What to Expect from Me as Your Accountant

You’ve been running your business and have come to a crossroads where you’ve finally made the decision to hire an accountant (if you’re still on the fence about that, read up on “When to Hire an Accountant”). Congratulations! You have just made a positively impactful decision. Next, I’d advise you to do some research on different accountants you have the opportunity of working with. Take the time to meet with them and learn about their work ethics, communication styles, and expectations when working with clients.

I always want my clients to get to know my personality since it’s reflected in how I run my business, how I handle my work, and how I correspond. When I partner with a new client, this is what they can expect:

More insight into their business than they’ve ever had before. My breadth of experience and attention to detail results in greater visibility and understanding of the story behind all those numbers.

A lot will be accomplished in a lesser amount of time. Through years of self-taught trial and error, I have nailed down many highly efficient processes for completing accounting tasks. Not only am I lightning fast on the 10-key, but I can work magic in Excel and QuickBooks like nobody’s business! I even had one client who would only respond in expletives because the turn-around time was so much less than anticipated.

Work smarter, not longer!

Work will be completed in a timely manner. Although this is contingent on my client’s providing source documents and responding to emails in a timely manner as well. Of course, things come up and a client may need some extra time to address a request, but correspondence on this is always appreciated so I can adjust my timeline accordingly (I also return the courtesy). I never want to underserve any of my clients so it’s essential for me to stay on top of my work.

They’re always invited to ask questions. My priority is for my client’s to not just hire me but for them to feel confident in the results of what I provide. I will never shy away from discussing a question or concern until my client is satisfied with their level of comfort in the matter. I also ask many questions since the more I know about their business and how it operates, the more value I can create in the long-run.

In most circumstances, the first month working together is an Evaluation Period. This not only allows me time to assess your business and services needed, but it allows for a non-commitment trial, if you will. Everyone has different ways to approach the same thing, not that any certain way is necessarily better, but is more so preferential-based. I strive to work with clients where we both feel comfortable with the dynamics of the partnership, so if either of us feels that we’re not best-suited in working together, then we can part ways with no hard feelings.

CONTACT ME today if you’re interested in meeting to see if we can work some magic together!

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When to Hire an Accountant

Today I stumbled upon a Forbes article, “When To Hire A Professional (And Which Ones To Hire First) At Your Startup.” I assumed – no, I was certain – that Accountant would land the list. Low and behold, you will find Accountant as one of only four professionals listed in this article. So, what gives? Why is hiring an accountant so critical to the success of your business?

In the article, Jesse Kolber points out that “the cost of an accountant doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, but if you don’t find a good accountant from the beginning, you could pay

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dearly later on.” This statement hits a home-run in my mind, as I’ve worked with numerous clients looking to get their books straightened out – after-the-fact. Some clients may have already been in business for only a year, or they could have been in business for many years.

Typically, either the client is so overwhelmed that they continue to dodge out on even starting their catch-up work, or they end up with a fairly big financial hit, since catch-up work can be tedious and time-consuming. Catch-up projects can be prone to missing information, which equates to extra research time for both accountant and client.

Another key point is to hire a good accountant who has the breadth of experience needed to truly assist small business owners. One thing that sets me apart from some accountants is that I have a wide-range of industry experience and have been exposed to multiple facets of business operations. I often work with clients in retail who would not have known about things like sales and use tax reporting, and finding out about those types of requirements later on can cost a business owner big bucks in fines and interest.

Kolber also writes “Our first accountant loved to use fancy words and actually called me a neophyte during our initial consult… [your accountant] should articulate information clearly and thoughtfully answer your questions.” This is great advice for any business owner. Yes, you want your accountant to know their stuff, but you need to know it, too! Trying to lead your business by blind faith in others puts you in a very volatile and risky position.

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When you are looking to hire an accountant, have them glance over your financials and discuss one or two things that jump out at them. Do you fully comprehend their explanation or does their accounting jargon go right over your head? My personal approach is to broadly state things in formal terms and then take the extra time to educate the client on my thought process. Sometimes we may go over the same concept multiple times, but I’m okay with that because I sincerely want my clients to have confidence in what story their financials are telling.

Don’t wait! From day one, keep your eyes open for a great accountant so you can keep your books in order from the start. If you think I might be a good fit for your company, please reach out to me for a free consultation.

Becoming a Solopreneur: My Story

As a new business owner, I love hearing stories from other successful entrepreneurs. It fills me with inspiration and energy. Although I’m only 6 months in, I hope that my story will inspire at least one person to take that leap of faith to work for themselves. My story started first with an attempt – and a failure – which you can read about in My Gritty Start-Up.

I grew up in the small foothill town of Placerville, CA. I couldn’t wait to move away after graduating high school, so I ventured off and lived in the greater Sacramento area for over a decade. I graduated from CSU Sacramento in 2009 with my Bachelor’s in Accountancy and passed the CPA exam in 2015. It was in 2014 that I started and failed at entrepreneurship. By the time 2015 came around, I found myself stuck in a rut and spiraling into a depression. I figured I should be a married, self-employed mom by then, but nothing seemed to be going as I had planned. I was a 29-year-old, single, employed individual.

It was then that I decided I needed a change, I needed to stir things up and get a change of scenery. So, I made the bold move to Reno, uprooting my entire life to make the 2-hour trek. I packed up my things, my big goofy mastiff-mix, and my two cats, sold my condo, and never looked back. I bought a house here just last August, so I’m definitely here to stay!

Hiking with my dog Rocky in Reno.

For the first 4 months in Reno, I completed my then-current accounting job remotely. The arrangement was ideal as it allowed me time to search for a new job and allowed my employer time to find and train a replacement. We both happened to find what we were looking for within a couple weeks of each other, so I had no gap in employment.

My first Nevada job sounded like a dream – a Supervisor for an accounting department at a large gaming company. I was ecstatic to land my first supervisory role since I felt I had been working towards that next level for quite some time. Only problem was, my team was made up of 8 direct reports (which is a lot!) and I was overseeing a department that was new to me so there was a huge learning curve. I quickly realized the job was more hands-off with regards to the accounting and entailed mostly checking others’ work and approving time off requests. This was not what I had hoped for and I soon felt overwhelmed with feeling like I had made a mistake taking this job. I resigned.

I was unemployed for a month, right around the holidays, which – to say the least – was pretty crummy. I was facing rejecting from job interviews like I had never faced before (since it had never happened to me previously, I always got any job I went after). Not only was the job market smaller in Reno (especially for the senior positions), but my short stint at the last job and multiple jobs held not more than a year was being seen as unstable to potential employers. At one point I was getting close to desperate, so I decided to get creative in my job hunting. I started scouring websites of local companies in search for emails of CFO’s. I would reach out to them directly to see if they were in need of someone with my particular skill set. It just so happened that one CFO was looking for what I had, so we met for lunch and thereafter I was hired on as the senior accountant.

I was grateful for the job and I certainly gained experience in a multitude of new industries –entertainment, sports, restaurant, and retail. I used my knack for process improvement to enhance the accounting procedures. They became so efficient, in fact, that my work-load diminished to less than a 30-hour week for me. I was starting to feel stuck in a rut again. I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t meant to be trapped in a regimented accounting job working for The Man. I had a gift for implementing great change. Once that great change is working consistently, I need to move on to another change project.

When the CFO approached me about the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship again and keep them on as my first client, I jumped at it! I knew that a stable client was part of what I was missing the first time around. They were a reputable establishment in the community which would add to my credibility, plus it was enough work to support me financially so that I could avoid taking on any debt this time. Money was tight for a while, but I pushed through and am now in a comfortable place. I started my MBA this semester (I only have one final left, woohoo!) and am proud to say that paid my tuition in cash and plan to do so until I graduate in May 2018.

Working for myself certainly has its ups and downs. I am working towards financial freedom and flexibility in my schedule. Right now I am working long hours and often don’t break on the weekends, but I will tell you it’s damn rewarding since I’m doing it for myself. I also get to spread my love of accounting and process improvement to other business owners, which I feel so fortunate to do. I’m always meeting new people, learning about their businesses, hearing about their journeys, and if I’m lucky enough, I get to join in on their journey and make a positive impact. That is what entrepreneurship is all about my friends!

Reno has been pretty darn fantastic to me, both for my personal and professional lives. If you’re thinking about making that huge leap into being a solopreneur, are thinking about moving to the Biggest Little City, or both, I invite you to jump fast and steady and know that you will land with both feet planted so that you can walk – then run – towards your dreams.

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Tax Time is Over…Now What?

We’re now a full week into the month of May. The rain has been falling, the sun is shining, and flowers are in bloom. It’s an especially great season since tax time is now just a distant memory, right? WRONG! If you’re like most small business owners, you probably wait until January, February, or maybe even as late as April to start checking your list of items needed for your tax preparer. Does waiting last minute give you anxiety? Does waiting last minute put you into a time crunch and keep you up at night?

Instead of dealing with the stress and time constraints of this situation every year, wouldn’t you rather just keep swimming along after year-end in the same manner as the rest of the months? Today, I’m going to give you some tid-bits of advice on how to accomplish this consistent swimming and avoid the tax-time drowning.

Keep Your Receipts

This is probably one of the biggest organizational problem I’ve encountered in the past, both with clients and employers. Keeping your receipts, ALL of them, is your best line of defense. Keeping them organized, just by month, or type, is even better! As a new business, your bookkeeper or accountant will thank you for having documentation for every purchase or deposit made. Plus, if you are ever audited by the IRS, you already have your backup ready to go. No stressful calls are needed to try and track down a receipt from 10 months ago to show that the large purchase you made at Best Buy was indeed for business purposes.

Retain Copies of Your Statements

Whether you do this digitally or print them out each month, retain copies of your monthly statements. This includes checking, savings, credit cards, and other sources like PayPal. Again, your accountant will thank you later. Plus, creating this routine will likely force you to at least look at the statement and quickly glance over for any issues (What?! I had 3 overdrawn checks this month? I need to see if that’s a bank error or if I have a cash flow problem!)

Start Early

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This is the most straight-forward advice I can give! The earlier you start, the easier the on-going record process is. Think about being offered a whole pecan pie, but you also must eat it in one sitting. Sounds painful, and maybe impossible, right? But what if you were able to eat it just a bite at a time until it was gone? That’s what monthly bookkeeping is all about. Breaking it down into more manageable bites.

You’re also better able to proactively fix errors, follow-up on monies owed to you, and more efficiently track bills coming due when you have a consistent record-keeping process in place. And if you hate the idea of doing this task so regularly, hire someone who enjoys doing it so that you both benefit from the timely work.

If you’d like to start working on your manageable bites together, CONTACT ME to schedule a free consultation.

Do I Really Want to Deal with Your Box of Receipts?

Let me walk your through a typical initial client meeting. The client greets me at the door of their home or office and leads me to a table piled with papers. The papers might be in organized stacks, disorganized stacks, or it may look like a tornado just passed through. At this point, the client is excited about getting their books in order and very eager to pass the torch over to me.

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And at this point, I am very eager to grab onto that torch because this is the moment when I really get to start learning a lot about this business owner and their company. But what about that mess of papers? I almost never leave without my client first asking, “Are you SURE you want to go through all this? It’s such a mess.” I can’t help but laugh as I respond “YES! I love doing this kind of work. You see a mess, but I see a puzzle.”

The client gives a sigh of relief. Not only will their books get caught up, but now they can rest assured that the process will be fast and painless since I’ve taken that worry off their shoulders. Not only that, but they seem relieved that I will enjoy the task and they will not be a thorn in my side. Don’t believe my enthusiasm? Check out my new “About Me” Video!

As I mentioned, sorting through a client’s receipts and piecing them together with their invoices and bank statements really helps me to better understand the operations of their business. Is it service-based or product-based? How are those services and products broken out? What vendors do they work with? What customers do they have? Who works for them? Who do they bank with? How do they run their business? And, most importantly, what improvements can I suggest to get all the moving pieces to be cohesive so that they may work smarter, not harder?

Another reason that a pile of papers in no way intimidates me is the simple fact that my client’s volume of work is a relatively minute amount compared to the work I’ve done in corporate accounting jobs. I’ve had to re-reconcile 18 months of bank reconciliations for a large hospital affiliation. Each one would require 4-5 business days to complete. Finding documentation needed to reconcile was more difficult due to the amount of time that had passed. Talk about doing a puzzle! But I ABSOLUTELY LOVED every minute of it. I’ve also done a lot of clean-up work for the Reno Aces, as highlighted in the CFO’s testimonial.

Although your stacks of papers may be hindering YOU with decision paralysis on where to even start or how to begin, that one box will be a walk in the park for me. If you’re on the fence about partnering with someone to help with your financials, do yourself a favor and call me already! I promise you that I will love every minute of the work I do for you, just as I have loved every minute of the work I’ve done for others.

What Business Owners Need to Know About Accounting

I came across a Forbes article today based on a podcast: “Do Business Owners Need to Know Accounting”? I think this is a great question to discuss and today I will go over the aspects of accounting that I feel all business owners should know. It is critical to at least have a basic understanding of certain aspects in accounting in order to make timely and positively impactful business decisions.

Financial Statements

Business owners are probably familiar with the most commonly used financial statement: the Profit and Loss Statement. This statement not only tells you whether you are in the black or not, but it also tells a story of why your bottom line number is what it is.

It’s important to understand what each account’s purpose is and what can make that specific revenue or expense account change. You cannot estimate future amounts without this foundation. This is also a great first step in educating yourself for when it’s time to create a budget or forecast.

The second most commonly used financial statement is the Balance Sheet, although it’s not as commonly used by business owners in particular. The Balance Sheet  summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. This financial statement tells a different story than the Profit and Loss Statement.

The key point for business owners to understand about the Balance Sheet is that it does not affect your bottom line (unless you’re looking at depreciable assets, but that’s a tax related topic). In working with clients, it is typical for business owners to expect a cash exchange to show up in their Profit and Loss, as this seems to be the only report that most ever look at. This is not always the case. Writing a check to yourself in place of a salary? That will likely go on the balance sheet as an Owner Distribution, not an expense.

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Cash versus Accrual Method

Simply put, the cash method of accounting is recognizing transactions as the actual cash exchange occurs. Writing a check in January 2017 that is for December 2016 rent? You recognize the rent expense in January, when the exchange occurred. Typically, every transaction is recognized in one single month.

The accrual method can be a little more complex for those unfamiliar with accounting. This method entails recording transactions to match actual usage, which can be spread to more than just one month. In the rent check example above, you would record a bill in December 2016 and this is when you would see the expense. The bill creates a balance in your accounts payable (on the balance sheet), and when the bill is paid, you offset the accounts payable and there is no affect to your Profit and Loss in January 2017. There is an advantage to using this method though: it more accurately reflects the story of how your business is doing, plus it can be easier to track upcoming bills to be paid and invoices waiting for payment from customers.

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You Have an Accountant

If for no other reason, it’s important to have a basic understanding of accounting so that you know what your accountant is doing! This is your business, and you are ultimately responsible for it financially. If there ever is a transaction or account balance that looks off to you or you aren’t sure what the implication is behind it, ASK YOUR ACCOUNTANT! There should never be any hesitation on his or her part to do so, and a good accountant will willingly continue to explain something until you both feel confident that you understand what is being questioned.

If you have a specific accounting question you’d like answered, comment below to have it featured in a future blog.

Why I Decided to Get My MBA

Last fall I decided on a whim to go back to school and get my MBA. This is a Master’s in Business Administration and I’m attending class on-site at UNR. If you’ve never been to this university, I invite you to check them out HERE, and then go there and walk around. It’s a beautiful campus! I wish I had moved to Reno sooner and completed my undergrad at UNR. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

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So why did I feel that getting an MBA would benefit me? Well, for starters, I had just jumped out of corporate work and into entrepreneurship. I knew I had a unique skill set to offer the business community, but I also knew that I had difficulty conveying it. I was good at accounting and not so good at business. I needed a wider breadth of knowledge to draw on in order to enhance my usefulness to potential and current clients.

Now that I’m about two-thirds through my first semester, with classes chosen for the summer and fall semesters, I am so glad that I went back to school! Aside from always having loved school, I am meeting so many like-minded people who are brilliant and talented in so many different ways. It’s expanding my network and also my motivation to succeed.

Some people think I’m crazy for working full time and planning to take 3 classes each semester. But I want to soak up everything from this program as soon as possible so it can be applied in my business. I’ll be in the program from January 2017 to May 2018, the time period when my business is new and growing. I can already see the positive impact it is having on both my business and my personal growth, so I highly recommend any entrepreneur to look into it also.

The draw-back to all this? The late class times! I have always been an early riser, and more recently I really like getting my 8 hours of sleep. My classes currently run from 7:00-9:45pm – luckily only one teacher keeps us in class that late. But in the fall… well, one of my classes will run from 7:30-10:15pm! I’m certainly not fond of this change, but I will endure it in order to stay on my planned course.

If you would like to know more about my experience with UNR’s MBA program and see if it might be of benefit to you, shoot me an email at jamie@renoaccountingsolutions.com or leave a comment below. Go Wolf Pack!