Profiles of Excellence - Rapp It Up
Chamber of Commerce Article

When Shannon Rapp first created her own accounting firm, her focus was international. With years of personal experience setting up overseas divisions for U.S. companies, she knew exactly how hard it was to do things right in a foreign culture, so she specialized in helping European companies open offices in the Bay Area and set up their accounting and office infrastructures.

Then she realized it was just as hard for Americans. Within a year, she had expanded her practice to help her U.S.-based neighbors as well, and she found a real demand: One client's accounting was so hard to reconcile that its auditing firm was charging $25,000 for its annual audits. Plus, the company was burning through money at what seemed like an extraordinary rate. Rapp quickly uncovered a payroll employee who was quietly siphoning funds and, in just three months, she was able to eliminate fictitious employees, reconcile the company's financial statements, and cut its audit bill by $10,000.

What Rapp has learned in her 13 years of examining balance sheets is that when a company ignores accounting problems, there's usually a reason. With startups, they're often just too busy or they don't have the right financial experience on board. More mature companies have often outgrown their old accounting practices and no one has reexamined them. Sometimes it's ignorance. Sometimes it's fraud. But there's always something that needs to be taken care of.

Yet Rapp also realized that by the time most companies came to her, they had already wasted tremendous amounts of time and money. So she decided to add another angle: Helping young companies start out on the right foot. Offering "Accounting Essentials" workshops for CEOs and entrepreneurs, as well as full consulting services for international companies, Rapp It Up Solutions has a mission of making sure companies set up their books right from the start.

Nowadays, her clients look to her for far more than just bookkeeping. Known by her clients variously as the Accounting Janitor, Onsite CFO and "the cookie lady" for the homemade cookies that she often brings with her, Rapp has become a trusted counsel for her clients on a range of financial issues.

Rapp and her team of four offer an array of services that are specially tailored to individual clients, who range from beauty schools to international engineering companies. For some, that might entail a quarterly or monthly review to make sure their accounts are still on track. Others hire Rapp It Up Solutions to handle the bookkeeping, payroll, audit preparations and any other accounting needs they may have, including hiring skilled accounting professionals. Rapp It Up also conducts beta tests on new accounting software, which helps their clients get the latest accounting software at far lower prices.

It doesn't end there. Since she's working on the books for 40 different companies in San Francisco at a given time, Rapp also knows what they pay for services or products. So when the decision arises to hire consultants, lease computers or buy supplies, the CEOs come to Rapp to find out how much they should really be paying. It's market research on a personal level. And that personal level is the core of Rapp It Up's business.

"Every company I go into I get personally attached," Rapp says. "I feel like it's my money and my company."

In our current business climate, that level of personal accountability has never been more important.

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