KIRSTEN BARRIE SUPPORTS WOMEN
FOUNDERS TO ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS
Kirsten Barrie is the Founder and Owner of Verte Consulting. She has over 16 years of experience as a CFO working with large corporate brands, small businesses, marketing agencies, tech start-ups, retail/e-tail and professional service businesses. She’s passionate about effecting change of financial equality by supporting women and founders and helping them achieve their dreams.
IN THIS EPISODE
[01:37] On what Kirsten is most passionate about
[03:23] On why Kirsten focuses on women business owners
[06:29] On growing up and Kirsten’s path
[08:29] On what Kirsten learned while acting that carried into an entrepreneurial career
[10:05] On why Kirsten started her business
[15:33] The countries Kirsten has been to
[19:26] On the things Kirsten does to help people
[23:42] On why it is important for a startup to have a business plan
[27:38] Advice Kirsten would give to a young woman who wants to follow her passions
Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with Kirsten Barrie, the founder and owner of Verte Consulting. Kirsten has over 16 years of experience as a CFO, working with large corporate brands, small businesses, marketing agencies, tech startups, retail, e-tail and professional service businesses. She's passionate about affecting change of financial equality by supporting women and founders and helping them achieve their dreams. So please welcome to the show Kirsten Barrie.
Kirsten: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Passionistas: Oh, we're so excited to talk to you about what you do and we're gonna hopefully learn a lot of things because we could use it.
Kirsten: I hope so. I hope everyone listening to the podcast. The takeaway is that they have a interest in their business finances. I have a goal to make finances sexy. I really want women plus founders specifically to have a good feeling when they're thinking about their finances. And when they think about the tasks that they have to do for the finances. I want women to fall in love with the process, not the outcome.
So I don't necessarily want women to be like, oh, I'm gonna be rich. Because that doesn't get any of us anywhere. What I want is getting excited about what it takes to do organizationally in order for whatever that outcome is. So if women leave this podcast with that takeaway, I'd be very excited.
Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Kirsten: Specifically, women founders having their own freedom, with money and their business. And that freedom comes from my belief is control and being organized. I want women to have a wonderful team, ideally, a very diverse team and creating opportunities for lots of people and feeling really great about themselves and the team feeling really great about whatever their business is that they're doing.
The result of a really well functioning business in the profit would be that the women founder, has her own personally, she's giving herself a paycheck that is comfortable for her, and she is never in a situation that she can't get out of. That's a thing that I've been in and a lot of other women I speak to have been in where even at various levels of wealth,
sometimes there's a situation where domestically or just in some other physical location, you can't get out of it because of a financial barrier. And I don't want anyone to have that. So the business owner, the team members that work in the business, I want everyone to feel like they have that freedom and that opportunity to be able to do that. I think I'm very, uh, Bernie Sanders.
I'm very much like if you have the money, pay your team as much as you possibly can. I do not believe in, oh, this role. Benchmarks for this fee and that's all you're gonna get. I'm I believe if the company's making more money, pay them more money. They're not, they're only gonna do great things with that.
So I really would love to see that and have everybody just feel good and, and their life work life balance is so much more improved. So that's what I get really passionate about.
Passionistas: And why is it so important to you to focus on women and female business owners?
Kirsten: I didn't at first, I think I'm now actually my 17th year. So I took on all clients because I I'm very excited about businesses in general. And startups we all have like a soft place in our heart for our startups. And, but what I observed over all the years was that I wasn't really bringing the same light bulb and aha moments value to my, the male clients versus the women clients.
That was one thing that. It dawned on me that I have male colleagues that could bring the same value that I'm bringing to my male clients. And I believe that there's more than enough business to go around. So why not let them work with them? I really enjoyed at the end of the day is when I go to bed at night and I would recall the conversations I had with women where they're like, oh my gosh, this male CPA, no offense, male CPAs, but I get this.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard this phrase, this male CPA, wouldn't explain this concept to me, and you've just explained it in two minutes. It's so easy. It now makes sense to me. So they spent years asking the same question to somebody and being either mansplained to, or talked down to or brushed off.
And finance is a science. It's definitely specific. It's not brain surgery. Like it definitely can be explained. It can be understood. We're not like we with small brains, like it's very, it's very tangible and very easily able to be executed. So. That really excites me. And then statistically, our wealth gap is like 32 cents to the dollar.
Um, that's not the pay gap. The pay gap is also an issue, but overall women's wealth gap. Is that in, I think statistically in the United States, that includes women that don't want wealth. So that's totally fine that they're in a, in a lifestyle where that isn't important to them, but there are plenty of us that it is important to that.
So I think that's really important. And then it gets even worse with black and Latin women, like it's cents to the dollar with the wealth gap. And again, that comes back to power and them having financial freedom and freedom to make choices in their own personal lives. And that's a really big deal to me.
So those two factors. I had an aha moment. I was in England. I was taking a walk in the park. I don't know why it came to me and I just had this moment where I thought, wait a minute. At the end of the day, I want to know that I moved the needle in the style, I helped more women CEOs, I helped those women create amazing teams and those teams did amazing things,
and I created improvement on quality of life by doing this. And I will take on male clients as long as they prove diversity and actually prove equality. They can't just say it . Um, I need actually see the proof, insane thing. Like I would never take on a female client that would be acting in an in equal way.
And unfortunately that some of those women do exist, but very rare so that I think those are the two reasons why it became really passionate to me. Yeah.
Passionistas: So, let's take a step back. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what your childhood was like. And how did you start this path to where you've ended up?
I was a child of divorced parents. I don't know if that lends itself to seeing the world a little sooner than maybe you should, like, I don't recall having much of a childhood. Like I do, I believe children should have childhoods as long as you possibly can have help them do that. I'm fairytale in that way. I think that's actually really important for people.
I did not have that. And I think that experience, led me to want to create idealistic situations because I didn't see that. And I could see the problems that were happening at quite a young age. And I thought there was love fairness in things that didn't makes sense. So I think traveling and that environment, I don't know, led to some kind of just like observations like, personality traits. I ended up meandering into boarding school and then meandering to college and then transferring colleges and then getting married, then getting divorced. I think everything built upon itself, and I grew as a human we've talked about this, off the air, but I had an acting career and worked in entertainment, wrote a little bit, produced it a little bit, loved creating art in that film performance away.
And I think that still led somehow, culminated into what I do now, which is running this business, being the spokesperson of the business. Um, I do speaking, I do these lovely podcasts. Thank you again. So, I think that that somehow all the path kind of meandered into this viewpoint and this passion of, I wanna see a change and I wanna make things better. And I feel like there is a better way to be and strive for that existence.
Passionistas: So, what did you learn during that period where you were acting and in the entertainment business that you carried forward into your more entrepreneurial career?
Kirsten: I think one of the biggest, and it's not really related to giving any financial advice, but just entrepreneurial advice is, when I used to audition, we were trained that the audition was the performance.
And not to think past that, not to think like, oh, the action. If I get this role, what will that be? But to really just focus on the audition as a moment in time. And that's your like three-minute amazing performance and you walk out of that room, usually the casting room and move on with your life is if you just did the thing and then you do that over and over and over and over again.
and, and that can wear on someone if they're constantly thinking that the outcome is the role. But if you change the outcome to be even just that, you know, three-minute experience you have with those people as the actual, like that's the product, it doesn't wear you out. I think it's very like and uplifting so I think in business, sometimes we get exhausted because we have the outcome and if we're not hitting that outcome, like I talked about the beginning. It feels horrible. So to fall in love with the process is really the most important part of it. And the outcomes will happen, but it's really the process, the habits that you develop as you're trying to get to that, that I think, keep you going.
Passionistas: So then talk about 2005, you started Verte Consulting. So what, what was the process? Why did you start it and what was the inspiration behind it?
Kirsten: Oh, I wish it was so much more romantic and sexy than the actual story. I got divorced. I was teaching yoga. I was not paying the bills. My ex-husband was hiding money. I found out later. Left me with all the bills and I, you know, was young. I was in my twenties. See, these are things that I don't want, anyone would have to go through. I thought, oh, okay I'll, you know, I'll, I'll pay my own bills. Even though I had like completely. Spent, you know, five years rearranging my life around an narcissist, which is what they do.
So yeah, not good. I didn't, I didn't know. I was so young and no one was like, I was so naive. So because I had a website design company and a design company that did photography and all this stuff, some colleagues of mine from that industry knew that I actually had done a bunch of business courses and a bunch of business training and accounting, because as an artist.
And the goal was to have acting career and everything else was just like paying its bills. I wanted to be a successful business person to run my artistic career. And I thought everyone else knew this business had business acumen. I didn't, I might like, I need to do that too. Turns out no one had business acumen and I was this like rare golden person that actually gone and, and taken myself to get educated in this way.
So these colleagues hired me to do their accounting. For 20 hours a week in their SEO business, remember the SEO companies of use exist. So they were this really high end, very expertise, high level SEO company, and they were pretty huge. And then 20 hours a week, I ran their SEO depart. And then eventually it grew so big that I turned over the SEO management, took them on as a client.
And at the time remember 2005, remember the economy in 2005? Oh, the days. So at that time I was turning away work. Businesses wanted me left and right. I basically said, Hey, I'm gonna be your outsource CFO for Monday. You could have me on Monday. You could have me on Wednesday. You could have me on Thursday.
I gave them all like a day or two of my time. And so that that's actually how I started and I just ran around from client to client. And then in between that, I ran around auditions and did performances. So it was actually really flexible and really nice that I was able to juggle all of that. I mean, it was, I did have a lot of free time, but in a week I was able to do all of that very well.
Passionistas: And so at what point did you become more of a digital nomad and, and not stay focused in Los Angeles and, and live that dream?
Kirsten: So from 2005 to 2013, I ran around Los Angeles in traffic. The farthest was, uh, I think Calabasas from Hollywood to Calabasas, do not recommend. So I ran around all over LA uh, driving the clients. For those many years exhausted. And they discovered cloud-based apps in 2013, the end of 2012, 2013. So worked from home from 2013 until your question of being, becoming a digital nomad, uh, 2018. So the sad part of it is that my dog passed away. So I realized I could go anywhere. I've been working from a home office in this beautiful town home,
I had the whole bottom floor I made at my office. It was like very professional and wonderful, but then once she passed away, I just thought, oh, I can work anywhere that there was internet. That's actually how it started, and then I started traveling and then like 18 countries later. Here I am.
Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington. And you are listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Kirsten Barrie. To get your company running efficiently on cloud-based apps, so you can start leading your digital nomad dreams, visit VerteConsulting.com.
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Now here's more of our interview with Kirsten.
Tell us about some of those countries and which ones were your favorites.
Kirsten: I could ask the favorites a lot and it's hard to answer that because every country has pros and cons. Every country is for me, was related around my experience. I noticed that if my Airbnb was troublesome, my feeling for the country lowered. So are the city. So for example, everyone loves Lucerne Switzerland, but I had a really rough Airbnb. It wasn't anything. It was, although one of the first Airbnbs that was not at all like the pictures. So everything in the pictures were staged.
They had like completely different furniture and completely different everything. And then when I walked in, it was like dirty and dark and gross and like not comfortable. I ended up getting a gym membership and taking showers at the gym instead, cuz I just was so comfortable with the Airbnbs bathroom. But like Lucerne is like gorgeous.
I have photos that I go back and I look and I'm like, look at the beautiful bridge and look at the water and look at the flowers. And so it's interesting that my feelings for each place tends to be related to like my own experience. So from there, for example, I went to Grindelwald um, and I am a big hiker. So I got to hike the Alps, which is like a bucket list situation.
So I was there for like, I don't know, three weeks just hiking all the time, like working from looking at the Alps, like literally looking at the Alps, hiking in the Alps, so amazing, right. Japan was definitely one of my favorites, but I only saw the bottom island. I did, uh, hot Springs week. I hopped over from South Korea and just did a week there.
Uh, so I haven't seen the rest of Japan yet, but I don't think anyone is a bad thing to say about their visit to Japan. So I think it's usually a top list. Italy is also by one of my favorites. I've only again, seen the Northern part. I was in Chiquita, Pisa, Florence, and then lake Como or Como de Lago. I mean, the lake that I hiked, of course I hiked around there too.
The lake is like this, and then the mountains come up. So like there's the towns on the water. And then there's like up in the mountains, like all the houses, the rich people's houses. So, gosh, let's see. Yeah. I was in Africa, Europe and Asia. So all over, there are places that I didn't get to go. And they're still on my bucket list.
Things like Ireland, Wales, more of Europe. I can't see enough of Europe. It feels like definitely Japan. I did not get to go to any of Southeast Asia that was on the 2000. Let's see, what would that be? Was it 20? Was that the year of our pandemic mm-hmm , mm-hmm 2020, right. Beginning the beginning of our pandemic.
So I don't know how many of the listeners here are into vision boards, but I'm really into vision boards. And I cried when I looked up my 2020 vision board, I made it, I think it was the end of 2019. Like I always do at the end of the year for my 2020. And literally nothing, nothing. When is planned, the vision board was just like a joke and I stumbled upon it like eight months later.
And I was like, oh yeah, this thing. Yeah. So I didn't, I didn't see Southeast Asia yet. I didn't get to Australia or New Zealand yet. Those are definitely ways off. I have colleagues in New Zealand and Australia and you can't even get to New Zealand, uh, Australia. You can maybe, I think everyone saw they'll let someone in, but I think both of those are pretty like business only.
You've done like special. Yeah. You know what I haven't visited is Canada. It doesn't feel exotic to me. Right. It's just like there . So it's funny. It is a different country, but like it's not on my bucket list. I mean, ban would be, but like generally speaking, I don't think of Canada, something I would like go live at.
Whereas these other countries actually go and I live and I work out of usually an Airbnb or I find like a local apartment to lease for three. And also just to point out, I love helping other people. If they wanna do a digital nomad work lifestyle, I love answering questions on that. So anyone can always reach out to me on those questions as well.
Passionistas: Well, let's talk about that. Let's talk about that's one thing you do to help people, but what are some of the other services that you provide?
Kirsten: So the main services at the company is the monthly recurring one on one CFO services. So those are businesses that are usually 500,000 to 5 million, usually 100, 1 million to 5 million annual revenue, and they need CFO services.
They need payroll, accounting, forecasting, budgeting, finance models, just general help. I make sure that they don't make huge MIS. I don't control the money of any business, but I am their devil's advocate. I will say, no. Keep outsourcing your dev team, do not hire an in-house dev team here is why. And I will break it down for them and they will see the light.
I, once I give 'em the right information, they always make the right financial choices. It's just that they don't know. For example, like a lot of business owners don't realize when you hire someone in a different state, you are then paying payroll taxes in that state and it gets extra complicated. In each state you add on, you get a whole bunch of extra complication for payroll. So also subcontractors versus employees, making sure that's sorted out. It's all these like little intricate things that can eat away at a company's profit. Those are the main bread and butter of the company. Is these one-on-one out. CFO services.
And it's usually about five, 10% of the gross revenue of a company, which should be the minimum one pays for, for the accounting. I cannot stress that enough. do not go cheap on your accounting with my company, with anybody. It just will not serve you. And then I'm working on a beta that I'm about to release.
I had released it right before the pandemic and then paused it and pulled it. And was like, okay, this, this isn't gonna work. taking another stab at a do it yourself finance course, and that is for the, the startups, the solo pioneers, the under 500,000 businesses that really don't have the budget or the activity to hire someone like an outsource CFO.
But what I don't wanna see is, and this happens a lot businesses outsourcing to a entry level bookkeeper that may be detrimental. This happens more than not. And I don't really know if it's. The bookkeepers. I get the sense from all the years of doing this, that someone will have done some accounting in a business, and then they'll call themselves a bookkeeper later and go and try to outsource themselves as a bookkeeper, but they actually don't have any accounting knowledge.
So what that does is that's detrimental to the business tax wise organization, wise planning wise, it just isn't good. So this course is gonna give the big picture and how it relates to the small picture to a business owner and why they wanna do certain. Smaller steps and habits because of the big picture.
And I'm hoping that will enlighten people to not just use a bookkeeper that only maybe is working on the small picture and working on the small picture incorrectly, which is what I commonly see. Uh, because it goes. You know, your daily activity to like your monthly and annual activity to your filing your taxes.
That's kind of the sequence of small to big picture. Um, so that course is coming soon. If you're interested in joining the beta, um, we'll have my contact information at the end of the podcast and please reach out and I will see if you're a good fit for the beta. And then if not, we'll get released in the summer as a full course.
And then I'm adding, helping companies, getting over the finishing line for equity and fundraising. So it's gonna be a service that is kind of like low key being done right now for some clients, but it will start to be added on as a service. And then the five-year plan is to get some specific CFOs for the 5,000,00 and 1 to 5 million and more businesses that are going to go public.
So we'll have CFO services down the road for those larger companies, cuz that's a whole different ballgame and there's a lot of requirements, industry requirements that would need to be done for that. So that'll be down the road, but the idea is that going forward, there will be services from the person starting their business all the way to taking to public and specifically women plus founders. So that should. Give a lift to this industry.
Passionistas: So now you also offer on your site a free business plan template. So talk about that aspect of the business. You, you mainly just deal with financial stuff for you or clients, but why is it so important for a startup to put a business plan together?
Kirsten: Beginning business, won't be able to fill out every section of that. But what I like about this is that they can look at what they do need to research. So I have a little bit of like a drip email campaign that gives recommendations, you know, put this on your to-do list for this week. Like this one section go and research sections of the swot analysis or go and research.
Like, do you have a regional market or a national market? I think all those things are important for the business to, to start to think with they, most of the businesses, it might take a year, or more, I think to answer each one of these questions, but it'll get those juices flowing. It'll get them thinking about it.
And then in turn, the part that I focus on is the finances. They should come to me and do some sessions to get the finance part organized. And I can tell them how to do that because it usually takes a couple steps of organization before you could spit out those numbers, that are in the business plan, but those numbers are important for so many reasons.
If they're needing to make sure they have enough cash to keep running, I really believe. Money is a commodity as much as possible. You should use money to make more money. Money is not like a finite thing where like you make it at the end of that. And it just pays us what the businesses need to do is obviously we need to do payroll there's expenses that, you know, aren't commodity, but generally speaking, we need to take that money and figure out how to scale and grow that business in order to do that.
The financial sections in the business plan need to get filled out. And that's where I come in and help them. But I do really believe that whole, the whole business plan is beneficial. And I will, while I won't be an expert in those areas with my clients, I do coach a little bit outside of finances for every client, because I care about their business.
I'm their team member. Like I want their business to grow because it means everyone is happy. What's your definition of success? I think it changes. I think part of it is financial freedom and that vision of like being healthy at an older age and doing what you want I'm of the generation that doesn't have the pension doesn't have like amazing savings and 401k plans.
And I just, that boat missed me. So I'm trying to do catch up work now. It's not fun. So. I wanna be healthy so that I could work until my last days. I personally don't wanna just like retire and do nothing. That to me would be the opposite of success for me. I know that's a lot of my that's my parents' generation success.
That's what they're doing right now. But I would rather that I have the flexibility to do whatever it is that I'm doing. And it pays for my lifestyle, whatever that is and keeps me happy. I'm not like forced to work and I'm not. Uh, so unhealthy that I can't work. So, and then the other part of that is seeing other people succeed, that if I had a hand in someone else succeeding, that I think makes me feel.
Like I was of service. Like there's that mantra, like be of service, like that is really our job. We're put here on this planet to be of service to others. So, and that can go in all different ways. Like sometimes being of service may seem, but look, the person might seem like they're self-involved, but that's not always the case, like artists and musicians, they're being of service to the world.
Even, it might seem like they're doing it for themselves. So I think, yeah, those are like my two ways that I swing back and forth, like my own personal. Future versus what am I doing in the world right now?
Passionistas: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to follow her passions?
Kirsten: Have a sugar daddy, just kidding. Just kidding. do not do that. I met many of those in LA. I was always in awe of those women. I met so many of them and they're like, I have a sugar daddy and they'd explain to me the details. And I was just like, my eyeballs would open up. Right? Like I was [00:28:00] divorced and left penniless. And so here's this like women that's like only having sex with, as the rent is paid.
And I just was like, I can't, I can't. No. So seriously ladies and everyone. if you have a passion, be flexible in what that Passionistas. For example, in my twenties, I never thought I'd be running a finance company. Like that sounds horrible and boring. That's not, that's not something you're passionate about running a finance company, but I am passionate about making the difference for other women and having climbed a mountain that hopefully.
They won't have to climb it because I did already. And I'm trying to help them steer around this mountain, avoid the mountain. That is exciting. So I'm able to, to feel fulfilled through this avenue. Um, and it gives me ability to do other avenue. I do art in my free time. I'm writing a book, I'm creating this course.
There's all these things that I can do because I have this course, sorry, because I have this business. So if you have a passion are like, um, a clothing designer. And you're like, this will make me happy to make these clothes and you do it and you succeed, go for it. But if you run into so many roadblocks that you can't seem to get success with that find a way to whatever the joy is about that fashion designing, find a way to get that out in the world. Maybe it's like doing large murals, like somehow you just fall into mural making instead of clothing making. And, but you're still getting. Art in the world, you're still making people smile. You're still making this city prettier, whatever it is that like makes you excited of being a fashion designer.
So I think that falls back into like, there's the whole lean business canvas concept, where you have an idea of what you wanna do and you test it out as minimal as possible. And if it doesn't hit. It doesn't hit. No one buys your thing. No, one's gonna buy your thing. There's nothing, you can't force it down.
People's throats. So as a business owner, you have to check your ego and be like, okay, let's adjust the thing I'm putting out there. And then you see if it hits. And if that doesn't hit you go back and you iterate big keyword here, you fix it again. You set it out into the world and be like, does this hit?
So I think you kind have to do that with your passion. I think if you set your site too much on the outcome, and that is. The only key to your own happiness, you will forever be unhappy. So you can't put your key to your happiness in this like external thing you need to find. And I think this takes a lot of soul searching. What is it that you're, what's the core why? Simon, Sinex of why you're doing that. And you can maybe find various ways to get that out into the
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to our interview with Kirsten Barrie to get your company running efficiently on cloud-based apps, so you can start leading your digital nomad dreams visit VerteConsulting.com.
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