By Christina Cavazos
Alicia Klausmeier has a passion for helping small business owners thrive.
“I love helping them get to know their finances, understand their financial statements, and really helping them be successful,” Klausmeier said. “I grew up in Colorado Springs, and this community has grown a lot since then, but we are still very community-minded and small-business-focused. So many of our businesses are still family owned, and I have a passion for helping them continue to make their business successful.”
Klausmeier owns Dream Accounting Solutions. Through her company, she serves as a digital bookkeeper and accountant, helping business owners keep track of their finances.
A Colorado Springs native, Klausmeier graduated from Doherty High School. After graduating, she first intended to pursue an engineering degree but changed career paths to focus on teaching instead. She graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and began teaching middle school and elementary school.
After Klausmeier had children of her own, she decided to take a step back from teaching to focus on them. Her husband also had switched careers and started a small business. She began helping him with the books and accounting. A lifelong learner, Klausmeier took courses to help guide her, and in 2019 she decided to open her own company to help fellow small business owners.
Klausmeier spoke with the Business Journal about Dream Accounting Solutions, what it means to be a virtual bookkeeper, and her advice for fellow business owners.
What is a virtual bookkeeper?
Virtual bookkeepers mean that we don’t work in your office; we don’t come into your business and do the work. Instead, we do it all virtually from our own home offices. We are contractors who work from home offices and everything is done via the internet. Our services are cloud-based, so we work with business owners to set up processes so they will have everything in the cloud. We use QuickBooks, which is an online cloud accounting software that you can access anywhere that you have internet. It’s a little different than having a [certified public accountant] in your office or having a full-time bookkeeper on staff. The benefit is that oftentimes a business will have an office manager or a secretary doing the bookkeeping, but they’re not trained in the procedures and don’t necessarily understand everything related to it. This gives you more specialized advice and assistance, and it also frees up those employees’ hours to focus on other things.
Digital bookkeeping has been especially helpful now with COVID. Business didn’t slow down for us during the pandemic. It actually continued to grow through this time. We have been able to help business owners with a lot of the stuff coming down because we have access to their information from anywhere. You don’t have to be in an office on a server or a desktop computer; you can be anywhere.
Talk about Dream Accounting Solutions.
We opened in February 2019, so it’s been about a year and half since we officially opened. We have really grown in the last year through referrals. Our current clients are great about referring me to other people.
We offer a lot of services, but the main service is bookkeeping. We help you classify transactions and help you understand where your money is going. We also offer profit/loss statements, balance sheets and any other financial statement that you might need. That’s the basics of the bookkeeping.
On top of that, depending on the client, we also might do accounts receivable, which is invoicing. Some people might need accounts payable, which means paying and managing bills. We have some clients who have payroll services. We also offer financial advising, budgeting, benchmarking and preparing for growth. We can help with developing processes for accounting. Oftentimes, businesses don’t have accounting processes in place for things like when bills are going to be paid. We can help develop those processes. And then, we also offer a lot of what I like to call a la carte services. Everyone’s a little different and has different needs. Some clients just want help getting set up and trained, so we can offer QuickBooks training. We actually have an upcoming webinar for small business owners who want to learn about accounting principles. I love the education piece.
What is your process when working with a new client?
The first thing I do is sit down with them and we have a conversation. It’s not super formal; it’s about getting to know them and their goals and where they want to be. Do they want to grow their business? Do they want to sell their business? Those ideas are what drives it. Right now, a lot of those conversations are happening virtually with Zoom or video platforms. Every once in a while, prior to this, people would want to sit down in person, and of course I’m willing to do that. So first, there’s the consultation to get to know them.
After that piece we go into writing them a formal proposal with different proposals and suggestions that we have. We’ll offer an engagement letter of services. I don’t do contracts. If you’re not happy with the services, you are welcome to leave. There’s no contract. We work for the clients every month. We want to earn your business every single month.
We then go through a full onboarding process. We’ll have another meeting with the business owner and other people who are important to include in that. We’ll get access to things we need access to, like bank account information, necessary forms. We take everything very seriously. I have cybersecurity insurance and a team that works to make sure personal information remains secure. So, we gather those things and make sure we understand the business a little more and then we move forward in terms of working with them.
Within a month of onboarding, they’ll start receiving financial statements. Sometimes we’ll meet with them monthly and go through their financial statements. It is so important for business owners to have an eye on where their business is. For example, you might see trends, or you might notice an uptick in revenue and you want to understand why that happened. We really dig into those financial statements to help business owners understand their business better.
What advice do you have for business owners?
Have a handle on where your business is at. A bank account balance does not tell the full picture. Understanding financial statements and where your money is coming from is the first step to making better-informed decisions for your business. Also, it’s important to increase cash flow. Cash flow is huge right now with all of the shutdowns and unrest. You need to have some money set aside, some cash reserves. I ask clients to determine what their operating budget is for a month, then make sure you set aside a three-month operating budget in your cash reserves for an emergency. Ideally, you should really set aside six months in cash reserves. Business owners just really need to have a pulse on where your business is financially.
What are your plans for the future?
I love the Colorado Springs community and helping small business owners. I’ve got some great staff coming on board to help. We pride ourselves on offering a personalized approach to finances. I just want to grow that piece of the business, and help business owners gain some control over their finances.