- Photos by Charles Bruce III
Bloom Bookkeeping celebrates five years.
Lara Pieper is proof that a professional setback can be turned into a huge opportunity — if you’re not daunted by the fact that the professional journey rarely is a straight line. Resourceful, creative, and determined, the 39-year-old Leawood, Kansas, native and single mom of three boys opened Bloom Bookkeeping in 2016 after losing her job as controller for Socket Telecom.
“In the blink of an eye, everything I thought was secure was gone,” Lara says. “But I wasn’t going to let [Socket] — or anyone else in the future — have that much control over my life.”
Sowing a Career
Lara came to Columbia in 2000 as so many do: to attend school. She went to MU, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in environmental science. She thought she’d be heading for the corporate world upon graduation, but life planted a seed in another field for her.
“One of my first jobs after college was office manager at The MacXperts Network [an Apple dealership in the Village of Cherry Hill that is now closed],” Lara recalls. “I was only there a couple of months when the owner decided to run for Congress, at which time I was moved into the chief operating officer position. I was doing managerial, day-to-day bookkeeping and it was something I really enjoyed. I was in that position for nearly 10 years.”
With nearly a decade of business accounting experience under her belt, Lara went to Socket, first as assistant controller and then as controller. With the fruits of her bookkeeping career prospering, Lara pursued and finished her MBA with an emphasis in accounting at Columbia College in 2016. Within months of graduating, though, Lara lost her job at Socket.
Propelled into Major Success
At the time, Lara’s three sons were 3, 5, and 6. The single mother needed to generate some income, so she decided to open her own bookkeeping business, thinking it would just be a side project until she found something more permanent.
“But within three weeks, I had enough clients that I realized I could live off it full time.”
That was just the beginning. Bloom almost doubled its gross revenue for the first four years. Bloom’s monthly bookkeeping services, which include accounts payable and receivable and banking and credit card reconciliation, are its most sought-after service. Bloom also offers financial organization to help businesses catch up on bookkeeping, fix errors, and keep things on track. Clients receive quarterly or yearly reviews to ensure accuracy. Finally, Bloom offers “QuickBooks 101,” a service particularly helpful to new business owners who want to get their accounting off to a good start. Training clients how to use QuickBooks Online is a part of this service. Bloom’s services are customizable and available á la carte to meet the unique needs of clients, which include a wide array of businesses such as Concannon Plastic Surgery, Sager Reeves Gallery, and Cracked Up Mobile.
“One of the things I love [about bookkeeping] is working in so many different industries. I get to dabble in insurance, construction, and restaurants,” Lara says.
Now celebrating her fifth year in business for herself, Lara works with 60 to 70 recurring monthly clients, but she also works with many on a quarterly or yearly basis depending on their needs. During the worst parts of the pandemic, when small businesses were really struggling to keep their doors open, Lara found ways to help out; despite COVID-19, Bloom had a pretty normal business year.
“I looked at it as how my clients were struggling, not how I was struggling,” Lara says. “I did bookkeeping for free or at a reduced rate for a few restaurants for a few months.” Lara tries to be a customer of her clients, as well.
Reaping the Rewards
With Bloom’s success, Lara has enjoyed some well-deserved accolades and milestones. In 2019, Lara was named to COMO Magazine’s 20 Under 40 Class at age 36, and she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Missouri Women’s Business Center. In 2020, she opened her first office location on E. Walnut St. after working out of the co-working space, The Hatchery, and from home.
Being her own boss also has given Lara more time with her sons, saying it has allowed her “to be the mom I always thought I’d be.”
To celebrate its fifth anniversary, Bloom held an open house and ribbon cutting on October 13. It was catered by one of Lara’s clients, Wishflour Bakery.
Looking to the future, Lara says she plans to keep Bloom prospering by “continuing to grow and hire more employees [Bloom currently has one part-time employee], and to serve more Mid-Missouri businesses. It’s opened my eyes to how many people need bookkeeping. What comes easy to me is hard for them. For so many, it’s a weight. What sets us apart is that we partner with our clients and celebrate their successes.”
“My services are being sought after because no one in Columbia offers what I can,” Lara explained in her 20 Under 40 interview. “This is more than a bookkeeping service. I am a CFO for hire who is here to help business owners be the most successful they can be.”
And that’s why it’s likely that Bloom will continue to flourish and celebrate many more anniversaries to come.
1103 E. Walnut St., Ste. 104