Dennis Najjar has worked in public accounting since 1982. After graduating from Rutgers University in 1982, Dennis joined Coopers & Lybrand. In 1986, Dennis started the public accounting firm Dennis M. Najjar, CPA. His practice has an emphasis on tax planning and preparation for corporations, partnerships and individuals. In 2004, Dennis met Bill Gerber and they co-founded AccountingDepartment.com.
AccountingDepartment.com is the next generation solution for SMB owners looking to streamline and improve their accounting and bookkeeping functions with cutting edge technology, forward-thinking culture and dedicated, full-service expert processes. They provide top notch virtual bookkeeping services for small businesses all over the USA.
BusinessInterviews.com: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when it came to building a 100% virtual company from scratch and how did you overcome them?
Dennis: The biggest challenge we faced was engaging employees throughout the day and avoiding the disconnect that can occur when employees are not in the same place. In a virtual environment, no one is walking by your desk and noticing that you seem stressed or confused. Its easier to jump on a budding problem if you know about it, but in a virtual environment that requires employees speaking up. We had to foster an environment of clear and regular communication as well as build trust throughout the company so that employees could feel comfortable bringing up problems or issues they were having. We also laid out a clear road map for completing work to eliminate a lot of potential confusion.
BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that the completeness and accuracy of bookkeeping is paramount to a SMB owner’s success or failure?
Dennis: Your books are the only clear picture of your financial status at any given moment. If they are not kept properly and have errors or oversights, then any decision made based on their information may not be a good one. Too often business owners fall prey to bookkeepers and accountants using generalities based on inaccurate financials. We see many business owners that don’t know their gross profit margin and don’t have a clear view on how healthy their business actually is. If business owners are basing their pricing on inaccurate financial data and profit margins, that can be detrimental to the future of the company. Simply, accurate books are the only way to really know if your projections and plans are viable.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to a company contemplating outsourcing their accounting but isn’t fully comfortable passing over their bookkeeping and accounts to someone they haven’t met in person?
Dennis: This question is a bit outdated. We do employ virtual meeting and video conferencing software and tools to “meet” face to face. But also, the general acceptance of technology within the regular functions of your business is widely practiced. Business owners are increasingly comfortable with outsourcing non-core competencies. As the cloud permeates more of the market, this will only become more prevalent.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most common bookkeeping issues that you see your clients having and how can they be avoided?
Dennis: Our clients all typically start off with a bit of a shock to their systems when they begin with us. There is a bit of a learning curve for going from a passive party to an active participant, but we believe that business owners must be kept in the communications and educated as to the process, both in the beginning and ongoing. Part of the reason so many of our clients come to us is because they had no idea what their previous bookkeeper was doing and then eventually realized there were too many mistakes or faults. We have a long startup process to document every single procedure and process for every client’s account, which is partly driven by the client walking us through every step. Since clients don’t often know every step at the outset, there are a lot of questions and decisions to make along the way. It can come as a bit of a shock at first. But by the time the client is fully on-boarded, they not only have complete and accurate financial data, they have a documented process that will make sure their data remains that way.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on how during your first 10 years in business you’ve had to kind of wait for the rest of the industry to catch up before you could continue forward?
Dennis: While there are many examples, one clear example comes to mind instantly. Years ago we knew that manually input credit card statement data was tedious, time consuming and inefficient. Yet not a single bookkeeping program had presented a solution for it. Banks made their data downloadable via spreadsheet, but mass uploading into the bookkeeping program was still so rudimentary and error-prone that it was still often quicker to hand key it. So we went out and contracted an Excel expert to write a program that would clean up the file and bring it into QuickBooks. We named it the credit card tool and used it for years while waiting for the bookkeeping software providers to catch up. About 18 months ago, both Intuit and Xero created automatic feeds from the banks directly into the files, allowing the functionality to finally be built into the program.
BusinessInterviews.com: With tax season fast approaching, what are your top tips for our readers?
Dennis: Your taxes are a function of the accuracy of your financials. Inaccurate financials could cause you to overpay or underpay your taxes. But waiting until year end to clean up your data isn’t a good idea either. If your financials show extra revenue, knowing about it before the last days of the year could provide important opportunities to reducing your tax burden by increasing capital expenditures or funding a pension (among other things). Of course, if you pay too little in taxes, you could be opening yourself to penalties and interest. Neither of these things are good for business owners.
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