Trevor Sheffield, President of ascendiMedia, is an expert in digital advertising for small businesses. He’s such an expert, in fact, that he was able to keep his business going through the pandemic, delivering the services clients needed in a very uncertain time.
One thing he didn’t want to be an expert in? Bookkeeping.
“That was something I was very eager to outsource,” Trevor told Bench. “I didn’t go to school for accounting or any of that — and I was thinking, I will gladly pay someone a reasonable fee to make sure my books are in good order.”
Choosing Bench as a bookkeeping partner
Trevor's core focus is helping small businesses leverage the digital realm to reach and engage their target audiences effectively. From the outset, Trevor recognized the importance of investing in reliable tools to streamline this process. He initially turned to FreshBooks, with its well-known time tracking and invoicing features.
“I was a brand-new business, and I was basically contracting myself out,” he says. “Hourly time tracking was really important for me.”
And while FreshBooks let Trevor efficiently track his time and project costs, the platform wasn’t built for accounting.
Eventually, ascendiMedia grew to the point where Trevor needed both: a great time tracking system like FreshBooks, and a bookkeeping platform that could generate financial reports, help with tax time, and provide actionable financial insights into his business. When he heard that FreshBooks had an integration with Bench, that got his attention.
“I knew from my background in a digital operations position at a large corporation that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time switching back and forth between services. There’s a lot of lost time, energy and money doing that.”
Because he was already using FreshBooks, it was simple for Trevor to add Bench as his bookkeeping partner. Bench was particularly appealing due to its ease of use and accessibility. When he signed up for Bench, Trevor had six months of retroactive books that needed to be caught up, and he needed to get ready for tax season, as well. Bench was able to do what he needed quickly, while also keeping him caught up on a monthly basis.
“I wanted to make a decision that I could commit to and stay with as far as a vendor relationship that I wouldn’t be switching around a whole lot,” the Atlanta resident said.
Working with Bench and FreshBooks has enabled Trevor to make better business forecasts, price his services accurately, and stay profitable. Bench's ability to provide regular profit and loss (P&L) statements offers insights into the financial health of his business, which has proven essential for strategic decision-making.
Furthermore, the partnership has empowered Trevor to explore additional growth avenues, such as expanding his service offerings and hiring employees. With his financial records in order, he can confidently navigate the complexities of scaling his business without compromising compliance or profitability.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Trevor offers several pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, based on his own business journey.
1. Invest in financial management early on. Waiting too long to invest in financial services can lead to backlogs and additional stress during tax season.
2. Avoid shiny object syndrome. Lots of software packages and tools promise to do everything for you—but typically, the promise falls short of the reality. Instead, Trevor advises entrepreneurs to focus on selecting the right tool for the job, do their due diligence, and then commit to the partnership. Consistency simplifies operations and optimizes resource allocation.
3. Evaluate your pricing regularly: Regularly reevaluate your pricing strategy to ensure it still aligns with the market, your costs, and your growth plans. Reliable financial data, like that found in P&L statements, income statements, and your balance sheet, allows for informed pricing adjustments.
4. Seek partnerships to fill in any gaps in your knowledge or skill sets: Don’t overlook the value of forming partnerships with experts in areas where you may lack expertise. This approach enables you to focus on your core competencies, while leveraging external support in the areas where you need it.