All posts by Nate Joy

About Nate Joy

Nate is the Co-founder and Owner along with his wife Terra. Nate joined the team full-time in Spring 2017 with 10+ years of Project Management/Business Analysis experience. He works with clients on process improvement and software implementation.

Does Your Business Reflect Your Core Values?

Life as a small business owner is not easy; throughout the entire business lifecycle there are many choices – each of which can make or break your small business. You cannot afford to take anything for granted – you are responsible for keeping the sales pipeline going, hiring the right people, and saving up for a rainy day – all while paying your taxes on time!

And on top of that, you have the burden of setting the tone for your entire business, so that everyone – from team members to clients to partners – understand what you’re about and why they should be connected to you.

It may seem like a heavy load, but it really depends on how you look at it. I mean, it is amazing that we get to work with team members who share our vision and with clients who appreciate what we bring to the table.

As a small business owner, nothing happens by accident. ‘Winging it’ may work for a while, but over time the cracks will start to show. What’s a small business owner to do to make success as likely as possible? There are many things to think about, including your vision, mission, and purpose – but to us, a foundational element to having a successful business is defining and then living out the core values of your business.

What are the core values of your business?

If you are a small business owner, and you can’t answer that question, I advise that you take some time (away from the cell phone) to really think about this. The core values of your business will flow from what is important to you personally, and they likely will be influenced by what you did or didn’t like in your previous life as a traditional employee. 

Ideally, you set these values at the outset of creating your business, but even if you’ve owned your business for years it’s never too late to take a step back and take stock of where you’re at. Here are a few steps we recommend:

Step 1: Take the morning or afternoon off away from your inbox, go to your favorite coffee shop, and think about what’s important to you – what values do you want to infuse into your business? (Note: if your business is a few years old or you’ve already created these values, take some time to honestly reflect on whether or not 1) these values are truly infused into your business, and 2) you want to add or remove any values based on anything that’s changed)

Step 2: If you have employees, schedule a meeting and discuss these values. Do they resonate with them? As an owner, at this stage you need to be willing to truly listen to feedback and consider amending your list a bit. However, don’t throw out your list – remember that you constructed this based on what is important to your core self. Alternatively, if something isn’t resonating it may mean that there are strategic or tactical things you can change to ensure that it will align better in the future.

Step 3: Start to examine each component of your business and assess how well you are infusing these values into them. One way to do this is to see through the eyes of each type of person connected to your business – employees, partners, clients, and even the community at large. (Of course, better yet, you could ask them yourselves!) If you look at the client lifecycle, for example, are you embedding your values in every interaction, from the very first sales call through to the end of your relationship? 

Step 4: Revisit this list every year – both by yourself and with your employees – to see if it is reflective of the atmosphere you’ve created, and/or whether anything needs to change.  One specific activity you could do is review feedback you’ve received from clients over the year. Are you seeing your values reflected back to you in the way that they talk to you?

At Joy Accounting, we’ve done this exercise – although (being honest with you) I think it may be time to go through this four-step process ourselves! Below are the values that we try to infuse into all our interactions:

Honesty – This is foundational to our business. If we make a mistake, we own up to it. If we are uncomfortable with something that is happening, we speak up.

Integrity – We at Joy Accounting do the right thing, even when it’s difficult, and we expect the same from our clients.

Creativity – We are problem solvers, and we can’t help but identify issues and help our clients find solutions to them.

Consistency – We are always there for our clients when they need us, and they view us as an integral part of their team.

Adventure – We love our life outside of work, and we bring that joy to our job. We are all remote workers, and we encourage flexibility in a way that enables our team members to put health, family, travel, and other important things in their rightful places (instead of being an afterthought).

In the spirit of asking for feedback, how are we at Joy Accounting Services doing at living our core values?

Building Your Best Accounting Team

As small businesses grow, one of the first areas where the need for help becomes obvious is accounting. It is possible to ‘go it alone’ for a while, but inevitably accounting-related tasks crop up and simply keeping up takes away evenings and weekends from the small business owner. And I’m pretty sure that’s not why you started your business!   

Additionally, small business owners don’t want or need just any warm body to perform accounting tasks. They need someone who can tell a story with the data – about the direction of the business, potential blind spots, and whether the current business trajectory is leading towards the realization of goals. In short, a good accountant (or accounting team) is absolute gold for the small business owner.

Most business owners recognize the need for solid accounting help – but how should you decide whether to hire an internal employee or work with a contractor?

Our Perspective: Internal Staff Versus Outside Expert

Before we even get into our analysis, it’s important to note that whether you are deciding on an internal employee or a contractor, the range of services and skills, ability to handle the complexities of your business, and overall cost will vary greatly. This underscores the fact that it’s critical to have a talent evaluation system in place, because the worst thing a small business can do is make a bad hire, period. (In fact, I think that will be our next blog!)

Note that this analysis is also focused on small businesses that are just crossing the threshold of needing accounting help. The decision of whether to build an internal team or rely on an outside expert can certainly change as a business gets larger.

Also, please note that the pros for the contractor perspective below is heavily influenced by our own model at Joy Accounting Services. We utilize video technology and we operate remotely, but that is not true of every contractor. Therefore, our comparison is focused on an on-site employee versus a remote contractor.     

First, I’ve listed the pros/cons of an on-site employee from our perspective.

Pros:

There is something nice about having face-to-face time with people and getting to know them in person. This is easier with an onsite employee who is physically present.

With a set schedule you know exactly when and where you can find this person.

Cons:

Small businesses may not require a full-time employee (or they may require 1.5 employees, which would lead to the same issues). If you hire a full-time person, then it’s your responsibility to keep them busy with interesting tasks for 40 hours per week. If you instead opt for a part-time employee, you are eliminating a large part of the job-seeking population and less likely to find the right fit that has the skills you are looking for.

If you hire one person you are limited to the expertise and knowledge that individual brings to the table. This means that when (inevitably) things come up outside of the individual’s skillset, you’ll need to hire a contractor anyway in addition to the employee.

Hiring an employee carries responsibilities that hiring a contractor simply does not. This includes specific laws and requirements that vary by state. But this also includes more informal responsibilities related to training, managing and covering for vacation time, and general people management which can all be very time consuming for a small business owner.

The second pro listed above can also be a con; the lack of flexibility with an on-site person means that if you need them outside of working hours, you’ll have to wait until they are physically back in the office.

Turnover is a huge issue for companies. Individuals invariably move on, sometimes due to things beyond their control.

Next, I’ve listed the pros and cons of the remote contractor model (specifically focused on the Joy Accounting model).

Pros:

Good contractors are able to design a team for you that will meet your needs. At Joy Accounting, we typically provide high-level (Controller-level) guidance along with completing day-to-day accounting tasks. Allowing a contractor to build a team means you don’t have to staff in the rigid way that on-site employees often require. In our model, you get two (or more) skillsets rolled into one overall offering.

A word that sums up our model is ‘flexible’. As a contractor, we can design offerings that make sense for exactly what you need, so that the scope matches the value that you are looking for. The difficult thing about the traditional employee model is that changing the scope is very difficult – if you bring someone on for 15 hours of work and you find that you actually need 30, then you’ll likely have to find someone else.

As a contractor, we work with many other clients, which means we are always problem-solving. And because we see a wide spectrum of client needs and design solutions for them, this means that we can often take lessons from another situation and apply it to your company.

The nature of our model means that we are continuously learning and adjusting. This continuous learning enables us to bring thought leadership as a team to our clients in ways that they wouldn’t expect.  

Contractors are more able to operate within the flow of the business, so that when you need them they are there, and when you don’t need them you are not paying for a warm body sitting in a seat.

As a small business owner, you don’t need to worry as much about ‘people management’ with a contractor as you do with your own employee. If a contractor’s employee is not meeting the mark, it is up to the contractor to make it right. And, if they ultimately can’t meet your needs, it is easier to part ways.

Con:

Contractors are not physically there with you, which means it can be more difficult to build rapport and a relationship. And if it’s truly important to you that everyone is physically present, then you’ll likely want to go with the traditional model.   

In the digital age that we live in, working with an outside expert is increasingly becoming a more attractive option. If done well, it can provide the small business owner with expertise, flexibility, and direction that is difficult to realize via the more tradition staffing model.