Quinton Crawford is a U.S. Navy veteran and seasoned entrepreneur. He’s run his own business more than once, but a lack of business experience often led him to make costly mistakes. He got in trouble with the IRS because of bad bookkeeping practices and he had a habit of not screening potential hires, which led to hiring the wrong employees. With a new education under his belt—Crawford completed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama last year—he’s working on growing his latest venture, QCrawford Financial Services in Fultondale, Alabama, a financial planning firm that focuses on helping startups. “I learned some lessons the hard way so I want to help others not make the mistakes I made,” he says.
We talked with Crawford about his new business and other tips he has for startup success.
When did you start QCrawford Financial Services and how are things going? It officially began in January of this year and I specialize in business and personal bookkeeping. My target market is startup small businesses in my surrounding counties and I am working on a partnership with LiftFund, a nonprofit small business lender that helps small business owners with limited access to capital. The personal side of the business is starting to pick up as well; people are tired of living paycheck to paycheck.
From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges and obstacles facing new business owners? One of the biggest obstacles new businesses face is not having enough startup capital to sustain them until they become profitable. Another obstacle is finding good employees; that was a major problem for me when I started my first business 20 years ago.
What’s your best piece of advice for new business owners? Hire a bookkeeper as soon as possible and make sure you learn how to read your monthly financial statements. Your financial statements will tell you what your business is doing and, when you truly understand them, they will help you make better financial decisions.
What’s the biggest mistake you see new business owners make? One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make (myself included) is we try to do everything ourselves, just to save a dollar and it ends up costing us much more.
How important has your education been vs. real-world experience to your entrepreneurial journey? The real world taught me that I needed to be educated on the financial aspect of my business so my education is playing a significant role and my degree gives me credibility in this arena. Now I actually understand financial statements, how important they are to my business, and now I am able to tell if my business is heading in the right direction or heading towards insolvency. Knowing how my business is doing on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis gives me security, and I love when I know exactly what’s going to happen when I make certain decisions.