Monday, September 04, 2006

How I spent my summer vacation and hired a bookkeeper and a web designer and...

Why do I always seem to begin blogs with a sigh as I look back over all that has been accomplished since I was last writing to you? I guess "that's progress," as they say.

August was an amazing month of firsts:

First first. I had my first face-to-face meeting with my new web designer. After going through a lengthy process---as described in last month's blog---we are underway. I'll see their proposed design this week. I spent a portion of the day today---yes, it's LABOR DAY---writing copy in the hope that I'll love what the designer has done and be able to drop the copy in and publish shortly. More soon on the web design front.

Second first. I've decided to hire a part-time bookkeeper and had no idea where to begin so I reached out to my Make Mine A $Million network with the following questions:

  • Do you use an accountant? I use a CPA for taxes including my quarterly sales tax prep.
  • A separate bookkeeper? I don’t but think I should to get more consistent assistance less expensively that my CPA…
  • What should I expect to pay a Bookkeeper?
  • If you use a bookkeeper what sorts of things are your responsibility and which are hers? I’ve heard horror stories…
  • Do they come to your office or work remotely on a second copy of your financials (like Quickbooks)?
  • How did you find your bookkeeper?
  • Are there trade associations or certification that I should look for?
The response was nothing short of amazing. I am so lucky and so in awe to be a part of this group. Excerpts from the responses included these tips that were especially appropriate for me:

1) Check out the Intuit web site for Quickbooks ProAdvisors.

2) A great link:

3) Reference to Costco Business Service and to their 800 phone service Accessline:

"I use Costco business services for my payroll, which is processed through Intuit Payroll Services. It then downloads directly into my Quickbooks check register. Costco gives me a discount--I think I pay about $27 for 3 employees every 2 weeks.
Costco Business Services also gives me the cheapest rate for credit card processing. I was able to buy my credit card processing machine on E-Bay from a remanufacturer, and saved quite a bit of money. I think the discount rate on Master Card and AmEx is liek 1.57%, which was much cheaper than my bank."

"Costco has all kinds of business-friendly services...

In addition to the services already mentioned, Costco also has a phone service called Accessline. It an 800 service at very reasonable rates that includes many features such as auto attendant, conference calling, findme (i.e. if I don't answer my office phone, ring my cell phone or if it is before X time ring one number and if after that time, ring another), voicemail, etc. The rates through Costco are much lower than you'd otherwise get. We found our webhosting company through Costco and now pay MUCH lower for more features than we used to have.

Both my American Express Corporate Card and my American Express Business Line of Credit came through Costco (at substantially reduced fees and rates). We order our business checks through them, and of course get much of our software, office supplies, etc. there too. We've gotten a number of desks, computer monitors, and various business equipment over the years - even our cell phones...

Let's just say that I get my money's worth out of the Executive membership 2% rebate!"

Who knew?

As the result of all the great input I interviewed several bookkeepers (using the Intuit web site as a starting place) and believe I've settled on one whose skill set and temperment suit my needs.

Third first. I've met someone who is going to assist me. I've struggled---so many of us have I know---in trying to decide can I afford to bring someone on and can I afford not to? Well, I've found a way to try it out while billing the time to a specific project. Yea! She's not familiar with my specific industry but has loads of great business experience. She's my age and seeking a new challenge. It's a great situation for us both because as she said, "I'm not ready for a full-time committment to a new job and you're not sure you want to work with someone." So true. Her background is in HR so she's suggested that over time if we find that it's not working for us she'll be in a good position to counsel me about what I'm looking for (in an employee/contractor) and where best to find him or her. There's always a way isn't there?

Fourth first. The Make Mine A $Million winners from this year and last year who live in California (or could get here) had our first meeting together. I keep using this word but it was AMAZING! We met for a lunch and meeting hosted by Jen and Julie from SmartsCo---you've seen them in the OPEN from American Express ads---and held a facilitated meeting run by Marci of MBR Coaching. We each chose a topic we were seeking input on and once again the collective voice was so helpful! This is SOME NETWORK! I am astounded. I've already used some of the information gleaned to help design my website and have been pondering other information shared.

In addition to all the "firsts" business is picking up. I'm working on three (maybe four---cross your fingers and toes!) projects that will be my base business through January. Everything else: the referrals, repeats and web hits will be gravy. Tasty! More soon. I'll update when my new website launches.


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