EP75: Karine Woodman - How To Be the Firm Of The Future

Focus and confidence.

Those are the keys to attain success and become the Intuit Firm of the Future Global Winner.

According to our guest, Karine Woodman, who is the owner of 24hr Bookkeeper, putting everything into experience will help bookkeepers avoid costly mistakes.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Effective tips in marketing, hiring & training staff

  • How to develop from desktop to QuickBooks

  • How to build internal structures that are a company structure and not a customer facing structure

To learn more about 24hr Bookkeeper, visit here

For her Facebook page, check this out.

For her Twitter account, discover here.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:17 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 from the great state of Minnesota where she runs 24 hour bookkeeper, which is a successful cloud-based online bookkeeping service that was named The 2016 Intuit firm of the future global winner. Karine Woodman, welcome to the podcast.

Karine Woodman: 01:45 Thank you. Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:50 It's great to have you. Now, uh, before we get too far down this path, Corinne, would you mind sharing with our audience how you came to be the owner and founder of 24 hour bookkeeper? 

KW: 01:59 Long story or short storyline, but actually, um, I worked for a construction company and I wore many hats and I have my first child and kind of wanted to change a few things up and it wasn't an option. So I quit my job and I had a new baby and I always say my husband wasn't the most pleased with me at the time. And then I basically, you know, had a reputation to kind of know what I was doing and you know, in my community. And so I started doing that. That was about eight years ago and I was doing it part-time for about four years or so. I had just some other part-time work, skipped two additional kids after that. And um, I just decided mentally to, um, move it forward. And so I basically stopped any other work that I would have been doing and I, um, started hiring employees and, and just kind of continuing to grow the company just by literally changing my mindset. 

KW: 02:50 And we've evolved to do, you know, we uh, are in a niche market. We do a lot of work in the construction industry, but we service all and that's really how it started. Just kind of helped anybody who needed it at the time.

MP: 03:02 And so what your, the name of the firm is 24 hour bookkeeper. What, what, how'd you come up with that name?

KW: 03:09 So I kinda liked something that was a little bit catchy and I'm going to say at the beginning it didn't roll off the tongue so well now it does. And actually, the thing that I love the most is when people say, Hey Karen, you know, is that a franchise that you bought? And I say, no, but that makes me feel so good. So I believe that you don't have to be a fortune 500 company. You just have to look like one and perception, you know, is a big piece of that. 

KW: 03:35 And so, um, I think we were just continued to build the brand. So when it comes to the name though, it's catchy and we always get a lot of jokes, you know, like, Hey, if you work 24 hours a day and I say, Hey, do you do your books at 3:00 AM? You know? Um, so it's just, it's a conversation piece. So it's interesting. I mean I have to ask, has anybody actually expected you to be available at 3:00 AM in the morning? Um, depending on what time zone, I do get calls late and I always tell people, listen, I mean, and now we have, you know, other team members that take phones after hours. But I'll say if the phone rings and I can hear it, I'll totally take the call. But it almost never happens maybe like 11 o'clock or midnight because, uh, we have served clients in Hawaii for example, and they are five hours behind us. 

KW: 04:18 So afternoon there is, you know, early is late evening for us, but um, most of the time, no, we don't really get that many calls that late and most people understand that you are still a business and so they're really respectful of your time. You know, we even try not to take calls, you know, after hours. I mean we do, but we schedule things with clients during normal business hours.

MP: 04:50 Typically I think it is a catchy name and it's exciting to hear that it's catching on for you. Now we would like to learn a little bit more about when you first got started and before you hired staff. What was it like the journey between just being solo yourself and getting to hiring staff? 

KW: 05:02 You know, I'm just going to go back to the fact that it's the power of thought. So I want my company to grow to a large, you know, to become a large company. And I know that individual as an individual, I have the potential to do that. And um, I've never wanted to be a solopreneur from the very beginning, but you had to start there and I put everything to experience. So when I am in a situation that is unknown or scary or uncomfortable, I, I put it to experience. So I learned what I need to do the next time so that I'm not maybe in that situation again. So when it came from being a solopreneur to hiring my first employee, that was really difficult because it was always me all the time and I didn't have to wear what anybody else did or said or didn't say or didn't do. 

KW: 05:49 So it was a learning experience. And after my first one and my second one, and after we've had to let people go, you just evolve to become better at dealing with those situations the more that you're in them. So it was just, again, deciding that I couldn't do it by myself and I needed help. And if I wanted to grow my business to the level in which I want to grow it, I need to put my trust in other people's bottom line. And it's up to me to do what I need to do. You know you can only control what you can control. So if I had an employee and I wanted them to be good, it was my responsibility to train them. It's my responsibility to tell them what I want. It's really thinking the right way from the beginning. 

MP: 06:29 I think it is. Yeah, no I really get that. And I think I can hear it in your voice when you talk about your business, your, you were, you were very clear that that's what you wanted. And it's so powerful when you get clear about where you're headed and you know, it's like almost like you can't even remember being the Solo, cause that was just kind of like a road stop, right? Pick up some coffee. We're going for the staff. Right? So I think the big takeaway is when people are clear about what they want and they, they just go to that direction. I mean you get there a lot faster. 

KW: 07:02 Yeah. And I, if I can just throw this in there, you know, when I first started, I was driving to clients all the time and I was working around. I even at times brought my kids with me. I mean, you did what you have to do. Right. And as I've continued to evolve, I don't want to drive anywhere. We implemented QuickBooks online. We, we hired staff, you know, and it's called growing pains. I mean, yes, Mr. Customer, I know you want me to be the one, but I'm not that easy to catch. And I'm, you know, working in other areas but such and such as here to help. So between the two of us, you now have two people rather than just one. You know, just, you have to just power through it. It's hard not to get discouraged at the time, but I've been able to create the outcome that I wanted because I mentally decided to, and I had to start somewhere. It just didn't happen in one day. 

MP: 07:50 So when you get discouraged, what, what, how do you get out of being discouraged? 

KW: 07:55 Oh, that's a great question. I'm a very positive person, so I wouldn't even call it getting discouraged, but more realizing that I'm in a situation that is uncomfortable or stressful. And I think a lot of the stress I take on is stress that I put on myself because I am such a, I'm a very futuristic person. I'm super positive. So I tell myself, okay, like I, it's almost like I have to stop for a minute mentally and say, what can I do today so that I don't feel this way tomorrow or what can I do today so I don't have to ever deal with this again. I just tried to find the good, the glass for me is always half full. It's never half empty. So 

MP: 08:37 I definitely get, I get that from you, but I do like what you've said. It's like, how can I not feel this way tomorrow? What do I need to do today so I don't feel this way tomorrow? That's such a nice way of putting that. Uh, I think that's exciting for someone to think of it that way. And I mean it stems from the glasses is half full perspective but not just, well gee, you know, tomorrow will be great. You're actually saying I'm going to make tomorrow great by doing these things and that's going to take you where you want to go. 

KW: 09:07 Well we have the opportunity to control the outcomes that we want. Why can't we, there's no reason. I mean I have the same troubles that everybody else has, you know, personally or professionally. I just choose to, to control or tried to do as much as I can to get the outcome in which I want rather than worrying about the negative. You need to think about the positive and that's just a simple thing. Like everyone can do that. There's no reason why they can. 

MP: 09:34 Absolutely. Absolutely. And they can take it on. If they're not doing it today, they can take it on right now as they're listening to this and make a positive thought and then implement that just right now. Right. Today listener does it right now. 

KW: 09:47 Yup.

MP: 09:55 So you mentioned you went more virtual and you went with QuickBooks online. Why QuickBooks online? 

KW: 10:04 So my experience really stemmed with QuickBooks all together, gather. I had this construction company that I worked for, didn't have a process. The gentleman had purchased it and said, hey, there's a computer over there. I've never turned it on. I don't know what's in it, you know? So it was up to me to find a software, that phrase, and I implemented QuickBooks desktop and I learned and I'm the kind of person who asked like a thousand questions. So I guess you can say that I'm a bit of a learner or a sponge. And I had all my experience with QuickBooks. And so I realized just I guess even in general, they own 90% of the market. So that's a lot of customers. And if I can be really good at servicing just QuickBooks, that's perfect. You know? And then so we started on a desktop for a few years and then we started implementing QuickBooks online and now we're strictly QuickBooks online. We don't serve as clients on the desktop unless we're doing the conversion.  

MP: 10:55 So beautiful focus. Another area, where are you focused, which is, which is definitely part of the success formula for any business focus. Now, you were also named, The 2016 Firm of the Future, global winter. Tell us a little bit about that. 

KW: 11:13 Well that was quite an experience. So we, you know, applied and you know, I submitted a picture, an application for that. And when I was chosen as a finalist, first of all, I had to read it like 10 10 times, cause I wasn't even sure if I knew what it was saying. And once you become a finalist for the, you know, it was USAA was four countries and that part was great, but that's done. The work begins there. So for a period of two weeks, you have to let the whole world know that you're, you know, our fan finalists and you want them to vote for you. How do you tell the world to vote for you? Cause it was strictly on votes. And so for two whole weeks, and thankfully, you know, my team was awesome. We, I mean, had to be creative in everything that we did. 

KW: 11:59 Because again, here's me, you know, being proactive, not reactive. I did not want to get to the end of that two weeks at the voting period and say, I wish we would have done that. So when we started, we thought, okay, together as a team, let's, let's think about everything that we want to do, our social media channels, you know, locally, you know, and we tapped into as many things as we could that ran my life for two weeks. I'm not gonna lie. It was definitely a lot. And to have been chosen as the winner was cherry on top for sure. And again, here's my positivity. Kicking in. What I've learned from the experience is great and I am thankful that I got to be that winner because I'd like to think that I can be a good example to others. You know, I put my pants on the same way everybody else does. 

KW: 12:50 And so I did get a lot of calls throughout the year from fellow bookkeepers that would say, hey, you know, I'm struggling with this or I'm struggling with that. And to be able to give some words of encouragement or just to work through a small problem. I mean, that's really what I felt my purpose was and is that winter and to um, let everybody know that, hey, you can do it. I am no different than you, you know, so it was a great experience and I'm really happy and it created some more opportunity for me amongst my peers and I did get some client work from it. So it was just, just something great that you can just kind of another notch in the belt. You know, my train was already kicking forward just because we're very focused people, but it was great. I was really happy and thankful that I had that opportunity to get lifted up by Shaquille O'Neal. 

MP: 13:42 Yes. That was the best. Because let me, if I could just sneak my little comment in there about that. So that was my next question. Tell us the story. Okay. So I'm in line, you know, and here's me, you know, I'm a very shy and reserved person. Just kidding. And, um, I go up to Shaq, it's my turn and I go, Hey Shaq, I need to have like the best picture of the day and, and I should back up for a second. I had my badge and my intention was to have him autograph it and they had a photographer there. Plus, you know, I had my camera, so I said, hey, I want to have the best picture of the day. And he just scooped me, just threw me off. I completely forgot to have him sign my badge and, and it was super cool and he seemed like the most humble person. And as I'm standing in line, he's just joking around with men, like kind of putting his arm on their butt or, you know, it is really just being kind of a big goofball. And so that was super cool. It's probably one of my favorite pictures just because it reminds me of the whole experience and everything that I got to do. So it was, I mean, it's, it would have been an incredible event for you winning. And then as 

MP: 14:52 well, just the iconic figure, uh, sort of sums it up very nicely. It was an iconic moment in your life and you're in your business journey anyways. Right? So, you know, you, you mentioned that you got a lot of calls from bookkeepers that wanted help after you became the global winner of the Intuit Firm of the Future. You know, we, we have a lot of bookkeepers listening to this right now as a, in the listeners saying, yeah, I'm listening right now. What are the things that you think get to catch a lot of bookkeepers up in their business success? And what would you say to them to help them turn that around? 

KW: 15:29 I think the main thing for me is confidence. I think a lot of people are not confident in their own ability to solve a problem for their clients. So I feel like sometimes, you know, I happen to be a very confident person. I'm not afraid to tell a client, hey Mr client, I am not here to judge you and you do have a broken system, but it's okay because I am here to help you fix it and move it forward. So when I talk to other people, if they want to implement new processes, if they want to hire new staff that they need to get into situations that are, you know, a little scary, they have to have the confidence to be able to move it forward because it's, I don't even want to necessarily call it risk-taking because I am also a person who's not afraid to jump in both feet. 

KW: 16:17 Sometimes my eyes closed. I'm, as I'm getting older, I'm, I'm, you know, not moving as fast to the end of the platform. But I think that's the main thing. Like you can do it. A lot of times people had called me about implementing, you know, value pricing or wanting to stop going to clients. They wanted to go from desktop to just servicing QuickBooks online. And, and if you have a discussion with your client upfront to say, hey Mr client, as you win and I win in that situation and you can just take the time to build the right expectation. There's no reason why it won't work and if it doesn't work and you have to just give a little bit and give it some time, that's okay. And if you have a situation with a client that you know will never change and that's not the situation you want to be and maybe you're just not a good fit for that client anymore, you know, everything's okay either way. And I don't know if that really answered your question but 

MP: 17:13 Yeah, I think so. I think like, you know, we can hear it from this whole confidence, right is, is knowing, knowing what you're good at and, and, and from the sense you're, you're really clear. You, when you go and work with a client, you're going in there as an equal and you know, you're the professional and the pro at doing the bucks. And there are the pro and professional at putting together houses or you know, use mentioned construction is the niche that you work in, which is another, I mean a fantastic move in your business I'm sure. But you go in, hey, they build houses, you do the, and you make sure that there's more money left over in the bank. And so that's a mindset and anyone can have that mindset. It's, it's, but it's often they don't and it's because they don't take the time to actually get clear that that's the mindset they want to have. 

KW: 18:06 Yes. And they have the opportunity to control everything. You know, that they want. They, it's, it starts with you or me. Right. So, um, that's the confidence. That's the knowing that you have the ability to move it forward. And if you don't believe it, how are you going to convince somebody else to believe you? 

MP: 18:26 It's so, so interesting, right? It's, it seems so simple and often people are looking for the more collect the more complex solution. Like what button do I need to push? How do I make this formula work? It's not that complicated of venting or tangible.

KW: 18:45 Yeah. Exactly. I was just the wrong area. There are not enough clients. I don't have the right, you know, companies have the right amount of money. I'll tell you right now, my office is in a community of 16,000 people. We are in the middle of nowhere. Okay. And I have been able to provide jobs to people in my community servicing clients all over the United States from our tiny little office. Nobody can convince me why it doesn't work. Because if you mentally believe it works, it will work. I mean, and you don't have to buy it. Everyone has the same opportunity. You know, the power of thought is powerful. 

MP: 19:19 Okay. It is. It is. And I think it's an exciting conversation. More need to get that. And you're a great example of where, where that's, that's the case. Now, the other components that you talked about, you know, this whole concept, you know, pricing, going virtual, whether you should go virtual, it's like making decisions. What's right for your business, you know there's no one right or wrong answer to how you set up your business. How did you know, what would you say to people that are going through these kinds of decisions? Should I do this? Should I do that?

KW: 19:55 So maybe this jumps into, for me, if there's something I want to do and apologize, it's probably a little bit loud in the background. If there's something I want to try, I just do it. And if it doesn't work out, it's okay. Like I haven't set the expectation that it's this way or no way or that it's, you know, solid. Hey, I want to try, you know, I want to go to QuickBooks online. I want to really serve as QuickBooks online. So maybe you don't want to talk to your customers that are on desktop and try to move them. I mean you could, but maybe every time you get a new call or you talk to a new customer, that's when you use your new pitch. Right? And so you just, it's baby steps and, and then you start moving in and then it can be, you start building a base and then it's easier to just talk to that other co, you know, you have to just try it. And if it doesn't work out it's okay. The worst that's going to happen is you're going to come right back to where you started. So there's really no less at that point. 

MP: 20:43 Absolutely. A lot of it. 

MP: 20:50 What's next for your business? Like 2018 is the year we're in right now. What's your, what's on the top of your mind this year? 

KW: 21:00 Oh, so much. So our focus is for the last four years or so, we've really been building our internal processes and we have, um, really fixed our processes that are customer facing and we are trying to focus more on marketing. So we just did a gigantic construction show that was in Orlando last week. We exhibited and I had a session there and we picked up so many leads. So it's really training staff, creating an internal training process for them to be able to just kind of jump in for our, as we expand our team, but mostly marketing and building our internal structure that is a company structure, not so much a customer-facing structure. So we're just trying to solidify the process so that we can move into 2019 and like hit the pedal like even 2018 it's about getting the pedal forward. We're ready, we built our base. I've been patient with that because it's taken us eight years to do that and now it's like good cause you can grow really fast and that can hurt your business because you can't return client phone calls, you can't take on new clients. There's a lot of bad things that can happen. So we just want it to be ready and now it's moving forward and really focusing on the marketing side of it. 

MP: 22:14 Beautiful. You know it's a, it's a bunch of things you said that I think are super valuable. I mean it getting back to the niche, right? You, you went and presented at a construction conference and that's, you know, you can't, it's like if you don't have a niche, you can't really, you can go and present somewhere, but it's just, can you talk to a little bit about what that's like when you're able to go and provide specific information to specific clientele? What's that opened up and your business. 

KW: 22:48 So the best way to get clients is to teach them, I'll tell you that right now. A lot of people don't believe that. So when you get into an end of particular industry, people want to work with the expert in that industry, bottom line. And so when you can speak about something that they are familiar with, which is something that the client deals with on a daily basis, they run through the same scenarios and you're able to take those scenarios and explain it to them and tell them how to solve everyday problems that they have. They automatically want to work with you. It's just it's a given and it allows me, because I'm in a particular industry, it allows me to get in front of those people on an ongoing basis and first of all, they don't question your expertise. They trust you fairly fast and they automatically want to work with you. 

KW: 23:36 I wouldn't even call it, it's a sales pitch. It's more like we need to be available in our office to take in the calls. We don't have to go and convince to work with us. They already know they want to work with us because they know we understand accounting, they know we understand QuickBooks, they know we understand their industry and we understand the applications in which they use in that industry. There's not a lot of people that can do that, so we've been able to place ourselves in a good spot just because we decided to go niche. Now it's scary because you're thinking, Hey, I don't want to limit myself because I'm only going after one, you know, industry. But there are so many. So I would say find an industry that excites you because you are going to have to get wrapped in it. And when you can talk shop all day long to those people makes a big difference. 

MP: 24:27 I love it. And that fear of, of scarcity, of not having enough clients in a specific industry. I mean, I think the exercise that could be helpful is just to do the numbers, right? I mean, how many construction industry people are in your, your local market, how many people in, in the country that you work at?

KW: 24:50 I mean you're, you're not working in one local area, you're all yes. Yeah. And join their associations. So we go to their meetings, we surround ourselves with information in which they have the knowledge in which they're trying to accumulate the people in which they associate with again and trying it forward. So maybe right now, like we serve as clients in other industries. We have clients and hospitality, restaurants, you know, health care, professional services. And if you called us down from down the road and you worked in that industry, we're not going to say no to. Of course we'll service you because we're in the business of helping small business. That's what we do. We just happen to have a small, large emphasis on construction because we speak the language and if we thought we didn't have customers that could, you know, would be willing to pay what we charge. Because I, one time I charged what I felt almost nothing. And I thought if I had to increase by a short bit, my God, I'd lose all my clients and now I charge, Oh my God, 10 times that. And when you work with people in your industry and you know what you're doing, like they're just like tell me where to sign up without you even. Cause they already know that you know what you're doing 

KW: 25:58 instantly trust you. Yeah. They instantly trust you. And just the access to actually getting there becomes so much easier because it's focused, you know, getting back to this co, you know, this whole concept of focus is that you go, that's like what associations should you join? Well, you know, it should be something to do with construction. And then now it's like those people, when you go there, they're not, they're not anything but people that are in construction, which is just, everything that you do around that area enables you to, to actually get to the end goal, get better at it, get learn more about the industry, become an expert in the industry. Those are all possibilities. If he didn't have that narrow focus, they wouldn't be possible.

MP: 26:45 So I just love that you've done and done it so well and they're willing to share it with other people. I mean, it's again, it's simple. You know, it's maybe not easy, but it's simple. The steps are simple. Figuring out what works for the listener, but that's the direction to go. And the numbers definitely work in so many cases. Uh, so I, I mean I, there's so many things that have come out of this conversation for people to think about and take on. This is definitely one of them. And you're showing people how, how it's possible. 

KW: 27:11 Yeah. And I just can say this too. If it was easy, everyone would do it. And I tell myself that all the time. So again, you have to be willing to jump into something if you know what you want your outcome to be, just do it. I mean it's as simple as that and it's scary and it's not easy. And some days I wish I could just punch in and punch out, but at the end of the day, I'd be miserable if I did that. So I just need to power through it, you know? And then the next day let's go 

MP: 27:37 Beautiful. Love it. Well, Karine, this has been a lot of fun. Where can people find out more about you? 

KW: 27:45 Oh, good question. Well our website is 24HRbookkeeper.com and you can find me on Twitter, Linkedin, and you know, shoot me a message. I'll do my best to help I, you know, I'm not that fast at responding on the fly that I have and I'm working on that. But you know, anytime you can find me at a conference, if anything, QuickBooks related, you can find me. I'm sometimes I do some training for into it so I'm kind of all over the place so you could probably just Google my name and find me.

MP: 28:14 So beautiful. And what a, what intuit conferences are you attending this year? 

KW: 28:18 Um, QuickBooks connect. I always, I've attended since I started four years ago in California and then I always go to scaling new heights with a wider network. 

MP: 28:27 Beautiful. Well, there you go. You can connect with Karine and have a fun conversation and maybe even get lifted up by Shaq or some other iconic figure at one of these events and a Korean. I just want to thank you so much for graciously giving your time to be on the podcast.

KW: 28:43 Thank you for having me. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 28:59 goodbye.