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NAWBO Member Q&A: Tammy Stifel

Tammy Stifel is the founder of OrganizerForU, a West Des Moines-based company specializing in QuickBooks training, bookkeeping and financial process improvement. Her career before starting a business includes more than 15 years in accounting in a variety of industries.

Stifel is the director of membership for NAWBO Iowa and is a partner in the Business Warriors group, a composite of women business owners who each blog about their area of expertise to enlighten others.

Can you take me through your personal background?

I grew up in Dubuque, surrounded by the beautiful scenic bluffs and steeples in the city, along with my seven siblings. I learned quickly to be self-sufficient and task-oriented. Accepting responsibility and meeting deadlines were essential skills I developed as a child. Plus, finding one’s voice and having both collaboration and negotiation skills were essential in a large family.

After completing high school and my secondary education in accounting, I met my husband. We will celebrate our 32nd anniversary this year. We have two sons and a daughter-in-law, and this fall our first grandson will arrive, which is exciting, of course. I enjoy everything outdoors, dabbling in photography, making memories with friends and family and appreciating life’s many blessings.

What is your profession/business?

My career has been in the accounting profession, and I’ve had numerous roles in the information technology, software development, insurance and finance industries. Each position always led to the next until I started my own company, OrganizerForU, in 2009, to guide, assist and manage the bookkeeping operations of others.

OrganizerForU was created by incorporating two of my favorite skills — managing money and developing procedures — with my passion for implementing processes! All are essential for an adequately organized accounting and bookkeeping department if a small business is to function well and have the financial information needed for making strategic decisions. Time efficiency is cost effective.

What is the favorite part of what you do?

The favorite part of my job is simply helping a business discover what isn’t functioning in their process or what’s at the root of their bookkeeping procedural problem. We then determine if we need to revise, recreate or renew their procedure to keep the system flowing as needed to have accurate and timely financials. I love uncovering the hiccups in financial recordkeeping!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I envisioned operating a place for all kids to be loved, safe, happy and fed. I still think of that, and I haven’t given up on having a role in making that a reality. It just may be more in supporting existing human service programs from behind the scenes.

If you could time travel, where would you go?

I would like to travel back in time so I could observe and even be a part of the creation of the computer. My mind is energized when I get my hands on all the details that make something work. My dad loved to tinker with electrical gadgets, so I think that he may have passed on the desire-to-explore side of my personality. Breaking down what isn’t working and rebuilding it to function properly delights me!

5 books written by female entrepreneurs — for female entrepreneurs

Books can serve as an inspiration, especially for entrepreneurs going through the tough, day-to-day grind. It’s no secret that starting a business is difficult, but reading can help boost motivation and provide advice and ideas for tackling everyday roadblocks. And, similar to the blog we posted earlier this month about podcasting, books are a great way to relax and unwind while picking up tips and tricks along the way.

Women entrepreneurs have interesting and unique stories to tell. Some have published books hoping to inspire other women to find success of their own. Here are five books written by female entrepreneurs, for female entrepreneurs.

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandburg and Nell Scovell

Written by Sheryl Sandburg, chief operating officer of Facebook, and Nell Scovell, a television and magazine writer, “Lean In” describes how women might unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Through anecdotes and research, the book touches on how women can overcome these mental roadblocks to advance their businesses or in their careers.

The book encourages women to seek challenges, take risks and pursue goals with ambition. Since she released the book in 2013, Sandburg has started a nonprofit called LeanIn.org. Its goal is to offer women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.

“Lean In” is widely available, but here’s a handy link to its Amazon page.  

"Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 Into a Billion Dollar Business" by Barbara Corcoran and Bruce Littlefield

Barbara Corcoran, who has become a household name because of her role on the popular ABC show “Shark Tank,” has a compelling story. She went from a poor, hard-working waitress to a wildly successful real estate mogul in New York City.

Corcoran’s frank and brazen critiques of entrepreneurs on Shark Tank mirrors this book’s style as well. She’s down to earth, funny and sometimes hilarious about her ladder to success, which she hopes inspires other female entrepreneurs to break down barriers and find success themselves.

Here’s a link to the book.

"#Girlboss" by Sophia Amoruso

The path to success is rarely easy, and perhaps no one understands that more than Sophia Amoruso. Amoruso worked various odd jobs as a teenager and lived the life of a nomad in her early 20s, hitchhiking on the West Coast while dumpster diving and stealing. At the age of 22, Amoruso started an online eBay store which grew into its own site, Nasty Gal, by 2008. Today, Nasty Gal is a successful international fashion brand.

Amoruso put her life story into “#Girlboss,” an autobiography published in 2014. The book focuses on strategic planning and the need to take risks when starting a business — great messages for beginning entrepreneurs.  

"Body and Soul: Profits with Principles" by Anita Roddick

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a rise in social entrepreneurship — doing business with a cause. “Body and Soul” is an autobiography by Anita Roddick, who founded the Body Shop, a cosmetics company that refused to test products on animals and bought ingredients directly from producers in the mid-1970s.

Roddick gives tips on how to start a business that makes money and strives for a better world. The book was published in 1994, but its message still resonates today.

"She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur" by Carrie Green

Written by Carrie Green, who started her first online business at 20, “She Mean Business” offers valuable guidance and exercises to help with myriad challenges: business vision, fears and doubts, understanding audiences and more.

This book is ideal for someone who has an idea, but is unsure how to bring it to life.