All over the world companies are affected by Coronavirus outbreak. With the government guidelines, US small businesses also go through a very difficult time. All of a sudden, companies have to go remote in a few days. Those who are not ready to adapt to new circumstances are doomed to have layoffs. Financial burnouts and eventually bankruptcies might be coming very soon.
NumberSquad is a small accounting startup business based in Fairfax, VA. We are a team of more than 20 full-time staff and accounting advisors. With the outbreak worsening, NumberSquad had to act fast! We took measures to ensure the safety of the team while making sure the business is running non-stop. In doing so, we had both advantages and disadvantages that I’ll outline below.
- Need for handshakes: The accounting industry still heavily depends on face-to-face meetings with clients. New clients feel need to meet us in person to share their most “intimate” financial information, i.e. bank statements, company information, etc. Existing clients want to meet in person to get tax consultancy and answers to specific questions. They also like to meet face-to-face to negotiate the “non-negotiable” service fees.
- A virus with bad timing: There’s no best time for a disaster, but Covid-19 hit the USA amid the tax season. Everybody who pays or calculates taxes know that Jan-April is the busiest period of the year for accounting firms.
- Paperwork: Most accounting companies still heavily depend on the paper processing, printing, scanning of the client documents. It is impossible to switch to paperless in a short time if you don’t have the infrastructure.
- Teamwork: Accounting and taxes are pretty complex and broad areas of knowledge. Anybody who claims to be know-it-all usually regrets that at the end of the workday. Wise teams depend on internal consultation and cooperation between tax, bookkeeping and payroll professionals.
Advantages (in our case):
- Flexible schedule: NumberSquad has been implementing a flexible work schedule for all accounting advisors for a long time now. Full-time staff had a bit less flexibility, but again almost 50% of the NumberSquad employees could work from home or choose their office time.
- Remote departments: We at NumberSquad always rely on remote teams to handle time-consuming tasks like tax data entry, bookkeeping, and automated payroll processing.
- IT infrastructure and cloud computing: We value the power of technology and have been investing in it for years now. All our employees can access their desktop applications (i.e. Quickbooks, APAX, ATX) through Microsoft Remote Desktop applications from anywhere. We also use Azure and our own server connection as cloud storage and utilize the CRM custom-built on Airtable.
- Online workflow and document management: We were building our proprietary workflow and document management apps for the last 1 year and luckily launched our NumberSquad web app. This app lets our clients scan and upload their financial documents, and enable our teams to delegate tasks and share completed documents back with clients.
So it took us a few days to have an all-hands meeting (before 10 people limit rule) and organize ourselves to use tools like Slack, Zoom and of course NumberSquad Apps remotely during these upcoming weeks or maybe months. We have daily team meetings, internal online training, marketing briefs, client management and online billing running smoothly so far.
At the moment, our team is working on helping our existing and new clients to apply for the Disaster Relief Loans provided by the federal government. We try to stay on top of the situation to get ourselves and our clients through this day and to a better future!