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Finance and Public Service Professionals Become First-Generation Business Owners With BooXkeeping Franchise in Charlotte, North Carolina

Carlos and Sulma Aracena found a path to financial and time freedom with the flexible bookkeeping franchise and plan to continue paving the way for their daughters through leadership and entrepreneurship.

BooXkeeping, the emerging bookkeeping franchise that emphasizes the interpersonal aspects of relationships between bookkeepers and their clients, is growing in North Carolina. Carlos Aracena, a former finance professional, and his wife Sulma, a programs and services manager, are planning to open their Charlotte, North Carolina bookkeeping franchise this May.

During the pandemic, the Aracenas felt a shift in their family dynamic as schedules became more demanding and time with the family became harder to find. After widespread layoffs in the financial industry, Carlos knew it was time to act. Through in-depth research, he identified BooXkeeping as a franchise opportunity that aligned with his existing skills. When he presented the idea to Sulma, the two agreed it could be the pathway to unlocking the lifestyle they dreamt of. 

As they look forward to launching the business next month, the two are excited to become pillars in their community; make their parents, who immigrated to the U.S. to afford them better opportunities, proud; and build something that will serve their family’s needs now and for years to come.

1851 Franchise spoke with Carlos and Sulma to learn more about their journey to franchising with BooXkeeping and their goals for the future.

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Carlos: Prior to this, I worked at Ally Financial. I worked in compliance and investigations, pretty much doing anti-money-laundering work. I did that for five years and learned a lot. Before that, I worked at Wells Fargo and was in law enforcement.

In the last couple of years, our schedules weren’t aligned, and trying to balance the commute, work and spending time with the family took up the entire day. I had experienced the benefits of remote work during the pandemic, and it’s one of those things where once you let the toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back in. I had already seen too much, and I wanted to get back to having more control over my schedule with a flexible, remote model.

Sulma: Back in New York, I was a program director for after-school and summer programming for at-risk youth. I did that for about 10 years, and when we relocated to Charlotte, I started to pursue my master’s degree in public administration. Since coming to Charlotte, I’ve worked in children’s development services for children with potential disabilities, and now, I work in the courthouse. I’ve been here for about five years.

During the pandemic, our lives shifted a little bit and our perspective on the quality of life we wanted for ourselves and our family changed. We started to think more about what we could do differently, and Carlos started researching franchising.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Carlos: When you’re starting from scratch, it’s a lot harder. It’s nice to have a certain way to do things, and having things like technical support from the franchisor will set you apart from other businesses and help you succeed a lot faster.

Sulma: I thought that franchising would be just as hard as starting something from scratch, and Carlos had to reassure me that there really was a model in place and steps outlined. Someone has already tested the waters for you in franchising, and that’s a huge plus.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Carlos: The brand is professional, but we’re also trying to make it more human. Our hashtag is #CoolBeanCounters. It’s clear that we don’t have to do this the old way anymore. It’s exciting to not have to have a brick-and-mortar location and to be able to work anywhere.

Sulma: Hearing Max [Emma]’s story, when he said that he started the business out of his garage, I wanted to learn more about that. It was so relatable and I thought, “It’s really possible.” If he and his business partner could grow the business on their own, we can grow the business with their support and knowledge.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Carlos: We want to establish our business and do the best we can. Once we have built a strong customer base and feel very confident in the quality we’re offering, we might think about expanding.

Sulma: BooXkeeping can be a vehicle for us to achieve financial freedom, but we aren’t solely focused on revenue. We don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck, but money isn’t the only thing we’re chasing. We want to integrate ourselves into the community and make a meaningful impact, too.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Sulma: We grew up in New York, and our parents are immigrants. Carlos and I, we’re first-generation almost everything — college education, homeownership and whatnot. It’s really important for us to keep our kids on that path, and we want to make our parents proud. 

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Carlos: Obviously, do your due diligence; go over your disclosure documents. But don’t feel ashamed to ask questions either. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don’t assume that anyone knows what you’re thinking or what you need help with.

Sulma: Talking to other owners alleviated a lot of my concerns. Go ahead and have honest conversations with people who are already in the business. Ask for helpful tips or things they wish they would’ve known when they were getting into it. What’s one thing they would’ve done differently? What would have been a game-changer for them in their business?

BooXkeeping is a bookkeeping franchise that combines professional expertise with genuine human connection to provide cutting-edge bookkeeping services for small and medium-sized businesses, franchisees, franchisors, CPA firms and more. 

Founded by Max and Elena Emma, two entrepreneurial immigrants with in-depth experience in finance and accounting, the brand’s journey spans over 20 years. Today, with six franchise locations across the country and one corporate location, BooXkeeping has emerged as a unique player in the bookkeeping industry, emphasizing a human-driven approach and personalized service.