Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the top questions Susan is always asked by prospective clients;
we thought you might like to have them!
WHY does Bookkeeping21 exist?
We have a very clear mission as a company: To make our client’s businesses more profitable.
A study, conducted in part by the SBA, identified that 83% of companies generating $25M in revenue or less are financially struggling check-to-check. In other words, many entrepreneurs are barely surviving, financially speaking.
This statistic of companies on the perpetual brink of collapse is shocking, but not surprising. This sad reality of impoverished entrepreneurs has existed for centuries. Even that company that looks so successful and polished on the outside, is likely to be struggling to cover payroll. Enough is enough.
Traditionally accounting and bookkeeping services are transactional – do the books, prepare the taxes, etc. Numbers in, numbers out, and you pay a fee. But what about profit? What if at the end of the day, by working with your accountant or bookkeeper you actually fattened your wallet? Our firm does just that.
Yes… we are excellent at bookkeeping and accounting, but you should expect that from anyone you work with. What makes us different is that we drive profitability in your business.
Bookkeeping21 is a Certified Profit First Professional Firm. We, along with the Profit First Professional team have made a stand to permanently eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. If our purpose resonates with you, we want to be a part of your team.
What is a Profit First Professional?
It is an exclusive membership organization of Accountants, Bookkeepers, and Business Experts.
Bookkeeping21 utilizes the Profit First system to guide our clients to greater profitability.
Profit First is a method developed and documented by business author Mike Michalowicz. Nearly immediately after its introduction, Profit First became the most popular book of all time on how to systematically (and easily) grow profits in any business. Profit First became a TED talk, had an entire segment on MSNBC, was written about in Forbes, and was featured in Accounting Today all in the same week. Profit First has been successfully implemented in thousands of companies.
Our firm was selected over hundreds of competitors to provide businesses with guidance and support using the Profit First methods.
Why is this important to me?
It enables us to provide you with the tools, methods, and support to quickly (and easily) guide your business to higher levels of profitability.
As a bonus, our Profit First colleagues have navigated every imaginable challenge and question when it comes to integrating and supporting Profit First companies. We have the answer to any challenge you face with one click or call away.
Susan Kirkpatrick is a Certified Profit First Professional.
Why all the focus on Profit?
Money does not buy happiness, but the lack of money is so stressful that it prevents us from finding happiness. Can you relate? We can!
In fact, we personally have experienced the fear, stress, and panic that the lack of money brings about. That painful experience is valuable in understanding the emotion of money. It brings about a new perspective of money that can’t be taught. That’s why we interview business owners for more than just their record data, but their experience with finances.
While the lack of money can be a massive distraction from happiness, the consistent presence of money can bring about confidence and a feeling of freedom. Consistent profits consistently empower entrepreneurs. Profit is the ultimate way to enable entrepreneurs to do what they set out to do — build a great business that serves. Without profit, none of that can happen.
What makes Bookkeeping21 Unique?
We practice ourselves the Profit First formula:
Sales – Profit = Expenses.
If we may say so ourselves, the concept is eloquently simple and simultaneously extremely powerful.
The question of course, is how can something so simple work so effectively? The reason is that Profit First leverages natural human behavior. In short, it is the natural tendency for people to put the most significance in the things that comes first and the least in the thing that comes last.
Think about it for a moment. If you decide to focus on your health and wellness, do you say, “My health comes last?” Of course not, you say “My health comes first.” As you know, if you are committed to exercising, you will be far more successful if you do it first thing when you wake up, as opposed to the last thing right before you go to bed.
What is important comes first. What comes first gets accomplished.
That is why we put PROFIT FIRST.
The Profit First method is 100% successful for our clients that stay 100% consistent in staying with the method. Sticking with the system, by yourself, is hard. We integrate a check-in service with you to ensure you are constantly driving profits. And we help you navigate through the challenges of staying the course.
Why would I want to work with Bookkeeping21?
Actually, you may not want to work with us! Bookkeeping21 is well-matched for only a very specific type of business and business owner. We are perfectly suited for professional service-based businesses, agencies, firms, and practices.
- Your company is growing and you recognize you need to make changes in how you do things – like better control over expenses, only buying what you need, reducing debt, updated accounting system and processes to finding one place with easy access to put all prospects’, customers’, and vendors’ information.
- You want to quit struggling with a lack of available cash to pay bills.
- You want your business information off post-it notes, not in a bazillion spreadsheets, but automated, concise and up-to-date.
- You want your business to pay you what you’re really worth.
- You aren’t sure how to make the changes, but you are willing to seek out an advisor, listen and act on the advice offered.
- You are loyal to clients and suppliers and value long-term relationships.
- You are a visionary, creative and are unafraid of technology and wish to work in a cloud-based environment.
- You are a professional service-based business, agency, firm or practice (yes we do work with other types besides real estate brokerage)
If you don’t see you or your company in the above items, you may not want to work with us because you won’t extract all the value our company delivers. Conversely, if all eight of those items are in line with what you want, we are a perfect fit.
Are you an experienced and qualified bookkeeping service?
The term “bookkeeper” is not a protected title, so bookkeeper skills and experience vary. There are hundreds of thousands of people who claim to be bookkeepers. Most, however, are following a system that was already put in place and they really don’t understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping. Many are limited to basic data entry, but certified, professional bookkeepers have a solid grasp of accounting principles and can keep your books in shape by themselves.
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) set the first and only national standard in advanced bookkeeping: The Certified Bookkeeper Program. A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) has the proven ability to handle the books for a company of up to 100 employees. To become certified, a bookkeeper must:
- Know basic bookkeeping, including double-entry accounting, before undertaking certification;
- Pass a national exam in advanced bookkeeping at a Prometric Test Centers;
- Have at least 3,000 hours (2 years) of on-the-job experience in bookkeeping;
- Sign a Code of Ethics that assures commitment to integrity;
- Constantly update skills by earning 20 Continuing Education Credits every year.
We have a solid foundation in GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) as well as being a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Profit First Professional. We can handle most bookkeeping or accounting issues (non-income tax related) and we have a strong network of professionals we can work with if an unusual circumstance arises. We do not require any “hand-holding” by you. We’re able to jump right in, find out what needs to be done with proper assessment, then roll up our sleeves and get the work done in a very efficient manner.
We bring to you and your business Susan’s diverse, executive-level experience in small business operations, accounting systems, and organizational effectiveness. She has strong management qualifications in strategic planning and analysis, establishing and executing financial policies, procedures, controls, and reporting systems. She’s been recognized for the ability and commitment in creating inspiring work environments and building top-performing organizations ready for dynamic growth. Susan Kirkpatrick is a Certified Bookkeeper with the AIPB.
Are You a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor?
Certified QuickBooks experts are called ProAdvisor’s. They are tested and certified on their QuickBooks knowledge. They have completed a rigorous and comprehensive QuickBooks curriculum developed by Intuit.
Be sure to find out whether their certification is up to date. It’s possible that someone was certified in an older version of QuickBooks and has not renewed their certification. QuickBooks Online is completely different than the QuickBooks Desktop. And in the Desktop versions, Premier and Enterprise are more specialized than QuickBooks Pro.
QuickBooks ProAdvisor’s help you customize QuickBooks for your unique needs and help you get the most out of the software. ProAdvisor’s are also a great resource if you run into trouble with QuickBooks or just need general QuickBooks help.
As both a Certified Bookkeeper and QuickBooks ProAdvisor (both Desktop and Advanced Online), Susan understands the challenges you face and can offer guidance on complex accounting questions and payroll interpretation to mastering advanced features of QuickBooks Online.
Do you carry Professional Liability Insurance (Errors and Omissions Insurance)?
Professional liability insurance is designed solely to make payments to people other than the insured professional in the event the insured’s negligent act, error or omission causes damage to a third party. Coverage is typically issued to a bookkeeping firm and it specifically covers the firm’s registered professionals. This type of coverage was created to give bookkeeping professionals adequate financial resources in the event that their errors, omissions, or negligent professional acts damaged a client.
Bookkeeping21 carries Errors and Omissions Insurance.
When can I expect to have my work completed?
Financial data is the most valuable when it’s timely. The sooner you can review and analyze how your business did – the sooner you can make critical decisions for the future. It’s common for some busy accounting firms to take months to complete their clients’ bookkeeping. Ideally, monthly bookkeeping should be completed no later than the following month. For example, March bookkeeping should be completed and reconciled no later than the last week in April.
In today’s fast paced world, cloud accounting systems are the way to go. Look for bookkeepers who offer industry-leading cloud accounting systems in their service packages. These systems give you instant access to your information in real time. Since these bookkeepers can access your data 24/7 you get more value from them – they can help you run and grow your business rather than just adding up the numbers.
If you would rather not use a cloud accounting system, ask for the most appropriate alternative and if the bookkeeper provides you with training and support.
Bookkeeping21 offers specializes in cloud-based accounting systems such as QuickBooks Online and 3rd party apps.
Will my financial data be secure and confidential?
Right now, if you are like most business owners, your accounting records are in an unlocked file cabinet or worse, sitting on someone’s desk. If your bookkeeper works in a home or business office, ask how they keep the office secure from other business clients and employees or if at home, from family members and guests.
Digitizing your documents and business financial records in the cloud will free up physical space for your business to operate, as well as make the information sortable and secure. Cloud based accounting systems use digitized records. These systems have the same level of encryption as major banks, using strong password and hashing algorithms so your offline accounting stays hidden. They are constantly updating their virus protection measures.
You should be assured that you, and only you, are privy to your most important data. Only with your express permission should anyone other than your bookkeeper and accountant have access to it.
We use only secure cloud networks to store data and digitized documents. We use encrypted and password protected email for delivery of any sensitive documentation. Our dedicated home office space is behind locked doors with all sensitive documentation stored on the secure cloud network, a virtual private network, and password protected computer. Any paper documents that may be provided are returned to the client or shredded.
Do you replace my CPA?
It’s important to file accurate tax returns. Part of our bookkeeping service is to make sure the CPA has the right information to file a tax return that neither overstates nor understates your taxable income.
But this is only one very small part of our service. Bookkeeping is used to file your tax return one day each year, but your bookkeeping is best used to run your business 365 days a year. We provide what the CPA needs from your bookkeeping when it’s time to prepare your tax return. The rest of the year, your business needs are more important. When a CPA firm does your bookkeeping, they focus on tax prep ready books only. Your business management needs are not adequately addressed by tax prep ready books.
As your bookkeeper, our largest and most important role is to provide bookkeeping and reports you can use to make wise business decisions. If we keep your books in tax-prep-ready condition throughout the year, we would be providing you with information that is incomplete for effective management decisions.
Most CPA’s and accountants do not understand or utilize the Profit First Strategies. We provide instructions to your CPA or accountant so they can fully understand Profit First and support you accordingly.
How will my bookkeeper communicate with my accountant (CPA)?
Unfortunately, my colleagues have heard of instances where the business tax accountant treats the bookkeeper in a derogatory fashion which closes the lines of communication. When this happens, you suffer too. You should establish how the bookkeeper will communicate with the accountant, and how the accountant will charge you.
We require you to send your CPA written authorization to discuss your business with us. A follow up phone call to introduce us to your accountant will encourage a professional relationship between us.
How do you charge for your services?
A full-time employee – qualified bookkeeper typically costs $41,000 (source: PayScale.com), together with all the other associated costs and hassles of employing someone.
Most self-employed bookkeepers will quote you an hourly rate. In fact, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers reportedly recommends $85 per hour.
Firstly, an hourly rate means you have no idea how long the job will take and therefore how much it will cost you until after the work is completed. Secondly, if the bookkeeper makes mistakes or takes longer you pay more.
Look for bookkeepers who quote a fixed price (based on your particular circumstances and what you want). That way you can budget and plan. Therefore, if the bookkeeper is slow and the work takes longer that’s their problem not yours.
The cost of properly setting up your accounts and maintaining them is far more cost effective than having your CPA fix and correct them at year end. In addition, the benefits of having accurate and useful reporting during the year will help you in all aspects of running your business and maximizing your profits.
Do you engage with me on a regular basis? Is that an extra charge?
If your bookkeeper charges an hourly rate, then most likely they are charging you for every phone call, email and text. With fixed price firms, usually the amount of email, text and phone calls are limited to a specific number.
I include unlimited email and text support in all my service packages. This means that you can email me knowing that you will never be charged for your time or advice. This means you can contact me when you need to, without ever having to worry about the cost. In “The Max” Profit package, you receive unlimited phone, email, and text support.
Usually, if the issues outlined during these sessions (or anywhere else) require research or analysis beyond the consultation, I will give you a quote for that extra work before any additional work is started. This means you will NEVER get an unexpected bill.
Get in touch today and Make Your Real Estate Brokerage Profitable with Bookkeeping Done Right.
7077 Crittenden Rd, Suffolk, VA 23432, USA