have to go back to all that paper stuff!
Yes, we introduced our blog, DiVita Speaks, in May 2006. It’s been going well, although not getting the attention it deserves yet. I really enjoy the change in monitoring and writing a blog versus crunching numbers. I’m hoping to expand my blog time, and maybe someday take it a step further into more of a monthly newsletter. Currently we put out a quarterly newsletter to local clients and associates, but I’d love to expand that market and have it actually generate income. And, I was just accepted over at Quickbooks as a blog contributor. Watch for more of my words on bookkeeping, there. [interested in her newsletter? sign up here.]
Yvonne: Is DiVita Inc able to work with clients all over the U.S.? The world? Or, are you limiting yourself to Erie, CO? What's your preference?
Chloe: In today’s technology age there is certainly opportunity and the capability to work with clients from many different areas, but it can be difficult because filing forms and tax issues, like sales tax, vary state to state. I like being able to have face-to-face meetings with clients, and dealing with local banks, so for accounting purposes I plan to keep clients in the Boulder-Denver region. However, I would like to reach new areas with our newsletter, and obviously our blog.
Yvonne: How much shopping do you do online? What kinds of things are easy to buy online, and what kinds are hard?
Chloe: I would do all my shopping online if I could. For the most part I cannot stand the mall, the grocery store, office supply stores, and department stores. When I do go clothes shopping I am someone who picks up what I like, never tries it on, and usually ends up having to go back and exchanges things that don’t fit or don’t look right. I just can’t bring myself to deal with the encumbrances of the dressing room and the busyness. I do enjoy looking at catalogs, though.
Online shopping seems to have become easier over the past few years, and more reliable, so I believe most things are pretty straight forward. It’s quite easy to get books, software, office supplies, and anything paper oriented. Clothes have become easier for me because I’ve started to learn the sizes I wear in certain brands and can then buy things that fit….of course, there is still the “does it look good” factor.
And I’d really like to know why each clothing brand has to have its own sizing chart. Why can’t a 6 be a 6 and a Medium be a medium!!! The hardest thing to buy online that I have come across is furniture. Shipping charges usually make the trip to the store worth it. [good question on that clothing size thing - anyone reading who knows the answer?]
Yvonne: Do you have a role model for your life? Your work? Who is it...and what about this person inspires you? [no, I am not fishing for compliments - I really want to know.]
Chloe: I look for traits in almost everyone I meet that I can use to model myself. There are several individuals who amaze me completely, and who I strive to be like. My Mother (who has more ambition and motivation than ten people should have all together), my Mother-in-law (yes, that’s right! I do believe my in-laws are wonderful people), my Sister (who does anything and everything she puts her mind to), my brother-in-law (who just lost his wife of 10 years to brain cancer and has the best perspective of anyone I know), and my Husband who does an excellent job of dealing with me! But, I also think everyone has something to offer, and if people would find that 'something' more often, the world would be a happier place.
Yvonne: Ok...tell us an accountant's joke. :-)
Chloe: On my computer I have a cartoon that says “My 2 cents for only $10.” I’m not sure that is an accountant’s joke, but I like it!
IRS’s new 1040-EZst: How much did you make this year:$______________
____________ Insert number from above and send to the IRS.
There you have it, folks. Smart words from one smart chick. I hope it's okay to call her a chick. She's all grown up now, but...she's still my little girl.