No More Feeling Out of Control (Part 2): What Kind of Accounting Help Do You Need?

Many businesses come to the realization that they need a Bookkeeper to keep their books in order on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. And in many cases, a traditional bookkeeping service may be exactly what is needed. But did you realize that an accounting service could provide so much more than just maintenance of your day-to-day finances?

In Part 1 of this series, we discuss when you, as a small business owner, need to seek outside accounting help. But that only gets you part of the way. What considerations are important when selecting a bookkeeping service.

First, let’s take a brief look at the first two questions posed in the previous post and discuss how the answers could illuminate what kind of help you need.

  • Are your goalposts visible? This question relates to the strategic pillar of your business. If the answer is “No, I’m just trying to survive day to day,” then you likely need more than just basic bookkeeping help; you may need help defining your vision and aligning your tactics to that vision.
  • Do you feel out of control? This relates to your day-to-day, or operational, reality. If the answer is “yes”, or you don’t feel like you are spending time on the ‘right’ things in order to make your business successful, then you may need more than a traditional bookkeeper; someone who can 1) determine the root causes and suggest fixes, and 2) manage the day-to-day reality of your business, and 3) continually ensure that you are aligned to the vision that you’ve set (see the previous question).

If your goals are clear, you are tracking successfully towards them, and you are spending your time on the right things, then a ‘basic’ bookkeeping service may be exactly what you need (see options 1 and 2 below). Otherwise, you may lean towards something more comprehensive (see option 3 defined below).

What are Your Options?

Option 1 – Basic Support from Any Quality Bookkeeping Service

Opting for basic support from any qualified bookkeeping service is certainly a step in the right direction. Any good bookkeeper will be able to keep your books in order, manage payroll, and keep track of miscellaneous items such as quarterly tax preparation. This will be the cheapest of the three, but you’ll also receive the least value.

The downside of obtaining help from ‘any qualified bookkeeper’ is that every industry is unique and different. Being able to speak the language of your particular industry (or other niche) is an important, and often critical, component of being able to provide great service. In general, many people fail to understand the variance from industry to industry in accounting by assuming that ‘accounting is accounting’.

While getting help from any qualified bookkeeper is better than no help at all, we caution you against bookkeeping companies that take any and all clients that come their way. No one bookkeeping company can do it all, and going with a firm that takes every type of client likely means you’ll miss out on some personalized service that you could get with an expert.

Option 2 – Basic Support from an Expert

The ‘expert’ part is the critical element that differentiates options 1 and 2. An expert will know the right questions to ask the CPA. An expert will understand your business and should be able to point out any pitfalls with your current process or data.

Think of it this way – would you hire someone internally to your team that didn’t understand your business? Although they are not an internal employee, you need to apply the same standards to any outside resource that you would to an internal employee.

At Joy Accounting, we focus primarily on construction, trade-related industries, real estate, and other similar industries. Time and time again our clients have seen how much value we add because we understand our industries.

Take construction as an example. We know the construction apps that sync with QuickBooks Online, we understand the monthly cadence of a general contractor, and we understand the types of reporting needed to show how successful a construction business is.

The specifics of what is considered ‘basic’ support certainly will vary, but as a general concept it’s anything that doesn’t touch on the strategic elements of your business. A bookkeeper that performs the basics simply ensures that the books are balanced and the other assigned tasks within scope are completed. Of course, good bookkeeping companies will be able to flag issues and concerns, but they won’t necessarily impact, guide, or help track any of the strategic elements of your business.

Finding a true expert on your business (option 2) will likely be more expensive than finding a general bookkeeping service (option 1), as you are paying more for expertise. But in the long run, finding and hiring an expert will pay for that difference many times over.

Option 3 – From Strategy to Execution: The Entire Package

In our experience at Joy Accounting, we’ve seen that most small businesses need more than the basics; they need a partner who understands the company’s ‘True North’ and can help guide it in the right direction. They need a partner on the strategic level who can also help execute the strategy.

Mid-sized and large companies have the benefit of having access to all levels of accounting, all the way from account receivable/payable to Controller-level and all the way up to CFO-level analysis focused on improvement across all financial markers. It’s typically assumed that these strategic services are out of reach for smaller companies because they simply don’t have the luxury of spending that kind of money.

For any small company to be successful, the people, processes, and technology all need to be working like a well-oiled machine. There is much less room for error than typically exists in a larger company. At the end of the day, then, small companies typically have to compete with fewer tools and skills at their disposal, at least as far as accounting goes.

But why can’t the small company get access to the same skills that the larger companies get? Asking this question is how we are oriented at Joy Accounting. We believe that the small guy absolutely should have the same tools as the bigger guys.

If what you need is simply a bookkeeper, we are happy to help. If you are a small business within our area of specialty that truly needs a partner in your small business journey, please contact us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Feeling Out of Control (Part 1): When to Seek Accounting Help

The life of a small business owner can be a lonely one, and gaining traction can feel like an uphill battle. You are passionate about your area of expertise – but did you realize that so much of your time would be spent doing things you’re NOT passionate about? This is particularly true with the accounting tasks that every small business owner deals with.

We at Joy Accounting work primarily with construction and trade-based Industries, and we’ve yet to see a contractor who is anxious to get home and process payroll, reconcile bank accounts, and verify data that goes into accounting software.

Additionally, it’s difficult sometimes to know what you, as a small business owner, should take on yourself versus what you should outsource to experts. How can you make that decision and feel good about it?

Let’s review three questions to ask yourself to determine when you should seek help in the accounting sphere.

Are your goalposts visible?

Do you have specific financial goals for your business and a regular cadence to track how you are doing against these goals? If you have goals, are your processes and tactics aligned to those goals? Are there any small tweaks you could make up front that would save you significant money or time down the road?

When we first start working with clients, they often do not have a solid vision in place outlining what success looks like, and they certainly do not have time to track how they are doing or examine how they could put better processes in place. Often it only takes a few small tweaks to completely turn around a small business. Billing is a prime example. Are you having difficulty collecting or even keeping track of the money that is due to you?

Joy Accounting can help you develop a vision for what success looks like, review what’s working and not working with the current processes and technology you are using, develop and implement a plan moving forward, and consistently ensure that you are adhering to your goals. Doesn’t that sound better than trying to do all of this alone?

Do you feel out of control?

Do you feel like you are running around from job to job with very little to show for it? Do you find yourself running out of time for basic things like lunch? Do you worry about your business 24/7? If yes, these are all signs that you could benefit from some outside help. The frenetic nature of the construction industry lends itself to a lot of running around as quickly as possible to meet deadlines and ensure that your projects stay on track – how can you slow down and ensure you are doing the right things?

Joy Accounting can take a lot of the burden off your shoulders by focusing on those things that you don’t have time for. As a small business owner, you then can focus on what you’d like to spend your time doing – ensuring your team is delivering quality work and expanding your business – all without giving up your lunch break.

Does the value you would receive justify the expense of the service?

This question is where the rubber meets the road, and where many small business owners decide not to opt for outside help. As a small business owner, every dollar that comes in is important, and it is critical that you use it wisely. Any investment in outside help needs to yield better results than if you just did everything by yourself.

Additionally, many small business owners have difficulty ‘letting go’ of any area of their business. “Will someone else really understand what I’m trying to accomplish and do it as well as me?” “If I trust someone else how can I be sure they won’t just move on to another job once I’ve trained them?” These questions and more make it difficult to bring an outside resource onboard.

When you think about value, it’s important not just to think about how many dollars are going out to pay for outside help. For instance, Joy Accounting has had clients make tweaks that have resulted in an almost immediate 20% or more increase in profit. Seen in that light, the monthly fee for bringing in help is well worth it.

In Conclusion

Deciding you need accounting help is one thing, but understanding what kind of help you need is another. The second part of this blog series will focus on that tricky question – what kind of accounting help do you need? In that post we’ll also define what kind of help we can offer, and you might be surprised that an accounting firm can help with so many different aspects of the business!