Willing to Jump In
When asked about the difficulties of attending college as a single mother of three kids, Brittany Drury Brown (BS ’10, MAc ’10) just laughs. “Oh my gosh, so many struggles,” she says. When she started her accounting degree, Brown was twenty-six; her oldest was in first grade, she had little professional experience, and she was still reeling from an unexpected divorce. To say the process was difficult would be an understatement.
“I had from eight [AM] until two until I had to pick up my kids,” Brown explains, describing a typical school day, “At two o’clock, I had to be a mom until eight [PM] when I would put my kids to bed. Then I would work until two in the morning.” Motherhood also brought a number of unique challenges, like the additional expense of childcare and the difficulty in rearranging schedules to accommodate group projects and tests. “The never-ending mental demands of school [were] really difficult with the emotional demands of single parenthood,” Brown says.
Not only was Brown approaching her schooling with three young children in tow, she admits she didn’t necessarily have the skillset to succeed academically: “I’m kind of famous for being [someone] who is full of enthusiasm and vision, but not great with details and follow through.” Despite the setbacks, however, Brown graduated in 2010, a feat she attributes to God. “The fact I was able to pull that off during that period of time in my life was so out of character for me that it can only be attributed to the fact that I had angels on me on every side.”
Brown went on to join the workforce, where she quickly discovered a growing number of accountants working from home, rather than going to an office. As a mother, Brown immediately felt the draw of a more flexible work environment, and believed others would continue see the appeal as well. Two years after she graduated, Brown once again set off into the unknown and started her own company, LedgerGurus, which was designed to harness the efforts of those at-home accountants and create a remote workplace.
The challenges of running a business quickly became apparent. “[It] was like an avalanche of exposure to a whole bunch of stuff that not only did I not have any experience with, I didn’t necessarily have even a desire or aptitude to go there,” Brown says, “You name it, I had zero experience with it.” Still, Brown had confidence in her own talents as an accountant, as well as her ability to create good relationships with employees and clients. Through trial and error, the business slowly began to scale.
One of Brown’s keys to success is her humility. “I was super honest about what I didn’t know and where my weaknesses were,” Brown explains. To make up for this, Brown “hired really good people and then listened to everything they said.” She worked with coaches to improve her management abilities and called on friends to help her practice the skills she lacked, like sales. Her trust and hard work have paid off; Brown describes the difference between where her company was in its early days and where it’s at now as “night and day.”
Not only can Brown stay home with her children, she’s also found that LedgerGurus has allowed her to help other young professionals. “We spend a lot of time, energy and money investing in their growth as people and professionals,” Brown says, “That is so rewarding.” Through her own risks and struggles, Brown has been able to discover just how capable she can be, and in her company she tries to provide that same experience to her employees.
As a CEO of a rapidly growing business, Brown is certainly in a different place now than she was years ago as a single mother starting college. “I experienced a lot of fear really early on in my career,” Brown admits, “[But] you will get farther on everything by being willing to just jump in and make all the mistakes that come with it.”