Photos by Nicole Mendoza
Kurt McSparron, founder of The Executives’ Club of Fargo-Moorhead, has over 100 members in his business initiative group. He sat down with one of his members, Maddie Schultz Owner of Blue Cypher Bookkeeping, to get to know more about her helpful bookkeeping business.
What is Maddie Schultz’s background?
I grew up in Fargo Moorhead. I was adopted, but I’ve pretty much called Fargo my home forever. I went over the river to MSUM for business. I got my degree there, and since then I have worked in banking, healthcare, the nonprofit world, and now own Blue Cypher Bookkeeping.
So you founded Blue Cypher Bookkeeping in 2019. What is the why behind founding the company?
Of course, selfishly, I wanted to have something that’s my own. I wanted to be able to work and do what I want to do and what I love doing and do it on my own terms. However, I also started bookkeeping because I wanted to help the small businesses that don’t always get the help that they need. When you’re a small business starting out, most people can’t afford an accountant. Most people starting a business have a great idea but running a business and doing all the logistics of that is a whole different beast.
A lack of accurate and consistent bookkeeping is certainly one of the top reasons many small companies fail in the first few years. Let’s assume, and hope, that’s not a concern. For you, what other issues do you struggle with?
Sometimes what I struggled with at the beginning was the big picture kind of stuff like figuring out where I wanted to take the business and getting started. Of course, you hope you make enough to live and after you get past that survival point, you have to decide where to go from there. I’m starting to develop that and have worked on that for myself.
There’s also stuff that I’m not talented in like web design. That’s definitely something for me to outsource.
Why Blue Cypher?
Blue is my favorite color which is nice because I don’t have to change my wardrobe, I wear a lot of blue already. And, my grandma gave me a blue Sapphire ring which is kind of important to me.
The word cypher is the base for decipher and I see numbers as a puzzle that I really like to solve or decipher.
Who is your target audience, your ideal customer right now for Blue Cypher?
My ideal target audience is mainly service-based businesses. Usually, after they’ve been in business for about two to three years and are a little bit more established.
Everything you do is cloud-based. You can work for anyone, anywhere. Are most of your customers still based here in the Fargo area?
Yeah, most of them are still local. I have one in Bismarck. I have a new one that might be coming from across the country, which is neat. However, for the most part, it is local simply because I grew up here and it’s a just a community and network that I already am familiar with.
Specifically, what services do you provide?
I handle the day to day bookkeeping. Basically, I organize receipts, enter all the expense and income transactions, make sure they’re all categorized correctly, and make sure that every month is getting reconciled. I make sure that what you’re putting in the books actually matches your bank balance for that exact same time. I handle all of those little details every single day. I’m not replacing the CPA or the tax preparer that they work with, but what I do make things easier because I have all the reports ready and I have all the receipts saved.
What have you, as a young business owner, chosen to outsource yourself? You mentioned web design is one of them. Are there other areas that you outsource?
I do have a couple of subcontractors that I work with, and they handle some of the data entry. But for the most part, it’s all still me right now. I do have goals in the future of hiring but not right now.
What are your recommendations regarding bookkeeping that you’d give to startups or small business owners in addition to hiring you?
The first big one is obviously to get a separate business bank account. I see so many that commingle their funds and you can’t tell which is which. Then, when the IRS looks at them, they can’t tell which is which. That can create a lot of liability for your personal assets. Also, you can’t know that you’re getting the most deductions if you don’t know what expenses are for the business.
My next recommendation would be to keep receipts. You have to keep receipts. One of the things people don’t realize is that you can keep digital copies, at least for your general receipts. I recommend writing on the receipt what it was for and then taking a picture of that to save it.
Do you have a business system that you use that you’ve adopted yet? Are you looking for one?
Yeah, I use a CRM customer relationship management system where I have all my projects and tasks. I’m naturally an organized person, which is why I’m a good bookkeeper. I developed those systems early on.
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