HerKentucky Business: Lydia Powell Bookkeeping

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State. 

Just as Emily did in March, I'm here to talk to you about a new business I launched this year - Lydia Powell Bookkeeping. It seems a bit odd to conduct a self-interview, but I wanted to share my story in the hopes it might inspire other Kentuckians to find their way in business. Thanks to Heather and the other HerKentucky women for allowing me this space!



Lydia Powell holds a degree in accounting from Transylvania University and has 10+ years of experience in accounting and auditing. She's worked with non-profit organzations, governmental entities, small businesses and been employed by major manufacturing enterprises in Kentucky.

1. Are you a native Kentuckian? Why have a Kentucky business? 

I am a native Kentuckian and very proud of it! Kentucky is my history and my home. When faced with the potential relocation of my job, my husband and I had some difficult decisions to make. We cast about, testing out the dream of living abroad. When we decided that wasn't exactly what we wanted, we briefly reconsidered pursuing relocation with my job or making a major relocation to a different area of the United States.

In the end, we decided that Kentucky was our home and held our future. Our family and many of our friends are in Kentucky. Our support systems are here. The cost of living is definitely right! Honestly, while I enjoyed the thought of moving to far off lands, I couldn't quite wrap my head around what it might be like to live somewhere else!

When we decided to remain in central Kentucky, I decided to start my own freelance bookkeeping company. Not only can I take full advantage of my education and career experience, I'm also passionate about helping other small businesses succeed - in Kentucky and beyond. 

I'm of the mind that we should enjoy what we do and do it well. I enjoy the organization and analysis aspects of finance, and I want to help business owners get out from behind their computer screens, struggling with their books and back to what they enjoy and do well! 

2. Many younger people say they can't find many corporate-type jobs in Kentucky, so they leave the state. What was your experience?

My experience has been extremely positive! Other than a brief stint in state government during and just after graduation, I've been employed by Kentucky businesses in corporate-type jobs. 

When I was in high school and even college, the trend was for young people to move out of state as soon as they could. I think that trend is reversing or, at least, changing. With impressive improvements in our state university systems and a cost of living that remains below the national average, I think young people are realizing that Kentucky is a hidden gem. I know lots of young people, just like our own Sarah Stewart Holland, who ventured to larger markets to begin their careers but moved back to Kentucky to begin their family and continue their careers.

3. What was the hardest part of starting a new business?  What do you wish someone had told you before you started Lydia Powell Bookkeeping?

While I can often be cautious with new adventures, when I get an idea in my head that I'm passionate about, I tend to jump in head first with eyes closed tight! The hardest part of starting my new business has been making myself go slow, make plans and strategies for the long run and implementing those in a methodical way. I hope that this planning and considered action will set me up for success in the long run!

Luckily, I have a strong business education and background, so I feel like I may be better suited to navigate the confusing and complicated waters of starting a business. I think other entreprenuers may have a great idea but not a great foundation regarding how to get that idea turned into an operating and profitable business. I highly recommend the resources of the Small Business Administration, the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal and the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office. I urge other new business owners to go through the exercise of creating a business plan - even if no one but you ever sees it, sitting down to write out a plan makes you think!

4. What is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship/small business ownership?

I've only been in operation for about a month. So far, though, nothing I've done for my business has felt like "work." You know that Sunday-night-dreading-Monday-morning feeling? I don't have that when I think about the tasks I need to accomplish for my business. I've also met some amazingly inspiring and encouraging people. When I announced my new business venture, I never expected the support I've received from friends and strangers alike. It's awesome to know that other people want to help you succeed.

5. What suggestions do you have for women who want to start their own business?

Believe in yourself or fake it until you make it! 

Go outside your comfort zone. I hate to do it, too, but it's good for you. I've met potential clients I'd never met before for coffee, I've called people I don't know on the phone - both things I normally hate to do, but that were so rewarding!

Seek out and network with other women in business. I've been lucky enough to have a supportive group of women to turn to when I need reassurance and to ask practical questions of. Basically, we inspire and support one another and it's wonderful. If you don't know where to find a group like that, ask at your local Chamber of Commerce if they have a women's group, check out Femfessionals to find a local chapter (Lexington has one!) or join and participate with a group on sites like LinkedIn.

And now: the quick-fire round!

1. Bourbon or martinis? Ack! I'm a beer girl - the craftier the better.
2. One dream you still want to reach?  I really want to visit Ireland with my mom someday.
3. Favorite Lexington restaurant? I'm a new Table 310 convert, but really want to try out the food at The Village Idiot (the beer selection is great). I can't wait for 21C to open a new hotel and restaurant in Lexington, as well!
4. Favorite way to spend a Friday night. My 22-year old self would be so embarrassed, but now I love a good Friday night at home with pizza and beer, some popcorn, a good movie and my husband and the dog on the sofa.