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

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.