Lauren Bishop, Owner & CEO of Squid Ink Office Management, is WE Magazine’s newest Woman on the Move
Tell us about how you chose your career/business and what your responsibilities include?
I’ve worked in restaurants and bars for over 15 years in almost all the positions, I work well with Chefs; I understand their form of passion and it also helps that I love food! Several of those places I was promoted to a management position where my responsibilities would somehow always end up including some form of an accounting aspect. I also did some part time clerical/administrative work in an office throughout the years when I could. I never really thought the two would ever really relate.
I’ve always been interested in art and even went to art school. I loved painting and photography and ended up focusing a lot on Art History. Studying art (and art history specifically) gave me an advantage. They focus on thinking outside the box and being very detail oriented. It conditions you to a different way of thinking. However, the field is super competitive, so I ended up staying in the restaurant industry.
After so many years in restaurants, I got burned out. I started looking for something that would still be in the industry while allowing me a little distance from the operations aspect of it. I found an opening at a restaurant/bar that needed an Office Manager. It was a perfect fit, I knew a lot about how restaurants worked while also knowing a lot about how a business is run. I learned so much and found I really had a knack for this!
After a year or two, I was chatting with someone who happened to be a small business owner; they needed someone to come in and help with their books. They were small and new but didn’t really understand how to track everything appropriately. They also had a hard time understanding their accountant. This is something I’ve come across a lot- I’ve met some great accountants that do their job very well but lack the people skills that help them explain the business’ numbers to anyone except other accountants. This poses a big problem, with creative people specifically. These are right brained people who love what they do and are so passionate about it. But most of the time they don’t know anything about business management and don’t have the time to focus on it.
It started off small with that first business and as I started to talk to more small business owners in the creative field, the more I noticed that there was a big need for this. Someone to bridge the gap between the bookkeeping/office management and the passion. Squid Ink Office Management was formed and took off!
Now I cover a variety of duties tailored to each client’s needs. Sales tracking, payroll, invoicing, sales tax, you name it!
Tell us about your company?
Squid Ink Office Management is a Bookkeeping/Office Management company that specializes in creative fields. We take care of the business, so the client can take care of the passion. When starting a creative based business, it’s exciting! Finally getting to live the dream, be your own boss! But most people that do this underestimate the amount of time you will have to put into it just managing it. It is a business after all. Squid Ink is here to take away some of the accounting aspects, so they can do what they love! Is it really living the dream if you are spending hours going over different reports and spreadsheets instead of what you love?
We work closely with their accountant, especially during tax season, to make sure everything is in compliance and answering any questions the accountant may have about the books. We track income and expenses, pay bills, reconcile bank accounts, process payroll, file and pay the sales and payroll taxes. We cover all the things that matter in business so they have the chance to do what they love. We love businesses that are super passionate about what they do!
We have some amazing clients that do amazing things. I love raving about my clients any chance I get. Bellina Alimentari in Ponce City Market is some of the best food I’ve had in Atlanta- I order the squid ink pasta (they make the pasta fresh in house!) almost every time I stop by. The Basement in East Atlanta Village has some great themed dance parties. Gotta Have It Catering and Food Truck became a client when I hired them for my wedding! My friends and family still rave about the food! Our newest client, Cultured South, is opening a Kombucha tap room in the new Lee + White development on the west side beltline that I cannot wait for! We are so proud to be working with such amazing and creative people!
What sets us apart from every other Bookkeeper or Accounting firm is understanding the passion and the books! Other firms are primarily focused on the numbers and they don’t really understand the passion behind the business. They don’t connect with their clients and spend as little time as possible with them. My background in art helps me understand and appreciate the creative aspect of the business and several years doing bookkeeping has taught me how to effectively balance the books. I love being a small (and BIG!) part of each of my clients’ passion. I love making things easier for these small businesses and being their cheerleader!
What are some of the most fulfilling projects you have been involved with so far?
Each client is different and my reward differs from each one. My most fulfilling is currently I am assisting in opening a Kombucha Tap Room, which is a lot different than most anything the Atlanta area has out there. They really needed someone very hands on and I love that my clients feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions that I handle directly as well as a “Just need your opinion on this” kind of question.
Are there any people in your field you would like to meet and/or work with and have not yet had the opportunity?
There isn’t anyone specific I would like to work with, per say. I would love to have a client that challenges me in a new way with a business venture that is a little different. I love that cat cafes are popping up now, I love coffee and animals so this is right up my alley.
What are some of your favorite ways to network?
My favorite way to network is meeting people organically and having a conversation. I’ve met a lot of my clients that way. I mention what I do and how I bridge the gap between artists and their businessand a light goes off.
Do you have a mentor – if so how did you choose one another? If not, is this something you think would benefit your career and is there anyone you would like to have as a mentor?
I don’t have a mentor, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult learning those initial lessons on my own. I absolutely think it would benefit my career! I love learning new things and if someone could give me some advice now and then, I would very much appreciate it!
While I don’t have a mentor, I would love to start a relationship with someone who knows a bit more than I do so I do have someone who can give me some insight on how to become better.
What’s been the most surprising thing that has happened to you so far in your career?
There hasn’t been a whole lot of surprises in my field. But I do think the biggest surprise is how the people you know react to your success. While I have had a lot of support from a few people, there were a few that I was surprised to find were either apathetic or passive aggressive. It definitely taught me how to rise above it and not let other people keep you from doing wonderful things!
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I am a big reader! I love sitting in my hammock in the back yard and read with my dogs and a good glass of wine.
Any parting advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I would say don’t be scared, go for it!
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?