One of the fundamental issues in getting PPP and EIDL support to underserved communities is the need for Accounting Support 101.  Many of these businesses do not have the necessary accounting know how to fill out the forms and paperwork that more advantaged business owners can send over to their accountants with the flip of an email. This crisis made me think about an opt-ed that I penned in the Wall Street Journal back in 2014: Accountants for America.

I thought I would reshare some of the highlights.  With a little luck – a reader of this post will embrace this idea and run with it.  Or if somebody knows about an organization that does this or is a close cousin to it – please share.

The framework is already in place. Teach For America (TFA) is a highly successful nonprofit that enlists recent college grads to teach in low-income communities throughout the U.S. In a similar vein, Accounting For America would pair greenhorn accountants, presumably recent college graduates, with small businesses in desperate need of accounting services.

Similarly to the TFA vision, Accounting For America would benefit both parties involved. The recent accounting grads would gain hands-on experience and valuable work references. Simultaneously, the small businesses would be able to get their bookkeeping in order at a presumably lower rate than hiring a seasoned professional.

Besides providing jobs for recent grads, the proposed program could solve a significant problem that I see in many small businesses – out-of-date financials and sloppy bookkeeping. A small-business owner who isn't current on financials is at a substantial disadvantage. It's impossible to run a successful business without knowing where your money is coming from and where it is going.

Many entrepreneurs fall into this trap because they get so caught up in day-to-day operations. They get entangled in the tiny details and run out of hours in the day to review and update balance sheets, accounts receivable, and even payroll.

Yet, the nonchalance with financials never bodes well for small businesses. Financial records are critical for filing taxes (and avoiding fines and penalties), cash flow, expenses, profitability, and growth.  If Accounting For America can get traction and grow in the shadow of TFA, it could be a game-changer for accountants and small-business owners alike.