Jeanne Hardy started offering bookkeeping and administrative services to creative businesses over a decade ago. Over time this Brooklyn-based businesswoman realized that creative entrepreneurs need so much more than help with accounting – there was a need for full on business advisory. Hardy’s company Creative Business Inc. helps entrepreneurs who find themselves at a critical juncture with the tools they need to break through to the next level.
Hardy’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
When I started working with artists and creative entrepreneurs I was providing bookkeeping and administrative services. it wasn’t long before I realized these amazingly talented people needed more than just bookkeeping. Their projects were ambitious, they needed teams, processes, insurance, logistics and funding. Their vision was clear and they had the talent and skill to deliver on their innovations. But what they didn’t have was an operational infrastructure or a cash flow management system. How could they plan for multiple projects at the same time? When could they start hiring people to help them execute? I started Creative Business Inc initially with the service offerings, to address these questions, and over the next 10 years we kept adding services as new obstacles were presented to our clients. Today we know what they need before they do.
For many young adults, success is often defined by how you compare to others. When you’re in school, you’re judged by your grades and degrees. Then you get out into the workforce and you judge yourself by how much you earn and what job title you have. When I was in my twenties, I thought I had made it as soon as I could afford my own apartment in New York! But over the years, I’ve come to realize that success is about being able to shape your own life and destiny. It’s about reaching a point where you’ve worked hard enough to create a landscape of opportunities for yourself, and you’re wise enough to optimize those opportunities. Success is the freedom to take risks and try new things you’ve always wanted to, while being surrounded by people in your life that you love being with.
One of my proudest professional accomplishments is having led Creative Business through three economic downturns and coming out better and stronger through each one. The 2008 recession was especially difficult; many of our clients had to restructure or scale down their businesses to survive. We helped them to do so in a smart and sustainable way so that they could hit the ground running again when the economy turned around.
Our vision is to be considered the gold standard of business advisory firms for the creative industries. We want to be the trusted partner that creative entrepreneurs bring on board when looking to take their companies to the next level. The clientele we seek also share our same values of innovation, creativity, diversity and equality. It is important to us to work with purpose-driven companies seeking to create a positive impact in the world. We also want to be an exemplar for the community by supporting our local arts organizations, working with local colleges to train our local workforce, and helping to cultivate the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.
“We are living in a historic time where females are driving a monumental shift in our culture.”
Jeanne Hardy, Founder of Creative Business Inc.
My biggest challenge is a constant one: I need to stay informed and immersed in all the issues that will affect my clients, good or bad. This can be anything from a new government regulation that affects businesses, to a new technology that could revolutionize the industry or market. We must stay ahead of the curve when it comes new technologies and trends that could affect our clients’ businesses. Whether it’s learning about how blockchain might disrupt the world of inventory management, or how artificial intelligence could change the retailing industry, our clients rely on us to educate them on the big revolutions coming in the pipeline, and to let them know when it’s time to embrace new innovations. As with most things, the challenge isn’t so much in staying informed as it is in finding the time within the daily grind to keep up!
When I first became pregnant, I was running a growing company with several large clients. When I found out that I would be having twins, it forced me to rethink how I wanted to balance work with life as a new mother. Face-to-face time with clients would be much harder to juggle with two babies at home. I made the executive decision to bring work into the cloud, which meant installing new online banking and management platforms, and communicating over email and teleconferencing. At the time, it was considered risky—we ended up losing half our client base because they weren’t ready to make the move online. In the end, the risk paid off. We made up our lost client base with new clients who were more open to trying online systems. Moving to the cloud put our clients ahead of the curve financially and operationally, which helped their businesses (and ours) grow over the long term. Ultimately, I was able to run a successful company and be the mother I wanted to be at the same time.
My role models are the countless women who are working to effect change in our society, one fight at a time. From all the inspiring women candidates running for government to the women behind the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, we are living in a historic time where females are driving a monumental shift in our culture. When I was young, I looked up to women like Lucille Ball—strong, independent women who simultaneously broke the glass ceiling and defied cultural expectations. Nowadays, strong women are the rule, not the exception! I’m grateful that my daughter is growing up in a time where inspiring women are making headlines every day.