Small town, big money: A conversation with Meghan Blair from Fogged In Bookkeeping

The economy looks a little different when you live in a vacation town—especially when that vacation town is the elite’s playground.


  • Meghan Blair is the founder of Fogged In Bookkeeping, a bookkeeping business in Nantucket, Massachusetts—an island and popular vacation town among the wealthy.

  • While Nantucket is a small community for most of the year, the population swells with vacationers in the summer. Much of Meghan’s clientele comes from summer visitors with businesses across the US.

  • After the challenges of COVID, Meghan worked up an acquisition with fellow Karbon client Growth Lab Financial.

Meghan Blair founded her business, Fogged In Bookkeeping, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. With the big money that rolls into town every summer, it might seem like the place would be flush with cash. But Meghan shares a more stark reality. 

“You see a population flux from probably 15,000 tops in the winter to 85,000 in peak summer. The economics that [seasonality] creates for small businesses is interesting. Winter cash flow gets really important,” she says.

During the winter’s slow season, the population of Nantucket struggles with food insecurity. The swings in the housing and labor markets that the rest of the US. sees are magnified on the isolated island, and housing prices are astronomical due to the seasonal elites who arrive in the summer. 

While Fogged In Bookkeeping can serve clients from across the US, most of them have at least some connection to Nantucket. As a result, Meghan and her employees intimately understand why getting the numbers right in the summer is critical to surviving the winter. 

Meghan shares her journey with host Stuart McLeod on episode 66 of the Accounting Leaders Podcast, discussing the challenges of managing seasonality and maintaining a remote workforce. Plus, she explains the big change Fogged In Bookkeeping is making in 2023. 

Volatile vacation towns

The service and hospitality industries struggle the most in popular vacation destinations like Nantucket, where the economy depends on seasonal tourism. As someone who also lives in a vacation town, Stuart notices the challenges of seasonal businesses.

“It's so frustrating for restaurants that I see around here. They serve six people because we're in shoulder season on a Tuesday. Then, the Friday before July 4, you've got a three-hour wait in line at a nice restaurant, and they physically can't get the revenue through the door as fast as they'd like it,” he says.

When it comes to tax prep, seasonal businesses absolutely cannot afford mistakes. They need to know if things are going awry in the moment. 

“If you've had a bad season, and you don't know till January, you're done. Live financials are critical,” Meghan agrees. “We're looking at labor costs and food costs with a restaurant every week. Your biggest constraint is what that kitchen can pump out. And that's a human problem, not a for-later problem.”

Small town referrals

Nantucket’s small market and isolation could potentially make referrals more difficult. But thanks to the bigger network of Nantucket’s summer residents, Fogged In Bookkeeping has been able to weather many storms. Some of Meghan’s clients have stretched as far away as the Bay Area.

Nantucket’s vacationers also tend to have their hands in more than one business venture. Once they start working with Fogged In Bookkeeping, they see the benefit of having other related businesses follow suit. Those could be companies they’re considering for investment or businesses of their own. 

“Maybe they own a tech company, and they've got a couple of real estate investments. They may put some seed money or A-round money into a small business or a startup. They want their K-1s on time,” Meghan says. “That way, they know their investments are in good hands, and not going to get derailed by something silly like never enrolling in worker’s comp.”

So even though the island itself is small, the sphere of influence is large.

Recommended viewing: Break the cycle of seasonal clients

Remote veterans

Unlike many other companies, remote work didn’t start with COVID for Meghan and her crew. Almost a decade ago, one of her key employees moved to Florida. If Meghan wanted to keep her, she had to figure out a way to facilitate remote work.

Then as the years went on, [remote work] just made more and more sense. It was cost-effective. I had a selection from a bigger pool because being 30 miles out at sea, I was forced to be resourceful about my staff. And then once you're remote, why not have remote customers?

Meghan Blair, Fogged In Bookkeeping

Since Nantucket is so small, being able to pull clients and employees from beyond its island boundaries proved beneficial. That’s not to say the firm didn’t face its own struggles during COVID. 

What did help Meghan’s remote team during that time was Karbon. Numerous team members were out, either for family illnesses or their own, and Fogged In Bookkeeping was working with a skeleton crew. 

“Karbon was what kept us afloat for about a month. At one point, it was the daily triage of going into Karbon and asking, ‘How are we getting through this week?’ I don't know how we would have done it without Karbon,” she says.

Stronger together

At the end of the episode, Stuart asks Meghan what’s ahead for Fogged In Bookkeeping. As it turns out, the company is being acquired by another Karbon client, Growth Lab Financial, in Providence, Rhode Island. 

“[The acquisition] gave us the opportunity and the resources to focus on some of the stuff that was going to move the needle forward from a social responsibility and sustainability perspective, just from basic accounting for our clients,” Meghan explains of the move. 

COVID showed her that owning a business alone is harder than having some help from friends. 

She’s grateful that the transition will likely be less bumpy because both companies use Karbon. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be resting on her laurels. 

“I'm going to probably work harder than ever,” Meghan says. “Transitions aren't easy. We want to make sure all of our customers are happy and our team is happy in that transition, which takes a lot of effort.”