EP163: Eric Burgmaier - The Power of Having A Bookkeeping Business Niche

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Don’t be all things to all people.

Today’s guest agrees.

Eric Burgmaier is a CPA, CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst) and the owner of Burgmaier & Associates, Inc. that provides a broad variety of accounting services to small and medium businesses with a focus on medical and dental practices.

He also has over 20 years of healthcare industry experience in public accounting, private industry, and academic institutions.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The pros and cons of having a niche practice

  • Tips on how bookkeepers can help their clients plan to sell their businesses someday

  • The advantages of working with your spouse

To learn more about Eric and his website, visit this link.

For his LinkedIn page, click here.

EP162: Sal Rezai - Success Is On The Other Side Of Your Comfort Zone

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Getting ready for a successful career transition isn’t easy.

Just ask our guest, Sal Rezai who is the owner of Accounting By Sal.

She stepped out of her comfort zone and grabbed the opportunity.

She has a passion for accounting, small business and helping business owners achieve success, so when she started her own business in 2008, it was the beginning a fulfilling path that has expanded to many exciting opportunities including coaching and QuickBooks training.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of living outside of your comfort zone to achieve success

  • Tips for getting ready for a career transition

  • How to build a strong connection with clients

To learn more about Sal’s website, visit this link.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

To email her, here’s her address - info@accountingbysal.ca.

EP161: Lee Caraher - How To Have Loyal Millennial Staff

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Millennial employees.

You might have one on your staff right now.

How is your relationship with her?

Are you worried she might leave because she’s not happy?

If you’re having some challenges, there are ways to bridge the generation gap, so it can be a win-win for everyone involved.

Today’s guest, Lee Caraher will help you with that.

She is a highly sought-after communications expert known for her business acumen and insights. She is also the author of Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work and The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Tips on how to have loyal millennial staff members

  • The benefits of appreciation and being proactive with your employees

  • How to run a business by understanding people

To learn more about Lee, click here.

To get her books, visit this link.

To connect with her on LinkedIn, check this out.

To find her on Facebook, go here.

EP160: Abbey Louie - How To Create A Healthy Workplace

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How good are your leadership skills?

If they’re not great, our guest today will offer some help.

Abbey Louie is a leadership trainer, coach and a QuickBooks Connect San Jose conference speaker who assists clients in aligning, connecting and developing their employees and improving their leadership platform.

She’s done this work, for Mintify and as a co-founder of Next Level Women Leaders, through training programs and workshops that have had a positive impact on many leaders from different industries.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of creating a healthy workplace

  • The key qualities to becoming a great leader

  • How to hire terrific staff members

To learn more about Mintify, click this link.

To learn more about Next Level Women Leaders, visit here.

For Abbey’s LinkedIn page, go here.

To register for the QuickBooks Connect San Jose, check this out.

EP159: Hector Garcia - How To Improve Your Marketing

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Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

You might have heard of it.

It’s known for offering technical services for those who aren’t technical.

Our guest, Hector Garcia mentioned how working for Geek Squad was a great education for how he’d eventually price his services.

It was one of the many lessons he has learned along his unlikely journey into the accounting and bookkeeping industries.

Today, he is a CPA, Quickbooks Consultant, CPA and Strategic Advisor who was on Hubdoc’s Top 50 Cloud Accountants’ list and is a YouTuber with over 3 million views on his channel.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • What is menu-based pricing

  • Why pricing is one of the most important marketing strategies you’ll have

  • Why positioning yourself as a specialist is vital in attracting your ideal clients

To find out more about Hector, visit his website.

To view his YouTube Channel, click here.

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.

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:24 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. Our guest is the cofounder of Fit Chicks stoll largest women's only fitness company in Canada. Since its launch in 2008 fit chicks has helped over 7,500 Canadian women get fit and fierce. Amanda Quinn, welcome to the show.

Amanda Quinn: 01:50 Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

MP: 01:53 And well, it's great to have you and I'm excited to hear your story and as well do whatever we can to help our listener bring more fit and fierce into their life.

AQ: 02:05 You can never have enough bitten fierce in your life, I think.

MP: 02:08 I think so. I think it's a great, I think it's a great idea. So before we get into that, tell us a little bit about your career journey before fit chicks before fintechs.

AQ: 02:17 Oh, interesting. And so basically before we started, so I started this company with Laura Jackson who is my best friend and since grade nine as well as my business partner. And before we started wheat bowls, kind of went the route of like what we felt we should do, you know, went to school and graduated from school and I went and got like corporate sort of jobs. I was working actually in the arts and entertainment industries. So I was working for house of Blues Concerts Canada. I was the manager of sponsorship and advertising right out of school, which was interesting because I was so young and inexperienced, but they trusted me. And so I was um, I was working in that role for a few years and then I left there to go and work at the Toronto International Film Festival in the same position. So as manager of sponsorship and advertising.

AQ: 03:04 And they were both amazing jobs and I loved them so much. And I love arts and entertainment and, but I also loved health and wellness and you know, during that process of, you know, having a job that was fulfilling but just like it didn't like me up in the same way I started getting certified and started going and just educating myself with no intention of ever actually even teaching. I just wanted to learn and grow as a person. And then eventually by practicing with my family and friends and my house, I realized that I actually loved the idea of teaching and inspiring other people to get healthy and to get fit. So that's sort of how we kind of, that's sort of how we came about deciding that we were going to start our job like our company in September of 2008 and Lauren, I mean Laura was working for Hilton hotels is the marketing manager. So we both had really great jobs with prepositions and upgrade opportunity for growth. But yeah, we just, I don't know. Everyone thought we were crazy to be honest, Michael, like with when we said we were quitting our full-time jobs to go teach fitness, they thought, oh my gosh, you're going to go run around in parks instead of take a director position. That'll probably come up shortly. And we're like, yeah, that's what we're doing.

MP: 04:15 Wow. And, and so you, you, you made the leap much to the Chagrin of the people around you. And what was that like?

AQ: 04:25 I'm going to be honest with you, I wasn't afraid at all. We did it in a way that made us feel safe. So what we did was we actually built our business for a year before we actually put our full-time jobs. So we were working our nine to five corporate jobs and then building our business in the background. So every night, teaching fitness classes every weekend, doing everything from accounting to marketing to you name it, we did it, we did everything, you know, the nuts and bolts of the entire business. And we've done it for a full year. And because we were still getting our salary from our corporate jobs, we just put all of the money that we were making into a bank account and how to just sit in there, which probably from an accounting perspective, all your solutions are probably like, oh, that's terrible. No, just sitting in a bank. But we, we did it as like a safeguard for ourselves so that we knew we had a minimum of a year salary each of put away. So that when we took that leap of faith of quitting our full-time jobs, it wasn't scary because we knew that we were okay.

MP: 05:21 Wow, that's, that's fantastic. I mean the story of anyone leaving their job and going into business for themselves. It is interesting to me, I'm sure to our listener, and I'm sure our listener can relate to some of the people's comments as well as just some of the unknowns that you would get into, but you did something very smart, which was to have funding to make sure that everything would be all right financially to guide you through into, into your business. So what was the, what were those first couple of, uh, years? The, when you got started, what, what did it look like? How did it go?

AQ: 06:01 Well, we were really fortunate that when we got into business, we started it with our fit chicks boot camp, which we actually no longer run may, she stopped running them as of November of last year, but we ran it for 10 years and we thought 10 years was a good year to have done. But when we first started we were really fortunate that it was kind of at like the beginning stages of the bootcamp sort of phase in cause health and fitness seems to go in phases where it's like, you know, crossfits really popular than bootcamp. And then, you know, yoga is like the hot topic and spinning and insert. It kind of goes in like themes we find in it. It's always kind of recycles as all cause you see now it's back to spinning and things like that. But when we started bootcamp was just at the beginning stages.

AQ: 06:41 And so we grew really quickly and we actually, the day that our business exploded, I remember it so clearly because it was Laura and I, we were in Ottawa, Ontario and we were there for an interview. It was our very first television interview that we were doing and we were like super nervous. We didn't really know what you're doing. And you know, we had no PR experience at that point. And we showed up and we did this thing and you know, it was awkward and it was funny but it was great. And when we left there, we had um, a girl who had been in one of our classes. She loved our program so much that she did her friend, actually she, I'm, she requested her friend who was a writer for the Toronto Star to write an article on us. And because she felt like we were kind of visionaries in the industry, we didn't kind of fit the same mold as most people in health and fitness.

AQ: 07:31 And we saw our business right from the beginning is not just a fitness class but just as so much more. And we had like a big vision where we said we were building a fitness empire and we always saw it as a big sort of goal. So knowing that she had us actually interviewed by a friend of hers at the Toronto Star and the day that we did that television interview, we also had the front page of the business section of the Toronto Star. And it was also the day that the day after Canada won gold at the Olympics. So the Toronto Star was free. And so it literally just was like all-stars aligned and it's just, it allowed for our business, like literally be left that interview and open up our emails. And it was just like all of our classes were sold, everything was like packed, like we had people on waitlists. It was crazy. And so that was kind of the height of it because it kind of gave us this huge boost in our business. But we were always very fortunate that we didn't actually struggle. Our business grew very quickly and we went from the two locations that Laura and I were teaching two 35 locations across Canada within about three years.

MP: 08:37 Wow.

MP: 08:45 And what were, what were some of the, the experiences of growing going from, you know, explosion, that's a pretty dramatic word, right? And you can just imagine all this publicity, all of a sudden these classes are affiliate went from, you know, a couple of classes to 35 locations or their pains growing.

AQ: 09:05 Oh, of course. There's always gonna be growing pains. There's always going to be, you know, pluses and minuses to everything. I mean we like to see everything as lessons that we learned, you know, we, we learned, you know, that one of the biggest things I think for us, because we were expanding so quickly and we didn't have a bricks and mortar, so we were renting out spaces that we had to figure out a way to build a system so that we could support our trainers that we were hiring, that we're across Canada, that we weren't face to face with to make sure that our brand was not being sort of jeopardized in terms of what was being taught and you know, that there was the quality across the board and we didn't have that because we, in the beginning it was just us. And then when we first started expanding it was just in Toronto.

AQ: 09:47 So we had like trainers come in and do actual in person trainings. We had to figure out sort of ways to do it virtually and to do it well. So building that whole brand training and trainer experience and like actually building a system that they could follow was a big step. And that was a big learning curve because we weren't getting feedback that, you know, oh I went to this class and it was totally different than this. And we were like, oh, that's not the experience that we're going for. That's not what our brand stands for. And so that was I think one of our biggest learning curves from the growth standpoint.

MP: 10:16 Wow. And what was it like building systems for your business?

AQ: 10:20 Billing systems is something that I really liked doing. I'm nerdy like that in the sense that I like to build systems and I like to build content and that's what I'm like, one of my biggest strengths is. So building out a system and kind of having that was really great. The part that we struggled with was supporting our training staff. And so that's when we actually, when we realized that we brought on someone into our team as our full-time employees so that she could actually manage the team because we just felt like for us, that's just identifying your strengths and your weaknesses are probably one of the most important things I think in business. Right. And, and to not force yourself to do the things that you are not strong at is one of our rules. And so we immediately hired someone to kind of take that role on because people management is just not our thing.

MP: 11:04 Wow. Very, very smart. Very cool story. And definitely we talk a lot about systems and process, uh, on this podcast and certainly refreshing to hear that you implemented that and the, the results that it produced in your business. Now you mentioned that after 10 years you've ended your bootcamp. Share a little bit about the future. Where are things going with fit chicks?

AQ: 11:29 Oh my gosh, it's so exciting. So, you know, after 10 years of teaching our fitness classes, it was just, you get to a point where you're like, okay, you know, I do believe that, you know, we're like, where you're focused on is where you're gonna grow. And we're right at the time when we made that decision for about a year, we had our focus really split because it is still just Laura and I leading this entire company. And then we do have contract employees and we actually just hired on a part time employee as a programs manager where she starts fencing. But it is just the two of us and it's a lot for two people. And you know, our business grew to the point where we were having our bootcamp fitness classes. We were having weekend health retreats, maybe only three or four times a year, but it was still an undertaking.

AQ: 12:12 We had built that in person system and actually built an at home system and sold it through the shopping channel here in Canada. And so like a DVD system and everything. And then from there we realized that the one thing that we really wanted to do was just to help continue to educate women because that's what we're really passionate about is helping women identify what it is that they need in their life to kind of live their best life. Right? We've been very fortunate that our business has been able to give us the life that we choose and being able to now help other fitness professionals or women that are interested in health and fitness, get educated so that they can also live through their passion and feel like, you know, the things that they do, light them up and not feel stuck in a position.

AQ: 12:53 It was something that was really important to us. And so we actually expanded our business into doing an online education platform. So we run, we also run fit chicks academy and that's our main focus now. So fidgets academy is where we have certifications, we have global certifications, we have one that does our fitness and nutrition expert certification and the secondary one is our holistic nutrition weight loss expert program. And so those are certifications where we can actually help women globally get certified in those areas to then teach in their communities. So it's kind of like paying it forward in a different way of having now instead of teaching women how to get healthy and fit, I'm now educating women to help their communities get healthy and fit. So it's a really cool way of us just continuing to expand our regional opportunity. Remarkable. Yeah. And so it was just, you know, for us it was an easy, not an easy decision because it wasn't an easy decision, but it was an important decision that we had to make where it was like right now we're focusing on bootcamp and then we're also focusing on education and content creation, everything else and you know, continuing to get certified in different areas ourselves to continue to educate ourselves to continue to grow.

AQ: 13:59 And it just, it felt like we were really kind of being pulled in way too many directions and we couldn't put 100% into any area. And so we just really wanted to get really focused on that one side cause we knew that that's kind of for our personal life as well. That's kind of the growth that we wanted, which was to be able to have a completely online business so that we could then live in Hawaii if we choose and still be able to operate our business and and kind of have that flexibility built into our life a little bit more. As you know, I have a child now and things like that, so this just as our life changed, we wanted our business to evolve to.

MP: 14:33 Very cool. Let's talk a little bit about your philosophy. When you started out with Fitch x, it was, you mentioned part of the reason why people were paying attention to you. You did fit

MP: 14:52 the, the model or the typical fitness program. Tell us a little bit about that and what you were bringing to the marketplace.

AQ: 15:00 Yeah, I mean, one of the things that we always found really interesting about health and fitness is that everyone believes that it has to be cookie-cutter, that you have to look a certain way and that you have to do a certain thing in order to fit into health and fitness to in order to be considered healthy, you have to have a six-pack, which in all reality, that's actually completely inaccurate. As six. I've known a lot of people that have, you know, six-pack abs and they're actually very unhealthy because they're following really unhealthy behaviors. To get to that extreme, I think, you know, for us it was really about approaching health and fitness. The way that we saw it, which is health and fitness is what changed my life. Focusing on, you know, fitness and nutrition and eating better to fuel my body and realizing that what I put into my body was making me feel certain ways is what kind of made me adapt and change my own life and fitness itself helped me with major anxiety issues that I had growing up.

AQ: 15:56 I had a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder and a lot of anxiety and I used fitness in the beginning as like a tool to lose weight cause I was like 15 when I started getting into yoga and things like that cause I didn't really understand it. But then as I got older and fitness became something that was so much more to me, it became this instead of a punishment of, you know, which is what most women use it for, which is like, or what most people use it for in the sense of, oh I eat this now I have to work out more. I use fitness as a way just to like feel my day and to just feel good inside and out. And so what we really wanted to do is take that philosophy of using health and fitness to enhance your life and enrich your life as opposed to using it as a punishment and as a tool. And then also understanding that it doesn't have to, you don't have to fit a certain mold and you don't have to do a certain thing in order to be considered healthier fit. It's, you know, just movement itself and you know, looking at any way that you look and enjoying the process and along the way is, is so much better I guess, than just having to kind of fall into or fall victim to sort of the marketing that's out there.

MP: 17:01 MMM. It's a refreshing.

AQ: 17:05 Thank you.

MP: 17:06 And so what have you, with the type of clients that you have helped you, there's thousands of people, thousands of women that you've helped. What are some of the stories of how they've been able to transform their lives?

AQ: 17:20 Oh my goodness, there's so many. You know, we've had women that have come into our programming and you know, they have never worked out in their entire life and they've been intimidated by the gym and they've been intimidated by Huffington just because it is an intimidating environment. And I can say that because even I feel that way and I know how to, you know, I've been working out with, like I said, since I was 15 years old, so I don't want to age myself, but that's a long time and I, I can still feel intimidated in some areas. You know. And so I think helping women that have never worked on the life, just to be able to move their bodies and understand how to use their bodies as like a tool has been so amazing. And you know, we've seen women that have lost, like I had one girl who within a year she lost over a hundred pounds of our programs and she went on to then become a trainer because she wanted to inspire other women to be able to then know that, you know, it's possible.

AQ: 18:13 Cause I remember her story, she's so clearly, you know, she told me in a very media name when she used to walk to our class, her husband used to work with her because she couldn't carry her weights to class because it was too happy. And the idea of just even doing one squat was like terrifying or a pushup was terrifying. And what we did though in our classes that was so different than most programs is that we modified everything to make sure that everybody felt included and challenged, but never overwhelmed. And that's the key to like health and fitness is finding things that you can do that makes you feel accomplished. Because so many times we do things and then we're like, oh, I can't do that. And then you feel like a failure and nobody wants to do anything where that makes you feel bad, that makes you feel like you can't.

AQ: 18:52 And so what we did was we would always encourage, you know, everything from, to give you an example, like in our classes, if we were doing pushups, it wouldn't just be like, Oh, do them on your knees. We would actually have a level even below that, which would be like you can do them against the wall, which then takes even more pressure out. And it allows for you to kind of build-up that strength and not only the strength, but the mobility and the feeling in your body. So you understand how to do a properly so that when you have proper form and technique, you can then slowly work your reaction on her knees and then on your child's, eventually we'd have women doing them like with claps and crazy things, they'd be going crazy. But it's really about offering those progressions and offering an environment that was like a community that Reuben felt supported as opposed to, you know, I've seen classes where there's trainers that are like literally yelling in people's faces or like saying, Oh yes you can do this. And instead of giving them an opportunity to just kind of try something else on that is working the same muscles but not overwhelming them. But yeah, so that's like one of the girls, pretty much Jen and she, you know, she told me like the program completely changed her life because she went from not barely being able to walk to the class, to becoming a trainer and helping other women transform their lives.

MP: 19:57 It's beautiful. You know, we have many, many listeners would be probably working so many hours a week working. You know, as we've talked about virtual, you're building a virtual business. Many of our listeners work virtually and therefore they're in front of a computer all the time at which these things can be very unhealthy. Let's talk a little bit about the, the risks of spending too much time of our life working and sitting at a desk and in front of a computer that we would have on our lives in our bodies.

AQ: 20:33 Oh my gosh. I know that also. Well, cause I spend a lot of time in front of my computer too. So I understand that. And it's, you know, sometimes it can really get, it can like really pull you in, right? Cause you're like sitting in front of a computer and you're just working and you don't like it out. But you know some of the main risks there's comparing now sitting to smoking. Like in terms of your health, they're saying that there's been studies that show that like the amount of sitting that we do in today's society can actually be just as detrimental to your health as like smoking could obviously not causing like similar issues. Like, you know, maybe not like cancer-causing agents and things like that. But in terms of like actual overall health and wellness, it can impact your health in such a big way because we just, we spend so much time just being completely immobile, you know, if you think about it, and we generally, and I know I've been victim to this myself, is that I wake up and then I immediately just, you know, I have breakfast, then I come and I sit on my computer and I stay here until maybe, um, you know, whatever time it is.

AQ: 21:35 I finished work, this is before my daughter of course. And then sitting on the couch to like unwind and then you go to bed and like literally there's just no movement in your body whatsoever. And it's just, it's so bad for us because we're meant to move and we're meant to be mobile. We're meant to be agile. And so you have to take time, you know, to really just get moving every single day. And it's hard. And also not only like just from that aspect, but also there's studies that are showing too just from being on our computer so much that it can really impact all of your joints, especially in your hands and your wrists. I don't know if you'd get that Michael, but I know for me I get like really sore sometimes if I'm not sitting at my proper desk. And then just certainly the angle that we're using, right? Yeah. It's just the angle that we're using our cup or keyboards with. So it's just like trying to find tools that are going to support you when you are working. But then also I think the solution is finding ways to fit health and fitness into your life that doesn't feel overwhelming or daunting.

MP: 22:35 Hmm. Great thoughts and yes, absolutely. I experience the pains and challenges just like everyone else. There's no end to the, to the work. And so unless it's interrupted, unless we interrupt ourselves and, and go and do the exercise, it just doesn't get easier. It gets harder. And so fitness, um, is one of those things that it's amazing. It's remarkable what it can do. When we do it. Um, just feel how it makes us think. And so anything that we can do to now inspire our listener to take the time to interrupt themselves and spend time focusing on our body and our, and our health. What are some tips that you have for helping break that behavior of not doing what's right for our body and instead doing what is right?

AQ: 23:31 Sure. I have a couple. The first thing would be to find something that you actually enjoy. You know, oftentimes I would hear clients say to me like, Oh, I'm going to go for a run. I hate running. That would be like the next statement after they say they're going for a run and I would ask them, well, why are you going to go for a run? Then why don't you go to a Zumba class? Why don't you go to play tennis? Why don't you go and take a bootcamp Lazarus or go swimming? Like find the thing that you actually enjoy rather than just forcing yourself to do what you think you should be doing because you had read about it or because your friends doing it or whatever. Do the thing that you enjoy because any movement is better than no movement and if you don't like something, you are not going to continue with it.

AQ: 24:15 It's that simple. Like if you don't like running, you are not going to continue running. It's never really going to. The chances of it actually growing on you are very limited. So I would definitely recommend just find the thing that you actually enjoy. The other thing is don't feel like that pressure to do something for an hour every day. This is this whole weird phenomenon that we have in our society that we believe that you have to work out for one hour in order for it to be considered a workout. And then if you can't fit that hour in, then it doesn't count or that it's not worth it. And so, you know, I have heard so many women say like, oh well I want to work out in the morning but I only have like 20 minutes to myself. So I just don't do anything 20 minutes if that's all you have, that's better than zero minutes.

AQ: 25:00 And it's actually proven that if you do hit training, which is short for high-intensity interval training, is actually more effective for your body long term, especially for weight loss and weight management and for your, just for your overall health and cardiovascular health, it'll challenge you in different ways. It's actually proven to be more effective than blow impact studies state cardio. So if you're considering doing that high-intensity interval training is essentially, if you don't mind, I'll just give a quick example of too, there's going to be a question I'd have. So yeah. So, so a really simple way of looking at it is it is short bursts of like something cardiovascular that increases your heart rate and followed by an active recovery periods. So to give you an example, if you are on a treadmill, so if you have listeners that, or you're at the gym and you're on a treadmill rather than doing an hour of like walking or, I mean if walking is where you're at, then that's perfect. But if you, if you do that hour, that's cool. But if you, why did you, even if you're walking and you're on a treadmill, if you can power walk one minute and then walk slow like at a low intensity, which is a recovery state for one minute, and then alternate that for 20 minutes, you are actually going to burn more calories and you are going to be more effective with your workout. Then if you actually did a full hour of just walking in a low impact state.

MP: 26:24 Wow.

MP: 26:31 So that's a really good, simple example. Another one would be, you know, same thing. A lot of times people think heightened has to be just with cardio. It can also be a weight training. So what you would do then, what I like to do personally is I actually like to do this thing called fat training, just peripheral heart action training. And this is another way just to get your workouts and to be more effective. So oftentimes when people are doing strength training, which is with weights, they oftentimes think, okay, well I have to train lower body one day, then I have to train upper body the next day and you know, and then it gets a little bit confusing and it can feel a little daunting. Overwhelming. What I like to do is I start off in the, and this is actually Laura of my business partner, she taught me this when we were away and I was like, I love this and it's probably, you know, the best type of workout for me because it's fast.

AQ: 27:17 I get my workouts done in 35 minutes and I'm like over it and it's like start off with 10 minutes of like a moderate cardio to get my heart rate up. And then I just follow up after that with one upper body exercise. And then when lower body exercise, so I might train doing say for example bicep curls and then for lower body I might just do like a leg press and then I do three sets of each, so 12 repetitions, three sets of each and then that's done. And then I choose two different exercises after that. So to one everybody with lower body and then I, again, I repeat it, three different rounds of upper body in three different rounds of lower body and that's my workout for the day. But then what happens by doing that is peripheral heart action training forces your heart then to pump blood to your upper body and then all of a sudden in the next round you're working your lower body.

AQ: 28:10 Now it forces your heart to pump blood, your lower body, so it actually works your heart better. It's proven to help you lose more of that. And then also it's allowing your body so that instead of sitting and resting during strength training, you oftentimes see people sitting on a bench resting for a minute on their phones or whatever at the gym instead of resting. I'm using that time really effectively. So while my upper body is resting and working, then lower body and then I go back to my upper body and then back to mid-lower body. So I never really actually have any downtime. So it allows for me to cut my workout almost like by about 15 minutes because I have no rest periods because my rest peers are actively working in different muscle groups. So that's a really great way. Like if you're someone who's listening now that might seem a little bit more advanced, but it's really not that hard if you just try to focus on just something upper body, something lower body, and you can keep it really, really simple with those movements. Yeah, I definitely think though, it's just finding the things that work for you and remember something is better than nothing, even if it's five minutes, just move.

MP: 29:10 I agree completely there. There's a something that had been a couple of years ago, there was this challenge 21 it was actually 21 pushups for 21 days and it was for veterans, right? For veterans. It was to remember those that were suffering from PTSD. Uh, and I forget exactly why it was 21 days. At any rate, I did that for 21 days and it was remarkable the results that it produced, just 21 per strips for 21 days. And so this year I, I in the spring is we, uh, we had our second child, uh, about a year, just about a year ago now. So two children, you know, we're busy and all that good stuff. It's so it's been hard to maintain consistency and in getting exercise. And so I just like, I gotta do something. And, and I've been doing, it's been probably three months now, 21 pushups just every day, whether it's in the morning or night, there's like, as long as I do the 21, and I will tell you, uh, I'm, I'm quite a fit person.

MP: 30:16 I've done an iron man triathlon. I've, I've done all that stuff, but that'll, it doesn't matter what I've discovered. It doesn't matter how fit one is at one moment or unfit at one moment. That can change very rapidly. So when I'm then in top physical condition and then boom, putting on weight, not exercising and I'm right back at square one. So the first bit of 21 pushups, it was hard to do those pushups really hard. And so I would take a break-even for 21 please. Yes. By like, Oh yeah, there's five and do another five. And I will tell you, it just improves over time. And I love the idea of the upper body, lower body and the co the concept of it pumping. Uh, you're getting your heart moving and moving blood, different areas and, and literally it could be 21. It could be five pushups and it can be five squats in a day would be better than none.

AQ: 31:10 Exactly. That's exactly it. Like just, you know, we're so caught up in the idea and did you know, I mean, someone told me this, I don't know if it's like fact, but they told me this and I totally can see how this was possible. They explained to me that the whole reason why fitness classes are an hour long at gyms is only because, um, in the beginning, gyms pay their trainers by the hour. And so they just, they made them an hour fitness class for that reason. And that totally makes sense, right? Because it's like, oh, corporations just, you know, they don't want to pay their trainers if the class is 45 minutes, they don't want to pay them for the hours. So they just made classes and hour and then everyone just kind of gets stuck on this idea of, and us be now asking an hour really doesn't like, I'm going to tell you that majority of people I know that are all in this health and fitness world, um, we all work out for about 35 minutes or less a day.

AQ: 31:58 That's it. It actually can do more harm than good if you're restraining for longer. And I was going to see a natural path and we were talking about this cause I had high-stress levels at one point and she was saying that, you know, working out anything about 45 minutes actually puts your body into a state of stress. And by putting it into a body of uh, to a state of stress, you're actually producing more cortisol. And Cortisol is actually one of the hormones sites, um, stores belly fat. So if you are someone who's listening now and you're like, oh, I intend to gain a lot of weight around my midsection, that seems to be where I hold a lot of belly fat. You might actually have like high cortisol also as entrepreneurs or you know, I'm sure accounting has a lot of stresses, especially around tax time. But yeah, if you find that it can be that your cortisol is high, so then actually going to work out for an hour, we'll just actually be doing, it'll have like more of a negative impact on your weight because you're actually going to be producing even more cortisol, which is something that you need to learn how to reduce.

MP: 32:55 Hmm. You know, it's remarkable and my hope from this episode is that our listener would, wherever they're at with wherever their conditioning is, is to take on something that moves you towards a better healthy life where you're fit and fierce. And, uh, and hopefully this episode has inspired you to take on something new. Let us know what you, what you've done or what you're committing to. You can go to The Successful bookkeeper Facebook group and declare that you're going to go sign up with fit checks or you're going to start doing 21 pushups or even one push up a day. Doesn't matter. Do something because we know that the way you approach your business, the way you work with your clients, the way you this all your work comes back to your family. A little bit of health, a little bit of fitness will make it so much better for everyone.

MP: 33:54 I couldn't agree more. Beautiful. Well, this is absolutely been amazing, Amanda. I just love your story. I, I just love the fact that you're an entrepreneur helping now so many small business, really micro-business owners find their way in health and fitness and, and inspiring them to go on and change health and fitness for so many people on the planet. It's, it's remarkable what you're doing. And uh, on behalf of our audience that are listening right now and small business owners themselves, I thank you for your generosity that you've given us today and sharing your wisdom and, and what you've been up to.

AQ: 34:35 Oh No, thank you. It's been my pleasure.

MP: 34:37 Wonderful. And we'd love to have you back and share what's happening in your business at some point in the future.

AQ: 34:44 Sure. I would love that. Thank you.

Speaker 3MPshare the best way for our listener if getting more fit or taking on being fit and fierce is up to them, what would be the best way to do that with your organization?

AQ: 35:00 So the best way would be just like to check us out at Fit chicks dot. Ca You can also check us out on Instagram or on Facebook at the chicks or fit chicks academy. Um, both of them are active and we are always posting tips and tricks and everything else and we actually do have a challenge coming up that is a health and wellness challenge. If you're interested in joining us for our virtual challenge, getting healthy and fit with us, that is something that we do have coming up in a few weeks. So we'd love to have you join.

MP: 35:29 Beautiful. Well, we'll have the links to your website in our show notes. And again, Amanda, thank you.

AQ: 35:37 Thank you.

MP: 35:38 And with that, we wrap up 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.

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

TSBK EP 149 - Benoit Mercier.png
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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.


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 good one. Our guest is a web consultant who helps small and medium businesses grow their revenues by providing powerful websites and internet marketing tools and the strategies that deliver results. Benoit Mercier, welcome to the show.

Benoit Mercier: 01:30 Hi Michael. Thank you and thanks to all the listeners. I'm very happy, very excited to be here today and hopefully, we can share a few nuggets of information that will be helpful for everyone.

MP: 01:45 I think so, and it's one of those things that I think with our listeners, and I'm sure our listener will agree, it's one of those things that we all know very important to have a website and to put out our, our best face forward to the world. However, there's just so many options and there's can be a lot of work that goes into all of this.

BM: 02:15 So I'm, I'm really excited about helping them get a few things in their mind that they can take on and really help drive results for their business through website and online marketing.

MP: 02:35 Excellent. That's what we're going to cover today. And you know, you mentioned the, the online presence and that's sort of the, the key element, having at least the website. I, there was a survey I read last year where 46% of small and medium businesses in the US did not have a website that's a bit, you know, puzzling these days. But the two most often mention issues or concerns that they had was number one, price. You know, can they afford it? Is it too much for their budget? But number two, a lot of business owners that did not seem to realize the value of the website and what can they do for the business.

BM: 03:10 So I'm hoping that today with the, the uh, the five ps, the five elements that we have for a successful website design, that the listeners will be more inclined to get their websites done and updated to attract more clients.

MP: Beautiful. And you know, it's, it's interesting how when myself, speaking for myself, I know about websites have for a long time know how valuable they are. And I think it's a curse of knowledge sometimes. I think that just everybody knows the potential and power of what a website and just to, and some online marketing can do, but it's like often we don't share those things or share enough about it because we think, well, Geez, everybody should just know this stuff. So I think this is going to be a great episode for that. And before we get into these awesome ideas, tell us a little bit about you and your career leading up to this point.

BM: 04:06 We're helping small business. Okay, so that's a, an interesting path there. So you mentioned earlier, I'm a web consultant and I've been doing that for about four years now. So helping small, medium businesses get better results online, right? Either getting people online for the first time or people that have been online for a while help them get better results and more leads, more business, more visibility, you know, whatever the, the metric is. And that's what I've been focusing on for the past few years. Prior to that, I was in the corporate world. I'm trained as an engineer, electrical engineer, and I've done marketing and business development in the corporate world. So I'm taking that skillset mostly on the business development and the marketing and I'm applying that to the small-medium business space and specifically with web-based technologies. I love it. You bring a lot of knowledge and from a few different places, which I think is really valuable.

BM: 05:10 And so one of the things that you said is like cost. Those are the two big ones of why our listener may or may not have a website, would be cost and they're just not familiar with the power of what a website can do. What, what's what have you, have you worked with people that, you know, they, those people that they haven't had a website and all of a sudden you work with them and you help get them set up in a simple way. You know, nothing fabulous or like off the chart complex, but you just gave him a little bit of help. What was the result for their business? Well, for the most part it gives those businesses and aura of legitimacy, right? So when you meet someone in a business, you give them the car, do you give them your business name? You have an exchange.

BM: 06:01 What does that person do when they get back home or back in the office? They Google you to see what your online presence is. You know, do you have a website? Do you have social media? Is this person for real? Right? So if you don't have anything, then the person you're talking to is kind of wondering like, hmm, is this guy really legit? Does he know what he's doing? You know, you're looking for social proof, you're looking for online proof. And the worst thing is if you don't have an online presence, then they will find your competitors. So not only do you not get the business in the first place, but your competitors are getting the business was kind of a double whammy. So in terms of the results, then we really help the businesses get, you know, get more traffic, generate leads. And if you're starting out in business, that's a great way to establish yourself online is by starting with the website.

MP: 07:04 You know, in this day and age as well, I think there's not a ton. I do a lot of online shopping cause it's convenient. Uh, and often what I'm finding, it's very difficult to find unique things in my local, my local street, my local mall. I need something very specific, like a piece of a part for something, you know, it's like you just can't go out and get a part for your refrigerator down at the local hardware store. So when I'm online and I'm shopping, I rely heavily on the reviews, the website. Like I don't, I don't want to, cause I don't know, I'm not there, I'm not holding it in my hands. I'm not a prior customer. So I, I rely on all that data to help me make a better decision. And so I think, right, everything you're saying is only gonna amplify as people become more astute and have, create new behaviors around how they make decisions online.

BM: 08:04 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, when us as consumers and as business owners, when we have a need for a product or service or a service, what do we do? I mean, we Google it. Why don't we go online and we look for it? And to your point, Michael, the reviews help influence us or at least help overcome some of the fears and objections that we would have with dealing with a certain business. And that's what it's really all about. If you're a, if you're not on Google, you don't really exist these days.

MP: 08:34 Yeah, you're absolutely right. And so for the most part, what we've talked about, this is really, you know, at a core level, the website, it's job before even talking about finding new customers, your example was at a network event, give your card, they're going to go and check your website out. And this is really validating

MP: 08:56 and help, helping support. The next step in that relationship with them is, are they real? What do they look like? What do you know? Is this somebody that I'd want to deal with? So the website is supporting the sales funnel, if you will. But what are some mistakes potentially that could happen that would, oh, hey, I've got my website, I'm good. You know what? What do people typically do where it's like, yeah, they got the website, they checked the box, but now the sales funnels breaking because something's happening. It's not working. All right. So one common misconception that a I come across all the time is the perception for some business owners that a website is a website is a website, right? It's kind of like saying all cars are the same and the way the websites are designed, the way they are built, you know, both on the front what we can see and also on the back end a has a lot of influence on how a business can be found online.

BM: 09:56 And I think I'd like to inject at this point, the first key. So we have this formula called the five ps of a website design. And they're a little different than the four p's of marketing, but it's kind of similar. So the first P to your point, Michael, is purpose. So what do you want to accomplish online with your web presence? Specifically the website, the web presence. You know, at large you want to be found, most businesses need to be found. You want to attract customers, right? You want to drive traffic, you want to be able to generate leads and you want to get more customers. So you know that's a purpose for, I mean you're in business to get business. So that only makes sense that you would have that as a one of the key ingredients, right? But it's surprising and how many people don't think about what their goal is when they get online.

BM: 10:46 A second goal could be to keep or retain clients. So getting them to, you know, hire you more often or increase the package so you get more revenue. You can ask clients for referrals as well, right? As a way to grow your business. And some businesses will also look at ways of streamlining their operations. So the website can be powerful in terms of collecting information on leads and on prospect. But then you need that information to be actionable. You need to do something with it in order to make it effective for your business. So that's the first P in. It's all about purpose. And do you find when people mess up that first p, what does it look like for them to be messing that up? Well, it really depends. Sometimes it's not quite obvious at first because everyone's sort of focuses on the look and feel, right?

BM: 11:42 The graphic representation, all that's a great looking website. So the, what's missing in there is not always obvious because it may look good, but you know, things like your calls to action, things like your differentiators, right? What makes you different? And that's one of the PS is persuasion. You want people to stay on the website once they get there and you want people to take action, typically you have three to seven seconds say to tell people who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and when to send it for them. Otherwise, they'll bounce. They'll go to another website, right? So the imagery that you have should be aimed at your target market. The words that you use, you know the sentences and the keywords should also be aimed at your target market and the design of the website, the layout has to encourage people to take action.

BM: 12:43 So that means it has to highlight your differentiators. You know, what makes you different or what are your points of, of strengths. And it also has to in a sense, gain the trust of the viewer, give them peace of mind, overcoming the fear and the objection that they may have of doing business with you. And again, as I mentioned in a minute or so ago, the calls to action, you could have a fantastic looking website. You can have all the differentiators you want, but if you're not encouraging people to contact you to subscribe to your newsletters, download your, uh, you know, your ebook or your spreadsheet or whatever it is. If you don't have those specific calls to action, then you're not going to get the same kind of results as you could with a different website.

MP: 13:37 In a lot of, a lot of opportunity lost without having these things in place. And based on what you're saying, you know, they can't persuasion. They come. If they, if you met somebody at a party, uh, there would be all sorts of things happening in that interaction that would make people either want to remain talking to you or to go find a go find, go ahead and hit the bar and find a drink. Right?

BM: 14:04 Yes. And so websites kind of the same way, you know, they've come there, it's like what makes, what's going to make them on a very low level? What's gonna make them want to stick around and say, yeah, I want to learn more about this person or engage with them or go forth with whatever they're, they're up to. So it's, I think that's where if I see websites all the time, I think it's a big, big mistake people make is they think they've got to put too much on the page or, or just have a lot of information that is industry-specific. That wouldn't mean anything. As I can imagine. You met somebody at a party and all of a sudden you start blurting off all the things you did right? Or you know, all this stuff. I can do this. And I like rafting and you know, hey, we can do that and I know all this stuff. You're just like you the person like automatic go get another drink.

MP: 14:52 Move.

BM: 14:53 Yeah. Right. Exactly. And that's where the importance here of the target market, right? Know who your audience is, know who you want to get as as a client. And then you reorient, you focus either the website at that target market and that's how you get better results.

Yeah. And that's, that's uh, an interesting one. And I think that gets people confused right away too. It's like, oh my goodness, I have to decide. I have to decide who my market is. What if I don't know. Yes. And then you know, it's at that can be paralyzing. So it's like, okay, uh, you just go and fill up your website with all sorts of stuff or you try to make it for everybody or you don't do it at all. And those are all bad options. So excellent employee recommendation when it comes to having people make that decision, it's like decide, yeah.

BM: 15:47 So if you've been in business for a while, then you have a better feel for your target market, your specific target clients, right? I mean for bookkeepers, you can cover all sorts of businesses, all sorts of industries. And I know that some, uh, bookkeepers really focus on one segment. So that's one aspect that you can do. If you do decide not to specialize in one specific industry, then be cognizant or think about what kind of clients you want. You know, you look at a certain dollar value, look as certain number of employees, certain number of transaction, whatever your criteria may be. Try to identify that and then develop your, you know, marketing materials. So either website, your social media and the rest of the things that is aimed at going after that market segment that you've identified.

MP: 16:45 Beautiful. So we've, we've talked about purpose, right? Purpose. You also mentioned persuasion. Was that the second one or we jump ahead?

BM: 16:49 Actually those are the third one but doesn't matter because they're all tied together, right? They all have an impact on one another.

MP: 16:56 What you're talking recently is just if I can bring up promotion.

BM: 17:02 Yes. The website is part of your marketing efforts and marketing efforts, your marketing plans, part of your business plan and in terms of how you promote your business. There's two main avenues. One is offline and one is online. Obviously my expertise is more on the online side but because of my corporate experience, I'm also familiar with the offline. So when you're talking about offline in me, it can be simple things like putting your logo on your business cards right assigned for your office. Some people like to have a uniform right or a shirt with the logo and worry there is some people have signs on their cars or their, their, their SUV is as they drive around.

BM: 17:43 There's also a traditional media either you know, direct mail or um, your local newspaper, magazine advertising, things like that. And personally I'm a big fan of networking. You know, you go and meet people face to face, either through your board of trade, your chamber of Commerce, your BNI, or your whatever networking organization you belong to because then it helps to build a bit of the rapport, right? The offline activities that you do should drive traffic back to your website for the reason we mentioned before. When you meet someone, they check you out on Google and check you out on the web. But also when you give your business card, it should have your website on it so they have a quick way, easy way of checking you out. Right. And then the online side of things, I mean obviously the website is a key component to their social media.

BM: 18:36 There's online ads either through Google or Facebook or Instagram or you know, whichever platform. There's SEO, so search engine optimization. There's different tweaks and things you can do on the website to be found more easily. The blogging, video, blogging, there's newsletters, webinars, email marketing, Google my business. There's a lot of things on the online marketing side and the online and offline kind of feed each other. Right. I mentioned the offline you want to drive people online and your online presence should hopefully generate leads for you that you get to go and meet with the people in person. And I know a lot of a bookkeeping gets done remotely, so does the digital marketing business. But I always like to meet with clients at least once in the beginning to, you know, get to know the person, establish the rapport and then periodically having, you know, you know, regular touch points with the client also is good.

MP: 19:34 So online and offline promotion work hand in hand in my, uh, in my opinion. I agree. I agree. And it makes a lot of sense. There's all these things that we're doing in the more that we do them, the, the traditional offline activities, networking, any kind of promotion, but it all has to come back to the website. The website is a key place and we want to make sure we get the, the purposes right. We have the persuasion right. It's been figured out so that people are going to continue forward in the next and the next bit. So we've covered purpose, promotion and persuasion. What's the fourth?

BM: So we're at the productivity stage. So with persuasion, uh, you know, you have your points of difference that have been highlighted. You have your calls to action. Hopefully they filled out that form for your newsletter. You the contact us form.

BM: 20:24 Now that you have the information that becomes a lead, that is building the sales funnel you were talking about earlier and that's where you're trying to convert those leads into actual customers, right? Do you want to create a wow factor? Um, you know, they've taken the step to contact you. So now you need to, um, a way to still show the value that bring and um, something like email marketing is a very effective tool of that, right? Cause you can set triggers, you can set automated responses. When people contact you, you can send them information on your products and services. Uh, you can just send them maybe case studies or testimonials or you know, reviews from different platforms. And then again, that still helps to gain the trust, build your credibility, build your authority in, you know, as the expert in what you're doing. This is the, the phase where things happen, right? We know from sales training, but typically it takes five to 12 touchpoints with someone before the actual can actually become a client. Right? So all these touchpoints you do with the online and offline promotion, all the little bits with the, the, the persuasion side and now all your emails or phone calls, all that all contribute to those multiple touchpoints in order to help you convert those leads into a client.

MP: 21:58 You know, it's remarkable what can be done with automation as well. And you spoke a little bit about that when you said to avoid the, the email followups. And I like to say I, I like to say that this is, is a bit of an advanced move. I mean if you don't have a website that's like, and you haven't optimized that in a way that we've been talking about today and it's definitely a place to start, but then it's pretty exciting. What can be done with a little bit of automation where, okay, someone's contacted you and you send them some information and, and you know, maybe you're going to nurture them a little bit with a few emails that are valuable to them. Tell us a little bit about that because it is a bit advanced and you know, this is probably an area that I would assert not many of our listeners have. They probably thought about it or maybe heard about it, but have not taken the steps down that road. Tell us a little bit about that.

BM: 22:47 That's a very good point, right? The, the nurturing aspect, you know, going back to the, the touchpoints, cause even when someone is a client, you still want to keep them happy, right? Seven out of 10 people who leave you or leave your business will do so because they perceive that you don't care. Right? So a way to show that you care is to provide, you know, valuables and information, timely information or just some general knowledge about, you know, the industry, whatever is of interest to, to your target client. Right? And that a continuous nurturing is the fifth p, which is persistence and Nielsen productivity leads into persistence. And that's where you're not only building the relationship with the client but maintaining it and enhancing it over time. It's about, you know, generating repeat business for, uh, your business and you hopefully increasing the spending that your clients have with you.

BM: 23:49 Your clients can also be a great source of referrals, right? So you can automate some of the communications with the client. You know, you could have some seasonal information around your tax time, around, you know, the income tax filing things, uh, things like that. Uh, it could be some PR promotion that you're offering or you can ask for referrals or asking for reviews. And you mentioned earlier that social proof, you're looking at the reviews when you're not sure, you're comparing two different people, two different businesses that look sort of similar. Look, you know, pretty good. But one has, you know, 200 great reviews and one has five great reviews. You're skewed a bit on, on one side as opposed to the other, right? If you have a newsletter, you share that with the people. That's a great way to stay top of mind. You know, just a regular blog.

BM: 24:36 A simple blog doesn't have to be a very extensive, but it just shows that you're thinking of them. You Care, you share, right? Um, triggers also can be done automatically on the either anniversary and you know, the like you've been a client one year, two years, three years. You could do that also on their birthdays. You can send a welcome a series of emails you get, you can do surveys, feedback. How did we do, you can ask surveys on what are the top three challenges you face in your business? And then that gives you food to create blogs, new pages, newsletter content. So there's a lot of things that can be automated there in terms of the relationship that touchpoints and keeping the clients engage with your business or time.

MP: 25:23 MMM. Wonderful. Now there's a lot to that and that would be probably one of the areas I would assert people start reaching out to you to get help with something like that. Um, any favorites in terms of the way, because you would need some sort of a CRM or some sort of a tool that would facilitate the sending of these emails and that sort of thing. What are some of your favorites?

BM: 25:49 Uh, well our company bloom tools, we have, um, created our own platform, our own content management to assist them that we design in the, develop the websites on. We also have our own email marketing and our own CRM programs. So we use the tools that we've developed internally. And I know there's a lot of, a different tools out there for both email marketing and a CRM that a, a lot of people use and have been getting great success with. Right.

MP: 26:19 Very good. So I was, that's interesting. So you've developed your own suite of products to help small business with this. What, what was that journey like?

BM: 26:30 Well, the, uh, the journey, so the company's been around since 2004, uh, and it actually started in Australia. So this, a really smart kid in university started doing a websites for businesses. And you notice that no, he was kind of repeating or recreating the same coding, similar kinds of, of, uh, of coding and programming for the different websites. So he said, you know what, it makes sense if we had our own platform and there were third party platforms available at that point, but to, he undertook the, the challenge of creating the platform, um, on his own. So we put a team together and uh, so the company's been in business for 15 years, which, you know, an intranet time means it's like forever. Um, and we've moved into Canada about five years ago. We have Canada clients in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and we have a few in the u s as well.

MP: 27:30 Very interesting and very, very exciting. And so, you know, if our listener is listening right now, they may not have a website. So that's step one, right? It's a, is to, to take on starting that they may have a website that they've just, someone put it up or they put it up themselves and they've did it in a silo and perhaps it could use some optimization. And then there's, and then there's the third level, which is habit. It's working somewhat and, and there's an opportunity to optimize what they've done and make it more productive. Move into that, uh, persistence and PR productivity levels. Uh, which were, uh, the fourth and fifth concept. What would you say for, for those three groups, best starting places?

BM: 28:22 Ah, best starting places in terms of what specifically? So for the person who doesn't have a website, right, what's the starting point for where to go? Yeah, well, you know, obviously if you, you know, know a web consultant like myself and like many others out there, and that's a good way to, to, to get the dialogue going. You can always do research online. There's a number of, of companies that do provide, uh, a web foundation. You know, you see the ad sometimes on late night TV, you know, Wix, Weebly have go daddy, you have, you know, wordpresses as the big ones. So I, I do a little bit of Google search to find out what, you know, what's available, what works for you, look at your budget also, right? Your budget can determine, you know, what you're going afford, how big you want to make it, how complex or how simple. And that's where a consultant can help guide you. It's like, okay, you know, you want the full a full bells and whistles or you just want a basic information website, right? So the consultant can guide you and um, usually your local board of trade or chamber of Commerce, there be a number of digital marketers or website developers that are available. So we just have a chat with one of them and you know, get the, pick their brains, see what a, would they recommend.

MP: 29:40 Beautiful. That, well, it sounds

MP: 29:42 like a great step for whatever stage they're at is to get some help to do some more research. This has been great. I think a lot of my biggest takeaway is that a, our listener really should be looking at where they're at with their website and putting a little bit of energy and investment into that because it will return to the business. If it's done correctly. It will help you be better at converting people you meet at networking events. It will help find new customers that you don't even know exist today and as well be a tool or resource potentially for existing clients that are at, that are working with you. So I think all of it is very worthwhile to, to be taking a look at. And Ben, while it's been great having you, I want to make sure that people can find you.

MP: 30:26 So what would be the best way if they were like, hey we like this, I'd like to learn more about you. What would be the best route to do that?

BM: 30:44 Uh, best route would be email and a second best route would be my website.

MP: 30:53 Beautiful. And so is bloom tools, Mississauga dot. Ca. Would that be the best link for them?

BM: 31:03 That is the correct link for the website. Absolutely.

MP: 31:07 Excellent. More of course. Have those in the, in our show notes and if you'd like you can, you can give your email as well. We can put those in the show notes for you as well.

BM: 31:19 Okay. That's excellent.

MP: 31:21 Beautiful. Well thank you again and for our listener, I challenge you to take a look at your website. Make some stuff happen and take these great tips and resources from Benoit Mercier and make it make money for you and your business.

BM: 31:45 Thank you, Michael. Thank you for the listeners and good luck in business for everyone out there.

MP: 31:55 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.

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:16 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. Our guest is a registered clinical counselor from Campbell River, British Columbia. For those of you don't know right there on the west coast of Canada. She has 20 years of experience working with men and women of all ages, couples, children's and teens. Frances Ferguson. Welcome to the show. 

Frances Ferguson: 01:40 Thanks very much, Michael. Really glad to be here with you. 

MP: 01:43 Yes, and I am just excited about this episode because businesses, a our listeners or our bookkeepers building their businesses and any business has human beings in it, and when you have human beings, there's often challenges that come along with being a human being. So I, I'm, I'm excited about having this topic addressed on the podcast. 

FF: 02:06 That's great. There's multiple challenges just being human. 

MP: 02:10 You got it. You got it. So now before we get into some of that, I'd love to hear your story, your journey leading up to where you are now. 

FF: 02:21 Okay. I'll try and be brief. I've had a, a journey over a number of areas. I graduated high school many, many years ago, quite young to have no idea what I wanted to do. And, uh, I ended up just taking as general course, which taught me how to, what they call keyboarding now and some basic office skills work for a law firm for a number of years. And then I got married and, uh, my husband and I started a business. Uh, we started in audiovisual production business from scratch in Winnipeg and talk about learning on the fly. Talk about working hard. We worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and learned a lot about work and family conflict. Uh, in that, um, I decided, well, W we, uh, decided to separate and uh, I decided I wanted to go back to university. So I been taking some night courses and did that and eventually left the business, went to university full time. 

FF: 03:15 I eventually got my Master's degree. And interestingly, a thesis that I did for my master's was balancing work and family conflict in entrepreneurial women. So I, uh, was in contact with book 200 women across, uh, Manitoba who were running their own businesses. So have some direct experience in all of that. When I was doing my master's, what I thought I'd be doing is stress management and working with the business community. And little did I know I'd be working with a psychologist whose expertise was trauma. So I ended up working not with a trauma, uh, kids and a lot of kids that were in care, uh, subject to an abuse and neglect. Certainly, I never thought I'd be talking to teenage boys about sexual abuse, but that's, uh, it's kind of a far cry from business stress, but there you go. So I've been in the practice now for always in private practice for just over 20 years. 

FF: 04:10 Um, did a lot of work with kids. And, uh, when I moved to the coach student 2003, I, uh, expanded my training and, uh, area of expertise in working with couples. So it's Kinda come full circle. Uh, I don't do any work with children now, but, uh, I really understand the needs of kids. And, uh, so working a lot with couples and probably 40% of my practice couples and, uh, the rest probably equally divided between men and women. It's really nice to see a lot more men seeking outcomes sling these station, uh, and really loving working with them as well. So that's kind of a snapshot. 

MP: 04:46 It's a, it's an interesting journey and I mean we, we set out to have a conversation about the impact on relationships around you working in a business as a small business owner and hear your journey. So perfect. Your, your, your journey, uh, you have experience of where you, you experienced the, the sometimes difficult stress that a business will put on your relationships. 

FF: 05:14 Sure. Have both that being married to somebody, uh, and being in the same business together, which, you know, has its own particular set of challenges. And of course, my, uh, my husband now, uh, I, this is a different kind of business, but it's still a business in private practice. So they're working, having a relationship with somebody who doesn't have their own business and, and uh, sort of, uh, the, the challenges associated with that. And learning how to respect each other's, uh, differences and, uh, my current husband. And it really helps to keep you balanced and not, not letting me work all the time. 

MP: 05:50 Yes. And a diverse, a diverse experience working with both children, right through to capitals and then individually both men and women. So you've, you've seen it, I'm sure you've seen a lot, you've heard a lot given that our listener is likely in business for themselves or thinking about going into business for themselves. Well, you know, if you were sitting down with someone like that and you were, you were hoping to make sure that they were armed with everything possible to ensure that their relationships thrive or become, you know, protected from some of these challenges. What would you, where would you start with what is important for somebody to be thinking about? 

FF: 06:33 That's a good question. Of course, I'm laughing to myself because there's so many things where you know, what is the most important? I think ultimately it comes down to setting priorities. How much do I want to work? And trying to get some kind of a balance between how much time and energy I put in a work and how much time and energy I put into my relationship. The challenge is with relationship-wise, our partner doesn't come with a manual. Marriage, doesn't come with a manual and it has its own set of challenges and we often don't know what it takes to make for success for relationship. And of course when we were shorting at business, we often don't know what it takes to make it cause successful business, but people will often put a lot of hours and time and money into their business and if we're not careful, the business can be like a mistress and we can start to be attending, giving a lot more attention to the business than to the relationship. 

FF: 07:30 So that's something that I would challenge people to really look at rates right off from the business from the beginning. Of course, when we start a business, we usually start it for, you know, whatever reasons. It's usually because we want to have some control over our destiny. We want to be able to decide our own hours, be in charge of our little life, et Cetera, et cetera. And so we put a lot of energy into, into doing it. And then, of course, we create a monster that needs to be fed. And so then we continue on that, on that monkey wheel. So we have to learn how to say no to set some limits on how much we're going to work and working smart. And I know that you have all kinds of other speakers talking about how to work smart 

MP: 08:19 Yeah, it's an interesting, I think foundational conversation here because I can relate. I am in business for myself as well. I have a young family, my wife, she, she often sees the amount of work and time that I'm putting into the business and, and she is not in business for herself. And so it can sometimes feel like I'm on a bit of an island because it is, even though there's so many business owners out there, so many entrepreneurs out there, we are definitely not the majority. And so, uh, and I don't, and I that there can be sometimes misunderstanding between those that have jobs and, and you know, there's certain things that happened in the job and there's certain things that happen as a small business owner and it can cause a bit of a disconnect. 

FF: 09:12 It sure can. And a lot of that is I think about understanding, uh, you know, if you, if somebody works nine to five and then they, you know, shut the door of their office and they go home, it's a very different world from somebody who's, uh, who has their own business, who has timelines and deadlines and, uh, you know, we don't get vacation pay and we don't get sick days paid, et Cetera, et cetera. So I think that being able to dialogue about the differences and about why we're working when we are or how we're working when we are, and be able to hear that from their side too. You know, what is it like, what does it like for them? I think one of the traps for us in a small business too is uh, because we don't have all these benefits that you do if you're employed, you know, 10 different kinds of benefits, but things like unemployment insurance and it's six days and holidays on that, there's always a certain risk that we're taking in business that any of the businesses is a one week we might not get business or it may fall off or whatever. 

FF: 10:14 There's always that and I think that's one of the things that we have to learn to get over is that fear a, a lot of us I think take on more work than probably we reasonably should because we're afraid if we say no to it, that are, we cut our work week down to 40 or 50 hours that somehow we're not going to be successful at it. And I think that's a trap. And if we learn that, yeah, it's happening, it's going, we're going to, we're good at what we do, that's going to keep it going, then it'll allows us, I think to be able to relax a little bit more and enjoy the business. And, um, then be able to enjoy our family time to, does that make sense? 

MP: 10:57 It totally makes sense. And I think like you said, when we start off, we're starting off for these certain benefits, be in control of our destiny, have a freedom flexibility, have a way to provide for our family. And if, if the point that the big piece for many is their family, right? And if we're not paying attention, we can end up with the, you know, not having the most important piece of that equation, which is our family. And I think, I think that is also something that for our listeners is to be, like you said, that mistress end of a business, that business can become this all encompassing focus. We stopped paying attention and we don't maybe see the warning signs of where it's causing stress or anxiety for our partners in that relationship. And if there's no communication or, or things that are being done to, to alleviate that and to a new, you know, new level of communication, it can just all of a sudden be gone be we a in, in great trouble. 

MP: 12:01 And so when you were, when you were talking about this, I was thinking to myself, you know, many people, you counsel people and I think, you know, you've heard of business coaches and you hear people talking about coaches, but counseling is an important piece of your, any stage of life, whether in your business you need somebody, you need some outlet, something to be, uh, discussing your challenges and, and actually identifying and going, wait a second, man, I might paying attention to all the things that are gonna end up getting me what I want in my life because of if we're not, if we think we are and we're just going about it, hitting the grind wheel, we could wake up one day and not be very happy. 

FF: 12:46 Absolutely. Right. It's sort of like waking up and living consciously rather than just carrying on. A lot of us, like you say, we start businesses for a variety of reasons and we continue them and run them the way we do for certain reasons, many of which are unconscious. Uh, we may have beliefs, for example, unconscious beliefs about our value and that I am not maybe a fear of failure. I may be a fear of success. Could be that, uh, hard work is a value, but sometimes it gets a skew because we have no appreciation for the value of play. There's various parts of us that are self-critical or self judging or okay. All kinds of parts of us that kind of get in the way of being successful. And, uh, it's so valuable for us to spend some time to get to know ourselves a little bit better and a little bit deeper. 

FF: 13:42 And the same thing with our relationship. If I'm avoiding a conflict with my partner for example, or if I turn to my business because it's easier than dealing with the conflict of at hand with my partner or with my kids, there's going to be a big Christ to be paid for that. And I need to be able to look at, hmm, what is it that I'm avoiding and, and what's underneath of that. Uh, understanding that conflict is just the difference between needs. And once we begin to learn that and how to manage that, and what's my reluctance, then I able to learn some skills to manage things significantly differently. 

MP: 14:24 Yes. And this, this really speaks to not doing it alone, not trying to do it all alone. And I think in in the world the way many have been raised, it would think like, Gee, there's something wrong with me if I can't figure this out. And so I think what would be interesting is to, to talk a little bit about, you know, there may be many listeners who've never experienced what counseling is like. And so I, I'd love for you to share what the journey might be like for somebody who's seeking counseling. It could be marriage counseling, it could be counseling around. I'm sure you've counseled people around just about everything that humans encounter in their life. What's that journey look like? 

FF: 15:09 That's a good question. Um, first of all, couples counseling is quite different for them individually. So let me start with individual. What I usually have is brief phone conversation with somebody just because most people, if they haven't seen a counselor before, don't know what to expect. So we'll have it be a brief phone chat and then we have an initial session where it's an hour and we talk about first of all about uh, how I see things and basically that everybody has problems and it's really helpful to talk to somebody outside of our circle and uh, talk about how I worked a little bit. Then I, the first session is getting, getting to know each other. So we'll get some history from people and just get to get a sense of who their family is, what the family constellation is. And it helps me to understand some of their beliefs and the values and the contexts and also their supports, their strengths. 

FF: 15:59 And then usually we'll talk about what brings them, what prompted them to make the call to come in, what would they like to see differently in their life to make things those will be the easier. So with that, we set some goals and then a plan to work on those goals. And it's as varied as each individual a. For some people, it simply wanting to learn to manage their time a little better. For other people may be depression or there may be anxiety that's been diagnosed or they're struggling with and they want to do some work with that. For many people there's an underlying history of trauma and a, we need to work through that. So it is so variable with compost, the process is quite a bit different because what we're focusing on is what is the relationship between, what is the dance between the partners in the couple? 

FF: 16:50 So again, we'll start off by getting some history, history of a relationship, what drew them to each other and what are the, some of the strengths are the things they really like about each other. Um, what are some of the things that, uh, you know, they maybe used to think were kind of cute but aren't so cute anymore. We'll talk about the stages of relationship and what to expect at various stages of relationship and where do they think they are along that continuum. And again, then what are, what is it that they're hoping, uh, out of counseling? Some people come because they have a strong commitment to their relationship and they want to learn how to make it better. Some people are ambivalent. Um, and or sometimes one person's got her hand on the doorknob to leave sometimes with there's been, um, a significant event, like an affair or some other kind of betrayal that's created in a point of crisis for the, for the couple. 

FF: 17:45 And they need to work through that. So we identify things and then we sort out a plan together about how we do it. With couples counseling, there's a lot of, um, there's a lot of education because a lot of people haven't had the opportunity to learn what makes for miss successful marriages. And so we'll talk about that. And fortunately there's lots of resources out there that that can help as well. If a couple is already strong, a lot of times giving them simply a bit of direction, okay, well here, experiment with this, try this, here's something that we know from the research is really helpful. Try this and see how it, what's the impact in your relationship? Uh, the important little thing, for example, if Hellos and goodbyes, greeting your partner when you see them as spending a little bit of time each day to connect at the end of the day, spending a half-hour a week in a weekly housecleaning just to kind of check-in and, and talk about things. 

FF: 18:43 There's a few really concrete things where people can turn things around really quickly. Learning of course, how to manage conflicts and what is my conflict style and what do I need to learn about myself in conflict and what are some really, again, really practical skills for managing conflict differently. So those are, uh, tend to be some of the topics that are in couples. It's not like there's a formalized program that I put people through. It's fairy collaborative effort depending on what the specific needs of each, each couple are in the particular struggles. Basically what we're doing is wanting to teach them how to talk to each other and make it emotionally safe for them to talk to each other about actually anything. So for each partner to be able to say, this is what it's like to be me and this is what it's like to be me married to you. 

FF: 19:35 And sort of digging that deeply more deeply into what is the meaning of things so that we're not, a lot of people just live their life on the shellfish, but it's really taking it down a lot deeper where the significant Susan, where the real connection is and the real satisfaction in a, in a deep relationship. So it can be, it can be work, but it's also for most people exceedingly meaningful work for many people slip best investment they've ever made in themselves and in their relationships. Because as I say, a lot of people don't have, uh, mentors. A lot of people didn't have very good models growing up of what a marriage looks like or what a family looks like. And uh, so a lot of a lot of us are just learning and rather than muddling through, if we get some skills, especially early on, it makes life a lot easier. Of course, there's couples where there's a lot of barb wire that's tangled up and we need to kind of do an untangle a lot of barb wire before we can get back to connection. But, uh, I, I'm always, uh, exceedingly hopeful for couples. If people are willing to do the work, uh, they can make changes. 

MP: 20:49 It's so refreshing to hear all of that. And really an invitation, I think for every single person really, whether they're in whatever challenge they might be in, in their life. But if we think about what gets us where we are, there's history and you mentioned trauma and an often people don't even know that they're, they've experienced trauma because we have, it's like, we'll traumas this and it's not that, uh, it can be anything in our life, but it's a pathway and an opening and an invitation to if there's something that's not working in life, there are many avenues to take take, to go through and to have, uh, uh, a better outcome, a more, uh, light experience in life and, and to work through these things. And like you said, one of the most valuable investments you can make into your relationship, your business, your, your life in general is to go in and seek this kind of help. And I'd be interested to know if you see any similarities between the relationship and a marriage and perhaps a relationship in a, in a, with a business. Uh, and as well, when you talk about relationships, partnerships are, there's probably many listeners that have, that are in business partnerships with other people, which is kind of like, uh, a marriage in a way, uh, cause there's a big commitment that you've made to each other. Uh, but you're not bound by marriage. 

FF: 22:20 Absolutely. Also minutely. I think the biggest investments that I can make is to work on myself. Whether or not my partner chooses to work on themselves, my business partner, my relationship partner is up to them. And hopefully they would, and then that would be even better. But if I learn within myself, for example, how to say no when I mean no rather than say yes automatically. If I learn how to express myself clearly in a way that is easily understood by other people. If I learn how to regulate emotion, how to look after my own feelings and express them accordingly rather, especially in a when things get tough or things get hot or under stress. If I can learn to express myself, if I can, if I resolve some of my underlying issues and Lord knows we all have them, then I'm able to show up with greater presence and greater compassion, greater capacity with other people, whether those people be my partner, my kids, my business partner, my clients, uh, my friends, everybody in life I'm able to, to show up. 

FF: 23:41 And that's the biggest gift I think we can give ourselves and that we can give to people around us. Ultimately, we all have the resources internally and we all have the capacity for compassion, curiosity. We're all capable, competent, caring human beings. And then we all have things that happen to us in our lives that have closed various parts of the stem or you know, we reach for various things to Kinda look after ourselves when we're feeling hurt or upset consciously or not. And the more that we can understand ourselves and kind of come back to who we really are, this compassionate, caring person, then we show up in the world differently. And when I show up differently, people respond differently around.

MP: 24:38 So true. And this applies, you know, just hearing that it's anything in one's business, one's life. An example I was having a conversation with a bookkeeper, business owner and they were talking about pricing and his revelation was that pricing is so intertwined with his own self worth what he charges and how each, how he works with his clients is him. He's bringing his life into that which can be very stressful. It can be and can go the wrong way. Uh, if you don't have a strong view there in context around your own self-worth. And so this is something that could be, could be addressed with counseling. 

FF: 25:27 Absolutely. I can look at what you know, what is, what is my value? A lot of people, for whatever reason I have been for a variety of reasons, have been shamed a hundred different ways. And so we don't know our value. And then when it comes to, especially in business, we have to know what to charge. A lot of people undervalue themselves, not that money is the whole be all and end all, but it's, it is, it is the value. I got this loud and clear. I for a while was doing quite a lot of work for employee assistance plans. Maybe there are people here that work for them and I shouldn't maybe be rate them too much, but they were asking counselors who were providing services to discount the fees as much as 50% and I did that for a little while until I realized that the person sitting opposite me in my office was making three times what I was and I had just counted my feet by 40% and I'm going, what's wrong with this picture? 

MP: 26:28 Mm. 

FF: 26:29 And that was the day I decided I won't do that anymore. Learning to value ourselves and not to the point where we're charging excessively, but that at least we're charging reasonable rates for the work that we're providing. And as we do that, sometimes people are afraid that the work won't come, but in fact, my experience has been as a, when I value myself both, you know, certainly on the financial side that that worth, but also when I value myself as a, as a human being and as I work through whatever it might've been that got in the way of I value myself, my business has actually improved significantly. And so as my bottom line, so again, it's this investment in myself and it, and it comes down to what is it that I value and then I can live, I'm going to be happiest when I'm living in accordance to my values, regardless of how much money I'm making. 

FF: 27:26 But if I can really have some sense of what my values are and what my beliefs are, I often will say to people to, when am I at my best? What's it look like when I met my best? A lot of us have never asked ourselves that question. But once we do, it's kind of becomes accomplish that. What is it going to take? How can I be at my best more? I know I'm not at my best friend working 80 hours a week. I know that I'm not at my best when I'm saying to my family, oh, later, later. Um, but I'm at my best when I'm showing up for myself, but I have time to play in the garden. I love gardening show when I have, when I am not overbooked with clients so that I can spend some time on a beautiful sunny day liquid leash today that I can go and actually enjoy. What is it then I bring that joy back into my work when I work in. So it's another example of how we can bring some of that loop balance back by setting our priorities, knowing who we are, listening to our bodies, listening to our being to say, what do I, what do we need to do today in order to really, uh, be valuing myself and valuing the other people around me. 

MP: 28:50 Beautifully said. I invite everyone listening to the new listener to invest in yourself, whatever that looks like for you. It is. This is, this has been a great conversation about living your best life. Living here. You know, you, you are the only one running the ship. And so if you're not being cared for, you're not being taken care of. You're, it will be there. There won't be much that can be done. But if you, if you stop, take care of yourself, so much can be available and you can have what you want out of your life. And I really, Fran wanna thank you for coming on the show and sharing a bit of this. This has been very refreshing just to be thinking about and, and, and having this conversation and, and opening this up for other people in the world that may not have thought of counseling or, or, or getting some mentorship or something that helps them identify these challenges in their life and create a pathway to, to move through it. So I want to thank you. You've got so much experience, you've invested so much in your life into doing this work. And thank you so much for sharing it with us. 

FF: 30:02 You're very, very welcome. Michael is so a real privilege to be able to share and I really um, really encouraged people to take the step, make the investment in themselves and counseling doesn't have to be scary. It can actually be a lot of fun. 

MP: 30:17 I love that. Now if someone wanted to learn more about you, Fran, what would be the best way to do that? 

FF: 30:23 Nope. Simplest would be to check my website, which is a tr www.talktofran.com from there. And if anybody is looking for a counselor, I work only from my home but I'm happy to make referrals from people. There are some counselors who do work online, so wherever people are in happy to help them get connected if they don't know how to do that themselves. 

MP: 30:47 Thank you so much. And we will have that link in the show notes as well. And a fan we'd love to have you come back sometime to talk about this topic again. I think it's highly critical, not only for the people who are listening, but as well the people in their lives, whether it be their clients, their, their children, their, their partners, uh, helping them navigate through life. 

FF: 31:10 Sounds good. Thanks, Michael. 

MP: 31:12 Beautiful. 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 until next time, goodbye. And one reminder, if you found this episode valuable, please let us know about it. Wherever you listen to your podcast, please leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you. 

MP: 31:38 Take care. 

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:40 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fantastic one. Our guest is from the great Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. She is a business consultant and coach who has 24 years of professional business experience in accounting, bookkeeping, income tax, and business development. Cora Lee Dunbar, welcome to the show.

Cora Lee Dunbar: 02:05 Wow, thanks, Mike. It's, uh, it's such a pleasure to be here today from Beautiful Pei. The Sun is shining. What's the weather like in Toronto?

MP: 02:13 You know what, it's, it seems we just keep going through cold weather as I'm sure the rest of the eastern seaboard can, uh, can attest to. It's been rainy and it just feels like winter keeps ongoing.

CLD: 02:25 Yes, I know. And it's been like that here too. So we're really appreciating the, the nice weather today. Absolutely.

MP: 02:31 Well, we've had a few glimmers but it's still pretty cold. But, uh, you know, I'm a, I'm from a West, uh, from western Canada and we were, we always had distinct, very distinct seasons. So this has kind of been like a little bit of home because it's like you've got the winter and then a very cool spring and nice hot summer and then back to fall. So this is been more of that.

CLD: 02:56 So yeah, he is of your baseline joyous.

MP: 03:00 Well, listen, Cora Lee, I'm excited about having a conversation with you, uh, today because you've done some really cool things with your, your business, your bookkeeping business, and now where you're at. Uh, and I'd love to, to, to get into all of that, but before we do, please let the, let the listener know a little bit about yourself, uh, and your career path leading up until now.

CLD: 03:21 Oh, sure. No, that sounds great. Well, where to begin. I mean I'm currently a single mom. What raised a two children. But to go back, maybe I'll take your right from the beginning. Um, I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family. My father, he, he liked to tinker in a bunch of different businesses. We had a campground, he's a farmer as well and we had honeybees and I think I inherited a little bit of that. I didn't get into the honeybees and the farming, but I was very entrepreneurial and uh, did a variety of things as a child. And I actually kept my own ledger from age 12 on. So I think there was a calling right from the beginning to get into this field. I did go to university, went to Mount Wilson over New Brunswick. I received my commerce degree and uh, yes. And then I got a call back here in Pei to come back for, to, um, I guess I got a call to do taxes here in Pei, which was going to be just for one season and well, 24 years later.

CLD: 04:19 And you know, it's interesting, Mike, because after I graduated from mat eight, I decided to do a road trip out west, probably I guess to your neck of the woods. And that's when I received the call from a gentleman that had just opened his doors, just started as his accounting bookkeeping business. And again, I thought, well, I ran out of money while I was out west. I'll come back for tax season and I'll head back out. But, uh, well I guess I fell back in love with the island and truly enjoyed doing the accounting, bookkeeping, a side of things. So that's, I guess a bit of an Intro of me and, uh, yeah, I, I've lived here all my life except for I do love to travel.

MP: 05:01 Wonderful. Now you and I met about four years ago and, and you mentioned you built your business from the ground up and then sold it. I'd love to know the style. I'd love to hear that story again and share it with the listener.

CLD: 05:13 Oh, sure. Yes. Well as mentioned, when I get back to Prince Edward Island, I uh, worked with Wally and he had just opened his doors. I came in pretty much right away as a shareholder. I help create the business with him. And then he retired six years later and I took over and I had hired two staff members at the time. They worked with me. We built the business. I hired another seven, eight staff, I guess there's about 10 staff members and I incorporated moved to a new location because I outgrew the old and continue to, to build the business. And I, I really enjoyed it. Our focus was mostly on professional bookkeeping, income tax and accounting. But I did temporary office help as well. And I had quite a few associates and colleagues that I worked with. I'm not a designate, I didn't go further to get my, my seat at the Thai or CPA.

CLD: 06:09 Uh, the gentleman I worked with, he did have his and I did start the process, but I thought, no, I'm more of an entrepreneur and I kept with the bookkeeping business. But the neat thing about me is that I formed quite a few alliances with the professional accountants in the area. So whether it be grant Thornton video, I had a great working relationship with them. They would even send their bookkeeping clients to me and I would uh, send any reviews, audits back to them themselves. It was a great, great relationship. And yeah, I really enjoyed working with my team, my original staff that started with me, the first two that are hired. They with me writes whenever. Well, and as I was chatting with you, I guess four years ago when I was looking to merge my business with another firm here in town.

MP: 07:03 And with, with selling your business, talk a little bit about the, what you learned along that journey. I mean, the valuation, what, what it was worth in terms of the percentage on, on revenues, that sort of thing. I'm, I know many of our listeners either, uh, are working towards selling their business or aspire someday to be in a position to be able to sell their business. We'd love to share that journey with them.

CLD: 07:27 Oh yeah, sure. Well, you know what, right from the get-go, I don't know if you've heard, I'm sure you have a e-Myth. Michael Jibber, a Haley's lily. We love Michael Gerber and yes, so he, I mean, I, I read his book even before I got into business and I thought, well, if I'm going to get into this business, I'm going to systemize it. And so right from the beginning I created systems. I had that mindset, uh, as if it was going to be a franchise. I never did franchise it, but we certainly, I took a due care and attention in terms of creating the business. And actually, that's what I really enjoyed creating a business. And when you build from ground level up, it's pretty exciting. But you do need to start with a strong foundation. So I did. And it means you need to spend money, you need to take time to do a proper build.

CLD: 08:19 And during that process, sometimes some things crumble. You got to do another rebuild. Uh, I mean, when I think of my journey, I believe in, I guess I followed the path of hard knocks because even when it came to hiring, I've hired people that I thought, wow, they've got the qualifications, I think they're going to be great stuff member. But then I realized, Oh, you know, they don't have the same values as me. So that's when we went back. I actually hired a strategic plan or along the way, because it's very hard sometimes to see, to see your own business, to see what it is that you're not seeing, I guess is the best way to say it. And with a strategic planner, they're able to help me see what I wasn't seeing. And you know, I know with clients that are just starting out, whether they're doing business plans or whatever assistance they need, I tend to refer them to some funding programs.

CLD: 09:13 And I thought, why aren't I using those and why aren't I getting strategic planners in? So I did that and that really helped. That helped me grow the business. And I also became part of an entrepreneur's form. And that was very helpful to do a round table discussion. And it's sometimes hard as an entrepreneur to just talk about, you know, what problems you're having in your business, but it's very important to form a support group and a network that you can, whether it's with different business owners, but uh, just to be able to have that conversation and say, Hey, I've run into this problem and uh, to bounce ideas. So, so yeah. And I worked very well with my staff building the business. I, I believed in shared leadership. So we met, we had regular meetings, individual meetings, group meetings to see what it is that they needed, what the client's status.

CLD: 10:10 And yeah, so it was working really well for us. You'd mentioned about, you asked what the valuing of the business, I guess Mike, even though I started with franchising or the with idea and I continued with that, I really did not see myself selling the business right away. I did get many offers more than one. And I had said no, wasn't even going to consider it, that they came in with the idea of doing emerge and so that did interest me. I was always thinking that someday I would like to partner with someone and this was a bit different. It was a merge where there was five other owners and I did decide to join with them. They did offer me a top dollar, which really made us and easy I both an easy and a difficult decision, Mike, because I really enjoyed my business the way it was. Sometimes growth. I mean I kept growing the business but I kept getting to that glass ceiling and I never was trying to get positive. What's the next step? And over a course of the year with this particular business interested in, in purchasing or doing the merge, we've played with the numbers and I wasn't shy. I asked for I guess above the going rate and they, they, they paid me dash.

MP: 11:26 It's remarkable. There's so much information that you've, and knowledge that you've given us already. And I think when you, when you build the business to in the right way, which is having solid systems and process and an EMF for our listener, if you haven't read EMF, you absolutely must read him. The EMF. Uh, Michael Gerber wrote EMF 30 or 40 years ago. Now, I think it's closer to 40 years. And his first book is, is by no means or it is the best book of all of his books is his first book. So it's a must-read. But then as well, of course, you can buy e-myth bookkeeper, which, uh, which is which, which is, is written by, um, both my business partners, Peter Cook and uh, Debbie Roberts. And both of them have been on the podcast several times. And, and as well for our listener, what you may not know is if you go into our Successful Bookkeeper community, you can actually get free shipping on the EMF.

MP: 12:28 And there's a few other programs that include e-Myth bookkeeper in that space. So go and have a look at that. As you can see from what Coralie is saying, it's, it's the book to read. I mean it's it, that was probably one of the key things that changed your, your, your destiny really around business was a sort of giving you a bit of the roadmap on how to do it. Now. You had to do a lot of work and you invested a ton into your business. I'd like to talk about the, the size of investment you think you made in time and money into building your business of, of what was it? 12 bookkeepers? 10 1210 I think you said 10. Yeah. What's the investment look like?

CLD: 13:07 That's a good question. Well, I'll tell you what got when starting out. And I must admit I was very blessed with the fact that this gentleman, that's, that uh, I was working with who I started with, he, he invested, now I know the, his initial investment, it took us three years to get the business off the ground. And you know, within an investment of, I know I put in a hundred thousand for sure, but now we're going back 25, 24 25 years ago. And he certainly put in that amount from a monetary perspective. And I know he did not get paid for the first few years at all. And I know when I took over the business, it was six years later and it was starting to grow. But again, when you do a whole revamp, I rebranded it, I gave it a new name, ABA business services, which is, which is an acronym, it's accounting, bookkeeping, income tax.

CLD: 14:01 And back then being the first in the yellow pages was very, it was a good idea. It was a good name for that. And it really worked by very first year of business. I just remember making the stuff made. Of course, I paid them, but I made maybe $8,000 so when I first took it over, it was a year later, I think my son was 10 months old when I actually just took the reigns over myself. So yeah, it took that long to really just to build the business. Even whenever he was involved, he was gradually doing his exit. And I was, and it was a time to, I hit my first baby and then when I was at with my second baby, the business was only four years old. Uh, not even, it was, uh, it was three years old and my personal relationship broke up.

CLD: 14:54 So I was raising two kids running a business. It was quite a while time in my life, but it worked out really good. You know what? My stuff became family to me. They really did. And you know, we helped each other. It was a, and we worked together and we did take the time. So we were not making fortunes. I'll tell you that. It took a bet, you know, I think when it was truly my business, whenever I took it over in 2000 I for the next 14 years, it was growing. And I mean for a while there was only taken out 30,000 and then 40,000. But I kept doing increments as I went. And you know, even when I was getting ready to do the sell, the merge, there was a lot of, um, as you're growing a business, there's a lot of change in technology as you hire more staff. But to know, Mike, I'm going to go dap back and tell you how much money I really invested into this business. But a lot, yeah.

MP: 15:52 Cause you can hear it right? And you, you hired strategic planners. All of these things add up. And, and I, the, the point that I want to make is that when you're growing a business, it's not like the business grows itself. There's, there's work, there's work to be done, there's pitfalls to be fallen into. And then there's definitely the winds and the, the highest side of the business. And so, you know, you're somebody that's gone, right. Uh, all along that journey. But when you do those investments, when you make the right investments, when you do the work and you build a system-dependent businesses, Michael talks about in his book, Michael Gerber talks about an EMF. If you build a system-dependent business, it will pay you back in the future because your business will run more smoothly. You'll have the business actually have the capability to earn you, uh, income from not your blood, sweat, and tears all the time.

MP: 16:48 And then it's also the, on the valuation, it's now were something, there's a great book called built to sell and, and I working, I mean I've worked with thousands of bookkeepers now all over the world and I always try to get that message across is if you just give that thinking, build it to sell it, not that. And some people get upset about that because they're building or their business is almost like their child, right? It's the, they have an emotion, emotional connection to it. And it's not to say that you don't want to have that connection and be passionate and love your business, but when you do your service to your business of giving it everything, it needs to be the very best that it can be in the world, right? That's what you do with your children, right? You want for your children is the business will be so much better in your life will be so much better when you do that. It's a big investment. It's a lot of time and energy. There's definitely some shortcuts that you can take for sure, but when you do it, it's now done in a way that you'll get that investment back versus spending. If you had, if you had read EMF like you, they probably would have spent 25 years and you may not have had as big as a payback as you did in the long run.

CLD: 17:58 Yes, that's right. You know what, and I really believed in the business and my stuff did too and was, I was strategic with the hire. We had a policy book and you're right, I mean any myth was huge for me because I did systemize and I did create and I kept building and oh my heart was involved too. Our punchline or a tagline was helping you achieve your goals and it wasn't about the dollars and cents. It was about building a community and building it together. And we did get to a place before I did the sell was that it was running pretty much on its own because we had the checks and balances, we always had a checklist of everything. It was all documented. We to got into a nice database as well, tracking system and we just kept growing and you just kept adding on and you cannot stop. You really can say, wow, I built it to this, now I'm just going to relax. Nope, you take it to the next level. But it's exciting to take it to the next level and it does pay back at the end. So what you put in, you get out, you really do. Beautiful. And I really put the business community to Mike. You know, I did make a presence. I enjoyed, you know, going to chamber mixers and to events and that really brought in the clients as well.

CLD: 19:21 the businesses, the businesses out there. It's not inside your office and you know, your Home Office or your, your office, anywhere you have your office, the business is out there in the world. Now there's a lot of people talk about virtual and wanting to attract people from all over the world, all over North America to work with them, which is great and it really is possible in this day and age we can attract clients. I mean, this podcast has listeners literally in every country in the planet. I mean, that's crazy to me. I sometimes can't believe it, right? You know, we've got people in the far, far corners of the world listening to this episode alongside everybody else, the majority obviously being North America and Australia. But you know, the thing is is that if I walk out the door, there is like 2030 listeners, potential listeners of this podcast right outside my door.

MP: 20:12 And that's the same for us in the, in the bookkeeping space. Your, the, the listener, your clients are small business owners, your so rounded by them and they're right out your door. And so if you don't get out there and, and be involved in and be local, you will never meet all of those people. And the, and, and the truth of the matter is that there's not that many bookkeepers out there that are actively doing this, right. These, these business owners out there, they far outweigh, uh, the, uh, the book, the amount of bookkeepers that service these, these potential clients. And they need the help desperately to help. Now you get, you went out and got involved. You met people, whether it was a cat, other accounting firms, but it was, uh, uh, getting involved with the chamber. You're now involved with the Rotarians. That's the way to find and build a really strong lead source into your business, isn't it?

CLD: 21:12 Absolutely. You know, it's all about forming relationships and, uh, you know, it's, it w and as you mentioned with business communities and, uh, with the business community, with the individuals, cause we do taxes as well, personal and business. To me it's the best business to have because you're so well rounded. You get to meet so many people from so many different walks of life. And it's, I find it's not about the numbers, the numbers are, they are, and that's what we do. But, uh, it's about the relationships. Um, yeah, even I play, my kids all play hockey and I play hockey so I have a few people from my hockey team that, uh, I would be doing their books or doing the hockey books. So, you know, it's uh, it's pretty neat. Yes.

MP: 21:59 That's really, really cool and great. Very inspiring. I think for the listener and I would say, you know, there are listeners I've met lots of listeners that it is, they feel somewhat held back from going out and, and, and meeting people just because of the nature of the work. You know, your, you spend a lot of time, it could be easy to spend all the time at the desk doing the work. Right. Sorry. How did you deal with that and, and get and get yourself out there. Did you ever feel any resistance to actually going out there and, and marketing actively marketing and basically blowing your own horn about your business? Did you feel resistance there?

CLD: 22:38 No, actually not for me. I actually enjoyed that part. And actually when I took, I have a commerce degree, major marketing, and then I got into the accounting side. I think I got the best of both worlds because accounting keeps me grounded. And, uh, the marketing side, going out to talk to clients, you know, I believe in what we offer. I truly know that we can help people and you know, they come in with a mess or they, or are they, they're looking to grow their business and they're trying to figure out what the next step is. And I know myself, I love to be organized, but I'm not the great at all or greatest person to organize. So I hire and I hire my weaknesses and you know, focus on everyone's strengths. And it's Kinda neat because when I did my hiring, I hired staff, they're all different and they all, you know, I have my backroom staff members, I had my front office, I had management as well.

CLD: 23:31 And, um, you know, again, I just, I and I took the time, both in, in the office and out of the office and I, and I call myself the Alpha and the Omega. I would meet with the clients when they come in the door. I would pass the work off to my staff members and then I would meet with them again at the end of the year. And of course, idea they're going to the different functions and, and giving back to the community as well. We certainly did a lot of that at my end. It made my staff very happy too, because we would give to, with whether it was the school or, or, or worthy organization, we would try to give back and raise money at Christmas time for charity. And, uh, yeah, so don't comes around if you create this, this dynamic and this, this atmosphere and people that came into our office, we're always very happy. They felt welcome and I made sure that my staff gave twines at the time because again, it's the human side, right? It's the relationship side. Yeah. It really made us made the business successful.

MP: 24:41 I love that there's a, one of my favorite authors, Seth Gulden, if you haven't heard of Seth Gordon, he is a Gordon Goden, however, you want to pronounce it. I'm probably then it gets gout and Seth Goden and I'm butchering it yet for Seth. He's awesome. Fantastic. This is, this is a man who's written blog. There's a blog post every single day. They're short, they're sweet, and he's been doing it for like 20 years. Every single day you'll get a post from him. And one of my favorite messages that he, it's a big piece of his, his work is as marketers, as business owners, what does the change we're wanting to make in the world? And so you talked a lot about helping small business owners. That's the change you want to make in the world and you're confident about it and you are passionate about it and you want to get out there and make that, see that change happen in the world.

CLD: 25:33 So I think that's probably one of your, your strengths and what's had you be so successful is that that was top of mind when you're going out there and any resistance was just completely pushed aside because you're just focusing on that change that you want to make in the world. And Seth often talks about how it's just forget about all the rest of things. If you focus on that change that you want to make, lead with that, go out there, have, find those people, those small business owners that are needing your help and boldly go and help them because they need that help.

MP: 26:09 It's the greatest feeling, isn't it?

CLD: 26:11 Yeah, it really is. Yep.

MP: 26:13 Yeah, it's beautiful. Now, now let's talk a little bit about you. You, you sold your business, you took a bit of time, and now tell us about where you're headed in your, the next leg of your journey.

CLD: 26:26 Yeah, sure. So when I did the merge, so let's start it as a marriage and then I eventually sold and that took over a four year period. So, and that's when I reached out to you, Mike, because again, it was, it was, I mean, I grew this, this business, it was my baby and the whole idea of selling it or edge I guess merge and then eventually sell was, it was, it was a big under, it was a big decision. And, um, so I, I did struggle with the actual merging of the business because what I didn't consider was the emotional side of it. Um, monetary brace, you know, the money was, but I was never about the money. I always felt that it would come when I was growing the business too. I always thought if you do the right things, that the systems in place create a great foundation, hire the right people, you know, it'll all come back to you.

CLD: 27:17 And it certainly did. And then when I did do the selling of the business, um, I felt that I needed to do my reach out again. And I reached out to a coach, transformational coach, and I thought, I, I do need some help because I'm doing this, transforming the business and also myself as well. And during that time I thought, you know what, why not become a coach, a coach? So I did, I went to the next level and I became a certified transformational coach for both business and personal, more the business side. I still am very much a businesswoman. And so I do that now. I sold the rest of my shares two years ago and I do coaching. I also do consulting. One of my recent contracts, actually I've headed for over a year now. It's with Pei connectors. I work with newcomers. I work with immigrant entrepreneurs who have arrived here in the island from India, I, Iran, China, and Vietnam.

CLD: 28:19 And they're looking to set up businesses. So, oh, it's a great way to give back. I really enjoy it. So that's one of my contracts. I still do some consulting work and I have done some for some of the accounting firms in town. And I'm looking at other business ideas. I really enjoy being a business owner. And, uh, so I hope to keep you posted on where this all leads to. I'm on, I'm on a great journey right now and uh, I'm loving what I'm doing, but I'm in the process of rebranding myself because the, the PDI connector role, they came to me and actually that's what my life has been. Business opportunities just tend to show up or fall in my lap and a way. So I'm actually putting together a bus tour next week, so I'm working on that right now because I do event planning as well. So I've got lots of interesting things going on and I still, yeah, I still do tax. I can't get away from tax. I, it's, it's a nice end because people, everybody needs to get their taxes done and uh, it's, it tends to lead to bigger things too, so. Yeah, I enjoy it.

MP: 29:26 Wonderful. Well, it, you're the, you're definitely a person we love to hear about and hear from. You're out there helping a small businesses. It's inspirational and a, and it does r it does our countries well, we have thriving small businesses. So I'm excited to hear where this neck next leg takes you. And I just want to thank you on behalf of our, our listener for sharing your journey. I mean this is many, many will hear this and, and have learnt or seen something that they could do differently or, or be inspired to take new actions and that is such a gift to us. So thank you for that. It's a pleasure having you on. And I would love for you to share, if people are interested in reaching out to you, what's the best way that they can do that?

CLD: 30:16 Well, you know, I don't have my website set up yet. I'm on Linkedin under quarterly Dunbar and my email Cora lee, c o r a l e e@cldpei.com and I'll give you another p I connectors is another way of getting through to me. And uh, the website is www.peiconnectors.ca. You know, and I would love to help and if anyone was interested in reaching out to me, I would certainly love to help them along the way. I do have a lady that is looking to set up a bookkeeping business right now and she actually has one, but she's looking to take it to the next level. So I'm working with her and uh, certainly love to help along the way. If there's anyone has any interest at all, that would be my pleasure.

MP: 31:08 Wonderful. Well, Cora Lee, this has been great. Thank you so much for, for joining us on the podcast.

CLD: 31:15 Well thank you. I really enjoyed this today. Yes, you take care. Yeah, thank you.

MP: 31:20 Thank you. 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 and I will say if you're listening to this and you've got value from this podcast, please let us know wherever you listen to your podcast, just click there on that review somewhere. I know some of the user interfaces are difficult on android and iPhones, but if you can find a way to leave us a review and let us know and let others know about the podcast, it sure does. Help us get the word out. Until next time,

MP: 31:57 goodbye.

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:00 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 mother of two and the editor in chief of working mother, which helps more than 17 million moms through its websites, magazine research, social networks, and powerful events. Meredith Bodgas, welcome to the show.

Meredith Bodgas: 01:23 Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:26 Oh, that's great to have you. And I think our listeners are gonna absolutely love today's topic and love you as a guest in terms of being able to share what you've learned over your journey, uh, as a mother and a, a working mother. And so before we get into that, I'd love to hear your story. Tell us about you and how you ended up being the editor in chief of working mother.

MB: 01:49 Oh, sure. So I have been in the magazine world, uh, since college, so that's, uh, I don't want to give away my age, but let's say it's close to a couple of decades now. And I was at many women's service magazines that have, have since gone bust, like Ladies Home Journal and a well family circle is still around. I did some wedding magazines for a while and then I got into the parenting world actually before I was a parent myself. But I had been a nursery school teacher while taking classes in college. So that parenting and child rearing had always been an interest of mine. And I worked at parenting magazine and that was my favorite, favorite job. So then I actually had children of my own starting with my son Jeremy. And I was lucky enough to get the job as the editor in chief of working mother magazine.

MB: 02:39 And while I was there I became pregnant with my second child and his name is Zachary and Jeremy is now five years old and Zachary is one. And it has been a great place to be as a working mom obviously because I'm surrounded by other working parents who have been there themselves professionally. But also just get, they understand what moms and dads need to be successful at work and at home and how they can support me to do that. And I've also been in the digital world for quite some time too. And that is why this job is the perfect marriage of my interests being parenting and magazine making, but also website making. So I'm in charge of social media for working mother. And as you said, we have a pretty large audience. We're on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, uh, Twitter. You can find us pretty much wherever you go. On social media and our magazine comes out four times a year. And if you're not already a subscriber, we do deliver to Canada and we'd love to have you and you could visit working mother.com to subscribe.

MP: 03:43 Wow. That's incredible. And, and what, uh, what an incredible amount of moms that you're, you're helping a 17 million. It's, it's phenomenal. I'm sure you're learning new things, not only about being a mother and working, but as well the business of getting information out out to people and making it all work. You have obviously been there. You're a mother, you're working. What did you find when you started to have a children and, and your career? Was there any conflicts for you? Was it, was it challenging?

MB: 04:21 Oh, sure. Um, even in under the best of circumstances, being a working parent is still difficult. I was at women's Day magazine when I welcomed my first child and I was surrounded again by a lot of other parents, mostly women, um, and mostly moms who understood, you know what, when I have to leave at five o'clock, it's, I mean, no offense, but I gotta go. If I want to see my baby before he goes to bed and because daycare is only open so late and I had quite the commute from the middle of Manhattan to at where I live in the suburbs. So it was great to have their understanding and support. But getting back to work was really difficult for me. Now having had a second child, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression the second time. I wonder if I had it the first time because I remember having a lot more trouble adjusting to being back at work.

MB: 05:12 Post maternity leave. My first day back, I cried the whole time and luckily I had an editor in chief at that time who had been there and she said, yeah, you know, I'm, I'm an American. So our maternity leave policies are not anywhere close to what Canada has. I was back in a chair at 12 weeks postpartum and that's, that's not really enough. Um, I hadn't healed physically and I definitely hadn't healed emotionally yet. So she allowed me to cry in her office and I got nothing done that first day. And even though everybody was understanding around me, I pride myself on my work ethic so I was not comfortable with the fact that I was not producing anything that first day back and I had to get used to pumping. That was a brand new thing for me and three times a day in a new place and not knowing exactly what the setup will be, what the time constraints are.

MB: 06:05 I worked in a building that had a special wellness center, really nice place just for pumping moms and there was competition to get rooms even though they had three separate rooms and only so many of us were pumping moms. There were prime times and not prime times and if you wanted a prime time you sometimes had to bargain with the other ones who had already been there for longer than you to get those times. So it wasn't an easy transition back. My first time, my second time it was, it was easier. I was able to take 16 weeks off and that extra month for me made a huge difference and I had gotten the diagnosis and I was on medicine and that helped me. So I think that that is something, there's a lot of stigma around still. And with my first, you know, that I was so terrified of being diagnosed, I think I was not entirely honest with my doctor and that hurt me at work.

MB: 06:59 So the second time around went much more smoothly. I was excited to be back. I knew what I had to do, I knew what to expect from pumping. I had already checked out what the area was going to be for me and with some help from my colleagues, we made it even better than it was. So it's still, it's still challenging being away from your children when they're still so little and needy is, is difficult. And working with a team who understands your time constraints and figuring out ways to be as efficient as possible so you can give your all to work while you're working and give your all to your family while you're with your family. That's the name of the game.

MP: 07:36 Wow.

MP: 07:45 It never ceases to amaze me what mothers have to go through raising children. And you know, as a father myself, I, you know, I have my own challenges but nothing in comparison to what women have to deal with psychologically, physically. Right. And in this, in your story, there is many messages, one of them being having supportive people around you. It's not probably common that every organization would have the type of support and openness about what you're dealing with. That's true. What would you recommend for people that don't have those supportive environments? How do they get out and, and get supportive people around them?

MB: 08:34 Sure. The biggest thing is that people who are not immediately supportive aren't necessarily mean spirited. They just might not know. There's still, even though there's so much information online and people are more open about giving birth and coming back to work and all that goes with it than ever before, there is still so much mystery around what, uh, delivering mothers go through. So my advice is always to tell people, you know, sometimes it might be too much information for them, but that's the only way people are going to, people who aren't parents themselves are going to understand what you're going through or even people who are parents themselves, there are plenty of dads and others out there who might have children in their family or you know, their parents themselves, but they don't remember what it was like or they were left out of the, you know, the ugliness that's associated with giving birth and those early stages with a newborn that they really don't understand what their coworkers are going through.

MB: 09:34 So I, I give facts, you know, not to the point of, of grossing anyone out, but I say, Hey, I'm going to be away from my desk for 30 minutes because I have to go pump. And you know, one time someone said, pump what? And I explained I have to pump breast milk using a breast pump so I can feed my baby when I get home later. And when he's at daycare tomorrow and you know, the, the young man's eyes just almost, almost burst out of his head. But that was really the first time he had heard somebody talk about pumping something as natural as, as giving birth itself. He had just never encountered it before. So I think from that moment on he was kind of like, oh, is there anything you need? What can I do to help? And it's just, it's just sharing that information with people, sharing your experience, being as open about it as you feel comfortable.

MB: 10:22 Of course, you know, don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. But until we get to a place where all the things that women go through coming back to work after having a child is shared openly, then they're still going to be a lot of, a lot of difficulty in making that transition back. So tell people everything you're willing to tell them and ask them, do you have any questions about it? You're a better source for them than them just going off on the Internet and trying to find reliable information. A woman is going through this herself. And if you have a good relationship with that person, be the source for them and ask for what you need. You know, for me it was, I needed more than the paid maternity leave that was offered at my current company. Yes. Even at working mother, we are owned by a larger company that has many other magazines under it.

MB: 11:12 And our maternity leave policy was not up to snuff. It was, we were not on par with our magazine publishing competitive competitors, and it was up to me if I wanted to make a change for everyone who came behind me, I was the best person to make the case to our white male CEO who's a dad. But he had never given birth himself. I believe his wife was a stay at home mom. So I educated him on exactly what the kind of policy that parents need to make a successful transition back to the workplace. And I made the business case for it. That's the other thing, showing people that spending a little money short term to maintain great workers is worth it in the long run. So just ask for what you need and spell it out for them.

MP: 11:59 Beautiful. I love that. You also talked about on the second go round, you had a plan, you knew what you dealt with and you figured out a plan to minimize the impact that it would have on your life. It was this something that you had learned or someone mentored you through? Where did that come from?

MB: 12:20 A firsthand experience. It's from the first time when I came back to work, I was not prepared for how difficult it was going to be. Being away from such a small child and making sure that my schedule was as efficient as possible, making sure that I was not saying yes to everything I got. People had asked me to be involved and I was only saying yes to what I absolutely needed to be there for. I just learned that I needed to delegate better than I had been and making the plan was just, it was the byproduct of seeing how I could have been more successful in my first transition back. But I fully believe that moms and dads are more successful when they have somebody at their office who has been through this before and will be the one to take initiative and say, hey, it's going to be really hard when you'd get back for lots of reasons, but here are the, you know, here are the three things I think you should focus on.

MB: 13:14 And I think a lot of parents would respond very well to that kind of coaching because all it does is help them make a smoother transition. And you know, not everybody has a hard go at it. Some people are, are really excited to go back to work and really want to, and you know, they snap right back into their routine. But not everybody does that. And having somebody who has been through it before, especially at your own workplace, you know, a lot of small business owners, if there's somebody who has got, who's you know, made the transition back to work after, after taking leave, if that person can help the next person and really just explain their experience and be the person who answers their questions, I think a lot of workplaces would be better off and not just the parents would benefit.

MP: 14:00 Mm. Well said. You, uh, have mentioned, and there's been a bit of writing around the guilt that mothers face. Can you talk a little bit about that?

MB: 14:10 Sure. So there are so many mixed messages sent to mostly to mothers, to dads to increasingly so, unfortunately. So dads are getting more mixed messages than ever, but women traditionally historically have been getting the most missed mixed messages. And what I mean by that is we're told you should stay home with your children. And in the same breath we're told you should be contributing to your family's income. But those are obviously contradictory statements. So what winds up happening is moms working moms and stay at home. Moms wind up feeling incredible amounts of guilt, no matter which path they choose or which path they have to go down. Sometimes it's not a choice. If you, if you don't have the skills to make enough money in a career, then daycare might not be affordable for, for you given your new salary, given the salary you could make.

MB: 14:59 And on the flip side, if you know you are, you have a partner or you don't have a partner who doesn't make a lot of money or you're a single mom, you might not have a choice. You have to work. So whether you have a choice or you don't have a choice, there is a lot of feeling of shame that you're not doing enough for your children or you're not doing enough at work. And that is constantly a battle with people who, you know, love their families, which is most parents and people who want to do a really great job for their employers. So it's, it's difficult. It's something that's kind of all consuming if you let it be. But you just have to decide, know, here are my priorities and it's not your priorities for the rest of your life. It's here's my, here are my priorities today. Sometimes my husband will be my priority. Quite honestly. Sometimes he won't pay. Um, but you figure out exactly what you need to get done that day and you take it day by day and decide what is most deserving of your time at that moment and how do you make the most event.

MP: 16:06 I can appreciate that. And, and you know, being a father, it is often such a busy world, right? And, and, and they want, they just want our attention. Uh, they want the love, they want to play with us. They want all of these things. And, and our world does not always permit that. And so the, the guilt can creep up around am I providing enough, is there enough quality time is there, is there, is there these questions? And, and so I like the, the aspect of one day at a time and, and also w for myself, it's, it's hey, looking forward. It's like, well, you know, that was yesterday. What did we do? What can we do better today? And, and it's, I'm reminded by so many of our wonderful audience, we have many, many listeners who have already been here if they'd done that, they've, you don't have older children that have moved on perhaps even into their lives now and, and, and many, many grandmothers and grandfathers.

MP: 17:07 And they keep saying, it's like, you know what, that time in your life is very short and it's going to disappear and you'll want it back and you won't be able to have it back. So take it one day at a time. Be Gentle on yourself and always support your support yourself by being around people who have been there and, and can provide, provide that help. Now, like you said, everybody deals with these situations differently and it speaks to this concept of balance that people talk about, you know, how do you balance all of it and make it all work? What, what, what do you have to say about that?

MB: 17:42 Well balance has become a bit of a dirty word, at least at working mother, because we're, we're never completely in balance. We like to talk about integration and, and just doing the best you can at each, each hour of the day rather than having everything be 50, 50. Um, so you try, you, you give your best when it's most important to give your best. So what I mean by that is if you, like for instance, right now you are my priority. I am speaking to lots of great moms out there and it's so important to me that nothing else is detracting from my attention. And that's the kind of decision I make on an hourly basis. So when I'm at work, it's usually work. That's my priority. But of course, if daycare calls me, hey, your child is sick and needs to be picked up right away, well then I'm out of balance.

MB: 18:33 But that's okay because I'm going to pick it up later or the next day, or I'm going to delegate to somebody who could pick up the slack for me while I get my child. And Luckily I, you know, I have a very small team, there's just five of us, but we all have each other's backs. There's three of us who are moms and two who don't have children yet, but they have lives outside of work. And I show them that their lives are as important as my life, even though I have a few more responsibilities than they might. But if they need to come in late or leave early, okay. Because they're going to allow me to do that when I need to do that. So, you know, even though it's never perfectly 50% family, 50% work, because also that's not the, our entire lives we have, we have interests and hobbies besides family and work.

MB: 19:19 And if you're, you know, if you're talking about work-life balance, it's usually just family-work balance. So nothing is 50% 50% it's a little bit of everything when, when it makes sense to prioritize that particular item and it's just calling on the people who can help you. And even though, you know, we're not all privileged to have people who can help us, finding people who are, who you are willing to, to help, that automatically makes them want to help you too. So just give you, give what you get and you get, you get what you give.

MP: 19:51 Mm. Yeah. It's uh, it's remarkable. I would imagine you've got a small team, but that small team is essentially collecting information that is very specifically geared towards educating working mothers. So you, you must see lots of, of the, uh, the conversation around the problems that are happening out there and that the challenges that they're facing as well as a lot of thought leaders and people that are helping to provide education and information to help solve those problems. What would be the big Aha moments that you've had working, uh, with working mother?

MB: 20:33 Sure. So, um, there have been so many that I'm just going to focus on all the things I've already learned today. So, for instance, uh, I read, I came across a story about a, um, a working mom who believes that instead of exit interviews, when somebody is leaving a company, they'll meet with HR, they'll meet with some other person who is responsible for finding out why they're leaving and what the company can be doing better instead of those, or at least in addition to those, why not have life stage interviews. And I think that's a brilliant concepts. And what I believe the author meant by that is when somebody is welcoming a child, come back to work. Don't just, you know, here's your job. Do your job now you're a mom. Just continue doing what you're doing before. Have take a step back and have an interview about what is going, what has changed in your life and what about the job might have to change as a result?

MB: 21:29 Or what about the job can change and come to a compromise together with management and your team and figure out what is going to be the best. I think that is a way to keep people happy and to make sure everyone is doing their best work. Because if you don't openly discuss how things have changed, then you're just going to do things the way they've, either they've always been done or the way that you think they should be done. It needs to be a dialogue and everyone needs to come together and recognize that there are many challenges and come up with some solutions together. So that's one thing I read today and the other one, there was just a study, a survey released that found that moms working moms don't necessarily want raises, but they want help with affording childcare. So you would think that, oh, you know, money is money, but it turns out it's not.

MB: 22:22 They just want reliable childcare that they can depend on. That's high quality where their children are learning. So, you know, even though personally like, yeah, I want to re but, um, most bombs, they want help with securing childcare because at least in the United States, it is really difficult to find a spot at a high-quality childcare center that you can afford, that your child can stay at, you know, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM five days a week. So, because that's so difficult, companies really have an opportunity to step up here either with onsite childcare or just resources that connect their employees with different childcare centers that are out there to make the transition to going back to work easier and making sure that these children are well cared for and that the service is affordable.

MP: 23:19 Absolutely. It's there, there are so many challenges in our society with work and keeping up with our own lives, our own health and the speed of, of change. And then add to that family's children, you know, the impacts that these have, these decisions that we make have on our children and how they learn. And so there's, there's lots of challenges. And would there be, uh, uh, for our listener, I mean, I and our listener, uh, many of them run small businesses and many of them are solo. They work by themselves on their own. What have you found or heard with what they might be dealing with? You know, they, they don't have an organization. It's like, you know what they, what they, they're in charge, right? So, you know, they, they, they have some unique challenges I would think. And I'm sure of your 17 million, uh, there's probably a good chunk of them. Right?

MB: 24:11 Definitely. So the, um, for business owners, entrepreneurs, um, or you know, just people who are working for themselves, the, there is still power in numbers. Even if you are a one-woman show, joining together with like-minded folks in the same position as you, you know, sometimes you consider yourself competitors to these people, but talking with them and sharing your specific challenges and that bonding together to provide solutions. If you do have other people on your team, figuring out ways together to help those. So for instance, now coworking spaces are popping up all over in the states. I don't know about in Canada, but I know, you know, at least in the big cities in Canada, it's happening there too. And those coworking spaces, the next step is going to be onsite childcare at those coworking places. And that is something that could be a huge change that could make a huge difference in the lives of entrepreneurs and business owners who tend to work by themselves or with very small teams because they, you know, they're not at a big company that can provide those benefits for them.

MB: 25:21 But they can go to these spaces. And one of the benefits might be childcare, right on site or a discount at a nearby childcare center. But the only way to find out about those is to talk with others in your area who do the same thing as you do, or at least who are in a similar situation in that they're not, they don't belong to a large organization that just offers these benefits to everybody. So it's really just meeting those people, finding them. You know, Facebook obviously is great for finding everyone who's exactly like you or at least very close to what you're dealing with, what you're experiencing and talking with them and connecting with them. So join those groups, join those, those subreddits also and meet those people and that's the way you're going to find out exactly what's available in your area or if it's not yet available, how you can work together to make it be, you know, there are a lot of people out there who are starting their own coworking spaces because there's a need and if the larger coworking companies haven't come to your area yet, you can be the one to make a space that has childcare.

MB: 26:28 It's not going to be easy of course, but if you're joining, if you're banding together with other folks that can make a big difference in their lives, in your life and so many others.

MP: 26:38 So refreshing. I absolutely love that concept. And you know, it, it's, it really speaks to community, you know, having a shared space where those shared people are helping each other with whatever problem that they're having or challenge that they're facing. Whether it be shared childcare or other resources. It really speaks to together we're better. We can accomplish so much more. This has been a fantastic conversation. I would love for people to learn how they could learn more about you learn more about working mother, what would be the best way for them to do that?

MB: 27:17 Oh sure. So visit working mother.com we post the most inspiring, the funniest and the flat out enraging stories that matter to working moms and working dads. We do all, even though our name is working mother.com we are very interested in talking to dads and we support them to, we have our best companies for dads list. Last year was our inaugural year. We're doing it again this year, so join us, visit working mother.com go to Facebook, check us out there. We're working mother magazine on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter at underscore working mother underscore. Just follow us where we are and that is where you'll, you'll learn too much about my life. But it's also where you'll get a lot of advice and just and see what else is going on out there. Finding the things you didn't even know you needed to be mad about and what to get mad about and then of course, what to do about it to improve the situations for others like us.

MP: 28:12 So, so awesome. You've been amazing in sharing your wisdom, your personal story on behalf of our audience who many may be dealing with some of the things that you've shared about on this episode. I want to thank you for your time and generosity with the things you know.

MB: 28:30 It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

MP: 28:33 It's been great. 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 in one little message. If you found this podcast episode to be valuable, please let us know about it. Wherever you listened to your podcast, leave us a review and let us know what you're getting value out of this podcast. Until next time,

MP: 29:00 goodbye.

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:31 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 registered holistic nutritionist, bestselling author and media personalities, helped thousands of people enjoy allergy free food that tastes great and assist the body in the healing process. Julie Daniluk, welcome to the show.

Julie Daniluk: 01:56 Oh, it's so great to be here. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I love that you've built this great community that everyone can feel supported. It's such an important job.

MP: 02:07 Thank you. We're, we're, we're proud of the community as well. There. There are people out there helping small business owners and we know that when we help small business owners, we begin to solve some of the world's greatest problems, society's greatest problems. So they're, uh, they're our heroes in a way. And so I'm excited to have you on the show to share about nutrition and how we can help them. Not only, you know, when we think about nutrition or eating right, it's like, ah, yeah, we've got to do that to be healthy. But there's so many fringe benefits that come with, with being healthy and doing healthy things for our body, like productivity and energy and all these things that really help our listeners, I think in their day to day business in the and, and lies in what they do. So before we get into all that good stuff, tell us about you let our listener about you and your journey into nutrition and how you ended up making this your calling.

JD: 03:05 Well, I ended up, uh, fascinated by nutrition very early because my mom took me off cane sugar and artificial dyes and artificial preservatives when I was really little because I had attention deficit disorder and I also had a terrible issue with, uh, focus. So I had so much in the way of learning disabilities that my mom was like, well, what can I do to help my daughter? And she discovered the work of Dr Feingold. So by taking me off all these artificial foods, I couldn't believe it. My grades went from D's to A's overnight and I ended up having just such a wonderful awakening and could get a good night's sleep. I used to be an insomniac as a kid. Um, so that was my first sort of, I was lit up by nutrition and then I went to theater school to become an actor. And a really found a lot of my habits started to come up where I didn't have a lot of money, I didn't have a lot of time.

JD: 04:01 And I found myself reading more about nutrition than Shakespeare because I found my health started to go down and then went on a trip to Asia and boom. That was like the worst decision cause I ended up eating the wrong pad Thai and nearly died of food poisoning. And so when I came home, I had to double up my efforts to heal and thank goodness I had a huge amount of good nutrition draining to draw from and created my book meals that heal inflammation as a way to heal my own gut. And then many people have read it and absolutely love meals. I heal inflammation because it not only addresses inflammation of the gut, but let's face it, when you heal the gut, you heal your joints, your muscles. So if someone's in chronic pain listening, know that when we move to the anti-inflammatory food choices, we see a huge improvement in the pain and people really do get back to a productive life.

MP: 04:55 It's remarkable really, when you think of the human body and what happens when you put certain things into it and what can happen when you don't put certain things into it. Uh, I'm, I'm blown away by it and I'm, I'm really excited to hear some more about that and I'm just even so myself personally, uh, in the last mile, it's gonna be a year and a half about, I cut out Mudgee. I don't cut fully cut it out, but sugar, right. So I use sugar in my coffee. I would eat desserts regularly. I mean I just didn't really, I didn't eat a lot of sugary stuff. Like I didn't need a lot of soda drink soda or those sorts of things. But I, when I started looking at it, I actually was consuming a lot of sugar. So it's been about a year and a half of that and, and the, the change in immediately the change was remarkable.

MP: 05:53 Plus a ton of weight, which was probably Oh, influence. Like what do you call it, put you inflammation and retain retention of water, that sort of thing. But um, I'm really curious now that I've done that, it's like a step when we take a step, when I took a step in a healthier direction, it led to other steps and I did other things and investigated other things. I'm really curious for me personally at this episode to know what might be part of making sure that my gut is healthy. Like you said, making sure my gut is healthy, what can we be putting into my body and our listeners body that's gonna make us so much more healthy?

JD: 06:27 Yes, totally. I think the big thing to keep in mind is exactly as you've done. Are we willing to cut back on a few of those foods that we know were inflammatory? There's seven foods that we've identified that we know beyond a shadow without are causing inflammation and not just physical inflammation, but neuroinflammation, brain inflammation. Because we have more than eight teaspoons of white refined sugar. Our body actually we know creates more of these inflammatory markers called c reactive protein. So there's a wonderful study showing that as long as we keep our sugar down, and remember there's sugar hiding out in a lot of foods. So we have to watch the sauces. Things like ketchup is a big place where things hideout and a lot of salad dressings and unfortunate like conventional food has added sugar. So if we just avoid the added sugar and focus in on the whole natural produce items, then boom, we see a huge drop.

JD: 07:25 Did you know that the, they say that there's more than a 50% increase in depression risk if you have a very high sugar diet. And in total contrast, if you have a high produce diet, you reduce your depression risk by 24% so we could see as much as an 80% swing if we let go of the sugar and embrace a whole bunch of produce. So eating the seven to 10 veggies really buffers our body because it gives back all those missing vitamins and minerals cause how strange that sugar we think of as an empty calorie, but it's actually a robbing calorie. It's a, it's a thief because it needs to be metabolized. To use that empty calorie, you have to cough up your own B vitamins, cough up your own minerals that are normally with the sweetener but had been removed. And then you can spin that sugar through your Mitochondria, through your t to make ATP. We have to spend it through the Krebs cycle and we forget that that takes massive amounts of B vitamins. And where do we get that produce? So by entering the produce more in your life and getting all your B vitamins, boom. We see a big lift in our mood. So people want to battle back depression and grief and a ton of aggressive or anxiety symptoms. We really want to make sure that those antiinflammatory produce items are the, or the highlight of every meal.

MP: 08:59 Wow. You know, I will say myself and I, I'll invite the listener potentially that they have this a situation. When I started to look at nutrition, I looked at it in such a simple way. I don't know if it was my upbringing that it was just like, you know, you put this, you're going to put this stuff into and yeah, maybe it makes you feel this way or it's like almost not really realizing how it's impacting me. Like when you said it impacts us on a cellular level and our Mitochondria and all these other things. To me I was like, it was beyond me, didn't even think about it was just not the way I was. I was brought up and now just hearing you speak about it and also the journey of the last 18 months, it's like, wow, we have, I had no idea how it was impacting my body, didn't have a clue.

MP: 09:55 And I, I mean for the most part, very healthy, uh, all that good stuff. But yet there is this underlying unhealthiness that eventually there's gonna be time to pay up for the way, the way what I was being, and it wasn't extreme, but look, we all want to be healthy. We want to feel good. We want to be able to tackle the day and do the things, and we want to live long so that we can spend time with our family. What is the whole point, right? Yeah. So I'm really curious. You talked about the seven foods. I mean, yeah, we've hit sugar and I'm like, well, what are you guys at the top of the list? That's totally, so sugar is evil. The evil my cranny. I mean, this is, this is the crazy thing my granny used to tell me it's a poison. I'm like, Yag Randy, what do you know? You're right, I like sweet cookies. Come on granny.

JD: 10:46 Yeah. But if we really listen to the Diet of our ancestors, there was no refined sweeteners until about 200 years ago. So we existed for thousands and thousands of years on whole produce items. And the biggest sweet hit we could get was when we, uh, worked hard to, to invade a beehive and like get a little bit of honey or we binged on berries and the berries season. But now we see various is like the lowest sugar fruit you could never eat. So it's, it's, it's interesting. Um, let's get into that list of beyond sugar, which is number one. Number two is white flour because white flour becomes white sugar in your mouth. So there's virtually no difference between eating a piece of bread or having a bowl of pasta. It's extremely similar to having a bowl of white sugar because they've now realized that there's about two teaspoons of refined sugar equivalent in every slice of bread.

JD: 11:45 So that's where a lot of people, it's just in their blind spot because we've been told, you know, you can have many of carbohydrates too. At the day, but if you're not burning them off, um, that can be a problem. And also are you becoming intolerant to the strains of wheat that are available? Like I know that a lot of people have jumped on the Gluten-Free Bandwagon, but in large part is because gluten like wheat and other glutinous grains are not the same as they were in the past. Like just in the last 20 years they've been altered to be a variety of wheat that is harder to digest. So it is, it is important for us to just check, hey, if I take out the cookies, the bread, the croissants, the, the pasta, would I feel better? Or even just switching. I'm not asking people to get off of their convenience foods cause I know how important that is.

JD: 12:37 I always make sure someone has a cookie, a Muffin, a bread item. We just want to really look for recipes that have very low glycemic impact, meaning that they don't break down into sugars quickly. They don't elevate our personal blood sugar because when we drive our blood sugar really high, then insulin has to come to the rescue and we pump out a ton of insulin from our Beta cells in our pancreas, and eventually our cells get really tired and we are not able to have that good insulin sensitivity. We can't drive those sugars into the cell and therefore they start to attack the outside of our cell. And that's where the inflammation comes from. So there's the mechanism as to why white sugar and white flour becomes inflammation is because it actually damages the outside of ourselves. And I found it hilarious. What's the name of that is that there's a name for it.

JD: 13:27 When you have high sugar, high flour attacking, when it breaks down to Glucose and that glucose is attacking every cell of your body, then it's called advanced glycation end products. And what's funny is the acronym in the science world is age. So I like to say that sugar ages you on a cellular level. So it's so important for us to pull back on the white flour. White sugar, go for the lowest sugar, lowest real starchy products as possible. And that's why all my books, like meals that heal slimming meals, that heel and the hot detox are jammed full of lower carb, delicious recipes that, that they burn very slowly. So you don't require that same pop of insulin in order to utilize them. They have carbs, but they're slow carbs so that your system stays nice and happy. Archie high starchy high starch, right? Like so white, um, white potato, white rice, white bread, all of those.

JD: 14:30 They may be low in sugar, but the starch in there will turn into sugar when it hits your mouth. So you make this El Malaise, which is a digestive enzyme that splits the starch into sugar in about 30 seconds of chewing. So that's why some people are so addicted to bread is because for them it's their preferred form of sugar. They don't like the super-sweet taste. They like the starchy taste, but they don't realize that they're making their own sugar in their mouth every time they eat that highly refined starch. So that's why it's so good to reach for the slow starches. So when you think of a slow start too, it'd be like pumpkin squash, sweet potato, you know, something that has some starch, but there's, there's so much fiber by binding it that it just trickles into your system really nice and slow.

JD: 15:23 And that's what we're, we're gutting for. Okay. Yeah. So the next big one is potato chips and French fries. And I know that it's, of course, a very starchy carbohydrate, but why I'm concerned is that when you take that carbohydrate and you slice it thin and then you drop it into old frying oil at a very high temperature, you make this toxin called acrylamides, which is powerfully inflammatory. It's neurotoxic. It absolutely makes you feel awful. But so many people are addicted to French fries and potato chips. Like it's like wrestling a, a drug addict is to try to get people to break up with, with salty snacks like that. But the good news is you can have salty snacks. We just want to reduce the deep frying. So when possible go baked. And then beyond that, if you can try it on, there's a lot of snacks that are now dehydrated at low temperatures instead of frying. And that allows you to have the crispiness and the saltiness that you crave without having these refined carbohydrates fried at a really high temperature that we know is harmful. Yeah.

MP: 16:32 Wow. And one of the things I've learned is that in in the grocery store, often there are, there are these alternatives that seem like promising, but then when you know the marketing that's around it and what it actually is is not, so it actually isn't what, what they're claiming to be like. It's just more of the more bad stuff. How do we know, I guess it's research, right? And to know what in the grocery store is actually a green check or a or a red x.

JD: 17:05 Well, my big thing is just to go by nature because where we, where we break down is when man has created another chemical sugar substitute and they said, hey, you know, Saccharin is the solution about 30 years ago. And then we're like, aw, shocks, it causes cancer. And then they went on and they created aspartame. Oh, last pertains the solution. Well, no actually it causes metabolic syndrome and it causes a lot of neurological problems. And it can even have certain people have epileptic seizures. No, maybe that's not a good idea. And then we move on to the latest one, which is sucralose. Hey, sucralose is the answer. Let's go for that. Oh, oops. We attached a chlorine molecule to sugar molecule and a whole bunch of good bacteria and people's guts are dying and they're becoming more anxious and having more IBS symptoms. Shucks that that one isn't a good idea.

JD: 17:58 So that's my problem is when man thinks that we are better than nature and they just keep trying to design these, these low carb solutions. So I say, Hey, you know what? We have seen the natural solutions have, have virtually no side effects. Can we go back to the natural solution? So the ones that are really coming up in the news lately, which you may not have heard of, is monkfruit. Have you heard of monkfruit? It's amazing cause it's 100% natural. It's been around Asia forever. Monk Fruit. Yeah, it tastes amazing. So monk fruit tastes fruity. So a lot of people adapt to it. Um, doesn't have like the aftertaste, like I love Stevia, but Stevia needs to be put into something sour because it does have a tiny bit of a licorice aftertaste. And being raised in North America, we didn't really get that licorice note.

JD: 18:48 So in, in Europe, people take to that and they're like totally gung Ho for it. But here, you know, just hide it behind the lemon or hide it behind cranberry. So I make Stevia sweetened lemonade, which is calorie-free. It's really lovely. But with monk fruit being so fruity, you can put it anywhere and it tastes great. And there's virtually no calories to it because it's 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. So even though it's extracted from a fruit and it's completely natural, it actually is low carb by nature because you need so little of it to trick your tongue into thinking that it's had something sweet, but it hasn't had anything in the way of a heavy carbs. So you get your sweetness kind of satisfied, but you're not elevating your insulin levels ridiculously high and causing all these health problems. So it's been a big solution for me lately.

JD: 19:37 And for people who haven't found monk fruit yet, at least just making the switch from white sugar to raw honey is an amazing tool because raw honey actually has tremendous benefit. It's, it helps to nurture the right microbiome. It kills off, it kills off yeast in your system. A lot of people have access of yeast overgrowth, so I at least say, hey, there was even a study done with rats that I thought was really interesting. They had all these baby rats and they fed half the group sugar water and half the group honey water their entire lifespan. And at the end of their life, the sugar group were running around the maze, bumping into things, not able to figure out how to get through the maze. They totally lost their memory. They were suffering from dementia and when they tested their blood, they had a lot of stress hormones.

JD: 20:25 That cortisol was super, super high. And then with the honey group, not only were they able to find their way through the maze and totally have good memory because it didn't hurt them nearly the same way as sugar, but they also tested their blood and their anxiety was really low. Their stress hormones were kept really, really low. So just that simple switch, I mean, who couldn't just grab a nice raw honey, like it's a total easy solution. That's even in a regular grocery store. You don't have to find your way to a health food store for that one.

MP: 20:54 That is a simple move and honey is delicious.

JD: 20:57 Yeah, totally right. It's 20% sweeter than sugar, so you can even have less of it and have, you know, that sweet tooth really satisfied.

MP: 21:12 Beautiful. So we've, we've hit on I think three of the, the, the worst offenders. Yeah. And we've been dropping. Yeah. We've been dropping in a few of the goodies. So the, the, I love the honey one and monk fruit as well. I tried it and it was, maybe I was a, it was a little sweet. And so I uh, it, you know, it was one of those things that I didn't, didn't take too, but I get, it's like 200 you said 200 to 300 times more sweet. So that, there you go.

JD: 21:42 Yeah. So you've probably had way too much of it. So if you just like try it in your next, I'm a really great solution as to try like 100% pure cranberry juice and like sweeten a cranberry soda or something like that where it's like a safe test where you be like, whoa. Yeah, that really works when you have used just the right amount because too much sweet and your body goes what? But the right amount, it's awesome. So the next big one I want to bring up is Cola and other pops because Cola actually has this caramel coloring in it that has very negative cancer-causing agents in it, which people don't realize when they think caramel coloring, they're like awesome. All they did was take sugar and caramelize it at high temperature to create that beautiful color. But they don't realize that actually it has really negative there.

JD: 22:37 They're making it with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures and they're creating these very long chemicals. Um, methyl, my goodness, it's like methyl. I'm de Zile like I can barely pronounce them, but these chemicals are very disconcerting and now governments have conducted studies showing that it can cause lung, liver, and thyroid cancer and leukemia and rats. So I really encourage people if they are going to have a carbonized beverage that they go with natural colorings, that's really important and thank goodness there's so many pop brands on the market that are moving to natural colors. Um, you know, their Stevia sweeten pop now that you can get off all the sugar and it's just so lovely to see that even the standard to be on named pop brands have put out their own natural versions. Like there's a lot of them that have the taglines zero at the end. Those ones will often use fruit colorings, um, or they'll use like, actually beet is a really place to get red dye from naturally. And then they'll use either stevia or Aretha tall, which is an actual sugar alcohol that's very low on the glycemic index. And that's been helping people break up with standard pop because pop can be a bit problematic. So yeah.

MP: 24:02 Crazy when you think about what, what goes into these products and psych a, a mad scientist making these, these concoctions that if you saw it being made, you wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole, but yet as like by other flatter. That is great.

JD: 24:18 Yeah. I think this next one might surprise you because it's being sold as a health food. So it really upsets me that people think that they're doing themselves good and that's microwave popcorn. So maybe we'll reach for it because hey, it's low fat and it's a really healthy fat because it's full of fiber. But it turns out that the artificial butter flavoring that's put on microwave popcorn is very unhealthy. And actually one of the most dangerous things you can do is to take the microwave popcorn out of the microwave and pull the bag open and breathe in super deeply because that actually, uh, the act of breathing in artificial butter flavoring, there's, um, a major lawsuit that's gone down in the states because the, the people who are in charge of manufacturing the actual butter flavoring, it was terribly impacting the workers who made it.

JD: 25:12 So all the whole bunch of workers there ended up doing a lawsuit as a group because they were getting so sick and yet hasn't been taken out of the food stream. And there's no, there should be a warning on the side of the bag that basically says like, please don't inhale deeply because people love the smell of microwave popcorn but it, but between the genetically modified canola oil and also the butter flavoring on the microwave popcorn, it's a real problem. So I encourage people to go back to organic popping corn made in an air popper and then you can put a healthy oil on top of it that tastes great. And if you want that butter flavor that's really addictive, using nutritional yeast will pop the dramatic amount of B vitamins onto your popcorn and make it taste absolutely delicious.

MP: 25:50 Wow. Remarkable.

JD: 25:52 Yeah. And I hope it's okay that I normally don't go this deep into this area. So I appreciate the chance to say something different. Cause you know when you go on, um, interviews, sometimes you get a sound bite and that's what's so great about having a podcast is, is to actually be able to get into the minutia of some of this stuff and help people understand why they want to let it go. Cause if they know why, then they have a much higher chance of having willpower when it comes time to make a choice.

MP: 26:36 Yeah. Well we might have to make this a public service and now you know, here, here you are, you currently on, you may be poisoning yourself, literally, uh, do not do this. So this is valuable. So keep going. I love it.

JD: 26:48 Oh cool. Cool. Well, the next one would be artificially dyed candy. And this one is so funny because how many times do you see on Halloween? Christmas, Easter, it's like every three months. We give kids this huge whack of artificial dye and artificial dyes actually created from cold tar derivatives. So let's just know that it's a petroleum byproduct that causes terrible neuroinflammation. So that's why my mother figured this out when I was eight, when I was seven. She read this book by Dr Feingold and when she realized how toxic dye was, she actually got me off of Red Dye, blue dye, yellow dye. And that's what made the biggest difference. And I really encourage you to just try to get off to dies. In particular, all the Red Dye that you see in candy and Yellow Dye is actually also known as tartrazine. And that can cause terrible childrens, like terrible issues with learning and attention span and aggression.

JD: 27:48 So when we take it out of the children's Diet, you'll notice their moods are more level, they can sleep better, they can study better, and they can also, uh, really have better word comprehension that you're gonna see a real job as my mom did with me. Like literally just escalate and, and just feel so much better. And the good news is there's so much fun candy that's hitting the market that uses carrot for the orange that uses beats for the yellow, for the red that uses cabbage for the purple. Like we are seeing these amazing companies doing the right thing. So I just say, Hey, I'm not saying kids don't deserve candy. I know that kids want to have fun and so to adults, but we can just shop even at a regular grocery store, just look for the no artificial dyes added, which is often a big marketing push that they're putting on the packaging just so that kids can be safe. And, and also people who are having neurological problems as an adult. I mean, how many times, I'm sure as a person who's crunching numbers all day long, do people like sit there and like munch on chocolate that's covered in and lots of dye or lunches, you know, we, we fall into wanting gummy bears and those kinds of sweet treats and just that simple switch would be a really healthy and easy thing to do.

MP: 29:08 I love it. And I think it's first, for many, it's going to be a room, not a prude awakening, a pleasant awakening. The, the, the impact that some of these things are having on their lives and some choices that they've made that they think were smart choices. It's like, whoop, Gotcha. You know, like Diet Soda, right? It's like, hey, this is healthy. I'm having drinking a healthy drink. And it's like, whoops, you got the aspartame and you got the caramelization, a sulfur, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's still garbage. So it bought their solutions, which you're, you're alluding to some of the solutions, which is great.

JD: 29:46 Yeah, exactly. As long as I give you something fun because people need two things. They need fun. They need variety. They need to know that they have their security of what they're used to. So if we fulfill on these needs, then change isn't so painful. It's when we say, yeah, you know, go off bagels and an all the toast and all your favorite treats. Like get rid of all of them. Go on a diet and you feel like you're in prison. That is enough to make anyone upset. You know, like they might last a few days before they're, they're just wanting so hard to bust out of prison. And when they do bus our prison, they'd typically binge. And that's why I'm like, okay, we got to get rid of the prison analogy altogether. We need to have find tons of substitutions for you so that you are like, Hey, you know what?

JD: 30:36 This tastes just as good as the other one. Why not make this switch and live longer and have like a lot of happy moments in between. Right? Like have a better experience. Cause I have to say I gave out refined sugar about 15 years ago and I cannot believe the difference when I accidentally get poisoned, say in a restaurant, I can tell within a couple hours I'm like, Whoa, what just happened? And I'll call the restaurant. I'm like, that sauce that you gave me, does that have sugar? Can you read that? And they'll go back and they'll read it and they'll say, oh no, no, there's no sugar. And then they'll read me like glucose syrup and dextrose and modifying Corn Syrup and I'm like, Oh, I guess you didn't understand all the versions of sugar. So I have to say that, wow, there's been a big movement afoot for people to have full disclosure on restaurant menus is happening in Europe and I can't wait for it to come to North America. Won't it be great when you can look at a menu and go, Oh wow, okay, I can eat that. Because just like when you buy food in a store, there's full ingredient disclosure. I think it's going to be great.

MP: 31:42 Well, I, I echo that and I'm thinking are, you know, as a, as I listened to that I'm thinking, you know, our audience probably they're busy people, but yet they pay a lot attention to the details. And so, which is a strength and the strength, I think armed with the right information, if this hasn't been a focus, like, hey, start to collect some data on what, what will make you feel better, what will give you longevity, what will help you be better in your, in your work and in your life and with your family? And then you'll be paying attention to that and that will create new, new outcomes for, for your life. Let's talk a little bit about some of the, uh, the things that we can, hey, if you're not eating this, you need to be, and it's going to lead to a better day if you just got more of this in your body.

JD: 32:32 Yeah, absolutely. So focusing on the positive now, the whole wrath, the podcast. Yeah. Healthy Solutions, right? We got all that negative stuff out of the way. So one of the superheroes in the world is Avocados. They're that they are the first food of children in the Caribbean for good reason because they're so high in nutrition. So you're getting everything from vitamin a through to some zinc is so good for you. And, um, avocados increase something called glutosiome pathways in your body, which is incredible for liberty toxifying for boosting and stabilizing your immune system. It elevates your mood. It's also just recently, cause I keep up on the journals, was super excited to see that Nava Kado dramatically reduces your appetite. So because it's so rich and fat and B vitamins, you feel so satiated after eating coffin, avocado that you'll eat less of other negative foods. So definitely use the avocado to out crowd things.

JD: 33:30 And I make a great key lime smoothie. I make a great key lime pie and the secret ingredient is Avocados and also make a great chocolate pudding, um, because the avocado substitutes any sort of need for cream and a wow, just so, so delicious. Like who doesn't love Avocado is one of the most love of a cock. Right? Absolutely. Great. Um, next one which will really help all those people who have major number crunching to do is sustainable fish because we want to have that high essential fatty acids. We want to have as much omega-three as possible cause it's so anti-inflammatory. It works like nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs actually works like an n set. So for those of you who are dealing with pain and inflammation, you want to reach for more herring and sardines and mackerel and all those tiny little fish that are super sustainable, grow really quickly so they're not harmful to to eat because a lot of people are worried about the oceans and heavy metals, but those are very safe fish to eat and it's also ridiculously high.

JD: 34:36 And this Omega three which boosts your Serotonin, so it helps to battle back sadness and really helps you feel really good. And of course, fish is one of the number one natural occurring sources of vitamin D. So sustainable fish is great for seasonal effective disorder because of that. Vitamin D, vitamin D's important to make sure that we have good circadian rhythm and that we're able to make enough serotonin to keep the depression at bay, which is great. Now I'm moving on to a really fun food is mushrooms from Asia, whether it be Shataki, mushrooms, men's hockey, mushrooms, all those beautiful mushrooms that you see in the exotic food section of your store. You can have them dried, you can have them fresh, but those really good wood mushrooms are exceptionally high in something called polyphenols that help to protect your liver and help to really battle back your appetite.

JD: 35:30 So it's wonderful for slimming down. It's wonderful for protecting your heart, for balancing your system as well. And for those of you who have taxis and coming and need real focus, know that there's a special mushroom called lion's mane mushroom that's being studied for being a nootropic. It's called a nootropic because it actually helps to fuel the brain with extra energy so that it can really focus and have exceptional memory. So if you're really feeling crunched, then lines mean t is extremely popular. Um, it's delicious. It's easy to find. In the health food store. Just look for it. Powdered and a yeah, you just add a sachet to water and enjoy. So that's been a big one for sure. The one from Italy is artichokes. Artichokes are so good for you. They're great. Um, artichokes are a great weight-loss food because of their exceptionally high fiber content.

JD: 36:28 And did you know that if you avoid eating a lot of sugar and starch, the artichokes will actually help you make more ketone bodies. And you may have heard of the ketogenic diet. Well, ketone bodies actually help to feel your brain and help you feel fantastic. So a lot of people have been enjoying more asparagus and more artichokes. But the last thing about artichokes may surprise you. It heals the stomach lining, reducing all alters and helps to perceive other things as sweet. It changes your taste buds so that anything you eat 30 minutes after eating artichokes will taste sweeter. So if you take a sip of water right after eating some lovely artichokes from a jar, like a lot of people just buy jarred artichoke carts, then you'll notice that your water tastes insanely sweet. Just kinda cool. Yeah. And of course, if we're in Italy, we can't really move much farther than talking about garlic because garlic is ridiculously good for you.

JD: 37:23 It's a strong antibiotic, antifungal. So it's really good for balancing your microbiome and also fantastic for reducing cholesterol and, uh, just overall fights, inflammation. So that's probably why the Italians, places like Sardinia, they're living the longest of all the people on the planet because of their amazingly buyback lifestyle, their high produce, a little bit of wine and some good amount of garlic and they're off to the races. That's one thing that'd be really fun to talk about is where the, the one thing that links all the long living people. So the, you know, you've heard of the blue zones, probably the longest living people are from, so Denny Italy, they're from Greece, they're from Okinawa, Japan, they're from um, the w the, the west coast of the states and they're from Costa Rica. There's five these blue zones of the longest living people. And they all have one thing in common.

JD: 38:19 They're lucky enough to live close to a coastline where they're getting a lot of fish, a lot of fresh fish, and that's very, very high in that Omega three. And then they have a very strongly plant-based diet, even though they have a little bit of of a Omega three rich free-range meats and stuff. And they do have lots of fish. They really have a huge focus on vegetation. So if we really remember that we want to have lots of dark leafy Greens, like one of my favorites is a rubella or having spinach or having something that we know has that extra power of nutrition, um, that one's just great. It really helps to knock back that inflammation and give you these special phytochemicals that will help your liver really purge a lot of toxins for sure.

MP: 39:09 Wow.

MP: 39:14 You know I, the things I did at the bulletproof coffee. Oh Nice. So I'm curious what your take is on that. It's been about eight say same time I cut out sugar, I started like March 1st, 2018 but in the last couple of months I'm noticing just some things where I've, I've thinking either I'm like low on vitamin D or I'm not getting enough of something. Right. It just feels like I've actually lost a bit more weight and bit of insomnia. And so this has been great for me to listen and thank, you know what? I think there's just more fresh fish, more uh, vegetables. And some of the other things that you mentioned, I took a bunch of notes I think will be helpful. But what's your take on the, on the bulletproof diet?

JD: 39:58 Well it's so interesting that you spoke to the insomnia cause that's my only thing is I love the idea of, of helping to push your intermittent fasting. So a lot of people will break their fast through the night because you fast for eight hours minimum and there'll be able to extend their fast slightly by having this a fat in coffee. Right. So they've broken their fast officially. Cause you're, you, you obviously have had something but nothing that spikes your insulin. So you've been able, that's probably why you've had such a great weight loss. Right. My only issue with bulletproof coffee is we have to keep in mind that it is a quarter of a cup of fat, which not everyone digests well. So there may be some digestive issues that start to crop up because you having two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of coconut oil, it's a lot of saturated fat.

JD: 40:50 So some people who follow the, uh, this regime will notice that the next time they adds a cholesterol check to their doctor's like what that, because they've had so much butter. So I always say like, could we kind of cut back the butter a little bit and have like one tablespoon, one tablespoon instead of two and two. And could you switch it up so that you don't have coffee on your days off and that would rest your adrenals. And you might notice that you have an excellent sleep the nights that you skip the, the coffee. And if you love the flavor, then you could do organic. Fairtrade on caffeinated coffee if you are just doing it for the flavor. But if you're doing it for the buzz and you're doing it for the energy, then it up and having other sources of energy is also a really good idea.

JD: 41:37 So I like um, you know if we look at green tea it has one third the caffeine of coffee. So doing like a Matcha Latte, having a, you know, if you want to total day off and you want to see like what is my energy really like when I'm not pushing my adrenals hard than having like a tumor cloud day on your total day off where you can just lounge around and like read a book and like totally rest. You'll notice you'll sleep way better cause you just don't have the caffeine in your system. So I'm worried that caffeine might be, might be messing with your sleep cause we forgot that the half-life on coffee is 12 hours. So sorry. No, the half life on coffee is four hours. So the full effectiveness of coffee is eight to 12 hours depending on how fast you metabolize caffeine. That's a big deal. So if you're having a coffee at two, there's no hope in heck you can get to sleep at 10 like your body just won't let you cutout.

MP: 42:27 Totally cut out caffeinated anything after I just did the one in the morning and I was actually, because of the butter and the other stuff you put in at it. It, I'm like I really like a bold red wine or a coffee, dark chocolate. So I was putting way more coffee in there. So I was actually, you know, it was like, cause I self grind it and put it in a narrow press and so it was like I've actually started to dial that back too. And so, but I haven't been taking breaks. I do book, I've done bulletproof coffee every single day for eight, like 18 months. So maybe I need to like cut out once or twice a week then have something else like maybe a, an Earl gray or something like that. Even decaffeinated, uh, it's good advice.

JD: 43:12 Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It definitely helps. And also consider if you need more energy authentically, what kind of adaptogens could you be using? Like is there a Siberian Ginseng or Ashwagandha or one of these herbs that give you energy without stimulating your adrenals? So it's kind of authentic energy instead of like that spiky energy that a lot of people live on. Like, Hey, for this podcast I'll have you know, a little bit of espresso or something to have my mouth work better, but when you're not on and you can sort of just work at a human pace, then those other adaptogens are healthier than stimulating constantly. And if you need a little help to get to sleep, pumpkin seeds as your last snack or cherries are both things that really do help. Um, with authentic Melatonin expression. Interestingly enough, pumpkin seeds are high in Tryptophan, which expresses to like you don't defend as the building block of Melatonin, your sleep hormone, and then cherries actually help to transport the trip, defend to the brain so you have much better sleep. And funnily enough, Cherries also have a naturally occurring Melatonin. So one of the last snacks that I'll have if I'm, if I have a stressful day is like a small bowl of coconut yogurt, top Pumpkin seeds and a couple cherries and that just tastes ridiculously good and also helps me sleep deeper. So that's fun.

MP: 44:37 That's very good. Yeah.

MP: 44:46 This has been incredibly interesting and daunting and as well exciting about my personal, you know, the things that I'm putting in my body in some great ideas to go and try and experiment with, to bringing into my diet to make me feel healthier, to give me energy and I really on behalf of our audience, want to thank you first of all for that. Before I let you go though, I would love to get some fast action ways to get more information from you about doing this. You've got a bunch of books, you got recipes. I mean this episode could probably go on for hours and you've got so much knowledge. What is a great way a stepping stone for our listener to take into transforming a new, a new era for their life and nutrition with you? What would that look like?

JD: 45:43 Well, I have a lovely master class coming up where I'm teaching people how to cleanse with food and it's just a fun, easy for part masterclass. So if you want to jump on that, we can provide them a link. That would be really fun. And I do of course work with clients by having programs that I run for 21 days up to 100 days depending on how deep you want to go. Um, we have these lovely programs that I'm very happy to, um, have links provided. And of course on social media, I am constantly staring the latest studies cause I wake up in the morning, some people read the paper, I read the nutrition journals, like I love it. So I'm always posting the coolest, latest facts on there. So if you go to Julie Daniluk on Instagram or on Facebook, that's often where people will find me.

JD: 46:32 And we run these really cool Facebook live, uh, shows called meals at heal TV where you can actually ask me live questions and find out really cool information along the way. So I do hope that people jump on the opportunity to be in the masterclass. And if you ever subscribed to my newsletter, you get actually five cooking classes for free. And you also get, um, a ton of cool recipes that I mail out one every week. So you're not overwhelmed, but you get to try on new delicious foods that are coming down from the TV segments that I do.

MP: 47:07 Wonderful. All sorts of valuable resources to take this on. And I, I challenge you, the listener, do something new if it inspires you, take something one thing, change it up in your diet as per the the long list that we've created and see what happens and see what vitality it brings to your life, uh, and the work that you do and your family. And, and let Julie be one of your mentors in, in that journey. And for those of you that do that, I'd love to hear about it. Share on The Successful Bookkeeper group and Facebook, what you're taking on in terms of your nutrition and, and what's the outcome. If you've done something where it really has impacted you, share it with the rest of the community, let them know the impact that it's having on your life. And, and let's make this a something that other people can get access to. And the healthier are the more we can enjoy the life, uh, and business that we're building. So Julie, thank you so much for being on the show. Today was awesome. I learned a ton and I know our listeners did as well.

JD: 42:04 Cool.

MP: 42:05 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: 48:28 Goodbye.

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

TSBK - Episode 144 - Mike McDerment.png
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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

TSBK - Episode 143 - Teresa Slack & Connie Smith.png
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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.


Michael Palmer: 01:10 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an awesome one. Our guests are the talented people behind the virtual bookkeeping company. Financially they both have over 30 years experience in bookkeeping. And if you enjoyed success using the value pricing teachings of Mark Wickersham, Theresa Slack, and Connie Smith, welcome to the show.

Theresa Slack: 01:36 Hello. Hi Michael.

Connie Smith: 01:38 Hello. Glad to be here.

MP: 01:40 It's great to have you both and it's not often that we have two guests on the show, so it's a bonus. It's a bonus episode.

TS: 01:48 Awesome.

MP: 01:49 Beautiful. Well, I'm excited about sharing your journey in your business and especially around pricing. And I know this is going to be extremely valuable to our listener who likely could use the same kind of ideas, thoughts, and journey in their own business towards profitability. And so before we get into all of that, tell us a little bit about your journey leading up until now.

CS: 02:19 Well, um, originally we started our business in 2015 and we were charging by the hour and we realized and that we have any, this isn't the best way to go. It kind of puts a ceiling on how much you can make. So we recognize that something need to be done. So we started a change from that to a set monthly fee. The problem is we set our monthly fee by how many hours we thought we worked. So we were still thinking on the hour a day and it turned out we were undercharging all of our clients. Uh, we ended up with our staff getting paid because we were getting busy, we were undercharging, we got lots of, sorry I stuff was getting paid. Sometimes we even had to put money in to cover payroll. And the problem was Terry and I weren't getting paid. Some of our clients didn't value what we were doing and often argued with us overpricing. So we worked nonstop and still we're not making ends meet. We're wondering if we should give up close their business.

TS: 03:20 Yeah.

CS: 03:21 Oh, we saw other bookkeeping firms doing well. So we thought, well let's start looking at those business and what are they doing? And so we started asking a lot of questions and that's what brought us to where we are.

MP: 03:33 Well and lots of questions being asked and it's been quite, quite a journey. And Theresa Hearing Connie, tell the story a little bit. As you're reflecting on that, what, what comes up for you in terms of your looking back on, on that journey?

TS: 03:52 Yeah, it was tough. You know, it was really a hard time. Um, you know, I think anybody who starts a new business, you're not really sure, you know, when you're doing things the right way, are you, you know, making the right choices. And, you know, we made lots of mistakes and that's what I recall. But the, the great thing is we learned from our mistakes. It was tough. Um, it'd be like, okay, our staff are getting paid but nope, we're not getting paid again. Um, and that was tough cause it's hard to grow a business when there isn't enough funds available to do the things that you want to do.

TS: 04:26 And that sticks your, your business in a way when, when you encounter that.

CS: 04:32 Yeah, it did. It did. It kind of put us in a bit of a cycle, um, that at the time we didn't really know how to get out of, you know, so we started looking at, okay, do we need a coach? You know, do we need some kind of a business growth program? We need to find out what other people are doing. And you know, with the cash crunch it was hard. There was lots of great programs out there, but a lot of them were just, we just couldn't afford them. You know, we couldn't do them. So we were really struggling. We didn't know which way to go and we weren't really sure at that time, like, what exactly was the help we need it. Like what kind of coaching did we need to get us profitable and you know, building a good business and doing all the great things that we have plans for.

CS: 05:14 And we had the good fortune of just by happenstance, uh, meeting Mark Wickersham at the first, uh, QuickBooks thrive that we went to in Toronto and we went to his value pricing seminar. And honestly, we were hooked. We went out of that seminar, like so excited and then we followed them. We kind of stocked him for about a year while watching all of his freestyle, anything that he put out, we, we read it, we went to it. We listened to it. Anything that that was free. Oh, we did that for about a year and then we did learn. We did learn a lot from there and we made some really good steps, but then we decided, okay, you know what? There's so much more he could do to help us and at that point we actually signed up and that this is a judge just over a year ago now, we signed out for his bookkeeping nit mentoring program and I can honestly say, Michael, it's the best money we have ever spent. It has turned around our business completely.

MP: 06:10 Amazing. Tell me a little bit about that journey you, you got working with him just by consuming his information and that that might be a great step for many, but then there was a step where you, you actually thought, okay, I'm going to go and work with Mark. What was it that tipped you over from going from just consuming the information and trying to do it yourself to actually hiring the person that could help you?

CS: 06:36 Yeah, I think what tipped it was, there was a few things, a few things happen. One we had learned enough that we were, had started down the path. So we were starting to make a little bit more money. Nothing great, but at least we were not going under every month further and further. And then the other thing that was a real factor is recognizing that we couldn't do it ourselves. That we had kind of consumed everything that we could consume, but we needed more. We needed, you know, we needed actual mentoring from mark to help us get to the next level. And honestly, the hardest part was learning to communicate our value to our customers and our potential clients. We had to learn that getting really good at pricing is a journey and that it takes time, it takes commitment, it takes reiterations, you keep trying different things.

CS: 07:27 Mark's basic mentoring is one year long, you know, and so it takes you that time to just do the basic mentoring program to, to learn all of those things. And you know, every month he's giving you different resources and those resources really speed up your journey. So when you're doing it on your own and just consuming it, you're not getting all those resources. You're not getting the live mark, they're helping you and answering your questions and you know, dealing with the specific. So by getting the, the mentoring, it's bad ass up quite dramatically and it really, really helped us get where we needed to go.

MP: 08:10 Now you made mistakes along the way.

CS: 08:15 Yes, we did.

CS: 08:17 So many learnings come from mistakes. I'd love for you to share some of those mistakes that you eat that you both made.

TS: 08:24 Yeah, well I think we had to work hard to overcome our fear of losing our clients by raising our prices, knowing that we were going to value price and we were going to price higher. Of course, we had a fear of losing clients and we paled onto that too long. If we could allowed that go in an earlier stage, it wouldn't have taken so long. So that's one mistake we made was, you know, letting, not letting that go soon enough, we started doing the trial and error. So we thought, well, any new clients coming in, we'll just try it with them and they don't know how things are supposed to be. So we were able to just try it and see if it worked. And if it didn't, then we learned something from it. And we would go back to mark and saying, Hey, this didn't work.

TS: 09:13 And he would tell us why. And it was a great fast way of getting it going. Even while we were implementing it, we were still putting our prices too low. Um, and we had to work around how to get that correct. And learning to the right words to communicate are about you. So what are those words that the client wants to hear? Instead of just trying to say to myself, this is what I think I'm worth, what do they need to hear that I'm worth? And it's a different way of thinking. So that was one mistake we were making in the beginning and that we had to learn to overcome. The other thing is, you know, realizing that, uh, if a potential client does not realize our values, so we communicate our volume and everything and they're just not getting it, they're still trying to lower your price and it, that it's so easy to say we're not the right fit for you. You know, we're not going to work for you. So you know, and let them go.

MP: 10:16 It's bold and you know, what I hear in this conversation is that the destination is available to everyone, but the journey has many highs, many lows and end as well. You can get that. There are your own personal barriers that are tied in with all of this that, that make, that, that journey maybe the highs and lows of that journey. Even more extreme. Absolutely care to share a little bit of your own personal challenges in getting this to move forward and go in the right direction.

TS: 10:56 Sure. Connie, you go first and then I will.

CS: 10:59 Well for me the big challenge was accepting that I was worth more money to my clients because thinking of it myself is what do I feel that I'm worth? On an hourly basis is not the right way to think and making myself change the way I'm thinking to what do my clients value from me? What if they were to put a monetary value on me? What would it be? It was really hard to make that shift after years of always, you know, working for a lower wage as a woman in the workplace and realizing, no, we are worth this to our clients. That's a really, was a really hard one for me.

TS: 11:40 Yeah, I agree with yours, Connie. For sure. I definitely had to struggle with that one and I would say the other one for me was, you know, finding the right words as, I mean, I am our sales and person in our company. It's kind of my focus and finding the right words to use when you're used to communicating. Just features. You know, we reconcile your bank, we, you know, we enter your expenses, we record your bills to recognizing that those words actually mean absolutely nothing to a client. And what words do you have to learn to use instead to really help them understand the value that, that you are providing for them? Why do they care that you reconcile their bank? Why does this matter and what is the benefit to them? So kind of relearning how to do a sales pitch with value pricing was something that took a lot of trial and error for me. And I continue to work on that and you know, refine it.

MP: 12:39 Mm. It's uh, it's so interesting that the both takes on the, the personal journey. And I'd imagine there's listeners right now that are listening in that have done work with mark as well, and their journey would be a unique to them. It's not like there's one path to this destination. There's many. How did you bring your own take and your own customization to this work and make it your own?

TS: 13:08 Yeah. So one of the great things is he gives you all kinds of material, but you need to make that material your own. You have your own voice, you know, we have our own voice. We have our own way of communicating. We have our own clients that are important to us and kind of our own niche that, that we're trying to talk to. So yeah, we took all of his, his materials and we rewrote it. The first thing we did is we, of course, took it into our own look and feel, so the financial, the colors, the financially style, then look looking at how it was worded and changing the words to appeal to the clientele that we are trying to appeal to. And then the third thing, of course, is we had to then customize what was exactly in the packages because we offer specific search services that would be a little different than what mark would have put in just the package that he provided us. Um, so yeah, we looked at the, the physical look of it, the color that styles, the wording, and then the actual services that we were offering and customize them all to fit into who we are.

MP: 14:19 Wonderful.

TS: 14:20 Yeah. Anywhere you go, where it's more challenging. So in your business, pricing is one of those ones that it's chockablock full of emotion and, and could be fear. There's consequences if you get it wrong. If you, you know, upsetting the apple cart, right. Rocking the boats, uh, fixing something that ain't broke. I mean these are, these are thoughts in one's head could easily come up when thinking about taking on something as big as altering how you price in your business.

MP: 14:59 How did, what, what supports did you use to, to get over those blocks, those barriers?

TS: 15:08 I'm Connie, do you want me to, yeah. Okay. So we use a lot of supports. One was, of course, Mark himself. Um, another one is you, Michael, honestly and helped us a lot. Being able to have that Friday mentoring session with you has really helped us with our mindset, keeping us focused on where we should be going. And we have engaged another business coach in the past. We've done some, some work with and we're actually just starting another one now. You know, so you do have to go out and get the help you need. And sometimes you just need it reinforced again and again because it's very easy to fall back into your old patterns. Cause a lot of them, they come from, you know, a whole lifetime of who we are. And you know, the, the barriers that I will, I will face getting to where we want to be will be completely different than the ones Connie will face and the ones that anyone else will face. Cause everybody's life journey is that different. So we all have our own barriers to overcome for sure.

MP: 16:10 Absolutely. And, and that's, that's the exciting piece is that it is, anyone can do it, but it will look different and it's, the rewards are given to those who seek the rewards and are willing to open the doors, knock on the doors, uh, make it happen. Yeah. Which you've both done. I love to hear a little bit about the results. What's this been like on your business? What, what, what's showing up now for you? Having done the hard work, the lifting and the blood, the sweat, the tears, all of that. Yeah.

TS: 16:44 Yeah. Well there has been a lot, there has been a lot of those, Michael. So, uh, what I would love to say is that we are actually getting a paycheck now. Very long time. Connie, we didn't get that. You know, we're actually making money in our business in that is a wonderful thing. It also makes our husbands a little bit happier too. You know, they're wonderful and they support us, but then, you know, they'd like to see a little bit of income from it too. So, so that has been great. Mark really taught us to price our services. Some of them we were actually giving away for free things like cloud accounting set up. We would just, Oh, we'll set you up. We didn't charge for that. Or doing a discovery where we would go in and have a look at their books and analyze them.

TS: 17:28 We would just do that for free. So it really helped us see the value in a whole bunch of things that we were just giving away. And we are honestly now getting more yeses than nos because of the way we are talking to our clients and communicating with them. They're getting it and they're saying, yeah, we want to work with you. So that has been incredible. And we actually have the now to say no to some clients because they just don't fit where we are, not the ones to solve their problems. Being a hundred percent virtual is what we are and that is not the right fit for every single client. So being able to say, you know what, we are not the best people for you. You're not going to get the most out of it. So getting to the point where you can actually say, yeah, you know what?

TS: 18:11 We're not a good fit rather than okay, we can take, we'll take any business we can get is is quite a nice change for us. To give you some numbers though with our current clients, the ones that we had going into this whole process by what we learned from Mark, we were actually able to increase all of the rates by an average of 25% and we did lose some clients but they were clients we actually needed to lose. So that was really great. Um, and he's helped us to understand the value of, you know, being able to evaluate a good client versus a bad client so you don't have to keep the bad clients. And that's one of the things we learned that no, you know, we can work with the people we want to work with and that's really important. Um, we're getting better clients, we're still working crazy hours, but that's because we keep getting new clients and we are super excited because we just hired two awesome part-time bookkeepers to work with us.

TS: 19:06 And then earlier today, Connie and I were just reminiscing because thinking about coming on this podcast and we looked up, Connie looked up, what was our price when we started compared to what our price is today. And Michael, our price is five times what it was when we started. And we have happy clients who love working with us, who understand the value of what we're doing for them. So we're helping them, we're making a difference in their lives and we're making an income. So it feels revolutionary to me. You know, being able to do these things has just changed our lives. It really has.

MP: 19:48 It's fantastic. I love hearing this story and it's so, so great to see the rewards being raped from, from both of you. And it's been amazing to be a part of the journey as well. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than watching people win. And also your business, because you've tackled this in your business pricing, it opens up new pathways because without getting this right, there's many things that can happen. Hiring staff is, is one of those, if you, if you're not profitable and you're trying to bring on people, you're kind of just expanding on a bad thing.

CS: 20:27 Yeah. Yes. Yeah, exactly.

MP: 20:29 And so this is, this is great and it fits back with your journey. Now I want to say the actions of what you, the why, I guess of why you've done what you've done. I, I know what your big vision is and I'd love for you to share a little bit about, uh, your vision and, and the importance of having a big vision for your, your life and for your business because that's why you're doing this work.

TS: 20:56 Yeah. Connie, do you want to take that one or would you like, CS: 21:03 yeah, I know where our vision is. We want to be the go to company for anybody with an eCommerce store that needs bookkeeping and integration with their bookkeeping software. So we want to help eCommerce businesses succeed. So that's kind of the niche that we're going into. It's kind of fallen in our lap before we kind of took all clients, but this is what's kind of fallen into our lap and where we're going with it. And our vision, of course, is to be across Canada and we did just, we are getting some clients now out west that we didn't have before. We have one that we've just quoted in Quebec. So we are moving across the country, which is good, which was part of our vision. So I'm happy we're actually heading in the direction where we want it to go.

MP: 21:49 Beautiful. And Theresa, what's been your take on, on how your vision has, has brought you along?

TS: 21:58 Yeah, so our five year plan, like we want to be across Canada, the number one known for what we do. We want to have virtual bookkeepers working all across Canada, supporting small businesses, eCommerce, trying to really change the statistics because the statistics in Canada say that 50% of small businesses will fail in the first five years. And of that 50% over 80% of them will fail due to lack of financial management. And we really don't like that. We want to see much more success in that area for small business. It's the backbone of our economy, you know, it's, it deserves to be supported and that's really what we care about is making a difference in people's lives and knowing that we can help them in our small way to make their dreams come true. And we're getting there little bit by little bit. Yeah, you're getting there.

MP: 23:06 Well, little bit by little bit is really a big bit by big bet because helping one small business is, is, is worthy of a life. Anyone's lifetime. You're helping families, you're putting food on people's table, uh, you're creating harmony around the dinner table for those people. So it's, it's big, big business. Working for small business makes a big impact. And on behalf of all of the small businesses out there, we thank you and, and also the listener out there. Thanks you for sharing, uh, sharing this as well. Now before I let you go, I, I would like to jump back in the time machine a little bit and ask if looking back, if you could see the shortcuts and say, you know what, we should have zigged when the museum's AGD, what would those be? That would help our listener take a more direct path to where you are today.

TS: 24:02 Okay. Absolutely. So number one, let go of your fear. It's okay to be afraid, but just do it anyway. It's the biggest thing. If we had let ourselves get over our fear of faster, this would have all happened faster. So that's number one. Connie, step out of your comfort zone. This is what you're used to always doing, and it's okay to step outside on and try something new. And then I would say value pricing works. It takes time. It's a work in progress, but it works. Don't give up. If the first few times you try it, it fails. That's okay. Just do it again and give it a try. With some of your new clients that don't know any different, so you're just quoting them, they don't know what your price usually is. So see how you do. You know, if, if you priced it incorrectly and you don't get the job, the sky won't fall in, but you'll have learned something extremely valuable.

TS: 25:04 So then I did try, very sorry buddy. I would say watch all of Mark's free stuff. You know, he's got lots out there. Start there and join his Facebook group. It's got a lot of stuff on there too. That's true. That's true. I guess I would say my, my last kind of main point would be believe in yourself and your value. You are worth it. You change people's lives every day and you make businesses succeed. It's the hardest thing for us to realize that you think, oh, I'm just a bookkeeper. I just do bookkeeping. No, you are worth it. You have value. You changed their lives. It's like you said, Michael, you're putting food on the table. You're making life easier for them. Maybe you're giving them a little bit more time with their families, so just believe in your own value. Last thing I would like to say is remember to don't think, what am I worth hourly? Instead, ask yourself, what is my service worth to this client? Because quite often we undervalue ourselves and then we put that belief onto them and we think, well, they would never pay that, but that's just a belief system that you have to try and get over and the sooner you can get over that, the better.

MP: 26:21 Lovely. Well, I know that both of you are doing the work and you live in a place where you want to live. Your, you're not living in an urban center. You are successfully building a business that's virtual. Uh, you're, you're, you're on a journey. If you've making mistakes, but you're picking up, you're learning from them, you're taking new actions. It's very inspiring to see. And I'm sure many of our listeners are going to want to learn more from both of you about your secrets, because I know there's a lot more secrets to your success and we're only sharing a few of 'em today in this episode. And I know we'll have you back. Uh, but if they, if listeners wanted to Benji or get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that?

TS: 27:14 Um, probably the best way is for me. Uh, Theresa is email reach out by email. It's Theresa.slack@financially.ca. I love communicating and helping people. So that's the best way or message me on Facebook.

CS: 27:28 And for me it's the same thing. I'm not in on Facebook as much. So emails are always the best way to reach me and that Connie. Dot. Smith at finance today. Dot. Ca.

MP: 27:41 Beautiful. Well, this has been fantastic. On behalf of all of our listeners out there, I thank you greatly for generously giving us your time and as well you the secrets to some of your success. This is been hard work for you and lots of highs and lows, like I said earlier, so it did, does not, um, it does not get missed that this is a great service that you're giving all of us. And I thank you.

CS: 28:13 Thank you very much for having us on your show. We appreciate it.

TS: 28:16 Yeah. Thank you for having us. It's been a pleasure.

MP: 28:19 Absolutely. And there's been lots of links and lots of resources mentioned in this show and Mark Wickersham and go check out Mark. Start today. Start consuming this. This is so important for your business, whether it's Mark or somebody else. You must become a master in pricing. Uh, and this is, it's not like the road that will take you forever. Uh, you can do it just like Teresa and Connie have. It's possible for you as well, and life will be better on the other side. So with that, we wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's both 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: 29:07 goodbye.

EP142: Stephen Brown - Why You Should Embrace Technology

TSBK - Episode 142 - Stephen Brown.png
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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.


Michael Palmer: 01:32 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the COO for Ledger Gurus, a virtual outsourced accounting firm focused on e-commerce accounting before ledger girls, Steven held executive product management, engineering and sales roles at a variety of technology companies. Please welcome Stephen Brown to the show.

Stephen Brown: 02:00 Thank you.

MP: 02:01 Stephen. How are you?

SB: 02:02 I'm good.

MP: 02:03 Great, and I am excited to get into this because I know a lot of our audience tackles technology on a daily basis. It seems there's a lot of messages in the marketplace of where things are going and have gone and you've embraced a lot of this by the sounds of things in not only your business today, but as well your career. But before we get into that, Stephen, tell us about your career path leading up until now.

SB: 02:31 Yeah, I have somewhat of a twisted path. I actually got a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in the late nineties and ended up saw in software due to the.com boom and spent almost 20 years in a variety of roles, um, quickly focusing on information technology software or information security software. So I spent a bulk of my career there and then my wife started our company Gurus as kind of a side hustle that exploded into a full blown business and I jumped off of my software career a couple of years ago to help her full time with ledger groups.

MP: 03:11 Wow, that's an interesting story and an exciting one for your wife and yourself. Um, building a business. What has that been like for you and, and leading into actually growing that business?

SB: 03:29 You know, the, the accounting world is really interesting. Um, the, there's some very interesting parallels to my career in information security software. Um, you know, I think the value that we bring as accountants and bookkeepers is huge, right? We really help our customers understand and make good decisions and not to mention compliance and other things. Uh, and in terms of growth, there's a really huge opportunity in client accounting services, which is where we're focused and, uh, we're growing as quickly as they have in some of my software companies. So it's been, there's been tremendous parallels.

MP: 04:04 Wow. And you're a partner with your, your wife and you have children. How has that been growing the business?

SB: 04:14 It's a tricky balance. We have five kids that range from four to 18, and so it's a, our house is not only our, our home, it's also the headquarters of our business with everybody working from home. And so it's just nonstop from the minute we get up to the minute we go down.

MP: 04:32 Yeah, I'm sure a few, I can definitely relate having young children as well and working from the Home Office, and I'm sure many of our listeners as well, that that is very common in industry and really not just this industry, but many industries where people work from home, their businesses are, are from home. And how do you go about making sure that that works for you and your life and in your family?

SB: 04:59 You know, in our case, we, um, we get some help at home. We have some, um, health that comes in a couple hours a day for our little ones and um, there's a lot of handoff. Um, and sometimes I'm helping get things going in the morning while my wife's going to business meetings or vice versa. And so it's con a constant exchange with us, um, when we're both in it together for both the family and the business. We're constantly trying to help each other out. And so that's how we make it work. But it's, it's not easy. It's tricky for sure.

MP: 05:32 Yeah. And I'm always interested to know what you feel your strengths like as a business owner, as a father, a husband, what do you feel your strengths are that you're bringing to this dynamic?

SB: 05:48 Well, you know, well, I'm very, very operationally oriented. My wife's kind of the crazy entrepreneur who just starts things without thinking. I spend a lot more time on approaching teams systematically. And so both in home life and in the business, I'm really focused on, you know, processees and order and structure and she's, she's focused on getting things started and connections and, and a lot of the people aspects of, of the business.

MP: 06:17 Oh, very cool. Well, it sounds like, uh, you know, we, we, we often bring up, uh, the EMF, which is Michael Gerber's book written for small business. And, and one of the, the concepts in the book is that every business owner or business requires three dimensions. And one of those dimensions is the entrepreneur, one is the manager and one is the technician. And so, yeah. What's Nice about what you've shared is it sounds like two of those dimensions are being handled, um, right away by your, your wife, uh, being the entrepreneur yourself being probably more of the management operations. And then technically sounds probably your wife as well. Maybe even both, you know.

SB: 07:04 Yeah. We, both of us are our technicians, but we also, early on, she, she did not hire any, she did very little client work. Neither of us do much client work. So we hire a lot of technicians and focus on the other aspects of the business.

MP: 07:18 Which is, which is exciting because that is one of the critical things to scaling your business is being able to, to have those roles be be handled. And, and typically what can happen for many, and I'm sure many of our listeners get stuck up in the technical role of the business and the business hits a ceiling when the other two are not being handled. So probably a big piece of why your business has scaled. And so congratulations on that. So you, you've also approached business somewhat differently and that you're very much, uh, embracing technology. Tell us a little bit about how that came to be and obviously, your technical background likely had something to do with that, but I love to hear and have the, the audience hear how that journey went.

SB: 08:09 Yeah. So Brittany wanted a business more or less for herself. She wanted a, a company that was virtual in nature so she could be around the kids and the family. And so from day one, she wanted to wanted it to be virtual. And by that nature there was a strong need for good technology. Uh, and, and we were more cloud based and cloud only from day one. I helped her very much with the, a lot of the IT infrastructure. Um, in the early days while I was working my day job, which involved traveling internationally 25% of the time. So I was super part time in the early days. Brittany is not a technical person unless it's accounting technology. So she, she embraced a lot of the most current and and progressive accounting technology while I was focusing on the non-accounting technology early on that need for the technology to do our business remotely I think made us a technology first company and set the tone for how we approach things. We also look at and technology overservice. So rather than trying to fight the technology and say, hey, that's taken away our service dollars, we just assume, hey, there's going to be other service value that we can bring. So if there's a tool that can do what we would do with this, you know, the person, we always choose the tool first.

MP: 09:34 Interesting. Tell me a little bit more about that.

SB: 09:37 Well, I think, I think the industry has a lot of concern and a valid concern about getting obsolete, becoming obsolete due to technology. And we believe it's inevitable. So rather than trying to run away from it, we embrace it. What we're finding is there's so much work to do that, you know, we spend so much time on the transactional or the fundamental activities that there's a lot of value adding activities that really accountants and savvy bookkeepers can provide on, only can provide. And so we believe that as we can embrace the technology to do the mundane, it freezes up to do more of the strategic stuff, the stuff that's hard to automate, like budgeting and analysis and things of that nature that really bring value to the customers.

SB: 10:28 And so that, that's been our approach from day one.

MP: 10:38 That's refreshing. Uh, and, and definitely a theme in the conversation. People talk about this, but it's really refreshing to hear someone that's experiencing that and actually benefiting from it as well. And I would echo that this is a huge, a huge need to, I love the saying, it's like that bookkeepers and accountants can do and in fact can only do. And so I'd love for you to dig into that a little bit and share some thoughts around that.

SB: 11:13 Well, let's take a budget for example. A budget is, is very complex and it's not something you could give to a piece of software, but behind that budget there's all of this other work that needs to be done to be, to be done correctly. So you need to do all the bookkeeping, you need to do all of the reconciliation, the financial reports. And so all of those things, underlying things that support creating a budget that the technology can, can help streamline our are necessary. But the actual analysis of creating the budget that requires creativity, that requires deep analysis and understanding what's going on. And the end result is something a client can really make good decisions around, give them good controls. That's just one example of where an accountant can provide unique value that a machine is not going to help with. Uh, at least not in the budgeting itself.

MP: 12:08 Yeah, it's exciting. This idea, and I'm sure listeners can totally get that. Totally understand that. And, and yet it's somewhat new territory because I would say I would assert that in the past, all that time, the majority of the time was spent the manual side of getting all of those, the reconciliations, the bookkeeping work done. And so very little time was done on the budget, on cashflow analysis, any kind of consultative approach to the business, what was happening before. And you know, like what's happening now that, that, that that's something that you can actually tackle our business owners embracing that are they asking for, and I love to hear about that.

SB: 12:56 I think small businesses in particular, they, they go through a journey when it comes to their accounting and finances. And initially they are very text focused. They see accounting as something they need to do for their taxes. What we try and do is say like, hey, that's good, but you gotta you gotta move to that next level. And if you're succeeding and a lot of business owners succeed despite their own adequacies, there's, there's another level of accounting and financial insight that's needed. And so then we started looking at financial controls and insights and saying, okay, you had success. Why did you have success? Oh, you want to go invest in this thing? Why? Let's, let's understand. They often will, will make decisions off of hunches and in intuition, which is often how a business initially succeeds, but to scale to scale, you really need to have deeper insights. And so it's transitioning them from a tax compliance mindset to more of a, okay, let's, let's understand our business and let's grow against analysis and data.

MP: 14:05 There's a book called the Challenger Sale, which, which I mean, the name says it all right, challenge your sale is your, you're challenging the customer to think differently, to move in a different direction and actually challenged them on their current assumptions or beliefs and, and it's very powerful and that's what you're, it's by the sounds of it. That's what you're actually positioning and doing. And what a differentiator. If you're sitting in front of a customer and you're saying, hey look, that's all this other stuff that yeah, it's all got to get done. It's all very important to compliance side of things, but wait a second, where here's the opportunity. This is what you need to be thinking on and, and tackling next. And you positioning yourself as the person or firm to actually do that. I absolutely love that.

SB: 14:57 Thanks.

MP: 14:57 What, and you know you, you've mentioned that your wife does more of the business development. She's out dealing with customers. How do you work as a team in terms of, you know, you're handling your part of the business, she's handling her part of the business. What's the function that you apply to make sure that she has some of the thinking that you have and that you're working on so that she's able to take that out into the marketplace?

SB: 15:26 Yeah, so one of the number one questions we get when we tell people we work together is how does that go? A, to be honest, we're, we're very busy in our own areas and I originally came in to focus on operations and technology, maybe help out with marketing, but within a few months she pitched the services side of our business to me because a, I'm much more operationally org oriented and so even though she's the accountant and a very good accountant, I, I'm running all of the accounting services in addition to the operations. The way that we, we stay in sync is, is it helps that we're, you know, we, we share the same house, we're constantly talking about the business and then we have a couple of key meetings during the week where we sync up on items both with our, our top of management managers in the company as well as one on one.

MP: 16:21 Yeah, I'm a, I imagine of question. How is, do you ever get sick of talking about the business?

SB: 16:26 No, we love it. I W I do say sometimes I think we have to stop talking about it because we spent so much talking about the business that we forget that we're, we should also have more of a personal relationship. So it's really easy to just talk about the business all the time and sometimes you just have to put it down and focus on non-business things.

MP: 16:52 It's a great problem to have. You love what you do. You love your wife, you love your family. I mean it's, it's, yeah, it's all kind of combined. Uh, which is an awesome problem to have. But glad that you've identified that and, and there's the human side of, of life as well and making sure the family and the [inaudible] has the whole sold has what it needs. What I'd love to hear from you is there's a big world of technology shift happening. What, what have you seen? That's a two that's taken me two things. I'd love you to, you know, you can tackle either one, but what does really excited you and then this like, wow, this is totally going in an awesome direction. And I'd love to hear some disappointments as well, if any.

SB: 17:35 Well, that's a good question. Um, you know, I spent so much time on, uh, building tools for information technology professionals that it's, it's refreshing to be in a space where there's so much going on. Um, the, the financial technology and accounting technology space is just exploding and there's just so many great tools. So I think from an exciting standpoint, I just, I, you look all around and almost every process there's a tool that can help. And I love that so many of these tools are, are SAS or cloud based. So it really, it makes it a lot easier to implement and use these tools in an efficient manner. And I don't know if I have a favorite tool. There's just so many things, you know, you pick your problem, there's, there's probably a solution for it. In terms of disappointments, I don't know if I'm disappointed so much is I, I would say this transformation that this particular industry is going through is it's big, it's moving very fast and there's, you know, there's a lot of integration that you have to do to make all of your tools work together. So you've got your accounting software, whether it's quickbooks online or Xero or you move up, you get into the net suite of the world and so on. Then you often have to like integrate all these other tools to make a really good workflow and that that can be a complex endeavor. But if done well, it can really create a very powerful financial operating system.

MP: 19:07 It sounds, it sounds that way. And I would say the, what I hear in often, the conversations on this podcast and with, with clients and people in the industry is very, very much that it's a big, big puzzle. Lots of us and pieces in the puzzle. Sometimes they don't fit exactly right now cause there some of the pieces are a little immature need a little shaving. We're cutting to get them in. But it's, it's happening fast. So that's also a big part of the problem is, is keeping up with everything. How do, how does your business and take that into consideration and how do you deal with the rate of change?

SB: 19:44 It's a challenge. And as I looked down the road, I, I worry about the industry and a lot of the professionals out there, I really believe you're going to have to have strong technology skills to enter the transformation. I have an analogy from earlier in my career, I, as I mentioned, I was a civil engineering student and got a job in the late nineties and in that time anybody could work in because they were just hiring anybody that breathed. And so I worked with a lot of people that were not very technical in nature. Um, they came from liberal arts majors, but they, you know, they, they were smart enough to do the groundwork and then around 2001 right when the, when the market blew up, what happened is there was a huge, um, sifting of talent. So everybody that was did not get real skills ended up laid off. And fortunately with my engineering background, I really tooled up and geared up and learn a lot of things and I was, I was able to endure. And nowadays like you, you haven't heard of, of jaw of technology companies not needing talent for, for years and years. And so I think there's a similar need in, in this industry that, that people that are technology forward, I mean really embracing technology are going to thrive. Um, for us that means that we are constantly investing in our, our skills constantly going to events, trainings, developments and we assign people to really dig in and become masters of those tools. So there's a lot of investments but it does pay off over time.

SB: 21:29 And the people that you have working with you as technicians, you're helping them tool up as well. What have you found in terms of knowing that that person that you're hiring is going to have the ability to tool up or desire to tool up? What's that journey look like? Some pros, cons of that would be interesting.

SB: 21:52 That's always a difficult thing to assess. Like how technology savvy are they going to be? We do look for some patterns in the hiring process. We have an assessment that gives us some cognitive insights, but we really look at, we use a lot of tools in the hiring process so we see how well they interact with the tools and how quickly they respond. It's tough. It's tough. Unless we hire somebody that has an explicit um, experience doing any sort of information technology or you're making a little bit of a bet, like, is this person really going to be able to dive in and be good with all the technology that we use?

MP: 22:31 It is, and I say every industry's going to be tackling this because there are so many different pieces to this puzzle. It's like, well, you know, you might have one or two. What's, what's the chances that this person can take that from a one to two, to 10 to 12. And the other challenge is that this is the financial services. There's the ability they have to have the ability, the knowledge is well that technical aspect of accounting and how all that works. And then mixing those two together. What's that been like?

SB: 23:07 You know, it's, it's been pretty easy. You want to say easy, but you, you can kind of tell if a person's got a good accounting knowledge and good quantitative knowledge. Just, you know, if they've made it through a good accounting program, they're probably going to do just fine. If they have good experience in other accounting roles that's usually a good indicator of success. And so you're looking for a marriage of, of people that have the good technical accounting skills along with the, the ability to use technology. And then for us, we're very keen on, we want accountants know how to talk to people because over time that's going to become more and more what we're doing as professionals and less important that we're able to, you know, we've shut our doors and just pound on, on our numbers all day long.

MP: 24:09 Yeah, that's interesting. It's, uh, it's another level as we, as we embrace technology, the, the hope is that they'll actually be more human con contact and working at higher level, which is, which is not what people often think about when it comes to technology. Think of typically moving away from people. Um, but that, that's exciting and refreshing. Now you, you've, you've had a lot of technical background. You've dealt with um, security, uh, in some of your prior roles and this is a big concern for many people. And even something as simple as I was talking with someone recently just about Facebook and privacy and the concerns that they had about that. How do you, how do you, how do you deal with security in your own firm?

SB: 24:58 Well, I have the advantage of almost two decades of being immersed in the information security world, which is a, you know, as a field goes, it's a good place to be that good place to be. There's virtually no unemployment. So I've been able to apply a lot of my experience towards our firm knowing what those best practices should be. Now understanding the threats that are out there. And so I've, I've been able to apply a more sophisticated approach for a small business then than most. And I have the technical skills to use tool that are maybe not as easily adopted by those that are less technically savvy. Well, the way I look at it, we have the most valuable information of almost any business out there, right? We're handling the financials of our clients. And so it's so important that we, we understand what the risks are and understand how to mitigate and manage those risks because they are real and they are happening every day.

MP: 26:05 Absolutely. And you know, for our listener who might not have those skills, what's your recommendation? How should they be? How should they be tooling up in this area?

SB: 26:17 You know, there, there are some best practices out there that you can search for some, there's some basic things that you could do and learn about, but you know, there's some really basic things like, you know, is your data being secured? Is it being encrypted? Right? Are Your laptops being encrypted? Is your, are your devices protected against malware with a good antivirus program? Are you keeping your software up to date and patching it and not ignoring it and saying, oh, I'll reboot tomorrow. Like those, those are some really basic steps that you can take to help protect, you know, the devices that are controlling the data. The next thing that you can look at is most people are using a lot of cloud applications now and so you've got a lot of passwords. I think password security is more important than ever. So things like are you reusing your passwords across sites? Are you using strong complex passwords? And it's really easy to do that with a password manager and there's a number of free password managers out there that you can use. But those are some really good best practices to protect the access to the apps that contain all of the data as well.

MP: 27:29 Absolutely. And is there a recommendation on a password app that you like to use?

SB: 27:34 Oh, you know we're, we're using a paid app called keeper and I'm, a lot of people also use last pass. Those are both cloud-based password managers. But there's a number. If you, if you just Google password manager, you'll see a number of options out there that are really helpful.

MP: 27:51 Wonderful. It's something so simple. I mean it wasn't that long ago where it was like one or two things where you had to have a password and, and now it's literally everything in our life is password protected it seems. So managing that is paramount and some great tips, right? Just something as simple as your passwords where, you know, are you making sure that you have the doors locked up at night type of thing. Um, and, and software, um, updates and making sure all of those things are handled really valuable. I'm always curious too, like if you were thinking in a firm that you needed to get help with security, what would be your recommendation to our listener if they, hey, you know, what, maybe I should have a security review or just have something. Is there anything that you've seen in the market that has been something along those lines?

SB: 28:48 Yeah, I, I've noticed kind of parallel to our industry, the IT services industry, a lot of those businesses are, are putting a strong focus on information security. So there's a number of, of service providers that I've seen out there that will not only help manage the laptops and desktops in your business as well as your servers if you have any, um, but they all, there are many that are starting to orient those services around security. So they'll bring in the, the antivirus and the patch management and a lot of the tools that that can help you secure those, those systems. And it can be a, it can be a really helpful investments to make because they bring the expertise so that you don't have to have it.

MP: 29:35 Absolutely. And I'm sure all of your clients write that. That's a whole nother conversation. Everyone's dealing with other small businesses and so how are they handling it? And understanding yourself is just another area of expertise and knowledge that you can pass on to your clients and be valuable. That's right. Well, this has been amazing, Stephen. I mean, it's a big world. There's so much we don't even understand yet about where, where this is all going. But you've given us a little window into how you're dealing with it powerfully in your business. And thank you so much for generously giving us your time and, and some of your ideas and thoughts of, of your journey.

SB: 30:03 Thank you for having me today. It's been our pleasure.

MP: 30:08 And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 30:36 goodbye.

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.


Michael Palmer: 01:11 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fantastic one. Our return guest is a pure bookkeeping North America licensee and has 25 years experience in the bookkeeping industry. She is the owner of the Mark Ham group, a bookkeeper, a mentor, and the creator of the seven steps to scale your bookkeeping business masterclass. As always, it's fun to chat with her again, Lisa Campbell, welcome back to the show.

Lisa Campbell: 01:41 Hey Michael, thanks for having me. It's always fun to be here.

MP: 01:44 I love having you on the show, but I just love having chats with you. I learned something new every time. I get inspired every time and I'm excited to inspire our listener today. And so Lisa met probably many of, uh, of our listeners have not actually met you or heard the episode of when you were on, I think it was about a year ago. So I'd love for you to share your journey leading up to this point. Uh, and, and what's that been like getting you here?

LC: 02:16 Well, it's been a long journey and I've learned a lot along the way with your help as well. Thank you very much for that. And a, you know, I started off like everybody else. I was a bookkeeper and I got busier and busier and uh, I was getting into trouble with getting things, you know, out of control and, and I also had a need, I was in a bad marriage that I needed to get out of and I needed to make more money. So I had to learn how to grow my business to a point where it made enough money for me. And so I learned how to do lots of things along the way and that just kind of, you know, grew and grew to something that I never even expected years ago.

MP: 02:53 Hmm. It's, uh, your, your story is an inspiring one and you went through challenging times. What's, what's inspiring those that you did something about it?

LC: 03:05 I did. Well, I had to because I knew that, you know, if I didn't do something, it was just gonna stay the same. I was going to always be busy and always working evenings and weekends and not being able to getaway. And so, you know, I, I had to crack the whip a little bit and put the time in and I'm glad I did because you know, having gone through the other side and coming out of putting all that work in, I never would have imagined that my life would be where it is right now.

MP: 03:29 Mm. Well, well let's talk about what your life was like when you were just running your bookkeeping business before we even met. What was life like?

LC: 03:40 Oh, it was so stressful. It was, I mean, it was just me at that point and you know, like I said, I had, you know, lots and lots of clients, not necessarily high-value clients, but you know enough and you know, the work was always there and it was always overwhelming and, and I was having trouble keeping up and keeping myself organized. And that's when I reached out to you in the beginning and I thought, you know, how am I going to get organized with this? So I learned how to, to systematize, which really helped a lot, but it was insane. I was constantly worrying about meeting deadlines, worried that things were going to fall through the cracks. And so, you know, I got a handle on it and it was uh, yeah, it was time spent working on the business outside of working already, you know, in the business. So it was doubled up there for a little while. But the transformation, the way it happens, it's absolutely incredible. Little by little, just taking those baby steps every day, the way it changes, you start to free up and you start to realize, you know what, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I can do this.

MP: 04:35 Mm. And so you, you took the action. I remember that call. I remember having a call with you and, uh, you know, knew that you were someone that was going to take, take this and run with it. What w what was that journey like you, you made that decision. It probably wasn't an easy decision because you, you know, you had to invest in your business, not only from a financial standpoint but also a time standpoint.

LC: 05:02 Yeah. It, I mean it was, it was difficult. Um, I think probably the biggest issue I had was a, this was actually somebody asked me this the other day, the biggest issue I had was not really having a sense of direction, you know, which items to tackle first. So obviously for me the biggest part was getting the systems in place because once I got my systems in place, that enabled me to, to delegate and do other things. So not having, you know, a clear defined sort of roadmap on how to get from a to B was a bit of a problem. And so I look now looking backwards, I can go, okay, I did this then I did that, I should have done this first. So I think that overall, you know, working, working with you, working with the systems, going through that whole program was just like invaluable to me.

MP: 05:48 Mm. And you, you, it wasn't just systems though. You actually, you took it beyond that and actually you've got your journey's interesting because it was you as a solo bookkeeper, you, you knew you needed systems, you became more efficient, but then you also started adding staff to your business.

LC: 06:07 Yup. Yup. Well, I found I had more free time and so yeah, originally I had started just to sort of get a handle on my own practice and it just really gradually turned into a business. And so once you do that and you have a team in place, it's doing the day to day work, you end up with this abundance of time and you think, okay, what am I going to do with this? So I myself set out to learn the higher skills, which of course increased my value, which is why I'm able to sort of be on this journey that I never even expected. I just thought I was going to get a handle on my own stuff. And it was amazing the doors that opened up and the value that I can provide to my clients now. But had I not had this, the systems and processes in place first, I really don't think that I would have such a good handle on it. In fact, I do talk with a lot of bookkeepers and accountants and some other organizations that I belong to who are offering higher value skills, but they're also still doing the day to day work. I mean I can't even imagine having to do both.

MP: 07:04 Hmm. It would be difficult.

LC: 07:06 Oh, it would be like the goal is to free up time to offer the higher value it. You're still doing both. You're just adding more work.

MP: 07:14 Mm. And you know, there many listeners are listening and often when you hear people that have put in the long work and the, and the blood sweat tears to get to that endpoint, it can almost sound like while it's easy for you cause you've, you've already done it. Right. Um, the overnight success, right. That the, the 10-year overnight success. W W what's your recommendation or advice to people that might be thinking, Hey, uh, I know, I know I need to do something different, but you're not sure exactly what to do.

LC: 07:49 Well, you need to take a step. First of all, you need to, you need to get some clarity on, you know, where you want to go. And if you think that it's going to happen all by itself or you know, somebody is going to throw this readymade business onto your lap, it's not going to happen. But taking those steps, very small steps as you go, it frees you up and it gives you more opportunity. So I think the people that are stressed right now, thinking, you know, I'm already too busy and I, you know, I don't have time to do this and I can't babysit people and there's no way I can do this in my business because of course, I'm the only one that knows how to do it. Get that out of your head. Because you know what, there's lots of bookkeeping businesses out there and there's lots of successful ones. And there's lots of successful advisors out there and you can't transition to that other role until you get a handle on it. So you've got to put the work in and it's not hard. It's, it's not hard work. It's time-consuming, but it's not overly time-consuming. If I can do it, you can do it.

MP: 08:49 Beautiful. Yeah. And so you, you created a program, now you've, you've, and maybe we are jumping ahead too quickly cause you, you actually, let's talk a little bit about getting through your own scale. Right? You, it was just you then you added staff. Uh, what was the adding staff journey like?

LC: 09:09 Well actually, once I had the systems in place, it wasn't too bad. So having the systems in place, what that means is that every step that I take every day with every client is documented. It's set on repeatable processes so that I know if I'm going to do a, B or c for a client, I'm basically documenting every step that I take in that job for that client. So for me to document that and then have it on my, you know, cloud-based workflow that allows me to now add that to somebody else's workflow, knowing that they're doing it exactly the same way I'm doing it. So adding people in, it's a very slow process where you, you delegate one job at a time where maybe a few tasks at a time and you're still overseeing the rest of it, but essentially you're, you're very gradually handing off basically what you're doing. And I, you know, I basically teach people that you're, you're making a clone of yourself because we've all said it. I wish there were two or three of me so that I can get all this work done. Well, you can create that, but you have to put the work into doing that.

MP: 10:05 Hmm. And I would imagine it's different type of work too, because people listening might think, gee, that sounds like a lot work.

LC: 10:12 Well, it's, I think if you're trying to figure it out on your own, then yeah, it's probably a lot of work. I mean you get, you get sidetracked a little bit. But if, if you could sit down with somebody and they say, okay, do this, this and this, and you're going to get to that. I mean, why not? I would.

MP: 10:27 Absolutely. Absolutely. So you bringing on staff, it went a lot more smoothly because you had the foundation of systems and process, uh, cloud, cloud software to enable you to be able to delegate and keep track of things. And then you also added to your own repertoire the, the ability to add value-added services into your business. And so now you're actually mentoring other bookkeepers and accountants and growing their and scaling their business. Let's talk a little bit about that and, and, and share with us the, the, the seven steps to scale your bookkeeping business.

LC: 11:08 Okay? So what I've learned is that does a series of steps that you need to go through. You should follow them in a certain order, okay? Because what you want to do first is you want to identify yourself as is, is this the right path for you? Are you, are you supposed to be a technician? For the rest of your life or do you want to develop yourself into something that's, you know, a little bit more of a higher purpose where you're earning those higher dollars as well. So we need to look at, you know, do you have the experience to back it up? Do you, you know, have you gone through the pains of what a regular bookkeeper would go through before you bring on other people? Because if you're not a technician yourself, you're not going to understand that. So be the technician first.

LC: 11:43 Then learn how to remove yourself from that position. So what you want to do first is you want to introduce the systems and processes, which is like I just said, you want to document literally everything you do. You want to make sure you test it and prove it so that nothing gets missed and you don't miss any deadlines. Once you have that in place, and then you can start to look at your, your overall process is you want to look at things like your fee structure. So many people are caught up on charging by the hour. So we need to get people away from that because that's not a value-based model at all and you're not really being rewarded for the work that you know. So that's, that's one of the things that I tend to look at. And then what we also want to do is we want to put all their processes that they've created to clone themselves.

LC: 12:26 We want to put that in an automated workflow so that you can access it and literally have it like almost like a, an operations manager right in front of you so that you can check in from anywhere that you are a and see what's going on within, you know, the processes in your business. Well, the, what's going on with your clients. Once you have that in place, you can start to hire and when you hire people, you don't necessarily have to hire from great skill. You can train great skill because you've literally given them a step by step manual that's on their speed. They log in, they go, okay, I need to do this for this client. Okay, I need to do a, B, and C. And they check it off and it comes back to you and you can see it. So it's not as hard as saying, okay, I need to hire a bookkeeper or three bookkeepers and I need to put them all in a room and I need to sit there and explain to them step by step what I do know.

LC: 13:10 You're going to walk them through it on your cloud-based workflow. So once you've done that, and you can now delegate your task one by one, until you're literally handing off every aspect of your clients to your team. Once you do that, you're going to have very little workload yourself and you're going to be spending about 50 to 80% of your time in the design phase of your business. So now you're trying to improve your business. So what can you do? Well, you can go and take courses to improve yourself, which is what I did. So I differentiated myself from the average bookkeeping firm. We don't just do your books for compliance, we do your books in a way that helps you grow as a business.

MP: 13:46 Hmm, love that.

LC: 13:47 I was a little long-winded there. Sorry.

MP: 13:50 No, it's good. It's fantastic. I mean, you know, you can see the progression and now how do you help others get there? What, what gets in their way? Why would someone need your help to get there?

LC: 14:06 Well, first of all, mindset, a lot of them, they're still stuck in that I'm already too busy. There's no way this, I can do this. But like you got to put that aside because like I said before, it's not gonna change. If you don't stop and you're not gonna have any room to grow as far as, you know, down the road when you want to take time off and you come back to work and there's, you know, two, three times the amount of work because you took a week off and everybody's complaining because they can't get ahold of you. That's the problem. You know? Not to mention the fact that, what about a revenue stream when you retired it, it's just, it's not going to happen if you don't actually do it. So I help them, I hold them accountable. I walk them through the processes that I went through, but I do them in order because I've already learned from my mistakes what not to do. Like don't focus on this. If this is your main problem, let's focus on your main problem. Get through that. We'll walk you in a specific order so that you can come out the other side or you've now got the time to either, you know, sit back and retire. Go on vacation or differentiate yourself with higher learning.

LC: 14:59 Yeah.

MP: 15:07 Okay. Now let's talk about mindset. How do you break away from the mindset of being a technician?

LC: 15:16 Well, I think first you have to, you have to realize that anybody else who's done it is no better than you. They've got the skills. If you're that busy, you obviously know what you're talking about. You know what you're doing. So you have to look inward and say, you know what? If this person can do it, then I can do it. Why can't I? They don't have any special gift that I don't have. No. What they have that's different is that they've taken the steps. So you have to really break free from that. You don't have to think of yourself as some big boss of some big corporate thing. It grows on its own and it doesn't grow overnight where it's you sitting behind a desk and then all of a sudden a week from now you've got 20 employees. That's not how it works. You grow into it very, very gradually so that that's really what you need to look at.

MP: 15:59 Yeah, and I think that's a big powerful piece too to mentoring is surrounding yourself with people that are, are going where you want to go and have already gone where you want to go. It's, it's a magical experience just to spend time with people like that. You see others doing it, you see how they're doing it, and it will shift and alter the way a person thinks and, and also give them the courage to take the actions that they might not have done. So on their own.

LC: 16:30 Absolutely. And I think, you know, having somebody holding you accountable, and not just me, but the entire group holding you accountable because you're gonna want to pipe up and join in on the discussions if you're not doing the work it's going to show. And so by having that accountability aspect that's going to push you to go through this because it's not going to happen on its own.

MP: 16:48 Hmm. I'd love to, I'd love to hear some of the things that nearly stopped you from progressing. I mean, you've built a really great business and you're in many ways living your dream a that you had from the beginning when you decided to make this happen for yourself. But what were some of the things that almost got you?

LC: 17:09 Well, I think at the beginning, you know, the investment, I was very much afraid of the investment. I thought, how am I going to do this? I mean, as you know, I was in a bad situation and I almost had to hide the fact that I was even gonna consider investing in this. The investment was scary, but I can tell you within a few months I started to recover that investment and then I started to go beyond what I invested and I thought, wow, this works. And so, and apart from that, you know, the time that was being freed up as well and how it was organizing me, you know, it kind of just progress's on its own.

MP: 17:41 It's amazing. It's amazing to see. And you also have built up a big community of people that you rely on and that you, you learn from. What's your recommendation to people, uh, that maybe haven't built out their network?

LC: 17:59 No, you have to definitely get involved. Definitely go onto the Facebook groups, talk to people who are in the same boat that you're in, you know, learn as much as you possibly can. Your professional organizations, wherever you are, Canada, the US, Australia, there's all sorts of organizations out there. You've got to get involved. If you stay behind your desk by yourself, overworked and don't know what's going on in the world, especially in our industry, you're going to feel so isolated. You just really need to put yourself out there and don't be afraid to ask questions.

MP: 18:30 It's a, it's shocking the amount of people that don't ask questions and, and there is a great fear that people have about looking stupid or you know, not having the right, you know, look at me, I don't even know what these answers are. What's your recommendation to people that might be going through that?

LC: 18:49 Well, I think that, you know, first of all just everybody's been in the same boat. We all started with the same accounting one oh one and we've all gone in different directions. Some people have gone there faster than others, but there's no point in feeling stupid. You're, you know, everybody's had to learn something at some point, nobody's going to judge you. I mean, I find the community of bookkeepers in accounts that are out there are very giving, very willing to share their experience. Put yourself out there.

MP: 19:15 I love it. And you know, I will say with our community at The Successful Bookkeeper community as well, the pure bookkeeping inner circle community, it's one of the things that we just don't allow as anything that's, that would be considered negative or bullying. We absolutely get rid of that. And so it still requires a risk on our community's part to actually ask questions because there is always a risk that someone will be negative and will make you feel small, but know that there's hundreds and hundreds of people that will back you up. And, and our team as well, we just, we won't tolerate it because there's enough of that in the world. We don't need to have that kind of negativity. There's always a way to be constructive. There's always a way to find a way to help people in a, in a constructive way. So I love that about the community as well. Now, Lisa, talk a little bit about technology. You've mentioned it already, uh, that you use cloud workflow software. What, what gets you excited about the industry today and the technology that we have?

LC: 20:23 Well, I love, you know, things like the automated processing receipt bank and hub dock and all that. I mean those tools in themselves are helping us gain so much more time. So you know, if you're the type of bookkeeper who's used to, you know, the client drops off the shoebox and you sort through that and then you sit there and you manually enter it, you know that that's old school and it's, and it's you're charging by the hour and that's very time-consuming when start bringing in things like receipt bank hub doc, I think there's another one, I can't remember the name of it. Auto entry. That's what it is. You bring those things in. What that does is it allows you to process sort of on autopilot everything that you would normally do. So it decreases your time involvement, but you don't decrease your feet so your margins increase. So you need to leverage all the automation that's out there.

MP: 21:09 Hmm. You know, I heard someone speak about it, just the other actually recent episode, Eh, in that it, it actually is exciting because of the, the industry is pushing, pushing bookkeepers into a position that is much more valuable.

LC: 21:26 Oh absolutely. And if you don't, and if you don't take action on that now you're going to be left in the dust because it's sort of turning like a pivot point right now where you know, business owners are not looking for bookkeepers who are just going to sit there and do yesterday's information. They're looking for bookkeepers who can give them more in a, in a strategy way or you know, an advisory capacity. They want you to be able to look at their data and help them grow their business because who also is going to help them with that. You have the perfect opportunity to do that. You can dive into their books, see what's going on on a day to day basis, look at trends and you know, just even if you're not taking additional training, if you've got the experience behind you, you know, many times you sat there and thought, I can really help this client but I don't have time because I've got to get the processing done. Well if you leverage all the automation that's out there, you're going to open yourself up to have more time and of course, you're going to charge the client more.

MP: 22:19 Hmm. Exciting. And it's and as valuable to, that's the thing that, you know, I can't stress it enough and I often talk about on the podcast is how valuable this work is for businesses. And there's not many in the industry that can actually help.

LC: 22:38 No, no. You really do need to position yourself so that you can help. And that's, that's part of what I talk about so much when you're, when you're transitioning from, from a technician to a strategist, is that you've got to put all these, these processes in place so that you've got the time to do that. Because it's in demand, it's growing, it's constantly growing and word is getting out there. I mean, people understand that bookkeepers, we have a lot of stuff that we can help you with just based on our history. So I'm so stressed for people to just leverage that because it's, it's going to help you in the long run and it's very rewarding as well. Like when you can actually work with a business owner, you know, you want to have a conversation where you're saying, okay, you know your p and l says this and your cashflow says that, that's so boring and, and rudimentary. What you want to do is you want to be able to get on the call with the client, say, Hey, we've done this. I've taken a look at that and here's my suggestion to you going forward. And then that client calls you back a week or two later and say, oh my God. Like you know that suggestion you made that really helped. How rewarding is that?

MP: 23:42 So rewarding. So Lisa, there's so many opportunities, but yet there's so many bookkeepers who are struggling out there. Why do you think that is?

LC: 23:52 Well, they struggle because it's just them. So you know, it's literally you can only make as much and do as much as your own hands can do. Um, they're still stuck on that dollar value, you know, per hour. So their position on price, they're not putting any value into their pricing. And worst of all I find they take on everyone that contacts them. So literally every guy that walks through the door or calls, there's no lead filtering, there's nothing they just take on everybody who wants to do business with them. That's just the worst way to operate. You need to be able to pick and choose who you can work with.

MP: 24:23 Absolutely agree. And I think that takes a lot of really understanding yourself, what you want and as well knowing who are the people that you actually want to work with. So I think it's fantastic. Know you, you've often talked about an exercise that you take people through when they're looking at your program. Share a little bit about that because I think it's really valuable.

LC: 24:47 Well, we do this little thing on a, on a piece of paper with a negative and positive. So like the negatives. Where are you at right now in your business and any of what's holding you back from putting the work into it? So things that I'll typically hear from people that are even considering, you know, scaling on their own, they'll say things like, I can't do it right now because, you know, if I charge more money I'm going to lose more clients. Um, and that the only way that they can make money is if they take on even more clients. Well, that, that doesn't even make sense because that's not how it's done. And they talk about how they're already working nights and weekends, they can't take vacations and they still can't keep up. They talk about how they don't have time to scale now because it's just way too busy.

LC: 25:24 And the biggest thing I hear is that they can't, they can't bring somebody on to help them out because they don't have time to babysit them. And I mean, I was one of them. I was worried about that. I'm sure a lot of people who's hired in the past, I've done that. If you do it the wrong way, that's going to happen. Um, all of us I think are, all of us are guilty of saying no one else can do this the same way I do that. That's it's not true. You can train people to do it the same way you do it if you document it. And then of course, you know, lots of bookkeepers are very upset about the fact that their clients, they don't see any value in them. I mean those are the ones that are gonna, you know, pay their bills late and then, you know, complain about the fees that they charge and all that.

LC: 26:01 They can't go on vacation because then the, I think we talked about this earlier because then there's twice as much work when they get back. And then the biggest thing I think that, you know, longterm we talk about is their retirement. Nobody ever thinks about the retirement. You Go, you work, you make your money and you're doing this day in and day out, but you don't have a pension. You're not working for a company. So when we look at all those negatives and I, and then we go through, okay, if you were to take some action right now and start doing this for yourself, what's going to happen once you come through the other side of putting all this work in and this is how things change. So they say things like, my fees are based on the value that I provide. That's a great one.

LC: 26:41 I mean it's amazing and here's the thing, your fees have nothing to do with what anybody else is charging. I don't care what anybody around me is charging. It has nothing to do with what I charge. I have a fee structure that I have that's based on the value that I provide and that's a big one for people to be able to offer. The other thing is working during business hours, you need to be able to work during business hours, shut it down. Evenings, weekends, those are yours. Their work, their work is organized. They know exactly what's going on at any given time. It's live, it's dynamic and they're able to delegate. Being able to delegate is almost like having a right hand man. It's not just you, not everything's on your shoulders. Um, and that person that they delegate to does the work exactly the same way you do because you've created that process you've created, it's like a manual for your team to work on and the clients now know their value.

LC: 27:31 It's very easy for the client to, to see what you're doing for them. There's no value in transactional recording. It's just for compliance. We don't want to be in that position going on vacation, taking time off, everything's going to run smoothly without you that that's huge. I mean I just did it in February. It was amazing. I didn't even think about work. And then, you know, lastly going back to that retirement thing, if you build this out, the way you can build this out, the way I've built it out, you now have a retirement revenue stream. So you can either just, you know, coast there and start, you know, adding on more to your teams so that the revenues are producing while you're retiring or you know, keep building it and then go into the differentiating part like we spoke about earlier.

MP: 28:11 It's fantastic. You know, good little exercise. It's a great exercise. And you know this, this has been absolutely I think opening up, right? It's opening up possibilities. Everything that you say, you know, we talked about the negatives and then it was like the, the the possibility, right? And I don't, I would imagine that many listeners don't spend enough time thinking about the way they want their life to be. And this is probably sparked the interest of many to say, yeah, you know, what? Find out the way you want your life to be. And guess what? It actually can be that way. There's many people living the life that you've actually talked about. You're one of them. And it does not. It will not. It just is not possible for it to occur. And less you create it as a possibility for you to actually create that. It doesn't just magically appear one day like, Oh wow, when life is the way that I want it to, it doesn't happen that way. It needs to be created and, and built towards. So you, you've done a great job. I think Lisa in, in helping others get excited about that. And so I would love for people to know what's the best way for them to learn more about the seven steps to scale your bookkeeping business masterclass?

LC: 29:30 Well, there's, there's a few ways. First thing I would say, go on to the seven steps to scale.com. So it's the number seven, seven steps to scale.com. Um, there's a lot of information on there. There's a masterclass recording that they can request, which goes through pretty much, you know, a lot of what we've discussed today, a lot about the program that you can be a part of. The other thing they can do is join on a Facebook group. I have a specific Facebook group that's, that's tailored to people who want to make this transition. It's not about general bookkeeping questions, it's about, you know, it's for people who want to move from technician to strategist. And I think that's actually what it's called, a technician to strategist on the Facebook group. So, and that's also linked in that seven steps to scale a page there. So that's probably the best way to get in touch with me.

MP: 30:16 Beautiful. Well, Lisa, this has been absolutely fabulous. I love having you on the podcast. I love conversations with you and I, on behalf of our listeners, I want to thank you for generously giving us your time and your wisdom.

LC: 30:31 Well thank you. I'm hoping that I can help people because it's not that hard. You can do it.

MP: 30:35 Ah, beautiful. And we'll look forward to having you back to give us an update on how that's going.

LC: 30:43 Awesome. I look forward to it.

MP: 30:45 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: 30:54 Goodbye.

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

Episode 140 - Steve Chase.png
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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.


Michael Palmer: 01:21 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 is an advanced QuickBooks online pro advisor and founder of sequential solutions, which helps small business owners grow their business with practical and effective solutions. Steve Chase, welcome to the show.

Steve Chase: 01:42 Thank you, Michael. It's an honor to be here.

MP: 01:45 Well, it's great to have you and yeah, we've had few conversations in the past and I absolutely love your story and I'm so excited to have our listener today hear your story and your charity and as well your vision, vision for the future.

SC: 01:59 Sure. I'd be happy to chat about that.

MP: 02:01 And so before we get into your journey, I'd love to start off with your story of how you got into bookkeeping.

SC: 02:09 Yes. So what happened was about 10 years ago, my wife started a business and she was able to really get it going right off the bat. It was really unanticipated level of success. And that led us to really thinking, Huh, we can actually have a business. She was blogging at the time and I jumped in with just volunteering how to do her bookkeeping. And since then I's it's led to about three of her businesses that I was able to help her along the way in doing bookkeeping. And at the time, this is, this was 12 years ago, this was QuickBooks desktop was the, the only platform that we had even thought of using. So we went in and got trained. I was able to, I get a couple hour instructions from my CPA and my glad just fell in love with the bookkeeping process on day one.

SC: 03:04 And I was like, oh, this is, this is incredible. This is awesome. So well, if we want it to like basically fast forward through to today, I was able to take and help her out with the bookkeeping our businesses. And it was something where that has led me to really see that bookkeeping is such a valuable service that, um, it is a belief that you have, that you truly are helping out somebody, get clarity, get peace, get freedom in their bookkeeping. And it's truly a transformational part of the business that I decided what the heck I can do this on my own. And I have now have since launched my own bookkeeping process and practice.

MP: 03:47 Beautiful. And your, your story is interesting because your, your journey as a couple into business has been one where you actually started outside of your own country.

SC: 04:00 That's right. Yeah. We were, both were in the Dominican Republic and we were working in a missional educational aspect working with schoolchildren and we both were able to start there. And it was, it was there in the Dr that gave us a lot of, um, just a different culture view, world point view and being able to be in the emerging front of technology. We both love technology, being able to create an early blogs. You know, before Facebook was around, before Twitter is around, we were having a family blog and it was with that, that technology that we were able to, my particularly my wife, but she's able to start her cooking blog that she helps, um, people save money@thegrocerystoreatfivedollarsdinners.com. And that was really kind of the ecosystem that got us into this journey of entrepreneurship kind of just accidentally if you will. But once we saw it, we both took aim of it.

MP: 04:58 Wow. This is a valuable tool out there that it's there. If you have content to share with your audience, you can do that. And we didn't know anything about blogging or doing podcasts or doing effective teaching and going on media, but it just was one thing after another that excited us and Lisa said, or we can do this. And um, we have just, it's been a journey of being able to go through this process and always just being curious. Like, ah, this is great. How can we deliver valuable content to our customers? And what are the creative ways to be able to get ourselves out there and really just not be afraid to make some mistakes and learn as you go.

MP: 05:40 It's beautiful and wonderful that you're, you're out making a difference in the world and that's where you found your purpose and, and a lot of probably mistakes that you learned while you were fire. You were going through that.

SC: 05:52 Yup.

MP: 05:53 So, so when you, uh, jumping back to bookkeeping journey, when you decided, you know, what, what does that look like? Like we have a lot of listeners actually that have relatable experience or they may be, have never, uh, you know, they've, they, they've been thinking about getting into business for themselves and doing this as a full time, a full-time job, a full-time business. What were, what were the steps that you took in order to be able to be qualified to be able to help your clients?

SC: 06:25 Yes. Well, the most practical one was taking the QuickBooks online certification and that was super exciting to me to have really top quality education and training that is very specific towards the actual software that I was using and at the same time when as I was getting the courageousness to step out on faith and start on my own, I was lucky enough to have three QuickBooks files from my wife's companies that I could use to move her into the cloud and it was with that and getting my first client at the same time, which just really gave me super confidence knowing that this can be done and you've got to believe that there are so many resources out there too to get help. I mean you've got communities like this. This podcast is a huge one just to listen to other experienced bookkeepers out there that are transforming businesses out there within certain products and software capabilities.

: 07:27 You can go after, you can use chat forms. Just the main thing is you just can't be afraid to ask questions and you're not alone. There are tools and people that are willing to help you out. And it's very exciting. That's obvious. When you believe what you're doing is valuable, the answers will come your way as far as figuring it out and just the transformation level. If you keep your mindset on, I have a purpose to help a small business owner out and I can help them have peace, I can help them have clarity, I can help them get their family lives to better help their customers out. There's gotta be a way to get the answers. And if you love doing puzzles and you love being able to form logical sequences together, bookkeeping as a fantastic career and profession because there's always a way to ask the right people and find the answers to what you are.

SC: 08:26 And he might have to sleep on it. But when you solve that problem, it's just so freeing. And then that gives you more confidence to move on and take on another project that might have been a better or bigger scope than when you then the knowledge you knew when you first start is all it's so fun cause it all builds on each other. And I'd say also for anybody that's getting ready to start out, you just, you just need to start with one, one person and develop a good system on one person. And that can really give you the confidence to then do two. And then after you did two, you can do three and just think little steps at a time. But the biggest customer that you'll ever get, your first one has to be yourself. And for me, Michael, it was just like, I was just a little bit afraid. Could I do it? Can I do it? But I just kept going back and I just had something in my heart knowing that I've already been helping my wife out for 10 years. But the bookkeeping know that I could do a good job with her. There's gotta be other people

SC: 09:24 well out there that I can do the same thing with.

MP: 09:34 I love it. And it, you know, what I hear in that is, is the mindset, uh, is so critical. You're, you're faced with challenges as a small business owner, you're faced with challenges that will always be there. There'll always be new challenges to, to overcome. And, and if you don't have that big wide, that big purpose, those challenges can be the size of Mount Everest. Uh, but if you have a huge purpose, the size of Mount Everest, your why is the size of Mount Everest? Well, your problems are small challenges are small.

SC: 10:11 Exactly. Do you, cause you never know, you'd never know where your next customer is going to come in or you never know where you're going to be able to create an awesome report for a customer that comes to you and just is drowning. And you have a way to think and be creative and come up with solution to produce a report that's gonna really give them a powerful tool that you can do. And you can do it with confidence. So you also never just never know where there'll be a new app that comes into the ecosystem that supports your bookkeeping software that can really powerfully unleash so much, uh, knowledge that you can get work done faster and be working on the right things. But those are all a lot of unknown. But you, they will come your way if you can do it right.

SC: 10:58 But one thing that you cannot have escape you as your core values and a small designer or somebody who's inner career corporate world now thinks they can go jump out, I would just say is just take your time and understanding who you are, what your core values are. Why do you want to start the business think longterm. And often I would challenge them that, that, that they are more valuable than they think. And there's so much awesome capabilities of really helping out small business owners. It's really can get really exciting to know that you can help us that are out, that can help their family out, that can help their community out, that can trickle down into their, you know, schools and churches and organizations. The whole community can benefit out hope if you think of it, just a bookkeeper can surely help get people the peace, clarity, and freedom back in their business that truly spills into lives of others. And so that should excite anybody who is thinking of starting a bookkeeping journey because it is such a powerful tool that can help transform positively others.

MP: 12:05 That's just pure gold. And for those thinking about it though, that I, from my experience in working with now thousands of bookkeepers, the ones that really do a great job of it are people who are truly in it for the sake of their customers. And they love what they do and they love it. It's not a job if they're not doing it for money primarily. Of course, everyone needs to pay bills and feed their families, but that's not the core value that they get from it. It's not their why, their why is much bigger than that. So I love that you've recommended people get really clear on themselves, why are you doing this? What do you want from it? Because in this world there's a million things we can do and we can't do everything but we can do anything. So it was bookkeeping that anything for you, make sure you're really clear on it. Love that. That's a great foundational step. You know, Steve, you also have a really interesting story in it. It's not surprising based on what you've been sharing, how much you love what you do and you love working with small business owners, but how you support them has been really transformational for your clients is businesses. So w would you share a little bit of that and how that's been looking for you with working with your clients?

SC: 13:18 Yeah, yeah, I'd love to. So fortunately with my very first client, we just had a scenario where I was thinking, okay, what's going to be the best way to support her through the years? And it came to me that we should have a monthly chicken meeting where I'm getting her bank statements, I'm connected to the bank feeds, I've got all the data and I am now responsible for coming up with an accurate profit and loss statement, a balance sheet. And I want to make sure I'm doing the best that I can. So when I, we love working with clients that will also want to have a monthly check in meeting with me and with the technologies today it's super easy to be on. Like for example, zoom where you have a Webcam you can share your, I highly recommend that you use your webcam cause it just adds the personal touch to showing the books.

SC: 14:12 And then I get into a scenario where we, we put it on the meeting when we set up engagement layer, we'll pick a month for this particular customer, the second Tuesday of every month, 9:00 AM and I have it on my calendar and we have it, uh, 12 times a year and I get to open up QuickBooks. I share my screen, we look at all her revenue accounts, click through each one. Yep, Yep, Yep. Nope, nope. Let's change that category to perhaps affiliate income. Okay, no problem. I'll do that on the fly and we hit up the cost of goods sold, the expenses goes through all those. If there's anything that I'm not sure about, rather than send a bunch of emails back forth through the month, what I purposely do is all suspense accounts. Like for example, Amazon, I'll just park it in uncategorized expenses.

SC: 14:57 If it's kind of a miscellaneous count, I know it can wait. It's not urgent. I'll just park it there. And then every month I'll click on on categorize expenses and it opens up. There might be four or five transactions in there and at that time the business owner can either tell me immediately what it is or it might lead to further investigation. But what does Michael's that strategically having the business owner consciously walkthrough every dollars spent with me every month. And when they do that, it really shows them a whole lot of transparency on maybe what they thought they are spending in their head. But the facts support the facts. Everybody could have an opinion, but what it comes down to is I'm showing them the facts not answered in your opinions. I'm interested in the facts and doing this monthly profit and loss report over a screenshare is powerful because bookkeepers can find other customers out there, clients across the country and you can support that.

SC: 15:56 And then the other thing that does, it's so powerful once you crossed over one year, I love, love, love being able to say, okay, let's click this button. And so what you were at last year compared to what you are this year. And this would not happen if we didn't intentionally have these monthly check in meetings that um, I know a lot of my customers get excited about and they are very thankful for it. And if we miss one, we schedule it to do a rescheduling and it's just a critical part of um, what I love doing. I feel like it's a great tool to have that discipline to do that. And it also helps me attract clients that are also wanting to put their skin in the game as well. And it really changes from just doing the books. And so your next year too, this is a walking journey with me and brings it into a whole nother level of coaching, advising and you know, questions can come up of, Hey Steve, you think this software is a good buy or not? And once you start adding more customers to your list, you start to see what other customers are purchasing and the industries. You can start to get really good pulses on different suppliers and vendors that you can start to make recommendations on what software or apps or whatever their suppliers are to purchase. And I think Michael, that's a powerful tool that I feel like I'm going to be learning so much as I keep growing and getting support that I'll be in a even a better position to advise my clients.

MP: 17:28 I absolutely love everything you've said and there's a lot that you've said in it. I can hear that you know what you're doing is your spending quality time with your clients, which is I think rare in this industry and it needs to not be rare because small business owners don't need someone to just take care of, you know, making sure all of the file is is done and accurate.

SC: 17:48 That's just level one right. Has to get done right. There is an obligation on a business owners to record accurately their business financially, but that's not really that helpful is that it's helpful to the government that wants to collect money for taxes and you know all that good stuff. It's really helpful of them. But to the business owner, is it helpful to just sits in a cat corner over there in their desk or on their computer where it's at?

MP: 18:29 Well, it's been done correctly. What you've done is you've taken it to level two, level three, level four which is let's actually work together on this. Let's have a recurring meeting where we actually look at the details and we work together on the details and you're building a relationship. You're building a relationship with them that that that's what they will continue to work with you is because of that relationship. I just love that. And then level three is you're going to show them you're going to help them win together. We will win. And when you win together, you know the, after a year you're looking at benchmark data and it's like, hey your one, this is where we're at. Year two, it's like you are essential to their business.

SC: 19:15 Yeah, it changes the question to are we working on the right things right now? Is it really gives you that, that those questions of working on the right things at the right time. And then the other thing is that she's in South Carolina. Well she recommended to me to an a client in Colorado. I was able to pick up and then that person in Colorado, that couple of color recommended me to another customer from Indianapolis. So it is a powerful tool not just to help us solve as an owner, but they talk and they are proud to represent you to others as well.

MP: 19:59 Absolutely. And I have a question for you. What, if you have a whole bunch of clients that come on, are you able to support all of your clients in this way?

SC: 20:10 We are. We are right now it is. I'm acting as uh, sole proprietor right now, but I've got an assistant that's coming on and it's very exciting to be in that, that beginning phases of what does it look like to support. So we definitely anticipate growth in the next five to 10 years a big growth. And so now the, the scenario is we're going to, you know, with Steve alone time and doing that right now the answer is yes but in five years from now it's, it's definitely gonna be a little bit different and how we'll shuffle around the packages and all that. With W my commitment definitely to stay on the month to month for the, for my existing clients, but when we bring a new clients that might look a little bit differently if we have the team members to support that. But overall I definitely want to position our firm to be able to support that cause I feel like that is so critical that it has to be done. Whether it's me or someone else on my team, it's getting done and it is a real time where real agendas can be set to make sure that we are working on the right things at the right time and we have time that can be reactive versus let's, let's get scared. Cause we just now are trying to look at 12 months of data and to get tax compliance and all that done and I do it. We just definitely don't want to be in that position.

MP: 21:30 And I, I think, I mean just, it's a great, it's a great conversation because it would be on, I'm sure the listeners mind, right? Is, well I, you know, because I think a lot of businesses out there, Vick keeping businesses had been set up where it's, it's more about volume than it is about quality profitability. And there's a great saying that volume is vanity, profit is sanity. And so we can also overlay that onto supporting your customers. Like you don't need a whole bunch of customers. What you need is you need a handful of customers that you are their trusted advisor, they value you and you get what you want out of the equation. And this starts to encroach upon pricing, right? How you price your services and it's not, you're not selling your time here, you're selling an outcome for your customers. How, how, how valuable are you to a small business owner when you're there every month, helping them, holding their hand, letting them vent, letting them talk about it, showing them the wins, you know, celebrating with them when they, when their businesses growing. I mean, that's worth way more than what, you know, hiring someone to come and do a couple of things for you in your business where you're paying them by the hour, right?

SC: 22:45 Yeah, yeah, yeah. And small business owners that are, that are valuable to their communities. They didn't wake up and decided to, they wanted to create a mediocre business. Well either. So bookkeepers, bookkeepers need to be way beyond mediocrity and go for valuable deliverables. And in the way that you do that is it's one by one. You get your customers one by one and eventually that also means saying, I'm sorry Mr. Customer, Mrs. Customer. This is not our area that we can feel best to support you. And that's okay because, uh, let's, let's have the specialist go after attracting good jobs with other businesses that looking for that specialist to like, it's like having a hand fits in the glove. You want to design your business around to attract customers that are good fits for you and politely say no her not a good fit. And because there's so many other opportunities out there for others could capture that.

SC: 23:45 That that is I think a hard thing for many small business owners, bookkeepers particularly starting out as, oh my gosh, how do you mean I'm going to be able to turn somebody down? I'm starving. We have to feed our families and all that. But it Kinda goes back to, you know, we have to believe what we're doing is valuable. We have to believe it can be done. We have to believe that our purpose of serving another human being has dignity and true worth. And it's just having that gut feeling of you either know you can help them out or you know, it's a stretch and at this time you're not capable. Maybe you can get there two or three years later and learn more skillsets and have a better knowledge to handle that kind of a volume of work. But if you're not ready for it and you don't honestly think you could do it, then the right move is to say, sorry, we can't serve you. And that to me is more honorable to do that because two or three weeks later down the road, you just never know. Like I said, you never know where your next customer is going to come from. Never know where your next product or service will innovate. The next opportunity will come. He just cannot let your core values escape your mind and your mission every day.

MP: 24:55 It's a great, a great, uh, I a theme for this episode and, and there's, I also here in your journey, you've done things in your life that are uncomfortable and you've, you've had to take on new things and you're the type of person that, that does that because you're clear on your values because you're clear on your purpose. And, and for many listeners, I would imagine that even getting on a web share screen share zoom call where you're sharing the work that you've done, uh, would be outside of their, their comfort zone because they haven't done it before. What advice do you have for them?

SC: 25:32 Yeah, you do. You do. Um, so I can definitely feel the same way. I remember being scared to death to have my Webcam on for the very first time. But the advice is you're trying to solve a problem. And number one, it does not matter about what you think. It matters about how you're effectively solving the customer's from the customer's point of sorts. So you do what you do, what it takes to, to solve the problem. It will feel uncomfortable until you get through it. But turn on the Webcam, turn it might be transparent. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to make, you just don't want to make the wrong mistakes. Making mistakes and learning from it and moving on is a huge victory that you get better with and you gotta look for those opportunities to make mistakes. The right mistakes. Never make bad mistakes that you should not have made.

SC: 26:27 But if you understand it, all entrepreneurs and all these learners are going to have their ups and downs and all that. It's a matter of being at recover and get back up and keep moving forward. And ultimately the, if you're uncomfortable, it's probably a good thing. It's like public speaking or writing your first blog post or doing something. But if you truly believe what you're doing is valuable, then there is a way to go through any, you can get coaching and get, you can go through writing things, assistants, but ultimately it comes down to is get out of your own way to help the customer. That's the motto. Be prepared and yeah, ultimately being prepared is, would, will help you because she'll be excited anyways to support your customer.

MP: 27:13 Yeah.

MP: 27:21 I love it. My Dad used to say, you're allowed to make 10,000 mistakes and then you need to quit. And uh, and so, uh, I love the love the energy and I would, I would imagine to doing these meetings is a great accountability for you. And it's accountability for your cock, your customers, right? You've got to make sure that things are ready and on time and setting up. That kind of a process is, it might be difficult in the beginning if you're not used to it, but it's a support system that supports both you and the customer.

SC: 27:54 Oh my gosh, yes, yes. Yeah. I mean particularly PayPal statements, they come out on the second officially it released on second, so you know, we know that we got a meeting maybe the first Wednesday of the month might fall on the third of the month. Yeah. You never know where it's going sake out, but the accountability is huge. Go because it puts the pressure on me to get the bank statements to get the credit card statements has got to have those every month to do the work. And for me it's such a blessing to be able to look at my calendar on Sunday night, looking at the week ahead to be able to see you guys. This meeting, this mean is mean. I'm again, do I have the bank reps? Do I have it systems in place? Otherwise, it's, if I didn't have that process for me it would just be a slippery slope where a week stretches into two weeks and three weeks and then I don't want to be in that position.

SC: 28:44 I want to be proactive and prudent. Prudent is a good skill set, I think of a bookkeeper because you have to be swimming down the river, you know, it's going, you know, every month the bank statements gonna come out and just being there, being, having available at your fingertips. And the good news with the technology today, it's so easy to get the knowledge of the financials in a quick and fast way. Then unlike any other generation we had before. And same thing with the data going into the software today is great that we have the tools that can really powerfully push that data into it. And it still takes humans to categorize it and make sense of it. But that's a really powerful, is a great era of bookkeeping and a future bookie. Matt, they gonna be so much needed at the human level. And so try and differentiate yourself out is your greatest asset is going be you, your face, the Webcam on you when you're talking to your customer, that is an asset that's unique to you and that only you have, that you can offer that customers want and they're drowning, they're looking for help.

SC: 29:56 And one more side note is you'll sadly, you'll, you'll start to recognize other clean up jobs and you're helping people from drowning that unfortunately was done the wrong way or maybe they tried to do it themselves can do it. So be prepared for a good amount of cleanup jobs and help the people drown and just make sure you're choosing to pick the right ones that you're capable of helping.

MP: 30:19 You. Got It. You got it. Thought that is fantastic and, and absolutely echo the work you're doing on a monthly basis with your clients. That's the future, you know, sitting with them being their, their mentor, their coach, their advisor on where things are at and, and making sure that everything's been done. But there, there's so many advances in the technology that you don't have to do that work anymore. And so now it's positioning you of giving you the ability to actually do the more valuable work, which is exciting.

SC: 30:50 Oh, and it's so awesome and it's just so amazing to be able to get in a position to do that. And it's something that you're walking on every day. It's a journey that's like, at the end of the day you say, oh, that's it. I'm done. It is a lifelong process where, you know, we can do the missional stuff day to day and succeed at that, but the vision is the lifelong journey. Walking along hand in hand with the business owner that's so empowering. And when they recognize that in a bookkeeper, it's like, oh my gosh, I thought I was just looking for somebody to be a bookkeeper. And all of a sudden they're getting so much more than what they thought a bookkeeper could provide. And so to me, that's exciting to help out and to have conversations like this podcast really supported me. My first month as I was doing my very first job.

SC: 31:44 It was incredible. I started in Texas, connected three bank accounts, the bank beats, we drove to Minnesota and I was able to finish the work in Minnesota at a lake cabin. Beautiful with my family. And the whole time I'm just thinking, uh, gosh, it can't just be me. The only one how they are. So I Google bookkeeping podcast. I found your podcast, Michael, and it's, I've been listened to ever since. And um, the stories and the, and I just got to thank you because you're connecting, uh, the bookkeeping community to others out there to help us know that we're not alone and there's just been so many great other speakers and guests that you've had on your show that has helped me along the journey. So it is just a fascinating, uh, environment where if you are thinking about starting your own, you know, you're not going to be mediocre. You know, you've got excellent software, you know, you're valuable, there is a great opportunity and chance for your success to go out and do it.

MP: 32:44 Thank you so much for sharing that. I, I love, I love hearing that a and R and ACA, that there's so many resources available to you. This community, uh, is included in that, uh, and so many others. And, uh, people like yourself, Steve, that are willing to help others and be generous and, uh, and find a way. Uh, I would, I would invite our listeners or our regular listeners, I would love for you to share on wherever you listen to your podcast, whether it's iTunes or android is leave it, leave us a review that like Steve has done. Tell us your journey, how you found the podcast, how has helped you let others that have not found us yet. Learn why this show has been valuable to you and help get the message out so we can get more people like Steve here who has been our guest, a valued guest today, sharing his journey. And so with that, I want to thank you, Steve, on behalf of all of our listeners right now. Uh, you know, you've generously come onto the show and shared your story and what's working for you and, and, uh, we truly appreciate that.

SC: 33:51 My pleasure. Thank you.

MP: 33:52 Yeah, and I have a sneaking suspicion we'll have you back to tell your story of what stacks for you and that next level of your business and, and I will look forward to that.

SC: 34:01 Me Too. Thank you.

MP: 34:03 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: 34:18 goodbye.

EP139: Jean Kristensen – How To Attract Government Contract Funding

UPDATE - TSBK - Episode 139 - Jean Kristensen.png
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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.


Michael Palmer: 00:56 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 is the owner of Jeanne Christianson associates, which is a full-service consulting firm providing tools and resources to small minority and women-owned firms seeking to increase revenues through government contracting certification and innovative business strategies. Jean Kristensen, welcome to the podcast.

Jean Kristensen: 01:24 Thank you, Michael. I'm really excited to talk to you today.

MP: 01:27 Yeah, me too. And I think it's going to be a really interesting conversation for us to have. And before we get into it, Jean, I'd really love for you to share your career journey leading up to this point.

JK: 01:41 Yeah, so my journey, I started out after school going into marketing and I love marketing. I worked for Thompson financial services in their professional marketing departments, and that was back in the 1980s so my function was really to get corporations and like law firms to buy these business books. And at the same time my parents had a security guard firm and they were, they were, it was at the nascent stage, but I was interested in what they were doing. My parents are serial entrepreneurs, they have multiple different businesses. Some were successful, some, some were not. But this one I was interested in. So I started working for them on the weekends and eventually I quit my corporate job because I really saw a wonderful opportunity to partner with my family to help them kind of figure out how to do business with the government and how to, you know, make their business a success. And I never looked back after that. So I've been on my own or you know, an entrepreneur since then.

MP: 02:48 Wow. And so it's a, it's an interesting career path. I mean to be helping businesses be able to do this work. And you've been doing for a while now, what have, what have been sort of the Aha, some of the Ahas as you've, as you've built your expertise around doing this?

JK: 03:07 I think the most important thing that I have realized is the role that small businesses play in the United States with regard to the economy. Because although you think you would think big corporations are driving all the jobs, it's really small businesses under 20 employees that drive a good majority of the jobs that are generated in the United States. So the Aha moment for me is and continues to be the huge impact that all of us entrepreneurs have on the economy. So I got into the, you know, I was in security for probably two decades, you know, helped my family grow that their business into a multimillion-dollar company, sold that company and then opened my consulting practice. And it's, it's really to kind of close that gap in the marketplace to help people understand that, you know, government contracts can be away, that they can scale their businesses while also having a huge impact in their communities. And you know, in the world. If you think about again, what the power of what small businesses really do.

MP: 04:18 Hmm. I would think that when people think of big contracts like this, it almost would seem unattainable. You know, if for a small business to think, oh look, I'm gonna work with the government, which is such a massive entity. Is that something that you come up against or is that a similar viewpoint from small business perspective?

JK: 04:39 Yeah, no, I think that that is a, that's a myth actually that, that, you know, doing business with the government or even large corporations is, you know, it's all these big giant contracts. There is certainly a place for larger contracts, but the government has, um, the federal government specifically has set asides because they want to include a variety of diverse suppliers. So they have a set aside for small businesses, which means that there are 23, they have a goal where 23% of their contracts, they want to award them to small businesses and then those goals further break down into other groups like service disabled veterans or women owned businesses. So I think it's really a myth that, you know, doing business with the government is all large contracts. The government has multiple ways of doing business with companies depending on where the company is, what the capacity of the small businesses and depending on what the needs of the government are.

MP: 05:39 Hmm. Well, you know, I think we had a, we had a bit of a chat before starting this conversation and such a massive opportunity for bookkeepers to be aware of this conversation and how it works. And you share a little bit as to why it's so important for a small business owner to be working with a bookkeeper to prepare for the potential of a, uh, a government contract or a large corporation.

JK: 06:12 Yeah. So that's one of the reasons why I'm so excited to talk to you because I see a, another gap in the marketplace where small business owners are kind of thinking wrongly that, that they need to do everything themselves. So they kind of hang their shingles on out there and then they wrongly think, wow, you know what? I'm gonna do my own books or I'm going to kind of bootstrap it, you know, in preparation for what's next. And I'm really here to say that I think that is totally the wrong approach. I'll share that. You know, when I first started, I did my own books because I did not understand the complexities of it. Quite frankly, I'm not a bookkeeper. I should have never attempted to do my own books and I don't think anybody should. If you're thinking about growing a sustainable business, the first thing you need to think about is hiring a bookkeeper.

JK: 07:05 You know, and getting good quality support because as a small business, if you do that, you're going to position yourself for success, particularly in government contracting because the government is very thorough about who they do business with. So although they will do business with companies of different sizes and different capabilities, it's going to be important for them when they're selecting their vendors to know that that vendor has a solid platform. And so I think the real opportunity for bookkeepers in small businesses is to start for small businesses to start thinking of it as a must-have, especially if you thinking about scaling your business, where you're going to try to attract larger clients. Building that foundation from the very beginning is critical.

MP: 08:01 I love this. And I think if, if anything, this is a great conversation for our listener to be using some of this language, some of this thinking and, and communicating the value they provide to business owners. I mean, whether it's a bank, you know, a small business that wants to get investment into their business with a bank or our investors, uh, or going to work with a, a large entity like the government, they need to have great financials. They need to have things figured out. And, and those are some of the Ben of, I mean, it's also just knowing where your business is and, and knowing the financials and being able to make better decisions, more powerful decisions based on where you are financially. So this is w w in, in your work you've seen this go sideways, I'm sure. Tell a little bit about what that looks when you're consulting with folks that don't have this, right?

JK: 08:55 Yeah. And you know, I think of the bookkeeper as you know, and I think this is something that small businesses need to need to consider that a, a qualified bookkeeper is a, is a vital teammate and that person is not just someone who is entering data into a software platform. Because I think that's the other thing that people think, oh, you know, like it's not that big of a deal. You're just putting data in. And that's not true. That person, that a qualified bookkeeper becomes someone almost as an advisor because they're looking at your finances, some of, from a place that small business owner can't see that because they're doing what they're doing. So when this goes wrong for a small business, it's all the things you mentioned. It's the inability to grow because you can't get financing from a, um, from a bank or financial institution, our or lender.

JK: 09:48 And that business owner is also an overwhelmed because if they're trying to manage this very important function on their own, then they're not, they're not managing the business correctly. You can't do both really well as far as I'm concerned. The other, the other critical role that the bookkeeper plays when a company is trying to scale, they can help a person with cost estimating and cashflow management so that when you're thinking about taking on a larger client, let's say I'm looking to acquire a government contract of half a million dollars, I rely heavily on my bookkeeper to figure out, okay, help me based on my statistical data, let's help come up with pricing and also how much cash am I going to need? You know, because doing business with the government, you know, you will start a project, let's say on the first of the month, you'll invoice on the 30th and you're going to get paid probably 60 to 90 days after that.

JK: 10:45 So the bookkeeping function is essential because it can, it can almost help you see into the future to say, Oh, I'm going to need, if I bring on a contract with the $100,000 I'm going to need about, I dunno, whatever, I'm throwing out numbers, $15,000 to maintain my operations before I get paid. These are, these are fabulous value-added services that many, you know, the conversation is there. I don't think we have this conversation enough on the podcast and we'll probably have it a lot more. But these are value-added services that are nontraditional and really the future. And, and when we say future, right today, this is the upskilling. If there was any upskilling to do these would be the areas looking at helping someone like yourself in your business. Uh, but as well all of those businesses that you serve, that these companies that are, are trying to take on new business, trying to expand their business, trying to grow, what does the future look like from a financial stand point in their business is hugely valuable. So whether it's this kind of an analytics, looking at statistics, cash flow projection, these are the things that business owners don't often have as their expertise. And, and this is a great place for the bookkeeper.

MP: 12:04 Absolutely. And I can tell you that it is a place where I see, you know, small businesses really suffering. And on the other side, you know when I'm talking to a new bookkeeper who's trying to break in like they're not sure how to approach, you know how to approach the, the small business because again, the one does not see value sometimes of the other. So I am really a big advocate for what I call procurement readiness. I do not recommend that clients attempt to take on, not that I won't work with them, but I will. I will refer them to other places because if they do not have a solid financial infrastructure, they are, they're not going to be successful longterm in the government marketplace or even in their business longterm. The small business may be able to sustain itself with all of these bandaid type practices. But I think it's important for people to realize that if you're going to build a successful business, a strong foundation and the financial piece of it is so critical, strong financial foundation is essential.

MP: 13:15 Love it. We love that conversation. Now for our listener, they would be working with lots of small businesses. How can we help them understand this opportunity of large government contracts where they might be able to help their clients put this on their radar?

JK: 13:35 Yeah. When we say government, you know, one of the things that I want people to think about is what is in their own backyard. So it's all of the municipalities that you're working with. It is the libraries, it's the schools. So we don't always have to think big government. We can think smaller. We can think locally. And when I work with clients to try to get them to see the government as a potential opportunity, I start local. What's in my own backyard? What are the, some of the services that I could potentially provide to my local government and start there. So for any of you know, the bookkeepers that are listening and they're trying to connect their clients to opportunities, it's, you know, we're, what is your, where is your target audience? And started thinking about and helping clients also think about what their capacity is to do work. Because government contracting as extremely lucrative. It's a great opportunity. But that foundation is again, really, really important.

JK: 14:35 And what's the journey look like? I'd love to, I'd love to hear a story perhaps of you know, one of your clients where it's like this is the, seems like a good opportunity. You've helped them start, start thinking local. What's that, that pathway look like?

JK: 14:54 Okay, well once a client is ready to make the next leap, I'm thinking of a video company that I worked with who when they came to me, they were small. I want to definitely say small mom and pop type organization had maybe less than a hundred thousand dollars in revenue and they, they just thought of themselves as small and because of the world, you know, the changing world, I saw them as infinite because everybody's using video. Digital is such a big marketplace. So the first thing we did was we focused on, you know, the education part of it because I think people don't, you don't want to just jump into government contracting. I call it like jumping into the ocean. Yeah. So it's, it's vast. So really kind of help. We helped them identify their target audience and then we help them craft the marketing message because it's so important for you to think about, all right, who within the government do I want to work with and what is their needs and doing this with the government, it's fully transparent so you can do a lot of research to figure out who they're doing business with, how they're doing business, what some of their problems are.

JK: 16:01 It's more transparent than you know, working with client private clients where you have to figure that out. And we identified several projects for them and it took them, I want to say probably about eight months from the time they started their journey. And again considering that they were ready, you know, they had a nice book of clients already and they were ready to invest time into doing market research. But it probably took about six to eight months before they landed their first contract, which was half a million dollars.

MP: 16:32 Wow.

JK: 16:34 Yeah. Life-changing because in half a million-dollar contract, you know, now you start thinking about, okay, new location equipment, maybe hiring people. And that is typically what happens when people add their first government contract, they scale up.

JK: 16:54 And that must have been a, yeah, an incredible journey for them. And I would imagine the impact on that if they didn't have a financial proper financial foundation could be catastrophic.

MP: 17:07 Yeah. It would have definitely have been catastrophic. Um, and, and I wouldn't have worked with them if that was the case because I think it's necessary for people to have a strong foundation. It does not have to be perfect, you know, but you definitely need to have something in place.

MP: 17:24 And how, how do people find out more about you? Like is it like, it seems like an obscure work that you do. What's a typical experience that you would have when someone starts working with you? Is it just they just decide, hey, I want to grow my business. Maybe this person can help me.

JK: 17:44 Well, people often learn about me in two ways, one of, one through referrals because if it's someone has worked with me and achieved this leap, um, they're anxious to tell other people about it and their life has changed their situation. Has changed. So people will ask them, well how did you get that government contract? Um, I think people need help with doing business with the government because it is a process. There's definitely a learning curve if you've never done it before. But what I'm finding now is that people will mostly hear about me or find me because I am also doing business with the government. There are a number of organizations within the local government as well as the federal government who that that provide resources to small minority and women-owned businesses. And that's who tends to be my clients. So, uh, there's something like, uh, a women's business development center. For example, there is a small business development center. There's something called procurement technical assistance where the agency or the organization provides help two small businesses to learn how to do business with the government. So those entities tend to be my clients and the, all of those entities provide services free of charge to small businesses. So that is where, that is where I'm doing the majority of my work now.

MP: 19:18 Wow. So there's some great resources out there. If you fit into one of those categories, which a small business, there's lots of resources and opportunity for small business, what would it look like for our clients to see opportunity? So our listeners to see their clients as potential opportunities to be thinking about going after government contracts. Is there, is there a specific, obviously there are small businesses, they're minorities, women-owned, there's like resources. There's likely um, some, some large opportunities there. But what type of business would you say is a, as a hotspot right now?

JK: 19:57 Professional services and my region, I see there's an uptake in professional services. A lot of people, Wally assume that, you know, construction is, is what the government buys and the, the government actually buys everything. They're the largest consumer of goods and services in the United States. So if you think about something as simple as like daycare services, which I never thought of as daycare, fitness, flowers, computers, you name it, the government is buying it. They're also buying an increasing amount of professional services. So that's administrative management support, you know, legal services, graphic design. So it's where a lot of our small businesses are. So you know, the easiest place to find those opportunities. And is, is again to connect locally where you are, you know, start thinking about what's happening in your own community and how your local, local government agencies are buying goods and services.

JK: 20:56 And are there opportunities there either earmarked for small businesses or for minority businesses or women-owned businesses or you know, service disabled. They have a few different ones. Uh, there were some great resources, um, which I'll share the links with you. Like the uh, United States small business administration has a great place for people to start because through that website you can connect to your local regional opportunities. And they also have a bunch of, uh, free training videos on their website, which helps people to think about how the, how of doing business with the government because they, how of doing business. There's a, there's a process, um, in terms of, you know, registering your business and you know, getting your tax id number and your duns number and all those types of things. And all of that information can be found on the, uh, SBA website.

MP: 21:50 That's great. Well, that's a fantastic Lincoln. I would say we have a lot of international listeners, the United States, Canada, Australia, B, very similar concept in all of these countries in terms of there's huge opportunity inside government and there'll be link specific links for sure in every country, but that, that some of the research to do and perhaps sourcing and finding someone like yourself, Jane, who can help businesses navigate through this. I mean, if there's a real opportunity for, for a small business to actually go and get a large contract to start, you know, this, this journey in their business of going after these types of contracts, you'd be a fun, fantastic person to, to learn from, to, to get more resources and potentially work with.

JK: 22:38 Yeah, and there's plenty of myself and there's, one of the reasons I do this is because, you know, it's had such a tremendous impact on myself, my family and clients that I work with. Most of most small businesses, you know, there are so many small businesses that fail or there's so many small businesses that really struggle to identify, you know, individual clients. And what I have found is once you, once you've been successful in identifying who your market is within the government, it is a sustainable business model that can really help you grow. So that's one of the big reasons that I do it. And I'm happy to connect people with either working with me, so my colleagues, or to some of the free resources that are out there.

MP: 23:20 It's wonderful. And it is, it's a, it's fantastic to see. Small business is the lifeblood of our countries. And, and it's great to hear that there's things happening to help help small business. Now if we think of, um, this calm, this conversation of most businesses don't get how valuable having a bookkeeper on their side is. We've talked about that a little bit already. I'm really curious to get your take and how if you had a bookkeeping business in your positioning, what, what are you gonna tell this business owner to say, hey, get a clue here and hire a great bookkeeper? What would you say?

JK: 23:59 I would, you know, I would dare to say, um, to, you know, somebody coming into my office or somebody thinking about scaling or doing something is, are you serious? Are you not? And that's really what it boils down to. Not, you know, with hindsight, if somebody said that to me, it would have clicked. Like you're not serious if you're doing all of these other things. I am not a trained bookkeeper, so, therefore, I should not be doing my own books. And what it eventually ends up costing you. Because that's the other thing that, you know, it's a mindset that some people have like, oh, I can't afford this. My, my comment to that is, you really can't afford not to do this because if you're making mistakes in your day to day financial transactions, which is bound to happen. I see people wanting to do with themselves. I met with a client yesterday who, you know, has an untrained administrative person doing it because they don't understand the impact.

JK: 24:57 This is the exact same client who was unable to get alone. It's the exact same clients whose financials are not finished, you know, year-end. So it boils down to are you serious or not? Are you serious about scaling your business to the next level? You know, I help clients also connect with why did they start their business in the first place. And most entrepreneurs start their business because they want more freedom, right? They want to control their own destiny. They want to have a big impact in the world. So if those are the reasons that you're starting, let the other small businesses do what they're really great at and it's a wonderful partnership, in my opinion, when you have that strong financial team in place, that's critical. I think the other thing I would say to bookkeepers is, you know, they may find that they have a particular type of client that they like to work with.

JK: 25:53 One of the things I advise my clients is that a bookkeeper's not just a bookkeeper, right? Sometimes if the bookkeeper's a partner, I tend to like to work with a bookkeeper who specializes in professional and administrative services cause they already know all the little, I don't know, nuances of the business where if I was a restaurant I might want to work with somebody who specializes in, um, the restaurant field. So I think for bookkeepers it's really thinking about what are their favorite clients and maybe trying to go after more of those and, and, and not serve everyone. What I am finding with the relationships that work well is that the bookkeepers that are niching in like construction or construction-related services or professional services or whatever they do, those tend to be really great.

MP: 26:44 I agree fully. I mean there's, it's amazing what, what can be learned and the knowledge transfer that can occur when you, when you do have some specialization because you're working in it all the time and you can get really great at it. Whether it's just the, the industry nuances as you say or, or the technology that's being used in that industry. And if you're working in every industry, there might be different technologies that are being used and that you'd have to sort of understand all of them. So there's just these, these economies of scale, if you will, that that play in your favor if you specialize. So I love that take on it. And I love the way you positioned having a book great bookkeeper or partner or bookkeeper, partner in your business. I absolutely love that. I hope our listeners get some, some, uh, some of that content into their own language and use it to, to express to, to small business owners when they're, when they're, when they are engaging them. These are the things that are coming up. These are the objections that are in the back of their head that they might not be saying that, but they actually have. And so be bold and challenge, challenge you're your prospective business owners to, to make a decision. Are you in this for the long haul or are you serious? I love that. That's so bold.

JK: 28:03 Yeah. And it's true, you know, because again, you know, after seeing hundreds of hundreds of clients, the, the, the do it yourself model is not sustainable. And you know, one of the things why I consider and why I liked the bookkeepers as partners, the ones that I've had the greatest relationships with, they, they continue to tote their value to, to me and to my clients by, you know, sharing information with us on what they're doing with their other clients. Um, now like my bookkeeper does, my bookkeeper's not even in the state where I am, we do everything online. Um, but there was a real focus on customer service and there's a real focus on, you know, I keep on using the word partnership because they position themselves above and beyond bookkeeping. They positioned themselves as a business partner to me, that, and they'd make themselves essential. We have a monthly meeting where we're talking about the business and we're looking at the books together and they're helping me to identify, you know, trends in the business.

JK: 29:11 And they're not afraid to, you know, slap me on the wrist sometimes where I think business owners need that. Like, okay, well why is this expense going up? But why is that going up? And one of the best bookkeepers I ever had, she taught me a trick. She was like, it's the, she, it was something that she called the small leaks in the business because I had all these, um, you know, random subscriptions to this, to that auto, this, auto, that. And you know, when we went through it, it was hundreds of dollars a month that was just on these, you know, automated card payments. And she just, you know, just by shining a light on it and ended up saving us, you know, thousands of dollars, you know, over a period of time, because I'm not trained to look for that stuff. To me, it's like a small transaction where she pointed a, pointed the light on it.

JK: 29:58 She says, why do we have this recurring transaction over and over again? What is it for? What clients are you tying it back to? So that was helpful to me. It made me a better business person because I am like, yeah, what clients am I tying it back to? I couldn't answer that question. So it was, it was helpful to just have that person who cared enough about me and the success of my business to ask me the tough questions because, you know, as a, as a small business, a solo entrepreneur, like we're out there and, uh, you know, we're not used to people holding us accountable in that particular area and it's critical.

MP: 30:43 Well said. I absolutely think that that is such a great window into the mind of the customer. And you have a great bookkeeper working for you and it sounds like you've had, you've had a few, but this is the direction. This is very inspiring and, and I hope, uh, I hope our listener has gotten a ton out of just that thinking. I mean, who wouldn't want to have that type of person on their side as a small business owner? I mean that those are the kinds of services and the, the relationship you want to have, that's what they're not going to be looking at and saying, well, Geez, how do we reduce that spend? It's you, somebody that's totally valuable, essential really to the business.

JK: 31:29 I also want people to think about, you know, when they're trying to connect to small businesses, what it costs not to have it and the, the costs could be enormous. So it's, you know, it's all those little leaks in your business that you're not seeing. That's number one. Number two, it exposes you to, you know, financial mismanagement. So it's all the things you can't get, but it also could create a potential situation with the IRS or your local government where, you know, the, they take reporting very seriously. There's, you know, tax filings that should be done, sales tax that needs to be collected and the average lay person doesn't know all the nuances of how to manage those transactions. So failure to do that could end up costing you even more penalties and lost revenue. So the two top things that come to mind.

MP: 32:17 Love it. It is, it's a completely essential and I've absolutely loved this conversation. Jen, what's the best way for our listener to learn more about you?

JK: 32:30 So please connect to me on my website. It's where I have several articles and you will see in my content because I am a huge so your audience, please feel free to share this content because I talked to people about this all the time, the importance of being procurement ready and to have your foundation in order and bookkeeping is a big part of that. So there are lots of free articles and that's on my website, which is Jean Kristensen and associates.com and through my website you can connect to my social media as well.

MP: 33:02 So there's a bunch of content there and we'll have links as well in the show notes to the website, to your LinkedIn and any other links that you've mentioned to today. Jean, we will have those put into the show notes.

JK: 33:16 Perfect. I was really grateful for the opportunity to get this message out. So thank you.

MP: 33:21 Well, the pleasure is all ours and I thank you for your generosity and for giving us your time and sharing all of your wisdom on my many levels today. So this has been just great. I know our listeners are going to love this episode and a will help to have you back at some point.

JK: 33:37 Perfect. Thank you.

MP: 33:38 And with that, we're wrapping 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.

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.  


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 a great one. Our guest is a profit improvement expert from the United Kingdom. He 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. Mark Wickersham, welcome to the podcast.

Mark Wickersham: 01:40 Thank you so much. That introduction was absolutely awesome, Michael. Thank you for that.

MP: 01:44 It is my pleasure. I mean, anyone that is helping bookkeepers grow their business without our profits, without having to do uncomfortable things is exciting and it's our pleasure to have you on the show. And before we get too far down into actually giving away some of the ideas that you, you help people with, let's, let's help anyone who has not yet heard about you get to know you. Tell us about your career journey leading up until now.

MW: 02:14 Okay, Michael? Yeah. Uh, well I'm uh, as you said, I'm a chartered accountant. I've been in this profession now for, wow, it's over 30 years. It was 1988, came out of university, went to work for a large multi-partner accounting firm after three years qualified as a chartered accountant, spent three years doing taxes in their tax department. And then a little while later started an accounting firm that was May 1996 started with no clients, just a what built his business, uh, and did accounting for a number of years and it was great, fine. I made some miso mistakes and I realized after, uh, after two and a half, three years into my, my firm, I was working crazy long hours. I was enjoying it but working crazy hours and not making money at all. And cashflow is a constant problem until it was, it was really late 1998, early 99, I started to meet some people that changed my life.

MW: 03:05 People I, Steve Pipe, Ron Baker was the first person that taught me his phrase value pricing. I'd never heard of it. And so I started to implement it in my accounting firm in 99, 2000 with amazing results and the results are so good that a enabled me a few years later to sell that firm to my managers in a management buyout. They still run the firm to this very day. And I got invited to start speaking to accountants in the UK in the year 2000. And so I've been teaching accountants now [inaudible] well, few decades now and increasingly in the u s and increase new bookkeepers as well. I was, I was invited by intuit to speak at QB connect. Uh, I think of first, first year was 2015 and they get me back every year, uh, since, and so I've increased new, found myself in the bookkeeping space, teaching bookkeepers how to move to value pricing, how to get better prices.

MP: 03:56 Fantastic. I mean, we're certainly lucky that you've come across the pond as they say, to help, uh, more bookkeepers in North America. And I personally know many bookkeepers who have worked with you and been able to increase their profits and, and, and it's more than just making more money. It's the joy and satisfaction of being able to get, make a really decent income doing the work that they're passionate about. And that's the real, the real gift. Yeah. Making more money, but it's, it's a, it's shifting the way they feel about their business. It's shifting the way that they're able to serve their clients and serve their clients even more. So, uh, I'm excited to help our listeners learn more about you and, and also start to, to shift. Maybe they're thinking about that big shift that you made when you, you heard first Ron Baker talk about value pricing.

MW: 04:49 Yes. I mean for me, what was the big, the thing that changed my thinking in back in 1999 was I'd grown up in the accounting profession believing that you had to keep timesheets. You had to build based on the hour. I didn't know there's another way of doing it, uh, back in 99, but then once I kind of discovered value pricing, it just made so much sense. And what I'm finding in the profession right now is the increasingly there is now thankfully acceptance that we have to move to value pricing. Uh, and that's great. But unfortunately that I'm still finding the numbers that are doing it successfully are still in the minority. There's still a big education process required. And I mentioned some of the bookkeepers I've worked with and some of them are getting some incredible results. Uh, hopefully, uh, we can, we can get that into more of a profession and change more people's lives because it is a great profession. Bookkeepers do a valuable service. They are valuable and they deserve to be rewarded, affords for the value of the difference they can make.

MP: 05:51 You're absolutely right, and if we don't, if it doesn't change, if they don't have the shift to don't move way, it's going to be detrimental to their businesses as well as, as the industry in itself. So this is really critical work that you're doing, critical work that our listeners need to do and they need to pay attention to this. And so let's talk a little bit about the challenges, the mistakes that bookkeepers are making now when it comes to approaching their business and the way they think about pricing.

MW: 06:21 Yeah, there's mistakes that, there's a lot of mistakes that we make and it's nobody's fault is because we make these mistakes in their profession because nobody's taught us a different way. It's not something that the professional institutes teach us, but nevertheless, we are making these mistakes that have to get fixed. I think in, in the bookkeeping profession, uh, particularly one of the biggest ones is quoting hourly rates is if a client says, what will it cost?

MW: 06:46 Giving an hourly rate. And that's bad for, for many, many reasons. And partly because when we start to ones that understand psychology, because what happens is if as a, as a customer, if we're given a price, if someone tells us a price, what happens is where we are, we, we're clueless about price. We don't actually know the price of anything. We learn this from a, a branch of psychology called psycho physics. Uh, and because if you think about it, prices just a is an arbitrary number. There's no science behind price. Like there is with things like temperatures and so on. And so we actually don't, we don't know the price of anything. What we do is at the, and we don't know this is happening, it's the subconscious level. But what we do is we go and make a comparison. We compare with something else.

MW: 07:27 To see if the price seems a fair price or or expensive or low. So if you quote an hourly rate, what happens is the customer, the client in their mind subconsciously will go and compare that hourly rate to something else. And as a bookkeeper you have no control over what's going on in their brain. But one of the things I can almost guarantee is they will never compare it to somebody else who charges a much higher hourly rate. They'll think about it, let's say the hourly rates, $40 they'll think about the 10 15 $20 they pay their secretary all the cleaner to clean their house or the gardener that come and does the garden. And there'll be thinking comparison. Well that's expensive and that's why that's one of the reasons why very often when you quote an hourly rate, the reaction is that's expensive. I think another reason for that as well is there's no inherent value in an hourly rate.

MW: 08:18 Nobody sees value in that hour because nobody goes to buy an hour of a bookkeeper's time. No one, no one wakes up in the morning cause they've got an a, an appointment later on with the bookkeeper saying, wow, I'm so excited I get to spend an hour with my bookkeeper later. Nobody never ever does that happen. They are not interested in buying hours from us. They're buying a solution to their problems. They're buying our knowledge, they're buying results, they're buying value. And so we have to get away from this giving hourly rates because what then happens that leads to the second state. And the second mistake is because people say that where we've, what happens is because we don't, like with jet shoe, when we give a price, we give a price that we hope the client will say yes to. And that usually means is we go in way too low. And so if ever a client says yes to the first price, you know you've left money on the table, you've gone into too cheap. So we, we make so many mistakes and the trouble with these mistakes, whilst they might seem small mistakes, the consequences are huge. It's why most accounting professionals and particular bookkeepers, many of them find themselves working crazy long hours and just finding it tough to make ends meet and the root cause of that is, is pricing. We have to fix that.

MP: 09:38 I agree. I agree with you and I think just in that conversation that you've, you've unfolded for us. We can, we can get it right away. I mean when you're, when you lay something out and you have your, you're basically allowing somebody to focus on an apples to oranges situation. It's like a, yeah, I'm going to compare you with my gardener or my person who it's, it's, it's, it's just, it's creating something that we're at the root cause of it. And so if we take that out of play, we're focused more on something else. And I'm, I'm, I'm thinking that's gotta be an interesting is how do they move away from that? What is the outcome when you start to talk about value and how's your approach in terms of that, what that would look like. Then if you're, if you're not going in by the hour, how are our listeners going to be approaching this?

MW: 10:33 Okay, great question, Michael. So there's a number of phases we have to go through when we have what I call the the the value conversation. When we meet with clients or prospective clients, there are three phases I call them these. Number one is is uncover the value. Number two is build the value in. Number three is capture the value that's uncover, build and capture and the uncover. The value stage is really critically important that not many people get it right. What we want to do is we want to make sure whenever we meet either brand new client or an existing client who wants to buy something new for us from, from us or it might be just reviewing the price. We have to ask questions. I call it the fact find process. It's about getting facts about understanding by asking questions and what we want to do in every conversation.

MW: 11:21 With a client or a potential client that's going to lead to a pricing conversation. First we have to ask questions to uncover things like what are the client's goals? What are they goals in life? What are their goals in their business? What do they want to achieve? What's going wrong right now? What's the pain points? What are the problems we want to ask questions and keep drilling down to build up a better picture of what is their pain right now? What are the problems they're having and where do they want to be? What they, what do they want to achieve with their business, what they want it to look like. Because until we do that, we can't really understand what they value, what's important to them. And when we do that well, and particularly when we ask questions that help us to put numbers on these things and quantify, it helps us then to make sure we deliver the right solution and position our solution in the right way and get the right price.

MW: 12:13 If I could perhaps give an analogy. Nothing to do with bookkeeping right now, but I recently I hired someone to do some digital marketing for me. It's a wonderful couples husband, wife business who know absolutely nothing about pricing, which is interesting. He's not as bookkeepers. Most small businesses know nothing about pricing and as we're having the conversation they were asking me questions about what I wanted to teach for them to do which was, which was run some Facebook ads for example. They were and they were asking questions that were about the things that they would do for me and I could tell from the questions and the way they were thinking is they're trying to work out well how many hours will this take so we can build this? They never asked me about what was my bigger picture goals, what's my real challenges here and what am I trying to achieve and had they have done that.

MW: 12:59 They didn't understood that I have very big growth plans that they can help with by helping with my social media. Had they have got a handle on those numbers, which are the, I'll just make up some numbers, but if I'd have said to them, I'm hoping to increase my revenue by 200,000 by the end of the year through better social media, Facebook ads and so on. How'd they have said we can help you with that? And a price for that will be this. And they price it on a figure that's relatively in the same context of that value. You know, there's a big number because what I want is big. I don't care what they do, I don't care about the hours they spend or what they do. What I care as a customer is, can they help me get to where I want to be? And if the answer's yes, I will pay them a fee appropriate to that and much higher fee.

MP: 13:44 And it's the same with, uh, bookkeeper's, we, we can do so much more for our clients, but we tend to, I think the problem is, is we think of it as a sales, as somebody, uh, as a profession that just does stuff. We process transactions. And actually, there's a lot more that we do. We change people's lives. We can make a huge difference to people's lives because nobody else in society other than bookkeepers and accountants have so much access to a clients of business owners, data, their numbers. Nobody else has that apart from the IRS of course, but they don't use it for the right reasons. Accountants and bookkeepers can get the heart of a business, they can understand the numbers and when we help the client with those numbers to avoid the penalties to help with cash flow, to give them some advice, we can quite literally change people's lives. I've heard of accountants and bookkeepers who've saved businesses by giving some little tips on helping me improve some of their processes. For example, we can make a big difference and we have to understand that we are bookkeeping as a valuable service, incredibly valuable service. And I think if you think about what just the weight on the of small

MP: 14:52 business often is around the numbers and, and they, and you said they the, that it's like just bookkeepers getting this pricing wrong. It's almost every small business. And so right there is in the problem, right? They have their businesses financially are often not working. I mean those are the statistics. It's not, it's not the other way. It's not more, more are being successful. It's more are struggling and so the incredible value. And so do you find it difficult to get this through to your clients?

MW: 15:32 Yes and no. It's actually good, interesting question that I think that it largely depends on to the extent that the, the person I'm teaching is, is open to change because we have to change is, it's a, it's a, it's a big shift to move from cost-plus pricing, time-based billing because it's so ingrained in the profession because we're so used to clocking time and an hours. It's a big shift to change. And so somebody has to be willing to change, has to be open-minded and be willing to learn and try things. Those firms that do that, those firms that listen, they're, they're open to change and they go and take action. Uh, and I know, you know, some of the success stories, there are so many bookkeepers now getting great results by changing the way their pricing. Uh, unfortunately, others struggle because it is challenging.

MW: 16:22 It's challenging because value pricing based on value is difficult. Values d s is very subjective. You can't touch it and measure it or feel it. How do you put a value on doing somebody who's bookkeeping? It's not easily measurable and unfortunately, as a profession we love numbers, we love on numbers, we are great with numbers and what we like about the timesheet is we can add them up and we can multiply by an hourly rate and we feel like they've got an exact number. The fact that it's an irrelevant number seems to kind of pass us by. It's an exact number. Unfortunately, value pricing is more about judgment and it's about having some processes through, for example, asking the right questions, quantifying some of the value in the differences. We could potentially make a and coming up with pricing, which is based on what we're learning about that particular business and what they value and how we can change their lives.

MW: 17:11 And it's, it's not about the number of hours because when we value price correctly, the hours almost don't matter because firms that are doing it are getting so much higher. Prices sometimes double the prices, sometimes three, sometimes four times. I think a lot of people worry that if I go to value pricing and I give a price, what if ends up taking longer than I thought? What if I end up making a loss on the job and that then stops them? That worry stops them taking the first step because they feel safe in their comfort zone of tracking time, logging the hours.

MP: 17:50 You know, it's a major shift and I know that the people that have worked on this in their business, and these are the numbers, it's, it's two times, three times, four times the amount, which which is remarkable. Absolutely remarkable. Is this something that takes a week, a month, a year to get to success?

MW: 18:16 That's a great question. A difficult one to answer because it depends. It varies from person to person. I am seeing some bookkeepers who might, for example, come and do a few webinars with me and after two or three webinars they email me and say, I've tried that idea mark. It's been brilliant. I went see a client the other day and I got 30% higher price. I see other people that are spent six or seven months struggling and then after 12 months on it, the light bulb goes on. Suddenly there's this switch goes and suddenly they get it. So different people move it at different times and sometimes we repetition's really important in life where we learning anything. For example, again, just to use an analogy I, I've always been fascinated by Facebook advertising. I think again, because I love measuring numbers and stuff. Being an accountant myself, the first time I came across it, I couldn't get my head around the concept at all.

MW: 19:07 I couldn't see how it worked. The second time I bought a training course, I suddenly thought, okay, I could sign, kind of see the concept, but I don't actually know what to put into Facebook, how to fill it and what do I put as the objective of the campaign. The third time I bought a course, my mind is in a different place and different things fell into place and eventually I'm a slow learner but eventually after about a year and a half of learning this, suddenly I started to get Facebook ads to work for me and it's the same with pricing. Some people get there quicker, perhaps they watch one or two webinars and it makes sense straight away for other people. It might take a year, it might take two years, but whatever it is, that is a journey that people have to take because it's not just about the money.

MW: 19:49 As you rightly said, Michael, right at the outset, it's not just about the money, it's about what it does for you in terms of things like your self-esteem, about the types of clients you end up working with, because the firms that are good at value pricing, they recognize that it's not about working with every client. It's better to say no to some clients and and therefore the, the book he was doing this really well are actually working with less, less clients, but because of the right clients doing the right sort of work that they're spending their work-life balance is better. Yes, they're making more money, they're doing more interesting work and they're making a difference to client's lives. The clients are getting, they're kind of getting a better service because they can afford because of the price to do more for the client. So kind of everybody wins as a result of that. As I said earlier, we can change people's lives. We absolutely can. We have to kind of focus on, well, what's the client really wants out alive? What will be valuable to them? Because as we can change people's lives, we just need to make sure we create that kind space by charging the right prices, having the right clients, attracting the right clients.

MP: 20:52 I'm excited because I can just, I am almost like I can hear the listener right now, right? And the listener in the listener's mind, it's like, I, maybe you know this, this sounds good, but it's, it's not gonna work for me or it will be difficult. Or I tried that and it didn't work. And to me, this occurs as something that it's, it's not something you should be working on. It's the only thing you should be working on right now in your business. If you don't have this figured out because it leads to a more profitable business, it will lead to you having a better clients, clients that light you up and you them. And I'm excited for what it's going to bring our listeners lives and in their business to get this rolling. And it's like, whether it takes you two years or, or, or two days, it will never happen unless you actually make this a priority.

MW: 21:55 Interesting point that Michael and I, I think it is a priority because when you look at all the challenges people have in their business, bookkeepers, for example, almost every challenge, every problem, the root cause is price. So people say to me at mark, I just can't fight growing my business, but I can't find the right people, the right talent. Well, that's because you are not making enough money to be able to afford to bring in the right talent. Or people say, I'm just working crazy long hours, I'm too busy. That's because you've got too many clients. You have too many of the wrong clients, and because if you get the wrong clients on the wrong price, you just find yourself working crazy busy and never making money. Some people say, mark, the solution to my problem is I just need to win some more clients.

MW: 22:35 When I win some more clients, everything will be fine. No, it won't. Because what happens is you win more clients then you find, because you're already busy, you're a busier, so you hire somebody to go and do the work with all these new clients. Then you realize you've got you. You've just inflated your fixed cost. You've got a salary to pay, so you now need some more clients to pay for the person you've hired to deal with that last lot of clients. And the problem is winning more clients will never fix the problem if all the clients you're winning are the wrong price. Every problem in the accounting firms, the bookkeeping firms, the root cause is pricing. If we, until we fixed that, nothing else will change. We will still find it with stress working crazy hours, life will be tough.

MP: 23:17 It's absolutely right and if you make this a priority, get this fixed and improve this, it provides a whole new future for your business. You can invest in your business, you can invest in better staff, you can really take it to anywhere you want to take it. But it does come back to this and I think it it, you put it in such a simple, a simple message and really, I mean it's a lot more complex than what we're saying, but it's it there a solution for this. We know there's a problem. We know there is a solution and we know there's some really great people that are world class level at solving this problem and that's you. You're, you're definitely one of the world leaders and actually helping people solve this problem. And so I'm thinking the question right now is how do people, what's the first step that people should start to be taking after they've listened to this podcast?

MW: 24:21 Okay. Uh, can I get two steps because I want to give one, there's a practical one cause people would like a practical one. But as he, there's a first step that comes before that and the first step he, I, I think it's about beliefs. This is more of a problem for bookkeepers than accountants and CPAs. I would suggest, and that's a, we have to believe that we worth it. We have to believe that we can change people's lives. We have to believe that we make a difference in this world because all, if all we think is, oh well, I'm just a key prize. I just, I just processed numbers. Then until you change your beliefs and recognize that you can make a difference to people's lives, then you'll never have the confidence to start on this journey. So I think first thing is to just recognize that you are valuable, that you can do great stuff for clients.

MW: 25:08 And what I, when I, I talk to people about this, I ask them to think about all the jobs they've ever done. All the clients they've worked with. Think of the one where they've, they've made that they've been most proud of that where it may be a client that was struggling and they gave some advice on a different way to deal with collecting accounts receivables and that client then start to make more money and has ha what, whatever it might well be. Think of the client you've had an impact on then recognize you could do that. That's the difference you can make to people's lives. So number one I think is, is, is changing our beliefs is, is recognizing that we are valuable. Uh, because that's the thing we need to do that to then have the confidence in terms of a practical step. There are that as you write, you said Michael, it's it, it's complex value pricing is not something you master straight away, but one of the things that I, I been teaching since the year 2000 it was the first thing I did my own accounting firm was to start using what I call menu pricing.

MW: 26:01 Now some people call it a different phrase. Some people call it the good, better, best strategy. Some people think of it as bronze, silver, gold. But essentially it means taking your service, let's say bookkeeping. It will be the same with cleanup work and packaging it into different versions. Technically it's actually called version if you read the textbooks. So having different versions of your service and giving the client the choice. Now, this might sound very simplistic, but it's incredibly powerful. Uh, I ha I still get stories every single week I'll get an email or posting on my Facebook group from somebody who's now given the client three choices and says, I can't believe it. My client chose the middle option or the most expensive one. And I am in shock. They're paying way more than paid before. Well, it works because of some of the psychology behind it.

MW: 26:47 Uh, there are many reasons why it works, but it's also already, it's a simple thing. I call it the first step to value pricing because it's, in some respects it's a little bit oversimplistic, but it does work. And the reason why I think people latch onto this particular technique is because actually if you scared about putting your prices up because you're worried about losing the client, it's a great thing about menu pricing is you just create the, I'll use the phrase bronze, silver, gold, cause people kind of can relate to that. Make the bronze one if you want to the same price as last year, and then just have two other options with some other things in there at much higher prices. And then let the client choose. And people keep coming back to me as frequently saying, I can't believe it. They'd gone for the Middle One.

MW: 27:32 Because what happens is when you, when you are better at explaining the value of what you do, many of your clients, not all, but many clients will, when they see the value, will be willing to pay more money for that value. If we don't give that choice, if we don't give them an option of package of choice that enables them to pay more money. If we only have a bronze service, which is a cheap service, that's all we'll ever get. So if people want to an easy place to get started, I always suggest that as a very simple, practical step. Now I say simple. There's a lot of advanced strategy with menu pricing, but it's nevertheless, it's still somewhere that's a great place to get started.

MP: 28:17 I love that. And it's a, I think I would be bold in saying the first step is to start consuming some of the work that you're doing. I know that Theresa Slack and Theresa Slack is one of these, uh, one of your clients, uh, that has, has done this work and done it really well. She's going to be on the podcast. She's going to come and share a lot of her learnings and, and, and things that she's done. We're hoping to have her, uh, in the future on the podcast. So what she's told me about you, mark, is that for a while she just consumed all of the, the work and gifts and content and webinars and youtube videos and all of the stuff that you've put together to help people learn this. Now she, she took the long road, she was like, well, I'm going to go consume all of the free stuff first.

MP: 29:13 Right. Which was really helpful and probably helped her really launch in to working with you more quickly and getting to results more quickly. But I mean, I'll call a spade a spade. It's like probably better just go right to the go, right and hire you for whatever that looks like. Go hire mark to get this done. Uh, but there, there is, you got to get to your website, you got to start getting this into your mind and I'm sure a lot of the work that you do, and that's some of the work that we do here too. On this podcast is belief, right? Is I don't know that there's a podcast that goes by that I don't tell our listener. You are valuable and isn't it so interesting how we're sole proprietors, we working in a business, our business reflects who we are, how we believe, you know, our beliefs about ourselves, our beliefs about you know, who we are or view of the world.

MP: 30:01 All of that shows up in our business. And so it's a little bit of personal development work that needs to be done on yourself and loving yourself, loving who you are and valuing who you are and what you bring to the world. And I love how you gave the suggestion of looking at, look here, look where you're making a difference in the world. Look at all the things that you've done. Look at the smiles you've created. Look at the better table conversations that you've enabled your clients to have when they go home from work and their day was better, their business was better so that they can go home and really truly be with their family. That's the work you're doing on that belief side. And so get more of that from our guest today, mark, who will help you. I can't say this enough. This is a problem that is everywhere.

MP: 30:45 It's in every small business and here is an industry where where it's become some really great resources and tools to actually get this done, get it done well, and have this working in your business so that you can help others, that you work for the small businesses out there that truly need your services. So I love, I love that mark. And before we got onto the, uh, the podcast, you were talking about a Webinar, you do it not that often, right? It's like a once a quarter type thing. You'll do this, uh, alive. It's alive weapon. Are you brand? They actually you on there, it's live. You're probably having some interaction with people. You do that. How often?

MW: 31:27 Yeah. Well I do, I actually do webinars and free training every single month, every single month, every month. But one of the particular things I, I've found recently that one of the questions that people asked me the most was how do you price bookkeeping? And so I, I actually have a lot of training specifically on that in a wet and some free webinars on that which I run roughly every six months. Uh, I also wrote a little while back an ebook called how to price bookkeeping. So that's probably a good place to start if you want to grab a copy of our ebook and that'll give you some points as a, an expand on what I've said today on, on, on how to price bookkeeping. And then what I will happily do is, is I can email you every months with some free training. Uh, I run a webinar once a month on different pricing topics, sometimes how to price, how to price cleanup work, uh, how to, uh, how to come up with your price, things like stuff like that. And of course, if I then run my how to price bookkeeping Webinar, I would be delighted to invite you along.

MP: 32:30 Beautiful. Now your website, the website that they would be going to as your last name, correct?

MW: 32:36 Correct. Yes. So two things. I think a really one is my, my website, which is www dot of course. And then my name Wickersham, W I, C K, e r s h a m.co.uk. And the other place, if you, if you have specific questions for me, if you want to learn more about value pricing, I also have a Facebook group called value pricing with Mark Wickersham. So if you go look for value easy. Yeah, just join the community and, and you can ask me questions. I will, I, I share videos, I shout answers on that community. And I also encourage people to share success stories to raise. As you mentioned, she's one of my staff students. She's amazing. A lovely lady. Ah Yes. It took her a while to get success, but now I think she, she met tells me every month about new things she's doing. She's extraordinary. The success and many others in the community. I encourage people to share successes because the more of these successes are in our shared, the, it inspires others because it demonstrates what's possible that we can do this as a profession.

MP: 33:38 You're absolutely right. Seeing others is believing and sometimes it takes a few times for it to catch, but it's tremendously valuable. And I'm excited for our listeners as you can. You could probably tell about getting this problem solved. We're going to have a link to your website. You do this, this new training course, how to price bookkeeping services. It's not on all the time, but go there and check it out. Find out about it. You can get it@wickersham.co dot. UK and of course, that link is, will be right there on the podcast notes if you need to get to it. Mark, this has been absolutely tremendous from all of our listeners out there that are listening. Uh, my thank you to do, they're their thank you to you for so generously giving your time and sharing and doing this work to help this industry. It's making an impact and it will continue to make an impact. And I hope for you and for the people you work with, uh, a massive impact globally.

MW: 34:38 Well, thank you for that, Michael. I love being an accountant myself. I love helping people in this great profession. So thank you so much for inviting me to share some thoughts.

MW: 34:47 It's been all our pleasure. 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,

MW: 35:05 goodbye.

EP137: Jeff Cates - Is Bookkeeping Dead?

UPDATE - TSBK - Episode 137 - Jeff Cates.png
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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.


Michael Palmer: 01:29 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an epic one. Our guest is the president and CEO of Intuit Canada. He is responsible for helping the company become recognized as the nation's undisputed financial solutions leader in every market. It serves by leading a team of over 400 employees dedicated to simplifying the business of life. Jeff Cates, welcome to the podcast.

Jeff Cates: 01:55 Great. Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:58 It's excellent to have you here and I'm excited to have you share a little bit of your journey. Before we get into talking about what Intuit's been up to, tell us about your career journey leading up to this point.

JC: 02:14 Uh, sure. Yeah. Well, I started off as a failed small business owner back in university. We went to the corporate world thinking I would always go back, but I haven't haven't quite found myself back there yet. I spent 15 years at Hewlett Packard in a variety of different roles, but a ended up being a general manager of the consumer division at the end. And then my boss went over to apple and pulled me over and I ran commercial as well as, um, kind of enterprise channels training Friday different roles, but still within that I had small businesses, which is one of the segments that, uh, I had had the most passion for, uh, given my starting and then into it came a calling after three years and said, hey, help take us global, uh, help make products in Canada for Canadians by Canadians and help us innovate and had much of the same value system from what I could tell that the original Hewlett and Packard had back when they were around.

JC: 03:11 And so that was now over seven years ago. Uh, which is amazing to say. And the life has changed a lot since then. But yeah, so that's my start. So I'll start off with smell a small business owner and now I, I'm privileged to be in a role where I can help hundreds of thousands of small businesses be more successful, which is pretty cool. Wow. That's a, I mean it's an interesting trajectory and the fact that you have that, that experience at a young age, running a small business I'm sure helps you in your business today helping small businesses right across Canada. Yeah. You know, it's funny, I hadn't really thought about it that much and then as I was telling kind of some of the stories about, you know, what it was like to try to get alone and I say try to, cause I didn't, I wasn't successful or just like the different challenges we had or how lonely it was or even, you know, I came out of a commerce program and I still didn't really know how to write a business plan.

JC: 04:06 And so even with the training, it just, it just, it helped me realize how important it is to create opportunities for people to learn at the right time when they're ready to learn. And all of that came out of kind of reflecting on what I'd gone through, but I hadn't paused to do that until somebody said, Whoa, wait, can you tell me more about that? And then I started thinking about it more and yeah, it was, it was a is a great exercise. I've drawn from it a lot now I can imagine. And so you, not only do you serve business owners who use your software today, but also it's kind of like this hierarchy of business owners, right? Bookkeepers are small business owners and they're helping small business owners. And so having that empathy for them and what they're dealing with, I'm sure it goes a long way.

MP: 04:53 I talked a little bit about the culture of Intuit Canada and what, what it's been like over the last seven years. How does small businesses show up in that ecosystem?

JC: 05:08 Well, it, the culture itself is extremely kind of value-centric. And I see that because when I meet with new employees every two months I sit down with all new employees and I ask them and I'll tell me about the brand. Tell me about your experience. And what could we do better? What are the things that you literally wrote home about? And I always get the, the values, you know, you live the values. It's a, it's a culture that wants to win together and learn together. It is a company that guy extremely values employee feedback and service or servant leadership, which is wonderful. It's always wonderful to hear that. It shows that we've stayed true to it since Scott Cook started the company.

JC: 05:45 I'm more than 30 years ago in terms of the evolution. Gosh, it's seen as, it's changed so much. Like when I started, we were a desktop business. Largely you selling products through retail on desks, you know, it's just, it was, it was very different. We were in really two different countries outside of the US yeah, it was a vastly different. Today we're now, you know, we see ourselves as a pop form, certainly on the small business side, increasingly on the consumer side where we don't solely now look at how do we solve problems for our customers ourselves. We've expanded that to say, how can we enable others to solve problems, uh, on behalf of our end users, which can be small businesses or self-employed or consumers or accounting slash bookkeeping firms. And so that's a, that's been great. It's a really rewarding, the growth of the company has been phenomenal. The, uh, evolution of the technology has been amazing. The impact we're having in the world is a significantly different, so it's, it's been an exciting ride.

MP: 06:57 Okay. Just to see it change. I mean, the world is changing so quickly and yet, not that long ago, just talking about desktop and where things were and the conversation of the cloud and more where things were going in a, it just amazing to see how people resist, resist, resist. And all of a sudden it's like a tipping point. It's like, nope, this is, hey, really? You use desktop? Are you crazy? You know, it's kind of interesting how we, it takes a while, but once you get there, it changes. And so, you know, we think that, oh well, hey, we've changed. Well, what's the next change coming? Is there. Well, what do you see in terms of the future? Like we went through this big shift to cloud, now you're talking about platform. What other things do you see that could be difficult for the market and the people who use your products difficult for them to embrace?

JC:07:43 Yeah. Well, first of all, first of all, I, I, I'm constantly reminded that we're in a technology company and we're helping to evolve in industry, but it's an industry that's been around for a long time and is known for not rapid change for, for a variety of reasons. And so it's a, it's an evolution, but every, every industry that goes through transformation has the same kind of, uh, pattern of your early innovators and then your early adopters and then, uh, your early traditionalist and then kind of your late traditionalist and then, and those that will never make the jump. And we're no different in our industry in that, you know, it really, the early adopters started coming on in the 2010, 2011. We started to see the kind of businesses that were thinking about transformation coming on in the, you know, 2012, 2013, and then it's the, uh, kind of now more the, the, the traditionalist that are coming over the early majority.

JC: 08:47 And so I, I say that I have to be reminded because I feel like that storyline of this is how it's going to transform your, and this is how you know, the higher calling you can have and how like real-time access to data where you, you can collaborate is going to dramatically change your life, your client's life, the life of your employees if you have them. And yet I'm constantly reminded that I have to keep saying the message because for many people they're still hearing it for the first time or they might've heard it before, but it only becomes relevant when they're finally ready to accept. And so it's just, it's just a good wake up call that we have to stay empathetic to the change management process that, that firms go through based on the, the willingness to adopt change of, of the leaders in the, and the businesses.

MP: 09:37 It makes a lot of sense and it's refreshing to hear it. Almost the curse of knowledge could be, you could be subject to that. It's like you've done the change. A lot of people done the change and so hey, you should know about the changes already, but yet you're, you're taking a stance of there's people all along that journey and let's make sure that we're helping everybody dependent on where they're at. Make the steps forward to where you're going. I think very supportive stance to take. Now, speaking of change, one of the things that came up in our successful bookkeeper Facebook group was this article somebody wrote called end of bookkeeping. Now, I mean that's a pretty bold title, so by all means, I mean the, the title would have had people talking about it in itself, but the article was referring to into it's move towards offering bookkeeping services and now this is created lots of different conversations and I'd love for you to share a little bit of what that means to our listeners, the bookkeepers and the future of where you see that going.

JC: 10:40 Sure, yeah. I get a lot of fear around how will technology transform the business. And, and usually it becomes, you know, how will artificial intelligence replace me? And I really don't think that's the way we should think about things. Sure. Certain tasks, if you can create rules to automate tasks, then they will get automated period. And that's good because who really wants to be manually entering data or even making simple decisions around, you know, where data sits in one bucket or the other. The more that we can free up the bookkeeper to enable them to be a real consultant. You know, again, empowered by real time data and freeing up their time from the mundane tasks. The more that they will have a transformational impact on the business owner or the individuals that they serve. And so I think that's really exciting for the industry, but it does require a level of, okay, well, you know, I can't really build my time any longer because a lot of that times can it go away?

JC: 11:42 Technology is gonna make me more efficient. So I need to rethink how I value my time and how I value my worth, um, to a business. And then there is a, gosh, well, if the future going to be all about consulting and proactive advice and guiding and helping them understand what technology to use as in like other apps that can help them become a more effective business owner, then am I investing enough energy into those things, into that, that, that future world to be ready to have that bigger impact. And so that's kind of where I see the technology will go. It will augment what we do. We will, we will be required to be more knowledge experts and really get to know, uh, our businesses and, and, or our clients and how we help them move forward. The article that you are referencing though, it wasn't really as much around artificial intelligence where the technology was going.

JC: 12:40 It was kind of referencing kind of tests that we're doing to offer onboarding or bookkeeping services to small businesses. And in short, you, I said earlier about how, uh, my journey as a small business owner, how much, even though I'd come from a commerce background, how, how little I actually knew. And I think that kind of speaks to the fact that as a small business owner, as a startup, you only know what you know and you often, um, are coming in with a, a lack of knowledge of what you need to do to get started, right? And that's why 50% of small businesses will fail within the first five years. And when we asked small businesses, if you go back and do anything different, what would you do differently? They say, I wish I'd spent more time on financial management skills early because it just gets harder later.

JC: 13:31 And so we've been really focusing on how do we, how do we help educate at the right time? And then two, how do we connect those small businesses to the professionals, to the bookkeeper or the accountant or maybe a branch manager if they, they're working with a bank who are the mentors that can help guide them with real-time advice. And then lastly, there's a rule for technology to play, to help guide them as well, point them to the right areas of the business. I help them be able to get educated as they go. And of course that's, that's where a lot of our energy goes. That middle bucket, that connecting to professional services or, or professionals to help them. We've been largely focusing on connecting through the find a ProAdvisor app. And we do a really good job there. In Canada alone, we drive more than, I'd say more than between 30 540,000 leads to bookkeepers or accountants through that service every month.

JC: 14:33 And so we feel pretty good about it. And yet many, many, many small businesses aren't ready for a professional service when they start, or at least they don't think they are. Um, because they don't want to pay for it or they, they're nervous about, you know, bringing a new business into, um, to look at their financials, to actually see what they don't know. So there's a variety of different reasons why they don't do it and yet they really need that professional services help. And so what we've been experimenting with is are there ways that we can help bridge that gap? Are there ways that we can say, hey, we can make it easy for you to get advice and we'll get you started. And the goal here is if we can, if we can do this, we can help small businesses be successful, but we'll also grow the professional services category.

Speaker 1: And I think that's really exciting. I think accountants and bookkeepers should be really excited about that of like, hey, we're going to help prime those conversations earlier around services in two. We're going to help make sure that as they start to use the technology, they're setting it upright. Often we hear the bookkeepers will say, Gosh, you know, I inherited this small business but they've been running the business for two years and the chart of accounts is a complete mess. And I've had to like detangle this thing and you know, it's really uncomfortable. It's inefficient. And so the more we can help small businesses get set up right, uh, right from the beginning, the more likely there'll be successful. And when they are ready to transition to a bookkeeper and accountant, the more likely we're gonna make that a better experience for them. So that's how we're going into it. We want to help small businesses improve their success rate. We think that connecting to professionals is the right area to focus to make a meaningful difference. And now what we're doing is we're testing and learning. How do we do that in a way that sets expectations appropriately and helps kind of achieve that angle?

MP: 16:33 I love it. I think, you know, it resets the conversation very quickly when we say, okay, wait a second. What are we actually trying to accomplish here? Or how we're helping small businesses be successful. So forget about know what anybody else needs. But if we just focus on the small business, if we can help small business, what does that look like in the future? And so it's exciting. It really is the way you've positioned that excites me because one of the challenges, I think every bookkeeper listening would be the work that goes into explaining why this is important. And a lot of small business owners when they get started like yourself back in the day, didn't get how important this was to take care of in the beginning because, you know, do it. But my dad used to always say, do it right, do it once.

MP: 17:23 And so instead of spending a lot of energy and time cleaning things up, how do we get this right the first time? And then you're handing off and, and, and also indoctrinating or, or teaching people that are, are in business that this is really important. This is, this is going to be really valuable to you in the future and actually help you be more successful. And then that's creating an, an even bigger market for the industry. I love it. So it sounds like your, your dad went to the same school and my dad went to oh yeah. Oh yeah, I'm sure. And probably a bit of the school that you went to too. Uh, so, you know, it's, it's growing up as a small business owner and really not knowing at the time. I, I mean unfortunately my dad passed due to two due to a fight with cancer, but he, before you know, his life, after he died, I start asking my mom and said, you know, when he was a small business owner, what was was the deal?

MP: 18:18 I just remember him struggling, always struggling in business. He was great at what he did. He was a technician. He ran a contracting business for, uh, elect. He was an electrical contractor, did electrical, electrical work and, and it was like PE. I just remember the paperwork, the frustration and all that good stuff. And she used to say, yeah, you would take all of all of his receipts and his bag of stuff to the accountant at the end of the year to get ready for taxes. Right. And the, it was like this autopsy of financial autopsy of like, what happened? It's like, oh, Dave, you didn't make any money area. You know, it's like, yes. And that was very stressful for him. He tried to have my mother do it, uh, the bookkeeping and that was stressful for her cause that's not her, her thing, you know, it takes a certain type of person and education and skill to, to do it right.

MP: 19:04 And so it just caused a lot of angst in the family and it was not healthy for the fan, our family. And it caused a lot of, uh, things that probably could have been different in this day and age where there are more options and people are more educated about what's available. And so if we can help people like my dad and your dad, right, and you back in that day is going to be better for the family, it's going to be better for our communities. It's going to have businesses thriving. And F and I, I think we'll have a better world, a happier world and more productive world if we can do that. I'm a big believer in, in small business and community, local community. That's where we all live. So if we take care of that first, you know, that's, that's going to help the greater world than the things that go on beyond our community. So I'm pumped about where you're going with this and I think our listeners should be, and they should be checking it out and figuring out how they can help and how they can be involved.

JC: 19:56 100% agree and, and often, you know, we know the role that the bookkeeper in particular plays in helping to provide that peace of mind and set up processes for the accountants to be more efficient. And often, you know, once they're set up a small business like yeah, I don't really want to try new technology cause I don't want to disrupt anything. Right? They're just, they're afraid of that side of the business. So the more we as in the industry can, can help them embrace the role of technology and, and rethinking processes to help them spend the time where they get energy and, and guide them on what's going to help them grow their business. That's like, that's the magic of this industry. That, you know, what industry has more of an impact day to day, helping small businesses be successful. I don't, I'm not sure there's anything than the bookkeeping industry, but it requires that imitation, that right marketing to the small business to say, hey, you know, this isn't scary and it's not, you know, I'm not crazy expensive.

JC: 20:59 Uh, and it's well worthwhile worth the, the, the time invested in the money invested to seek professional services, uh, to help you. We just have to experiment. How do we do that in a way that will help bring that power of the industry to the individuals. But there's no doubt this is one of the single biggest things we can do to help improve that success rate of small businesses and, and yeah, just, just make a better world. Quite frankly. There's a lot of stress in the life of small businesses. This is a way we can, we can help ease it.

MP: 21:30 Love it, love it. Totally agree and exciting. Um, I, I think it's exciting message from, from yourself and, and, and into it that this is, this is great for the industry and an opportunity. Lots of opportunity. I love how you said what, where they get their energy, right? It's like an another, it's kind of a free, I don't know that I've really heard it in that frame specifically, but helping the business owner do the things that give them energy versus the things that remove the energy is, is an excellent way of putting it. And I think something that our listener can actually take on and be thinking about, it's like you're really gonna increase the energy of the business owner by, by doing the work that you do. And think of it in that terms in his part is your of your conversation when you're talking to business owners, like what Ma, what lifts you up? What brings you down? It often is going to be the things that the bookkeeper's going to take off their shoulders. So love that frame. And uh, I'm excited to have our listeners start thinking that way and using that kind of language. Who wouldn't want more energy, right? As a business owner, take it back to your family. Cause you've got, you've got a business to run, you've got a family to take care of a, you know, more energy equals a better life. Love it.

JC: 22:47 Yeah. Yeah. And most of the bookkeepers, you know, or at least a lot of them are small business owners themselves and so I think they can kind of empathize with that. It's hard. So the more you've got people around you that are um, you know, helping to pump your tires, you know, help you, help you be more successful, drive that, that positive, uh, energy, the, the more likely that small business owners is gonna. Um, tough it out when things get rough.

MP: 23:11 Beautiful. Speaking of energy, QuickBooks connect now we were, we were fortunate to have you join our very small portion of our successful bookkeeper community in a, in a photo op where, where we were all celebrating. Exactly. It was a lot of fun. Everybody got a good charge out of having you pop in and uh, and join us in that photo. Talk about that event and the value that you see it providing to our listeners.

JC: 23:42 Yeah. Oh Gosh. I, I don't know if ever seen an effect that's more transformational than QuickBooks connect. And I see that because I think a lot of people looked at online as, oh, so like QuickBooks desktop hosted, it's like, no, no, no, no, not that, that's not on my, okay, maybe that's online access, but that's not what cloud is. Cloud is transformational cloud is enabling data to be used in different ways, real-time access, enabling a connection of other apps. It is just fundamentally changing the role of the industry and it takes, what I found is it takes, uh, often bookkeepers to hear from other bookkeepers say, wow, so like, you know, a tree fell on your building and you know, and you didn't stress about it cause everything was, you know, accessible and backed up or, um, oh, so you're telling me you use receipt bank and you don't have to manually enter receipts.

MP: 24:42 Oh, okay. Wow. That's like, that's different. And when they, when they hear it from those other peers, then they start to realize like, oh, okay, yeah, you know, I can do this. And I'm surrounded by a community that wants to help me, which is really phenomenal about this industry. Like I, it's, it's so exciting to see how much coopertition there is. And it really has been. I think the technology's been what's caused it, but it's really been an enlightening, I think for the industry. But having that, you know, being with the peer, hearing the message, being with peers and then, uh, being able to go out to the app floor and be able to meet with apps and, and just like, oh wow, like, so I could do this or my, my business owner could benefit from this mobile pos solution or from this different reporting mechanism.

JC: 25:30 Um, and then they really get jazzed and they really start to say, wow, this could dramatically change my business and how I run, how I run it and my employees lives. And then they come away really charged. And, but it takes like that magic of being in the environment, being with the peers, immediately getting to see the app partners that I think kind of creates that turning point moment. The number of a of business owners that have said, you know, I didn't really get it until I went to QB connect. It makes me feel really proud about that investment we make in the industry and something that, you know, we'll continue to double down on. We're actually gonna increase the number of events this year. Not quite to that magnitude is the Toronto event, but we'll, we'll increase it so we can kind of bring that power of the transformational role of the industry to other cities across the country.

MP: 26:30 That's exciting. And I think it's, uh, one of the interesting things is that you have both the accountants, bookkeepers and as well business owners that go to these events, which is bringing together the, the whole stakeholder community, if you will. What's, what's that been like? Because I think that's somewhat unique.

JC: 26:50 Yeah. Well, you know, when we started, it's been an interesting journey. We started back I think probably around 2012 with like 72 kind of early adopters, really just trying to figure out what, like what is this cloud thing going to be? Right. And we were all kind of figuring it out at the time and we brought in a lot of experts from around the world to kind of help rethink how technology would transform. And then we realized that there was a real lack of training around tax and that we also thought the technology would transform. Tax is taken a lot longer there where we're now finally starting to make some real headway. But then we kind of, we added in tax, so now it wasn't just bookkeeping, it was also tax. And then it became what, what is today, which is QuickBooks connect. It was with thrive and then it became QB connect.

JC: 27:35 But as we've gone along we can you to evolve and add to the event. So we started off with just us and, and, and our partners. And then we added in third party app providers. And you know, we started off with six and now we're at like 50. And then more recently as you called that we started adding small businesses in. And so it just keeps evolving and getting bigger and better, which is, which is really exciting. I think our next area that we need to double down on is again, what we talked a bit about earlier is some people are like all in and they want to know like what's the next gear? And then other people are like, okay, I'm finally ready. Can you, can you tell me again, like what does this mean for, you know, uh, my pricing strategy or how do I work with employees? Or what are these app things I need to think about? And so we need to start to segment our, our training, uh, the education component so that we can help, help cater to those different, um, different organizations that are at differing spots on the journey.

MP: 28:41 Totally agree, meet them, meet them where they are and provide that in a, it's challenging because it's a big event and you know, you've got to figure out the logistics of that. But I think that that makes it more welcoming to where to wherever you are in that journey, which I think is exciting for our listener. And, and I will say having been to both QB connect and Toronto and QB connect in, in San Jose to the probably the, the bigger events and you're, you're, you're saying you're going to have other events in other cities, which will be, I think, exciting for people who can't travel or, or, you know, it just makes it more accessible. But I see a lot of great benefit in attending these events for education, connecting and networking, but also from a mindset perspective, just the, the, the confidence. I think that it's available when you learn something new, when you connect with people, you don't feel like you're doing it alone.

MP: 29:35 Really for our listener, essential part of your year. I think every year everyone should be thinking about investing time and energy and money into attending events like these. And these ones are fantastic. Not only you're going to learn a lot, meet a lot of people, you're gonna have a lot of fun because you have parties and all sorts of great things to bring people together. Uh, so I'm really excited about QB connect this year in Toronto. It'll be likely in the later part of the year, like November, December. Is that, is that right? Yeah. And that will be, I think we're first week of December will be the date, but don't, don't quote me on that. We'll put the dates up when they're confirmed. We'll put them up on the site. So people listening to this, what's exciting is that, you know, the, when this episode airs, there's lots of time to get planning for this.

MP: 30:24 So we got Toronto for our Canadian listeners. You've got the first week of December for our listeners in the United States. You have early part of November. And then our Australia listeners, I think probably we missed the boat on this, but it's like June or may or thinking in, in Australia. So these are happening all over the world. Very similar events, uh, from content perspective and structure as super, uh, super excited to be attending the myself and hopefully we'll be able to connect with all of you listeners at QB connect this year somewhere in the world. Jeff, this has been a fantastic conversation and, uh, I want to thank you for your generosity of time and I want to thank you for the work that you do. Uh, you bring the heart of the small business owner to a, a very large organization and that large organization is helping small businesses right around the world. So thank you for that. Thank you for being on the podcast.

JC: 31:18 My pleasure. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

MP: 31:22 We are all our pleasure and we hope to have you back at some point to come and share, uh, your take again.

JC: 31:32 Great. Thank you.

MP: 31:35 And with that, we wrap up 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: 31:50 Goodbye.

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.


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 an international one. Our guest runs the bookkeeping from woman who count based in the United Kingdom. She also sits on the board of the International Association of bookkeepers. She is passionate about educating her clients around their finances and recognizes the difference a great bookkeeper can make to the lives of small business owners. Her commitment and passion have been recognized by being a finalist with the UK women in business awards. Sarah Palmer, welcome to the show.

Sarah Palmer: 01:56 Hi Michael.

MP: 01:58 Yes. And I will just let everyone know that we're actually not related, but we do have the same last name.

SP: 02:04 Yeah.

MP: 02:06 So Sarah, before we get into what's going on over in the UK and what's going on in your business, tell us a little bit about how you got started in bookkeeping.

SP: 02:17 Oh Wow. I suppose I got into bookkeeping by default. Really. Um, I grew up in a family business and it was always made very clear. If it wants to earn any money, then I had to go and work for it. So I often found myself in the office with delayed days there and the older I got, the more date. Um, I suppose I was quite lucky. I used to get involved with a lot of the accountant meetings and he was very patient and really good at explaining why certain transactions need to be coded in a certain way and what the reason and the outcome was. Um, but thinking about it while I suppose my real takeaway from that time was what you want my father did with that information. Um, he made so many business decisions based on what his bookkeepers and what the accountants told him. So whenever I'm working with any clients, now I'm always asking myself, what would the business owner wants to know from me? You know, the numbers tell a story and I kind of feel it's my job to translate that for the client.

MP: 03:12 Wow. And what I hear in that is incredible mentorship throughout your career. Yes. Both from the accountants that you worked around and as well seeing your father work in business and how, how those, the outcomes or results of the bookkeeping, the results of the accounting, how it made a difference for him. And now here you are taking that and providing that back to your clients.

SP: 03:38 Yeah, absolutely. And I, I don't think I realized how lucky it was till now when I'm know the other side of the fence and looking at this

MP: 03:46 Beautiful. Now tell us about the transition. How did you transition into being in business for yourself?

SP: 03:53 Well, I suppose, I suppose I started with an account in 2009 and it was after getting divorced, I had two young children and I had no income. I suppose I needed something flexible to work around the boys and I also needed something that was low cost to set up. And looking back on the experiences I had, bookkeeping was actually an obvious path for me to take. So that was how women account was born, if you'd like. And unfortunately, I can't claim that I came up with the name either. It was a dear friends of mine that came up with the name because I'm always asked about this, but we were out celebrating the divorce papers and it was her play on words and I was explaining to her what I would like to do. So yes, that was where the name came from. T so I have to thank her enormously for that and brilliant piece of marketing really. Because everyone does remember that night.

MP: 04:44 Yes. And it was, it was somewhat at the time, it was just one woman who counted, but it was a self, what was it? A self, a a self fulfilling prophecy, if you will, because you now have a team of the team. So it is plural women who count and uh, and, and you've built a wonderful business around that. What, what's been the, the feedback from your, your name, the women who count?

SP: 05:15 I think there's no feminist issues here with me. It was just, it was, as I said, it was a play on words, but everybody likes it. Both men and women. Um, I even picked up a client last week and it actually came from a Google set and it was the name that caught her imagination. She liked that. So yeah. And I kind of think is actually more relevant now, 10 years on than it was at the time because gender qualities, I'm sort of big news at the moment and I suppose it does suit who I am and the ladies I have working for me all have children. And what's very important to me is flexible working hours and that runs through the business. So it is a true reflection of who I am actually, but it's probably something I grew into.

MP: 05:57 It's interesting. Did you always think that? Yeah. Speaking about growing into it, I mean you've told your story, you needed flexibility, you had children, you were, you were to getting divorced and so this is what you needed and now here you are providing some, some of that back to the women who worked for you. Was that always in the picture or did that evolve itself?

SP: 06:21 That's a fold itself. It was a practical consideration for me at the time. But no, it's definitely, um, something which actually I'm proud to stand for at the moment. I have to say, uh, my practice manager, she, she's actually quite good, probably story to tell. She, um, actually previously was a mortgage advisor and a branch manager for one of the banks over here and she got married, had a child, you know, left work and then couldn't get back into working and she was cleaning, which is nothing wrong with cleaning, but she was a bright woman. That was the only work she could get with the flexible hours around to some school hours. So, um, anyway, she's come to me and she's genius. Absolutely genius, very bright girl. Um, and all she needed was an opportunity to be able to work around a family. So it's really important for me to see that. And I was thinking it's catchy, quite a big waste of education in society just because women haven't got that opportunity. So it's only a case of, you know, making work, you know, to suits around families and that's not difficult. It needs a bit full, but it's not difficult.

MP: 07:26 Yeah. Well, it's very, it's inspiring. You're making a difference in many ways, not just for business owners but also for your staff. Beautiful. I'd love to hear a little bit of the story of, you know, those early days in your business, what it was like. Many of our listeners are, uh, starting out and it can be challenging. What, what was the journey like for you?

SP: 07:47 I suppose market marketing was the hardest thing to understand. So initially, I mean, I suppose it was just like work leg work, like work. In the beginning I went to every networking event. Uh, I walked up and down every high street and knocked on doors. I left leaflets, I told everybody I knew what I was doing. And I do remember one of my first clients came from Charleston to a parent on the sidelines of football match that we were watching with our kids. And actually, they still apply it now. So I was just getting the message out really. And then also strategic partnerships have become fundamental really to creating streams, constant referrals. By that, I mean sort of business coaches, accountants, accountants were a really good source of referrals. But I've found that hard to work out how to get those meetings and stuff. But once I figured out that every new clients I got, I had a new accountant and I could arrange a meeting with their accountant on the pretense of discussing something about our new, you know, mutual clients work, I'm guessing in front of that accountant and then actually use that meeting to really promote myself.

SP: 08:55 So that was a good way of starting those relationships. Banks were also another good one for me to start with. I had a really good relationship with my personal business manager and what I realized was that he managed a portfolio appliance that were actually my ideal customer. He was really good at promoting my services to his customer base and that was another way which got me going to start with the asset business has grown just by sheer, you know, by numbers. I get more referrals because clients do a on it. The more clients you have, the more fair as you get. And the business really has grown through those referrals, but it has changed over time. And my job now is more nurturing those relationships, maintaining those strategic relationships, um, looking after clients so that those were pharaohs keep coming in. But what I have noticed probably in the last six months year is that actually the newer clients I have have come from social media and I had a big rebrand last year, new websites off the back of this. And I kind of really think that the online presence is, is really going to be important going forward. So that's my new new plan.

MP: 10:14 Wow. You, you know, you've give given some really great thoughts and ideas about marketing your business and the core theme, I think there is the relationships. It's not just, hey, here's some people and they're gonna, they're gonna provide leads or referrals or whatever the case may be. In every single instance, there was some relationship that you leveraged. It was good relationship that it starts with. So, so for Alyssa is like, think about where, where do you have good relationships? I may not be the first place to start even though it might not occur like there's any opportunity but nurture and develop those relationships and get the word out like you've done with the bank manager, with the people on your, you're at the soccer league with not just accountants but the clients of those accountants. You leverage those relationships. Uh, beautiful. A beautiful story and outlining to how it can work and where to focus. Now you, you started out, your business started to grow, then what happened?

SP: 11:19 So yes, transitioning to having staff that did not go to, I'll start with, I suppose I was actually quite good at the marketing Beth and I thought and I ended up having more clients than I could deal with quicker than I was expecting. So obviously my next thought was I need help. And I fell into the obviously trap of employing a trainee basically because they were cheap and I also had the grain, you know, the ground I did, I could mold them into all of mine. My way of thinking. And my way of doing things, but um, that was very wrong. It actually turned out to quite expensive. So I was paying them seven pounds an hour. But then I was also not billing out my time because I was training them. So I was paying the guy seven pounds an hour. I was not charging out 30 pounds an hour.

SP: 12:08 So she became a 37 pounds an hour expense. Then I had to double-check a work and I just basically didn't have the time or the money to support that. And so I just much quicker and chief myself. So I went back to being on my own, which get, you know, that loves it for a while, but then you go back thinking I can't manage this on my own. So my second is him probably wasn't a lot better than my first attempt, but I did learn something. So I actually employed someone who older and more experienced and we met, we had a coffee and I liked her and we agreed that she was going to start one of my clients. And I remember, Oh, horrible memory. Now going into and sat in front of the confines and introducing this lady and saying she's going to be fantastic.

SP: 12:53 And she's, you know, reassuring them that she'd got to pick up from where I left off. And it became very obvious very quickly that she had no idea how to use the software. And you know, I can only blame myself because I actually never seen the lady do the job that I was paying her to do. So that was an embarrassing and painful lesson to learn. So that didn't go any back into that. But I did crack it in the end and it was actually a conversation that I had with Debbie at pure bookkeeping and she helped me understand the process of how to, you know, employ people successfully. She made it really clear that I needed to have a really good interview pro process and make sure that I could hire someone who was very good at the job. And it now also made sense to me that if I hired someone goods and paid them well, they could actually walk into the business and start earning on day one.

SP: 13:45 And the other thing she taught me was I didn't have to have someone full time. The first person could have two days a week work. So I gave them two days of my work and then spent my time building myself up back to five days and then gave them some more work. And so they had the amount of work they wanted and I could build myself back up again. And then I took on a second person on the same premise that I gave him two days with my work and I built myself up and then I built them. And what I realized was that this was like a repeat, repeat, repeat process and it works. But also I had to realize I had to take a pay cuts to take that first person on and I had to be able to afford that. But then once I got to three ladies working for me and they're all on different part time basis is I was now making more money than I was. I was on my own. But there was a process that you had to go through to get to that point. But all I can say is if you will get there, if that, that was a really successful method to to grow and today now I have eight ladies for me and I do none of the bookkeeping. I still do some of the client meetings, but it's all self-fulfilling now.

MP: 14:56 Wonderful. I mean it's a very parallel story to the story that Debbie would tell as well about her experience hiring and making mistakes and many have made those mistakes. I'm sure there's many listeners that are bobbing their head saying, yeah, you know what this is. This is, this sounds like me, you know. Speak a little bit about the structure that you put in place because you're obviously you have staff, there's eight people. How do you ensure that they all do the things that you want them to do?

SP: 15:29 Oh, we have a very uniform way of approaching every client and every client's work is documented in exactly the same way and all the ladies understand that. I expect them to follow the same way of processing the work. I'm recording all of our reports and I think it's well known. If you put 10 bookkeepers in a room and asked them to do one thing, they don't want 10 different ways doing it, which is calling when you're on your own, but you can't quality control the business as it grows if you allow that to happen. So we do have checklists, we have the processes and they do get checked. So I have a practice manager who will approve any reports up for the go out to clients. So it is, there's real checks in place and just on a general level, I suppose everything's delivery across the business too. So all the emails are templated, are scripted, templated. All the touchpoints with clients would have been thought about in documenters.

MP: 16:27 Beautiful. You'd have Michael Gerber, who is the author for those that don't know of EMF. And I'm sure many, if, if you've listened to the podcast for a while, you've listened to Michael Gerber. It's about building a system-dependent business, which is, which you've done. Sarah, did you always intend to do that?

SP: 16:47 Uh, no. Um, that's what I did realize, um, as I went along, this is a, if I was going to have a scalable business, this is where I had to stay. I couldn't know that be ad hoc. It was impossible to manage. I've seen impossible and I have read that book and it's cold. Yeah, no. If you want to have a scalable business and you want to have the peace of minds that the business can, can work and grow with your input without your input on it. Yeah, it has to be documented. It has to be systematized.

MP: 17:21 Beautiful.

MP: 17:23 It's quite a business you've built and you have now working more on the business development. You've talked a little bit about going to, you know, another level of marketing you're leveraging online marketing. What else do you see in terms of the future for your business and where your business is going?

SP: 17:42 The bookkeeping profession is changing hugely. Partly driven by the soft ways. What see the challenges in the UK. I mean currently we've got Brexit and the software companies. I think the two biggest issues bookkeepers need to deal with really. So, yeah, I mean, if I consider Brexit first, I've had five clients go into administration in the past year, which is extraordinary. And if I look at some how the businesses have worked, I can attribute four of these to customers with your business, you know, with the uncertain financial climates. However, I've got clients that are doing really, really well. I suppose my response to this is just making sure that the marketing function, the business is really strong because I'm also going to need new clients to replace those that are in trouble. I think the results of Brexit will be recession in the UK. Not that's necessarily a bad thing, but keepers.

SP: 18:40 And when I say to women, you count in 2009 we were one of the worst recessions we'd seen in decades. And a lot of people said to me that they thought I was nuts starting basis when I'd said, but I'm, I'm very glad I ignored them. Um, I think the bookkeepers, what I realized was people trade down in a recession. So I was picking up a lot of work, which business owners were taken away from expense of accountants because they realized bookkeepers can do a lot of that work. So actually I think there's an opportunity for both for bookkeepers, but I think we always need Brexit to happen and we can all get on with what happens next. I think the software companies pose a greater threat to traditional bookkeeping. And by traditional bookkeeper, I made trading time for money. The software companies are aggressively marketing it to the end users.

SP: 19:29 I've got clients now that have an opinion about the software that they want us to use first 10 years ago, they wouldn't have a clue. So, and I think they're also feeling that they only need to subscribe to one of these new cloud softwares and you know, as if by magic or their financial needs are met. And I think that's slightly misleading message really. And I have picked up clients that are, now I've got a new cloud subscription and it's all falling apart and they need a bookkeeper to unpick it and sort out the mess. But I don't think that's really solid. I know way forward for me to base the business on, so pricing is where I think the next, if you can master the transition to sort of value pricing away from the, you know traditional time, oh no, hourly billing. I think that's, that's where we can gain advantage too. So for instance, I will now bill for the production of that term rather than the time it took me to actually produce that back return. It is, I have to say it's a very difficult area and I'm still learning and I have got kinds that sit on an hourly break because I think that's fair or fair way to both parties but it is a way I think bookkeeper's loop need to look at their value and really promote the value that they offer their clients. I kind of see that the way

SP: 20:48 the business will go forward is that I'll have more clients on a slightly lower fixed fee but my profits will increase probably by adopting the efficiencies, the new softwares. Just to see that the geography my clients will change because more people are adopting cloud-based softwares and also the culture that goes with that. There isn't that necessary need to have a face to face. I can do an awful lot more of my meetings on zoom or you know, Skype, that type of thing. So I feel like I've gone off on tangent. Is that your question? Michael does. It's a, I think it's a credibly valuable to hear inside the workings of Your Business and as well, what's what you're dealing with and what you're working on. I mean this is it, right? It's like someone, our listeners get to listen in on what you're seeing happening and your perspective. Uh, it's a great, it brings up a great question that I have for you, which is tell us a little bit about your role with the International Association of bookkeepers and how that's how that's unfolding.

MP: 21:53 Yeah, that's interesting. I enjoy that role. So I sit on the board of the International Association bookkeepers, and that's one of our peak bodies in the UK. So, obviously as bookkeepers, we need to subscribe to a supervisory body. And that's one of them. So I get to set strategy basically for how the organization will go forward. And there is, again, in fact, I had a meeting with zero this morning and it was interesting to hear awesome. They want to, and I've made with some of the people who's here and their big pushes for education. So which was fantastic to hear. And they're really, really in supportive bookkeepers and really in a place to want to engage with bookkeepers and up their value and help them to do that with, you know, additional softwares and further training to, so that was. And then another role, which I also say the, um, is I actually go to the treasury, which is our government, what's in the house of parliament, where the government's, I'm on a focus group there, which, so I bring a lot of the problems that us as bookkeepers have to them to, uh, you know, to the government to listen to you.

SP: 23:07 And it's a lot where the policies are made. That's an interesting insight too because I often hear about what's going on before it hits the outside world and it's nice about bring that back into my business and you know, highlight some of the problems that are on the horizon for my clients. So that makes sense. That's a good angle for women accounts, but it's great to have that fee for that feedback loop if you like, of what clients are problems and I can go and feed it back at a other level that I hope will make a difference. It's remarkable. My opinion would make a difference.

MP: 23:39 So it absolutely will. And the International Association of there is as well tell, tell, tell me a little bit about that association and how it's supporting bookkeepers.

SP: 23:56 So the IB has been around for over 40 years now. That thing is one of the oldest bodies over here. We're very friendly, very supportive, big in education, big in education. So that aligns really well with CEO's mission to that off call regulators, which is one of the only peak bodies here and our qualities are education, awarding body. So the quality of the examinations are really high. What else can you say?

MP: 24:27 Um, that means that the government has said that being certified by the International Association of bookkeepers in the UK means that you're actually, you, it's at a higher level. Is that the idea?

SP: 24:41 Yeah, it is. So you explained that focus to the nineties yes. And the other area, there's three areas, so education and that would be their strongest piece. They are also compliance. So obviously you're anti money laundering, they are more supervisory body there and also for benefits as such. So members in the practice. So that's why I suppose I make the most noise cause I had one sandwich go support bookkeepers in their bookkeeping journey. So I suppose that's where we're, oh yeah. Why am I spending, I suppose.

MP: 25:21 Wonderful.

MP: 25:22 And it sounds like a fantastic organization with a lot of benefits. So for any of our UK listeners, it's definitely something to take a look at and, and, and see if it might be a fit for you and your business. You, you've also been recognized by being a finalist. And now at this time of this recording, if we're not sure yet who is the winner, but you've been, you're a finalist out of, what was it you said that we have a, having a quick chat before this conversation, 800 600 other bookkeepers, you've come down to a finalist for the UK women in business awards.

SP: 25:58 Okay. Yeah, that's what it is. Sorry, it's not just bookkeeping. It is based in cities in the UK. So yes, there was 800 entries and I have been, yeah, shortlisted for two categories. So professional development and for leadership and the whole team's guy. We've actually got the awards ceremony this evening, so when I finish this, we should be shooting to that. So fingers crossed. I would love to be two in one of those categories too, but I have to not, it's a big achievement. So even be a finalist. So that thing is crossed. It would be great for the team.

MP: 26:32 Wonderful. Well, you know what? I think our listener would agree that here you are a winner in terms of the type of person that you are. Commitment to your clients, your commitment to the industry and making a difference and really your, your passion about building the business and being successful but not just for yourself but for all the stakeholders, your staff, your clients and the industry as a whole. I think it's fantastic. And what an inspirational story. Sarah, if people wanted to connect with you, what would be the best way for them to do that or learn more about you and your business?

SP: 27:12 I suppose I signpost people to, are you websites which is women account or code at UK or you can find us on Facebook or you know, I'm very happy people want to email me directly if they've got any questions. I'm very, very happy to answer any of those questions. Um, I really do enjoy watching people grow and develop.

MP: 27:31 Wonderful. And I will, I will mention that we do have a budding very, very early days budding Facebook group for the UK successful bookkeepers. So if you're part of the, the larger successful bookkeeper community group on Facebook, you can also join the UK successful bookkeepers. And Sarah, you're one of the budding members in that group. So that's another place to connect and have conversations with Sarah fat if that works. Sarah, this has been awesome. I really hope that you win that award tonight and we'll celebrate and, uh, and cheer you on, uh, regardless of it. But as I said, it's been great having you on the show.

SP: 28:13 Thank you very much.

MP: 28:16 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: 28:31 goodbye.

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

TSBK - Episode 130 - Stacey Hanke.png
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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.