Just Give Me Peace of Mind
A dear friend and business colleague of mine posted this to her Facebook Page:
I learned with my first business that (often) you are NOT in the business you think. Bookkeepers/accountants, for example, do not sell tax prep and clean financial records-that is a function they perform- they are in the business of marketing/selling peace of mind. There is ease in clarity.
I wanted to jump up and down saying "Yes, yes, yes!" This is what I've heard from small business owners more than anything else. They want someone who they can trust to take care of their financials so they can concentrate on what matters most to them - running their businesses. And believe me, that's no small order. Many have gone through more bookkeepers than they've wanted to. Some bookkeepers have talked a good game but didn't have the expertise. Others have had the expertise but lacked other vital skills.
I've done bookkeeping for over a decade. Sure, I pride myself on knowing how to navigate the various versions of QuickBooks, reconcile bank statements to it and maintain both hard copy and electronic files. While that is important, what I hear most often is "I need somebody I can trust." In my early years as a bookkeeper, I thought that meant they wanted someone who wouldn't steal from them. Certainly, extortion can be the end of an otherwise profitable business. A savvy businessman had to shut his company down because of it. His Chief Financial Officer was taking money and covering it up. It wasn't until customers began to complain that he discovered the truth.
Trust is broader still. To put it simply, trust is knowing that stuff is going out when it's suppose to and reports are filed on time. This is where having someone organized and conscientious is critical. After all, what good is it that a financial professional have the technical aspects down but can't manage priorities. If bills are paid late, a company's credit suffers as well as their credibility. If reports are filed late, especially to tax reporting agencies, penalties and interests can be hefty and in some cases trigger an audit. A financial professional has to stay on top of those things. One of the best compliments I received from a past employer was that I was great at anticipating needs.
That, I have found is what has gained me the respect of clients and employers alike. I am someone they can trust. They want somebody who will take the lead. It is not that they want you to run things. That's their job. Besides, it is a foolish business owner who doesn't have certain checks and balances in place to keep their financial person accountable. What I have found out is that they don't want to have to micromanage. They don't want to feel they have to remind you when things are due or constantly check to make sure things don't fall through the cracks. That is too burdensome.
One of the first things I initiate with my clients is a weekly meeting. It doesn't have to be long but it goes a long way. It makes sure things are communicated and we are aware of the what's, the when's and the how's. Besides, if they have to figure out ways to resolve issues, why are they paying me? They don't just want a number cruncher, they want a thinker. They want someone who is looking out for their best interest. There is a wealth of information out there if you take advantage of it. Bookkeeper groups are all over social media. Rather than using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with friends, family members or celebrities alone, it is a great networking tool. It's a treasure chest of solutions. Knowing that you are on top of things gives your client peace of mind. Now, that's worth its weight in gold!