Networking…it’s about bringing people together


Last week I was privileged to attend an event, called Bearfoot Boardroom, with our very own, Julie DeLong, COO of Backyard Bookkeeper. We heard from Dana Ball, a small business lawyer, and Julie. Dana started out by teaching us how to protect ourselves and our small businesses. One point that I found useful (because I’m guilty of this) is to make sure you don’t just use Google to create contracts. The importance of having a binding contract specific to your business is essential in protecting yourself, your business, and your assets. Small business owners have a tendency to DIY as much as they possibly can.  However, when it comes to contracts it’s worth the small fee to have it done right initially.

The other point that really stood out was Dana’s standard of communication with clients. She sets a standard to get back to every client within 24 hours. I really appreciated how she emphasized that our clients are the reason for our business.

After Dana spoke, Julie took a turn and spoke about bookkeeping for a small business. She helped us understand the basics of finding a good bookkeeper.  You want to hire a bookkeeper that knows their stuff, saves you time, and gives you valuable information such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, etc.  She shared tools that make it easier for business owners such as mileage tracking apps. She also stressed the importance of having updated bookkeeping, so you can make educated decisions and know what your return on investment is, etc.

The real benefit from this event was the conversations that happened in between the speakers. Both Dana and Julie brought up several points that had us talking and asking important questions. We connected with each other and opened up in ways that allowed us to improve our current situation. That connection is what events like these are for. The positive interactions we had together, and those “light bulb” moments  allowed me to leave with specific goals. Thanks to Ellen with Empowering Concepts Group for putting this together! I’m looking forward to more events like this in the future.

 

Author Jess Gainer-Office Manager, Customer Service, Tech Support, and Super Hero. She likes doing things well and wants all those she connects with to feel happier when they leave her presence. Her background includes teaching technology, running an office, bookkeeping, and protecting the world from evil one happy moment at a time. Her passions include extreme sports, building and fixing stuff, making music, playing everywhere she is, and learning.

The Benefits of Staying on Top of Things


I have a friend in the mortgage industry and lately he’s been “complaining” that there is not much to do at work. Complaining is probably not the right word for it, except that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to pretend he’s working now that he’s started to bring his guitar to work and is showing off his handstand abilities to his co-workers. Last year at this time, he was complaining because of how much work there was to do. He had to stay late and even work a couple Saturdays to stay on top of the workload. There was no guitar playing or handstanding that year. All joking aside, he had a meeting today that laid out the stats for his department.

 

Here is the important information to know because it will validate my point:

 

2017 2018
Loans to process LOTS (100%) 3% less than LOTS (97%)
Number of people in his department 20 15

That’s right, only 3% less volume of work being done by 25% less people. And yet 2018 is the year their department feels like there is nothing to do.

 

“What made the difference?” you ask…well, that’s what I asked.

 

“Staying on top of things,” he replied. He then went on to explain that in 2017 his department was perpetually 3 days behind. A loan would be ready and it would take 3 days before it was processed. In 2018, their department decided it was time to get caught up. They began working to ensure that loans were processed as soon as they were ready. That changed everything.

Even when the amount of employees working went down, and work volume stayed virtually the same (which actually increased the amount of loans each employee processed if you do the math), they were able to stay ahead of the game. *Cue the guitars and handstands.* The difference came because there were no longer complaint emails and phone calls. And everyone’s stress level went down because they didn’t feel behind. The volume of actual work done increased, but customer service improved and suddenly work became easier. They went from “putting out fires” on last day loans to providing excellent customer service and enjoying their work day more when they forged ahead and stayed ahead.

 

What does this have to do with bookkeeping? Good question. This is, after all, a blog for a bookkeeping company.

 

First of all, it’s a good reminder to us all to stay on top of our bookkeeping. Work has this funny tendency of not going away when you ignore it, and even getting more difficult as time goes on. When you stay on top of your bookkeeping, it’s a lot easier to solve the financial problems that come because you are aware of them. Work doesn’t pile up and finances are easier to interpret when it’s not just a guessing game.

 

Secondly, this is just one more reason to hire Backyard Bookkeeper. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve had with potential clients saying the same basic things: I can’t keep up anymore. I need to take something off my plate. I’m not doing what I love because I’m stuck trying to figure out QuickBooks/CosmoLex/Billy/Xero. When you delegate responsibilities to people who love to do the work, everyone stays on top of things better. We get to enter the numbers and you get to focus on the parts of your business that you love, the things you started your business for. And when you stay on top of business, it does better. Not only that, but you will have more time to play guitar, do handstands, be with your family, or do whatever other hobbies you choose to pick up.

 

So here’s to getting things done efficiently and in a timely manner. Let us know if we can help.

 

Allowing yourself to let go of fear


I stood looking over the edge of the 65’ cliff and then back at my friend. “You really DOVE off this?!?”

“Yeah, you’ve seen the picture.”

I had, but it seemed a lot smaller in the picture. Now the water was forever away and I wasn’t sure I should have said I would do it. I stood and deliberated for a while, quieting the voice in my head that told me I was too scared.

The moment of decision came when I realized that voice would only get louder and justified if I walked down instead of jumping.

So I yelled above the fear, “THREE!…TWO!…ONE!” and I jumped.

The cliff was so high I had time to regret the decision on the way down, my mind was screaming as my arms and legs pin-wheeled against the force of gravity. I had to succumb; I didn’t know how to fly. I hit the water and went down, a LONG way down, and was gasping for air and grateful for the lifejacket I was wearing when I finally surfaced.

It took a few seconds to catch my breath and realize I was still alive. As soon as that happened, though, I couldn’t take the grin off my face. I had done it!

Letting go of fear and jumping off that cliff quieted the voice that told me, “You can’t. You won’t. You’re not going to make it.” This wasn’t the only time in my life I have had to quiet that voice.

Fear and self-doubt are “voices” that make an appearance in all our lives at one time or another. What do you really want? What is it that helps you to let go and make the jump? For me, it was my competitive nature, a supportive team, and wanting the experience.

10 years ago Backyard Bookkeeper was born. Yes, you calculated correctly – they started a bookkeeping business during the financial crisis of 2008. Why? Because two friends had a passion for bookkeeping (weird, I know), quieted the voices of doubt and the voices of the people around them who thought they were crazy; and supported each other in the risk they took.

Today there are 13 employees and hundreds of companies who are glad that Julie and Alex decided to jump off the proverbial cliff and do what they had a passion for.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Backyard Bookkeeper!

Let these stories be an inspiration to you and ask yourself (in business, in life):

“What do I really want?

“What is it that will help me let go and make the jump?

“Three…

“Two…

“One…”

 

Backyard Book Review: Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal


I was wandering the business section of my local library, trying to find inspiration and direction to help myself move forward in life. I turned the corner and this screamed its title at me, DO COOL SH*T. I knew immediately it was coming home with me. 3 weeks later, when it was due back to the library, my own copy was already on its way to my mailbox.

Miki Agrawal expresses herself as a powerful, energetic person. Throughout the book, her voice is loud and clear. She is excited about her own journey and the things she has done to get where she is. This excitement is absolutely contagious.

Agrawal delves into her own business successes and failures and then uses them to suggest ways to apply those stories to your own desires to “Do Cool Sh*t.” She leads the reader through an organized narrative of ways to step out and try things on your own. Each chapter includes a “Do Cool Shit Takeaway,” something that you can do or apply to help you “quit your day job, start your own business & live happily ever after.”

I really appreciated how she showed effective ways to network, throwing parties that lead everyone to walk away with good connections and she would end up with a solid plan for her next steps in her own business.

Agrawal also shows the importance of persistence and learning from her mistakes. This book really opened my eyes to some fun and memorable marketing techniques, ways to effectively grow a business, and how to make a living out of something you love.

This book is definitely worth your time. It’s a fast moving narrative with so much good to take away from it that you’ll want a notebook and a highlighter with you when you read.

How to Manage Your Career


Most people spend the majority of their days working at their career; this article from the NY Times provides some great tips on how to manage your career. Keeping things in balance and building a strong foundation are vital to having a long lasting, happy career. It is a great read for any person with a job. It focuses on basic principles like effective networking, staying informed, and balancing your life. “You are not your career,” it says. Finding something you enjoy doing that is not work related and having balance in what you do will allow you to perform better in all aspects of life. Read on to get some great tips.
Summary By Jess

Marketing ideas for small business owners. Are you doing any of these?


Starting a small business shows you believe in yourself and in your product or service enough to invest in yourself. Marketing is the way to grow the seed you planted into something substantial. This article from OnDeck has some great tips for promoting your business in free and easy ways.

Taking the time to talk to others about what you’re passionate about–the thing that most likely takes most of your time and mental capacity–is important. Let others know what you do and why. It will attract clients who feel the same excitement and energy you have for your business and can help it spread. Take a look at this list and implement some of these strategies. Remember, you were brave enough to take the risk to start a business; now it’s time to let everyone know.
Read the full article here.
Summary by Jess

The most common 1099 mistake we see


It’s 1099 filing season again! All forms need to be filed with the IRS and delivered to your contractors by the last day of January. (Postmarked by 1/31, at the very least.)

A lot of business owners still think that they need to buy stock forms, print, and mail. However, the very easiest way to fulfill your 1099 filing requirement is by using an online filing service. All you do is type in your company information, enter the vendor’s name and tax ID, and fill in the appropriate box with the correct amount. The website will then file the form with the IRS electronically, and often also has a secure email delivery option for your vendor, or maybe even a mail service. Either way, you were going to have to type up the forms manually – why not input it directly into a service that also files it for you?

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