After 4 Bookkeepers, One Consulting Agency Had Enough—Here’s Why They Went with Pilot

With Benjamin Beck, Marketing Expert and Entrepreneur

Meet Benjamin Beck, Marketing Expert and Entrepreneur

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Benjamin Beck runs his content marketing agency from an RV.

After spending years as a marketing growth leader in-house and at agencies, Ben decided to get behind the driver’s seat and start his own business. At the same time, he and his fiance (now wife) realized that they wanted to see the country before starting a family.

So, Ben took his “show on the road” and joined the van life movement.

He now runs a thriving marketing business from the comfort of his own four wheels that he shares with his wife. As Ben explains, “I love the ability to be remote, travel, and support my clients at the same time. It’s amazing.”

Meet Ben’s agency, Online Stampede

Ben’s been building his agency – Online Stampede – since 2010. As an SEO and content marketing expert, he helps startups and high-growth businesses drive website traffic and revenue to accelerate their growth.

According to Ben, Online Stampede’s sweet spot is “helping startups grow into their Series B. Many companies have run paid channels to the point they are no longer profitable and need to fill their pipeline with new leads through SEO and content.”

Online Stampede is a lean and successful operation. While Ben is the only full-time employee, he works with dozens of expert contractors to tackle big projects. Online Stampede is also global—many of Ben’s clients and contractors are located internationally.

Yet, while Ben’s business was hitting full-throttle, there was one roadblock: The company’s bookkeepers.

Why Ben churned through several bookkeepers: “They were so bad.”

“I went through at least three bookkeepers,” shares Ben. Many of them couldn’t handle an international fleet of clients and contractors. And, they were expensive and sent inconsistent bills each month:

“It was a total pain. The worse of a job they did, the more hours they spent, and the more I had to pay them. I’d often have a bookkeeper that would say ‘yes’ to everything, but then spend hours with QuickBooks support and bill me hundreds of additional dollars for their time.”

Not only were his bookkeepers monthly bills unpredictable, Ben’s previous bookkeepers also took up a ton of his time. “I used to spend so many hours with other bookkeepers–I felt like part of my job was to micromanage them.”

Beyond local bookkeepers, Ben also tried his luck with the online service, Bench. However, he wasn’t impressed. The first barrier was that they required him to migrate to their own proprietary software, instead of QuickBooks. “It made me feel stuck with them. If I decided to switch services, I’d have to pay someone to migrate the books and start all over.”

After several swings and misses, Ben found Pilot. A few things stood out to him:

  • Affordable, reliable pricing: Pilot’s monthly prices are affordable and fixed, so he knew exactly what he was getting.
  • QuickBooks, not proprietary software: He also appreciated that Pilot uses the industry standard to manage his books.
  • Custom reporting: According to Ben, his previous bookkeepers delivered “standard statements, but not the custom ones that I’d ask for.” Pilot has the capability to build reports that are most relevant for his consulting business.
  • Personal service: Beyond the numbers, Ben loved that he’d get a personal financial advisor too. As he explains:
Pilot is more hands on, takes more time to understand my business, and is able to help me more than any other bookkeeper I’ve used.

Custom books built for Ben’s consulting business

Today, Ben runs marketing at Online Stampede with timely, accurate books from Pilot. And beyond the reports, Ben feels confident with their expert support: “Pilot is a partner,” he says. “They take on every challenge as an opportunity to be better.”

More specifically, Ben relies on Pilot in the following ways:

Reports built for his consulting business
Tracking the “hidden costs,” like paid benefits, within a professional services business can be challenging. According to Ben, it’s important to account for that in his monthly statements to ensure he plans his projects intentionally.

As he shares, “My business pays out health insurance and retirement, but those types of things don’t show up in a typical balance sheet. Pilot created a custom report to help me more accurately track my P&L and understand my business’s overall health.

Expert service with predictable pricing
Ben loves how service—and dependable pricing—go hand-in-hand. “The customer support has been awesome,” shares Ben. “Pilot’s a team of go-getters. Going from a bookkeeper who I basically micromanaged to Pilot is night-and-day. They know their stuff, and they don’t charge extra if they need to figure something out.”

The ability to handle complexity
The fact that Online Stampede has an international team of contractors certainly makes their books a little more complicated. They operate in 10 different countries and currencies. Pilot was able to handle that with ease and build a custom solution for Ben’s needs.

Books that work like clockwork:
“Seamless is the feature I like most of all,” jokes Ben. He continues:

I love that the books arrive every month with very little updates or time needed from me. I don’t have to worry or think about them.

With timely statements, Ben always has an accurate pulse on his business. “I still have full control and visibility. But Pilot helps do the difficult things and hand them back to me.” With the right bookkeeping partner in place, Ben is poised to make better business decisions and focus on helping Online Stampede’s clients grow and succeed…

Pilot’s impact: More time in Ben’s day and money in his wallet

Ben loves many aspects of Pilot’s service. For one, it has relieved him from the duties of being a micromanager: “I used to spend over five hours a month due to back-and-forth with my bookkeeper. Now, it’s less than an hour,” he shares.

Plus, Pilot takes accuracy to a whole new level by flagging costly discrepancies. “There are at least two times Pilot has fixed glitches that QuickBooks had made,” Ben shares. He continues:

For example, QuickBooks randomly sent a check instead of making a direct deposit. It can be glitchy like that. But, Pilot flagged that there was a missing payment—which helped me track and fulfill it.

Pilot has also caught potential tax liabilities, which can be costly and bring on compliance risk. When the 2016 tax reform came out, QuickBooks overrode the tax allowances Ben had manually added himself. Within a few months, Pilot identified that Online Stampede hadn’t paid nearly enough in taxes. So Ben had to increase his tax obligation—a critical adjustment that could have been a big shock during tax season, and could have also invited an audit.

“I’d have a huge tax balloon if it weren’t for Pilot. I’m so grateful they’re keeping a close eye on everything.”

Beyond Pilot’s diligence and accuracy, Ben appreciates that he can lean on Pilot for advice when it comes to the business and finance side of Online Stampede. “With their reports, I can actually visualize how money flows into my business,” he explains.

Pilot educates you and helps you understand what’s going on financially in your business. They help small businesses grow faster and better. I honestly don’t know who else I’d ask for many of the finance questions I have.

Pilot is “effortless”

When asked to summarize the value Pilot provides, Ben had just one word: “effortless.”

I don’t have to think about my books anymore, which is so nice. “When I go through the providers we use for our business, I never think twice about the value Pilot provides. Every month I’m impressed by Pilot’s consistency and impact.

Founded in 2010, Online Stampede provides content marketing and SEO expertise to startups. The agency helps startups and high-growth businesses drive website traffic and revenue to accelerate their growth.

Life before Pilot
  • Churned through four bookkeepers
  • Bookkeeping costs were expensive and unpredictable
  • Spent over 5 hours a month managing bookkeepers
  • Needed custom reports for professional services model
Life with Pilot
  • Loves fixed monthly cost that’s affordable and reliable
  • Gets expert advice from personal financial advisors
  • Founder now saves over four hours a month on bookkeeping
  • Saves money thanks to issues Pilot flagged in their books

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