#QBBetterTogether Profile: MissionFirst Accounting
Today, we’re talking to Linda Swick, CPA, and founder of MissionFirst Accounting. Linda is one of the accounting professionals who won the #QBBetterTogether contest, along with her client Beth Chase, at Bright Stars of Bethlehem, whose profile is posted on the QuickBooks® Online blog. As part of the contest, we asked small businesses and accounting professionals to tell us how they work together to achieve success. We’re excited to share Linda & Beth’s story with you.
Shauna Maher: Welcome Linda, and congratulations on winning the #QBBetterTogether contest! Can you share a little bit about your accounting firm?
Linda Swick: I started MissionFirst Accounting in 2016, out of my experience as a CFO for an international nonprofit. We currently have two part-time staff and about a dozen clients. I want to share what I know, and having international experience is a big plus. Nonprofits operate in a complex environment of rules and regulations, and even though they do their best to do everything right, they often don’t know what they don’t know. That’s one big area where we can help. Another challenge they face is understanding their daily operations – the accounting, payroll, insurance, policymaking and more. We can help with those things, too, but what I like best is that we can shine a light on what might be coming at them, both good and bad, so that the organization and their board can make solid, strategic decisions. We want organizations to be able to keep their mission first.
SM: What made you want to work with nonprofits?
LS: I previously worked with a lot of churches. For background, once my kids were grown, I went back to school and got my CPA at age 45. This can definitely be encouraging to other women out there because I was working full time, going to school full time and still taking care of my kids. At first, I worked for a for-profit company, but then, for six years, I worked for a nonprofit called International Team, which works in many countries around the world and taught me the ins and outs of international nonprofit work. When it was time for me to go out on my own, I decided to focus on this niche segment because it attracts a very special group of people.
SM: How did you start working with Bright Stars of Bethlehem? How did you find each other?
LS: Bright Stars of Bethlehem had suddenly lost its long-time financial manager and had someone filling in, but bookkeeping had fallen behind and the executive director and board didn’t have a clear picture of finances during some rough financial times. Their auditing firm made the introduction because I had worked with them in the past, and they knew Bright Stars needed more than an accountant – they needed a financial manager and advisor. There was a lot of catch up to do and an audit about to start.
SM: What are the keys to having a successful working relationship with Bright Stars of Bethlehem?
LS: Bright Stars of Bethlehem is a great organization. Their executive director and staff are so dedicated, and their board is very supportive and strategic in their work. Frequent and open communication within the organization is a key to their success and a key to our working relationship.
SM: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve helped Bright Stars of Bethlehem with?
LS: Initially, the bookkeeping backlog, and later on, budgeting and cash flow. We moved them from an annual to a monthly budget, and used QuickBooks Online’s budgeting tool to better track how Bright Stars is doing toward their goals. We can keep staff and the board updated regularly, and they have the data they need for decision-making.
SM: Do you use any apps with this client? Which ones?
LS: One of the first moves we made was switching to QuickBooks Online so remote staff could have access. Before then, the QuickBooks Desktop file was on the bookkeeper’s laptop and not securely backed up. We have mainly used Bill.com, Expensify and Intuit® Payroll for Accountants to bring their organization to a paperless environment. Their bank and credit cards are also connected, so transactions automatically come into QuickBooks Online.
SM: What is your favorite part about working with Bright Stars of Bethlehem?
LS: I love seeing the organization accomplishing their mission and making a real impact.
SM: What advice do you have for other accounting pros working with nonprofits like Bright Stars?
LS: Once you get past basic payroll and bookkeeping, nonprofits have different needs than regular small businesses, so listen well and have specialists in your network that you can call on for input.