The BBB Torch Awards for Ethics honors organizations whose leaders demonstrate a high level of personal character, employ practices that meet the highest standards of ethics, and consequently, generate trust with their customers and the community. The Torch Awards embody BBB’s mission of advancing marketplace trust.
Sound Bookkeepers offers virtual and in-person bookkeeping services to businesses nationwide. Many of our clients earn revenue nationwide and internationally.
We work with all types of companies, however, we specialize in working with Law Firms, Construction Companies, Bankruptcy bookkeeping for Law Firms, and Estate bookkeeping.
We offer a variety of services:
· Standard business bookkeeping
· Quickbooks setup
· Assisting with entity formation and license renewals
· Department of Revenue tax filing
· 1099 filing
· Tax therapy
An ethical business is honest, fair, reliable, and responsive. A mark of integrity in a business is the importance it places on maintaining ethical business practices. Below is an example of the ethical practices of the team at Sound Bookkeepers,
In 2007, the mortgage brokerage that our founder started from his house grossed 3.5 Million in revenue and he thought he was about to break through and finally be wealthy. The following year, he watched as his entire industry lost its integrity. He lost everything. He was in foreclosure, gave his car back to the bank, and needed to find a way to take care of his family and save his house. He was determined to start a business where he could apply the knowledge he had obtained and could control the quality of the work end to end. Our founder worked in construction, owned a café, taught cooking classes and college-level web development, and is a licensed acupuncturist, but none of those were standing out as the path to what he was looking for. Due to the needs of some close family, he needed to earn more income than most and he was unable to find a job that could cover his family’s needs. He did have some ideas, so he contacted famed author Michael Gerber of The E-Myth, who agreed to give him one-on-one coaching to help him create a remarkable company. It was through his conversations with Michael Gerber that he remembered his Mom and grandmother were both bookkeepers. He decided to start a bookkeeping company. He started the company for $32.00, never incurred debt, and were profitable from day 1.
Even though he is no longer doing Acupuncture, Russ still has the desire to help people ease their suffering. He saw that offering high-quality but affordable bookkeeping was a way to heal people because he knew the mental anguish entrepreneurs experience, and the effect it has on families.
You may not remember when mortgage loan officers became licensed in Washington, but Russ does. Many of the ones who didn’t make the cut had felonies and were committing fraud. It was one of the things he did not like about that industry. After the collapse, he was on a joint task force with the Department of Finance and Department of Licensing helping them establish rules for regulating short sales in Washington. While bookkeeping is not yet licensed here, our founder hopes it does happen, because it’s so important to be able to have trust and integrity in this business.
We follow the principles of Conscious Capitalism, we are virtual, nearly paper-free, and adhere closely to the document and information security protocols we followed as mortgage brokers. We’re setting the standard for what affordable but accurate bookkeeping should be; done by people with integrity who understand the importance of proper bookkeeping, while also keeping the books in line with what an IRS auditor is looking for.
During the pandemic, not only did we never lay off any staff, but we continued to grow and hire and have our sights set on offering people a way to work from home nationwide while also helping overwhelmed small business owners.
A company culture of trust offers clarity of purpose, empowered employees, and opportunities for growth. Below is an example of how the Sound Bookkeepers team unites around the company’s vision and mission statement, and how we empower our team to help shape the expectations and culture of Sound Bookkeepers.
Integrity is at the core of what we do. Bookkeeping is about precision and balancing things, correctly interpreting data, and providing valuable feedback in the form of predictive analytics just when it’s needed. Our founder, Russ Shulman, first learned about integrity from his brother who was into kung fu. Then he developed his own sense of it through experiences working for some people who didn’t have integrity or self-discipline and others who did.
We offer opportunities to anyone who have the minimum skills and says they want to give it a try, because many people gave our founder opportunities when he was younger and seeking his own success. We do lots of training throughout the week and we also do one-on-one time with each staff member every week.
We keep track of our time with extremely precise time tracking tools and always offer discounts to clients if their needs decrease.
When a new team member starts, we walk them through the steps of how we keep the integrity high and the clients happy while also having fun at work, and seeing the magic and beauty in what we are doing. A couple of examples, one client told us his partner had cancer, so we immediately stopped billing him and continued to offer our same level of bookkeeping to help him with the high cost of health care for his partner and his loss of revenue. We are happy to say his partner is now cancer free. Another client fixes fire engines at the stationhouse so they don’t have to put their truck in the shop and be without it. By helping this client succeed, we’re literally saving lives with bookkeeping. We talk about these things in our weekly meetings, and everyone understands that we are building a world-class service, which when done correctly, makes a meaningful difference. We offer a safe and vibrant learning environment that has integrity at its very foundation.
Each year businesses are forced to change in the marketplace, requiring innovation, transparency, and increased communication to maintain trust. Businesses thrive when they prioritize building and maintaining customer relationships. Here is an example of the innovation practices the team at Sound Bookkeepers has in place.
We are connectors, helping small business owners by introducing them to other professionals who can help them achieve their dreams. One way we build relationships is by connecting with accountants, payroll providers, and other businesses who work with people who need their numbers in order. Our founder always tells our staff that we are here to help and provided it’s reasonable, they should do whatever they can to help our clients succeed. We have an entire process dedicated to helping resolve customer issues, but we rarely even need it because we do a thorough job, and we communicate before issues arise. We have a secure portal, automated emails, a free online scheduling tool to book appointments, and we regularly survey our clients to be sure we are exceeding their expectations. We also consistently receive feedback from our clients regarding their joy with our work. Our goal is to make self-employment fun and exciting by showing how the numbers can tell you what your business is trying to say.
Civic involvement empowers excellence in business and returns value to communities. Below is an example of Sound Bookkeepers’ involvement in the community and our company philosophy on civic involvement.
In the early years, our Founder Russ Shulman spoke at SBA gatherings and volunteered for the city of Shoreline business owners meetup. Russ offered free workshops at the library and free weekly conference calls. Russ used to go around filming stories on small business owners and would spend hours editing them and posting them to his blog for free. He did stories on many Shoreline businesses through his Urbanspending program. The program was started to encourage consumers to keep the revenue in the city. Why go to the local coffee shop when Starbucks is on the same block? The stories explained it. You could see that helping Julie stay in business by going to her shop was better for your local city than the Starbucks americano, even if hers wasn’t as good, it’s still better for the community. The campaign was gaining traction, but wasn’t making money. While he felt that the video project was on the right path, he eventually settled on offering bookkeeping starting at just $109/month, making it affordable for all entrepreneurs, no matter what their economic reality is.
Sound Bookkeepers always offers training to our team members. We see that bookkeeping can be a very good career for people who are good at math but need to learn how to do the work. We are in the process of creating that school which will be made available for free. Anyone who does well in the school will be given an opportunity to work as a bookkeeper. We also take interns who are exiting the bookkeeping program at the local colleges, and many times, those interns are not native English speaking, so it would be difficult for them to find jobs.
We are also putting together a free course for business owners who cannot afford even our entry-level service so they can still be empowered in their business and life when they are simply too small or too broke to hire anyone to help.
Bob Burg has been a big influence on Russ, especially his book series “The Go Giver”. This approach fits perfectly with Russ’s desire to help and make a difference.
We believe that doing a great job, doing something meaningful and necessary at a reasonable price is the key to building a great company. Our staff loves coming to work and we feel accomplished.. The goal is to grow so we can offer more help to more suffering business owners.