EP158: Dr. Mark Burhenne - How To Improve Your Sleeping Habits

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You could have sleep apnea and not know it!

There are millions of people who are suffering from it yet most people who have it never get diagnosed.

Dr. Mark Burhenne is a practicing sleep medicine dentist and author of the book, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox.

He is a TEDx speaker and his advice regularly appears on media outlets like CNN, CBS, The Washington Post, and Men’s Health.

He helps people realize the connection between oral and overall health. He also spends a lot of time teaching patients and readers about the importance of healthy sleep.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • What is sleep apnea

  • The connection between oral health and systemic health

  • Insight about mouth breathing versus nose breathing

To find out more about Dr. Burhenne, you can visit his website.

For his Twitter, click this link.

To check out the book, Heal Your Oral Microbiome: Balance and Repair your Mouth Microbes to Improve Gut Health, Reduce Inflammation and Fight Disease, go here.

EP158: Dr. Mark Burhenne - How To Improve Your Sleeping Habits

EP157: Alexandra Levit - How To Manage Your Millennial Staff Members

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This is a generation of people that were born approximately between 1980-1995 and they are a big part of today’s workforce.

Our guest prepares organizations and their employees, who are mostly millennials, to be competitive and marketable in the future business world.

Alexandra Levit is an American writer, consultant, speaker, and a workplace expert who has appeared on major TV networks like CNN and has written for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The New York Times.

She has written six career advice books including her bestseller, Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Insight about old millennials versus young millennials

  • The importance of high-tech & high-touch technology

  • The impact of incentives to employees

To explore her website, go here.

To buy her books, click this link..

To visit the Career Advisory Board website, check this out.

To listen to the Workforce 2030 podcast, go here.

EP156: Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan - The Importance of Peer Groups For Your Success

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How do you make the right connections?

Our returning guest, Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan, who is the President and founder of Graham Consulting & Training Inc., was hesitant, scared, and intimidated to join Business Network International (BNI) at first.

After a long journey, she conquered her worries and fears, jumped right in, and as a result, she got a referral on her very first day of joining.

Nancy’s BNI group works hard to help and support her in her business and life.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of conquering your fears

  • How a positive outlook can help you

  • Why it is important to have a support group

To learn more about her website, visit here.

To learn more about BNI, click this link.

To get in touch with Nancy, email her at info@bookkeepingforlawyers.ca.

EP155: Jeremy Miller - Why Your Business Name Is Important

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According to our guest, it is the ability to describe who you are, what you do and who you serve in ten words or less.

This is the key to successful marketing in your bookkeeping business.

Jeremy Miller is a brand strategist, author of the new book, Brand New Name and best-selling writer of Sticky Branding.

His blend of humour, stories, and actionable ideas will inspire you to innovate, grow your business and brand.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The 3-stage naming process

  • How to overcome a naming drought

  • Why naming is important and the common mistakes people make in naming their business

To learn more about Jeremy, here’s his website.

To read more about his new book, Brand New Name, go here.

To buy his book, Sticky Branding, click here.

EP154: Teresa Slack and Kellie Parks - The Benefits of Bookkeeping Conferences

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Bookkeeping conferences.

Why do you need to attend them? Will they help you? Are they worth it?

Those are a few questions some bookkeepers might ask themselves and today they will be answered by our returning guests, Teresa Slack and Kellie Parks.

They are two talented and inspiring bookkeeping business owners who’ve attended their share of conferences including the upcoming Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC) Ignite event.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of attending conferences

  • The advantages of learning new information in person at a conference rather than online

  • A list of conferences for bookkeepers

For those of you, whether you’re Canadian or American, who’d like to attend the IPBC conference, visit ipbcignite.com for more information.

For more bookkeeping and accounting conferences, check out this link.

EP153: Jessica Fox - Why It’s Important To Empower Your Clients

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Be a guide.

That’s exactly what our guest Jessica Fox has been for entrepreneurs.

She’s a bookkeeping business owner who realized there are many entrepreneurs that wanted to learn about managing their business finances but didn’t know where to start.

And that's where she found her niche.

She is an advanced certified Quickbooks Online ProAdvisor and Xero certified advisor who is passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed and is the author of the book, Bookkeeping Basics for Entrepreneurs.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Why focusing on having outstanding service is vital to your business

  • The importance of getting reviews from your clients

  • Why you should have an effective time management app

To learn more about Jessica, here’s her website.

To buy her book, Bookkeeping Basics for Entrepreneurs: Taking the Mystery Out of Your Company's Financials, click here.

To check out the task tracking app, GQueues, visit this link.

EP152: Jesse Wood - Why Automation Is Crucial To Your Business

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Are you efficient with your time?

If you’re not, your bookkeeping business could be suffering.

This is where automation can help.

Today’s guest knows all about that.

Jesse Wood is the CEO of eFileCabinet. It is software used by businesses that want to automate their processes, save time, save money, be compliant, and make all of their documents instantly and securely accessible from anywhere.

Wood has over 20 years of leadership experience innovating custom technical solutions for a wide range of business applications.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The advantages of automation

  • The significance of listening to your customers

  • The importance of flexibility, accessibility, and role-based security

To connect with Jesse on LinkedIn, visit here.

To find out more about eFileCabinet, check this out.

EP151: Dianna Thorne - Business Success Tips From An Accountant

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Quality and efficiency.

According to our guest today, those are the keys to having a successful accounting business.

Dianna Thorne, who is the President of Targeted Accounting, has 15 years of accounting, financial and business management experience in the public sector and in the service, retail, investment, insurance and various other industries.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The advantages of using the cloud

  • Double work and challenges when working remotely

  • Different apps for accounting services

To connect with Dianna, email her at dianna@targetedaccounting.com.

To checkout her LinkedIn, go here.

To learn more about Targeted Accounting, here’s the company website.

EP150: Amanda Quinn - How To Get Fit Even If You Have A Busy Life

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6-pack abs.

To some, you’re considered healthy if you have them.

According to our guest, that's the common misconception of being fit and healthy.

Amanda Quinn is the co-founder of FIT CHICKS, the largest women's only fitness company in Canada.

From the award-winning bootcamp, online transformation challenges, weekend health retreats, FIT CHICKS has helped over 7,500 Canadian women get fit and fierce.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of moving your body and using it as a tool

  • The significance of proper form and technique

  • The risk of sitting in your desk in front of the computer and working long hours

To learn more about Amanda and FIT CHICKS, visit their website here.

For their Facebook, click here.

To checkout their Instagram, go here.

EP149: Benoit Mercier - Effective Design Principles For A Successful Website

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Online presence.

Effective digital marketing.

According to our guest today, those are the key ingredients for business success.

Benoit Mercier is a web consultant for the web design and development company, Bloomtools.

He helps small and medium-sized businesses grow their revenues by providing powerful websites, internet marketing tools and strategies that deliver results.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The 5 Ps of website design

  • The value of a website and what can it do for your business

  • Different tools to use for a successful website design

To connect with Benoit, email him at benoit.mercier@bloomtools.ca.

For his LinkedIn, click here.

To visit Bloomtools, go here.

EP148: Frances Ferguson - How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health

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Mental health.

Many entrepreneurs don’t pay much attention to it because they’re too busy trying to succeed, but if not taken care of, it can be a big problem.

As humans, we sometimes struggle with personal issues that get in the way of our happiness.

When that time arrives, do you know what to do?

Today’s guest will provide some great tips to help you.

Frances Ferguson is a registered clinical counsellor from Campbell River, British Columbia who has 20 years of experience working with men and women of all ages, couples, children, and teens.

During this interview, you'll discover..

  • The importance of saying no and setting limits on how much time to work

  • The benefits of working smart

  • How to bring balance to ourselves

To learn more about Frances, visit here.

For her Facebook page, click this link.

To visit her website, go here.

EP147: Cora Lee Dunbar - Startup Tips For Your Bookkeeping Business

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Starting a business isn’t easy.

But, there are things you can do to make it less challenging and more profitable.

Our guest, Cora Lee Dunbar, knows about this.

She is a consultant and coach who has 24 years of professional business experience which includes starting a business and selling one herself.

Building your business the right way with solid foundations, systems and processes can help you speed up your success.

It's going to take a lot of time, energy and you will encounter some hiccups, but the hard work will likely payoff in the end.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of shared leadership

  • The benefits of having strategic planners

  • Tips on how to attract clients

To learn more about PEI Connectors, visit here.

For the PEI Connectors’ Facebook page, go here.

To follow PEI Connectors on Twitter, click this link.

For Cora Lee’s LinkedIn page, discover here.

EP146: Meredith Bodgas - A Work-Life Balance Guide For Moms

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It’s never easy.

Juggling the responsibilities associated with running your bookkeeping business and having a happy family life can be a grind.

Our guest, Meredith Bodgas, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother, understands what moms go through.

Working Mother is a mentor, role model and advocate for the country’s more than 17 million moms who are devoted to their families and committed to their careers. Through its website, magazine, research, social networks and powerful events, Working Mother provides its educated and affluent readers with the community, solutions and strategies they need to thrive.

Luckily, she works with a great team who understands time constraints and figured out ways to be as efficient as possible.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of having a support system

  • The benefits of having a shared space

  • Why having a day-to-day checklist is key

To learn more about Working Mother, visit here.

To subscribe to Working Mother Magazine, click here.

For Meredith’s LinkedIn page, go here.

For her Twitter, explore here.

EP145: Julie Daniluk - Healthy Habits For Your Long-Term Success

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Health is wealth.

Our guest, Julie Daniluk, who is a registered holistic nutritionist, best-selling author, and media personality,
is a big believer in that saying.

You see, it's easy to neglect yourself with all the duties and responsibilities that need to be done when building a business, but having a healthy routine and being willing to cutback a few foods can really change your life.

Julie helps thousands of people enjoy allergy free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of taking care of yourself

  • The 7 foods that cause inflammation

  • The benefits of having a healthy routine

To learn more about Julie’s programs, visit here.

To join her Hot Detox Masterclass, click here.

For her Facebook, go here.

For her Twitter, discover here.

For her Instagram, explore here.

EP144: Mike McDerment - Business Tips From FreshBooks' Co-Founder

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Have you ever reached a breaking point?

Today's guest sure did.

It happened when he accidentally saved over an important client invoice then he “just kinda snapped.”

That's when he realized when there's an invoice you need FreshBooks.

Mike McDerment is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks which is the #1 invoicing and accounting software in the cloud designed exclusively for self-employed professionals and their teams. Built in 2003, he spent 3 and a half years growing the company from his parents’ basement.

Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing and collect billions of dollars.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to de-risk major concerns

  • How to price your services

  • How to embrace Impostor Syndrome

To learn more about Mike, click here.

To connect with him on LinkedIn, check this out.

To get his ebook, Breaking the Time Barrier: How to Unlock Your True Earning Potential, go here.

To further explore FreshBooks, visit this link.

Episode Transcription

Mike McDerment: 00:00 What we decided to do to solve all these problems. And so we could actually measure is the new platform better than the other? We decided to create a secret company, a, we call it bill spring, and that is where we built the new freshbooks. And we built it up over about 18 months and we actually competed with freshbooks and everybody else in the market for customers. And then one day somebody called us up and they called the freshbooks and I said, hey, I'd like to cancel my account. And they said, great, I've just helped you with that. Do you mind telling us why? And I said, well, I'm, I'm moving to bill stuff. And that was a time when we knew we were, we were really onto something.

New Speaker: 00:45 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 00:47 you're listening to the successful bookkeeper with your host, Michael Palmer. Listen, each week as inspiring guests share their secrets of success to help you increase your confidence, work smarter and build a business you love. Yeah.

New Speaker: 01:02 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 01:03 this episode of the successful bookkeeper is brought to you by pure bookkeeping.com the proven system to grow your bookkeeping business.

New Speaker: 01:17 [inaudible].

Michael Palmer: 01:18 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer and today's show is going to be a fantastic one. Our guest is the co founder and CEO of freshbooks, the world's number one cloud accounting software for self employed professionals built in 2003 he, after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing fresh books from his parents' basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used freshbooks to save time, billing and collect billions of dollars. Mike McDermott, welcome to the show. Michael. Thank you for having me. Great to be here. That's great to have you on. What an interesting story you have in leading up to where you are today leading this company. And for those of you that, uh, the listeners that maybe don't know you, have love to hear a bit of your career path leading up to now.

Mike McDerment: 02:13 Yeah. Uh, happy to, happy to oblige. So my story goes something like this. I was studying, uh, business, uh, at the university when I'm in fourth year. I left the program and I started two businesses. One of them was an events business, uh, that I had to, well, I, I chose to start building websites to market it and I taught myself how to build those. And uh, then the caterer for that event needed a website. And so then I had a customer and, and you know, I ended up building a small design firm that specialized in internet marketing. So we would help small business owners get a web presence but not just a web presence, one that would bring them new customers. And so we had lost a customers in real estate and uh, in travel because those were industries that really understood customer acquisition were early to doing things online.

Mike McDerment: 03:05 Fast forward a little bit and I was preparing an invoice for a client one day and I was using word and excel to do that despite having studied accounting and business. Cool. And a, I saved over that invoice and said, there's got to be a better way to do it. I did not want to use the accounting software available on the market. And I think this is an important point, maybe hard for accounts or bookkeepers to understand, but with the exception of freshbooks opinion mind, all accounting software is built for accountants. You know, the majority market are owners or there are many more owners out there than there are bookkeepers and accountants and those owners don't have the same understanding of debits and credits and you know, p and l balance sheets. And so what we did very successfully at freshbooks was built it for myself, but built it with the owner mindset in mind.

Mike McDerment: 03:57 So the product was incredibly easy to use and self-explanatory, uh, and it would enable and empower somebody who is getting, going to just get going and not have to take on the burden of learning a discipline of accounting that you go to school for years and years to learn about that whole knowledge, that domain knowledge, you know, wasn't and isn't nearly as important as accurately capturing your transactions. We focused on invoices and expenses, right? And, and time entries and some others because that was the CSUs. It's proved us very well. Uh, may not be aware, and I suspect none of your readers are, we're number two in America for small business accounting software by, uh, by revenue. So we've actually built a business of considerable scale only into, it has more revenue than us. And you know, we should probably be more proud and trumpet that fact a little more than we have, but that, that's a big deal on my book.

Mike McDerment: 04:46 So we've had great success with our approach. We have a growing number of bookkeepers and accountants that recommend us and you know, we purport to be ridiculously to you, easy to use invoicing and accounting software that does, uh, you know, available on mobile and in the cloud. And I like to say if you invoice, you need freshbooks. And what that's trying to say a in so many words is that we built our platform for owners, but not even all owners. We built it for folks who are not restaurants or not retail and our, you know, primarily, you know, sort of service or invoice based in, in some way. Uh, they have billing processes that they need help with. And, uh, we, you know, that's the prime in our offering. Hey, we're going to help you with your client billing, uh, and we'll give you some accounting in the back as opposed to starting out with accounting, which owners don't really understand.

Mike McDerment: 05:38 And then saying, hey, you have, you know, these other modules you need and considerations that you have. So that's all that maybe this would be a little long winded for this audience as well as if you haven't checked us out in a while. Uh, late in 2018 so just a couple of months ago while we had rebuilt our software, but we, we released a series of, you know, double ledger accounting capabilities that we didn't have before WIC. We got to number two in America without a GL, without a balance sheet. Would that have a chart of accounts in Q four of last year? We made those available and we're continuing to build them out so people are able to scale longer with us. I think people thought previously. Yeah. Hey freshbooks, you know, the typical customers, you know, like very small and has no employees. First of all, that's not true. And second of all, it will be increasingly less true now that we can help people scale their back office. Wow,

Michael Palmer: 06:28 that's exciting. And I'm sure many, you're probably very, very accurate and not many of our listener would know that. And what have you seen since releasing that?

Mike McDerment: 06:39 Well, it's just that we've had a lot of owners who are pleased to be able to stay with us because, I mean, I'll tell you this as well and I'll tell it with humility. And by the way, I think people are familiar with things, but there's an interesting dynamic with some of our customers and where we're, they'll often want to desperately want to stay with freshbooks and they'll have, you know, accounting or somebody else who, who wants them to move to another two they're more familiar with or something like this. And so this is how the owners were like, great, now I can stay because, you know, they said I needed, you know, this thing that you now have. Right. Um, and so that is a, that's great. And most professionals, hey, you know, the jails there. And I could use it. I'm happy to work with or the client has, but we just, we didn't even offer it before. So, uh, I think, uh, you know, I've been a lot of, uh, success, uh, since, since then we'll look forward to more. That's awesome.

Speaker 5: 07:36 [inaudible]

Michael Palmer: 07:36 that's exciting. And you know, it's for the small business providing something that's working for them. Obviously if you're the number two by revenue and the United States, that's a big deal. Means you've built a really great product that's supporting and helping your customers grow. And so our audience cheers that I'm sure. But then there would be that, you know, their job is to do the accounting in a certain way according to the rules and procedures and all that good stuff. So if the tools aren't adequate for what they need, then there's going to be friction. And, and by all means, you, you'd never want to send somebody down a road of increased complexity. You'd want to keep them keeping it simple so that they can focus on growing their business. Right. Which is what you do. So now you've got both ends. And I'm excited that our audience now gets to hear that. And you may change is because accountants and bookkeepers were likely saying, hey, we need these. We need a general ledger. We need some additional functionality here where you need to switch to a different platform. So you've gone and made those changes. If our listeners were, were those people who made those recommendations in the past and now that it's like, how do they go and learn about the changes you've made and how they can start helping their customers using fresh books with this new technology that you've introduced?

Mike McDerment: 08:58 No, it's a great question. So first of all, you can always drop by our website. I think the other thing that you get if you're recommending freshbooks to your clients is, you know, an incredible, and I know sometimes people want their clients to come to them, but we offer a lot of customer service as well. And so, uh, the upside of that is, is you can call on it as well. Uh, so I would say, hey, you know, please, please visit our site. There are materials there. Uh, you know, feel free to give us a call. We can walk you through some things. We're continuing to build out the capabilities so we don't see it as a job that's done. It's a job that you know, continues, you know, and I think you know, through, through those things, those are probably the, the, the best paths. You could also shoot me a note@mikeatfreshbooks.com and I'll get you connected with somebody internally if that's interesting to you. Yeah. Great.

Michael Palmer: 09:43 Well, this podcast and our, our company pure bookkeeping, we're software agnostic in that we don't say one software is better than the other. We say what's the best for the application you need and let's help people use the technology that's going to best serve their clients, which is the small business owner. And so that's why I'm excited. I'm was excited to have you on the show because I know a lot of small business owners use your product. I used to use your product and, and also you've made a whole bunch of, uh, also you've got a whole bunch of other things that have happened in the history of fresh books and not that that long ago that I'd love to have you share that story. I think it's an interesting business story. This whole concept of bill spring building a competitor compete with you so that you could actually take your company to a whole different level of world-class.

Mike McDerment: 10:38 Hi. Thank you. I guess that's the, the punchline. So yeah, let me, let me tell the story and let people know what we did and why. I think that makes it more, more sensical. And so we started the business, you know, sort over 15 years ago and it's my opinion that in technology, if you get 10 years out of a platform, you're doing, you're doing pretty well. In our case, we got to about the 10 year mark and, and we had some, some challenges. And when we looked into the future, when I looked in the future, I said, hey, we may have challenges that we can, we can rework the software in parts that are not visible to customers. But we felt quite stuck from the customer facing side. And you know, our customers loved it. It was very simple. We got a lot of points for that.

Mike McDerment: 11:20 So all of that was good. But as I looked in the future and you know, when we started out, smartphones didn't exist. I think user experience and what customers have come to expect, the simplicity, the ease of use, it's, it's changed a lot. And when we looked in the future, I said to myself, you know, do I really think we're going to have the market leading product in our current set of design constraints? And the answer was no. And because of the way our software is architected, that meant changing, you know, a variety of things. And so we ended up our, our software, once we decided to do that. So, hey, we're going to build this new thing. We're going to build it because we're long term greedy and it's going to be painful in the near term, but it's going to be beneficial in the long runs.

Mike McDerment: 12:04 The question became, well, how do we, how do we build a new version of our product and de-risks a major, major concerns, often writing software. If you've had a great success with your first offering, odds are if you try and recreate that success, your customers will deem it a failure for a variety of reasons. It's like, I like the analogy of a band. People understand this as a band you put on the first album and you love it, right? And then the second album comes out and they call it the sophomore jinx. It's terrible. And you're like ashamed of yourself for liking the band in the first place. Cause the second album was so much worse than the first. Uh, so software could be like that. I think any creative endeavor can be like that. And I wanted to find a way to de-risked that.

Mike McDerment: 12:46 I also wanted to find a way to work on this where our co, our competition wasn't watching because believe it or not, we're number two in America. So there are people who wake up every day and their job is to like follow me around the Internet and other places and make sure they know what I'm saying and doing all the time. And so under close scrutiny, I want to get as much a time and space away from that light as we could. And then, um, you know, finally really wanting to ensure the team could innovate and take risks. And you know, if you're running under your existing brand, people can watch you, you know, the risks you take are going to be muted because you're afraid of tarnishing the brand even though it's an experimental kind of petri dish. And you wanted to verify that people actually liked the new product better.

Mike McDerment: 13:34 That gets hard to do just working without data, just building in a corner. And so what we've decided to do to solve all these problems and so we could actually measure is the new platform better than the other? We decided to create a secret company. We called it bill spring, and that is where we built the new freshbooks. And we built it up over about 18 months. And we actually competed with freshbooks and everybody else in the market for customers. And then one day somebody called us up and they called the freshbooks and they said, hey, I'd like to cancel my account. And they said, great, I've just helped you with that. Do you mind telling us why? And I said, well, I'm, I'm moving to bill spring. And that was a time when we knew we were, we were really onto something. The whole company at freshbooks kept this a secret for, you know, really the better part of two years. And so we were kind of working in this sort of stealth mode with this new offering in market and learning every day. And it was, it was really quite a journey. And so, uh, we lost that in, in late 2016 and then we rolled out the new accounting capabilities in late 2018 and those will be ongoing for, for years and years. We continue to better serve people.

Speaker 5: 14:49 Wow.

Mike McDerment: 14:50 So it's an incredible and

Michael Palmer: 14:51 one that in some way I think our, our listener can appreciate the times are changing. Right? You talked about things changing and you know, you have to, you have to innovate, but yet, you know, there's, you don't want to break what, what you already have. When you were going through this, how did you as a person that was like, this is unknown, you know, you don't necessarily know what's gonna occur. How did you personally deal with this as, as a, as a business owner?

Mike McDerment: 15:22 Well, I, you know, a couple of sides. So first of all, I, I like not knowing where the music's can stop or what have you. Like I liked that, you know, sort of walking up to the edge of a cliff and jumping off of it and figuring out how I'm going to land on the way down. And that's not everybody's cup of tea. But suffice to say, there was a lot of that with this effort, like literally eight weeks before we launched the team was like, I don't know if we're going to pull this off. Right? So it was down to the wire and it wasn't just the launch date, it was like, I don't know if we can make it all work, but it all came together a, you know, in the end and, and very effectively. So it was that kind of a, a journey.

Mike McDerment: 16:00 And, you know, for me that was a lot of fun and my job became, you know, helping people, you know, there's so much unlearning to do in an organization. If you really want to have true innovation, you need to unlearn the ways you've done things before or things that have made you successful. And, uh, you know, my role through this process was, you know, to hey folks believe, you know, despite the fact, despite where we're at, you know, believe, and by the way, let me help you unlearn that thing that, you know, helped us before, that's only going to hold us back now. Uh, I did that through sort of question asking and what have you, but it was, it was, uh, it was, you know, it was huge. And then I really credit all the people and the leaders around me who really did, you know, the lion's share of the work. But um, you know, we were very supportive, very said fast and kind of getting to the end and I think, you know, it would have been easy to kind of fold up our tent along the way. Um, but uh, we just, you know, just sort of kept believing and kept helping other people believe sometimes even when we were uncertain. And I think that again, it's just leadership and the challenging time.

Michael Palmer: 17:03 Hmm. Well said you have, the stat that we had was 10 million people have used freshbooks to save time in their business and their small business. You probably have a pretty good idea of what a small business owner is dealing with on a day to day basis. What have you learned about small business and what they do to be successful that you could pass on to our audience?

Mike McDerment: 17:27 Great question. It's funny, like I will say the things that have stuck with me that we have learned over the years or things that you learn more talking with people, like the data is there, but the data tells you that hey, people who do a good job of collecting their invoices in a reasonable time are generally more successful than those who do not buy. It's like, you know, like a lot of what you get out of it is like, you know, things you already already knew. But, um, when you go out and meet people, you know, the, the things I see our customers learning are things like, hey, how to price their services differently, how to benefit from, instead of having to hire a full time person in a benefiting from people who work, you know, on contract. So we can kind of de-risked that. Maybe we ultimately hire them or maybe we make it working arrangement where, you know, it's kind of like fractional, uh, employment in some way or, you know, just contracting by another name.

Mike McDerment: 18:18 And I think these are these new working models and uh, you know, the ability to educate yourself online. These are all kind of the new dynamics of, of owners these days I would say. Very interesting. And I think that's an area to, to explore our listener can explore. What about mistakes that you see people making in their businesses does not show up? Yeah. One of the hardest things, and I think I'm relatively less burdened by this, but it's a hard thing. It's a mindset thing. I just, I feel like people sometimes lose the plot on, on the value of themselves and the value of their time. Right. And I'll use the example for me of, you know, something I do. Yes. Okay. I'm running an operating company right now and what have you. But you know, sometimes I have a decision of should I take the subway or should I take a cab or an Uber or something like that.

Mike McDerment: 19:10 You know, sometimes I'd take the subway, but there are other times when, well, the cab's going to cost me. So it's like $2 and 50 cents to take the subway and it can be $25 to take the cab, but I will take the cab and the time that I will arrive will be the same. But the reason I take the cab is because in the cab I can spend 25 minutes getting some stuff done right on my phone and that you know, that that 25 minutes is worth more than the $25 to me. And so I think, I think that is kind of like life as an owner, you need to understand not just the cost side of your time but the value side. Because if you can bill out at, you know, and it is your billing by the hour, let's presume you are for simplicity and its argument that 25 minutes is valuable.

Mike McDerment: 19:55 Right? And you know, when I'm subterranean in the subway and I can't see my phone doesn't work, like I can't be productive. Uh, and so, or maybe it's a phone call I'm going to take and that, you know, the 25 minute phone call is more valuable than the other. And so I think that is the sort of job of any owner is to constantly be aware of where their time is going and to sometimes, and this is a hard thing, but I find most successful people do this. Like they will spend money to make money like that $25 investment to be able to make that phone call, you know, wind up and either landing a new client or making a project more successful or whatever it is. And so I mean I think that's, that's the core battle and it's an internal battle that it's, it's the battle I like. I like the way you frame the though and I think our audience would benefit from, from more of that thinking is

Michael Palmer: 20:48 more, this is an expense too. This is a, this is an investment, an investment in my business. And when you're making an investment, there should be an expectation on return on investment. And if you're clear on what that return possibly will be and into some exciting return, then it's a great investment to make versus just looking at it as an expense or a cost. And I see that often as well. In the conversations I have, it's you know the big opportunities, the big leverage come from investing in your business. You also wrote a book, you coauthored a book called breaking the time barrier. Tell us a little bit about that book.

Mike McDerment: 21:24 Yeah. That that book is on a similar and related concept. It's more focused on something I mentioned earlier which is pricing your services, but the premise of the book is in its purpose is to help people shift their mindset from billing essentially for for time and materials to billing for value. And you know, my guess is a lot of you, if you're not already doing this, are hearing a lot about this concept of billing for value and what does that all about? Value based billing is a, I'd say there's like a hierarchy in sort of client billing and the bottom rung would be time and materials. The Middle Rung would be, you know, project based and the highest rung I would say would be value based and um, none of them are, are quite the same. And so the book helps and it's kind of a 45 minute read and it's framed as a fable.

Mike McDerment: 22:20 It takes one small business owner, in this case, a web designer through a journey from effectively time and materials to value based billing and helps them see, you know, helps them understand that their clients are not showing up and hiring them to rent their time. They are hiring them to solve problems and the problems are, you know, with the, the clients will ascribe value to like, did you solve my problem or not and how valuable is you solving that problem to me is really what people are trying to buy. And yet we come at them and say, Hey, it's, you know, I don't know, $25 an hour for my services or $50 now or whatever it is. And um, so that's, that's, we just get completely offside with that. So the book kind of shows, hey there's major problems when you bill by the hour. I would say, you know, one of them is over the years we get more and more effective at what we do.

Mike McDerment: 23:19 But when you build by the hour, it doesn't really bake that in very well. Yes, you can raise your prices, but your experience and your expertise, they don't show up. Right. Another thing would be, I don't know about you, but not all my hours are as productive. Like one from one hour to the next. My productivity varies quite a bit. When you bill by the hour, there's a presumption that you're equally productive. Sometimes they get a ton done in an hour or sometimes I go four hours with barely getting anything done, you know, so the hour is not a good measure. And then that final and favorite one is, you know when you bill by the hour, you're actually pitting yourself against your clients because you are incentive to work more hours. They want you to work less and so you're just bringing mistrust into the relationship. So a value based pricing is around, you know, establishing, you know, hey, what is it we're trying to accomplish?

Mike McDerment: 24:03 Getting some sense of what it's worth, you know, setting the price and then everyone's aligned. We know what the deliverables going to be, we have the prices. It's a little more evolved than just pure project pricing and how you do it. But that's, that's the journey and I find it, it makes for better client relationships, there's opera actually opportunity to charge more. I think the way you think about service delivery changes when you start thinking about solving problems as opposed to billing for time. And I think it, it changes in a way that's very client friendly. So for these reasons and more, there's, there's lots of goodness in there. And I recommend a check in the book yet.

Speaker 5: 24:44 [inaudible]

Michael Palmer: 24:44 I love it. I love it. And uh, not only do I think it's an excellent read for our listener, but my goodness, what a great gift for the many clients our listeners have, right? I mean, helping people break through in terms of how they price their services and identify their value to their customers. I mean it, it just ends, but it's a story that ends a lot better. I love it. So we'll, we'll have definitely have a link to getting where they can get that book. Mike, you also talk a little bit about to audiences embracing imposter syndrome and fear as a founder. Can you share a little bit of that? Because I would, I would imagine that's also something and it might even tie in with person's own value and how they price what they do for others in terms of maybe they don't feel

Mike McDerment: 25:38 completely confident in themselves. Yeah, I, you know, I think there are some people who are gifted with supreme confidence at all times, you know, despite the facts and, and you know, at times I, you know, want to be those people at times. You know, I probably am less attracted to them, but, uh, you know, that's a certain characteristic. And then there's probably most of us, you know, which, you know, you can get into a situation where, oh, I haven't either done this before or I'm not certain how to do it. And you know, you let that creep in and, and then you start to like cheese. Like why would they want to hire me for this or should I even take that on or whatever it is. And you know, all of that can start to feed into your inner your inner dialogue and be less than supportive.

Mike McDerment: 26:25 And if you have a critical, you know, mind space and you're, you're aware of the voice in your head first of all. And that voice is not always as encouraging as you might like it to be. I think it's, it's, you can get to this place where you know, you, you feel as though you are not necessarily as or capable as those, you know, outside of yourself looking at, you may believe. And so, you know, imposter syndrome is really around kind of managing that journey, understanding that everybody goes through it. Okay. And that you have a responsibility, I would say to yourself and for yourself to, to recognize that everybody goes through this on one level and another, I can't tell you the number of times, you know, when people have been patting me on the back for being so successful that I have actually felt my least successful on that day. And other times when, you know, I think other people would have caused a doubt, I would see, you know, something else down the road that makes me believe we're very much tracking to the right thing. So, yeah, that discrepancy between inner and outer is a thing and I'm just knowing everyone else goes through it is to be expected and to sort of accept that and persevere, you know, is what I would like to see. Uh, you know, I wish for everyone.

Michael Palmer: 27:39 Beautiful. Uh, I love that. And, uh, you're, you're speaking definitely the challenges that I see as well. And you've been there. You've, you've done it. I mean, it's an amazing story that you have in terms of going from being a small business owner to uh, now, uh, a person who's serving millions of small business owners with a business that's grown incredibly and seen lots of highs, uh, as well as having to, to change radically change in the way you've approached it is very inspiring. I know I have so many more questions. I know I could selfishly start asking questions that I think I would want the answer to more so than, than our listener. Uh, but this has been absolutely excellent, Mike and I just really on the behalf of our, our audience, I would thank you for giving generously giving us your time, your wisdom, and I hope to have you back. You've written other books. You've, you're, your product is changing. You're, you're, the world is changing. Technology is changing. There's so much that's happening and I'd love for our audience to hear how you're tackling it and dealing with it in the world.

Mike McDerment: 28:50 Michael, thank you very much for having me. Please do drop me a line when, uh, you know, you can get to that place where you can't find any great people to have in and you need a plug, you know? Anyhow, no, I, I'd be delighted and to everybody. I hope you just have a wonderful day and there's something in here of use to you.

Michael Palmer: 29:08 Definitely. Well, it's been great and again, thank you. And with that, we wrap another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business building resources, you can go to the successful bookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye

New Speaker: 29:36 [inaudible]. You've

Michael Palmer: 29:37 been listening to the successful bookkeeper with Michael Palmer. For more information

Speaker 3: 29:42 and to download the resources mentioned in this episode, please visit us@thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Thank you for listening.

Speaker 5: 29:58 [inaudible].

EP143: Teresa Slack & Connie Smith - Increasing Your Self-Worth Can Make You Profitable

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You're worth more than you think.

Teresa Slack and Connie Smith learned this the hard way.

But, with the mentorship of Value Pricing expert, Mark Wickersham, he helped to get them to where they needed to be.

They worked hard to overcome their fear of losing clients by raising their prices and effectively communicating the value they provide.

Today, they leverage their decades of experience by providing bookkeeping and business development solutions to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of value pricing

  • The benefits of having a mentor

  • Why it's important to believe in your own worth

To learn more about Financly, visit here.

For its LinkedIn page, click here.

To learn more about Mark Wickersham, go here.

EP142: Stephen Brown - Why You Should Embrace Technology

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Find ways to free up your precious time.

Our guest, Stephen Brown, who is the COO of LedgerGurus, figured this out.

He embraced technology to do the mundane which allows him to do more of the strategic stuff that's hard to automate like budgeting, analysis, and things that bring value to customers.

As a result, he's contributed to the growth of LedgerGurus, a virtual outsourced accounting firm focused on eCommerce accounting, as a company that is determined to help customers make good decisions and achieve their goals.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of adding value to your clients

  • The benefits of using technology

  • Where to find the technical tools and best practices

To learn more about LedgerGurus, visit here.

For Stephen's LinkedIn page, click this link.

EP141: Lisa Campbell - How A Positive Mindset Impacts Your Business

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Negative thinking.

All of us do it.

But, we can choose not to let it block us from success.

Yes, you can break free from it.

Our returning guest, Lisa Campbell, who is the owner of The Marcam Group, has done it.

She focused on the main problem, took action and transitioned into a very successful advisor to bookkeepers.

In fact, she shares her insight in the 7 Steps To Scale Your Bookkeeping Business Masterclass.

Her positive mindset and willingness to take action has changed her business forever.

Nowadays, she has a reduced workload, mentors bookkeepers, takes courses and training to improve herself which is adding more value to her bookkeeping business.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people

  • The 7 steps to scale your bookkeeping business

  • How to keep yourself organized

To learn more about Lisa, visit here.

To watch her 7 Steps To Scale Your Bookkeeping Business Masterclass webinar recording, check this out.

To listen to her previous Successful Bookkeeper appearance, click here.

EP140: Steve Chase – Why Keeping Up With Technology Is Important

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Being an entrepreneur is a balancing act.

For example, having a harmonious relationship with your bookkeeping customers while keeping up with the latest technology trends can be difficult when you’re running your day-to-day business.

Our guest today experienced this and has learned how to be successful.

Steve Chase is an Advanced QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor and founder of Sequentia Solutions which helps small business owners grow their businesses with practical and effective solutions.

He believes that it’s crucial to keep up with technology and understand the possibilities in order to thrive in this new era of online business.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • How to deliver valuable content to customers

  • Creative ways to get your services noticed in the marketplace

  • The importance of monthly check-in meetings

To learn more about Steve and his services, visit this link.

To find him on LinkedIn, go here.

To connect with him on Facebook, check out this link.

EP139: Jean Kristensen – How To Attract Government Contract Funding

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Government contracts can improve and scale up any business.

But, many of us think that doing business with the government is not a reality.

Our guest today believes that's a myth.

Jean Kristensen is the owner of Jean Kristensen Associates, which is a full-service consulting firm that provides tools and resources to small, minority, and women-owned firms seeking to increase revenues through government contracting, certification, and innovative business strategies.

According to her, any government wants to diversify their suppliers and there is a certain percentage of allocation of contracts intended only to small businesses.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Why it's important for small businesses to be working with a bookkeeper to be ready for potential government contracts

  • Why it's necessary for your business to be procurement ready and have a strong foundation

  • Different services available for government contracts

To learn more about Jean and her services, visit this link.

To find her on LinkedIn, go here.

To connect with her on Facebook, check out this link.

EP138: Mark Wickersham – Effective Pricing Tips for Bookkeepers

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The easiest way to make more money is simple -- get the price right.

Prices are the single most important element in your profit equation.

Get them right and you make a profit. Get them wrong and you'll get a loss.

Our returning guest is a profit improvement and effective pricing expert from the United Kingdom.

Mark Wickersham is a chartered accountant, public speaker and author of many books including Effective Pricing for Accountants and Price: The Fastest Way To Change Profits.

He is famous for helping bookkeeping and accounting firms double their profits in less than 18 months without having to work harder or do any uncomfortable marketing.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The different phases of value conversations and the fact finding process

  • The cons in providing an hourly rate

  • The cost plus pricing versus value pricing

To learn more about Mark Wickersham and his services, visit this link.

To buy a copy of Mark’s eBook, How To Price Bookkeeping, click here. 

You can sign up for his webinar, How To Price Bookkeeping on May 7, 8 or 9. Registration details will be posted on his Facebook group and emailed out to anyone who has the eBook.

To join his Facebook group, Value Pricing with Mark Wickersham, go here.  

EP137: Jeff Cates - Is Bookkeeping Dead?

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What are your bookkeeping business fears?

For many, they're afraid artificial intelligence will replace them.

However, our guest, Jeff Cates, the former President and CEO of Intuit Canada, believes in the power of bookkeepers becoming consultants for their clients to keep themselves valuable in this changing world.

This conversation was recorded before Jeff accepted a President and CEO position with an industry-leading employee engagement solution provider called Achievers.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to have a transformational impact on your customers

  • The importance of learning financial management skills early

  • Different ways to bridge the gap between small businesses and professionals

To learn more about Jeff, here's his LinkedIn page.

To follow him on Twitter, click here.

For information about Intuit Canada, visit this link.

EP136: Sarah Palmer - Bookkeeping Business Tips You Should Know

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Every business needs a great bookkeeper.

It doesn't matter if you're in the US, Canada or Australia, all small businesses would benefit tremendously if they had the right person looking after their books.

Our guest is one of those high caliber talents who runs the bookkeeping firm, Women Who Count based in the United Kingdom.

She sits on the board of the International Association of Bookkeepers and her commitment and passion have been recognized when she was a finalist for the UK Women in Business Awards.

She knows what it takes to build a strong business and is happy to share her success tips with you.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The process of hiring an employee

  • How to automate your business

  • Marketing strategies that work

To learn more about Women Who Count, click here.

For the Women Who Count Facebook page, go here.

For the Women Who Count LinkedIn page, check this out.

EP135: Kelly Paxton - How To Avoid Pink Collar Crimes

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Pink Collar Crimes.

If you don't know what they are and how destructive they can be to your bookkeeping business and life, you're listening to the right episode.

The term pink-collar crime was popularized by Dr. Kathleen Daly during the 1980s to describe embezzlement type crimes that typically were committed by females based on limited opportunity.

In this context, women were more likely to have committed low level crimes, such as bookkeeping fraud, from positions of less power compared to men who had engaged in acts of white-collar crime.

Our guest, Kelly Paxton is a Pink Collar Crime expert who specializes in educating the public about this growing problem that has risen by over 40% since 1990.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Different ways that bookkeepers and their clients can avoid Pink Collar Crimes from happening

  • The Pink flag signals

  • The importance of knowing the various Pink Collar Crimes in a bookkeeping business

To learn more about Pink Collar Crime, click here.

For Kelly's LinkedIn, visit this link.

For her Twitter, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:08 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest is a pink color crime expert who specializes in educating the public about embezzlement type crimes such as bookkeeping fraud that are committed by women. Kelly Paxton, welcome to the show.

Kelly Paxton: 01:29 Thank you. Thank you very much. One quick thing, it's not always women, it's position, not gender. I don't want people to think I'm picking on women. It's just women are primarily in these type of positions. So I kind of want to get that out there that a man can be a pink collar criminal too.

MP: 01:46 Okay, great. Well, I think everybody's just on the edge of their seat right now going, what the heck are we talking about? Because this is a, this is interesting that the name pink collar crimes is interesting and I would love for you to share with our audience a little bit about your career and how the heck you ended up being interested in and doing work for pink collar crimes.

KP: 02:09 You know, I would say my career and just sounds weird, is always been about money. First I invested money, I was a stockbroker in a bond trader and then we had a client that was arrested and that led me to become a special agent for us customs. And I arrested kind of typical bad guys, you know, I was armed 24, seven, you know, got to do for surveillance and most of my suspects were men. Um, I did have a female attorney that I got disbarred that was a high point of my career, but then kids came along and life changed. And uh, we ended up moving back home and I started working at a sheriff's office and I was their analysts for their fraud team. And I noticed that all of my suspects was the exception of one male were women. So I started googling women embezzlers nationally. I had women in bachelors.com as a domain name that, uh, directs to pink collar crimes, but there was the term pink color crime. And it got popularized in 1989 by criminologists, Dr Kathleen Daly. And I ended up getting the domain name and I just, my career kind of took a turn. I went from Arestin bad guys to working on cases where it was the nice women that lived in your neighborhood getting arrested for stealing from, you know, a dentist's office. 60% of all dentists get ripped off to like, what was that stat?

MP: 03:37 That's pretty high.

KP: 03:40 Yeah, I know 60% and even some people think that that number is a little low.

MP: 03:45 So 65% of dentists wait 60 yeah. 60 to 60% of dentists get ripped off at some point in their, in their career. Wow.

KP: 03:56 Yeah. And I've had some who've been ripped off more than once. And it's an interesting small business and probably lots of bookkeepers have dentists as clients. So I, I was seeing these families destroyed by the moms. Whatever reason she decided to steal for, you know, there's the fraud triangle, which is opportunity, pressure and rationalization. The only thing a business owner can control for is the opportunity you can pay, you know, your office manager $1 million a year. But if they have a gambling habit or an expensive lifestyle and they need 2 million, they'll steal. It's just if there's the opportunity there, they'll do it. You can't ever, you know, control their pressures or rationalization. It's just, it's not possible. So I've prosecuted pink color criminals and I've defended pink color criminals. And it comes down to money and what people decide to do for money. I was talking to a college professor yesterday and I said, you know, show me someone's book and I can tell you what kind of person they are just by looking at their tech.

MP: 05:06 Interesting. Tell me more about that. That sounds interesting. That's a very interesting, it's like, I'm like blown away by these statistics and you know, I get, I get it with like people have problems and often money, it's believes that money will solve the problem. So if it's a big, big problem, where's that money coming from? So this is where crimes begin. But I'm really interested about this, this checkbook, uh, analogy.

KP: 05:32 Well, when I was a federal agent, you know, I would be able to get people's bank accounts. We would subpoena them and we would get them and it would be like Christmas for me. I'd have boxes, my boss would come in and he's like, Oh God, there she goes to dig in. You schedule out how someone spends their money and you kind of see where their priorities are, whether it's house, whether it's kids, whether it's travel, whether it's casinos. You can kind of tell where people put their money, what they're like.

KP: 06:02 Well I know, I know my bookkeeper who said to me, you like Starbucks. And it was like when he said it, I'm like, how do you know? And it's like, uh, the right. Uh, but very interesting. So this is a question that many people would have had out of the gate is what are pink color crimes? I mean, I've stink, we're starting to get a sense of that. But I'm curious like are there common ones? Is there ones that show up more than others?

KP: 06:31 So the, the definition of pink collar crime is lower-level office type employees stealing from the workplace. And so when you think of lower level, you're thinking accounts receivable, accounts payable, office managers, receptionist, those are primarily female-dominated positions. That's why it's pink collar crime. It comes from pink-collar jobs. So that's why a man can call her criminal. But there's more men in different types of positions. I mean, I think according to like, you know, the census, 97% of those type positions are filled by women, Right?

MP: 07:09 No, it makes it makes total sense. And that that constantly is probably changing or you've probably seen it changing over your career as well as more and more people are changing the work that they do and how work gets done and as well technology. I would imagine technology has also made your job maybe easier or more difficult.

KP: 07:32 Yeah. You know, I'm not a CPA. I don't pretend to be a CPA. I took one accounting course in college and then, you know, I did the finance. So I mean I can put a spreadsheet together, I can put EBITDAR together. But a lot of people are like, well, how come you're not a CPA? And I've worked these cases and you don't have to have to see a CPA to show that the money was in the business owner's account. And then it went to the suspects bank account. It's just, it's not like it goes from the business owner's account down to Panama over to Russia and back. It's pretty straight forward or there's cash skimming. So I love to use hashtags in 'em. I do a lot of posts I tweet and one of my hashtags is it's not rocket science. And I, I say that because I can do these cases, that paper heavy, even though with technology it is changing a little bit, but you know, you're showing money going from one spot to the next and that's, that's what it is.

MP: 08:41 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And when it comes to these types of crimes, I mean bookkeepers are, are, are definitely people that have been made the news of, of being people who've committed those crimes, but they're also more so, fortunately, people who find the, something's fishy going on. How can bookkeepers, our listeners, how can they be more aware of these crimes and what, what should they be looking out for and what's a pathway to do to if they notice something?

KP: 09:15 So, yeah, I mean, it's interesting because this is a bookkeeping podcast and I just tweeted out about, I'm a southern bookkeepers stole $300,000 so when I go and I speak and I do these presentations, a kinda depends on my audience, whether I give tips and tricks or whether I just kind of glossed over it. So bookkeepers, they definitely have access. So anyone who has access to the money, Ken Steel, that's the opportunity. Bookkeepers can look at a lot of different things. I mean, one of the things is if you're an outside bookkeeper and say you're having difficulties getting information from the person who's supposed to provide you the information, if they're really hesitant or they keep blowing you off or they're abrupt and say, no, I sent that to you. If there's pushback, that's where I think, you know, you're a little, I call it the spidey sense, should maybe kick in. Like things just aren't right. And it's like, Huh, why aren't they right? You know, why don't they want to give me this stuff? Or so when there's hesitancy on the person giving the bookkeeper information or say that you want to upgrade your accounting software, go do a new program for whatever reason, and they're just like, no, there's no reason we need to do this. Why is that? Is it because they've been hiding something in the numbers when they're that sort of territorial? That's what I call it is a pink flag.

MP: 10:48 Yeah, I can, I can see that. And I, I have heard lots, lots of our listeners have conversations with lots of our listeners and our clients about where, where are these things have happened? Right? It's a, the, the relative working for the business and it's like the reluctance and it's like, just so it's like something's not adding up or someone not wanting to and being very defensive about letting someone else come in and have a look. It's exactly what you're saying. Uh, and so if there's a spidey sense coming up, what should be the step that a bookkeeper should take?

KP: 11:22 This is one of my number one things. Document everything. Just start documenting, you know, phone calls, emails, anything like that. That makes it, because if you have to go back and look at the stuff you want to, you want it to be documented at the time contemporaneously. So I am a huge fan of documentation, whether it's just a little note or whatever, definite document, depending on the relationship have with the owner or your client. You don't ever want to be the person who falsely accuses someone of this. Because I had a former boss who bought a house and I said, oh, that's a nice house. And he goes, well, you know how I got it? And I'm like, no. And he said, one of my clients also, he accused his office staff of embezzlement and she sued him and the house was the settlement. He had to tell the house in order to do the settlement.

KP: 12:25 So you never want to falsely accuse. That's why documenting, you know, is so incredibly important. But these cases aren't for, I mean, I don't, and it's not to push my services whatsoever. Um, they're not for amateurs because if you mess up, it can go badly. You know? No one wants to hire lawyers. Well, you're going to be hiring a lot of lawyers to defend yourself. They, even if you're right, even if you know you are right, you have to be incredibly careful. Flying Dot your i's and cross your t's before you know, you take that next step.

MP: 13:03 It's touchy. It's a, it's a delicate subject. And one that I remember hearing about was a family member and it was literally, it was quite blatant. Like you say, the, the rocket science pound a Hashtag rocket science, it's not rocket science. They definitely, it was just like literally I'm Duh, you know, debiting money out of the bank account and putting it into a, their own count. It was a, an a niece of the, of the owner and they just weren't paying attention. And so yet that's a delicate conversation to have with the owner. It's their relative, but that had, there has to be a pathway to having those conversations and it's a risky conversation as you say it, it has implications of accusations and, and uh, what if you're wrong.

KP: 13:53 Well, yeah. And so there's also call it the get out of jail free card, which is not to pick on dentists cause I love dentists, but say that the office manager knows that the dentist is doing things, maybe not great like writing off continuing Ed trip to you know, a ski resort for his whole family and he just writes the whole trip. Bob and um, or she knows that the dentist only hires cute young blonde hygienists and so it's a pattern of discrimination or God forbid even that the dentist is maybe has a relationship outside of his marriage and she knows that. So when she gets caught or he gets caught, they're going to do anything to not go to jail and it's going to be, I know you're doing x, Y or z and you'd be at the people who would back off and they'll just say, you know what?

KP: 14:55 Let's just call it good. You can leave. And I'm not going to go to law enforcement. I mean, think about an audit. Knock on wood. I haven't been audited, but my dad was audited numerous times. So I've grown up with the fear about it. When you do these type of cases and law enforcement comes in, they're like, we want to see your books and there's a Gulf, there's a, what can I just provide you with, you know, x, Y, and z? And it's like, nope, we want to see your books. How many people have that little, well, you know, voice in the back of their head saying, yeah, maybe it's not such a good idea. Now the cops, most cops are w two employees. They don't know about k ones. They don't know about depreciation. They don't care. But we all have, you know what a guilty contents when it comes to like, oh, I wrote that trip off. Is that really? Yeah, maybe I just should go away. I Dunno. I've seen it.

MP: 15:54 Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. We're human beings, right? So working, it's not like working with a business, right? A business as a business. It's an entity. There's human beings in that, those entities and they have human problems and those problems can escalate and shift and cause all sorts of havoc. And, and often bookkeepers that bombing, they're right there in the front lines, uh, and can be getting, get involved in these things, which, I mean, no one would want to be involved in any of that, but you could find yourself being involved. And so you've given some good examples of what to do about it. What are the most common crimes?

KP: 16:33 So not to teach anyone how to do this because I don't do that even though I could, um, say we don't want to, you know, educate people on how to criminals there.

KP: 16:44 There's a couple of surveys out there and studies and basically forged in an authorized checks are the number one way to embezzle. And you know what, people will meet me at, you know, say a networking event or a social gathering and they'll find out what I do. And they'll very like almost smugly smile and say, well, I sign all my own checks. And then I met, I'm very true. People tell me I'm very transparent, I'm just, you know, and I smile and then they're like, wait, what? What about that? And I'm like, do you have a visa machine? Well, yeah. Do you know that you can refund on a visa machine? Oh Huh. So you know, or a business owner will say, you know what, my CPA told me to get rid of the signature stamp and I did. But I do have a couple of sign checks in my safe in the office just for when I'm, you know, out of town.

KP: 17:38 Have you looked to see if any are missing? Do you have a log of it? Oh Hm. There's another kind of like, oh, oh, that's an interesting one. I just interviewed a woman. She stole $350,000. She's gone to prison. She's completely reformed. She talks about this. And um, yeah, it was ironic. She could sign the vice president's signature. She could forge it, but she could never get the president's signature down. But the interesting thing was is she goes, I didn't have signing authority, but they did give me wire transfer authority. She said, I never once did a wire. She goes, I could have, but I didn't because I thought that would maybe alert. She goes, but I just burns checks with the VP signature. Not the president's. Wow. Yeah. So I mean there's technology, there are ways around it, you know, I mean there's be some machines, even though those have gotten better, where like you can only refund to an account that has had a charge or, I mean there's ways around it. But cash skimming, I mean a lot of businesses like kids, orthodontist, when she started out, she had no idea how much cash was coming into her office weekly. It was over $5,000 a week because a lot of braces aren't paid for via insurance. And so people come in and they would pay cash and she's like, I have five grand a week sitting in a box and my, you know, office drawer. I'm like, yeah, you might want to reconsider that.

MP: 19:17 Huge risk. Huge risk. And, and w w w d. So we talked about dentists and why, why that happens. Uh, w or the amount that it happens. Why, why dentists?

KP: 19:33 So just on average out in Oregon at Dennis Gross, about 1.3 1.4 a year, he takes home, he or she takes home about two 50 now. That's a dentist that I'm going to say it's just like kind of average. Maybe they're not like cosmetic dentist streets. So that gives you about a million dollars of play. I mean, you've got expenses, you have rent, you have, you know, salaries and things like that, but are you really going to notice $5,000 no, I mean, I call it the fish tank gets expensive. You don't notice that. And these people are smart. They're in the weeds, they know where you won't pay attention to. So maybe you pay really, really close attention to salaries, but you don't pay a lot of attention towards like employee gifts or you know, off sites for our business, you know, conferences or things like that. They'll dump it in those categories that you don't pay attention to. They're smart. They're in the weeds.

MP: 20:33 Right, right. Wow. You know, it makes a lot of sense that because people that need to find a way, find a way and uh, if it's somebody close inside the organization, they're going to have that access to observe and find out where the are.

KP: 20:48 Yeah. I, I had a woman and I interviewed her, I had her come do a presentation with me and she stole a quarter of a million dollars over 18 months from six urologists, which is a, you know, humorous in and of itself. But the first check was an insurance check. But when I had her in an event, they asked her, so how you do it? Like, how did you physically do it? And she said, I wrote a check every week made out to me, but I coded it, you know, to some cost center. And she said every Friday the senior urologist would meet with the CPA and they would pull up the computer generated report. Never once did they pull up a check. She's like, she was there for 18 months. Every Friday. They never once pulled up the check. She quit. She didn't even get fired. She quit because there was other stuff going on in the office that she just didn't want to deal with. And six months later, a detective calls her and he said, do you know why I'm calling she's app? I think so. And, um, but like if they had just looked at one checked and it said, you know, x, Y, Z Printing Company for 2,500 bucks in the system, but the check itself said to Elisa, they would have been up bright while I was that it was that blatant.

MP: 22:14 Yeah. Yeah.

MP: 22:16 Wow. This is, I mean, I'm sitting here blown away and I, and I would imagine that the role of the bookkeeper is, in a way, it's like these are the owners right now. If you're a bookkeeper that has the intent to commit crime, then I don't, I doubt we're listening to who we have any listeners who are, who are those criminals? I hope not. Uh, but we have the, the, the bookkeepers who are out there to serve owners and help them be more successful in and not get into these situations. How can a bookkeeper, you know, bookkeepers, not only, they don't stay in a business, perhaps forever things happen. They move on, you know, businesses get bigger, need full-time staff, these sorts of things. What can a bookkeeper do to help their clients ensure that this never happens to them?

KP: 23:06 Ah, yeah. So removing the opportunity, which, you know, the bank statements should be male. I'm, this is one of the easiest tree previous bank statements mailed home to the business owner. Like, I mean I'm not creative, but give me an Adobe and a bank statement and I can make myself look like a millionaire. So the bank statements need to be mailed home to the business owner. And I mean I have business owners are like, well, if I were to change that, my staff might think I don't trust them. It's okay. Another hashtag trust is not an internal control. It's just, yeah. So that's an, if you don't want to do that, just get duplicate statements and then they'll never know. So you know, that's a free easy thing to do. The surprise audits. Now audits, and I love auditors, Love, love auditors. They are my people.

KP: 24:04 But if you know that every year, say you're going to get audited in the month of June, and there was a woman who stole $800,000 from a local municipality, she knew they only looked at June. So you wrote checks up until May 31st she quit for the month of June and then she started to back up July 1st so mix it up like, you know, don't be so set in your ways. And I had another guy who he reached out and he thought his business partner was stealing from him and they had an arrangement, no accepting of cash. They owned a car repair business and he thought that his business partner was accepting cash. You know, because he wasn't, he was offsite silent partner. And I said, you know, you can hire us but we're expensive. And he didn't have the money to do it. And I said, but why don't you do a mystery shop? Why don't you have a friend go in who doesn't, you know, your partner doesn't know, have them do a lube oil filter, whatever it is, and have them try and pay cash and see what the guy does. He's like, oh my god, that's genius. And you know, if he does pay cash, then it's like, Bingo. It's a problem. So I call it being creative, like you don't mix things up.

MP: 25:26 I, I love that. And I think the thinking around this is good thinking too, to say, hey, just put in some checks and balances that are somewhat random that, that it just, by taking that one little step, it creates another barrier. And so, you know, people, you know, the people, creative people, creative criminals can always find a way, I'm sure. But doing these things can help and can help prevent these crimes from occurring. Um, I'm really curious to hear a little bit about the aftermath of someone who's caught like, you know, they, they get caught like this, this woman who stole 350,000 and they showed up and, and said, hey, you know, you, do you know why we're calling? And so does that money ever come back? Does insurance pay for what, what? I mean, this is, that's a lot of money. I doubt she's gonna to write a check back for $350,000.

KP: 26:22 Yeah. So her story is really interesting. The company had, was very successful. They did have insurance and she was bonded. So they actually were made whole. That's unusual. I have had other cases where insurance cupboard, I had a high six-figure one but the business had very good insurance, also paid for investigative costs, but a lot of times you have like a $25,000 you know, employee dishonesty and like for me to walk into even I say sniff, it's five grand just to snip. And if a business is on the brake, you're throwing good money after bad people don't steal money to save the money is gone. I've seen one case where like a state employee stole a couple of hundred thousand dollars and literally he put it in a bank account and so when he got caught he was able to give the money right back. But that's very unusual to do that. So yeah. Yeah, he should have bought apple stock and then the state would have been even happier. But one of the other big pink flags is if they don't take a vacation, and this kind of goes to the control issues, if you have employees that aren't taking vacations, that's a problem. Why aren't they taking a vacation? Because they're covering something up and a vacation is a two day job. It's a, you know, week or two.

MP: 27:50 That's right. So another, another, another thing to look out for is someone that's not, never leaves the business, doesn't leave, leave the, the gate unlatched so to speak. Right?

KP: 28:00 Absolutely. Absolutely.

MP: 28:02 They've got to keep the, the kind of keep the thing going. That's, it's interesting. Now you, on your website, you mentioned that uh, the FBI say male embezzlers have increased only 4% since 1990. Well, pink collar crime levels have increased over 40% during that period. Why? Why is that?

KP: 28:22 So, you know, there are, I think there's a couple of reasons and I have to preface it with criminal justice. Statistics are really messy, like really, really messy. So that's according to the FBI. But a lot of these embezzlement cases don't even go to the FBI. They go to like state and local law enforcement and the cases are, you know, sometimes if someone in bezels they're charged with aggravated or wire fraud or for forging a check identity theft. So it's not like you have a dead body and you have a dead body. You might have numerous sort of things. So it's kind of messy that way. But think about how the workforce has changed. I mean, women are in the workforce. I mean it's pretty much 50 50 and they're in the positions where they have the access to it. So it is a crime that women really excel at because they have the opportunity and they have the access to it.

KP: 29:17 Whereas men are, and you know, they're in kind of different positions. But I mean one of the things you hear the glass ceiling in the states, it's like, you know, women are in 79 cents on the dollar. Well, women thieves only steal about 45 to 50 cents on the dollar. So I did a presentation one time and I always get a little pushback that I'm picking on women, which I am not in no, no matter whatsoever. And the woman's head. So you're telling me I shouldn't hire a woman? And you know, I've got 250 sets of eyeballs looking at me and I'm Kinda like, got to think quick on my feet here. And I said, no, actually, you know what, if you're going to hire a thief, hire a female because they're going to steal much less than a man and a good laugh for that. Good laugh. But I almost choked there. But yeah, good answer. And in my personal experience, the men have stalled quite a bit more and also much more quickly. Like I had a woman who still $1 million from a dentist over 10 years. The men, they steal it quick. It took one guy to almost set him out only six months and another guy about 1518 months. It takes women much, much longer.

MP: 30:35 Wow. Wow. Yeah.

MP: 30:44 It's, it's amazing that this topic is amazing and I think it's an interesting one. I mean there's, from my, from my listening here, bookkeepers should be, hey, with your owners, make sure you have proper coverage. Are you working with your as advice to their own or clients that, do you have, have you had discussions with your insurance broker about the potential for these kinds of things happening in the business? Which again, it's, I think you can embed that into your, your conversation with all owners and say, look, you know, this is your business. You need to pay more attention to your numbers always and not let that not be something of high importance. And that should, that can be the role of the bookkeeper to educate the client as to what the things that can happen inside of a business. And I think there's this, every bookkeeper will, we'll probably have a story of where the owner just doesn't want to have anything to do with it. It's like they just want to go do the selling or do the work or be the technician. But these things can destroy a business if they happen. So as a role here for bookkeepers to be a part of this conversation and to ensure that these things don't happen.

KP: 31:5 And I would also say, I've done this recently where don't share your passwords and bookkeepers have your own password to get in because you never want to be in the position of defending yourself. Everyone's like, oh well it was just a one time sort of thing. How can you know? You're kind of just proving a negative. So it's a big thing to not share a password and it will protect you because what if you share a password and someone goes in and makes a journal entry in order to, you know, feed and you're like, but I didn't do it. Yeah. Well your password, you were the one who accessed it. Never share passwords. I have a great slide with a toothbrush, you know, and it says never share passwords. You do. This is to protect.

MP: 32:40 Yeah. That's the other side of it is protecting yourself in the work that you do and bank account access, passwords, documentation, making sure that you have a, a plan to educate the owner, but as well make sure that the owner knows that look, this is how it's going to work and I'm not going to have this type of access so that you're protecting yourself because there could be that, it could be the other side, right. You know, someone else in the organization could be potentially setting up a the bookkeeper it to to look bad or to be on the hook for something. So this is where there's lots of opportunity to serve the client and as well protect yourself.

KP: 33:19 Absolutely.

MP: 33:20 Beautiful. Kelly, this has been very interesting. I would love for our listener to know where they can find out more about you if they do come across or want to educate themselves more about this topic.

KP: 33:33 Sure. So I have pink collar, crime.com and Kellypaxton.com I'm on LinkedIn. I love Linkedin, so hit me up on linkedin. I am working. I just sent it to the editor. My My, a book about this, I'm also starting to do some courses specific to different industries and I hope to have those done in the next couple of months where you can buy a course online for x amount where I will, you know, go through different industries and how it's happened with real-life examples. So yeah, my website, I'm also on Twitter. I tweet quite regularly about pink collar crime ethics fraud, and that's PD x, c f e as in certified fraud examiner. So PDX CFE. But yeah, and just give me a call. Hey, I'm all about spreading the word.

MP: 34:25 Beautiful. This has been great and thanks again for being so generous with your time and also your insights and wisdom about this topic.

KP: 34:33 Okay, well thank you. I'm honored that you asked me.

MP: 34:36 Yeah, it's all our pleasure. And with that, we wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast to learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time.

MP: 34:52 Goodbye.

EP134: Karl Kremer - Let Your Bookkeeping Business Do The Work

UPDATE - TSBK - Episode 134 - Karl Kremer.png
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Are you tired of working for your bookkeeping business?


Are you ready to have your bookkeeping business work for you?

Our guest, Karl Kremer knows how to make the latter a reality.

He is a business coach who has over 30 years experience in business development, planning and execution working with Fortune 100 companies throughout the world.

He helps his clients forge their business into a tool that they can use to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of those around them.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to build your ideal firm

  • Strategies and systems that help achieve faster results

  • How to turn chaos and stress into fun

To learn more about Karl, visit here.

For his LinkedIn page, click this link.

For his Facebook page, go here.

For his Twitter page, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:08 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is a business coach who has over 30 years of experience in business development, planning, and execution, working with fortune 100 companies throughout the world. Carl Kramer, welcome to the show.

Karl Kremer: 01:31 Thank you very much Michael, and thank you for the fabulous introduction. It's a real pleasure to be here.

MP: 01:35 Well, I always love having conversations with you and I'm so excited to be able to share our conversation with our listener. And before we get into that conversation, Carl, please tell us a little bit about your journey leading into being a coach that works with business owners.

KK: 01:56 Well, I could kick this back a long way, but I think I'll take it back. Only for the last 20 years or so for most of the last promotion, the last couple of decades, I spent a good chunk of my time running a professional services arm for a major software company. I'm working on very large a redevelopment to business process, street development programs, and these would be 30 40, $50 million programs. After a dozen years or so of doing that travel, travel, travel, probably doing 90 to 105 segments a year. I enjoyed the work, although I'm not going to say I was passionate about it. I got real tired of the travel and decided to look for something else. Um, I took a job, nine to five senior position, hated it, couldn't do the nine to five. Um, so I started to do some soul searching in my early fifties. Um, what do I really want to do?

KK: 02:56 Um, what can I really be passionate and how can I really make a difference to people and how can I take the skills that I have and transfer them to whatever this is? I'm extensive search a over a six month period, and I came up with coaching and thought, you know what? This is it. I can really make a difference to people. I think I would, I have so many skills that are transferable. Plus I come from a family full of teachers and this is a very similar vein to that. Um, and I jumped right in with both hands and both feet. And uh, here I am six years later and it's going great and I love it.

MP: 03:34 Fantastic. You know, I always love to hear people's journeys and, and how, it's just so interesting. You just never know what tomorrow may bring and where you may end up. But where you are today is you're helping a small medium-sized businesses grow and, and I'd love for you to share what, what that's been like for you and some of the things you've learned about helping small business owners.

KK: 04:03 Well, you know, I help small business owners really get ahold of their business. That might be a better way to put it and really get everything that they truly deserve out of their business, whatever that means for them. Now, now we say grow because you know quite often I'll be 75% of the time that is what they want. So there is a lot of working to help small business owners grow. There's also a lot of work helping small business owners take time off because a lot of work helping small business owners turn chaos into chaos and stress into making a funder on their business. Once again, these are the types of things that we typically work with.

MP: 04:46 I'm sitting here thinking that that is delicious for every single listener, right? Taking time off, turning chaos into enjoyment, falling back in love with working inside your business. It has me sitting here thinking, well, how? What is it that has small business owners end up in those situations where it's not that?

KK: 05:11 Well, here's a typical journey for many small business owners. A lot of small business owners get into what they're getting into business because they're good at what they do, whatever that may be. They may be a good lawyer, they may be a good accountant, they may be a good landscaper and they're working for someone else and they eventually say, well, why am I giving this guy a big cut of my money that I'm making? Why don't I do this for myself? What they don't realize when they get into that is all of the other things that are associated with running a business. So for a while they're small, they'll have some success and I'll reach a certain amount of success and they'll grow a bit and then all of those things you really need to do to run a small business will hit like a hammer when you get to a certain size.

KK: 06:00 That's one instance of the kind of issues that they run. A small business owner. What happened. The other one is that they don't realize when they go into business for themselves that they're not really going into the landscaping business. They're not really going into the lawyers business. They're really going into a sales business, and this is something that many people have never had any experience in. They think they're going to open their business and the people are going to come and they get most of the time, very disillusioned when that doesn't happen. Here's a couple of the typical kinds of struggles that you'll see in the journey of a small business owner. You know, something like 70% or maybe no, the number is even higher than that, but a large percentage of small businesses fail within the first three years primarily for these kinds of reasons.

MP: 06:58 Yeah, you, I think you really, you really nailed it in a very concise way, and I would say that when I think of our listener, the small business owner of a bookkeeping business, I mean, they're probably thinking, yeah, that's, that's me, you know, and so what are the steps to turn it around?

KK: 07:18 Maybe I can just add a little bit more to that cause you're not really really just about, you know, business owner center and trouble per se. You know, it's about business owners that are successful and then guys successful just by working their butts off and now they're going when, gee, I can't do this for the rest of my life. How can I take this, the success which is killing me and turn it into something that says that I can enjoy. Um, that's, that's really a, another instance of what I'm talking about and how can they turn that around by spending less time. What most of these people at this point in time are so busy working in their business that they have no time at all to work on their business. They may not even understand the concepts of working on their business. You know, I've gone to some small business owners and ask them a question like, what, what are your monthly expenses?

KK: 08:16 And they look at me like, you expect me to know that I'm going to try and give the thousand foot level of this stamps. Get a real clear picture of where your business is today in terms of his finances, in terms of its unique selling proposition, in terms of his competition, in terms of all of the different areas of the business. 10 trying create an equally clear picture of where you really want your business to go and what you want your life to look like within the context of that business. And these can be very different, different individuals. And then the next step is to create a plan on how you're going to get there. There are some great tools and systems available to help in doing this, but obviously the next step now is take that plan and execute. So you talked about my 30 years of playing an execution. Oh, I guess I just laid that out, right? Um, this is what it's all about. Planning and execution, planning being the key word, and that's where most small businesses fail. Not doing enough planning.

MP: 09:30 Wow. Do you find that when you're working with the business owner that isn't in this situation yet, are there, they're working hard, they're there, they're working in their business. How do you pull them out of it to work on it?

KK: 09:47 Well, to be honest with you, I think in many ways they need to really want to be pulled out of it. They need to be motivated and they need to understand that in order to be pulled out of it, there is work to be done. There's no bloody coming along with the magic wand solving their problems. So they need to understand that there's work to be done. They need to really want it. They need to really be feeling the pain of where they are and they need to be ready to work. You know, as I say, let's get to work. No magic wand here so that those are the key elements that need to be in place. Um, if those things are in place, it's not that hard to pull them out of it most of the time I would say. I mean there's, some people are so ingrained and, and you know, doing things the way that they do them and are very resistant to change even though they know that they need to change. You know, those kinds of things happen, then you really have to look deeply into leadership skills in order to really get them to change. You know? So that's, that's one area that I work with everybody on, but some people more deeply than others.

KK: 10:59 It's what brings up the question of where a person's at and, uh, I know through my own experience that often business owners may feel inadequate or that they've done something wrong or why it, why am I in this situation, I not smart enough to build a business where, uh, I'm, I am free already. And so it living in that kind of fear of looking bad perhaps can have someone stuck for a lot longer than they need to be stuck. Anything to comment on that?

MP: 11:36 Absolutely.

KK: 11:37 I'm sure Michael, I mean, I mean, you know, the, and there's also the fear of change, you know, even though they know that their change needs to happen, they're scared by it because they don't really know what that change is going mean and they need to be ready to embrace it. They really need to be ready to step out of their comfort zone and do things that maybe they're not comfortable with when they first start doing them, but once they started to have success with them, you know, there'll be become comfortable. But this is a constant theme in growth, getting out of your comfort zone and eventually getting comfortable getting out of your comfort zone.

MP: 12:19 Beautiful. I do love that. It's one of our mantras that we say on all of our monthly success calls or is, is really to get comfortable being uncomfortable and now you can be comfortable outside of your comfort zone.

KK: 12:33 All right. I think that you actually, when you do get comfortable, PN got uncomfortable. It just gets to be more than comfortable. It gets to be exciting.

MP: 12:43 Yeah. Excited.

KK: 12:45 Yeah. And then and then and fun and then really kiss you jazzed.

MP: 12:51 Yes. Yes. Well, these are these, this is exciting conversations. Now you, you, you going back to one of the other things that you said about business owners and, and, and the fact that what they thought, you know, they're doing bookkeeping, the technical work of bookkeeping and they believe that they're getting into a business of bookkeeping. But the reality is they're getting into a business of selling bookkeeping services. And I, I may not have said that as accurately as you had, but let's talk a little bit about sales. And this is a journey that you've got on yourself. You did not come up the ranks as a salesperson. This was something you had to learn yourself.

KK: 13:33 That's correct. But I don't, I'm going to take one step back and say, you know, I think that especially in a service oriented business like bookkeeping, first of all, you're really not selling the service bookkeeping services at all. You're really selling yourself in assumption is you're a bookkeeper. You can do the bookkeeping services and there's, you know, thousands more of you. So why should I choose you to be my bookkeeper? And that's really a question of selling yourself and listen the other person that you are the person they want to hire for many reasons, you know?

MP: 14:12 I love that.

KK: 14:13 Now. And that was something that you're talking about. My journey that I had to learn and my journey was that I, no, I'm not really selling business coaching services. I'm selling Karl Kramer, I'm selling me. I'm, I'm someone who has to feel that I have the credibility, I have the skills, I have the knowledge to be able to help them.

MP: 14:45 And what was that journey like?

KK: 14:47 You, you, you became a business coach or you're business coaching services. Did it just all of a sudden unfold and you've got some clients or how did you actually develop yourself as a, as a person who could sell yourself,

KK: 15:02 but we'll put a big part of it was just getting out there and doing it and, and, and practicing it. Even taking, you know, going and seeing prospects where, you know, they're not going to hire you, but just going and doing the call or the meeting anyhow, just to have the practice of doing it. Yes. Getting clients helps, it helps raise your self-esteem and helps get you past the fear of failure. You know, getting that very first client was like wind in my sails. But really it was in the case of studying, learning, practicing and learning from your mistakes, trying new things until eventually you come up with a set process or a set way that I would say is rigidly flexible. And then I'll explain that in a minute so that you go into a what's called a sales meeting or sales conversation with a process in place so that that's repeatable so that you know what you're doing each time you go into this conversation, you're not going in thinking, okay, what are we going to talk about this time? Which is frankly what I did the first year that I was in business.

MP: 16:15 I love it. And, and so when you discovered this, what was it like for you going from a, a learner and someone who is developing these skills to actually saying, you know what, this actually works, right?

KK: 16:29 I'd first like to just acknowledge that, you know, the, the, the real big step for me was actually working with another coach. Um, so I, I walk the talk, I've worked with coaches a couple of times throughout the last six years for extended periods of time and he really helped me by giving me a process that I tweaked for it to be my process. But it was a process of I have five questions written down on a piece of paper, like a little agenda that I bring to every meeting and I sit down with it with every business owner and we go through these five questions and these five questions will, first of all, give that person a real flavor for what I do. And they will also give me a ton of information about that person and their business. Um, I've now executed this with probably over 125 different business owners over the last few years and it's a, an amazing, uh, exercise in 98% of the people I do this with. Get something very valuable out of it. Whether we end up doing business or not. But for me it was, it was a game changer. Being organized and having a process was an absolute game-changer. It did actually not take long for me to get really good at that. I continue to get better, but it was just like going from fumbling around and trying to figure out what I'm doing to feeling very confident and comfortable with this process in place.

MP: 17:57 Beautiful. I absolutely love that. And I think it's the key thing here is, is there's no other way to get better at it other than getting out there and doing it. Any call, any interaction with a prospective client is a good interaction. And the second to that is get some training, do some study, do some practice, hone your skill as you're going and doing this. And eventually it becomes something where you're get good at it. And that excitement, Oh, it's fun.

KK: 18:32 I love going on and to go into a sales meeting today, I know I'm going to get into a fantastic conversation with an interesting person 95% of the time. Um, and, and it's a fun meeting and uh, usually a, you know, I walked out of that meeting and I've been thankful for a great exercise. So it's, it's a lot of fun for me now. 100%, no fear at all going into one of those meetings today. It puts everything in a different perspective when you're going in with an exercise where you think I'm going to try and help this person not, I'm going to try and sell something to his person. So there's no fear of failure because failure is not on the table. You know, whether it be, if I may be the right person to help them and I may not. But either way I've uncovered the correct thing, no failure.

KK: 19:27 So that, that is a great exercise for all of our listeners is number one, set the context you're going in to help this person, that interaction, whether they hire you or not is going to make a difference in their life and their business. Number two come up with five questions that is going to open up conversation about where that business owner is and what's not working. And what they would like to see work better. And, but a few of those other questions, there's lots of thoughts and ideas about this inside of the free resources in the successful bookkeeper community space that you can use to, to, to come up with some ideas.

KK: 20:11 But I mean I think it's important for the five questions to key in on some of the things that you mentioned, but really key in. So, so taking what I talked about before at a high level and just trying to cram it into a little bit of a like a half an hour to 40 minute exercise and the exercise kind of has the flavor of where yet today, where do you want to get to, how are you going to get there and what skills do you need to develop in order to get there as kind of the, you know, the flavor of what you want the questions to be and the person at the other, you know. So where are you at today in terms of, you know, for bookkeepers, where you're at today in terms of your books? All right. And I'm thinking off the top of my head now, you know, where do you want to be?

KK: 21:01 How are you going to get there? And you know, and as you're having that conversation, there will be many opportunities for you to show how, you know, you can help as the bookkeeper who's running the conversation yet. The other thing I guess that just comes to mind immediately is when you come in with the questions here in control of the conversation. So now you're running the meeting and that gives you many, many more opportunities to show how you can help. So if you're thinking of a story, think of the person on the other end as the, as the actual hero of the story and you're the person who comes along to help the hero of this story achieve what they need to achieve. Let's say you that the meeting needs to feel.

MP: 21:50 That's wonderful. Those are some great, great hints I think in terms of leading our listener into, to creating their own process around these, these interactions with their clients. And a great exercise. Shifting gears slightly, we have a lot of listeners that have staff. You talk a lot about leadership. What is it, what is it that you see, uh, that people need to be thinking about in terms of generating themselves as a better leader?

KK: 22:26 Well, do you know there, there are many different things. Of course, it depends on each person, but there's four areas specifically of leadership that I tend to work with, with my clients on. And then some of them, they, some clients that are really impacted by one or two of these. Um, although there's someone impacted by them all. One is what is your purpose and how does your business and body, your purpose, what is your wires? Simon cynic would say, I don't know if how many of your listeners may have heard of him, but a very interesting fellow, but what, what, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes sure you make, makes your clock tick? You know, having a purpose and then living your life too. That purpose will change you. Um, I had a particular client who discovered his purpose and it was the life-changer for him.

KK: 23:17 It was the thing that gave him the courage to get out of his comfort zone. Um, I, I'm not going to get into the details of what it is. Um, but that is one element of, of leadership that we really work on. The second one is what are your values and what are the culture and strategic values that are going to run your business and are they aligned with your values? And I think this is really important, especially in terms of business culture because if you don't set what your business is going to be, it will get shot some other way, which you know, is usually not good. The third one is what's your mission? How do you do what you do and why you do it? And the fourth one, which I think is really critical for everybody is what's your education? Where do you really want your business to be? So [inaudible], why do you do it? How do you do it and where do you want it to go? You really have the, where do you want it to go and the how do you, all of these things are things that you can share with your staff and get them on board. Understanding where it is you want to take this patients and how they can play a role in helping you do so and how can they be, they can be part of something that's going somewhere rather than something that's just kind of floating along.

MP: 24:38 It's fantastic.

MP: 24:46 Karl, you have a great way of distilling things down to simple, simple concepts that I think the app that enables people to access those things, to think about them. I mean people listening to this episodes like write those lists down the four tenants like and just write out your thoughts around those things. I mean not great exercise for them to take on Cro. The last question I want to ask you is about sticking to business goals and I mean this is one of the things that you help your clients do. It's like the planning and the execution. What can you recommend for them to keep on track?

KK: 25:21 Hello? I mean, I mean, one thing I can recommend is get an accountability partner. Most of us need one. I know I do. Someone who's going to help you who's to contract. The other thing I seriously recommend to all of my clients if we're going to talk about goals, is write them down on paper and at a minimum, read them every day. Some people say, write them down every day. Start Your Day reading your goals, reading your mission, getting your mind in gear and say to yourself, okay, what am I going to do today to achieve those goals? But you know, I mean, I mean, taking it back a step, you know, those calls have to be something you really want to achieve. They have to be created in a way that's going to draw you to them and draw them to you, and there is techniques available on how to do that, but most importantly, they need to be something that you passionately want to achieve in the end. Once you have that thing you passionately want to achieve, make them real by putting them down on paper and make them even more real by reading them every day.

MP: 26:31 Fantastic. Again. And you mentioned accountability partners in their life. And I want to sake a business coach is a great accountability partner. And, and think what you've done today, Carlos' helps our listener understand the power of, of working with the coach and what business coaches do and coaches in general do. Uh, you're a great coach. You already considered to be a successful coach. And, and I also want to say that I think you've really helped our listener understand that business coaches around the world are partners, natural partners for bookkeepers. You're out there advocating for clarity and, and their, their business plans where they're trying to get to. And the financial end of the business is one of the domains of the business that's incredibly important. And so you're an advocate for having the books done and done correctly and having business owners who are empowered around their finances. So I think bookkeepers need to be reaching out to business coaches like yourself and, and working together to help more businesses do a better job of this.

KK: 27:40 Absolutely. You know, this is, this is one getting a hold of your finances, but this is one critical area and getting a hold of your business. So, uh, I, I hear what you're saying, 100%.

MP: 27:53 Beautiful Karl. If people want to learn more about you and want to contact you, what is the best way for them to do that?

KK: 28:02 Well, probably the easiest way for them to do that would be to look clean up on Linkedin as a starting point. Um, of Carl with the K Kramer, k, r, e m, e, r, m and a, the, you know, reach out to me. I look to connect to me. Um, send me a note please. I one told you, usually connect with people who just send me a connection request without a note along with it. Um, and there's a bunch of information there about me. Once we're connected, you'll have all of my website and all of that. That's, that's just an easy way.

MP: 28:35 It's a, it's, it's an easy way and we're going to have that link available.

KK: 28:39 All right. Wonderful.

MP: 28:41 Beautiful. Karl, on behalf of all of our listeners, you've been so generous in your knowledge and how you do things and, and what you've learned along your journey, and you've graciously shared it with all of us and I really, truly want to thank you for doing that.

KK: 28:58 Oh, you're welcome. It's absolutely been my pleasure. That's, that's what I'm here for.

MP: 29:02 Excellent. And with that, Karl, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to the successful bookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 29:18 goodbye.

EP133: Vicki Lynch - Business Tips From A U.S. Air Force Veteran

TSBK - Episode 133 - Vicki Lynch.png
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How do you provide your clients with peace of mind?

Our guest, Vicki Lynch, who is the owner of Bottom Line Accounting Pros and a United States Air Force veteran, does this by getting her clients on a regimented process of routine to help them understand the bigger picture of their financial situation.

After over 20 years of experience in the accounting field, Vicki realized that adopting a system oriented mindset is one of the key things that helped her succeed with her business.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • The importance of having feedback from your clients

  • How to identify your values and what you stand for

  • The benefits of having boundaries

To learn more about Vicki's firm, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click this link.

You can email her at vicki@bottomlinepros.net.


Michael Palmer: 01:19 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is a proud veteran of the United States air force and has worked in the accounting field for over 20 years. She's the founder of bottom-line accounting pros and I'm so very happy to have her on the podcast today. Vicki Lynch, welcome to the show.

Vicki Lynch: 01:42 Thank you, Michael. I'm so happy to be here.

MP: 01:44 Yeah, well it's great. I'm so excited. We've had lots of conversations about your journey and I'm excited about having those stories shared with our listener because every time I speak to you I seem to learn something new, some interesting insight and it really inspiration. So I'm, I'm excited about it.

VL: 02:05 Well thank you. I'm so happy you inspire me to, I listened to this podcast all the time, so I'm very, very excited to be with you.

MP: 02:13 Thank you. That's great. Well, I appreciate that. And before we get into some of these questions I have for you today, I'd love for you to share your journey leading up to where you are today.

VL: 02:25 Well, I've been in accounting for quite a long time. I started as a budget analyst working for department of Defense and then I got out of the air force, worked as a civilian for a while and we moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and as the investment accountant at Barksdale Credit Union. And then my daughter was born three months premature. So I kind of had to look for some alternative ways to uh, work. My husband started a chimney cleaning business. He's a firefighter, he was air force as well. He got us to go job doing the same thing he did in the air force. So when we moved here, some opportunities report because there's a lot of startup businesses here. So we decided to start the chimney cleaning business and then I kind of inherited a couple of accounts and it's just grown exponentially from there. Started in 2000 and we rebranded because after reading the email, I wanted to kind of take myself out of the business when I named it. So we rebranded to bottom line accounting in 2015 and we've just grown. I joined BNI in 2013 I feel like that, that kind of pushed my growth a bit too. But I have a full-time staff accountant and a part-time and ministrative person.

MP: 03:52 So now how, how have you brought your experience in the US air force to what you're doing today?

VL: 03:58 Well, processes regiment, you know, everything's kind of lined out and in the air force you have to have a routine for everything. And, and that was one of the things I loved about the military is there is a routine for how you do everything. Standard operating procedures, just preach, preach, preach, you know, when you're in the military. So I just kind of carried that over to and developing my routine for dealing with my clients. Each client is different, but there are certain things that are done every single month for each client. So we just kind of standardize those procedures and made our own book. And so I kind of like, that's why I liked the pure bookkeeping thing cause it's, everything's the same, your approach to it anyway.

MP: 04:53 Yeah. So you, you, you're a lover of systems and, and, and that comes a lot from the uUS air force. I'm really curious your perspective on business in general. The clients that you have when you come from this highly system-oriented mindset, which, you know, talk a little bit about how that's helped you in your business and, and, and what you see in your client's businesses that, you know, there's a, there's probably a gap, I would imagine.

VL: 05:21 Yes. I mean, when we see most of the time, not all the time, but most of the time we see some people in trouble with their business complete chaos. They come in and they'll have a big projects worth of backup work to do. And it's clear that they have no systems in their business as far as their financial skill. And, and that happens a lot when people go into business, they think, oh, well I can handle, you know, reconciling the checkbook and paying the bills. But when they're doing their business, I mean, their gifts are not an accounting and that, you know, they don't know what they don't know. So when we see them, they're at full tilt jungle madness. And so we find that it's better to give them this process and get them on a regimented process of every routine. And, uh, and catch them up.

VL: 06:23 And, and that way they, they can look at financials every month and then once they get out of the chaos, they can actually see the importance and the information that those financial statements will give them. Now, not everybody wants to get, they say they want the process, but not everybody wants to really buy into the process. So that's where we've kind of had to decide if we can't get you on process, then maybe you know, we're not the best fit for you, you know? So I agree with the concept that, you know, it has to be a good fit on both sides. They kind of have to buy into our philosophy and you know, we kind of meet them where they are and then bring them into a monthly routine that it will benefit them. So some more meeting in the middle.

MP: 07:16 Yeah, I mean it speaks to a couple of things. I think you're, you're setting a standard for the type of client that is going to work great with you and get the most value from working with you. But as well that you're going to get the most value and, and your, you have a way of thinking and a way of doing something that if you don't do it that way, well you're kind of working at yourself. Right. And I think it's a powerful place to be, to have gone and done that thinking and, and to know. And yet you have this opportunity to really help businesses and business owners with this systems mindset to help them improve, get away from the chaos. Now like you say, some people aren't interested in that. I'm curious how that, those conversations have gone. I'm curious on two angles. One, have they gone, what has happened when those conversations have gone really well and someone who's not system driven or system thinking have, have moved to your way of thinking and, and the, and the alternative way where they don't, they don't actually take it up or it's a struggle.

VL: 08:19 Well, I mean it took me a long time to get to where I could. I mean, cause you know, when you're first starting out and you're a one man show, like I was and I was, you know, raising kids and, and just trying to, um, build a little business that turned into something completely different than what I thought it would. But at first, you know, a lot of people just take whoever they can get. But after I grown, I really felt like, and especially when I hired a full-time staff accountant, I mean in the theme of growth, you know, we had to, and my business had to come first. I had asked myself, well, what do I want and what I want my staff accountant to have to put up with, you know, I wouldn't ask her to, to do some of the things that I had done in the, in the, in the past to keep the client happy.

VL: 09:13 So, um, but that was such a healthy thing for me to do was to really say, hey, you know, I've got to have some standards and values and here's the ideal client for us. So those conversations, sometimes they go, well, sometimes not so well, but each time that we've had them, and I mean we try to be as gracious as possible and you know, hopefully be able to recommend someone else to work with them. Not always the case, but um, it's a matter of, you know, we're intentional and we want to be the best fit and we want a client that's gonna be the best fit for us. So if there not receptive, then we just say, you know, it's not a good fit and, and I have to Kinda go find someone else. But it's, it's been empowering though. Cause and even then when I find, when we honor ourselves with those, with those boundaries, three people show up afterward that buy into our philosophy completely.

MP: 10:31 I'm not crazy how that works. I made it, it's like you do something that's totally unrelated but in a way related and yet it opens up, there's like an energy that gets released or something happens. But often, and I think listener would, would likely look for, if it were listening, was to look right. There'd be times in life where it's like, you know, you make a big decision and all of a sudden it opens doors.

VL: 10:55 Yes. Whose heart, it's hard to have those conversations and sometimes, you know, it's, I mean it's never easy, but I will say this, I, I've been at this long enough that I kind of can feel in my gut at this point if, you know, there are certain behaviors that happen. If there's boundaries being crossed from the beginning, then you know it's not a good fit. And so to be honest, I mean now I recognize if I'm saying yes when I really mean no, I have to reevaluate that you can't, you can't concede your boundaries. And I think, I think accountants and bookkeepers in general really have, we all have issues with that. I'm not sure if it's a perfectionist thing or a value thing, but we don't charge enough or we go the extra mile for clients because of the detail of the work that we do.

VL: 11:56 I say it's an intimate relationship that we have with our clients because it really is, and sometimes it's, it's discounted by the client. I think Michael Gerber described that as the bookkeeper or the accountant being invisible until something goes wrong. But those conversations are definitely something that I still have anxiety having them, but in the end of the day, when you honor what you feel is best for your business, good things will happen and that has happened every single time. Once you know, we've had that hard conversation and we've honored our principles and our values and the kind of client that we want and once we just say that it's not a good fit, then we get to three people that are a good fit.

MP: 12:46 Okay. It's, yeah, I think it's a great opportunity for anyone that's listening right now. If you haven't written out your values, what you stand for, this is a great opportunity to do it and the new things will open up as a result and don't make it a difficult thing. It's just simply write down what is it that you wish to have in your life and what you know, what does that look like? What does it sound like? What's that perfect client or ideal client look like? In terms of their character and their values and, and, and so what's one that's big for you with, as an example that I may be a few of our listeners can borrow from you? Uh, what's one of the values, like you say, you know, this is the type of person that I want to work with, their characteristic, if you will.

VL: 13:33 Well, I mean we value like authenticity and integrity because that's sort of what we put out in this office. And I think, I mean, we desire for them to be successful. So I think we convey that this in a relationship that we have with them is as really symbiotic. You know, their success is also tied to ours. So I feel like we want people that will see us as a part of their business. And because we are, I mean, we're very involved in helping, you know, those financials, we'll help them make really good decisions and we convey that by, you know, we've worked into our monthly packages, depending on what level they are, they get either a monthly or quarterly meeting. They have that opportunity to come in. So I guess I really feel like that's a lot of intention and proactivity. That's what we want and that's what we strive to do ourselves, is to be very intentional, very proactive. So those are the kinds of clients that I find that are the best fit.

MP: 14:41 I love that. Thank you for sharing that. That you know, that that's the type of clarity that I'm sure those conversations when you're talking people who are prospective to working with you or current clients that are working with you, this is, this is some of the language that you're using and you're going to come across as a person that wants to be a partner in their organization and be a part of it and help them, help them grow their business. I mean, and that, that's essentially what they're buying. I mean, when you get to the real sores, it's, you know, it's not the bookkeeping they want or the accounting that they want. They want to be successful. They want to have peace of mind. They want to feel like someone else has their back. Uh, so I love that and I think it likely will show up in your website and your language and if you're not clear about those things and there's no way that it can show up.

MP: 15:32 So it does take a little bit of thinking and time put into the business, which has a question come up for you is, we've talked a lot about e-myth bookkeeper and one of the concepts in the world of EMF and for the listener, we talk a lot about the EMF, but if you're not familiar with that it Michael Gerber's EMF, the myth, bookkeepers, a great book for you to pick up and read. But this concept of working on your business versus in your business. So how did you find the time to work on your business when you were getting started?

VL: 16:05 Well, in 2014 I moved my business out of my house, out of my Home Office and into kind of a cohabitation, me and a friend of mine from BNI and she was also in a profit club group with me. We went in together on office space and then another BNI friend of ours came to us, had a bunch of books and we kind of picked one and we started a little accountability group and we picked the, the email to start with. And so twice a month we would get together and go through that workbook and keep each other accountable. And one of the things that I took away from that, which I just, I absolutely loved that book and it spoke so much to me. I saw a lot of myself and Sara that being intentional, writing things down or saying things out loud, there's so much power in that.

VL: 17:07 So I wanted to make sure that I had a vision cause I don't think I'd had one really before then. You know, you just, we were just working and getting five. But I really had a passion for small business and I wanted to channel that and I wanted to make sure that I was building a business that was going to convey the things that I wanted for other small businesses and project that out there. So it started with my staff accountant said, you realize every time you give a talk that you talk about bottomline, peace of mind. I said, I did not realize that. She said you say it all the time. So yeah, we looked at the different websites available, you know, the domain names and stuff. And so I came up with bottom line accounting and then I have a lucky bamboo on my desk. So the bamboo and our logo stands for health, wealth and longevity because that's what we want for our clients and ourselves. Um, I picked the colors of the logo specifically. The blue is dependability and trust and stability. And then a green is also growth in wealth and health. So I was very intentional when I rebranded. There's a lot of intention behind that or Hashtag is bottom line piece of mind.

VL: 18:33 So I mean we've really, and we have bamboo all over this office. So I feel like there's so much power and I am so indebted to my accountability partners, Cheryl and Tommy for that period of time that we spent reading books and keeping each other accountable and how we're going to change and grow our businesses and all of us have done that. It's been really, really amazing.

MP: 19:07 I love that. Thank you for sharing that. There's a lot of messages in there and a lot of inspiration. Really any one of us can do anything that we want to in our life and it, and it really, the key to getting there is you gotta be clear about what is that anything look like and yeah, you got really clear about what you wanted to create in your business and what you wanted it to be about and who you wanted to serve and how you wanted to serve them and that so inspiring to see that now that's leading lots of decisions in your business and I'm excited for your current and future clients because like bottom line, peace of mind. That's it. That's what's on tap over here folks, and look, you deliver that. That's, that goes, I mean it sends ripples into the business that businesses that you work with work with and into their, into the lives of the people that work in those businesses. And I mean we could talk about the, the ripple effect that that goes out. I mean your, your, your making such a big difference in your community in a small way that leads to such a big, big way. And it started with you and that in that group.

VL: 20:19 Yes.

MP: 20:20 Yeah. And I'm, I'm so grateful and, and I think all of us just started with that, that point that, I mean when you sit down and think about how you put yourself out in the world and what you, it's not really even about like money. It's about like what do I want to give, what do I want this business to be? Cause when you give, I think you're saying to the universe, I have enough. But then in response to that, you know, abundance comes in different ways, whether it's meeting people or money or you know, Opportunity that you really probably wouldn't have had otherwise. You know, it all kind of goes together and what you ask for you get. So that's why you have to be very intentional about what you want and also be careful of how you say things. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I'm just making it more of something you don't want. If you talk about what you don't want all the time.

MP: 21:22 I have a very, I won't name this person because you know, he's very good friend, mentor, uh, all sorts of stuff, but said that the first five years of life with, with new children is like living through a meat grinder. And, and I often, because I have young children, I often think about, you know, I tell people yeah, first five years of like a meat grinder and it's like, you know what's probably not a good way for me to be expressing the way that it is? Because guess what, it, it sometimes occurs as though it is like living through a meat grinder and, and yet who's creating that? Right. It's just, it's what I've said. It's what I've created through this conversation. Started as a joke, but literally the words that we use matter they do. And so getting clear, being clear about what we want, love it.

MP: 22:14 And also watching our language and uh, and how we're asking for things to happen in our life. This is what, this is what shows up now have some other questions for you. You know, a lot actually. Um, but I probably won't be Alaska Ball, but this, this one, you know, just sort of popped into my head as we were talking because we're talking about, hey, you're creating your business. You know, there's this, this can do attitude and you know, there, there are people out there now and I've met them and worked with them where it's like, you know what, they, it's not working for them. They're not able to. It's like, why can you have things working while others are not? So when we talk about, you know, you're starting your business, getting clients, how did you get your clients?

VL: 22:57 Okay, truly it was really just word of mouth, referral, every bit of it.

MP: 23:03 So how, tell, tell share, how did that, like did you all of a sudden just some people started calling you out of the blue?

VL: 23:12 Like how I want to, someone that we knew, they worked in an accounting office or a tax office, I believe it was. And they had somebody who'd done some bookkeeping first and people and that, and they moved away and they still had those clients. They were kind, they were associated with the tax office, but they really can service them anymore. So they asked if I was doing the books for my husband's chimney cleaning business and they asked if I'd be interested in taking, you know, these, these five clients on. How did they know you? She was a, a fire department wife. She, her husband worked with my husband.

MP: 23:50 Got It. So the is the people. So we in, in, uh, in, in The Successful Bookkeeper of resources, we have this little complimentary training program, right? And the first one is the seven by five, seven strategies to grow your, your bookkeeping business. And the first one is people, you know, right. So the first clients that you're going to get are from the people that you know are in your network, but they have to know who you are and know that now know something about, you know, like that there's like those, they have to know that you're good at it. They have to know a bunch of stuff. So how did you get that out into the world while that was a, that's a direct, you know combine a direct path, right? It's like they know who you are. They know that there was a business they and they knew that you were doing these books. How, how else did you find business?

VL: 24:41 Well, I think that for the longest time I got referrals from other clients, from the clients that I had. And then, of course, my husband, we sold the chimney cleaning business five years after we started it and he became a real estate agent. So, I mean I think just getting to know people in the community street port Bosure we're where we live and I'm not sure this is still a true statistic, but two years ago it was the number one place in the United States to be an entrepreneur. So there's a lot of small business here, so it's just sort of getting out and getting to know people. The game changer for me though, what took me to the next level was joining a networking group.

MP: 25:28 You mentioned BNI. That was one of my questions actually. So it's one of the, one of the strategies is, is networking. Tell us about that journey.

VL: 25:37 Well, I joined a small networking group. It wasn't BNI but it was still pretty powerful and it was the same premise, but it didn't have the structure that being, I did and I like structure. We had a business coach that came to our networking group and he and I kind of hit it off and he invited me to visit his BNI group and I loved it. I just felt at home with the structure of it. And you know, the whole givers gain philosophy. That's sort of my life philosophy. You know, if you give, you know, then you will, you know, receive good things when you give with a joyful heart. So I love that. And so I ended up switching and I also did a couple of classes with this business coach. She had a group class called profit club that we did. So just getting to know people in the business community was extremely helpful for me and has frilly.

VL: 26:43 Like I said, it was a game-changer. Plus, I mean I didn't get a ton of referrals, you know, when I first started doing the networking. But I found that it made me accountable to my business, you know, standing up thinking about what I was gonna say and how, what I was going to mark it. And it kind of helps form the direction of things, how you want to go. And like again, we get back to the power of what you ask for or you see you're standing up and asking for certain kinds of referrals every week. And the first couple of months that my staff accountant ray and she and my husband are in the same BNI group and she got up and was so excited and I was like, we help people in chaos. Well you know what, we got a lot of chaos.

VL: 27:35 So we plan, we actually talk about our 60 seconds with each other and talk about the things that, that we, that we want. I mean the chaos, the chaos stuff was a very big learning experience. You know, like it's really be careful what you asked for, but it's also a lot of power and being able to market yourself. A lot of people go into BNI and they, they can't, they're very nervous, they don't want to talk in public. And I've seen people be able to like transform how they present themselves through getting up every week, doing a 60 seconds.

MP: 28:15 It's changed a lot of lives. I've got to say, you know, I've spoken to hundreds of bookkeepers and many of them I've come across will say B and i's one of those experiences that changed your life, you know, got them into speaking. Got Them added to their confidence and it really shaped like you have said, to shape the direction of their business. It's a fantastic organization. It's definitely a winner if you find the right group and you invest the time and energy and cost and all that good stuff, but it's a long-run game that will really help your business. Yes. So thank you for sharing that. Now you have talked a little bit with me about pricing and the challenges that you faced pricing your business. Can you share a little bit about that?

VL: 29:02 Okay. Well in accounting we kind of, there's a two tiered thing going on. Number one that you get with the call on the client side if, especially if they are in chaos and they're coming in with a year's worth of bookkeeping or three, you know, and I mean you want to see them get how there's, I always get torn with wanting to see them get healthy and less like, let's get all that done and get them caught up, but we have to charge for our time. And, um, so that kind of his projects have been, well I think everyone makes mistakes when they priced the projects. Now we get a retainer up front for a certain amount of hours. You know, until we get more, when we finish that if we, when we get the other retainer we'll, we'll start working cause you know, we want to dive in and get them all caught up.

VL: 29:49 And so that it does become a big issue for people. And I know plenty of accountants that have taken losses on big projects like that. You know, so the monthly packages, what we strive to get them to, we kind of just did like a startup package and then a next step package, which should you call the essential package and then the growth package and then the profitable package. And I mean we make it customizable to the client. I have been all over the Internet looking for like a formula for value pricing. And you know, sometimes it's hard to get clients to see the value in what you do is they're not lucky their financial statements. So, I mean it, it really, we have to stress to the client that this is what you're getting. You know, they look at, it's a bunch of paper and it's not like a thing that they can do anything with.

VL: 30:48 They're paying for our time and expertise. So I think there's two, the two tier thing that has to go on is you have to have the confidence in yourself and your abilities and experiences and accountant or bookkeeper and make sure that the IR charging a price that's reflective of your experience in and the time. But I do think that, you know, people do better with monthly packages cause it's like a bill. They can budget for it. So that's sort of where we strive with the packages. We want them to be able to budget for the tasks that need to, that are going to be taken over by us. And then we also want to build in a little meeting time in there because the financial statements are going to do them any good if they're not looking at them. Growth won't happen if they aren't aware of where the money's going, how much they're bringing in, what's more bang for their buck, you know, what services can these streamlined some services, what's, what is costing them money versus what is making them money. Because really it is all about the bottom line. So we want them to look at the financials.

MP: 32:02 Yeah. And you, you've mentioned to me about you have a process that determines whether a client is looking at the reports that you're putting together.

VL: 32:12 Yes. If our clients that schedule regular quarterly, monthly meetings that's available in their package, they schedule those meetings. We know they're looking because if they're not, you know, those clients, they'll want to come in when there's an emergency for them. Right. I something doesn't look right and I'm trying to get this loan. Oh, okay. Cause it's important for us to make sure we have that feedback. And I feel sometimes we have to really push for them because we need their feedback. It's a collaborative relationship whether they're working in QuickBooks online with us or whether we have them on desktop and, but it is a very collaborative thing and those financial statements, you know it's kind of like us holding up a mirror to them cause they reflect everything that's going on in the business.

MP: 33:11 It's fantastic. I love it. You know, I'm sure we could have a very long conversation and I, I know we're going to have you back to, to ask cause I have more questions as we're talking. More questions come up but this has been fantastic. I would love for you to share if there's our, our listener wants to learn more about you or connect with you, what's the best way that they can do that?

VL: 33:35 They can certainly look me up on leads in and on Facebook. We have bottom-line accounting pros page on Facebook but we also have a website and that bottom line, pros.net and then anyone can email me at like he was an I v I C K I at bottom line, pros.net.

MP: 33:55 Excellent. That's wonderful. Vicky, on behalf of all of our listeners, I want to thank you so much for generously giving us your wisdom and learnings and some really, really great ideas for growing and being successful in their bookkeeping businesses. This has been great.

VL: 34:15 Oh, thank you, Michael. I was really honored to be on.

MP: 34:18 Beautiful, and with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP132: Gerri Detweiler - Helpful Tips For Business Credit Issues

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Business credit.

For an entrepreneur, it can be a confusing thing.

Enter our guest, Gerri Detweiler.

She is a credit expert, author and speaker who has helped people find reliable answers regarding credit issues for the past 20+ years through her educational programs and materials.

She gives all the needed information for small business owners to make better decisions with tools and strategies to create a financially healthy business.

She has been featured in more than 3000 interviews including on The Today Show, Dateline NBC, The New York Times, USA Today and Reader's Digest.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • What is business credit

  • The benefits of talking to your accounting professionals

  • Where to find free credit tools and resources for bookkeepers

To learn more about Gerri, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click this link.

To access Nav’s free Business Financing Calculators, they can be found here.

To sign up for your Nav account, go here.

Use the coupon code -- podcast.

For Nav's Build Business Credit Checklist, visit this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:30 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today show is going to be a good one. Our guest is an expert who has more than 20 years of experience guiding individuals through the confusing world of credit and has earned a reputation as a reliable source on personal and small business credit. As a result, she is a sought after expert pairing on CNN, the today show, Fox business, and various other television programs. Gerri Detweiler, welcome to the show.

Gerri Detweiler: 02:03 No, thank you so much for having me. I

MP: 02:05 It's great to have you and I'm excited we haven't tackled much of this topic on the podcast. I think this is a bit of a first and such an important topic to be having a conversation about.

GD: 02:16 Yeah, it is. And for me it's just I, I'm, I'm having a great time because I've been involved in the credit world for a couple of decades now and a few years ago I shifted over to primarily working with small business owners and it, the business credit for them credit general for an entrepreneur is, is just such a confusing, uh, thing I hear from business owners all the time. Like business credit, that's a thing. What is it? So it's really fun to get the chance to educate business owners and especially the professionals that work with small business owners who can really have an impact.

MP: 02:51 Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's our audience for sure. Now before we get into all of this, tell us a little bit about your background, how you got became an expert in business and personal credit.

GD: 03:00 Yeah, I completely fell into, it, fell into a job with an advocacy group in Washington DC back when if you wanted a credit card, you'd send our nonprofit organization for dollars and we'd send you a list of low-interest rate credit cards, mostly based in Arkansas. That's where they kept the interest rates. And uh, got to do some really cool things like working on the legislation that gave consumers disclosure of the cost of their credit card before they actually got it in the mail and the legislation that gave us free annual credit reports and plain English disclosures of credit reports. So I have a long history in the consumer credit world. And then about seven or eight years ago, I met a small business attorney, Garrett Sutton, and he was finding that a lot of his small business clients were having some challenges related to business credit.

GD: 03:52 So I thought this is an interesting area to delve into. So together we wrote a book finance your own business. And in the course of writing that book, I interviewed the CEO of Nav and I loved what they were doing, basically like a credit Karma, but for small business. And when my book came out I ended up joining the NAV team full time. So I am focused as director of Education for nab on educated small business owners on credit and financing options and helping them make smart decisions.

MP: 04:12 Oh, wonderful. Well let's, let's maybe start off with, I just love that. I mean your, your, your history of being an advocate. I mean I just have to say thank you for doing that. I mean you're part of what makes probably a, the ability to do business and transact better and more transparent in the world.

MP: 04:41 So thank you for that. On behalf of all our listener. But, uh, you know, when we talk about credit, what's the difference between your, the conversation with businesses and, and speaking to somebody on a personal level?

GD: 04:57 Well, businesses, most business owners don't understand or realize that they are business has its own commercial credit report. So there are business credit agencies that compile credit reports sell and they sell millions of these credit reports every year for insurance and credit and other financial decisions. And most business owners just aren't aware of it. So I'll give you a quick example. I was on a, on a Webinar I did with accounting professionals and someone reached out to me afterwards. She said, yes, I used to work in supplier relations at Walmart and we would pull it down in Brad Street on every supplier that we wanted to work with. And most businesses didn't even realize this was going on.

GD: 05:35 So it's kind of a mystery. And the reason it's a mystery is that there's absolutely no federal or even really state regulations that require any kind of disclosure of business credit to the small business owner. So anyone can check your businesses business credit, but if someone does check it, they don't have to tell you. And you don't get any of, uh, Opportunity, at least under federal law to get a free annual credit report. You don't get an opportunity to be told, hey, you weren't, you didn't qualify for this financing because of your business credit. Here's how to get a copy. There's just nothing around that. So it still remains largely a mystery to the small business community.

MP: 06:16 Wow. Is there anything being done about that?

GD: 06:20 Uh, there are some fairy initial attempts to provide some disclosure. If a business, small businesses credit is breached. And that's the initial attempt. But just saying the word breach reminds me too that it's important for business owners to know that they can't freeze their business credit. Unlike your personal credit where we have have a new federal law that went into effect in September of 2018 in the US this is us law that allows the individual to freeze their personal credit reports for free and also provides the opportunity to, to create and freeze a child's credit report to help prevent, uh, identity theft of children, which is a, a big problem. We don't have anything similar in the business world.

MP: 07:05 Wow. So when you say freeze, what, what, what, what are the implications of that?

GD: 07:12 So when you freeze your consumer credit report, it basically locks it down. And anyone who doesn't already have an existing relationship with you, like your current credit card issuers, for example, cannot access your credit unless you unfreeze it. So if you want to go get a new cell phone or you want to get car insurance, both transactions where they would likely check a credit report, you need to unlock your credit reports prior to this log. You could only get it for free if you're, if you were a victim of identity theft or if you are in a state that provided some protections like Florida, where I live, where if you're a certain age, you could do it for free now because of all the data breaches, you can actually freeze and unfreeze your personal credit reports for free at any time.

MP: 07:56 Oh Wow.

GD: 07:57 So that's, that's a big, that's a big deal for many people too, for, for security and protection and, and uh, anything else that, that, that it's protecting them from,

GD: 08:07 uh, it's really a security protection largely. And if for some people that makes perfect sense for others it may make sense to simply monitor your credit. So you spot anything unusual. It's happening very quickly. I, I feel like it's a case by case basis, whether it makes sense for you, but, uh, if it does, the good thing is you can do it for free now.

MP: 08:26 Beautiful. Well, on the topic of business credit, why should bookkeepers be thinking about this in regards to their own business and as well to their client's businesses?

GD: 08:39 First of all, I think bookkeepers are a key part of the fight business financing ecosystem. And I'm constantly talking to my small business owner audience about how important it is to have their financial information up to date and accurate. There's a number of types of financing that do require you to share information about your business banking relationships and they're looking at basically at things like revenue and cashflow. And so if you are behind on your books or if you're scattered and you're using a personal credit card and a business credit card and a personal account and a business account and you're mixing everything out, it makes it very difficult to qualify for these types of financing that can be very appropriate in many circumstances. So I'm always telling my small business owners, hey, work with your bookkeeper, work with your accounting professional, make sure everything's up to date because this is going to help you when you go to get financing.

GD: 09:35 So for bookkeepers, I think they play a very important role. First of all, they can educate the small business owner on smart things like making sure they have and use a business bank account, making sure they have and use a business credit card as opposed to using their personal credit card, making sure that they are staying up to date, you know, on their, on their bookkeeping. So they have that information available for lenders also to spot fraud. And that's a big issue where bookkeepers can play an important role. And then finally for the bookkeeper themselves, any service professional, right? Really any kind of business that isn't getting paid in full up front for the work they do is at risk. And there are plenty of statistics that show that many freelance and small businesses have outstanding invoices that are taking a long time to get paid.

GD: 10:28 So you don't want to spend a lot of time only to discover, hey, I, you know, I can't collect from this client. And you as a small business owner yourself as a bookkeeper, you can check business credit on prospective clients as well as your current clients. And that may help you spot other things that you know, may just be a, a reason to say, hey, I need, I need a bigger deposit up fraud or I need to get paid more quickly. I'm not going to let you extend to 120-day terms cause I see you have all these a collection accounts, you're having trouble paying other people as well.

MP: 11:09 Absolutely. Now this is, I, you know, it's not often that that that comes up and I would, I would imagine that many bookkeepers aren't doing this, but this is a, this is a practice of having a good credit policy. I mean, when you're doing work for somebody before you get paid, you're about, you're extending credit [inaudible] and, and that's, that's a big deal in a way. You're financing your being a bank for your clients. What, what steps for someone who's never done this before and wants to learn more about it, what are the steps to having a good credit policy inside your business and have the procedures in place to do these types of things?

GD: 11:48 Well, I think first of all, you can tell your client that you are going to check business credit and uh, and then you can disclose that to them. And then they'll say like, what's that? What does that mean? And then you had the opportunity to educate them on, on why that's important. And then also simply having it in writing. What happens if you know, if bills are paid late and making sure that you can charge whatever's allowable and your state. Most small business contracts are pretty flexible. There's not a lot of, a lot of limitations. For example, I'm charging a late fee or interest on outstanding invoices, et Cetera. But the other thing that this makes me think of that is that the bookkeeper's clients, so the bookkeepers business clients are relying on other suppliers and vendors. So this is a whole ecosystem, right? So you have a bookkeeping client who maybe doing great, they're doing fine, they pay you on time, but then a key supplier, a key client for them starts falling behind or goes out of business or what does whatever.

GD: 12:50 And then that sort of starts this domino effect. So for the small business ecosystem, understanding how business credit is a signal for potential problems, it can be very valuable. It can be helpful for you as a small business owner and also for your clients who are small business owners and educating them gives you, it differentiates you as someone who really is trying to help their small business succeed. It is incredibly important and I think that the bookkeeper has a a great opportunity to educate their clients on this because it could be incredibly detrimental to a business even cause business failure. And and in some industries happens often big, big, big organization goes bankrupt and then that sends shockwaves throughout the entire industry. How would you say the bookkeeper should educate themselves about this? Well, first of all, as a, as a small business owner yourself, if you want to come to Nav, you can get a free nav account.

GD: 13:52 And again, we're like Credit Karma for small business. So for those who are in the US you've probably seen the ads for Credit Karma, check your credit for free. And we do that on the small business side. We show the business owner, Equifax, Experian, and Dun and Bradstreet commercial credit reports for free, and then provide free monitoring. So you can do that for free and check it out yourself. And then you can share that with your clients. Say, Hey, you can check your business credit for free. We do also have premium accounts that let the small business owner, like a bookkeeper check business credit on others so they could check, monitor up to five other businesses. You could also, of course, go directly to the credit bureaus. You can go directly to dun and Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax. Although generally commercial credit reports are pretty pricey.

GD: 14:33 They usually start at about $80 and go up for there from there. So I would imagine many, many bookkeepers going to be looking for an inexpensive free option, a to be able to check the credit on their small business owners. So then when you're in there, you can learn how to build business credit yourself. We have a free tool called business asure and it's a pretty simple process, but it, it, it's not nearly as transparent as it is with consumer credits. So with our consumer credit, you get a credit card, you get a student loan, you get a mortgage car loan, and very likely that's going to report to all three of the major consumer credit reporting agencies, right? Equifax, Experian and transunion. So it's all automatic and it's pretty consistent on the business credit side, the consistency is not there. So you may have one company that reports to Dun and Bradstreet, but another that only reports to Experian or to Equifax or to both Experian and Equifax, but not DMV.

GD: 15:31 So there isn't as much data consistency. So often what we're doing and what I'm doing is as you know, an educator is educated, the small business owner on simple ways to build business credit. And two that are super, super simple. One is to get a business credit card, they'll get a small business credit card and the name of Your Business and those report to business credit. And then the second is to get an account or two with the vendors that report. So these are companies that may sell copy paper or shipping supplies, um, Keurig cups for your coffee machine that you use for your, even if it's a home office. Uh, they're very simple to get. They don't check personal credit, they don't report to personal credit, but they help build business credit. And I have a list of several of them in an article I wrote just@navandav.com forward slash vendors with an ass or slash vendors. You can go to companies like you line quill and Granger, get an account with them, pay it on time and that starts building a business credit reference that helps you build this as credit.

MP: 16:35 That's excellent. I'm all, we'll post that link in the show notes as well. A fantastic resource. Are their mistakes, the big mistakes that business owners are making when it comes to their credit. I mean you said a bunch of them when it's Wa, you know, using a personal credit card and all this mumble jumbo going on, which you know, the bookkeeper comes in and goes that, that they're, they're trying to educate and change that and do the work to set it up so that it's clean and efficient for businesses. But sometimes that education can be be difficult. Are there other big mistakes that you see being made?

GD: 17:09 Yeah, they definitely on the credit card side, I would say that many small business owners don't realize how easy it can be to get a small business credit card. They think that their business has to be making a lot of money, has to been in business for awhile. Most of the small business credit cards make the decision based on the owner's personal credit and on, um, income from all sources. So still have a day job. You have a spouse who works, who would pay the bills, whatever it may be. It doesn't have to necessarily just be income from the business. So what I try to encourage business owners to think about is getting that business credit card early on so they establish that line between business and personal early in the process. I will note that we do the majority of small businesses in the u s are what are called non employer firms.

GD: 17:57 They don't have a full time paid employee outside of the business owner themselves and they often are sole proprietorship so they haven't set up a legal structure. We do at Nav recommend it that a small business incorporate in some form LLC, s Corp, c Corp, whatever makes sense for your business and your accounting professional can help you there. But you can build business credit as a sole proprietorship. But to do that you need to at least get on the radar of the business credit agencies and one way that can help is to get the appropriate licenses that may be required in your state or your local area. Because when you file for those licenses, that information may be picked up by the credit bureaus and lease gets you into their database. And then the other things, so you, so for example, you're a sole proprietorship, you file a DBA, a doing business as a fictitious name, and that filing could be picked up by a business credit agency and then you would get a vendor account and a business credit card in the name of that business and that can get you on their radar.

GD: 19:05 So it's a little bit of a process, but it's really not super difficult. It's not super time-consuming. I think it's just one of those things that business owners often put off. And then when they discover, Hey, I've got this great opportunity to get financing but I don't have any business credit and I really, I'm going to have to use my personal credit. Then that's when they say, hey, how, what can I do? And it's, it's hard to play catch up at that point.

MP: 19:37 Absolutely. I think it's a good old saying, dig your well before you're thirsty. That's really comes back to that education. And the service that, uh, a bookkeeper can provide to their clients is, is getting that clear for them, why it's so important for them to be handling this piece? It all goes together in terms of what a bookkeeper is trying to accomplish with a small business owner.

GD: 19:59 It does. It does. And by the way, I do have a free handout that's just a business credibility checklist that I be happy to share. If you want to share it in the show notes and the bookkeepers are welcome to download a copy of it and give it to their clients. So maybe that will make things a little easier.

MP: 20:13 I think that's fantastic. Absolutely. Anything, I think it's one of those things where just like the business owner, our co, our listeners are business owners and, and they probably sitting there thinking, yeah, I should probably be looking into this or spending some time on this. And it's, this is the time now where, you know, to do it, to make it happen and you've got some great resources in order to help them do that. So in terms of where you see the vision and where we're, where you see things going, what would you like to see change in the industry around business, credit, and finance?

GD: 20:51 Well, certainly at nab we're devoted to your transparencies. So we would love to see, even though our competitive advantages that we provide these business credit reports for free, we'd love to see the same kind of disclosures in the, you know, business credit world as the consumer credit world. In other words, business owners know I can check my credit report for free if I file a dispute. It gets handled promptly, et cetera. So we're trying to bring transparency to that ecosystem. But really this is credit in the, in the, in, in the end is a means to an end. It's a means to successfully growing your business and it's just part of your businesses reputation. There's so many interesting things going on in the business credit space now because it's not heavily regulated. And I'll give you a quick example. Experian has recently created a business credit score that pulls data from business social media accounts and can score that data.

GD: 21:52 So they don't, they haven't said which, who they're pulling from. So I'm saying hypothetical, but let's say your Yelp reviews, your TripAdvisor reviews your Facebook business page, your Google reviews, you know, all those types of data sources could be a source to help score a business. And you could look at trends. Are they, are they improving, are they going down? Is their engagement, is the business owner responding? So your business reputation extends beyond just the individual. And I think we all kind of know this but extends to financing now that it's the beyond just the financials of your business, it extends to the entire relationship. Another great example is one of the small business lenders who's doing a lot of online, small business lending. And the CEO said, we can make decisions based on the shipping data of our clients. You know, what boxes are they shipping, what size to what zip codes, how often, how, what's the volume look like? We can use that to help, uh, to help us make lending decisions. So for the small business owner, understand that it, it's beyond your financials, it's your entire business. Reputation is important. And you want to make sure that you're, that you have some sort of system in place to, to monitor that.

MP: 23:06 It's interesting, you know, it a, if I remember learning as a young person, the, I think it's the five C's of credit. Um, or is it the four cs? Can't remember now. Five, five got it. Right. Perfect. But one of those is character and, and don't really think about that. When you think about businesses, it's, oh, it does sort of lean towards, okay, well what are the financials, right? This is how we would make a decision based on the financials. But it's the trend of where things are going. Small businesses looking at it from the character of the business, their business reputation, social media. I mean it's remarkable that that's happening, but very interesting. I mean it's not really that different from evaluating a human being. Right. You know, are they going to, are they someone who shows up on time or there's someone that honors their word, you know, like these are the things that, that a person used to make decisions on to lend credit. And so we're kind of getting back to those times. Really.

GD: 24:00 Yes, exactly. In a, in an era where you could do business with another business that's across the country or across the world, right? So this is, this is using this kind of data allows you to make better decisions for your own business but also allows you to lenders and financing companies to try. What they're really trying to do is they're really trying to reach the small business owner that doesn't have a lot of business credit. They don't have a maybe a, uh, a strong financial footprint that they can target them easily, but they want to find a way to be able to say yes. So very often the, this is alternative type of data is used to try to find a way to lend to these small businesses as opposed to saying no. And uh, one another great example I'll share real quick is, uh, for those who use the square payment readers, take payments or use Amazon to you out Amazon business of some sort or PayPal.

GD: 24:59 You accept payments through PayPal. All of those companies reach out to business owners. Now proactively to offer them financing. When they see that it makes sense and because they sit on the data of that small business, they don't have to go out and hire someone to market to that small business owner. They can reach out directly, they have your contact information so they can say, hey look, you're using PayPal. We think you can get along for x. And so that kind of that, that type of financing is growing very rapidly. It's been very, very successful for those companies and it also gives another alternative to the small business owner looking for financing. So we're going to see a lot of really interesting developments in this space over the next few years.

MP: 25:41 Yeah, it brings up an interesting thought, right? Is that what, what's the payoff really for? You know, why? Why should someone care about this? Is that it financing comes at a cost and so are you seeing that people who take care of their credit are getting a lower cost of borrowing?

GD: 26:00 Yes. If, if they know how to shop and they know what's available to them, what often happens is the small business owner doesn't know and they're stress, they need financing quickly and they go online, they look for something and it turns out to be more expensive than what they thought. The reason is in the, in the US at least on our country, on the consumer side, for us as consumers, we're uh, any lenders required to disclose to us an annual percentage rate and APR. So we can compare rates among different products. There is no such requirement in the, on the business credit side, California did pass the first truth and lending law for small businesses. It has not gone into effect yet and they're still working on the regulations, how the implement it. But this means that sometimes small business financing can be very confusing.

GD: 26:49 And this is one area where I, I constantly am telling my small business audience, talk to your accounting professional, talk to your bookkeeper because they like numbers. Your numbers, it may not be your thing, right? But they like it. They can help you, you can translate the cost of that financing to an APR. So let's say you get an offer for financing with a 1.2 factor rate. Business owner has no clue what that means. They have no clue how that compares to something else. And depending on the length of time they borrow that money, it could end up being a 39% APR or a 75% APR. Depends on how long they take to pay it back. So one of the things we do at nab is we have free calculators that the business owner can use to translate the cost of financing into an APR.

GD: 27:37 These calculators don't collect personal information. They're on our site and and the bookkeeper, if you have your own website, you can put these on your website as well. They're free to free to distribute however you want. But you can also use it to say to your small business owner, hey, um, if you're thinking about financing, you don't understand the cost, let's sit down and talk about it. Because that way they get, they, they actually see how much it costs. And they get a chance to think about, hey, is this really the best deal for me? In some cases you're better off just putting something on a business credit card and paying 17% interest than going with a financing source that sounds really cheap, but turns out to be three times as much and in cost.

MP: 28:24 Wow. That is an incredible resource. And I think something that bookkeepers can market more to their, to their clients that they can provide this type of analysis and preparation, right? It's thinking about the future. Are there going to be credit needs? Are there going to be a, the, you know, these things coming up and, and preparing. So as we've, this conversation has gone, it's like, okay, well what is it? What do we need to do? How do we make our, our credit be as best that we can put ourselves in the best possible position that when you do need to get that credit, you can have the best shot at it. And what are your options? What, what, what is this going to look like? And, and when there's no, when there's little transparency, that's an opportunity for bookkeepers to increase the value of the services that they're offering by, by helping people understand this and take a look at it deeper.

GD: 29:18 Yeah, I think it's really key. And it's also just key to improving the small business ecosystem because if you have a client who gets into really expensive financing that's not affordable, their business is not going to stay around and you're going to lose that client. But we're also gonna lose another small business that could have contributed to our economy. So it's just, it's, for me, it's very satisfying to be able to help small business owner and

GD: 29:42 I'm sure it is for, you know, many bookkeepers to be able to help them take care of that part of their business that they probably don't want to really deal with but have no choice and you can just be such a terrific resource for them. Absolutely. And there's, you know, there's families behind the small businesses as well. So the way to better communities is to help small business be strong in every country where our listeners live. That is definitely one of the key pathways to a great environment for our children, for our families, for the people that we love so, so I love, I love the work that I do is helping bookkeepers. They're at the core of, they're at the front helping small business in every country and you're one of those people that is helping them, so I'm so excited that there's some really cool tools that you can provide and they're free.

GD: 30:31 Free tools are great to help them do a better job of this for themselves, for their clients.

MP:30:37 This has been great. Jerry, anything else that you'd like to share in terms of how people can interact with you and learn more about the things that you are up to?

GD: 30:45 Yeah, absolutely.

MP: 30:46 So we'll put it, we'll definitely put some links in the show notes that I think will be great. Free resources for bookkeepers.

GD: 30:55 In addition, when if when you sign up for a nab account as a bookkeeper, if you want to use, I can give you a promo code, you can get a month free of premium, which allows you to check a business credit on, on up to five other businesses. So when you go to nab.com/freeaccount use the coupon code podcast and we'll upgrade you to a premium account so you can check that business credit on five key or prospective clients that you, that you feel you need to a DJ, keep tabs on.

MP: 31:25 Beautiful. That's excellent. That's exciting. Well again, all of those uh, pieces of information will be in the show notes. Jerry, thank you so much for being on the show today. Uh, I got a lot out of it and I know our listeners will as well.

GD: 31:38 Thank you for the opportunity. Appreciate it.

MP: 31:41 That's great. Well with that we wrap another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 31:55 goodbye.

EP131: Gabrielle Fontaine – How To Succeed As A Virtual Bookkeeper

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Working virtually is the new reality.

As the years fly by, it’s become increasingly popular.

Our guest, Gabrielle Fontaine knows all about it.

She is a freelance bookkeeper who is an expert in working virtually.

As the owner of BookkeepingDirect, she had a 100% virtual bookkeeping service since 2003 as an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Advisor.

She is also the author of the blog, The Freelance Bookkeeper which provides practice building tips and training programs for startup bookkeeping firms and virtual bookkeepers around the globe.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The different challenges virtual bookkeepers face

  • How caring about your virtual clients can improve your relationship with them

  • How doing something that scares you every day can make you successful

To contact and learn more about Gabrielle Fontaine, click here.

To learn more about BookkeepingDirect, visit this link.

For Gabrielle's LinkedIn page, check this out.

For her Twitter page, investigate here.

For her Facebook Page, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:15 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fantastic one. Our guest is a freelance professional bookkeeper and advanced certified QuickBooks pro advisor at bookkeeping direct, which is 100% virtual bookkeeping service firms since 2003 she is also the author of the blog, the freelance bookkeeper, Gabrielle Fontaine, welcome to the podcast.

Gabrielle Fontaine: 01:44 Thank you, Michael.

MP: 01:46 It is great to have you and I know you're also in the top 100 of the QuickBooks pro advisor program. Is that not accurate?

GF: 01:55 Yes it is for 2017 and 2018

MP: 01:59 Beautiful. And I'm sure there is a long list of other accolades that we could put into your bio and that's why I was so excited to have you on the podcast. What those things need to me is that you are passionate about what you do and you have spent a lot of time, in fact probably close to a lifetime working at being who you are today. And so before we get into all the knowledge and wisdom you have about this industry, tell us a little bit about your career leading up to this point.

GF: 02:28 Well really I started off with, well we used to call it many years ago, started in 1990 so I'm old with a secretarial service and then later they were called, um, administrative support business, you know, cause nobody wanted to be called a secretary. Basically, my business was focusing in on transcription. I did a lot of transcription for the insurance profession and I had employees and subcontractors and so forth. And I also some bookkeeping on the side. Mostly accounts payable was the focus. But I did full charge bookkeeping for a few clients. And then I also did professional taxes with that. Um, so I dabbled, I guess you'd say in the accounting side, but it was primarily a, you know, secretarial service slash transcription business for many years. And then I sold that business and relocated. And then when I relocated I decided, okay, I can go get a job or I can start a new business.

GF: 03:34 And I decided that I would start a business and I had the romantic idea that I was going to be in the bookkeeping world more and clean up QuickBooks books. You know, I became a pro advisor and, and all those things. And that was in 2003 when I, but I also decided I would do it totally myself, no employees, and be a highly paid consultant. That was the original plan. Uh, but then it morphed into what happened is I learned that I learned Internet marketing and I started with a blog that was a video blog that taught, you know, practical ways to help business owners use QuickBooks to improve their business. And that attracted plenty of business. I got lots of business from that, but I also attracted a lot of bookkeepers. And then also I found that business owners wanted me to train them as opposed to fix their books.

GF: 04:28 And then once you train them, ultimately you know you're doing cleanup work and you end up getting the bookkeeping work. So that's how it all kind of morphed. Hopefully, that's helpful for others to see a path that they can go in. But it turned into bookkeeping. I still do a lot of consulting and in fact I do more consulting now than ever, but it also was where my blog, the freelance bookkeeper was born. I created that because I was attracting so many bookkeepers who wanted to work virtually like I was working and they wanted me to teach them how to do that, but they were doing it on my blog, which was confusing to the business owners. So then I started a separate blog for them, which is how the freelance bookkeeper was started. So big long history there, but it was, I say I was the accidental trainer and a thought leader in the bookkeeping world.

MP: 05:24 Wow. I love that journey. It's so interesting. So, so many I think unique to the industry experiences that you brought together. I mean learning Internet marketing, having another business, transcription, business administration, that sort of thing, and then bringing it to where you are today. Yeah, I can see why that would have been really valuable to your business. You went virtual, so you were, you focused more on virtual bookkeeping. What had you make that decision to do it that way?

GF: 05:53 Well because in my transcription business before I it, that was about the time where the administrative services was becoming virtual assistance and back then nobody knew what virtual assistants were, what they were, were, you know, secretarial businesses that then went online. So I was aware of that and I guess in a crude way, in my old business I was semi virtual in the sense that I did not go to my clients. Most of my clients were local. I did not go to their location to do the work. They came to me or they sent in their information and that in a sense was the beginning of virtual. So I knew that when I sold that business and then relocated, I went from the Boston area to Philadelphia. When I went there, I knew that I had the opportunity to work through the Internet and work from home because I left out.

GF: 06:52 When I originally started my first business, it started as a home base business. But then as it grew I went to, you know, a main street location, commercial office, had employees and all that. So that then when I sold that and then relocated, I knew I wanted, if I was going to go start another business, I wanted to be home-based again because I tasted both and I wanted it to be through the Internet. I did. There was no way I wanted to go to client's location or have them coming to me because when I had the home base, I did have clients coming to, you know, I had it set aside from my house, but people in some ways it's still the same, but it's better now that people, when you're home-based think you don't have a real business. And then when I went off as base, there was a big difference so that I knew now I wanted it to just all be through the Internet so that they didn't really, it didn't matter whether it was home-based or had an office, so that's kind of the thought. It was a conscious decision, but it was with the intention of staying Solo, which now if we were going to zoom up to, right now I do have a VA that helps me. I have some, a virtual contractors that help me, but I, that's what I need to be doing now because I need to have more of a virtual team. But the good news is we can do that nowadays. Back in 2003 that was a little bit of a challenge.

GF: 08:11 Well that was my, Mike, as you were speaking as my, my thought is starting a virtual bookkeeping service from and 2003 would be very different than today.

MP: 08:20 What are some of those differences and what, what, what's that journey been like?

GF: 08:26 Well back then, and of course I remember at first like webinars were cutting edge and new and it was only usually in large corporations but into, it was doing it for the pro advisor program using Citrix. And when you were a pro advisor back then, it also included that you got, I don't even remember what it was called now, but it was like the remote access through Citrix where with your clients you could connect to their computer and then their computer and we still have that technology now, but back then that was kind of like the only way because it was all desktop software. There was no cloud-based software. So you had to either go physically to a client's location or you did the bookkeeping on your own computer and then the clients never touched it. You just gave them reports, which again, nowadays there are still some clients that don't want access at all to their books.

GF: 09:20 But usually it was the client that had, and I'm in the QuickBooks world, so they would have QuickBooks desktop on their computer. They want you to do their bookkeeping. The only way you could do that virtually was with remote access. And at the time Citrix was pretty much the only game in town. There was also, um, go to my PC was another option. The downside with a lot of those is that it's called attended access so that the client had to, you know, you had to set up an appointment or a time so that you could log onto their computer and then you're operating their computer remotely so the client can't use the computer. Also, from a security standpoint, it's not so great because it means somebody, if they, if it's in their office and anybody else's around, they could see what's going on and they might be seeing the financial stuff that's going on and that's not great security, but that's how it all started was with remote access. It was before there was any cloud-based program.

MP: 10:20 It's amazing just to hear that, and I'm sure there's some listeners listening going, gee, those were simpler times. Let's go back to those times.

GF: 10:27 In some ways there were other tech channels, a lot of tech challenges with the client. We'll forget and turn off their computer. It was hard to print things because you, if you needed to print you or you'd be printing in their office, but you needed something where you were. So there were a lot of little glitches that would get there. The log me in later came in and you always wanted unintended access and then that was much better. Um, but it's still you are taking over a computer for the client and I know that there are still some bookkeepers who are using this technology.

MP: 11:07 Absolutely. The way we see the conversations actually in the Facebook group. In fact just recently where there was someone on there that said that they're never going to switch now. Never say never, never going to switch from desktop and they're using, you know, there's better technology, all sorts of different things that they can do to have a desktop version B for in the, in the cloud and be virtual. Right. Just to get it just interesting, right. There are two different really two different products and they do different things. They have it, you know, the outcome is the same, but getting there is, is, is different. So that is a lot about how before we got on to this interview, you and I had a conversation about the, the rate of change in the industry. Now looking at today with the way things are today and operating as a virtual bookkeeper, do you see as the challenges that you're facing right now?

GF: 11:56 Probably the biggest challenge I guess I face it as well, but I, but I think all bookkeepers who are embracing the virtual face, this, it's the technology is changing so fast that to try to keep up with it and try to stay on top of maximizing the benefits for yourself and your client that you need, you have to put aside time to be learning it and when you're busy already that can be a challenge. But I think it's essential in order to, to keep up because times they are a changing times, they are changing and it's accelerating. I mean I just came back, uh, at the time of this recording I just came back from QuickBooks connect and we're seeing the next level of technology that is amazing coming in and we're going to have to, all of us, uh, self-included. I've got a little bit of a jumpstart on this, but we need to change the skills that we, we offer our clients to stay relevant. And there are several different paths that we can take depending on what our goals are in our business. For me, I'm going down the advisory route. So as I mentioned earlier, I'm doing more and more consulting and that includes, you know, being more of that trusted advisor and what is most valuable to the clients. So that adds a whole new layer of skills and learning besides the tech. So I'd say that's the biggest challenge is just, you know, keeping up and learning while still getting the work done.

GF: 13:35 It is, and, and I remember working back while it would have been back in a similar timeframe, 2006 with salesforce.com there was that they were running to get to monthly update software updates. And it's interesting how now today in 2018 they're almost at like weekly updates. It seems on all of these different software programs which provide it. So it's a challenge for the users. It was back then it was like, Yay, updates please. You know, like at what used to be like, well we have an update coming out in the next three years. Right? Hey. And then it was like, wow, once a year and then monthly it's like Yay. More updates more at the end. Now it's like, Hey, slow it down. Like moving my cheese every day here. What's going on?

GF: 14:22 That's a fantastic point because that is a difference. And I bet some of the bookkeepers and accountants that dig their heels in and say, I am not moving off of desktop. I am sticking with desktop. And part of that reason is an advantage to desktop software is that we are in more control because you upgraded when you were ready to upgrade, but when you go to the cloud and using cloud-based software, it, it upgrades and they don't even necessarily tell you about it. I mean with QuickBooks you can just go in and like, oh look at that. There's something new. So you have no, it's almost no warning. Only when they do major changes do you usually get told that there's, something's going to change, but yeah, that it's a package deal. Everything's a package deal.

MP: 15:05 You got it. You got it. Now you, you mentioned that you're moving into advisory services. What and really the learning, the key learnings that you're going to have to go, and that's a big challenge is you've got to learn new things. How, how do you see that if, if our listeners are listening to this and thinking, well, Gee, I, I too want to do that. What's your advice to them to prepare themselves to be able to take on an advisory role like that?

GF: 15:33 Well, damn boy, there's a lot that I could say to answer that, but you have to realize that because we are working and as bookkeepers, we are the closest I believe to the business owner. Even closer.

MP: 15:46 Yeah. Here, here, here, here. Let that be heard across the industry. I, you're the first that said that in the podcast. I absolutely love that.

GF: 15:58 We are. And therefore we also, this is where all my marketing comes in because marketing has a very big learning curve as well, but marketing is all about psychology and influencing. Now with money, money is very emotional. People are you, they're running their business, the business owner, this is their baby and it's how they're living. It's the money. So it's very emotional as bookkeepers, we are there helping them with the most vital thing in their business, their cashflow, and you know, the financial health of their business. Most of us don't realize what a position that is. So I think we all can move and oh, it's morally should move more to advisory because our clients already trust us and we can give them small bits of advice. Even if they don't look at us as an advisor, we can help them recognize the value that we have to offer by simply making small suggestions that will have a material impact on their cashflow, on their profitability.

GF: 17:10 Those are things on their taxes. Those are things that the business owner really cares about. And despite the heat I can get, the vast majority of accountants do not do that for their clients. They see them once a year after the end of the year, do their taxes when the business owner can't do anything to improve their tax situation. And because the accountant is slammed during tax season, they're not giving them any recommendations on how to run their business more profitably and fix their cashflow. They're just trying to get the tax returns done. So I think that it's a prime opportunity for bookkeepers to step in and become more of that trusted advisor by just looking at ways to help improve cashflow, reduce taxes, improve profitability. Those three things you're not going to get your clients not wanting to hear about. So I'd say start where you are and start doing that and then build it up until you feel more confident and getting good results for your clients and then you can spin it off as an additional service to the bookkeeping.

MP: 18:27 So well

MP: 18:28 said. I absolutely love that. You know, I would say that a question would be, you know, how do you start having those Katia start making those little advances for and improvements for your clients. If you're, if this is not something you're doing now and you want to start doing that, what's, what's that first step look like? I can tell you the easiest way is when you've done the reconciliations so that you know now the books are all complete for the month. Run the reports and don't just run the reports and hand them over to the client, you know, email them to the client. Where you want to do is, first of all, yourself, take a little time and analyze and take a look like what's good, what's going well in the business, what you know, what road are they going down that could be dangerous in time.

GF: 19:17 I think a lot of bookkeepers don't stop to think about what are the numbers mean. They just wait until it's balanced and then they're onto the next, take a couple of minutes and take an interest in the financial wellbeing of your client on your own. And then if you notice something that you think they would want to know about, you know maybe there's a lot of spending on their subscriptions are getting pretty big. You know you see a trend that it's getting pretty expensive. Maybe there's some fat that could be cut there. You could mention it that you've noticed that to the clients. So I'd recommend that if you notice things, note it down and then however you're communicating with the client, you should be having regular meetings. Maybe it won't be every month. I know that can be a challenge because sometimes the clients that like I don't have time, I don't want to talk, but in some way that is quick and easy.

GF: 20:11 You want to have a meeting at least quarterly, I'd say with your clients to just sit down and tell them some of the things that you've noticed and you could also do it if you're truly working virtual and your clients are only, it could be local to, you can make a short video and do this to just point out certain things that you've noticed and give it to the client and watch their reaction. I do recommend first though, just have a meeting with them to let them know what's going on in the books and then also ask them questions about the business. Some things that maybe you don't understand or it could be just how is it going? Are there goals that you have for next year that you'd like to reach in your business? Start showing more interest and be curious to learn more about the business itself and it just takes a couple of questions.

GF: 21:05 I've done this. And it is amazing that the, because the business owner doesn't have anybody really to talk to generally even their spouse, unless the spouse works in the business, nobody else understands because they're entrepreneurs and the vast majority of the population are not. So they're happy to have someone who already understands their business, you know, at least financially being curious and wanting to know what's going on in the business and asking them about their goals or things they want to improve in the business with the thought of how can I help you? How can I support you to reach that goal? The client will blossom. They'll start telling you about things that you never knew about in their business. And the key part is because you care, because you're interested, their subconscious trust of you is going to grow and you will now be stepping, morphing into that role of advisor, and you'll find that the client will start to come to you to ask for your advice on different things that they're doing in the business.

GF: 22:12 But it starts with simply looking at the financials and looking for patterns or ways that you think that they could become stronger financially and then mentioning it to them having a regular meeting at least quarterly with the client. It doesn't have to be long, but just something to kind of give them an update on what you see going on in the business and then ask them, kind of compare notes with them. I work very collaborative, so I, of course, I always want it to be like they see me as a partner, not as, you know, a hired hand, so hopefully that helps.

MP: 22:43 Oh, it's music to my ears. I mean, when you think about, I'm sure when, when your clients get the bill from you, it's not one of the bills that they just regret having to pay because you, you, you, you're exactly. You are in an investment into their business. Like hiring a business coach, right? When people are hiring a business coach, you know, there's that connection. It's like this person's helping me get to what I want to get to. If you can be in that same or similar vein, you're, you're going to be in much better a retention of your clients. But we had some fun, actually, a little bit of fun with this conversation is, uh, recently we were at a conference, we were giving away tee shirts and the tee shirts said, I show you the money. And, and that was a play on words from the movie Jerry Maguire which is, you know, in the scene with where he's like, help me help you, you know, help me, help me, show me the money.

MP: 23:36 It's like, help me show you, you know, so I can show you the money. And essentially, uh, what you're saying is, is there, right bang onto that as that your, that person that's there, that's there to help show the money that's going to end up in their bank accounts and you're going to provide the education for their kids, all these wonderful things that this entrepreneur is doing, all this hard work to get to, you become the bridge to actually really helping them get there. And there's a few I think in the industry that are really helping small business owners do this. And so this is, I love that you brought this up. I think you're a pro at this. You, the language you're using, how you're approaching this is absolutely beautiful because we w you know, one of the things that we're passionate around here in The Successful Bookkeeper community is helping small businesses thrive.

MP: 24:27 When we do that, we're, we're moving the world in a better it into a better direction. So, uh, love that and you've provided a really clear access to just everybody can start doing this right away. Start positioning this with your clients and help, help them understand how you can help them and they will start to warm up to you. I, I remember the story of a man, a bookkeeper at a conference and she was talking about how she approaches her clients and as an entrepreneur myself running a business and all that good stuff, the way she was talking about how she treated her clients, I literally wanted to hug her and put my head on her shoulders. You know, it's just like this feeling of someone totally getting where I'm at and getting what I'm dealing with is so powerful.

GF: 25:15 Yes. It's the exact, that old saying that they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

MP: 25:21 The magic ingredient is caring. Totally agree. And you know what? This community, I have not come across a community other than the healthcare community that cares as much about what they do and who they do it for. There's so many caring people out there. So if you're one of those people, if you actually care about what you do, this is going to work for you and work well. It's just we need to get them to understand all your knowledge through this opportunity of having them actually get that you actually care. I think. I think that a lot of the clients out there and the bookkeeper's working with them, they're not putting this out there to their clients, so they don't even know they're invisible. Right. And that's, that's a, that's a dangerous place from a business standpoint, not commercially smart. As my, one of my mentors says, Matt Church says, you know, commercially smart, be commercially smart and as well it's not fulfilling because you're actually not able to be reward at an a and appreciated for the good, the goodness that you're doing for these clients. And that's, that's leadership. So if someone's, what can you say about stepping into that leadership position really in role of starting to say, Hey, I see something that's not going well. What do they have to overcome for themselves to start doing this?

GF: 26:44 Well, of course, that comes to confidence and you recognizing your own value. But it also comes to putting yourself in the shoes of the business owner. If they're hiring someone with your skills that they don't have your professional financial skills, they're going to be looking to you to lead them, to advise them, to show them the way to have clean books so that they can sleep well at night. So we need to step into that leadership. If we act as though they are a boss and we are an employee and we're just waiting for them to tell us what to do, that's when they're respect of us will go down and I would say it's a downward spiral for us, our own self-esteem and our own self-worth. So it's being willing to stretch your comfort zone to take the lead, be proactive and trust that you have knowledge and abilities that your client does not have that's valuable to them and then just do it because the learning is in the doing.

GF: 27:49 That's always what I teach on my blog and in my programs is that we can learn academically. But the way that we get the confidence and that we really see our own value is just by doing it. And it starts with small, small baby steps. You know, I love that expression from Eleanor Roosevelt that says that you should do something that scares you every day and I think that should be in little increments. And then what you'll find over time is that you'll realize I really am valuable to my clients. I really do have knowledge. And skills that can make their business take off and then I can be well rewarded for that in the process. Building that win, win upward spiral.

MP: 28:41 Wow. That is, it's brilliant. You know, very clear. This is not your first Rodeo you, yeah, you have, we've, you've not only built your own businesses and you're onto your second successful business as a virtual bookkeeping services firm, but as well you've started the, the freelance bookkeeper blog, which helps a lot of bookkeepers and you coach and mentor a lot of bookkeepers. And so you, you really get where they're at. Not only do you get where they're at, you've been there, you're doing it yourself. So we have listeners that are come from every stage of the business from, I'm thinking about starting a business to just started to, I'm tearing my hair out to, I gotta hire staff to darn these staff. Right, right. So there's, is there some common themes around that journey and I think you just mentioned one of them, which is the mindset and and, and understanding your own self worth, but from you coaching and mentoring and working with bookkeepers for a long time now, what are some of the key things that you've seen people do to be more successful or take to be in a position to be able to take bigger risks every day or you know, what was the quote again that you said from Eleanor Roosevelt?

GF: 29:56 It was do something that scares you. Yes, every day.

MP: 29:53Every day. So what, what, what are some of those things that you've seen through your journey of what are the things that scare them?

GF: 30:05 I say it's baby steps. You and I always say start where you are right now and then do something small that scares you. And usually, that means being more proactive. I mean, the example is if you're not regularly meeting with your clients, start meeting with them at least quarterly. And even if you get pushback with them because your intention is to help them. But that might scare you or making a wreck. I hear this one all the time with this whole idea of going to a more advisory model, and I've heard this from CPAs as well, that they say, oh, I don't feel it. It's my position to tell my client what to do in their business. That's up to them. I, I'm just doing the bookkeeping. And in that thought pattern is that you don't value what you can help them with.

GF: 30:58 But it's, it's more like seeing a disaster coming and saying, oh well it's not my job to, you know, tell somebody that you know, a tornado is coming. Um, no, we need to step up and care and help. But it starts with just doing little things, something every day to move forward in the direction of the way you want your business to go. That also benefits your clients. So it's, it's the baby steps of just get the practice of doing, not always all the learning, it's the doing of implementing what you learn quickly and even if it scares you, but do it a little.

MP: 31:36 Excellent. And I'll add into that persistence and what I see and hear a lot is, you know it didn't work right? It's like they said no, they turned me down and if, if it's common, common, common even in, I mean we can talk about sales, right? It's like why is that? I said, I sent them the email. What is going to add? And I never heard back. It's like you know that in today's world it's like there's like eight followups that need to happen on average before a sale happens. I'll probably not in this industry that it would take that many, but these are entrepreneurs that are, you know, busy. They get lots of emails there. They may have missed the email, all sorts of different reasons why that would've happened. So asking a client to meet and them selling, turning you down it, that could stop and has stopped so many.

MP: 32:25 And so it's like, good. Guess what? Gabriel's doing it. She's been doing it. It's working, it's working great. Her, her customers love her. You too can do this and it won't go. It won't turn into awesome for step. It'll take those baby steps. There's like when we say baby steps, it's like, yeah, there's a lot more for those steps required, isn't there? So, uh, I think taking your, your advice here and actually just going in and keep doing it, it will work. You might not be good at it. You might not have the right positioning, the right conversation, the right script, whatever it is. Go to your communities, go to the, your support groups. You can do this. But if you're trying to do it alone, you're going to get stopped. And that's the one thing that I want. I don't want any of our listeners to get stopped on their journey to being more valuable with their clients.

MP: 33:14 And you brought up a good point that, you know, might get told, okay, go have a meeting with your clients. And then the clients will push back and say, no. So you need to have a plan B. If the purpose is to show the client how you can benefit them in baby steps in little ways, if they're pushing back and say, no, I'm too busy. I can't meet with you. I don't have time, just send me the reports. It's fine. So then do a little video. If there's an app, which here's your little takeaway, there's an app that I learned about recently, if you haven't heard about it called loom, l o m that is free and it works through your browser that you can make a video, you can do it, it can be you talking at a Webcam, it could be just a screen capture video or it could be a combination.

MP: 34:01 But you could say in a short video, you know, five minutes, a five-minute video talking to your client as though they were sitting right in front of you. And then go through and show them the reports. You wouldn't even have to go on camera, but they would hear your voice and you can send that to them and say, Hey, I know that you were so busy, but I really wanted to share this little information that I found that I thought would be helpful to you in your business. Send him the video. I bet you they will be delighted and loom makes it really easy. So the point to bring back, I mean, that's a material thing you could do, but the point to bring back is if you try something and you get pushed back or it doesn't work, have a plan B. Remember what your purpose is. And also remember what Michael Just said, that you know, it's gonna feel uncomfortable at first, but that's okay. It's, you're growing. So you learn by just trying different things and seeing what works.

GF: 34:59 Well said. And you know, it, I think of an experience that I had where it was our very first seminar. It was a seminar talking about the pure bookkeeping system. And I invited a whole bunch of bookkeepers. There was like 20 bookkeepers that came to learn about this and nobody was interested. I was like, oh, like and you know, went to my business partner, Peter Cook and said, you know, nobody, you know, I was, you know, upset, you know, like disappointed. It's like I blew it, right? And he says, it's fine. You just, nobody any value. And as hard as it was to hear that it was just simply, it's not that anything was wrong. I didn't do anything wrong, I just didn't do the right things. Right. And so I think in selling, I think in, because this is sales, to get time from a business owner and to show your value, you need to sell them on your value and they have to see the value.

GF: 36:00 So it's like, it's gonna take a few times. And I've been presenting and selling and doing all sorts of things. We're a great part of my life. It's been a growing businesses. It's necessary. And yet still at the age of, I think I was a 40 years old at that time, I failed horribly. And if I didn't have the mentor and the support from other people to go, hey, either I go and have a plan B, like you say, where would we be? We wouldn't, we would never have gotten a customer. And so that's, I hope, I hope a personal hurt story that can help others have the, the just the, it's like, yeah, you know what, that hurt, rejection hurts. But it's, it's just, it can be changed and turned into success and, and, and great success by just keeping at it and going through the pain and getting to what actually works and, and showing value.

MP: 36:53 Yes. Perfect. That's exactly right.

MP: 36:56 There's so much noise out there around what can be done and how you can do is like fast and you know, when you get down to it, it's like, hey, you said there's simple things at work. You know what works for your business because you're doing it. And I find that when people are talking about all these like Ninja moves are like magical stuff, you know, instant customers. It's like, you know what? Those are people that are selling you stuff that they don't have never done it.

GF: 37:23 Yeah. And that's what my concern is because I mean both you and I know accountants and bookkeepers. What happens is they realize now they have to do all this content marketing, online marketing. Right now it's mainstreaming. You kind of have to in social media, all of that. And they buy all the courses and learn whatever, but then they realize they can't do this and they don't have the skills to do it. And so then what did they do? Turn done for you marketing that are coming into the profession and the done for you. People are doing cookie cutter and it, they don't really understand the profession. They're certainly not customizing it for each business, which is the whole point. You're building a relationship, right? And they're trying to fame that and it just, it's bad.

GF: 38:07 And, and a lot of people are getting taken for a lot of money. MP: 38:10 Yes, exactly. Which is, which is unfortunate. And I've, I've heard like I've heard and seen and met people that have spent money that would make you nauseous. I mean, it's, it's more money than, I mean it's down payments on homes, uh, yeah. On, on absolute rubbish. Uh, which, which is, you know, it's, it's where, this is the thing we, we want to help people realize that. And you know, you get down to the basics, the basic still work and baby steps. Same thing, right? You're not good at it. Just baby steps get a little bit better and all that.

GF: 38:44 I've, I've heard this from other speakers, but at QuickBooks connect I went to Paul shrimp links, which I had just met him cause we had so many from England there, the UK and he did a, a fantastic presentation that the whole point of it to come away from is we need to change the way we've been doing things. But the way he, he said is because we've got ingrained habits, you know, of how we've always done things and we can't keep doing that or it's not going to work. So he did, and I've heard this before, like when you clasp your hands together and then you know, fold them out, almost like you going to pray or something, which thumb is on top, it's probably your dominant hand. And then he says switch it so that your other, you know, you move your fingers and switch so that the other thumb is on top.

GF: 39:27 When you do that, it usually feels uncomfortable but the better one. And he also said, you know, if you wear a watch, take it off, put it on the other arm, and then just kind of see how that feels. And then the best one to me of all is fold your arms, seek notice which hands on top of which hand is tucked. And then he says, switch it. And that's the one that's hard. That one's really hard to do. And then, you know, just sit with that for a while, see how it feels and it feels uncomfortable. You're probably real clumsy doing it. That's exactly what has to happen when we change is we have to accept. It's going to take us long where exactly what you said, we're going to fail. We're going to have all that. But know that you have to change, you have to change your patterns in order to get to where you want to be. And I just thought that was great because it's so easy to remember.

MP: 40:22 I love that. That's useful. Well, it is. It's really valuable. And I, I remember at boat, well about six, six months ago, a person showed me how to tie my shoes differently. Can you believe that?

GF: 40:35 Yeah. It was like, there's one way. It's like if I had the way I was tying it as I was going over, and I don't know if this is going to translate in a podcast, but I'm trying the, the loop. So I got the loop and I'm putting the, I'm gonna make the other loop. I'm going over top of the loop. If you go underneath the loop, your shoes will not come on tide. Very unlikely. Very unlikely that they'll ever on come to, as you saw my shoe was untidy, came over to me and he said, look, I will, I will show you how you will never have your shoes come on tight again.

GF: 41:05 And so going underneath the loop and tying it for whatever reason, maybe it's like turning into a sheep shank or I am a past boy scout. So I don't know exactly what that nod is, but shame on me. I lost my badge now. But, um, it, it to do that took me a long time to actually get better at it and actually remember to do it each time. But now that's the way I tie my shoes and yeah, because there was like, hey, there's just going to be this benefit at the end. It's like I don't, I hate tying up my shoes. It's just kind of, I don't know why that's such a problem, but you know, I was like, oh, it's just like bend over and tie him up. But in my shoes never come on tide anymore. It's wonderful.

MP: 41:44 Yeah.

GF: 41:45 Yeah. See it. It's great. And it's changing what it is. It's just the way our brain works. The brain tries to create automation, if you will. You know what to make a pattern so that then you don't have to think about it anymore because you're in a computer terms, you're ram, you know, you're conscious where you're making decisions and so forth. We only have so much mental energy and we can burn through it pretty quick. So that's why your brain tries to create all these patterns that run in the background, which are the habits. But when you change your habits, that's where the power comes in. But it's hard to change habits and that's exactly, you know what we're talking about. But we need to do it in the business and that's, it's hard. But if we stick with it, that's where the points you brought out about, you know, just try it one giving up too early. You have to be tenacious, you have to be sticking with it. And I have to say that too, that that's part of the reason I think I've had success is I figured out that I'm just so stubborn, tenacious that I will figure something out. I will get it done. Whereas I think other people will tend to give up quickly. I didn't say that.

MP: 42:49 Absolutely. Why you've been successful. Absolutely. Why you've been successful. That's wonderful. Wonderful conversation. I have a feeling that we could probably do about 20 different episodes with you and we're, we're getting up on time and so I wanna I wanna make sure that, uh, our listeners know where they can find out more about you and get more of this wonderful knowledge that you have. What's the best way for them to do that?

GF: 43:14 The best way is to just go to my blog, which is the freelancebookkeeper.com and if you want to bypass the opt in, because that's just to get the notifications at the base domain, just put a forward slash blog and that takes you straight to the blog and you can look around and see the different articles that are there. We talk a lot about the tech of course, but then also the marketing and how to attract more clients is a big one. And then some about workflow in your own internal workings as well. But of course you've mostly got that handled if you're using the pure bookkeeping system. I'm sure.

MP: 43:51 Absolutely. Well, you know what, that sounds excellent. And I think having more information and more access to thought leaders like yourself, this is what every business owner needs to have his input and information of people that have gone and done the work and then are now sharing it back to the community. So thank you so much for your generosity and sharing your wisdom and experiences with all of our listeners today.

GF: 44:05 Well, thank you, Michael, for having me on the show.

MP: 44: 08 It's been our pleasure. And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business resources, you can

MP: 44:32 go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP130: Stacey Hanke - How Your Brand Can Attract Clients

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How is your brand communicating to others?

Today’s fast-paced business environment requires leaders who can create impact and influence others with sound communication practices.

Our guest, Stacey Hanke has trained over 15,000 executives to influence, persuade, sell, or simply effectively communicate face-to-face with a clear brand message.

She runs Stacey Hanke Inc. which is a company that exists to equip leaders within organizations to communicate with confidence, presence and authenticity, day in and day out.

She is also the author of Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be Monday to Monday. It provides a step-by-step method for improving communication and producing the ideal type of influence that moves people to action long after an interaction is over.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to navigate through transitions

  • Importance of consistency in your personal brand

  • How to create effective value ads

To view Stacey's website, click here.

To look at her LinkedIn page, visit this link.

To get her book, Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be Monday to Monday, visit here.


Michael Palmer: 01:23 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest runs Stacy Honky Inc, which is a company that exists to equip leaders within organizations to communicate with confidence, presence and authenticity day in and day out. She is also the author of influence, redefined be the leader you were meant to be Monday to Monday. Stacy Hanke, welcome to the podcast.

Stacey Hanke: 01:56 That was well done things. Michael its my honor. I appreciate it.

MP: 02:00 Hey, it is our honor and thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show and I know that our listeners are going to get a lot out of it today, but before we get into it, please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being Stacey Hanke of today. That's like such a loaded, yeah,

MP: 02:19 always a loaded question, right?

SH: 02:23 It is.

MP: 02:24 I feel sorry for you. I want to ask you that.

SH: 02:26 How much time do you have in your really, we, we just turned 16 years. The business turned 16 years in, in August and our main focus is really helping individuals, mostly leaders. We tend to play in that spot of directors to the CEO, helping them become more aware of how much influence they have rather than what they believe to be true. And I fell into it, Michael. I wanted to be in radio. I wanted to be a TV broadcaster coming right out of college. Obviously, that did not work because we're talking today. So my steps before the 16 run with the business started, I was always in corporate world and did a lot of training for some big corporations. Target being one of them. And what I found was no matter what I would train and I was, I was the Goto for everything from customer service to time management, leadership skills, broad topic areas.

SH: 03:18 What I've realized that no matter how smart someone would be with any of those topics, if they weren't able to communicate it in a way that whoever they were trying to influence could understand them, act upon their message, it didn't matter how smart they were. And that's really where I started to get really intrigued with body language, get treated with, you know, why do some people have this ability connected and when others don't and then 16 years later have a lot of research, we continue to innovate ourselves. Here we are. And it really evolved to after the book that you announced influence, redefined, came out last year. That is a book of that many years of research and mentoring and working with clients to really identify, okay, what is influence and what is it not?

MP: 04:08 I love the title and I, I was watching one of the videos on your website and I really liked this concept of do you realize how little influence you have? And I think when I watched it I'm like, oh wow. I mean it's such a jolting question that I, I think for me it's like, wow. Yeah, I don't really think of it that way. I mean we go about our day doing the things that we do, but are we really influencing people in a way that we want to be? And I'm sure our listener be the same thing. It's like, are you actually influencing the clients that you have in your business, your staff? You know, when you stop, sit back and think about that. It's a really brilliant question. When did you start thinking about that?

SH: 04:53 It's the experience of the more and more individuals, specifically leaders, because you think of a leader, someone who has most likely years of experience in a specific industry or across industries. They've got a very prestigious and impressive title. Yet, when I would sit down with these individuals, mentoring them one-on-one, all of this truth came out. Michael, truth around, I'm not confident in front of my board or I know how to start a conversation. I just don't know sometimes how to navigate through transitions and points that really resonate with my listeners. I don't have the confidence that people believe that I do have, oh, another one that I heard a lot was, I know the feedback I get is not real. Everyone always tells me how good I am, but now it's starting to get lonely on the top because I really don't know how I come across.

SH: 05:44 When we continuously heard feedback or we continuously experienced it through our eyes of working with leaders, I realize, wow, people are really have this misperception. Most people believe that influence means you turn it on, you really focus, you put on your a game right before the big Gig or the high stakes conversation. However, our listeners might define that and it, to me, it's not that. To me, it really is. Having this consistency of a personal brand that you're proud of, that truly communicates influence every day of the week, but it doesn't matter if you're on a podcast. It doesn't matter if you're in a corporate call. Always having a conversation that is extremely impromptu influence really is the consistency that Monday to Monday, people perceive you as trustworthy, confident people want to follow your lead and Michael, by that definition, you can tell that you just naturally don't have that. Most people, I don't know anyone that naturally is born being influential. It's a skill like any athlete's skills, you have to work at it and you have to constantly get constructive feedback to determine, am I going in the right direction or am I distracting my listeners from getting an opportunity to really hear and understand what I'm saying?

MP: 07:05 It's beautiful. I mean it's such an interesting concept and this whole idea, I'm just sitting here thinking, you know, are you born with influence? And I'm thinking, well, I think maybe we're born with influence, but then we quickly lose it because mind three and a half year old has a lot of influence over me. Right. That's your way. I just guess it's top of mind, right? It's like every morning it's like I am influenced by every day and all day every night, but eventually I think we lose that somewhere along the way.

SH: 07:36 I think we do too, and it goes back to something that you were stating earlier in this podcast. We are caught up in the noise. We are receiving messages 24 seven there's tons of ways that we can communicate from the many mediums through social media to the typical email that I really think we're starting to lose the true art of connecting and engaging with people. We're running through this task list. We're sprinting. One thing to prove that I was sharing Michael with a client the other day that I'm noticing at conferences that I'm presenting at there usually is another speaker they're presenting on the topic of mindfulness or meditation. I get a lot of our leaders that we mentor, they talk a lot about how they've got to start focusing on their own health. They need to start focusing on meditation so that they can get through the many tasks that they have throughout the day, but do it effectively and have be productive through that and I think it just, it goes right back to we have so many messages getting thrown at us. There's a lot more competition because of that. For you to be memorable in the eyes of everyone around you. No wonder we've really start losing this concept of is your communication both verbally and non verbally, does it have influence behind it or are you just checking the box every day?

MP: 09:15 Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean if someone isn't present with themselves, it's going to be impossible to be present with others foundational type stuff and, and exciting that it's becoming more and more talked about and embraced within mainstream corporate as well. Small businesses. Right. Our listeners here on this show, I think that there's a couple of challenges that they, they face when it comes to communication is that they're working with people often, virtually. And if they do get an opportunity to be face to face or be around them, uh, it, you know, it's, it's a limited amount of time typically. So we're, we're in this noisy world and then stack on top of that. The, the old saying, out of sight, out of mind. So how do we maintain influence when maybe we're not being seen or there's not opportunities to always be in front of somebody to influence them?

SH: 10:17 I think that's where you have to be creative and you think about the email that you send to someone. Do you sound like every other message that that person receives? I think we have to, especially through email, we call them value ads. If you're going to reach out to someone and you want to influence them to either respond your email to return a phone call to act on a project or a task, you have to throw some type of value add out there so we focus heavily. The value adds that we give through our emails. Number two, it's about not wasting people's time. It's about really being short and to that point, whether it's leaving that text message then not saying short and doesn't make sense. I mean short message with brevity and clarity or leaving that voicemail message. If anyone's still does that or leaving that, that email message you getting to the point when we can't see the individual, we have to be creative through the value add and we have to make sure we don't waste their time because suddenly you create the reputation that every time I receive an email from Michael, there's really no point behind it.

SH: 11:24 Suddenly I just stopped opening it and that's what I mean by there. There's so much noise, so many messages that get sent our way in a day. What are you going to do that's going to allow you to stay out from the noise and sometimes it might just be something that you're sending through that value add that is a strong reputation of your brand and what you believe in and what your values are. As long as that listener sees the value is for them as well.

MP: 11:51 Mm, that's, that's excellent. Creativity. Do you find like with your clients, because keep being creative takes time. It's one of those things and we live in this fast paced world. How do people stop to actually spend that time and do, do what's necessary in order to have that creative idea too, to make sure that they're communicating in a way that's influential?

SH: 12:15 You know, I think it goes back to focus. I don't think it's a matter of creativity. It's about being focused in the moment that you're not just responding to an email to respond to it, and we're all guilty of it, me as well, but it's really taking a minute, two minutes to think through what is this person really asking? Or depending on the type of email you're creating, what do I really want from them and how am I going to influence them to do it? Say I don't see it as the creativity that takes the time. It's put the focus, be conscious that it's not a task of just sending off a message, responding to messages, checking the box, but it truly is focusing on word. It's focusing on what is important for this person to receive from me via email. What can I do to grab their attention?

MP: 13:05 Hmm. Well that's, that's great.

SH: 13:07 I mean it's three. It's like, what do we want to accomplish? How do we accomplish it and the most effective way to get the outcomes for both ourselves and and and the opposite, you know? So yeah, that is, I mean it's like we, where we go about our day all the time. I think of myself, it's like what is my focus here? What am, what's my outcome that I'm looking for me? That would be an improvement right there.

SH: 13:31 And Michael, it could even be something as simple. Instead of sending the email, what if you got up out of your desk, away from your desk and you just saw if that person was a couple of doors down in the office, I dunno, you could save a lot of time by having one conversation versus 20 via email or is that we don't just call even if you have to leave a voicemail message, the power of them hearing your voice, since your voice is an essence of truly who you are is still going to have more power than the email. You can always follow up the voicemail with an email. So even something like that is creative because it's different. We don't always get voicemails anymore. It's a simple email. I mean, I'll give you an example. I received an email today, Michael, from a new potential client and there's no, there's no way for me to contact this person to call.

SH: 14:23 I, there's, there's never an a phone number attached. I'm, I'm going around about way on their website. Like he, he must be a virtual employee, but he's a partner, which is crazy how many times we've gone back in email because his emails are so crypt at that I can't even understand them. And from the very first email, I always say, I just want to honor your time. Let's schedule a call, 30 minute call, and we can get it accomplished. And that it's just not working for him. He's, he's sending me or most of these messages and I'm thinking it's already creating this reputation where I start thinking, do we really want to work with someone like that?

MP: 15:03 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they could help use your help. It's that by the sounds of it, they need it. They need it badly. Um, I mean, you just have to send people back their emails with an invoice, you know, it's like, here he goes, this is, let's get started. Um, that's a good point. It's, it is interesting in that I, it's one of the things that I've noticed with a lot of people's emails is that very same issue. It's like the, there's no signature line. Doesn't have like a phone number or even an email. I mean, people, people get that, oh, I've sent the emails. So they, they think that that already have the American just respond. But like thinking about our users, who's going to be the recipient of that? For me it's like I gotta go, sir, I gotta Click in, I gotta figure out how to cut and paste it versus just grabbing it right from the email or the, the telephone number, uh, right from the, the signature line. So there's something happening where people are going either that don't know the technology's there to be able to enable that or they've turned it on. I remember back in the day, when am I say back in the day, I mean like just 10 years ago, 15 years ago, like the evening meal, email signature was almost a thing. It was like, you know, people write them. You'd have to send it out to a graphic designer to, you know, oh, I got them to build my, but they've seem to disappeared. What's up with that?

SH: 16:21 I know and it just, I don't know. I think you know everything that we do, Michael, it has our name on it, which means your reputation gets created by everything that you do. And that includes an email. So the best is when you see an email that the signature line says, forgive my typos. What do you mean? Forgive your typos? Why? If you're on the phone, we should forgive your typos. Like I never understood that concept. And the same thing with the signature by just your name and as I'm in the full name, sometimes it'll just be the name, there'll be nothing else there. It's, you got to keep in mind that what you're always sending out there, every time you send it, it's building the reputation. Whether that's in a positive way or a negative way. That's what I mean where we, when we started with this whole idea of focus, Michael is something as simple as that because if you're contact information, there's no way to find you in that email. You've now lost the opportunity to have any type of influence that they're not going to waste the time to try to find it.

MP: 17:25 Well that's, that's exactly it.

SH: 17:27 Right. And I would say in this industry, there are, I speak with so many bookkeepers and CPAs that they talk about deals that they haven't won or you know, that that didn't progress. And I, my questions will, how many times did you follow up? And it's like nothing. Zero. Often the answer is zero. It's like I send my thing, the proposal, the email, whatever it was, and they didn't respond. And so it's, it's done. And so if you think of the person on the receiving end of that, it's like, well what are they communicating? I mean, they could be communicating a million different things, but guess what? You don't know what that is. They could just be busy. They could be on a vacation, they could be, you know, dealing with a life critical life issue. We, you don't know until you follow up.

SH: 18:14 And so I think that's one example of just stopping and focusing on, well what's the outcome? What, you know, thinking about it, being mindful about what might be going on can create whole bunch of different outcomes in life for both parties. Yeah, exactly. I have to, I have to say though that I jumped over the, the, you know, the Typo, excuse me for my typos. I mean when we start to think about that, what does that actually communicating? It's saying that, hey, I didn't read my own message to you and I don't know how to spell and I this phone, because I think where it comes from is back when phones, you know, blackberry went, not, didn't have spell check, I don't have to spell it. I, my spell check doesn't work on my phone. So it's maybe to be more authentic around the communication would be to say all of that.

MP: 18:57 Yes, exactly. Too Funny. That is such an interesting, I've never thought of it that way, but I better make sure my phone doesn't have that on that.

SH: 19:08 Exactly. I know mine doesn't, but now we're talking about this. I'm going to go back and double, double, double-check.

MP: 19:14 Absolutely. Well, here's, we've already given incredible gold here today, which is if you're on your phone and you're on your computer, I don't need to know what you're on. I need to know what I need to know, which is how do I get back in touch with you and who you are and you know your signature line and all emails should have us do a signature line. Make it easy for me to communicate back with you.

SH: 19:36 I think that just goes all around general when it comes to communication is I challenge your listeners to just take a look this week. What are you doing? What are you saying? Or is it something like a tool like email that is causing it difficult or causing your listener to work hard to follow through with you to listen to you. Those are the changes that you need to make.

MP: 20:05 Beautiful.

MP: 20:06 Now Monday to Monday, tell us a little bit more about the philosophy of Monday to Monday.

SH: 20:11 Yeah. I really believe that if we're going to have true influence, it needs to be consistent. Monday to Monday you can't be seen as confident and credible by some and then on some days you're not. So for example, it's two parts. It's making sure that the body language and the messaging Michael are consistent. That if you're saying whatever message it is you need to look at and you need to sound like you truly mean what you're saying and I, I can give you so many examples of, for example, taking too long to get to the point that's not consistent. It's a lot of filler words and ums and Ahs and long sentences. It's the gestures, the facial expressions, what you're doing with your eyes. None of that's consistent with your message. Influence cannot occur. The second part is where I started. The whole idea of Monday to Monday is how you behave on a Monday morning in that board meeting really needs to be consistent with how you managed your team call later that day. I think we have all seen it. We've heard it where you'll see someone up on a stage, this is the easiest example. You see someone present on a stage and you can tell they practiced and they are polished. Yet the minute they get off the stage and you catch them in the hallway later, it feels like you're talking to someone that's not the same person you just saw a few minutes ago.

MP: 21:38 Hmm. This is valuable. How do people actually, because I would say most people do not act this way and don't, aren't practicing Monday to Monday, but how do you get them to get there? I mean it's, it's like there's, there's where the, where we are today. I mean, I could probably look back and listen to my podcast episodes and I always hear me rambling on about something or using an almond or are and so with the people that you work with, what's that journey look like to, to change it?

SH: 22:09 The only way I know how is through video and audio playbacks really truly believe Michael, that if you're going to make a change, first you have to increase your awareness of how does everyone around you experienced you without seeing through their eyes and through their ears. There's no way. There's a very strong probability if we're not taking that step. We believe our level of influence is based on how we feel rather than on fact because the camera doesn't lie because the camera is always on. It really is the eyes and ears of anyone else around you. Once you see for yourself and your, you're hearing what it sounds like, you'll start to make the change without that component. I don't know how to prove it now. That's a big step because the majority of people aren't willing to do it. And there's the excuses of, I don't like watching myself on a playback and my point there as well, don't you? Don't you rather want to know on what everyone is saying behind your back?

MP: 23:14 Yeah, good point. And it is such an interesting angle. I mean, uh, it's not foreign to me. I mean, I've can think back to early age, hearing myself on a tape recorder and not wanting to listen to it and assist now thinking about that right now. I mean today in today's, yeah, like listening to myself flub up is not, is not enjoyable and I don't know what it stems from because like my voice sounds probably just like your voice, your voice through my ears sounds the same as my voice through your ears, right? Uh, maybe pro likely. But why is it that it creates aversion for so many people?

SH: 23:56 Because it's the truth. And when we, when we're in a conversation, we truly, most of us, if we're not doing this constant video and audio playback, we really hear ourselves. We see ourselves differently than what reality states will. Suddenly, when you observe yourself through everyone else's eyes and ears, it looks different. It sounds different. Now, that doesn't mean you don't like it. You might actually like it better once you see it on a playback. Now that's the power of the playback. Again, another reason for doing or taking that action, but we don't like the truth all the time. And a lot of times we just, we see ourselves in a different light, in a different perspective when we watch the playback and if it's something that we don't like, that's where we go into that shallow of, or I'd rather not watch it. So instead I rather just walk around life guessing what people are saying. Yeah, head in the sand type of, for us right now,

MP: 24:54 I would imagine that this becomes more impactful when you have someone like yourself who's understands what, what's a pro and what's a con of the behavior, and then get coaching and mentoring around modifying the behavior. Have you? What's been your experience when you've worked with people to actually look at what you know? Do people think everything's bad or do they think they're, what's bad is good? Do you find any correlations there?

SH: 25:20 I don't. You know, it's across the board. You'll get the individual that will watch the playback with me and say, that's not as bad as I thought. I actually liked that to the other person that will say, I had no idea or no wonder, no wonder it takes me forever to get my message across, whatever it might be, but without that video playback, we just live in this world of, well, it feels right. Everyone says I'm good. I'll just keep doing it. Another example is in sales. I in the prospect or the process of pitching to a pharmaceutical company here in Chicago and the leaders are all in. They're struggling with how do we position it with the sales team because it's a senior sales team. They've been around the block for awhile and their mentality, Michael is, well, we've got strong products. Our numbers are right on target. We're right on goal again this year. What, why do I need development? And to me that's the group that needs development and it's more convincing someone like that who a leader who's been around the block a while, who has as success that having influence Monday to Monday is a constant learning. It's not something that you suddenly just accomplish.

MP: 26:34 Yeah. So with what you're proposing, our listeners run small, medium-size businesses, some many, many operate by themselves. But yet communication is still a critical and important piece of their businesses. And, and this can be a really big leverage point for their businesses, but yet they're not running fortune 500 companies either. So it's like you gotta measure where you, where you make your investments. Well if they listening right now want it to start doing this to get a better impact, would it be reading your book? Would it be starting to record themselves on some calls? What would be some actions they could take that could start to open up the improvement in this area?

SH: 27:19 Yeah. Cause your thinking that you know all of the above. Reading the book is going to give them a lot of recommendations on how they can practice on their own and develop. It literally is a step by step proven fact in research of what we have found has worked to help individuals increase their awareness and grow their influence. Number two, there's also steps in the book that talk about how do you do this video recording, audio recording, how do you even get your arms around that? So yes to the video and audio recording. I always tell anyone that I interact with, if there's one step you take on at least a weekly, at least a monthly basis, is audio and record yourself. You'll make changes without that. I don't know how you can enhance how you're coming across because you can ask for feedback until though you see it. It's hard to even take the feedback whether it's very positive feedback or constructive feedback, meaning feedback that requires your development is in great need. You've got to almost see it for yourself to believe it.

MP: 28:34 Wow. I think it's an exciting opportunity for many of the listeners right now to try this and to see what, what can come of it. I mean the, the the, the why is huge. I mean increase conversions, clients doing what you want them to do, just being more confident in, in your communication and in your, in your business. And there's a lot of reasons to do this and I'm thinking for myself, it is to listen differently when I'm listening to a podcast episode is to listen for what, what can I do better? But as well maybe I get a coach that can say what, what, what I could do better, right?

MP: 29:13 And sometimes your coach is your family. Sometimes your coaches, your friends because they know your natural self and they also usually have no filter. Another easy way for your listeners on this podcast to record, do it on your phones. The fact that we now have the technology to easily record ourselves, there really isn't room for excuses that you don't have the cables.

SH: 29:39 I need to do it. You're absolutely right there. We can do it. Video, audio fourK , it's pretty much, you know, anything we want, it's there. It's not a technology issue anymore. It's just a, uh, doing it issue.

MP: 29:53 Exactly. That's right. And isn't that all what life is? It's the difference between someone who's influential and someone who's not consistently influential. The person who's influential Monday to Monday, they do the work. That's it. They're disciplined and they do the work. That's safe to say about anything though in life, isn't it? Isn't it?

MP: 30:13 Now, when you've seen this happen, when you've seen the people, you've worked with tens of thousands of, uh, people helping them do this type of work, what have been some of the transformations you've seen?

SH: 30:26 Oh, the level of awareness is huge. That they start realizing what's maybe taking up too much time in their meetings. How can they shorten that timeframe? It will, it might be someone who's in sales who, which we all are in sales. Correct. Is trying to get someone to buy into their ideas, their service, their product, and they're really been trying to connect to engage with this person. And finally, now it's happening. Now this individual is willing to have the conversation with them. It's, I mean, no sales is a big one. A productivity is a big one and the other one is changes within the team. Finally getting that team to be cohesive, to be following your action. I also get a lot of calls, Michael from individuals who I had worked with and then shortly after got promoted and I get a lot of calls from companies saying, you know, this individual, there's super, super smart, crazy smart, we really want to invest in them. But if they cannot learn how to communicate more consistently and effectively, they will not be promoted to the CFO position. We work with individuals in that situation a lot.

SH: 31:37 You know, I, I can see how this would be very beneficial from your, from a staff and team member perspective, is that what people see often, you know, there's no communication right into salt lake. You if you're a team member or a staff member, it's all ego. Uh, you know, you could probably communicate a little nicer. He could probably, you know, slide 10 really liked the way you handle that yourself in the meeting like that, that way, that channel of communication, it's not going that direction. And, and, and yet in most small businesses, there is none of that feedback. So if I were to guess many small businesses, I mean we have a lot of bookkeepers, CPAs that listened to this podcast, but all of their clients in small business, this is probably a rampant, huge rapid problem. That little bit of recording and feedback could really show how just a few alterations could reduce the altercations. Right?

MP: Exactly. This is, this is exciting. I think this is a book that our listeners, uh, definitely want to pick up influence, redefined. How do you think, sorry, influence redefined be the leader you were meant to be Monday to Monday and not only for themselves but for their clients. A great gift for their clients to actually start improving because their clients are small to medium sized business owners.

MP: 33:02 Right? And when you think about it, no matter what company you are owning, no matter how long you've been in your industry, what industry that it is, everyone communicates both personally and professionally, that the book is really designed for anyone.

SH: 33:15 There's a lot of examples in the book, Michael, of our work with leadership. There's definitely though crossover to what we do in our personal lives cause I think you know as a, as a parent, a mother, father, husband, wife, significant other, whatever our role is best friend in our personal life, we owe it to those people to be able to communicate effectively as well.

MP: 33:42 Mm. Don't wait. Absolutely be, be better at that and business will come, come naturally. That's true. This has been just fantastic. Is Stacy, if people wanted to learn more about you and get access to some of the resources you've mentioned, what's the best way for them to do that?

SH: 34:01 Thank you, Michael. It's right on our website which is Stacey with n, e y h a n k, e, I n, z.com.

MP: 34:12 Beautiful. And of course the book. I'm sure you can find it there, but are there other places? Is it on Amazon and those sorts of things?

SH: 34:19 Yes. Yeah, it's on Amazon and our website.

MP: 34:22 Excellent. Well, on behalf of our listeners, I want to thank you for your generosity of giving us your time and your wisdom to help our listeners be better at what they do.

SH: 34:33 Thank you so much, Michael. It was an honor. Good luck to you.

MP: 34:36 Thank you. And with that, we wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's fabulous guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 34:52 goodbye.

EP129: Roger Knecht - The Importance Of Creating A Pricing Model

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How much should you charge?

Our returning guest, Roger Knecht, who is the President of the Universal Accounting Center, is an expert in helping bookkeepers and accountants to be the best in the market.

He has developed proven methods on how to understand your own pricing metrics and avoid the common mistakes.

You will become more confident to charge your clients and it will give them clarity as to what services you're offering.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The 4 methods in charging for bookkeepers

  • The importance of becoming a profit & growth expert

  • How to improve your workflow


Michael Palmer: 01:13 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. It is always great to have today's guest back and to return to the program. He is the president of Universal Accounting Center since 1979 universal accounting centers work to help accounting professionals excel in their careers. He's an expert in helping people launch and grow highly successful accounting and bookkeeping firms. Roger Knecht, welcome again to the podcast.

Roger Knecht: 01:47 This is amazing. It's a wonderful opportunity. I appreciate it. Thank you.

MP: 01:51 It's great to have you and we've covered lots of chopsticks and today's topic is going to be, I think one that's going to put a lot of value back into our listeners businesses. And when I say value, I'm talking about cash, right?

RK: 02:09 That's exactly right. I'm excited for this. I think so many people are just curious as to what really is going on in the profession to get paid for the services they're providing. So this is going to be a wonderful discussion.

MP: 02:20 Absolutely. So if you haven't guessed it, this podcast is all about pricing and pricing models. Now Roger, why is it important to have an established pricing model for your firm?

RK: 02:35 Well, one of the things that I think really impacts what an affirm is doing is having an intelligent way of pricing for the services that they're offering. And oftentimes when we go in and begin consulting people who either have an established practice, we're in the process of starting is really questioning why they charge what they charge. And what's interesting to me is kind of the stories or the evolutions as to how people came up with the amounts their charging, whether it be hourly or some of the other fee fees that they're charging. It's sometimes kind of an ad hoc. I didn't know any better, so I chose to do this and so what I like to do is give some purpose or intelligence to what it is that they're charging. And really, I think once when you consciously understand your own pricing metrics, I think you become a lot more empowered to ask for what you're asking simply because you know why you're doing what you're doing.

RK: 03:26 It's not just a number anymore. It's not just something that you're pulling off because maybe this is what you shopped and found your competitors are doing or that's what you've maybe charged your last few clients in has seemed to work because you got them as clients and you're going to keep charging it. No, you're, you're able to have some intelligence behind the numbers you're using. And I think with that comes a great deal of confidence and there I think just I think increases your likelihood of getting more clients paying you what you're worth. So that's the essence of what we're talking about, I believe.

MP: 03:55 Yes, I agree. And you know, it's interesting. Many don't have this figured out. Why do you think that is?

RK: 04:03 Because I think for a lot of people they're hesitant to know what to charge or how to charge. It's amazing how many people I know start into offering accounting services simply because they had some friends that asked for their, their help and assistance. They had a family member that said, could you help me? Somebody knew that they were an accounting professional and they said, hey, on the side, could you do this? And so if you look back at the origins of someone's practice there, there tends to be these historical experiences that lend to what the pricing is today. And I shared this with even a firms that are very well established and have their pricing models established for years. Uh, you get into the core of why they're charging with the art. And so often they just don't have a concrete answer as to why it is the amount they're charging. So, uh, what we want to do is just get to kind of a, a, there's a method to the math madness approach. There's a reason for the numbers and if you can do that again, I'll come back to the idea that you become a lot more confident in asking for the survey, the fee for your services.

MP: 05:05 Yeah, it's a, it's, it's interesting there is so many that I've spoken to as well when I've asked, you know, how did you come up with that price? One of the popular ones as well. I surveyed all the other bookkeeping firms in my market area and that's how I came up with the price. Well, I can tell you there's a better way to do it exactly. Because everybody's not pricing correctly, which we know it's the worst place to go and look is to the market. The market is actually not going to tell you what you need to know in terms of pricing.

RK: 05:41 Well that's one good reason why not to do it. I think there is some logic to being competitive. You want to know what your competitors are doing and maybe have their pricing, but I think that's just for familiarity less than here's then how I'm going to price my services. So, um, it makes you more competitive if you know what's going on in your markets. I definitely don't want to disregard that. But at the same time, you need to price according to your needs, your fixed costs. You need a price based on the services you're providing and the value you're, you're ultimately delivering. So that's what we're going to be discussing today.

MP: 06:13 Yeah, love it. Love it. And I, and I agree it, it's, it's great to do the research, but the danger in it is that looking at it and saying, well that's what, that's what it is. That's what people are willing to pay. And then going back and saying, why can't I charge more? Because nobody else is charging more. So hopefully you're going to give our listeners some excellent ways that they can attack this and and have it be different for themselves. Now before we get into that, what, what are some of the mistakes that our listeners could be making with their pricing?

RK: 06:53 I think one of the first mistakes that I see is when charging for your services, you have beliefs you should have when you're first engaging with a new client and onboarding them a set up fee and then your traditional fee. And we'll get into the fees themselves here in a little bit. But I see a lot of people, a lot of times people haggling or discounting their rates for the services that they're offering rev, rather than using this set of fee as the place to offer that savings. And what I mean by that is you can have people who maybe they had a previous accountant charging for services and you're coming in behind them and you're now asking for their business and you're going to charge a certain fee for your, for the services and they're trying to haggle with you and get, get a break or a discount.

RK: 07:38 They want to save some money. Well, the first thing you want to do is just understand that really your rate isn't meant to be handled or discounted. What really should be part of that discussion is offering them maybe some savings from the set of fee that you're charging for that first month of onboarding them. That's where I feel you can give your friends and family discount, your networking group discount. You can charge them something adjusted there in the setup fee and then, and then it doesn't impact what you're billing. Maybe six months, 12 months, 18 months down the road. You didn't concede something so early on that you let her regret it.

MP: 08:16 Hmm. I think that's a valuable lesson and there's something likely that happens psychologically when you hold your price.

RK: 08:26 Well, let me, let me give you some, a good example. This is something we can definitely get into more detail on later on, but when you're charging for your services, I think there's two approaches that really make a big difference. The first is when you're charging for your services, are you clear on, is the client clear what your purpose in doing the work is for? And sometimes what it is is they're asking you to do the work and you're intending to do all of it and that's wonderful, but sometimes if you're haggling your services and discounting what it is you're going to be charging, maybe what it needs to be is not a changing of your fee for the same work. It's now. Okay, well then what are you willing to have done onsite basically by someone that you employ that could take away some of the workflow that I have that we could use to then justify a discount on the fees that I'm charging.

RK: 09:15 In other words, you're still being paid the same for your fees or for your services, but you're not discounting it because of the fact that you're still doing it and not getting paid. You're having somebody at the, at the end that the client now knew the work. So that's kind of a tangent that we can get into, but it's essentially just saying you're going to hold true to what it is you're charging for your services. And, and that's what you want to really get into is having confidence in what you're charging because you know what you're charging is very fair.

MP: 09:43 Love it, love it. And sometimes we find gold along those tangents. Uh, but let's get, let's get into some of the specifics around ranges you see in terms of the pricing in the bookkeeping industry.

RK: 09:58 Yeah, so basically what it boils down to is there are four common methods to charging for accounting, bookkeeping, or tax services that I'm going to just kind of keep this focus for the simplicity of it all in bookkeeping, just so that we can have a common theme through the rest of the discussion. And from a bookkeeping point of view, you've got hourly, flat rate, revenue-based and valued priced services and in the flat rateL , l, Irma, you have basically an a and B type option. It's a transaction flat rate or a package flat rate, and so if somebody is taking notes here, it has a pen and paper handy a. What I would encourage you to do is write down those four and we're going to talk, talk about them in great detail. The hourly I think is somewhat obvious. A lot of people are familiar with that within the accounting profession, so we'll delve in there quite a bit.

RK: 10:46 The flat rate, I think that's something that's kind of a buzzword right now. Sometimes people want to charge or refer to this as value pricing, so we'll have a discussion about that. There's revenue based, which is for those that are working with larger clients. Typically when you're getting closer to and beyond the million-dollar revenue mark with your clients, and then the value pricing, what truly value pricing is, and a I, I think that'll be kind of an insight or an Aha for a lot of people simply because I invest something that a lot of people are wanting to move towards and don't exactly know-how, and I'm hoping to address that today.

MP: 11:21 Excellent. I'm excited.

RK: 11:30 So would you mind if I start with the early and just start walking through this? Let's do it. Perfect. So the hourly, one of the things that I would encourage you to do as you're taking notes is recognize that everybody has a range that they typically work with. And so let's just start with the ranges and then we'll just start whittling down from there. Generally speaking, from a bookkeeping point of view, the average range is generally 40 to 80 an hour. You

RK: 11:54 can, if you choose to network or excuse me, niche market your services as specialize in particular industries justify more than the $80 an hour. Generally for accounting services, accountants will charge 80 to 125 an hour. If you are specializing, again in certain niches you can increase that, especially if you're getting into a little bit more like part time CFO type relationships. Most CPAs will be charging about 125 to $250 an hour. That ranges based on industry, whether or not they're doing audits and also the level of tax type work they're doing both tax planning and preparation. So let's go back to the bookkeeping being that 40 to $80 an hour range for your services. I do want to give you a formula to kind of help you base where it is you should be in that range because this is an average and it is the average here in the United States and Canada primarily.

RK: 12:49 And one of the things that I think you just need to recognize is that there are certain metropolitans whether it be Toronto or San Francisco or New York, there admittedly going to be far more as an average than you would find in a more rural area. So definitely if you find yourself at the lower end of the spectrum and you're in a rural area, there's reason for that. If you find that you're in the higher range or maybe even outside of the $80 average, you're able to justify it, especially if you're one of those more, uh, expensive markets. Now the, here's the rule of thumb that a lot of people aren't familiar with, that is easily explained. That basically helps you come up with an hourly rate. The way to do it is if you're familiar with what a w two or an employee would be paid to do the work on site for that client.

RK: 13:38 If you were to actually be employed by that person, if you were to take the hourly rate that you'd be paid for the same work on site and multiply that by two and a half times, you'll easily come up with what your bookkeeping fee should be for your hourly services. So in other words, if you took 2.5 and times to buy $20 you'd come up with a rate that's obviously within that 40 to $80 range. So that 2.5 times your hourly rate for your services if you were to be employed is really the rule of thumb that a lot of people can really comfortably get their teeth into and understand. So most people just as a point is I'll take their hourly rate that they're charging and sometimes for some absurd reason, they're charging like $30 an hour. And so I'll ask them, so would you do this job for $10 an hour if you were were were employed?

RK: 14:31 And obviously the answer is no, they wouldn't do the work if they're employed for that amount. And the reason for that is because the employer, when you're working there, their job is to provide you the desk, the chair, the office, the supplies to do the work. When you're working by yourself, that's what the client's paying you to provide for yourself is your own computer and your own chair and your own materials. So you do need to justify charging the rate that you are there. Also when you're employed, admittedly providing benefits packages and uh, vacations, health insurance, well these are things you're needing to budget and pay for it so you can justifiably, uh, see why 40 to 80 for bookkeeping services is very, very realistic and appropriate. And so if you're outside of that norm, especially on the lower end, I give you a great pause for concern. And a, I can definitely say that when I work with our clients and we have this discussion and do it one on one, there's a number of Epiphanes and Ahas, especially when it comes down to their skill sets and the services they're providing for that rate. So any questions or comments that you'd have regarding the hourly?

MP: 15:37 Well, no, I, I love the thinking around it and I, I'm sure many listeners are hearing this and going, okay, very interesting. I really want to stress that this, if, if anyone is thinking about having staff, this is a must-have conversation because if you don't have the right pricing in place, there's the, there's really no future for the business when you're not charging enough, as, as Roger was saying, all the things that you need to provide for, for yourself, for your staff, uh, to make the business run, to hire great people, to do the work, to replace you and do the work. This is, this has to get sorted out. And I think Roger, where people fall into a trap here is that they go from being the person who's being paid and not necessarily needing to think about all of those things. And then when you hear these bigger numbers, it's like, oh boy, how could I charge that? And really I'll put it to you. How can you not charge that for the sake of your business?

RK: 16:36 You're setting yourself up for failure. If you don't, if you do this, you're not going to want to do the work for the client because you're not incentivized by the pay that you're receiving. So there's a lot of traps you're going to get into if you're not charging fairly for your services. So let me, let me take your example that you just shared with that. When you have employees, knowing the 2.5 formula really helps you charge correctly for your, your services. Because if you have on staff, someone that is an employee doing bookkeeping work and you're paying them $20 an hour, you know you have to build to the client two and a half times that in order for you to come out ahead and that is the minimum you go. Anything below that two and a half times ratio, you're running yourself into a problem, not just as the employer employing that bookkeeper, but now how are you going to update their software or give them a new computer or cover their vacation pay or often than benefits?

RK: 17:29 That two and a half times multiple really does help you simplify this process of either justifying the pay you're charging hourly or what you're charging for your clients. Now, I do want to pause here of the four services or rates that you're charging for your services, hourly flat rate, revenue-based and value priced. The hourly honestly should be the least used to charge for your services. But until I have this conversation with our clients and they can comfortably get around saying to somebody, I charge $75 an hour for my services. I think the rest of the conversations are move because if you can't ask for $75 an hour, how are you going to ask for $750 a month for your services? If you're choking on $75 how do you feel comfortable asking for $750 huh?

MP: 18:24 Love it. Roger is something this, this really ties back to as individuals who are pricing out their business, this whole human condition around maybe not valuing themselves, not valuing what they're doing. This is a conversation that has to happen first before you can move on to more advanced ways of pricing. So one of the things that I think is important, and I was stressing this a moment ago, is that the hourly isn't the way you really want to be charging for your services, but you do need to understand and have as a benchmark what your hourly rate is. Because as we move into the discussion related to flat rate, revenue-based and value pricing, we always want to be testing the relationships we have with our clients to confirm that we are at least getting what our hourly rate is or if not better. So that's always where we want to start.

RK: 19:14 But that leads us into flat rate. So if I May, let me just go ahead and point out that with flat rate, those of you who are taking notes, you want to write down that there's really two traditional ways of determining a flat rate fee for services. And it's a transaction or a package slash menu approach. So the transactions that, the easiest way to define this is you're ultimately being paid for the recording of the transactions that are happening in the business. Then. So, um, if this was a lengthier discussion, I would provide a form that we use with our clients, our graduates, where we actually have broken out as a way of doing an interview, if you will, with a potential client. Here's how many transactions are happening within their business. You know, how many times are you doing deposits? How many sales do you have?

RK: 19:59 How many z tapes, how many bank recs are we doing? How many bank accounts do we have? So the, these questions are, I think very straight forward and common. And essentially what it is for the bookkeeper is what am I ultimately going to have to record and track so that I can create the financials and knowing what those transactions are, help us come up with then a monthly fee based on the client's size. And with that, what we do is we want to charge essentially between 50 to a dollar 25 per transaction. Uh, most people just because of what they're doing are charging about 75 cents to a dollar per transaction. And most bookkeeping companies, a, excuse me, a multiple keeping clients, they have on average around three to 500 transactions that are being recorded or a than done based on, you know, payroll and inventory and so forth.

RK: 20:52 So if you look at that, what you're going to do is you're going to end up with an average range per month for your services of around 500 $800 for an average bookkeeping client, the average client will take on average about eight hours of work a month to take care of. And so when you're charging for your services based on a transaction-based, obviously you're customizing for each client. So one client is going to be charged 500 the other clients can be charged 800 and other clients can be charged $1,000 for the transactions that they each have and the work that you're doing to record and create the financials for them. But the thing that I want to emphasize regarding transactions is it's really just a simple way for your smaller clients, for you to figure out, well, how many checks do you write a month?

RK: 21:37 How many credit card accounts do you have? How many bank accounts do you have? All these different transactions. I'm going to then be able to charge you $450 every month as a flat rate for my services. This will include me meeting with you either monthly or quarterly for at least an hour to go over any of the highlights related to the financials and answer any questions and again, because it's that eight hours of average work done for the clients, if you notice you're looking at 500 to $800 for your monthly fee, you're working about eight hours per month for that client. You can see that the range then is going to fit within that 40 to $80 an hour for your bookkeeping services. So the flat rate based on transactions is very easy to calculate. The other one happens to be more what I think a lot of people are familiar with just because of what the buzz is today and it's this more menu approach or package approach.

RK: 22:33 It's these three options, ABC, gold, silver, platinum. And if you're taking notes, what I would encourage you to realize is that it's the middle package that you're ideally driving your potential clients towards. And as a package, you're just basically saying of all the services that you're currently providing to your current client base, these are the things that you do for everyone. This is your package a, B, if you will. The common thing that you do for each of your clients package a, the more expensive one would be maybe on-call services, your available to answer questions 24, seven if you will. Uh, it's, uh, you'll drive by and pick up the work. You'll work on-site one day a month. It's, it's these extras that you don't do for your traditional clients. The C option is the lesser expensive. It's kind of your takeaway option that if they can't justify or afford option B, which is most of your clients, it's option c where you're essentially saying, well, I can do your books on a quarterly basis.

RK: 23:36 You're not a traditional client for me because normally I like to meet with my clients monthly. The C option is kind of the, I'll take you on, but I'm not going to do everything I normally would for you. And the goal here with all of these is to move all of your C's to B's and hopefully you can take your B's to A's. The biggest thing that you want to realize here is most of these packages when you re run the range, you're looking at your c packages being just under 500 your [inaudible] packages are normally 500 to a thousand and you're a packages are usually over a thousand. Now when I say ranges here, you have to come up with a specific amount for your package. I'm just giving you what the what the ranges that I traditionally see people charging for their packages. Uh, some will say C is for 50 B is a 750 and a is 1250 a month and these are basically packages.

RK: 24:30 So there's really no discussion or haggling over what the packages consist of. There's really no haggling or discussion about the adjustment of the price. It is what it is and it's the same for every client and one of the luxuries that comes from it is just consistency. A, you charge this for all of your clients to have that package. It makes your working engagements with your clients a lot easier to create because for package a, here are the bullet points of the services we provide for package B, here are the bullet points of the services that we provide. And in essence, you create your worklist that is every month you're going to go down. This will work list of here's what we need to do for this client. And if you've got 10 clients that are all package B, you do the same thing for all 10 clients.

RK: 25:12 And it makes it really simple. And, uh, a lot of people refer to this as value-based pricing in the menu options simply because a lot of what you do to give value from C to B and B to a is really less in the specific services you're providing. But more in the value you're giving to your client. With option C, you meet with them once a quarter with option B, you meet, meet with them once a month for an hour for option a, you're on call, you'll answer calls whenever they call. For whatever reason. Some clients just like that accessibility to you where option B, Save your questions until we meet on the, in the monthly meeting. Right? So it's the value that you're bringing into the clients. In each case, you're still putting in producing the financials, you're still delivering the P and l on the balance sheet and the cashflow statements. You're still getting the work done in a timely manner and that's what you're looking at. So that's the difference between transaction and package. That's your relationship of packages a, B, and C. Anything I'm missing, Michael, or anything I should elaborate on?

MP: 26:19 Well, you know, I'm, I'm curious, you know, it, I think it really is one of the more popular ones that are being utilized and the way that many believe this is value pricing. Why do you think so many are attracted to this way of pricing?

RK: 26:37 I think two reasons. I think so many are sucked into the vacuum of the hourly and they want to simplify how choosing to charge for their services and rather than going to a client and saying hourly or guesstimating how much time it's going to take to do the clients work and coming up with this dollar amount for a flat rate, they just want to prepackage these. And uh, I think there's a sexiness to the fact that I can just have this pre-packaged menu service item that is consistent through all my client base. And I want to take my 30 clients that honestly, if you asked me today how much I charge for each of them, I couldn't tell you and move them all to an a, B or c plan. There's a lot of, I think ease and stress relief that can happen for the bookkeeper when they're able to simplify their relationships with their clients to this ABC approach.

RK: 27:32 So, um, and again, because there's so much that's used as value to determine the amount, I think it's a little sexier for the bookkeeper to feel I'm making a difference and I'm doing more than just the transactional. We'll keeping work to create financials. I'm, I'm building relationships now with my clients and these packages kind of push you that direction to be more conscious of that. So I, that's one of the big things and maybe this is related to it as well. A lot of times when we work with individuals and they're moving their clients from hourly and they're trying to get them into a package deal, they wonder, well, what's the likelihood I'm going to lose these clients? And as I transition them from hourly to this, why would they want to, I know why I want to. Why would they make the change?

RK: 28:18 And let me just share with you a few quick reasons. Um, anyone that you're still charging hourly for, I want you to imagine that you've got two piles of bills that sit in their office that they're going to be paying on a monthly basis. They've got piles of bills that are owed that they don't know before they open up the envelope how much is owed. They don't know how much they're going to be charged for that product or service that they just took advantage of and they don't know if they've got the money to pay those bills. And over on the other pile, they actually have recurring bills. It's like their rent or lease, it's the same amount every single month. It's like the utilities that's the same amount every single month type of a thing. And they're also recurring there every month. And so they know they have to pay those first and then if they have money left over, they're gonna pay the ones that are surprises or they don't know what the amounts are every month.

RK: 29:04 What pile do you want to be in as an accountant or bookkeeper? You want to be in the one that's recurring billing. You want to be where you're paid before you do the work. That's the pilot you want to end up in. And I fear that a lot of bookkeepers feel that they're actually not in that pile and moving into this package or menu-based pricing model, it does put you in that pile because before the month begins, the client knows they owe you $500 for your bookkeeping services. And if you've done it right, you've set it up recurring so that it actually charges automatically and you get paid at the beginning of the month before the, before you even do the work. So there's a lot of sexiness to that because it really simplifies your work and your relationship with the client. And so to move from our lead to flat rate is just the right thing to do.

RK: 29:48 Honestly speaking, the only time I really find hourly rates justifiable my world is when you're doing back work, when there's kind of this unknown and you don't know what it's going to take to take care of somebody's mess, just to catch them up. And that's usually where I see hourly being. The only places used other than that you really shouldn't be using hourly to charge for your client services. Uh, your, your fees should be flat rate, revenue-based or value-priced. Um, the only reason why I think you, again, you have the hourly is for the backward and also for just the smell test of are you getting paid fairly for your flat rates. When you do the work for your client and you see the last month you spent 10 hours and you charge them $500, okay. Means the smell check, I'm getting $50 an hour.

RK: 30:34 I mean that 40 to $80 an hour range, I'm good. And you just move on. Uh, the next month you're still gonna charge them 500, but your goal is to do it in nine hours, not 10 hours. That's the challenge. And that's where I think a lot of these apps come in where you're starting to use some of the popular ones like hub dog, receipt, bank t sheets, all these ones that really systematize and automate a lot of the workflow and free up your time. And now you've got a client that you're charging $800 a month to do. You were working 10 hours a month on, you still charge the $800 a month to do the work, but now you've figured out how to use some of these tools that you're only spending five hours of your time each month doing the work. You're still charging 800 and you're working five hours.

RK: 31:18 This is starting to really get sexy and fun. That's, that's the challenge. Not to decrease the rates for the client. They pay $800 for your services. You want to get paid fairly. Your challenge isn't how to do it faster and charge less. If you're charging hourly and you went from working 10 hours to eight hours, how do you argue billing them for 10 you build them for eight and you just got to take that as a professional figuring out how to do their job faster and better and more efficiently. You just take a pay cut, a stupid, you want to be in a position where you're able to actually say, I charge $800 to do your work. And I figured out how to do it from 10 to eight hours. I get to savings. I just increased my earnings per hour. That's the idea behind all the flat rate billings.

MP: 32:09 Beautiful. And you know, I think your tackled something that I think is a, is a challenge for our listener, which is that whole concept of, well, I'm not working as hard so I should be panelized and in business it's not, it rarely does it ever a business owner goes, how can I penalize myself for improving how I do my business? You know, I increase the satisfaction and quality of my customers. It takes me less time to do it. I should pay paid less. But yet in this industry, for some reason that does exist.

RK 32:42 Oh okay. So now you've got me on my soap box. If I had already, I wasn't on one. You know Michael, that with our clients, we actually break down the business and into marketing, accounting and production. We refer to it as mapping the business. There's a lot to be said and what we're discussing today about pricing, because that's marketing. That's how you're going to engage the client, offer your services and get them to say yes and then you're onboarding them and providing the services you chose to and that moves us over to the production side. Let me be 100% clear. Once you've acquired the client and after the first three months of learning the business, onboarding them, setting up their chart of accounts, we're reviewing their books and getting more proficient with what their business model is. After the third month, your goal is to not charge them less for your services.

RK: 33:30 Your job is to keep charging them the same, but now find out, find more efficient ways of doing the work. That's why standard operating procedures and workflow becomes so essential to those, the success of the business. Because the challenge is how do you as a professional figure out how to do the work more efficiently so that you can be more profitable. The profitability comes from you're charging the same and doing it in more efficient time. That's the secret here. So once we've had this whole discussion about marketing and rates and charging fairly for your services, whether you're choosing to do hourly, flat rate, revenue-based or value pricing, the challenge then once you have the client and your worth working with them, month three, month six, month nine, month 18 is how do you become more efficient with the workflow so that you get, you charged the same but yet you take less time to do it. There's your, that's the golden egg right there.

MP: 34:26 Lovely. Absolutely love this conversation. So now going from flat rate, your next one is revenue base. Tell us what that's all about.

RK: 34:36 So revenue based is essentially this. When you get a client that is much larger, transaction-based billing becomes a little era. It becomes kind of foolish. I mean you could sit down with a president of a company that is doing say 1,000,003 million in revenue and you're saying so how many checks do you write a how many bank accounts do you have? How many? And you're trying to figure out the transactions to know how much you're going to be recording in the business. It becomes a little daunting and it almost becomes as if you're micromanaging or kind of nitpicking to come up with a fee for your services. And so we don't want to do that with a client that's much larger. So when you get clients that are say five hundred thousand seven hundred fifty thousand a million in revenue, somewhere in there is the bottom edge. And you start using revenue base to essentially say, based on the revenue of your company where you're making say 1.5 million in revenue, we're going to, we charge this much for our services.

RK: 35:31 And it's basically a flat rate. It's just you're coming up with a different way of determining what your rate will be for client. And usually at this point we're, we're also going to be spending hopefully more time with the client more with meetings, definitely once a month, but maybe the meeting is not an hour. It might be two hours. As you're getting into it, probably a little bit more details of the numbers, maybe going over more, more uh, trends and analysis ratios. But the point being here is revenue base. Generally speaking, you're finding that you're getting about 1,015 hundred, 2000 sometimes all the way up to $5,000 per month for your relationship with the clients. So in other words, you're becoming more of that controller, part-time CFO and you're getting a little bit more involved with the client than just providing merely the financials. And so we want to be paid accordingly.

RK: 36:24 And the revenue base for that is sometimes once a week you'll offer to come into the office and actually work on-site for a few hours. It's those types of things that start feeding into a revenue-based relationship that you'll find yourself in simply because of the size of the company as warranty net. And a I usually for revenue-based client wouldn't suggest taking on any one for less than around a thousand dollars a month. However, I do see some that are the larger type clients being done for less. But usually, right around the thousand dollars a month is kind of the low end and then you kind of go up and say 250 or $500 increments. So for example, if you are $1 million company, I do it 4,000 a month or if you are a million and a half company, I do it for 1500 a month. Those are some of the easy quicken, easy ways of coming up with rates.

RK: 37:18 Definitely what you want to do is a right into your letter of engagement that you actually will review every three or six months, the relationship and whether or not the services are appropriate and whether or not you being paid fairly for that time and effort. But a revenue-based is definitely the preferable way when you start working with larger clients and it will necessitate you offering some services beyond just the bookkeeping. Got It. And, and so what might be those types of services? So this is where you're going to be getting into more, I think the analytics. You're going to be starting to do maybe some benchmarking reports. You're going to be doing some trend analysis. You might be preparing budgets and forecasts. You might actually be sitting down with the clients and showing ratios. Great ones, for example, it'd be average revenue per client or customer average revenue per sale. You're going to start showing what your more profitable products are. You're getting more beyond just the preparing of the financials, but you're starting to interpret the data. And definitely this is moving more into the accounting realm simply because you're now trying to interpret for this lay person the numbers. This is something that's kind of a tangent, but realize when you're talking to a business, their,

RK: 38:36 their vocabulary in accounting may be lacking. And so your role is becoming literally that of a translator. You're taking what the business speaks, the language of business being accounting, and you're now preparing the financial reports which tell a story and your job is to now interpret those things, that information in a way that the business owner can now use and make more intelligent business decisions. You're the translator and so it's beyond just producing the financial reports. It's now interpreting them and drawing correlations and noticing trends and saying, this is how first quarter of this year compared to first quarter of last year. Here's how first quarter of this year compared to fourth quarter of last year. This is what's happening with regards to sales. This is what's happening with regards to expenses, this is our average expense per sale and so forth. So you're getting a lot more into the analytics and the interpretation of the reports. Be Clear. You're not moving into any decision making. The owner still makes all the decisions, you're just trying to give them the information in a way that's useful.

MP: 39:45 You know, I ran into a friend on the street yesterday and she owns a f f a company. I won't go into the details of what she does, but she had to close down one of her businesses. And so she was on her way to let go of six staff and I started to add, you know, obviously that's not a fun day for her. She's a wonderful person to last thing she wants to do. And so just in having a conversation she said, you know, I just would have been so business busy with the other side of the business. I haven't had a time to look at what was really going on financially. And when I went back and looked warden, we're losing money hand over fist. And so I said, gee, you know, you, you may want to look at your bookkeeper and you know, I know people that could probably help you out with something like that because not knowing that was a big problem for the business obviously.

MP: 40:39 And, and yet she says she has a great bookkeeper, but our bookkeeper just doesn't offer, they're just giving them the data. They're not helping her. Nobody was helping her understand what was really going on in the business. If she would have had that information a year ago, she may have been able to a turn around that business and saved six jobs in our economy. Or she would have been able to say, look, this business is not meant to be an existence and closed it down without a year full of losses. And I think that's where a listener needs to be thinking about is how am I helping, how am I being the steward for my customers? And if you don't have the bandwidth or time to do it, you know, that's a problem when there's lots of ways and we talk about it all the time on the podcast and how to do that, you know, improving your workflow, hiring better staff, training your staff better, but getting yourself, you know, 80% off of the books and, and into a position where you can do a value work with your clients. So I think Roger, with this conversation, it's like it just even that, just to be able to have a conversation with clients to say where things are at, what you're seeing and what might be happening or where things might be going is incredibly valuable to business owners.

RK: 41:52 Well, I'm going to add to that basically two things. The first being shame on the bookkeeper for not seizing the opportunity because I would argue that the bookkeeper knew this about the business well in advance of the business owner. I think the business owner was consumed by the day to day operations had stresses, but I'm sure the bookkeeper knew while this company is struggling where they're not going to make it their, their cashflow is not doing good. Payroll is going to be a challenge. They knew this. They just weren't opening their mouth or if they were opening their mouth, they weren't doing it in a way that the business owner was able to listen and understand. So one of the things that I really stress with our clients is helping them realize that they should become what we call profit and growth experts. One of the bookkeepers simply because so much of the time is obviously spent creating the financials.

RK: 42:37 See, I think things that they would like to share, but they just don't know how to bring it up or how to communicate it to the client. They also don't want to cross that line with a client of, of uh, being the bearer of bad news. Or is it my place to say something? And what we try to do is really through this process of helping them become profit and growth experts is realize that you do have a voice and really you should be speaking up and you, if anything, you're the voice for the business. The business owner has, or excuse me, the business and the business has something to say, but the business owner isn't listening. And so what we want to do is speak up for the company and help the business owner hear what the company's trying to say. So the second thing is, and this is kind of an interesting topic, but a lot of the bookkeepers that I speak to, they, they know a lot about the business.

RK: 43:26 They have clients that they've worked with for years and they have so many insights, they just don't know how to transition the relationship from that of a bookkeeper to be more of an advisor or consultant. And so I think that's why a lot of them appeal to this idea of becoming a profit and growth expert because it's almost as if the bookkeeper gets a voice and they feel empowered and strengthened. And the beauty of it is, and here's where the rubber meets the road, is they can charge for this additional service and have this different relationship with the client being paid well, not for the bookkeeping that they're doing, but for the advisory role that they're now taking on with the client. And after working with a client for a period of time, you have to understand your, your client appreciate your insights. They value your input. There's things you know about the business that no one else knows. Their spouses and other employees don't know what their friends don't know. You're probably the only one they're confiding in. And if you can have that relationship, but not just being a bookkeeper but being their profit and growth expert, you're now that strategic trusted advisor that can help them kind of brainstorm and bounce around ideas, come up with strategies

RK: 44:32 to really turn the business around. There's the beauty. And so what we're talking about here is really moving beyond just traditional bookkeeping services and providing financials to really getting into more consultative work. And so for those interested, obviously becoming a profit and growth expert is a huge opportunity to really give yourself the tools, the means, and more importantly, the confidence and competence to speak with a voice that really helps the business owner take their business to that next level and do so intelligently. So there, there's a lot to be said there.

MP: 45:04 Beautiful. And now we are, we are, I'm looking at the clock and obviously it's not a surprise. We've gone way over time for this particular topic and we still haven't covered value pricing. Where should we, how should, how do we have time, Roger, to do that?

RK: 45:19 I do. You know, I'm, I'm gonna end on a very short thing regarding value pricing. Value Pricing is something that I think a lot of people misunderstand and highly don't leverage. So many clients have a need for valued services and until the bookkeeper, the accountant really understands how to charge for it, I don't think they're going to get those opportunities. So real quickly, just to kind of maybe plant the seed for another discussion, there are three common ways to charge when you're doing value pricing, value pricing. When you meet with the client and you look at a project and determine whether or not you're going to be able to either save the company a certain amount of money or help them make a certain amount of money, implementing some very specific strategies with that, what happens is you would either be paid hourly for your time, which I don't encourage, but it is possible.

RK: 46:09 You're simply doubling what your hourly rate is. So if you're charging 50 you're going to charge $100 an hour for this project. The other is you charge a flat rate. The flat rate is we'll, for this project, my time and us doing this, it's going to take three months, I'm going to charge 2000 a month. So this is a $6,000 project. And then the last is a value-priced service and the value-priced services really, really where you're looking at the end. If the end result was say 10,000 in savings, 50 thousands in savings, 100,000 in savings, then you're getting a percent of that. And so it's upon completion. You're going into the work, you're vested, they're going to see you putting in a whole bunch of time and energy to earn this. And the 20 to 25% range is the percentage of that savings or earnings that you'd get for the work done when doing value pricing services. And so value pricing is a one of those three methods. Uh, there's this very specific way of having that discussion with the client about that project, but a, that's obviously going to be for another discussion.

MP: 47:14 That sounds beautiful. Well, you know what? I think already this episode has been tremendous and opening up more understanding for our listener in terms of understanding the pricing models and I think value pricing we can be talking about again and as well touching upon some of these other challenges and helping people make the move to some of these models that will be better for their business. Roger, what's the best way for people to take the next step with you or learning more about you, uh, to, to do more of this work in their business?

RK: 47:44 Excellent question. We have a special offer that we're going to be doing here and it's basically giving you the chance to get a book that's called in the black with the book in the black, you're able to actually map your client's businesses and help them understand where these opportunities lie. But then there's also another book that we're going to be making available here with this podcast that's called red to black and it's really helping you become that profiting growth expert. It's the really the step by step process that you would have with your clients to help them work through the turn key model that we use with our clients to actually follow six steps to offer valued priced services and the book red to black. We'll be making it available here. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of it. It's going to be a wonderful offer, so uh, with that in mind, I think that's the best way to really take an apply and learn more about these principles that we've discussed today.

MP: 48:39 That's excellent and thanks so much for, for offering that to our community. I know it will be super valuable for all of our listeners to get in and start consuming that information and taking those actions. Roger, thanks again for being on the podcast yet again today.

RK: 48:54 My pleasure. It's been a wonderful opportunity. Thanks, Michael.

MP: 48:58 And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 49:11 goodbye.

EP128: Stacey Brown Randall - How To Fill Your Pipeline With New Clients

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How important are referrals to your business?

Our guest, Stacey Brown Randall, who is a coach, author, and entrepreneur, cracked the code to overcoming the decades old advice that says “to receive referrals you must ask for them” then she perfected the art of self-maintaining clientele that consistently grows and drives revenue.

She was able to save more time, make more money and bring in new clients.

Today, she helps thousands of entrepreneurs accelerate their business growth through referral generation.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of being memorable and meaningful

  • Why you need to know who your referral sources are

  • How to build a 1 year outreach plan

To learn more about Stacey, visit here.

To take the Referral Ninja Quiz, click here.

For her LinkedIn page, go here.

To buy her book, Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:21 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is a three-time entrepreneur and author of generating business referrals without asking a simple five-step plan to a referral explosion. She has perfected the art of building up a self-maintaining clientele that consistently grows and drives revenue. Stacey Brown Randall, welcome to the podcast.

Stacey Brown Randall: 01:47 Thank you so much Michael, for having me. I'm excited to be here.

MP: 01:52 While I think our listeners are excited because who wouldn't want a refer?

SBR: 01:55 Well, who wouldn't want a referral explosion? I kind of caught myself. They're thinking some people that are, you know, working really hard in their business already and don't have systems and processes in place might go, I don't want any par clients. Right? But, uh, that is true. And because at that point it's kind of a good problem to have if you have so many clients you can handle it, but it's a bad problem because nobody wants to live on that hamster wheel.

MP: 02:15 That's absolutely right. Now, before we get into the goal that you're going to share with us today, tell us a little bit about yourself and your business journey leading up to this point.

SBR: 02:33 Sure. So it's always interesting when I think about back when I was younger, what did I want to do when I wanted to grow up, you know, I was going to be the next Katie, correct. So I mean somebody had to replace her. Right. And I was, I was a broadcast journalism major in college and I think about where I am now, I'm like, wow, there is just a lot of portfolio things happening. I call my chronic career, the portfolio career. And the fact that I'm sitting here actually having this conversation with you and your audience today about do we generate referrals and how do we do that without asking actually all started with a business failure, which also was never in the plans. Right. So you know, I graduated from college and I did the corporate work thing. I had a couple of jobs that I worked in as I get recruited and moved my way up and have a background in sales and marketing and some in HR.

SBR: 03:16 And so I eventually, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. So I knew that if I could figure out a way to be an entrepreneur, I'd be a business owner. I was going to do it. So when I started my first business, it was an HR consulting firm and it was, if you looked at it from the outside looking in, you would have assumed it was pretty successful because I had clients like KPMG, a Coca Cola bottling, consolidated ally bank, Snyder's lance, the city of Charlotte. Like I had some very large name clients that I was doing work for. But when I looked back on that business and it would fail a couple of years later and I looked back on that business, I realized I worked too hard for every client that I did land. What I realized was, wow, when I never established was how do I touch business development every day?

SBR: 04:01 But the secret to it for me at least is in a way that I'm willing to do but will actually produce results. And I think that's what I never figured out what that first business was to get into a process and assistant and a routine of what would work for me, but would be something I was willing to work. And so I'm not going to cold call. I would prefer not to spend all my time cold emailing. So I did do a lot of networking for the business. I did land with my first company is my HR consulting firm. But you know, I, I think that fast forward right after that failure and now I've been running the business I have now for the last five years, I have three kids under 10. Like that same model was not going to work the way that I could have made it some what happened with that first business.

SBR: 04:45 Like I need more time to be able to do all the things that are important to me in life. Not just trying to build a business, but I could not have another business failure. I wanted to find success. And so when I looked back on, okay, what happened with the first business and then why did it fail? And I uncovered this business development gap that I had in my business. What I realized was, okay, well to be successful now under these new constraints that I have now that I have, you know, a couple of kids and we took custody of our nephew a couple of years ago. So we have that dynamic as well with our three kids. And so just kind of looking at my life, I was like, what's the easiest way to get business? And it was referrals. So I went researching how do I get referrals, what does this look like?

SBR: 05:24 And everybody and every piece of advice and every article and most every book said, we'll just go ask and asking for a referral. Felt like a cold call. I felt like I call it the cousin to a cold call is when you ask for a referral. And I just didn't want to do it. So starting my second business, I started a productivity and coaching practice business before I moved the model into what I have today. And when I started that business, what I realized was I do want referrals. I don't want to ask am I anomaly? And thinking that I can generate referrals without asking because most people hate it. And so I literally set out to figure out how to generate referrals without asking because I couldn't have another business failure and I needed to figure out a way to touch business development every day in a way that I would do it in referrals. Was the thing that I ultimately wanted. So I did it out of sheer necessity and now that I realized what this is information lots of people need, I've even shifted my business model to just focus on helping people through know my one on one coaching and some of my online platforms of what does this look like? To know how to generate referrals without asking what are the steps you need to put in place so that you too can have referrals that you don't have to ask for, who would not want to get referrals?

SBR: 06:33 Right? Everybody. Everybody should want that.

MP: 06:35 Hey everybody. I agree. And so when you started doing this and helping some of the people that you've helped actually do this, what of what have been their experience of life when you have referrals coming in without having to ask for them?

SBR: 06:51 Yeah, so it's interesting. When I started doing this for myself, I'd have, I just happened to be coaching small business owners, solo preneurs. That's kind of my, my niche market and a majority of them were actually business owners who were also parents. That was kind of the niche I focused on with my coaching practice. And so when I started, you know, raising my rates and decreasing the number of hours I had available to coach and I made eventually after a couple of years I had it down to where I was only coaching two days a week, multiple six figures and only working two days a week. And so when I got to that place, and actually as I was moving in that direction as every time I would raise my rates, my clients will be like, what are you doing? How are you growing so fast? So he's just started sharing what I was doing and the more I taught it to the people that are just my coaching clients at that time, that's when I really distilled it down to okay, there are five steps and here are the five steps.

SBR: 07:39 And then I just started watching as they implemented it. What was happening. Right. So like going through this process with a CPA who you know, had been a managing partner of his, you know, somewhat small CPA firm for since 1999 right. So he was not new to the business game and someone had said, you know what, I took Stacy's SMURF rural program. Maybe you should just check it out. And he was like, this is a sign and it could be better. And then he started learning about me a little bit more and then he kind of went through my program and he was like, oh my gosh, like I get to control the time I spend when it comes to trying to develop referral sources or spending time with people who refer me. And within this first three months on the program he had brought in like 20 referrals and he was like, I only need 40 or 50 new clients a year just to kind of help with the attrition they had on the back end.

SBR: 08:25 He was like, this was not expected. And so he was like, now I feel like I have more time back. And I think ultimately most people want referrals because it sounds like easy money coming in the door and it is because of referrals shows up. If you define it correctly, a referral shows up typically ready to buy. And just want you to solve their problem because somebody else said you can solve the problem, but what they truly realize on the backend is how much time it saves and how much you have that ability to really focus on business development a way you want to and that doesn't like, you know, drain you in terms of the time you have to spend. So and grey is the CPA. He's one of my favorite stories. I get to talk about one of my favorite students who went through the program. I actually talk about him in the book as well. But you know for him it was just like wow, yes it was great cause I got clients and I got them quickly and that was unexpected in those first couple of months. But ultimately the fact that I now control my time is the probably the most valuable thing that he learned going through the program.

MP: 09:30 Beautiful. Well, it sounds exciting. Let's, let's share with our audience how they can start getting referrals without asking.

SBR: 09:40 Absolutely. So what I'd love to do, Michael, is actually just make sure we're all on the same page for the definition of a referral. I always find, yeah, I always find that people, they, I think the term referral is so over diluted and our sales terminology today that I'll hear people say things like referral marketing or word of mouth referral or they'll name something as a referral. And it wasn't much more than a warm lead or an introduction. And so I can always tell that people really, when they come up to me, they're like, I get referrals. I just don't ever turn them into clients. Right? I'm always like, Gee, I don't know if you're defining this correctly. So I always tell folks, we always know, we all know what a cold lead is, right?

SBR: 10:17 I mean that is someone that you cold call and happens to take your call and says yes to a meeting, right? Or you call an email or you meet them at a trade show or whatever. They're just cold. A warm lead is where someone's usually told you to call somebody, but the person you're calling doesn't necessarily know your calling, right? Like, Hey, call so and so they need what you do, right? And sometimes they tell you you can use their name or not, but that's still just a warm lead. And then we have an introduction and word of mouth buzz and it's introduction, word of mouth buzz that I see me mostly interchangeable with referral. And those are three very different types of leads. So a referral has two things that an introduction in a word of mouth buzz is usually are almost always missing.

SBR: 10:55 So a referral has two important pieces, which is first there has to be a personal connection. I have to connect you to somebody else who needs your service. And I, and that connection is where I'm transferring the trust because for a referral to show up in their purest definition as ready to go because they know they have a need, not so price-sensitive because you've already established a value by somebody else who says you're great and trust, which is at the far end of the know, like and trust continuum closest to the money. Since they already trust you, they are typically easier to close as a potential new client. So for them to show up in that way, there has to be a personal connection to where the person who trusts you tells their person, they're the person who has the problem. Hey, you need to work with Michael because he will make this better for you.

SBR: 11:41 And they're like, okay, great. Because the ultimate reason why we want someone to tell us who to use if we just don't want to make a mistake and we certainly don't want, don't want to spend money, we don't have to be wasting. So we want someone to help us make that decision. The second thing that our referral has is a need identified. I actually need to be in solving or buying mode as a prospect to actually make the decision to spend money and take the time to hire you. So if I don't know I have a problem, you're never going to sell to me. If I don't want to solve my problem, even if I know about it, you're still not going to solve. Usually, I'm just, you know, I'm still not going to buy from you or hire you if I'm actually not in the solving mentality.

SBR: 12:20 And I think that's the important pieces is that when you're talking with our referral source, the only reason that referral source would refer someone to you is if that person said, yes, I probably do need a new bookkeeper or I don't have a bookkeeper, but who do I even start? Where do I even start? What does this process look like? Right? You need that person to transfer the trust and you also need them to provide to you someone who's actually ready to solve the problem that you as a service provider can solve. And word of mouth buzz and introduction or missing one or both. So when you think about an introduction, it's missing. There's no need identified, but I've definitely connected you usually over email. I typically say grow your network or get to know each other. Are you guys have a lot in common?

MP: 12:58 It's an introduction. That's great. It could be somebody down the road that may buy from you or just someone else in your network, but there's no needed edified and this is not, this is not a referred prospect meeting. And with word of mouth buzz, they've definitely identified a need, but they put you in the back seat instead of the front seat because I never connected you together so that you could follow up to schedule that first meeting. So a referral has personal connection and a need identified, which makes it different from a cold lead, warm lead introduction or word of mouth buzz experienced when they're not, when they've not been set up that way. And it kind of wastes everybody's time because you don't have those key components established it. So why, why bother? So how do you get, how do you get it into the situation where those are coming to you?

SBR: 13:49 In a perfect situation. So that's a great question because I always tell my students inside my program, and there's a particular scripts that we provide inside the program called the flip scripts. And that's the scripts that help you take somebody who may be introducing you and it's like trying to get them to flip into a referral. So there's two ways you can handle this. I find it and what I teach my students is go straight to the referral source and try to flip that into a referral by the language you use with a referral source. So for instance, if an a word of mouth buzz, if they told the person you're awesome and told you I told someone you're awesome, then say hey, what about connecting us so that I can follow up? Right? And there's specific language that you can use to make that work for your personality so you don't feel pushy.

SBR: 14:32 Because the number one thing my program does is focus on being genuine and authentic. So there's different language for different people in terms of what does it look like to the referral source. To flip that into a referral, but if you receive someone who has already come to you and it's like, ah, is this really a referral or we're just going to go meet for coffee and we don't really know why, then it's all in how you talk to the prospect and then you have to decide based on the language that we're for all sources used and that email connecting you is this one of those where I'm going to go more in a little bit more gently and I'm just going to say, hey, that'd be great to get together and learn more about your business and I, you know, look forward to sharing about my business, right?

SBR: 15:08 So you can take it the gingerly kind of approach or you can say, Hey, I'm so glad so-and-so referred us. Love to have a conversation to see if there's a way for us to work together. And so you just have to decide based on your personality. I prefer not to have to go once the introduction has been made. I prefer not to have to go to the prospect and try to flip them into thinking they're being referred to me. I prefer to go to the referral source and use language so that I get set up correctly because it's just easier that way. And the referral source will typically tell you, hey, this person, especially if you ask, hey, this person needs you, they just don't know it. Okay. My response on an email is different than if they say, oh, I totally, you're right, let me, let me tell them why I'm connecting you guys.

SBR: 15:54 I'm so that everybody's on the same page. So it really just depends on your relationship with the referral source and the language you use to kind of flip that before that connection has made so that you actually receive a referral. And once you kind of train your referral sources that I know that we're trained sounds kind of, you know, a little off. But the truth is is once you kind of get your referral sources and the habit of how to make that connection and identify that need, they typically just want that default mode of like, okay, what does this look like? Because it's never their job, their referral source. It's never their job to qualify your prospects to qualify who they're sending to you. But that doesn't mean you can't help them with just easier language that they can use when they're making that referral.

SBR: 16:35 Because remember, no referral is about you, right? I mean, Michael, it does not matter how awesome you are. No offer was about you. It is about me knowing somebody who has a problem and I want to help them and you just happen to be the best service provider for that and I know you'll take care of them. That's why I'm going to introduce you to my friend, my colleague, right? The person I knew at my networking event, that's why I'm going to introduce them to you or connect you to them. So you always going to have to keep those pieces in mind. But it typically always comes down to the language.

MP: 17:10 I like it a lot, you know, and I don't think training's a bad way of putting it. I think it's a great way of putting it because what you're doing is, is you're training people to provide great referrals set up properly so that nobody's time gets wasted and that they can actually get to the end result, which is they're doing it because they want to help people. If they weren't, then why would they do it? And so you know, so that's it. Help people help you and, and help do the good work that you do is fantastic. Now let's say our listener has a bunch of clients and they don't, you know, they do get referrals because I don't think there's many bookkeeping, bookkeeping business owners out there that have not had referrals. I mean, that's a very big part of growing the business. However, they, the, the referrals are likely coming at them without any activity that they've done. If they want it to stimulate business and get more referrals, how would you, how would you coach them into going out there and, and, and, uh, beating the bushes, if you will, to bring more referrals in?

SBR: 18:20 Sure. So what I would tell folks is, is that when you think about how you generate clients, you need to put your activities that you do in three buckets. The first bucket is that prospecting, right? So we all have a prospecting plan. It's that I need to eat tomorrow, plan where the activities I'm going to do and mentality I have when I'm in my prospecting mode or prospecting activities is that I'm hoping to go to that networking event and meet a couple of people who may want to have a conversation about doing work together or I'm going to cold call 15 people and hope that one of them answers the phone and says yes to a meeting, right? So that prospecting plan has its own set of activities. Then you have your marketing and your branding plan. And so that's your website, right? Maybe it's ads, maybe it's sponsorships of events, but it's the things you do knowing that you've got a long range perspective and you want people to be familiar with your brand and grow your reputation, right?

SBR: 19:08 And kind of just be seen as part of your social media that you do. So those are the different activities that make up the marketing and branding the plan. And then I tell folks to, but you need a third plan. And the third plan is your referral plan. And the reason why we have these three plans is because the mindset and the activities we do in each of these three plans are different. And we have to think different while we're in each of these three plans. So whereas in prospecting I'm thinking ham in sales mentality and I want someone to say yes to meeting with me. In marketing I'm in, I'm in a long range plan here and I know it and I just want to get my name out there and build my reputation and referral plan being the mindset is completely different. And what you do looks different.

SBR: 19:51 So I always tell folks, if you want to stimulate your referral generation, you really need to focus on having a referral generating plan, which is a one year plan that you build out and it should not be complicated, and it's definitely, you can build this on a shoestring budget, but it is a way for you to actually make sure that you are doing outreach or what inside the program, I call it touchpoints to the people who are your referral sources, and there's some specific pieces we focus on while we're building out this plan, right? So it's like a one year plan. You're going to be doing touch points throughout the year. That does not mean you have to do 12 touch points. You actually can do less than that because what we're focused on in this outreach of these touch points we do are to our referral sources or those that we want to be referral sources, is that what we're really focused in on is we're making sure that whatever we do is all about them.

SBR: 20:42 So you're not sending them anything with your logo on it because that's about you, right? You're not sending them to another educational seminar if that's all you do because they don't really want that. So what your outreach is, right is to your referral source as in terms of what they want. Your outreach is also be, or your touchpoint is also going to be memorable and meaningful. I call it minding our M&Ms Because if we do things that are memorable and meaningful, then we actually get to the third point, which is we stay top of mind, which means we move into the subconscious as well knowing that they are cared for by us, which means when they're in an opportunity to refer us, of course, they think about us and actually they think about us and don't really know it because we're in their subconscious because we're taking such good care of them.

SBR: 21:26 We let them know that we see you and we care about you and you cannot manipulate this practice or this process because people will see right through it. They know and that's why we don't do a ton of guests and there's not just one thing we do, but it's an outreach plan to let them know our referral sources. Hey, here's what it looks like for us, you know, to show you and to tell you that we care about you by being memorable and meaningful. Making it all about the referral sources and keeping US top of mind. We are not interested in keeping in touch. We are going to transcend that. And so I always felt that that's kind of like the meat and potatoes of what it looks like to generate referrals. You've got to know who your referral sources are and then you also have to build out a one year plan of outreach to them and then the other kind of secret sauce pieces.

SBR: 22:11 Then you have to know the language to sprinkle in so you can plant referral seeds that also gets them thinking about you in a referral mentality but you never ask. So it's just the use of language that lets them know why you care about them and that you're thankful for the referrals that they send you and there's dozens and dozens of scripts we talk about inside the program because there's lots of ways to plant seeds, but this just becomes a way that you think about business and becomes the language you start using throughout your business. And so that is ultimately what it looks like to truly take somebody and say, hey, let's create a referral generating plan. Let's do it for the right group of people. Let's do it in the right way and let's use the light language. And when that is happening and you're thanking for every referral received with a handwritten thank you note, those are the pieces together that really start to stimulate your referral growth.

MP: 23:07 Beautiful. Well touch points in terms of the bookkeeping audience that's listening right now, they have a wonderful opportunity which is checking in with their clients around their finances. They know there's always, there's mile all sorts of milestones throughout the entire year. So putting the plan together. A plan like this should be quite simple for them, but it's gotta be a plan. I love that. It's, if it's not planned out, then it'll just go by the lease side. So being memorable, being useful, I mean those touch points, you're there to help them be clear around their finances. You mentioned not asking and having language that would help, would help them know that they,

MP: 23:46 they could give a referral or can you give an example of what that might sound like?

SBR: 23:55 Sure, absolutely. So I always have a, I definitely have a number of bookkeepers. You've actually been through my program and I personally have a bookkeeper for my business. And so I always tell bookkeepers, I'm like, listen, one thing you have to think about is, is ideally who are your best referral sources? Because the truth is not all clients will refer you. Now the better job you do, building relationships and delivering on quality work, you can grow that percentage of clients who will offer you but let yourself off the hook that all clients are going to refer you and look for the 30% that well. But in addition to your clients, look for those who need your services to support their people. So as a business coach for a long time I was able to actually provide referrals to the bookkeeper I use because I worked with other small business owners and as a business coach we obviously talked about their finances and processes and what are you not getting to and what do you need to outsource.

SBR: 24:43 And so, you know, my bookkeeper was really, really smart on always making sure because I sent her referrals and I sent, well her company, I sent her a company referrals often because people, and I believed in her service cause I used it and that certainly helps. But you know, she always made sure right, to understand what it looked like to take care of me. Now, she also went through the course of my program. So she definitely knew what it looked like to take care of me. But it's the simple things you do. It doesn't need to cost a lot of money. And it's that way that you think about, okay, what is thinking in my bookkeeper's perspective? And I have a business coach, Stacey's my Stacy's a business coach, and she refers me what does she need? Right? What would be memorable and meaningful? What would keep me top of mind?

SBR: 25:26 What are those things that look like right? And so gifts is one of so many things you can do and should not be. You should never complete. You should never create a plan that's just gift based and you're going to spend way too much money. And B, it's gonna get routine after awhile. Not feel special. But my bookkeeper happens to know that I have an obsession with Starbucks. I gave up coke coca cola a while back, but I have not been able to kick my Starbucks habit. So after I had sent out a couple of referrals, they actually had like this Starbucks gift basket that they brought by my office. Now that's a one off and I, I tell people you don't have to do one off. You can group your referral sources together and do like, and I'll give an example but give like the same gift to a couple of people.

SBR: 26:08 But they just happen to know that I have an obsession with Starbucks. I talk about it on my podcast. I basically have coffee, I'd meet people at Starbucks, like I have a lot of conversations about, I mean I've already been twice today. You Michael, it's pretty bad. Um, and I don't even drink coffee and that's what makes it worse. And so they really gifted me with this beautiful, I think it was like someone kind of Christmas, Starbucks basket. Right. And I knew that that meant she's not trying to buy anything off of me. She knows me. She cares about me. She certainly didn't send me Dunkin donuts cause I never would go. I mean not that they have bad coffee, but I don't drink coffee. I need certain drink at Starbucks. And so by knowing me and me and then thanking me, right, she's just making sure I'm aware that they care.

SBR: 26:48 And it's when you care about somebody that I typically want to turn around and show you that I care back. That's just how God built us and how he designed us. And that's just kind of a human quality. Most though not all of us have. So you know, that's just one example from that perspective. Using it from the bookkeeper, kind of the reverse of what you know, what a bookkeeper did for me. But to give another example, and I'm only going to share another gift example only because I think it helps your audience visualize it better. But again, there are lots of different types of outreach and touch points that you can do that do not involve a gift at all. I mean, sometimes just a random thank you card letting them know how much you appreciate them and what they do for your business is just as impactful as a Starbucks gift card or Starbucks gift basket.

SBR: 27:32 But when you show up through what you do that you know and understand your referral sources, because remember we're not doing this for all your clients, we are not doing this for everybody in your network. We're talking about a smaller group of people. We're talking about the people who refer you now or you want to have referring you, right? We're talking about just doing stuff for them. Most of the people who go through my program, if they don't start out with a couple of dozen of those, that's their ultimate goal of where they're headed. We're not talking hundreds and hundreds, right? We're talking 12 to 20 maybe 30 depending on the volume you need. I have some insurance agents that are much higher than that, but that's just because property and casualty insurance is kind of a different animal and they're looking for more volume of referrals. But most folks, you know they have a dozen or two referral sources sending them multiple referrals and that's about what they can handle in a year.

SBR: 28:19 And so another example that I always like to share because I think you can visualize it even though it is a gift, is that I know that the majority of my top referral sources are working parents. They own businesses and their parents. And so I always recognize mother's Day and father's day and in recognizing mother's Day one you, this is a couple of years ago now, I actually sent a wonder woman water bottle to each of my referral sources. That was a mom and I sat on the card, never forget you are a hero. Happy Mother's Day, Stacy. And when you remove that card, there was nothing on that water bottle that reminded them of me at all. But Michael, do you think they forgot who sent them that water bottle?

MP: 29:03 No.

SBR: 29:04 Likely No. Right? Because it was memorable and meaningful and I met them right where they are like, hey, I see you.

SBR: 29:10 You are wonder woman. I know I walk in those shoes too. Right? And that doesn't mean I have things in common with all my referral sources. Definitely not. But I pay attention to understanding because we're not talking about hundreds. We're talking about dozens. I pay attention to who they are. I also don't necessarily think you have to do individual things for your referral sources. I'm pretty sure with the my bookkeeper who were, who gave me that special gift because I am a referral source to her. I'm probably, I don't know if I'm her top referral source, but I know I'm up there and I also know she's into my programs so she knows exactly what to do, but so from that perspective, it doesn't have to be individualized, but you do have to understand who your referral sources are and what do they need from you and then meet them and see them in that place and and really what everything I teach comes down to how we take care of them and then how we plant the right language so that you know what we're ultimately after from that outcome is more referrals.

MP: 30:03 Beautiful, excellent stuff. While you know what referrals are amazing. I love the idea of thanking people in creative ways for those referrals. And my goodness, we're already almost up on time. Is there anything that you'd like to end on to share with our audience?

SBR: 30:15 So just two quick things. The first thing I would say is that the first step you need to take when you finish listening to Michael and I today, the first step you need to take is go identify who are your referral sources. Go pull a list of your clients and figure out how they learned about you and create that list of who are the people who've referred you clients in the past. That is where you start this process of before you even create a referral generating plan is who are you creating a plan for? So step one is always make sure that you know who your referral sources are.

SBR: 30:50 And the second thing I would say is, remember if you do great work and you build good relationships and you had a sticky client experience, then you are definitely worthy of referrals, but you are not owed them. So you need to be perfect or did you do a little bit of work to be able to receive them?

MP: 31:10 Wonderful. That's great. And Stacy, if people wanted to learn more about you and your program, what would be the best way to do that? SBR: 31:20 Yep, so you can go to my website, which is Stacey Brown, randall.com and Stacy has an e, so Stacey brown, randall.com and I would encourage everyone to take the referral Ninja quiz that I have. You can actually get to it, to Stacey Brown, randall.com forward slash quiz. It's just nine questions that'll help you understand where you are in your ability to generate referrals. And then there's some resources that'll come to you after you take the quiz to help move you up to the next level where we're trying to get you to the master level. So that's just a great thing for people to kind of just test kind of where they are. And then, of course, there's information about my programs and the online programs and the one on one stuff that I do as well on the website.

MP: 31:50 Wonderful. Well. It's been our pleasure having you here. Thanks for being so generous with your time.

SBR: 31:58 Oh, my pleasure. Thank you, Michael.

MP: 32:01 And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast to learn more about today's guests. Yeah,

MP: 32:07 and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP127: Cheryl Baldwin - Why You Need A Business Continuity Plan

UPDATE #2 - TSBK - Episode 127 - Cheryl Baldwin.png
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Expect the unexpected.

Whether it’s a natural disaster, family problem or serious accident, a shocking event can disrupt business operations at any company.

No one can predict the future; however, you can be ready with a comprehensive business continuity plan.

With over 25 years of experience in financial management, project management, and all aspects of business operations, Cheryl Baldwin is an expert in continuity planning.

She is also a Certified Professional Bookkeeper who launched BCP Business Services with the mission to help businesses and non-profits prosper.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The advantage of having a business advisor

  • The steps to having a foolproof continuity plan

  • The benefit of having a support system

To learn more about BCP Business Services, click this link.

To contact Cheryl, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:02 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is a certified professional bookkeeper who launched BCP business services with the mission to help businesses and nonprofits prosper as well. She has over 25 years of experience in the financial management, project management and all aspects of business operations. Cheryl Baldwin, welcome to the podcast.

Cheryl Baldwin: 01:28 Hi Michael. Hello. Great to have you. Hello. Looking forward to it.

MP: 01:33 Beautiful. Well, Listen Cheryl, we know each other and I would love for our audience to know you as well as I know you. And so can you share for us a little bit of your career journey leading up to where you are today?

CB: 01:52 Well, well I'm not as young as I used to be, so it's been a while. As you said, I've been doing financial management and various formats for the last, I stopped counting after 25 years cause I've decided to age me two months. And uh, but on the side have also done a lot of uh, disaster management and other aspects that have kind of led to kind of a well-rounded career, doing a bit of a bit of everything.

MP: 02:22 Yeah. And so what led you into having a bookkeeping business?

CB: 02:28 Well, I always found I have a mix of really needing to be with people and really having a need to work with numbers. I love numbers that come naturally to me, always have. But I always found when I worked somewhere full time on one set of books, day in, day out, that I would get restless and bored and needed something more. So I also worked for the Winnipeg Chamber for a number of years and I guess got the, a bit of a for entrepreneurship than, so I decided to, uh, to take the plunge and I really wanted to help other businesses grow and, and meet their needs and meet their dreams as well as continue to do some work in the nonprofit sector. So this gives me a little bit of everything and a, I love it. It's been a, it's been a great ride.

MP: 03:20 So beautiful. And what, when did you take that leap?

CB: 03:24 Um, I guess a little over three years ago now.

MP: 03:28 But you know, there's a lot of listeners that have taken that leap, but a lot of listeners that are thinking about taking that leap. And what were some of the, like when you were doing that, obviously you were entrepreneur yourself, you mentioned that and it excited you, but what were some of the things that, that you were worried about when you did that?

CB: 03:46 Well, I mean we all like having a steady paycheck and that obviously, you know, wasn't a guarantee anymore. Many of us, myself included, have an innate fear of failure. So it's like, what if I can't do it? What if I make a mistake? Do I really know what I'm doing? Can I meet the needs of my clients? Am I, you know, that whole failure or gum, you know, circles in your head and, and I think that's something we all have to fight on a daily basis no matter how long you've been at up. So we all have our days of dope.

MP: 04:21 That's absolutely right. Well, I love that you, you bring it up. It, I think helps for those that haven't heard that before. And if you've been listening to the podcast for awhile, you had had this, a topic that comes up often because many people deal with it, right? So you had these fears and then now three years in, what did that journey look like? You, you obviously started as a solo in your business, but tell us a little bit what that journey looked like.

CB: 04:47 Well, you're right. I started out on my own. Um, I had a pretty good networking base which helped. And so, you know, I have done a lot of networking over the years. So I just went out and met a lot of people and talked to a lot of people and made sure people knew what I was doing. I also managed to subcontract with another o keeping from that, uh, although actually outside amount of Toba that did work within Manitoba. So I subcontracted with them for a little bit where she kind of got my feet wet, so to speak. And then as I got busier and busier, I went off, you know, left them and, and whistle only on my own, but things picked up fairly quickly and it became apparent that I had to either decide to grow my business or stop networking and looking for new business because I couldn't manage anymore.

CB: 05:41 And just decided that because I needed that PayPal in traction, really love the networking, that I guess I was going to grow my business. So I brought on a, a staff person that kind of grew with me. So she was, um, had just finished her courses at one of the local colleges and she worked hourly for me. And as I needed more hours, she worked more hours until she was full time. And so that happened fairly quickly. So I think I brought her on within probably about eight months of, of starting and then put a year later, brought on another staff person. Um, now there's six of us.

MP: 06:22 Wow. Amazing. And so one of the questions that's come up from our community is how do I know when to hire?

CB: 06:34 That's always the hard one.

MP: 06:36 What's your tattoo?

CB: 06:38 You don't, the hardest part about it is that you've got a, you know, if you're gonna hire and you know, you know, you're getting tight, you know, the workload's getting too high and you can't manage. But you also have to factor in the fact that it takes a while to train somebody to your level of standards. And as we become more automated and use more software, you have to make sure that they know that software and know how to use it properly. So I always sort of need to factor in the fact that it's gonna take two months before they're fully capable of doing their role. And maybe even longer before we, maybe you don't want them to be able to work totally solo, like going on to a client on site or something like that. So you have to factor that into your timing. And so it's sometimes an investment of money before you get the return. And that's always a challenge.

MP: 07:32 Hmm.

MP: 07:33 You know, if you, if you want to grow, you know, that's just one of the things you do and there is a point that you'll reach that it'll the scale tips. So now suddenly you're making enough that we'll pay you for that

MP: 07:47 lag time before the person's really bringing in income

MP: 07:57 And so this is one of the challenges that every, every business owner can face. And there's, there's other challenges. What have, what have been some of the challenges that you faced along the way and how did you deal with them?

CB: 08:12 Well, the hiring is Zoe, you know, is one of the hardest as far as timing. You know, I'm lucky that I'm also have an eater certification so we're going to have the background of how to hire and huddle, look for the right people. Um, but it's still working out timing. But for me it's, it's making sure you have the right network of people so that when you aren't sure the direction has somebody to talk through it with, you know, if you don't have a business advisor, get a business advisor, get somebody that you can feel comfortable with, sharing your fears and sharing where you're at and that can just help talk you through it. That's made the biggest difference to me. I work with the women's enterprise center quite closely and they've supported me a lot. And when I start filling dope full about what I'm doing, they kind of help to get me back on track and reinforce that I'm doing the right thing. I'm going in the right direction. But it's a, it can be a scary journey at times when you want to grow a business, but it's just learning to trust yourself and making sure that you have the supports around you that help bolster that faith in yourself.

MP: 09:29 Wonderful, great advice. And what an interesting concept of having a community like that and, and the women's, you, what was it called?

CB: 09:39 It was the women's.So when women's enterprise centers,

CB: 09:41 women's Enterprise Center, and I'm sure,

CB: 09:43 I mean, I guess I should also mention, of course the Pure Bookkeeping and I've joined the, uh, a mastermind group through the pure bookkeeping and, um, that's been a tremendous support. We meet once a month and we just talk about whatever challenges anybody's having, where we're at, what we're trying to accomplish. We help encourage each other, support each other, and they've all become very good friends. Um, and we, you know, in between meetings if something happens and we need support, it's a quick phone call or email away. So that's been a huge a support as well. So I'm surrounded by a lot of very talented people who are happy to give me support and advice. So that's great.

MP: 10:30 Beautiful. I think the key key message is really making sure you have great support around you that you can turn to for guidance, but as well when you're low, uh, any a need help getting out of that low. Uh, so I mean every community has support groups, uh, that, that people would live in. So that's, that's a place if you're trying to do it all alone, that's a very dangerous place to be. And so reaching out and being out in nature and you know, building your network, I mean that, that's key learning from, from what you've been telling us today. For sure.

CB: 11:05 Definitely.

MP: 11:05 Now you also mentioned you grew, you grew your business through, through a lot of networking. You then added staff and you had some staff that more maybe not full, like really experienced because of your experience. I'm going to assert that you're, you had the ability to do that because of your background. What would you say to people about hiring people? What, what, what does a good candidate look like for the average bookkeeper?

CB: 11:39 Well, I mean it's like you said, it depends a little bit on your own background and your comfort level training and where you're at in your business. I have found for the most part in, in hiring the, it's far more impart part and to hire for and aptitude than it is for skills. You can teach skills, but you can't teach attitude and you can't teach whether they have the aptitude to do the job. So trying to, you know, asking questions in an interview that tries to show you whether they have those skills like that, um, that aptitude is really important. And then, I mean, there are times that, yeah, you're going to need to hire somebody who has those scape senior skills right off the bat. And that's a lot harder to find because they're, uh, you know, they're not, uh, you know, people who really know what they're doing and bookkeeping as many of us know or aren't, uh, aren't as common as we would like to believe. So, uh, so it's, it's hard to find somebody really good, but you just need to, don't, don't hire just because he need to hire, find the right person, find the right personality, fit for the culture you've created in your business. Somebody you feel that you can be comfortable with that work with far more important than them having the skillsets you can teach that if you need to.

MP: 13:05 Lovely, great, great advice. And, and what about from a, from a, there's bookkeepers that are listening that aren't starting their own business, but you know, maybe they, they're just getting started. What advice would you give to them about maybe working for other bookkeepers?

CB: 13:22 There's always bookkeepers who are out, you know, that are looking for good people. There's lots of companies are looking for good people. There's companies like myself that are always looking for good people. Um, if you're wanting to work for someone else cause that's where your comfort level is. Um, you know, again, it's, it's just the reverse. Find the right fit for you, find what makes you feel valued and um, and comfortable and that you fit with the culture that, that of that workplace.

MP: 13:54 Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, you know, it is a, a wonderful thing that you've done. You've taken something from nothing. You created a business and now you have six staff members and, and growing. Awesome. To See and, uh, and, and to, to have you on sharing your knowledge about it is, is a pleasure. Now, one of the other areas of your expertise is, is business continuity planning. And you are a certified business continuity planner. What is this and how does that help your clients with what they're dealing with?

CB: 14:32 Well, um, business continuity planning is really helping business-like in simple terms is helping businesses prepare for unexpected events that would otherwise, uh, negatively impact their business. So it could be anything like, you know, owners, long term illness or it could be their work, play a fire in their workplace. It could be, um, as simple as construction. If they're a retail business and people can't get to their business, what do they do? What messaging do they get out? So some of it is communication planning. Some of it is just having a plan so that you know how you're going to respond to these things. In the case of us as bookkeepers, um, especially those who work on their own, um, the smaller you are, the more important it is to have some form of a plan in place. You've got customers and clients who are relying on you.

CB: 15:32 Um, they need to know that if something happens to you, if you're sick or a family member is ill or you even just want to go into holiday, they need to know that their, their stuff is still going to get done. Their payroll is still gonna be processed. So, and then as we grow and we're incorporated and you've got staff full, now your staff are relying on you on top of that. So you've got to make sure that you have a plan in place that somebody knows what to do if something happens to you so that suddenly all these people aren't less stranded. So it's important to sort of, you know, go through your head and work through, well what would somebody need to know to maintain the, keep the business going or to sell the business if that's a possibility or to at least wind it down in a way that's not gonna cause any undue impact on people.

CB: 16:28 Or ideally if you're, if it's a shirt, you know, an illness for a period of short period of time, then at least that you still have a business to come back to when you're, when you're healthy again. So you need to put some, some plan in place. And there's a variety of different ways of looking at that to do it. And as far as our clients are concerned, we can help them see that as well. Cause it's the same thing. There's things that they should be aware of that could have extreme impacts on their business, both financially and customer base and just their ability to operate and they need to at least look at it so and think about it. So what I do often as they don't really have the, the means most of them in order to do a full business continuity plan, but I like to get people at least thinking about things. So what's going to happen if something happens to you who, who's going to cover? Do you have a backup for this? And just periodically feeding the questions to them and getting them thinking about it so that if something does happen, they've at least got it, but wind in their mind and ideally on paper to or with the people who are their support so that they know what to do.

MP: 17:48 Now how you get into this?

CB: 17:52 Well, I the both the volunteer and staff person for the key Red Cross doing south management for a number of years. And when I kind of left that role, I still wanted to stay sort of in raised in that world a little bit. And I knew that I cared about businesses and I wanted to do something to help them. And so I took the certification in business continuity planning so that I would have that, uh, that support and knowledge.

MP: 18:21 Wow. And would you say the journey from that to now offering this to your clients was, is this adding value to your current bookkeeping business?

CB: 18:35 Um, I think it is. It's, it's not, um, it's, it's more subtle because I'm not, you know, charging for business continuity planning, but I still feel it's adding a value to my clients and it's adding of value to my own business because I do have at least a brief continuity plan of my own, so that if something happens to me that the business will continue to operate without me. So, and that gets stronger and stronger as we get into, you know, just a better position as a business and more resources around me. So, you know, so it's, it's helped me on all sides, I think of my business.

MP: 19:18 I think so. And I think it's, I mean it would be, it's one of those interesting ones where anytime you're offering something to, to, you know, to somebody that it's like, this is the future, right? It's like the future. I mean, many people, and I think entrepreneurs would be optimists and so it's like, well, it's all going to go well, right? And so that can lead to disastrous outcomes, but at the same time it's difficult to have them be aware of it, to have them value it. But I think it's part of that similar conversation as to what the work that you do in your bookkeeping business and why you're there is to help them be successful. And so I think it's incredibly valuable.

MP: 20:05 I think a good analogy is sort of, you know, to think CRA will ever audit you. You know, it's not a question of, and, and yet actually the probability of needing a, some kind of having something happened that will negatively impact your business is higher than the risk of Cra audit auditing your books.

CB: 20:26 Yeah. Which is, which is the really powerful, right? It's not if it's when and so, and so, you know, this comes back and a really, Lao speaks loudly towards systems and process, right? So, you know, we often talk about system and process about being more about, you know, but just to think about continuity, it's like do we have systems and processes to enable our business to continue? If there's one of the wheels brakes on the machine, what's gonna replace that wheel? What's going to continue on and, and what's realistic that could happen. The business, like you say odds, right? The odds are more people are worried about an audit then than something else and the odds are greater for that something else to happen, which is really interesting.

MP: 21:15 Yeah.

CB: 21:16 And I mean our whole business is about like bookkeeping's all the planning, right? It's all about helping our clients plan financially. So it's only one more step to think of planning for their business and for things that could happen in the future.

MP: 21:33 Yeah. Uh, you're absolutely right. So if, if one of our listeners was intrigued by this conversation and wanted to start creating a continuity plan for themselves, what would be some rough steps that they could take to start doing this?

CB: 21:48 No, it's a little different if you're one person than if you're a team, but at the very least outline, you know, who should be contacted if something happened to, you know, it's like Kinda think about what's, what's the worst thing that could happen to your business? Once you sort of an outline of what's your biggest, you know, fears are things that could impact your bookkeeping business the most. Then kind of break it down and say, okay, what things can I do to help mitigate that risk? If you're a single bookkeeper, is there another bookkeeper I can partner with that is in the similar situation that I know and trust who you know, we can, we can support each other if something, if in the short term, you know, a short term illness or you know, family emergency or something happens, you know, that's a really quick thing.

CB: 22:39 If you've got in place, that's not a hard thing to do. If you don't have it in place, it can, you know, cause you to lose vast majority of your clients. So it's, you know, it's a little, a little step making sure that people know, you know, that somebody knows who to contact. So if something happen to, who would they contact? What would be the main players who manage yours? Your who's your bank manager. If you've got an independent accountant, who's your accountant, who's your business advisor? People who could help them walk through either the winding down of your business or working out a path to sustain your business until you're well again. So just kind of working through some of the things that would help support your business. Make sure that you know you're not the only one that knows everything so that there's someone else who knows where to find key information.

CB: 23:37 If you've got staff, how do you make sure the staff continue to get paid if you're, if you're one of your biggest is the loss of your workspace.

MP: 23:42 Okay. Well, what's an alternative space that you can work? CB: 23:46 Many of us, a lot of our stuff is in the cloud so we can work from anywhere. So where's your alternative space that you're going to set up if he needed to in hurry? If you've got stuff that's on your hard drive, make sure you're backing it up properly. Making sure that you've taken your, uh, your stuff on your computer, off-site on a regular basis or a keeping it on a cloud or whatever you're most comfortable with. So just thinking through some of your key risks for your business and try to figure out how you can mitigate it.

MP: 24:25 Wow. You know, some of those things, they're just so simple yet I'm sure so many have not thought about, I mean, just the one step, right? Who Do you call when something goes wrong, have a list of the different people. I mean that that is something as a great beginning for many to start with. And then some of these other questions just keep adding to the document, to the, to your pine. Just like you, you said your plan is evolving all the time and as your business grows, your, your, you as you move away from being a person that has a, basically a business you work in to having a business that runs itself, you're building more and more continuity into it. So that, that is a, it's almost like it operates without you. And this is one core core piece that is often overlooked. Thinking about our own mortality is not something that most, you know, and to have part of their day. Right? So have a coffee and think about the worst things that can happen to you. It sounds like a blast. Uh, it's also what can happen around you.

CB: 25:35 Yes. You know, what can cause you to just for even a short time to be unavailable, you know, whether like a family illness or you know, a parent that you need to support for a while and it just pulls you away too much. Like try to build in those supports and it gives your, you have a plan like that. It also gives your clients peace of mind so you can tell your clients, you know, I've got this plan just so you know that you know, so you're looked after. If something happens to me, it gives them peace of mind in working with you as well.

MP: 26:10 I love that angle. That's beautiful.

MP: 26:19 It's very true and I think anytime these thoughts happen, it just builds the business better because you'll see gaps and then there's an opportunity to fill those gaps and build, build a better systematic business that eventually gives more freedom there. I'll never forget one of my clients, totally unrelated business, but it was about systems and building systems and process and they were, they were going away. The two owners were going away for a trip and so they wanted to have a trip that was interrupted, nearly interrupt free, where they could just, you know, the business would be running without them. That's a big ass right now. They took a whole year planning that trip and literally planning continuity, Poe doing I guess kind of new eco. I wasn't, I didn't think of it in that way, but a big piece of it was continuity planning, which led to business systems and process that Michael Gerber talks about in his book e-Myth, which is all about building a system-dependent business versus a people dependent business.

MP: 27:19 And so they use this milestone of this big vacation that they were going to take to build continuity and systems and process and what if this happened and what if that happened? And what happened is that they built a better business through that. That business ran better after the vacation, before the vacation and their vacation was had less theirs. There's still problems that happen of course, but it, everything had a way to be resolved. And so I think it's a powerful thinking that will bring benefit not only to, you know, giving your customers confidence in yourself, confidence and peace of mind but as well will help you build a better business.

CB: 28:00 Yeah, very much so and on. And it does, you know if you do it for yourself and you work through the process a bit yourself, it's easier for you to think of it as how it would apply for your clients because you've worked through it in your own mind. So the first step is to do it within your own business and get that kind of experience. There's lots of literature around business continuity planning online and I'd be happy to talk to anybody about it too who'd like to.

MP: 28:26 So beautiful. Well we'll, we'll certainly have links to how mls that question in a second of how to get in touch with you and have conversations with you. I will mention that you are on the successful bookkeeper Facebook group and that's probably a great place to go and have some chats there. But I have one last question for you around this and it's about, it's about planning. What are the questions that came up from our community was when do you find the time to work on your business? So this whole concept of working in your business, you're doing the works, your, you know, billable time, all that good stuff, like where you're getting paid, but there's this time that you spend working on the business in order to make the business better to, you know, do all sorts of things in business improvements so that you have a better business that makes you more money, gives you more freedom, whatever it is that you're looking to do. So this concept of working on the business, how do you find the time?

CB: 29:23 That's the hardest part. You just, you have to make the time. And to me it's the part I actually love the most. And so it's sort of like a carrot dangling, okay, if I can just get these things done, then I can play on the business. But what I need to do more is, and what I'm trying do now is actually scheduling time in my calendar that this is when I'm working on the business. So, and I try not always successfully not to, not to, you know, book something else during that time. And that is my focus time and whether it be on a weekend, which you know, ideally wouldn't be, but, or a day of the week that you just set aside that, you know, every Monday or every other Monday, whatever you can manage that you're really focusing on your business and what you want to talk like and where you want it to go. If you don't have a picture of where you want to go, you're not going to get there.

MP: 30:18 Beautifully said, beautifully said and some great, some great advice and great thinking around that. And I, I think it's one that challenges every listener out there. I love that you've shared your take and how you're doing it. And, uh, and I think that's, that's some bang on advice. Cheryl, this has been awesome. You have been very generous with your time and sharing your wisdom. I, on behalf of our community, I really want to thank you for being on the podcast.

CB: 30:46 Well I enjoyed it and thank you for everything you do Michael.

MP: 30:49 My pleasure, my pleasure. And if people wanted to get in touch with you, Cheryl, what would be the best way to do that?

CB: 30:56 They can either go to my website or my email address, but I'll probably easiest through the website. So it's www.pcpmanitoba.com and there's a context thing there and I'll uh, I'll get back to you.

MP: 31:11 Beautiful. Well, that's excellent. We'll have the link in the show notes as well. And uh, this has been great and I know we'll have you back to give us an update and to what you're working on sometime in the future.

CB: 31:24 Great, thanks a lot.

MP: 31:25 Thank you. And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and until next time, goodbye.

EP126: Cindy Stradling - The Power of The Follow-Up Connection

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Opportunity is waiting for you.

Sometimes you can access it by making a follow-up call, email or in-person meeting.

But yet, not everyone does it.

It's a shame because not following up can prevent you from attracting new bookkeeping clients, potential business partners or other rewards you've been searching for.

Our returning guest is a master at following up.

Cindy Stradling is a resilience coach, accomplished speaker and author. She has the skills and system that helped her align with great partners throughout her career and business life.

She works with entrepreneurs, individuals and corporations (such as 3M Canada, Scotia McLeod and CIBC) to do what's needed to help them get where they need to go.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of following up with your prospects

  • Steps in making a strong follow-up call

  • Why LinkedIn referrals are a trend you should investigate

To learn more about Cindy, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Twitter, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:04 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an awesome one. We have a returning guest who is a resilience coach and an accomplished speaker and author and she is a very good friend of mine. She works with entrepreneurs, individuals, and corporations such as 3m Canada, Scotia, McLeod and CIBC to do what's needed personally to get where they need to go. Cindy Stradling, welcome back to the podcast.

Cindy Stradling: 01:38 Well, thank you so much, Michael. I'm so happy to be here. I love being on your show.

MP: 01:42 Well, I'm happier because I love having you and our listeners love having you two because you always give such great usable information and information that anybody can grab onto and use day to day to help them get more of what they want in their businesses.

CS: 02:02 That's fantastic. That's I, you know, when you say that, I stopped for a minute and I pause and I think about people that I've coached and I've worked with and things like that and I think at the end of the day, Michael, all of us, that's all we really want to be able to do is to, you know, share and to help other people be successful. I think that's what's really most important for me. And I think anybody who's in business for themselves and regardless whether it's bookkeeping or whatever it is, I think it's really important if they know their value, we've talked about this before and know what they can actually do for other people. There's a level of satisfaction that you just can't even buy that it just feels really good and it's motivating to have you keep going every day.

MP: 02:48 Yeah, absolutely. And, and you're one of those that I see out there not only growing your own business, but you also do a lot of work for women in business and you do that completely as part of one of your give backs to, to the community. Tell us a little bit about that for those that haven't heard about that program.

CS: 03:13 Well that's something that's a been a passion of mine because we've partnered with a company called one spark and it is a program specifically for women who come through abusive situations who want to start their own business. And so they put them through a program. It's a seven-week program and at the end they get a laptop, they have a business registered, they've got a marketing plan, they've got all the sort of the infrastructure that they need to be able to start their businesses. And then what we do is we provide them with a, a business coach for a year at no charge to help them go through those first, especially the first few, few months of where do you go, how do you get started? Because a lot of people are brand new for them and it's the most rewarding work a ball in my opinion, it's, you know, I get as much out of it as they do and sort of the colleagues that work with me.

MP: 04:06 Beautiful. Well, you know what that is making a difference in the world and those people are, are then able to make a better, bigger difference in their world. So it's people like you that we need more of. And I know there are lots of people out there that are doing great things. And so I just a little tip of the hat to, to use Cindy from, from our community for doing the work that you do there. But let's, let's get into how we're going to help our listeners have bigger, better businesses. And when I say bigger, better businesses, I don't mean talking about, you know, working harder and you know all that good stuff. I mean a business that you make more, you work less and you have a lot more fun doing it. And I think the theme today, Cindy, as we were chatting before we got into this interview is, is about followup following up with prospects really with anything in, in business. Why is that so important?

CS: 05:07 Well, you know, the one thing that I see from, from a lot of the people I coach and I do training with is they give up way too soon. So if this goes back is, I'll repeat myself probably three or four times in this call about you knowing your value and if you really got that you're helping your, your clients or your, your customers, then follow up just becomes a natural process because you really want to share with people. I'm gonna share really quick story. There was a company, a cold storage company that I called this a few years ago, but I called them and they said, I spoke to the director of HR and they, she said they had an in house program and that they never outsourced. Okay. So I put a follow up for a year down the road and I followed up again and it was the same lady and I got the same story and I put another followup for another and it was the new lady and she said my timing was perfect and that she felt that the program that they were running in house was not effective.

CS: 06:07 It was a little dated and she wanted to have an external provider committed, do some training for them. And as it turned out, one of my partners got six days of training as a result of that. And so if I had given up and took her word for it, uh, you know, the first time, then that opportunity would never have happened. It's not like it was the only thing that I did. It was like a constant. And I think you have to have many different ways to be able to do it because you have to be able to get people's attention. But I can see probably 85 to 90% of my business

CS: 06:40 has it been a direct result of staying in touch.

MP: 06:51 So I would imagine our listeners listening to this and feeling and, and even myself feeling like, yeah, okay, well they've said no, and yet I'm going to call back and say, why? No, you said no, but I'm back.

CS: 07:07 Well, I think you have to have an attitude of no only means no today.

MP: 07:10 How did you develop? No only means no today or you're always like that.

CS: 07:16 I just think it's me personally because a lot of people, I never understood rejection from the point that people would call somebody. Now I've cold called for years I called like for over 25 years and that was the way we got business was we picked up the phone and we cold called people. I still do it today. I warm them up with LinkedIn or social media or things like that, but I always still stay in touch and it's funny because I don't see how they're rejecting me personally because they don't even know me. I don't know. It never computed in my brain why people would take that as rejection because you don't know what's going on in someone else's world. I mean they could have been up all night with a sick baby. There could be just a meal and there's, timing is everything. So the key for me is that you stay top of mind.

CS: 08:07 We just landed the, we have a mutual friend I was sharing with you before the call that I had stayed in touch with this lady. We did business with her about three years ago and then they implemented SAP. So they all their money was going into training for, for their employees, for this new software program. And I just stayed in touch the whole time. And I have all these special emails that I've had created with my picture on them. And there's pictures of, you know, flowers and there's all different ones for different times of the year. And I just happened to send her one and she like within two hours she will be boxed. She says, your timing is perfect. We're looking at having x, y, z. And I introduced her to one of our partners and within a week he had the business.

MP: 08:50 Wow.

CS: 08:51 So if I hadn't stayed in touch, even though I knew they were doing all of that. And another thing too, when people lose business, this is another big thing, you know. So if you go out and you bid on something, it's really important to follow up that the person who won the business is able to satisfy them. Because sometimes they can't. Sometimes then you could go in as a secondary supplier or be a backup for them. That's right. I've done that many times when I used to work with rewards in that condition where we, we'd lose the RFP and I'd follow up in three months and say, how's it going? And then the other company's made mistakes or they've short shipped or they sent the wrong product. And I just say, you know what? We're right around the corner. I would give them, cause that was one of our benefits was we could do our manufacturing rate in house and if you need a backup supplier, and over two years, two years, when the contract was up, we won the whole business. But if I walked away and, and never followed up to see how things were going, they probably would never thought of me.

MP: 09:51 You're, you're absolutely right. And, and literally, just yesterday, there was this, this woman who attended one of our seminars about, uh, about our program, and she was really interested and, and really excited. And, and then she said, well, I'm gonna look at a couple other options though. And I said, okay, well, and, and you know, I'm a very good communicator, but I was like, I'm not going to high pressure and say, no, you gotta work with us type of person. Right. And, and so I decide, okay, well, you know where we are. Right? So, which, you know, if I had a sales manager, let's say, get here, if I had one, they'd say, ah, you know, call that person back. But just by myself, as many of our listeners are, we're by ourselves. We don't have anybody that's, you know, watching or managing who we're calling, not calling in our sales, right.

MP: 10:38 Sales activities. And so she didn't get back to me. And that was like a year ago and I didn't, I had it in my head that she chose the other vendor. Right. Right. And or solution or whatever that case with me. So I bumped into her yesterday and we had a good chat. She's a wonderful person, had a good chat, like how are things going? I was like, you know, talking about those wonderful things humans talk about. And I'm like, you know what? You know, how did things go? And she goes, well I have, I'm still thinking about it. I haven't done anything. I'm like, and it had it. And then we had an opportunity to talk about what her problems are and still are and, and all of that good stuff. And it's like, oh Whoa, you know what? I think we can help you. We should have another conversation. And you know what, Cindy, this call is so funny that we're having this call today because it's are a reminder that our mental construct, what we think about is what happens.

CS: 11:37 Yup.

MP: 11:37 And so, right, that does everything.

CS: 11:38 Yeah. My

CS: 11:39 mindset is everything. And, and so for our listener, to give an analogy here, is that even something as simple as diving off of a diving board, not even a high diving board, let's make the diving board like one foot up. Like, it's not like he didn't need to think that much, but if he just didn't think about going off the diving board, you could land on your stomach, you could do a belly flop, you could, you could literally hurt yourself if you hit the water wrong. And when, so most people, when they go up to dive off a diving board, they've stopped. They thought about it. They may have a little bit of fear, they re correct that they, they envision how they're gonna, you know, do it correctly. Like, Hey, give it some thought. So as something as simple as jumping off of a one foot diving board, more thought goes into that. I think sometimes then the thought that I put in to a sales call to a follow up, I'm putting more energy and thought into, well, I'm going to do a belly flop. Oh Geez, this is going to be a belly flop, right? They're going to reject me. Big belly flop. Right? And so it's like, why am I doing that? To me,

CS: 12:39 I don't know. People do it all the time. People were wired for more negative thoughts than we are for a positive. They pay anybody who meditates and you actually watch your thoughts. Yeah. Your mind can be a pretty scary place at times. And the key is you need to have your level of awareness and know what your triggers are and know, you know, little things. Like when, when I was in the beginning, I remember very, very beginning. I remember if I caught, uh, when I called somebody and if it sounded like it was like someone like my dad, like an older man, I automatically would feel in my body a bit of resistance and it felt like it would be, I would feel almost like a little kid. Hello, sorry. How are you feel that not that's an extreme, but it would feel like that to me.

CS: 13:28 And so what I used to do to be, and I always, when I'm doing a lot of my sales calls, I stand up and I walk around for sure whenever it came like that. And I remember there was a guy and I had, I was a sales call for a sales training program. I was talking to, I was a sales director and all I said to him was, you know, one of the things that I've found when I've spoken to sales directors is that there are always room for improvement in growing the business and improving their sales skills. Would that be the case for you? And he started laughing so hard. He said, you know that, that's a rhetorical question, Cindy. He said, yeah, I couldn't even possibly answer it. I can't imagine you calling any sales director ever. And they wouldn't be able to say yes to that.

CS: 14:13 And we won two days of training sales training with that and it was a number of years ago. So I dunno, I like to change things up to Michael. I don't, I ever see, I have some followup emails that are fairly standard, but I modify them so they speak to that person. And I think we talked about this too, is before the call is I really going to start to focus on industries and be more strategic in my focus and when I'm following up with people. But I did have a say a person contact when I contacted her and she introduced me to their president. She said, this lady, I'll never forget it. This lady has the right amount of followup. That can be one of the highest compliment you could get. Yeah, because you just asked for permission. Yeah. We just asked for permission. Somebody says, sorry, we don't have any needs today or we don't outsource.

CS: 15:02 While that, if somebody said to me, they don't answer us. I say, you know, I work a lot of companies when I spoke with them, they never outsourced. I said, but okay. Usually there could be a situation where maybe you need an executive assistant or maybe you need to cover up on mat leave and I'd offer a couple of options where they might not think that they can cause we're automatically programmed to say no. So you have to go past that and get that. That in fact, when I call somebody and I catch them on the phone, the first thing I ask them is, did I catch you at a bad time? Because you're programmed to say no. They're going to say no. I've got a couple of minutes. I've had people going on the plane, I phoned them and they'll say they catch you at a bad time and so I'm going to get on a plane in 10 minutes. But yeah I can, I got a couple minutes.

MP: 15:46 Amazing. That's, that's, that's a piece of, that's a piece of gold. It's a one that I use as well. I love it. It's really, it's really I think very courteous as well. Uh, it leads to the result we want more often. Uh, but it's very courteous and, and it's not like, like the reverse of it. Right?

CS: 16:04 Uh Huh.

CS: 16:05 Let me talk to you now. Like you have to drop everything cause I talk because as soon as you said it, I catch you at a bad time. You can almost hear their brain. It's like a little bit of a hesitation. God, cause they're there, they're not used to hearing that. And so then if they can't talk to you, nine times out of 10, I get an appointment and what is a better time? Give me your email address. I'll send you an appointment, whatever time it is, I will send it and send them a BD requested. We will talk 10 or 15 minutes later.

MP: 16:39 Yeah, it's, it's, it's pure golden. And so follow up. We know that followup is only going to bring good things to all of our businesses. All of our listeners followup is going to be amazing for you at k. It's going to put tens of thousands of dollars into your business likely in every year if, if you did proper follow up. And we do know from this conversation at between followup and actually doing it is mostly our brain and we need to bring awareness. So Sandy, let's come up with some, uh, a routine for our listeners that they can, they can take on that would be preparing them to a, make a call. That's a followup call or make a call to a referral that someone's called a referral or whatever the case may be. Maybe it was a couple of months back. Or like you said, you did this once a year for this one client. So can we come up with a, a routine that it's like, Hey, right, this is where I am. What do they need to do? Is it, would it be a good idea to sit for 15 seconds and go, okay, I have they, these people have no idea who I am, who I am.

MP: 17:52 That's one of the things that you said, right? It's like they have, they don't know you and you really don't know them truly as human being. So that's good.

CS: 18:01 No, we don't.

MP: 18:03 Number two is you said this is your really valuable. So it's like, get you gotta put that into your brain as a bookkeeper. You'll likely going to be one of the most valuable people in their life because you're going to help them get a whole bunch of stuff straightened out and their business, and it's all around money and being successful and having your business run efficiently and making sure the money's doing the right, the right thing. So number one, if you just stopped and said, okay, I don't know them, they don't know me, uh, it's not about me. Uh, and then connected with knowing your value that you are valuable. What would be another good step?

CS: 18:45 Well, you have to have, I got to hate the word script. That's why I'm hesitating. But you need to know what your outcome is going to be. If you do get to talk to them. Do you want, what do you want to do? What do you want to create in this call? So one of the CPS put it in a report and one of the biggest complaints from customers and clients was, you know, a salesperson just calling without an actual agenda, like without actually an intention or something like that. So there's something that we use, I use in my training is, it's a, I think I did this on the last one. It's a I D as in Donald, C as in Charlie, a. So the first one is to get attention that it's eyes to create interest and then the d is create desire.

CS: 19:30 So once you've got their interest, then you're going to start talking about the value that you bring. Then you can get a commitment for a next step. And then the final a is for option. So it could be a po, it could be whatever that action is. And so as people think about as they're going, what is my goal here? So if I'm, you know, I never tried to sell anybody anything. First of all, I want people to buy, help my customers by is what I, the way I look at it and a is getting their attention. So that's all this call is about. That's all I wanna do. That's all game over. And then you want to be able to set up a system. So how I do it is I follow up quarterly. So if I've spoken with someone, I've got a hold of them, I've shared them a little bit.

CS: 20:14 In fact, I joke and I say, Oh, I have a saying, you can't call me if you don't know it there. And they laugh and it's true. And I asked their permission. With your permission, I would love to send you a quick email with a link to my website. And I used to add everybody to the, or asked to add people to my newsletter. And most people said no for that. So I stopped asking that because it could just get too many anyway. Um, and so I would just say, would it be okay with you if I were to follow up with you periodically? Typically I do that quarterly and they always say yes, wonderful, you've got permission. And then when you follow up with them, basically you need to have a, whether it's a CRM or some sort of the system, then you look at your CRM and then you'll, you know, you sent them information in three months ago.

CS: 21:01 Then you could just follow up. I always, after I sent her an email, I'll follow up the next maybe week and say, just confirming that, you know, you got my email that if you have any questions that I'm here for you. You know somebody that goes into spam, I could resend like just to stay on top of it. And people have said, cause you're creating a relationship with them people, whether you reach those people, whether you realize it or not, you're actually demonstrating to them what it would be like to work with you. That if you said x and x happened at a very unconscious level, they are getting that they can trust you. I would tell, I can't even tell you the number of times I've gone into an HR Pa function and people recognize me from my blogs on LinkedIn.

MP: 21:43 It's so painful when people walk up to you and say, they already know who you are.

CS: 21:47 Yeah, yeah. I top it a few times. I'm like, it takes you back. At first actually it's like, Whoa, and because I blog once a month, I'm sorry, once a week and I have my Friday focus, so I always encourage people to have something in social media, whether it's Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever would work for wherever your audience is, have something so that you keep yourself top of mind. So it's all, it's almost actually there was a movie about that, how they, I can't remember the name. It was actually really excellent how they program this person to be able to, I mean they scheisse that the guy out of money, but they programmed that. I remember it was a number 55. Then you could see at the end they showed how they programmed it from the hotel lobby to the, to the football player to the whole things. And so that's what you're actually doing in a way, is that so they see your face, they see your blogs, they, you know, all those kinds of things. And, and whether you realize that or not, you're building your reputation and people are starting to feel comfortable with you.

MP: 22:48 It's a, it's so, so true. And as small business owners, we don't have a huge budget like Coca-cola or Disney to put our brand in front of everybody so that when we see, uh, a red, we want to have a big drink of a Coca-Cola, uh, or, or the holidays, that sort of thing. But that's exactly what's happening. But you're able to get there by doing small things, very targeted to the right prospects. So you have your Linkedin, I mean, people follow you. You have to connections your, you're putting out content. And every time you put out content, if it's, if it's valuable, they're going to get value.

MP: 23:22 They're going to remember you 100% and also get, I always tell people to get recommendations on LinkedIn periodically, every, you know, four or five, six months or so. As somebody who's worked with you to do a recommendation, I read an article once said that they have way more credibility than anything on your website because let's face it, a lot of people could make it up, but dot. Because the person has to write it themselves.

MP: 23:44 Post it themselves.

CS: 23:47 Oh yeah,

MP: 23:47 Yeah. Interesting. So it's becoming LinkedIn referral recommendations are becoming the gold standard in the bit in, in, in, in our social world.

CS: 23:58 Yep. 100% so there, and I can't even tell you the number of people that just, they all just checked out in LinkedIn. That's the first thing they go to now.

MP: 24:12 Well, you know, it's funny, we, we were landing on, on LinkedIn. It's one of the things that's coming up as like every meeting I have in my calendar, I get a message saying, do some research on, I don't know if this, I don't know how this all started happening, that it happens. I get these notifications, maybe it's the iPhone app or something saying, Hey, you're, you're about to meet with Cindy Stradling. I guarantee if I look at my, my phone right now, you're about to meet with Cindy Stradling, take a look at the LinkedIn profile up. Maybe not this time. Maybe they figure, they know, they, they know. I know you so well. Um, but, but it's, it's like that's advertising, you know, so it's like, it's coming up. So anytime it's happening there, they're gonna go and look at your LinkedIn and faith's like if you've booked a meeting with them and they take a look at your LinkedIn, these recommendations are, they're very powerful for a sales call.

CS: 25:00 Like I buy gold, they see who we got in common. So that's a great ice breaker all. How do you know Joe? Or how do you know Michael or whatever? It's a great ice breaker when you're getting on the call. And I mean, unfortunately, sometimes I've got people I, in the beginning of it connect with anybody know I'm very, a little bit more discriminating now. So occasionally you'll get someone that they don't really know them, that they really connected with them. But most of the time, my just did this recently and I got two brand new recommendations. So they, I don't think it's as effective if I had still from like 2009 and they didn't have anything since then.

MP: 25:36 Hmm.

CS: 25:36 So I think it's important that you do it maybe once or twice a year. So you've got something in the current year, something that shows that you're still active and that you're still, you know, doing good work and all those kinds of things. So, you know, people always say, oh, you know, the world has changed because of social media that winter that are, I think, is that true? Easier in some ways.

MP: 25:53 Yeah, very much so. There's, there's pros and cons to everything. Changes.

CS: 25:58 Yeah. Changes is good and change can be, you know, not so good if we look at it. But at the end of the day, if we look at all of the things that we have at our, our hands in our hands, the small business owners, I mean it's incredible how much we can do with, with so little of, of capital and investment.

MP: 26:18 Right. I agree.

MP: 26:20 So follow-ups keep I, I think this has been great too, to set up a bit of a routine before following up and, and whether you're making a call to, to anyone go through that routine, you will have a better outcome. This is, this is 100%. Just go, going back to the diving board. If we just did, if he want to get better at diving, all you'd have to do is think a little bit more about it and you'd get better at it. Do it a bunch of times, you'd get even better at it. You mentioned script Cindy and absolutely we, we, you know, it's one of those things I think people hear the word script and go, well, hi, this is Michael. Am I calling you at a bad time? Right. We don't want to sound like we're reading a script, but script, if you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you feel totally lost.

MP: 27:12 You pick up a map, right? You look at the map, you figure out where you're going, and you go. You go down there and the first time you do it, it's probably going to go a little bit bumpy. But you do it a few times. You're going to be good at it. So I know that in our online portal for the successful bookkeeper community, we have lots of sample scripts and things that you can grab. Don't go and just do it first. Go and read the script with who you're calling. Take that script, make it your own. Write it out. Say it. Say it to a few people, practice it a bit, and then get on a call without the script. But guarantee you, you will be better and more natural, but you'll be way more impactful with everything Cindy's given you today.

CS: 27:52 And some of these example scripts 100% I always recommend people fold themselves. I love it. You leave themselves a message.

MP: 27:57 Great idea. Yeah.

CS: 27:59 What they found like, yeah, cause you don't know, right. Sunday's a little too critical of our boys or whatever. But I can give you a sense of the flock.

MP: 28:07 You know, I it for when I started doing podcasts, I, I couldn't, I didn't, I've, for my whole life, I've not liked listening to the sound of my voice, seeing myself on video, all this stuff. I'd be like, Oh, I did that wrong. I did that wrong. Oh what are you doing? You know, it's like very critical and, and so, but I don't know if I'm just getting older or what. I know, but I don't know what it is. But now I'm actually listening more to what I'm saying. I'm having people critique me and say, Hey, you say this a lot or you say that a lot. And, and hopefully I think I'm getting better. But it's the only pathway to getting better is to actually look at what's working and what's not working. So Cindy, that is a fantastic tip. And so easy phone your phone, leave yourself a voicemail as if it's a script.

CS: 29:01 Listen back to it, get some feedback. It will be painful, but it's can make you better and then it becomes automatic. I you don't even have to think about it. It's like any other habit. You find those neural pathways in your brain when you do it. It's like you're practicing your, you're going to have a different comfort level. It's like tiger woods. You know, when he swings, he sees that ball going into the hole even before he pulls the pull the club back.

MP: 29:23 Beautiful. You're absolutely right. And you know, we started, uh, in our conversation before the interview, another tidbit is being alone. Something like this, as small business owners and entrepreneurs and the list listeners are all in the same boat. Often we're working alone doing these things alone. And we think that we're the only ones that are struggling with the challenge. And so today we've talked about making followup calls and facing rejection and why it's so important to do that. And I have that challenge. I have my own barriers and blocks. Cindy has her own challenges, barriers and blocks. But together we work together and we, we, we, we take action and we get better. At it. And so if you're alone and you think you're have, hopefully this episode has, has showed you that yeah, there most people do have these hang ups. You're not alone and that you have a community here that can help you take that first step if you're, if you're, you know, uncertain about doing it, get onto the Facebook group and say, Hey, I'm, I'm a, you know, I'm facing rejection today or whatever.

MP: 30:36 I'm making a call and then, and then celebrate and share when you've actually done something that you were nervous or, or felt challenged to do. Go and share about it. And, and I'd love to see it and I, and, and I'm excited for you to do, do things in your business that you maybe are not comfortable for you to do or you've been resisting doing that when you do them, you're going to get better at them. You're going to have a better outcome in your business. And, uh, and Cindy, you help people get over their barriers around sales. You have some programs, you have content. You've already mentioned. What's the best way for our listener to get more of what you do?

CS: 31:12 Well, like I said to you before we started, we're in the process of changing our format on our training program, but I'm always open for coaching. Anybody can visit my website at Cindy, straddling.com all my contact information is on there. I blog regularly with lots of information on there. There's actually a downloadable ebook. It's with some tips on, you know, successful coaching situation, so like sales coaching, resilience coaching will always be alive as far as the actual program. Right now, it's a work in progress. We're actually looking at different options to put it online.

MP: 31:48 Beautiful. Well, that's exciting. We'll have the link to Cindy's website. There's a lot of value there and I know Cindy will be, we'll be able to help you get through whatever it is that your challenged with so that you can have the business that you love. Cindy, this has been fantastic. As always, I love having you on. You're a wonderful person. Thank you so much for your generosity and sharing what you know with our listeners.

CS: 32:16 Wow. Michael loves you. It was an absolute pleasure and I look forward to maybe coming back in 2019

CS: 32:22 that I can assure you will happen.

MP: 32:24 Okay.

CS: 32:25 Well, thank you so much and good luck to all of you. Call, call, call is out there.

MP: 32:30 Beautiful. Thank you, Cindy.

CS: 32:33 Okay, bye. Bye.

MP: 32:34 And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP125: Elaine Orr - Why Technology Is A Bookkeeper's Best Friend

UPDATE - TSBK - Episode 125 - Elaine Orr.png
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Your tool belt.

Like any professional service provider, from a plumber to a dentist to a hairdresser, you need quality tools to do the best possible job for your clients.

For bookkeepers, those tools come in the form of apps and software.

These days they are a must to run your bookkeeping business effectively.

Our guest today is one of the first in Canada to embrace and use bookkeeping apps. With years of experience, her intuition is always spot on.

Elaine Orr, who is the CEO of BalanceSheets.ca, has over 30 years of accounting and bookkeeping experience and a strong interest in using technological innovations to maximize efficiency and reduce data entry.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Different accounting and bookkeeping tools and software

  • The pros and cons of working virtually

  • The best apps for your lawyer clients

For Elaine’s LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Twitter, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:15 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest has 30 years of accounting and bookkeeping experience and a strong interest in using innovations in technology to maximize efficiency and reduce data entry. This along with her passion for small business and entrepreneurs means she can quickly get to the fun part of helping owners understand their financial reports that they can make so that they can make better-informed decisions about their company. I pulled that right off of her website and I absolutely love it because she's making it fun to understand their finances, helping small business. I love it. Elaine Orr, welcome to the podcast.

Elaine Orr: 02:05 Thank you very much, Michael. I'm pleased to be here.

MP: 02:07 Yes, well it's our pleasure. And as we were talking briefly before we, we started the show, we've been bumping into each other for some time and you have been instrumental in the industry in Canada and really North America, uh, helping people take the leap to success around technology.

EO: 02:29 Yes. Yeah. Well I did, I did start using technology almost well at what I call the accounting technology that almost as soon as it was available in Canada. So, you know, just conversations that I've had with people formally when not being presenting in Informera, like when I've just been networking the both centered around accounting technology.

MP: 02:48 Yeah. Fantastic. And so before we get into some of the things that you've been up to and where you, you've been going to tell us a little bit about your story, how you got started and ended up where you are today.

EO: 03:00 Well, I guess that was the classic email bookkeeper that I worked for an accountants firm first of all. And then the, there wasn't a lot of bookkeeping available in that, that office, so I guess through mostly the rents. So eventually I worked myself out of a job there. Then he went out on my own in 2000 and steps, just hung out a shingle and started doing bookkeeping by myself, hoping that it would give me the flexibility that I needed for my lifestyle with busy teenagers in the house and things like that. So, so yeah, I on my own in 2006 and then gradually grew and hired subcontractors and then hired my first employee in 2012 so I've been going since then.

MP: 03:47 Beautiful. And, and you really, as you mentioned, you've embraced technology. Have you always been like that?

EO: 03:54 Well, I've always been, I've always been keen to jump on new gadgets and new toys and things like that. And then that's brilliant. Shiny. But that's not what I always used to. You know, I, when I first started doing bookkeeping for small businesses, I was using the traditional desktop software, so like QuickBooks desktop and simply accounting as it was then. In fact, I, I seem to remember taking course and simply accounting on dos. So that's how far back I go with it. But as soon as, as I started to use QuickBooks online, which was at the end of, towards the end of 2012 when it was first available in Canada, then I've, I'm really starting to embrace that and found that, uh, it was, it was a great fit for most of my clients.

MP: 04:43 Mm. And, and 2012 for quickbooks online. That would have been very much early days. A lot has changed since then.

EO: 04:51 Oh it was, it was definitely early days and there was a lot to, lots of little things going wrong with it. And we were on the phone to, um, the accounting support team all the time with things that we were trying to get fixed or, yeah, it definitely wasn't the product that it is today.

MP: 05:08 Yeah, definitely. And, and so you embrace technology early on. How, how's that journey been with your clients? Because it's not just you that has to embrace something new, it's also you taking something new to your clients very often. What's that been like?

EO: 05:23 Well, it was, it was gradual. You know, I had, I was lucky enough to have a couple of clients who were, were very tech-savvy and keen to try new things themselves. So I floated the idea past them and said, would they be willing to, to go on to this new brand new QuickBooks online that we were using at the time. And when we first started using QuickBooks online in Canada, there was no means to conveyor from your desktop software file to the cloud version of the software. So that was a big decision for people that it meant at first that, so if you can bear to do, would have to lose your history that you already had in your software. So many people weren't interested in doing that. So it sort of confined me to really just some new clients that were coming in that are suggested that they would go on QuickBooks online or on cloud accounting software at the time.

EO: 06:20 Um, but I like to think this is, I pat myself on the back could be in first for this, but, um, when I was at the Sleeter conference in 2013 with Marnie stretch at the time, um, they had this set up at the, the intuit at booth that if and only applied to the staff from the US two businesses from the US if you brought your company file on a stick, they would convert it to do QuickBooks online. And Marni and I pestered them because we weren't able to do this in Canada. So right at the very end of 2013, the eventually came up with the way that we'd be able to do this, this do a conversion so that I could move my existing clients onto cloud accounting software. And I remember getting an email from the tech team in the states to see, we think we're ready. Do you want to try it out? And it was at lunchtime on the 31st of December and it was like for dinner with my friends and I left them to go back home to the office to try to be the first person to conveyor a file so that it was open up code accounting software to my business owners that had already been on desktop software. So that was my first well done.

MP: 07:37 And so were you the actually the first person to do it and get it up?

EO: 07:40 As far as I know, I was, yes.

MP: 07:43 Well, as far as we know, we're going to say that you were told that. That's cool. That's really cool. And, uh, and so how was that embracing technology early on? How has that impacted your life? What have been some of the pros? I'd love to hear some of the cons that you've gone through as well.

EO: 08:04 Oh, well let me start with the cons that I went through because, because we were converting files onto, um, onto a cloud accounting software right at the start. Um, like I say, it wasn't the program that we have now. There was a lot of little hiccups and bumps along the way. And I used to tell the, um, [inaudible] to tell the intuit staff that sometimes I felt, felt like the Canadian, a Coleman in all, like we would be to test any for them. And you know, you'd just, you'd fly it out past myself to see whether it worked tonight and you'd soon here if we couldn't get into work because we'd be the first ones to come back and let them know that it, that it wasn't working. So there was a lot of kinds in it to start and just that we weren't used to as well.

EO: 08:47 There was the idea that we wanted it to work exactly like desktop software. We didn't understand that it's a completely different beast than software. When I first started in 2013 I was putting clients on QBO and on the Zito as well at the time getting used to both of them, which I had heard about both of those softwares at, at the Sleeter conferences and getting used to both of them and putting my clients onto those things. It was a gradual process because some of them just weren't ready for it. And I'll be honest and say I lost some clients who weren't interested in it. But by then by 2013 I decided that that was the way my practice was going to go on. By 2014 I wasn't accepting any clients that still use desktop software.

MP: 09:39 Excellent. And so I was going to ask that question is like do you still do work with people on non cloud accounting?

EO: 09:48 Well we do still have, um, I was personally, I'll still go into clients that use desktop software, um, but not for ongoing bookkeeping engagements. I want to like monthly visits and things like that to them. But um, if you're, if you need this set up in desktop software or do you need some troubleshooting or you know, the will they want to conveyor onto long software. I'll still go in and work with them but we do, I've got a secret couple of clients that I still work with. They're on sage 50 and they are what I call my nostalgia clients cause they were my first, they were my first clients when it went out in my own in 2006 and I'm also, they got tickets for the grandstand at the Highland games where I keep those people really close to me.

MP: 10:37 Perfect. The ones, the customers that you love, you, you a, you keep them very loyal.

EO: 10:43 So yeah. So I don't think we take on any new ones though that are still working on accounting on desktop software. The only ones that I've done recently, they are working on desktop software with for security. They don't, they don't do anything on the cloud in their, in their business. It was very secure and everything had to be just on one laptop, not even connected to the Internet. So I set up QuickBooks for an international organization and were very concerned about security,

EO: 11:11 no tier that has some serious implications. Uh, you know, working for like spy, spy agency.

EO: 11:19 Okay. It was definitely legit, but um, yeah, I can't talk about it.

MP: 11:24 Perfect. That's good. I always love a little bit of cloak and dagger. Um, it keeps, keeps the day interesting. Well that's, that's great. Now you, so, so, so in terms of what your lifestyle is like now that you've embraced the technology w the, the benefits really, what's WhatsApp and like now that you, you work way more virtually?

EO: 11:44 Well, you know, when we started out, when I started out, I was only going to work three days a week because I wanted to keep some time for family, but soon enough I got requests from other clients for in all of the, by referrals and they'd heard from some of my own clients and they really need yourself and that's hard to turn down. So before I knew I was working not only five days a week, but I was working evenings and weekends as well to catch up with clients who didn't need me to actually visit them at their own site place. So, and then when I took on staff as well, they were all still going out to clients. So that's it limited to how many clients I could have. I mean there was only five days in the weekend and you can only do so much on evenings and weekends too.

EO: 12:32 So it sort of limited me to that. So I was working on site and then I'd send by Clark, make staff to work on-site as well. At client's place of business, I had to pay them mileage. So that was an expense that I had to do. And we also, I moved out from my Home Office and we rented an office, but for the, there was three or four numbers that the town and they rented an office and clients could come and visit me there. And, um, we'd also be out on the roads like a c I'd be paying mileage for a client, for my staff to go visit clients. But when we moved the more we moved into accounting technology, I think it was in the summer of 2015 that my, my staff, where the staff were or looking for daycare for the kids, they were putting their dogs and dogs and cat, Doggie DPR and things like that to come into my business.

EO: 13:24 And I suddenly realized that we were all working on cloud technology in the same building. So I was paying rent and it was paying for Internet at this office building when everybody was, my staff are inconvenienced with the further on family lives. And in the summer of 2015 I said to them, how would you feel about just working at home? And they were thrilled at the idea. So we did that. We just gave up the office and we worked, we all started working from home and by then we'd, apart from these nostalgic clients, we pretty much eliminated anybody that needed us to, to go to be on-site anymore. So since then I've just, we've all worked remotely. We get together when we need to. We do screen shares if we have to, but completely eliminated the need for, for having an office. And now we've been a remote team where we haven't lost any productivity, sent them an actual fact. It annoys me that if I have to travel to a client to do some work because of that travel time. So it, and the other thing is that it means that when I do meet up with my clients that we're actually discussing their financials and sitting down and going over the numbers and explaining it to them and answering questions rather than going there to type in their invoices. MP: 14:42 That's fantastic. Now you working remotely can be challenging because you, it's not like real, we call this now is like there's virtual and there's like, you know,

MP: 14:51 face to face, like in the physical, physical space there, it's different. And so what advice would you give to our listener if they are thinking about doing more virtual work and having their team maybe work from home? What would be some advice to make sure that goes successfully?

EO: 15:10 Well, in some ways, um, I don't feel qualified to give advice because I did actually have the staff and they knew the work practices and the knew that I trust them and everything before we went to reborn and haven't actually hired anybody since then who, you know who I, I haven't seen the, the work methods and you know, in front of me. But the only thing I think that I would see is just to do a lot of screenshot in at the start, if you can have them in your, your own office to get them up to speed with the few clients that you want to. Like when I take on a new client, I usually get to take the file first of all and have a look at it and find out, you know, set up what methods we're gonna work with or an accounting apps and from the ecosystem we're going to use.

EO: 16:04 And then by the time I hand it over to one of my staff members, they've gotten me to ask questions of if they've got any problems. And then of course if you've got new staff or new clients, you just need to keep on top of that because you can be in there the file as well as one of the wonderful things is that this person working on the file, me, the accountant and the client can all be in the same file at the same time. So you can actually see when there's, if there's going to be difficulties coming up and you can nip them in the bud right away.

MP: 16:39 That's great and, and definitely, yes. Uh, thank you for sharing that. In terms of your experiences, you had the staff and so it's a bit different if you were to start with someone who wasn't, but I think the idea is to try and replicate some of that if you best you can to make sure that you get on the same page and that sort of thing. Now I'm really curious about your, you've embraced technology early on. What kind of technology are you excited about today? Anything that new that you're looking at and thinking about adding to your practice?

EO: 17:13 I think the next thing that I want to be looking at from my practice is something like chatter.

MP: 17:21 Chatter. Yes. Is that a salesforce product? salesforce.com product or..

EO: 17:26 I don't, I don't think so. No, it's chatter's based in, um, in Calgary they were, did the IPPC conference as well and they're one of the, the, um, I think the one of the contestants in the QuickBooks 100 a hundred k out showdown at San Jose this year.

MP: 17:42 Okay. And so chatter tell us about it.

EO: 17:45 Well, I still have to learn to find out photos or I don't know that much. Well, it's like

EO: 17:50 this is, we might have to have you come back after we do the app showdown in San Jose.

MP: 17:56 Uh, so, um, okay. That's, that's well that's cool. So chatter's one, what is peaking your interest though? What, what value proposition do you think they're going to be able to deliver to you?

EO: 18:07 It's supposed to be very simple to you as the net. It takes your, your inflammation that you've already built into to a software like QuickBooks online and it gets your reporting so that you can ask very simple than easy questions like the general questions that without the accounting language that your, your client may have.

MP: 18:28 Okay. Very cool. Sounds interesting.

EO: 18:30 Yeah, that's the next one I want to get into. I know there's lots of people already ahead of me in that stream. I've sort of been, I haven't been an early adopter where that one goes, but he'll read a good things about it. Yeah. So apart from that, I'm pretty happy with the tech stack and I have just no, and when clients come to me to work with me, I tell them that this, you know, I figured out which tech, which of my favorite tech apps they're going to be using or that they would need an, I tell them what they're going to be put on. But more and more I'm finding that clients come in, they're already on cloud accounting software. Like it's been a long time since I heard anybody that said, you know, okay, I went to, I went to staples and I bought this accounting software and I've installed it on my computer in all and now I'm having trouble with it.

EO: 19:17 Can you come to my place and fix it? I'm just not hearing that so much anymore. I'm hearing a lot more of, you know, Oh, I signed up for this accounting software and I don't think I'm using it. Ray, can you help? So re stripped from my Home Office if I can get the cat out of the way, I, you know, I can, that's the only thing standing between me and work as a very helpful cat that likes to invade my office space. So I can just, you know, I can see what I'd be as a user and I can jump on and I can see right away what is that they're doing and they can train them right from here.

MP: 19:50 Mm. Got It. Got It. Excellent. And so, uh, I'd love to know what your technology stack consists of.

EO: 19:58 Okay. I used mostly QuickBooks online, but in Canada, the software that is used by a lot of lawyers is clear and it doesn't integrate with QuickBooks online. So I use zero from my lawyer clients because Cleo integrates with Steidl for them. So I've got a couple of lawyers on zero and I use either hubdoc or receipt. Well, every client gets hubdoc for the fetching of their bank statements and their bills and things like that. Although when all receipt bank is making some strides in that area as well. But so far I haven't switched. I haven't switched anybody off hub dot completely. If there are needs for expense for well not for expenses but for submitting invoices and bills are simple enough that hubdoc can handle it, then I'll keep them on hub, keeps them on Hubdoc and I won't give them receipt bank. Um, I find hubdocs good for in order to just submitting one page invoices and they do pretty easy simple documents and there's not that many of them. But receipt bank is, is to my mind better at doing the invoices and expenses. Because like for these down Paul, I had a pet food store that I was doing the bookkeeping for and they had um, the invoices would be like once a week they'd get invoices of like eight pages. Well, in receipt bank I can go in and merge all of those pages that they'd scanned in for me. I could go in and merge them and make them one invoice.

MP: 21:28 Mm.

EO: 21:29 Which I'm not able to do in hubdocs or I pushed them. I put those clients on receipt bank and certainly it's better for receipt bank receipt bank dashboard is better for catch up because you can go in and you can just put in, you can sort them by the name and then you can just narrow your inbox down to filters to see, okay, I only went to find this pet stores, pet food supplier, leave the invoices in here and you can batch categorize them at the time. So, and then for, um, for paying bills I use Pluto. So that's where it can have a handle. Accounts payable for myself and my clients. I use Plooto for that.

MP: 22:17 That's wonderful. So you've got, you're the way you're speaking, it's like you look at, you know, there's a couple of different situations that you find yourself in and you've got your two olds that you, you're going to use fast for those applications. It's almost like, you know, a chef talking about the kitchen. While if it's this time of year, we're going to use basil. Then if they hit, oh, we're going to tack it from a couple of different angles, but you've got your, your go. Tos, I think made it really accessible for our listener to think about maybe their business in a different way. It's like, what problem am I going to try and solve? What's the best tool? It's not like you're going to have one, one tools can solve all problems. It's a couple of ones that you know are really great that you're gonna go at this with.

EO: 23:00 Yeah. Yeah. I would say that for me, one of the things that's made me, because as you mentioned at the start, that I'm really passionate about small businesses. So one of the things that has been the best for me out over this, this new way of working this collaboration, know that the clients are in the software. I mean, it used to be, I just went to somebody's office and I sat on the computer that had the accounting software on it and I did all the work and they didn't look, the client really didn't understand what I was doing, but now that the clients are in the same software and doing their invoicing and they still submit their expenses and everything as well, it's really empowered the clients that they've got a lot more understanding of what is the happening with their accounting software and they can go in and around and see all the reports that they want to. So all the collaboration and the empowerment that it gives the clients has just been, um, that's been one of the best things that's happened since the accounting technology has taken off.

MP: 23:58 Hmm. I agree. It's refreshing. Uh, it really is bringing incredible tools to, to business owners that would 10, 15 years ago would, would never be able to have this kind of insight into their finances and speed to do it. And you know, all sorts of, and not just in the bookkeeping space. I mean it's a, there's a, for our businesses on other ends of our businesses, there's all sorts of exciting things that are happening. Probably even the way you're running your business. A lot of people are talking about workflow software. Have you tackled any kind of workflow software?

EO: 24:33 I've tried a few but haven't settled on one yet. There's been no real winner. We tried a Assana and it was okay then it went on and we tried teamwork and I think, I think I prefer teamwork. That's the one that we've been using most recently. I have, what's that?

MP: 24:52 Is that the Google product teamwork?

EO: 24:55 I don't know if it's a giga, a Google product.

MP: 24:58 I'm trying to think. I, there's getting to be so many. It's hard to keep track.

EO: 25:02 I don't know if it's a Google product. Um, I mean it's syncs with, I can sync it with my gmails so, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a Google product.

MP: 25:12 Oh, you know what? Google seems to be snapping up all sorts of stuff anyways, so it may, I know I've, uh, I work with a few different, uh, organizations and uh, someone put me on teamwork and, and yeah, we use the center as well. And so you're, you're, you're liking teamwork. You've used a Santa, you're looking at a couple of others. Uh, it'd be interesting to see where you are in a couple of months from now, what technology you're using from that sample. What is it that you're liking about teamwork?

EO: 25:41 I don't know that it was just so easy to set up a really light. I really like the being able to break down in each project and assign it to people and getting emails to see whether that when that project had been completed or not. So, you know, but I mean most workflows are going to do that only, but I just, I, once I started working with it, I found that it was very easy to set up and staff and subcontractors can jump on there too and I can say in the work and then again, notification when it's done. And again, our teamwork rapport for when it's late.

MP: 26:15 Beautiful. Wonderful. That a, that's a new area for you that you're tackling in your business. We'll look forward to hearing an update on that for sure. Anything else you'd like to share with the listener in terms of growing where you are in your business and some of the things that you do on an, uh, maybe on a, a daily, weekly, monthly basis to make sure that you're getting to where you need to get to in your business?

EO: 26:41 Not really. We're not, I'm not looking grow rate at this time. I'm quite happy with the size that my business is right now. So, but um, I mean I keep in touch with the, I keep in touch with staff on a daily basis. We get together and have a facetime as well. So that's very important too. But yeah, no, no, not really. I can't think of anything that we're doing, just know I haven't already shared.

MP: 27:08 That's great. Well, I know you attend a lot of conferences. You, you stay connected to what's going on in the industry. Uh, what, what would you recommend to listeners if they haven't gone to conferences?

EO: 27:20 Well, if it's in, in Canada, I would say make sure that you go to the IPBC conference because it's vendor neutral, so you get to see everybody, what they're all doing there. So I can't say enough about the IPBC conference on the IPPC itself. It's a great organization for bookkeepers and you know, it's good for accountants as well to come along and see what's happening in the bookkeeping world. Um, they keep us up to date with a lot of things. And also there's QuickBooks connect two, which will be coming up in Canada and Toronto, uh, in December. And there's a big quick boost connect in San Jose that's at the start of November as well. So, um, but I do, I do like the IPPC and maybe Accountex as well, which is the old sweeter company, um, because it's vendor-neutral too. So take the time to go to some vendor-neutral conferences so that you can find out, you know, what's out there rather than just stick to one accounting software.

MP: 28:20 Wonderful. Well, Elaine, this has been so actually inspiring to me in terms of you've gone and embrace technology. You've built a business that you're very happy with. You still go to conferences, you still investigating technology. I think you're an inspiration to the community and I thank you for your generosity of giving us your time.

EO: 28:46 Thank you very much. It's been fun.

MP: 28:48 Beautiful. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time.

MP: 29:04 Goodbye.

EP124: Helen Latimer - The Importance Of Having A Coach For Your Success

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Big goals.

They can be scary and overwhelming, but breaking those big goals to little ones that you can manage is the key.

That's according to our guest today, Helen Latimer, who is a career coach and owner of the company, 925 Resources which combines unconventional thinking and business acumen to help people achieve career success.

She has been a speaker at events for a number of professional associations including the Human Resources Professionals Association's national convention and more recently, the Administrative Professionals' annual conference.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • What mentoring is versus coaching

  • The significance of having a coach

  • The importance of taking the time for reflection

To learn more about Helen, click here.

To find out more about 925 Resources, visit this link.

For Helen's LinkedIn page, check this out.

To contact her, you can email helen@925resources.com.


Michael Palmer: 01:33 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest is a career coach and owner of the company, nine to five resources which combines unconventional thinking and business acumen to help people achieve career success. Helen Latimer, welcome back to the podcast.

Helen Latimer: 01:56 Well, thank you very much for having me, Michael. I'm just as delighted to, uh, to be part of the show on the event.

MP: 02:03 It is all our pleasure and I'm, what's hilarious is when we were speaking earlier before the show, you're like, hey, you know, is this live? No, we're going to have an editor.

HL: 02:15 Yeah. It's like, don't worry, you can't mess it up.

MP: 02:20 And then I actually messed up the intro. I said, Helen Latimer welcome back to the podcast. I don't know why I said that. If you've ever been on the podcast, it's your first time. But just funny how we put things into our brain, but uh, fun to have you here. And the connection is so interesting. So Alberta, Ku, Ku Bolus and I hope I'm getting his name right, but Alberto is one of our members in a Pure bookkeeping and he's an avid member of business networking international and he had recommended that you an extraordinary coach come onto the podcast. So I just absolutely love it. We talk a lot about BNI on this podcast. We Love BNI think it does such a fantastic job of helping business owners connect. And here we have guests that actually connected in a BNI and so welcome on that end as well.

HL: 03:10 Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I, I'm, I'm, I've been a member of BNI, uh, here in Toronto for, um, about 18 months. And one of the reasons I joined is that I'm, I'm by nature a little bit reserved and introverted and I also like many members of your audience, I have my own business and what that can do is can give me too much or give us too much alone time. So one of the reasons that I wanted to join BNI was just a chance to build some community and to make sure that I had a chance to meet people every week. But it's turned out to be so much more. And meeting somebody like Alberto to learn more about bookkeeping, you know, it's, it's always really interesting and it helps me be very useful to my clients. The more people I know, the better I can serve the clients that I have. So I'm a big, I'm a big BNI fan.

MP: 04:00 Yes, we are as well. And thank you for sharing that. I think it's, you know, the more, not everyone is aware of it, not everyone feels comfortable with it. And it's always great to have other people share, especially from a perspective of you're not a bookkeeper, you are a career coach. And so, you know, it helps. That's, that's what BNI is all about. And again, special thank you to Alberto for thinking of us and thinking of the podcast and recommending that you come onto the show. Now, before we get too much further down this conversation, let's have a conversation, uh, and hear about your business journey leading up to this point. So our listener gets to know a little bit about you.

HL: 04:43 Well, I'm going to try and keep that short story, story short, but yeah, my background is in what I call corporate A. I had about 20 years of ex business experience working in two big industries, retailing and telecommunications. And I've worked both in Canada where I currently live, uh, as well as the United States. So my background was, was not human resources, I was very much on the sales, marketing, business development side. So part of what I bring to my clients is a really good understanding of how big corporations work and what it's like to work in a big corporation. But about 10 years ago, maybe 15 now I, I did kind of a pivot and we, we had been living in the states for different reasons. We came, we came back to Canada and I just didn't know what I wanted to do next, which you know, happens, happens to us from time to time.

HL: 05:38 And I started doing volunteer work and trying different things, trying to physically like almost like shopping, trying on different outfits to see what fits. Um, I started doing some exploration and meeting with people and I was just drawn to, to helping others and, and very to helping people with their careers and having had, you know, good and bad experiences through, through my corporate life and learning from the mistakes that I made, I just felt that I had a lot that I could give to help people reach their potential in jobs and to also make sure that they're doing work that really gives them satisfaction and enjoyment. So I went more and more onto the coaching side. I worked with, um, a colleague of mine. We wrote a book. Um, and, and that, that, that really became kind of the foundation for stepping out on my own and, and, uh, creating my own coaching practice. So here I am. That's sort of in a nutshell where, where I am and why I'm here.

MP: 06:42 Wonderful. Well, our pathways are always interested when we look at them and how we end up. And this is just the beginning. We don't know where we're going to end up tomorrow, but today you're helping people transition, go through different changes, buns. And you've brought your life experience to this. I'm assuming that you've dealt with a lot of people that have gone through transition, especially with their jobs. And what is it that makes that so difficult?

HL: 07:13 Well, there's a couple of things is that sometimes if somebody, somebody's in transition, it means they can be already working. Um, so, so that can become very challenging just even from a time management perspective that they've got a full time job with full time obligations. They're trying to balance, um, personal life and that the demands that that can play and it can be very hard to keep moving forward if you're trying to make that sort of a transition. And if you don't have a very clear understanding of where you're trying to go, that can make it even more difficult. Um, and sometimes too, it's like we get very comfortable in our jobs and even if it's not giving us all that we would like, even though there's some things we wish were different about it, sometimes it's easier to just put up with that then to do the work. Uh, that's required. I think it's very, very difficult for most people to do on their own without working with somebody, whether it's a coach or it's a friend. Um, but often it's very hard to, to keep that momentum going if you're trying to do it all by body yourself.

MP: 08:26 Yeah, I can, I can imagine a, and in our industry, in bookkeeping and accounting space, there is so much change happening with technology. And so I'm sure you've heard of that in other industries and probably have clients that have, that have been a transitioning not to a new job, not to a new business, but having to deal with a lot of change that's happening. Uh, and sometimes they, this, you know, the, there hasn't been changed for very long time so it might not be very natural.

HL: 08:57 Uh, absolutely. I mean there, there are many, many jobs and industries that are changing because of technology claiming be changing because there are different demands from the marketplace, different regulations. And as you know, some, some of the things that I often talk to clients about when they're in those sorts of situations is try to be as observant as possible. You know, when we, and again, there's no judgment in this because we all do the same thing. We put our heads down at work and we're very focused on doing the work that needs to be done and meeting the various deadlines. And sometimes what that means is we're so focused on what's our on our desk, we're not paying attention to kind of what's going on in the broader company or in the broader industry and we're not keeping current. And it can mean that when something happens a as opposed to us having had a chance to get prepared for it because we're aware of it, it's kind of coming on. Oh my gosh, that's happening. That's happening now. So I always encourage people to, you know, join associations, the subscribe to different newsletters. Try and find a little bit of time, um, not necessarily every day, but a little bit of time every week just to kind of keep your eyes open to what's going on outside your specific business.

MP: 10:26 Great advice. And you, you said a couple of things that I think are, I want to highlight, which is earlier on doing it alone, right? You were in BNR B and I, part of that beat, the reason for being in BNI was to be around other people but as well, uh, coaches and mentors can be absolutely invaluable because they can provide a lens that we don't have. Uh, because we're in it. And I remember myself, I was in a, in a, I worked in a, in a role for a large corporation for six and a half years and I found myself at six and a half years thinking this was it. There's like, what could I actually go and do that was I like I look back now and I think how could I have fought that? I mean there is like a million different companies you could work for literally a million different companies, so many different injuries.

MP: 11:17 You, so many different things. I was young, quite young at the time, but yet it was because I was stuck in it and I was so busy with other things and where do I turn in? It wasn't until I actually met a coach in another program that I was taking where they actually just asked me a few questions and I was like, I started to open up and said, Oh, you know what? I'm not, I'm actually not happy here. It's like, oh, well what are you doing about that? It's like actually doing nothing about it. It's like, oh, it was just, and that was my actually my first introduction to a coach. And later I became, about 10 years later, I became a coach myself. But uh, it, it just always that story for me, whenever I hear someone talk about trying to do it on their own, it's, it's like it happens to all of us. There's somebody listening right now, I'm sure that's dealing with transition or change or you know, something not right, not feeling it, you know, that's where a mentor or coach can really help someone like yourself can really help.

HL: 12:17 Yeah, absolutely. And it's also one of the things that when we get into those situations, sometimes the people that love us best are our close family members, a partner or a spouse. It, I'm not suggesting a tall that we would never share our feelings and our, and our kinds of struggles with them, but sometimes there's, they're almost too close to us to, to be the people that we necessarily want to turn to for advice and guidance. So I often will start, if it's somebody who doesn't know you as well, who can help you look at options, help you create options, do some brainstorming with you. And you know, mentors are, are terrific. Um, and coaching those types of things. And because, yeah, sometimes in those situations, fam, family members, they just, they want us to be comfortable and they, they don't want us to be an unhappy. So their motivations and advice comes from a really wonderful place with incredibly good intentions, but doesn't always help us take the steps forward. That in fact we need to, we need to be taking.

MP: 13:21 Completely agree and, and it's, and it's wonderful and we need that support group. But a, and like you say, it's important to share and, and be in it with your family and your, and, and friends. But they just want the best for you. So that's likely going to be the safe route and the less, you know in their eyes the lot, the safe route, which is not the safe route. And so as a coach, what do you think that it is about a coach that you know is so effective at helping people make these big decisions in their life?

HL: 13:57 Well I think in some cases it's, it's helping them. It's helping people understand how they can break down these big goals into smaller, into smaller pieces. Because sometimes that's the struggle. I know the big thing that I want to do and if it's too big, it can be overwhelming. We can, we can feel a little bit of fear about well I can, how do I go from here to there? And so working with a coach, it's somebody who can help you break things down almost like a project has. Yes. As we do, as I'm sure your bookkeepers do is like you have to break things down into small manageable pieces. One that allows you to feel kind of a, I'm making some progress that allows you to set some benchmarks so that you can keep, keep yourself moving forward. And I think also with a w when you're working with a coach, there's kind of a built in accountability. It's helping you hold yourself accountable to making the changes that in fact you want to make to achieve the goals that you're setting. But it a big goal can sometimes be a bit intimidating.

MP: 15:05 It can. And I think there's something you'd be said about working with a coach who, who is a right fit for yourself. And so for listeners too, I like, there's so many coaches that you can work with. Make sure you have a conversation. Like they often will have, I'm sure Helen you have, it's not like people just go, well I got to hire you so I'm just going to hire you. They probably have a conversation with you first, which is it, you know, the, the first step to working with the coach is have a conversation and, and, and trust your intuition around does that coach have the ae the credentials? Does that coach have the, the feel, does that feel right to having a conversation with them? Because I think many people misunderstand what a coach, many coaches, uh, go through a lot of training and maybe you can talk a little bit about that. So it's not just me telling them, talked about it before about a lot of training around being in a place that's unbiased and service of clients, that sort of thing.

HL: 16:04 Yes. And I think I'll just go back to sort of that initial, you know, decision or about, I want to, I want to talk to somebody and I do very much echo what you're saying Michael. Um, you know, you should, anybody who's listening who's interested should not hesitate to reach out to anybody in the, in the, you know, the coaching profession, initial consultations in Gen generally should don't cost anything and in my opinion, shouldn't cost you anything just to have that initial consultation because neither of us know actually if we can work together and that, that initial understanding and conversation to see if there's rapport, to see if, you know, when I'm working with a potential client, I'm always very clear. I have to make sure that I feel I can help you. And part of that is just making sure that that person feels like somebody I can work with from a personality.

HL: 16:56 There has to be, has to be that fit. But yeah, there's, I think sometimes people have this misperception that if you work with a coach, the coach is going to sort of sort it all out for you. Um, and I've, I've joke had some laughs with clients to kind of go, so yeah. Really what I want you to do is, you know, you tell me what, tell me what I should be doing. Tell me how I should make my living. I'm like, I just smile and go, I don't know. I don't know how you should make your living. I've only been speaking to you for 10 or 15 minutes, so I'll, can I tell you what your, your next step in your career should be. So it's, it's, it's sort of helping people also understand the role is really helping you understand how you can find the answers that you're looking for and provide that sounding board and the, and ask the right questions that get you thinking and help you find in a sense, find your own answers. Okay.

MP: 17:47 Absolutely. You know, it, it's probably brings up an interesting point around what a coach is and what a mentor is. And so the question of what should I do, you know, tell me what to do is not likely the role of a coach in the, in the pure form of what a coach and in our industry, in the coaching industry is, is, is more, we're, we're the ones that ask that question. Right? As a coach, as a mentor, it's a little bit, I think down the track a little bit where you know what you want to do. Now Mentor has been there, done it. Uh, and it's going to tell you the way like a mentor. Let's give an example of climbing a mountain. If the mentor, uh, knows and has helped people climb them out and you know, you want to climb the mountain, the manager's going to say, don't go that way. Go this way, use these ropes, use these jackets, uh, these kinds of boots. They're going to give you a lot of answers, whereas a coach is going to ask more questions. You're the one that's going to come up with the question. And I think that's, uh, important because when you're working with a coach, going into it knowing already reduces the fear perhaps, or the unknown of what's going to happen when you get on a call or you, you start looking for a coach.

HL: 19:01 Yeah, absolutely. And mentoring, uh, relationship and often is a, I won't say it's an informal relationship, but it's a, a mentor is often somebody that you don't pay. Um, could be somebody within an organization who's not your boss, somebody more senior. It could be somebody in a related organization. It can be somebody on a professional board. And the relationship with a mentor, it in my opinion, like you as you're saying Michael is a little, it's a little bit diff, it's a bit different. They're often somebody who's, they're very specifically to kind of guide you to reach your career goals. So for example, one of my clients has a number of different mentors. She works with me as a coach, but she's also a somebody who works in the IT industry. So one of her mentors is somebody with a great deal of technical expertise and my client uses her, um, as a resource to kind of, you know, what very specifically understand gaps that she might have an in her technical knowledge, different programs and how, you know, what, what kind of it knowledge and development that she needs to to reach your goals. So very specific things that I as a coach wouldn't necessarily be well would not be able to help her with. I'm not an it expert. So you could certainly have both. And um, as I say in this case, my client actually has more than one mentor, um, to, to help her or achieve her career objectives.

MP: 20:36 Yes, that's, that's the, and for both, both of you and I and many of the listeners, if we looked closely, our lives are filled with these types of people and some of them are, are, are just people that we come across that we start working with and they become an informal relationship. We're where we're getting information and ideas sharing, that sort of thing. And, and, and, and then it can also translate into paid. Like there's things where we need to figure out, you need to specifically solve a problem in your life. There's people out there that can, I've done it many times, know how to do it and charge to actually solve those problems. You know, you, you mentioned another thing about coaching that I thought was interesting is just the, the, the fear of unknown going into actually working with a coach there. Many times I've had people come up to me, uh, in the, in the work with bookkeepers and saying, you know, I, you know, I was, I wanted to have a conversation with you, but I just didn't, didn't reach out.

MP: 21:35 And I'm like, well, why didn't you reach out? And I was like, well, I, I was afraid. I didn't know what was going to happen. I felt, you know, like felt like I wasn't as far ahead as I should have been. All these different reasons that really were completely made up in their head, but yet it prevented them from taking action and actually doing something about it. So they knew there was a resource. He knew that, that there were some help. But it's this, it's coming back to this change and, and not knowing. And so why is it so hard to deal with these situations or make these positive changes or improvements in our lives?

HL: 22:10 Hello? That's a big, that's a, that's a big, a big question. So I'm going to break that down a bit. I mean, I think, I think sometimes what we do is we're not, we're not always very gentle and loving with ourselves. And we sat, you know, we have pressures internally and sometimes those are the most, the most challenging to deal with other, the internal expectations that we set for ourselves, the very high standards we have to, you know, just be excelling at everything and, you know, w masters of everything. Then there's a lot of external pressures that we're bombarded with as well. And it can, it can make his fear, oh my gosh, I'll, you know, I'll never, I'll never do this. Or we're fearing judgment. Um, we're fearing, gosh, I might be, I'm the only one who feels like this. Everybody else looks like they're coping with things just fine.

MP: 22:59 And I think that can be an uncomfortable place to be. So there is a hesitancy about reaching out to somebody. And I think the coaches that I know and work with, one of the things we do is to try and create a safe space for our clients so that they can reveal a without feeling that there's any kind of judgment that everybody's struggling with different things and everybody needs help at some point in their life or in some point in their career. And that reaching out to get that help is exactly as actually an act of bravery. And once you make that, that first step, it can, there can be quite a bit of relief as you start to see, oh actually I like, I start to

MP: 23:46 break this big mega goal into something smaller. Or I've got somebody who's listening and can and can just say something that can change how you feel for a little bit. But I do understand that it can be quite overwhelming to, to make that first step and, and so do you have any tips for taking that first step?

HL: 24:08 Yeah. My, I guess my tip would be is that if you think that the type of things that you're wanting to accomplish would be easier to do if you wouldn't, you know, you were to fast forward and look back and you know, two, two years down the road and kind of, okay, I'm, I'm here and I'm doing the work that I want to do and you kind of have this lovely vision of, of, of, of a career and a business that everything is, is where, where you hoped it would be. You have to, you have to make that first initial step. It's a small step, but it's the step that gets you along the path. And if you sort of feel, I really want that, or if I don't take this little step in two years, so now I'm going to be in exactly the same place.

HL: 24:54 Sometimes that can be helpful to just kind of, you know, what happens if I don't reach out? What happens if I don't put my hand up and say, actually I do want to talk to somebody or I need to find a mentor. It can be that a year or two years down the road you find you, you've not been able to do do it on your own. So weighing the consequences for not taking that step forward can sometimes be a motivator but also understanding that it's very low risk. You know that one conversation with somebody, it's not a commitment, you're just exploring, you're just having a conversation and it can be as short as you know, half an hour, 45 minutes. It's, you know, don't let something like that hole hold you back from just having that conversation with somebody. It can be life-changing.

MP: 25:40 I agree with you completely and really great, really great advice on, on actually just had a pat to think about it. What, what's, what's the, what's it costing you? And you mentioned earlier taking time out. Like there is nothing that can, that can really replace stopping from the work, right? Is when we're doing the work, when we're in it, it's, it just as the days just blend in each other. So what are some strategies to, to actually pull away where we can get some of that thinking time to, to do this thinking and asked ourselves that question and some reflection like what is the cost, what do I want? What is the change that I want to make and what direction do I want to go to actually start making that? What would be advice there?

HL: 26:27 Yeah, in terms of time, trying to find time to reflect. I think even if you're not wanting to me to make any changes in, in your life, I think time for reflection is important for all of us. So I don't have a magic bullet that will help anybody, any listener sort of find that chunk of time. But what I can share is some of the things that I have, how I have been able to find time and, and some of it is one I stopped, I stopped looking for big chunks. You know, that can be hard to find. Oh I need two hours to reflect. I try and do reflection in times where I'm doing an activity that doesn't require a lot of brain power. So a couple of things that I do for example is I have to have, I have a dog, my dog needs a walk. So I, when I'm taking my dog, I actually use that quite purposefully as time for reflection. Um, if I'm on commuting, I'm riding on a bus or a subway, same thing. I'll choose not to listen to music necessarily. I'll choose not to work.

MP: 27:36 Hey, wait a second. You're telling people not to listen to the podcast here. Hey.

HL: 27:40 Well, no, I don't mind. I go beyond that. I don't mean that at all, but just those are the times in this cause I love listening to music. Believe me, I love when as long as they listen to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast in the morning, then they can do reflection after. MP: 27:52 Okay.

HL: 27:53 Exactly. They can do reflection after, but it is looking for just sometimes that small bit of time because you know, I see people on the subway, they're there working and doing other things. And sometimes it's just saying, okay, rather than do my typical thing on the, on the bus or during my commute, I'm gonna do something a little bit different and just take 10 or 15 minutes of reflection. I'm keeping a little, you know, a short time to try and do a little journal. Can an entry, um, can be very helpful for just making notes when things kind of, you don't have a piece of paper and a pen or use your tablet, but just some note-taking can be helpful in terms of capturing a thought as it comes in. But I often find looking for smaller bits of time, um, are easier for people to fit into their routines rather than trying to find a big chunk of time.

MP: 28:45 Yeah, I it is, Eh, I mean if the probably the very best thing we could do is take like three months off to really think things through. But if they can't make that happen, then just a few minutes it during the day would be the next best because really there's the, the problem is that we're so stuck a and many, many listeners who are stuck in their life, it's yeah. That people say, Oh, you need to go and do make it too big. Then the reflection never happens in here. It is the year away or two years down the track you're looking back and like I haven't had time to reflect and I think many fall into that trap. So that's, that's very gold advice in my opinion, is to make sure that in your daily routine find spots where you can stop and go and ask them, saw yourself some of these questions that you've posed. Do you have any other questions? You've had a few of them that have come up. If, if everyone shut off the podcast for instance, after this and they have a little bit of extra time to maybe in their commute or you know, shut the radio off or if they're going for a run or they're walking the dog. And I was going to say that you didn't walk the dog, the dog was walking, you probably got take my owner out for a walk. They is, she needs to reflect

HL: 30:06 Exactly. No, I, and one of the areas often that can be found is, is just, uh, I, you know, things like different social media feeds, television, Netflix, all of these things. I'm not saying don't do them, but sometimes it's saying, well, instead of doing something on social media for 45 minutes, maybe I'll just go on for 30 minutes and then I'll spend 15 minutes reflecting. So sometimes it's just choosing, you know, to, to use our time a little, a little bit differently because I really don't think you, you know, small bits of reflection can be, can be helpful too.

MP: 30:47 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think just something came up in my mind here is that there is a connection, I think around you're getting exercise when you're walking the dog or the dogs walking you, people that are out walking or getting some, some form of exercise I think is is probably your or even just taking yourself out of the environment that you're in. If you were sitting on my couch looking at or at work and looking at, you know, your Facebook, you decided to take a, a break from that to reflect, get, get out of the, get out of the house, get out of the office wherever you're at and put yourself into, into a space that's not going to be the same as that you're in. Would you agree?

HL: 31:28 Oh, absolutely. Um, one of the things that I'm trying to incorporate into the days when, when I have kind of a solid workday in my office is a break every hour and at that point to get up and walk around to get up and get a glass of water or to get up and make a cup of tea, but to physically get up, move out of my office, move around. And I don't take a very long break, but we've, I think absolutely building these types of things in with a bit of a change of scenery, really helpful. But it's also really good for our health to get up on a regular basis and, and, and walk around. Um, and I think it helps actually, um, replenish our energy so that we can maintain a higher level of productivity. So I absolutely agree with the getting up and if it can be outside, that's even better. I mean, just a few of, you know, a little walk a on a fall day can be, can be very helpful for your general wellbeing and how you feel.

MP: 32:35 Beautiful. You know, it's one of the things that I've started to do recently, which is getting up and going for a brisk walk outside. And it's been fantastic. It just breaks up the day. Ah, I don't do it every hour. My wife would probably say she's, if she hears this podcast, she's going to say, I want you to do what Helen said. I want you up every hour going for a walk around the block. But it makes a big difference. And it really is, that time is an incredible time. I don't, I haven't actually, even the motivation hasn't been for me to reflect now that you're telling, you know, bringing it up, uh, I'm like, Hey, you know what? I've been doing a lot of reflecting as I've been walking. So, uh, I was motivated by just getting that exercise and for the health benefits. But that's the time when I'm reflecting where my thoughts are the best is when I'm active doing something along those lines. So that's only gonna translate back to our productivity, to our satisfaction throughout the day and those sorts of things.

HL: 33:32 Absolutely. Absolutely. And one of the things that I add into my reflection is I have a point or a my walk where there's a lovely group of trees. And at that point I always stop for a minute and I actually, I express gratitude and I just don't, I just put out there, you know, that I'm thankful for the different things that I'm thankful for. Um, you know, and that can sometimes be, you know, things aren't going well. Then my, the gratitude is that the opportunities are put in front of me and that I have, um, you know, the resilience to keep going even though something didn't go my way. So I try and use that, um, that, that, that just one minute to be very conscious that I do, even when things are challenging, I try and find things that I can be thankful around those challenges.

HL: 34:23 And I find that so very powerful shift in terms of how I view things. So, you know, things going on with, uh, family members and things that can sometimes be a source of stress. I think, you know, I kind of put out my gratitude that there's good communication between my husband and me as we deal with these challenges, that sort of thing. It's not trying to diminish, you know, the, the, the gravity of the situation. But I try and find some way of putting some positive framing around that so that there's, uh, a gratitude that I express on that. It sounds a bit kind of out there, perhaps for some of you or some of your listeners, but I have found that that has made it, I'm a very positive difference to my, to my outlook.

MP: 35:07 Well, if it's, if it's, if it's sounding outlook for out, if it's sounding out there for any of our listeners, then I recommend that you get out there and do this very exercise because I think it, you know, you mentioned it's with trees and with nature, you've gone for a walk. It's outside, you're with the dog and you're reflecting and giving gratitude or near these beautiful trees that you've found along your walk. Every single listener guarantee you spends way too much time in front of a computer. Uh, and yours truly here as well. We're, the more, our world is moving to that and we're always with electronics and it's all virtual and wild stats.

HL: 35:50 Awesome. And we can all celebrate and, you know, some are saying, Michael, I'm not celebrating. Uh, but you know, it does bring these technologies, bring all of these great benefits and hey, Alexa, play my favorite song.

HL: 36:00 I mean, it's all made up. It's not real. Right. And so even work, like if we, the more we do these non real things, it sucks us into this believing that just like I was for six and a half years at this state of belief that, hey, this is ed. I don't know what else I could do. I'm at, you know, that was my mindset. We, when at, when I'm removed from it, like you are, you're getting out there going for this walk. You're in nature. You're, you're with what's real. Well, we could probably have an esoteric conversation about that too, but, you know, it's closer to real perhaps living organisms going on like, so I think so important. More and more every day for all of us. Uh, to get out there and do exactly that.

HL: 36:43 And, and unless, unless I don't want your listeners to, to sort of think, oh, I, how'd it, you know, that I'm spending hours of every day. I mean I live in Toronto, which is, uh, so I'm an urban dweller, so it's not like a, so like many, I'm sure of your, of your listeners. I, you know, I'm living in a major city, so I'm going out for maybe 20, 25 minutes. I, it, it is time that I still have to put in my routine defined, but again, it's not trying to find two hours of time. It's, it's just taking notice of, of what's around me, you know, to see what's there. So I sort of figured if I could bite it. And in the city where I live, I'm sure others living in cities and, or, and if you're in the suburbs I am and rural areas, I would imagine that would be even easier to find. But you know, it's not, I'm not,

HL: 37:37 well here, I was imagining that you're walking down this wonderful cottage country road with the deal blowing leaves and lake in the background. But yeah, you know,

HL: 37:48 there's living in places like that, but just, just to kind of put it into context and wherever you live, you can find those.

HL: 37:58 There is soulless everywhere and it, and I think it comes back to what you were saying about, you know, it doesn't have to be this big, uh, you know, goal where you're going to spend two hours or whatever. Even just going for a two-minute walk is going to be better than not going for any walk at all. Start with something small. I mean, we do, I find myself, so why my wife is selling me, Michael, you spend to sit too long at your desk. She, you know, she's, that's where the, you know, she's giving me great advice to get up and she wants me to be healthy. Right. But I do. And, and even though like after this, this right now on what, what's on my mind is I haven't gone from my daily walk and I'm, I'm going to go out, but there's a bunch of things I want to get done today and I haven't done and the day is kind of slipped away on me and, and, and, and, and, and it could be really easy for me to just keep doing the work. And I think our listeners probably fall into that trap too. So it's just to take the, the opportunities, make sure it's a routine and get out there and do it. I have to get out there and get that walk. Otherwise I'm not gonna walk. And then it's a new behavior where I'm not doing what's healthy for me and for a better future.

MP: 39:07 Yeah.

HL: 39:08 And don't beat yourself up on the days where it's just not going to happen. I mean, it is trying to build that routine and you're going to have days when it just doesn't work or you slip and don't let that prevent you from trying again the next day. I think that's, you know, it's a, there is a resilience to not letting, not letting the negatives outweigh it because I have days where, I mean my dog, of course, she's going to take me through her walk every morning, but other forms of things where like, like you, I have these intentions to do and there are days where it's just not possible. So rather than look at that and go, oh, you know, you let yourself down, I go didn't it? Tomorrow's the day. Um, so I do try and make sure that I'm, I'm not too hard on myself on, um, days because if it, you know, people have children and all other things that are going on where we're not always in control of our schedules or clients or it's tax season and there are busy, busy times of the year where we're not necessarily going to be able to do what we would like to do on every single days.

HL: 40:14 So fitted in where you can and you know, you could be kind to yourself on the days when you don't have time to do it.

MP: 40:21 Beautifully said, don't beat yourself up. Make sure you do. Take the time, find the time and a, and don't make it too big of a goal. Just start small. These are great, great ways to, to, to enter into and make sure that you're taking care of yourself and reflecting enough to know are you on the right track? Are you, you know, are the things you could be doing differently? Should you be looking at hiring a coach? That's where you're gonna find those answers in as an a bit of reflection and then taking that to be around the people that you interact with and it, it leads you in a, in a better space. This has been absolutely wonderful and I had a whole bunch of questions I wanted to ask you because you're also, you declare yourself as an introvert and I know there are many introverts that work in the industry and I think that's a whole other conversation. I'd love to invite you to come back and talk about that, uh, on, on another episode.

HL: 41:18 Sounds good.

MP: 41:20 Awesome. Now before we let you go though, please tell, tell our listener what's the best way. If they found some, some interesting conversation here and they wanted to reach out to you, what would be the best way them to do that?

HL: 41:34 The best way would be email and it's Helen, H, e l e n@9to5resources.com and so on. That's the numbers nine to five, so helen@9to5resources.com.

MP: 41:50 Excellent. Well, we will have that of course in the show notes for anyone that's interested to connect with Helen and Helen. On behalf of all of our listeners, I want to thank you for being generous with your time to come on the show and share what you know about life and where life can take you.

HL: 42:06 It was, it's been my pleasure. A lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

MP: 42:10 Great. Thank you. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP123: Bianca & Dianne Mueller – How To Close The Generation Gap

UPDATE #3 - TSBK - Episode 123 - Dianne & Bianca Mueller.png
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You see, each generation has different ideas, opinions, tactics, styles and preferences of technology they use when running a successful bookkeeping business.

When different generations collide in a working environment (ie: you and your employees), it can be hard to collaborate at times because of their different points of view.

As a result, communicating properly and getting on the same page can be a challenge.

However, our guests today successfully found the solution in bridging the generation gap.

They’re currently working together in helping businesses and entrepreneurs thrive.

Returning guest, Dianne Mueller is the co-founder of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC) and owner of SOMA Small Business Solutions while her daughter, Bianca Mueller, is a second generation Certified Professional bookkeeper in Vancouver, Canada.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to overcome the challenge of communicating with employees from various generations

  • How trust and respect play an important role in having different generations of workers

  • How to create a productive working environment

To find out more about Dianne and Soma Small Business Solutions, visit here.

To find out more about Bianca, click here.

To listen to Dianne's past episode, discover here.

To reach Dianne, you can email her at dianne@simplysoma.com.


Michael Palmer: 01:24 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer. And today's show is going to be a terrific one with a bit of a twist. Both of our guests are very familiar with the bookkeeping industry and that's right. We have two guests on the successful bookkeeper podcast for the very first time. The first is a co-founder of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada and owner of Soma small business solutions. And our second guest is a, this is a clue, a second generation certified professional bookkeeper living in Vancouver, Canada, Dianne Mueller, and Bianca Mueller. Welcome to the podcast.

Dianne Mueller: 02:12 Thank you very much Michael. I'm happy to be back.

MP: 02:16 Yes, and that's right. It's like, it's like a couple of, first it's like you're also back as a return guest and you brought your daughter along, which is you know, second generation. So I'm super excited about this episode and before we get into why I'm so excited about this episode, I'd love for both of you to share just a little bit of your bookkeeping journey leading up to this point. And so why don't we start with you, Dianne, because you are, have been on before. And so if people are interested in hearing more about Diane, they can always go back to that episode as well and we'll have a link to that show on the notes.

DM: 02:57 Great. Okay. Yeah, sure. So my is very long. I've been a bookkeeper my entire adult life started out in ledgers where we were still using the five books of accounting and bookkeeping, doing those big long 12 column ledgers and then progressed into the software desktop software when it came out in the late seventies and early eighties. And then about 2007, actually in 2007, I was starting to feel pretty frustrated in the industry that we were constantly competing with bookkeepers that didn't know as much, weren't keeping up with technology and um, wanted to start an association for the professional bookkeeper just to raise the bar and actually have us get recognized for, you know, the value that we bring to small business. And that's where myself and two other bookkeepers started. The Institute of professional bookkeepers. Sadly, those other two bookkeepers dropped off pretty quickly, but I was determined and carried it through.

DM: 04:10 So, um, now, Gosh, 12 years old and has gone through a huge amount of disruption in the industry and has survived it and done well and first solo small business solutions. As I started to grow and become really professional, I brought in family members as we kind of tell you this joke. It used to be sad all the time. You know, when other bookkeepers were struggling on how to find really good staff, they could all say Whoa, can't all be like Diane and breed them because I had my daughter working for me, Bianca who's on the call today, my son who still works for me, Christopher and my sister in law. So it was a very family-run business for a lot of years. That's about the uh, the journey so far, but it's good. 30 years old now.

MP: 05:05 Wonderful. Wonderful. Welcome to the podcast and, and we're going to, uh, say hello to Bianca and find out her story and it's, we've already got a bit of the story. So Bianca, welcome.

Biana Mueller: 05:20 Thank you for giving birth to me. Um, yeah, so basically I actually, um, I studied marketing in school and as much as I loved that job because I'm fairly extroverted, um, at the end of the day it wasn't really, um, mentally challenging enough for me, I guess you could say, or maybe it was the industry I was in. Um, but at some point I was like, I'm tired of working every evening and weekend and special event and special occasion and holiday. So I was married, I had a young family and I kind of always helped the family business out on the side, know spring break, summer vacation, all those kinds of things. And I am a complete byproduct of being raised by entrepreneurs. So it was a fairly a natural transition into helping my mom part time in her business. And um, and then right away I literally went from part time to full time, probably within a few months of starting with her and um, and we took some of the small business solutions to the next level. And then in 2012 I branched out on my own and was doing consulting on the side and I'm still to this day. So my small business solutions and Diane and I, we all overlap our clients and referrals and connect on all sorts of different levels through different accounting firms and clients. So it's a, it's a really great mentorship and we collaborate a lot. It's fantastic.

MP: 06:46 That's fantastic. Well, I'm really looking forward to having both of you in a conversation that we're about to have. And we had, Bianca initially had discussed at the, a institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada conference, which happened in Calgary recently. We talked about getting on and having a conversation around burnout in the, in the industry. And so we then had a conversation and you had some thinking and we decided to have Diane and your mother come on and actually talk about this from a different angle, which is more of the different generations that are in the industry, which I think is really interesting and we've never tackled on the successful bookkeeper podcast. So kind of another twist to having this episode happened.

DM: 07:36 There's not very many families that have multiple generations in the industry side by side. And so it's worked out well.

MP: 07:42 Yeah, absolutely. So why were we going to talk about burnout? Why did you think that that was something we should be discussing? And then how did that turn into talking about generational gaps?

BM: 07:55 Well, it's funny you say that because it started and you know, I, I skipped out on a session at conference. Don't tell anybody.

MP: 08:02 Did he get a point for that? I hope you did.

BM: 08:05 Yeah. By Izz credits, there was a few of us in my generation generation, you know, x, y, z kind of millennial. We all skipped out one day and we're like, let's go to the hot tub was a nice hotel. We don't ever get to w you know, we collaborate all the time, but we're never in the same province. So it was fantastic for us to all be in one place at one time. Me, and you know, my, my same age group peers that are in the industry. So we all kind of went and had our own session in the hot tub and we were like, we're all burned out. We're all young moms, we all have crazy families, crazy schedules, our own businesses and we all have this burnout going on. But at the same time we like, we want to bring in these technologies to alleviate some of the stresses that we have and create more flexibility in our home life and our business life.

BM: 08:55 And, and so we're like, are we actually burned out? And that was like kind of the question, are we burned out or is it just like information overload? Is there too many expectations from the industry for us to all transition? And it just became this bigger conversation that I left that hot tub that day and I started speaking with more and more of my peers. And obviously Diane and I, we speak often on all sorts of industry topics and issues and you know, hot topics. And so I started talking about it with her and, and got a whole new perspective on the whole thing. And then by the end of conference, it wasn't even necessarily the burnout that was like the, the burning question. It was more about [inaudible] the different generations and how we need to collaborate and mentor each other in this journey.

MP: 09:47 Wow. Interesting. And Diane, what's your take on this?

DM: 09:52 Yes, absolutely. Um, the younger generation, of course, has got a lot of challenges right now. Every time we turn around there's another app or another technology that needs to be learned and they're really, really good at it, right? I mean, they grew up with computers and it comes so natural to them. Whereas my generation, we struggle a whole lot more with though that technology and understanding of the apps and how they will actually work for our clients. So I thought what we really need to be talking about is we now have these two generations, those that are, you know, kind of 45 and under, and then those that are 55 and over and why not work together? Because we've both got so much knowledge to pass on to each other and their ability to actually pick up on the technology that we need going forward is amazing.

DM: 10:50 They just, it's like, it's like taking a fish to water kind of thing. And it certainly isn't that way for, for us. We struggle a whole lot more with it. So I started to see that there's an opportunity out there for us to collaborate more and mentor going back both ways. And, uh, we started to talk about that and that's where this kind of conversation came out that they've got so much to give to us and we've got so much to actually give back to that generation that's going to make them more successful going forward, which is they're the, you know, there's a future. We're not. So having said that, yeah, really, you're not retiring. Do are you kidding? 44% of us that are over the age of 55 have absolutely no plans for retirement. So what that really said to me, well, if we're not going to retire, then we have to embrace this technology in a big way and to be able to grow and continue to have our businesses out there in the forefront helping other small businesses.

DM: 11:57 So we're going to need help to do that. So why not, you know, call on the other professional bookkeepers that are in the younger age groups to help us do that. And then we can also, you know, really talk to them about how not to get burnt out in this industry because after all, we're the ones that I think anyways were the forerunners in so many things with technology and also so many things with just raising up the professional bookkeeper to the status that it enjoys today. So we had our struggles too, and can bring some of those solutions to the table.

MP: 12:45 I would agree. And it's it, I would say that there's, there's also, I mean it's almost like there's no choice. You have to work together. Both parties have to work together. Your generation. Diane has incredible knowledge and experience and really deep, deep understanding of the fundamentals because you were taught differently than today's younger generations were taught. And so there's, I think a difference there right away, a deeper understanding of the fundamentals that's super important to getting it right. But then the younger generation has a deeper understanding of the technology and the embracing of technologies because that's really how it has been their life. So you have to work together. Both, I have this benefit, but there's some challenges in doing that for sure. That I think a lot of people want to solve.

DM: 13:33 Absolutely. Absolutely. I can remember trying to explain t accounts to Bianca and she's like, okay, but doesn't it doesn't the software do that for me? I mean, luckily I had you to learn from and you made me and it's, it's kind of, you know, it's Kinda true right now that we have this technology. There isn't the depth of knowledge that goes behind that. So, but that depth of knowledge is so important in the advisory role. Yeah. That were using going forward because without that depth of knowledge, Michael, you're absolutely right. We can't help the small business owners to the extent that we need to.

DM: 14:11 It's the same as my, my son's generation. They don't do long division. They, they, it's a calculator. It's sort of the same transition. You guys did everything manually. My generation didn't, you know, there are some people in the generation that kind of did their accounting degree and went at it from, you know, financial school standpoint. But most of the people in my generation and younger, they, yeah. You'd like you said mum, they, they just learned the software. They didn't actually learn the skills that you need to be a bookkeeper and to translate the data from the software

DM: 14:45 and to understand the data because that's what we're now becoming as these data managers of, uh, the, the apps and the, and the technology is managing the data. So we need to really understand now to be able to move into that next realm of being the advisor to book it to a, um, small business owner bookkeepers and fill bookkeepers. Exactly. And that's right. I fear sometimes that we're, we're creating a gap there. There definitely is a gap. Direct it. Yeah. That needs to be, um, looked at and fixed.

MP: 15:24 Yeah. Cause it is about the bookkeepers and we, luckily we have IPBC to hold us all together and have a core group where we can all meet on a, on a level that's not biased to any softwares or, or companies or sponsors or any of those kinds of things. So we're very lucky for to have IPBC see for that.

BM: 15:44 Yeah, I agree in that's where you're going to get this solved and at. And so this gap of knowledge that we have. How, because I would, I would assert that I, I've had the experience and I've heard my mother's generation, Diane, which is, I think we're all sort of around the same ages here. My mother is, is, is maybe just a little bit older than, than you, Diane and, and

BM: 16:10 being so kind, but probably not.

MP: 16:14 Well, she, she, uh, we actually had a, a business together and she would hire like millennial types and it was like she wanted to mentor and coach and she's very lovely. I mean, I'm biased, but he's a lovely woman, very giving, very generous. Loves what she, she does and loves to share with anyone what she does. And yet that generation often they would be like, you know what, I can do it. I don't need your help. And it's not to say that that's wrong. I mean there's, there's qualities about being the trailblazer and wanting to figure it out on your own. But there's this gap around giving and receiving information that there's like this, it's like a communication breakdown. How do we solve that?

BM: 17:01 Well, it boils down to trust. We have to trust both generations and respect both generations as to what they bring to the table. You know, I'm sure there's a lot of bookkeepers out there right now that are wanting to expand their business and by expanding their business, they're going to be interviewing and hiring on people of beyond cause generation. And they sit down and I, I've seen this happen so many times. They sit down and they're right away whizzes at the computer. But when you ask them what it is that they've actually done or get them to sit down and talk about a financial statement with you, that's where they fall down. We need both. And I, and I hear bookkeepers all the time saying, well, I couldn't itch. That person didn't work out because they didn't understand a financial statement. They, I couldn't send them to a client and have them sit down and explain those numbers to a client, which is really the important person in this equation. So by US older bookkeepers taking that knowledge and passing it on to the generation that everything in their mind runs on a computer is so important right now because how else do they become advisors, which is where the whole industry is going. Yeah.

BM: 18:32 The school doesn't even teach that. It's all working in the industries and pounding the pavement of getting all those years and years and years of knowledge and experience that's going to give you that translatable information to give to your clients regarding their industry and their financial statements. So you guys have that information.

DM: 18:54 Yeah. And just simple, you know, other things that we're going to need to be doing in the future with our clients. Like helping them with pricing, helping them know how to put together funding options, all of those things. Well, you know, as old timers we, we did all of that and we've got all of that depth of experience that I see is somewhat missing in that younger generation. So again, they can teach us things, bring on the technology, help us adapt to all of the different apps and the technology. But then we need to actually bring them on board about all of the advisory services and really understanding how to help that small business take it to the next level.

MP: 19:45 Yeah, I agree. So I have a question for both of you, different angles. So I'm really curious to know what in your experience, Diane, how you, you, where you found it, the most effective tool to transfer your knowledge and street smarts, if you will, that you've gained over the 30 years you've been at this. And Bianca mentioned, right, that's schools. You don't learn the street smarts in school. How do you, how have you best been able to translate and, and, and really give your knowledge to the, to your younger staff. And then also after, I'd love for you by go to, to share how w how it's been best received and how you've been able to best help people in a, you like your mother embrace or overcome challenges when it comes to things that you're strong on around technology.

BM: 20:39 Well, I have to say because they, they were family, they really didn't have a choice. They had to go to number one tip for the violence component. There's also a genetic

BM: 20:48 component. I come buy a lot of it fairly honestly.

DM: 20:52 Um, so yeah, and there was a side of that that, you know, she was pretty quick at picking up the reasons why. And I guess that's what it boils down to. Why are the numbers the way they are and then taking that end result of the financial statement or you know, accounts receivable statement and working it backwards with them so that we were constantly auditing ourselves and understanding what those numbers meant. And as time went on, you know, Bianca would get better and better at that and she knew the questions to ask and she knew where to go and look to make sure that it was reconciled properly and that all of those numbers were true numbers and certainly took some time. It's not something that you can teach overnight, but being in there and actually working with the small business owner, with me as the mentor near the, the end of time where Bianca wasn't working in our actual office anymore, she was starting to go out with clients. I would trust that she could talk to clients, but that certainly wasn't something that I did in the beginning, right? I was right there the whole time making sure that the client was getting what they needed from Bianca would ever clients Bianca was working on. And she would sit back and she would listen and she would understand the questions first and then be able to actually tell the client what the answers were. And she just got better and better at that. How long has it been Bianca? Actually?

BM: 22:28 Well, I was just thinking, so I kind of branch out on my own in 2012 and I started working for some small business solutions about four years before that. So it took, it's about four years before I had the confidence to do that and go on my own for sure. But I had a really good solid understanding and foundation before that happened. Like I went full time on my own in 2012 there was little bits I was doing consulting for you and you trusted me, you know, doing things for you on your behalf. But for probably a year, so before that, so yeah, I was, it was a solid, you know, three years of my mom literally on one shoulder mentoring me, making sure I did everything right. It was a lot of self auditing, like you said, teaching this self audit is so integral, it's so integral.

DM: 23:20 And my investment in all of that, Michael was, you know, there was certain rules and regulations, you know, paperwork didn't go out to the client until I had had a chance to review it. Now, that was a lot of work for me at the beginning, but it sure paid off after about two years when I, I was, you know, complete confidence in Bianca or my sister in law suit to send out financial statements and know that they were right. And rarely did I hear back from the client that there was any issues with them because they really knew what they were doing and they could answer those questions. And that's so important.

MP: 23:59 Absolutely. And for you, Bianca, when you, what would be your viewpoint now into this conversation and advice on I'm working with, of course you are family. So yes, we've addressed that. It, it's a bit different, but what, what are your, what's your take?

BM: 24:17 Well, like even now, so I took all that information that I learned and when you completely understand the whole process of bookkeeping and that's sort of the, the main point here is you need to understand that whole process of full cycle of bookkeeping. And once I fully understood that, I was constantly looking for ways to make it more efficient. And so when technology came into the picture, you know, what's kind of been making its way for the last, I don't know, 10 years, but really only in on on the Canadian marketplace, readily available and, and at a level where we can bring our clients on board probably only in the last like five years and even more seriously in the last like two years. So I have been looking and searching and every time I'm online and every time, you know, Google forces me to look at ads and Facebook forces me to look at aheads because I've been searching APPS and technologies and efficiencies and bookkeeping, you know, it just floods me with information and I just can't get enough of it.

BM: 25:23 I love it so much that I almost like overdose on the technology that's available to me. So I have to scale it back and go to conferences and meet with the vendors, meet with the actual software companies and the tech companies and get down to asking them specifics on how these are going to apply to my clients. Because every client I, for me, I have so many different industries. I do not specialize in one industry. I've got a developer client and automotive client, a private school. I've got so many. The my spectrum is very broad. So each different app or technology is going to work for different clients. So I kind of need to know all of the technologies available. Plus I'm a bit of a tech addict. So

BM: 26:11 Yeah, I think it, I think it's important because as things change you have to understand the landscape. Otherwise, you know you're going to be, you may be pigeonholed into something that's not as good and and make sometimes making them all work together. So I think that you're on the right track there. Oh

DM: 26:28 Fair. No, I can have, I was just going to say, I can actually remember a time when a Bianca was in the office every single day with me and he was always looking for ways to make it faster and better and easier and take less time. She was the one that actually implemented client track way, way back for us for so that we didn't lose a deadline for GST or you know, tax installments. And she was right on top of that in the office. Really keen to, to make sure that that was working and teaching it to everybody. So yeah, kind of was in her blood to,

DM: 27:06 and that was in what, 2010?

BM: 27:07 Nine

DM: 27:10 Uh, yeah, I would probably even say earlier than that. We were really quite, you were there as soon as one of the first CRM for small business came out, which was at that time called client track. But

DM: 27:20 yes, luckily we have social media. Fortunately a lot of the APPS, because they're in the tech space, they're in the social media space and they want to advertise to everybody. And because I'm a young generation, I'm in every facet of social media. I am exposed to it on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. So I don't actually have to like source it out as much anymore. So it's all in my pace. It's great. So unless you're not in social media, like some of my mom's generation, if you're not there, you're not getting the updates, the new tech, the new trends. You're not getting that stuff

DM: 27:57 unless you go to the IPBC conference then you really,

MP: 28:01 That's right. That's right. Now, uh, Bianca, if you were going to give advice to our listeners that are from your generation, uh, and they're working, let's say that they're working, they're not in a business for themselves, but they're, they're getting the experience and they're working for an older generation. What would be some of your advice on how to bring new ideas, new thoughts to the older generation?

BM: 28:27 Well, I mean, at the end of the day, we all want efficiencies and my generation needs a lot more flexibility with lived work balance because we want flexibility on working hours and days off and all those types of things. So I think it actually even goes back a little bit, one step further. And if you're going to be hiring people in my generation, you, you sort of have to have those, those things in place already so that they can be cloud accessible, work from home. You know, having all the bank feeds that have the integrations and having your employee, your younger employee or younger generation have all those things available at their fingertips for them. So they don't need to actually be in your office, you know, that whole brick and mortar retail space now, you know, it's not necessary. People work all across Canada and um, it doesn't matter exactly where you work anymore. So yeah, just having, having a lot of the technology available for my generation to, to work efficiently is probably the best thing you could do as an employer.

MP: 29:45 For sure. And Diane, what is your advice to younger generation if they're, if they're working for someone like yourself? Because I've heard, I've heard other people in your generation complain about hearing their staff have new ideas and wanting to bring, do it a different way, do it a different way to do it a different way because they, it's like Bianca had all these great ideas and she's been doing that. She's in the business and it's like you, she's your daughter. And it's like, yeah, this is cool. Okay, sure. And there may have been friction at time. Who knows? But you know, you think it's can be frustrating for someone who's like, while we're doing it this way and you know, if hired you and just, just do the job that I way I want you to do it. What advice would you give to them?

DM: 30:31 You know, I, I certainly credit a lot of the success for Soma small business solutions and we became quite successful by the fact that Bianca was implementing all of those time saving devices for us. I might not have had the time to do it, nor the ability to do it as quickly to go out there and to seek how can we do this faster, easier, more efficient. But because she wanted that and it was really something that was very powerful to her by her doing those things and me giving her the room to do that, we grew faster. Yes, for sure. And it's really important that we do develop. Yeah. W we have to develop that multigenerational, especially right now because we're, that's another disruption that I see that's happening in the industry. So as older bookkeepers, we need to have those younger bookkeepers bringing in those new ideas and helping us become more efficient and effective so that we can actually do what our new role is as a bookkeeper.

DM: 31:50 And that is going out there and working directly with the small business owner. So we're not in the back room anymore. We're up at the front of the board room table. In order to do that, we have to have solid numbers and we have to have efficiencies to get real time data to our small business owners. So without that technology constantly changing and moving forward, we're not going to be successful. So if you are not going to retire, you really need to embrace it and find someone younger that's going to help you embrace it and move your firm forward.

MP: 32:26 Lovely. You know, as, as technology changes and I mean we see it in our business all across. It doesn't matter what piece, whether it's the, the booking, keep bookkeeping end, the marketing, the, there's technology changing everywhere. It's almost, there's the, which creates all these gaps, right? They use that break. It's like it works. It's like, so you've got these beautiful promises and when it's working and connected and you know, in one moment it's like magic and then something changes and API this, that, it changes. Yes. No, it's almost creating a whole nother role in the industry, which is an almost a technologist to keep the machine working.

DM: 33:09 Absolutely. And you know what though, Bianca is and her generation are so much more better at handling that disruption than what my generation is. What it does it work for me? It's, it's panic. Why isn't it working? What am I going to do? How, you know, and, and she and her and her generation, they look at it and they go, okay, so no big deal. It's just a computer. It's just an app. I'm not afraid of it. We'll figure it out. So not so daunting for sure. Not so daunting for them. So that's another way that they can really help in a, in the growth of a bookkeeping firm.

DM: 33:45 I don't know if that's it. And that's because my generation has been exposed to technology and the hiccups of technology for a lot longer. Like when you are, when you were growing as a bookkeeper and your younger years like you after when you move to a desktop product, you learn that product and there wasn't much change. There was uptake. They make things a little bit better every once in a while and, but there was like not a lot of hiccups in your day to day bookkeeping

DM: 34:14 and, and also you have a trust because you did grow up with it. You trust that it will work itself out. I bet you there's a lot of people who are listening right now, Michael, that will admit to you that when desktop bookkeeping first came out, sage, Eh, you know, quickbooks, all of them, we ran two sets of books because, because we didn't actually trust that the computer wouldn't be right. And I did that and I know there's other bookkeepers that are my age that did that also for that first three or four months and then, you know, look at the numbers and say, okay, well yeah, it does do it. Right. Okay. So we didn't ever have the trust that they, that the generation now has because they've grown up with it.

MP: 35:00 That's right. Definitely some pros and cons there. I mean, I really like the, the thought, it's like they understand the, the layer that they're working in and it's because of all this technology and convenience calculators, you know, like it, it, they don't have to go down into the weeds and understand how this stuff's actually working, which is a con. It's a challenge. You don't have that deep fundamental understanding. But I think what I heard in this conversation is important when you're maybe hiring staff or looking at someone to come and work with you is are they, do they have the personality of wanting to understand how the clock works and, and, and that alone can be a, a sign that they may be open to mentoring and, and, and helping them understand the deeper understanding or the fundamentals of, of the industry and take on that mentoring. But on the other side as well is as your generation Diane is being open to, hey, this, this could be great and we can partner together to help it help us all win.

DM: 36:00 Yes, absolutely. Yes. I really do contribute a lot of the assess the success of so much because a Bianca did come on board at exactly the right time and I was happy to have her. And I, I think I'm probably a little bit more open to technology than some of my peers, but, um, I was really happy to have her taken run with some of these things to help us become more efficient and cohesive as a company because we weren't always all together either. We were probably one of the first ones that were, you know, remote and had a team that we needed to communicate with each day. So Bianca handled a lot of that technology at that time and it really did push us forward.

MP: 36:48 Wonderful. Well, this has been fantastic. I'd love for you both to share, if there's listeners that want to connect with you or find out more about your businesses, how can they do that?

DM: 37:00 What's your I'm pretty easy to find actually. It's a, it's a Google me, but uh, my email address is just Dianne and remember Dianne has two N's, so it's Dianne@simplysoma, s o m a.com. And of course I'm on Twitter at, @ DMueller. Thank you.

DM: 37:20 And I can be found through my company books by Bianca. I'm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Just search books by Bialik on all of them and you'll find me.

MP: 37:31 Wonderful. Very active social media. Yes, you are. And uh, and, and really it's been a pleasure having both of you as a first as well for the podcast. And on behalf of all of our listeners, thank you for the generosity and giving your time to share your wisdom, the things that have worked that haven't worked and helping them maybe take a new leap it towards the success they want in their business. It's a, it's great to have had you come by.

DM: 38:01 I hope that this will encourage some of the bookkeepers that are not quite ready to retire. They don't have to do this alone. Go out and find someone that is of that age group that will want to learn from you and respect all of the things that you want your company to represent, but also help you to come into the technology. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MP: 38:26 Definitely. Beautiful. Well, thank you both.

DM: 38:38:29 Thank you.

BM: 38:30 Thank you.

MP: 38:31 And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP122: Rhamy Alejeal - How To Trust Your Employees

TSBK - Episode 122 - Rhamy Alejeal.png
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It can be hard to earn especially if you're a bookkeeper who has never hired anyone before or has trouble letting current employees make their own decisions in fear they'll mess up and cause you more work and frustration.

The process of taking an employee that knows nothing to one that will eventually know something to one that becomes someone you can trust takes time.

Our guest, Rhamy Alejeal understands this.

He has worked over 10 years in the payroll, benefits, and HR industry. He is the CEO of Poplar Financial which provides solutions to some of the toughest problems facing entrepreneurs today by providing products and services that can be catered to fit their business needs.

He also has a best-selling book, People Processes: How Your People Can Be Your Organization's Competitive Advantage which was recently featured in INC Magazine as one of the top 10 leadership books in 2018.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to let your employees make decisions that you can trust

  • Why value judgement is important to your staff

  • How changes can make your business grow

To learn more about Poplar Financial, click here.

For Rhamy's LinkedIn page, visit this link.

To buy his book, here's the website.


Michael Palmer: 01:20 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest has worked over 10 years in the payroll benefits and HR industry. He is the CEO of poplar financial, which provides solutions to some of the toughest problems facing people and businesses today by providing products and services that can be catered to fit their business needs. His bestselling book, people processes how your people can be your organization's competitive advantage was recently featured and ache magazine as one of the top 10 leadership books in 2018 Rhamy Alejeal, welcome to the podcast.

Rhamy Alejeal: 02:02 Aw Man. Glad to be here.

MP: 02:04 Hi, I'm glad to have you. And I said it was going to be fun because I've seen you speak in the past and you are a heck of a lot of fun with amazing stories as well as gold tips for business owners.

RA: 02:15 Oh man, I appreciate it. I had a great time, Huh?

MP: 02:18 Yes, yes. And so Rami, before we get into talking about what your company does and how you help people and how you can help our listener, can you tell us a little bit about your career journey leading up to this point?

RA: 02:31 Oh Man. I, um, I grew up in insurance. My mother was an insurance agent. My grandmother was an insurance agent. They may not have been the, uh, the most successful ones around, but they, they were in the field. And, uh, starting at age 13, I actually started cold calling to set appointments, uh, for my grandmother. And that's been my, uh, that was the start of the journey when I was 22, uh, my wife and I got together and started our current company, poplar financial, uh, 10 years ago now. And in that we focused purely on the employer benefits space. So when we started, all we did was help companies all over the United States find a major medical, dental, vision 401ks for their employees. And over the years we acquired other companies and built the internal expertise to extend into providing the payroll services around that. And then finally the in depth HR consulting needed to actually do all of this in a compliant and effective manner. And uh, that's, that's been my journey. It was, uh, it's been a a long time coming now. So you said 10 years in the industry, but I think, uh, technically I'm coming up on my 20th now having started at age 13.

MP: 03:40 No, exactly. And I think that's fantastic. He, what was really interesting about your story is you, you found a love for what you, you, the work that you're doing today, you found a love for it when you were 13 years old, which was, everybody was like, that's bizarre.

RA: 03:56 Absolutely. Oh people, you know, there was someone saying, and I was at a CPA conference and they were like, you know, if I, if I told my 14-year-old self or you're going to grow up and be a CPA, ah, what would I, you know, I, I had, I had, I had to change my life. I was 14 and like, no, I'm going to grow up and be an insurance. It's going to be awesome. I got a bachelor's in economics and an MBA, a focusing on economics as well, mainly industrial organization, which is how companies are structured. And the whole time I'm like, oh, so I can start, can be an insurance agent. It's going to be amazing. So I've, I've always loved this industry. I think it's a great place to, that you can have a real impact on, on growing companies. The, the, that dream of, of, uh, owning your own business and building it out. A large part of that is how you take care of your people.

MP: 04:41 Absolutely. And you, you, you, it has not been rosy all the way through. And what I, what I was really excited for you to share with our listeners is some of the, the ups and downs of growing a business because you've built your business from nothing into what it is today and, and an incredible growth story that you have every single year, which creates a lot of strain on your organization, a strain on your people. I mean, that's why you're highly qualified to write the book that you wrote. Um, tell us a little bit about that journey and some of the pitfalls when you were growing and how you got through it.

RA: 05:15 Oh Man. You know, you ask a guy with a business, you know, where are your mistakes? And it's a long answer. We've had a lot of rough times. You know, when I, when I started the company, like I said, I was 22. I've been in insurance for a while and I had just graduated my undergrad. I had saved up $95,000, uh, which was a good pile of money for a 22-year-old. And uh, started the company six months later. I had about four and a half thousand in the bank and a payroll due. So not a great start for my first year in business. And I did everything wrong when I started. I tried to buy leads and, and marketing from other companies instead of developing our own acquisition, we way overspent on shiny office furniture and a quarter floor in a high rise because of course you've got to have a shiny office, otherwise, you're not a legit business.

RA: 06:08 And, uh, it was a, it was a total beading coming up on that payroll where it couldn't, couldn't really even afford to pay people. I had to lay some people off. I went into kind of emergency room mode and started cold calling every person I could think of and managed to keep the business from going under just barely. It was, it was a rough time. My, uh, my wife and I started the company together. She actually had to go back and go to an actual job for the first year, uh, after that six months where things didn't go so great. And uh, we just kinda had to force our way through that time. During that first year and a half, I learned the kind of first main point, which is that you have to differentiate your product and you have to own your product. You know, an insurance, we're kind of selling, but as a brokerage anyway, at first we were selling other people's products, right?

RA: 06:58 It's like, come to us and we'll find you the best one of these things. And until you really create your own way of doing that, until you really create a market differentiation, there's no reason to go with some 22-year-old kid over your old golfing buddy. Even if your all golfing buddy doesn't know anything about the industry. At least he's been doing it for a while. It took a, it took that first year and a half to really develop and create our own proprietary ways of doing business that we could then market and generate business from. So I think that's the first lesson of business. That's the harder, you know the, no matter how you get into it, you got to figure out how to make it uniquely yours and structure that in an environment that has either a price advantage or some sort of market advantage, whether that's a new feature or some other way of doing it.

RA: 07:45 We started growing then, which was great. I mean it finally worked. We started making money and I then read the books that everybody reads. Do you know the e-myth revisited and all the other kind of how to, how to scale your company scaling up and had to learn how to add employees and, and that worked for a while, but three or four years in, we've continued to grow. We had a great product and we had a team that we could, you know, that would do the processes that we had written. But sometime around that year for four or five, we realized that that wasn't enough either. There was kind of an additional step beyond it that we had to get to. But we knew that because despite having standard operating procedures and despite having a product and service that was growing and selling, I as the business owner and my wife as well, we couldn't sleep at night because we were so stressed. So we kind of realized about halfway through that there's more to it than just standardized procedures and hiring people. And that's where our company grew.

MP: 08:43 Yeah.

MP: 08:52 and with the, I mean that's very interesting. With that. Was it that you actually added? What was the attention you gave to the business that had you start sleeping better at night 12 it's Kinda two part and see on one side it was that as you add more people, your administrative burden grows. We wound up spending more and more time or having to devote more and more resources just to the internal coordination of the team and the onboarding of a new employee became slower and slower. You'd hire somebody but it was a five man shop or a 10 man shop. You hire a guy, he like works with you or she works with a manager directly for like a couple of months and then they know everyone, they know everything, but when you start growing and your business becomes more and more diverse, that ramp and the amount of work you'd have to put in from bringing someone on to their, a competent, trustworthy member of the team just seems to get longer and longer.

MP: 09:48 And despite having taught them standard operating procedures and them having a reference guide and a knowledge base, it didn't actually seem to create a consistent product. The thing that actually does is what we call the company culture, what everyone calls company culture, whatever that means. But it's this process by which you take an employee from someone who knows nothing, to someone who knows what to do to someone who you trust to do what is right. And that process, it turns out that the time investment in most companies, including my own, was so high that you just don't do it. You just wind up churning through employees. So we developed automated processes that require minimal administrative time with the idea of being from the moment we hire somebody to three months later, we can go out of town and that person's gonna know what to do and more importantly know how to learn what to do.

RA: 10:44 No, when something comes up that we've never trained them on that we didn't know what happened, that we can't expect. They'll make a choice that we agree with and that's the final step. More than getting them to know what to do or where to look it up. It's being able for them to make decisions that she'll trust. And that's the, uh, that was the step that took us up to our, our ability to grow and yet still only work 20 hours a week, most weeks. It's exciting. I love it. I love it. And is that covered in your book? So what the book hits on is I think most people kind of have an idea of how to develop those things in, in, in kind of a more in depth way is once they hit 10, 15, 20 employees, they just don't have the time to do it.

RA: 11:30 Uh, they just don't have the, the um, the administrative overhead to invest in it. So what the book covers in its first two-thirds is understanding all the components that make up a system like that, including the cultural communications, what they should look like, what they can look like. And then the last third is a roadmap to automate like 90% of them. So that things like timekeeping, things like getting people paid, right? Things like, uh, collecting all your paperwork and enrolling them in benefits that that happens in a very effective and automated manner so that people who were spending 30 hours a week before handling stuff like that can now spend the 30 hours developing the training and cultural communications about why we do what we do, how to make decisions that, that are not covered in a standard operating procedure. And the truth is, that's about the last chapter.

RA: 12:27 We're just like, now that you have time, now that you've figured this stuff out and automated 90% of your human operations, now it's time to turn your attention to developing those cultural values. The number one complaint we get from our clients is that they don't, you know, before they come to us, is that they don't have time to, to plug the hole, to stop the leak because they're too busy bailing out the ship. Right? Or turn it off the fall, sit because of water's overflowing and they have to, if they have to, multiple floors, that kind of expression. I, it's so funny. I hear it all over the country. I hear it from hundreds of different people because the auto z everyday work is taking way too much time and they're not able to focus on working on the business. So the book is about automating all that everyday work. That's the people processes so that you can then kind of figure out how you, how you go more in depth with your employees.

MP: 13:17 I love it. We love standardized operating procedures around here. We love automation. One of the things that I find intriguing about your, your message is this whole idea of culture developing culture and such that, I mean who wouldn't want to have an employee come on? You go through some processes, go through training, but then get to that stage where you can, you know, leave them the keys to the kingdom and they, you can trust them and their trust that they're going to make the right decision and trust that they're going to do what's right for the company. A lot of our listeners run smaller businesses, not the 22 plus businesses. They would have clients that do that for sure, but they're smaller businesses. Can you share how they can, uh, create that kind of rapid growth into a core and into their culture and ha and get their employees to where they can trust them?

RA: 14:07 Yeah. So when you're working with your, let's say you're a one-man shop and you're bringing on your first person, that person is going to learn you. He's going to learn about how your company works and what's at values. Because you're going to have beer with that guy on Wednesday night, right? They're going to become a part of your family. What you need to think about beyond just training them to do the bookkeeping, you need to think about training them on their decision making if there is no sop. So I love processes. Literally, my book is people processes. It's what I, you know, we have to, you have to have them, but as you grow and as you get bigger, more and more things will happen every day that have never happened before. I think business owners have this idea in their mind that as they, as they grow, they'll see more and more and then it'll just all become old hat.

RA: 14:57 It's not the case. You can tell some work that way. I mean we have payroll benefits, HR timekeeping, just these four things and as you start adding on, when you, when your bookkeepers get to that point where they're bringing on instead of a client a month, a client a week or a client a day, when they get to that kind of world, you will start seeing things every day that it's just brand new. It just has to be in the beginning it's all brand new cause you're new. But in the, in the long run, as you grow, you just wind up experiencing so many new things. So the thing that you need to focus on with your employee, even your three man shop, your four man shop is not just how to do that everyday stuff, but what are the values and the guidelines for making judgment calls.

RA: 15:52 If you don't have a sop and I'm not here, you can either call me and bug me about what to do and I'll make the decision. Or you can know that first things first we get the clients, whatever done on time. We'd rather submit something. Maybe, maybe, maybe in the case of your organization it's, we'd rather submit something that's wrong and then let them know we're going to amend it. Or maybe in your business it's, we never put out anything that's wrong. We tell them it's going to be late, we'd rather it be late than wrong. You have to put those values in place and communicate them and then live by them. And if you do that, your employees will very rapidly, if you can spell it out, be able to make the judgment call that she would have made. You also have to start as a [inaudible], even at the three man company stage, giving that control to your employees and not punishing them when they get it wrong.

RA: 16:52 It's your name on the line, it's your butt on the line. When they screw up, even it may even cost you thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars when they screw up. And it's one thing if they screw up because of negligence, you know, I took that to the mailbox to mail and I just left it in my car for six months. Okay. Yeah, fire that guy all day. But if they, if you empower them to make these judgment calls, you have to internally be at that, that, that stage that you can go, they may make the wrong decision. I would rather they make the wrong decision than me. Make the decision the first time around and if you can get that mindset in place, you'll move beyond trying to write out written instructions every, for every little thing, every time in your business. Not that you shouldn't have standard operating procedures, but you can move beyond that so that you actually wind up with a company of people who can, who can make decisions, who can help you grow your company and you can focus on other things.

MP: 17:52 Absolutely.

RA: 17:53 I think one of our guests set said it really well. It's in his standard operating procedures he's using, he's, he's trying to remove 80% of the things that he should never have to tell anybody in and document that. But then it's those that, that other 20% that's changing every day there. The higher the fee, the higher problems to solve, the higher things, the things that you really just couldn't document because maybe you only see it once or twice or maybe never. You've never seen it as you were saying. Uh, but that by doing that, it gives you the bandwidth to actually be able to do the things you're talking about, which I think I completely think is inspiring for anybody who has a business to say, look, you want to have people that can think like that. It's going to start. That's the pathway to freedom is, is it's if you, if no one can make a decision, well it's never gonna grow past yourself.

RA: 18:44 Right? And you can almost break decisions into two categories of like how to do something like maybe we haven't made a template for this, for our standard operating procedure, and you need to have the internal expertise to figure it out, right? That's one type of decision. And that comes from competence and experience and training. But there's another decision which is the value judgment of is your employee gonna actually put their neck on the line and try and figure it out? Or are they going to defer responsibility up the chain? Right? That's the judgment. That's the value thing and you have to state it explicitly. If you can state that explicitly and actually follow through on it and give them the freedom to do it, two things will happen. Well, three things. One, your employees will actually stop bugging you about the little stuff. They'll actually start making decisions too.

RA: 19:36 They're going to get it wrong sometimes and you're going to totally regret this decision in the first place, but eventually three will happen, which is that your employees will make the right decision. You won't have had to micromanage it, and this is the key part. Your employees will love it. It's an amazing return because not only are you freeing up your time and the and the client is getting a better response faster than if it has to be run up the chain. Through management, your employees start to take ownership. They start to care about their decisions and that will lower your turnover like crazy. That will get people to stick around like crazy. It's, it's one of those where if you sop them to death, uh, and then any judgment call has to be deferred up, then they realize very quickly that they are something that should sure be replaced by automation in the next 30 years. It's the judgements of making those things that give people meaning in their job, less doing the work, more that judgments of whether to do the work or how to do the work that actually are going to give you longterm employees.

MP: 20:48 Completely agree. And now it's not. And this is really, you know, that's the concept here is very simple, right? You, you, you have your give, give more responsibility and encourage them to make decisions. But it's not easy to do, especially for people that have never done this before. Perhaps, you know, feel very responsible for the customers and the, and the people who deal with, I mean that, we talk about that all the time. It's like, you know, the fear of, of letting, uh, staff work on other clients that what if they make a mistake? What advice would you give in terms of, you know, taking that leap to, to be able to say, look it, the, it's going to be great when you get there, but you know, it's going to be a little painful perhaps in the beginning. What would you say?

RA: 21:32 I completely understand. I was there, I've been there. There's two thoughts around it. One is are you building a job for yourself or are you building a business? You have to make that decision internally. You have to think about what your longterm objective is. The first seven and a half years of my company, we brought on clients and did not lose a single client. Every single client came on state and renewed at forever, which compared to the industry average of like 84% a year, stay on 16% drop off. We're, we think we're knocking it out of the park and we are in a way, on the other hand, if we're retaining 100% of our clients every year, no matter what, what that means that we are doing something wrong. I was actually meeting, it was the CEO of, um, of a major hospital chain and we were talking about business and I told him that as kind of a selling point because I was so proud of it.

RA: 22:34 I was always talking about it. And he said, you realize if you're, if you're keeping everybody 100% of the time, that means you're keeping even the crazy ones. You're keeping the ones that are no longer a fit for you. You're keeping the ones that, that as your company has grown, are not a great fit anymore. And uh, he was right and we were bending over backwards. And by we, I mean my people were doing their job, but if anything looked a little crazy, I would intervene and I would save that client. And I felt great about it. I saved it. I'm, I'm so good and I've delivered my promises 100% all of that is true. All of that is a reasonable thing, but the truth is in the long run, hey businesses, success is a mixture of two things. What companies they bring on or what clients they bring on and what clients they lose, and you have to weigh your ability to attract new belt business against your ability to retain all of your old business.

RA: 23:30 If you are, let's go to this, there's this idea of Pereda optimality or price's law. If you have a hundred clients, right, like 10 of them are costing you 90% of your time, maybe it's 2080 but you're spending some ridiculous amount of time on just a few of them at another time. 10 of them are probably providing you 90% of your income and the other nine are not paying it near as much. The question is, are those numbers exactly aligned and a lot of times they're not. I say this all to give people the confidence to say you have to build a company, design your products and prices and recognize that along the way you may make changes that not everybody's gonna like, but those changes are going to free you and your company up to acquire many, many new clients. It's a sad thing, but the way you do business is going to change and the perfect fit for you is going to change and in the end it's going to increase your growth rate.

RA: 24:27 To the extent that losing a client or three a year is the cost of doing business. I don't want to say that it's okay to make mistakes and screw your client's books up. That's not what I'm saying. It's that you have to view it as a retention cost versus an acquisition cost in terms of time. If you free up 15 hours a week of your time because you're letting your employees do their job, what can you do with those 15 hours and could those 15 hours get you 50 clients and maybe your employees doing it every day? Maybe they won't do it as well as you at the beginning and you may wind up losing a client or two. It would be really sad, but in the end you're going to wind up with a lot more clients.

MP: 25:10 Yeah. And a future that you're happier with. I would, I would assert, you know, it's it. I love, I love this conversation because it's, it is very much, yeah. I would say our listener right now, many of them is, is at that point in their business where they are busy to the point of maybe even pulling their hair out. And this concept is really powerful in that there's people in your business right now that are pulling you away from the future that you truly want to have in your business, whatever it may be, your big why, where you're trying to get your business to. There are people in your customer and client base that are pulling you away from that. And unfortunately, we've all been there. We think that's a good thing that we have them as clients because the client is a good thing. And so this is, this hopefully is more, um, confidence to actually take that leap and, and make decisions about your business, about your customers that actually leave you with that extra time at anytime you get rid of a client, there's going to be time and bandwidth to do better things in your business, right?

RA: 26:15 And, and also the way to think about it is if your employees doing it at 95, 97% perfect, and you would do it at a hundred, you can have five, you could have 50 employees, you can handle a lot more and there's going to be some loss, but it's going to be so much better for your organization. And there's one more thought. It's going to be better for your clients. Don't think that this is purely a selfish act. Your ability to scale your company is going to bring more and more knowledge and opportunities inside your organization. You're going to get better. You're going to have the money to afford better hardware, software people as you grow. And as you become bigger, you'll be more competitive. Uh, if you do it right now there, there may be some diminishing returns. I don't have 5,000 employees, but I know some of those companies seem to have some real troubles. But getting from that five to 20 man, 20 man to 50 man room, your product is going to get better too. And it's, it's always limited by your time. You're never going to be able to put the time and actually making a better product. So you're gonna wind up by making your, your life better. You're gonna wind up making your business better. And by definition, if your business is better, your clients are going to wind up benefiting from it. trend.

MP: 27:40 Fantastic. Rami, this has been, this has been great and I love this. I love this thinking and I, I hope this is encouraging our listener to think differently about their business. One thing I wanted to touch on before I let you go is you, you have grown this business from nothing with you. You, you're, you and your wife started this, but you, you, for your, you have always been somebody that's out there. You even said it in this car and this conversation around just actually getting on and calling people and growing your business. For those, for those that are, you know, ambitious about growing their business, what, what advice would you give around being able to just go out there when you need to and make those calls and, and May, you know, go to the networking events and, and doing what you need to do to bring on new customers. What would you share with our audience?

RA: 28:31 I would say there's, there's two thoughts. One is fear motivates more than the possibility of gain. People learn that in sales training one oh one and they mistakenly apply it to their clients to try and acquire them, scare them into getting you as the bookkeeper it needs to be applied to you. Look out one year, think about one year from now where you could be at if everything went great, write it down. Then think about where you're going to be in one year when everything goes to crap because you're afraid to make that call or you're afraid to walk in that door. At the end of that exercise, having written that down, you're motivated, it's done. The motivation is, is a temporary state that allows you to do things you don't want to do. Do the exercise I just talked about. Review it twice a week.

RA: 29:25 Schedule it on your calendar and that's going to actually make it less a punishment when you're not feeling motivated and something you just do twice a week. So examine the bad and the good, compare them and that's going to make you do it. Most people who have a trouble with are simply afraid to even think about where it will take them. And that's the act. You have to actually sit down and think about what your life's gonna look out one year, two years, three years from now. If you don't move and you're going to be motivated at the end, it's also gonna help you direct road you need to go. Cause as you think about what you want your life to look at, that'll become more and more crystal clear, which will help you kind of envision how your company needs to run. The second thing I would throw out outside of pure motivation is as you're trying to grow your company, this is the number one thing I, I could tell you, focus more on your product.

RA: 30:17 I, I, I can't tell you the number of small businesses, so I opened this talk with that about making your product better. If you took half the time that you spend, just go into networking events and passing a card out and all that and instead spent it actually making your product better. What you do for the client, how you do it, how you would price you can do it at actually improve your product and process internally. It's gonna get easier every day. You can think of marketing, especially cold marketing or networking. It really is almost a, it's a, it's a, it's a stop gap. It's, I don't have the business coming in right now. We need to go generate business. It's, you consider it hunting almost. You have to go out and find some food. Working on your product, actually making what you do better will spread through the marketplace and at some point you're going to get to this point where every one of your clients is going to refer you every other week.

RA: 31:23 If you have the perfect, if you've created a product that is actually competitive in the market, you'll feel it. It almost happened overnight for us. We made tweaks, some tweaks and tweaks and we kept working on the product, kept working on the product, trying different things and just one day we woke up and realized we were getting many times the number of refferals we, we, we were possibly able to prospect and our sales team was unnecessary. Pretty much. I mean we needed to close business but it changed so quickly and I don't think that will ever happen. If all you do is think about as the business owner, my job is to go out there and find your clients. Your job is to go out there and make a better product and that's your real investment. Getting the new clients is the temporary stop gap until your product's so good that people come to you.

MP: 32:10 MMM. So fantastic goals, whole bunch of goals, and then two really solid pieces of gold right at the end there. I absolutely love that. And I know there's a lot of listeners who, who have, who do work on their product and you hear it in, in this industry, uh, being referred business, uh, constantly. They don't need to do any marketing, they don't need to do any networking. The business is just coming to them. So good. Good for you if you're there, if you're not sage advice, and that's a topic of another

MP: 32:40 podcast, but I said that, but sage advice from, from, from you. Thank you so much. Uh, Rami tell, tell our listener a little bit about where they can find out more about you and what you do for companies that they might be interested in learning about.

RA: 33:58 Well, you can learn more about the stuff we talked about today and people processes.com. That's our podcast. It's twice a week. It's very compliance-focused for HR people. So it's kind of a nerdy one, not super, a great just for business ideas, one on one. But if you have someone on your staff that's growing and you want them to keep up to date with compliance update to check out people, processes.com my company is poplar financial. You can find us at Poplarfinancial.com. We have five products. We help people find great benefits. We can automate HR processes, we can provide HR information consulting, we can do your payroll and we can automate and generate and create timekeeping platforms for cheat and track of when employees work.

RA: 33:42 Those five products, they work together really, really well. Um, and that's kind of what we provide to our clients. Now we work with CPAs and bookkeepers all the time as their partners and their clients wind up getting discounts or we can do revenue shares back to the CPA's and bookkeepers. So if you have clients in the United States, unfortunately, we are in the United States only. So, uh, one thing to, to know there, if you have clients in the United States and you are interested in checking us out there, go to poplar financial.com drop me an email, uh, at service@poplarfinancial.com and just say, Hey, I'm interested in the partnership thing. We'll set up a meeting and I'd love to have one of my team members or myself walk you through how we could help your company grow.

MP: 34:27 It's beautiful. Thank you so much for, for generously giving us your time today. On behalf of our listener, I thank you. I, it was a wonderful time.

RA: 34:35 Thank you so much for having me.

MP: 34:37 Beautiful. And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 34:52 goodbye.

EP121: David Cristello - Big Ideas For A Successful Business in 2019

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Happy New Year!!

I have a question for you.

Are you always striving to be like LEGOS?

Well, if not, you might want to consider it.

Here’s what it stands for.

L: Leave it better than you found it

E: Execute

G: Grow

O: Ownership

S: Serve

There is a new level of competition in 2019, especially in tech enable and tech focus firms.

Our returning guest, David Cristello, who is the founder and CEO of Jetpack Workflow and Host of Grow Your Firm Podcast, has followed LEGOS with his company.

It helps small and medium business owners prepare, embrace and overcome what's coming in 2019.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Upcoming happenings that will affect bookkeepers and accounting firms in 2019

  • The concept of being 1% better a day for 72 days

  • Characteristics to help you persevere

Watch the Jetpack and Pure Bookkeeping Videos


Michael Palmer: 02:08 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our returning guest today is the founder of a company that is helping many bookkeepers around the world. His creation, jetpack workflow, reduces costly admin time and manages your client work in one place. If that's not enough, our guest also happens to be the host of a hit podcast growing your firm. David Cristello, welcome back to the show.

David Cristello: 02:37 Hey Michael. Thanks for having me back.

MP: 02:39 It's great to have you as always, David, we have such great conversations. We usually schedule to do these interviews and we say, well, we'll schedule 30 minutes and by the time 30 minutes is over, we haven't even started the podcast.

DC: 02:53 That's right. Well the, I mean there's so much to catch up on. I mean obviously we met up in person a little while ago, but with all the events, with all the tools, with all the movers in the industry, if we don't connect for a couple months and we say what's new, there's a lot of stuff that's new. So yeah, we always, we always have that issues with time management.

MP: 03:12 Absolutely. And you have a, a brand new baby boy and I have a brand new baby girl. So we, we get talking about that as too proud of Papa's.

DC: 03:23 Yeah, that's right. That's a whole whole new project. This is, this is my first year. You're a seasoned professional now with too. But uh, yeah, that's, that's been, that's been amazing.

MP: 03:34 Beautiful. Well listen David, for those who have not yet, and I'm sure they will go and listen to it after this interview. I heard you in the past, tell our listener a little bit about who you are and jetpack workflow.

DC: 03:48 Yeah. So as, as you mentioned, I'm the founder and CEO of jetpack workflow, really built to help small to medium-size accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and tax firms. Manage all of the recurring deadlines and due dates that go on in your firm so that nothing falls through the cracks. So one place to be all of your clients, everything that's been assigned to your clients, uh, collaborate with your team to make sure everybody's staying focused, to give the owner visibility, to make sure that due dates are being met. And, and ultimately, you know, with the, with the goal of helping the firm owner build a better firm and specifically more productive, more profitable and increasing their, their level of sanity as they grow their business.

MP: 04:27 Beautiful. And I, I knowing a whole bunch of our community members actually utilizing jet pack, I know the, the world of difference that it makes in their lives. And I think, uh, one of the things that I, I heard many times was I love it but my staff love it even more. And I think that's because the program helps their lives and helps them do a better job and, and when a tool is helping you, you love the tool.

DC: 04:57 Yeah. I think that's a really important point in that as you're building your firm a and look and we have, we have firm owners that it's just them, they're just starting out and they still find it to be extremely useful. But it certainly accelerates in terms of utility when you have a handful to dozens of team members that might be using the platform. Because what jetpack workflow allows you to do is create a standardized set of steps. You know, instead of pure bookkeeping, it would be a checklist and roll that out to all of your clients. And so when your team members wake up or they show up to the office and they open up jetpack workflow, they're like, what am I supposed to do? We help them answer that question. And so it gives them that level of expectation on what to do. But then also if they're blocked, we try to give them simple tools to reach out to a team member.

DC: 05:43 They might need an answer from or the owner partner or to put a status or we call them, you know, labels in the system. Hey, this is waiting on a client. So if the owner's not sure what's going on, well they could see there's, hey, there's a label here. It says waiting dot client. I no longer need to interrupt the day for one of my team members. I can get a status update without kind of interjecting them. So it helps them stay, I think, more focused. It helps them, you know, get better expectation setting for their days or weeks.

MP: 06:10 Absolutely. It's beautiful stuff. Now we decided to talk about 2019 and what is happening out there in the marketplace that's having bookkeepers and owners of bookkeeping firms and accounting firms that have bookkeeping, uh, ends of their businesses, what's having them be successful?

DC: 06:34 Yeah, so this is a great question and I think I'm going to try and give the most practical answer I possibly can. And this is from our inputs of working with thousands and thousands of accounting professionals in 18 plus countries of doing, you know, our interview series with a hundred plus interviews of constantly kind of seeing what's working in the marketplace. And I think the most practical answer has nothing to do with, you know, bots or AI or machine learning. All of those things will be impactful, but I think 2019 you're going to start seeing, you know, the the inflection point of the firms that are tech enabled that think about the client experience from a workflow perspective and think about their branding, their positioning in the market and what's the specific industry they serve or, or the location, the firms that kind of zero in on just doing the fundamentals really well or just I think at a dramatically accelerated 2019 and I was telling Michael Right before we hit record, you go to some of these conferences like QB connect, obviously zero condom sure does a similar thing and you look at the firms that are highlighting his firm of the future and you see some of these firms that are accelerating so quickly in a matter of a couple of years going, you know, and to healthy six figures, low seven figure firms and you kind of peek under the hood, you go to the website, you kind of get a feel for what they're doing and they're leveraging tools to get a more productive firm.

DC: 07:58 These tools are also delivering a better client experience. Their positioning and branding is very focused, so they serve restaurants or construction or dental practices. And I think the more that you compete in the marketplace in 2019 that's going to be your new normal competitor. It's not going to be the typical shop that's been around for decades and you can kind of beat them just because you can return a phone call in a couple hours and they might take three days and not really care. I think you're going to start seeing a new level of competition from these really tech enabled tech focused firms.

MP: 08:29 I agree. And you know, I think that can be daunting because there is so much tech, there are so many options, there are so many apps. How do you see the pathway to being able to embrace that kind of technology?

DC: 08:45 Yeah, I, I think, you know, as with most things it's a snowball effect. So start with the smallest piece. And, and for people listening, you know, obviously I'm all about jetpack workflow, but if you're right now and you're really timid about, you know, jumping in with both fee, get familiar with, with your inbox, get familiar with outlook, get familiar with, with Google apps and look for things like creating templated emails. You know, Google has this kind of built-in, I'm sure outlook does as well. look@thingslikefollowup.cc. So what followup.cc can do is you write an email and in the bcc you could say five pm@followup.cc or two days@followup.cc. And what that will do is then shoot that message back to the top of your inbox just so you have a way to nudge yourself to the circle or follow up with people and just start doing some lightweight things.

DC: 09:34 So, you know, look at labels inside of your inbox, look at folders, you know, start getting organized with what you currently have. And just getting really familiar with that toolkit. And there's probably some great advancements you can make in just what you're currently doing. And once you build up, if you're, if it's really about a confidence thing and you feel, you know, potentially not sure about diving in a new tech start there. Um, just learn the best practices. The same way that I suspect a lot of the listeners really became exceptional at XL. It's the same mindset. This is the beautiful thing about this industry is that, you know, it is a very tech-focused industry and it's always been w you know, as soon as we made the shift to a spreadsheet and people don't realize that it is a programming language to actually be exceptional at using Microsoft Excel. And so if you've made that shift to learning how to, how to run B look ups and spreadsheets, you have all the tools you need to jump into a new tool. It's just a matter of building up momentum and building that snowball effect.

DC: 10:40 Because I bet you know, those are some great, great tips. And I think why I like those as it starts to have the thinking around efficiency. How can we work smarter? Don't go and lift the heaviest stone in the yard, pick the little ones up first and get, get some momentum going. But it's really the thinking. What are we trying to accomplish here? We're trying to get more done leveraging technology so we get more of our time back. Use that time to work more on the business, make it better. And a, it's a repeating cycle. One of the things that I've seen be really successful, uh, David and, and includes you and the story is a, in pure bookkeeping, we have a mastermind program. We facilitate. So we have, uh, about six bookkeepers that we grouped together. They, they're from all across North America, but they're, they're business owners about the same level and they are working on the same things.

DC: 11:31 They're challenged by the same things and they, they really do it as a, as a community, as a pod. Because one of the biggest risks and growing your business is to do it alone. And what I loved about what they did is they said, okay, one of the biggest challenges they were having was tech embracing technology and they picked one piece of technology which was workflow software and they said, okay, there's six of us, let's have six different options, and if they're there, I don't know that there was exactly six but they, they broke up the work, they divided the work and said, we want to as a group, understand what are the different options out there that are going to help us become more efficient in our businesses and bring workflow, automated workflow in the business. So they went, they all evaluated, they brought back their notes and said, well these are, this is what this one does, this one good, this one does that one good and [inaudible] and so they picked a winner and the winner was jet pack and then they implemented that together.

DC: 12:33 They implemented it together. They got in touch with the company, the vendor. In your case, it was you as the guest. It was that your product that they got with you and they said, look, this is what we've done. Now you need to help us make sense of this? Well that I think there's a message there about embracing, there's so much happening as the world is going faster and faster and faster. It's like the feeling of what do I hold on to hold onto the hands of those that are going in the same direction as you because they're going to be so many mistakes for all of us. You and me are our listeners. This could be lots of mistakes to be made. We can all get to the summit faster if we're working together.

MP: 13:18 I love, I love that idea of you know, aligning and connecting with a group and thinking about wins big or small. You know, AEC, those stats out there, 1% better a day and you double in 70 days or 72 days and you know, having a, the accountability of

MP: 13:35 they that stat again that that's a I'm, I'm liking that. Get, give that again.

DC: 13:39 Yeah. I mean double check me on the, on the specific timeline, but I do believe it's 1% better every day. You double in 72 days.

MP: 13:48 That is a cool concept. I love it. So very small increments add up to really, really big outcomes. Uh, an uh, a nice cliche or analogy as a, uh, an inch off the nose is a mile on the horizon.

DC: 14:04 Yeah. Yeah. And I think so often if you're not in a group, you're going down this path of trying to implement a new tool or concept or methodology and you know, for you to really see results, you need a, there's some threshold in any type of, you know, implementation project and maybe you have to get 70% of the way there or 30% or 80% to really start seeing some of the results. But you know, the, the thing is if you hit, if you stop halfway through that, if you stop at 12% or 17%, you know, you're just damaging every part of the process. You're damaging the time that you've invested into it. You're not getting any sort of outcome into it by not reaching that threshold where you start seeing initial value. So I think the group is, is an amazing asset to make that you are getting the value both from whatever kind of organization you're in, but then also from the tools that you're selecting because a good group is going to hold you accountable and they're going to start to know you well enough to hopefully call you out on your bs if you're, if you're kind of procrastinating on some things.

MP: 15:05 So I just love that concept.

DC: 15:07 Yeah, it is. It's a, it's pretty, pretty awesome and you know, it's daunting to do some of these things because there is a big risk of evaluating a platform light jetpack workflow or some of the others in the marketplace. You know, you're making a big decision because there's work that's going to be involved in, in getting it all set up and that that's one piece, right? But then it's like, are you making the right decision? And those kinds of moments are where procrastination lives. It's like wherever there's like this uncertainty is a big decision. I'm ready. I don't have all the pieces went on of all the picture on all exactly where we're going here. That's where procrastination can kick in and, and the, the move not made. And before you know it, it's 2020 and you haven't embraced a piece of the technology that maybe would be critical in your business.

MP: 16:00 Yeah. So two, two, two quick comments, you know, on that. So I think, you know, first I think we need to recognize that as business owners, if we stay the same, we've, gee, we're getting worse. Yeah. I don't think there's any doubt that if you just keep doing what you're doing, you know, if you have goals for your business, you know, you want to increase 20% 40% 50% and in the new year or next year, I rarely see a business where you say, oh great, you have this goal of becoming better, do everything you're doing and you'll just naturally fall into that outcome. I mean you, you have to change in order to reach a goal. And if you don't have to change to reach the goal, I would argue you should probably get a new goal because what's the point if you're not growing a professionally, personally through this business as well.

MP: 16:47 And trying to reach at, you know, new levels of leadership or management or, or being a practitioner in it. So I think everybody's recognized if you're going to stay the same, that means you're getting worse. That's, that's it. And I think we know the competitive landscape is challenging enough to know that that is inherently true. The other thing I want to mention is that from a accounting professional perspective, you know, whether you're bookkeeping, payroll, accounting or tax, the, you know, you get paid to be a precise detailed and to really take a lot of risks off of your client's shoulders and you take that on as the professional. And that is a perfect set of attributes for the day in and day out work that you need to do. But that level could be both a massive benefit. But you know, at somewhat of a downside as a business owner, because to get into these projects of going through change management, there's going to be a little bit more risk.

MP: 17:42 But again, the risk is staying the same as the riskiest thing you can do. But just know that, you know, getting, getting the, you know, workflow implementation or getting the new tour, getting your pricing and if you're going to change pricing, getting that 70% right or 80% rate or 90% right is massively better than not taking any action in sitting still. And you know, whereas your day to day work, if you get that 60% right, you're probably in big trouble. I just haven't seen it work that way in business. We're, you know, you get it 70% of the way there. That's, that's still a huge improvement over where you came from.

DC: 18:22 Yeah, well said. Well said. You know, when it comes to, you've worked with so many different companies, so many different business owners or what are some of the characteristics that have them persevere to, to get, you know, to the 70% get beyond the 70%.

DC: 18:42 I think they, they get really excited by the outcome. Uh, and that outcome can change owner by owner. It could be, I really want to start coaching, you know, my kids' sports teams. I want to make this this much, this level of private because it brings a new level of financial security or look against really cold at Pittsburgh and I want it, I want to get a summer home in Florida and see the sun again for those winter months and my goodness, I just need to make that happen. Or You could just be like, I just love trying new things. So you know some I've met from owners who just love trying new things. I think whatever the outcome you're going for it knowing that's why you're doing it helps you go through that change management process. And I think that the owners that have done that for a couple of years, even if they weren't great at that before or they're really nervous about doing it for the first year or second year, by the time they start running this wheel of, you know, constantly updating and iterating on their firm and how to add more value by year three, five, 10 in their firm.

MP: 19:41 They love it. I mean it's great. They love the concept of being the business owner or the investor in the business. You know, getting further and further away from the day to day fires and operational elements they need to take on. But when I talked to them, they, they just had a, they had an end desired outcome that they were crystal clear on. And again it's, it's, it's so different for different firm owners. You know, there's one that comes to mind in Ohio and it was all about work life balance. You know, he had a, he had a family situation that his previous employer was, was not flexible too and he needed start his own firm so he could have better work-life balance. And so that's why he did it. And so knowing that his, his, his outcome, he tried any and all things to really get there.

DC: 20:21 And you know, he's been in business for I think at least 10 years doing extremely well and he loves it for other people, for another firm owner we work with, it was coaching, you know, little league and going through a couple busy seasons where, you know, his family essentially didn't see him for six months. He was like, I either need to leave the profession, which he didn't want to do. We really enjoyed it. Or He needs to figure out how to get back to a normal set of during the busiest times of the year. And so that kept driving him to find best practices. Because what you can do is you can look at other firms and you could say, you know, who is that firm owner that is taking off Fridays and what are they doing differently? I mean, you know the ideas that don't all have to come from you, but you have the end desired outcome.

DC: 21:06 Then you find the people that are achieving what you're doing and you and you either reverse engineer from a distance or you for many of the firm owners like I'm sure everybody you interview, everybody we interview, just call them up. Say, Hey, I'm, you know, I love your story. Uh, I feel like I'm in a similar place that you were maybe two years ago and I'm stuck. Can you help me? So, and desired outcome, finding the path that others have taken to get there. I think those two elements are are, are things we see time and time again from our top phone, from owners.

MP: 21:36 Beautifully said, you know, I would agree with that 100% it's the big y's that have people continue on. Now I'd say the big roadblock that stops many, and I would say the number one roadblock would be their belief of whether or not they will get that big outcome. Is it possible for me, it might be possible for you, David, to do what you've done, but I want that too, but I just don't believe it's possible for me and that that one, if there's one thing on this podcast, I want to help people get through breakthrough. It's that belief. There has to be a level of faith and belief to progress to the next step and do the things that need to be done to get that outcome. Those outcomes just don't drop in our laps. But if you, if you have a big burning desire for something and you don't believe it's going to be possible for you while we're stuck.

DC: 22:29 I love that point. And so I guess in a, in a counterbalancing way, I think it's important to know your outcome, but in a strange way. Not to get fufu or zen like on everybody, but then to in some ways detach yourself from the outcome. So if your goal is to get to $1 million a year, you know, the one side of my brain says, let's reverse engineer how many clients with how many services of how many services per client you need, how many prospects you talk to every month, what's your close rate per prospect, and then let's reverse engineer this entire formula to really make sure you can reach that 1 million a and just hit it down to the most practical tactical level you possibly can. Now having said that, the other part of my brain is, you know, you have this goal, you try to reverse engineer the numbers and execute on that, but I think from owners that we've worked with, the top ones and even other business owners, you, you should also be excited on the concept of the person you'll become when.

DC: 23:29 By trying to reach this goal of $1 million per year. You will become a better business owner. You will be become a better leader, manager practitioner. You will be challenged cognitively in ways you haven't been before. You will have to think about process and workflow and pricing. You're going to have to learn sales or you know how to run proper consultations. You're going to have to do all these things in, in. If you're not excited by the person you might become in advancement of trying to hit that goal, then I think you're missing a real opportunity. And I guess the way to summarize it is the joys and the journey, you know, because here's what happens. You hit 1 million and you're like, well, I really want to get the five or I really want to get to two and I want better margins. There's always the next school. But I think if you're excited about the person you're going to become in pursuit of that goal. It's the motivator to get through the messy middle of trying to get there.

MP: 24:23 Beautiful. You know, we have a mutual friend and mutual client, Lisa Campbell, and I love her story. It fits perfectly in, in what we're talking about. She was a single mother. She needed and wanted and desire to have a better life for herself and a better life for her family. And so she started building her bookkeeping business and she built it up and it was on its way and she got to point where it was. It grew out of her ability. She didn't necessarily know how to go beyond, so she's, she reached out for help. Now in that case, she came to pure bookkeeping and said, look, I need to have systems and standardized workflows and procedures in my business. And that helped her. So that was a step and that helped her grow her business. She started to charge more for what she did, she got better clients, all of those good things.

MP: 25:17 And then she said, I need more automation. I want all of this to work in the cloud. I want it to be automated. I want to know that all the steps are being handled and taken care of. So she went to the marketplace and talked with different people like we talked about and she found jetpack workflow and then she combined the two. She said, I'm going to bring these two things together. They're going to make my business better and give me freedom, help my staff do a better job of things, enabled her to actually hire more staff. So now she has a business that makes a lot more money than she ever dreamed she would make. She has way more time than she ever thought she'd have. Her kids are taking care of, her family's taken care of and she has the time and ability to do work that she really is passionate about by helping business owners doing consulting work now with profit first professionals and doing really high valued work where she's making a really great income for helping business owners put more profit in their jeans every month. That started with a burning desire it, but she had the belief, she believed that it could be possible for herself. She got committed to it. She got focused, she took the actions and now she's successful and you know it. It's just wonderful to be a part of that. And I know you feel the same way, David, about seeing your clients actually get the promises of what we're all talking about in their business.

DC: 26:40 Absolutely. And I, and this story illustrates so well that you take one step, you build the momentum, and then you hit, you hit that milestone and then what's next? Do you go through pure bookkeeping? She revamped her pricing, got very process-focused, went into tooling, you know, when did a jetpack and she's created some amazing content around that. Uh, she feels like she has that core set of services, uh, together. Hi, very profitable, great work-life balance. Great. What's next? Profit first professionals. She could've very well said, what's next? I'm taking a longer vacation. Right? But it's so depending on the person. But look, here's the thing. I, you know, and I, I don't know, four years ago, Lisa was like, you know what, um, here's, here's the sequence of how I want to do everything. I want to do this and this and this and this and this.

DC: 27:30 But it's so much of it's just starts with, let's start with what's in front of me. Let's get that together. Then once that frees up, what's the next opportunity, what's the next opportunity? And that's what I mean when firm owners we work with, when they go through that cycle like Lisa has, I mean they, they really start cooking with gas because they know how to implement, they know how to create systems, they know how to position things. They can launch new services, they can open up new markets, they can hire people. I mean they're really building their toolkit in such a way that they can take on so many different parts of the business really expanded so many different ways. But it starts with that initial step and then momentum builds and builds and builds. That's what I love about that story.

MP: 28:09 It's a great story. And, and she's a wonderful person and she, she has done a great service to our community by showing people how, uh, a bunch of how she's done it, how it looks, how, how she's being successful. She's not saying, Oh hey, this is my, I went and I'm successful and I, you know, I did it all myself. It's her real essence of I was helped along the way and now I'm going to share if people need help, I'm going to share it now. She's a busy person and she's been on the podcast before. She's been on the Facebook group, like she actually got too busy helping people, asking her for questions, so she put together a whole bunch of videos that are really supportive and we'll have the link to those videos in this episode. If you want to just go down and click on that link and take a look, which that's the type of person that she's, she is and her big why is to to make that difference. It's like everyone has a different why and so yeah. Wonderful, wonderful story, David. This is, this is again always such a treat to have you, you're so generous with your time and knowledge about your own business, but as well the business of the clients that you're working with. I just on the behalf of the listeners, thank you.

DC: 29:23 Absolutely. Thanks for having me on. If people have questions about anything I just mentioned, my email is David@jetpackworkflow.com the website's Jetpackworkflow.com and the resources you just mentioned, Michael, to me are a no brainer for for listeners to download you, you literally get to see, you know, part the blueprint that Lisa was able to deploy in creating systems and adding productivity tools to really scale up her firm. And so if you want to see the nitty-gritty, if sometimes you listen to content or read content, you find it too abstract and you say, no, what are they doing exactly. Because then I want to see how I can apply that to my firm. I, the videos you just talked about with Lisa are our it. I would recommend everybody go and take a look at them. They're the most, uh, uh, tactical videos on the creating and deploying workflows that I've ever seen.

MP: 30:15 Beautiful. And as well, there's also an opportunity to go out there and get yourself a trial of jetpack workflow. It's a free trial and David, the, the, there's a link there to do that. It's pretty simple. Is there anything to say about getting a trial of jetpack workflow?

DC: 30:33 Yeah, so if you go to Jetpackworkflow.com/free trial, it'll take you straight to the registration form. A No credit card is required. You get access to every feature, uh, you also get access to our template library. It has dozens, literally dozens of of of we call the lightweight checklist or kind of springboard checklist. You know, pure bookkeeping has the bulletproof copy and paste, but if you want to see some examples as springboards, we have that into every free trial. You'll also get access to our product specialist team. And so if you want to have a personalized one-on-one walkthrough when you sign up for a trial, a product specialists will reach out to you via email, potentially even call, and they'll give you a personalized one-on-one walkthrough. They can really answer your questions, understand your firm, show you best practices inside of the tool. Again, no credit card required, no strings attached. You can take a look at the product and see if it's a good fit for your firm.

MP: 31:28 Beautiful. I recommend everyone take a look. It will revolutionize the work that you're doing and if you have any questions, you can always reach out to David and I'm sure his team will be more than happy to help you along your way. Again, David, thank you so much for being here.

DC: 31:45 Thank you for having me.

MP: 31:47 And with that, we wrap on another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to the successful bookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 32:00 goodbye.

EP120: Billie Anne Grigg – Embrace Challenges To Grow Your Bookkeeping Business

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It can be terrifying.

Starting a bookkeeping business or running one, can have so many potential pitfalls that it could make you tear your hair out.

However, if you have clarity in regards to what your direction is and determination to execute your goals, you can overcome challenges.

Our guest, Billie Anne Grigg has done that.

She has been a bookkeeper for years and is the founder of Pocket Protector Bookkeeping which aims to provide an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full-time, in-house bookkeeping staff.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to overcome the fear of letting go of clients

  • How to see hiccups as a motivating factor to grow your business

  • How to improve cash flow and profitability from the ground up

To learn more about Billie Anne, click here.

For her website, Pocket Protector Bookkeeping, go here.

For her Facebook page, visit this link.

For her Twitter page, discover here.

To learn more about Profit First Professionals, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:18 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is the owner of pocket protector bookkeeping, which provides an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full time in house bookkeeping staff. She's also a profit first professional senior strategic guide and a universal accounting school coach Billie Anne Grigg, welcome to the podcast.

Billie Anne Grigg: 01:50 Thank you Michael. I'm happy to be here.

MP: 01:52 Yes, it's lovely to have you. And you know, you, you've, you've been up to a lot of different things with pref profit, first professionals and universal accounting and your own growing your own business. In fact, and I can't wait to hear your take and your journey, but before we get into that, can you tell us about your career journey leading up to this point in your business?

BAG: 02:14 Yeah, so I'm one of those accidental entrepreneurs, our accidental business owners. I didn't set out to own my own business. I mean, it just kind of happened as a series of layoffs and other factors and just needing to have more flexibility in my schedule and in my life. So I'm haven't looked back since then. Bookkeeping is a passion of mine. Actually. Cashflow is a passion of mine and everything just kind of keeps moving me closer to being able to do the work I really want to do in that area. Helping small business owners become more profitable and manage their cash better.

MP: 02:50 Wow, that's awesome. And I love, I love hearing it. Put that way as cash for you love cashflow. And you know what? Every other small business loves cash flow

MP: 03:00 right now without cash or out of business. So let's say you have the cash flow.

MP: 03:05 Keep their cashflow coming. So a billion. Tell me a little bit about those first early days when it's like, hmm, okay, I'm going to start my bookkeeping practice. What was that like?

BAG: 03:18 Um, it was scary. Um, I thought I had the skills I needed. I'd been a bookkeeper for 14 years at that point. But you know, it's different when you're striking out on your own. There's a difference between managing a businesses books, um, even a small business and managing multiple clients books. So I was scared and that's when I found universal accounting center kind of as a validation that I knew as much as I thought I did. But it was also a really great refresher on the different kinds of bookkeeping and accounting. And I was very fortunate that I had friends and colleagues who helped me along the way to grow my bookkeeping practice. And then also that I found profit first professionals relatively early on and was able to add that consultative service to my offerings.

MP: 04:07 Nice. Well the student has now become the teacher because you're a or mentor really. You're, you're a coach now at universal accounting school.

BAG: 04:16 I profit first professionals.

MP: 04:19 Yeah, absolutely. And profit first we'll get into, I'd love to hear your, your explanation for our listener of profit first professionals, but getting back to when you got started, you know, what were some of the bumps along the way that, that you encountered, if any?

BAG: 04:34 So I think I made every classic mistake in the book, the ones that my business coach warned me against and I thought that won't happen to me. So I did it my own way. One of them, you're just so anxious to get clients that you'll do just about anything possible to get them to sign on the line, including pricing your services way, way too low and you know, promising the moon for basically what would equate to less than minimum wage. The other bump in the road was systems and processes. I wanted to create and provide a custom solution for every single client because that is where I excelled in my work experience working for small businesses without some sort of systems and processes in place though that's just not sustainable.

MP: 05:22 Yeah, you can, you can only, you can only scale as fast as your ability to document and train and have other people be able to do those customized solutions. So that's fantastic. We love systems and process, uh, on the show and we love talking about it. You'd mentioned that you'd taken on clients that weren't maybe a perfect fit for you. And, and not at a price that was at the right stage. How did you get out of that mess?

BAG: 05:51 Well, by continuing to prove my value to certain of the clients, I was able to eventually raise my rates to a, a more fair rate for the work that I was doing, some of the clients. So I just had to let go. I just had to tell them, you know what? This is not a good fit anymore and this is not the direction that I'm moving my business. And honestly, if I'm not feeling it's a good fit, I'm not doing the best work for you. And by that point, I had built a network of colleagues that I could refer these clients to, so it didn't feel like I was just leaving them high and dry. I was able to help them find a provider who was a good fit for them. And that made the, made me feel good, but it also made the client feel really taken care of too, even though I was kind of divorcing them, I was finding them someone else to take care of.

MP: 06:47 Mm. That's, that's very generous and kind of view it, you know? And that's probably speaks to why, why you're so successful in your business. I'm sure there's many listeners right now listening and thinking, yeah, I've got some of those clients. What was it that had you say, okay, enough's enough. I'm going to take this action. And were there any fears or barriers that you needed to overcome before you started changing making those changes in your business?

BAG: 07:12 Oh yeah. I mean the fears and the barriers were real. Every person, every human has loss aversion. You don't want to let go of what you already have, even if it's not serving you. So the fear of if I let go of this client, I'm letting go of this income. And even though it's not a lot of income, a little bit's better than nothing. That was something that I had to overcome and I had to take the emotion out of it, which is a little bit more difficult for me because I do lead from my heart. So to take the emotion out of it and say, okay, yes, I can still be caring and kind, but I have to look at this logically and am I making a big enough profit on this client that it makes sense for me to continue to work with them?

BAG: 07:55 And are there any other factors that I have to take into consideration? You know, do I cringe every time I see their caller id come up on my phone? If so, it doesn't really matter if I'm profitable on that client, something has to change there. So I was able to take the emotion out of it a little bit, look at it logically. Um, in some cases, sadly I was not breaking even on these clients by the time I factored in subscriptions because I do include my quickbooks online subscription costs and other apps that I use in my pricing. So the client doesn't feel nickeled and dimed. It was a tough thing to see that on some clients I was making way less than a hundred dollars per month. And those I had to make a decision, can I try to turn this around or do I need to let the client go? If they had the cringe factor where I didn't want to answer the phone when they called, I found a way to let them go.

MP: 08:49 Hmm. That's, that is fantastic. Now you've mentioned a few things that have been supports to you. You've had a business coach, you mentioned two universal accounting profit first professionals. When did you decide that you needed more support than just yourself?

BAG: 09:09 Before I started my business, I did, I didn't even know, I mean, I didn't know anything about running a business. And unfortunately, I had the wherewithal to understand that there's a difference between being a very good technician and being a good bookkeeper and good at what you do and being a good business owner. And even with that realization, there were some stumbling blocks along the way. But I knew that I had to find an aligned myself with people who had been there and done that successfully, who were willing to help either through a mentorship or a coaching program. Um, help a new bookkeeper set up her business the right way.

MP: 09:49 Mm. So your, your, you had that, that was a probably a really smart decision on your part before you got started to go and get that help and set it up the right way. Did you, you mentioned, uh, a couple of hiccups. Any other hiccups that you can think of other than the ones we've already covered?

BAG: 10:07 Well, you know, when you're starting your business, or at least when I was starting mine, I was still working two part-time jobs. I had been partially laid off from one job. I'm the sole breadwinner for my family. That's a decision that my husband and I made. He homeschools our kids and I earned the income, but I had to fill that gap. So working two part time jobs plus trying to grow a business, that was exhausting. That was definitely a hiccup. But it was also a motivating factor as well to ramp this up, not only number of clients and you know, trying to move away from taking everything that came through my door, but also to pick the right clients and grow this business profitably doing what I love with clients that I love working with.

MP: 10:53 Hmm. No doubt. That sounds like something I think every listener is looking to do is build a business that they love. You mentioned profit first. Tell, tell us a little bit about profit first. What attracted you to them? Why did you seek them out and, and how has it been helping you in your business?

BAG: 11:14 So profit first really played into my love for cash flow. Um, I had been frustrated for a while, not just in my business because I did find profit first, relatively early on in my business, but also as an employee. I knew the problem that small business owners faced was cashflow because I'd seen it happen several times and I would model out these wonderful cashflow projections and show my employers and then later my clients exactly what they needed to do in order to have a profit and have positive cashflow. And they would look at this spreadsheet and they would do an all over it and say, oh my gosh, this is great. And then they'd put it away and never look at it again until the end of the period when they pulled it out and said, hey, where's all this money I was supposed to have?

BAG: 12:04 And I had to tell them, well, you weren't following the plan. And it wasn't until I discovered profit first, which I found through one of the business coaches that I had worked with. She had the, um, sample chapters in her newsletter that I realized that the disconnect was that I was thinking about this from an accounting mindset and my employers and clients, I had been looking at it through a business owner mindset. Business owners don't go into business, of course, to be accountants unless they are accountants and bookkeepers. So we had a language barrier so to speak. I was speaking in certain terms, they were speaking in different terms and we just weren't connecting. So with profit first it took that issue of cashflow, put it into terms that a small business owner could understand. And that connected with me as far as something that I could do to really help my clients improve their cashflow and improve their profitability to where you don't have to wait for someday to be profitable. You don't have to spend money to make money, meaning that you don't have to just throw a lot of money at your problem hoping someday that it will pay off. But you can be very strategic about making sure that you grow a profitable company from the ground up from the very beginning.

MP: 13:17 That is so exciting. And we've, we've had lots of conversations on the podcast about profit first, but I think it's refreshing to hear you say talk about it and how that, how it, how it occurs to you and how you've been using it. How's, how's that now impacted your business?

BAG: 13:35 Oh my gosh. The impact has been tremendous. First of all, one of the things that we have to do as profit first professionals is implemented in our own business. And I kind of chuckle now about my story because I thought that, I said, look, you know what? I'm not like my clients. I can read my spreadsheets, I follow my plan. I don't need to go open up these multiple bank accounts. And Ron Saharian, the cofounder of profit first laughed at me and he said, yeah, you've got to go open your accounts. So I grumbled all the way to the bank and I opened my accounts and I did my allocations and I had to eat crow a quarter later because I had more money in my bank accounts than what my spreadsheets said I should have. So that was definitely the first way that profit first worked for me.

BAG: 14:17 The other way that profit first has really worked for me is instead of being a compliance bookkeeper, meaning that I'm only doing the bookkeeping, so the business owner can file their tax return at year-end. Now I'm a consultative bookkeeper, meaning that I have a system in place that I use with all of my clients. And as a result, I dictate a higher price that does disqualify some prospects. Um, I do have prospects ask me, you know, what, can we just do the bookkeeping without doing this cash management and strategy? And I, I tell them no now because I feel out of integrity that I have something that can help any small business. But if I'm not doing it with all of my clients, that makes me feel bad. And the other option is to give it away for free, which I'm not willing to do.

MP: 15:07 Yes. Yeah. So you have had a pretty interesting career. I, I'm always curious to know if there was a breakthrough moment or a turning point moment in your business where it was going one way and then this happened and ever since then it's gone in a completely other way that you're completely happy about. Any moments like that?

BAG: 15:35 Yes, it was the moment that I drew the line in the sand and said, this is the way I want to work with clients. I only want to have a consultative relationship with clients and if a prospect is not willing to do that, then they are not the right fit for me. And that's scary when you have a lot of prospects coming your way who only want what they think of as traditional bookkeeping or accounting, meaning classify my transactions, reconcile my bank accounts, and gives me a profit and loss statement at the end of the year. So I've been filed my taxes, but once I had that moment of clarity as this is the direction I want to go, everything changed.

MP: 16:19 Wow.

MP: 16:20 It's a, it's a, it's, it's an interesting conversation. I Ha I've had this conversation a few times recently round. Having the standards that you uphold inside of your life, inside of your business, and when you make those choices and you hold those standards, it brings, it actually works. It brings you your standard that you're looking for. Have you ever not held your standard?

BAG: 16:45 Yes, I have several times and it always bites me in the rear end when I do that, I have to go back later and say, look, this is not a good fit. I'm sorry. We should not have engaged in this relationship to begin with. I need to help you find someone else to take care of you. And it's the money. I mean, really that's what it comes down to. The money looks good. Um, the client sounds promising and it just doesn't work out when you violate those standards that you've set for yourself.

MP: 17:13 Yeah, that's fantastic. Very inspirational. I'm sure for, for, for the listener you, you probably have or be, maybe you haven't. Maybe this is an opportunity to look at it, but every, I think every business owner brings their own superpower, if you will. It's like what they're really, really great at that helps them take their business in the direction that they've, they've taken it in. What would you say your super power is in business?

BAG: 17:39 My superpower is being able to communicate and connect with my clients. So on a level, even beyond the provider and client relationship, to really dig deep and understand it, but that actually where they're coming from because the challenges that our clients face in business aren't just business challenges. Those are those stem from personal challenges and that could be cashflow issues, that could be growth issues, that could be some limiting beliefs that they have about themselves, but being able to really understand and connect with the client and then help them see and help them find their way to have a fulfilling life, not only just part of their business, but a full holistic, fulfilling life. That's my superpower.

MP: 18:28 It's a powerful superpower.

BAG: 18:31 I think so. Yeah.

MP: 18:32 I do think so. I mean, not the power to connect with peoples is incredible because you get to rapport quickly. You get to trust quickly and you can make a difference for them. If you're able to do that much more quickly and at the end of the day that's what they want are results. So if the, Eh, I would say awesome to here, let's look at the opposite side. Where are you, where is it always just not working for you that you need to go and find help elsewhere and help someone else help get someone else to help you with that part of Your Business?

BAG: 19:02 You know, employee management has been a challenge but also boundaries because I do form those connections with the clients sometimes. And it's probably that my, my issue with employee management too, sometimes I have a hard time upholding the boundaries because I am so connected and I do want to help. Sometimes it's difficult to see that I'm not helping, not only myself, but I'm also not helping the client by being so connected and not having those good strong boundaries in place.

MP: 19:34 Mm. And how, and and so how have you compensated for these challenges with staff and with being too connected or not having, sorry, not having those, uh, the boundaries maybe being pushed,

MP: 19:48 having, having some checkpoints in place. Colleagues, a my profit first community is also really good about if I can pose this question, hey, you know, I'm feeling a little strange about this situation or I'm not feeling very good about this situation. Can you help me think through it? Um, to just having those sounding boards so who can kind of let me know I'm not crazy. Um, because you know, many bookkeepers are solo preneurs or solo person, sole practitioners, um, and we don't necessarily have colleagues to bounce things off of. But having that support system has been really helpful for me.

BAG: 20:22 Yeah, I would agree. It's a well done for, for having powerful support system.

MP: 20:28 Now we've talked a little bit about where, mostly about the past and about way things were. Where are things going? What, what are you looking at now for the future?

BAG: 20:38 For the future? It's about continuing to leverage the automation. I do still have my bookkeeping business that is growing, not as, as I was growing it because I am working full time for the profit first professionals organization and in order to balance both and do them well, continuing to use the automation. And the technology and learning more about that. That's the way to growth, but also again, leveraging that consultative part of what I do. That is where my passion lies. That's where I have the biggest impact is and that's what I love to do. So I'm just reiterating that that is the kind of relationship that I want to have with my clients. And then also developing some evergreen products that will help people who maybe aren't quite ready to engage on that one to one level yet so they can still get the help that they need. And it's also generating passive income for me at the same time.

MP: 21:40 Excellent. So this, this would be for your, your potential clients that they're not ready for you, but you can, you can help them out in a, in a way that works for them. Right. Very exciting and yes, lots of changes happening in the industry. In fact of I've, it was in one of our groups, someone posted as a sign or a, an article on the end of bookkeeping. What's something along those lines? I'm sure it's not the first time that that conversation has ever come up. I'd love to hear what your take is on it.

BAG: 22:15 The bookkeeping is not going to end, but it's definitely going to change. And the one thing that I have noticed in the past six years is that the shift has gone from being able to do it right yourself, meaning that you do the data entry and make sure everything is posted correctly to now we're managing data that has been entered by an artificial intelligence or in some cases even our clients. And that requires a higher skill set. You have to know how a set of books are supposed to look, how is that a financial statements are supposed to look, be able to identify problems maybe on the balance sheet or something's not being posted correctly. And then also troubleshoot the technology as well. Because as great as this automation is, sometimes it breaks or some times it creates errors in the system. And if you don't have that more theoretical knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping, that's something that could be missed. So I think our value is actually increasing rather than decreasing. Unfortunately, many bookkeepers look at the automation as a way to keep their prices lower. And so when the technology does break or something goes wrong with it or there's a problem that needs to be resolved, then we get into a situation where we're working for little or nothing.

MP: 23:29 Yeah, I agree with you completely on all fronts and really just this whole technology stack. I've leaned on our bookkeeper a lot to keep the money coming. You know, it's one, it's like you've got to get the in, you've got to make sure that it's all recorded accurately. And while we used all the latest technology, all the latest technology breaks because it's until we have one, one ring to rule them all, there's going to be a gaps and, and things break all the time. And so it's, it's that what I want to be spending my time as a business owner working on and dealing with absolutely not. I need somebody understands it, can solve that and keep things going so that I don't need to deal with it. So I love that technology is definitely going to keep changing for a long time. And so with that change, uh, this industry has a lot of opportunity to embed themselves into being able to help leverage it, make sure that they keep leveraging it. So love that conversation. Is there any other tips? You have a lot of bookkeepers just like yourself at every stage of the, of your journey to date. Is there any tips or advice that you'd love to give and pass on to them as listeners design the business that you love or that you're going to love from the very beginning?

BAG: 24:46 That's probably the most important tip. It's difficult to do when you're trying to make ends meet and you're trying to pay the bills, but in the long run it pays off. If you have clients that aren't a good fit, go ahead and let them go. Because without fail, I mean, I talk to accountants and bookkeepers every single day through the profit first program when they let go of a client who's not a good fit within a week, a much better client who's a perfect fit comes along. It's just a matter of a wedding go of that, that not good fit client to make room for the better client to come into your life.

MP: 25:26 Beautiful. Well said, Billie. There is probably a listeners that would be interested in learning more about what you've been up to with profit first and use universal accounting. If that was the case, what would be the best way for them to do that?

BAG: 25:42 They can connect with me on either Facebook or LinkedIn or even by email. They can reach me at either mail. That's maIl@pocketprotectorbookkeeping.com or Billie Anne, B I l l I e a n n e@profitfirstprofessionals.com. I'm sorry I don't have a short email address. I have two other email addresses and they're equally as long, but uh, those are all great ways to reach out to me.

MP: 26:06 Yeah, beautiful. I will have all of those links in the show notes of course, and as well. Speaking of Facebook, we do have The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group and we've added country-specific groups, so I'm sure that might be a good place to connect with Billy Yan in the future. You can find it at The Successful Bookkeeper, uh, dot com as well. But if you search the successful bookkeeper in Facebook, you'll find a group that you can join if you haven't already. Billion. This has been absolutely awesome. I love your story. I love how you're helping eradicate entrepreneurial poverty in the world. You're helping small businesses. We love that around here, so keep on doing it and we'd love to have your back at some point to hear how you're doing it even bigger tomorrow.

BAG: 26:45 Thank you Michael. I'd love to do that.

MP: 26:58 Beautiful. And with that we wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. Of course, we'll have links and all that good stuff in the show notes, but to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.