Lisa Channell is not your average bookkeeper. Instead of sifting through shoeboxes full of receipts in a musty old office, you’re more likely to find Lisa using the latest apps and software to parse through her client’s numbers from the comfort of her virtual office. She’s also a marketing maven, using social media to promote her business and networking with finance professionals from across the country at events such as QuickBooks Connect. In other words, Lisa is here to make bookkeeping cool again.
If there’s anyone who can get teenagers talking about bookkeeping, it’s definitely Lisa. Though she originally set out to work in the field of psychology, a chance job opportunity led to a newfound love of bookkeeping. As Lisa puts it, “There was a wonderful bookkeeper there that basically mentored me. I just started taking tasks from her and turned into a little bookkeeper. And then they hired an in-house accountant, which doesn’t happen very often. So working under the bookkeeper and then working under the accountant, I got kind of two different views of how the financials are supposed to work.”
Lisa then spent the next few years honing her skills until the company she worked for underwent some changes and her job was no longer available after she returned from maternity leave. While Lisa admits that it “was terrifying at the time,” she says “it was also the best thing that ever happened” because it gave her the perfect opportunity to start her own bookkeeping business, Bonfire Bookkeeping—a fitting name for the British Columbia-based company.
Three years on, Lisa couldn’t be happier she made the leap and decided to pursue something that is purely her own. As she puts it,
“I'm not building someone else's dream, I'm building my own dream.”
And part of that dream is helping to empower others through bookkeeping, such as new mothers and those with medical needs that might necessitate a more flexible schedule. For Lisa, the big dream is never just about herself:
“Part of the big huge dream is to make sure that I'm providing jobs and giving them to people that need to take advantage of the flexible work style.”
It’s not just empowering others that sets Lisa’s business apart from your typical shoebox bookkeeping service. Though she fully admits to loving data entry, Lisa has always had an eye for technology, and early on in her career, she noticed the wealth of apps and software available to bookkeepers. Naturally, she wanted to dive right in. As a result, Lisa “decided to go completely virtual” and use cloud-based technology to take bookkeeping into the twenty-first century. As she explains,
“Financial statements can be so boring. And that's not the part that really matters. It's taking the old shoebox mentality of bookkeeping and turning it into something that people can use to build their business or grow their business. Especially when you have access to real-time data, you can make those decisions faster and better than ever before.”
Quite simply, Lisa’s a fan of the cloud and one of the cloud-based services that she enlists to help her meet her client’s needs is Knit. Though Lisa previously used a few different payroll providers, she says the headaches, frequent bugs, and clumsy processes ultimately convinced her to make the switch. As she puts it, “I just didn't feel like I was getting value out of what I was paying for it. So when I did make the decision to go with Knit, it was an easy decision because a lot of my small businesses were having significant trouble paying their remittances on time, and I ended up babysitting them a lot just to try and accomplish that one thing.” In short, Lisa was looking for a service that could keep up with her client’s evolving needs and Knit’s scalable solution fit that need.
Since switching to Knit, Lisa says she has noticed a dramatic difference in how she is able to handle payroll for her clients. She notes that one of the biggest problems for the small businesses she works with is cash flow issues, which is directly related to payroll. However, with Knit, she explains that when it comes to cash flow management “it was a lot easier for my customers to absorb the expenses of payroll tax, etc. when it was all in one shot, versus two payrolls in a month and then payroll remittance the following on the 15th.” For Lisa, that fact that “the liability's being removed at the point of payroll is huge.”
While Lisa’s the first to admit she thinks that technology is the future of bookkeeping, that doesn’t mean she underestimates the human side of things. Fostering human connections—whether that’s with her clients or her team—is a huge part of what Lisa does on a daily basis and she appreciates that companies like Knit feel the same way. As she points out,
“When you aren't spending 90% of your time on data entry that allows you to put energy and time towards the human connection of what everyone's doing.”
And as a technology junkie herself, Lisa’s also happy to be a guinea pig for the latest Knit features. “I just really appreciate businesses that go out of their way to ask for feedback,” she explains, noting that “it kind of just makes you feel like you're part of the evolution of the product that you're using.” She jokingly adds, “there’s something wrong if you don’t want feedback!”
We’d have to agree.
Lisa Channell, CPB is the owner of Bonfire Bookkeeping, a British Columbia-based bookkeeping business specializing in cloud accounting and Quickbooks Online. She loves new technology and using software solutions like Knit to help her clients scale and grow.