Last month, System Six founder, Jeremy Allen, was featured as the inaugural guest for Accounting Leaders Podcast. Hosted by Karbon Founder & Director Stuart McLeod, the Accounting Leaders Podcast curates the best resources in the industry through conversations with accounting’s most significant innovators.
Jeremy and Stuart talk about small-town living, from the culinary limits of the midwest to the blessing of living near family in a slower, tighter-knit community. Jeremy’s recent move from Seattle, WA to Holland, MI, opts for colder, snowier winters but relatively easy access to big cities like Chicago and idyllic towns like Traverse City. While COVID may have changed the work-home balance for many individuals, nothing radically shifted in the operations of System Six. System Six has always been a remote firm with team members across more than a dozen states. While other industries struggled with the forced pivot to cloud-based systems, virtual meetings, and communications logs, System Six carried on with business as usual.
“For the first seven years, we had to convince people why the Cloud was good, but COVID accelerated that,” says Jeremy. Remote, streamlined technologies are not just a slick option; they are essential to day-to-day business. Offering a work-from-home option for employees used to make System Six stand out among the crowd. High-class talent sought out the rare opportunity to provide quality CAS from the comfort of their homes. But the shift to at-home work for the entire industry means that System Six no longer offers something exclusive. Stuart points out that this shift, paired with the scarcity and challenge of finding and retaining talent, could pose problems for System Six’s growth in the future. Jeremy acknowledges that, in this case, company culture will probably emerge as their unique differentiator.
Growth and innovation have always been in the DNA of System Six. Jeremy founded the business with neither experience as a bookkeeper or training in accounting. What he was keenly aware of, however, was the day-to-day frustrations of navigating finances as a small business owner. Having launched several businesses before System Six, Jeremy found processes for payroll to be antiquated and lacking in technology advances of parallel industries. While accountants were helpful during tax season, they weren’t always supportive throughout the year and lacked the patience and expertise to provide holistic advisory services. Without someone “in the books” from week to week, financial records would become muddy, late, or disorganized, and only the business owner was left to clean up the mess. Amid his own frustrations birthed his most successful business.
His experience not only resonated with other small business owners but non-profits, churches, financial firms, and high-net-worth individuals. He quickly realized that managing the minutia of receipts and payroll brought immense relief. Their services were both systematic and highly “sticky.” While System Six loves innovation and technology, “slow and steady wins the race” for Jeremy Allen. Stuart asks about the future of System Six, and Jeremy shares exciting opportunities for acquisition or acquiring another business. “It’s always nice to get asked to prom,” jokes Jeremy. Entertaining invitations for mergers is flattering, but the fit has to be more than financial. For Jeremy, the highest priority will always be if a suitor is right for the employees, families, vision, and mission of System Six.
Whether you are an international non-profit organization operating with a staff of hundreds or a small local church with under a hundred members – when your organization is running on the donations and good faith of others, good stewardship matters.
Transparency Builds Trust.
We believe good stewardship begins with trust. As a non-profit, your organization functions not just as a business but as a community venture. By trusting you with their financial gifts, resources, and time, your donors have a personal stake in your organization’s success. When they have questions about where funds and resources are being allocated, there should be clear and open transparency, just as there would be in any partnership.
This is where accurate bookkeeping comes in. Messy, unpredictable books mean that money could be unaccounted for. Even if it is unintentional, unorganized bookkeeping can and will lead to mistrust in leadership.
Successful non-profits know that when it comes to finances, they are operating as a partnership with their donors. Trust is essential for this relationship between organizational leadership and financial partners to stay healthy and grow.
Vision Requires Resources.
Every non-profit organization begins as a vision, but a vision needs resources to come to life. An organization must have practical tools such as money and manpower to operate. As a non-profit, you often must rely on monetary donations and volunteers with particular skill sets to execute your goals.
You’ll earn the trust of your financial partners and volunteers by wisely managing the resources at your disposal, ensuring they are not expended too slowly or quickly. This doesn’t just pertain to your budget – wisely managing your organization’s resources also means valuing your staff and volunteers’ time.
A vision isn’t a static thing – it stretches, shifts, and grows along with your organization’s resources. Accessibility to accurate books is imperative as your vision and goals evolve and adjust over time. This transparency not only builds trust, it also honors the givers by caring wisely for the resources they give you, allowing you to earn the right to ask them for more.
Information is Empowering.
Budgeting, like many other disciplines, sometimes gets a bad rap for its “restrictive” lens. We tend to think of budgeting as what we can’t do, rather than important, empowering information that frees us to do more of what we value most.
We believe that good stewardship and accounting of finances is the opposite of limiting – it’s actually freeing.
Wisely stewarding your resources through accurate bookkeeping allows you to celebrate and give more readily because you know exactly how much money you have and from where.
The same is true when it comes to your partnerships with donors and volunteers. Good stewardship shows that you honor their investment in your organization’s vision, whether with time or money or both and that you value a partnership built on transparency in trust. When your donors feel honored and like valued team members with a common mission, their commitment to your organization will grow.
What you need to know about managing the finances for your growing real estate investments.
Purchasing multiple properties can be an excellent investment path, allowing you to grow your assets while potentially making some extra income at the same time through leasing. However, owning and managing multiple properties can become a pain point for you and your CPA when it comes to bookkeeping, particularly when tax season rolls around each year.
It can become complex and confusing to track income and expenses for individual properties when they are all kept under one Quickbooks file, making filing taxes a nightmare.
At System Six, we believe you can achieve accounting success by understanding the proper tax structure for multiple properties, keeping your individual properties’ bookkeeping separately organized, and utilizing available up-to-date technology to keep your bookkeeping balanced and easy to track.
As an owner of multiple properties, one roadblock that may surprise you when tax season arrives is realizing too late the headache that filing all your properties on one tax file can bring you and your CPA. Whether or not multiple properties are LLC’s, filing each entity individually will make the accounting process much less confusing. Setting yourself up for success starts with making sure you are structuring your bookkeeping correctly.
How to Structure Your Property Accounts
Each of your properties should ideally have its own Quickbooks file and profit/loss/balance sheet. Trying to keep track of each property’s expenses and income streams under one personal bookkeeping file is potentially a costly discrepancy just waiting to happen. You can safeguard your assets and investments by organizing your properties’ bookkeeping individually (not to mention your CPA will thank you for making their job much more time-efficient)!
If you use your multiple properties as a source of income by leasing them out, it will serve you well to open individual banking accounts for your properties. Separate lines of credit and bill pay systems for your properties will make expected costs such as utility and cable bills easily trackable and accounted for.
Sometimes owning multiple properties becomes even more complicated – what about situations where you have multiple properties under individual entities that income from your properties has to be regularly allocated to?
Utilizing class and location tracking will give you another valuable layer of data to help you precisely track how much revenue from your properties needs to be allocated to an overhead entity. Class and location tracking is an opt-in feature on accounting software, like Quickbooks, allowing users to group expenses or invoices by location and department.
Even though structuring your accounts and bookkeeping individually will undoubtedly keep your accounts safer, more organized, and trackable, we understand that it can be overwhelming for property owners to tackle that front-end work of setting up individual bookkeeping, tax files and lines of credit for their multiple properties. This is especially true for property owners who have been keeping their properties’ accounts on one Quickbooks and tax file and want to restructure their bookkeeping to keep their properties’ individual bookkeeping and tax work separate from each other.
You don’t have to tackle this alone! Here at System Six, we are passionate about utilizing the latest technology and tools available to help our clients with multiple properties keep their bookkeeping organized and balanced. Let’s chat.
At Systems Six, we recognize that feelings of stress and being overwhelmed are commonplace for many small business owners during tax season, which is why we want to equip you with principles to simplify your tax prep. On a micro level, your taxes are impacted by daily transactions: running payroll, writing invoices, paying vendors — each of which look back upon actions previously done. Zooming out to a macro level, the same data needed to execute your taxes will also be needed in the future if your business gets audited, you need financing, or are looking to sell. When new seasons of business or big decisions come knocking, we want you to be prepared. Here are three tips our expert bookkeepers recommend to simplify your tax prep and serve your goals on micro and macro levels:
1. Use proper digital record keeping systems
The foundation of your tax prep is the same systems you use to accomplish tasks like payroll and paying bills; they must be organized and accessible. We recommend using online, cloud-based tools. Our team advocates for Quickbooks to be your central online hub through which all other platforms connect. Using other platforms like Bill.com for bills, Ally for receipts, and Sharefile for shared documents will complement Quickbooks and assist in managing an efficient and accurate paperless accounting system. Finally, Gusto, a time-tracking and payroll system, is recommended by our team. At the end of the year, Gusto will send W-2’s to each of your employees digitally. By using these systems, your books will be ready for a tax preparing CPA to effortlessly step in and carry out your taxes without needing to spend hours digging for correct information.
2. Maintain bookkeeping hygiene
Using a simplified, cloud-based system for the foundation of your tax prep is essential; however, it can be easy for your books to become messy without upkeeping these systems. We recommend performing weekly and monthly upkeep tasks to ensure that your files stay organized, your receipts are all accounted for, and your books remain clean. Staying on top of these day-to-day tasks will aid in preparing your business for tax season. Ignoring the stack of receipts throughout the year will only lead to panic when your CPA comes knocking.
3. Reconcile your Quickbooks account
Reconciling your books is an easy task, yet it makes a profound impact when it comes to having truthful and accurate books. Comparing your books with your bank statement brings accountability to your work. Quickbooks is a phenomenal online tool, but the IRS begins with your source documents and builds from the ground up to validate your books. Therefore, reconciliation is essential to the promotion of transparency and accuracy with your bookkeeping.
Tax prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it requires organized, daily bookkeeping practices to ensure accurate data. By using digital platforms, maintaining the hygiene of those platforms, and reconciling those platforms with source documents, your company will have significantly simplified the preparation process.
It’s storytime on the blog this week! Do either of these tales sound familiar to you?
Flash Drives and Checkbooks
The advisors at Neighborhood Financial were losing their minds and perhaps more alarmingly, their valuable time.
It was the last Friday of the business month and, as was becoming far too common, financial advisors/business partners Jake and Lisa were scrambling to make sure their individual income accounts and their joint business account were correctly balanced.
As with most financial firms, bookkeeping needs at Neighborhood Financial were complicated. Along with individual income streams and expenses, the business partners’ joint venture account had to be regularly contributed to by both team members. They had hired an independent accountant to handle their books long ago – so why were they still not 100% sure of where their accounts stood and who owed how much to their joint account every month?
With the chime of the office doorbell, the answer to that question walked in the door with a flash drive in one hand and a stack of unsigned checks in the other.
Fred the accountant had years of experience and a winsome personality that built loyalty and trust with his customers. Unfortunately, he was falling farther and farther behind on the latest banking and bookkeeping systems and tools that make modern bookkeeping organized and efficient.
Fred the accountant still kept Jake’s and Lisa’s individual books on a flash drive that Jake and Lisa only had up-to-date access to whenever Fred was able to stop by. Fred still handled expenses and payments with paper checks, reports and receipts. It was simply the way he had always done things.
It took up quite a lot of their valuable time for Fred to help Jake and Lisa figure out how much each of them needed to contribute to their joint account each month, and the sums varied so wildly month to month that neither of them were ever sure if they were over or under contributing.
“There’s got to be a simpler, more dependable way to do this,” sighed Jake, rubbing his forehead after Fred left with the stack of freshly signed checks.
“This is becoming too stressful for us individually, and for our partnership,” agreed Lisa. “I think we need to make a change.”
How much of a difference can expert help and up-to-date tools make for financial businesses?
It may surprise you that the answer is more than you might think.
Staying two steps ahead of the latest tools, systems and technologies for financial business bookkeeping is becoming a necessity for those who want to stay ahead in today’s quickly evolving world. More than ever, today’s financial businesses need expert help with a deep understanding of the most accurate and efficient bookkeeping tools on the market so that they can focus on what they value most: serving their customers.
Something we have noticed among our clients is that some businesses are leery of switching from old, manual ways of accounting because they are afraid they will lose the personal touch that comes with the long standing relationships that develop over years working with a single accountant. The learning curve of newer systems and technology seem overwhelming and businesses worry it will take too much of their time.
At System Six we work hard to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the best, up to date systems and tools available for bookkeeping so you don’t have to. We are also just as committed to building long lasting relationships with our clients – relationships built on great communication and personal attention to the details that matter for your business.
21st Century Solutions to 21st Century Challenges
Jake and Lisa made the decision to change how they were handling their business’ bookkeeping.
By outsourcing their bookkeeping needs to a company that was up to date with today’s best technology, Jake and Lisa began to see immediate improvements in the areas that previously caused so much frustration and stress.
The new bookkeeping team used tools to analyze past years’ spending to project more accurately how much Jake and Lisa needed to be contributing to their joint account each month. Their payments became more consistent so there were no longer last minute surprises at the end of every month.
While trying to understand and manage the various streams of revenue and expenses at their firm had been a nightmare before, now Jake and Lisa received monthly, detailed reports broken down in a clear, concise way. Jake and Lisa finally had vital account information at their fingertips, up to date within ten days of the end of the month. No more waiting for and fussing with flash drives!
Moving their banking and bill pay systems online alleviated the need for paper checks and reports, which made Neighborhood Financial more organized and efficient than ever before.
All this led to surprisingly big benefits for Jake, Lisa and Neighborhood Financial: more peace of mind, better control of their account information, and best of all, more time to devote to their clients.
Does this story sound familiar to you? Have you been wondering how updating the way your business handles partnership accounting would improve your work? If so, we’d love to connect with you!