When businesses are interested in operating more efficiently and planning to grow, they hire Vilms Consulting for outsourced accounting, business advisory and training.
As the pandemic unfolded here in March, CEO Michelle Vilms, like many, found herself in an unexpected situation as she worked to find a path forward in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty. With a virtual firm framework, her company was ready to address the needs of their clients, as well as business owners in the community. Businesses needed to have their accounting up to date order to predict possible business scenarios and prepare to apply for business relief through the Cares Act and other sources. Business owners were, understandably, emotional.
“People were facing disruption in every area of their lives. Our small to medium-size business owners were leaning heavily on us to help with reporting and analytics to understand the best next steps for their business in terms of scenarios related to staffing, income and expense reporting, cost-savings, and the long-term effects,” said Vims. “I would think to myself, ‘who is helping the small business owners who are not working with a team?’ It’s a lot for one person to handle, especially with everything else going on at the same time. As I walked down an eerily quiet Charles Street, I realized that we were in a unique position to help more people in our local small business community, our neighborhood, survive. Sometimes you have to just do what you can. So we did.”
Vilms and her team began offering complimentary webinars on business-relief options and shared resources on how to get financial information set up to apply for loans and grants. Shifting information requirements and deadlines on Cares Act options became difficult for people to keep up with so they began sending out a weekly email alerts with highlights. After working with many business owners who had a question or two to guide them in the right direction, Vilms Consulting launched a Zoom Chat series where business owners could drop in on a Zoom, ask questions and share information.
“Our team was working for our customers and helping our small business community—looking back at those extremely busy days, during a time when so many things were at a stand-still and everyone felt a sense of loss, it was great for my team’s morale, and my own, to be able to give back and make a difference. It was a gift,” said Vilms.
Inspired to do more, she expanded her involvement with the Boston Chamber of Commerce when they announced Small Business Strong, a statewide initiative in Massachusetts, comprising numerous organizations from various industries working together to provide free business resources to minority and women-owned small businesses that have been affected by the Covid-crisis. She participates on a team of functional specialists and business advisers who provide personalized advice to business owners.
“Michelle’s expertise in payroll, accounting, especially in Quickbooks, has been invaluable to our small business owners,” accord to a representative for Small Business Strong.
Vims has been able to guide business owners by listening to their unique issues and helping them put resources in place to identify and move toward a goal. She recalls listening to one business owner share all of her budget items from memory; Vilms provided her with a spreadsheet template so that she could fill it out and share it with others. In another instance she helped someone weigh the pros and cons of doing their accounting with pen and paper, spreadsheets, or moving to a cloud-based system like QuickBooks.
“Everyone’s needs are a little different. It is rewarding because you know you are helping someone make progress,” said Vilms. “If they didn’t have this opportunity to connect through Small Business Strong many would struggle unnecessarily, and some may even give up.”
Business owners can sign up at Smallbstrong.com to speak with an advisor.
Stories continue to emerge about small businesses coming up with creative and innovative solutions to survive and thrive in these times.