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Small Business Success Stories: 10|10 Strategies

Small Business Success Stories: 10|10 Strategies

In this episode of Small Business Success Stories, Jeremy Allen of System Six Bookkeeping speaks with Heather Tuininga of Seattle, Washington. Heather is the founder of 10|10 Strategies which provides philanthropic advising to families and businesses. Her mission is to increase both the joy of giving and the impact of the donation. Through extensive research and analytics she is able to make educated referrals for businesses or individuals who are passionate about an issue, but don’t know exactly where to send their dollars. From one-off gifts to multimillion dollar portfolios, Heather is passionate about the ripple effect that generosity can have on communities. 

Heather Tuinginga and Jeremy chat about the power of generosity and philanthropy.

From Government to Giving

She began as a fiscal analyst for the government in the state of Washington. After several years of reviewing grants and budgets, she was introduced to Bill Gates Sr. and began advising the Gates Foundation. For several years she traveled the world learning, researching, and helping the foundation financially empower nonprofits and grassroots organizations. With a heart to help more businesses and families, she now runs her own philanthropic consulting firm. 

COVID’s Impact on Philanthropy 

Despite the dip in the market this past spring due to COVID-19, Heather has been inspired by the enthusiasm and generosity of so many people and businesses. Her clients have been giving beyond their annual goals and looking for ways to more personally engage. Because of how taxing the pandemic has been on caregivers, Heather recommends looking for opportunities to care for those on the frontlines. Supporting the staff of nonprofits, healthcare workers, or community program volunteers is a great way to provide tangible relief. In the end, Heather encourages people to trust their guts and give spontaneously! 

Social Justice and the Wealth Gap 

This year has also brought much needed attention to the struggle for equality for people of color, specifically in the black community. For Heather, an important step has been to continue to stay educated about the realities of white privilege, redlining, and historical policies that have kept minorities from thriving. She recommends looking for nonprofits that are seeking to bring representation and raise the voices of minorities in the workplace. Specifically she cites Black Girls Code which provides STEM education for young girls to increase the presence of black women in technical fields like technology and computer engineering. 

A Life Principle to Live By 

Finally, Heather shares an encouraging sentiment from her father that still guides her today: “Your spark can become a flame and change everything.” Combined with the generosity of others, she believes that we can begin movements that bring tangible change to our communities and the world. Oftentimes we believe that we need to start something to make a difference, but many frontline organizations simply need support, not competition. 
For more information about how System Six can help you organize and implement your business, family office, or giving head to www.systemsix.com and contact Jeremy!

Small Business Success Stories | The Fat Hen

Small Business Success Stories | The Fat Hen

Every industry, family, and individual around the globe has been shaken by COVID-19, but perhaps none more severely as small-businesses. But despite the financial strain, ever changing policies, and emotional heaviness, the entrepreneurial spirit has shone bright. Our clients continue to amaze us with their resilience, and resourcefulness in serving their communities and staff. From the very beginning of the crisis, System Six dedicated itself to navigating the ins and outs of the financial options to help our clients. But in the end it is they who are helping us remember that, regardless of where we all are geographically, we are in this together. We want to highlight the stories of clients who inspire us with their perseverance and creativity in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged to lean into your gifts and lead in your generosity. We are proud of the impact of the System Six family! 

The Fat Hen 

We are so proud to have our first featured small business be The Fat Hen in Seattle, Washington! The Fat Hen is a casual, european style restaurant that is famous locally for it’s cozy atmosphere and delicious breakfasts. Sammie and Cody are not just passionate about serving food, but serving their community. When COVID swept through Seattle abruptly closing restaurants, businesses, and school, Sammie and Cody also shut down temporarily. With the help of System Six, The Fat Hen was able to secure a PPE loan to buoy their business through the weeks it was closed. More than that, they were given advice on how to navigate the changing legislation and programs available to small business owners. It wasn’t long before the two of them took to the kitchen by themselves to fill orders, adjust their menu, and provide jobs to their employees as delivery people instead of using a third party service.

Pivoting their Business Model

Being such a tiny space, functioning at even half capacity wasn’t going to provide the revenue stream needed to sustain the business. But rather than get discouraged, Sammie and Cody began to dream. What if The Fat Hen could provide more than just seated service? What if there was a way for them to send The Fat Hen home with customers craving the comfort of their favorite dish? Out of these questions came The Fat Hen Bodega – a mini-market stocked with all of the ingredients of beloved dishes ready to be prepped at home. Sauces, delicious deli meats, fresh baked bread – it all became available to customers to build and bake their favorite dishes. For The Fat Hen, COVID-19 wasn’t a crisis that forced them to get smaller, it pushed them to dream bigger. 

Giving Back 

In times of great uncertainty it is instinctual to cling to every resource, but Sammie and Cody wanted to react in the opposite spirit and model generosity. Throughout the crisis, despite financial unpredictability, they found it important to raise money for local causes. Each week portions of the profits from specific menu items were dedicated to a community member or service that was providing crucial support. For them being a small business isn’t just about providing a service, it’s about building the kind of community that they want to be a part of. 

Biggest Takeaway 

Like all challenging seasons, there are lessons to be learned. For Sammie and Cody it was an opportunity to stop, be resourceful, and not second guess their entrepreneurial instincts. Focusing on their desire to bring a positive impact in their community allowed them to align their business choices with their mission and values. When it became about the people and the neighborhood, then making the best businesses choices became more simple and intuitive. For The Fat Hen, having an impact during COVID-19 didn’t look like massive changes to structure or systems, but simply asking themselves who they were serving and what those people needed to adjust accordingly. Sammie and Cody offer the same challenge to you! Who is around you that has a need and how can you creatively meet that during these difficult times? In that answer lies the inspiration you need to pivot your business, get resourceful, and make a difference. 

Update: Since filming this episode, The Fat Hen as finished construction on their market bodega and continue to donate to local initiatives that support their community. In-Home delivery is paused for now as they are able to serve customers in their store for the time being! 

System Six Featured in Trend Report on Medium

System Six was featured in the global trend report, Lumen, on Medium this past month.

“The birth and death of entire industries during COVID-19” was published as an exploration of what sectors will be most impacted, perhaps disappearing altogether, due to our crisis. But this shift is not only an end, but also a beginning for new businesses to emerge.

The following snippet is from the article:

Even traditional employee structures and procedures are changing. “COVID has forced many small-business owners to come face to face with old processes that are limiting and need to be moved to a digital platform,” says Jeremy Allen, founder of System Six Bookkeeping. This remote bookkeeping firm has been helping businesses streamline their financial processes and transition to cloud-based platforms for nearly twelve years, but has seen a rise in interest over the past few months, especially in bread-and-butter service industries like painting, landscaping, carpet cleaning, and repairs. Remote payroll and paperless invoicing quickly became more than just a slick option, they became essential. COVID catapulted these small businesses from paper and desktop based systems to cloud accounting, with System Six not only stepping in to help with a seamless transition, but offering ongoing maintenance to boot. Outsourcing the day to day finances not only trims the annual budget, but equips small businesses with a team-based approach with access to financial experts that help navigate the available loans and grants. “COVID didn’t necessarily force some profound innovation in our industry, but rather a rapid behavior change,” says Jeremy. Though the technology has been around for years, you might finally be saying goodbye to carbon-copy receipts from your plumber or handwritten quotes from the chimney repair man.

To read the full article, click here.

COVID-19 Client Update | May 8

Hello System Six Clients and Friends,

It’s been a few weeks since our last C19 update. We have been working hard to help a second round of our clients apply for the PPP and do cash flow modeling. Like most small businesses, we are patiently waiting for the SBA, Congress, and the IRS to issue updated guidance on the next big PPP hurdle we’ll be facing- PPP loan forgiveness. 

It’s worth saying with every update we send out – with many advisors comes success. We recommend digging deep into your own situation and seeking advice and wise counsel from a number of trusted advisors, like us and your tax preparing CPA.  #strongertogether 

PPP Loan Forgiveness

If you were fortunate enough to have received a PPP loan, congratulations! Now that the celebration has worn off, you’re likely in the weeds trying to figure out how to ensure your business receives as much loan forgiveness as possible. While we are learning that it’s tricky and can be complex, we still think the best way forward is to not despair and for each business owner to simply do our best to follow the intention of the PPP program while waiting for guidance to get clearer.  Even if all of the loan isn’t forgiven, a 1% interest rate loan is a very helpful tool for us to get our businesses back on track.

Know that the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and dozens of other groups are working hard to gain further clarity on how PPP loan forgiveness works and to also try and relax the forgiveness requirements. 

Top PPP Forgiveness Strategies (as of 5/8/2020):
    • Understand the general rules around the PPP loan and how forgiveness works. Do the following within 8 weeks of the PPP loan being deposited to your account
      • Spend at least 75% of the PPP loan amount on payroll costs
      • Spend no more than 25% of the PPP loan amount on rent, utilities, and interest
      • Restore employee headcount (FTE) back to at least 75% of what it was pre-crisis
      • Restore employee payroll back to at least 75% of what it was pre-crisis
      • Read a few blog posts from an excellent Seattle area tax-preparing CPA we know and trust
      • If you want to nerd-out like we bookkeepers and accountants do, you can also check out the more detailed AICPA “PPP Application and Forgiveness Processes”
    • If using a payroll processor like Gusto, reference their helpful PPP forgiveness report. It does most of the heavy calculations needed regarding payroll expenses and potential forgiveness. 

Perhaps most importantly, if your business needs to get deep into the weeds of forgiveness, we recommend coordinating a conversation between your tax preparing CPA and your System Six team.

 

Live Zoom Workshops – Business Modeling for Profitability &
Building a Comeback! Cash Flow Forecast 

Whether your business is currently closed & eagerly waiting to re-open, is operating at reduced capacity, or is operating near normal, now is a good time to review your business model and consider cash flow forecasting. 

We’ll be hosting two interactive Zoom workshops, free for all clients. In the first workshop, we’ll dive into Business Modeling for Profitability and Sustainability and on the second, we’ll cover how to use Google Sheets for Building a Comeback! Cash Flow Forecast. Use the links to register. If there is enough interest, we’ll schedule additional workshops.  

Leadership, Leadership, Leadership

We’ve all been faced with making tough choices and rapid decisions these past few months. It’s important to start making an intentional shift from leading in crisis with adrenaline to leading with strategy and vision. 

Here are a few excellent resources on leadership and what to do next:

We are honored to be a trusted advisor and serving alongside our clients to find solutions and pathways forward. Please reach out and ask us to help if help is needed. We might not have the answer yet, but we’ll keep doing our best and be as responsive and helpful as possible.

Our Clients’ Success is Our Success,

Jeremy

Coping During Coronavirus: Jeremy’s Interview with Karbon Magazine

Recently, our founder, Jeremy Allen, was featured in a Karbon Magazine article entitledHow firms around the world are handling the coronavirus crisis.” Alongside several fantastic firms, Jeremy shed light on the tools, habits, and communication strategies that are helping us bring support and stability to our clients during this time. Read his portion of the interview below and be sure to check out the complete article here.


Interview with Karbon Magazine

What has your firm done to cope with the disruption?

We consider ourselves fortunate to have already established mature work-from-home rhythms and technologies.

Soon we’ll have a better sense of what the new normal will be. Several clients are closing doors for a short period of time and almost certainly some will not be able to reopen. We’re communicating to our team that nothing need change for the time being. We have savings in the bank and are willing to chip away at that if needed so that our team doesn’t lose hours or health insurance benefits.

We are staying flexible. All of of our workforce works from home, but many now have their children home from school, which changes their availability and focus.

How are you maintaining communication with your clients?

We have created a master list of high-value and highly impacted clients, and have been in touch a number of times with them since last week. We are proactively suggesting ways we can help like reviewing cash flow forecasting and thinking through immediate next-steps.

Many clients in Seattle are shutting their doors and we are helping them navigate how to handle layoffs, unemployment, seeking rent reductions, and solving questions like whether they can provide healthcare to employees who they have temporarily let go.

We are also proactively offering fee reductions to our clients as needed, and then building a list of responsibilities the client might need to take on themselves if they need to reduce our fee and services even further as they hunker down and wait to re-open and re-establish.

What tools are most useful for you right now?

We already relied heavily on Karbon, Microsoft TeamsOffice 365Sharefile, and QuickBooks Online as our daily tools. We are thankful that as more and more of the workforce shifts to a new work from home paradigm, we were already well established with these tools, rhythms, and habits.

What has been the single biggest challenge?

Many of our team and clients are based out of Seattle, WA— ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. This has given us a unique perspective on the unprecedented challenges facing small business owners and their employees.

We communicate often and remind our team that throughout this crisis, our strategy remains the same—stay true to our core values: Clients, Excellence, Culture, Profit, Stewardship, and Priorities.

“We need the best from everyone right now — from being very responsive, calm, and complete in our communication to delivering accurate work with a high level of attention to detail.”

What habit is proving to be helpful?

Many of our team have been focused on health and fitness lately and have been using our “Health” Channel in Microsoft Teams to inspire and encourage one another to keep staying fit. It’s great for everyone to burn off some of their overwhelm by staying active. Even if it’s just a run outside pushing a stroller!

When you feel overwhelmed, unfocused or fearful, what do you do?

For me personally, as our founder and CEO, I’m feeling a heavy burden by the many decisions that we’re facing about our own team, our clients, and our clients’ families and employees. Not to mention the crater left in my almost decimated stock market account.

Prayer and keeping an eternal perspective has been a grounding force in my life. Not to mention lifting weights daily in my home gym, which I feel very fortunate to have access to!

What advice do you have to help other firms survive and thrive in this crisis?

I picked-up a phrase from a recent Verne Harnish email, which I have been sharing often: ”Leadership and compassion are just as contagious as panic and hopelessness”.

We are remaining hopeful that with some luck, all our years of preparation as a team will position us to say yes to a few new clients who might call and need our outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services due to losing in-house staff, and overall weather this storm and come out a much stronger firm (and individuals) on the other side.

 

COVID-19 Client Update | April 19

Hello System Six Clients and Friends,

We can hardly believe it’s been a month since our first C19 email to clients went out about the rapidly changing world that was beginning to impact our businesses. While it seems like forever ago, it’s only been a month since the first stay at home orders first stay at home orders were issued.

This week’s update includes some resources we are finding helpful as we move from making tactical decisions filled with adrenaline to thinking more strategically as leaders who are responsible for continuing to lead our teams, families, and communities with as much poise and clarity as possible. 

Every week we write, we say to please keep in mind that legislation and guidelines are changing almost daily, and we are all learning on the job, so-to-speak.  We recommend each of our clients invest time to read and do their best to understand the options available, then seek advice and wise counsel not only from us, but also from other trusted advisors, because with many advisors comes a greater chance of success.  #strongertogether 

PPP – Out of Funds for Now

The big news this week is that the $349MM allocated for PPP loans has been exhausted. The SBA website says,

“The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.” 

Well shoot. Many have applied for a PPP loan and are in various stages of review, approval, and funding. And sadly, there’s also many who have tried and couldn’t get an application submitted due to the massively overwhelmed system. Banks have struggled these past two weeks and the relationship focused bankers I know have been doing their best and are heartbroken at how hamstrung they’ve been by the process.

There is hope that congress might approve a 2nd round of funding and if so, the silver lining is that the banks and SBA are already primed and ready to go. That said, if you don’t have your ducks in a row and haven’t yet applied, we’d recommend doing so now so that you are next in line if more funds are appropriated.  Read our email from last week as it has links and information on how to apply for the PPP.

PPP vs EIDL vs ERTC

There are so many options to consider and it can be difficult to know what solution might be best for your business. We like this matrix put together by another small business CPA that quickly describes the key differences in federal CARE Act programs available. 

Maybe your business or organization has a good amount of cash in savings and even with a drop in revenue, you can afford to keep paying employees. Regardless if you laid employees off several weeks ago or they are still working, there might be options for paying employees and having some of the funds forgiven.  We’re seeing two criteria to consider:

  • If your business operations were fully or partially suspended as a result of government-mandated COVID-19 shut-down order, or
  • If your business experiences a decline in gross receipts by more than 50% in a quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019.

The US Chamber has a good article on the ERTC. We recommend reading-up on how the ERTC works, and then reaching out to us and your tax preparing CPA to see if this is a strategy to implement. We don’t want to throw around the phrase “free money” too loosely, yet the ERTC looks like it would provide up to $10k of wages per employee if your business qualifies. That could be a good way to keep paying employees if your business has experienced a sharp drop in revenue, yet can afford to keep employees on because you have the cash on hand to pay them while working through the tax credit. 

Shifting Gears – Strategic vs Adrenaline Leadership 

Many of us have been working on adrenaline as we made urgent tactical decisions like navigating emergency business shutdowns, coaching employees through filing unemployment, rushing to file for a PPP loan, and for some fortunate businesses who can, making the shift to work from home. 

As leaders who are responsible for continuing to lead our teams, families, and communities, it’s important to make an intentional shift from leading with adrenaline to leading with as much poise and clarity as possible. 

There are many, many resources available on leading through crisis – here are a few short and helpful favorites at the moment:

Nearly ten years ago, we crafted the System Six Mission, Vision, and Values. The very first value we decided on was “We are completely client focused. We exist to serve our clients and help them achieve their goals. Our Clients’ Success is Our Success.” 

It hasn’t always been easy to follow, yet staying focused on the value of Our Clients’ Success has served as our team’s North Star. Now more than ever, we’re seeing how the proverbial “rubber meets the road” as we try to live out Our Clients’ Success Being Our Success. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and the clients we serve as we work through the challenges together. 

We are honored to be a trusted advisor and serving alongside our clients to find solutions and pathways forward. Absolutely don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help. We might not have the answer yet, but we’ll keep doing our best and be as responsive and helpful as possible.

Keep the faith and hope alive! 

Jeremy

Call us now!