EP121: David Cristello - Big Ideas For A Successful Business in 2019

Happy New Year!!

I have a question for you.

Are you always striving to be like LEGOS?

Well, if not, you might want to consider it.

Here’s what it stands for.

L: Leave it better than you found it

E: Execute

G: Grow

O: Ownership

S: Serve

There is a new level of competition in 2019, especially in tech enable and tech focus firms.

Our returning guest, David Cristello, who is the founder and CEO of Jetpack Workflow and Host of Grow Your Firm Podcast, has followed LEGOS with his company.

It helps small and medium business owners prepare, embrace and overcome what's coming in 2019.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Upcoming happenings that will affect bookkeepers and accounting firms in 2019

  • The concept of being 1% better a day for 72 days

  • Characteristics to help you persevere

Watch the Jetpack and Pure Bookkeeping Videos


Michael Palmer: 02:08 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our returning guest today is the founder of a company that is helping many bookkeepers around the world. His creation, jetpack workflow, reduces costly admin time and manages your client work in one place. If that's not enough, our guest also happens to be the host of a hit podcast growing your firm. David Cristello, welcome back to the show.

David Cristello: 02:37 Hey Michael. Thanks for having me back.

MP: 02:39 It's great to have you as always, David, we have such great conversations. We usually schedule to do these interviews and we say, well, we'll schedule 30 minutes and by the time 30 minutes is over, we haven't even started the podcast.

DC: 02:53 That's right. Well the, I mean there's so much to catch up on. I mean obviously we met up in person a little while ago, but with all the events, with all the tools, with all the movers in the industry, if we don't connect for a couple months and we say what's new, there's a lot of stuff that's new. So yeah, we always, we always have that issues with time management.

MP: 03:12 Absolutely. And you have a, a brand new baby boy and I have a brand new baby girl. So we, we get talking about that as too proud of Papa's.

DC: 03:23 Yeah, that's right. That's a whole whole new project. This is, this is my first year. You're a seasoned professional now with too. But uh, yeah, that's, that's been, that's been amazing.

MP: 03:34 Beautiful. Well listen David, for those who have not yet, and I'm sure they will go and listen to it after this interview. I heard you in the past, tell our listener a little bit about who you are and jetpack workflow.

DC: 03:48 Yeah. So as, as you mentioned, I'm the founder and CEO of jetpack workflow, really built to help small to medium-size accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and tax firms. Manage all of the recurring deadlines and due dates that go on in your firm so that nothing falls through the cracks. So one place to be all of your clients, everything that's been assigned to your clients, uh, collaborate with your team to make sure everybody's staying focused, to give the owner visibility, to make sure that due dates are being met. And, and ultimately, you know, with the, with the goal of helping the firm owner build a better firm and specifically more productive, more profitable and increasing their, their level of sanity as they grow their business.

MP: 04:27 Beautiful. And I, I knowing a whole bunch of our community members actually utilizing jet pack, I know the, the world of difference that it makes in their lives. And I think, uh, one of the things that I, I heard many times was I love it but my staff love it even more. And I think that's because the program helps their lives and helps them do a better job and, and when a tool is helping you, you love the tool.

DC: 04:57 Yeah. I think that's a really important point in that as you're building your firm a and look and we have, we have firm owners that it's just them, they're just starting out and they still find it to be extremely useful. But it certainly accelerates in terms of utility when you have a handful to dozens of team members that might be using the platform. Because what jetpack workflow allows you to do is create a standardized set of steps. You know, instead of pure bookkeeping, it would be a checklist and roll that out to all of your clients. And so when your team members wake up or they show up to the office and they open up jetpack workflow, they're like, what am I supposed to do? We help them answer that question. And so it gives them that level of expectation on what to do. But then also if they're blocked, we try to give them simple tools to reach out to a team member.

DC: 05:43 They might need an answer from or the owner partner or to put a status or we call them, you know, labels in the system. Hey, this is waiting on a client. So if the owner's not sure what's going on, well they could see there's, hey, there's a label here. It says waiting dot client. I no longer need to interrupt the day for one of my team members. I can get a status update without kind of interjecting them. So it helps them stay, I think, more focused. It helps them, you know, get better expectation setting for their days or weeks.

MP: 06:10 Absolutely. It's beautiful stuff. Now we decided to talk about 2019 and what is happening out there in the marketplace that's having bookkeepers and owners of bookkeeping firms and accounting firms that have bookkeeping, uh, ends of their businesses, what's having them be successful?

DC: 06:34 Yeah, so this is a great question and I think I'm going to try and give the most practical answer I possibly can. And this is from our inputs of working with thousands and thousands of accounting professionals in 18 plus countries of doing, you know, our interview series with a hundred plus interviews of constantly kind of seeing what's working in the marketplace. And I think the most practical answer has nothing to do with, you know, bots or AI or machine learning. All of those things will be impactful, but I think 2019 you're going to start seeing, you know, the the inflection point of the firms that are tech enabled that think about the client experience from a workflow perspective and think about their branding, their positioning in the market and what's the specific industry they serve or, or the location, the firms that kind of zero in on just doing the fundamentals really well or just I think at a dramatically accelerated 2019 and I was telling Michael Right before we hit record, you go to some of these conferences like QB connect, obviously zero condom sure does a similar thing and you look at the firms that are highlighting his firm of the future and you see some of these firms that are accelerating so quickly in a matter of a couple of years going, you know, and to healthy six figures, low seven figure firms and you kind of peek under the hood, you go to the website, you kind of get a feel for what they're doing and they're leveraging tools to get a more productive firm.

DC: 07:58 These tools are also delivering a better client experience. Their positioning and branding is very focused, so they serve restaurants or construction or dental practices. And I think the more that you compete in the marketplace in 2019 that's going to be your new normal competitor. It's not going to be the typical shop that's been around for decades and you can kind of beat them just because you can return a phone call in a couple hours and they might take three days and not really care. I think you're going to start seeing a new level of competition from these really tech enabled tech focused firms.

MP: 08:29 I agree. And you know, I think that can be daunting because there is so much tech, there are so many options, there are so many apps. How do you see the pathway to being able to embrace that kind of technology?

DC: 08:45 Yeah, I, I think, you know, as with most things it's a snowball effect. So start with the smallest piece. And, and for people listening, you know, obviously I'm all about jetpack workflow, but if you're right now and you're really timid about, you know, jumping in with both fee, get familiar with, with your inbox, get familiar with outlook, get familiar with, with Google apps and look for things like creating templated emails. You know, Google has this kind of built-in, I'm sure outlook does as well. look@thingslikefollowup.cc. So what followup.cc can do is you write an email and in the bcc you could say five pm@followup.cc or two days@followup.cc. And what that will do is then shoot that message back to the top of your inbox just so you have a way to nudge yourself to the circle or follow up with people and just start doing some lightweight things.

DC: 09:34 So, you know, look at labels inside of your inbox, look at folders, you know, start getting organized with what you currently have. And just getting really familiar with that toolkit. And there's probably some great advancements you can make in just what you're currently doing. And once you build up, if you're, if it's really about a confidence thing and you feel, you know, potentially not sure about diving in a new tech start there. Um, just learn the best practices. The same way that I suspect a lot of the listeners really became exceptional at XL. It's the same mindset. This is the beautiful thing about this industry is that, you know, it is a very tech-focused industry and it's always been w you know, as soon as we made the shift to a spreadsheet and people don't realize that it is a programming language to actually be exceptional at using Microsoft Excel. And so if you've made that shift to learning how to, how to run B look ups and spreadsheets, you have all the tools you need to jump into a new tool. It's just a matter of building up momentum and building that snowball effect.

DC: 10:40 Because I bet you know, those are some great, great tips. And I think why I like those as it starts to have the thinking around efficiency. How can we work smarter? Don't go and lift the heaviest stone in the yard, pick the little ones up first and get, get some momentum going. But it's really the thinking. What are we trying to accomplish here? We're trying to get more done leveraging technology so we get more of our time back. Use that time to work more on the business, make it better. And a, it's a repeating cycle. One of the things that I've seen be really successful, uh, David and, and includes you and the story is a, in pure bookkeeping, we have a mastermind program. We facilitate. So we have, uh, about six bookkeepers that we grouped together. They, they're from all across North America, but they're, they're business owners about the same level and they are working on the same things.

DC: 11:31 They're challenged by the same things and they, they really do it as a, as a community, as a pod. Because one of the biggest risks and growing your business is to do it alone. And what I loved about what they did is they said, okay, one of the biggest challenges they were having was tech embracing technology and they picked one piece of technology which was workflow software and they said, okay, there's six of us, let's have six different options, and if they're there, I don't know that there was exactly six but they, they broke up the work, they divided the work and said, we want to as a group, understand what are the different options out there that are going to help us become more efficient in our businesses and bring workflow, automated workflow in the business. So they went, they all evaluated, they brought back their notes and said, well these are, this is what this one does, this one good, this one does that one good and [inaudible] and so they picked a winner and the winner was jet pack and then they implemented that together.

DC: 12:33 They implemented it together. They got in touch with the company, the vendor. In your case, it was you as the guest. It was that your product that they got with you and they said, look, this is what we've done. Now you need to help us make sense of this? Well that I think there's a message there about embracing, there's so much happening as the world is going faster and faster and faster. It's like the feeling of what do I hold on to hold onto the hands of those that are going in the same direction as you because they're going to be so many mistakes for all of us. You and me are our listeners. This could be lots of mistakes to be made. We can all get to the summit faster if we're working together.

MP: 13:18 I love, I love that idea of you know, aligning and connecting with a group and thinking about wins big or small. You know, AEC, those stats out there, 1% better a day and you double in 70 days or 72 days and you know, having a, the accountability of

MP: 13:35 they that stat again that that's a I'm, I'm liking that. Get, give that again.

DC: 13:39 Yeah. I mean double check me on the, on the specific timeline, but I do believe it's 1% better every day. You double in 72 days.

MP: 13:48 That is a cool concept. I love it. So very small increments add up to really, really big outcomes. Uh, an uh, a nice cliche or analogy as a, uh, an inch off the nose is a mile on the horizon.

DC: 14:04 Yeah. Yeah. And I think so often if you're not in a group, you're going down this path of trying to implement a new tool or concept or methodology and you know, for you to really see results, you need a, there's some threshold in any type of, you know, implementation project and maybe you have to get 70% of the way there or 30% or 80% to really start seeing some of the results. But you know, the, the thing is if you hit, if you stop halfway through that, if you stop at 12% or 17%, you know, you're just damaging every part of the process. You're damaging the time that you've invested into it. You're not getting any sort of outcome into it by not reaching that threshold where you start seeing initial value. So I think the group is, is an amazing asset to make that you are getting the value both from whatever kind of organization you're in, but then also from the tools that you're selecting because a good group is going to hold you accountable and they're going to start to know you well enough to hopefully call you out on your bs if you're, if you're kind of procrastinating on some things.

MP: 15:05 So I just love that concept.

DC: 15:07 Yeah, it is. It's a, it's pretty, pretty awesome and you know, it's daunting to do some of these things because there is a big risk of evaluating a platform light jetpack workflow or some of the others in the marketplace. You know, you're making a big decision because there's work that's going to be involved in, in getting it all set up and that that's one piece, right? But then it's like, are you making the right decision? And those kinds of moments are where procrastination lives. It's like wherever there's like this uncertainty is a big decision. I'm ready. I don't have all the pieces went on of all the picture on all exactly where we're going here. That's where procrastination can kick in and, and the, the move not made. And before you know it, it's 2020 and you haven't embraced a piece of the technology that maybe would be critical in your business.

MP: 16:00 Yeah. So two, two, two quick comments, you know, on that. So I think, you know, first I think we need to recognize that as business owners, if we stay the same, we've, gee, we're getting worse. Yeah. I don't think there's any doubt that if you just keep doing what you're doing, you know, if you have goals for your business, you know, you want to increase 20% 40% 50% and in the new year or next year, I rarely see a business where you say, oh great, you have this goal of becoming better, do everything you're doing and you'll just naturally fall into that outcome. I mean you, you have to change in order to reach a goal. And if you don't have to change to reach the goal, I would argue you should probably get a new goal because what's the point if you're not growing a professionally, personally through this business as well.

MP: 16:47 And trying to reach at, you know, new levels of leadership or management or, or being a practitioner in it. So I think everybody's recognized if you're going to stay the same, that means you're getting worse. That's, that's it. And I think we know the competitive landscape is challenging enough to know that that is inherently true. The other thing I want to mention is that from a accounting professional perspective, you know, whether you're bookkeeping, payroll, accounting or tax, the, you know, you get paid to be a precise detailed and to really take a lot of risks off of your client's shoulders and you take that on as the professional. And that is a perfect set of attributes for the day in and day out work that you need to do. But that level could be both a massive benefit. But you know, at somewhat of a downside as a business owner, because to get into these projects of going through change management, there's going to be a little bit more risk.

MP: 17:42 But again, the risk is staying the same as the riskiest thing you can do. But just know that, you know, getting, getting the, you know, workflow implementation or getting the new tour, getting your pricing and if you're going to change pricing, getting that 70% right or 80% rate or 90% right is massively better than not taking any action in sitting still. And you know, whereas your day to day work, if you get that 60% right, you're probably in big trouble. I just haven't seen it work that way in business. We're, you know, you get it 70% of the way there. That's, that's still a huge improvement over where you came from.

DC: 18:22 Yeah, well said. Well said. You know, when it comes to, you've worked with so many different companies, so many different business owners or what are some of the characteristics that have them persevere to, to get, you know, to the 70% get beyond the 70%.

DC: 18:42 I think they, they get really excited by the outcome. Uh, and that outcome can change owner by owner. It could be, I really want to start coaching, you know, my kids' sports teams. I want to make this this much, this level of private because it brings a new level of financial security or look against really cold at Pittsburgh and I want it, I want to get a summer home in Florida and see the sun again for those winter months and my goodness, I just need to make that happen. Or You could just be like, I just love trying new things. So you know some I've met from owners who just love trying new things. I think whatever the outcome you're going for it knowing that's why you're doing it helps you go through that change management process. And I think that the owners that have done that for a couple of years, even if they weren't great at that before or they're really nervous about doing it for the first year or second year, by the time they start running this wheel of, you know, constantly updating and iterating on their firm and how to add more value by year three, five, 10 in their firm.

MP: 19:41 They love it. I mean it's great. They love the concept of being the business owner or the investor in the business. You know, getting further and further away from the day to day fires and operational elements they need to take on. But when I talked to them, they, they just had a, they had an end desired outcome that they were crystal clear on. And again it's, it's, it's so different for different firm owners. You know, there's one that comes to mind in Ohio and it was all about work life balance. You know, he had a, he had a family situation that his previous employer was, was not flexible too and he needed start his own firm so he could have better work-life balance. And so that's why he did it. And so knowing that his, his, his outcome, he tried any and all things to really get there.

DC: 20:21 And you know, he's been in business for I think at least 10 years doing extremely well and he loves it for other people, for another firm owner we work with, it was coaching, you know, little league and going through a couple busy seasons where, you know, his family essentially didn't see him for six months. He was like, I either need to leave the profession, which he didn't want to do. We really enjoyed it. Or He needs to figure out how to get back to a normal set of during the busiest times of the year. And so that kept driving him to find best practices. Because what you can do is you can look at other firms and you could say, you know, who is that firm owner that is taking off Fridays and what are they doing differently? I mean, you know the ideas that don't all have to come from you, but you have the end desired outcome.

DC: 21:06 Then you find the people that are achieving what you're doing and you and you either reverse engineer from a distance or you for many of the firm owners like I'm sure everybody you interview, everybody we interview, just call them up. Say, Hey, I'm, you know, I love your story. Uh, I feel like I'm in a similar place that you were maybe two years ago and I'm stuck. Can you help me? So, and desired outcome, finding the path that others have taken to get there. I think those two elements are are, are things we see time and time again from our top phone, from owners.

MP: 21:36 Beautifully said, you know, I would agree with that 100% it's the big y's that have people continue on. Now I'd say the big roadblock that stops many, and I would say the number one roadblock would be their belief of whether or not they will get that big outcome. Is it possible for me, it might be possible for you, David, to do what you've done, but I want that too, but I just don't believe it's possible for me and that that one, if there's one thing on this podcast, I want to help people get through breakthrough. It's that belief. There has to be a level of faith and belief to progress to the next step and do the things that need to be done to get that outcome. Those outcomes just don't drop in our laps. But if you, if you have a big burning desire for something and you don't believe it's going to be possible for you while we're stuck.

DC: 22:29 I love that point. And so I guess in a, in a counterbalancing way, I think it's important to know your outcome, but in a strange way. Not to get fufu or zen like on everybody, but then to in some ways detach yourself from the outcome. So if your goal is to get to $1 million a year, you know, the one side of my brain says, let's reverse engineer how many clients with how many services of how many services per client you need, how many prospects you talk to every month, what's your close rate per prospect, and then let's reverse engineer this entire formula to really make sure you can reach that 1 million a and just hit it down to the most practical tactical level you possibly can. Now having said that, the other part of my brain is, you know, you have this goal, you try to reverse engineer the numbers and execute on that, but I think from owners that we've worked with, the top ones and even other business owners, you, you should also be excited on the concept of the person you'll become when.

DC: 23:29 By trying to reach this goal of $1 million per year. You will become a better business owner. You will be become a better leader, manager practitioner. You will be challenged cognitively in ways you haven't been before. You will have to think about process and workflow and pricing. You're going to have to learn sales or you know how to run proper consultations. You're going to have to do all these things in, in. If you're not excited by the person you might become in advancement of trying to hit that goal, then I think you're missing a real opportunity. And I guess the way to summarize it is the joys and the journey, you know, because here's what happens. You hit 1 million and you're like, well, I really want to get the five or I really want to get to two and I want better margins. There's always the next school. But I think if you're excited about the person you're going to become in pursuit of that goal. It's the motivator to get through the messy middle of trying to get there.

MP: 24:23 Beautiful. You know, we have a mutual friend and mutual client, Lisa Campbell, and I love her story. It fits perfectly in, in what we're talking about. She was a single mother. She needed and wanted and desire to have a better life for herself and a better life for her family. And so she started building her bookkeeping business and she built it up and it was on its way and she got to point where it was. It grew out of her ability. She didn't necessarily know how to go beyond, so she's, she reached out for help. Now in that case, she came to pure bookkeeping and said, look, I need to have systems and standardized workflows and procedures in my business. And that helped her. So that was a step and that helped her grow her business. She started to charge more for what she did, she got better clients, all of those good things.

MP: 25:17 And then she said, I need more automation. I want all of this to work in the cloud. I want it to be automated. I want to know that all the steps are being handled and taken care of. So she went to the marketplace and talked with different people like we talked about and she found jetpack workflow and then she combined the two. She said, I'm going to bring these two things together. They're going to make my business better and give me freedom, help my staff do a better job of things, enabled her to actually hire more staff. So now she has a business that makes a lot more money than she ever dreamed she would make. She has way more time than she ever thought she'd have. Her kids are taking care of, her family's taken care of and she has the time and ability to do work that she really is passionate about by helping business owners doing consulting work now with profit first professionals and doing really high valued work where she's making a really great income for helping business owners put more profit in their jeans every month. That started with a burning desire it, but she had the belief, she believed that it could be possible for herself. She got committed to it. She got focused, she took the actions and now she's successful and you know it. It's just wonderful to be a part of that. And I know you feel the same way, David, about seeing your clients actually get the promises of what we're all talking about in their business.

DC: 26:40 Absolutely. And I, and this story illustrates so well that you take one step, you build the momentum, and then you hit, you hit that milestone and then what's next? Do you go through pure bookkeeping? She revamped her pricing, got very process-focused, went into tooling, you know, when did a jetpack and she's created some amazing content around that. Uh, she feels like she has that core set of services, uh, together. Hi, very profitable, great work-life balance. Great. What's next? Profit first professionals. She could've very well said, what's next? I'm taking a longer vacation. Right? But it's so depending on the person. But look, here's the thing. I, you know, and I, I don't know, four years ago, Lisa was like, you know what, um, here's, here's the sequence of how I want to do everything. I want to do this and this and this and this and this.

DC: 27:30 But it's so much of it's just starts with, let's start with what's in front of me. Let's get that together. Then once that frees up, what's the next opportunity, what's the next opportunity? And that's what I mean when firm owners we work with, when they go through that cycle like Lisa has, I mean they, they really start cooking with gas because they know how to implement, they know how to create systems, they know how to position things. They can launch new services, they can open up new markets, they can hire people. I mean they're really building their toolkit in such a way that they can take on so many different parts of the business really expanded so many different ways. But it starts with that initial step and then momentum builds and builds and builds. That's what I love about that story.

MP: 28:09 It's a great story. And, and she's a wonderful person and she, she has done a great service to our community by showing people how, uh, a bunch of how she's done it, how it looks, how, how she's being successful. She's not saying, Oh hey, this is my, I went and I'm successful and I, you know, I did it all myself. It's her real essence of I was helped along the way and now I'm going to share if people need help, I'm going to share it now. She's a busy person and she's been on the podcast before. She's been on the Facebook group, like she actually got too busy helping people, asking her for questions, so she put together a whole bunch of videos that are really supportive and we'll have the link to those videos in this episode. If you want to just go down and click on that link and take a look, which that's the type of person that she's, she is and her big why is to to make that difference. It's like everyone has a different why and so yeah. Wonderful, wonderful story, David. This is, this is again always such a treat to have you, you're so generous with your time and knowledge about your own business, but as well the business of the clients that you're working with. I just on the behalf of the listeners, thank you.

DC: 29:23 Absolutely. Thanks for having me on. If people have questions about anything I just mentioned, my email is David@jetpackworkflow.com the website's Jetpackworkflow.com and the resources you just mentioned, Michael, to me are a no brainer for for listeners to download you, you literally get to see, you know, part the blueprint that Lisa was able to deploy in creating systems and adding productivity tools to really scale up her firm. And so if you want to see the nitty-gritty, if sometimes you listen to content or read content, you find it too abstract and you say, no, what are they doing exactly. Because then I want to see how I can apply that to my firm. I, the videos you just talked about with Lisa are our it. I would recommend everybody go and take a look at them. They're the most, uh, uh, tactical videos on the creating and deploying workflows that I've ever seen.

MP: 30:15 Beautiful. And as well, there's also an opportunity to go out there and get yourself a trial of jetpack workflow. It's a free trial and David, the, the, there's a link there to do that. It's pretty simple. Is there anything to say about getting a trial of jetpack workflow?

DC: 30:33 Yeah, so if you go to Jetpackworkflow.com/free trial, it'll take you straight to the registration form. A No credit card is required. You get access to every feature, uh, you also get access to our template library. It has dozens, literally dozens of of of we call the lightweight checklist or kind of springboard checklist. You know, pure bookkeeping has the bulletproof copy and paste, but if you want to see some examples as springboards, we have that into every free trial. You'll also get access to our product specialist team. And so if you want to have a personalized one-on-one walkthrough when you sign up for a trial, a product specialists will reach out to you via email, potentially even call, and they'll give you a personalized one-on-one walkthrough. They can really answer your questions, understand your firm, show you best practices inside of the tool. Again, no credit card required, no strings attached. You can take a look at the product and see if it's a good fit for your firm.

MP: 31:28 Beautiful. I recommend everyone take a look. It will revolutionize the work that you're doing and if you have any questions, you can always reach out to David and I'm sure his team will be more than happy to help you along your way. Again, David, thank you so much for being here.

DC: 31:45 Thank you for having me.

MP: 31:47 And with that, we wrap on another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to the successful bookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 32:00 goodbye.