PHOTOS BY PHOTO ARTISTRY BY MELINDA
Nearly six months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the women behind Starboard Accounting & Consulting decided to add a room to their office to create a shared flexible workspace where they could bring their kids. This included adding a big couch, an area rug, play items, a table and chair set, and desks to help their staff continue to work when life happens. After all, any working parent knows that children get sick, and school closures occur while Mom and Dad still have a job to do.
“Little did we know what a fortuitous decision that would be,” shared Kerri Stewart, Founder and President of Starboard Accounting & Consulting since 2008. “When quarantine happened in 2020, there were days where there were more kids than there were adults in the office! We thought, ‘How are we going to get all of our work done?’ But our team figured it out without skipping a beat. We even took turns having one of us take all the kids to the playground next door!”
Kerri first launched the business in 2008, when she was 27 years old before starting her family but knew she needed a plan for an eventual maternity leave. “I knew I needed to have team members to help fill in when the time came, and it really made me think about the kind of team and company culture I wanted to establish. So often, women feel like they have to choose between family and career, and it’s simply untrue.”
The Starboard Accounting & Consulting team is made up of eleven employees total, almost all with children of their own running from the youngest at two months old to the oldest in their twenties. As a matter of fact, in the last year alone, there was quite a baby boom in the office!
Kerri welcomed her third baby in September, Accounting Manager Amy Keegan had her second baby in March, and Payroll Manager Kris Reynolds had her second baby in July – that’s three separate maternity leaves all in less than one year! While some businesses may have been ill-equipped to handle the logistics of this, the Starboard team had processes in place to make sure their clients had everything they needed and that they could still provide a superior client experience and results.
“When I hired fellow mothers, it was because I know that women are talented and capable and need some flexibility in their life. We’ve all gradually phased back into the office while our team supports one another’s workloads, clients, and family needs,” Kerri shared.
Prioritizing their passion for family values and work-life balance is what creates some of the best client relationships they could ask for. “Providing flexibility and allowing our staff to show up powerfully at work so they can take things off our clients’ plates and show up powerfully for their own family is everything! Our multifaceted team overlaps in services with everyone doing bookkeeping and two active payroll members, so there’s always someone who can jump in and serve clients at any time.”
Their goal is to be personable, flexible, and empowering to their clients. From QuickBooks consulting to setting up bookkeeping and payroll services, the Starboard Accounting team does all of the leg work, getting clients confidently ready when it comes time to file end-of-year taxes.
“We’re not a bunch of old men in suits!” Kerri laughed. “ This isn’t your grandpa’s accounting company and clients recognize that immediately. People are comfortable asking us the tough questions, letting us break down what a CPA firm may be asking for into daily “speak” and taking the mystery out of bookkeeping, payroll, and overall accounting.
“We are really flexible with how much or how little we do for our clients, so we can literally take the pieces that are causing the most frustration or confusion off your plate, but you keep the things that fall in your zone of genius.”
Kerri and her team see how many business owners come in with full plates and families of their own and truly feel honored being able to help provide services and encouragement to give them time back. When her own team leaves for the day knowing they are making an impact both in the office and at home, it’s incredibly rewarding. “You can have both. You can pick your kids up from school every day and go above and beyond for clients and get the work done. It just takes a little creativity some days, and I’m proud to say we’re very good at it.”