Category Archives: Construction Industry

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!










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.