Entrepreneurs need solutions, not tools
Millions of small businesses operate on sheer gut instinct. Often, the balance in their checking account and an annual tax return are the only real data they have on the financial health of their business.
We’re here to change that.
No one appreciates the entrepreneurial instinct more than us. However, we believe that small business entrepreneurs are better for having insights to guide these instincts.
Small business is serious business — accounting for 99% of the firms in the American economy and over 50% of the workforce — and they deserve the best solutions. We’ve compiled a list of the things that we do and we feel all small business entrepreneurs should expect, regardless of who they work with.
SMB Accounting: Where We Are Now
We’re at a turning point in SMB accounting and reporting solutions – more is available to small business entrepreneurs than ever before.
We’ve compiled a list of the things that we do that we believe every small business entrepreneur deserves. These are things that we as a company are committed to providing our customers.
Do-it-for-me (DIFM): There are many tools available to assist with DIY (do-it-yourself) accounting, however, these require the entrepreneur to first select the right tool, and then use this tool on an ongoing basis (either themselves or manage someone who will use it on their behalf). Do-it-for-me (DIFM) is the answer to this problem, and why we chose that model for our business. DIFM provides a complete solution including the software, the team, and the service all in one place for the busy entrepreneur.
A team, not a person: Accounting is better when there is a team, not just an individual tasked with the work. This provides better controls against errors and fraud. It also provides continuity in services as there is more than one person who understands how to provide the solution. Small business entrepreneurs should not worry about what to do if any one person is on vacation for a two weeks.
A team also provides specialization. A team will have entry level talent doing the routine tasks, experienced talent doing more complex accounting, and management ensuring it all works properly.
Industry-specific expertise: In addition to financial and accounting expertise, small business entrepreneurs benefit from a team with experience in their specific type of business. Understanding best practices and current trends within particular industries makes an accountant all the more insightful – that’s why we focus on small business niches to provide the most value to our customers.
A single point-of-contact: Small business entrepreneurs should have one person to contact for all things related to their financials. The point of contact should be able to address most of their issues directly, and when they cannot they will promptly bring in other specialists from the the team to address their needs.
Professional response times: Small business entrepreneurs should expect responses within 1 business day, always. When the question or issue requires more time or research, they should expect a response with a realistic expectation of when they will have a resolution, or what the next step is.
Cloud-based: Small business entrepreneurs’ accounting and bookkeeping is kept up to date securely in the cloud. With the cloud, there isn’t a risk of losing data, no one has to send large files back and forth, and the entrepreneur can access their financials at any time provided they have internet access.
Month-to-month: We earn our customers’ business every month, which is something we truly believe. Entrepreneurs should be able to transition to something else easily if they decide there is something that works better for them.
Built on a standard platform: Small business accounting should be maintained on a standard platform where someone can easily change providers without losing critical historical data. We develop our automated accounting and benchmarked reporting solution on QuickBooks Online as it is the most widely used cloud-based accounting platform for small business.
Entrepreneurs own their data: Entrepreneurs’ financial data is theirs – end of story. If they wish, they can walk away from Ceterus with a clean set of books, including granular general ledger detail data and sub-ledger detail.
Benchmarked reporting: Small business entrepreneurs can operate better businesses when they are able to compare their financial performance against peers in their industry. Understanding how their business performed this month versus this month last year is useful, but seeing how it compares to similar peers is even better. We provide peer and industry comparisons on sales, cost of good sold, expenses, and all key performance metrics in that industry.
Mobile: Entrepreneurs are on the move. Mobile reporting of key data is critical. There is little time to review paper reports or sit at a desk to review large reports on-screen. While detailed, complex reporting is valuable, having the most critical information on the health of their business in the palm of their hand allows for better and faster decision making.
Integrated: Small business accounting should be integrated. Reporting, accounting, payroll, point-of-sale, and tax systems should exchange information and not require double or triple data-entry work. An integrated solution requires fewer relationships and agreements to manage. This can be from truly integrated systems, or by working with platforms that work seamlessly together. We focus much of our energy on integrating all of our customers’ systems together to make their business as easy as possible to manage.
Tax planning and preparation: Taxes and compliance are an important part of being a small business entrepreneur. While taxes should be integrated into the overall experience, this can be accomplished with a local, stand-alone CPA who shares access with their accounting and reporting solution. It can also be accomplished with an industry specialized CPA who already has a direct relationship with the accounting and reporting provider (one-stop-shop).
We have happy customers in both of the above scenarios. Our goal is for entrepreneurs to have a strong tax partner who they trust, so we will accommodate either situation.
SMB Accounting: Where We’ll Be Soon
The accounting industry is moving fast, and where we are today is vastly different from where we’ll be in the near future. At Ceterus, we’re investing in and driving toward that future. Here are a few of the major improvements that are underway in SMB accounting.
Automated: Soon, accounting for small businesses will be largely automated, with accountants dealing with abnormalities and analysis for their small business clients. This will make accounting faster, more accurate, and higher quality – all things entrepreneurs deserve!
Continuous: As a result of many accounting tasks becoming automated, accounting and bookkeeping will become continuous as well. Entrepreneurs will see their numbers being updated in real time, all the time. Waiting until the middle of next month to understand how their business did this month is going to be a thing of the past.
Actionable forward-looking insights: Accounting has historically explained what happened in the past. Modern technology (AI/ML) paired with quality data (including historical financials, industry benchmarks, geographic information, and non-financial KPIs) will make their accounting system no longer simply tell them what happened, it will be able suggest actions they can take to be more profitable in the future.
Blockchain: We see numerous potential use cases for blockchain technology to benefit small business accounting. As the technology continues to develop, we are excited to be at the leading edge of exploring and implementing them for our entrepreneur customers.
You Deserve the Best
As a solution provider, Ceterus is committed to delivering on all of these things, present and future.
If we fall short of any of these promises, we will make it right with our customer. This list exemplifies what entrepreneurs should have now and in the future. They deserve the best.
And now they can have it.