In our May 2021 blog, we talk about the idea behind a Virtual Financial Statement Workshop, explain our line "We're Not Afraid of Your Shoebox?
Welcome & Introduction
Welcome to the Solutions For Small Businesses blog! Our blog comes out on the 1st of each month. We intend to use this blog as a safe space to share the many forward-thinking businesses and organizations that we support.
What’s going on with S4SB?
Virtual Financial Statement Workshops!
Your financial statements tell the story of your business, and the two main reports tell it in different ways. They have commonly been compared to a snapshot (your Balance Sheet) and a movie (you Profit and Loss). In other words, the BS shows you what things look like at a particular point in time, and the P&L shows the changes over time. Reading and understanding them, and more importantly, comparing different time frames, can tell you a lot about your business and help you make decisions. You can spot past trends, and you can make strategic plans for the future. But the sticking point is, you gotta do it.
Even if you’re “not a numbers person,” or you feel put off by anything having to do with finances, I guarantee you that when you get the hang of it, you’ll be excited about looking at your financials. If you care about your business at all - and of course you do, because it’s probably your livelihood, not to mention the fact that you’re passionate about what you do - you’ll get into seeing what’s going on with your money and what it means to you and the health of your business.
To that end, we are offering a series of Virtual Financial Statement Workshops. In these workshops, we’ll go over how to run your statements, how to customize them, and how to read them. But that’s just the first step. The more important work will be learning to read your statements. By offering these workshops, we’re hoping to get you familiar and comfortable with the reports, and then encourage you to meet with us regularly to talk about them.
We’ll do each financial statement separately, starting with the P&L, since that’s the one that people find more approachable. And we’ll have a 101 (the basics) and a 201(intermediate) for each statement.
We’re planning in June for the first set of workshops. For more information, please fill out this interest form.
What do we mean when we say "We’re Not Afraid of Your Shoebox?"
I got my first bookkeeping job when I was 19. My mother always told me that if I knew bookkeeping, I’d always have a job. It was supposed to be my backup while I was looking for my calling. Turns out, bookkeeping is my calling. Haha!
But back then, my only qualification was that I could work a 10 key by touch. I didn’t know a debit from a credit, but I smoked a 10 key! With my numerical speed and accuracy, I got a job as a clerk in an accounting firm. There were 3 or 4 CPAs, a half dozen bookkeepers, and me. The bookkeepers did the grunt work for the CPAs, and I did the grunt work for the bookkeepers.
That year, the IRS declared a tax amnesty. If you hadn’t been filing your taxes, you could file them and not pay any penalties. A lot of our clients were jumping on that offer, and as you can imagine, most of them weren’t that on top of their paperwork.
One memorable case was a guy who hadn’t filed his taxes in 10 years. He came in with a couple of cardboard boxes and said, “can you straighten these out?” And don’t get me wrong - he didn’t have a box for each year or anything. He had just been throwing papers in the boxes for the last 10 years. Guess who got to go through them and organize them?
After sorting everything by date and finding all the check registers, I got to reconcile the bank accounts. I made a calculator tape of all the checks and another one for all the deposits, for each year. In the interest of time, I didn’t reconcile each month, as we normally do, I reconciled a year at a time. My tapes for each year were a mile long, and I accordioned them up to fit them on the 8.5 x 11 piece of paper they needed to be laid out on (this was way before QuickBooks, folks - we did use computers for some things, but not for reconciliations).
Then I checked off each transaction from the bank statements, and made notes of the ones that I couldn’t find or the ones that were outstanding. It’s a wonder that I got them in balance, but I did, for all 10 years.
This was my introduction to bookkeeping, so piles of disorganized scraps of paper seemed normal to me, and putting them to rights was just part of the job. That’s how I became a specialist at untangling knots. A lot of bookkeepers won’t touch a messy pile of receipts, but at Solutions for Small Businesses, we’re used to it. We’re all about solving problems and bringing order to chaos.
Today, many of my clients feel a bit embarrassed about their filing systems (or lack thereof), and they think they are going to be the worst client I’ve ever seen. But actually, no one has ever come close to the 10-year guy. So, if you have a shoebox full of receipts, meh, that’s nothing. We can handle it.
DEI Discussions & Community Opportunities
Educators for Equity helps close the opportunity cap that affects student achievement. As we all know, during COVID, students have had to adapt to this new format of virtual learning. We can make a difference to support students who face barriers to academic achievement.
In April, the Solutions Team participated in a DEI training hosted by Equity Arcata. This eye-opening experience led us to believe that doing something small can make a small difference, but that racism and inequity is a systematic problem that needs to be tackled. We invite you to take part in understanding your own implicit biases, by taking a few minutes out of your day to go through an Implicit Association Test through Project Implicit.
Here are some reflections from the S4SB team about our experience with Equity Arcata.
Reflections from Connie: I watched the Academy Awards last night and realized how many times I will not watch a movie because it makes me uncomfortable, or we have to view injustice, violence, pain, sadness. Taking the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshop this month made me see that it is important to face these things and work to change what we can. It’s too easy to hide behind, “I’ve never mistreated a person different than me”, or “My family didn’t do that”, or worse, “What can I possibly do about that?” While I know I will never be a famous civil rights leader, we learned many ways to recognize and counteract some of the injustices--one small, personal step at a time. And it’s a journey, not just a four-session seminar. I am now seeing things around me in a different light, and see that we need to look, listen, react and ACT, instead of going to get more popcorn. I have ordered 3 books to delve more deeply into the problems of racism, poverty, and gender inequity, and am willing to feel the discomfort so I can work to stand up for those who are way less fortunate than I have always been.
Reflection from Charlie: During the first session of the training, I discovered that I need to visually represent specific words that are often spoken around conversations about equity. As a visual learner, this process was very necessary for me to understand. Here’s what I drew:
My main takeaway was that the words we say do make a difference. Many words that are spoken daily that can impact people, and I hope that we all continue to be sensitive in using these words. My goal for the future is to start participating in more opportunities that I see on social media, and truly take time to continue doing this work. One small drop can help fill up a bucket.
Whiteness Accountability Space
Everyone is welcome to these sessions intended to provide a space for White folks to process feelings around anti-blackness, police brutality, and systemic racism to move toward anti-racist action. These sessions will push back on the White tendency to intellectualize and encourage folks to stay connected to the feeling realm. These sessions will be facilitated by White facilitators.
Weekly: Thursdays from 12 to 1.
Join Zoom Meeting
On Tuesday, April 20th, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts for George Flloyd’s death. If you are unaware of this situation, Chauvin was a police officer whose actions caused Floyd to die from low oxygen by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. This is just one of many cases of police brutality, and we encourage you to read more about it.
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