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 email@example.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.