Maddie Schultz started her career by creating a budget for snacks. Since her middle-school snack trading days, she’s learned to channel her skills and passion into helping others balance their books. She’s a detail-oriented entrepreneur who reads accounting books for fun, and there’s no problem she can’t solve with a spreadsheet.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was adopted when I was very young and raised here in Fargo by two wonderful parents. Growing up, I always had my nose in a book, absorbing as much information as I could and was inquisitive about the world around me. Even from a young age, I was also a bit of an entrepreneur (although I didn’t know it then!). From trading candy and snacks in elementary/middle school, to selling handmade necklaces and jewelry in small town stores in high school, I learned to love trying new things and that feeling of satisfaction when hard work paid off.
I started Blue Cypher Bookkeeping at the end of 2019 and by January of 2020 left my full-time job to work fully in the business. Creating a completely virtual firm, I really wanted to focus on bringing accounting into the 21st century and taking traditional bookkeeping beyond just data entry. I aim to make bookkeeping understandable for business owners, more efficient, and better overall, by leveraging technology and other systems/processes. While I work with a variety of industries, I specialize in accounting for service-based businesses and nonprofit organizations.
How did you get involved in your work?
My parents were always pretty frugal and taught me good habits for spending and saving. When I was 16 years old, I got my first job as a cashier at a local grocery store and I remember how excited I was to get my first paycheck. With that, I bought myself a ledger book, which was my first introduction to debits and credits and tracking finances for myself. I might have looked like a nerd to my peers, but after I made my first budget (I’m pretty sure my first budget line item was dedicated to “snacks” LOL), and I’ve been tracking my finances ever since!
After graduating from MSUM and working in the corporate world for a while, I realized one of my strengths was how detail-oriented I was. I had an eye for creating and improving processes/systems and organization in general. I was always known as the responsible one among my friends and colleagues. People often joked that, “Maddie probably has a spreadsheet for that!” when it came to tracking things.
I think what really sparked my interest in making bookkeeping my thing was when I was re-reading an old accounting book from college (just for fun, mind you) and realized my love of finances combined with my eye for organizing and finding efficiencies, could be a killer combination.
Business owners were always talking about how awful tax time was. Each year, tax time was crunch time, full of boxes of receipts and scrambling to pull together numbers. While they dreaded it, doing that type of work was something that energized me. I loved the idea that I could get paid to do something I enjoy, while helping take work off the plate of already busy business owners from behind the scenes and letting them get back to doing what they love doing too.
Tax season is coming up. What advice do you have for those who dread this time of year from going insane?
Start small! I know how overwhelming it can feel at crunch time when you have months of work piled up. Getting your books caught up takes time and it’s okay take it slow, you just have to start somewhere. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Break it up into smaller pieces and focus on one section at a time.
If you feel like every year ends up being the same stressful cycle and last-minute scramble, asking for help is also okay! Identify what makes it so hard each year to get organized or consider hiring a pro to take it off your plate so you have one less thing to worry about in general.
What’s been keeping you sane these days?
I’m engaged to an amazing guy, Zach, who keeps me sane! He’s always helping me out with things when I’m busy and he reminds me to take breaks, breathe, and to get out of my own way sometimes. We also enjoy taking walks and playing board games together.
Who inspires you?
My parents inspire me! Being adopted, I’m a product of the whole “nature versus nurture” argument. I don’t know a lot about my genetics, but I do know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents’ love and support. They are amazing role models that clearly live out their core values in everything they do, personally and professionally. Their integrity, work ethic, and love for each other and the people around them is always something I’ve admired and strived for as well.
I can see aspects of both my mom and dad in me and how they shaped who I am today. Even now, they continue to inspire me as our own relationship evolves over the years and we all have our own new chapters in life and grow in different ways.
How have you stayed connected to your community throughout this really isolating time?
It has definitely been hard to not be able to go out as much or to community events as we try to stay safe for those around us that are high risk. I have been trying to be more purposeful in reaching out to friends and family, even a simple text or phone call here can make all the difference just to remind someone you care, I know I’ve felt that way when I’ve gotten that from people.
Both my fiancé and I have also become more conscious about trying to support more local businesses when we can, buying locally made products and telling people about local spots we love! We all must support one another and stay connected in these times.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?
“Pick your plates.” We all have responsibilities, personally and professionally. Especially as a business owner there are always fires to put out and things to do. During one point where I was starting to feel overwhelmed, someone gave me this advice.
“Pick your plates” is the simple idea that we all have limits of how many plates we can juggle at once. We must choose what is truly important and be okay with letting other plates fall or be willing to ask for help with the rest. Honestly, there’s nothing more freeing than being able to let something go, know it’s okay, and that’s when you can take back your time and focus all your energy again on what really matters.