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!

From Dream to Reality: Our Story of Building a Thriving Small Business

This month marks two and a half years since Joy Accounting was formed. It’s about time we start blogging about our experience and sharing our knowledge, don’t you think? In the coming months, we will be sharing our collective knowledge and individual expertise with you via this blog. Topics we’ll cover will include apps that we utilize that integrate with Quickbooks Online, tips we’ve learned from working with small construction businesses, lessons that we’ve learned from running a small business with remote workers, and much more. We have such a talented accounting team with a diverse skill set and unique backgrounds, and we’re excited to have each of them contribute to the blog and share their knowledge with you.

I’d like to use this first blog post to peel back the layers a bit and tell the real, unfiltered story of the journey we’ve experienced at Joy Accounting, from the first steps of starting a business to where we are today.

The Idea

Three years ago, Terra Joy, my wife, had a realization; over the previous 10 years she had worked in almost every aspect of an accounting department, all the way from starting with basic bookkeeping in college to operating as a Controller in the small construction business that she worked for at that time. Moreover, she focused on construction and trade-related fields during that entire time, meaning that she had a significant amount of expertise in the construction industry (which isn’t necessarily teeming with accountants). However, she was a ‘cog in the wheel’, churning out reports and reconciling accounts – all while dreaming of something more meaningful to her.

With her set of skills and a potential need identified, she told me one evening in Fall 2014 that she wanted to start her own business. She wanted to help small businesses succeed, and didn’t see a path for doing that in the traditional corporate world.

Launching the Business

As with all new ideas, we approached it from all different angles. What would we focus our business on? Where would our clients come from? These questions and more would resurface many times over the next several months as we officially launched our business in February 2015 and started working with our first client in Spring 2015. Who would have thought that our first client would come from a Facebook lead from my mother? That was the first of many surprises along the road!

From the beginning, being a business partner (not ‘just’ a bookkeeper) was a critical component of our vision. Small business owners don’t need someone to check the boxes, they need someone to clarify what areas of their business they can improve, and help them build a plan to get there.

For the first 6 months or so, we were continuing to figure out the direction of our company. Then, in November 2015, it all become clear while hanging out with Oprah at Quickbooks Connect in San Jose. “Hanging out with Oprah” is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, as we were one of 20,000 or so attendees watching her from the crowd. (Her speech was phenomenal, by the way.) But the classes that we attended during that conference really honed our vision and enabled us to understand that we needed to focus on our core competencies as we built our business.

After the conference, we rented a convertible and drove down Highway 1 in California (a must-do if you haven’t) and dreamed about what our business could become. We revamped our goals, and decided that moving forward we would completely focus on building great solutions for small construction businesses. And that’s when Joy Accounting really took off.

Where We’re at Today

In the last two years, we’ve learned a lot about running a small business. Certainly, we wanted to grow, but not at the expense of offering the highest quality service to each of our clients. And grow we have! From our humble beginnings, we now have a team of 5 that are continually striving to meet our clients’ needs and improve their bottom lines.

At the outset, we couldn’t have imagined how much fun it would be to partner with clients and help them define and then achieve their goals. We love working with small businesses because we relate so well to people who take a chance, forego the typical corporate job, and strike out on their own. The ‘Aha’ moments that we experience with clients are priceless. We’ve also seen a difference in many of our clients’ bottom lines, just by helping them identify and tweak specific things to make them more profitable. For example, last year we enabled a client to increase its profitability significantly based on our recommendations.

We have built out a cool, diverse client base and we continue to grow. We are operating as the back-office virtual accounting team for a general contractor. We have clients that specialize in tile, paving, lawn, real estate, and much more. You can see some specific client recommendations if you scroll down on our home page. We treat each new client like a puzzle; how can we help arrange the pieces so that the client utilizes the right combination of technology to focus on the right things and continues to follow through according to their goals.

Let us know if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about our services! Please give us a call at 425.213.4862 or contact us through the contact page on our website.