Twelve Years and One Pandemic: Accounting for Small Business Entrepreneurs in 2020

A message to our customers:
More Personal Consulting, More Automated Accounting
As we continue to navigate this unique economy, we wanted to share with you some important things we have learned, and how what we learned is leading to changes in your service with Ceterus.
Our careers started working together as entry level public accountants at a large regional CPA firm, and ultimately led to founding a high-growth, tech-enabled accounting provider. Throughout this time, our focus has been to empower small business entrepreneurs (SBEs) with accounting and reporting. Like everyone else, the Coronavirus pandemic has proven to be the most disruptive event in our careers and sadly it has created significant hardship for many of the entrepreneurs we serve. As practitioners, we have never felt more needed and appreciated by our clients.
The combination of compounded learnings over twelve years and more immediate insights from the pandemic have brought us to a clear realization of what SBEs need from their accounting provider in 2020. The challenges facing the world, the economy, small businesses, and our business are daunting. Having a valuable accounting partner to assist as you navigate the “new normal” is more important than ever.
It’s fair to say we have had more interaction with customers over the past few months than in the past few years, especially as we hosted our well-received webinars. The primary realization we had during those interactions was that small business entrepreneurs needed a more personal experience with their accountant. Entrepreneurs want a financial consultant. Someone that is there to help, educate, and give opinions based on the information we have right now. It’s also clear that entrepreneurs need to be more engaged with the accounting process itself. To facilitate this, accounting providers must make it much easier for entrepreneurs to engage and an efficient and automated system.
Taken together, we wanted to share some specific ways that Ceterus is re-positioning our service — and asking for your help — to better fulfill our mission to empower you. The work of an entrepreneur was never easy. As you navigate your resurgence, we want to be a better partner.
In 2020 SBEs deserve a more personal consulting experience
Events occur in life that remind us of how important it is to have a sense of business performance, where the investment we make in “taking care of business”, being attentive to the books, pays off. The Coronavirus pandemic, which has obviously been an event of unprecedented scope, is maybe the best example to prove the point. But here, the need to have solid books is put into even greater focus because government intervention rewarded business owners who were paying attention, who had a solid grasp of their finances. Clearly, it is more important than ever for small business entrepreneurs (SBEs) to have their accounting in order.
Consultation: As the scope of Coronavirus became more clear, it was apparent to us that our customers needed help beyond bookkeeping. We shifted focus quickly to go beyond our traditional mandate. We hope that you personally benefited from some of the work we performed to help our customers navigate the early days of the pandemic as we were all learning about SBA relief programs, or I should say learning more acronyms than we ever cared to, which ultimately provided relief but in the most complex manner possible. We conducted dozens of webinars and built community with our customers. In terrible circumstances we heard from customers who were tremendously grateful. As a strong advocate for the entrepreneurs role in the broader economy, we are proud of the work we have been doing. We are going to do more of that.
Bookkeepers vs. Financial Consultants: Our core service has been and will remain bookkeeping. As we pivot to a new service orientation, we will be positioning our best accounting professionals to serve you differently. By design, they are not responsible for your day-to-day bookkeeping but instead available to help you manage and grow your business through advice and advisory services.
Multiple Methods of Engagement: We also learned that we needed to expand the channels we use to engage with customers and deliver information. Traditional bookkeepers rely on one-to-one phone calls at tax time. Ceterus will continue to leverage our technology to share data, but we will also share real-time education and engage with SBEs in a way that is tailored to your needs. Several of the ways we will engaged with you are:
  • Topical Live Q&A Webinars
  • Small Industry Group SBE Webinars
  • Recorded Videos
  • Blog Posts
  • Do-it-yourself tools with easy to follow tutorials
We want the information we extend to be relevant and available easily in the Entrepreneurs normal course of business.
Technology: You are a Ceterus customer because you embrace technology and appreciate the benefit of automation, brand specialization, and cloud technology. Traditional accounting made this level of expertise only available to large companies. Ceterus will continue to leverage our core technology but also enable internet technologies and video conferencing to serve you better.
Real-Time Information: Ceterus delivers data, reporting, and benchmarking real-time, when and where you need it. That information helps you make informed decisions. We want to broaden that approach. Beyond the books, often the things that affect SBEs and the decisions they make are more heavily influenced by external factors. Ceterus will be more engaged in keeping you up-to-date on what is happening in the macro-environment as it pertains to your business. This includes government programs, taxation, and overall industry trends.
At the same time, SBEs need a more automated accounting system
In order for your accounting team to provide quality financial information, we need your help. Candidly, it can be a challenge sometimes for us to obtain the information we need even with a lot of effort to assemble a list of open items and communicate with you. We get it, you are busy running a business. We still need that information.
The good news is that we have effective technology to streamline the process and make it easier to supply that information. Our technology may feel more automated and less personal, but we think that using technology to track these items is more effective and ultimately less of a distraction to you.
In summary, the profession of accounting is changing. With this change, the entrepreneurs should take advantage of a more personal financial consultation, while at the same time expect a more automated accounting system.
In the end small business entrepreneurs win big. They gain access to more, better professional expertise, while also having a more efficient process to generate their financials (albeit a bit less personal).
We are more invigorated than ever to empower small businesses entrepreneurs with the accounting they need to thrive as we emerge from this crisis.
Levi & Derek
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