We recently were privileged to be featured by the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, one of our newest partners here in Ventura County. The topic we really wanted to talk about in that article was our greatest asset: our employees.
One of the primary ways in which that’s true is that our employees are shoulder-to-shoulder partners with our clients. As we said there:
“At JR Bookkeeping, each of our clients is assigned their own personal bookkeeper. This means that every client receives one-to-one, individualized service from an expert who personally understands their unique needs and circumstances.”
JR Bookkeeping: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Veronica! Can you tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
Veronica: Sure. I am Veronica Arellano, and I am a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Ventura. I’m committed to working closely with people to help them reach their financial goals and maintain an optimal lifestyle, whether that’s setting up retirement or funding for college, or even finding ways to generate income to invest back into your business.
I’m especially passionate about advocating for women, so I do a lot of work with young professional women and women in transition.
I have a BA in finance from California State University Northridge and have worked in the financial-services industry for 11 years. I also have an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®) certification from the College for Financial Planning, which is a special designation awarded only to individuals who successfully complete the 12-month program, are committed to their code of ethics, and who continue to pursue ongoing education.
JR Bookkeeping: Wow, that’s great. It’s because of your experience and professionalism that we’re reaching out to you today. So with that, let’s jump right in.
According to Investopedia, small business owners face a number of challenges when it comes to financial planning. As a Ventura County-based financial planner, what are some of the unique challenges businesses face in our particular area of the country here in Southern and Coastal California?
Veronica: Right. Well, the small businesses of today will become the big businesses of tomorrow, and having a strong financial foundation and a team of professionals is essential for that growth. As a member of the community that I serve, I know from first-hand experience that we in Southern California and Ventura County have a very unique cost-of-living situation. So growth-rate tax and other regulations have to be taken into consideration when planning for long-term financial stability.
One of the biggest challenges I see, which is unique to businesses everywhere and not just here in our region, is local business owners and entrepreneurs taking on way too many responsibilities and wearing too many hats. In my estimation, the best way to offset this challenge is to be ready to invest in a team of professionals to take over some of those responsibilities so that they can focus on what they do best, which is building and growing their business. Anytime a business owner can do that, that’s a really good thing.
JR Bookkeeping: That is so true. As a growing business ourselves, we can definitely testify to that. From your perspective, what are some of the common responsibilities that business owners might consider outsourcing? Which ones seem typically seem to be most beneficial?
Veronica: Well, you’ll probably be pleased to hear this, but I really believe having a bookkeeper is very important. That way business owners don’t have to worry about things that are so time-consuming, like doing their own payroll, or keeping track of all of their receipts and every single expense that they have.
Having a tax professional is just as important, because instead of doing their own taxes—which, again, can be time-consuming as well as confusing—a tax professional understands things like business structures and tax laws, and knows how to efficiently and accurately take care of a business’s taxes.
I’m a little biased here, but the same is true with a financial adviser. Based on the recommendations from both the tax professional and the bookkeeper or accountant, a financial adviser can guide business owners in opening the right types of accounts, setting the right contribution limits, having the right type of employee retirement plans, and all those things on which a business’s financial health depends.
So, from a financial standpoint, I would say that businesses would do well to invest in at least those three right from the beginning—a bookkeeper, a tax professional, and a financial planner.
“One of the biggest challenges I see is local business owners and entrepreneurs taking on way too many responsibilities and wearing too many hats.”
JR Bookkeeping: So if we’ve heard you correctly, as a financial advisor, you actually rely on the information provided by professionals like accountants, bookkeepers, and tax professionals when you’re advising your clients, right?
Veronica: Yes, absolutely. The financial statements that they provide are essential to financial planning, because I have to be able to look at a client’s whole financial picture. When I look at a platform, for example, I can see the different types of income that they have and whether it’s taxable or tax-free, which then can let me know which type of account or investment is appropriate for that particular client. Those statements also let me know that we are staying within income and contribution limits, and allow me to see the business structure that they have, any dependents that they may have, and based on the items that they’ve itemized, whether or not I need to refer them to other professionals.
Also, in financial planning as with so many other things in life, what you put in is what you get out, right? So inaccurate information is going to lead to inaccurate guidance and, likely, inaccurate results. Having properly-prepared and updated financial statements gives us as well as our clients not only the appropriate information that we need, but also the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we have the entire financial picture and that we truly are partnering together to reach their long-term financial goals.
JR Bookkeeping: What are some of those long-term goals, and what would some short-term goals be? And what’s the difference between a long- and short-term financial goal?
Veronica: The way I look at that is, anything that is going to be happening within the next five years, for me, that’s a short-term goal. Anything between 5 and 10 years is a medium-term goal, and anything over 10 years is a long-term goal. And all of those are going to be different for different people and depend on things like age and the current stage of life a person is in.
Specific goals might be anything from buying a boat in five years, to retiring within the next 20 years. So it all really depends on a lot of factors and what’s important to the client, what they are trying to reach, and the timeframe that we are working with.
JR Bookkeeping: So the goals that you help your clients reach can really be anything—whether that’s having immediate extra capital to invest back into the business, to something that’s more of a luxury purchase, like buying a boat, all the way to setting yourself up financially after retirement, right?
“Specific goals might be anything from buying a boat in five years, to retiring within the next 20 years… we truly are partnering together to reach their goals.”
Veronica: Absolutely. And again, it’s those financial statements provided by bookkeepers, and accountants, and tax professionals that give us the information we need to help our clients reach those goals.
JR Bookkeeping: Obviously, then, it helps you to be able to communicate directly with accountants, bookkeepers, or tax professionals when you’re helping a client, right?
Veronica: Yes it does. I tend to have open lines of communication with the other members of the team of professionals that my client works with, and that is because we each have different areas of expertise. So, for example, when I notice a tax issue that catches my attention, I have to be able to get confirmation from the tax professional that I’m understanding this correctly, but also so that I’m able to offer solutions to my client that they may not know were available. So it’s all about being able to bring our expertise together to help people make the best-possible financial decisions.
JR Bookkeeping: That’s great. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?
Veronica: (Laughs) That’s right.
JR Bookkeeping: We’re just about out of time, and we really, really appreciate your time today, but in closing, are there any last words you have for anyone who might be reading?
Veronica: Well, we build life-long relationships with our clients, and of course, my consultations are always complimentary. So I would be more than happy to sit down with anybody at no cost to them, and just have a conversation and see if there might be a strategy or plan that we could put in place for you that would give you the kind of life-long financial stability that we all need.
JR Bookkeeping: Perfect. Thank you again, Veronica.
Veronica: Thank you.
For more information about Veronica or to contact her regarding financial planning, she can be reached at:
Veronica L. Arellano, AAMS®
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Investments
Earlier this month, we were privileged to teach a QuickBooks Online workshop at SCORE Santa Barbara. The turnout and response were amazing, and we’d like to give a huge ‘Thank You!’ to everyone who made it such a success. We’re so thankful for all the different opportunities we have to help you learn how to grow your business—and find financial peace of mind while doing it!
A special acknowledgement goes to SCORE, not only for being such a great host, but also for being such a vital resource for our local small business community.
We also received a special ‘Thank You’ from SCORE that we were so touched by, we wanted to include it here:
Hi, Juliana! Often we lose sight when some things come easy to us. For me, it is you that made this workshop easy and very successful, so congratulations. I want to personally thank you and your team for what was one of the most professional and engaging workshops we at SCORE Santa Barbara have ever had. I hope it has been beneficial for you as well. I look forward to working with you in the future!
Paul Weiss, SCORE Santa Barbara mentor
We are so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful business community. Keep up the great work and we’ll see you at the next workshop!
Need financial help?
It’s ok, we’ll handle it.
Focus on growing your business. Let us handle the books.
As business owners, there are several hats we have to wear—from product development to marketing, from sales to finances. Some are more fun and easier to do than others, but they’re all important. Personally, we at JR Bookkeeping have learned that hiring a professional who can do the things we don’t (or can’t) gives us the freedom to do what we love the most, which is providing peace of mind to the business owners we help.
Hiring someone who is an expert in their field is something that we have to do if we want to have a thriving business. After all, what it really comes down to is making sure that we’re making money—and not losing it! For example, if you were to do an inventory of where you spend most of your time in the business and what tasks make you the most money, you would quickly find that some of the tasks you’re doing should be outsourced to a professional who can do the job in a fraction of the time it would take you—and they’d do it right.
Obviously, as an accounting firm, we handle our own finances. But for many businesses, finances is one of those areas that can be a real money pit. Many small business owners do not budget for accounting help and try to do it themselves, usually to end up spending either too much time or not enough. The situation is only made worse when they find out they’ve done something wrong—usually when they find a big deficit they didn’t know was there, or when they’re getting a letter from the IRS.
Not feeling like you’re able to afford to outsource certain tasks is understandable, but realizing that you can’t afford not to hire one is invaluable. Hiring the right professional to do things we don’t actually buys precious time back for us, enabling us to focus on the things that we do best.
Most businesses need accounting help
There are three areas of business accounting, namely, bookkeeping, accounting, and tax preparation. Businesses need to make sure that they’re “taking care of business” in all three areas. However, many business owners don’t know between the three. In this article, we want to explain that difference, and help you understand when you need them.
In almost 20 years in practice as a bookkeeper and accountant, we’ve learned that not all bookkeepers are accountants, and not all accountants and tax professionals do bookkeeping and vice versa. It is important to know the difference so that you can hire the right individual to cover your needs accordingly.
What is a bookkeeper, and when do I need one?
Bookkeepers are not required by law to have any special training. As with so many professions, many bookkeepers simply gain experience by experience—by actually doing the task of daily business finances. However, there are organizations that certify bookkeepers and offer continuing training and education, such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
A bookkeeper a handles all the day-to-day transactions of a business, from accounts receivable, to accounts payable, to reconciliations, to maintaining the books. While accountants are often hired at certain times of the year or for specialized projects where legal and financial expertise is needed, bookkeepers handle the day-to-day finances on an ongoing basis, making sure a business’s financial accounts are in order.
You need a bookkeeper when you don’t have the time or the ability to maintain your business’s daily finances, such as day-to-spending, accounts payable, and employee payroll.
What is an accountant, and when do I need one?
An accountant takes all the information based on the bookkeeper’s work, both verifying it, and creating a big-picture overview of the business’s financial performance. They produce Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet Statement, and assist business owners with analyzing and understanding the overall state of their financials. The role of an accountant is that of an advisor, who can assist in finding ways of improving business performance, which they do by educating their clients in what they should watch out for and assist clients in staying on track of their goals. Accountants will often come alongside a business at specific times of the year or for special reasons, such as an audit.
Unlike bookkeepers, accountants will typically have a degree in accounting or some other field of finance. According to Belay, “Certified professional accountants (CPAs) represent the most reputable and knowledgeable among accounting pros, having passed a qualifying exam that measures their expertise in business law, audits, taxes, personal finance and accounting. Accountants can work in tandem with bookkeepers, but the price point of retaining one typically requires a larger investment. Many businesses keep an accountant on staff as a key role on the organizational chart, but sometimes they are kept on retainer on a rolling basis, too.”
You need an accountant when you need a big-picture summary of your business financials—such as at tax season.
What is a tax preparer, and when do I need one?
A tax accountant (or tax preparer) files a tax return for the business using the verified financials compiled by the accountant. In addition, tax preparers are up to date with tax laws and make sure the client is in compliance with the law.
No special training is required for tax preparers. Anyone can prepare taxes (which many do). However, Certified Tax Professionals are certified by the IRS and have authority by the U.S. Department of Treasury to represent taxpayers in situations like collections, audits, and appeals (ibid.).
You need a tax preparer when you’re unsure and sense that tax-expertise is called for—like when you’re filing for business taxes.
So is JR Bookkeeping a bookkeeper or an accountant?
JR Bookkeeping is a combination of bookkeeper and accountant. As a bookkeeper, we handle the day-to-day transactions and monthly reconciliations for our clients. Bu as an accountant, we can also prepare their business financials so they understand them and know what to do with them.
We also work directly with CPAs or tax preparers, making sure they have all the information they need to be able to file our clients’ business tax returns accurately and on time.
You need JR Bookkeeping if your finances distract you from focusing on your business. With so much that we’re able to do—and with a plan to fit every budget—there’s no reason why you need to waste one more hour trying to figure out your business finances.
Contact us for a FREE consultation and get peace of mind today.