Client Victory: Heirloom Potager’s unexpected growth as a small business
POSTED ON March 14, 2023
BY Encurio

Heirloom Potager: “We’re achieving things in year 3 that I didn’t expect to achieve until at least year 5.”

Ashley Irene started Heirloom Potager in 2020. She had always loved gardening, but never pursued it as a career. After losing her Mom, who lovingly advised her to “do something that brings you joy” she undertook gardening jobs for her neighbors, guiding and designing, as a way to work through her grief. 

Despite initially thinking ‘who’s going to pay me to grow tomatoes?’ Ashley found that the phone kept ringing after her neighbors shared the transformation of their outdoor spaces with their friends. From there, Heirloom Potager really blossomed.  

Supported by a small team, Ashley is now designing outdoor spaces for award winning chefs, brewmasters and wine companies.

She has achieved huge success in just three years, and describes her early investment in accounting support as invaluable to her growth.

heirloom potager

Ashley wanted to hand off the accounting to someone who understands her ethos

Ashley is driven by her mission and values. She really cares and takes a lot of pride and ownership in what she does. Having an MBA herself, Ashley understands the importance of the business side of things, but she also has the wisdom of knowing when she needs to bring in experts. 

Before Heirloom Potager, Ashley had run a sole proprietorship providing consulting work. She’d had some experience dealing with basic accounting and she knew this business would be a completely different ball game. 

Through a friend’s recommendation, she met Tiffany and was introduced to Encurio. 

early investment in accounting support “A friend gave me Tiffany’s number. She loved what we were doing. She said: “Even if we don’t end up working with you, I want to help you in whatever way we can.” 

Encurio wasn’t the only firm Ashley had looked at. She’d done her homework and interviewed other accountants to find the right match, wanting to work with someone who really got what she was trying to accomplish. 

Ashley had received a significant inheritance from her Mom – meaning she had capital to invest in the business, but she knew once it was gone there was no back up plan. She needed to work with someone who would handle it with care and show her how to invest in the business in a smart way. She wanted to feel she was being looked after by someone she trusted.

The great thing about running any kind of business today is that you get to choose the accounting firm you work with. You’re not bound to the most local firm. You’re not even bound to your state. A lot of advisors and their teams will provide a remote service and it’s worth seeking out the kind of people you’re actually going to enjoy working closely with. Check out a firm’s website, cruise their ‘about us’ page (here’s ours) and pay attention to what they value. 

“So many accountants just wanted to help me find a tax haven. That wasn’t my ethos. I am in business to do something positive in the world. To create jobs, create a sense of community and impact the environment in a positive way. Tiffany and Jake completely understood that.”

We helped Ashley manage specific accounting requirements that aren’t the industry norm

The way Ashley invoices is different from other businesses in the industry. By understanding how Heirloom Potager works, we were able to advise on some time saving systems for Ashley. 

Heirloom Potager's early investment in accounting supportWhen creating something bespoke and material heavy, most companies will send out line-item invoices to their clients. Ashley is providing unique all-inclusive landscape projects, meaning her quotes need to be all-inclusive to match. 

“I hate doing the invoicing and the estimates – but because we design such unique gardens, it’s less easy for me to hand it off to someone else. I know exactly what needs to go into it.”

For the scale and quality of service Ashley was delivering for her clients, we could see she needed to be charging for the value she provides. The challenge? The range of materials Ashley uses are taxed differently. Although she was sending an all inclusive quote, the project needed to be split for tax purposes so all materials could be accounted for. 

We set up Ashley’s Quickbooks so she had a checklist to ensure her invoices and estimates include everything she needs. All materials are tracked for tax purposes, but her clients don’t see that. This means she’s quoting confidently with value-based pricing and has the reassurance that she has the detail she needs if the business is audited. 

“It supported the way I work and made me feel understood and truly taken care of. This was insight and advice I couldn’t have found on my own.”

We are part of Ashley’s team, providing proactive planning for her vision

When Ashley realized she needed to build a bigger nursery, she didn’t know how it was going to happen. Where would the money come from? Would she have sufficient cash flow? We love it when our clients come to us with ambitious ideas and as her accounting team, it’s our job to show her what’s possible. 

We helped Ashley see the whole financial picture when looking at her options:

  • How much capital would it take to become a wholesale nursery?
  • Would it make sense to create it into a retail experience?
  • What changes would she need to factor in – inventory, taxes, space, POS systems?
  • What would be the best and safest way to invest her capital?

Knowing your numbers is essential to making quality decisions, proactively planning and making calculated risks. By painting a really thorough picture of what it would look like financially to pursue this goal, Ashley was equipped to decide whether she wanted to go ahead with the plan or hold off. 

“This was invaluable. As a business owner it has helped me make smarter financial decisions rather than just jump in and do it. Working with Jake and Tiffany there’s really a relationship – not only because they handle my finances, but because I can go to them with my ideas for growth for the future and get their input.”

Do you see accounting as an asset for your business or just another monthly expense?

When looking for an accountant, Ashley was asking: how are you going to help me as a business owner? Beyond filing for taxes, what are you looking for from an accountant?

There are three stages to our support at Encurio. We provide:

  1. Initial Relief from the headache of accounting administrative work
  2. Help to make your operations more efficient as your grow
  3. Long-term Guidance to reach your goals

For more detail on our packages see how we work

Good accounting is your baseline. It’s a necessity for your business and the time you’ll get back from handing it off to a team is priceless. If you want to grow your business, that third stage of guidance is essential – for both your scalability and your sanity. You need someone in your corner who knows as much about your business as you do. 

Ashley came in at the guide me stage, looking to have strong infrastructure from the get-go. At first, she didn’t know exactly what she needed. She thought she needed compliance and knew she wanted ideas, but didn’t know what that support would look like. 

We adjusted the scope of work as we went. She immediately started on one of our higher packages, so we were meeting with her regularly from the beginning to talk strategy. Some of that strategy included:

  • Decreasing her time commitment, while the amount of detail in her work was increasing.
  • Digging into her pricing – she had always been super busy but it wasn’t translating to income on her financials. 
  • Helping her build a business plan – Ashley didn’t have a business plan at the beginning. We’ve helped her tweak it as we go. 

Knowing when to let go of the things she’s not an expert in and utilize our team has been key to her business growth. The journey is going to be more fruitful and enjoyable when you’re focusing on the things ONLY YOU can do while you’re confident your finances are in good hands. 

“Encurio is truly an asset, rather than a monthly operating expense I have to spend. That is a mind shift for your business. Without them I would have an additional headache, but I also wouldn’t have the resources to move forward in my business in the same way. I don’t think I’d have that if I was working with another firm.” 

It takes a village to build a successful business. If accounting feels like a burden and you know you need clarity and guidance to move forward with your business goals, we’re here to listen. Our discovery consultation is a two-step process that gives you an understanding of your business, its specific needs and how we can help. Find out how the discovery process works.

If you want a true partner, this is your place.