October Team Spotlight: Meet Ashley Jajtner
Ashley was born and raised in San Diego, CA and enjoys spending time with her family outdoors. When...
Read below or listen with this link, as Optima founder Jennifer Barnes and podcast host Eric Dye discuss the following:
Listen to the podcast here, or read the podcast transcript below!
Eric Dye: “You’re listening to EPN, the EPodcast Network.
Eric Dye: This is Eric Dye, and once again, welcome to Enterprise Radio, your EP’ing channel for exclusive interviews with entrepreneurs, small business owners, and some of the world’s top executives who are having great success today. We are joined by Jennifer Barnes, the CEO at Optima Office. Optima Office fills in the gaps in your accounting department, either by providing a complete accounting and finance team or by integrating seamlessly with your internal accounting staff. This sounds pretty awesome. Jennifer, welcome to the program.
Jennifer Barnes: Thank you so much. Pleased to be here.
Eric Dye: And equally most pleased to have you with us, Jennifer. So, for starters tell us what is your background that led you to Optima Office.
Jennifer Barnes: Well, this is a 15-minute interview, so I won’t go into my whole background, but I’ll give you the very high level. I grew up in Las Vegas and went to college at University of Arizona. I moved here, decided, “No more desert,” so promptly to San Diego. I have an undergrad in finance accounting and marketing from the University of Arizona and promptly got into accounting at Petco. I was an analyst on a staff accounting side for several years. Then, pursued accounting for the next six, seven years, and ended up getting an MBA at San Diego State. Then, working few years later for another outsourced accounting firm here in San Diego. Then, decided it was best for me to split off with them and start my own firm, and so I ended up starting ProBack Office six and a half years ago out of my living room and grew that over six and a half years to 88 employees and about 300 clients. We won the Inc 5000 a couple years in a row and fastest growing companies in San Diego. Then, recently, had a misalignment, let’s say, with my older partners and decided to switch off and start Optima.
Jennifer Barnes: So, Optima is already hitting the ground running pretty quickly. We’ve got 35 employees that we’ve hired in the last 60 plus days and we’re off to the races. Running quickly and providing a really personalized accounting team for businesses from the startup phase all the way to 40, 50 million in revenue, essentially giving them fractional CFOs all the way down to the bookkeeping and HR. It’s just a really fun business to be in because we’re helping people, right? We’re helping businesses become more profitable, we’re filling the gaps in areas that they really need the support, but they don’t wanna hire full-time people, and I just feel like it’s one of those companies that is really giving back to the community, and we’re helping businesses, we’re hiring people, and life’s pretty good.
Eric Dye: And I’d say so. Quite a background I might add. Now, get into more details. Take it further. Tell us more about Optima Office and what it is that you offer.
Jennifer Barnes: Sure. So, our goal is to make sure that our clients have accurate and timely financial statements, a very well-run accounting department, and that, from a risk and compliance standpoint, all their HR needs are handled. So, we might act as a part-time bookkeeper on-site, ongoing, a couple days a week, and then we’ll help with the month end close from an accounting manager standpoint, basically making sure that the balance sheet schedules are done, that they’ve got good financial statements and a cash flow forecast, they’ve got budgets in place. The owners of the company really have some great financial transparency in reports that help them run the business better. At the CFO level, we’re the strategy, we’re the forward-looking, “Where is your business going? How can we help you get there?” We help align business owners’ goals with what’s going on in their finance and accounting department and try to tie everything in together.
Eric Dye: Now, looking at outsourcing, why is local outsourcing becoming a key component to running a business, from what you’ve seen?
Jennifer Barnes: Well, we find that a lot of our clients really wanna see us. They wanna be able to tap us on the shoulder and hand us a check to enter into the QuickBooks files or NetSuite or Intact or Microsoft Dynamics. So, we work in every single software, and many of those businesses have their servers located on-site at their office, and to have somebody doing all the work remotely, where they don’t see them, where they can’t really understand exactly what they’re doing, it doesn’t give people a sense of ease and confidence. So, us physically going on-site to the business allows us to become a part of their team and really helps us to infiltrate ourselves in their businesses to have the maximum impact.
Jennifer Barnes: It is really about becoming a part of the company. Even if my company is there 10 hours a week, we want to be integral in the business. We wanna be helping them grow, and just physically being there makes a lot of sense. It’s kind of difficult sometimes to have people all remote and then you really don’t see them and talk to them and touch them, meaning going over to them, tapping them on the shoulder, and saying, “Here, can you enter this? Oh, hey, can you give me that report?” Doing everything over technology isn’t as personalized as we prefer to do things.
Eric Dye: So, really some valid points you made right there today. We’re joined by Jennifer Barnes, CEO at Optima Office, that fills in the gaps in your accounting department, either by providing a complete accounting and finance team or by integrating seamlessly with your internal accounting staff, here on Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network. Now, Jennifer, what are the main advantages for businesses to outsource their accounting?
Jennifer Barnes: Well, this is one of the fastest growing industries, especially in Southern California. Southern California has been an early adopter of outsourcing your accounting department whereas, I would say, nationwide, outsourcing HR, outsourcing IT, and outsourcing marketing has been really prevalent. I also think accounting has not been something that businesses have done historically. They hire a one-off bookkeeper or they might hire a one-off CFO or they might use a large firm that has fractional CFOs, but having the entire department and being able to outsource that from … How many hours a week do you need of a bookkeeper/staff accountant? How many hours a month do you need of an accounting manager to close the books and do the balance sheet reconciliations and provide financial? Then, how much controller level support do you need? Maybe it’s only a day a month. Maybe it’s two days a month. Then, you also need some CFO support.
Jennifer Barnes: So, oftentimes, what I see is this business owner hires one person and expects them to do everything. They expect their controller to do data entry or they expect to hire a bookkeeper and have them do financial forecasting and analysis, and that really doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a good use of funds and then there’s no segregation of duty. So, what we believe, especially at Optima, is that you should always have the right person doing exactly what they’re good at. I would never want a CFO to be doing bookkeeping work and I would never want a bookkeeper to do the high-level work because they’re simply not capable, and if they were, they wouldn’t have a bookkeeper title. They’d have a CFO title.
Jennifer Barnes: So, we really help decide what is needed at every level in varying types of businesses, in varying types of softwares and industries, and in different parts of town, and what level of on-site support is needed, and then really help them be as efficient with their money as possible. Cash is one of your most important assets. Are you using it wisely? What are the best uses of funds? Really help advising our clients of how to do things well. So, what we found is that the more business hear about what we do, the more people are interested in working with us.
Eric Dye: Some real good, solid information right there. Now, if someone’s looking at outsourcing accounting, what are the most important questions businesses should ask an outsource accounting firm?
Jennifer Barnes: Well, firstly, for me, there’s not very many outsource accounting firms out there. We have a very limited number of competitors in this space that actually do it well and have more than 10 employees. So, I would say any businesses that is looking to outsource their accounting department, it is what are the qualifications of the people on their team, what is their industry background, what is their expertise, and what are they really good at? You don’t wanna hire an outsource accounting firm that’s gonna give you a CFO, that’s gonna be having them do bookkeeping work. You don’t wanna hire a bookkeeping firm and then expect them to do cash flow forecasting and that type of stuff.
Jennifer Barnes: So, it’s really understanding how long has the business been around, what is the quality of the people on their team, what is the industry expertise and the software expertise of people on their team, and then, really, what are they willing to do for you as a company to help personalize things for you? So, it shouldn’t be a one size fits all. It should be a “What does your unique business need in order to be successful?” and, “How are you gonna help me accomplish my goals?”
Eric Dye: Jennifer, has been great to have had you. Really appreciate your bringing focus to outsourcing accounting, especially introducing Optima Office and what it is that you offer in this space. In conclusion, any closing thoughts, a takeaway, a tip? Anything else you’d like to share in conclusion today?
Jennifer Barnes: I would say that every small business owner needs to have a handle on their accounting and finances. They need to get accurate and timely financials on a monthly basis by the 10th to 15th of every single month. They need to have good key performance indicators showing them how their business is doing and what drives the revenue in their bottom line. You have to go into 2019 with a budget. Monthly, you wanna have a budget to actual statement. How’d you think you were gonna do versus how did you really do? Then, a 13-week cash flow forecast is crucial. How much money do you have now and how much are you gonna have in 13 weeks? Then, you need to adjust it weekly. That is crucial to running your business. Even if you have a million dollars in the bank, you still wanna know your cash flow forecast, you still wanna have a budget, you still wanna make sure that you have your eye on the ball because you never know what’s gonna happen in the future, and so the more transparency you have into your numbers, the better you’re gonna do.
Eric Dye: There is no doubt about that, and certainly some awesome advice in conclusion. Thanks so much, Jennifer, for that. If listeners wanted to get more details online on Optima Office, where’s the best place to find you online?
Jennifer Barnes: They can go to www.OptimaOffice.com and they can also call in to our office and talk to somebody in person, and that number is 858-283-1234. Make it easy.
Eric Dye: Well, Jennifer, we can’t thank you enough for your time and for joining us here today on Enterprise Radio. Certainly wish you and Optima Office all the best.
Jennifer Barnes: Sure. You as well. Thanks so much.
Eric Dye: And thank you. We’ve been speaking with Jennifer Barnes, CEO at Optima Office, that fills in the gaps in your accounting department, either by providing a complete accounting and finance team or by integrating seamlessly with your internal accounting staff. For all the details, simply visit OptimaOffice.com. This was Eric Dye, and you’ve been listening to Enterprise Radio, a part of EPN, the Enterprise Podcast Network. Tune in to our live location as we are streaming live 24/7 around the world at EPodcastNetwork.com/Live. You can also find our livestream on iTunes Radio and TuneIn Radio as well as the TuneIn Radio app for your listening convenience. As always, we thank you for your support and for tuning in. This is the EPodcast Network.”
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Ashley was born and raised in San Diego, CA and enjoys spending time with her family outdoors. When...