Simply stated, we learn from each other. Open and honest discussion between business owners provides real life tales of running a small business. At Expex, we work within the small to medium sized business communities. Bookkeeping is such a critical function for a business, yet it is so often overlooked and under reviewed.
Our story may sound familiar to small business owners. A few months ago, we interviewed Sarah W. about her bookkeeping challenges and experiences so we thought we would share another client story.
I recently had a call with a small business owner who was looking for help with his bookkeeping. He had an employee doing the bookkeeping as part of his daily tasks, but the person was not a bookkeeper. The owner had a great thought…” What if we unload this work and redirect this person to tasks that take advantage of his institutional knowledge?” I told him I couldn’t agree more and off we dove into a conversation about his business and how it functioned from a financial standpoint. The more we talked, the more we uncovered that there was more to the story than creating efficiency within the business.
As we spoke, it became clear that this trusted employee was doing all the bookkeeping and had a well-defined process that appeared at face value to work well. However, as I just said, the person was doing all the work, including invoicing clients, receiving cash, approving bills, paying bills, and reconciling bank accounts. Now if this sounds familiar, we need to talk…fast! This business had literally given complete financial control to one employee, which should never be done.
Billing and cash receipts should always be done by different people. The same holds true for bill approvals, payments, and bank reconciliations. In a best-case scenario, if that employee leaves, you must figure these processes out. In a worst case, you’ve opened the door to fraud. Now is when I must deliver the ugly truth…every small business owner who has been the victim of fraud thought it couldn’t happen to them, and it is almost always perpetrated by a trusted employee.
As we continued our discussion, I learned that there were other accounting practices that were being performed that both overstated revenue and expenses. Invoices were being created based on estimates before good were shipped and the same was being done for bills from vendors based on PO’s. As we spoke, I understood why these processes were put in place, but it created inaccurate financial statements. It was clearly the result of people trying to get information to manage the business without understanding the financial ramifications of the actions they were taking.
Finally, we looked at the time that was being spent to do all this work. The person who was going the work said there was very little (less than a couple of hours a month) to get it done. While I found this hard to believe…it may have been accurate. However, we have all seen this happen when you ask the person who is doing the work to perform the evaluation of how efficient it is.
By now, you can see that this is a company that really needed to make some changes and you may be thinking this was an easy decision. But remember, there was a trusted employee involved, making it hard to pull the trigger. I would ask anyone reading this and thinking it sounds familiar to answer the following question:
Would you rather have a well-run, financially strong company with an employee that can be repositioned to perform more meaningful work, or keep doing things that are inefficient, expensive and add a fair amount of risk to your company?
We think it’s always better to work with your valued employees and get the most out of them, while using technology to make your business efficient and safe from fraudulent activities. You AND your employees with be happy if you do.
Think about the time you spend on bookkeeping challenges and responsibilities. Now think about the status of those tasks and the health of your business? Are your bills paid on time, credit cards reconciled, and monthly financials completed at month end? Oh, and don’t forget QuickBooks!
If the answer is no to any of these, look at Expex and spend a few minutes with Carly. You will be on the path to a healthier business in no time.
Expex is based in Schenectady, NY offering convenient and innovative bookkeeping services to help your business succeed. Our application, Carly, can do everything a traditional bookkeeper does and more. This financial management program expertly fulfills services such as bills payments, bank and credit card reconciliation, and financial records consolidation. Call (518) 389-2305 today to get started, or contact us to learn more about Carly.