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Why Most Entrepreneurs Struggle with Managing Money

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About This Episode

Most entrepreneurs are so busy making money that they aren’t very good at managing it. The solution? A remote bookkeeper. 

 

In this episode, Brooke Cecil, the Director of Client Relations at BELAY, will talk to Lisa about some problems entrepreneurs face when wanting to get started with a bookkeeper, and how to overcome them.

1. Don’t worry about getting everything in order before you delegate.

The “shoe box method” is okay! Bookkeepers thrive on getting things organized and in the corrector order, so they anticipate having to do that. Go ahead and pass off the bookkeeping and let the professional fix it.

2. Sometimes you have to rip off the bandaid.

If you’ve been doing your own bookkeeping, it might feel hard to hand it over. You might feel vulnerable. But in order to grow as a leader, you need to let it go. You’ll end up having more knowledge of your financials and your business. And, as a result, you’ll be able to make better decisions in the future.

3. Find a trusted professional.

You want someone with the experience you need who will serve you well. BELAY is very intentional about who they bring in as a Bookkeeper. A lot of leaders don’t even know where to turn when it comes to this topic. BELAY can help.

 

Do you currently do your own bookkeeping or have you hired someone?

 

What have been your experiences with bookkeeping? 
Do/Did you have any hesitations about hiring a bookkeeper? What were they?
In what ways does a bookkeeper allow you to become a better entrepreneur?

There is never a perfect time to change your approach to finances.

Brooke Cecil

There is no perfect person, but there is the right person.

Lisa Zeeveld

It’s okay not to have everything in order before delegating.

Lisa Zeeveld

It might not be pretty, it might not be alphabetized or color-coded, but when we recognize we need to change, we just have to jump in.

Brooke Cecil

Start somewhere, and start early.

Brooke Cecil

Brooke Cecil on LinkedIn 

Tricia Sciortino on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lisa Zeeveld on Instagram and LinkedIn.

BELAY’s bookkeeper service

(02:22) Brooke talks about what celebrity she’d like to meet in person and why.

(05:49) Brooke and Lisa begin walking through some of the common problems entrepreneurs face when it comes to hiring a bookkeeper.

(05:51) Problem 1: Waiting for the perfect time and situation to change or update your approach.

(07:58) Problem 2: Trying to get your bookkeeping in order on your own before delegating.

(09:36) Problem 3: Selecting the right technology or bookkeeping system.

(13:58) Problem 4: Navigating the discomfort of the unknown or change.

(16:44) Problem 5: Looking for the perfect person over the right person.

(18:15) What is the one common solution that would help with all these problems?

Lisa Zeeveld:

And the IRS is not very nice in their approach if you wait too long. They have a heavy hand.

Brooke Cecil:

They do, they do. And we want you to be able to keep your lights on too, or your cell phone, so let’s make sure we’re getting those bills paid as well.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world, helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence, with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Welcome to One Next Step, the practical business podcast that helps you run your business so it stops running you. I’m LZ. Today, we’re going to talk about a very real topic for many entrepreneurs struggling with how to better manage your money. Joining us is our very own Brooke Cecil. Brooke has been on the podcast before and we are so excited to have her back. She is the director of client relations at BELAY and an incredibly important team member. She’s going to help us understand some of the problems entrepreneurs have with managing money and bookkeeping and how they can become more effective. Brooke, welcome back.

Brooke Cecil:

Thanks. Thank you for having me back. I appreciate it.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I know. This is so, so fun. I mean, I think back to the days when we were just scraping this thing together and you were one of our first guest.

Brooke Cecil:

I was, I was. It was a lot of pressure, so I glad that you had me back.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, yes. Well, back in those days, we recorded for YouTube, so it was all about presenting this very photographic image, in addition to recording the audio. And now, we just keep it simple and it’s just like two girlfriends chatting it up.

Brooke Cecil:

I love it, I love it. And today, we get to talk about something that you and I love, which is how we handle our finances appropriately, so I’m super pumped.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I know, I know. Every time in BELAY somebody mentions finances or accounting, Brooke and I just light up. We’re like, “Yes, yes. Let us talk about it.” And I don’t think we fit the stereotype, which I hate to say is such a thing. People will say, “Oh, you’re finance people, you’re bookkeepers, they’re so quiet,” and we are neither. We are not quiet, no. So this is going to be so much fun, and to start things off on the right track so everybody knows how fun we are, I’ve got a question for you. Are you ready?

Brooke Cecil:

I’m ready. Let’s do this.

Lisa Zeeveld:

All right. What celebrity would you like to meet in person and why?

Brooke Cecil:

Well, I’m going to be honest. I could have a lot of different answers, but I, for those that know me personally, know that I am a political junkie. I love all things American history, just all things. And one of the things that is near and dear to my heart is actually the first ladies of the US.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I didn’t know this. What? Oh, my gosh.

Brooke Cecil:

Yes, yes, yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh, my gosh.

Brooke Cecil:

I just love hearing things from all the impact that they’ve made within our country, but also, let’s talk about the way they decorate the White House during the holidays. There’s just things that I love about that, and just the traditions that they bring. So for me, from a celebrity perspective, I’m going to have to say Laura Bush.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh, yeah.

Brooke Cecil:

Don’t you love her? You love her, right?

Lisa Zeeveld:

I love her. I do, I do. And the whole reading campaign.

Brooke Cecil:

Yes, and that’s the thing, and her daughter, Jenna, who’s on The Today Show now, she has a book club that I participate in. But I also think, when our country went through an extreme hardship of 9/11, just the steadiness that she provided during a really tough time, was just… I love it. Not to mention, she has great fashion sense, so I’m going to say Laura Bush.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, yes. And I think it probably takes a lot of patience to be married to George, so I mean, we do have that too.

Brooke Cecil:

I mean, come on, come on. And you’re in the spotlight all the time, but yet, she’s just steady, so I would love to know her secrets.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and having twins, that had to be difficult. There’s just a lot, a lot. And I think she’s so steadfast and she’s just always so well put together. She’s so articulate. I would’ve not thought of a first lady, but I have to say, you rocked that.

Brooke Cecil:

That would be my choice.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Does she need a virtual assistant, or a bookkeeper?

Brooke Cecil:

You know what? I would happily go down to the ranch and talk to her about it myself, if I needed to.

Lisa Zeeveld:

We’ll see if we can arrange that. We’ll see if we can arrange that. Well, this episode is going to be a little different, so instead of asking questions, we’re going to walk through some of the common problems we find entrepreneurs had when it comes to getting started with a bookkeeper. It’s just not easy. We’ll go through each one, and Brooke and I are just going to talk about it a little bit. Besides just being in business, I know I have a lot of friends who have small businesses and I feel like I’m kind of their sounding board because they’re great at the thing they started the business to do, what they’re not great at is understanding finances, right?

Brooke Cecil:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and you come from, I mean, a long line. I mean, your dad was in banking, so you have been surrounded by numbers and finances all your life, so this is nothing for you to talk about.

Brooke Cecil:

Yes. Well, and I will say too, while my dad was in banking for the younger years of my life, he was an entrepreneur himself. And I’m married to an entrepreneur, so I get it. I understand the complexity and the frustration that sometimes you have because you just want to run your business and you’re not thinking about what your financials are saying or how to get them properly organized.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. No, I love that. Well, let’s tackle problem number one. That is waiting for the perfect time and situation to change or update your approach. Is there a perfect time?

Brooke Cecil:

You know what? There is no perfect time. I wish I had a magic wand to wave and create that perfect time, but it isn’t. As I was thinking through it, I mean, the reality of it is, is I think we’ve seen over the last several decades, we’re just in a constant state of flux, so we never know what to anticipate. Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball to determine what the future holds, and so I think we just have to realize we have to start somewhere. Might not be pretty, might not be alphabetized, color coded, but I think we need to get to the point that we recognize we need to change and we just have to jump in.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, yeah. I feel like it’s almost deciding when to go to the doctor. I’m not going to share my age, but I can remember when we didn’t really talk about preventative care all that much, and so you really only saw your doctor if there was something wrong with you. And so, I feel that same way about bookkeeping and finances, as we don’t talk enough about preventative care. So don’t wait until you haven’t balanced your bank statements for six or eight months or ever. Don’t wait until your CPA gets mad at you at tax time. Just pick a random month and know you need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Brooke Cecil:

Absolutely, and that’s one thing that I was going to say, especially from a tax implication. Unfortunately, the IRS will keep maybe sending you some notifications that they need some money of yours, so now is the time to get those ducks in a row.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and the IRS is not very nice in their approach if you wait too long. They have a heavy hand.

Brooke Cecil:

They do, they do. And we want you to be able to keep your lights on too, or your cell phone, so let’s make sure we’re getting those bills paid as well.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, I love that, I love that, so no perfect time. All right, the problem number two we get is trying to get your bookkeeping in order on your own before delegating.

Brooke Cecil:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Ah, yeah.

Brooke Cecil:

Yeah. And then that can be overwhelming. What I often said when I was working with entrepreneurs as a bookkeeper, but also here at BELAY, is, I would say the shoebox method is okay to hand over. It doesn’t have to be pretty, right, because most of the time, those bookkeepers, they thrive on getting things organized and in the correct order to be able to provide the accuracy that that client needs, and so it’s okay. They anticipate getting things that aren’t quite in order.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. I mean, it goes back to the doctor mentality, right? Your doctor is going to be okay if you come to them when you’re sick, so your bookkeeper is going to understand that that’s not your gifting and you might come with an ugly shoebox or maybe even less than that, in some cases. We hope it’s an Excel spreadsheet, but even if it’s a piece of notebook paper with things written on, that’s okay. It’s better to attack the problem sooner rather than later because it actually doesn’t go away.

Brooke Cecil:

Absolutely, absolutely, and it will just continue piling up.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right. Right. All right, so there’s no perfect time and don’t try to get it all cleaned up before you hand it over because that’s probably never going to happen. I know, I like those too. All right, problem number three is selecting the right technology or bookkeeping system. Ooh, that feels very overwhelming.

Brooke Cecil:

It does, it does. And I think what we encourage our clients to even do if they’re starting from scratch is identifying what you do need. What are those things that you know that you need? And for bookkeeping systems, it could be starting with just simply, what can we afford? There are many robust systems that have lots of bells and whistles, but you might just need the bottom level at that timeframe, and that’s all you can afford, and that’s okay. We just need to start, as we said earlier, start somewhere.

Brooke Cecil:

But I would also say with that, there are some industries that have industry-specific software that they utilize, and so I know, for example, construction companies or restaurants, they have particular systems that help those clients with their inventories and those type of things, so that might be something that they need to look out for. But I would also say reaching out to your peers that are in your industry, just to get their recommendations on the tools that they’re using because with technology changing so quickly, you want to ensure that you have what you need to give you the information that you need.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, I love that idea of leaning into your peers. I’ve recently become a huge fan, not a fan of Facebook, but I love Facebook groups because I like the opportunity to share information. And you definitely have to go into it with an open mind, but specifically around industries or particular areas, I think that you’ll get a lot of different perspectives from people. And so, to your point, if it’s, you’re a plumber and you have… maybe it’s a professional organization that you’re a member of, leaning into them, or if there’s a Facebook group for plumbers in your area, I am sure that somebody has had the same question before.

Brooke Cecil:

Yes, that’s always my recommendation, always. That’s where I always start.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, yeah, and to your earlier point too, I mean, there’s… Everybody always, I think, goes to QuickBooks. It’s such a nationally known name for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but we have Xero that just came on the marketplace, and very plug and play, very simple systems. I think of almost the turbo tax for businesses that just ask you questions that lead you down the right path, especially in those early years where you may not have a lot of transactions that are happening.

Brooke Cecil:

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think additionally too, just ensuring that it’s a cloud based system as well. I think desktop, it just leaves a little gray area, then you’re constantly having to update and all of those things and that’s just not necessary. And the price point is pretty close, so I would say always go for the cloud based, especially if you’re choosing someone that works outside of your office. That’s a great solution.

Lisa Zeeveld:

That’s really good. Yeah, I think sometimes it’s easy if you don’t know. I know at Costco, you can just go buy, then you think you’re doing the right thing and then you want to pass it on to-

Brooke Cecil:

Pick up the box.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, you want to pass it on and they’re like, “Yeah, but I can’t have access to it,” so that’s not good. Embrace the cloud, embrace the cloud. That’s where it’s at.

Tricia Sciortino:

If you are anything like me, then keeping up with the daily tasks of AR, AP, and account reconciliation are not your favorite things, but you also know how necessary and important it is. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be your thing anymore. BELAY can help.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Numbers are totally my thing, Tricia, and thankfully, numbers are BELAY bookkeepers’ thing too. Our sponsor, BELAY, believes you deserve topnotch bookkeepers to produce balance sheets, pay bills, reconcile bank and credit card statements, and monthly reports to keep you up to date on the numbers of your organization. Whether you’re a church, nonprofit, or a business, they have the right people, ready to help. Talk to their team today and never lose sleep over your financials again. Get started by visiting belaysolutions.com/services/bookkeepers today.

Lisa Zeeveld:

All right, well, problem number four is navigating the discomfort of the unknown, which ultimately, is change. And we know a lot of people don’t like change, and so they’ve been doing the shoebox, they’ve been doing the Excel spreadsheet, or maybe the notebook, and they just don’t know how they’re going to change. What do we tell them?

Brooke Cecil:

Sometimes we just have to rip off the bandaid, LZ, right? But I think it’s just the trust. In many ways, we see this with the entrepreneurs where we work with day in, day out, because they have been doing it for so long, and then they move to allowing one of our bookkeepers to handle their finances. And it is hard. It’s hard to give up that baby, so to speak. And also, it’s a part of vulnerability, sharing where they are financially within their business. But I think for them to grow as leaders, it’s something they need to let go of because they’re still going to have, hopefully, more knowledge of where their financials truly sit and be able to truly cast vision for their business if they let those things go. I mean, delegation is key. We talk about it here, day in, day out. And so, I think it will really allow them to make wise decisions moving forward.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. You touched on a key point there, the embarrassment factor. Sometimes the financials of a startup or just a business that’s going through a transition or a market change, maybe your financials don’t look the way you would like for them to look, and so maybe sometimes that’s part of their hurdle too, is it’s like, I don’t want someone to judge me if maybe I need to be doing things differently or judge me if I should be making more money. And so, that could also be that fear of change.

Brooke Cecil:

Yeah, absolutely, and a bit of pride. If you are struggling, you don’t want the world to know, but that’s where that trustworthiness comes in, of allowing somebody that you know you can confide in that will be able to take care of things.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. And they’re the expert, and so if you are struggling, they’re probably going to be able to give you some really good advice because most bookkeepers are not just working for you, especially in our fractional environment, they’re helping several other businesses at the same time. In their prior experience, they’ve probably seen this before, can give you some great ideas. And if you are killing it right now in your business, then there might be some things that they would want you to talk to your tax advisor about, to even get more benefits. Again, they’re not CPAs, but they know enough to really say, “Hey, have this conversation and see if it’s a right fit for you.” Well, that’s a good lead in to problem we see number five, and that is looking for the perfect person over the right person.

Brooke Cecil:

There are no perfect people. And this ties into what I talked about when we were together the last time, is really just determining, what are your non-negotiables for the role? What are those hard and fast that you just will not settle on? It doesn’t matter who you’re hiring, whether it’s your bookkeeper or the janitor, determining what those non-negotiables are. But I think you also have to determine, what are you willing to train the bookkeeper on, whether that’s a point of sales system that you’re utilizing, that maybe they don’t have the knowledge on, but you see that they have learned several other softwares so you think that they can do it, or it could be your industry. Maybe they aren’t well aware of the industry, but they’ve been in something comparable. So I think you just have to determine where you’re willing to flex a bit and then move forward with that hiring process.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, yeah. I love that coming up with what your non-negotiables are, and I think that that really applies to every area of our life, including who’s going to help you with your finances, because like you said, there’s no perfect people, but there are certainly the right people who are just waiting to help you along the way. All right, my final question is, what do you think is the one common solution that would help with all five of these problems?

Brooke Cecil:

Well, I have a very easy answer for this. This takes no thinking. And that’s hiring the BELAY bookkeeper. As I went, we’re talking through these problems, these are things that our bookkeepers are handling day in, day out, because as I mentioned, we do have those entrepreneurs that come in. We’re virtual, so they’re not giving us the shoebox, but they sure upload those shoe boxes and provide us the information so we can put those puzzle pieces together to give them the end product that they need to make their decisions. But I would just say a BELAY bookkeeper, obviously, but just a trusted professional, somebody you know that has the experience that you need in order to serve you well.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. I love that. And I am going to sound like a commercial here because I do have to brag. On BELAY, we’ve been very intentional about creating a service line for entrepreneurs and business leaders, and we see these problems all the time and we tackle these problems. One of the things that we didn’t even mention, that I think that we do a phenomenal job, and that’s really, really hard, is if you are not experienced in this area, you don’t even know who the trusted professional is. And so, that’s where you’re probably leaning into your peers and you’re saying, “Hey, do you know of somebody?” But you don’t know what their business is like, you don’t know if the bookkeeper’s actually good because maybe that person is just as lost as you are.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And so, I think back of why we’re such a perfect solution, is the fact that you have a team of experts that knows all about bookkeepers, that’s what we do, a team of experts, our talent acquisition team, that is vetting, interviewing thousands of people who are raising their hands and saying that they can do this job, and the very, very small percent that we actually end up partnering with, because again, our standard is so high. It’s a very thoughtful matching process, so we’re going to be taking a look at what your business is, really understanding your business.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And then of our pool of top talented bookkeepers, we’re going to hand pick. I’m going to say that again, and this is not even just a play on words. We literally hand pick, right? It’s very labor intensive. We literally hand pick the best bookkeeper for you and your business to make sure that, number one, they’ve already passed through an expert, but that they possibly, more than likely, I would say, what, 90, 95% of the time, have experience in your industry, right? I mean, it’s super, super high, that they’ve actually already done the books for your industry, but are just going to get you and what you do, and they raised their hand, and so they wanted to work with you.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And so, it’s not like you’re having to convince somebody else who maybe already has a full plate. It’s just adding one more thing. These are people who are looking for work and who want to work for you. and I think that’s why it’s such a no-brainer. If you want a bookkeeper, pick the best one and have somebody help you, the way you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed or your pride taking over, just giving BELAY a call and saying, “Help me find somebody,” and we do the rest, and the account management layer there too is fantastic.

Brooke Cecil:

Yeah, I would agree with that. And I would say, additionally, one thing that we have experienced as well is just the partnerships that we have here at BELAY and the resources that we can provide outside of the scope of bookkeeping, but introducing you to CPA firms, or if you’re needing advice on certain things, we have a great partnership pool that we can give you those needs, above and beyond that bookkeeping layer.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Exactly, exactly. I love that.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Man, this conversation has been so good that, Brooke, you have agreed to stick around and answer one more bonus question about the types of traits that you would want to find in a fantastic bookkeeper. So you listeners, you definitely don’t want to miss it, but in order to hear it, I need you to subscribe to our email list, and then we’re going to send you a link to our bonus content, or you can visit one nextsteppodcast.com, where you can find link in our show notes. Until next time, own your journey. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business one step at a time.

Tricia Sciortino:

You don’t want to miss next week’s episode when we’ll chat with Dave Richards, the CEO of Elite Performance Associates. He’ll talk with us about the 3 levels of awareness – situational, relational, and self-awareness – and how you can use them to be a better leader. Here’s a quick preview.

Dave Richards:

Some people are probably it’s a little bit easier for them to reflect and think about and grow in terms of their understanding of themselves. Others have a real gap in regards to what they think and what they see themselves as and what it is to be like on the other side of them.

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