Having nearly lost one of his own retail businesses due to a partner’s financial mismanagement prior to opening NJP Accounting in The Plains, Virginia earlier this year, Noah knows from his own painful firsthand experience how crucially important it is for business owners to be financially aware of what is going on inside their businesses.
“I got interested in bookkeeping because of a bad experience with my former business partner,” Noah tells us. “I owned and operated a Radio Shack store in Marshall, Virginia for 10 years. I wanted it to be a very community-based business where customers felt welcome to come in and chat. I was focused on running the front end of the store, serving and interacting with customers and cultivating relationships with them.”
“I had entrusted my partner with the company’s financial management and record keeping and I wasn’t keeping tabs on what was going on financially in our business. I didn’t know how much money was coming into the business or how much money was going out and to whom. Since I wasn’t paying close attention to our financials, my partner ended up taking a lot of money out of the business and left me with a whole mess to clean up.”
“That is how I discovered QuickBooks and the importance of paying attention to and understanding your financials when running your own business. I was lucky that my Radio Shack store didn’t go under, but I quickly became overwhelmed when I took control of the record keeping. I was feeling more and more frustrated and depressed by the sheer volume of data inputting the business required, and I kept procrastinating on that critical work because I hated doing it.”
“But I also learned the hard way that the most important thing I needed to pay attention to as a business owner was my financial data and what it meant for my business so that I could make sound decisions.”
When the economy took a dive in 2008 and 2009, Noah started a moon bounce business to supplement his income from the Radio Shack store.
“I would set up moon bounces, water slides, cotton candy machines and popcorn machines for parties and events on weekends in the Warrenton area, and I got to know a lot of people in the Warrenton/Fauquier area from running that business as well.”
Noah’s entrepreneurial experience also includes owning and operating a retail business in a Baltimore, Maryland mall.
“We sold spiritual and relaxation products such as music, candles, incense, and massage tools. We also sold aqua massages – a kind of water therapy where people would get into a big bed with hydrojets that would move up and down your body to give you a massage. That business ended up being my stepping stone into the Radio Shack business.”
“I had always been interested in electronic gadgets. I had bought a big screen TV and a home theatre system and a DVD player and a gaming system and enjoyed the challenge of putting all the pieces to gather to create a working home entertainment system. Then I started helping my friends get their home entertainment systems set up as well.”
“Eventually, I figured since I knew how to select and assemble all these electronic components into sophisticated systems, the next step would be to start selling the kinds of electronic products that I used myself. The Radio Shack franchise seemed like a perfect for me.”
“The first years running that store were amazing, but when Radio Shack started getting into selling cell phone service and migrated away from their original business model I could see that they were going downhill. I was no longer able to provide the electronic devices and parts that my customers wanted and when my 10-year lease was up for renewal I decided it was time to get out of that business.”
“That’s where understanding my financial statements was crucial in my decision making. My Radio Shack business had been my baby for ten years and it was hard to walk away from it after investing so much energy and money into it. But when I looked at the numbers it was clear that it was time to walk away.”
“Luckily I left the business two years before Radio Shack went bankrupt. Understanding my books and my financial statements definitely helped me see the writing on the wall and make the smart decision to leave when I did.”
Noah recalls taking an entrepreneurship class in college that stressed how an accountant is the most important part of a business.
“They say that 50% of small businesses don’t make it past 5 years, and it’s often because they lack the financial awareness they need to succeed in business,” Noah points out.
After closing the Radio Shack business, Noah took a part-time job with a local bookkeeping firm that led to a full-time position. He worked there for three and a half years before opening NJP Accounting: Bookkeeping and Payroll Services in July 2019.
“NJP Accounting is a full service bookkeeping firm that provides accounting services for business and personal accounts. We specialize in bookkeeping, payroll and payroll taxes. We also do workers’ compensation audits, bill paying, and invoicing. We also prepare financial statements for our clients’ accountants and set up accounting software so they can maintain their own set of books.”
“Accountants take care of end of year taxes and payroll taxes but having an experienced bookkeeping service is essential to provide you with the hard data and financial awareness you need on a regular basis so you know if your business is healthy or not.”
“At a minimum, business owners should be reviewing their financial statements every quarter to stay on top of their business. I don’t want to be the type of bookkeeper that just compiles numbers and does end of year taxes. I want to be the accountant that communicates with clients regularly and develops the kind of relationship that will help them succeed in business.”
“I don’t believe it’s my place or my role to give business owners advice. My role is to give them the information and the tools they need to make informed decisions about running their business.”
“The business owner is the expert in their field and they will know better than me whether the numbers indicate there is a problem with who is being paid or how much money is coming in and going out of the business.”
Asked for a concrete example of how his bookkeeping services have helped a client save money, Noah says:
“I frequently find unapproved charges and double billing, which could be costing clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars that they were not aware of. In one noteworthy case, I tracked down $200,000 in unapproved charges which I was able to recover for my client. Needless to say, their return on their investment with us was gigantic. It was very well worth it. However, where my work has been most helpful is when the client is applying for loans and looking for tax deductions.”
“Another local business owner recently told me that his partner took about $100,000 out of their business and he did not discover it till the end of the year.”
“Every business owner needs an experienced, professional unbiased third party to be on their side and take care of their bookkeeping to ensure that their numbers are not being manipulated.
“Starting up and running a business is a lot of work. Business owners should not be wasting their time entering and inputting transactions. Instead, they should be spending their time analyzing the data their bookkeeper provides to them so they can make sound decisions that will help them succeed in the long run.”
Having owned and operated three different retail businesses prior to switching careers, Noah brings a unique and valuable perspective to his clients’ businesses as well as a sharp eye, keen insight and and an empathetic ear.