10 Questions: Napa bookkeeper finds the right balance with small business | Business


“I love working with my clients,” said Kari Estes, bookkeeper and owner of Balanced Books Napa Valley.

“I seriously have the best set of people I have been lucky enough to work with so far.”

Being able to help her clients understand their financial activities “and work with them to devise financial strategies to grow their business is very rewarding.”

“I have clients that have told me how much relief they feel having the burden of their books taken off their shoulders, allowing them to focus on the aspects of their business that they love again,” she said.

Estes has worked in the accounting industry for about 20 years. She started Balanced Books Napa Valley as a full-time business this year.

1. What was your childhood ambition?

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When I was in elementary school, I would have given anything to train the dolphins at Marine World.

2. What is the biggest misconception you get about bookkeeping?

A lot of people think the sole reason to keep your accounting records in order is to file your taxes. Luckily, you can get so much more out of your financial data than just paying your taxes. Having properly kept books allows you to analyze your business, devise strategies on your cash flow and eliminate inefficient financial activity. In many ways, bookkeeping can both save you money and make you money.

3. What’s the most common question you get about bookkeeping?

I haven’t been asked too much about the actual bookkeeping profession — I typically get more questions concerning people’s specific personal or business issues with their own finances. To that, I let them know that I am happy to review their books and help them find a solution.

4. What was your first job?

My first job was as a barista at a coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings, which was located in the River Park Shopping Center in Napa.

5. How did you get into bookkeeping?

I couldn’t decide what to major in during college, so I took a variety of classes. When I took my first accounting class, it came to me easily — the content made so much sense and I have always loved working with numbers. I decided to major in accounting and was lucky enough to intern at a local tax accounting firm. Over the years, I have had many friends and family ask me to keep their financial records organized for them. I enjoy the work, so I decided to grow my side job into a full-time business, so I can help other small businesses meet their full potential.

6. What is the biggest challenge your business or industry has faced?

Helping people to understand the immense value of proper bookkeeping. Accurate accounting records are vital to a company’s sustainability because they allow for efficient management of cash flow and wise financial planning. It’s not just recording the past, it allows businesses to analyze their finances to predict and plan for the future.

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7. If you could change one thing about your business or industry, what would it be?

I strongly believe there should be licensing requirements for bookkeepers. It would allow businesses to know their bookkeeping professional has the knowledge and skill needed to properly handle their financial information.

8. What’s on your to-do list?

I am currently taking courses to learn more about working with nonprofit businesses. I would love to help local nonprofit organizations grow, so they can optimize their funding and budgets to better support their causes.

9. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

In my life, I hope to accomplish as much balance as possible. The right balance of being humble yet confident, finding the optimal balance between work and family life, helping others while remembering to support myself, and above all achieving a mental balance with a state of consciousness free of negative emotions.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

Estes can be reached at 707-287-2282, [email protected]


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