Hi, I’m Cathy Derus! I’m a CPA and financial planner, and I help online business owners eliminate stress and worry over taxes, business finances, and more.  

My clients get to spend more time doing what they love, rather than wrestling with the stuff they hate. I handle the taxes (and then some) while they enjoy being with their families, traveling, growing their business -- at the end of the day, they have more time and energy to devote to what lights them up rather than what drags them down. I’m a CPA for a reason: I know taxes and I know how to show you how to structure your business (and personal) finances in the most efficient way possible.  

Anyone can throw numbers into a tax software. I’m here to help you create a better financial strategy for your business and your life. ...but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it. (In fact, I’ll admit it: I’ve been accused of having too much personality for a CPA!)  


Taxes, bookkeeping, and tracking your personal and business finances is overwhelming, stressful, and full of uncertainty. (Are you sure you can take that deduction? What happens if the IRS audits you? How should you file to get the most profit from your online business?)  


Managing the finances for your business takes serious time. You miss out on enjoying your lifestyle that your lifestyle business was supposed to enable when you’re buried in statements, forms, and endless tax questions! Sure, you can try to manage it on your own. But that doesn’t eliminate stress or uncertainty, and making a mistake can cost a lot down the road.


Stop wasting your time and energy worrying about making the right tax moves. Start feeling confident that you actually know what’s going on in your biz books. How? By working together and giving your online business a CPA who gets what you’re going though and can create a financial strategy that gives you want you want out of your business.

I run an online accounting and financial planning firm because I get what online business owners and creative entrepreneurs deal with. And I want to make it easier for you to succeed. 

“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” --Thomas Merton  

That quote could have been written about me a few years ago. I built my career in corporate accounting and financial reporting, and was in the process of climbing to the tippy-top of that ladder. I was successful. I was good at what I did. And the whole time, I could not stop thinking about launching my own online, lifestyle business. In 2015, after a little bit of hand-wringing and a lot of running away from facing the risk of failure that’s inevitable when you go out on your own, I launched my own financial planning firm. Brightwater Accounting followed soon after, and today, I run both firms to provide my fellow crazy ones (AKA, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, creativepreneurs -- anyone out there marching to the beat of their own drum and making a living running their own show) with everything they need to take control of their personal and business finances. I’m willing to bet you’ve got a similar story. The details might be a little different -- maybe you hated your old day job and wanted a way out, maybe you had to claw your way up from nothing because you didn’t have a spouse to support you, maybe you didn’t struggle at all and always knew you were born to turn your small business from a dream into successful reality. But either way, you started from somewhere that looks way different than life does today. You faced down fear and doubts and you overcame struggles and challenges to do something that very few people can do: you launched your own business into the world and today, you’re passionate about what you do and who you help. Whatever the specifics of your story, we all have that story in common. We were all called to get out there and create something that was entirely our own. We’re all compelled to succeed on our own terms, running our own businesses so we can create the life we want. As uplifting and exciting as it is to steer your own ship, the IRS remains unmoved by our inspiring stories and definitely wants a cut of what your successful business is earning. (Sorry to bring you back down to reality with that note.) Launching your online business feels like half the battle sometimes. The other half? Dealing with a more complicated financial and tax situation. And that’s stressful, overwhelming, even panic-inducing when you’re not sure exactly how to file, how much you owe, or how you can minimize your tax burden so you can maximize what you actually get to keep. That’s why I’m here. I work with smart, driven, motivated solopreneurs, online business owners, and self-employed creatives and become part of their team of resources that helps them get exactly what they want from their businesses. I give them a way to hand off their tax worries and financial concerns to a professional so they can go back to using their time for what matters most: serving their own clients and enjoying the lifestyle their online business provides for them. 

That’s a lot about me. I’d love to learn more about you.

What about your business finances keeps you up at night? Is there a pressing tax question that’s bothering you? Are you facing a financial decision or tax challenge that you’re not sure how to tackle? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it -- and more importantly, I want to hear your story and what you want to achieve. Together, we can look at how to structure your business so that it allows you to access what’s most important in your life (whether that’s more profit, more time, or more freedom).  

Brightwater Accounting




La Grange Park, La Grange, Chicagoland, IL and virtually with clients nationwide