Alexis Kimbrough, the founder of the Growth Group, specializes in helping musicians gain financial independence and live prosperous financial lives. Since 2008, the Growth Group has delivered financial education, tax, accounting, and bookkeeping services for independent artists, record labels, and recording studios. She believes that without musicians, the world would be a boring place; and even in the very saturated music industry of today, dedicated music creators can be profitable.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Alexis and interviewed her on the Sage Advice podcast. An edited version of the conversation is below.
Why do you do what you do?
Alexis Kimbrough: I went to college on a music scholarship. I’m an accountant and CPA, and I got my accounting degree from Howard University and then went on to obtain a Master’s Degree from American University. But music is what paved the way.
It’s been a whirlwind of fun since I started it back in 2008-2009. While I was in college, I started working with my first music client, and I’ve learned so much over that time. It’s really put me in a completely different place than I ever thought I would be, and it’s been great.
I feel like me choosing this niche, and working with these people specifically, is why I am the accountant that I am today. My parents weren’t fortunate to be able to send me to college for free, but because I was gifted in music, I’ve played the flute and piccolo, that ushered me into the accounting world and that’s what I ended up doing.
This is my one way of being able to give back to the music community and help them to increase their financial independence as well. Kind of to debunk the myth of the “starving artist.”
What can accounting industry leaders learn from musicians?
Alexis Kimbrough: Specifically, let’s talk about accountants. What could accountants learn from musicians? I would definitely say to keep a creative edge. A lot of times we have that stereotype of musicians that they’re so creative and they’re not worried about business or money. That’s a blessing in disguise. Musicians focus on their product first and really making it great. That’s what accountants need to do as well; continue to reinvent ourselves.
Musicians have to think about, “What does my listener really want to hear about? What kind of life struggles are they going through? Or what type of joys do they have?”
Then they incorporate that emotion into their music, creatively.
They’re consistently having to come up with new content, and I think as accountants we kind of have to do the same thing.
Our client’s businesses are ever evolving and ever-changing and if we’re kind of stuck in the old way of doing things, and not infusing that element of creativity, we’re really robbing our clients of our best selves. I think that’s the one thing that musicians can definitely teach accountants in this day.
Can you give an example of where you’ve done that through your relationships with musicians?
I have implemented what I call, “Watch my Box.” This is a service that I provide to musicians because they’re always on the road. It’s a safety mechanism.
Musicians may get state notices or IRS notices in the mail while they are on tour. Normally there’s a 10-30-day response period for these notices before they go to collections. For the clients that work with us for tax preparation services, if they’re artists, we offer them “Watch my Box” and this is technically a power of attorney so that we can respond while they are on the road.
Obviously, we don’t do anything without letting them know, but essentially, if their mailbox is filling up with notices that they’re not aware of because they’re traveling, we help out. We take on the responsibility in-house.