Stephen started creating gaming videos on the streaming platform Twitch as well as on YouTube, becoming popular with other fans of the Sims. Over time, as his audience grew, his interests and creative endeavors started to evolve.
“It grew from wanting to make videos, which I still do, to wanting to tap into another creative platform, making art and being excited about what I’m creating,” he says.
Things really took off in 2020, the year he graduated college. As his first year out of school, it was also the first time Stephen was able to put everything he had toward growing his business.
“Now I also run an online stationery store called Hello, Spring Co. where I sell art prints, digital stickers, physical stickers, etc. I also work with other companies to design whatever they need.”
Running two separate businesses, not to mention working as a brand ambassador and partnering with other companies, means that finances can get complicated—quickly. Around 2021, Stephen decided he wanted to outsource his bookkeeping so he could focus on the creative aspects of his work. He found that he could use Bench for bookkeeping, and Bench partner Freshbooks for invoicing, making the process of moving his financials over a no-brainer.
“Using Bench alongside Freshbooks made the whole thing seamless and easy,” he says.
Bench’s real-time updates allow Stephen to see his business’s financial state at any point, so he can keep an eye on his cash flow and compare his month-over-month or year-over year performance.
“I like those features, and honestly I think communicating with my bookkeeper is what I really enjoy. Because they answer literally any question I need answered.”
As Stephen’s business has grown, he’s also worked on growing his network and sharing his expertise with others.
“A piece of advice I’d give others is to really lean into your connections,” he says. “The people that you know who own a business around you, they might know something you don’t know, or they might not know something that you know. So leaning into those connections will be vital for you in the beginning.”
One effective way to do, according to Stephen, is to join your local Chamber of Commerce.
“That’s allowed me to connect with people on a business level, and get more connections that I maybe wouldn’t have thought about,” he says. “There’s so many businesses out that you can collaborate with, and collaboration is key to growing anything.”
He also advises entrepreneurs to embrace video.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand the value of video, because video is forever. There’s photos, but photos don’t really capture the full essence of a brand or a business. I think if you’re able to communicate authentically and professionally what it is you believe in, that’ll come across in a video, and it will allow you to reach more customers.”
While Stephen loves doing what he’s doing, he’s also got a bigger mission behind SpringSims and Hello, Spring Co.
“I would love to learn about how someone could use their business to create, like, a grant or a scholarship for the future—something for children who want to start their own businesses.”