EP86: Cindy Stradling - The Key Ingredients To Lasting Resilience

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Our guest, Cindy Stradling, who is a resilience coach, has faced many difficult life challenges as a single mother with very little education and has developed the mental fortitude to keep going no matter what.

In getting from there to here, Cindy has shined shoes, waited tables, cleaned houses and was a parking lot attendant while building her business. 

Undeniably, she knows firsthand what resilience is.

She has developed it through her journey and has developed a program, Thrive, to inspire others to be their personal best and keep moving toward their goals.

If you set your mindset right and have discipline, you can be successful at whatever you want to do in life.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • The importance of knowing your goals and objectives

  • How the value of consistent approach will help you

  • What are the keys to overcoming the fear of cold calls and sales

To learn more about Cindy Stradling, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Facebook, check this out.

For her Twitter, discover here.

For her Youtube channel, watch here.

To get in touch with Cindy, Email her at cindy@cindystradling.com.


Michael Palmer: 01:49 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fabulous one. If you've ever had to make a sales call or a cold sales call or have had an uncomfortable sales conversation in person, today's guest will help you with that. She's a resilience coach and accomplished speaker and the author of the book becoming a self-defined woman. She works with entrepreneurs, individuals and corporations such as three Canada Scotia, McCloud and CIBC to do what's needed personally to get where you need to go. Cindy Stradling, welcome to the podcast.

Cindy Stradling: 02:28 Well, thank you so much, Michael. I'm super excited to be here.

MP: 02:31 Yes. And now, Cindy, first off, you have an incredible story of your own personal resilience. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey that has led you to being a resilience coach and really an expert in having sales conversations.

CS: 02:48 Well, Michael has started a long time ago. I was joking say that I, I'll only admit to 25 years in sales, but I've been doing sales, but actually I believe people do sales all their life. They just don't realize. They're always telling their ideas and things like that. But on a formal basis, I've been in sales for well over 25 years and 13 years ago I, I was actually doing a, what I call the cold call clinic. I hesitate to say that now because it scares people. But when I was speaking with the lady who had hired me, she told me that the sales people were not happy. The people that, because they had done a program in the morning and they weren't happy with what they got delivered to them, and it was the program on a communications. And so I went in and I addressed the elephant in the room and then I understood that they had a crappy morning and I said I was going to proceed.

CS: 03:39 And uh, but if they, you know, after half-hour I'd check-in and see how they're doing. And they were fine. At the end of the day, we went through the whole cold called clinic and everybody was happy. And when they spoke with the lady at the end, she was walking me back to the reception area. And I knew that I had multiple people that I could've connected or to, and I said to her, I said, um, what would it be like to have one person that you could be connected that could connect you to all the trainers and facilitators and coaches that you would need? And in that moment, I decided that I was going to start my own business because I was so well connected. I was doing a lot of this stuff organically anyway. And so I just started, I had my son build my first website.

CS: 04:23 I just started getting out there calling and I mean I still do cold calls today. I'm warmed them up as much as possible, but I still do them. And like every other entrepreneur I was up and down and you had really good days and then you had other days and I realized that it was going to take something to keep going. And so after about three years of being in business, I was really struggling financially and I knew that I was at a point where I either had to quit altogether or I would do something that would afford me some, some income while I was building the business. And so I became a shoe shine girl for a year and I work part time. And what was great about that was I could still run my business from the shoe shine tables, the chairs, sorry. And a, in fact the lady who run the business encourage that.

CS: 05:14 So cell phone in hand and all my information and people I would call and people call me back and I would shoe shine. And then on the weekends I also was a parking lot. I attended and I, that's what it took and was like, and I realize that that's the difference between someone who really, really, really wants their business to work or someone who's just in it for as thinking it's going to be easy because I meet a lot of people who don't really know how much it takes cause it takes you right down to your eyes and it takes you right down to your soul. It really comes down to you've got to love what you're doing. Um, because why else would you go through all of that? So that's what I teach people I work with is because too often people give up too soon.

CS: 05:58 They don't even know how close they are to success and they give up or they get discouraged or whatever. And my experiences working with entrepreneurs, especially women in sales, there seems to be a lot of negative mindset around that. And we teach them how to be authentic in their sales and how they can move forward, move their business forward. I've had a people say to me that they've done more in the first six, eight weeks working with me than they had done in the last year. Things like that. So most of it is, a lot of it is mindset I should say. And I'm think you know that from, from your own experience and our experience of working together. Um, if you can get the mindset right and you put the disciplines on the habits, you know, you can be successful in whatever it is that you want to do.

MP: 06:43 Absolutely. I just love hearing your story. You know, it just, for me, it's, it's that grittiness of what it takes to get something beautiful and wonderful for yourself in your life. Like it, it's, it's almost, you know, there's the old saying, the sweet is not as sweet without the better. And I think growing a business as similar to that in that it, if, if you just came easy, you wouldn't value it anyways. Right. Uh, and, and what, what, what I think happens, and I can see in your story, is that you, along the way you discover wonderful things that you wouldn't have, have discovered about yourself and about your clients and about your life really, that you've brought now to your business, which makes it even better.

CS: 07:31 Yeah, no, and it's true. And people, it's funny because when I talked to people after this length of time, I've got a lot of longstanding customers and they always said they knew they could depend on me. They, they trusted me. In fact, when a client of mine just emailed me, she's doing a conference and needed last year she needed five speakers. This year she needed three and she was speaking to a colleague of mine and they said, why do you Cindy? She said, because I just trust her and she just takes forever. I send her because she knows I do my due diligence. And I think that nobody can underestimate the value of being consistent. Even with your followup, you know, you're creating, you're always creating your reputation. And I think if I learned nothing else that even though you know I will spend, I dunno, maybe a year, year and a half trying to connect with someone between linkedin or sending information or, or whatever it is.

CS: 08:25 And it may take eight or 10 touches. But when we do connect it's almost like they are, we already know each other. It's crazy. It's, it's, you know, it's, if it works it really, really works and all those times and you say you're going to follow up in three months and then you follow up in three months and then you follow up again in six months or four months or whatever you say you're going to do and then you do it. You are building that reputation and whether you realize it or not, you're actually building rapport and trust even if you're not having interactions or doing with companies.

MP: 08:56 Beautiful. Isn't that the, the secret really right there in though and what you've said is, is consistent approach to anything you do is, is train and teach the people that you are, you're someone to be trusted.

CS: 09:11 Yup. Cause that's what people buy from is people that they know and trust and really understanding your value. I know for you with bookkeepers, I mean each one of them, they do certain things that are the same as everybody else, but everybody brings their own unique personality, their own unique way of doing things. And that's what people have to leverage. Whenever you're in, I won't say commodity, but where when you're in a market where there's a lot of competition or a lot of likeminded people and does it matter who I've worked with, they always can find something that's really unique about who they are, how they work, these little added extra value things that can differentiate them from the, from the the guy next door, but the person that's really willing to invest in themselves and actually explore that is, is fantastic. The Sky's the limit in my opinion. It's because there's nowhere to get on. I'm going to be learning till the day I die. I'm going to continue to take courses, I'm going to continue to read, I'm going to continue to grow. And I think any entrepreneur that doesn't do,

CS: 10:12 I think they, they really do themselves.

CS: 10:14 The disturbance

MP: 10:23 Agreed. And this listener, our listener right now is likely somebody who can relate very much with you Cindy, because they are either thinking about starting their business, they've just started their business, they've gone through struggle. We have a listener that's sort of hit every single one of your journeys. And I, I would almost, you know, almost guarantee that at some point our listener has had to do something that wasn't necessarily something they wanted to do, but they did it because they knew they needed to in order to keep their dream alive of having a business that works for themselves. And just, just yesterday I was reading a post on in our group, The Successful Bookkeeper group on Facebook. Wonderful Group, wonderful people sharing themselves, sharing what's going on for them. But One lady said, look, I just need to hear some stories of resilience to help me with, it's this tough week that I'm having.

MP: 11:18 And, you know, there was like 50 posts of people telling their story about what, where they were and what they needed to do. And a lot of it is just keep on going. You know, it's like, look, you're having a bad week. You, you know, do what you can but you know, take a deep breath and just keep on keeping on. But you know, for her, for this woman that asked this question, it was, you know, almost soothing of the soul to say, look, you're not alone. There's so many other people out there that doing it. So I think one of the little things that we'll probably point out here is surround yourself with people that are doing things like you and have been there and are going where you want to go.

CS: 11:58 100%. And that's the key is mastermind groups. Um, and I have accountability partners. I've had coaches. I totally have been so supported around me. And you're one of them, Michael. I mean we, we got our coaching together and um, you know, what do they say that the five people around you will determine your income, the five closest people that you associate with the most, something along those lines. I'm not sure of that.

CS: 12:23 You're the, you're the average of the, you're the average of the five people that you're like, that you spend the most time with. I think it is one of them. It's probably tied back to that's the generalization. But yeah, if you hang out with people that are hanging out on, on, on the couch watching Game of Thrones, well guess what? You're probably one of those people. So, uh, yeah. And it's not to say anything negative about that. I mean, people have choices and do what they do, but look, you want to, if you want something so bad, like what you, when you told me your story, my father has a similar story with when he was starting, his business actually hadn't have actually started as business, but it was in the early eighties he was laid off work. I mean, there was an incredible recession and the interest rates went through the roof and

CS: 13:14 that what it was like 18,20%

MP: 13:16 Yeah, it went from like a very low number. I don't know what the number was, but maybe seven or 9% up to like 18% and it was literally going to lose the house unless he did something. And he's like, he's not going to sit back and just lose the house. He went and he picked apples, picked apples, he did whatever he could do. He worked everywhere and anytime I like dawn until dusk doing whatever he had to do to keep the bills paid. And it's like he was resilient. Uh, and, and in business he was, he did whatever he could. Now why I love working with bookkeepers is one of the reasons I believe he wasn't over successful in his businesses, that he didn't have a great bookkeeper, he didn't have somebody looking out for him in terms of to give, to give him to be his conciliary, if you will, to say, look, Dave, you need to do better here with your numbers and manage these things.

MP: 14:04 And take care of that. So it wasn't an issue that was a big, I remember growing up and seeing that. Uh, and so it's why I love helping our audience, our community is because your helping people like my dad, these are people that will do whatever it takes that want to win, but something that they might be missing something. And Cindy, you're one of those people for me, your story of, of going to shine shoes absolutely love it. Every time I hear it, it makes me want to just, you know, work harder and you know, find a way to help others, uh, you know, do the things that I do really well and, and go and do it right. It's that, that, that drive and that, that grit, if you will, but I don't want to step over to, is that your boss, the woman who own the small business? I want to honor her because she was a person who was like, look, I know this is just a stepping stone in your pathway to wherever you're going. And she encouraged you to grow your own small business. And, and that woman, tell me a little bit about her and her philosophy because I think that is, is so, so powerful of a message around small business.

CS: 15:07 Oh, she's amazing. I, she's, she has, uh, three locations. She, it just happened to her. She was at a, some conference or something in the states many, many years ago. And like her, she wishes she was a financial advisor for crying out loud and she met someone and they talked about shoe shining or whatever and it just really appealed to her. But hers is very, very classy. She's Royal York, uh, the, um, first Canadian place and TV center. And so she has a lot of people. She had another lady who also had, um, a massage business. So it was a part-time things and when she was getting it off the ground, and that's what she loved to do, was to help women. She still does it. She works a lot with actors and actresses because they have lots of free time and things like that. And she encourages everybody to run their own business.

CS: 15:54 And not, she's still doing it today. And her name is, it's penny loafers is the name of the business is Penny Simmons. And she's just been fantastic. She's, we're still friends. We go out a couple of times a year. In fact, I wrote a speech on a lessons learned from a shoeshine girl. And there's some real lessons to learn. Believe me, when you're sitting at the bottom of a sh, very thrilled. $3,000 pair of shoes and the guy with, you know, all these fancy suits or Monnies and all this kind of thing. And the last thing in the world I wanted to do was to, it was a moment, you know, even those moments, Michael, where, and it was that moment where up until that point it wasn't, it was sort of going to be fun. It was going to be all these things. So the actual day that I first stood there and I had this chai, my first pair of shoes, and part of me just wanted to run away.

CS: 16:42 It was like, I don't want to shine anybody's freaking shoes, excuse my French. And, and, and then I thought, okay, Cindy, you've got two choices here. You can run away and say you're not going to do this or you can be the best GD shoeshine girl that used to be. And that's what I decided in that moment. And I, Shawn and I talked and in fact a lot of the guys are, you know, big, successful businessman and they were on my side. They give me great tips cause I told them I was there to support my business. I was not ashamed. I had one lady once, I was doing a talk and, and I shared this story and she said to me, well, do you think you should tell people you were a shoe shine girl as well? It's not like I was a hooker, you know, it was an honest in honest, it was a very empowering time for me.

CS: 17:28 And you know, I think anybody I've ever worked with, you know, when they get stopped and they get afraid because there's no growth in your comfort zone and it's when you go through, and I just had a girl the other day who was resisting, resisting, resisting, and I just said, you know what, just do it. And then she could call me back and she goes, oh my God, that was so easy. So what stopped her was her mind was all the things that she thought would go wrong and she didn't, she picked up the call, she made the call and it was successful and she was like, for the next time she has those feelings, she's going to remember. Oh, I remember. So she's creating that experience for her, which I believe now is the foundation of resilience.

MP: 18:14 Beautiful. I just love how your story weaves through with your own resilience penny, who is a mentor and really in my mind, a small business hero. She's a, she's a person who's making the world a better place through small business. I just absolutely love that. And now here you are, she's coached. And mentored you and provided a stepping stone for you. And now you're helping women that are getting started in business and growing their business that, you know, need to get over whatever they need to get over to face their fears and do what they're doing and you're helping make the world a better place by helping small business. So it's, for me, it's just, I love the story. I love hearing it. Um, so let's, let's talk a little bit about that. What are the ingredients to getting over our fears when it comes to conducting a cold, like a stock, call it a cold call, let's call it a, a sales call, a followup call, a sales conversation, whatever we want to call that. But what are the ingredients to, of overcoming that fear?

CS: 19:16 Well, I think the most important thing, Michael, when I work with people is I have them practice. I think a lot of people just pick up the phone cold. They haven't actually practiced, they haven't set the objective for the call. They don't know what the outcome they want to be. The things I recommend are simple things like wearing your headset, walking around. In fact, I do most of my, most of my coaching calls standing, I just find to have a different energy when I do that. The practice, like practice first, I always have people randomly call me and then I'll give them a bit of a hard time so they can practice how they're going to, you know, continue the conversation and then call themselves, get on their cell phone and call, call them from their landline call. He listened to what there's, oh that sounds good.

CS: 19:58 Oh No, maybe I'll just want to change that. Record your voice and then I'll listen to it. But I think that's the most important thing is a lot of people just pick up the phone and the fear takes them over. Where is the, as soon as they practice, cause you and I both know your unconscious mind doesn't know the juror theme real or imagined. So if you're imagining you're doing it, if you're practicing that, you're doing it, you're actually creating that muscle so that it will be familiar. And after a while it becomes habit. I don't even think about it anymore, but in the beginning I used to have a little sheets where it was like, if they said this, I would say that if they said this, I would say that, and I said, practice it over and over again. So become automatic and through time, did I get it right?

CS: 20:41 No. Lots of times I screwed up and I would get off the phone and then we think, okay, next time I'm going do this, or next time I'm going to do that. But it's never about getting it perfect. There's no, in my opinion, there's no one line. It's knowing who you're calling, why you're calling them, and then practice. Spend a few minutes and say, okay, Mr John, and just practice before you do take two, two minutes, three minutes. And I don't think enough people do that. I think they, their fear would overcome. We'll just take them over and have them not say anything. And so to me, the most important thing is know your objective of why you're calling. Always ask permission. Always. Always, always ask permission to continue. And even in the sales call, people will give me kicked back and they'll say, no. If you ask, they're going to say no, and he said, that's not true.

CS: 21:27 A lot of the times, in fact, I read a book and it actually works and this is a great tip for anybody. At first I was so counter-intuitive, I resisted it, but I've been doing it. So normally what we say is, is this a good time to call? And people will say no, but it honestly, in this book it's called question-based selling. As I said, I'm always reading and it was once something my sister read and it was counterintuitive to say, is this a bad time for me to call? This is a bad time for you in our, in all of our training. That would be no, no, don't say that. I have to tell you as since I started using that, not one person has said no. Every person has said, you can almost hear their brain go, oh no, it's okay because they, what they called it emotional rescue. I've started using it and it's amazing. It's totally amazing. Not One person has said no. Whereas when I said it's going to catch you at a good time, they're all saying no,

CS: 22:21 I've never been. It's never a good time. That's actually, that's actually something I picked up from a book called predictable revenue. Forget the fellow's name, but he was the, he was the fellow that helped grow a salesforce.com from a little tiny basement apartment to a $1 billion company in 10 years and that was a key, one of the key moves was that specific question when opening a call is, is this a bad time? And in the book he talks about, you know, if you say, is this a good time, there is never a good time. And I think it's, it's such a pleasant thing to teach. It's like, yeah, it's like, you know what it, I think it has a lot of caring and it is like, is this a bad time? Like Yup. Because

CS: 23:08 Yeah, you're giving them permission to say no, you're actually inviting them to say no. Whereas the other ones, the expectation is that people on a positive spin, and now you even use it in my, in my followup email, so someone who might've connected with on LinkedIn couple of months ago, I'll send them a note and say, is this a bad no, I'll say w setting up a time to call it. This is a bad time. Let me know. I can't even tell you the number of people that email that would never email me back or haven't emailed me back and over here, email me back and they go, I, you know, I'm traveling this week, but how about mid May?

CS: 23:40 Yeah. My, I honestly, this has become, I even say it with my friends. Am I catching you at a bad time? Yup. Because that's how I say it. Am I catching you at a bad time? I mean it, it, it is

CS: 23:51 automatic.

MP: 23:52 It's now automatic and I just love the question because they're like, no, this is good time. Or, or if it isn't, they're like, you know what, I'm going into a meeting. It's like cool, call me back. And so thanks for bringing that up and giving that beautiful gift to our listener. I think it, it adds this please everyone add this to your daily routine, your calling, use it. It will only provide more, uh, more fluid and fabulous experience throughout your day and make you a lot more money I think is probably the key. Uh, so that's fantastic, Cindy. We kind of got a little off on a side. I was like, I'm enjoying this conversation. So, um, so getting back to, uh, overcoming the fears. You, you mentioned something around in the early on is this whole desire, right? You really want it to be successful in your business and you did whatever you had. How do you choose, how do you alter the context for people around even just taking the action of making the call?

CS: 24:59 Just to do it. You know, people will say to me when we're coaching, they'll say, hey, I don't know how to do it. I said, well, the only way to do it is to do it because that's the only way you've learned anything. And then if you get, it goes back to your value. I think Michael, because if people get their value, and don't take this as a conceited thing, but I have an attitude that they're lucky day that I'm calling them because I know that what I do for them can save them so much time and time is money and time is also stress and all those things. So I think the biggest thing is to have a plan. First of all, start small. Say, okay, today I'm going to make two calls or take one call and just do one because you and then evaluate it.

CS: 25:44 But you have to practice, you have to understand your value. So you know when most people go through their whole process of studying up their business, they do their unique selling proposition. They do all those kinds of things, you know, keeping that top of mind because a lot of people when they're in the experience think they're bothering people and if they come from a place of I'm bothering them, then that's what they're going to be doing. Whereas if they really get their value, I had a lady once say to me at a talk, she put her hand up and I was talking about call every three weeks and blah, blah, blah, and she said, aren't you bothering people when you're calling them that often? I said, well, if you think you're bothering them, then you are. You shouldn't be calling. You should know what you're, what value you bring. Get really clear on what the deliverable, what the outcomes. That's what people are buying. They're not buying a widget or a program or whatever. They're buying outcome.

MP: 26:38 Yeah, no our, for our listener, no, nobody wants to buy bookkeeping. In fact, they'd love. Just imagine that it never even, it's not even a thing. It's not there. It's like the, the tax department doesn't exist. Right. So it is a shift because our listener is a technician. They, it's what they do. They're passionate about it. They love it. They spend their whole life working on it and thinking about it and, and what they do is so important to them. You listen to right now, bookkeeping is so important to you, but it is not the case for your customer, your client, your ideal customer, the business owner. It's not for them. It's what they do that's so important. So what you do for them is this value that Cindy, I think you're talking about is be really clear on how awesome you are and how you're going to make their life so much better. Uh, and that if you, you know, just like me, every day I'm thinking how I, I make the lives of bookkeepers so much better. It's what I get out of every morning. I wake up and I step into that and that leads to me doing what I need to do. And it's, I love it. I love it. So making a call, calling a bookkeeper, man, it's like I'm calling to make their lives better. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a call like that?

CS: 27:53 Absolutely. And I think that's the key. And then not, you know, and examine your beliefs around whenever I do a program, we always examine the beliefs around, I feel in salespeople and a lot of it is in a lot of negative stuff from the past because sales nowadays is nothing to do with coercion or, or just for somebody into taking something that they don't want. It's a collaborative experience. It's a, it's a partnership. And if you look at it that way versus, cause those days are gone. People can go on the Internet and they do, I dunno somebody, I don't know, 85% or 90% I don't know the exact number, but you know, they do the research before you talk to them. So really what you're looking for when you're calling someone is how you can collaborate and partner with someone. So I think when I think of my accountant to, I think about peace of mind. I think about, I don't have to worry about this. I can focus on the things that I need to do in my business. Because when I was doing it myself, it didn't work so well. And you know, sometimes that's what you have to do in a business is you have to be able to offload the things or outsource the things that you don't do very well and bookkeeping or accounting, all of those kinds of things I believe are one of them. So all of your bookkeepers, I bringing huge value to other entrepreneurs.

MP: 29:25 So true. So true. Now you help people get through this and do these sorts of things. What you know, if someone wanted to learn more about what you've been speaking about Cindy and more about yourself, what would be best way? What's the first step to somebody waking up in a day and going, oh, I can't wait to make calls and call and help all these business owners out there. What you know, if they're not there that right now, what's the first step to helping them get there?

CS: 29:54 Well, first identify who you're putting your best customers are like, who's your Iowa, what we call your ideal customers, where would you be most likely to find them? LinkedIn and social media. Now I build it. I'm a firm believer in LinkedIn. You know, once you can start to identify if, what size of company, I'm sure they have them all over North America, the best companies to work for small, medium-sized companies. Like there's all kinds of lists and different places that you could go and you just need to start out with a few. What I think that's what the big thing is, is a lot of people, they think they got to do hundreds of thousands in CRM, then all the, you don't have to do that in the beginning. I think baby steps and you grow that muscle and you get more confidence. And another one is look at your existing clients is you know, who do you know who you working with now?

CS: 30:44 Are they able to give you a referral? A lot of people are a little hesitant to give referrals or even ask for referrals. I think it's a natural form of getting new business, you know? Do you know, is there anybody else you know that might be of interest that might be interested in or that I should talk to? Or would you, you know, you could even, you know, leave information with your customers. But I think the most important thing is to have a plan. So if you got to say, okay, I'm going to call five people a day to start with, have your list for one week, spend the time, make your list. These are the companies that I'm going to call. This is the position I normally call into and start to do your research. You'll reach out to them on LinkedIn, start following them.

CS: 31:27 I'm putting, you know, liking their articles, things like that. Just simple things. But it's small because if you get too big, then you're going to get overwhelmed. So I think baby steps in the beginning and you don't believe it or not, once you start, you're going to be going, you'll all of a sudden you'll pick up momentum. It'll, you'll realize that, wow, people really need my services. People really want my services. It's crazy. And maybe they don't want them today. I have a saying that no only means no today. Right? And timing is everything. So again, if you talk to somebody and they say no, they're happy with who they're working with, that's great. That means they, that is a potential client. Then you find out a good time to follow up or, or you just create your own time to follow up. Could be a year from now, then you check back in with them.

CS: 32:10 Okay. I mean tell the number of customers I've gotten because I talked to them at one point and they were happy but I followed up six, eight months later and they weren't. So the timing was really good. So the most important thing is to set up a system, have a system where you're constantly going to be adding new people in every week. You got to add in more, keep your fun the fall. Because what will happen is you'll get a few new customers, you'll get busy and then you'd be focused on your customers. And then when their running status quo and everything's running smooth, you've got to start from scratch again. So that's what really stops people is that they give a lot of momentum. They start creating some, they get new business, then all of a sudden the business becomes smoother or they got everybody on their own system or whatever, and then they've got capacities, they still have capacity or you have a few people leave or whatever, and then they got to start all over again. But if you're consistently adding new people, whether it's two, three, five, 10, whatever it is for your business every week to the funnel, then the likelihood of you having to start from sort of ground zero again is now. Does that answer your question?

MP: 33:16 It does. It does. And you know, there's something that I, I think the, the, the mindset right now of many of our listeners will be, I, you know, uh, many of them have already too many customers, right? And so the, the objection will be, ah, well, you know, I've got too many customers right now. So if I start calling people, then you know, I'm going to be overwhelmed. And I always like to bring up that when you have demand for your product, the higher the demand and if the supply remains the same. If you're just want to always remain a solo bookkeeper and not have staff, I mean obviously if you want to scale your business and have staff, well then demand means we can add supply and with that the business will grow more revenue, more profit, all that good stuff. But if you want to keep just for yourself, demand increases, supply stays the same. There is upward price pressure, so you're pro, you can charge more for what you do, the value you deliver, you can shoot, you can charge more for the value to that as well. You get to choose or be more choosy with who you work with and so

MP: 34:20 Yeah,

MP: 34:21 don't think about it as being a bad thing when new people are coming in, it's like, Hey, you know what? I kinda like you better than the one I've got over here. It's like, yeah, if your customers have, you're working with people that are not making you happy, not delivering into what you're doing are not part of your program, then this is the way to almost sure firely ensure that your business is growing but growing with great customers, customers that value you, that do what you tell them to do and so systems. I truly believe and I'm sure the listeners going, yeah, Michael, I know system driven business. That's the way whether you want to be a big business or just remain a solo practitioner. Systems driven is the Shangrila lights where it will what will get you to where you have a business that's both profitable fun and enables you to do the things that you love in your life.

MP: 35:11 So totally love that you, you brought that up Cindy and provided a pathway to actually creating and maybe making it happen. Don't do this one-off. Make this apart of your daily ongoing. Why? Maybe it's one call a day. You know, that's, if that's one call a day, I, I would, I would believe Cindy, I think there's many listeners right now that are making any calls. So one call a day was like, that's five calls a week. That's, that's, that's is that 20 a month that would now happen. I mean this is incredible growth just from one call a day.

CS: 35:46 Yup. And that's what I said and everybody can do one call a day.

MP: 35:50 You Bet. You Bet. Cindy, this has been so great and I know you have limited time because you're busy helping the people that you help. And I want to thank you so much for your generosity and giving your time for our listener today. You know, where can people find out more about you? And if so maybe even work with you. What's the best way for them to do that?

CS: 36:16 They could just visit my website. That's probably the best way is Cindystradling.com it's super simple. It's a, it's got all my contact information there and talks about my programs, my coaching, everything.

MP: 36:28 Beautiful. Well listen, we will put the link in, and again, thank you so much for being on the show.

CS: 36:34 Oh my God, pleasure, and thank you for having me, Michael. CS: 36:36 That's been my all, all my pleasure.

MP: 36:40 That's great.

MP: 36:41 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what a fantastic episode it was to learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 36:56 goodbye.

EP85: Tobyn Pearson - How To Become An Incredible Manager & Leader

REVISED - TSBK - Episode 85 - Tobyn Pearson.png
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After spending 31 years in the corporate world as an operations and country manager, our guest, Tobyn Pearson, the author of Manage This: An interactive Guide to Management and Other Absurdities, had success and many failures.

He learned that it's not always easy to see your grumpiest employees or customers. 

Treat them with respect no matter who they are and keep working on building relationships because in the end they will see that you genuinely care and your efforts will pay off.

It makes life a whole lot easier if you're able to deal with difficult people and situations along the way.

All of his successes are directly attributed to the great people he had the privilege of working with over the years.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • The importance of having courage in yourself and your abilities

  • Why having an incredible insights will help you along the way

  • How appreciating your employees and customers will benefit you

To learn more about Tobyn, visit here.

For his LinkedIn page, discover here.

For his Twitter, explore here.

To buy his book, Manage This!, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:14 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest spent 31 years scratching and climbing his way up the corporate ladder to the position of country manager and senior operations manager for a global multinational. Along the way, he learned some valuable lessons about managing people and would incorporate some of that insight into his Kirky book, manage this and interactive guide to management and other absurdities. Tobyn Pearson, welcome to the podcast.

Tobyn Pearson: 01:50 Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.

MP: 01:52 It's great. Now Tobyn, first off, before we get too far down this conversation, tell us a little bit about this multinational career that has led you to this point in your life.

TP: 02:05 Well, I started out at the bottom. I'm very proud to say I started cleaning toilets, Sousa and then I ended up as a country manager, senior operations manager. Uh, my travels took me to India, Mexico, lived in Trinidad and Tobago for three years. Uh, of course, the US and Canada and a few points here and there and in between. So I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of people and learn a lot of things from these people. And that kind of led me to this book.

MP: 02:34 Now this is really our, our connection begins at this book. I, I received a package from a very good friend, uh, Patricia and it was this box. I opened it up and there was a juggling kit and your book and a note saying, this person has a very good message and you need to have him on the podcast. So what, what inspired this book with the Juggling and, and this, uh, this really quirky angle around management?

TP: 03:05 Yeah, well, it started out as a, uh, a memoir cause I was on the road so much, so I had to fill my nights with something to do. So I started taking notes and writing and I thought, you know what? I could write a nice memoir management book and how to be the world's best manager. But then I read a few articles about, uh, management books and how they were generally a ego trips for the author. And I started rereading mine. And, uh, Lo and behold, they were right. The book was all about me and how great I was. And there's like, you know, that's not what this was supposed to be, be about management books for me anyways, they're supposed to be about the reader and to take the reader on some kind of journey or, and it's not supposed to be about the person writing the book.

TP: 03:50 So I tore down the drawing board and started again, and I ended up with this a bit of a mess that I'm very proud of. It's a, it's truly is interactive. That's why the name's in the title is it's requires the reader to take part in this book. And it's meant to be fun. It's meant to be a, it's meant to make you think about what type of manager you want to be. I mean, that's truly what the, at the end of the day is it, I'm asking you when you go through this book is to ask yourself those questions. What type of manager do I really want to be? How do I want my employees to see me? How do I want my suppliers to see me? How do I want my customers to see me? And that's what it's, and that's what it's all about really. I tried to make it as little about me as possible.

MP: 04:36 I just absolutely love that. I mean, first off I think it's very refreshing point of view to stop and go, okay, what is this book all about? And, and it takes, I think a person that understands yourself obviously too, to be able to take a deep look and say, this is more about my ego than it is about serving other people. But I also love the overlay of really that concept when it comes to leading people is that really the greatest leaders that I've ever experienced have been, not to say that they don't have an ego-driven, but they have always made it more about me and where I was going and how I was a part of their leadership. And that's what always inspired me and created loyalty. And you know, the desire to, to want to work with those people. And I just love that your book has sort of brought, you know, from an absurd kind of way has, has landed there and uh, and an overarching message which, which is refreshing.

TP: 05:35 Well that that was the original, and I mean, I wasn't the original temp, but when I sat down with an editor and tried to figure out what my message was going to be, I wanted that message to be, well, I don't want to tell anybody a message I wanted the message to be, I want the person reading this to decide for themselves based on some of the stories. Because the stories in this book are not always a, I wasn't always correct. And when I did, and I tried to make that abundantly clear that, uh, the decisions I made may not work for you. Sometimes they work for me, sometimes they didn't it. But for you as the reader to judge for yourself, I, all I do is give you a conduit in which to think about that. And that's what all the tasks are for.

TP: 06:15 That's what the juggling balls are for, which is a hobby of mine juggling. So I just, I'm basically asking the reader to do a lot of these funky little things in this book, but not to become a better manager, but just to give them a way to think about how the a look at people, how they work with people, how they have, how they deal with people on a daily basis and, and there may be a better way or not. I don't, I don't pretend to have the answers. And, uh, that's the problem I have with some boxers. They tend to come with some kind of formula that you can do these seven steps and you'll be a better manager. Do these not, it's not the way the world works for me anyways, for sure.

MP: 06:54 And for, for many people, I'm sure it's why. Um, I think it's intriguing. Uh, in fact, just this last weekend I picked up, found this old book, it was called Dale Carnegie's, a scrapbook, I think it was called a really old book written by his wife and basically took Dale Carnegie's favorite quotes and some different things that, and he had never reached his book, but I just opened it up curious, cause I was a fan of Dale Carnegie's how to win friends and influence people. But the one page that I opened this past week, I was, there could be the biggest problems happening in the world. I mean terrible problems happening in the world. But the person that you're sitting in front of cares more about the Boyle on their face or the, you know, the toothache in their mouth and they do about the rest of the world.

MP: 07:40 The most important person on the planet to most people is themselves. And so if you're leading from that perspective and letting that part of our human condition be the lead, it's not going to go very well. I mean people and that's unfortunately what's rampant in our world. And the type of leadership that does climb to the top often is coming from that ego-driven state. Now our listener are small business owners. These are people that both work with a lot of leaders and they have to have some leadership themselves and I think they're going to find your work really refreshing because there's a little bit of just in this quick conversation with you so far it's, it's kind of like relax, you know, the more you're just a human being, the better leader you're going to be.

TP: 08:27 Yeah, absolutely. I'm not a big proponent of change leadership, like trying to mold somebody into somebody. They're not. I've seen many courses and I've been on many courses with the other managers and they try to teach empathy and they try to teach you how to do this or how to do that. We are who we are. I don't think we would necessarily need to change who we are. We may need to change and how we react with other people, but not, we don't necessarily have to change. We are. And I think that's important to be yourself. Can you still be a good leader, Ben, have a different kind of personality than somebody else and still be a good leader and you don't have to mold yourself to any one specific thing. But at the end of the bottom line is you do have to care about the people that you serve. And that's probably the most important message that there is in all of this is truly caring about the people you serve. And if he knew that regardless of your personality, I think that will show through and make a big difference up and down the line.

MP: 09:28 Yes. And I can tell you that our listener right now listening is one of those people that actually do really care about who they serve. And I mean it's a type of work that they, they're often going into as you know, going into messy situations, difficult situations, situations embroiled around money and the, you know, the lack of, or people wanting that money and not being there. It all sorts of real big problems. So it's a service-oriented business. And so what have you found in terms of the people who have read your book? What have been some of the, the, the experiences that you've seen those people go through having read it?

TP: 10:07 I've been getting a lot mixed reactions and all, all good because the intent was in the introduction. I do say that I hope you enjoy some of these tasks, tasks that I've made you do. But I also hope some of them piss you off. And that was kind and that was kind of the intent of these, uh, a task is I've put things in there too that were supposed to be fun and put some in that we're supposed to be the, to make you mad, intimate and to make things difficult for you just to get a reaction out of you need to see how you handle that reaction. And a lot of the people that I've, uh, I'm following through, uh, emails, they're sending me emails back and forth as they go through the tasks or letting me know, oh, I really hated that when you, you son of a gun.

TP: 10:49 I really didn't enjoy that one at all. And some people will the exact same task. They'll say, oh I really enjoy doing that one. So you get two different opinions on the same task, which does Choate shows you, it's all in how you view the task, which is a big point of what I try to make as you may have a difficult situation, but if you take that situation with a smile instead of dumping on everybody cause the world's falling, it makes a big difference in the end. It makes a big difference in what type of leader you are. And that's why I put some of the difficult tasks in there was to help you along and smiling during while you're trying to do difficult things. And even I caught myself because of course I went and redid all these tasks when he's writing this book and I caught myself being grumpy and mean to myself mean to people around me while I was doing these tasks, forgetting the lesson I was supposed to be teaching everybody else

MP: 11:46 So interesting. You're, you're going through your own process and immerse, immersing yourself in it. Well, how do you, you know, your experience as a manager, as a leader, you've likely seen lots of young leaders come up to, to be leaders as well. Uh, almost this, you know, all of a sudden you're in a leadership position and, um, I know that there's many listeners right now that are sitting there going, well, I'm not a leader. Uh, and, and hopefully out of this conversation we'll realize that, yeah, actually you are a leader in your business and for your, for your clients, whether you're showing up as a leader, that's, that's another question. But what mistakes do you see many make?

TP: 12:25 The biggest mistake is not having enough courage in themselves and their own abilities. I mean, we all do, you kinda hit it when you're talking about the new leaders, but I think everybody's a leader. Like no matter where you are in your organization, whether you're the janitor or the CEO, and you are a leader in in some way, shape or form, you're serving somebody no matter where you are in any organization you're serving as a, as a manager, you're serving your employees, you're serving your customers, you're serving your peers, you're serving your boss, you're always serving somebody. And it's important to remember that, that you're never, and I always tell the young guys, you're new, you're no more important than anybody else in this organization. You're just part of the organization. And once you're employees and customers and everybody around you see that, you honestly feel that way, that everybody is an equal peer. It makes dealing with difficult situations a lot easier to you're, you're, you're standing at the same level as everybody. You're not talking down to people. You're not, you're not barking orders to people. Everybody's working together as one unit to solve the issues. But he can't do that when you're leading as a sort of a dictator type a leader. But yeah, for the young, for the young up and coming managers is listened to your people and treat them as equals but then there's no other way around it.

MP: 13:45 I think I, I like that stream of thought. And I think if we think of our listener and where they're at with being technicians, they're technical people, they understand things very, very deeply and their customer, the people they serve often don't understand to the level. So there's this gap of, of knowledge and, and, and likely the curse of knowledge and when you know a lot more than somebody else that could in a relationship, it could start to feel like you're telling me what to do or you're, you know, lack of patience or any of those things. What, what tips would you give to our listener for them to actually be able to be on that same level? I mean I think you've kind of addressed it a little bit, but from the, from what I've just told you, what are your thoughts?

TP: 14:30 Well, I, I touched on it a little bit in the book, in a couple of the sections about different cultures, different peoples is a get getting to know your people regardless of who they are in the organization. Even if they don't work for you, they could be a supplier, but getting to know them, giving them the time of day, like when somebody comes through and empties your garbage, that's a moment in time that you can take advantage just to say thank you or it's to say you appreciate it and people around you see that and when the people around you see how you treat everybody in the organization the same, the same way it boosts your morale and obviously boost productivity. I mean this book isn't about the how to boost productivity and morale. It's just trying to tell you how to treat people. And uh, it just, everything around you improves just naturally just by having positive interactions with everybody that you meet on a daily basis.

TP: 15:27 And that's what this is about is questioning. One of the tasks has, a final question is, is over the attractions I had today with people, is there anything that I could have improved upon? Whether it's with your ear, your child, your wife, your boss, a customer, you have to continually question yourself on that interaction that I had with the janitor today. Could I have done something different to let them know that, you know, I appreciated what they did and after a while of questioning that it becomes habit. You just, you just treat people with respect no matter who they are.

MP: 16:03 That's for me, it reminds me of my own experience. Rat rather late, I guess experience, just recent experience at rather is that, you know, we live in such a fast paced world, transactional world. You know, we're at the Er, I'm at the grocery store and I'm buying stuff and I'm in the middle of basically checking boxes off right in life. And yet there's all these human beings around me that I'm paying no attention to. And, and I think to, to stop and maybe slow down a bit is what I'm getting from this conversation is to slow down. Not, not, not just at work or in our businesses or, or in our family, but slow down everywhere and see what shows up. Like there's a lot of human beings there and just be more of a human being, right? It's like, oh, hi. You know, they, they often say hi and I'm like, Yep, Yep, whatever. And I was like, it's not that I'm meaning to be mean or that I don't care, but my ex, what I'm putting out to the world is that I don't care. Their experience of me is that I don't care. I'm just a, I'm just a robot passengers.

TP: 17:09 Oh yeah. Yeah. It became an obsession for me. It's in some of my locations. Like earlier in my career, I, I wasn't very empathetic to people. It was just like, there was, my goal was to meet the demands of the corporation. I mean, ultimately that's what you're told to do. So that's what I did. But I found a was a lot more enjoyable to, uh, later on in my career if you had actually relationships with the people that you were working with or as a, and actually made it a goal cause some of your customers or employees may not want to have that relationship. And that's absolutely understandable. But it became an obsession for me and I still is in some ways is when out of a customer or an employee who was a tough cookie, a tough nut to crack, that really it was just an ordinary and mean and really wanted nothing to do with me or the organization.

TP: 18:00 I focused on them. I mean, I literally, I worked on those relationships. I, I'd go out of my way to see my grumpiest employee every day. I go out of my way to see my grumpiest customer every day. And it's not always easy to do, but eventually the walls will break down and you just gotta keep working at it. I think it's important. I think it's important. And eventually they see, hey, this guy genuinely does care, change his whole relationship. And eventually, uh, not saying it's gonna improve bottom lines or anything, but it's certainly a, it's not going to hurt and it's, and it makes life a lot easier when you're, when you're able to deal with all the difficult people and difficult situations around you. You want to be here more human

TP: 18:39 basis

TP: 18:45 I think. So at the end, I think it's speaking to the a habit, right? A muscle to terrain and that just like my experience and I'm this robot going through my tasks by focusing on one thing which is, you know, slow down a little bit and interact with human beings in my life. It's training a new muscle in me to actually have this happen more often. And I think, I think what you said is that, does this return an uninvent, does this have a return on investment? And I think it absolutely does. I think that the short term is no, it doesn't likely have a return on investment. But the longterm and even not that long term is that it's probably an incredible return on investment, not just from money in the bank or growth of customers or all these things that we measure really easily, but from human capital, like our lives, our satisfaction, our ability to be productive, our ability to be creative, our ability to ward off disease or chronic illnesses.

MP: 19:46 You know, those all have an incredible hidden costs. And I know we're talking at very macro really, but we're not right? Every single listener right here is a person that may experience stress, fatigue, uh, you know, if they're, if they're in their business and they're being a robot, like I've been at times doing the, doing the checklist. If I can move away from that and be more of a human being, it's going to have a longterm effect on my ability to please my customers, longterm effect on my ability, please my family, please myself. You know, there's a lot of really big benefits that we could start to calculate out of your perspective here on life.

TP: 20:28 Yeah. And you're actually writing, the one thing that's missing out of that is it comes back to you as well. Once you're seen as a caring leader, I guess what people start caring about you as well. They may see you having a down day now and you'll be, you'll have people coming to you that maybe one or two other in the past saying, Hey, I noticed you a little bit off today. Anything I can do to help you, it comes back to you just as much as you're trying to give back. It's coming back to you as well. It just creates a much more of a team environment and yeah, it's amazing what we, what we can do when we start caring about each other. I mean, it sounds awful, uh, you know, touchy feely and everything, but at the end of the day, it's a, it, it is that simple.

MP: 21:09 I think it really is, and I think it's, it's just a, you know, that's why I'm loving this conversation is that it's such a powerful one. And I think a benefit for all of our listeners is just hitting, I think the nail right on the right on the head in that it's Mo for the most part, we all, when we're young, like I have a three-year-old son, he's extremely caring, right? And he's busy, he's busy doing his thing and he's, you know, if he interrupt him playing or doing his bulldozer or whatever, it's yeah. It's like, get out of my way. I got to do my thing here. But he's extremely caring and likely will be for a long time until he's put into the, hey, we've got to get stuff done. Like in life conversation, which I think happens, right? It's like, Hey, we're, oh, we've got to get this done.

MP: 21:53 We've got to make profits. Just like in your business and your career, it was like, oh, we gotta grow the business.

TP: 22:08 Yeah, yeah. Forget about the people. Just get it done. Uh, if we stop and go, wait a second, what is this all about? Be a better human being for ourselves. I mean, the return I think is there, I think he gives permission just to go back to the roots of, of what really matters is that you're human being. We are all human beings. If we act more like it and embrace the beauty of our human humanity, right? Life's gonna go better. We're going to be able to serve our customers better and we'll have a better experience.

TP: 22:30 So I was just actually did a, uh, some public speaking further a local rotary club here in Campbell River and I was talking about goals and it, it kind of combines, right? The beautiful end to this is a, like, you can have a goal in your job. You have to increase, you know, increased production by so much or get so many new clients by such and such a date and have a goal and then you achieve the goal. Well, here's how I looked at it. Like, uh, just using one goal as example. When I moved to Campbell River, I set a goal to myself to learn how to juggle five, five balls. I mean in the book I got a picture of me juggling five but it's a, it was just basically me throwing five balls in the air and it wasn't actually juggling them. So I made it a goal to juggle five.

TP: 23:14 So what I did, I actually formed a juggling club here and I met some fellow jugglers and they helped me along. And now that the year and a half on, I can juggle five but what's more important that I set a goal and I achieved it. But what much more important is now I have 15 to 20 new friends in my life that I didn't have before. I started that goal before I set that goal. So achieving the goal was nice, but what's much more important was the process of achieving with all these new friends that I found in the juggling club that helped me achieve goal. And it's just, and it's the same in business. It takes people to achieve your goals. You need to stop and smell the roses and enjoy your interactions with these people while you are trying to achieve your goals. This is just something recent that I've actually come across much.

TP: 24:01 None of that. None of this is in my book, but it's to something new. I've kind of realized it's the journey along the path to achieving any of your goals in business that is just as important as achieving the goal itself, and if you look at it from that perspective and enjoy the ride from setting the goal to achieving the job at achieving the goal and all the people you meet in between that help you achieve that goal, it's very liberating. It's an a, it's incredibly liberating because you look at the people different. You look at the people, Hey, these people are helping me achieve my goal. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes everything.

MP: 24:37 I love it. It sounds like you've got another book.

TP: 24:39 Yeah, I'm, I'm writing one, but not on business. That happened.

MP: 24:43 Well, you've got another two bucks then.

TP: 24:47 Yeah, I've got some couple in the pipeline.

MP: 24:52 You know, I, I love what you said and I'm glad you brought that up. It's the our listener, our listener, as you know, bookkeepers and these wonderful people are at work every single day. Helping small businesses survive, make more money, in fact thrive. And what I believe is that small business is the, is really the place where real positive change can happen in the world. I mean, we live in a chaotic world, right? You turn on the news, there's, I mean it's just a laundry list of awful things happening in the world. And, and it's why I don't actually read news anymore. I've, I've, I'm on my 14 month, uh, diet of news diet. I don't consume, I just get news from the people around me. Tell me what's going on in the world.

TP: 25:37 It's news that really matters that much I guess you could say. But the point is this is that for me, my goal is to make a positive difference in the world. You know, I have to make a living, I have to do the things that we do, run my business, all of that good stuff. But what's cool is that I get to help bookkeepers. You are helping bookkeepers right now strengthen, strengthen up so that they can help small businesses, double no small businesses, feed families. Those small businesses feed a kids. You know, the more that people are thriving in their businesses, you know, it's more micro philosophy than that that leads to a major impact on a micro, a macro, macro level, a global level. Really. So it, no, that's why I love this conversation is that really at the core of what we need to do is really we need to care about people and that's it, right?

MP: 26:30 If we can do that and, and I think it starts with caring about ourselves first, right? That's why I think your book is probably a fantastic journey into caring more about and being just aware and, and uh, being thoughtful where you're at and who you are and what, how you want to show up in the world, uh, that leads to this grander mission of helping small businesses. And so, um, you know, I, I'm glad that you brought that up. It, it really is exciting too to have that come out into our, our listener, our listenership.

TP: 27:03 Yeah. Well, I mean, I have a book, I have a my bookkeepers that look after me and like I can tell you that my life would be in not as Nice, as nice as it is without them. But in saying that, I mean, uh, I let them know that. I mean, when I have my meetings with them, I usually show them a new magic trick or I do some new juggling tricks for them. I, uh, I know what's going on in their life and they know what's going on in my life. Even though I'm paying them for a service. It doesn't mean that there isn't a relationship there and it's very important and it has to come back to from, and they also do the same for me. I actually look forward to my experiences. Uh, I'm not sure how many people say it might say that, but I look forward to my times with my personal bookkeeper as I do with a lot of my, you know, suppliers.

TP: 27:53 And you can look at when you have, when you have a meeting or you have something, you can't look at it as well. I gotta go, I gotta go meet with my bookkeeper, or I gotta go meet with my account and I gotta go meet with my lawyer. You need to somehow make it a positive thing. Oh, going to see Joel today. Can't wait to go see Joe and bookkeeper. See what he's up to today is, it's all about the framing, everything. And I mean that in a positive light and not making it a negative experience for no real reason.

MP: 28:28 That is our intent really with this podcast, is to remind every single listener that what they do is awesome and that yes, they're going out to people like you to help you. So what are they doing? If they can help you make your business stronger, help you grow your business, your message gets out to so many other businesses. It's a ripple effect, right? So it's what I, you know, I think it's, it's often we just don't, we forget that what we're doing actually matters. I mean, it's easy for us to look. I mean, right now, as I mentioned, my, my three-year-old son, right? He's fireman, fireman, police. It's like, oh, they're the heroes. And yes, they are. They are the heroes. They are the people that are keeping us safe and, and all of that is wonderful, but same time there are people in our lives that are doing some and it's maybe not that dramatic, right, but it's really makes a massive difference and people aren't paying attention to it.

TP: 29:26 Well, I used to always, uh, as a, as a senior manager, I mean I emotionally dealt with suppliers, so a lot me, my employees and my, and my suppliers. I didn't deal with a lot of people above me. I'd always have one or two customers here and there, but generally suppliers, employees that I deal with. But in my business everybody was focusing on the customer. But yet 99% people and I with on a day to day basis with was either employees or suppliers. So, but most, most of the managers that I know spend 90 90% of their time focusing on their 1% of their people and not attribute the other way around it. The customer is going to be a lot happier if my whole business is running well is a well oiled machine is going to reap the benefits of that much more than if I'm just focusing on him and not caring about everybody else.

MP: 30:18 So it's the same with a, like as a bookkeeper, you're your supplier, you're your supplier to many small businesses or large businesses I guess as well. You need to work on that relationship with, with them. As a leader, you need to be working with your bookkeeper, but the bookkeeper also needs to take the initiative to learn who their customers are. It's a two way street and, and you can do that by research. I used to do that with my customers. I used to research them. I mean not the company itself, but the people that ideal. I would ask other people, Hey, what does this guy like to do in his spare time? And so somewhere there's always a common thread between you and your customer or you and your supplier and you find that common thread and you work on it and you, that's how you build relationships.

TP: 31:04 Yeah, you're, you're, you know, it's, it's no different in any relationship is, is fit. Figuring out why you're in that relationship. Really. It's like you meet somebody like your jugglers that you, you hung out with bright. It was like a first it was to, to, to achieve your goal, but then you, you discovered something completely new which was you like these people and you like what they're up to and you like probably lots of things about these people and they enriched your life. You couldn't have got there unless you did the research and invested in that relationship. It's a is it is an investment so to go and research about your customer, this is for the listener to agree to reach research or customer will take time. You will have to slow down. You will, it will cost you something because you're investing that time in something other than producing the outcome of your business.

TP: 31:52 But that return is an enrich relationship. You will find your why you love working with them and maybe you'll find a why that you don't want them as a client and you want to find other clients that you want to serve. You know, we have a lot of listeners that work with nonprofits and and with churches and, and they love doing it because they really are connected to those, their customers bigger why? And so I just, I think it's such a, a a lovely message today is to slow down, to start with looking in the mirror and looking back at yourself and going, yeah, you're a human being and love yourself. But then start looking in the eyes of your customer and getting to know them and, and discover new things about them. Make this investment. I think only great things will come for your business, for your customer's businesses and for the communities that we all live in all over the world.

TP: 32:45 So you just wrote a book right there. I'm expecting you to publish that one soon.

TP: 32:50 We're going to have to hold each other, right?

TP: 32:53 You have an incredible insight and that's the way, I mean you're absolutely and everything you said we can be any other side of the fence right now.

MP: 33:02 Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, thank you to them. This is, this has been a terrific conversation and I have a feeling there's a, there's a podcast or out there, his name is um, Tim Ferris and he wrote the book, the four hour work week, which people loved the title and he sold lots of these books. But the point is his podcasts are two hours long and I feel like we could have a Tim Ferris podcast, but I think I'd upset my listenership cause they like, they like to have them around 30 minutes. But I feel like this conversation could go on for a lot longer and I'd love to have you back to share more insights in, in your journeys of discovering how you're making a bigger impact on the world, not just in corporations but now all over. All over the world and small and big businesses.

TP: 33:44 No, I appreciate them. It's been wonderful talking with you and to, absolutely. It'd be fun to get together another time and maybe we could go through a task together and a, there's, and a, yeah. Get your listeners involved.

MP: 33:58 Absolutely. Well, let's, let's not wait until then. Let's give them a place where they can go and find out more about what you're doing and, and get this book and start started going through the exercise of we're not going to just tell you to be more caring. Uh, let's give you the access, the tools to go do it.

TP: 34:16 Yeah. And I'm very, I'm very upfront with that in the book. I mean, I can't teach you anything about, uh, morals or, uh, anything like that. That's a, that's a personal decision on how we treat people. And I'm very open with that in this book. All I'm doing is telling you, I'm not telling you anything. I'm telling you stories about how I've had interactions with people, what I did and how it turned out good or bad and giving you a way of looking at your own interactions with people, similar, similar interactions with people and if possibly you handled the wall or not. Then how you could possibly improve in the future, but it's all about the reader. At the end of the day. You got to decided on what kind of leader you want to be.

MP: 35:04 I love it. One of my mentors told me early on he said, don't chase money, chase experiences and your book sounds like it creates the opportunity to have experiences and those are the most valuable thing in things in life, so where can they find out more about you and your book?

TP: 35:22 Well, I, the books available on Amazon in Canada and us and Europe and everywhere else for that matter and I'm also, I have a website, www.tobynpearson.com which is just a, just starting. That website is not fully completed yet right now. Just a magic website, but it's going to be my public speaking and a more managed this type things on it so he can follow that to see is as changes slowly calm.

MP: 35:49 Beautiful. Well, we're going to, we're going to have the links as well to those web link to your book as well, and I encourage every listener to buy this book and start taking yourself through these experiences. It sounds like, uh, uh, both it'll can provide a interesting new things for your business, but I think also for your life.

TP: 36:07 Yeah, and that's mainly what it is. It's just really just book just gives you a conduit in which to think about how we work together with other people is really what it boils down to.

MP: 36:16 Beautiful. Well Tobyn, thank you so much for, for giving us your time today to be on the show.

TP: 36:24 Oh, I appreciate your time and good luck to all your listeners on your journeys. I hope they're all fruitful and good luck.

MP: 36:28 Thank you. Take care. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what an incredible podcast episode it has been. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 36:52 goodbye

EP84: Andrew Royer - Improve Your Productivity & Work-Life Balance

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Running a bookkeeping business is not easy.

You will encounter many changes, so that’s why you have to create new habits to stay on top of your game.

Andrew Royer, owner of Royer Accounting, has dealt with stress and frustration while building his company. To help him overcome his struggles, he was looking for support and inspiration from like-minded people then he found it by joining a mastermind group.

By learning new ideas from different people, he was able to implement successful strategies to make himself more productive and efficient without sacrificing time with his family.

Even creating a shorter to-do list that focuses on the most important things to accomplish in his day became a big game-changer.

Now, he feels recharged and happy every time he gets home to his wife and kids. 

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • The importance of focusing on what's more important

  • Why changing your habits will make your bookkeeping business more successful

  • Why joining a community will give you support and inspiration

To learn more about Royer Accounting, visit here.

For his Facebook page, click here.

For his LinkedIn, explore here.


Michael Palmer: 01:27 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is the owner of Royer Accounting, which is based in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. He worked as a software developer for 13 years, writing accounting software before making the switch to accounting. He then worked at KPMG in the client services branch while obtaining his CPA commerce CGA designation. Andrew Royer, welcome to the podcast.

Andrew Royer: 01:55 Thank you, Michael. Thanks for having me on.

MP: 01:58 Yeah, it's great to have you. And you know, I know you've been up to some really interesting things in your business and starting your business and learning and you know, hitting walls and getting over them, hitting more walls. But before we get into all of that, Andrew, tell us why you were interested in becoming a bookkeeper in the first place.

AR: 02:19 Well, as you mentioned in the opening, actually a, I started off as a software developer, so it wasn't my initial passion. I ended up writing accounting software, but I remember in my diploma course that I was taking for computers, I, my first accounting course, I remember thinking if I wasn't going to be a software developer, I could see myself being an accountant. But what really got me decided to take the plunge into it was that when I was working at KPMG, I was working long hours at two small kids, one more on the way. And I realized that after childcare costs the third kid and after taxes, I would be taking home a $500 a month for all the work that I was putting in. And so that's when I saw a Facebook ad, somebody was asking for a bookkeeper. And so I offered to do it for 500 bucks a month. They accepted. And I just thought that meant so much more sense.

MP: 03:11 Beautiful. And how, how has it been since you made that decision and took on that first client?

AR: 03:18 Well, it's been a challenge. I mean, initially we'll have, the funny thing is we ended up putting, in order to grow the business, I ended up pulling the kids right back into daycare. So then money became an issue and the stress to grow the business. And the other thing is it's just, it's a huge transition to go from being an employee to being an owner and realizing just like the lack of systems, the things that you just took for granted that were in place. I mean you had, you had such as an employee in such a small slice of the process that you didn't get to see the big picture, which is what I love about being on her as I am. I'm involved from the client from beginning to end. But it's also, it's a struggle because it's not what you're used to is not where your expertise we're in.

MP: 04:01 Yeah, it's interesting. And, and you know, you're, I can hear that your passion really is working with those clients. Like you like to see the end to end happening. But at the same time, you know, you as a small business owner, there so much, so many other things to do that sometimes you know, you think you're going for that, uh, that passion, then all of a sudden boom, it reps you back in, okay, I have to actually take care of some other stuff over here. I can actually do what I wanted to do. And that's a challenge that every small business owner and co encounters, like when you left your job, that was a big decision. You have three children. And I know when we first met, I think you were, it was either having a third or the four, I think fourth before it was the fourth.

AR: 04:48 Yeah.

MP: 04:49 Before. So, you know, that is a lot on your plate and you've already sort of alluded to that, but how did you get to the stage where he sort of said, that's, that's it. I am actually going to take the full leap. And what were, what were some of the things you had to do to prepare yourself for that?

AR: 05:04 Well, I've, I've always wanted to run my own business. I think, uh, I, when I was 12, we did a, like a fair in her neighborhood where we sold popcorn and we created rides and it's just something I've always wanted to do, but they just didn't know exactly what that business idea was. So I went down the career path and I just hated it. I think every job that I had, I just felt like I didn't set, I wanted to, you know, change the processes. They wanted me to do my job. So it was just, it was always a struggle working for somebody else. And so when this opportunity came up and essentially I realized, um, by staying home and wanting a kid that I was gonna make the same amount of money. And then I just, I loved that. I always want to do it and then just ended up in this opportunity where I was able to do it. But then of course, there's just been hustle, tourism, you know, I got to grow the business to be able to feed my kids, you know, not lose the house, a waistline maternity leave, you know?

MP: 05:57 Yeah. A lot of stress.

MP: 06:00 And how, how are you dealing with, like what do you do to deal with that stress, the, the weight that's on your shoulders?

AR: 06:09 I'm mostly, I talk it out. I actually got a, uh, another bookkeeper that I work closely with. Uh, we do a lot of discussing, uh, talking about the stresses and you know, sharing ideas and how to fix them. Um, I've got like a mini mastermind group where we meet once a week and then also we up to a pure bookkeeping mastermind group where we meet once a month.

MP: 06:30 Yeah. Well that's, you know, there's, there's something that I always come back to and have discussed when I, as long as I've been working with small business owners is, is the one or the enemies is doing it alone. And uh, and there's probably so many that are listening right now that are doing it alone. And so when you've, you've been fortunate enough to, to actually identify that you can't do it alone and you're using people around you that are supporting you. And just even having that ability to talk things through and sort of say, hey, this is when I'm going through releases the pressure valve a little bit so that you can have a little bit more clarity and not be paralyzed by stress or fear or whatever else. Is it in your way?

AR: 07:21 Absolutely. It's huge.

MP: 07:23 Now have you always been like that? Have you always been someone that sort of says, hey, you know what, I don't quite have the solution to this. I'm going to ask for directions. Or is it something that you've had to learn or, or create new behaviors?

AR: 07:36 Um, the hard part for me is finding someone to listen. Uh, I've always had a hard time keeping the thoughts inside my head. Uh, I find that whenever I have a difficult problem, I always need to talk it out with somebody. So I'm thankful they have, you know, my wife listened to me and most of the time, uh, about this kind of stuff and I've had, you know, and be able to meet some like-minded bookkeepers that are, are willing to share information with me, which is huge.

MP: 07:59 Beautiful. Well that's a, that's good. I'm sure that's what's keeping you in the game is that one thing is probably one of your superpowers.

AR: 08:08 Okay.

MP: 08:16 Now you, you've got, you've had some challenges. I mean, you've grown your business. Uh, let's talk a little bit about, you know, some of the things that you had to do to overcome the challenges of starting a bookkeeping business. That very first client was off of Facebook. I'm looking for a bookkeeper, uh, here, you put your hand up, you got that client. What came after that?

AR: 08:40 Well, initially I made the mistake, I think that a lot of accountants do. Making the transition from account accountant a bookkeeper. Is that a link? I think in the accounting world there's, there's a lot of, uh, thinking that like bookkeeping and simple. And when I got into it, I realized it was a lot more challenging. There was a lot more to it than I originally thought. So that was a huge learning curve. So all my, you know, the, you know, CGA training did not prepare me for jumping into bookkeeping. So that was, that was a huge challenge. And another, another challenge that I had with just the, the time management a, it took me a while to realize the difference between being busy and being effective. And so I would spend, I would spend a lot of as wasp, but email was a killer. I wish I could have, uh, eight hours disappeared just by reading, email, responding to the email. And then, uh, actually I had a period where I went two months without bringing in any bills, billable revenue and I couldn't, I couldn't pinpoint what they had accomplished in those two months. So I knew there was a problem and had to figure out how to solve that.

MP: 09:46 Wow. That, uh, that is an, there's a couple here that are really interesting. So let's talk about the productivity for a second. What, what did you do to overcome it?

AR: 10:00 Well, I ended up, I had a good timing and I ended up reading the four hour workweek. Um, and I took the couple of the tips in there that were just huge. So one of the things that they do, he talks about in there is to only check your email twice a day. And so once I implemented that, I think my productivity when I did more in the following week than I'd done in the previous two months. And it was just, you know, focusing on that and then, you know, just focusing on what's important, what's, if I only accomplish these two things, what are the most important things for me to do today? And I don't even remember what I was doing in those two months, but I know on this like the weeks that follow it was just so much more productive.

MP: 10:40 Wow. So you, so the two, so two big things that are sound really easy to implement is check your email last year saying two days, two times a day, which is recommended in the four hour work week, which is a great book. I've read it and got a lot out of it myself. Uh, so check the but, but bottom line, check it lesson set a number a, there's nothing in there that we know. There's nothing in there that is that burning that needs to be addressed. But we live in this world where we, we start to think that it is, and it's like my, with my wife and we have the cell phone, right? And I, I cannot stand beeping phones, distractions. I mean I have enough time focusing on one thing, let alone the distractions of, of uh, phone going, beep, beep, beep all the time.

MP: 11:26 So I always have my phone turned off. It's just literally, it never rings. And yet she's like, you know, pick up your phone. You're not, you know, you're not there, you're not there. And it's like, well, yeah, but I'm trying to be more productive, but yet it, we're in this world where we, uh, or age where we think that it should be just instant connection, you know? Whereas we go back 15, 20 years ago, I mean, you, you, if you weren't by a phone, you weren't by phone. And so that was it. So I love that you've implemented that. Number two is you're saying you, you have two things that you say every day that you're going to accomplish. Is that accurate?

AR: 12:01 Yes.

MP: 12:02 How is that shaped now the productivity that you have on a, on a daily basis?

AR: 12:08 Well, what it does is it allows me to, in the day I actually use that. I used to have it a long to-do less than I was just kind of being paid as long. And now when they do, they use one of those uh, one of two inch by two-inch stickies and I write on there my to do list for the day. And so what it allows me to do is focus on like what is the most important and ignore everything else. So there's a lot of interesting things that come in like or you know, somebody will ask a question about you're researching something and I find that especially research, I get excited about it, I want to research it. But really it's not a pressing need. Like, you know, it doesn't affect my clients. No one's paying me to do the research. I'm going to do that one day when I have some time. Not Today until it allows me to focus on like the most important thing that got accomplished. If I did those two things and will they go home smiling, then I'm happy with what I did today.

MP: 12:58 Beautiful. And I'm sure your wife is, is getting and your children are getting the benefit of that because you can walk, walk home or you know, punch out and be present with them and, and that's the whole point. That's why you're even working during the day, which you think a lot of us forget. Uh, that's the whole point. So don't go, don't go frazzled and burnt out back to your, your prize at the end of the day.

AR: 13:23 Right. I think human just being, being the owner of my own business, they see that already, you know, because it's just the frustrations of being an employee. To me it was a, you know, square peg, round hole. I just never fit. I was always frustrated. I was coming home complaining. And now even when I have a bad day, I mean it's, I'm still in charge, so I just feel so much better. And then to be able to accomplish what I set out to accomplish in the day, as you know, huge score. And I don't go home singing everything, but you know, we try

AR: 13:51 the you exactly. And I think you're on the right track where you're, you're not that far away from going home singing every day. Uh, cause really it's, if that's the objective, it's just a matter of putting the things in place that enable you to do that every day. So

AR: 14:08 I didn't Mike regularly read document and actually in Langley.

MP: 14:11 Oh, okay. I'm sorry. The uh, most of our more, most of our listeners are Americans. So the uh, the pro, no, so you're in Langley and I don't know why we had Siri there, but maybe your offices in Surrey is Royer county.

AR: 14:29 I actually moved into an office this year, so I will do that. Working out a home at home and the homes and Zuri oh, I moved into an office this year. Okay. Which was a challenge too. I could have mentioned that. Cause the rent, you know, like Tuesday increase expenses.

MP: 14:44 Yeah. How's that? So that say increased expenses, but have you seen a benefit to doing it?

AR: 14:50 Well, I mean, yeah, it's nice. I mean, especially meeting clients here, I would never meet anyone at my home, so we'd always have to go to Starbucks. You don't want help, you know, your everything finance information, you know like talking about their finances are, Boston is a little awkward not being able to find space to set. But yeah, I mean yeah it was stressful because I lost a, I finished a project and so my revenue went down and I just increased my expenses. That was stressful. But now that a double my revenue on back and a good place.

MP: 15:21 Yeah.

AR: 15:21 Back to where I was anyways prior to everything.

MP: 15:24 So Yeah. And would you have done anything different looking back? Um, with the decision to get office space?

AR: 15:32 Uh, I probably would have delayed it a little bit. I might've rented like in, in the fall cause like a month, a month instead of a two year lease. Cause then I could just, I could rent an office space when somebody was coming in into me, that kind of thing.

MP: 15:44 Yeah. And you know, when I met you, as I mentioned, you are, I think literally either your baby, we, we met at the seven secrets of growing your bookkeeping business, which is a seminar that I run. And I remember you saying your, you're like, I think your baby was about to arrive like either that day or the next day or it had just arrived.

AR: 16:04 Oh, that sounds about right.

MP: 16:06 Yeah. So I was like, okay, we better make this quick. Then I was like worried you're going to have to turn, flip and run to the hospital, which is kind of fun. But tell me why. You know, you, you came looking for help with your business. Why did you do that?

AR: 16:21 Well, there's a couple of reasons we're getting into it. Like I said, there was the switch from the, the mindset from employee to owner and just realizing that when you're working for somebody who us out, there's all these systems already in place. And I was looking at realizing that I needed those systems. It's just not something I had thought of. Um, and then the daunting task of having to create all worlds myself. And what was that gonna look like? And do I even know what, you know, what a good system looks like at, you know, I haven't done all this before. Uh, and at the same time, uh, there again a bookkeeper that they deal with, the amount of birch I'm was looking into, I think she actually just become a pure bookkeeping licensee and she was just raving about it. And so I was thinking I was having an highs at worth and I'm just a start up for a lot of the money to put out. And then, but she was, she had been in business for quite awhile and she was saying, you know, she wished she had had these systems right from the beginning. And so I pretty much, I see her as having a very successful business. I wanted to model that business and I saw some opportunity to maybe, you know, start off maybe, you know, learn from her and maybe even can try and use this to, you know, do it better.

MP: 17:34 So, yeah, that's, it's, it's interesting. And that's your, your superpower of going out and looking at and asking and talking things through with other people, people you respect, uh, your mentors, the people that your peers and, and doing, doing the research and figuring out, well how do I get there faster? And so, yes, Amanda Love Amanda. She's been on the podcast recently as well, so that's another episode I'm sure people will have listened to so they'll be familiar with Amanda. So what, what has been your experience now since sort of really committing to your business, committing to Roy, your accounting and then saying, okay, I'm going to invest in my business with something like pure bookkeeping, which helps you standardize your processes and you know, and, and implement things versus try and invent, reinvent the wheel. What is it been like for you now?

AR: 18:29 It's been huge. It's been a great help. Like I said at the beginning I was doing a lot about learning the actual bookkeeping process and I find that the checklist and the system, um, allow me to catch mistakes that I might have otherwise have missed, which was huge. Um, and then just the whole marketing process. I think I started using and I signed on a, I followed one of the steps in, I ended up signing on two clients within, I think it was a week or two after I'd, I'd followed the steps and then just, you know, doing a lot of, uh, networking and so forth. Actually, it's the last time we talked last few weeks. And then just the double net recurring revenue. And without the, without the systems in place, I don't know that I'd feel capable to be able to keep up with the increased workload.

MP: 19:22 Wow.

MP: 19:23 Oh my, my hat and everyone is, is cheering you from their car or computer or wherever they're listening to this right now. Uh, cause that's awesome. And I love seeing that often when I wake up in the morning, I'm always asking, you know, myself, what am I, you know, what am I up to today? What am I doing? And for a lot of my life, I, I, you know, I did lots of things that I like to do. But what I really love, Andrew, is I love seeing small business owners like you when, because when you're winning and doing the work that you do now, what's even cooler is that you're a bookkeeper. You help small business owners grow their business. So what's so cool about this is Europe bookkeeper, I like help you grow your business and double your business, but your job is to go and help a multiple businesses grow and double their business.

MP: 20:21 And so every single day that I wake up, I'm helping build stronger communities because small business owners do that. I'm helping a bill thriving healthy families because small businesses are, are the majority in our country, in North America are the businesses. Small business are what put food on the table. They're the largest employer. They're the ones that make all the investments. They are the ones that are innovating. So, uh, my, uh, small business really is the cure to so many of our world's problems. And so, you know, here we are kind of tooting our own horn over here, but I just love that story. Andrew and I, I wanted to highlight it and say, awesome, because you've, you're doing something that is having small business owners say, Hey, I want to work with that person because they're helping me grow my business. And so love it. Love it, love it. Love it. And what's that like, what's that experience been for you with your clients now that you have sort of more systems in place, you're, you're bringing on new clients, you're learning, you're sort of in the, in the process of growing your business. What is it been like for your clients? What have you heard from them? What have, what's the feedback been to you?

AR: 21:38 Oh, I mean, it's all been good. It's nice. The, um, um, I, I'd been thankful that, uh, uh, most of the clients that I've taken on, most of them have had great bookkeepers in the past. So I'm, I kind of take it as a compliment is that they not noticing a huge change in the service. Um, they've been working with people who've been in the industry a lot longer and, and the system has basically given me that experience to act the same way that they have. And that then the clients that haven't had a great bookkeeping experience are obviously blown away by all the information that they're getting. And the biggest thing is that, I mean, they just love it. They can, I would make myself available for my clients to be able to help them with the problems because it's my passion as well that I want a few of these businesses to succeed. And I don't want them worried to call me because they're worried about getting a bill. So I'm happy, I think, I believe why my clients are happy.

MP: 22:35 So Beautiful. And so with you, what would you say that your, is your, your, your w your competitive advantage, if you will, or what, what would you say when you're, you're, you're talking to a new client and you're, what's having them choose you?

AR: 22:53 Well, obviously I mentioned the pure bookkeeping system. Uh, I like pointing out to them that some of the things like the client manual that we get in them so that, that describes their business that they own, um, so that they're, as I grow, they're not going to have to re-explain themselves over and over again to my staff. Um, and then, but the biggest thing that I, I tell people, I think I would, if I wasn't a bookkeeper, I might've gone onto teaching. I just love to educate people and I think my clients love it as well. I love to sit down and make sure I explain things in common language and make sure they understand what's going on and want them to be empowered with their finances. And I let my clients love their, I mean, I, I especially, I do tax returns as well. And every time I do a tax return, nobody has ever gone. All my clients, nobody's ever gone over the tax return with them before. And I make sure they understand it before they sign off on it.

MP: 23:42 Beautiful. You know, it's, it's, it's just so simple, right? You Care, you care. And that that shows up and that's a winning formula into business. And I think it will only become more so in the future as things, as things become more automated and there's more computing and AI and all these things that everybody's talking about the shift in how business is being done. But it's just a gonna draw out that need of a human being that actually cares and can think laterally. Right. And think about, hey, what's this problem? It was just literally talking to a client yesterday and she, she does what's called profit planning for businesses. She's a bookkeeper, but one of her added services is profit planning. No, it's not what you'd think around just helping them be more profitable. She actually goes and looks at how at the business and does a bit of a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and, and looks at the business and tries to find areas that are impacting their profitability.

AR: 24:49 And, and she found a company that was literally, they were at capacity so they couldn't grow anymore, uh, with the production and as well, their pricing had not been updated in five years. So there was like 25 literally she made some changes, did some research for this business owner. Within a very short period of time, the business revenue grew by 25% and there they made some investments and increased their capacity to near unlimited capacity for growth. That's because that owner over there across the street was not, was so busy working in the business that didn't have time to just stop and go, what can I do differently that's going to help me get where I need to go. And she provided that new set of eyes, she provided that new care for let's help, let's help you make more money to help you put more, more money in your, in your jeans here and have a fun, more fun. And so I just love that. And it starts with caring. You actually care. And uh, and so you know, Andrew's, your, you know, you could get swiped. Consider you one of the great bookkeepers because a great bookkeeper is someone who cares enough and cares about becoming really great at what they do but as well cares about the client and helping them get there. Cause at the end of the day, that is what you're there for us. Help them be more successful, be empowered and to put their business in a place that will have legacy and future.

MP: 26:16 Yeah, absolutely.

MP: 26:17 So you're doing great. You're, you're hitting walls. What's, what, what's, what are you tackling right now? What's your biggest focus for your business now in the next 90 days to 180 days, Andrew?

AR: 26:30 While surviving tax season.

MP: 26:33 Absolutely.

AR: 26:35 I'm still just in the growth phase right now. Uh, even though I've doubled my business, I'm probably um, still at maybe 30% capacity. So I'm still just focusing on growth. And then I would like to then transition at some point, hire some hire staff and I'm sure that it's going to bring on its own set of problems. So opportunities, both of them, both of them. So that's great.

MP: 26:55 So right now it's growth and your main growth moves are you're doing networking. Maybe talk a little bit about that, what you're going to do over the next 90 days to add, well 90 to 180 cause you're, you're doing, you're working on in the business right now cause you're fulfilling on tax season and that sort of stuff which is different for every country that people are listening to. So it's depending on when people are listening. But what, what are going to be your main moves to bring on new business to your, to your business?

AR: 27:27 Well I make it, I used to work at KPMG so I, there is a lot of partners and other accountants that I work with there. So obviously they're busy right now. A lot of them are anyways and, but my goal is to try and set up some meetings with them to deal with them, like talk with them after-tax seasons over. The other thing is I've actually created a, a mail out that I'm planning on mailing out. I'm actually just postponing it until the end of tax season. I'll be sending that out about 2000 cards in this area. And then just, uh, um, just focusing on networking, networking with financial planners and talking about joining a BNI. This will be an eye that's open. I won't say where to get in there.

MP: 28:09 Yeah, absolutely.

AR: 28:12 They're not the, they fill up pretty quick.

MP: 28:14 They do. They do. The good ones do. Yeah, absolutely.

AR: 28:18 I think that's it. That's my main area of networking for the next 90 days anyways.

MP: 28:23 Yeah. Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, you're going to crush it. I know that. And I'm gonna to look forward to hearing a, an update on that. How are all those four children doing?

AR: 28:33 Um, they're good. They're my oldest one's a challenge. Uh, so that's been our biggest struggle. That's actually our biggest struggle right now. Business suicide, that daily emails from the teacher on what he's done wrong for today.

MP: 28:48 Oh dear. You know, that's an interesting one. I was just having a conversation with a, someone, I forget a, I'll have to find out the name, my car. There was a bunch of people in this conversation, but they were talking about children of entrepreneurs and the school system is that you, you're demonstrating entrepreneurial and probably have some, you know, maybe it's genetic, I dunno, but you've passed that onto your children and yet you talk in a square peg in round hole. Right. It's like, is it surprising that your son is his son? Right?

AR: 29:22 Yeah. I have four sons. Yeah. Yeah.

MP: 29:24 Four sons. That's awesome. So is it surprising that they're like square peg and round hole right there in a box and they're like, hey, this ain't my game. You know, like, I do it my way, so I don't know how to, I don't have the answers, but I think it's, um, it's one of the challenges that I'm sure many entrepreneurial families have.

AR: 29:48 Yeah. Yeah. I definitely feel a lot of similarities. I was not a great student. I learned, but I don't remember getting in trouble in kindergarten, but

AR: 29:56 he's going to be a great entrepreneur then.

MP: 29:59 Yeah. You'll be even better.

AR: 30:01 Yeah, exactly.

MP: 30:10 Now we did, we sort of jumped over to a little bit, but you talked about your mastermind. So you, you lead, you have a couple of different masterminds. Talk a little bit about the mastermind with the other bookkeepers where you meet once a month. What has that been like and what are you getting out of it?

AR: 30:28 Well, I think it's, uh, it's great. I mean it's always interesting to hear what people's, uh, people's struggles are, be able to help each other with them. I get a lot out of just being able to throw my input in as well as I ask the question. And this is just, it's nice to be able to talk with like-minded people as you know, as opposed to my, my wife tries to faint interest, but she can only do that for so long. Um, and it's great to be able to talk to other bookkeepers at this love numbers as much as the rest of us do.

MP: 30:57 Absolutely. It's, it's um, it's powerful to hear and see people, I was speaking with someone just the other day where they, they just get so much out of seeing other people try something and then go, not even, even though those people aren't necessarily being successful at it, like it's growth, right? There's no like, oh, just turn this dial in. It's magically gets done. Growth in business, it's, it, it's different for everybody and there's similarities, but you've got to go out and try things. And really for her, it's just inspiring her to take the action to try it and progress because nothing, no growth happens inside of a comfort zone. No growth happens when there's not something being disrupted, right. It, it has something new, take new actions. And so just in the environment of being with others that are taking on through things is, is, is very, very powerful.

AR: 31:55 It also helps to challenge those preconceived notions when you throw up something like no one would pay, you know, x for that service. And then someone says, Oh yeah, I'm charging, you know, twice that, no, just as an example of, and then you just, you know, you're stopping your tracks and you have to rethink, you know, what's acceptable, what's the norm, and that can have a huge transformation on your business.

MP: 32:17 Yeah, it's, it is. And I, I've seen that happen to me, that has been one of my experiences is really seeing somebody do something that I thought was difficult or hard to do or wasn't even going to work. And as I, oh wait a second, you know, it's like, I almost, I think in the last four years I've gotten to the point where I'm like, you know what? I have my ideas, but I don't necessarily know which one's great. And I don't necessarily have all the answers are, in fact, I know I don't have all the answers and I'm willing to be challenged and pushed in the direction. And that's, you know that again, I, you know, unfortunately some of these things take time for me anyways to, to get from, I guess I call it wisdom, but you know, for a big part of my life, maybe a thought, you know, hey, I'm going to be a t trail blazer and have the answers and to be able to do it.

MP: 33:06 And so as I get older, I'm like, you know what? Let's go to other people. Let's learn from other people. Let's let other people contribute. Let's be inspired by other people. So I love, I love it, Andrew, that you've been doing this and also you're leading this group and you're involved in lots of different things that are supporting you in growing your business. I just have loved this conversation. I want to say to the listener right now, again, that you know, whatever you're doing today know that the fact that you're in this industry, what you're doing is making a big difference for your community, for your country, and helping small businesses a honorable thing to do. So today, celebrate what you do and be thankful that you get to do something. So awesome. And Andrew, that goes for you and thank you for bringing it up in this conversation. I'm going to love to have you come back. We've got to have you come back in a couple of months. Share that your business is like quadrupled over when we were speaking. Now you're at full capacity. You're tearing your out. You gotta hire staff. I can't wait to hear it.

AR: 34:10 Me Too. It would be great.

MP: 34:12 Yeah, that'll be great. Lots of roadblocks, lots of barriers, lots of hurdles. But we're here to help you and let's do it together as a community. Andrew, this has been great. Uh, maybe you know, where can people, if people want to ask you questions or connect with you, like is Facebook the Facebook group, The Successful Bookkeeper, the blessed place to cat connect with you or his, what? What's the way that you like to have conversations with your community?

AR: 34:36 Well, I'm, I try and get on the Facebook group as much as I can. A lot less now that I'm trying to focus on being more effective. If somebody really wants to get ahold of me, email is probably the best bat that'd be Andrew at Royer accounting, leading R.O. Y. E. R.

MP: 34:53 Beautiful and we'll have the links and contact information below on this episode so if you, if Andrew's inspired you and you want to ask Andrew questions or connect with them in any way, you can do that just by clicking below and Andrew from our audience, from our community. A big thank you for devoting your time in such a very busy time of the year to be on this podcast.

AR: 35:16 All right. Thank you for your time, Michael. Thank you.

MP: 35:19 It's my pleasure. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye

EP83: Louie Prosperi - Why You Should Consider The Proactive Business Bookkeeping Model

UPDATE #2 - TSBK - Episode 83 - Louie Prosperi.png
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The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers USA (ICB USA).

It promotes and maintains the standards of American bookkeeping as a profession through the establishment of relevant qualifications and the award of grades of membership that recognize academic attainment, working experience and competence.

Our return guest, Louie Prosperi is the CEO of ICBUSA and his organization is helping its members by introducing The Proactive Business Bookkeeping Model to improve their success.

It's a program that ensures bookkeepers are consistently valuable to their clients and are running their businesses more efficiently.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • What are the 3 pillars of The Proactive Business Bookkeeping Model

  • The importance of having a 100% capacity to be successful

  • Focusing on what to do with your system and technology

To learn more about ICBUSA, visit here.

For ICBUSA's Facebook page, click here.

For its Facebook closed group, explore here.

For Louie Prosperi's Twitter, discover here.


Michael Palmer: 01:19 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is the CEO of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers USA or ICB USA for short, which is a different kind of association that is forward-thinking through its development of certifications, education, resources, and tools for its members so that they can be the bookkeepers of the future. Today he will tell us about an exciting new initiative that will be a game-changer for many of its members. And I'm sure you the listener, it's called the proactive bookkeeping business model and we're looking forward to hearing more about it. Louie Prosperi, welcome to the podcast.

Louie Prosperi: 02:02 Well, thank you very much, Michael. I'm very happy to be here and, uh, I, I really enjoy your podcast. I've listened to it many times and it's, it's a really good podcast for professional bookkeepers around the world, so

MP: 02:16 Thank you, Louie. I appreciate it. Yeah, I appreciate it. And you, and you're not a first-time guest, you've been on the show before, so I'm sure some listeners would have heard from you and learned about you. And so before we, we get into this conversation about the proactive bookkeeping business model, just share a little bit about yourself and the ICB and we'll go from there.

LP: 02:42 Well, a little bit about myself is that I've been in um, uh, proactive and pun on words. They're a person with regards to getting a bookkeeper's recognized and being recognized as the professionals. They are a through d associations that I've been involved with. Ah, one of the key focuses for us is certification. Uh, and making sure they recognize that that level. Now with regards to ICB USA, our tagline is bookkeepers of the future. What does that represent? Well, basically what ICB USA is trying to do or is doing is doing this in three different levels. One is the certification level. What I mean by that is a professional exam is constantly revised and updated so that every two years we make sure that when people take the program, it's not obsolete. So the individuals that are coming through our certification process are ready, enabled to meet the requirements of the customers that they're going to see today and tomorrow.

LP: 03:51 It also allows our professional members that already written the exam to make sure that their certification still has value by making sure that that is always forward-thinking. The other component is we redesigned our levels to be more comprehensive and to reflect the current technology challenges. For example, our, our, our entry-level was used as a certified bookkeeping technician is designed to acknowledge that people who take software who have been certified in software programs are basically recognized at a technician level because they can process and enter information. Our next level is where you've had education, uh, training and so forth, uh, through, uh, through a program of some sort. And our professional level recognizes what a lot of our professionals have learned through, which is through experience a lot of our professionals have learned their, their knowledge through hands-on. And that's what we've done with our professional levels.

LP: 04:54 So that's that component. The next component is to develop programs like the proactive business bookkeeping business model so that our members are able to get the tools and resources and be ready for what's to come. And the third is our is our communication or a community component, which is to develop communities through Facebook and other things that we're going to be developing, meet up groups that's going to be happening in the future so that our, our bookkeepers can collaborate. The great thing that we have that's very unique is we also have a global perspective because ICB is globally renowned. We have associations around the world. So our bookkeepers not only get the advantage of what we do in the u s but also, uh, what's happening worldwide. Absolutely. And ICB is the world's largest association for bookkeepers. Who's it? Not I, yes, it is. Uh, we have, um, over 150,000 members in over a hundred, in about 110. And we have, I think right now, 12 associations in 12 different countries, like the 12 separate associations.

MP: 06:05 Excellent. You know, I really love book the Tagline, bookkeepers of the future. What does that represent?

LP: 06:13 That basically represents where we are today. Uh, Michael, the reality is that our bookkeepers can no longer provide services that are backwards viewing or backwards thinking. The, the professional now is always forward-thinking. So what we as an association is we have to be the association for bookkeepers of the future. We have to be for those bookkeepers that gave the tools and resources. A great example is, uh, Ingrid Edstrom, uh, and an ICB USA had been working on the redefinition of what a professional bookkeeper is. Uh, we've looked at, uh, Ingrid's taking the lead on this and then, and we're supporting her 100%. She's looking at seeing if the Webster dictionary can be updated because the definition of a professional bookkeeper is, is no longer valid. It's is based on back in the old days where, you know, you had an advocate and you had paper, uh, Andrew Components, which no longer exists. So what we're doing is making sure that, that, uh, as an association, we keep the terminology and what a bookkeeper is and does a forward-thinking.

MP: 07:32 Beautiful. Oh, I love that. I love that there is associations like yours that are working to make the profession more relevant to small business owners. I mean it's, it really is such an important role to play to make sure that small business owners know that there are great people out there that can help them be empowered around their finances and can build stronger, uh, more fast-growing, uh, businesses. So anybody that is, and I know I've said this before on the podcast, but anybody that's a friend of small business is a friend of ours. And, uh, you're a big friend, Louie, cause you're doing that in so many ways and have been for so long. Well, I love that bookkeepers of the future and we're all working to help bookkeepers a, grow their business and as well help them grow their business so they can help so many more businesses corrodes such, right? It's such a fun thing to be working on, right? Every day is that we're changing the world by helping small business solve the world's problems. And, and uh, I just love thinking about that every day. But let's get into this proactive model of the word proactive. I mean it's, it's about thinking right now about tomorrow in the future in order to be prepared for whatever is to come.

MP: 08:56 But let's hear your perspective. Tell us a little bit more about what it is, although thanks for giving me this opportunity to speak about it.

LP: 09:10 One of the things that's interesting about the reason why we called it proactive is because a lot of business models are reactive. You know, we're, we're always reacting and we're always behind a technology and how it's impacting you indicated very, very, very correctly. The small business community and we are the servicers and providers of their financial aspects, core aspects of their, of their business. They have to think proactive, they have to look future-oriented and they're professionals have to too. So what a proactive model basically goes under where we're basically looking at what I call the three pillars of this model. The, the first pillar is called creative, creating customer value and customer value. If you really think about it, a lot of customers don't really look, you know, the history, it's important historical up to a certain point.

LP: 10:02 But their real value is what can we do going forward. So when they look for services, they're looking for forward-thinking services. So when we create customer value, we're automatically looking at it in a proactive method. The next component, which is very key because sometimes a lot of professionals, a bookkeepers and accountants as well have a really good way of talking and creating value at the front end. But then what you need is to deliver. So, and this is something that we've talked about Michael, with regards to the pure bookkeeping, which is having processes and systems in place to meet those customer expectations. And if you don't have those systems in place, it doesn't matter what you create, the front end, if you don't deliver at the end, it just doesn't work. So that's a critical component. And the third pillar, which is actually the new component that, that I think that businesses bookkeepers have to continuously look at is, uh, looking at the actual services they provide.

LP: 11:10 And making sure that they're creating and developing new services. The reality is technology keeps changing. What we provide and what we should do is be proactive and looking at what's out there and creating new services because that's the way we continue to be proactive. If we create customer value and have great systems, but the services that we're providing are no longer forward-thinking or Dow, they're obsolete or they're not up to date, then you're not completely being proactive. So for me, a proactive bookkeeping business model needs all three of these to be working effectively. They're good individually, don't get me wrong, you need to. But to be a true, proactive professional firm, you have to have all three of them.

MP: 11:53 It's a lot, you know, it at first glance, you know, anybody could look at, at a small business and think, oh, you know, you're just there doing the job that you do. It's a t, you know, you do the technical aspects of a job. But when we stepped back and we look at something like this, there's a lot to think about how you approach your business. And the different components and what I love. You've actually created a a hub and spoke visualization of what, what brings this model to life. Can you speak a little bit about the hub and spoke talk about hub and spoke and why it's so important.

LP: 12:29 Wow. So I guess you were listening to that last presentation I made. That's cool. Okay, so I call it the bookkeeper's business model. I, I've basically framed it into a wheel. And so it's Kinda hard to do this without visuals, but I'll try to do the, the hub, which is the, the center part of your focus usually is an individual or a system. And then the spokes are the domains, which is marketing, human resources, Admin, management, leadership, production. Those are your spokes. And the outer, the wheel component is actually your business. So if your hub is not strong or effective, what happens to your business? You get a work wheel or a collapses on itself, or if the spokes aren't attached to the wheel properly. So that's something that I'm, is very important in you. You need a strong hub. And this is one of the pillars that we talked about.

LP: 13:32 And uh, for me the hub has to be systems and processes. If you have it individually based, meaning that if it's key man and if that's, if that's what you have, whether it's the owner or two or three key employees, what happens if there's a change? They literally take the hub with them when they leave. And you have no, you have a weakened core which can have a huge impact on the success of your business. So would you want to make sure is you have a very solid hub and that should be your systems and processes.

MP: 14:04 Completely agree. And, and this is one of the areas that I absolutely love, have applied and have thought about for most of my life is how to make things run more smoothly, how to have things run better. How, because every time you do that, you're, that hub really is a core investment piece. It takes a lot of time to build system. It takes a lot of time to improve processes. But when you do it, it is an annuity. It's something that you're building. It's a big investment that if done correctly, that investment will continue on into the future.

LP: 14:38 Actually, Michael, what you said was actually very important.

MP: 14:43 I w w the, the core about the hub is that it actually brings value. It's not like a sunk cost. It actually, like if you ever, and I know Debbie has talked about this, which is the founder of Pure Bookkeeping systems, where when you created a, a very strong hub of systems and processes, it actually increases the value of your organization, which becomes an actual asset. So with a service business, it's probably one of the most critical components to add value. So it's not a waste of time, even if you're a one-person show or organization to spend time creating. And I'm a victim of it too. When I had my own practice, I was on my own. All my processes and systems are technically in my head, but it makes a big difference. Sorry for interrupting.

LP: 15:31 No, it's, it really is what, what I think it's perfect and, and it, it, it was, you know, just to speak to that it was all in your head. And, and when it's we've, we all suffer that every single person listening right now, there are components, even in an incredibly well run system driven business, there are still things that remain in the head, but the moment they do get out of the head, they get documented somewhere, whether it's basic or sophisticated documentation, it's now there and it can be improved. And that's the exciting part is that it's like wow, we, we improved by 1e-05% today. Yet that can be improved upon. And so I, I, I constantly could have to step back and go, don't overwhelm yourself wherever for, and this is for the listener, don't overwhelm yourself where you have zero systems or you have lots of systems.

MP: 16:27 The point is, is to think system that like Louis is saying, and I love this while I love the visual, is that that is the core. It's systems and process. If you can just start and improve and build better systems any way from whatever stage that you're at, it will be an investment that will create an asset in your business and a continually improving asset. So it's why I get excited about this to make sure people do. But you and I will, and I know there's a lot of listers that get excited about systems and process.

LP: 16:58 Well, to be quite honest, I'm not that excited about it, but it's amazing. Once you have it in place as a sole practitioner or an in you, you don't know how you would have lived with it. It's that important. But it sounded the technically you, you, it, it, it is a process. It is a grind to, to write this stuff out and to put it on paper by the, the, the efforts will be there. I just want to mention one thing with regards to the proactive model compared to a more traditional model. The proactive model is customer-centric. And what I mean by that is that all three pillars are based on customer's expectations. They're not, it's all about creating customer value, meeting customer expectations and creating services that meet their wants and needs. So you're always going outwards to find the answer because customer-centric means that it's external from your system.

LP: 17:56 Uh, the customer is not an internal component. The traditional system model that, that a lot of professionals have is what we call eye pop. Um, and I might get some flack on this, but that's okay. There's going to be a lot of cost accountants out there. Uh, the cost accounting approach or cost-plus model, which bases everything on internal input costs. When we create a service, we base it on how much time it's put in and how much energy, what, what the hourly rates are and so forth. But the reality, none of that is creating any value. So when we look at the services and we look at how well we're delivering our services, right? Which is why we created internally. If we don't look at what the results are with the customer, meaning what's the customer's feedback rather than we delivered on this service and we hit the deadline and all that, that doesn't mean anything when you just focus on the service, which I think is still internal. So the proactive bookkeeping model, business model, one of the core components is customer-centric. It's an external looking model. It doesn't focus on the internals.

MP: 19:13 All right, beautiful. I think it, it, at the end of the day, our customers are what keep our businesses alive in any, any industry. And so it's the right direction and it's a direction that takes more time. It takes more uh, investigation. But again, it's like that asset you were talking about when you do it that way, the longterm effect is incredible wealth creation inside of your business because you're delivering a higher level of value. So I completely love it. Louie, what in your opinion, what systems and processes are important in this customer-centric model?

LP: 19:53 Well, um, for one of the key components is you have to have a system in process to create customer value. Um, I am a proponent of Ron Baker's, um, methods. I read his books. He's a great friend of mine and I and the various ages institute is a great resource for anyone. Um, that system of creating value based on the customer conversation and providing options and looking at what each individual customer is looking for. Because there is no commodity-based system when you're providing bookkeeping services to a small business owner. Because even though you in a bookkeepers and accountants know this, each business is, even though it might be in the same industry, the people are different, that owner's different. The, the structure is different. His, his market based is different. So you can never just cookie-cut and say this is good for everyone.

LP: 20:56 It did so well. You have to do is you have to have a system in place to make sure you're curator. You are actually creating customer value correctly at properly. The second component of the second set of systems, I'm not going to go into each individual, but I'm just giving you the groups for now. The second set of systems, which are really important and this is part of your hub, all of these systems are part of your hub. But this one here is, is meeting those expectations. So I call this your quality control level or a, uh, you know, final product component. So once you've developed the customer values, now you have to literally produce the end result and make sure it comes exactly as the scope was developed and if there's changes that you do, the changes and everything's documented and properly. So that's the second series of systems. The, the third system is basically what you do to run your business. Like, you know, administrative systems, uh, HR systems. And, uh, the, the one that I think everybody, every organization should have is a, is a system to review your, your services and making sure that you're always up to date. Techniques could be a technology slash service system process. But those are probably the three components that I can think of that if you have systems in place for all three of these, I think you're doing quite well.

MP: 22:23 Yeah. You know, speaking of looking at your technology and your systems, let's talk a little bit about technology and how technology has that impacted the profession.

LP: 22:36 Well, if you haven't realized that, if you're a professional bookkeeper, accountant hasn't realized that technology's impacted your, your business a, you probably still using pen and paper, you know, because yeah. Yeah. Because technically if you're on a computer and if you're using software to, to help your, your customers, technology is going to impact you greatly. We know that the cloud now, the cloud-based technology, well that's now already can becoming uh, it's not even future-oriented right now. It's not even current. It's actually past, right? It's something that's, that's already prebuilt into our, our DNA right here. Almost everybody's providing some sort of, some sort of cloud service technology or cloud service functionings and that's to me is already in the back mirror or in the, in the back seat at least. Uh, what's going on now is I'm providing services that are future-oriented.

LP: 23:35 So you're providing results-based services. And the thing that I think that a just a couple of years ago when I was talking about this, I said, you know, the next step would be a little keeping an accounting app-based technology is going to take over, right? That was two years ago. I said that. And right now if you, if you know all of the different apps that attached to not only just your, your software but to your customers components and how AI is having a significant impact on how things are being done today, it's what's what I find that, what I find you need to have this proactive model is because the technology actually helps you because it allows you to look at what are the new services that are professional bookkeeper needs to do now. Right? And the technology will give you the, the answers to that and those services. We'll be there. And you, as long as you're not looking only on, on historical related, um, technology or services, uh, you're going to have a very, very fruitful future. I wouldn't be afraid of AI right now because it actually allows me to do a lot of analysis with the information and provide even more information to, to, to the, to the PR, to the small business owner. And as they're getting more complex in their business or they need more information, concise information related to their specific needs.

MP: 25:07 Yeah, I completely agree. And, and you know, come back to the customer-centric is, is, is the continue to go back and, and really the point is to help business owners grow their business. And so as things change, technology change changes, it's changing for them as well. The world is changing. So how do we, but it's not changing. People aren't there to say, hey, how can we make world worse? How can we make things run more slowly? Right? Everybody at now, some of it does not work or it does make the world worse. We could have those conversations, but the intent is to improve, to improve, to bring efficiencies. I mean that's been going on since the beginning of time is how we wake up today and do things better than we did them yesterday. So that's, that's happening today. We would be able to say that it's moving faster, we're able to move way further in a given day today because of technology that we built yesterday that's helping us make today even more improved, improved.

LP: 26:08 So it's, it is, I think it's important for everybody goes, stop and go, okay, yes, this is change. Humans don't like change typically, but I can either decide to embrace the change and say, look, I, I'd rather have comfort, wouldn't we all right, but embrace that this is, this change is meant to improve. It's meant to improve it. For you to listen, listener, it's meant to improve it for your clients. And so I think lily, we would both agree that this type of thought of conversation needs to be part of, of if not a weekly, at least monthly, where you sit back and have a cup of tea and go, okay, what's happening? Where do I need to be putting my attention? What's changes is going on, what changes happening that can help me and leverage it and dip the toe in the pool. It's never going to be like, tomorrow we wake up and we've figured everything out.

MP: 27:02 Um, but I hear so many of our listeners when, when I'm having conversations with them, say, Oh, you know, it's hard to keep up with everything and you know, I have, you know, it's, it's changed and all these things are changing and I'm not sure which way to go, but then I might talk to them months later and they're like, yeah, I checked that out and wow, it's really cool and it's helping my, my business and it's improving. It's helping me do these sorts of things. So any change or anything new it does have, there is a barrier. It's a barrier to take that leap into it. So I think it's an invitation to, for people to say to listener, hey, spend a bit of time, embrace this stuff.

LP: 27:37 Well since we're talking about, um, our professional bookkeepers out there, the, one of the key factors that this is this component that we just talked about and a lot of this is working on your business, not working in your business. I know you've heard that a lot of times. So the interesting thing about working on your business, one of the things that you should always look at is your, your capacity. Because a rule of thumb, if you're at a hundred, 110% of capacity, you'll never be able to work on your business and you'll never be able to develop a proactive model because your capacity you should have about, you should be at 70 to 75% of capacity, which I mean is, is the amount of work that can go through the system. You need that, that extra capacity to deal with emergencies that come up with particularly key customers that need something right away.

LP: 28:36 You know, if you, if you don't have that component, it might hurt your customer base, particularly the ones that needs quick and reliable stuff and you need that capacity. The second component is basically what we're talking about. You have to have that capacity so you can take a breather and focus on what you need to do with your, with your systems and with the technology and all of this stuff we talked about today. If you don't have that capacity, you'll never work on your business and then you'll end up two years, three years later you'll be adopting things because you have no choice because everybody's pushing you along. You're not leading the pack, you're being pushed along because you're always at a hundred 110 capacity. That's, and that's a tough thing to do because we all know at a hundred percent capacity you make, you're kind of making more money because you're charging more or whatever, but short term gain will might hurt you longterm.

LP: 29:31 So take that into consideration. If you're already at a high level of capacity, you might want to look at some of the things. One of the things I would definitely look at if you're already at a hundred percent capacity is your customer base and take a look at, um, what I call the 80 20 rule. 80% of your reasons, resources and time would probably be at 20% of your customer base. And that 20% generally is the generally is that the bottom part of your revenue base? So it's a good way to free up some time is to let go of some of the customers that are at the low end of a revenue stream, but at the high end of your time functions and we can go on, I mean to delve into that, that's, that's an hour session on its own.

MP: 30:26 So, I think that is a, an invitation I'm going to make, I'm going to say, Louie, can you come back because I love this conversation. I'm sure you know the 80 20 and you know that's a whole nother episode and I'm sure that we've piqued the interest and everybody's like, no, no, keep talking about that. Yes, I want to get rid of the customers that are taking up all my time, but not making me any money. So stay tuned, listener. There will be an episode in the future with Louie and we're going to talk about this and we're almost up on time. Louie, this has been fantastic and I just want to say, I think if our listener, if you're listening right now going, gee, I don't know, watch where to start, what to do, you know, all these changes. Look, there's other people going through this and, and the ICB is a place where there's other bookkeepers like you that are preparing for the future and committed to being bookkeepers of the future and to being proactive about how they run their business and build their business. So that's a great place to start, is to go and hang out with other people that are ambitious, excited, passionate about what they're doing, passionate about helping business owners grow. And if those are the type of people you'd like to surround yourself with, then I would recommend that you learn more from Lillian. How you can do that. Louie, what's the best way for them to learn more about ICB USA if they've not already done so?

LP: 31:51 Well, there's ICbusa.org, which is our website. You can go there, particularly if you're interested in becoming certified and being certified with having a certification that's more international because we have certifications all over the world. And also we're the largest organization around. So if you want to do that when you do have over a 20-year history, the other components, you can look at our Facebook, we have two Facebooks, we have a closed group and another fee. And then Facebook. Take a look at that and join those two. And you can also just email our member services, uh, and ask for questions and we'll definitely help you out that if we can help you, we'll try to make sure that we can find someone to help you.

MP: 32:33 Beautiful. Yeah, that's great. And we're going to have links to go and find those groups and find out more about ICB USA. Louie, this has been great. Uh, I know we've already teed up another conversation, which we will, we will do in the future. Uh, thank you so much for, for sharing your time with all of us today.

LP: 32:54 Michael, this was, this was a lot of fun. Uh, you know, just like, uh, when you're talking about your passions, it's not really hard at all. It's what you try to do is not to talk too much. Right. Keep it, keep it central and focused. But, uh, I really enjoyed it then and Michael, just keep up this podcast. I think the success of bookkeeper is, is a great podcast. And I know from my travels to, uh, to the UK, um, there were, uh, there was, uh, a course or, um, a session at the ICB UK conference and they referenced this podcast as one of their sources for bookkeepers. So you're doing a great job and it's not just reaching North America. It's, it's, it's worldwide. So thank you though.

MP: 33:37 Thank you. I appreciate it. It is amazing how the a, the word gets out there and, and, uh, like you say about the passions that, uh, we try not to go overboard, but we try and be as clear as we can. And sometimes when we get passionate, it's still fun lights. So yeah, fair enough.

LP: 33:46 Yeah, as good.

MP: 33:47 So that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 34:10 goodbye

EP82: Sharon Francisco - How To Sell Without Being Salesy

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Lack of confidence.

Some bookkeepers don't believe they are good enough to close a deal or get a sale.

According to Sharon Francisco, who used the Pure Bookkeeping System to increase the success of her bookkeeping business and is making her return appearance on our show, you need to find strategies that will give you confidence and take the pressure off of you so you can make the focus all about your clients. 

Having a 90-day plan and building a relationship with customers are key to gaining their trust and will make things easier for you.

Be patient.

If you want to grow your business, you have to understand it doesn't happen overnight.

It takes time.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • The importance of creating your own style

  • Why focusing on having a plan will increase the demand for your service

  • Why eliminating negative and unhealthy stress can put you in a great position

To read Sharon's blog post, How To Sell Without Being Salesy, visit here.  

To check out Sharon's checklist, go to this link

To see her LinkedIn page, explore here.

To check out her previous Successful Bookkeeper podcast episode, listen now


Michael Palmer: 01:23 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. It is always a delight when today's guest visit the show. She's from Brisbane, Australia and has over 25 years of experience with small business specializing in both business development and supporting business owners to achieve their goals. Recently she spent four years building a systems-driven bookkeeping business from two bookkeepers to 12 using the pure bookkeeping system. Sharon Francisco, welcome back to the podcast.

Sharon Francisco: 02:02 Thank you, Michael. What a lovely introduction.

MP: 02:04 Well, it's always for lovely guests like you. So welcome back and we've got some awesome things to chat about today. But uh, before we jump into it, for those that have not heard the previous episode where you joined us, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to being Sharon Francisco today.

SF: 02:28 Okay, well, Gosh, right. I'll start. I, you know what, it always makes me smile, Michael, when I talk to about, you know, anything to do with bookkeeping and accounting because that seems to have been my world for the last six years. And I'm certainly, you know, the whole journey of the last 25 years is helping business owners grow businesses. And I think, you know, I put my money where my mouth was and, and, and stepped in as a partner with my sister in laws, bookkeeping business to help her grow out. And look, it makes me smile because I'm the most unlikely person to be hanging out with. And accountants say, I'm just not a numbers person. I, I've always shied away from numbers, not particularly comfortable, but hanging around people that are good with numbers. Like accountants say, yeah, look, I went into partnerships just to help my sister more build the business.

SF: 03:15 And um, it was just her and a part-time bookkeeper. Yeah. Look, at the time I had a rough idea what I was going to do. I sort of, you know, I, my, my philosophy around building businesses is just, you know, massive action. I think there's, there's some sort of, um, research that suggest that 80% of marketing doesn't work. So, you know, you've got to find that 20. So I just launched myself, you know, at the business and I guess with the pure bookkeeping system, that was really helpful as far as having a system to be able to use to do that. So, so I guess when I first went in there, I didn't have a massive sort of game plan. I saw. Yeah, I saw the pure bookkeeping books on the shelf and as tenure what they were and got in contact with Deb and said, hey look, this is what my plans are. What do you suggest? And Deb just said, just, just, you know, implement the system, follow the system. And definitely that's what I did definitely with the HR. So the human resources side to recruit the bookkeepers and then, you know, at the sales and marketing, definitely, I just, I literally just followed the system to build a business. So, yeah,

MP: 04:23 I just love this story and uh, thanks for sharing it again. But it, you know, the, the magic and power of building a system driven business is your story just really highlights that is that when things are, are built to be repeatable by anybody, it unlocked so many things that, you know, people often say, oh, you know, I don't want a business where I, you know, I feel like a robot and I have to do the same thing every single day. And it's the complete opposite of that. It's like the things that don't need attention, the things that shouldn't be repeated by anybody, just get done the way they're supposed to get done. And that leaves so much more room for creativity and for doing things in a way that's even better, supporting customers in a better way. And so it really allows a business to flourish and blossom, which I just love.

MP: 05:13 And, and your, your story is just such an excellent one coming from a non, not being a bookkeeper but coming into a business and saying, look, my task is to grow this business. Let's do it now. You know, we've talked about that in the last episode. People can, uh, our listener, you're listening right now. You can go back, don't, don't stop yet, but listen to this episode. Then go back and listen to Sharon's episode and listen about how she did that and, and you'll get some great, great insights into how to take massive action in your business. I think that's a massive takeaway from that episode. But in this episode, really wanted to tackle sales because sales for you, when you got started, it was a bit daunting. You mentioned that in the last episode, how, you know, it was, it was like, how do you, how do you go do this? And I know many of our listeners struggle with this and in your experience with bookkeepers, how hard is it for them to connect with people? And why do you think that is?

SF: 06:10 Yeah, I actually think that I kind of channel bookkeepers a little bit as far as that fear around, around silos because I guess my natural skillset is, yeah, business development. I've been doing it all my life and helping businesses grow, but I think I can really identify with bookkeepers around the fear with that or not wanting to get myself out there or appear too salesy because I guess I didn't feel comfortable around, you know, accountants and bookkeepers and, and that whole world. So I guess it's good for, for bookkeepers to know that even though, you know, my skill set is in sales and marketing, I didn't feel comfortable, you know, going out and meeting accountants and I think that's why I developed a strategy to make it work and obviously following Deb system, you know, helped but in my head to feel, to feel confident. I actually, um, I tried to make it all about them so I'd come up with like ideas of take the focus of me in meetings.

SF: 07:13 So if I went to sign up a new client or an account meeting or a networking function, I just have little strategies to, to try and make it all about them rather than me to make the fear, I guess dissipate a little bit when I was in the meeting. So I guess one of my little tricks we tell, I've used all my life really in different industries, but I always have like two or three questions up my sleeve to try. And I mean the first thing was to try and take the focus off me, but also I guess what happens when you ask questions of an accountant or a potential client or at a networking function, you actually, that actually is the beginning of the interaction and the connection and what happens. I think once you start that, that's where the synergy starts to happen.

SF: 07:57 They start building trust. They get to know you as a person, but without those, yeah, just two or three and all you, I guess a lie I did beforehand was have a think about what those simple two or three questions would be. And I think one of the most powerful questions I would ask an accountant and certainly, you know, signing up new clients and at networking functions, but the main ones that I was scared over the accountants. So, um, the main question I'd ask is what's your biggest frustration at the moment with the bookkeeping that you're experiencing? So if they had in bookkeepers or they had one or two contract bookkeepers, I would want to get right into a conversation around what their biggest frustration was. And it's a really good question because people love to talk about their frustrations and what's not happening the way that they'd like it. So that sort of opens up a beautiful conversation where that then starts to flow. And if you've got two or three questions behind that, that just makes it a lot easier to, I guess, build that relationship with the accountants.

SF: 09:02 You know, it is, it's, it's really, it speaks to a, you're preparing yourself, setting yourself up to be able to overcome any kind of barriers that you feel that you have, which puts you in a better position to have a great experience with them. And so it's what I loved about your blog posts that you wrote recently, which was called how to sell without being salesy. I just absolutely love that title. How to sell without being salesy. And I want to read. I want to read the beginning of that and we're going to make this available to you, listener. On this episode, you'll, you'll have a link to get to that blog post and as well, you'll get a link to a checklist so that you can actually, every time you go out into a situation where you may not feel comfortable, where there may be selling cars, when you're trying to get people to refer you business, like if you're building relationships with a referral partner, you're selling.

SF: 09:59 When you're talking to a prospect, you're selling. When you're talking to a current customer, you're selling, guess what? You're always selling. You're always selling. It doesn't matter where you are, it doesn't matter who you're with, you're selling something, an idea. You're trying to move things forward for yourself in a certain way. So I'm going to read the beginning of this, and I think it's a really powerful blog post, and I think it'll give all of all of you a chance to just take a deep breath and go, ah, this doesn't have to be that difficult. So here it is. Most people absolutely hate the thought of sales or trying to sell someone their product or service. We'd like our reputation, hard work and non salesy approach to speak for themselves to grow our business. The truth is you can build a business with just those three approaches but not very big and not very fast usually. So here are my tips to make conversation about your business result in a sale and for it to feel natural and not pushy.

MP: 10:56 Doesn't that sound awesome? And I totally agree with that, Sharon. Uh, what a way to open it up. So let's you know, why did you write this blog post?

SF: 11:06 Oh look, I, because I've spent I guess the last, the best part of the last six years really hanging out with accountants and bookkeepers. I, it's one of the things that I keep hearing from business owners wanting to grow their business and not just bookkeepers and accountants. But yeah, holistically, business owners hate the thought of being salesy. They don't like the feeling of like, okay, so now it's time to end the feeling that you have when you think that you have to go. And sell your product or service is horrible. So I wanted to, you know, I just came back to what, what I've done in my life I guess almost naturally. And because I've always, I don't know why, but I've always just come back to a business development type role or taught people about business. And I think the reason our written is is to try and capture what it is that makes us sales process not feel salesy and to to I guess highlight that everyone can do it.

MP: 12:07 It's just a matter. And I think, and I sort of go into it in the, in the blog a little bit, but creating your own style and being you no matter what that is. So you don't have to be, you know, sales dark superstar sort of thing yourselves superstar with that, it's actually just creating your own style and being, being you. But I think sometimes we don't know what our own style is. So that's tricky. So I guess, you know, three simple points in this blog that just help you, I guess, get your thinking right around what sales is and how you can make it feel really natural and nice to be able to just talk about you and your business and, and be really authentic about it. So that's why I did it. Beautiful. Let's, let's dig into, into this. How can our listener, so without being salesy?

SF: 12:58 Yeah, so I guess the first one, um, we just spoke about, and I touched on a little bit at the beginning of the call, that it is all about them. So if you're going into a meeting, making the conversation about, you know, the prospect, the accountant, the person that you're meeting at the network function. And if you go in, in that way, I think it just takes all the pressure off. You feel like, well, all I need to do is have two or three quick things up my sleeve to be able to ask, to open up the conversation. And I think that it's also really important with that. When you know it's all about them, they're just as scared as you generally. So, or they're just as anxious. That's what at the end of this blog post, I've put in a Youtube video to help, I mean it's a six-minute youtube video that explains how to connect with people.

SF: 13:43 I think people just struggle with connecting. I think the second one is really remove the pressure from yourself and, and the way I've done this and I've just, you know, I've just taken out all the little tricks that I've had in my little briefcase over the years of making me feel like when I actually do arrive to two cell and, and let's face it, when we're in small business, we need to sell to build our businesses. So, and it's just, it just feels achy when you talk about that. So I like to be able to almost trick myself into feeling like, you know what, I'm just going to have a chat. So removing the pressure and the way that I've done this, and I've highlighted it in the blog, is be organized. So for me to be organized, and this is how it'd be your going to feel organized, but for me to have a plan on what you're going to do is that is the biggest thing for me.

SF: 14:34 90 day plans work three months. I can see that I can make a difference in, in three months. So I'll write down and obviously, you know, I had dibs sales and marketing system, so I just took those, those strategies and go, I had a plan of like, okay, what am I going to do every week? So if it's for me, because I wasn't doing the bookkeeping, my plan was to do five accountants meetings a week and various other strategies that Deb suggested. But that was my main goal of what I wanted to achieve. So for the three months ahead of me, I knew that I had to get five accountants meetings a week. So that took the pressure off. Yeah. I'd go out tomorrow with an accountant's meeting and if he said, look, you know, we've got our own. Okay bears. No, we're not interested. Yeah, no problem.

SF: 15:19 Next, I just had that feeling of, you know what? I've got this plan that I'm, I'm executing. I know that 80% of it's probably not going to work. I'm just looking for the 20% so that removed the pressure for me. It wasn't like every account's meeting I needed to get them to refer to me or every prospect meeting I needed to get that sale. I had a three month plan that, you know what, if I don't get this next one or the next three, that's okay. I'm just getting those out of the way to find the one that's going to sign or the one that's going to refer. So I think that it's a simple numbers game and if you make it about the numbers and you make it about the plan and you just follow it, you take away the pressure. And that's massive.

MP: 16:05 I think so too. You know, it's kinda similar to what we talked about in the first bit was B, having a plan, being prepared, putting things at ease at when you relieve the pressure, then all sorts of things become available. There's new, your brain can work on new problems, not, you know, worried about what's happening and everything. It has a gestation period, right? So it's not like, you know, you plant a seed and tomorrow you've got apples growing in your backyard off a tree. There's years and years and years that take that seed to go through and all sorts of steps and it, all sorts of things that need to happen. It's so different in business. If you want more sales, if you want to grow a business, all of your future visions for your business begin with little seeds that you apply certain things to like watering, watering might be there for, in the case of selling is doing the planning and then you need to go out and take those different actions.

MP: 17:02 But if, if you start today, well down the track, you're going to like sales are just going to happen instead of worrying about it or being stressed about getting sales in the future. So even if you don't need clients right now, which I do hear that often people say, chief, you know I've got enough clients, I'm already busy. Well if that's the case, you don't want any more growth, well congratulations you have arrived. But if you want to grow, you want to add staff, you want to have a business that goes beyond just yourself. You can't sort of say, you know, put everything on hold and stop taking clients. Otherwise your business just sorta plateaus. So I think it's, it's to focus in what I would put say is focusing on doing these steps and increasing demand for your service so that you can be selective as to the type of clients you get. Only take the very best clients and refer the, the rest on to other people that perhaps are in your own networking cycle or bookkeepers that you know that are really great. So really great thinking around removing the pressure, you know, anytime we can remove the pressure, we put ourselves in a great position. So what's next?

SF: 18:20 Yeah. And also just to add onto that Michael, it's, that's really the key by um, removing the pressure, giving yourself time you do.

MP: 18:30 And I think that's the absolute key, what you just said, where you then get to choose the clients you want and obviously you take the time prior to starting to build your business or taking that step to growing it is figuring out who your ideal client is. So when you're out there meeting people, you know, okay, so this person for us was, you know, our ideal client was minimum of 15 hours a month of bookkeeping, 15 to 25 was our ideal. So when you're out doing your presentations, you, you've got a beacon of okay, this is what I'm looking for. And then you get to be choosy because you've got this plan and that again, that removes the pressure. You feel empowered almost to go out and look for this person or these this particular client or referring accountant and that that is just gold. If you've got that set up already, it just makes it beautiful and, and a business that you love working with.

SF: 19:20 Yeah, like I, I think I want to stress upon it. I mean anything in life that causes negative stress, unhealthy stress, like there are positive stress and good stresses of course, but anything that causes negative stress, like clients that you don't like working with or they work in a business that you're not really in con, it's not congruent with who you are. Anything like that is like putting a rock in your backpack and if you're carrying around this backpack and you throw a whole bunch of rocks in it, you're going to find that by lunchtime you're drained. And so if you get rid of those people or things that are in your life that are not positive, creating positive stress but creating negative stress on you, you're going to notice when you remove those by five o'clock, you can feel like, wow, I don't feel like I've worked a day.

MP: 20:12 And I noticed that. I mean, so many people I've spoken to after we've helped them get rid of, you know, deadwood clients and clients that just are not nice people to deal with and uh, are high maintenance and all that good stuff. They just, it's not, they're actually working harder, but they feel like they're working less. I mean, they're, they're getting to the end of the week and, and not being drained. So this is a really key thing and I, I want everyone to be thinking about this is fill up your business with people, people that you love working with that itself. If you just did that would make a massive difference for you, your life and Jay, the person that goes away from work at the end of the day, home to their family is going to have so much more energy to actually then spend it on the whole point, which is your family, your loved ones, the things that you like to do, your friends, your, your network. You can go into that world with a lot more energy. So there's a lot to this benefits, fringe benefits to getting great clients. And one of the secrets to getting great clients is to be the one that's in control about who you're picking and choosing. Love it.

SF: 21:27 Yeah. And to by default you're, you're framing up with people exactly what you're looking for. So accountants meetings and become, you know, it rolls off your tongue exactly what you're looking for. So then it frames up with them. Okay, oh well, you know, whatever business, you know, whatever you're doing, you can, they think, okay, that's the sort of client that Sharon was looking for. I'll refer this one to her because she, she is looking for this, she's specializing in whatever industry. So you're, when you're really clear about what it is that you want, you actually project that across to other people. So then you're sowing the seed with them or what you're after. So then by default that happens. If you tell that to five accounts a week, your business starts getting filled up with the sort of clients you're after because you've expressed that and it's, it is magic out happens. It's just a decision and it's confidence too. It's confidence in what you want to build and that, that confidence comes from, you know, just getting, removing the pressure and making a plan.

MP: 22:24 Yeah. And I love that. And I just did another point. It's kind of funny how we've gone way off. It's selling, it's up. We're talking about the benefits of selling now, but there are some good, some good thoughts here. And being able to say no to the wrong client is such a powerful milestone and any business owners really in anybody's life is to be able to say yes, no who you're going to say yes to and know who you're going to say no to the minute you say no, even though saying yes to that particular person might be more money, could even be a lot of money, but to say no. It's reinforcing of what, where you're going in your life and that is a moment that I guarantee if you anybody that's either had it or is about to have it. If you look at your life after where you've powerfully said no to what's not right for your life, a whole bunch of yes is going to come in front of you and it's going to light up the progress.

MP: 23:24 I actually just, I have a very close friend who is just in the last, let's call it six months, started a construction business and he recently said no to a really large job, but he really investigate. He knew, he knows exactly. He's done the work and knows exactly what kind of clients he wants to work with. And he looked at that job and he said, okay, this is going to a lot of money, but there's all these things that are going to actually could blow up and make this a terrible idea for me to take this on. And he said, no. And I, you know what, I can just see he is, he is it positioning himself to do really, really well, build a really, really great business because he's clear, he's clear about it, and he's actually sticking to the plan and doing it.

SF: 24:05 Yeah. And, and what happens, and I think you can, it's, so, it's such a confronting thing, Michael, but when you actually, when you're really honest with yourself, you look yourself in the mirror and say, okay, what is, what does my business really look like? And if it's, you know, you've got high debt as you've got clouds that you don't want to work with, all of the things that you really don't want. It's, it's not just one thing that you've done. It's the small decisions you've made along the way that don't feel like they're that big of a deal. So for your friend, it's like, you know what, it's not that big of a deal. It's good money. And then the next one and the next. So that those small little decisions add up to where you are actually right now with everything, with what your bank account looks like with what your business looked like, with what sort of clients you've got with what. So what a book, what's it of bookkeepers that you've got working for you? All of that is, is the result of this small little decisions you've let go through the gate all along the way to get to where you are. And that's what's so tricky about it because it just feels annoying that those little decisions can have such a big impact on your life. Right?

MP: 25:17 It is amazing. And I'm just sitting here thinking about that for so many people and as well for my, for myself in my own life and looking at it and, and uh, it just recently looking back in the last six months, just made a conscious decision to remove a bunch of stuff from my life and create focus around one specific thing and say no to all these other things. And it's like, you know, it was almost like I woke up out of this fog as like, what was I doing? I look back now, it was like, what was I doing? What was I doing with all those other things that were just not creating or moving me towards the kind of life and doing the things that I want to be doing and living out into my purpose. I was like, wow, I just, it's almost crazy for me to look back now and go, wow, that whoever that was back there had some fog in their brain so it really, really can open things up.

SF: 26:13 And so, but what it took was for me to say and have the time to take step back and go, okay, what's working and what's not working? And then, you know, not that I came up with the answer, but it's determined at that time is like I'm going to be patient enough that the answer will come to me, that the answer will be there, but I know it's not right and I know it's not going in the direction I want and I'm not going have it go that way anymore. I'm going to find a way to have it go another way. And that really was six months ago. It took a couple of months to, actually, we're talking like eight, nine months ago. It took a couple of months to actually shift, but boom, something happened and it was like, okay, this feels better. This is a better direction for me.

SF: 27:02 And, and then it just started rollout and as like, yeah, I don't know exactly where I'm going, I, but I know I'm on the right track, but I feel lost. But it's not a bad loss. It's a good loss. And then it just kept road signs and things started popping up and, and uh, it led me in a, in a, in a place that, yeah, I cleared a lot of stuff out of the way so that I had B I was putting more position to do the things that were, were better until where I am today is I feel like I have like 1000 times more energy. I feel like every day I, I if I looked at okay if the last five days, the last 20 days, whatever it is, if I'm looking back it's like, you know what the last five days in like every day.

SF: 27:43 Like I'm finding that for me, I'm finding that I, I'd love to have three more days in this week, but that for me is almost like a measurement of wow, that's kinda cool. Like I'm afraid of the weekend, right? Cause I want to do more stuff and I've got lots of cool things that we're working on and so it really is powerful and amazing. I think it comes right back to you listener. Right? Is that what this whole podcast is really about? Is about you having the life that you want and the business that you want and, and to be inspired every day and to feel like, you know, what you're living, the life that you were meant to live and doing the things that you were meant to do. And it might not all be rosy because guess what? Mine, my life's not. And I know yours isn't Sharon. There's barriers and roadblocks and ups and downs and everything. But overall it's like, you know what, we're on a journey that it's sprayed, excited about.

MP: 28:39 Yeah. And I think the key thing with what you're saying there is the measure is if it's working for you or not. And that's getting really honest, honest with yourself. So ease what my business look like now working for me. And if it's not, you know, it's just, it's being brave enough to change it and those little steps along the way. And that's, I guess that's one of the last point on that on the blog that I've got is if you've got time, I think the biggest mistake that people think is that they've just got a, you know, they've got to get in and they've got to make it happen now. But you've actually got time. I guess the biggest thing that a lot of people worry about is when they go into a sales meeting, Dave, we bring it right?

SF: 29:18 Yeah. That's great. Back because we could go, this might be like six-part episode, so let's bring it back to actually not being, you know, selling without being salesy. So yeah, it's good.

MP: 29:28 Thank you. Sure.

SF: 29:30 Yeah. I just, I just feel I put it all ties in, right? I think all this ties into the bigger picture stuff because this is, these are the little beans. These are the little things that make the Di yeah. You're making on, um, that actually result in, you know, that life that's perhaps not all business. That's perhaps not what you wanted to be. So these are the little rocks that you've got to move to make sure you get to what you want. So, yeah, so look, I think the big thing with sales is that we're specially have, we're not, we're not comfortable with her. It's not our skills that, you know, if we're happy doing bookkeeping behind a computer to get out in front of somebody is a big thing. It's not, not an easy thing to do to sit in front of an accountant or a prospective client to say, this is who I am.

SF: 30:11 This is how great I am. And, you know, with my experience working with bookkeepers for six years, who gave his hate to say how amazing they are. So, um, and they are, I, I wish that I had half a bookkeeper's brain to be able to, to process the way they do, but I don't. So, um, so I think that what we do when we go into meetings, we do usually two things. We usually get straight to the sales pitch because we just want to get it over and done with look and feel. I mean, so much pain here. Let's just get straight to it. This is my prices, this is what I offer. This is all the, all the detailed stuff that obviously is not a great way to do it. And the other way is obviously, probably the more popular one is just to avoid the sales conversation altogether.

SF: 30:55 And you know, if you could just go and have a nice chat with someone and talk about you know, their business and make it so it feels, you know, just nice without asking for the sale at the end or without having a process, you're not going to get sales to the rate that you should. I believe. Um, and I did, I've devised this way to make, may feel better when I'm in sales meetings to make that whole process, not feel like, you know, the burning thing of what am I going to do, the sales, where am I, when am I going to talk about, you know, closing the close that people talk about and it says, what am I going to do that? So I just removed all that and um, basically figured out what my style is. And what I think is really cool is, you know, your Spiel, your listener style doesn't have to be my style and vice versa. So it's actually coming up with something that works for you. And what's good about this is it you can experiment with it. You don't have to have it right to get out and do it.

MP: 31:53 Yeah.

SF: 31:59 I know for me, and I'll just, what I'll do, Michael, is just run off a few things that I've done to make me feel absolutely fantastic when I'm walking to that meeting. So for me, I know I have a real need to feel prepared. So I know it was a pure bookkeeping system. There's a whole process of engagement letters and um, all the documentation you need to, to sign up a client. I would have at least six of those in my briefcase at any given time. So no matter where I was or what I was doing, I could just reach in and I had all that ready to go. If I was going to a prospective client, I'd have some of the paperwork partly filled out, you know, I'm always a sales person. You expect the style. So I have it all partly filled out with their name and such.

SF: 32:43 So then when they are ready to go, I've got it ready to go for them to, you know, to fill out, just basically sign it. Um, so being prepared and always, always, always, always for me, if I'm late, I am rattled in a meeting. So I always arrived 10 minutes early. I've just, it's, it's in my veins to do that because I don't want to feel rattled for some people they arrived just on time and it works for them, but that doesn't work for me. I've had this thing all my life, but uh, certainly with building the bookkeeping business and my thought process is with being the best dressed person in the room. So if I'm going to a networking meeting or meeting with it accountant or prospect, a prospect client for my business, I like to feel just like fantastic. So I do generally to make it economical for me.

SF: 33:32 I'll go out and spend a lot of money on a good suit, a good corporate suit. And um, that's the one I wear to all the meetings unless, you know, I have two networking functions and one to pull out some other different outfit, but I like to be really well presented and you know, all the things that go with that, like nice perfume, nice suit and just looking really presentable. What I like to do is leave a meeting being remembered and being remembered about how great you are as a bookkeeper or your bookkeeping company, but also how you present yourself to the world. I just think for me that makes a massive difference. The other thing that I think is really cool is most people Google's a business or an accountant before they go into get a bit of an idea of what they, what they, um, what they're about.

SF: 34:20 I would always look for things that made me curious or inquisitive and I'd come up with two or three questions that most people wouldn't ask. So I don't know what an example would be saved and accounting fam had on there on their website. They're points of culture. I would read the points of culture and pick out one or two things. And, and within the conversation we've weave into the conversation, you know, I really enjoyed reading your points of culture. Did you do that as a team or was that just the directors that did that? So I've just tried to come up with something that I could refer to from their website or something that I was curious about and that's my curiosity. Not, not everyone would be curious about that, but I always think it's interesting when you see, you know, points of culture and mission statement or what have you on a website. Like who did that? How did you come and do it? Was it a team day that you did do to come up with those points? And I was really interested in this one. So it was, so I'd open up a conversation around things that I was curious about, which led it led to getting to know them more and for us feeling more comfortable with each other I guess. So that's it. I, that's, that's really my, um, my little tips for feeling like I've got time and I set up my own style.

MP: 35:38 I absolutely love checklists and I just find that they give you a roadmap to follow and it's, it just, it takes all the thinking out of it so you can just be prepared and, and go and do your very best. And so I love that you've given us really, really great things to do, specific things to do, tactical things to do. And I know that we have as well, I mentioned earlier on, uh, on this episode a link to go and download the your not too salesy checklist, which I think is such a cool title, uh, which I recommend that all listener right now go and download that, read the blog, download the checklist, start applying this into your business right away. As we mentioned all throughout this episode, this, this stuff is really powerful, can really make a big difference for your business and get you going to where you want to get to and get more of the clients.

MP: 36:35 They absolutely love perfect clients for your business and say no to the ones that are not a fit for you. And I know what's going to make a big difference for you sharing this has been just absolutely great and I love the conversation that we have when we meet and when we do these episodes. It's so interesting to get your perspective and I'm going to love to have you back again. Cool. Cool.

SF: 36:53 Thanks Michael has been really great. Thanks for your time.

MP: 36:56 My pleasure. And I know that you're on the successful bookkeeper group on Facebook and I think that's a fantastic way. If it lists or if you have questions you want to interact with Sharon, just get onto the successful bookkeeper and uh, reach out to Sharon and say, Hey Sharon, I got a question for you. If it's around anything to do with growing your business, scaling your business. I know Sharon, such a generous person, would love to help you and have a conversation about that. So Sharon, until next time, we'll, uh, we'll say goodbye to you.

SF: 37:25 Yeah, thanks bye. It's been great talking to you.

MP: 37:28 You Bet. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP81: Amanda Birch – How Fixed Pricing Worked For Me

Update - TSBK - Episode 81 - Amanda Birch.png
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Charge an hourly or fixed rate?

It's a decision many bookkeepers, who are business owners, have pondered at one point or another.

Our guest, Amanda Birch, the President of Birch Accounting & Tax Services, was one of them until she figured out fixed pricing was the way to go.

For her, fixed pricing made sense because it is offered upfront so that clients would know exactly what they're paying for, whether it be bookkeeping or taxes, so they would not end up with a surprise bill at the end.

That decision has worked well.

Amanda's business continues to provide value while her customers have reaped the benefits.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • How to optimize bookkeeping in real time with online applications

  • How to provide cloud and desktop accounting solutions to your customers

  • How to use a secure encrypted portal for your customers' tax return information

To learn more about Birch Accounting & Tax Services, visit here

For Amanda's LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Facebook, discover here.

To get in touch with Amanda, email her at amanda@birchaccounting.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:01 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest is the mother of five kids and has been operating a bookkeeping practice for 12 years, including starting your business twice, once in British Columbia, 12 years ago. And once when she moved to Alberta five years ago, she owns Birch Accounting and Tax Services and her practice is almost 100% virtual. Amanda Birch, welcome to the podcast.

Amanda Birch: 01:33 Thanks a lot, Michael. I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today.

MP: 01:37 Well, the privileges all of ours. And I do thank you for devoting your time during a very busy time of the year to actually give some of your wisdom experiences, your wins, your failures, all that good stuff to our audience. And I know they're there, had his tipped to you as well. So Amanda, first off, tell us why you were interested in becoming a bookkeeper in the first place.

AB: 02:07 Um, you know, I was kind of throwing into it. My husband and I met, he's a CPA and uh, we started at, we were starting our family and we realize that flexibility and working a nine to five job wasn't quite what we wanted it to be. So when my oldest was born 12 years ago, we decided that I would start bookkeeping and doing some basic tax, you know, to the offset cause his income. I had been doing bookkeeping since high was actually 13 years old. My mom is also a bookkeeper, so she, I mean she had me doing reconciliations at 13 I took my degree in business and started it the first year we had five clients and now we have significantly more than that.

MP: 02:59 Beautiful.

MP: 03:00 Now you started at a very young age and what, what have you seen through that, you know, 13 to now, what, what stands out for you in terms of the, the, the business landscape today is to where it was before?

AB: 03:25 Well, when we first started we didn't have QBO, we didn't have things like share files. Virtual bookkeeping I don't think was even on the landscape. I don't think people were thinking about it that way. And probably about, I would say about eight years. So you started seeing things like QBO become a major, major player. And when we decided to move to Alberta, I knew it was an easy, easy thing for me to do. I have things like facetime and Skype. Um, my clients, I would say, majority of them I've never met in person. They know my voice, they've seen a picture. But to actually meet in person has never been a detriment to the growth of our business.

MP: 04:07 That's fantastic.

AB: 04:08 Yeah.

MP: 04:09 You started your business twice, you mentioned a little bit of that not and virtual. Having the virtual aspect was a big part of what enabled you to do that seamlessly. What you know, what's that been like though, to move to a completely different part of the world? I mean part of Canada really part of the world, but uh, from British Columbia to Alberta.

AB: 04:35 I mean,we moved up big city. Uh, we lived in Surrey BC, so you, you know, you know, Metro Vancouver, we moved to what I classify small-town Alberta, which is, Duke is just south of Edmonton going from millions of people to 30,000. Cause, uh, it was a, it was a culture shock and definitely felt like a different part of the world. But, you know, having, having everything online, there was no question my ability to support my clients. Um, and when I said I was moving and they said, so what does that mean for us? I said, well, this is, this is what we have in place already. Um, and this is what I'm going to be adding, you know, to the platform. They were excited. They're like, you mean I don't have to see you anymore? And they were, and I said, well, you know, I'm gonna miss you. Um, but I had a full practice at that point. I was contemplating moving out into office space. And so when I moved here to the home-based business, because I didn't have to see anyone and I've pretty much doubled my, my client base since I've moved here. And again, clients I that live down the street, most of their stuff is still virtual as well. I stealing very rarely.

MP: 05:53 Wow. That's fantastic. I mean there's, you know, the, these are some of the gains that you can get when you are working virtually and not hit your bottom line. I'm sure.

AB: 06:06 Absolutely. I don't have to hire staff when I've got things in place like Receipt bank and hub dock, you know, those are extra people during tax season. In fall, I'll bring in extra help just to keep me on top of everything. You know, the kids go to daycare more often, but I'm not feeling overly stress. There's still some stress involved in the busy time of year and any bookkeeper or accountant will tell you that it is this crazy. Um, but I look at it and the rest of the year is a pretty slow go, uh, relaxing type of business. So definitely the pros and it's just pros and cons to both sides.

MP: 06:46 Yeah, no, absolutely. Now, just because it's virtual does not mean that it's easy. There's lots of roadblocks and pitfalls and all sorts of stuff. Just like any direction a business goes. What have you seen as some of the challenges that you've had to overcome having done this from a virtual standpoint?

AB: 07:07 You know what, it's technology. There's always going to be problems with technology. Servers go down, they become overloaded. Clients, you think things are 100% automated just because it's, you know, online don't realize that I do put in a lot of work behind the scenes to make it look easy and they're always surprised and I can give them answers at the drop of a hat, but there's a lot of work that gets us to that point. Um, you know, you, you'll see online, everyone's like, oh no, QBO is down. I can't run payroll and nobody knows what to do. There there is, there is no contingency in place, right? Payroll goes down. Suddenly you have to figure out how am I going to get payroll done? And at the end of the day, there aren't a lot of other options. When it used to be completely manual, you know, you do it through a QuickBooks desktop or simply accounting.

AB: 08:03 You would create your pay stub. You'd call the employee or send them an email and say, you know, you need to write checks for, you know, John Smith for $150. And that's what they would do. Now if you're on something like wage points or QBO payroll or there's a bunch of other vendors at that that do this product and they're down and you can't get it processed, you've a can't calculate a and B direct deposit doesn't happen. It's a problem. It's a problem. People want to get paid. You know, it's an amazing thing.

MP: 08:46 Absolutely.

AB: 08:47 People's houses depend on it.

MP: 08:49 Absolutely. Absolutely.

AB: 08:51 So, so a big part of it is, yeah, there's lots of benefits, but you're really putting in some cases your eggs all in one basket. When you're working in the cloud, the cloud goes down and it can happen quite easily cause it's, it's one pipe. Uh, so that's one of them.

MP: 09:13 What about the, you know, the perspective of, you mentioned a little bit of that, right? Like even the perception that your clients would have like, oh, this is all in the cloud now. It's easy. It's, it should be easier to, to do for you. That's a perception that might be pushing the value of what you do down. How do you counteract that?

AB: 09:28 Generally it comes down to when there is a problem and you start explaining why there's a problem. Right. You know, data going in is only as good as the person putting it there. So yeah, you have something like Hubdoc or receipt bank, but if it's not being coded correctly or set up for appropriately, there's a lot of problem. And so if they have a problem and you explain why there's a problem, they then go, oh, that's why I pay Amanda what I pay her. Because if I did that, I wouldn't know how to fix it. Or I'd be paying, you know, yearend accountants, a fortune to fix all the adjusting entries that need to go in because they didn't set it up correctly to begin with. Um, most of my clients there, I would say 90% of them will sing my praises all day, all night because they've had a problem that I've been able to fix because they don't know what to do. The other 10% is that they're pretty smooth sailing. They haven't had a problem yet. And so, you know, you don't want to wish the worst than anyone, but it's usually the problems that will get you the great referral.

MP: 10:38 Right? You, you saved somebody from this awful experience. It's like they, they want to, they want to tell the world about it.

AB: 10:45 Yup. Yup, Yup.

MP: 10:47 Beautiful. Now the other part of virtual is you're not seeing these people, you know, in, in real-time like sitting there and you know, across the table from somebody and that is a different type of relationship. And, and one of the key components of business is the relationships that you have. How have you been able to maintain good solid relationships with people being virtual?

AB: 11:14 It's keeping them keeping in communication. So keeping them in the loop, uh, sending emails, uh, making contact even on Facebook, you know, sending them a funny saying that, you know, will apply to their business or their current life circumstances. Trying, trying to call them as much as possible. My hours are all over the place. Depending on the days, the kids have school events, I don't work during the day. I'll be working, you know, between eight, 8:00 PM and midnight. Um, and so my clients will get emails that'll all kinds of the day, but they appreciate the personal touch and the caring. So making sure I know what's happening with their kids. Um, and their families, if you know something's going on in her life, offering to help them with other parts of their business, you know, unless they require someone to sit at their front desk meeting customers, I can pretty much do anything for any of them. So I, whatever they need, I try to offer it. And the offering goes a long way.

MP: 12:13 So you, by the sounds of it, you make a point of understanding what's going on in their life and get to know them on a personal level and then nurture that regardless of the fact that it's virtual.

AB: 12:28 Absolutely. Most of my clients have kids, um, or they'll have parents that they're looking after, um, knowing those little things and they're not little, but knowing the things that don't show up in their bank statements. So thing, but don't show up on their credit card bill. Um, you know, knowing that they're having an issue with a client's not getting payments and coaching them through, you know, the words to say or the, um, things to write. Um, really it allows them to, I think they realize, I know where they're coming from. And you know, virtual hugs are great.

MP: 13:09 Yes, absolutely. And, and that's in many cases what they're going to, you know, connect with you on an emotional level and, and really love working with you on a level that you actually care. And when you care and you demonstrate that through real actions, people, it shifts the relationship too. I mean, you're so far away from being a vendor, uh, that the retention level of clients just goes through the roof because you're, they never want to see you go. And so, you know, this is what I mean. I, I think for everybody that's listening is to think, you know, I almost just thinking a simple as it could be is to just book a session with clients. Maybe not during the busy time or their busy time, but a book or a book a session with clients and say, look, this is just a discovery call to see what, what's not working and what's working, what's not working in your business.

MP: 14:13 And just say, Hey, you know, there's what's going on in your, your business and your life that maybe through the work that we do, we can help improve so that your life can be a lot better. And it's like, yeah, what's going on? You know? And so if you have a strong enough relationship with people, people might actually, uh, say, look, you know, I'm really stressed out about this, this, and this, and now you might be able to not be able to help with any of it, but you can be a person that gets, gets them, understands where they're at, have empathy for them and just that alone changes the relationship and improves the relationship.

AB: 14:48 Exactly. That's exactly it.

MP: 14:50 I that, so now you did mention this, and I do want to touch upon it a little bit here, is you have, you have five kids.

AB: 15:02 Totally right. Thank goodness.

MP: 15:08 How the heck do you balance parenthood with your business? Now I'm thinking, I know it might be some wine glasses of wine here and there involved.

AB: 15:16 You know what, there's coffee in the morning, there's energy drinks during the day and then definitely wine at night when the kids have gone to sleep. We have a family calendar that we think across all devices. My oldest now just received a cell phone. He has the calendar on his phone, everyone knows where everyone is at any time of the day. My husband started a new job last week. It requires a lot of travel to travel, goes into the calendar. Any anyone with either one kid or like myself, five or I've got clients with even more. I always say have a family calendar that everyone can access at all times of the day. I keep it up, up to date. You'll find me at the ice rink meeting with clients during hockey games. They get a kick out of that. Um, you know, if people see us around the communities, they're always commenting on are all those kids yours yet they're all mine.

MP: 16:13 That is beautiful. You know, it's, it's your virtual, your virtual abilities are, are, are solving problems in your own life through a family cloud calendar. I use my calendar religiously, uh, online to look. I use Google calendars and it's on every single device and you know, if it's not in the calendar, literally doesn't exist. And so the problem being is my wife is not like she's, she has a calendar for work and she does all that stuff, but she is not as technical. And so we have a paper calendar, have it in the kitchen ed. So, so I'm, I'm constantly getting in trouble because I haven't migrated my digital calendar to back to paper-based calendar. And it's like, what do you mean it's not on the calendar? So I love that you've done that.

AB: 17:08 If this stuff isn't in there, I can't, I, I'm not gonna apologize if I've missed something. It has to go on the calendar.

MP: 17:17 So now not all of your kids aren't there yet, but you have a, one of your children have a calendar. So I think that's, you know, one, one for everyone, whether you're working virtual or not yet. We all have likely other people in our lives that need us to be certain places at certain times and this and that and a synchronizing calendar is, is a great way to take off the stress and make it easier to just all get the things we need to do get done. So I think from a, a hack if you will, for making life work and family in life. A shared calendar is, is dynamite.

AB: 17:50 It is. Absolutely. I couldn't do without it. My scheduling software for my clients. It seems to you the same Gmail calendar. And so if I've got something booked with the kids or my husband or whatever, they can't book that time with me. So it prevents a lot of a double booking for sure.

MP: 18:08 Beautiful. Now what's the set scheduling system that you're using?

AB: 18:12 Um, I use at, you can book me the free scheduling program that syncs with Gmail, which I absolutely love. You can get a paid version as well, but it's just me, so I don't have to worry so much about that.

MP: 18:25 Okay, cool. So that, that's how clients book with you. So if they want to book time with you, they've booked that. That's now in your calendar and in a way you go. So there's lots of different scheduling apps out there, but it's good to, I've never heard of that one. And that's one. If people are interested or just dipping their toe in this pool right now, then hey, that's another one to check out. And you like it and it's working. And if you're working with Google calendar, excellent. Now this is one thing, right? Is, is you know, bringing all these virtual things and now you've not always been virtual. And I'm sure there's lots of listeners that are, you know, they haven't gone there and they're not, you know, there's lots to do. Where, where do you think people should start to like what's a good, like just, just get this done?

AB: 19:08 If you do this, this will be a huge wind. Take some of what you're doing into the cloud.

MP: 19:13 Wow. I, I don't know, it'd been so long that I, I haven't had any cloud. So you know, if you're, if you've got desktop software, learn the online version. I'm strictly QBO and I have a little bit on QuickBooks desktop that I use with remote access. Um, if you're in simply they've got their online platform as well. So learn the applicable online version of what you've got. Uh, with QuickBooks you get pro advisor or your online pro advisor, you've got your desktop pro advisor, get your certification and learn it. In a lot of cases they're backwards compatible. So you hear if you know desktop QuickBooks and moving to QBO isn't that much of a leap. Um, and I mean if you want to get advanced certified, that's going to take a little bit more, uh, more time out of your, your week for sure, but worth every single penny of time.

MP: 20:15 So really, first step is if you're not on a cloud accounting program, just start learning one and if you're quick, but I mean, it's a natural progression from QuickBooks. Go to QBO if you're, if you got nowhere, there's other options. But get learning something right now. Uh, and that probably will get, that probably goes with some of the other apps too, right there is that you mentioned how DAC and Receipt bank and you know what's uh, what's a low level? He's, he, you know, this is, you can, you can do this. You got this a for one of the APPS, which where would, where would be a good starting point?

AB: 20:51 I would start with, I would start with Hubdoc because that one has saved me hours of time. I one client that would normally take me say 10 hours of data entry, I'm now down to two. It pulls all the bank statements, credit card statements. It allows them to email their receipts and take pictures with their phones. If you don't want to be dealing with courier packages on a daily basis, that's the one that I say would start with. Um, the next in line would be the fleet bank and it's a similar type of platform. They now allow retrieval as well. Um, I'm not sure what their full scope is there, but there they both offer training programs, certifications. You can get your little ProAdvisor badge for almost any single app that you can think of right now. Um, learn it, learn how to integrate it with more platform of choice. And then once you start looking at those ones, you'll find tons more. So find what works best for your, Your Business, your, your practice and start playing with them. There are a lot of fun.

MP: 21:57 Beautiful. Yeah. And I, I can say that hub dock just from our, we use it a ton and absolutely love it. Saves me so much time and just, uh, highly recommend. It's really great app and that's a good, that's a good goal to start with. I mean, right. Regardless of you're in a cloud accounting package, you can, you can benefit, your clients can benefit from this and it's a bit of a, but behavior change, like not everybody's going to be right there. But if you can show the benefit to everybody like you, you know, like your benefit as the bookkeeper is, yeah. Hooray. Nobody cares that you're saving time. In fact, they want to get hit, you know, they're going to want to pay less. Uh, but the real one is forget about that. Let's show them how much time they're going to save. And you know, having to even interact with you. That's, that's money in their bank. I mean, if you're saving two hours, I mean, how much time are they actually saving just in their interactions with you?

AB: 22:57 Yeah, absolutely. And they're not getting those annoying emails. I need your bank statements, I need your bank statements. I need, you know, April, May and June. Yeah, you sent me May and June. I still need April. You know, it's the same thing over and over again.

MP: 23:12 How much like for that, I'm really curious, actually. I love this train of thought. How many this particular client, there's emails, there's just, you know, it's like they get an email, they got an action, that email you gotta do something about it often they might not even, and then it's, they got to come back to it. So there's more time. Like what would you estimate on a monthly basis that that person is saving just from the interaction with you and having to get documents in these sorts of things.

AB: 23:40 I don't know. I guess it would depend on how many bank accounts they have and what have you. I would at least an hour, probably more like two to five hours to five hours a month. I would easily say that.

MP: 23:53 Yeah. I think it's a conservative estimate and yeah.

AB: 23:57 Yes.

MP: 23:58 And so like you, you know, let's think about that for a second. What a message to clients that are not using it. It's like an email. How would you like to get two to five hours back of your time this month?

MP: 24:11 They would be like, where do I sign up?

MP: 24:13 Where do I sign up? And it's a great way like even for networking, I mean, Hey, what do you do?

AB: 24:26 Well, Nah, at the very basic level I could I on average give two to five hours back to the people I work within their businesses. Two to five hours. I mean that's a lot of time to a busy, overworked, small business owner that's like, well how do you do what a great conversation starter. I give people their time back. I give people their time back. Lin diamond help you make more money, save more of a, you know, all those things. But I think that's,

AB: 24:50 yeah, all those.

MP: 24:52 What a great, what a great way to a, it's a conversation starter and then that conversation says, Hey, I'm interested. It's like, well, why don't I come over and I'll tell you what, I'll come over and I'll do a, uh, this is right out of the pure bookkeeping kind of philosophy, but I'll come over and do a health check on your, on your business and I'll, I'll show you how you can use this tool. Yeah. What a, what a great lead into actually getting in front of a client. Now obviously you're not going to come over, you're going to have a web meeting and, and you know, or for, for the technology Savvis like yourself, Amanda, it could be literally like, look, I've got a, I'll send you over a little video of how I'm saving, uh, saving our clients two to five hours a month and we're, what's your email address? Like it's value, it's giving, it's having conver great conversations and, and valuable conversations that are valuable to them. I just love that. I love where I kinda went on a little bit of a tangent there, but I really love that.

AB: 25:52 Awesome. I love that. See Michael, I'm going to use that the next time I go to a meet and greet for sure.

MP: 25:58 Totally away from what everybody's, you know, it's like, it's way to just easily be valuable to people and have a conversation that they're going to be like, I want to call that person back. I want to, when are you coming over? When are we having this meeting? I want my two to five hours back. Uh, so that's, that's really cool. Now I mentioned pure bookkeeping. You are a pure bookkeeping licensee. Tell us a little bit about how that has helped you become a more efficient and, and, uh, enabled to, to grow your business.

AB: 26:28 I use it, you know, the system, it's, it comes down to the system. I have, I used to have things written all over the place. I'd have spreadsheets. I'd have posted notes. Um, I used, I used to, you know, have of clients, I could tell you everything and anything about them. Anytime in the day as I'm growing and adding more clients on to remember who's doing what when I, my brain is so full, you know, so now I bought my checklist, I've got my manuals, I can bring on temporary help or full-time help. Everyone's going to know exactly what going on with any given file. They know how to read, you know, the status reports and what have you. I don't have to do that part, you know, service one thing. I give them a login, they go in the system, print your certificate when you're done and then I'll give you homework to do. It's great.

MP: 27:22 Beautiful. You know it's, it's a, it's always so exciting to hear people building system driven businesses and a system-driven business is one that you're not relying on people, but you're putting more reliance on the systems and, and documented processes that enable you to get more and more scale and just make, make life better and, and get your time back. I mean you're, we're talking about your prospects time back, but you know, it get your own time back in your own sanity back so that you can a, spend more time with your family and be able to do a better job with the clients that you do have. Well, thanks for, for sharing that. Uh, certainly appreciate getting your take on how it's helping you and I've been meaning to reach out and just thank you. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I believe that you referred Andrew actually to appear bookkeeping. Yeah. Thank you so much for that.

AB: 28:20 Well, he was starting his business this year and for I guess last 2017 and I said, you know what, if you're going to do bookkeeping, you need to sign up with pure bookkeeping. And he's like, are you sure? Are you sure? I said, yes, you need to do this. I said, if I had started using true bookkeeping 12 years ago, I would've been significantly further ahead.

AB: 28:42 So Yeah, it's a, it's one of those things. It's, it's, it's definitely daunting, but you know, what thank you for, for pushing them. And, uh, and having him and I, I know he's leading, he's leading now. I think you're in his mastermind too, right? So it's kind of like, yeah, it's not his, but I mean he's the ambassador of it if we're a leader of it, but it's just so cool to see, see it going, it kind of happening like that. But I really do appreciate it helps us grow our community and, and so we just want to figure out how to do more of it, get more members so we can just keep on making it even better.

MP: 29:17 Yeah. I'm looking forward to what the years have coming ahead and growth and changes that it'll be awesome.

AB: 29:25 Yeah, we're having some fun and lots, lots of new things to come. So it's a, it's, it's good.

MP: 29:39 And I want to also jump to a point that we didn't really dig deep into, but you know, we touched upon it a little bit. You, you had to restart your business in Alberta five years ago and that, you know, getting clients can be difficult for some people. How have you been able to get the amount of clients that you're constantly full up in your practice?

AB: 30:05 Well, do we have the second time when definitely easier. I knew what not to do, what didn't work previously, so I didn't have to waste money on that. Tried a couple of new things but went back to the same old, same old, which is referrals. Um, so you know, meeting people at Church, meeting people at hockey, the Birch family is, is well known in the city of Luke. Now the family with all those boys and we've got four boys and now we have one girl. And so people recognize us based on who we are. And so I sent out postcards to certain target areas. I loved Canada Post, um, online mailing system. It allows you to target the area that you want, um, and got tons of calls from that. And then from that it goes back to the referrals. They were excited about the work that I did. Either, you know, doing taxes or doing bookkeeping and word of mouth is number one. Number one, you can't beat it. Please. We give good service to the first couple of people. They pass on your name, the other people just sign up without any hesitation.

MP: 31:14 Beautiful. Now tell me, tell me about the Canada post scenario. How, walk me through, how did, how did that go?

AB: 31:21 So Canada post has a, has a business site and basically you create your peer profile, you log in and it has a map. And so you, you know, drill down to the area that you want. Click on the postal codes that you want. You can say, okay, I want them on this strip. I don't want agriculture, I want business only. Or I want only people that live in apartments or only people that live in single-family homes. Um, you, you target, you can target down to like, you know, a couple people in this route and the a hundred people on that route if it's pretty split. Um, and then if you have lot, you just, you bundle it based on what they tell you to bundle it and you drop it off at the post office and away it goes.

MP: 32:02 Wow. So what was your, because you know, the targeting is, is definitely really powerful. I mean that if we're talking marketing, we have to have the right audience. I mean that's, that's definitely, but we have to have the right message and the right offer. What was your message that you were sending out for small business?

AB: 32:22 It was saying, you know, I do bookkeeping, I take care of GST, WCB, pst. It was pretty basic. Not very glamorous. We have a recognizable logo that we use. It's a birch tree. We get a lot of comments from that. So that went on the front of it and on the back it was just, it was a call to action. No, do you need help? Do you want someone else to take over the payroll? Do you want someone else to deal with cra? And it works really well. Simple as simple as better, you know, direct them to your website that lists off all the other services during tax season. For personal tax. It was just saying, Hey, we do personal texts, you know, quick turnaround, you know, whatever you're trying to promote yourself as, you know, great service. Um, again, dealing with cra on your behalf, that's a major pain point with almost every, everyone in Canada, they don't want to deal with Cra. And it's easy enough for us bookkeepers and accountants to do it. So

MP: 33:26 Wonderful. Well that is, that's a, that's a very cool strategy and tactic that you've, you've had some success with and I'm sure there'll be many others that, that we'll want to, to try it perhaps. And uh, I recommend they reach out to you and, and find out more about how they can, how they can do that. What's the best way for people to learn more about you, Amanda?

AB: 33:51 About me personally or about my business?

MP: 33:54 How about your business, about your business and you know, there may be other bookkeepers that want to connect with you.

AB: 34:02 You know, the best way to get, get ahold of me is through my Facebook page, Facebook.com/virtuataccounting. We post some fun stuff on there. You want to address directly, contact me. Email is great. Amanda@BirchAccounting.ca please don't call me right now. Uh, it is tax season but any, any other time of year is fine. I don't mind phone calls as well.

MP: 34:24 Absolutely. And I mean it's a great uh, a great, uh, to, to mention the, The Successful Bookkeeper community on Facebook. You're on there and, and certainly if, if, if other listeners, if you're listening right now and you're not a part of the successful bookkeeper community on Facebook, I mean there, there are a lot of other wonderful bookkeepers just like Amanda that are so generous and so experienced and you know, uh, been there, done that, that can help and be both inspirational but supportive of where you're trying to get to in your business. And I know if you go on to The Successful Bookkeeper, you can just literally connect with Amanda Right there and ask a question or get some direction from her over there and it's really easy for everybody and there's a whole bunch of other awesome benefits to do that as well. Well man, you know, just got to say, I think we could probably keep on talking for a lot more time and I know this is like most times a real busy time for you, but I'd love to have you back and I just want to thank you on behalf of all the listeners for giving up this time to share what's working in your business, some of the things that you've been through and and encouraging people to to do new things, take on new things in their business.

AB: 35:41 It was a great experience and I would love to come back. Michael, thank you so much.

MP: 35:44 Beautiful. We'll look forward to it and uh, until then, Amanda.

AB: 35:48 Thank you. Thank you.

MP: 35:50 Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what a wonderful episode it was to learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 36:08 goodbye

EP80: Kellie Parks – Choosing The Perfect Technology For Your Bookkeeping Business

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It improves efficiency for your accounting and bookkeeping business.

Our guest, Kellie Parks, a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and Financial Technology Expert, is a relentless organizer and believes cloud financial technology is the key to organization.

While running her business, Calmwaters Cloud Accounting, she spends much of her days educating accounting firms and small to medium-sized businesses, but she loves taking care of her clients' day-to-day accounting needs.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Different financial technology that will help your bookkeeping business

  • How Cloud Financial Technology makes it possible for you to enjoy working from different countries

  • How technology can maintain your training and bookkeeping business seamlessly

To learn more about Calmwaters Cloud Accounting, visit here

For Kellie's Facebook page, go here.

For her Twitter, explore here.

To get in touch with Kellie, email her at kellie@calmwaters.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:25 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is a cloud accounting specialist who runs calm waters cloud accounting and loves her fintech. Recently she appeared on our radar in our successful bookkeeper Facebook group where she provided a useful resource that's subscribed, how members could use hubdoc and receipt bank together, which create a storm of a conversation. Kellie Parks, welcome to the podcast. 

Kellie Parks: 01:58 Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here. 

MP: 02:01 Yes. Well first off, Kellie, for those that may have not met you or didn't chime in on that conversation in Facebook, tell us a little bit about your career background and how you became who you are today. 

KP: 02:12 Okay. Well, I had a marketing and branding company and I had a have lots of bookkeeper, so I started doing my own books with the help of my accountant who was my cousins. Oh, he was a patient teacher for me. And as time rolled on I really, really enjoyed it. And I was winding down on my marketing company and my cousin accountants that I was working with, asked if I could help them out with other clients books. And then eventually I sold off that business, which was a very technology-based business as well. So I've been big into technology for well over 30 years. And then um, I started doing more and more books and then I joined a certification program and then I got certified in all kinds of clouds, financial technology programs as well. Such as how doc is the fee, say QBO practice ignition. So I just love this stuff. 

MP: 03:11 Beautiful. And why do you think it is that you came to fall in love with technology? 

KP: 03:18 Man, I was in the marketing business. Print production had it on big technology disruption and this was almost 30 years ago. So we had disruptions in a number of ways. We had disruptions in the ways that we managed our file sharing and our proofing. So, I'm not sure if anybody has heard of FTP sites, but we started using FTP sites. We dropped to them film and we went to direct to plate, which caused all kinds of problems with our proofing process. FTP sites, of course, went down and we were starting to rely on them more and more to get our realtime files for the files weren't in real-time and we uh, InDesign came and took over some of the programs that we had already been using. I been in the industry so long, I remember when we were using the little metal letters and tweezers to get stuff done. At any rate, as more of this technology came out, I just, I really like it. I big distraction. It was a pain in the butt. I'm seeing so many parallels right now, but there was something of that for me that was just straight-up fun. I don't know why I like technology. I just recently I live in a hundred-year-old cabin that I renovating and it's a bit of a wreck but I smart honed the whole house just or fun. And that's a little technology-based thing. So I just, I basically just it on this stuff. 

MP: 04:40 Wow. I love it. I think we're both, uh, have some common threads there. I love technology myself and yeah.

KP: 04:47 If I could add, if I could add one thing, technology has freed me up. My kids are older and my husband is seasonal. He's a fly fishing guy. So the technology aside from all the great things that stood for my clients has allowed me to basically spend my winter not in Canada. I travel most of the winter and technology has certainly freed that up for me to do that. And it's been seamless for my clients. 

MP: 05:16 It's beautiful. It really is. I mean, we live in an age where there, there is no reason you have to be in any particular spot. A put the exception of having at least a temporary connection to broadband or some form of Internet. But with that go anywhere, go anywhere. And I think that's appealing for many people. And, and for some people, it might not be so appealing because it seems daunting or, or difficult or uh, just a big mountain to climb. And so hopefully today in this episode we can help bring more freedom to those that want more freedom and bring some more certainty for those that feel a bit daunted by the all of this. 

KP: 05:58 Yeah. And you know, the other thing that I find with it, Michael, is that it's just kind of fun. It adds another fun factor to it. The world isn't going to end if you make her a mistake in hub dock or QBO, you know, you can, you can voice some transactions, make some notes on what happens, case a, a learning experience away from it. And off you go. 

MP: 06:20 Absolutely. And I like the context of fun. Everybody Fun can, can say, hey, you know what? I'm going to do some fun today and work on some technology improvements in our business or in your business. And we had Joe wittered actually on a previous podcast and he talked about essentially freeing up space in your practice to enable you to, to do something, whether it's harmony for your life, you know, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones or use that time that freed up time to improve processes, bring efficiencies like technology streamlining like workflow and business systems and process and all that good stuff that then give you the ability to scale and do more and more. Which I think today we're going to tackle this, this more with you, which is great. So we've already got, our listeners are like hungry for this freed up time and some more freedom and, and some more profitability and efficiency. So we talked about the resource that you provided to the successful bookkeeper group, Facebook group. What prompted you to create and pass that along to your fellow bookkeepers? 

KP: 07:35 Well I'll tell you one of the great things about technology also is the collaboration. It has allowed for bookkeepers. We are helping each other more and more. And Accountants, I am finding bookkeepers and accountants are working more hand in hand. The whole thing is more collaborative and on that now when someone else has a great process that they're using, they're so willing to share it. It is so terrific. And so I am a huge fan of hub dock and I've been using him dark much since the product came along. I think I was super early in on it and I was kind of like everybody else. I was, well why would I need Receipt bank? It's going to go solve one of my biggest pain points, which is getting the bank statements and salt's a big pain point for my clients. And that is they don't want to go to all of these sites. 

KP: 08:28 They don't want to get their hydro Bellas and bank statements and all of this stuff. They want something to do that for them, you know, with it. And along with technology comes needing to manage it as well. So I hear all the time that people are concerned about the fats with hotdogs at the bank. Connections break. Well, yeah, if you change your card number or if there's a glitch in the bank site or security protocol changes, you're going to have a problem with that. But more often than not, it's awesome. And you got all the bank statements there. So anyways, I'm getting off on a tangent. 

KP 09:01 I liked this tangent though. I think it's speaking to, I think it's speaking to the problem it solves. Well speaking to a couple of things, it's PR, it's speaking to the problem that it solves, the benefit that proved that problem being solved gives like really we're talking about freeing up the client's, right. [inaudible] I mean I use hotdog and I would be considered more a client, right? Because I'm not doing, you know, like I first got into hub dock early, early on as well. And for me, it was like heaven. I mean, 

KP: 09:34 oh well cause I do, yeah. When I do technology training, so I don't have that many clients. I've got a fairly small practice. So I did a ton about front training with my clients and I do training for accounting firms and bookkeepers and that as well to bring their clients to this technology and it is amazing. It is such a big win for me when I show them how dos and those bank statements and hydro statements and bell and Rogers and everybody starts flowing in, it's, it's always a great moment. They're always amazed, but then I have to remind them, so my clients, it's part of their workflow. My clients have their own little workflow checklist and it's part of their workflow that once a week on the same day every week that they did into a routine of checking their bank feeds both or the connections, if you will, both in HubDoc and in QBO. 

KP: 10:29 Because one of the big points is those feeds go down and some of the, the banks don't allow scratching of transactions after, I think it's a 10 day window or something for a couple of the banks. So the pain point for a lot of people is that the connections go down. Well, the solve on that is make it a part of somebody else's routine, not yours. Because we are very often don't have the logging information for our client, engage the client and make the pain point solved by them. And I have no pushback from my clients on checking once a week because they get to see what's going on in their bank account sent you. So it's the same with QBO or sage or anybody who's faced one. Anybody who's got some of these bank connections, well make sure they're running 

KP: 11:19 that's, I mean that goes with any technology. I mean the, it's going to give, it's going to get freedom. It's going to give improvements of time and it's going to free up all sorts of time. But there's a comedian, um, and now the, the name slips my mind, but um, it'll come to me anyways. He's, he's, he, the joke is about sitting on an airplane and somebody is complaining that the Wifi connection isn't working and it's like, Hey, first of all, you're traveling through the air, right? And, and you're like Getty connecting to like the Internet signal and bringing up all this and it's like you're complaining because you can't get access to Wifi. And so we forget so easily. We forget what it was like even five years ago. Right. And that's what I'd love. What you're doing is you're saying, look, this thing's going to break, but the braking is going to be a tiny little grain of sand compared to the massive beach of beauty and, and improvement that you're going to get. 

KP: 12:16 And it is that. And so system process, making sure that you go back in and, and check on these things, but you're, you're, you're, you're excited because your client sees it and they love it. I mean, Hubdocs is a great thing to bring to a client. And, and I mean, if they've never heard of it before and you're the one that brings it, I mean, they'll never forget you. You're always gonna have that little place in their life, in their mind where they're like, oh, just thank you so much for that. And I feel that way about Jamie over at hub doc who showed me how docs and I started using it. I mean it, it has saved me so much time and for years I actually just used it very, very mentally. Like it was just, okay, go fetch all these things. But now I, every single purchase that I do, I take a picture of that receipt and I email it directly to Hubdoc and I delete the receipt or crumple up the receipt and then eventually I delete all those photos and that in itself, like from a paper standpoint, beautiful. 

MP: 13:11 Absolutely beautiful. 

MP: 13:12 It's magic. It's absolutely magic. You know what the Jamie's created is terrific. The first time I thought at the ITBC conference I was like, are you kidding me? And like I thought even if the connections go down, my clients are in charge of managing their own connection. They would rather fix that connection than have to deal with going to their bank site, which also has connection problems and download the statement. Fixing it in hub dark takes them a heck of a lot less time than managing their actual online banking site. 

KP: 13:43 Yeah. And as well I use Royal Bank and uh, it was just one of the many banks that they deal with. But some of the, the information that comes through is not available to me if I were just doing, uh, like, you know, information about what that account transfer was, email transfers, uh, checks being in Hubdoc. I mean, it's like, listen, you can't, there's no other way to get that kind of data. Now. I might be, there might be some magical way that I have to travel through mountains and deserts to get it through Royal Bank. But you know, you've, you're taking a technology company that's disrupting and then they're trying to make the best of these old curmudgeons over at the banks and they're all outdated systems and they're making the very best of it. So when it breaks a little bit on the Hubdoc side, it's not how doc likely, it's more of the bank that's messing that up. And, uh, and thankfully Hubdoc's been able to make a pretty darn good. I mean it's been four years, a little bit more than four years that I've been using it. And it's very, very rare to have any issues. Yeah, I've got to change this or that, but it's usually my fault cause I changed the password.  

KP: 14:52 Something changed just as you said. Right. So you, it, it takes two seconds. And you know what if I could also mentioned the filing for, so when we're talking about using apps together, so Hubdoc, their filing system is super visible. Their dashboard could use some work and if Jamie McDonald hears this, he knows that Jamie Schulman and I run a Rav with flack or it's practically hoping for a dashboard, but it's coming, they're working on it but they're filing. But you know, but I say to them, hey, but don't do anything with that filing system because it's so visible when you click on the folder, you can see the images right away. Whereas receipt bank, one of the reasons that I use from hand-in-hand receipt bank has this terrific dashboard with all kinds of other features that hopefully we'll have a chance to get into. But the beautiful thing about receipt bank is these archives things that you know, what you've dealt with and they've gone away, but then you've got to search for them pretty, you know, it's a, it's a four click operation to look at an image that you want to see go. How'd doc has this great folder system that the visibility is so high level, you just go into a folder and all you have to do is click through them. The images that right there, you don't actually have to look for an archive thing and then click on it to open it and do a dance in a CEG. If it's an awesome, I call it the filing cabinet on steroids. Mm. 

MP: 16:16 Well you also called it the chocolate and peanut butter of Fintech apps. So why is that?

KP: 16:25 Well, because they're great together. So now, Oh, if I can go back to this collaborative world. So I had some friends who had been bugging me for quite a long time about how great receipt bank was, but I was like, oh no. Then I got to pay for it and I don't know what the, I know we've got some sets and Yackety Yack Yack, but then I realized I love restaurants. I've got a truckload restaurant, but the, the, the few that I already had, they weren't managing their own receipts and how doc they were publishing everything, so I didn't quite get the pain point and then my other clients, I had to basically look at every receipt anyways, so then I could just hit publish because I already had the presets, but I needed to look at them. 

KP: 17:09 Then I got this restaurant that had just an absolute ton of receipts with weird tax consequences because it was food with small wares mixed in, so it was never 13% of the total bill. They would, they would come in, there would be like a hundred from plan against a month. And then I was doing a cleanup file for a construction company where all of the Hubdoc's stuff was going to be supplies and materials cost the good soul. And I'm like, wow, if I could just batch publish these because I don't really have to look at them, the client is going to take the responsibility for the fact that these things are cost of goods sold. Um, he and I made an agreement and the restaurant, it's fairly obvious that food purchases and paper goods are cost of goods sold. So I took another look because my girlfriend had been yacking on about how awesome publishing was in receipt bank. 

KP: 18:04 And I get a trial because you kind of have to sort out the pricing. So I, I found a pricing level that I thought was going to work for what I was going to do and I realized that this was an absolutely magic combination. It is like chocolate and peanut butter. The first time you eat a Reese's peanut butter cups. It's like, oh my, well the first time I published over all of these receipts in a batch, I was like, well the price is an issue anymore because I just saved hours. So because in receiving, and I'm sorry if I'm getting off on this, willing at least of using the product in Hubdoc does so many fantastic things upfront. It's the back end that's a little bit dodgy. You got to do the whole tax extraction thing and you have to publish your receipts one at a time and you can't sort them by any sort of filter. 

KP: 19:01 Yes, don't get me wrong. Things are always in the works with Jamie. And so in receipt bank you've got this full dashboard where you can short by vendor, you can sort by date to make sure you're not going to publish old ones over, although talk to, because it doesn't let you, you can sort by what it is. So let's say you only want to send over the cost of goods sold and then you want to deal with you know, office expenses afterwards, whatever the case may be, you can store it. I think there's a six filter sort option in there. It operates very, very similar to the QBO bank feed in that you can sort it by all these different criteria to kind of publish or match in the order that's going to make the most sense for you. And then you could also in receipt bank, you can also look very easily individually so you can, you can forward through the receipts and they'll just keep populating and popping up with the image. So I'm not saying when I put over to receipt bank that I don't look at any of them, but if there's, let's say it's, I dunno, let's say it's staples and it's underneath the threshold for whatever their fixed assets are. Well we know those are office expenses. You can just batch them up and send them all over. But if I want to look at something that's like $650 I can take a look and see if it's four items or is this actually going to be a fixed that. 

MP: 20:34 Wow. So it's, it's saving you a lot of time. And how, how, how did you come about, you know, actually making them work together? 

KP: 20:45 Well that's not, you know, that is something that I heard about from a number of people. So there's a, I call them AP, I, they're accounting professionals I admire. So a few of them had told me about the receipt bank on its own. They're big receipt bank fan. But then on the other end I had a friend Sherry who Mathers who's also an ICBC member and she was using them together. And so I looked at how she was using and I have another friend who was using them the opposite. She uses Receipt bank for client-facing and Hubdocs at the backend. So everybody's got a little bit different way that they do it. So when I saw how Shirley was using receipt bank cause she was using at the same order of hub dock to receipt bank, I was like wow that's really cool but what if I made a few tweaks and did it just this slightly bit differently. So again it was that collaborating sort of environment. We have to answer the question 

MP: 21:47 you did, you did. And I'm curious now I'm curious how this affects on the client side. Do they see both? Do they have to work with both or what does that look like? 

KP: 21:58 No, and this is where some of us are a little bit different. I have my clients on Hubdoc because I find that they can find things in the folder system a little differently. We tag like crazy in there. Tagging is very visible and hub doc. So if somebody puts a receipt in, not only can they add a note but they can tag it to a topic or for me specifically to look at or I can tag it and say yeah I don't think this is going to fly. This doesn't look compliant. So we use tags like crazy and as I mentioned before, my clients are in charge of their own connection. So if Hubdoc isn't the client-facing app, you are burdened with fixing their connection and so then it's going to take two seconds for you. You've got to connect with the client and then find the stuff and then tell them, you know, forget about it. So I use hub Hubdoc as clients facing receipt bank. They know that I use it because I feel obligated that the anything that's in a cloud, anything that's out there in the world that has their documentation, they should know that it exists. But they don't know how to know how to use Receipt bank. They don't. I'm not going to ask my clients out if you will. 

MP: 23:07 Yeah, I was just going to say that that would be challenging, right? Because they're typically, they're not so interested in how things are getting done. They just want to know that they've gotten done and you want to not confuse them because they're often to, people that you're working with are very busy. And so if it's like, oh I'll use this, that and other thing and then over here you got to go over there. I mean you just go in the opposite direction, 

KP: 23:29 you don't want to stare them right now I will say, so in the successful bookkeeper and also in the workflow watering hole, there is a deck, a pdf if you will, of how to use hub dock to receipt bank. And in HQ there is how to use receipt bank to hub dock files. So depending on how, what, which app you want client-facing, there are PDFs on how to use these in both directions. 

MP: 23:57 Yeah. And we can put the, uh, we can put links up for those PDFs in the show notes if people would like to get access to those. And a, and a, and other links that we've been talking about. So you know, we've been talking primarily about Hubdoc's and receipt bank. Are there other financial awesomeness apps out there that you've used and that you're seeing big, becoming as great as Hubdoc and receipt bank? 

KP: 24:24 Yeah, I love Plooto clue as awesome. My clients love Plooto. So Pluto is a payment platform that syncs up with the accounting programs as well. So my workflow or order of events, if you will, starts with how doc and then in the case that it's applicable, it goes to receipt bank, it goes into QBO. I'm a QBO user just so that everybody knows. So I get that slant on it and then it goes into, and then pseudo has all of that information and then you can mass pay bills from there. So rather than spending your day slugging it out, you know, individually paying bills and then printing the checks and then getting them to the client who's going to on envelope them and stamp them and mail them out. My clients love Plooto. They, I do all of their payables for them and it takes me no time. 

KP: 25:20 It's not, it's not turned into a huge part of our engagement. I clicked through them and you can sort include oh by date vendor, all of that set amount, whatever you want to filter out how those payments are going to look. And then a notice goes out to the clients. An email goes out, they approve what they want to pay, or maybe they got a discussion going with a supplier that I didn't know about. Then they just, they reject that one and then the payments go merrily on their way and the supplier gets a notice that that payment is on its way. So you're not fielding the phone calls of, Hey, when you hand me move, and it is, it's beautiful. I love it. 

MP: 26:03 Yeah, it's a, I use Plooto as well. It's, it's a, it really is just simple. 

KP: 26:08 Yeah, it's terrific. And it's funny because I had a few clients, they were reluctant. There is comfort in signing checks and looking at them and you feel a little bit in control. So there was a little more pushback on Pluto certainly than there was ongoing paperless at the front end. And as they started using it, it didn't take long before they were more than happy to give up control because they realized they even had more control when they could see the payments, what was happening, it was more visible. They felt more in control, not actually spending the time, those checks.

MP: 26:51 Yeah, j and t the just the visibility for both parties. I mean that's, I think Pluto, that number one word that comes to my mind is visibility, right? It's like everybody can see what's going on, where it's going and it takes a lot of the, you like if you, if you were going to be paying, you know, writing a check for somebody as an, as an agent, if you will, of another company. I mean that's putting a lot of responsibility on you as the bookkeeper and it's a lot of responsibility that's being given up by the owner, right? Access to bank accounts, all these different things. Where is this? That's a bridge that creates, gives you the ability to action something, a payment and then also somebody has to do is say, Yep, good, good, good. Or Hey, no. And then the client can see it coming at them. I mean it's, it really is. It's a disrupted big time. 

KP: 27:42 Sure. No, I will say there are a couple of great payment apps that have come along lately too. So I know that some of the API A's that I know they are starting to love some of the other ones I am sticking with Plooto, I love Plooto, but whatever. Pick one of these payment processing apps and get on with that. That is a huge one. 

MP: 28:05 Yeah, I agree. So payment, what else? What else are you using? 

KP: 28:09 Ah, I use workflow management. I'm not anybody who's listening to the podcast, you may know me may know that I am totally a workflow freak so I use 17 hats for my workflow and CRM. I also use QBO EOA the dashboard of QBO has a ton of information and it's a great CRM. You can put so much information into the QBO to track what's going on with your clients. It's awesome. But 17 hats for me is a huge win. The workflow is completely fantastic. Everything is organized by project. So my clients bookkeeping for the year is in a project folder if you will. And the emails are there and notes are there, quotes, questionnaires, contracts, everything is in one place. There is a client portal as well for anything created in 17 half but I use cube EOA shared documents from my secure document sharing and so those, those two programs, cube EOA, and 17 hats, 17 hats, you can embed all of the emails right in the workflow so you're not even jumping out of your workflow to go find an email to find it. It's actually partway through the order is the email you actually need to send out and my clients get a [inaudible] in the beginning or if they start to fall off the document wagon if you will, they get a Monday morning reminder telling them to refresh their hub doc and QBO bank feeds, connections, whatever you want and to get their documents, their receipts into hub dock and that was out every Monday morning. I don't even have to think about it. 

MP: 29:52 Beautiful. Well, you have just absolutely blown. I think everybody's mind was some peanut butter and chocolate, delicious Fintech apps, payment apps, workflow apps, all sorts of great stuff. It's been such a pleasure to have you on the podcast, Kellie. 

KP: 30:11 Oh, Michael it has been great to be here. If I can take away somebody's a, if you will, workflow or efficiency pain and just give them back that time to do whatever else they want. I will talk about this stuff all day. 

MP: 30:24 Beautiful. 

KP: 30:25 Great being here. Thank you. 

MP: 30:27 Awesome. And if people want to connect with you, what would be the best way to do that? 

KP: 30:32 Facebook. They can email me if I can take your phone call. I'll take the phone call in the moment. But um, Facebook is a, is a, a great platform. Uh, I have a group, it's called the workflow watering hole and one of the other groups I recommended and it was the successful bookkeeper cause as you know I love playing around in there but um, Facebook is probably the best way you can send me a Facebook message and that's what I use for non-client based kind of accounting professional point of contact. 

MP: 31:03 That's great. Well listen, I recommend everyone listening. Go to the successful bookkeeper phase for group search. Kelly, thank her for being on the show. And if you have more questions about Hubdoc and Receipt bank or any of these Fintech apps or workflow as Kelly and, and I'm sure she'll generously help you out. And uh, I could get where you're trying to get to. 

KP: 31:25 If I, if I could jump in for two seconds. What I love is if somebody posts a question, tag me in on it, but post the question, some of these groups, cause this, you have a question, I've got two, there's lots of people with the same question, so hesitate on piano and me if you think that somebody else is suffering from the same sort of pain point as you are. Quote a public post doc tagged me in it and I'm happy to, to jump in. 

MP: 31:49 Beautiful. So generous Kellie and it's been fantastic. Would love to have you back in the future to get some updates on what you're loving in the Fintech world and we'll say goodbye until next time. 

KP: 32:01 Okay. Thank you. 

MP: 32:02 Thank you. Well, that wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 32:16 goodbye.

EP79: Joe Woodard - How To Become A Top Small Business Advisor

TSBK - Episode 79 - Joe Woodard.png
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What impact do you have on your clients?

Woodard exists to transform small business advisors to radically impact the way small businesses operate.

Each business unit of Woodard serves to educate, support, and connect accounting professionals throughout North America and, increasingly, the world.

It is led by Joe Woodard, CEO and Founder of Woodard Consulting and Woodard Events.

He was recognized by Accounting Today as one of the Top 100 Influential People within the accounting profession in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

In 2008, he was recognized by CPA Practice Advisor as one of the Top 40 Up and Coming Thought Leaders under the age of 40.

Today, he has trained over 100,000 accounting and business professionals in the area of practiced developments, changing technology trends, strategic consulting and how to maximize the use of accounting software in their practices.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance and role of using adaptive capacity

  • Tips on how bookkeepers can turn things around in their businesses

  • Why picking the right people you surround yourself with will help your business

To learn more about Woodard, visit here

For Joe's LinkedIn page, click here.

For his Facebook page, go here.

For his Twitter, explore here.

For his Youtube Channel, discover here.


Here are some Woodard Resources.

a) www.woodard.tv – On demand videos including interviews with thought leaders and segments of our main stage presentations from Scaling New Heights 2017

b) www.woodard.com/techmakeover - Our video case study produced in a reality TV format that details the impact deployed technology innovations on small businesses.

c) www.scalingnewheights.com – the annual Scaling New Heights conference for small business advisors

Steps to Implement Fixed Fee and Value Pricing Models in Your Practice (See below)

Fixed Fee Pricing

Step 1: Determine your cost to deliver a specific service or slate of services. Clearly defined scope is key.
Step 2: Determine the price needed so your firm has the desired margin.
Step 3: On a regular basis, monitor the costs you incur.
Step 4: Periodically adjust the fixed fee price to maintain target margins

Pricing Based on Value (i.e. Value Pricing)

Step 1: Discover what your client values (i.e. how are you the solution to their problem?)
Step 2: Find a way to leverage your knowledge to create generate that solution
Step 3: Communicate (and if necessary educate) the client on the connection between your knowledge and their solution
Step 4: Set the price according to the wealth your solution generates*
Step 5: Connect the knowledge you provide the client to the wealth you created for the client (post engagement or engagement phase)

*Note: Wealth is not always financial. It could be advancements in the clients scalability, infrastructure, peace of mind, company culture, quality of services delivered, etc.


Michael Palmer: 01:54 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest has trained over 100,000 accounting and business professionals in the areas of practice development, changing technology trends, strategic consulting, and how to maximize the use of accounting software in their practices. In 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016, he was recognized by accounting today as one of the top 100 influential people within the accounting profession. Joe Woodard, welcome to the podcast. 

Joe Woodard: 02:33 Michael it's great to be here. Thanks for having me. 

MP: 02:35 Yes, and what a big guest to have on our show. And so for those, and there's probably not many, but for those that don't know you, Joe, let's start off by sharing a bit of your career background leading up to who you are today. 

JW: 02:51 Well, yeah, Michael. Uh, I'd love to do that. I got my start as a writeup associates in a CPA firm and met Louisiana while I was studying accounting at the graduate level at the University of New Orleans. I was headed to the traditional CPA track, you know, paying my dues, just kind of working my way through graduate school in the field where I was going to practice and all of that took a 90 degree turn when that practice asked me to become their residents certified QuickBooks pro advisor. And I think this mirrors a lot of people's careers within the space, especially in the US where QuickBooks is so dominant. I didn't like the product back then. I went kicking and screaming, uh, kind of with handled the job because I was the most junior associate to automatically add the short straw. Quickbooks was not beloved by accountants in the mid-1990s. 

JW: 03:43 Uh, but I took the certification exam and I started supporting the clients on QuickBooks and that got me into this mix of helping clients to do better work at bookkeeping, sometimes taking over their bookkeeping within the practice and then doing a lot of work to train them on, on the QuickBooks product. One thing led to another, I became a national trainer, then got a contract with intuit 15 years after getting that first contract with intuit in 2002 to train accounting professionals. We now have become into its premier trainer to accounting preferred trainer, two accounting professionals globally. And in that capacity we train about 30 40,000 right in there, accountants with intuit every single year. 

MP: 04:27 Wow. You are like a two-decade overnight success. 

JW: 04:33 It feels more like the two decades, not be overnight, but yet have, we're really excited about what we've been able to accomplish here and the impact we've been able to have on the profession. 

MP: 04:43 Beautiful. So tell, tell us a little bit about Woodard and, and why. Why did you end up creating water to help small business advisors? 

JW: 04:54 Well, you know, training is just part of the equation. We could have gone on with these intuit contracts and had a tremendous impact on the profession, but we wanted to do more than that. We wanted to have our own voice within the space that moved beyond the intuit message but was complementary to it. And we wanted to engage accountants intentionally throughout the year. So we created two programs here at watered. One is a national conference called scaling new heights. There'll be 1200 mostly bookkeepers, but bookkeepers and tax prepares all with a, an accounting tech mindset who gather this June as they do each year. The theme, this year's team, the machine's about leveraging all these technologies in your tax and bookkeeping and accounting practice. Um, but that was still just a once a year touch. So we created watered institute, which is I think the highest impact program here because it's throughout the year. And with Woodard Institute, we coach you toward your destination that you set. We help you to write your practice plan, program strategy, try to generate the results, you determine the results you want to generate. And then one of our mentors comes alongside you and helps you as an accounting professional, helps you build that practice throughout the year. It's actually about a three-year process, but there's joy in that journey. 

MP: 06:16 Wow. You know, it's, uh, it's amazing how you have evolved over your career, but at the end of the day, you've always been helping small business and uh, and bring, whether it's a small business to should be the end-user of financial information or it's the people providing that financial information and insight to small business owners. So it's fantastic. We love absolutely love anybody who's helping small businesses because we believe they're really the heartbeat of our, our countries. 

JW: 06:48 You're absolutely right. In our vision statement at watered is to transform small business through small business advisers. So it's, we're not just empowering small business advisors so we can help them to be more profitable, which within the bookkeeping space, I will tell you, bookkeepers leave a tremendous amount of opportunity and profit on the table. They typically undervalue the services that they bring or their clients do, and they don't price right. Now that I know there are exceptions, but as a whole in what I look at, some of those average bookkeeping bill rates, they're way under what the, what the market will bear. So we do help bookkeepers to become more profitable. But that's not really our ultimate end game. And I don't think it should be the bookkeeper's ultimate end game. You know, Henry Ford said that a business should be profitable or it will die, but if it exists only for profit, it must die because it doesn't have a reason to live. 

JW: 07:41 So, and that was actually a little prophetic, you know, because after his death, Ford went through cycles of existing only for profit and we kind of saw what happened to the effectiveness of their product is during those seasons. Right? So, so yes, absolutely bookkeepers must be profitable and that's part of our coaching program. But ultimately it's about what impact do you have on your client. And if we're going to transform small business through small business advisors, um, bookkeepers are key. Maybe even the tip of the spear, they're the gatekeepers of the financial information. They're often the most trusted. Definitely the most engaged accounting professional year-round within the business. They're sitting on a treasure trove of information and many times they even know how to analyze that information. Sometimes that's something we train bookkeepers to do. But the biggest barrier I've seen Michael within the industry is a psychological one on the part of the client and the bookkeeper alike. 

JW: 08:41 And it's about a paradigm shift and what it means to support a small business as a bookkeeper to move from the back office to the board room. And though that might be a journey of just moving down the hallway, the, that 10 feet from the back office to the board room at the client's office is it can seem insurmountable. Uh, and what we try to do here is to, to, to train bookkeepers to change the paradigm within their own mind, but also within the mind of the client to say, I belong here, pull out a seat. I have, I have valuable information to share and it will transform your small business if you will. Give me that voice. 

MP: 09:30 Beautiful. You know, it, it's so true. And I've, I've spent a lot of time with a lot of business owners, not just bookkeepers, but any business owner. And Typically Solo. I find it with Solo entrepreneurs or business owners is the, there's the mind is such a powerful thing. It can either be really helping you sore can just be keeping you pinned down to the ground. And sometimes it takes, you know, hearing something 20 times before you believe it yourself. And so what you're talking about is really supporting people from their confidence levels and, and, and having them take the actions that will then prove to themselves that they can do it and that they can go further. And, uh, you know, that that really is the power of coaching is that if you're trying to do it all by yourself, you're really limiting yourself. I mean, it's, it's simple math, right? If it's one, it's one person yet another person, it's like there's an equation here. There is some, some value. And then we can start to talk about getting the right people around you, which is the next thing. Like you've created a massive community of people that, uh, help both your clients and connect with each other and a massive event. Talk a little bit about why it's so important to pick the right people to surround yourself with. 

JW: 10:50 Well, yes and I would say getting to your, your one plus one. Do you, you were, you were, you were getting at this but it is not addition. It is multiple occasion. Um, I mean would, I would just, I mean not literally cause that would get us one times one. He was one, but I'm saying it is, it is a, it has an exponential impact. You know, one plus one doesn't equal two one equals three equals 40 equals five. And a lot of studies have proven that that's not just subjective opinion or sort of the psychology of groups. He is shown that when you come alongside someone and you carry the weight together, um, you, you have a combined strength greater than the sum of your parts. But getting to the point of community, um, that is a big thrust here at water. Initially, there are four pillars, education, coaching, community and resources and we believe that community is integral to both coaching and education that you absorb education better when it's reinforced with your peers in an interactive environment. 

JW: 11:48 That's why we still do a face to face conference and a largely virtual training world and that's why it's, I know a lot of other conferences are shrinking because of the emphasis we placed on the year-round community and this is like a family reunion where we gather once a year. We make a lot of use of Microsoft's tools. One particularly, uh, called the Yammer and Yammer is a private social networking system and so what we've done is created a private deployment just for bookkeepers, QuickBooks, ProAdvisors, tax practitioners. You decide who you are, then you engage us on all the things that are relevant to you by getting into all of these different groups is not that different from other kinds of social networking systems, Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups. But in our case it's our own private world and you can't get in unless you meet certain qualifications. You can't be in the tax group unless you're an annual, a Byler, an ea or a CPA doing taxes can't get it into QuickBooks group unless you're certified. So, so you know that the level of engagement that's happening there is meaningful. But beyond just sort of compartmentalizing and getting the peer groups together, the key is that you're forming intentional goals alongside your peers. So it's not just peer to peer interaction and share of knowledge or even the cross-referral of clients. It's about accountability, accountability, and confidence that comes with knowing you're not alone. 

MP: 13:19 Absolutely love it. Let's get into talking a little bit about some specifics. You know, if you were to be coaching, and I know you're running this organization, I mean you have lots of coaches, you have lots of different people that are involved in mentoring. But if you, if you know, we had our listener here with us today and the one thing that we hear all the time, and I'm sure you do as well as is that they feel overwhelmed or overworked, maybe feeling like they're out of things or out of control. Especially, you know, various times in the year where there's lots of deadlines. How, how can that bookkeeper turn things around in their business? And, uh, what tips would you, would you give them? 

JW: 14:05 Well, this, you, you've hit on a struggle. I know that you're very close to, I'm so glad you asked the question. I hear it all the time. I want to be more intentional in my practice. I want to grow my practice. I want to make technological changes to be more efficient in my practice. I just want to come to the scaling new heights conference, right? Whatever it may be, I don't have the time. I'm overwhelmed, you know, so, so they're caught in this quandary of knowing they need to make changes in order to create some, some pressure relief and some increased profits, but they're too constrained in their current systems and process. You're in by those prisms and processes in order to gradually create the change. So to get out of the Quander DDA, that pickle, I tell a bookkeepers just charge more. You're probably, unfortunately, if you're a state, if you're hitting a statistical average of bookkeepers, that's a big gift. 

JW: 15:01 You're probably undercharging at this point. You it, I would recommend it's not just an hourly rate increase. I would say take the opportunity to flip from hourly rates to fixed fee rates and in that flip create a price point that's commensurate with the value that you're bringing. If right now that the average bookkeeping rate in the United States of America is sitting somewhere around $45 an hour, so you know if you're anything under that, don't just go from 45 up to from up to 45 or don't just try to push the envelope and go, okay, well I've got, you know, just distinction in the marketplace are I'm differentiated or unknown, my quality is higher, I'm faster, so I could go to 60 70 you use it as a baseline, but not to decide how you're going to exchange hours for dollars. Instead, use it as a baseline to say, how am I going? 

JW: 15:53 How am I going to fix fee? The services I'm offering flat rate them. Define the scope very specifically of what you're doing within parameters of how, you know, how many bills, how many checks, you know, whatever the processing load is. Then that'll regulate your income, but it will also increase your revenue per client. And this is the third one that gets us to the quandary solver. It will, it should if done correctly and aggressively enough, it should get about 20% of your clients to say, see Ya, I don't like the new billing model or I can't afford that price point. That's an effective price increase, not going to do it and they're going to walk. It may or may not be the 20% you want to walk. But in the experience we've had with our, um, our members, often it is the exact 20% you want to have walk anyway. 

JW: 16:47 Regardless, you have just leveled or increased your annual revenue net of the 20% walking away. So you've got no decrease in revenue, oftentimes increases in revenue, but suddenly 20% additional capacity. Now the catch is not to fill that adaptive capacity immediately with new clientele because all you're going to do is recreate your problem with a slightly better income. Instead, use that 20% to focus on the growth and development of your practice. The first thing you should focus on with your 20% energy is efficiencies. Pull in automation technologies. They're replete in the space. Everything from bank feeds to automate it in the cloud, the way your client manages expenses and time, so it feeds into the system. Work with your clients to integrate their front end systems with whatever you're using as your general ledger system. Just focus on how you can do less and less and less data entry a, their models. 

JW: 17:50 We teach in our programs where you can get up to 80% automation of the bookkeeping process across your existing clientele, but you won't have the capacity to deploy them until you create that pressure relief. You gotta get those 20% either fire them or use a price increase to make them go away. The ladder is better because it levels revenue then is you is you're increasing the efficiencies underneath this fixed fee rate. You're going to find profit margins continuing to creep up and up and up and up while the clients are not paying any more today than they paid yesterday, which is why you want to, you know, go with fixed-fee pricing. All right? Now once that happens, you can either just enjoy a change of lifestyle, keep the 20% adaptive capacity for some additional work-life harmonization and pick up a hobby. Just have a better life. 

JW: 18:42 Or you can use the increase margins and your 20% adaptive capacity to hire an associate because now with that increased margin, that increased profit that associates a yield is going to be easily three, maybe four times what you pay them. All right? And that's the biggest objection we have to growing the practice is the margins are so razor-thin. I pick up all the pain that I don't pick up commensurate a wealth generation for myself. All right, so I know that was a lot it and as an answer to your question, but that's the best way to answer your question. So the best way to solve the puzzle. 

MP: 19:27 I think you answered it incredibly well and so step by step, I mean I just love it. It's going to be a step by step in the show notes. It will be a step by step and we'll put it into the resources as well. I mean these conversations and everything that you've talked about, there's been pieces that have been talked about on this podcast and you've brought, what I love about what you've done, Joe, is you've brought it to a very simple but as well, freeing context. You know, there's a lot of people who talk about value pricing and you know, hourly and Oh my God, you charge hourly. Oh by God you don't do value pricing. Oh my God, you know, these people, I talked to them and they're there. They're freaked out and upset with themselves that they haven't been able to do anything and they're spending more time worried that they're not doing it versus just simply, hey, go from where you are now to somewhere above, right? Like, start making progress, fixed pricing, everything. You'll step by step everything that you've said. It's, it's not like it's going to get done tomorrow, it's just got to start today. 

JW: 20:37 Yes. Start today phase in client by client, starting with the clients you can, you can phase it in the quickest and get your learnings on the best way to manage the pricing around your processes. But the key is, and this is the biggest mistake people make, is they try to take what they're already billing at the hour when they've been undercharging and flat rating that just multiplying that in the last year and flipping it over and say, okay, we'll just take whatever I charged you last year, divide it by 12 you pay me that per month, and you're, and you're still leaving that opportunity on the table while you're not pairing down on the number of clients that you're serving. So all you've done is abdo adopt all the additional risk of this fixed-fee pricing, which, which requires you to constantly monitor scope with no change in your revenue, no changing your capacity. 

JW: 21:25 And that's the reason a lot of bookkeepers have said, I've tried it or I examined it and it disqualified it. And then I want to add something that I very important that I missed in this last one. After you've created efficiencies. So whether you hire two, multiply those efficiencies or you just enjoy them within your practice, use some of that 20% adaptive capacity, which through automation is going to become 30% 40% 50% right? So it's going to grow. Use this adaptive capacity that you're going to gain through extreme efficiencies to coach your clients to, to, to move from the back office to the board room. And then you can move from fixed-fee pricing to value pricing. Those are not synonymous. Fixed fee pricing is just a methodology where you regulate into, into even payments what you were otherwise charging by the hour, right? And if you try to value price without increasing value, really you just inflate price. 

JW: 22:27 So fixed fee price, the, the bookkeeping services value price, what you do in the board room and, and you value price over and above what you're charging for bookkeeping, they're billed separately and you value price of percentage under the wealth you generate for the client, not a percentage over the cost you incur. That's the key difference between the two of them. So determine with the client how you might generate some wealth for them. Maybe it's through better cash flow management and maybe it's by decreasing the cycles on their ar turns and therefore reducing their bad debt expense. There are levers we can pull and we know how to pull them. That can make a financial difference to the bottom line of the client. And a lot of times it's just deploying the same systems. Maybe they're charging by the hour as a professional service company and they need to fix fee price and do the same sorts of automation, uh, processes that you put in your own bookkeeping practice. 

JW: 23:23 You can move the needle in significant ways and then you can say to the client, you know, absolutely, I think we need to create a base here, right? I'm putting some energy and value just by putting, putting reports together and plans together. But what I'm really interested in is, you know, 30% of the wealth that I generate in year one and 15% of that same wealth I generated in year one when it recurs for year two. After that, you keep 100% of the wealth that I generate. It's a very fun conversation to have with clients and as long as it's measured properly there, their checks, the client is very happy to write it. 

MP: 23:59 And what a fun conversation to have with somebody increasing their wealth. Yet I love the context and you know, going back to where you started, right, as is a bookkeeper valuing what they do. I really believe that the listener right now is so far away from valuing what they do. Any tips on how they can actually just start with how valuable they are for their clients? 

JW: 24:28 Well, and this is one of the mistakes that I think bookkeepers and those who coached them may though they'll create a mandate, but you need to become a coach. You need to meet the move to the board room. You need to, you need to, you need to, and the book cover might even recognize yet that opportunity exists, but nobody is telling bookkeepers how to do that. What is the very next thing? So you ask the right question, right. And unfortunately, in a podcast environment, I can't tell each individual one of your listeners what their next thing should be. We do that in our, in a coaching environment, but in a general sense I would say start with the metrics that matter most to the business owner and that's not just cash position but it's, it's cash projection, cash flow projection and there are models out there and everything from excel spreadsheet templates to within certain general ledger solutions. 

JW: 25:16 Definitely within financial analytics solutions like fathom Q Vinci and others that talk to GL solutions but attach an analytical layer to what you're doing in the books. You don't even have to get the client's permission to do this because of the privacy of the cloud. Even if you attach your cloud solution, just attach it, run the dashboards and see what pops out at you that you know is pertinent to the client. Then open a dialogue with the client. It would go something like this, just finished closing out your books for last month and I noticed some things that I think I should bring to your attention. Let's jump on a call that will, that will intrigue the business owner. They might think it's more utilitarian, like maybe they didn't file their business license on time or maybe their sales tax report had an error in it because that's the way they perceive bookkeepers today. 

JW: 26:13 But then there'll be pleasantly surprised when their bookkeeper, their historian, their record keeper is saying, I was looking at your cash flow and I think you're going to have a problem next month if you don't frontload some of these sales. And then back it up. And by the way, you know the bookkeepers who are listening, my goal, I don't know how to do that. And I'm telling you, you don't have to know how to do that because the financial analytics solutions you integrate with the general ledger products already do it for you. They make you look really smart. Okay. And then, um, after that one, you know, micro conversation where you hit a home run with the small business owner, just keep repeating the success. All right? You can that now you're now you're the bookkeeper and the cashflow monitor. So just have another conversation with the, with the client at the end of the next month. 

JW: 27:05 Shoot the same email. Looks like we got cash flow manage, but I was looking at your books and there's something else I would like to discuss with you. Do you have time for a call? Don't ask the client's permission to sit down in the board room. Just walk in, interrupt the meeting in the boardroom. I'm speaking hypothetically, you know, hypothetically and say, look, I have something. I think it's important to management. They will listen. And if the client doesn't listen, when you say you have something important that you believe affects the management of the company, they're not the right client. If they turn down that request two or three times in a row, you need to accept a client relationship where they will listen to you and fire that client. 

MP: 27:53 Hallelujah to that. And there's a lot of clients out there that want exactly the type of bookkeeper that we're talking about today. And so what great advice that I, I really, I think this segment has really given some hard, hard, hard, fast things you can do and start to think about in your businesses and, and just start taking the actions. I mean, I think this is going to be one of those episodes, Joe, that people come back to and listen to again. Take notes, go out there and take the next step, come back, listen again. Take the next step. So you know, really want to thank you for, for this very compressed simple, not easy but simple plan to actually go there and increase both wealth for our listener and for their clients. And there's so many things we could, we could dig down into and have deeper conversations about. And we probably will when I have you come back, if you will. Um, okay, 

JW: 28:52 I'm coming back. 

MP: 28:52 Yeah. But before we say goodbye, I want to talk about the event that you, you do scaling new heights, you know, massive event. Tell tells a little bit more about it and what, you know, I'm sure listeners, if they haven't heard about it, they, they're definitely, their interest has been peaked in this conversation. You know, what, what's, what's, why should they get out, book that flight and get on a plane and come and to experience this event? 

JW: 29:18 Um, well, we were going to our 10th year, so it's a very strong event. It's a very mature event. Um, we do it in partnership with intuit. So if you have any clients that use QuickBooks or QuickBooks online into, it's gonna have a between 70 and 120 delegates, excluding executives, product experts that they conduct town hall meetings there, product managers to do segments. We call 100 minutes with intuit where can speak directly with the product manager for QuickBooks, QuickBooks online, QuickBooks online accountant. So if face time with intuit is a driver for you, then it is. It is unlike any other conference in the world, including in many ways QuickBooks connect, which is our sister show because of the fact that we're just pro advisers and bookkeepers and QuickBooks connect has developers and small business owners as well. But beyond that there are 15 concurrent breakout sessions. 

JW: 30:10 Every single breakout hour there are over 150 unique courses during the four days of the conference. There are five general sessions that include big name speakers and like Steve Forbes is coming this year to talk about the impact of technology on small business and small business advisory services. And the theme this year, uh, compliments a lot of what we've just talked about, Michael, it's called tame the machines as I mentioned earlier. And it's about how you leverage the machines to create extreme efficiencies in your practice. And then the second layer of how you train them as you transcend them to do the, the work that the machines cannot do and the work that they ought not do. Right. And mostly within with our realm that falls into the cannot do. And that's the kind of client coaching work, the relationship work, the knowledge work that isn't cyclical, repetitive and service oriented. So leverage them, transcend them. The entire theme of the conference is a drill down on everything we've been talking about during this episode. 

MP: 31:17 Beautiful bullets. Just, it sounds super exciting and it's, it's happening in June, June 17th to 20th in Atlanta. So get listener, get your ticket booked, go there and um, learn but as well be inspired. And I, I believe, Joe, that, you know, there's lots of different events, right? But there's a lot of our listeners and bookkeepers that maybe aren't going to be new listening to this is that have not been to these events. And I can s I can tell you from my own personal experience in attending industry events for whether it was an entrepreneurial event, maybe it's I was coaching event or whatever it was. Every single one of them was a multiple-time return on investment from the things that I learned from the confidence that I gained, the satisfaction of being there. I mean, after an event like this, if you're, if you don't feel 10 x more committed to what you're up to and what you're doing, well you didn't actually attend. I just, I am committed as 

JW: 32:21 well as effective. You know, we, we have folks that come to the show and say it was a result of the show. I gained x number of referrals from the people that I met there, or I was able to provide new, new billable services to my clients and generated revenue streams that way. So yes. Yeah. Inspiration effectiveness is what follows a conference when the conference is doing what it's supposed to do. 

MP: 32:45 Beautiful. Yeah, absolutely. And I've heard great things about scaling new heights, so please go and meet Joe. And the rest of the tribe over at Woodard. And uh, that'll be exciting. Now, Joe, anything else that you'd like to share? Tidbits, some things that, uh, that our listener can go and find out more about you and about Woodard and everything that you're doing? 

JW: 33:09 Yes, absolutely. There are many free options available. I know some of your listeners cannot get to Atlanta in June. Scheduling conflicts, budgetary constraints, whatever we'd love to have you. But beyond being with us in Atlanta or joining one of our programs, we have a tremendous number of free resources and you can check those out at Woodard.com. Um, some of the free work resources include, uh, watered.tv. So that's a different URL that you might want to jot down, not if you're driving, but Water.com is our website would or .tv is like our own little miniature version of TED where we have interviews with thought leaders. We stream segments from last year, scaling new heights conference and, and wide range of other on demand playable resources. Um, but one of the ones I'm most excited about is our reality TV show called tech make-over. We're in season two now, now they're a little miniature seasons. 

JW: 34:06 Um, and you can stream those directly from our website at Water.com or Water.tv. They're very highly produced. It's about $120,000 budget per hour of production. And we, we document a small business advisor about keeper who transforms a small business client through deployed technologies, uh, changing their processes, changing the way they run their businesses and measuring the impact. So it's really our vision statement in a video case study to transform small businesses as small business advisers. Season One, we transformed a bar on Bourbon Street and in season two we transformed a dock maintenance and installation company in the lake area of north Georgia. So go watch those and enjoy them. They're absolutely free. 

MP: 34:52 Cool. That is so cool. We'll have all the links of course. And uh, I'm sure there's so much more of the listener can go and find and dig through the sounds like just chocolate block full of resources. So get over there. Take it in, take in some of these events, the services that would or can offer if you're committed to growing your business, they can help you. Joe, this has been great. I really want you to come on back maybe after the event this year and you can share some of the key takeaways from that for our listeners. Uh, but thank you. I know you're a very busy man and leading your team, so thank you for being with us. 

JW: 35:29 It was just an honor to be here and I have a parting gift for your listenership. I know that getting to value pricing and fixed-fee pricing can be tough and though these aren't going to give you every step in the process, I do have a four-step process for fixed-fee pricing and a five-step process for value pricing. I'll send those over to you, Michael, and I'll let you include those in the listening guide for everybody tuned in today. 

MP: 35:51 That is fantastic, Joe. Thank you so much. 

JW: 35:55 Yup, great to be here. Thanks for having me.

MP: 35:56 Thank you. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, and wow, what a chalk, a block episode it has been. To learn more about today's guest, of course, you can go to the website and get all sorts of valuable free business-building resources that's at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP78: Keri Gohman - How Xero Can Help Your Business Become More Efficient

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Small businesses.

It’s the heart of the global economy.

Our guest, Keri Gohman, President of Xero Americas, is passionate about helping small businesses grow and thrive by enabling entrepreneurs to work toward their financial goals.

For bookkeepers, Xero automates many basic functions allowing you to do tasks quickly and easily while maximizing your time, build relationships with your clients and have instant growth results.

Xero is helping over 1 million subscribers worldwide transform the way they do business and they’re just getting started.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of bringing together the “Financial Web” for business success

  • Tips on how to grow your clients, team and profits

  • How being a trusted advisor will attract great people

To learn more about Xero, visit this link.

To sign up for a 30-day free trial, click here.

For Keri's LinkedIn page, explore here.

For her Twitter, discover here.


Michael Palmer: 01:22 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 the president of one of the fastest-growing software as a service company in the World Xero Americas. She is passionate about helping small business owners and entrepreneurs succeed as well. Has An incredible story of her journey and her career that she's going to share with us today. Keri Gohman, welcome to the podcast. 

Keri Gohman: 01:54 Thank you so much, Michael, thanks for having me. 

MP: 01:57 Yeah, it's great to have you in it. Really thankful that you devoted some of your day. I know it's a super busy day running a very large organization like this, so we all appreciate it and I know our listeners do. 

MP: 02:08 Excellent. 

MP: 02:10 Now before we get off to things, can you give us a little bit about yourself and tell us how you came to be heading up Xero Americas? 

KG: 02:20 Yeah, I'm happy to. You know, I have spent my career in financial services and while it wasn't exactly where I thought I was going to spend my time, what I found myself doing is that I was attracted to these incredibly complex industries that are deeply in need of transformation and yet incredibly important. So I found myself attracted to industries like insurance and investing and banking and lending and now accounting. And these are spaces that really matter and they really need to work for both and business owners. And in particular, I really found myself excited about supporting entrepreneurs because I was always just so inspired by their dreams and ambitions, their risk-taking, their tenacity. And I found that I could make a big difference because financial services was really broken for business owners. And a, I spent the last eight years actually at capital one leading small business for the bank and I got to know zero as a partner. And I was blown away by the way that technology made doing business simpler. And it brought together all the key pieces of the financial economy. So the banking with business management tools and most importantly with advice, which we often forget, it's not just about the technology, it's often about advice. And I wanted to be a part of the journey. I got to know rod and I said I got to be a part of this. I think I can make a real difference for business owners here in the Americas and particularly in the US. 

MP: 03:57 That's great. I love your story working in, you know, from an executive-level but for working with really large organizations, but those organizations that are helping small business owners and entrepreneurs, which is a really cool angle as well. You know, doing a little bit of research on you as well. You, you've, you've worked with supporting small business owners from micro-lending and nonprofits as well as being a leader, a leader on the council of Kiva. That's, that's really outstanding.

KG: 04:25 Okay. 

MP: 04:26 Has, has that always been something that you have been passionate about? 

KG: 04:30 You know, it's interesting. I grew up in a corporate family. And, um, I had the opportunity as many of us do to get to know entrepreneurs that were either family members, they were friends. And I just started to hear more and more stories of the complexity and the challenge of financial management. In fact, the bigger businesses get, the more complicated it gets and how difficult it is to make it. And, uh, in particular, I have one very good friend who makes jewelry and she has been enormously successful, but her big challenges are all around dealing with the finances because she's an artist and it's those kinds of stories that really inspired me. And you know, you hear these stats that half of the small businesses in the Americas fail by five years and they cite financial management is one of the key reasons they struggle. And this is the place where, you know, I really felt like my understanding of financial management and the kinds of companies that I joined could, could really make a difference. 

MP: 05:33 Mm. I, I completely agree. They, everybody here would completely agree with that statement. And so it's, it's, uh, it's exciting to have somebody that's working on, on a, on it, on that level. Tell us a little bit about your duties as the zero America's president and how, how does that impact our audience, our audience of bookkeepers? 

KG: 05:55 Yeah. I, um, I had a job because I get to bring this amazing technology, you know, Gero was the first cloud-based accounting software and I guess to bring this great and latest technology to accountants and bookkeepers and small business owners here in this part of the world because the company was started in the southern hemisphere. So I get the opportunity to bring it to this part of the world and then support the technology with real people that are helping drive transformation both for the accountants and bookkeepers and for the small business owners. And so we have software that supports the business side for the small business owner and to the accountants, a whole suite of tools to help a bookkeeper work with that small business owner on a shared ledger and connect all the parts of their financial ecosystem. And what I'm really inspired about here in this part of the world. 

KG: 06:46 I mentioned a stat that has a small business owner sale within five years. Part of the reason I'm so excited about bringing this technology to the Americas is that I know and all of our data, both here in this part of the world and in our markets within the UK and Australia, New Zealand show that if we have a small business owner and they are connected to a bookkeeper or an accountant and they're running on zero, 85% of them, 85% make it past year five and they grow profits 23% faster than businesses that aren't taking advantage of latest technology and aren't connected to an advisor. And that really becomes a key thing. We strongly believe that it is critical and a driver success, that a small business owner have a relationship with a bookkeeper or an accountant who can help be an advisor to them. And here in this market, only 32% of small business owners have that relationship. So we're all about creating technology that can bring that advising together. So then an accountant and a small business owner together can increase the odds of success. So it's a really cool opportunity that I have to bring something so powerful to this part of the world and really make a difference for, you know, 

KG: 08:05 my neighbor, my friend, and our community providers.

MP: 08:16 Yeah, You made an incredible statistic and I mean from a perspective of your messaging really is encouraging business owners to, to develop a relationship with their bookkeeper, to be, to be an advisor. And I think that that's exciting. And uh, I think it's a fresh look on how technology are a part of vendor really in the marketplace. You're not just a vendor, you're looking to be a partner, not only for the businesses that run your software, but the ecosystem of those businesses. So I think that's exciting. And listen, I mean here, I believe that small businesses, you know, they're the reason why our countries are great. You know, it's why, why we have the freedoms that we have, right? They create new jobs, they provide innovation and they build thriving communities. And so any, anyone who's standing up taking a stand for small business, they're friends of me and friends of the successful bookkeeper. So, and I just love your attitude towards that now. 

KG: 09:18 Yeah, absolutely. 

MP: 09:19 We talked a little bit about your personal life and what you, you know, as a woman executive, what you've had to deal with and there's, I want you to share more of, it's not just being a woman as a, a family, a husband and lots going on. I'd love to hear your take in terms of how you keep all of it together and still able to lead this, this company forward. 

KG: 09:41 Yeah. Well, obviously I take my day to day inspiration in doing work that makes a difference, like many of your bookkeepers and listeners, you know, the reality is when, you know, you go to work every day and you've got the secret sauce that can help someone really be successful, who's pursuing their dreams, that's motivating every day. But as you and I know to have a successful business life, it also means that you want to have the right support in your personal life. And you know, I'm a wife and a mother of three and I feel really fortunate to really do two things. One is I've been lucky in life to have a teammate and a partner. My husband actually is a stay at home spouse, which I know not everyone has the luxury of doing. We did an early in our lives and made the necessary financial adjustments, but it's been wonderful to have that partnership. 

KG: 10:26 Other people have support through family and friends and you know when you're running a business, when you are an executive or a leader, having the right support network is key. I think the other thing that's been, you know, really a great unfortunate in my career, particularly this last move to zero is choosing a company to work with and to be a part of. Whether you know, whether you're leading your own company or you're joining a company that really is supportive of having a full work-life kind of integration and balance and one that really supports you doing the things you need to be successful in both life and work and, and having that sort of full picture put together. It makes a huge difference in zero is exactly that kind of company. We actually have a 50, 50 board a and Rog is our CEO. 

KG: 11:15 Roger Rory is really passionate about making sure we have female representation all the way at the top. We have 50, 50 executives in the company leading the global organization. Uh, and then all throughout the company in that sort of diversity and balance is really important and we want to make sure that we represent our community that we serve are accountants or bookkeepers and our business owners as well. So it's been wonderful to both be able to see you, uh, set myself up in life but also to, to the company that's very supportive of the things that, uh, that are important to me and to our employees here at zero. 

MP: 11:50 Hmm. That's fantastic. And thank you for sharing a bit about personal life and, and, and how your, some of the things that you're, you're doing and leveraging to, to make it all work. And it sounds like one of those, I mean zero was a very supportive and an environment really, that all enabled that to actually happen, which is, which is not the case for every single company out there. That is for sure as we're hearing, right? 

KG: 12:15 Yes, unfortunately.

MP: 12:17 But things, things are changing and to change comes, but speaking about people's lives and how, how they're impacted, let's talk a little bit about what a bookkeeper who has maybe not used zero, what can they expect the impact to be on their life when they're using a product like zero? 

KG: 12:34 I'm so glad you asked that because you know when you're using and taking advantage of technology, it allows you to both be successful in your business, but it also creates great opportunities to build the kind of business that really works for your lifestyle and your needs as well. And zero definitely does that for our community of bookkeepers and accountants. And it also really dramatically changes the way a small business owner runs. And the way I'd like to think about zero and remember at it's core, it's a great and beautiful accounting software instead of tools for the small business owner and the accountant to work virtually together. But it's also a platform that connects banking and business management apps and that sort of day to day virtual interaction with an accountant or bookkeeper. And so zero really drives both efficiency in how you work on a day to day basis in your workflows. 

KG: 13:28 But it also creates some tools and some insights so that if you're a bookkeeper or an accountant, you can also serve back to your business owner. Incredible insights on how they can do work better and more efficiently within their own business. And I think about that on really two parts. One, and I'll share some stats with you that are just mind-boggling and then I'll share an example or two as well. And again, we do all the work, you know, we're developers and engineers and accountants and so we're looking to really apply the latest technology, AI and machine learning for towards those workflows. And so we see that when bookkeepers and accountants move 100% on the cloud and they take full advantage of the technology and the linking, all of these apps that I just met at mentioned, they see 80% faster growth in their own businesses. 

KG: 14:21 Their employees get so much efficiency that they can see they can take on five times the clients per employee. So that's straight efficiency. So we would expect that. I know it's just incredible. And so this is on the bookkeeper side. That's not even thinking through what the impact is to the small business owner. And as I mentioned, it's helping their small business owners be more efficient. So the bookkeeper can take on more clients and a lot of the tasks get automated that historically were really, really time-consuming. Then we want to take all of that great sort of new time and see, you know, bookkeeper can apply that to doing things differently in there and balancing out their business or their personal life. But we also want to create opportunities for many bookkeepers and accountants to add advisory services. And when you add advisory services, you see twice the revenue per employee and 90% more revenue per client. And so our focus is on creating not just the tools to do that and to see those kinds of gains, but also the community and the like the support, the people that can help these, you know, bookkeepers and accountants transformed their practice. So that's really what a bookkeeper and accountant can expect. Now. It still takes a transition to change the way you work. We get that. And so part of what we provide is a lot of support from real humans to help bookkeepers and accountants take advantage of that technology. 

KG: 15:56 I'll share an example is if you don't mind, one of our clients I, we do too. I have tons of them. So one of our clients is being counted for higher. In fact, they just won one of our awards for partner of the year and what they told us is they essentially use zero and hub doc, which is a way to automate a Canadian firm that automates all of the entry right from all your bills and things like that. For your clients. That's the core of their service. And they use payroll. They use folks that are integrated into zero, that are in our ecosystem, Gusto and t sheets, and that allows them to service their customer at a very low price, right? So it doesn't cost them much. They're able to send some savings onto their small business owners, but they're also able to do things like get really specific in e-commerce. 

KG: 16:50 So they're able to customize an e-commerce stack using a two x Shopify tax jar and streamline their accounting and increased transparency to e-commerce customers. So not only can they provide base services, now they're able to offer specialties and verticals, which you just can't do if it cost-effectively without the latest technology. They've gone completely to the cloud. And so they're getting the kinds of benefits I mentioned from efficiency and they're able to interact with the only interact with their customers virtually. And that allows them not only to serve their clients more efficiently, but they can serve clients all over the United States and Canada. So they're not limited to just their geographic location. So we have lots of examples of this. And you know, what's amazing about our community is that folks like being counters for higher, are willing to share their learning with other bookkeepers or other accountants who are looking to transform their practice. And we try to bring those folks together to learn from one another, but just an exciting story of efficiency and growth all wrapped into one, just taking advantage of the latest technology. 

MP: 17:54 Wow. So exciting. And you know, as you mentioned, there is work to be done to, to, to, to do anything really. And yet the outcome, the gain, the benefit is just so big main, we're talking about 80% lift in, in productivity, um, as one of the numbers that you, you stated. So no, it's exciting. I mean the community, the technology where it's all going helping not only bookkeepers and accountants, but also business owners do a better job of what they're trying to do and, and keep the finances clear and up to date and intelligent. So that's exciting. Now a little bit about, you know, there's other, there's other products in the marketplace, right? Like QuickBooks online. How do you set yourself apart from QuickBooks online? 

KG: 18:45 And there's three things I would point out. First is we are really a first cloud-based accounting software out there and we really believe in taking advantage of the latest technology. And so with us you're going to get the most innovative, the most up to date technologies, really taking advantage of things like that. Sounds scary like machine learning, but where we apply it is to do things like account reconciliation, making those tasks simpler and easier. That historically has been very time-consuming. So we're really truly the first innovator in the accounting space and continue to be. The second thing is we know that changing technology can be tough and so we provide the support, both the people within zero to help convert and adopt the technology and take advantage of it, right? Because finding out this is just step one and also the community of support for one another. 

KG: 19:39 And the third thing I mentioned, which is really important is that we believe in the bookkeeper and the accountant and we believe that that advice is critical and working together on that shared ledger is important. So when we get a client or a small business owner that finds that for zero and they don't have an accounting relationship, our number one focus is to get them together with someone who can support them because we know it will increase their odds of success and in fact help them thrive. And we believe that's really important. And that community helps enable that entire thing. And that is about accountants and bookkeepers sharing best practices together. We have many events that we host that zero is not even involved in. We sometimes use our offices, but we have folks that host things like zero hours in 21 cities. And what happens in each of these is that people get together that are, you know, likeminded and help each other on their journey. 

KG: 20:32 And one of our advisors gave a set of quote yesterday that I thought was so great that it is the most tangible real-world forum for advisors. And when we get people together, they start sharing and helping each other to have our clients that are in Canada barrage allowed from positive accounting. And Chad Davis from live ca, they shared a story with me and I shared it actually at our annual event called Xerocon. And you know, Raj had reached out to Chad through the network when he signed up for zero in the first place and wasn't sure how to get started or how to take advantage of chat, actually spent time giving them all of his tips and tricks, sharing the process of getting set up. And now that they've gotten to know each other, they regularly call on each other. But really interestingly, and you don't always see this happen in these communities outside of zero, but the zero community, this happens a lot. Raj and Chad actually passed each other business. So when one of them's too busy or it's a better fit for the other firm, and that happens everywhere. So this sort of idea of how do you create a community where accountants and bookkeepers help each other, not just zero helping, but also a community like the one that you have created really get together and support one another. So it's just exciting, but really is what makes euro special and unique and it is very tangible. 

MP: 21:55 You know, it's great. It's very, I mean the community brings true so powerful when you can have people acting that way in a community. You know, it's exciting. Tell us a little bit about, cause you mentioned zero con, tell us a little bit about Zuckerman and, and you know, why should people be buying a ticket and coming along there?

KG: 22:16 Kahn is a really fun event, first of all, and it's a really educational event and we find that we just had our last Aerocon in December in Austin, Texas. Our next one's coming up, actually the summer in Atlanta. Actually, tickets just went on sale. But what's really cool is folks get together. These are folks who either are incredibly modern, they've been using Xero for a while, they're really at technology forward. Or sometimes they're folks that are an bookkeepers and accountants that are just starting to think about their journey and want to learn more about zero or more about technology and tips and tricks. And so we think about Xero as a place for folks to get to spend time with each other to build that community that I mentioned. It's a place to learn about the latest technology, the latest vendors. It's a place to be inspired and excited and it is also a really fun group of people and it's often been referred to as the Coachella for accountants as well, which is really funny. But it is, it is very fun event. Recreate both formal and informal opportunities for people to get to know each other and people really are doing incredible work through that event. And if some of your listeners are already zeros, I'd encourage them to come and, and learn more. And then for those folks who are even thinking about and wanting to learn about the latest technology, it's a really easy way to hear from other people who've been on the journey about what works and what doesn't. 

MP: 23:44 Now you called Xeros. These are the community members there. 

KG: 23:50 Hey members and our team members, we're all in it together. 

MP: 23:54 No Zeros. We're all zeros in. 

KG: 23:57 I, um, before I joined Xero, when I was with capital one, I actually had a chance to speak at a Xerocon and I walked the floor and I was like, man, these people are, they share my passion for small business. They're accountants and bookkeepers who are just really interesting as they have innovative business practices. I was blown away and that certainly didn't hurt my desire to be with zero. I wanted to be a part of that community. And yeah, it feels really special when you find a group of people who share the same values, the same interests, and why help each other. 

MP: 24:31 Well, I think it speaks to the innovation and disruptiveness of the organization that they can have the world in their community wanting to be called Xeros. I mean, that's all right. It's so cool. And uh, it's the one time in one's life that you're going to say, yeah, I'm a zero and be proud of it. So it really, I mean I've, uh, met a lot of Xeros and they are really committed community.

KG: 24:55 And so I, I echo that and we're really excited because we're, we're actually putting together standard operating procedures for Xero, both in Canada and the United States, which we're launching this year. So it's just about providing streamline workflows, process improvement. So not only the lift that you're gonna get from using a great technology like Xero, but as well productivity, lift and improvement from using standard operating procedures that had been tested by hundreds of other bookkeepers. So we're, we're really excited about that, putting a lot of effort and investment in doing that. 

MP: 25:28 Oh, it's fantastic. 

MP: 25:29 We'd really love to hear, I'm sure the audience and especially the Zeros that are listening, any secret product updates that you can give us that are coming? 

KG: 25:40 Oh my goodness. Well, I have an amazing list for many of our heroes who really have ideas or thoughts that they want to incorporate. And also just like your standard operating procedures. We look for the best, most innovative firms and put that right into the software so that we can take full advantage of it. So I can't give away any secrets. We had an amazing set of launches in December with new expenses and projects and a new self-employed Xero plus c offering. So what I can tell your listeners is that I promise you will not be disappointed if you join us in Xerocon Atlanta as to hear what's next. But I am absolutely not going to spill the beans quite yet, but know that many of your fellow Xeros are actually giving us our list. 

MP: 26:30 Beautiful. Well that's exciting and I mean I will say about any industry event like this and I know I've heard great things about zero con just attending an event like that and hanging out with people like the zero community and is an incredibly smart investment. So listener, if you are a zero or you want to be one, I highly recommend planning this for your year. Get their to this big community. It will give you a shot in the arm for your business, for your confidence and for your desire to, to be great at what you do. I mean, being good, good, but being great. It's awesome. Right? So, uh, so, so great. So Keri, this has been absolutely great. I've loved getting to know you and I, I just have to say, you know, we talk about all the time to our community and in many, many podcast episodes, we've talked about how to attract great people into your business as customers. 

MP: 27:26 And one of the key things is they need to know you. They need to like you, they need to trust you. And I think it's been great sharing yourself here on this community and on this podcast because I think that's what we've accomplished today is really you're a great person doing some really great things in the world and that's the type of people that work at a, at zero. So what a great opportunity for our listener to get to know you and as well for, uh, you know, Xero and yourself to have our audience be aware of what you're up to. 

KG: 27:54 Thanks so much, Michael. I appreciate it. Thanks for having us. 

MP: 27:57 Yeah, well, thank you for being on the show. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what a fun one it was. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 28:15 goodbye

EP77: Seth David - How Social Networking Can Boost Your Marketing

TSBK - Episode 77 - Seth David.png
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These are some of the applications that are out there and within reach to streamline your business and make it grow.

Seth David, Chief nerd and President of Nerd Enterprises, Inc., built his company through his confidence of making training videos which created a powerful online lead generation engine that has people calling him for his services.

Today, Nerd Enterprises, Inc. is one of the leaders in the small business accounting world in online training by offering courses on a wide range of software products.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of producing great content marketing

  • Step-by-step actions on how to manage your business and gain more profit

  • Tips on how to network more effectively

To learn more about his website, visit here.

For his LinkedIn, click here.

For his Facebook page, click this link.

For his Twitter, explore here.

For his Google+, discover here.

For his Youtube channel, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:22 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 the chief nerd and President of Nerd Enterprises Inc. It's a company that provides consulting and training services and accounting and software. The consulting services range from basic bookkeeping to CFO services such as financial modeling. It is also one of the leaders in the small business accounting world in online training offering courses on a wide range of software products. Seth, David, welcome to the podcast. 

Seth David: 01:56 Thank you so much for having me and thank you for that amazing introduction. I have to get a copy of that for future. 

MP: 02:03 Just we'll give it to you. You can use it wherever you like and it's a, it is really our privilege to have you here and thank you for giving up your time. I know you're booked pretty much solid, so it's great to have you. 

SD: 02:15 Well, I am going, to be honest. It's great to be booked solid. Right. I hate to have the opposite problem. 

MP: 02:23 Absolutely. Well, hopefully, we can share some of the knowledge and techniques you use to be booked solid. And before we get too far along the path, Seth let our listeners know about yourself, your career path before and leading up to Nerd enterprises. 

SD: 02:38 Sure. I'll give you the 62nd version, maybe a little more. Of course. I started out, actually, I shouldn't say of course. I actually started out as a computer science major out of high school and then actually left school and got my series seven license, became a stockbroker, worked literally right off Wall Street. I took the subway to Wall Street and walked down to the water and I worked for prudential securities right there and again, long story cut, very short. Eventually went back to school and got my accounting degree and my plan was originally just to get this degree, to have something to fall back on, but I had every intention of going back to the stock market. But along the way I said, you know what? I've put a lot of time and quite frankly my father's money into this education so maybe I should give it a shot. And so I did and I got a job out of college at Pace University, which is a New York uh, auditing for a government program through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin. It's going to sound very intermingled and weird like why w blue cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin. Well, they had won the contract for doing the Medicare and Medicaid audits in our region in New York and it also happened to cover Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which wasn't terrible to have to go there. 

MP: 03:50 I don't know for sure. 

SD: 03:52 So did that for a couple of years. Again, a very long story cut. Very short time to change my life and it's one of those, I wrote about this recently. I got to a point in my life where I said I have to change one thing, which was everything and moved to California in the process. Thought I was going to be here for just six months, about three months. Then said, you know what, I need to stay here. This is where it's at for me and if I really want to keep the changes that I'm in the process of making in my life, that's the best move. Rather than going back to New York and sort of falling back into old patterns and habits. So I decided to stay. That was in 1999, got an attempt job here through an accounting placement firm and worked for a hedge fund for a bit and then got an attempt job for a big publicly traded corporation called The Veterinary Centers of America and it worked. 

SD: 04:40 There's a senior revenue account there for a number of years. Then I moved onto a CPA firm that specialized in bankruptcy and during my time there I was doing taxes for escorts and things. But more than that, because of my particular areas of expertise, which has to do with excel and data analysis and those sorts of things, they had me working on some major bankruptcy cases and cutting up data in excel and I had written some macros to make it happen a little faster, a little more automated. Ultimately we needed to cut this data up to provide reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission to help aid in their case against these people who committed fraud. So interesting work, but sort of dismal at the same time, again, a CPA firm specializing in bankruptcy, not the brightest spot on a timeline or a tie or lifeline of a business, Right? And overtime, and that Kinda got to me, actually I remember thinking at one point, you know, I'd much rather work with startups where it's new and exciting and we're growing and we're living rather than, you know, doing those sort of equivalence of hospice for businesses.

MP: 05:45 Right. Yeah. 

SD: 05:46 So, you know, and during that time, at that CPA firm, I also found I couldn't stand working for somebody else. I hated it. It wasn't great at first. And then over time, you know, it would just, it would be kind of the same old, you know, I usually get along great with my boss at first and then things would happen. And you know, it was like a question of I, you know, who's right, who's wrong? I don't know. Probably both of us, you know, I have to own my part in things. Of course, that's one important thing I've learned along the way is owning my part in things. But at the end of the day, you know, I felt I wasn't getting the trading I needed and then the employers would get frustrated with me because I, I didn't know how to do things that I, in my view, again, I wasn't really properly taught to do, you know, their idea of training at the CPA firm for how to do a tax return for an s corp was here's a file. 

SD: 06:28 You've seen the tax software on people's computers here in the office, right? And I said, yeah, it looks like you're using let's sir. And he said, yes, let's Sir go, it's on your computer. Go run it and do this tax return. That was literally my training.

MP: 06:41 Wow.

SD: 06:42 So anyway, and frustration mountain. And ultimately it led me to say, you know what, maybe I'm better off on my own. I started putting ads on craigslist. I started getting clients to hire me to help them design spreadsheets for different purposes that they needed. And eventually, that morphed into actually doing, you know, bookkeeping services and those sorts of things. So the name, Nerd Enterprises, came into play because in the beginning, especially, I'd be working on some projects for a client in many cases, writing very complicated formulas to accomplish what I needed to in Microsoft Excel. And I'd get all excited, I'd be doing this from home. 

SD: 07:18 So my wife would be there and she would hear me getting all excited. And you know, the comic frequently came out, you're such a nerd. Right? And so when the time came to, you know that I said, I'm going to start my own thing and what do I want to call myself? I was also working closely with an accountant who was kind of hired as a consultant to be a manager at that CPA firm. And he and I got along very well and I had talked to him at one point and he was like, I would be more than happy to join forces or you and create our own firm and you know, we could call it like superior accounting or something like that. And I was like, no, that's not me. I don't want to be called Superior Accounting. To me that's pompous and you know, and that might not be literally what he intended to call it, but the point is he wasn't on board with the whole dirt enterprises concept. 

SD: 07:59 And I like that because I thought that that spoke very well to who I am as a person. You know? And I used to have a tagline saying a funny name, serious business, and I thought that just perfectly under squirted. You know, I can be lighthearted about this stuff because I like to have fun while I'm doing what I'm doing. And I think it should be fun. I think a lot of people think of accounting as boring and part of my mission was to set out and prove that it doesn't have to be boring. It can be a lot of fun. It can be really exciting when you look at things from the right perspective. And at the same time, I know when it's time to get

SD: 08:29 serious and take things seriously. So that's my story in a nutshell. 

MP: 08:40 that's cool. You know, there's some interesting, some interesting points out of that, that story and the one that you've just mentioned is being true to what you want. Like you went through kind of a, a transformative I guess, period in your life. And I, I guess it was late, was it late nineties where you're like, okay, I'm moving away from all of this, I'm going to California. And that a line from Led Zeppelin song. 

SD: 09:05 Oh sure. 

MP: 09:06 Yeah. So going to California, Eh, with flowers in your hair and you, you got there and you said, I'm staying here and, and you stay true to that. And then you said, look, this working for somebody else's and working for me, you left and you, you stay true to that. And then even along with the name, it's like, no, nerd enterprises, this is me. And, and so it's like staying true to what your intuition is telling you and what were, what's moving you. I think that's really cool. Part of it. And the other piece there is you, you're having fun, you know, really show. That's one of the reasons I, I came across you. I mean, I, I bumped into you online searching around and I was watching one of your shows and I thought, wow, how cool. You're having fun. And it really came across that you were having fun in your business while helping people and giving people information and, and making a difference, but for people. But it's your business and you're actually having fun in your business. I think that's a big takeaway that often people get to the point where it's no longer fun and then it just becomes a job that you're, you're working. And even if you're working for yourself, it's now you're working and doing something that's no longer fun and, and a, I think that's an inspirational thing to think about for our listeners. Bring some fun, bring what's true to you and, and let that be the course that you take seems to be working for you. 

SD: 10:38 You know, I always say to people, and this is going to sound a little harsh, and it's sort of meant to, if you're not absolutely having a blast getting up and doing what you're doing every day, then it's time to go do something else. 

MP: 10:39 Mm. I don't think that's too hard. I was high. I was looking for, I was expecting something super harsh that's like, yeah, we don't, we only have so many years to live our lives. And so if you're not happy, there are so many other options. But that's, I think where people get stuck is that when you're doing the things that you always do when you do them every day, and I've been in this situation in my life where I was in a job that If I didn't like and I, I really found myself thinking, Gee, what this is it? Like what will, what will it be outside of that? And I was relatively lung young at the time and, and yet I was fortunate enough that I had people in my life go, what are you talking about? Like there's like a very big world and yeah, just, it was just because I kept doing it and that fear of, well, what's, what's out there? I don't even know what I want really. I just know I'm not happy here. But moving from that to just taking a risk and say, okay, well let's break this all apart and go see what happens. What's the best thing I ever did? 

SD: 11:42 Yeah. Yeah, so I'm glad you said it wasn't harsh. I think some people feel like I'm being harsh because I'm telling them to change their careers or change their job or whatever. It doesn't mean you have to change your career. It might just mean you have to things up a little bit. Do something different. I mean, the reason you found me for example, online is because of something that I did not count on. I started making videos to answer the questions that I was getting asked all the time by clients, bookkeepers over and over again and I thought, I need a way to streamline this. It's funny because that takes me all the way to where I'm at today with everything. You know what it's like today because today it's really all about constantly working towards finding ways to better automate processes and get things done more efficiently, which became especially paramount when we got into this realm of value pricing or flat rate pricing because now that I'm charging a flat rate every month, my job is to get this done as quickly as possible without sacrificing an ounce of quality in the process. 

SD: 12:43 Right? So that's important. And going back then to what I was doing, even back then I was already, I wasn't thinking about it this way, I wouldn't have articulated it quite like this, but I was already just automatically thinking how do I make this process faster? Because I recognized that I was spending a lot of time writing out essentially the same emails, answering the same questions over and over and over again. And I just said, and I love this line. It always comes back to me because it's been part of into its original taglines as a company, you know where I stop and find myself thinking there has to be a better way, right? Their mission statement was something like, our goal is to improve our client's financial lives so profoundly they couldn't imagine going back to the old way. Right? And My tagline is a derivative of that. 

SD: 13:26 It says, our goal is to improve our client's life so profoundly they couldn't imagine working with anyone else. But to me it's a constant, it's a constant. I'm always thinking of ways to streamline things. So I started making videos because I said if I have a video that answers the frequently asked question, which that gives you a clue by the way of where to start. If you want to do something like this, if your listeners want to do something like this, go to your FAQ page and look at the questions you have on there and start making those videos. Because now when somebody asked me that question, hey, how do I book an NSF check in QuickBooks? I can just say, here's a video explains it better than I could ever do in an email. And it's visual. You get to see it rather than just read it. 

SD: 14:03 Right? So that's been kind of without realizing it all along. What I've done is constantly looking for ways to streamline or automate processes and that's why you found me because ultimately and unwittingly that process of creating those videos that were designed to make my life easier, it turns out also made other people's lives easier because people were responding to my videos and saying, hey, I like the way you explain things. And it's funny because my mom was a teacher and growing up I think she would have loved to see me become a teacher. But honestly, I shied away from it cause I was like, teachers don't make enough money. You know, they should make much more money than they do in my opinion. But that's the reason I tried away from that career. And then years ago, well into my Nerd Enterprises, stage of life and aunt of mine who is also a teacher her whole career down with me. 

SD: 14:51 Late one night we'd been to a family wedding and we're sitting in her kitchen just having tea kind of winding down after the wedding. And I happened to have my laptop there. So I open it up and I'm doing things in WordPress actually on my website and I noticed she was paying attention, which surprised me. I wouldn't think she would have been interested in that, but as long as I had her attention, I actually started explaining to her what I was doing and I was surprised that she was having, here's a woman who I think at the time was in her late sixties maybe, you know, retired. I was shocked that she was actually interested in engaged in me showing her stuff about WordPress. The next morning I'd get up for staying at their, at their place at night, come the next morning into the kitchen having breakfast, and she gives me this very stern look and she says, I need to talk to you. 

SD: 15:34 And I thought she was mad at me about something, so she really had my attention. She says I think you've missed your calling. You should've been a teacher. You shouldn't be doing this stuff. And I said to her, I call her aunt Ricki, her name is Renee, but we've always called her aunt Ricky growing up. I said, aunt rookie, actually that's exactly what I do is I teach people and it started with creating those youtube videos and using them to teach people how to do things that I didn't want to have to keep explaining over and over again. Turns out this is the unwitting part. It created a powerful online lead generation engine that has people calling me every day mostly to hire me for services or training and once in a while somebody says, hey, would you like to be on my podcast? 

MP: 16:20 Beautiful story. I absolutely love that. It's interesting how life sometimes our skills and the things that we like to do, they know no matter how much you resist them, they end up coming, coming forth and so you're doing it and you're doing a good job of it. And I love the piece about lead generation, how this is bringing business into your, your company now I would say it's uncommon in the industry, right? What's, what's in the way of people doing this for themselves and making a go of it. What do you see as the barriers or challenges ahead for them? 

SD: 16:58 To sum it up in one word, and then, of course, I can expand confidence. I really think that's the biggest blocker or lack of confidence. Right? And that's based on the feedback. I talked to accountants and bookkeepers seemingly all day every day now. Um, because that was the other thing I didn't expect. I thought these videos were for business owners, but it turns out a lot of accountants and bookkeepers also like to watch my videos because they learn how to do this stuff so they could better serve their own clients. So a little did I know I was building up a community of accountants and bookkeepers who actually liked what I was doing. So when I talked to them, and I talk about this topic of creating content because here's what happens now I get the call or the email or the form filled out on my website and they say, Hey, I would love to learn more about how to do what you're doing. 

Speaker 1: You know, I want to be able to do what you've done. Right. And I have a saying that I use from where I come from in another part of my life, which is that if you want, when somebody has, you have to do what they've done, right? So the beginning of that conversation will then start with me explaining, well, if you want what I have, if you want to be able to accomplish what I've accomplished, if you want that online 24 seven lead generation engine that brings the business to use, you don't have to go looking for it, then you have to produce content. It starts there and that's when all the pushback starts, right? I don't want to turn on, my camera doesn't have to, right. The beauty of what we do in our genre, specifically when it comes to creating content, is that you can simply share your screen and give a demonstration. 

SD: 18:23 Oh, but I'm shy, right? That's the next thing I'll hear. And the best answer I have, again, maybe it will sound harsh, maybe you won't, but the best answer I have is getting over that and just make your first video or record your first podcast. And once you start doing them, you'll get more comfortable with them and then your confidence level increases and take a risk and put the stuff out there on youtube. Let people criticized because they will, but use that criticized to your advantage. Use that criticism rather to your advantage. I used to get so offended when people would criticize, you know, and we have trolls out there who their only purpose is to get a rise out of you. And even them, I would look at their criticism from a constructive standpoint. I would simply make the choice to do that because I would say even if it wasn't well-intentioned criticism, I can still use it to improve, right? Just because they were trying to be deliberately mean. It doesn't mean I can't take it to heart and say, what can I do to make my content even better? And when I started learning to adopt that perspective on things, the criticism no longer bothered me. In fact, I welcomed it. I prefer the negative comments over the positive ones on a certain level because again, the negative comments are the ones that really do help me improve. The positive ones just reinforced that people already love what I'm doing. Get it. 

MP: 19:39 Hmm. 

SD: 19:40 You know, like that patrols are really easy to get a rise out of. You can easily flip the script on them. Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off. 

MP: 19:47 No, no, I was, I was gonna ask Ellie actually ask about the trolls. It's just so interesting that the name, I mean the name of it, I haven't heard the word troll in a while and uh, it's like, yeah, I often don't read comments on websites because I just don't want to read troll stuff. Right. And it just seems to be so many times it's the majority and for those that don't know what a troll is, it's one of these people that just say negative things and, and really are not that constructive. Typically. I mean, there are some people who maybe are constructive and we wouldn't call them trolls if they were, their point was, was accurate. But I like the way you, you've handled it and I think that's for anybody that's going to go online and expect the trolls. In fact, the more channels you have maybe a good indicator of your success, right? They are actually paying attention and finding you. I mean, if the trolls can find you, that's, that's one check. 

SD: 20:42 Are you happy? They're throwing you and not someone else. Right. And here's the other thing, and this is what I've often shared with people, because again, we're coming, we're talking about the concern people have, the hesitation they have in creating content. One of which is, I don't know what about the negative feedback I'm going to get. It's going to be, you know, it's going to be bad for me. It's going to be insulting. Actually, youtube, you know when you watch a video on youtube, it will give you at the end related videos along the sideline, right? The related videos that it's giving you are based on activity. In other words, they're videos that are on a similar subject that are getting the most activity. The most comments let's say are the ones that are most likely to appear in that sideline of related videos. Youtube does not gauge whether the commentary is negative or positive, it just gauges that there was commentary and it assumes, okay that commentary means there is an activity which means this video is already getting attention. 

SD: 21:35 So let's promote that video to see if we can get it to get even more attention because the heart pumps blood to itself first. And that's YouTube's way of keeping the traffic in their world. Right. So with that said, I have a great story that I can share if something I did recently with just such a troll and eventually in our dialogue he even admitted straight out like, come on, you know, react. I'm trying to get a rise out of you cause I wouldn't give it to him. And what happened was, cause I understand what I just described YouTube and as I said a few minutes ago, it's actually very easy to turn the tables on trolls because they tend themselves to be emotional. The kind of stuff they're doing is the kind of stuff that would easily get a rise out of them, which is why they get even more frustrated by the way when you don't react to it. 

SD: 22:21 So this guy had come onto one of my videos. I wish I had made a note of which one it was cause I would love to be able to find it and share this. But anyway, he comes on to one of my videos and calls me a fat f word in the video, writes it out again. I clearly tried to get a rise. I mean by this time I knew what he was doing. So I wrote a very simple short response. The best responses are just short little like two or three-word responses. So I wrote back, tell me how you really feel. 

SD: 22:48 So I got a novel, right? I got this whole thing that he goes into. And the guy was actually very funny. I'll give that to him. He was actually, what he wrote was really funny the way he kind of went about what he was writing and then came back to say, yeah, but you're still whatever, you know. So the last response I wrote to him basically said this, I love you from the bottom of my keyboard. Every comment you write results in additional activity on my video here, which causes youtube to promote my video. So thank you. And I ended the comment with that and he never responded again cause I honestly don't think he recognized what I was doing as there wasn't actual, you know, sort of a thought process behind what I was doing. So that's my message to everyone. If you're worried about getting negative feedback, embrace it, don't worry about it because it's a perfect opportunity to get Youtube to promote your video because to ask, 

SD: 23:41 Yeah, those people are really easy to get arrived out. That's why they do what they do because expect it's going to work on others and usually an often does, but you, you know, over time, of course, then you learn to get a thick skin. And like I said, the best way that I ever learn how to deal with it was by learning to embrace the negative feedback. And regardless of how it was intended like I said before, use a constructively anyway and the, in a way that's the best way to get back at them for being me in any way, right. Is to take what they had poor intentions with and use it constructively and just say thank you for the feedback. I'm going to take that into consideration and see how I can improve. And I have, I've actually improved a lot because of negative feedback that I've gotten that I didn't feel as well-intentioned. But again, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I use it to improve myself, right?

MP: 24:35 You know, I, I love that. And it's, uh, I think it's encouraging and for the listener is get out there and, and have a go. And you know, what, if there's, if there's things that you like and people that you, like, if you're watching Nerd Enterprises comment, I mean this is helping, helping to promote, you know, I didn't actually know that that was part of the deal, but you know, that little comments just to even say, hey, I really like this, that that is improving and it, you know, counteracts the trolls out there, which listen, a lot of what you do is completely free. And you know, I think it's up to our audiences too to know that and to, to make sure you acknowledge and you know, uh, pay it forward if you will. SD: 25:20 Right, right.

MP: 25:22 So, Seth, I was actually going to ask another question cause I think that was a great tip. 

MP: 25:25 I mean, being valuable to your customers through the, you know, doing something like a video or any kind of content. I guess to answer more questions, be more valuable is only gonna lead to good things for your, for their business, for their confidence, for their, for the life really. Now you've done other things. And I think one of your other superpowers that I've sort of picked up is, you know, you, you like doing it the smart way, the fast way, and if there's a better way, let's figure it out and do it. What have been some of the things that you've really embraced in your business for your clients that have been faster, better, cheaper, all those good things? 

SD: 29:59 So, you know, it's interesting. I as recently as yesterday, as of the time we're having this conversation, I realized people are going to be listening to this perhaps much later down the road. But as recently as yesterday, I learned something very interesting. And you know, I have this group called Accounting Business Academy. That's where I sort of mentor other accountants and bookkeepers and we have two calls every week. And our call yesterday I was demonstrating how I use a product called active collapse, which is a project management application. It's not necessarily widely known about the accounting industry. I learned about it because somebody used it with me. Somebody actually sent me an invoice out of this product. And what really impressed me was it was clear that it was sending automatic followups to attempt to get me to pay it. I'm like, wow, that's cool. That's an automated process that would make my life easier if I could have something that would automatically send out reminders so I don't have to go in and click and look at my aging and all that does it does my collections work for me, so that got me to look at the app. 

SD: 27:01 Long story short, I didn't decide to use it for invoicing. I have other, what I consider better methods for that, but I did fall in love with it as a project management tool and I've gotten a lot of people turned on to it and what I learned yesterday was that it's not just about using the product because in my view this product is very easy to use. It's beautiful out of the box project management app. You can easily create your projects, you can categorize things, labeled things, you can organize task lists and then tasks within them and has a great discussion area and note-taking. It's all out of the box. Beautiful project management in my opinion. So I didn't think of it as something that was that difficult to use, but somebody pointed out because yesterday I was showing my group some of the things that I do and some of the ways that I use it and that's the key, right? 

SD: 27:45 There are the ways that I use it and that's what they said they really wanted to learn from me because yes it was agreed. It's basically out of the box easy enough to figure out how to use. But one example of a tip I showed them that they loved, and you know the premise of this is that I'm also all in with Google Docs. I don't really use Microsoft products anymore unless I really have to. I use Google sheets and I use Google docs for my documents and they know this cause that's kind of what I'm teaching them. And so I showed them how in a client's project and active Collab, I create a task list and I call it to reference. And one of the tasks that I put within that is not really a task per se. It's just a reference point where I create a task because it's just a vehicle that can be used well for this. 

SD: 28:29 And that task is entitled Google Docs. And within that, I have both the link to their Google docs folder on the web as well as the file path. So that same folder locally on my computer. And the point I made when I demonstrated this was that I said, I said, so this way active collab becomes command central for managing everything having to do with that client. I don't have to clutter up my browser bookmarks with different bookmarks for each client. I just know that when it's time to work on that client stuff, I go to their project and active collab and in that reference left that reference task list, I have everything I need so that in a click I can get to where I need to. And I guess in the bigger picture it's processes like that that enabled me to get things done very, very efficiently and quickly. 

SD: 29:17 So again, because I'm charging flat monthly fees, that's become really important that if you want to look at it in terms of an effective hourly rate, my effective hourly rate, if I actually took the time and I don't, I don't track time anymore. That's another big burden I've taken off my own shoulders and that of my employees. We don't track time cause there's no need to. Um, but if I were to track time, I know that my effective hourly rate based on the flat monthly fees that I'm charging will have gone through the roof compared to what I used to charge when I did charge by the hour. 

MP: 29:48 Excellent. That's exciting. You know. And what was the, this particular app that you were talking about? Can you say it again and we'll, we'll have a link to it in the show notes. 

SD: 29:58 Sure. It's active Collab, like active collaboration. 

MP: 30:02 Beautiful. And now it sounds like there are lots of lots of things that you're sharing, like this example of new technology, not only what it is, but how you're using it. Uh, tell us a little bit more about nerd enterprises and some of the things that our listener could go over there and, and uh, and get some value from. 

SD: 30:21 Sure. So I want to say something actually before I dive into that about, because when you go to my website that of course, it's at nerd enterprises.com. It's funny, I was just checking cause I have the site up while we're talking and I'm shocked. I don't actually have an active collab on the partners' page. So I have a partner's page. So if you want to kind of get a look and I'm going to fix the act of collab thing right away on that partner's page, you'll see every, pretty much every app that I use and love to use, right. And many of these are affiliate links. If there's an affiliate program available, and I know I'm going to put the app on here anyway and then I'll ask or I'll research, is there an affiliate program? If there is, why not? I'll stick that link on. 

SD: 30:58 So just be on notice that some of these links, if you click on them and sign up, I do get paid but that's not why I put them there. I put them there because these are the apps I truly love to use every day. So with that said, that's a place you can go to see all the apps. I recommend also in terms of the services that we offer, much of this has evolved and it's evolved based on what people have asked me for. Right. Whether directly or sort of by default. And what I mean is, and, and I want to draw on something I learned a long time ago, I was reading this book, it was called multiple streams of income and this was when the Internet was still pretty brand new. The author is a guy by the name of Robert Allen. He has since written another book called multiple streams of Internet income. 

SD: 31:41 And even that book is already a little dated. But the, what I took out of his first book was that he was, you know, the Internet wasn't, it was already in existence. It just wasn't like it is today where it was that easy to create online presences. And it was before social media and all that. So he was really focused on the email list and he gave an example of how the best way a marketer can and should market and like it or not, bookkeepers, if especially if you're a solo entrepreneur and you run a small little practice, you are a marketer. In addition to being a bookkeeper, you have to be because that's the only way you're going to grow your firm is to start thinking of yourself as a marketer. Until you can afford to hire a marketer. And even then you want to have some knowledge of this. 

SD: 32:21 So when he said as a marketer, is that the best, the most effective way you can market anything is reach out to an audience, which means first you have to build that audience. And this stage content is a great way to do that. So once you've built the audience, you reach out to them and in effect, you survey them and say, what do you most need from somebody like myself? Of course, you put it more eloquently than that, but you serve them to find out what are they looking for. And in the same survey, you add questions aimed at getting a sense of what they would typically want to pay for something like that, right? And so you gather that data, you analyze it, and then you figure out a way to offer them exactly what they're asking for and you price it somewhere in the middle of what they're asking for it. 

SD: 33:01 Assuming that that's reasonable enough for you in terms of the resources it'll require of you to provide that. So we just think about it, it sounds so simple, but it's actually brilliant, right? And social media these days makes it really easy for us to gather that exact kind of data. So I say all that to point out that when you go to my site and you look at the services that we offer, all of this at this point has evolved based on what people were asking me for. So yeah, we still do the accounting and business consulting. In fact, I had shied away from that for a while because I really love to do the training. But then I said a couple of years ago, I said, you know, all this stuff I'm teaching others to do a, I don't want to be one of those people that 20 years from now haven't had a client of their own in 20 years and still claims to be able to show people how to do this stuff is there are people like that out there and I don't want to be one of them. 

SD: 33:48 So I always want to be able to say, Hey, I'm not just teaching you how to do this based on conjecture. I actually do it myself and I know what you're facing every day because I'm in the trenches right there with you. Right? So that was important to me. So I, I just, and I decided, plus with all this knowledge that I've gathered that I'm using to teach others, why not do it for myself? It's actually a great way to make money. So, so accounting and business consulting are actually, I want to say it has been renewed as a very significant growing area of our offering. And then you'll find the subscription-based training on the one to one training. The one-to-one training has been my core competency for many years now because it started with making videos, answering people's questions. And like I said, I surprising to me, I had accountants and bookkeepers who liked my stuff and we're learning from it. 

SD: 35:36 And then they would ask me if I could train them in a one on one session. Because the typical scenario is they've got this client, they told the client, yeah I can do all this. But now they realize they're in over their heads because they really didn't have the experience that they needed to know how to do all of this. So now they hired me and I used to tag it under the heading of, you know, get training from me so I can help you keep the client. Right. And One bookkeeper reached out to me and said, that line that you had on your website was exactly what got me to call you. You know, so again, marketing, getting inside your prospect's head and tell them that you can give them what they need, what they're looking for, and ultimately what was the pain. She was afraid she was going to lose the client. 

SD: 35:14 And so I, I mean I touched exactly on the right point and I did provide her with the training to help her keep the client. So one to one training, big area. It was again originally aimed at business owners and that's still a big part of what I do is I train business owners that watch my videos on youtube gets stuck and they say, you know, rather than figure this out myself. And it was great as test videos are, I have very specific contextual questions that I can't ask on youtube and a comment. So let me hire yourself for some one-on-one. It's worth spending the money to shorten the learning curve. Right? So, and then the subscription-based training was just a way of duplicating myself. And I said again, I learned from the same guy, Robert Allen years ago, that you want to create residual sources of income. 

SD: 35:55 So because one of the classic problems in the accounting world is that we have to keep showing up to earn a dollar, right? The classic model in our world was I go out, I build by the hour, I have to show up, go see the client. Even now if I'm doing it remotely, I still have to show up and put in the time to earn the money and then I send them a bill, right? So again, what I learned from marketers, and I've spent, you know, I didn't formally train in marketing, but I've studied marketers and I've read a lot of books and learn from them. And I've, so I've learned how to kind of think in terms of, especially when it comes to growing your own business, especially if you're a small practitioner and you don't have the budget for a big marketing team, then these are the kinds of things, if your intention is to grow, that you'll want to start learning how to do. 

SD: 36:38 And so one of the things was I need to create residual sources of income, passive income. So that, and it's funny because this comes full circle now to how we do our consulting services, right? We're again, it's flat monthly fees. So you know what that really is. It's a subscription, right? So because of value pricing and charging flat monthly fees, what I've realized is my job now as the chief op, the chief nerd at Nerd Enterprises is to create annuities. And that way whether it's consulting or an actual subscription-based training plan, the only thing that's really not subscription is the one to one training cause that's one time they're going to pay for an hour session or they're going to pay for a 20 hour plan and then use that up and then they decide if they need to re-up. So that's the only one that's really non-subscription. 

SD: 37:26 Everything else up a subscription. Even the consulting clients and I should say, and especially the consulting clients and in fact, I've eliminated invoicing from my whole practice. I do not invoice clients anymore because they're on a subscription. So when the time comes I have them click onto my website. There a product that I've created that creates a monthly recurring subscription so their card just gets charged every month for the fee that we've agreed upon. I don't need to invoice them. Invoicing in itself is a clunky, slow process. I hated it and I was, I'm so glad I didn't 

SD: 37:57 eliminated from my life.

MP: 38:00 Good for you. 

MP: 38:04 You know, you've, you say you're not a marketer, you, you've done a very good job of it and uh, I'm excited to watch where, where you had in the year to come and years to come. That's such an interesting take, a different take than many of our guests on your business and, and what you're doing. It's been, it's been great having you on the show, Seth. 

SD: 38:25 Thank you. And then if I could throw one more thing in there because you actually mentioned this to me before we sort of went live, so I wanted to touch on it. You mentioned that we also have a media production and content offering. This is a very specific example of me creating a project based on what I was being asked for. It was never my intention to work with app developers, but app developers started reaching out to me again because of what I've created on Youtube and saying, we would like to leverage your capabilities with respect to creating content and videos and we'd like to have you do it on our products. And so that's where that whole media production and content service offering on my website came from. And so that's what I do. I don't have a lot of clients in this venue. 

SD: 39:07 I don't necessarily want a lot of clients in this venue because of to do this kind of stuff. It uses up a lot of my own resources that quite frankly, I'd rather use to produce content for my own company. But if they're willing to pay what I'm asking for, I'm willing to do that. And by the way, real quick, I'll end on this note. That's where I sort of depart from the philosophy behind value pricing as I understand it, because I don't necessarily price based on what I think the value is to the client. I don't necessarily care about that. And I'm very outspoken about this and I love Ron Baker and Ed class who I view as the sort of godfathers of value pricing. Um, but my approach towards pricing to parts from there is in this part specifically where I don't price based on value, I price based on supply and demand and more than that I price based on what gets me excited to do the work. 

SD: 39:57 So when I come up with my pricing it's a little bit, I think it's easier actually to come up with my pricing on that basis cause I can, I can decide what I'm offering in a plan and I can look at what I'm going to offering and think in terms of what it's going to take to get all that done each month. If we're talking about bookkeeping services and I can put a price tag on that and then step back and ask myself when I think about a client coming in and paying me this amount every month and knowing what it's going to take to get the job done, does this get me excited? Do I feel excited because I know I can get in here and streamline this and get it done really efficiently without sacrificing quality? If the answer's yes, I'm good with the price, if the answer's no, then I probably need to raise the price up a little bit. And I have a process where we start with what your goal is in terms of what you want to make dollar one gross every year. And from there we back into what your pricing plans can be. So, and there's a blog post out there about that on my website. So anyway, I wanted to make sure I mentioned the whole media production thing cause you had asked about that. 

MP: 40:52 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Seth. And we'll have how all those links in the show notes. But uh, you know what, we'll love to have your back when you're up to new things and, and uh, I'm sure, I sure it won't be that long into the future. 

SD: 41:04 Actually, I would love to come back. Thank you so much for having me. It's been an honor. 

MP: 41:08 It's been great having you. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what an interesting podcast episode it was. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye

EP76: Nicole Feliciano - How To Balance Your Bookkeeping Business & Family Life

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We all need balance in our lives and she perfected it.

Our guest, renowned publisher, founder & CEO of MomTrends, Nicole Feliciano, did this by understanding her priorities, taking action and making mindset changes that would alter her life for the better.

It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

Work-life balance is possible and you're about to find out some tips to help make it a reality.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to balance your entrepreneurship, family and success

  • Powerful tips in making your bookkeeping clients satisfied

  • How to have a successful bookkeeper and client relationship

To learn more about Mom Trends, visit here

For her Facebook page, click here.

For her Twitter account, discover here.

For her LinkedIn page, check this out.

For her Instagram, explore here.

For her Pinterest, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:13 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one and an extremely educational one for yours. Truly the host, our guest left her role as an executive at Ralph Lauren to lodge a blog called mom trends in 2007 since then, it has grown into a boutique media brand that provides the latest news on things trendy and cool for Moms, and now she has a book, Mom Boss, balancing entrepreneurship, kids and success. Nicole Feliciano, welcome to the podcast. 

Nicole Feliciano: 01:50 Thanks so much for having me today, Michael. Really glad to be with you. 

MP: 01:53 It's great to have you. And I said, I was gonna learn before we started this interview, we talked about the fact that I have a young son and I am here to learn as well about balancing with life and kids and success and all of those good things. But before we get into that, Nicole, please let us know a little bit about your background before we get started. So our listener gets to know you. 

NF: 02:20 Excellent. So I started in the retail world. I did a few years at the May Company and worked in department stores and advertising and really caught the retail bug. And then from there, spend almost a decade at Ralph Lauren and I worked store line at Ralph Lauren and then I worked in the corporate offices with Mr. Lauren. So it was a dream job. I worked on Madison Avenue, I had a fancy office and great clothes and a worked a ton of hours. I think the baseline was about 60 hours a week and then during market weeks it was really up close to 70 75 hours. So it was fantastic and it was great for its moment in time. But as I wanted to start a family, I was really struggling with the incongruity of the two things of the career that it was currently in and the type of mother that I wanted to be. So I took a bit of time to do some soul searching. 

NF: 03:18 And fortunately I had saved enough money in my years in the corporate world that I was able to take a year off and travel with my then boyfriend's. We got married on the trip and we were traveling for a year and when we came back we started a family almost immediately and I was really ready to shift gears. I wanted to do something that used my skills in business building and the sense of style that I had developed for all those years in retail and its fashion. Uh, and it was just a matter of good timing at that point. Cause blogs were just happening, just popping up. I did some freelance writing for a few years, uh, for a few other sites and was figuring out my voice and the space I wanted to be in. And I launched bomb trends as a blog in 2007 and it took about two years to figure out how to make money out of it. 

NF: 04:11 And then from 2009 to 2015 we had just very rapid incremental growth. And then we hit $1 million in revenues. And we've been able to sustain that for the past three years, which has been fantastic. So we've kind of leveled off our growth, but we have five employees other than myself. Everybody loves their job. We have really low turnover and the best part is I'm doing what I love while also being really involved in raising my two girls and now they are 12 and 10 and I feel like it's going to be a blink of an eye before they're, you know, on much more independent than where they are now. And I'm just super grateful that I have a work-life where I can be present for them and really engaged in something I love building at the same time. And I want to share some of the things that I've done along the way to maybe inspire some of your listeners. 

MP: 05:07 Yeah. That, that, I mean I'm really excited and I think you're extremely qualified to be helping us manage success in life and work and kids and all of these good things because you, you went from a really, really busy career working for Ralph Lauren and, and, and with that and very prestigious brand, a great career. Uh, you left that and then you started a business which is, is thriving and you have employees. And so I think I'm really excited to hear what you have to say for our audience and, and myself about trying to keep it all in check. 

NF: 05:43 So about a year and a half ago, I came out with my book mom boss and it is all about balancing entrepreneurship, kids and success. And I've put my, I do the best tips I came up within the book. And then I also interviewed a hundred other females, CEOs. And this was anything from a very simple company. I talked to a woman who was a hairdresser who was now making her own hair accessories and she was able to grow her business enough that she really supports her family. Off of these hair accessories, which is amazing, but the book is full of more tips and I'm going to give you some of those today. So one of the first I did when I was looking to make the jump was really figuring out the finances before I made the leap and started investing a lot of money into this new business. 

NF: 06:32 So I was working as a freelancer, making money, doing the very thing that I was then trying to build. So I always advise if you can do a little bit of both things before you launch if you can have a side hustle if you will. It is a great way to protect your income and protect your family from any vulnerability with the fluctuations in earnings. So I spent about two years doing the freelance hustle while building bomb trends. And I think that was great because I saw how other people created their businesses. I was able to not have to eat into our savings as a family to get mom trends up and running. So that was one of the first things is really mapping out where you're going to turn the lines of profitability and you can't just hope that it's going to happen. You've got to have a strategy in place and you've really got to stop and analyze. I find that a lot of entrepreneurs are so passionate about their ideas and they just think that it is a great idea that they often don't slow down enough to analyze where they've been and where they're going. 

MP: 07:36 I love that. And you know, I've spoken to so many, uh, listeners now we have a lot of listeners that have thriving bookkeeping businesses and everywhere in between. And we have a lot of listeners that have not started. And I think one of the challenges is how do you make that leap from having that secure income, you know, guaranteed almost income coming from a job to then going into the abyss of the unknown. And you've answered that clearly, which is to maybe have a side hustle and maybe you can say a little bit more about that four. For those specific listeners that are thinking about becoming bookkeepers, they want to work for themselves and have their own business. What, what, what would you say to them around actually getting that side hustle going or planning around their finances to make it happen. 

NF: 08:23 So you've really got to be organized with scheduling. I hope these additional hours are going to come out of your day to make it happen. My husband and I, at the time when I was launching bomb trends, you know, we looked at the babysitting hours very carefully because it's super expensive in New York City. I hope everyone's seated. Chuck care for two, two kids. We were paying $27 an hour for a babysitter. You know, now my kids are a little bit older and we used after school and my older daughter doesn't need anyone minding her, but that is a lot of money. So I was very careful about the hours that I was using for babysitting. They had to be super productive hours and they had to be things that were going to eventually turn into something that was more profitable than $27 an hour. So you've really got to map out where is this time coming from, how am I going to create this time? 

NF: 09:15 You know, little there's nap time but only working at night. It's not going to build your business because you need to build in time to do networking. You need to build in time to do calls. You know, you can't expect to return calls at one o'clock in the morning. You can do emails and you can do a lot of, you know the nuts and bolts of your business, but you do need those, those sorts of traditional working hours built-in. So figuring out where that time is going to come from and where that money is going to come from as well and have clear deadlines. I set goals for myself that, you know, when we hit x amount of page views or x amount of income that I was going to invest in this next bit of software or technology. There were small benchmarks that I could hold myself up to and if I didn't meet them then I would have to reconfigure where we were along the line. And we still do that now with mom trends. We have monthly meetings with my team where we look at and, and really pour over the analytics for my site. And we really look at those numbers and we figured out what, not only what was successful, but what wasn't successful. And look at the things that are not working for you, but taking up a lot of your time and let them go. 

MP: 10:32 Hmm. That's, that's great advice for everyone listening. I really like your approach, which is a lot of thinking, a lot of analyzing a where you're at, stepping back and saying, okay, this is where we want to be. What do we have to do to get there? And there's gonna be things that we're going to have to add. There are things that we're going to have to remove. And I mean it's, it's simple when we start talking about it, but sometimes it can be difficult if we're busy and we're trying to do things, but yet we have these dreams that we want to accomplish. So I love the approach you're taking. 

NF: 11:03 Thank you. Yeah. And I would also really recommend when, when the company, I relied on freelancers as much as possible. The first two people that came onto our team were on a commission based basis. And I highly recommend that so that the new team members that you add on, they are very much incentivized to bring in new business, to basically create their salary. Now we have people who are on our editorial team and I can't expect them to be selling and selling marketing deals. So, you know, it took me a few years where I was doing all of the editorials and then I had two marketing partners that were selling to for programs. And when I was able to layer in more, uh, staff that were producing great content but not producing revenue. So if you can put off those, those drains on your resources as long as possible and hire freelancers, I highly recommend it. 

NF: 11:58 And we still outsource a great deal here. So for instance, our bookkeeping is another female entrepreneur and she is a great partner. She's then for nine years, for a long time. And she really holds me accountable. So I am so invested in a great accounting partner and a great bookkeeping partner that I love that you, you contacted me about this, but we still, we um, outsource with some virtual assistants, with some graphic designers with our legal help. Um, so these are just on a contractual basis and I'm very generous with my group of other female entrepreneurs of sharing my resources. I've recommended my, um, bookkeeper again and again and again over the years. And I think that women are really about sharing those resources. So delegate as much as you can and then ask your friends for those connections for referrals as much as possible because we all know that the word of mouth is just essential. 

MP: 13:03 I love that. And you know, I'm like tempted to go down the road of asking you some questions about how the relationship works with your bookkeeper because I think it's so interesting and I didn't think of this before we had this conversation, but it's so interesting to hear, it's like the voice of the customer, right? Our listener right now is one of those bookkeepers and you have a great bookkeeper and you said one of the things that your bookkeeper does for you is holding you accountable and keeps you on track, but you also refer a lot of people to that bookkeeper. And I'm just curious if you would give any advice as to how you know some of the behaviors or things that your bookkeeper does that you could help our listeners understand in terms of what satisfies you as an entrepreneur because you are their customer essentially. 

NF: 13:49 Excellent question. So there are a few things that I would recommend about her. So we have quarterly check-ins when the company was in a more rapid growth mode. So she would reach out to me and said, I'm, you know, I'd love to go over your quarterly numbers with you. And as the clients, I didn't always think it was necessary to do them, but actually, after she gave me a half an hour of her time, she had some really interesting insights about where I was spending things as pending and challenged me in a very Dave way. You know, I didn't feel like she was calling me out, but just said, you know, you might want to think about your expenditures on travel. Are they really paying off in sales? Because there were a few years where the travel where we were going to a lot of conferences and I really had to stop and think about it because I live in New York City and a lot of these companies eventually would come through New York and I would just have to pay the two 75 subway to go see them versus going to a conference. 

NF: 14:41 So we did trim our spending down. And I think in part because of Vicky's careful check-ins with me, you know, we've really increased our profitability. As I said, you know, our revenues have been relatively flat for the past three years, but each year we've become more profitable because we have figured out more efficient ways to spend our money. So if she didn't have these check-ins with me, I don't think that we would've seen that spike in profitability. Um, her reporting is off very clear and concise and she is always on time. So my monthly recaps come in three days after the new month has begun and then she checks back with me. She's highlighting a few things that she saw from month to month that may have stuck out to her. But she always offers to answer her questions and she's great about a quick turnaround. So for me working in social media things move pretty quickly and having that speedy response is fantastic. 

NF: 15:38 And she's also, you know, shared a few of her clients over the years cause she has seen different people in her business. Not everyone works in social media and so she's referred a few people to me. And I think just being a connector and somebody who is generous with their time and ideas is a great way to build relationships with your clients and also make sure that you're on the top of mind when it comes to referrals as well. And she also gives great Christmas gifts for a year. She sent me a few motivational books over the years. I mean nothing terribly expensive, you know, all this. Probably 2020 $5 but they're really thoughtful and I always look forward to see what, which book or what new items she's, it's going to be giving me at the end of the year. So little things like that really matter a lot to me. 

MP: 16:24 I love Vicky. Wow, what a great bookkeeper. All of these things, this is your, it's absolutely delicious to listen to. You talk about your bookkeeper and I think the audience listening right now is going to be able to take some, some ideas and implement those and think about, you know, it's one thing to do something, but sometimes you don't get the feedback that you is like, is this valuable to somebody? You know, it's not like every day people are thanking you for whatever you do. But when you hear someone like yourself sharing the joy that you get in the satisfaction and as well the beautiful results, I mean increased profitability on flat-line growth. I mean that's just wonderful. So it's, I think a nice perspective to hear these little things add up. They make a difference. And it leads to the big time. Great referrals and who you refer are likely people like you who are great people. So I mean I just, I just love that story. So thanks for indulging my question. Let's get back to help. Let's get back to helping everybody that's listening to a balance or get to harmony in their lives through some of the learnings. What else did you discover about how to make it all work and still keep the family and kids and everybody in intact? 

NF: 17:36 So this one is more speaking to the female population amongst your listeners that no one loves a martyr. And I think that women have this long history of attempting to do it all and putting it all on our shoulders. I'm going to give you a few examples of ways that I don't do that. When I was asked to write this book, it was probably the process about two years ago that I started and I really thought, well, how am I going to get more blood from this particular stone because my days are already really full. I do value my health and sleep and exercise. And I didn't want to, you know, give up on anything. But I also wanted to, to write books. So I sat down with my husband and I said, look, you know, this is something that I want to do. It's the uh, project that I'm going to expect to do every year, but do you have any creative ideas? 

NF: 18:25 And we came up with the idea together that he would start taking the kids to school in the morning so he would do the breakfast shift, make sure that they were fed, and then do a, we, it's about a 20 minute walk to our school from our house. So basically giving me an hour back of my life five times a week. So I would get up a little bit earlier, I'd go into my Home Office and I would just start banging away. I would try to get 500 words or something like that out a morning while he was, you know, I'd go kiss everybody and on the head and, and check in on them. But he was really the man in charge. And by asking for his help. It was amazing. Not only did he become closer with the two girls on those walks to the school, but he also said it was, it was the outpouring of information that he got in those 20 minutes. 

NF: 19:10 Um, it's about three-quarters of a mile. He said it was just, wow, I didn't know you would get this much info from the girls on the walk to school. And I said, Oh yeah, that's when it all comes out. So he won because he got a closer relationship with the girls. I won because I didn't have to sacrifice sleep or other things that I wanted to do in order to write this book. So I asked for help. We came up with a plan together and it was a success. And he's still, now that the book is written and the market, the book tour is his past. He's still walking the girls to school two or three times a week because he just loves it. So that's a clear example of asking for help, coming up with creative solutions to find more time where you can be productive in your, your day. 

NF: 19:52 Um, my other example is really talking about delegate. Yeah. And saying no to things. So I have three things that are really important to me and I sort of look at it as, you know, the true juggle. I can keep three balls in the air, I cannot get that fourth one going. So I know for me that three things. I've got my family, I've got my business and then I've sort of got sort of my health and wellness, which is the third thing. So these three things I can, I can keep them going. Something may be winning more than the other one at any particular time, but when somebody tries to throw me a fourth ball to juggle, I believe fail and things ball all over the floor. So I say no to more things than I would like to, you know, I would love to join a book club. 

NF: 20:39 I would love to run the New York marathon. Somebody had said, you know, they emailed me this week and said, oh, I've got a free entry in the, yeah, do you like to do what? I know you're a runner and I just, you know, I look at my schedule and there's no way I can get an extra 15 miles in a week. As much as I would love to do it, I would love to join the book club. Another girlfriend wanted me to join her meditation class. Well, it's 10 30 on Wednesday. I'm at the office that particular day. There are more times than I say no to things than I ever talk about in social media. You're going to see the things that I prioritize my family, my health, okay. My business. So while it may seem that your friends are getting it all done or capable of everything, realize that they are saying no in small ways all the time. 

NF: 21:26 So you've got to figure out the small knows that you can say along the way. So you can get to those big yeses that leave you fulfilled and happy, and you've got to make sure that you give yourself credit for the big, big wins that you were making. You know, my girls are, I have a close relationship with them. I have a marriage that I'm committed to and I'm really invested in and I have a business that I love. So, you know, I try to celebrate the wins rather than grieving the, uh, the nos that I've made along the way. 

MP: 22:05 I love that perspective. Celebrating the things you're saying, saying yes to versus looking at it like you're saying no to a bunch of stuff. It's that it is wonderful, I'm going to take that on today.

MP: 22:16 Just refreshing. Yeah. And it just, you know, wherever you're coming. Mm. Is it a, have gratitude and plenty is a much better place to be. Um, and I would also say, you know, when, when you're building a business and you're building your network, you know, picking, um, very carefully the partners that you're going to work with, both, you know, within building your business. And then there's peers that you have picked to have on your, your, your team who are cheering you on, who were maybe have a compatible business or a complementary businesses, but who are also entrepreneurs who can share in, you know, a big win or a mourn, a loss with you if you've lost a piece of business. But really having, you know, women that you can count on who are men who aren't jealous, who aren't going to be, you know, competing with you for resources. 

NF: 23:01 You know, picking really wisely the people who lift you up, who make you feel competent, powerful and successful. And I'm really, again, with, with being covetous about the way I spend my time in saying those, those little nos along the way. I'm also really careful about the women and that that I surround myself with. And I've got an amazing team of women who we, who I've just picked very carefully over the years. You know, when we're adding on new employees, they usually start as freelancers and we give them a go with freelancers. And then, you know, the more time I spend with them, I try to see are they going to be a good fit for our organization. And I think it's one of the reasons we've had such low turnover because I'm so hesitant to add somebody onto the team if they're not a good fit. They've gotta be a personality fit, a good work fit as well. So don't hire quickly, you know, make sure you do all of your due diligence before you bring somebody on because it's much harder to manage somebody out than it is to be a slow, steady process of bringing somebody in. 

MP: 23:59 Mm. That is wonderful advice and can't be said enough times. Take, take your time when you're bringing people into your business because you have to work with them. And it's a, it's a lot. It can be a long road and so, so much can go into it beforehand. And the, I guess the exponential amount of energy that would be put on and trying to get rid of somebody. I mean it's not just something to do, it's a co, it comes with all sorts of the emotional fallout that you have to deal with when, when people don't work out. So that is a really good piece of advice and I love that you've built, you've really thought about what you want to build, who you want in your business. Likely you've done this as well with your clients and customers as well, is that you're very thoughtful about why you're doing it and who you want to have belonged to it because you're thinking of that end state, what do I want to have? Do I have a company filled with a whole bunch of people I love or the opposite? I just, I really think that's a fantastic way of thinking. 

NF: 24:58 And so one of the last things that I would say is one of the things I like to talk about is the failures as well. And one thing I would recommend to anyone starting a business is to keep much better track of your contacts and developing a database of your contacts in your network than I did. So we are still living on a hybrid between constant contact and my Google context as well. To organize those business cards, have a system for or contexts and how you are going to follow up, reach out with people. Our sales team has, you know, developed some, some systems in place but I do wish, you know going, if I could rewind 11 years to when we were launching the business and had some more systems, we've tried some different CRMs, there are customer relationship management tools over the years and it's so hard to undo nine or 11 years of having small list here and smallest there but segmented lists and really tagging them and keeping them organized as you're growing. 

NF: 25:59 If you could do that with starting when you're a smaller business and grow larger, it's going to pay off in spades. So that's, I always like to say one thing I would change about the way we've grown this company that is, that is certainly one of them. And there's still way too much living in my brain that should be available to all of my team members and, or if that is constantly a work in progress of I, you know, being the founder and the CEO and still being somebody who's really deeply involved in the business. And I go to a lot of meetings and meet a lot of people and trying to figure out a way to download that. Everything that's in my head so I can share it with the rest of the team. I'm all ears for more suggestions. But that's been a constant challenge for our particular team. 

MP: 26:41 Hmm. I think it's refreshing to hear someone who has, has gone and walked the path and, and been able to do a bunch of things and learned a bunch of things about living. And it sounds like you've, you've done a great job of that. And so you know when w a going back a little bit, I guess my question for your growing your business, why $1 million revenue is, is a significant number it growth. What would you say about growth and what were some of the things that you did that helped you get that kind of growth in your business? 

NF: 27:20 With experimenting with different streams of revenue, especially in social media because things are changing so rapidly that we were always trying out something new and then letting the business that was taking up a lot of our time but not producing a lot of money at the end of the year. We would just sort of letting those things go. And so right now yeah, revenue streams come from three different things. We have an events management business where we launched different products and services to other social media influencers around the country, so different companies. And today we were hosting one with Palmer's cocoa butter. So we were hosting an event for social media influencers who have young babies who are pregnant and are interested in this cocoa butter creams hopping palmers with an event launch. And we do them all over the country with different influencers. We have a consulting business where brands come to us and they are trying to figure out how to reach a particular group of influencers with a targeted program. 

NF: 28:21 So not in a live event but they want to get reviews or they want to get their product or service in front of other customers who, we've done a lot of work with Amwell, which is an online physician service. So if you have a child who may have strep throat, you can do a video chat with a, an actual doctor who can prescribe antibiotics if the case may be necessary. So we've really helped them expand their reach with social media moms with our programs. So we have 25 influencers that we provide work to with brands. And then a third of what we do is sponsored posts, working with brands. I do a spokesperson work. That is sort of the brand relationship with mom. Trends are a third of what we do. But when we started we just did that, those brand relationships. We had banner ads, we'll go on banner ads that looked like they were starting to dry up. 

NF: 29:15 I thought, okay, well we need something else to offer our brands, and that's when we started the events. When we sort of reached the level of maturity with events where that was sort of flat at around $300,000 a year that it was producing. We said, well, we could be able to do more with brands if we offered some consulting business where we found them influencers across the country. That's when we added that thing in. So really identifying needs that your customers have and then filling them has been how we have grown our business to that million-dollar mark looking at, okay, what else could we be giving them that nobody else is? And then doing it as well as we do all of the other programs. I think everyone knows it's much easier to keep a client you already have happy than to find that new client. So we've really focused on ways where we could build on the relationships that we already had with their clients and offer them more solutions to problems that they may have. 

MP: 30:12 Wow. My, my take away from everything that you said first, number one, it was very interesting, your business model and how you've, you've built it. But as well, I, my take away is that you're constantly looking at your business. You're constantly in communication with your customers, understanding your customers and, and really pivoting if need be to ensure that the business thrives and grows. And so, you know, that's a lot to take on. There's a lot of things that you've got moving and you've given us some great, great, great tips on how to balance it all and make it all work. You know, when, when things hit the fan for you, when it just gets to be too much, what is it that you do to take care of yourself? 

NF: 30:53 I have a great love of the outdoors. So here in Brooklyn, I run along the, um, the waterfront in, um, Brooklyn. You can see the lower Manhattan and then on the weekends we have a house in northwest Connecticut. So you will find me hiking outside with the kids. And then in the winter, we do skiing. I think last year I got 39 days in on snow. So I love the outdoors. I love getting away from my desk. It's almost always unplugged. And I don't ski with any music going. I don't run with any music going. It's just my chance to hear myself breathe. And now I make my girls run with me there rather reluctant participants, but they do love skiing with me. So I'm the slowest skier in the family and they may be the slowest runners for now, but it really getting everybody outdoors and fresh air is the way that I like to unwind and refuel myself. 

MP: 31:49 Beautiful. Well, it sounds like you've carved out a really nice life and you are living the way that you recommend in your books and in your business. It's very inspirational to me and I hope so for the listener right now, where can people find out more about you? 

NF: 32:05 So on social media you can find me at bomb trends on Twitter and on Instagram and we have a Facebook page, Momtrends.com is our website. There's every day there are new solutions popping up for busy moms. And most of the women we speak to on all of our social media channels on the website and the social media, they are working moms. So I think that you know, we're all about providing solutions and making them feel like they got this. And then Mom Boss is available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles, and it is a great resource. It is basically getting to spend, you know, three or four hours worth of one on one consulting with me on how to grow your business in a book. So I hope everybody picks it up. 

MP: 32:50 Beautiful. And I would, I would say for the listener if you've got entrepreneurs who were, are our women and mothers get the book as a gift, we've already heard that this is a nice little touch. And so if you have that great customer that you love and cherish, send them, send them mom boss off of Amazon, they'll enjoy it and they'll be able to get more balance in their life. Nicole, thank you so much for generously giving us your time to share about your business and how our listeners can balance entrepreneurship, kids in success.

NF: 33:23 Thank you so much, Michael.

MP: 33:25 Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 33:37 goodbye

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

TSBK - Episode 75 - Karine Woodman.png
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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

EP74: Alexis Prenn - How Productivity Manifesto Makes Your Business More Profitable

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Productivity, Production & Profitability.

They play an important role to a successful bookkeeping business.

According to our guest, co-founder & CEO of Receipt Bank, Alexis Prenn, bookkeeping should be a very profitable business and Productivity Manifesto explains how you can make this a reality.

Productivity Manifesto will help you learn how focusing on one key ratio can be the foundation for building a productive, profitable, and scalable bookkeeping business that’s ready for the future.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of productivity in industrial scale

  • How technology can help clients and “wow” them

  • How technology can assist your staff and benefit them

To find out more about Alexis & Receipt Bank, click here.

To check out Alexis' previous episode, listen here

To download his Manifesto, click here

For his LinkedIn page, go here.

To check out his Twitter, discover here.


Michael Palmer: 01:10 Welcome 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 making his triumphant return to the show. He is the co-founder and CEO of receipt bank, which is the software that extracts key data from your bills, receipts, and invoices and publishes it directly into your accounting or bookkeeping software. Alexis Prenn, welcome back. 

Alexis Prenn: 01:34 Michael, I'm thrilled to be here. It's a great treat to be back with you in the new year and I hope that we can form up the podcast today, conform parts of people's new year's resolutions that will make them a more successful, more profitable than in being of course, more productive. So I'm thrilled to be back and thank you for the invitation. 

MP: 01:53 Yes, well I'm excited about what you've just said, which is, yeah, let's get this. Let's get this year started and I know we have talked a little bit before we started recording about productivity and production and profitability. So these are excellent things to be thinking about right now or really anytime, but what a great time of year to get started and change the outcome for 2018. Now, Alexis, before we jump too heavily into this, for those that may not have heard the previous episode and we have a link in the show notes to go to that previous episode, but could you just give a quick little highlight as to how you became Alexis Prenn and the CEO of Receipt Bank? 

AP: 02:35 Indeed. Um, Michael Well received by is actually find it in September of 2010 and I'm probably, I spend most of, usually the first couple of minutes when I meet people, uh, explaining that we are, we're not a bank and actually we don't in the expenses management business, we probably were back in September of 2010 for about three weeks. Uh, you were, um, uh, in the sort of expensive business and receipts business, hence the name. But it's actually within three weeks or so of starting the business and going out to talk to accountants about what we were doing and why it would be useful and relevant for them and for the book, the bookkeeping services that they've been providing very rapidly. People came back to us and said, no, we want you to do invoices and credit notes and all of the costs of business. Our clients are delighted to raise their sales invoices, but they didn't want to deal with the cost and when after three weeks or so of listening to this pretty consistent feedback, we decided that we would, we would do exactly what they were suggesting. 

AP: 03:33 That was the moment that we went into the field and basically bookkeeping productivity. If you think about it actually, you know the last really, really exciting thing, major things in terms of bookkeeping, we're probably about what 30 40 years ago would be with the app in terms of really two things, personal computer, Microsoft XL and of course for small business accounting applications, QuickBooks, Sage, Nyab or these sort of local desktop champions or personal confusing champions. Nothing much has happened in the last 30 or 40 years. I'm missing the bank by accident. Marginally back in 2010 I became a champion of bookkeeping productivity. Quite rightly. You pointed out that one of the pieces of low hanging fruit for bookkeepers is for a technology business to be able to do today's or extraction of their client documents, but obviously, we've expanded beyond that into a full suite of collection from their clients. Could it be mobile apps and so on. And the consequence of that is that we have also extended into, you know, genuine software automation and increase in the next probably six to 12 weeks, we will be launching a whole suite of machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions and will further boost productivity team. That's where we are today. Hopefully. Well, did it answer your question?

MP: 04:59 It certainly did. It's going to be exciting to see where you're moving with these new releases and it's always exciting to hear that people are able to get more done in less time. Eh, now we started another, that's the thing that we started talking about, Alexis, was this whole concept of productivity. And you had asked me the question, you know, are you familiar with the, you know, people talk about productivity as, oh, I'm getting stuff done in my day. Like it's personal productivity, but there's a whole conversation around productivity, uh, if from the old world around factories and being able to, you know, Henry Ford would come up in that conversation, right? So it has, things have changed, but let's talk a little bit about productivity. When you talk about productivity, what are you talking about? 

AP: 05:47 Oh, I'm just leaning. You know, there is a, a swatch, uh, expectation that, uh, the bookkeeping a is a sort of honest Zion Croft and at the same disciplines of productivity cannot be applied to this and this craft-based business. And that just simply really isn't true. It may not be able to apply to everything, but there is a very material chunk of opportunity to take away someone more routine and repetitive functions and bookkeeping. I mentioned that obviously data extraction as being one, but certainly even things like storage, scanning, filing, collection, coding, all of these relatively mundane and simple tasks that repeat, I mean a small business, for example, we'll be using the same suppliers. You know if you look at a quarter, probably 80 80 90% of the transaction, the cost of the small business is exactly the same quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, quarter four. 

AP: 06:48 And so the opportunity to streamline that and simplify that is there. We, when we started, you know, we were working on the basis of typically a bookkeeper, and this is a rule of thumb, we're looking after maybe 10 clients, so roughly 20 working days in a month. And a typical bookkeeper, whether they're working for themselves, whether they're working in an accountancy practice or a larger, maybe if a bookkeeping practice, a rule of thumb is that they might be looking after something in the region of 10 small business clients. It depends on the nature of the small businesses themselves. But that's a pretty good rule of thumb. And what we're seeing today is that by streamlining these repetitive tasks, what we are seeing is the bookkeepers are able to, to look after not 10 clients, but maybe 30, 40 or more, maybe weeks, anything. The expectation is over the course of the next coming years, uh, that that should be able to increase to maybe for a hundred. 

AP: 07:47 And what that suddenly does is it's suddenly the opportunity for listeners of your show, uh, to multiply their productivity. So if they were just guessing, I don't know, let's say they were getting $500 to just keep the math simple, $500 a client and they're looking at the 10 of them, that's $5,000. Okay, thank you very much. But suddenly we're now in a situation where the, you know, after 30 times, and so now instead of making $5,000, they can make $16,000. And so this is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to make profits to radically increase the rate if you'd like the returns per hour. Um, it's also by the way, um, the opportunity to, to shape the client experience that you're actually providing to your clients because things are happening really, really fast. Things aren't waiting until the third Wednesday at three o'clock for that slot when that particular client's work gets done. You're now in a situation where things can be happening much, much more regularly and the speed with which the client's book could have been maintained is also accelerating. The combination of putting money in the books, in his pockets or in the foams ball case, uh, at the same time shaping our client experience. It seems to us to be very exciting and compelling. 

MP: 09:06 It is very compelling. And you know, the concept or idea that you've said going from a handful of clients to 50 clients, I mean, I'm sure there are listeners, right? Going, listening, going, wow, couldn't even imagine that. But what if, what if, and you're actually doing this, right? You're helping people do this. I mean, the impact financially to the business is incredible. And what you're delivering back to clients is incredible as well because they get more, uh, information were readily available and they make, can make better business decisions with more real-time data. Now you wrote a manifesto, the receipt banks productivity manifesto. Talk a little bit of why did you write the manifesto? 

AP: 09:53 Ah, interesting to me that it was useful. I thought I'd be one of those things. I literally just sat down and braces. Um, I, I haven't thought about doing it before. Um, and I don't find that writing necessarily comes particularly intuitively to a Siemens. So this is one of the sorts of extraordinary moments when I want to just an urge to do it occurred. And it just seemed to me that I had as a result of my experience, my previous, uh, commercial experience, which was spent actually making clothing. So I'm probably one of the few people who, who is running at a technology business who's actually spent probably eight years actually involved in clothing manufacturing. One of the things about clothing manufacturers, as you do learn about productivity, the whole profitability of the business, is ultimately determined by how efficiently you can run, uh, your supplies or materials, uh, your costings, uh, and so on. 

AP: 10:46 So I knew a lot about it and it just seemed to me there were so many people who were very experts at bookkeeping, very expert as accounting, but they really didn't know very much about it. I didn't think they knew very much about how to do productivity on a, on a sort of, to a certain extent, industrial scale, something beyond just completing the work that was in front of them. Genuinely building that the systems and the processes, uh, that would give them the kind of profitability that was there was available. I mean, it's not, it doesn't, it's not magic. It's just simply just uh, following the rule book and Hey Presto, you will get the results that you think you desire. So I wrote this a productivity manifesto. And of course, one of the interesting things devices is actually, you don't actually start with bookkeeping. You actually start with basically a data set that is conducive to how many clients you providing bookkeeping services to. 

AP: 11:41 It's slightly extraordinary how many, how many firms don't actually know how many clients are providing bookkeeping services to. So just the, just set up the framework to calculate what the probable activities, you know, use the ratio of one to 10 what are called, you need to know how many bookkeepers you've got the full-time equivalent. And you also need to know how many clients you got a combination of the two. So Hey, that's pretty much where it started. It was extremely well received. I think in the books business it would be being reprinted a few times. It's even printed in French as well. Um, but in thinking to provide the framework for, uh, for people who are looking to boost their profits, profitability as to the steps that they would need to take in order to do it. Sorry. 

MP: 12:28 I love it. 

MP: 12:35 I think what I heard you say, you know, I've read the manifesto and uh, and really liked it. It's, it's short, it's sweet. It gets to the point. Uh, but what you've said has opened something up that I think is interesting. A frame or a context that we could, we could listen or look through, look, read through it, which is if you want a business that runs more efficiently and to think more of this, this business that you're in as listener is in like a Henry Ford would look at one of his factories. So Henry Ford was one of the leaders in creating capacity and figuring out efficiencies and how can we get more cars off of this production. But a lot of times people will say they, they will cringe when we talk about, uh, in an assembly line, right? It's that you lose quality or you lose something when you have a production line. 

MP: 13:31 But really it's the Henry Ford didn't lose quality. He actually improved quality. He improved a whole bunch of things. Right. And this is what we're talking about is to think of this from the eyes of your business. I think as the community of bookkeepers because so many are solopreneurs, right? Working for themselves. Even if they have a couple of staff, they think of it like it's that they are the business. But if you can separate you from the business, say ma I am a human being that I work for a business, it's called so-and-so's business. That's my business. But you're not your business. So this conversation is about the business saying what's good for the business. 

AP: 14:12 Sure. It also, I would think that I'm not absolutely 100% that the agreement all, I would also just say one other thing, very hard to imagine the number of conversations that I have. I or my staff have. Uh, my colleagues have worked with clients all around the world but think, gosh it's bookkeeping. Not because they liked doing a bedroom suite, not cause they liked doing a pilot. Not because they like me out there clients and nagging them about documents that are, that are required for VAT or GST. Returns. Why they got into bookkeeping, they got into bookkeeping. Cause I had, you know I told them, clients, that the client is the client conversation where they're talking to, they're talking about a client business, which is what they enjoy Interbike the money that they can make with a very flexible self-employed lifestyle that they like. 

AP: 15:04 There is nothing fundamentally joyful around filing a Starbucks receipt. It's not a, at least I would suggest the vast majority of people, it is not their primary motivation. It's about the clients and it's about the rewards, the income they can enjoy as a result and so the product is the manifest. It was really, really designed. You say, well let's put it, let's put in place a framework that allows you to track what your productivity actually is today and then to use a progressively in previous and some people will use, some people will use the extra productivity to spend more time with their families. They will make the same amount of money, but it will just take them a lot less time to do it. And some people will just simply get the bug and will want to expand and we'll want more money and we'll take on more staff and more clients and get into a virtuous circle. 

AP: 15:56 How they have people choose to spend productivity entirely is entirely down to them. But what we can be pretty confident, I think, I mean, I've never made these ever said to me, I've got your license. You know, if you took away the filing, I would be, I would do the rest. You know, I couldn't possibly go down the productivity route because the finding is so rewarding stimulation. It's just simply not the case. And so we have a golden opportunity with some relatively simple foundations to put in place genuine productivity and, and quite rightly, as you said, [inaudible] to improve the quality of the product that we're actually providing to the clients at the same time. But, um, uh, you, you have to start somewhere, uh, measuring your existing products as a good place to start. If you're working, for example, as you mentioned, maybe in a small or indeed in a, in a, in a, in a phone, which is more than just one person. 

AP: 16:49 I did a conference here in London, uh, just before Christmas and I've spoken for about 45 minutes on subjects of productivity. There were around about 80 people in the room and it just suddenly occurred to me as I was, as I was talking, I said there's a matter of interest. How many of you in your practices have implemented any kind of performance-based pay, productivity-based pay for your bookkeeping staff? Only two people have, only two people had. And so here we are in a situation where it's quite easy to do checkbook productivity. It's crazy. Oh well you know what I need to do then you need to go out and get Receipt bank and I need to do this, that and the other. And Isis is giving me a productivity manifesto. But you know what, if your staff aren't, aren't going to benefit from, from the productivity that they are intimately or it, it's unlikely to be successful. 

AP: 17:43 So there are relatively simple things to do and if you're tracking, for example, your bookkeeping ratio and your, your bookkeeping ratio in your practice has gone from say one to 10 to one to 20, you know, you should have been twice as profitable as sent back to share some of that with the staff to make that possible, uh, strikes me as being a very good, a very good deal. One of the things that I'm many, many people complain about is the inability to get good bookkeeping staff. And one of the reasons is because you can't afford to pay them, paid them well suddenly using productivity, you're in a situation where you can radically increase their income. You have a much greater degree of stability in your workforce and in the event that you find a really outstanding bookkeeper that you want to employ, of course, you can have the pick of the crawl because your productivity allowed you to pay them better. Is that helpful? 

MP: 18:35 Very helpful. 

MP: 18:44 It's exciting and it always comes back to, you know, my thinking there as you were speaking was, you know, really the people that embrace all of this new technology and really get it figured out and figured out from a number of perspectives. One is how can this technology help my clients, right? Because you know that, that's number one. How can this technology have my clients go? Wow. And then number two, how can I make this technology help my staff and have my staff benefit? Uh, I worked for, uh, for a while I worked for salesforce.com and one of the reasons, so salesforce.com for the listener, if you're not familiar with it, is cloud started off as a cloud-based CRM. And the way they built that CRM now it's changed dramatically. It does just about everything. Bakes bread, I think. But the way they started this was they made that tool enabled the salesperson to be more successful. 

MP: 19:43 It wasn't about a man, they didn't build it from the perspective, let's help, let's help sales managers, you know, manage their staff better. They started with, how can we, if we can make salespeople make more money using this tool, we know we're going to be more successful because the adoption rate was incredible. Once you've got people using it and they understood it and it's like this, this makes it easier for me as a salesperson to use this tool. And that all rolled up to the leadership of management is that the salesperson, the person loved it, it helped them be more successful, make more sales. Therefore the data inside there helped managers manage better and give more analytics and information around what was going in the sales organization. So it was a win-win for everyone. Similar thing happening here, technology. Think of how it's going to help your customers. How is this going to help my staff? And then how's this going to help you? The business owner you're providing. And Receipt bank is one of those solutions that's providing the ability to do this today and continually will improve and do all sorts of new things. So it's the people that embrace that and think from those perspectives that I think are gonna win in the future. 

AP: 20:47 Well, you'd have to be fairly pessimistic to think that things are going to stay the same. I mean, change happens. And, um, the one thing I see we can be absolutely confident of is the things are going to change. The exciting thing for bookkeepers and their colleagues and staff and so on. The exciting thing is that the tools that radically change what it means to be a bookkeeper way you can do it from, and indeed the nature of that role, you get more of the good bit and that in itself has got to be a good thing. As I say, I said earlier, you know, how people choose to use that isn't, you know, only working three days a week and for the five if it's actually scaling the business without taking on more. Interestingly, I think I may have mentioned this in our very first conversation was a, a very first accounting client. 

AP: 21:37 In her case, she just moved to a smaller office. Um, she, she, I post all kinds of productivity gains. This is back at the beginning of 2011 and because she wasn't storing any of the documents on her premises, she simply canceled beliefs and moved to a smaller office and pocketed the rates. So people achieve differently, the financial outcomes he's indifferent, uh, different approaches. But undoubtedly the moment of the beginning of 2018 if you want to make more money out of your practice, the tools are available to do is the productivity manifesto helps you with, you know, pretty step by step and this is what you need to do counts. How many clients are doing accounts, how many bookkeepers you'd go, this is your ratio? Okay, well this is how we, how we expand it from a, you know, the opportunity to secure either the money all the time or possibly a bit of both. 

AP: 22:28 There's never been a better time to do it. Well probably, probably without wanting to be in anyways the sort of scaling on. But the reality is other people aren't doing it. And of course productivity does, does give them the opportunity going to say they're going to take it, but they can achieve the same client outcomes that cost a lot less money. And so potentially, you know from a productivity perspective there is a powerful incentive to be ahead because you get to keep the clients. Whereas if other people are implementing productivity, they can produce a much better client experience for less money. And then, of course, you're in a, we have a problem with churn, client churn and of course very difficult to sustain a difference of height, the height of the churn. 

MP: 23:14 Okay, useful. 

MP: 23:20 Absolutely. I mean not that, that's a big one right there is that, what do you do? You know you've got this extra productivity. What do you do with that? That time that you've, you've gotten a resource, right? It's money, it's time, there are resources that you're now gaining. What do you do with that? Well, go talk to more customers, build more relationships with people. If you're not doing, if you're not getting this gain, your competitor is. And so, you know, if we think, if we bring this back to very simple farming, everybody understands, well maybe not today, but farming is such a good analogy there. It was a good analogy, right? You got two farmer's fields, one who embraced technology, right? They're going to be able to get the field, uh, so they're going to be able to have more time to expand the fields so they can produce more or they can make bigger crops. 

MP: 24:06 That money that comes back, they can invest in more equipment, more resources. They become the more successful farmer because of investing in technology, the right investments, of course, there are all sorts of things you could go and do. Are you doing the ones that are proven, the ones that give you the predictable outcome, of course? But you know, this is the way to think. This is your livelihood, this is your business. How are you going to make your business grow and flourish while it's embracing things that work and giving yourself the opportunity to have the edge up on your competition? So I just absolutely love it and it's a great conversation for this time of year, you know, we don't like to date the podcast, but I have been dating them just because I think it's snatching around the beginning of the year. This is earlier a year. And so we've got the receipt bank's productivity manifesto. We have a link to it. It's, it's very short, but it has some step-by-step actions that you can take and follow. And I recommend that you go ahead and do that. 

AP: 25:04 Well, I, I think your list as well. So often people struggle if they say yes, I'm interested in that, but they don't take the first step. And the productivity manifesto is really designed to be the first step that you can take. Uh, I was literally just looking at it tomorrow. And in fact, the last paragraph is also kind of useful for your listeners who are thinking, well, you know, I'd like to have more time with my family. I'd like to have more money or like to do a bit of both. You know this is a very particle guide, a very simple step, genuinely simple steps as to what you do. But the conclusion in the last paragraph actually says productivity never ends. There are always areas for improvement and analysis. Uh, and you know, once you've got your ratio from one to 10 to one to 20, you can get into one 50 or done to a hundred. And of course I've in many ways as the, it's a fascinating challenge, uh, and the sort of cerebral game about managing your business and not actually being part of the business that actually managing the outcome of the business. And, uh, I think this will be, I hope, a useful tool for many of your listeners, uh, to make that transition. Right. I hope they take it. 

MP: 26:15 I do as well. And so as a takeaway is something to do. Schedule yourself an hour or, or even 30 minutes, you know, you're listening right now. Maybe you're driving, so don't do that now, but take time to schedule a time to review something like the receipt bank's productivity manifesto and look at what's happening. Because I would assert that what gets in our way is that we're constantly doing it, doing it, doing it, doing the work, doing the way that we've always done it. And we don't take time, carve time out of that schedule to actually look at new things and figure things out and make exciting new steps forward. So this is an opportunity, uh, at this time of the year to say, okay, I'm gonna investigate this. I'm gonna look at how can I move on? How can I AA understand what is my current rate of productivity? Cause this manifest will help you figure that out. And then what is it that I w what's a goal that I can set it at and what's some technology? What are some things that are happening in the industry that are going to help me be more effective, more profitable? So it's an exciting time to do that. And Alexis, thank you so much for coming back and sharing this manifesto with you and your experiences in what you're doing over at receipt bank. 

AP: 27:24 Michael, it's really a treat. Thank you very much indeed for having you back. A Happy New Year's, new you to know your listeners and I will, I will not use the, uh, the time over the course of the next six months to come up with them. Subject, uh, emissions listening to have any thoughts about what that subject might be. I'd be very happy to hear from them. So thank you for your time. Thank you to your listeners for their interest and if there's anything that I or any of my team can do to help them on that journey where I need to have you out. 

MP: 27:52 Excellent. And we'll, we'll have a, some links on where you can go and shoot that information or suggestions to Alexis, uh, whether it's via Twitter or your LinkedIn, something along those lines. But let Alexis know what you're challenged with, where you're heading and what you'd like more of. Uh, he will definitely love to hear that. 

AP: 28:12 How, how'd you lose them? 

MP: 28:13 Excellent. That wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 28:27 goodbye

EP73: Ben Robinson - The Bookkeeping Answers You've Been Searching For

TSBK - Episode 73 - Ben Robinson.png
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It's a powerful tool in bringing together like-minded people to create supportive communities.

That's what we have with The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group.

It's filled with great bookkeepers who are always willing to help each other.

Recently, we mentioned to them that Ben Robinson, the founder and chief teacher at the Bookkeeper Business Launch program, would be returning to our podcast.

So, we asked them to pass along any questions.

Ben was more than happy to answer and deliver incredible insight.

During this informative interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of finding a support network that will guide you through your business

  • What are the four pillars in launching a successful bookkeeping business

  • What is the best marketing strategy for home-based companies

To find out more about Ben, visit LearnToBeABookkeeper.com.

For his LinkedIn page, go here.

To find him on Facebook, visit this link.

To check out his previous Successful Bookkeeper podcast episode, listen here.

To join The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:22 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an epic one. Well, the members of the successful bookkeeping Facebook group have spoken. They wanted Ben Robinson or the bookkeeper business academy and the bookkeeper business launch back on the podcast. And now he's here. Welcome back, Ben Robinson. 

Ben Robinson: 01:45 Oh, Michael, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me again. I'm honored.

MP: 01:50 It's our honor. And I'm so grateful that you, you gave us the time to come back and share your knowledge and wisdom. And you know, my first question is simply this, what is it like being a global bookkeeping celebrity?

BR: 02:15 Well, my kids would definitely disagree with that, that being American, it's so, uh, I don't know because I don't know what it is to really be a celebrity. So, uh, I, I appreciate that accolade. It's funny. Uh, occasionally I'll see people out and about and they'd be like, hey, you're Ben. I've seen your videos. And I'm like, Oh yeah, that's, that's weird. It just, it's so surreal, but it's a very, very small circle. But it's cool. I like it. Eh, well, in the bookkeeping, in the bookkeeping role to you would be considered a celebrity and, and that's a good thing. And certainly it's a, it's a, the world we live in, right? 

BR: 02:37 People can, you know, you're out on the Internet, people can see you. They, they, they actually can get to know you better than you know them. And that's, that's kind of probably a, a strange thing when you meet people in conferences and those sorts of things. Yeah. I definitely feel like in Kardashians, that's who I think are really good too. MP: 03:05 Yes. There you go.

BR: 03:08 Let's hope not. Absolutely. No, no. Kadesh in a factory era. No. Kadesh in fact, we don't want to see you get too crazy.

MP: 03:15 Yeah. So today's episode is going to be very much different than your last appearance on The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. And we decided that we wanted to, because people said, hey, you know what, we'd love to have been Robinson back. We decided to answer questions from our Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group members. And so we told them you're going to be on and they gave us some questions for you. You up for that?

BR: 03:30 Absolutely.

MP: 03:31 Let's, let's, let's go forward. Okay. All right. Well here's one from Rachel Augburn and the question is, could you have been discussed the proper way of getting into business, setting up, getting insured and finding clients?

BR: 03:45 Wow, that's an open-ended question and that's a big one. We could do this. We're just going to do one today, right? Does the whole episode, cause really that's 

BR 03:54 our whole, our entire program bookkeeper, business launches is built on that. Right? So it really boils down to there's, there's like four things that we see setting up a bookkeeping business, right? Number one is to have the skills and not just the normal skills that we learned a long time ago, even five years ago, but still learn the real-world skills so that we can wow our clients and that we can focus on providing value to them. Moving away from number crunching and moving more into the relationship building and really helping them to build value in their business. Somebody's got to learn those skills. That's number one. Number two, we have to set up our business properly, right? All the legalities. We have to make sure that we are operating underneath the best mechanisms so that we save on taxes and that we are compliant and that we are above reproach, right? 

BR: 04:41 Because we're telling other people to be that. So we ourselves had to make sure that we are are very good. Honestly, that's a tough one for me because it's like the cobbler's kids have no shoes, right? So we have to make sure our business is set up right and not just set up right, but that we set up processes and strategies from the beginning. We set up systems so that we can manage those and we like to manage people. So first things, we've got to have those skills. And second thing is we got to be able to set up our business and make it efficient. The third thing is marketing. Getting those clients right, getting the right clients. It's big difference because it's not hard to get bookkeeping clients. It's much harder though to get quality book keeping clients. So there's a way in which you had to go about that, right? 

BR: 05:22 And I wish I had all the time in the world to tell you about that. But that's really a core of what we teach. And then number four is the lifestyle. Because most of the people that we work with, they don't really just want this business. It's going to take over their world. They don't want to replace chaos with chaos for themselves in the form of small business or bookkeeping practice. What they want is they want a life, right? They want a bookkeeping business, a bookkeeping practice that's built around their life and not a life that's built around their bookkeeping operation. So those are really the four pillars. Again, it's having those real-world skills. Number two is setting your business for success. And number three is marketing so that you get the right clients. And then number four is all about setting up the lifestyle so that you put your life first. And now that's a very 10,000-foot overview and not very specific tactics there, but that's how we have to look at it. I think it's a great start. You know, if someone's just getting started in there, you know, for, for Rachel's really right, those right, those four pillars down and start to collect the information that you're going to need to, to, to nail it on every single pillar. That's where we have to start. 

MP: 06:35 This next question I think sort of ties in, but it's from Chanel sweater. And if we don't have the experience in bookkeeping to start a business, how will we get people to trust us? And now your program is called the Bookkeeper Business Launch. And if they're, you have work with a lot of people that don't have any experience and they're getting into this trade. So I think it's a perfect question.

BR: 06:55 Yeah, absolutely. Well, so number one, it kind of goes back to those skills, right? To real-world skills and not just learning them in abstract, like I learned them in college, but really putting them to use having comprehensive examples. But I'll be honest, and I'm honest with everybody that we talked with until you get that first live client, you're doing surgery on a cadaver. We have to get that lab client so that we solidify all of our learning, cause nothing put prepares us for actually having a client working in real-world situations. 

BR: 07:32 Because in the back of our mind, we always know that, hey, if we screw up, it's okay. Right? It's not practiced anymore when you have that live client. So getting that first client, I don't care who they are, right? Just getting a client that you're doing bookkeeping on, that's, that's the most important thing that you can do so that you can solidify your learning, build your confidence, and you've turned it from a hobby into a business because now you have a real client that you're working on. Okay? And I think the second part of the first part of that question was, how am I going to get people to trust me if I don't know them if I don't have this track record if I don't have referrals? Well, the easiest way that you do that is that you go after people who already know, like and trust you. 

BR: 08:11 All right? That's hitting closest to home, that's hitting up your personal network and here's the very compelling message that you say, Hey, I'm starting a bookkeeping business. Zip Your Lips. You will be surprised how many people in your network, right? Who already know, like, and trust you. Who is going to say, well, you know what? I have a friend who was just saying the other day that they need a bookkeeper or my dad's always complaining about his business finances being in a disarray. That's the number one way that our students get clients is through their personal network is going out there and with that very simple message, it's not a sales message. It's a statement. I'm starting a bookkeeping business, and when you hear what comes back from that, now you can make it a little bit more eloquent, but that's the basis of it. So we don't go out there to a cold audience, people that we don't know, can we say, Hey, I'm starting a bookkeeping business. 

BR: 09:01 I'm learning this. Would you like to be my first client and be a Guinea pig? Because any sane person is going to say, not just no, but hell no. They're not going to do that. So you have to make sure that you hit closest to home, but once you get that first client, the dynamic totally changes. You have a referral, you have confidence, you're actually doing the skills. And that's why we celebrate in our group. Getting to that first client, we created a Hashtag Hashtag first client, because that's when the paradigm totally shifts is when you get that first client and you beg, borrow, and steal to get that first client. 

MP: 09:34 Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's a, it's an exciting time as well when someone's got that first client and you know, it's just interesting. I've read lots of biographies of successful people and I don't know if there's any that have started where they didn't say they felt like a fraud or they felt like they were, they were not a pro like they were. They were saying, I'm going to go in that direction, but they had no business going in that direction in their lives because they'd never done it before. But here's the deal. Nobody's ever done it before. So there's always that first. Somebody is always the first in every single industry, in every single situation. And I think, and in my conversations with, with bookkeepers, it's because it's a, I guess there's a lot of black and black and white to it. They feel like they're going to mess up the business and it's going to be this big deal and, uh, the business is going to close down and it'll be the most terrible thing that ever could happen on the face of the earth. But really it's just overthinking this whole conversation. Somebody has to be the first. 

BR: 10:34 Yeah. Yeah. And a couple of things that I would add to that, you're absolutely right. First of all, if that's, that's not your, that's not your fear of failure, that's your fear of success, right? This is a real thing, is that people fear success. They don't feel that they deserve it. So what we do, and I study human psychology more now than I study anything. Um, but what we do is we replace, we say fear of success, but we don't really cognitively think that that's in our subconscious. Somewhere in our history, something has told us we don't deserve success. We've either been told that, or life circumstances have rendered that to us, that we think that that's a truth in our subconscious. So instead of saying, I fear of success, we say I fear I'm going to have, I'm gonna fail. I fear that I'm gonna mess up, therefore I won't do anything. 

BR: 11:20 All right? That's a mask. All right? We had to label it for what it is. It's fear. And that's fine. It's fine for us to have fears, right? I have fears. I have fear coming on here, right? It's like, oh my gosh, what if I say something stupid? What if I stick mouth but my mouth, which I always do. But that's, that's the thing we have to label it for. What is, that is fear. And the second thing that we have to do, we can't go with this alone, right? You have to be in this journey with someone or someone's else who is going to help you, somebody who's further down the road than you are, and that's one of the things you know not to, not to toot our horn that much, but I think it's one of the secrets to our success is that we have this very vibrant community with over 3,300 people who were in there actively helping people with any of these problems along with us and our support. That's, that's the thing. It doesn't have to be with us, right? It could be with any support network. It could be with somebody who's ahead of you. It could be somebody who's been doing this for a while. Whatever the case may be is you've got to find somebody who can help you, who can, you can turn to who you're going to have support. They're just going to help you through whatever the issue is, whatever the problem that arises and you have someone or someone's that you can go to to get that help. 

MP: 12:28 Love it and that's so critical. Getting back to the books have of successful business people, they always had fantastic mentors. And that's along the lines of what you're talking about. So and when we say a mentor can almost sound a very high level, you know, and what I would encourage people to think of a man like there are mentors all around you all the time. More often than not though in the situation people working solo, working from home is that they isolate themselves from these people that can really help them. So it's, it is, it's reaching out. There are Facebook groups. I know you have a vibrant Facebook group and your program, which is probably incredibly valuable, but there are other groups that I'm sure you recommend them to join. There's a successful bookkeeper face group that we have, which is super powerful, where people can ask questions. The people are all around you. They want to help. Just like every listener right now listening is likely a person who's helped people an incredible amount. So be the one that's getting some of that help more often, especially when you're just getting started.

BR: 13:35 Absolutely. And then turn around and end and pay it forward period for a lot of, exactly. Yeah. It's good. 

MP: 13:44 Now we have another question from Rachel Nickoloff and so there she actually asked a few questions but I'm going to, I'm going to sort of pick out the one that I think is so relevant to this stream of thought that we've been talking about here today and that is remote bookkeeping people that are, that are not necessarily working in a community where they're walking across the street to walk into a business and do, do the books, but remote they may have a client that's right across the the the continent. What's the best way to grow that type of business and what size of business have you seen a remote bookkeeping business grow to? 

BR: 14:27 So that's a great question. So we teach our program from doing it for 100% virtual regardless that the clients across the street from you or across the nation or across the globe. And that's where it goes back to having those systems and processes down, right to where you can communicate with your client, go back and forth. And what you will find is that it's much easier. Okay, if you've done it the old school way, like, like I did it and maybe you did it if did it the old school way, right? It just made sense. It's like how are you going to put this online? But when you figure it out, you're like, oh my gosh, this is so much easier. And you waste all that time of traveling and going into the office. Now there's a certain segment of the market, I don't know what that percentage is, but it's the minority now, but there's a certain segment of the market that's going to be off-put by that. 

BR: 15:08 Like, okay, my bookkeepers, this bookkeeper's virtual, I'm not going to consider them. And that's fine. That's the purpose of your marketing is to, is to exclude those people. Right? The purpose of marketing, I don't think we talked about this last time. The purpose of marketing is meant to repel more than it's meant to attract. So you want to make sure in your marketing messages that you're saying, Hey, I'm a virtual bookkeeper. I do it this way. This is badass. If you don't like it, then that's probably not for you. Then go get a local bookkeeper. That's fine. Right? So the first thing you have to do is I have to call out. We don't waste our time. Do we have to call out to the people who are most likely to work with us now in terms of like what are the ways in which we do that? 

BR: 15:46 Again, it starts with the closest to home. All right? Getting that first client beg, borrow and steal. Starting closest to home with everybody that you know in our network. And really most people think I don't have this big, vast network when you have a much bigger network than you actually think. I'm getting close to home, right? Going into networking groups, these can be physical networking groups. These can also be virtual networking groups, right? Where you're on like communities and that sort of thing and where you're going in there and adding value where you're going in there. The crux of all this is to say, where can I insert my value in front of an audience who's most likely to need my services? But go in there with the attitude, how can I give, how can I contribute rather than how can I get? Because if you've ever been to a networking event, you're there with a bunch of glad handers and 90% of them are there to get something. 

BR: 16:35 I'm there to get clients, right? Not going into it saying, how can I give, how can I contribute? How can I help these people? How can I listen? And some amazing, like the students who go to these networking events just shaking and, and, and, and so scared. And they come out of there and we say, Hey, ask open ended questions, smile and listen about 95% of the time. And they will think you are a genius because you're doing something that nobody else does there. And you're doing something that very few bookkeepers and accountants do. You know, not to knock, I mean, we're all there just to do the job. Um, but you know, networking, that's a great way to get into those specialty groups that are online and contribute. Uh, there, there's a whole host of ways. So the, the key though to getting those clients is that you want to have multiple ways to get those clients. 

BR: 17:19 But the best thing, and I know we talked about this last time though, is to have that niche, right? Riches are in the niches. You've got to go out there and establish for yourself longterm a niche, something that you're going to own where you going to become a big fish in a small pond, right? People know you all right? It's a famous in a small town, but you don't need that many clients, especially when you escalate the value that you're contributing to them. And when you focus on, um, billing them according to the value that you're contributing. I mean, that's what people call it, quote unquote value billing, which is misunderstood, but we won't go down that buddy. We'll go down that rabbit trail. 

MP: 17:52 That's a rabbit trail. That's like a, if it's right out Alice in wonderland type of, 

BR: 17:57 that's right. That's right. That's right. Yeah. Well, so I mean those are, I don't want to say keys, but those are instrumental to, you know, stablish in your practice, getting in front of that niche, right. Riches are in the niches again, but really finding, uh, finding something that you can own and owning it right, and just becoming a provider exclusively to them because it makes your messaging so much easier. 

MP: 18:20 Hmm. You know, it's a, you mentioned the networking meeting and uh, I was recently speaking with Ivan Meisner who started BNI, the business networking international and I know you know him, but the audience, if they don't, they should definitely look into BNI. But, um, he was saying he was at a, he was at a conference speaking at a conference in, in the UK and there were 900 people there. And he said, okay, it was a networking event. How many people here came to the network? And, uh, every single person in the room put up their hand. And then he asked how many people here came to actually buy something? And zero people put up their rooms. So it's actually 100%. Most networking events are closer to 100% of the people there are there to actually sell something versus actually going to buy. So, uh, what you're saying about asking, opening questions, getting to know somebody, building relationships with people, it's going to be unique. And that's really what it's all about is, is as well as connecting with one person that you develop a relationship with that they may lead to something down the track. Maybe not, you know, maybe you'll help them more than they'll help you. Who knows? But I really love that bringing that to the attention of bookkeepers because typically they're afraid to do it, as you said. Right? And they're nervous and worried about it, but they have the power to be really, really great at it. 

BR: 19:45 Absolutely. Absolutely. And I am too though, right? So, I mean to go into networking events puts me totally outside my comfort zone. I'm a big-time introvert. And so doing something like that is just like nails on a chalkboard for me. But I've found that when I go in there with that strategy that hey, everything really works out in the end. And if it doesn't like the worst thing that happens that you met some people, you contributed something great, right? You put good Karma out into the world, right? Good energy. Whatever you want to call it. That's the worst thing that can happen. Nobody's gonna throw you out there and nobody's gonna call you for [inaudible]. Nobody's going to kick your butt while you're in there unless it's like a really strange networking event. Nothing, none of that is going to happen, right? So just, we just got to go do it. 

BR: 20:25 Right? And the only way to combat this fear is to just do it. I'm reading this book or I've read this book and I've been teaching my students on it big times called feel the fear and do it anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers. I think I mentioned that last time that we have here. Yeah. And not keep referring to it. And people were like, would you shut up with that book? I'm like, well, have you done that? Have you read it? Have you actually done the things that she's talking about there? Because that's our number one block is ourselves and our own fear. MP: 20:49 Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, most of the stuff that we talk about is, I mean it's actually quite simple, but it's the, it's our, it's us getting in the way of simplicity that makes the, makes things difficult. Uh, and that's why you can't talk about it enough. I think. Men, yeah. 

MP: 21:12 We have a couple more questions and I think they're, you know, they're their questions we may have already touched upon, but I want, I do want to mention these people who have graciously asked these questions. So one is Jennifer at detoxer and, and her question was, what is the best marketing strategy for homebase companies? I think you've answered a little bit of that, but is there anything else you'd like to add? Because we've talked about some strategies around going out there and getting connections, networking, being valuable in online groups, these sorts of things. Anything else you'd like to add to it? 

BR: 21:43 Well, just the fact that you don't want to rely upon one way in which to get clients. And here's the parallel that I've found is like the longer that it takes you within that market or that media to find clients, typically the better quality client that you're going to get. So like starting a relationship with a referral partner or going to networking to get a client out of that takes time. But the quality of the client that you get out of that, it's kind of like a diamond, right? The more that it's compressed and it's under pressure, the better it becomes. And that's what happens there. The easier it is to get clients, typically the less quality of that client is, right? So the first thing I would say, um, I think of those Jennifer, is that you don't want to rely upon one method and even though your hump, it doesn't matter, right? 

BR: 22:35 Media comes and goes. Like if we were starting a bookkeeping business in the 1950s, we would have been about putting on, um, doing mailings. We would've been about the telephone book. We would have been about maybe advertising in the newspaper. Those mediums still are out there. Right? But we might want to also these days do some social media and stuff like that. But look, let's be honest about it, how many of us have really gotten clients off of social media? Like immediately? Very few. It could happen, but that's a long, long term strategy and it's not one of the places that you want to put a lot of effort because it's going to take you so long to get any kind of results out of that. So you want to find like 10 or 12 different ways that are going to get you potential clients and you want to be involved in those. 

BR: 23:21 Now probably what will happen is it three or four of those will end up being your sweet spot. But you got to test a lot of different methods. And again, that's where it becomes of knowing this niche. It makes it so much easier because now you can say, alright, I know that home contractors don't hang out on Linkedin as much. Now. I mean you can't paint it with that broad of a brush. But that's true, right? Dang, hang out in different places on and offline. So it helps you to target. Say, I think we talked about this last time, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but marketing is made up of three things. Your market, your message, and your media. All the things that people are asking about are the tactics, the media, the darlings, the twitters of the day, the Pinterest ads of the day, whatever that's that can come and go. 

BR: 24:03 The media doesn't really matter. What you have to really clearly define is your market. Don't worry about the message and don't worry about media until you've clearly defined your market and not just to find your market, but what are their pain points, right? How can you alleviate those? What do they really want now? What are they telling you? Like everybody's like, oh, I'll give you 24/7 access to your reports. They don't care about that or they really don't. I mean it's, they may say that, but that's not what they want. So we have to really dig at the heart of what it is that they want, why they want that, and how can we help them to achieve them. If we can. 

MP: 24:37 Yeah, we can't spend enough time I think on that component of it. And like you say, you've, you've mentioned it in a previous episode, but I think it's, it's so relevant and there are so many, so many opportunities out there. And getting back to this over complicating things, the people that are closest to us, you've mentioned are, are the people we know. The people we know is where we're, most of the business is going to come from, whether they're a client or they're a friend or whatever it may be, they're there. They're going to be the connection to those next clients that we're, we're going to actually get into our business. But if we don't have a great message, if we're not clear about what, what it is that we're offering and who we are and what we do, doesn't matter what media as you say you're going to use. 

MP: 25:22 So I think that's great. Great advice for Jennifer and our listener to be thinking about and, and to be trying, you know, that's one action step you could take out of this particular episode as what's one new strategy that you could implement in your business and test out and maybe it'll make you uncomfortable. If so, great. I'm excited about that, but take one and try it out and then do it a number of times to see if you do get some, some results from it. I've, I've had conversations with bookkeepers in the past where they've said, oh yeah, I tried that and it's like, wow, how many times? Once, yeah, nothing works the first time, right? It's always like there's got to be a build-up and some momentum created in order to make sure that it's, it's working. And Ben, you'd probably agree with me that there, there are ways of marketing your business that will work in every single community around the world. And yet so many people don't do them. Like network networking for example, as I can, I'm surprised at how many people have not gone out and just done simple networking. So there's a bunch of other ones. There's a, so pick one, take it on, make that your new thing from, do it for, for 90 days and see what happens.

BR: 26:44 Yeah. at least 90 days 

BR: 26:47 At least try something new. I think that's going to be the theme of the last couple of episodes that we've had here is trying something new, being focused, not trying to do everything but try and do one thing and take that on. 

MP: 27:04 Okay. Final question is from Trudy Ingraham and she says, I am a small-town bookkeeper where everyone knows everyone. So what can help to grow my business and be profitable? 

BR: 27:18 Oh, think outside your local market. I mean the world is wide open. Um, that and that becomes, you know, to keep going back to the niche. But you know, if, if we isolate ourselves and say I can only serve people that are here, okay, that's old thinking. We have to think outside the box and say, really, the entire world is at my fingertips through the world wide web that I can serve anybody anywhere. Now I may have to adapt my practice, my practices, my systems, and my processes. I may have to do all that, probably have to, but it's do it now or be forced out later down the road when Skynet takes over the world, supposedly. Because that's that. But that's the thing, right? It's not just about the local markets anymore. It's about going out there and serving clients regardless of where you are or where they are. That's the beauty of, and that's the beauty of building this virtual bookkeeping business. And it doesn't mean you fire all your local clients, but it probably means you change your approach and you serve them a little bit differently. But that, yeah, that'd be the thing that I would say is like expand you expand your vision. Right? There's not geography anymore that says, how far can we go out as a bookkeeper? 

MP: 28:28 Yeah. I liked, I love that. I think that for Trudy, that's a place to look. And, uh, we'd love to hear from all of the members that have posted questions. A, we want to thank you for posting those questions for Ben. And B, we'd love to hear what you've done with the answers to those questions. Let us know. Send us an email or post on the Facebook group and we'll let Ben know and connect with Ben and, and share how you've been implementing these things inside your business. Then what's a, what's On for you this year? What's coming? What's new, anything you'd like to share with our listener? 

BR: 29:07 Well, I think that we share Michael the same things. We're both entrepreneurs and so it's like what is not on right? My brain is going 24, seven. I have all these new ideas and the team hates it when I have these new ideas because 95% of them aren't worth a darn. Um, but the other 5% kick him. Um, yeah, we've got a couple of things up. The sleeves that we're working on right now, um, can't really release some stuff. So maybe I'll do an open-loop here. Um, we're going to make some formal announcements in the first quarter here. Um, or, or, uh, I'm sorry. We're gonna make something right after the, um, busy season. I'm still probably like early May, we're going to be making a couple of announcements of how we're going to further the up along our profession. Um, so stay tuned for those. 

BR: 29:51 I hate to, to see that and go, it really can't tell you, but we haven't finalized everything on these just yet. So we want to make sure that we released them to everyone. But for us, it's really helping established practices, uh, bookkeeping practices to take it to the next level too. And, and first of all, that would mean helping them to define what is next level for them. Right. To really digging in and helping you to figure out what does your dream practice look like? How do you take chaos? Asked me how I know, how do you take chaos and create a, um, uh, I'm going to call it a dream practice, right? Because we, it's work, right? And people are like, you know, none of this is easy, right? It's work, but I wouldn't be doing anything else. I wouldn't be going into any other profession. So everybody's going into bookkeeping if you're setting yourself up, right. For this next 10 years, it's going to be a wild, very, very prosperous rod for you as long as you've set up the right way. So for us, it's really how do we help people to do that. 

MP: 30:50 Beautiful. Well, we're going to look forward to hearing the announcement and sharing with everyone what's happening and helping them get to their specific dream practice, I guess you could say. Well, this is, this has been great. Uh, Ben, thank you so much for joining us again and thanks again and you bet and thanks again to all the listeners and Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group members who contributed these questions today. And we'll have links and details on how you can learn more about Ben and our show notes as well. A link to a previous episode with Ben. So thanks again, Ben.

BR: 31:33 All right. Thank you, Michael.

MP: 31:35 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time. 

MP: 31:40 Goodbye.

EP72: Scott Zarret - How CPA Academy Can Help Your Bookkeeping Business

TSBK - Episode 72 - Scott Zarret.png
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Everybody loves the sound of that.

CPAacademy.org offers a free, easy-to-use platform for knowledge sharing and idea exchange through the marketing and presenting of the most up-to-date educational content and developments important to the accounting profession.

According to our guest, CPAacademy.org President, Scott Zarret, his website isn't just for accountants, but bookkeepers can also receive great value by consuming its online courses and live webinars.

To stay ahead of the game, it's important to have a continuous thirst for knowledge, so that's why a useful resource like CPAacademy.org can definitely be an asset as you grow your business.

During this interview, you will discover...

  • What to look for at CPAacademy.org and where's the best place to start for bookkeepers

  • The advantages of a continuous learning culture

  • Why getting out of your comfort zone and figuring out your goals will lead you to success

To learn more about Scott's website, visit here.

To read his story, click here.

To watch his video, check this out.

To reach out to him, email Scott@cpaacademy.org.


Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the president of CPAacademy.org, which is a website that offers an easy to use platform for knowledge sharing and idea exchange through the marketing and presenting of the most up to date educational content and developments important to the accounting profession. Scott Zarret, welcome to the podcast. 

Scott Zarret: 01:39 Thank you very much. It's nice to be here. 

MP: 01:41 Well it's great to have you. And first off, let's the, let's let the audience know a little bit about yourself cause I'm sure that many of them may not even be familiar with your website and all that it does. But if you could start off by sharing a little bit of your career background and how did you become the Scott Zarret running CPA academy.com Work? 

SZ: 02:05 Uh, good question. Um, so it didn't happen overnight, to say the least, that I've been on it though for about six years. So I started CPA academy, um, with the purpose of creating a, uh, a platform that uses education to position presenters as, as thought leaders that they can sell services. And, and the reason that I ended up going down this road was really out of personal need. I am a CPA and was looking for a tool myself when working from my prior employer to really help get me in front of large audiences to um, to provide them education on, on the niche service that I was involved with at the time, which is cost segregation, another term for depreciation. And so I created the platform because it's something that I really wanted for myself and knew that others would benefit from, from using as well. 

MP: 02:51 Wow. That's cool. I love when businesses are started from just satisfying your own needs. Would have had a few guests on, on the podcast that talked about and had similar experiences and tell us a little bit about CPA academy and what does, what has it become? 

SZ: 03:07 Yeah, sure. Surely. So yeah, thanks for the introduction by the way. And I think you did a good job that, uh, you know, uh, providing some background information on it. But we are the largest provider of free continuing education in the accounting profession. And so our, our model is really based on, on providing a free education that, that uh, as I mentioned is used for positioning of presenters and thought leaders. But the topics that we offer expand quite widely from technical subjects, meaning accounting and auditing and thought leadership classes. And they're really very diverse in terms of topics that we cover. We really pride ourselves on, on bringing in new and interesting speakers. Uh, the lens of the sessions is usually between an hour to two hours. Most of them, most of them are closer to the hour to an hour and a half. But we really pride ourselves on covering a wide variety of topics that are beneficial to CPAs, to bookkeepers, to CFOs and really anyone that's in that accounting space. Uh, we've processed over two and a half million registrations. We have over 200,000 users. We've offered over a thousand unique topics. And while our, our focus is really, uh, well I should say it started with webinars. Um, on education we've expanded into self-study as well as a group live events, meaning conferences and, and a CPE really for, for all of the learning methods that are guests. 

MP: 04:31 Wow. It's amazing. It leads me to my next question, which is how, how have you seen the way, uh, professionals are getting information? What changes have you seen over the six years that you've been working at this? 

SZ: 04:48 Well, you know, the history of education is a long one and you know, really, I think what's happening is that the accounting profession has been fairly late to adopt the changes that have existed outside the profession. And what I mean by that is that free being the key element here. So there's been a couple of very large paradigm shifts. One is the shift of free, uh, CPAs and bookkeepers certainly recognizing that free content doesn't equate to low-quality content. And so I think to put down their, their guard in terms of willingness to, to take courses where there isn't a fee, realizing that it, it's the same quality as the content that they've been accustomed to paying. Um, I think the other big shift has been, uh, the openness to taking classes online or the interest and people wanting to take classes that are, that are online as opposed to traveling, uh, getting in their car and, and perhaps even on a, on a plane because they're realizing that it's, you know, there's a lot to be gained from being able to focus on in class and taking it in, in smaller bite-size pieces as opposed to, uh, drinking from a fire hose and taking a class for eight hour chunks of time or some cases, multiple days on end where you just, your mind cannot process that much information and digest it and, and apply it. 

SZ: 06:05 And so I think really the shift towards online has been huge. And, uh, and the shift towards free has been huge. And so the, what I've experienced in the platform, I think just parallels what's going on in the outside world. And I think that we're still at the tip of the iceberg. Um, I think that we're going to continue to see this, this paradigm shift. And, and I think that's evident when you look at the attendance numbers that are going on and live events around the country. It's been reported to me by the majority of speakers that we work with, that they're seeing the numbers for classroom events decreasing and the number for online events increasing. So I think, you know, essentially I saw these trends many years ago and I think it was only a matter of time before this shift happened, but I certainly don't want to be at the tail end of the curve. I wanted to be on the front end of it and I'll drive that movement. 

MP: 06:53 That's fantastic. And what, you know, with the, with everything that's happened since you started, what would you say the challenge challenges that you face in the industry faces today? 

SZ: 07:04 Well, I think that every educational provider faces the same challenge, which is quality control. You know, putting out the right content and the right subjects that is, and highest quality content while keeping the content diverse and having something for everybody. And certainly when you're putting out, in our case, we did about 1500 webinars last year, and we're a smaller organization, uh, you have to rely on, on others to provide quality content and, and be able to figure out who's good, not every presenter is going to resonate well with an audience or, or with an entire audience. It's, it's difficult to find speakers who, who are able to really capture the attention of large audiences with diverse backgrounds. And so I think that that challenge again, exists for, for all of us, and not just in the accounting profession, but outside as well. Um, I think that what's happening as the world is flattened, you know, to quote Thomas Friedman is that there's more competition for, uh, for speakers and, and whereas, you know, maybe it used to be enough to just provide a lot of content. 

SZ: 08:07 Now it's gotta be high-quality content. And if you don't earn the respect of the audience and they're not gonna, they're not gonna show up again. And so, you know, one of the challenges for us is, is reading the feedback from the audience that taking it very seriously and making adjustments and hearing what they say and also going on your gut. Sometimes you know, the audience may not be asking for a certain subject, but sometimes it's important to bring it to their attention and it's, it can be difficult to be aware of what people want to know and what you feel they need to know and making sure that those two match.

MP: 08:47 That's fantastic. And it's so true the world is changing rapidly and so you not only do you have things changing in the way that we do business in the way in all the different apps, but as well how we're learning. So these are the challenges you're facing. But the listener as well as it's, there's so much information out there that that's part of the challenge as well. What, what is most important to be listening to and while still remaining focused on, on where someone's trying to get to in their business and their practice. This audience, as we talked about before we got onto the show, our audience, primarily our bookkeepers. Talk a little bit about what a bookkeeper would look for in your CPA academy.org. What, what would be a great place for them to get started to, to go in there and, and start looking for some of this content. Where would you recommend? 

SZ: 09:42 Sure, so I'm not a bookkeeper, I'm a, I'm a CPA. But having said that, it's very easy for me to, uh, to know what bookkeepers are looking for because I go to the same events. Uh, we all go to the same events. So a were, were attending the same conferences and I think the short answer to that question is looking at the exhibit hall of any of the large events that we go to and see you there. All the software vendors, if you want to rate them based on the size of booths, great. If you want to rate them on some other subject matter. But the exhibit halls are loaded with software vendors that have solutions that are driving, they're driving the future of the profession. And I spend my time at a lot of, at a lot of these events, speaking to each of these exhibitors and asking them if they'd like to present on our platforms so that they can get in front of bookkeepers and go directly to them and share with them whatever they like. 

SZ: 10:36 Whether that is a demo, whether that is a thought leadership class or a combination of the two. And so really what I, one of the things I'm proudest of is that there was a, a gap missing from all these software vendors who, who, who spend the time with the exhibit hall. They don't necessarily have a, a place to, to provide real content that they don't generally get a center stage at, at, at these events. Because those are those events. Those spots are usually reserved for thought leaders. And yet the demos are critical, you know, to their, their job performance. And so our platform is really a combination of all of these different vendors who will come to me and say, here's what we want to talk, here's what's most important. And my goal is to get them in front of the right audience and let them, let them do their thing and put their best foot forward. 

SZ: 11:25 And, and often I find that the speakers really step it up because the audiences that they're presenting to are generally among the largest big ever presented to. And so, um, our, our platform is a one-stop-shop for finding all this content. Much of it is live, but a lot of it is recorded too. And I mentioned that we did 1500 webinars last year. Many of those are repeat subjects, but we have presented over a thousand unique topics on anything from your name. Um, any, any subject at all. Isn't our archive library and free to view. And we have people viewing these courses, you know, 24, seven, uh, literally three o'clock in the morning. Um, and it amazes me and, but it's, uh, it's been consistent now for, for years. 

MP: 12:10 You know, it's remarkable that the amount of content, and you talked about quality control already, just mentioning that that was a challenge, you know, thousand different topics, 1500 events or, or training sessions. That is a lot. How do you ensure quality, I mean you listened to your, the feedback, uh, from, from your users and those sorts of things. But does your team review and follow every single uh, session? 

SZ: 12:42 I think I appreciate the question. And um, sometimes it's easier than, than others. And when you think about some of the larger vendors who were, who were using this model? Well before I came along, before CPA exam academy existed, there many publications and other organizations that have provided free webinars and have for a long time. So many of the speakers that we work with have, have been around the block. They come to the table with refine presentations, uh, with their finger on the pulse and, and need really no guidance. They've got it down and it's been a successful part of their new generation. And so with those presenters, and they're generally fairly easy to spot, given their conversation with them, given their, their bio, given a quick listen to prior courses or, or just general understanding of, of who's who in the marketplace. 

SZ: 13:32 But there are also many speakers out there who are not seasoned whatsoever. They may be new vendors and we see them every single and every single conference. A company that has a new solution, some of them are rising stars and some of them we'll never see again. And so it can be difficult among them to figure out who's who, who's going to put their best foot forward. And so our mentality is that we give everyone a chance and the audience is not quite there. They're not subtle and speaking their minds. And so we do appreciate putting speakers on our platform who are new and help groom them. And some of them, some of them we don't hear from again and others become rising stars and turn into the next, you know, amazing speaker. So our goal is to, you know, try to figure out who's who and to, to help them put their best presentation together on the first shot. 

SZ: 14:27 Because many people just with the best of intentions, just literally don't know, uh, what, you know, how to put on a good session. What makes an engaging, how to use Webcam, how to use Q&A, what percentage of the sessions should be a demo. I mean, there are so many things that, that go into a high-quality session and it shouldn't be assumed that, that everyone knows those tricks. And then going back to the earlier point, even the speakers are seasoned. There's still a lot to learn. And that's true for all of us. We learn from our presenters, they learned from us and we all learn from the audience. So it's a, it's an evolution. 

MP: 14:59 I love it.

MP: 15:06 I mean, that itself speaks to any kind of running a business, right? You don't start off as a pro. You start off as whoever you are and you work, you make mistakes. You, you get, you know, feedback, you, you improve your game. And so I, I love the idea of that it's not just putting people into a room, generating a bunch of content, but really working with the people who are providing it, giving them feedback, learning from them. It's it, it's exciting. And I love the spirit of that webinars are powerful. You're educating people and you're not only giving them valuable resources and thoughts and ideas to help them in their lives or businesses, but you're also as the person delivering it, giving them an inside look at what your product is, connecting with them personally, you know, letting the audience get to know them. I mean, it's very powerful and we use webinars ourselves to do very similar things. Would you think that you know, do you see a trend that actual, like our listeners, might someday say, Gee, you know, I have customers. Would I be able to do a Webinar, a just a standoff Webinar and present that some information to customers? Do you see that happening where more and more small businesses are actually leveraging this kind of technology? 

SZ: 16:21 Well, webinars have brought an application for all professions. You know, whether you consider a Webinar to be, uh, an increment of one hour or 30 minutes or, or even five minutes, there's certainly value in putting together content and sharing it with the right group of people. And I think that, uh, it's intimidating. A lot of people don't know where to start, um, where they don't look at themselves as being an educator. They look at themselves as being a practitioner. And I do think that there's been a shift in mindset and I see it even in small examples with folks that are first starting to put together content on Facebook. I'm realizing that you know, it's, it's beneficial to get in front of a camera and to connect with an audience and, and build up a following. So whether you believe that, that you should provide under content in short chunks or, or in longer chunks, an hour or two hours is a, is a matter of comfort and, and you know what you're comfortable with and a matter of what's appropriate given, you know, the line of work that you're in. 

SZ: 17:18 But I believe strongly that we all have something to offer. Whether or not we look at ourselves as being educators. So we went into our professions, not because they were easy, certainly, you don't become an accountant or bookkeeper because you're looking for the path of least resistance. We, we signed up for, you know, for being lifelong students and we've all had to learn a tremendous amount along the way, uh, technical skills and there's new skills and personal skills and it's just a matter of what we feel comfortable sharing with others. Um, and being confident that what we have is something that's a value, uh, to others. And, um, whether the classes for CPE or it's, you know, it's just done more socially. I think it is important that we get ourselves out of our comfort zone. This podcast is, is taken me out of my comfort zone. Um, and that I've actually never done a podcast before and, uh, it was important to me to be tested and the, to go into it with the confidence that, uh, at the end of provides some content useful to others. And I think it's important that we, you know, we take some risks sometimes and put ourselves out there and I have faith in the process. 

MP: 18:25 I love it. And you're doing great. So, uh, I didn't realize it was your first podcast and so that's, that's a good thing. And I will say I that you've said a couple of things that I just, I want to just highlight because I think it's the theme really taxed the theme of what, what we do here on this podcast. And that is, you know, you said you signed up to be a lifelong learner. I just love that you signed up to be a lifelong learner. It's so inspiring. And I think for the listener listeners sitting there saying, yeah, you know what, I'm not alone. I, you know, often people can forget, Gee, this is difficult, challenging, there's lots of change happening. But the shift, the message you've given is really a shift in context to this is exciting. We're lifelong learners. This is what we do. 

MO: 19:10 You know, we've signed up for this. And so your, one of the people that's providing a tool solution really to being a lifelong learner is that there are lots to learn. So here's some great content, really professional content and bonus. It's free as well, just getting out of your comfort zone. Right? And, and that's it, right? So whether it's thinking about doing a small bit of education for your customers or, or even just going and consuming some new content, whatever it is, if there's something that's in your way, jump out, jump out, get uncomfortable. It always leads to learning and it leads to a step closer to where you want to be. And so those two points are absolutely awesome. I love it. And inspiring. And what a time of year to be inspired, right? Get going, get moving. You know, I know you, we don't have a ton of time, but I have one last question. When I asked you which, in your opinion, what are some of the keys to delivering an effective, and we'll say presentation, but you know, online presentation, Webinar, because that's what your organization does. But what are some of the just thoughts and ideas that, you know, every day you say, look, it's got to have this? It's got to have that. 

SZ: 20:22 Gosh, that's a, that's a tough one because we each come to the table with, with a different purpose for, for even doing the session. And so I think that, or a session I should say, but I think the first thing you need to ask yourself is why am I doing this? Right? You as, what is the anticipated outcome? Um, are you doing this because you want to be positioned as a thought leader or are you doing this because you have something very specific that you want to sell? Are you doing it because you want to, uh, you have an ego to sell or you want to get in front of a large audience? Those are legitimate reasons. You're doing it because you want it on your, on your resume. Um, but I think, and the first step is to figure out what your goal is of, of doing the class and, and the first place. 

SZ: 21:05 Um, and then, you know, with all good presentations, it's a matter of coming up with an outline coming up with and what's the scope of the class going to entail? How should the class be broken down and asking yourself if you're even, you know, if you should be doing the session alone or if you should be joined by somebody? Um, I certainly appreciate the fact that you're asking me questions today and I love this, this format and others doing webinars may find that it's easier to do alongside somebody else, perhaps with a client, perhaps with a colleague. And then you have to ask yourself, are you comfortable using a Webcam and what lens should the class be? When should you offer? Why should you offer it at that time? How intense are the slides going to be versus the conversational tone of the class? What do you expect someone to do when the session's over? 

SZ: 21:50 Should there be a follow-up session that you're trying to drive someone to? And how would you go about marketing your class? Who is your intended audience and how are you going to reach them? And do you need assistance? And getting in front of those, those folks, you have to ask yourself whether the class should be for credit or we're not CPE credit or ea credit or whatever, uh, other designation you're, you're trying to attract. We have to make sure that the class isn't, isn't too salesy, that it's engaging, that you're capturing attention from the beginning. So I think there's really a lot that goes into a session. But again, I think the first thing is to ask yourself why you're doing it. And there are plenty of good answers to that, but that will dictate where you, you know, what approach you take. 

MP: 22:38 You've offered a ton of thoughts to sort of start with if you're thinking about doing a presentation and doing some educational content, but I love the first one is why, why are you doing it? And then a whole bunch more that you can start to think about. But it's one of those things that I agree with. Going back to one of the things you say, you, you, you don't start off being a pro at this. You start off doing what you do. You try to do the best you can and then you do another and another and another. But it's a valuable tool. And what I love about it and have seen others, uh, excel with is presenting anything. It is taking out of your comfort zone, but it's helping you on so many other levels as well because you, you get better at presenting ideas. You, you get confidence. So there are so many benefits to doing it. So if you can find a reason to do it in your business as a listener right now, if you think that this is something you should be doing, number one great player is observed others, right? So go over to CPA academy.org start watching some of the educational content. You'll learn a ton from that and then take a crack at it and get out of your comfort zone this year and do something like this if you think this will be valuable yourself.

MP: 23:48 So Scott, I just want to emphasize, bring your personality to the, to the table, right? So it's not, we're not in up and doing a central, not trying to emulate somebody style. We really like, we're trying to bring our own personality to the, to the forefront and to, I'm not trying to use any, any specific formula, but to use the uniqueness that we all have, the unique skills that we all have and what makes us intriguing and interesting. So don't overthink it, but yeah, I, if it's okay, 

SZ: 24:16 I love that. Sorry for cutting you off there. No, no, it's, it's, it's valuable and you know, it, we're all trying to get at what people appreciate. Our very, very best friends love us because we're around them. And so if we think of that all the time, it's like, well, how do we bring just ourselves, our unique individual self to the world? That's a good thing in business and friendships, all, all the same. And I think in presenting, you know, I always think of presenting, you know, of whether it's, you know, a musician or a painter, you know, that's what their work, their whole life journey is to, to be more uniquely themselves. Now what happens is people do start off being, trying to be somebody else. Like, if we look at all the great artists, right? You know Tom Petty, for instance, right? Tom Petty had influences. 

SZ: 25:05 He, he liked certain music and he played that music, but eventually his job was to become Tom Petty. Not, you know, trying to be like the Beatles or like Bob Dylan, right? It was, I'm Tom Petty. But that takes time. And again, it comes back to just if it's like anything that we do is, the more we do it, the better we're going to be at it. And so I love that you interrupted me and because it's a great point, just be ourselves and get out there and just do it. Make some mistakes, take some risks. Don't be gold at the end of that rainbow 

SZ: 25:37 and don't back down 

MP: 25:38 I guess I am a Tom Petty Fan as well here. Awesome. I love Tom. Daddy petty me Sir. It was sad to see him go. He was one of the concerts I wanted to, to actually see in my lifetime. But that's unfortunate. So, Scott, this has been great and we've got to end with a little bit of time. Patty, what's the best place to start with CPA academy.org I'm s you know, they go to that website. Is there any recommendation around, Hey, start here? 

SZ: 26:08 Well, we, it because there's so much content, the ball's in our corridor. Responsibility is on us to make it easy to search for, for contact. And we have different sections. So if you're a bookkeeper, there's a bookkeeper length that you can click on and see all the classes that are appropriate for you that are upcoming as well as those that have been archived and available and, and self-study. Same if you're a CPA, there are different sections for you. If there's a specific company you're looking to research, you can search by name or by the specific presenter. But my suggestion would be to, to poke around, play around. And what often amazes me is that they think that they're going to the site for one topic. And Lo and behold, there was something else that catches their attention. And so, uh, I'd say just have a little fun, see what's out there. And hopefully, you'll start with one and come back for more. And by all means, uh, uh, please feel free to shoot me a note. I, I love hearing from, from our members and new folks, um, particularly about the experiences they're having and what they're, what they're gaining because we want to share that your feedback with others who we believe will benefit from the tool as well. So please reach out. 

MP: 27:13 Excellent. What's the best way for them to reach out to you, Scott@cpaacademy.org. Super simple and we'll have of course all those links and information in the show notes and heck, we might even put a link to a don't back down from Tom and Patty and, and that might be the theme song for the next couple of months. Go out there, grow your business, don't back down. Love it before Scott, thank you for being on the show. This has been both informative and entertaining and I would love to have you here and hope to have you back in the future.

SZ: 27:46 Yeah,  I appreciate the opportunity. It's wonderful speaking with you and I appreciate your insights as well and uh, I look forward to continuing the dialogue. 

MP: 27:54 Awesome. Well, that wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 28:09 goodbye

EP71: Omar Visram - How Coffee Meetings Lead To Business Referrals

TSBK - Episode 71 - Omar Visram.png
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Do you want clients?

For those bookkeeping businesses that do, especially startups, it can be challenging to find them.

Many bookkeepers aren't comfortable with prospecting because they'd rather just do the books.

According to our guest, Omar Visram, who is the co-founder of Enkel which is a Vancouver-based bookkeeping practice, it doesn't have to be hard.

When he began his business in 2016, he leveraged the power of coffee meetings for business referrals and it worked incredibly well.

It was such a hit, his firm now has over 15 employees to handle the increased workload.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How to master an effective coffee meeting to produce results and not feel uncomfortable while doing it

  • Why you should use your warm network to select people you'd like to meet

  • Why coffee meetings are a quicker referral strategy then SEO and content marketing

To learn more about Omar and his firm, visit this link.

To read his LinkedIn article, “Why I Quit My Dream Job”, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:30 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is the co-founder of Enkle, a Vancouver based bookkeeping practice helping small to medium size businesses to better manage your finances. He is a former KPMG employee who decided to start his own bookkeeping practice two years ago and today the firm has over 15 employees, Omar Visram. Welcome to the podcast. 

Omar Visram: 02:01 Thank you for having me, Michael. 

MP: 02:03 Yes. And I'm excited to hear your journey and that's a really sizable bookkeeping practice. But first off, before we go too far down this path, can you share with the audience a bit of your background? How did you become who you are today? 

OV: 02:20 Yeah, that's a good question. So, um, my career really started, uh, at my parents' home hardware store. They owned a small home hardware store in a suburb of Vancouver and it really was a community gathering place and I ran the cash register. So it was like the old fashioned kind where you had to count back change, you know, pretty unsophisticated. But I, I guess that's where my passion for numbers and entrepreneurship really came from. I then had a brief stint as a, as a busboy at a seafood and steak house, but stayed really closely connected to my family's businesses while I was in university. I just went in with the idea that I do a general business degree, but then I actually found that I was pretty good at accounting. So I decided to go through a CPA recruit and I landed a job at KPMG. 

OV: 03:15 And really the euphoria of working at a big firm. It was a lot taken, but I really felt like I landed my dream job. And so I started climbing the corporate ladder. I was there for about eight years and actually really enjoyed it. But then, you know, I was kind of at that point where I was going, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? And really the answer was no. So I jumped out. I tried something completely different, worked on the launch of a local car share program called Evo car share and was responsible for fleet and customer experience. So about the furthest thing from accounting possible. Did that for a year, loved it. And then meanwhile connected with a former client of mine. And uh, just a year after leaving KPMG being with that car share program, we launched Enkle. 

MP: 04:06 Wow, that's really cool. And, and such an interesting journey of being, you know, growing up in small business and then going into a very large organization and then getting pulled back into what you're doing today. What, what's, what's it been like, uh, from start-up of this bookkeeping firm to, to today? 

OV: 04:29 I'd say it's been an amazing ride. I mean the really exciting thing about bookkeeping is you can have such a huge impact on business and layer that on with the technology that's available to us today. And it can be quite powerful for small businesses. But like any business, it really was starting a business, you know, starting from scratch, you know, day one, January 4th, 2016 was basically just in an office. You know, March 2016, I hired my first employee and then we've more or less added a person every month since then. But you know, there's been no shortage of growing pains. I mean, you know, I worked at KPMG, I didn't really have a whole lot of bookkeeping experience, so I had to, you know, self train myself on a lot of the tools. But the one thing that I'm really proud of is that we, we've really listened to customers from the beginning and I'm very passionate about small business and enterprise just because of my, you know, my family's business history. And so very early on I would have conversations with clients about, or potential clients about what was important to them. And we've really, over time just improved our service to really have a service that is focused around the owner business. 

MP: 05:58 MMM. And when you started your business, did you, like, you're at 15 staff now, did you, what was your vision when you started? 

OV: 06:09 My vision was, and still is to grow a huge bookkeeping business that provides small business owners with more than just bookkeeping, but provides business owners with a solution to all of their accounting and finance knowledge gaps, if you will. You know, it's funny, I was speaking to a potential client the other day and she said, you know, we have these questions on an ongoing basis. We like recurrently wondering should we rented a new space? And she said, well, we go to our lawyer for those questions, then that doesn't really fit there. It's not really within the realm of what our lawyer does. We go to our year-end accountant. It also doesn't really fit into the realm of what they do or you kind of that pillar for us. And that's exactly what we strive to be. So we provide you with your bookkeeping. But if you want to have a conversation about making a business decision with financial implications, which you know, everything has a financial implication, give us a call and we leave that right. The door opens for our client.

MP: 07:18 That's beautiful.

OV: 07:29 Yeah. You know, that's one of the things that I, I've seen in the past worked so well in that bringing the financial clarity to decisions is so powerful and, and it's rare, it's rare out there that it exists. Owners are actually making decisions based on sound financial clarity, right? It's like kind of pulling behind a curtain. And when you provide that, you, you really open up the opportunity for a business owner to actually be successful that they could make decisions that are, are actually more accurate. 

MP: 08:01 Absolutely. 

MP: 08:03 Now, you know, I've worked and talked to so many different bookkeepers and worked with so many different bookkeepers and it's always interesting to see the view of the world view of the different owners. Right? So you, here you are a bookkeeper. You've got an interesting background, uh, in that you, you didn't train to be a bookkeeper. You didn't really set out to be a bookkeeper, but yet you ended up doing that solid, strong accounting background. But yet you've been able to really quickly grow the firm where I've spoken to bookkeepers who maybe get stuck in, you know, the, they have the ability, they have the skills, they have everything, but yet their business doesn't grow as fast. Why do you think that is for you? 

OV: 08:47 So while you know, kind of your average accountant, you know, I love numbers. I can get really deep into the details. I am at the heart to really an entrepreneur. Um, and I love the idea of building something. And so this business in many ways was the perfect combination of my skillset, really my accounting background with my entrepreneurial ambitions. And unlike a lot of bookkeepers and accountants, I love sales. Sales are what gets me up in the morning. You know, it's what I love doing. I love talking to small business owners about how we can add value to their business. And I think very early on being able to focus on sales. I mean, I've always been involved in a certain level of detail and I always will be, but early on, really focusing on sales that have what has allowed us to grow this quickly. 

MP: 09:45 And that's, and that's powerful. And I think you know that it's so interesting, like when you say sales, right? I'm sure right away everyone that's listening right now, you the listener right now in your car at your desk, you're going, oh, but I don't like sales. Right? And then right, and then you said what you're really interested in is, is finding out how we can add value to your client's businesses. Now that's the disconnect I think for a lot of people like going out. So, Hey, I'm going, I'm putting on my sales hat, I'm going to go out and sell something. It's really, really what you're doing is you're like, I'm just going out to find the people that I can help. And for you, when you find those people, it's clear, clearly demonstrating that you can help them. And it's that process that you love of, of actually converting them to a client. 

OV: 10:35 Yeah, absolutely. And you're right, sales are probably not the right term there because sales, you know, it's not superficial selling. I'm selling something because I actually believe that we're delivering value to a business owner and being passionate about what you do and about what you're able to do for a business. I mean that's, that's what really excites me. And I think that should really excite every single bookkeeper and accountant out there. 

MP: 11:02 That's exciting. And that's exactly the message we love to try and get across here is that, so everything you're saying, the things that you're doing, you're, you're, you are selling, but people are afraid of selling and it's, it's hard to not say that you're selling cause that's what you're doing, but really you found something that you believe in, that you love and you're, and you have no problem sharing it passionately with other people. And that sells itself. And so when, if, if people, if the listener right now can connect with, hey you, and this whole conversation has been about that, right? You are, the need out there for, for businesses is great. There is a great need for business owners needing financial clarity to make better business decisions. But that's not going away anytime soon. And if you and your all the listener here is a person that is, you know, proficient at that, loves doing that, uh, if you can connect those two and just passionately demonstrate that to people in the world, they will just want to buy from you. 

OV: 12:01 Absolutely. 

MP: 12:03 Yeah. That's, that's fantastic. Well, you actually wrote an article on Linkedin. It was the first introduction that I had, uh, of you and it was an interesting one. It said why I quit my dream job. Uh, what, what did you hope to get out of writing that article? And I'd love to hear sort of what some of the aftermaths have been any feedback that you've gotten from that. 

OV: 12:29 Absolutely. So why equip my dream job? I wrote that article to really give back and to share my story with others. My, my hope there was that if I could inspire others to take that leap, then really that article was worthwhile. The hardest thing about starting a business, especially as a risk-averse accountant or bookkeeper, the hardest thing is just jumping into it and committing to doing it. You know, once you're in there, there's no shortage of challenges, but really so many people just don't make that first initial leap. So I was hoping to inspire others to just take the plunge. And since writing the article, this feedback has been phenomenal. I've had people reach out to me on Linkedin to just, you know, um, to ask me to, to speak to. I've spoken to a few people that I didn't know about their challenges with making a decision like that and it's been really nice to be able to help people with that journey. 

MP: 13:45 You know, there is a, it, we're definitely gonna put the link up in the show notes so people will be able to read that. But I know for a fact that a lot of our listeners are people who are planning and preparing to be in business for themselves and to have their own bookkeeping firm and to quit their, their, their job day. I say day job is the, you know, their daily work that they're doing that that earns them and pays for the light bill and all that good stuff and they dream of it. And the dream sometimes in conversations that I've had with some people, it's like it's a long dream. It's like 24 months, 36 months to do this. What would be your advice to le, to the listener that is contemplating these, these thoughts? What's your take on it? 

OV: 14:30 You know, I would say if you feel like this is something you want to do, don't delay. My business partner and I had started talking in 2015 about starting this business and I said to him, Oh, you know, I've got to wait for these things to happen and we'll start in February or, and then actually what I did is I escaped for beach holiday in November 2015 got really inspired, read a couple of really great books, came back and I quit my job that day and we launched earlier than we expected. I would encourage people who are thinking about doing something like this, to just ask yourself, why are you holding yourself back? What is it that's really in your way? And a lot of times you'll find it's just your own fear. And if you can just isolate that and recognize that it's just yourself getting in the way of you achieving this, this dream, then I'd say, you know, just jump in, do it. You know, it's like jumping into a pool of really cold water, but you'll be okay. 

MP: 15:42 Absolutely. I was like, oh yeah, cold water. It's like, oh, that doesn't sound very good, but it's a, it's the truth, right? It's your body adjusts to it very quickly and you start moving, you get warm and away you go. Um, you know, and this whole stream of thought around just taking action, I think it applies to also people who are already in business and they're growing their business. Like, okay, hey, we're going to go from, you know, we're going to hire staff perhaps, or we're going to go find some new clients. We're going to go from 50 to a hundred k, whatever it is. It's like that next milestone. Often people put a very in, I find in this industry anyway, I mean there are other industries where I'd say people think that they're going to do way more in way less time. However, in this industry, and you said it, accountants and bookkeepers are risk-averse perhaps. And so, and also looking at the numbers and trying to, you know, have a clarity and make good solid decisions. So then I think the timelines get stretched. So you were in business, now you had a partner and you, you, it sounds like there was some good planning and, and you're committed to taking this action, but you started and then three months later you're hired your first staff member. What would you say to those that are thinking about hiring a staff member and saying, Oh, you know, I don't know if we're ready yet? 

OV: 17:06 Yeah. You know, it's a little bit scary hiring your first employee. For me, it was like, okay, wow. It's not only me now that you know that I have to pay for I'm responsible for this other person's livelihood essentially. But until you have that first employee, your ability to really grow and take the business to the next level is quite limited. You know, there's only so many hours in a day. So taking the plunge on that first employee is, is really important. And I'd say do it sooner rather than later. I mean, I know that you know, when you're a new business, you have of course, limited, limited resources and there's, let's face it, limited revenue coming in the door, but the quicker you can figure out how to find that first hire, the quicker you'll be able to scale up and grow faster. 

MP: 18:02 I love it, you know, for, for anyone who's scaled quickly or scaled at all for that matter, it's, it's the same feedback that, uh, that comes in and it is, Eh, do it sooner. You're never 100% ready. You never will be 100% ready. So just get it done. And I think what's cool about that is, and you mentioned that it's like you, you now have somebody that you have to provide for, it creates this, it's like a forced saving program. A mortgage for instance, when you buy a home is a forced savings program. Whereas if you, you know, said, okay well I'm going to do it another way and just save all that money. Well, he better be a really good saver cause there's, there are no structures set up to actually have that done. Whereas, you know, it's, it can be very powerful. Now it's daunting and for sure don't want to say just go out there and do something. Just go and hire somebody. It's got to come from a sound decision making. What would you say you needed to put together and put in place in order for you to make that first hire? Was there a specific revenue stage that you wanted to get to or like pipeline? What was the thinking of the thought process for you? 

OV: 19:11 Um, it really was pipeline. It was, it was a matter of, okay, I have x number of clients and I'm doing the bookkeeping myself by pipeline looks really strong and even half of these clients close, I'm going to be in trouble. And so I remember that day actually and I went, okay, so put together a job description, put it up on craigslist and sound a really solid person, really solid bookkeeper fairly quickly. 

MP: 19:42 Very cool. You know, and literally today, this morning I had a conversation with one of our, um, impure bookkeeping licensees, uh, looking to hire first staff, right? And in fact, to the point where clients like referral partners have said, look, I can't send you any more. I'm not going to send you any more referrals until you have a staff member. Because they love, they love working with the business, but they're like afraid that it's gonna happen, that this person's going to, you know, implode. So all the signs are there, but yet still worried. And what if, what if, what if, and I almost feel like this, this, uh, this podcast episode may very well be specifically for this person and I'm trying to be, I'm trying to keep it anonymous here so I'm not saying any, any, anything, but, uh, you know, what, what would be your advice for this person? 

OV: 20:40 I would say what is potentially holding back this person, and I don't know this for sure is a loss of control and you know, being uncomfortable with not knowing every single detail. Um, you know, if it's finances, you know, that's a different story. But a lot of times I think it is a matter of just not being willing and not being able to let go. But you know, make sure you spend the time interviewing Sandra that I even put candidates through a test. We get them to do a two-part test. One is a test on the accounting software that we use on zero and the other is a technical knowledge test. Uh, but once you've put somebody through that, you can get a pretty good idea of their skillset and a little bit of time with them on personality and you'll find the right person ultimately. But then what that person's going to allow you to do is think about things on the file that you otherwise wouldn't have when you were brought down in the details. So you will very quickly find that, you know, you're able to review things very quickly and get a good grasp on the file and you will not lose control. And you know, your clients will ultimately be happy that you are, you know, involving other team members. People get it. 

MP: 22:05 Absolutely. 

MP: 22:13 I'm just delighted for this person getting direct feedback from you. I think it's, it's a, it's bang on and, uh, and it's exciting for anyone in this position. It's an exciting time. It's a daunting time. There's, Eh, there are lots that can go wrong and there, you know, there's still the fallout of, of growth. Right. And you mentioned a few things where you know, growing pains, uh, so it's not all going to be at one, I don't want to say like, Hey, the staff's going to solve all your problems. We never want to say that, but they're there. They're there. It's if you want to scale and grow and you want to continue to offer uh, an excellent service, you need to have people in place. What were some of the growing pains that you've gone through? 

OV: 22:56 Well, there are many. You know, there are, um, there are a couple of, I'd say significant growing pains that we experienced. One was on the process side, you know, process, consistency across files that uh, establishing that age is very important. The problem is when you start the business, you don't really know what the process should be. So you basically take things the way that your clients do them and you just kind of repeat them and do them that way. But you can't let that go on for too long. That would be my advice. You know, once you've got five clients, you need to start thinking about consistency and process between clients. And that's where your best practices should start evolving is really, you know, at that I think five clients stage. So I'd say the process was a challenge for us. It will always be a challenge for us and it shouldn't be a challenge for us and we will always work to make our processes better and more efficient. 

OV: 24:01 That's been one challenge I'd say we've faced. Another challenge is staffing. So you know, growing really fast, we indeed have to hire a lot of people. And um, I think being the optimistic person that I am, I often, you know, when I would initially interview people, I would only tell them about how great it was going to be. And what I've learned is if I wasn't giving people an accurate picture of what the job truly was, then you know what, it just ultimately wasn't fair to them. Because in a, in a business-like ours that's growing really fast, you don't get a lot of the stability that you get in a typical firm just because there's new clients being added constantly in their existing processes are being improved. So you have to be willing to work in a really quickly changing organization and you don't get some of those resources that you have been in more stable, established firms. So I now today spend a lot of time with potential hires, multiple meetings, telling them truly about what their day is going to look like. And I've found that since doing that staff have a clear understanding coming in of what to expect. Oh yeah. And did I mentioned that we're hiring? 

MP: 25:28 Yeah, of course. I love it. It's beautiful. You know, there is a little story that I like to talk about when we're talking about hiring the number one, uh, I guess it would be the position or trade that has the highest or the highest job satisfaction. The job with the highest job satisfaction is actually demolition workers and demolition workers. The reason being is that demolition workers come to work, they knock things down and when they're knocked down they go home. And so they know essentially they know exactly what it is that they need to do. They know exactly how to do it and they know exactly when it's been done to perfection. And those three criteria assist systems and process and everything you've, you've, you've been working on and developing and you're talking about onboard, uh, hungering onboarding and training and more communication is you're just continuing to provide that information that satisfies those three things. What is it that you want them to do? Uh, exactly how you want them to do it and enable to be able to know when they've done a good job of it. And if you can do that, you have people punching out and going home and, you know, saying, I love my job. 

OV: 26:50 Right, right. That's brilliant. I love it. 

MP: 26:53 Yeah, it's really simple. When I heard that, I'm like, that light bulb went off, right? It's maybe I want to become a demolition worker. We could see, right. Let's get a big wrecking ball and knock stuff down. So, but I think it's powerful and I think, uh, that many forget about that component of things and, and, and think that because they've hired somebody that those people will come and, and, and just know how to do the job. And that creates problems because people don't know anything. They know what they know. And when we know things, we have the curse of knowledge. We know what we know and we don't know what we don't know. And it's hard to decipher between what you do and don't. So you've obviously been able to do that. Now I, I know we're running at a time where you probably have a conversation that goes into the hours, but I really like to know, like from your pipeline generating, I'm sure this has gotta be a question of our listener right there thinking how have you been able to generate enough pipeline to feed this business? 

OV: 27:53 You know, it really comes down to, uh, relationships. So you hear a lot of people today talking about search engine optimization and content and this, that and the other. Those, those are really great long term strategies. But my advice to anybody starting out as focused on the relationships that you have, those are the most powerful sources of referrals really. That is what has done it for us. When I decided to launch the business, I went back to KPMG and had tons of meetings with, with people, with partners that I worked with. And those relationships really helped. I mean they, we've received tons of business, um, through KPMG, through other firms, uh, other professionals that we, um, have gotten to know over the last couple of years. And really that's, that's uh, boots on the ground having coffee meetings approach. You know, in the first few months of starting the business, I had a few hundred coffee meetings. It was a lot of coffee, but a lot of great conversations came out of it and a lot of it didn't lead to clients immediately. But you know, people remember, you know, they remember those conversations, they remember that you reached out. So don't, don't underestimate the power of good old fashioned relationships would be my advice there. 

MP: 29:22 I love it. And, you know, you said, you know, SEO and content and all these good things, long play stuff, uh, relationships will definitely not be as long a play and the ROI on a cup of coffee and an hour of your time or even 30 minutes of your time, a much better ROI. A lot of people spend on burning up a lot of money chasing after, you know, advert paid for click advertising. All these different things that do really well and right can work. But again, those are, I would say strategies that a business like yours would be entertaining because you have the budget, you have things figured out. Anything below, I would say 150,000 to $200,000 in revenue should be focused on exactly what you're talking about, which is 

MP: 30:10 absolutely 

MP: 30:11 for relationships, calling up people, going for coffee meetings, uh, you know, nurturing current and developing new. 

OV: 30:19 Absolutely. I'll let you in on a little secret. So we just, 

MP: 30:22 I love secrets. 

OV: 30:25 We just redid our website. Um, I think we launched it in late August, early September this year. And I'll be perfectly honest with you, the first website we had was just there for the purpose of having a website like it, it did nothing. I wasn't particularly fond of it. So you can imagine like really a year and a half, over a year and a half until I got the website that I wanted. And really, because that wasn't the focus, the focus was building relationships. 

MP: 30:55 Beautiful. 

OV: 31:01 You know, it's great to hear that. And I think it's, it's probably relieving for so many and that the website, it's a permission to just have a basic website that you don't have to spend a ton of money on. And it really, its purpose. And my belief is that the purpose of a website for a small business is to, is to play a role in your sales funnel, which is the evaluation stage. When someone says, Hey, you should go work with Omar, well I'll send you his website. And that person does that. And they go, oh, got it. You know he's got a website, the Gal has got a website, whatever that case would be. It's like that's the check, check that box and move on. Yeah, they're not going to sit there and read, you know, 50 pages of content there, you know, and if they, if they come across you in a Google search, I mean it's a different situation altogether. 

MP: 31:50 You need a totally different website for handling that type of inquiry, right? Different, different things going on in a person's mind where if, if so-and-so says, you know, their best friend says you need to go work with Omar is a very different mindset than finding somebody online. So really freeing. I think for small businesses out there, what's coming across to me is that if we were gonna give homework, which nobody likes homework, right? But this kind of homework is gonna make you money. So the homework is calling somebody up today or tomorrow and book a coffee meeting. Now, Omar, you've done, like in the beginning you did hundreds of coffee meetings. Do you still do those coffee meetings? You still do in coffee meetings? 

OV: 32:32 I still do. And it's almost like it's become, in a weird way, it's a habit. It's just something that I love doing. So today I've got two of them booked. I mean, well pretty well I'd say in a week I still do eight to 10 of them. 

MP: 32:47 Beautiful. And so how to help our listener out, what's the steps to booking and, and having a powerful coffee meeting. 

OV: 32:55 You know, it's surprising. I have asked so many people out for coffee and very rarely will a person say no. It's bizarre. It's, I've, I've approached some pretty high profile people. Here's an example, well I don't know if you'd call them high profile, but there's this really cool sandwich shop near us. They have multiple locations, daisy busy. And I just approached the guy on LinkedIn and said, hey, you know, love your shop. I'm there every other day. I would love to just tell you about what I'm doing. I've started this business. We had two meetings. It didn't lead to anything but I followed up every six months and he just started another business that became a client on Friday. So you know, it's just, it's just a matter of reaching out. That's all it takes. 

MP: 33:49 Beautiful. And I'm guessing that when you have that initial coffee meeting with now there's going to be a couple of different coffees that you're going to meet with past people. You, you know, current, existing relationships. This is a cold relationship that you turned to warm and actually, you know, long process. So let's start with an easy one. Let's do the ones that you, you know, the person you book a coffee meeting, what are you talking about in this coffee meeting? 

OV: 34:13 Surprisingly, not much in the way of trying to sell it. It's really listening to people. I always approach it as really a social meeting first. It's a matter of just reconnecting. Hey, you know, I've started this business, I would love to reconnect. And you spend the first good chunk of the meeting just talking about the person and how they're doing. And from there, really the topic of what you're doing in the conversation about your new business will come up. And don't hesitate to just say, you know, if you or anybody you know, you know, needs help with this, I'd, I'd love to speak to them. Um, and try saying that I've tried doing that a few times and it'll feel like second nature. 

MP: 35:02 I just love it. This is great. Easy homework for everybody who doesn't like coffee. And if you don't like coffee, have chocolate or steam milk. That's correct. But go out with people, get out into the world. Invite some easy people that you already know that will say yes. Go have a meeting with them. Find out all about them, what's going on in their life, what are they challenged with, where are they trying to get to? And eventually, the conversation will lead to what you're up to. And away it goes. And a, I just love this Omar. It's so simple. It's part of the simple things that simply work. And you've been so generous in sharing some of your success secrets and I'm sure it's gonna provide value and some success for our listener. Great. Now, yeah. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience or you mentioned you're hiring a, I mean, we'll have a link to your website in the show notes, but if there's anything else, I'd love to give you the opportunity to do that. 

OV: 36:00 Really. I think what it comes down to is just if you want to start a business or you want to grow your existing business, just trust yourself. Figure out what it is that you're passionate about. What gets you up in the morning. For me, it's dealing with small business owners and helping to make small business owners grow their business and improve their business. Focus on those things and it'll all just come together. Really. That may be somewhat of a romantic way of looking at it, but, uh, I really do believe that. So, you know, if you want to do it, just just know why you're doing it and, and go after it. 

MP: 36:41 I love the, I love the inspirational message. Just go out there and do it. You've done it, Omar, and you've been an incredible role model, I'm sure for so many of our listeners today. So thank you for joining us. 

OV: 36:54 Thank you for having me, Michael. I really appreciate it. 

MP: 36:56 It's our pleasure completely. That wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 37:12 goodbye

EP70: Sharon Francisco - How To Set Yourself Up To Win Every Day

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It's all about your perspective.

If you think it's going to be a bad day, chances are it will.

You're in control of your attitude and mood.

You set the tone.

Many of us forget that.

According to business mentor, Sharon Francisco, who used the Pure Bookkeeping System to skyrocket the success of her bookkeeping business, you have to start your day right.

Since many bookkeepers are operating solo, it's hard for them to be their own champions.

Negative thoughts and doubts always seem to find a way into their minds.

There are ways to break those mental cycles and become the confident and successful bookkeeper you are capable of being.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of using your first hour of the day to be inspired & filled with positivity

  • Why it's okay to make mistakes and not beat yourself up over them

  • Why you should have a clear idea of what you do and don't want in 6 main life categories

To learn more about Sharon, visit this link.

To view Sharon's goal planning guide, sign up for our Free Resources below then look for the title of this podcast episode then click on it for access.


Michael Palmer: 01:09 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today we have a wonderful guest joining us all the way from Brisbane, Australia. She has over 25 years of experience with a small business specializing in both business development and sporting business owners to achieve their goals. Most recently she spent four years building a bookkeeping business from two bookkeepers to 12 using the pure bookkeeping system. Welcome to the podcast, Sharon Francisco. 

Sharon Francisco: 01:41 Thanks, Michael. It's great to be here to share some information. 

MP: 01:44 It's great to have you. And you know, when we were speaking, uh, a day or so ago, you told me your story and I absolutely loved it. So I'm really excited to have you share this past journey that you've been on growing a bookkeeping business and now working with bookkeepers for the listener. Can you share a little bit about how you got into working in small business and how you ended up developing and growing a bookkeeping business? 

SF: 02:12 Yeah, they sure look, um, I've been around small business all my life. I grew up in a, um, a small business. So, even as a youngster, I was, um, my weekends and holidays were working in our family business, my roles over the years ago in my own furniture business, but mainly as in the last 15 years prior to joining strictly bookkeeping and helping my sister in law grow that I was a franchise relationship manager. So worried around a lot of systems and processes. And the first question I used to ask whenever I went into our franchise was of the franchise or who's the best performing Franchisee and who's the worst-performing Franchisee? And I use, the first thing I do is ring them and find out why. I guess over the years what I realized was the ones that generally follow the system and just had an attitude of Nevis. 

SF: 03:03 I do follow the system and go until their business works were the ones that were successful. So they all had the same system, they all had the signed support. Some are successful in some way. And I found that fascinating. So the reason I go into keeping it, so not my world, I'm not a numbers person at all. I'm actually the opposite of that. But, um, my sister in law had a bookkeeping business. It was just tearing apart time bill came up and because I was doing a little travel with the franchises nationally and internationally, I needed to um, to make sure I stayed put for a while my kids were going through the teenage years. So, um, I came back to Brisbane and joined in partnership with my sister in law, in her business. I remember the first day I went there, I didn't know how I was going to grow up because I guess not being a bookkeeper, it's tricky to know how to do that. 

SF: 03:58 And I noticed the pure bookkeeping at that time, it was the folders. It wasn't online at that time. I noticed the folders on the, on the bookshelf and say, what are these? And cheeks sign it a, it's a system she bought a few years ago and she'd have implemented some of the stuff for her actual bookkeeping, but um, hadn't explored the HR side or the marketing style. I see the, do you mind take a look? So long story short, I took a look. Oh, it read the sales and marketing side and having to kind of chat with him. And she was really encouraging and said that she was there to help and yeah. So from there I just, I essentially just took, as I did with the franchise systems, I just took the system and just took massive action basically. So, and then I think the first 12 months were the hardest. 

SF: 04:49 Um, just getting my head around my main strategy was meeting with the accountants and the fear that I had around that local was massive. I, I'm not being a bookkeeper and accountant, having a discussion with an accountant is pretty tricky about bookkeeping. So I had to work out in my head how I'd approach that and to begin with, I think I kept it quiet that I wasn't a bookkeeper. I just tried to avoid any bookkeeping questions. But then, yeah, look, after a while I actually made the decision to say that, look, you know, I'm not here to talk about my skills, that I'm not a bookkeeper, but I am here to talk about fuel bookkeeping in the system that we follow, which engages the most amazing bookkeepers with the skills test and the orientation and such show. I made the discussion around pure bookkeeping and our systems and processes to give them the confidence that when they were food, they were referring to somebody that would be consistent and they would treat their beloved clients exactly the same every time, which was I guess, confidence building for them and reassure him.

MP: 05:57 Absolutely. I mean, it's such a great story on many levels. I mean, I want to talk about a few things, but your experience with the franchise, I mean the pure bookkeeping system is built off the premise of e myth. Well, the myth is the entrepreneurial myth, and it was written 30 years ago by Michael Gerber. As you, as you know, all of this, but for the listener, if they're not familiar with it, around building a system, dependent business, trust your systems, don't trust your staff. And what I love about your story is that you have, because of this previous career, working with franchisees and helping them develop their business, you really saw the power when someone went and figured out, okay, what's the best possible way to do something? And then let's document that, figure out, work out all the bugs and then uh, have everybody do it the same way so that we can ensure that there is a high, at the highest possible level of quality with the lowest possible amount of input. 

MP: 06:50 So we can increase our profitability and increase our customer satisfaction and real satisfaction for all that involved the staff. There are customers and the owner. So you've got this great experience from that. And then walking in and working with your, your sister in law and then sort of seeing really where she would have been that person at the, hadn't really taken it on the systems and process and kind of go sitting up there on the shelf where it's collecting dust and then you took that and said, Whoa, it's all in here. So you're not a bookkeeper. And yet you took these processes and you just started following the instructions and implementing the systems in a way it went, your business started to grow. So Ti for the listener, tell a little bit about what it was like those first, you know, first couple of months or, or even years as you were starting to grow this business because you've taken this in and talk a little bit about where you took, you know, we started with a bookkeeper and a part-time bookkeeper and went right up to 12 bookkeepers in when we spoke. I think it was over a span of four years, but really your focus was about two years, right? 

SF: 07:59 Yeah, that's right. I think it was about six months after I started my sister in law and brother, my brother got a job in um, west Africa and I moved over to Africa, which the Internet where they were in Deca was pretty tricky. So, um, there were some times weeks on end where I wouldn't have contact with Jenny. We tried to have weekly meetings, but um, essentially a lot of that building, I'm always by myself in Australia. So that's what he did was amazing because some of them, yeah, I had girls coming in doing the skills test and I just practice what the answers were. I wrote them down. So I wasn't really sure if they had any sort of curly questions. I didn't really know. And I, again, I just said to them, to the bookkeepers, look, I'm not a bookkeeper, but you know, obviously we've gotten a taste. 

SF: 08:46 Do these prices just work with me. And again, just being honest and telling them where I was at, obviously, I said to them, I'd be outlined in the answers to attending a mock. They knew that there'd be somebody that was a cross locating that knew that that would be checking their work. But essentially it is, I think coming into the business and with that background in Franchising, I think one thing that I've noticed over the years is that we think that we have to get it right. So when you come into a system, any rate. Yeah, there's you know, franchises and obviously pupil keeping this, the system there on the strategies around, you know, the six or seven or eight marketing strategies. And I think what a lot of people do with marketing is that they, they try one thing. They might have two or three accountants meetings and not get a referral to a letterbox drop and get one. 

MP: 09:34 Yeah. Referral. That's not that great.

SF: 09:36 It is heartening I think. And I think the key is, and this is what I learned from that whole process of talking to the best Franchisee they did, it was it's old, 20 years old, but like the attitude towards it. So I think it's really not about what it is, it's how you look at it. So my attitude was I just, I just didn't take no for an answer with any of it. I just kept going and going and going and going and some of it worked and a lot of it didn't work. And I think that the first 18 months I had a lot of appointments that didn't work. I walked into a lot of accountants. I was really frightened, to begin with, and I think I've got confidence around my, my people. But accountants were not my people. 

SF: 10:27 I just did not, I couldn't relate. I, the way I try to connect with people is through, you know, common stories and things and accountants that chatty and I found it quite overwhelming. So what I desired to do with the accountants' meetings was to try and mirror their behavior I suppose. So I calm myself down and, and generally just slowed down my conversations and I watched that video that Deb has is a video that Deb's got in the system that essentially just steps you through the accountant's meeting. I reckon I'll watch that about 20 times before I went there. And then after a while, like I would obviously just say exactly what she said to begin with. But then after a while, I just tailored that to my personality. Yeah. So I found that that started working and I started getting some great referrals from accountants and then the other strategies I'd slowly implement as well. 

SF: 11:18 But that first 18 months, a lot didn't work. Michael, I think, you know, you always hear people building businesses that you think, wow, you know, everything must've worked, to begin with, but it just doesn't, it just doesn't. I think the interesting thing was too, I was talking with my brother and sister in law and telling them how fearful I was about these accountings meetings and we decided it's just, it was such a good mindset for me to go into the, we decided that what I would do is actually burn the first 20 meetings, meaning I would really just go in without any expectations and actually almost allowing myself to stop. The meetings are so, it just kind to be the best mindset because we're already into the meetings. Ideas like this don't matter because I've got to tick off the 20 that I actually absolutely just kill him. Just have a terrible experience so they not can get onto the proper meetings. So just gave me the, I guess, confidence to just keep going and going and going and going and knowing that if I fail that's okay cause I've got 20 to get rid of and not get it right on the little treats replay. 

MP: 12:38 Well you, you said it right. It's all up between the ears and you know, there are some key messages there is that all of the stuff that we talk about, that we do that we recommend, all of it works. Somebody else has done it and it's worked. So it's not about the process, it's about the person that's doing it. And to think that you can do one something once and be a master at it is, is really, that might be part of the definition of insanity, right? It's like, oh I'm not good at that. You know, I'll never be good at, I'm not a master at that. I mean who, I mean, we all get that, but yet there are areas in all of our lives where we, we approach things like that. We think we gotta be good at it right away and we must not be good at it. Therefore we'll never be good at it. You're PR, you're proving that so many people prove that if you go at it with an attitude of I will get this done, this will work, and you use solid principles and do solid proven actions that produced results that others have produced and you just keep at it, get the help when you need to get it, you will be successful. 

SF: 13:41 Yeah, absolutely. And I think specifically for bookkeepers, Michael, what I find is that we're not generally part of the chain. So we sit in our office, in our house by ourselves, day in, day out. And it's tricky to motivate yourself when you're sitting there for eight, 10 hours a day doing bookkeeping. And then the part is if part of that is that you want to grow the business to, you know, two or three or five or 10 bookkeepers do some internal motivation. You have to give yourself because you have to be your own champion. And it's tricky. It's a unique environment because I think work environments genuinely, you know when you're part of a team and you've got a marketing team and you've got people surrounding you to lift you up and remind you that yeah, just keep going. Um, it's a, it's a lot easier. 

SF: 14:28 But when you're a bookkeeper alone in your office at home and you know, the internal dialogue is, are vague three calls to accounts and they've all said no. It's like, oh, you know what, I'll just go back to what, what I'm comfortable doing, which is bookkeeping. It's, this doesn't work anyway. Whereas I think it's a daily reminder for yourself to, to boost yourself up and you know, set the goals and them off. And how did I, I also had this thing called setting myself up to win every morning? I spend the first hour of my mornings and I have done for years doing exactly that to set myself up to it. And so I'll, I'll listen to anything that makes me feel motivated or positive. That might be something that Oprah Winfrey said or just to anything that gets me motivated and inspired or listened to an inspiring podcast. There are so many inspiring, um, podcasts that are out there. So just, just taking that first hour to set myself up to win for the day. 

MP: 15:26 Beautiful. You know, it's, it is, again, it comes back to that mindset and I think it's this concept of going out there, a having fun with something. Number two, expect to mess something up and, and really I think we could even add to that one, having fun means, you know, put good positive thoughts into your head. Start Your Day with a, I guess that's a ritual, a ritual to get you into a positive mindset, right? Where you're going to take the day. I mean, we've all had bad days, right? Called the Mondays or whatever. You know, sometimes every day seems like a Monday at times, but if you start with a positive and you work at having that positive frame, you're better off than starting with a negative frame. Have some fun, expect to mess it up a few times. If you're just getting started in number and number and number three, don't, don't do it alone. 

SF: 16:16 Yeah, absolutely. It reminds me of that saying Michael Mondays don't suck it to your life. Which iPod is interesting because I think it's again, setting yourself up to make sure that you enjoy every day. So when you, I mean, being a bookkeeper and working for yourself is a decision. You've made a decision to work for yourself. And the tricky thing is when you're working on a solo bookkeeping business or a solo business and you're trying to grow up, generally what happens is that you quit a job to do that and you, you do it for freedom and independence and flexibility and what you end up doing is generally working a bunch of hours more than what you would ordinarily, perhaps less than what you would if you're working for somebody else. I think, yeah, we get a couple of years down the track and we look back and go, what, what am I doing? 

SF: 17:06 What was the intention, to begin with? And I think, you know, you start photocopying year after year after year and before you know it, a lot of the times it's not what you wanted to do will you set out to do. But I think we've got to be willing to look ourselves in the mirror and say, is this the life that I intended for minding my own business? And be really honest with yourself with the answer. And if it's not Mike, the changes to Mike at work and he feeds support through pure bookkeeping. If it's reaching out to get a coach or somebody to help you get clear on what sort of day to day business or you do wake up on Monday morning and go, Yay, it's Monday is my life. You know? So I think it's important to really be clear on as a tiny way your app and if it's not where you want to be, change it. Life's short. And it's, if you've got the vehicle, and I see any sort of business is a vehicle to get you to where you want to go. And if you see that this vehicle is what you want to do to, to get your outcome structured in a way that you do get your outcome and you are having fun with it. 

MP: 18:17 I love that. I can't agree with you more. And so, you know, getting back to growing your business, you know, you, you obviously followed the steps in the pure bookkeeping system around the sales and marketing and you did a great job. I mean to have 12 bookkeepers working in the business, I mean you, that would have been a lot of attracting great clients into your business. Now the other side of it is the production of it, right? It's having great bookkeepers to do that work. Can you talk a little bit about what that journey looked like? 

SF: 18:48 I'm with recruiting, Michael. Do you mean like how to run yet again? You know, I just learned from those good franchisees that I rang the ones that were making the mice in every franchise company. I just followed the system. I just, I just went into the item annual in pure whole k being and followed every step that Deb has. So she's got a template, therefore advertising and sake. So we just copy and paste and advertising sake. I, my rotations was about once every three months to do the adverts. I'd get between 70 and 80 applicants. And again, you know, some people came beside me, Oh I like that because you get so many bad applicants and you know, I never, again, I never looked at it like that. I just got rid of the, I could say a lot of the times just by a quick scan, which ones I would not even put time into and dwindle it down to about probably 10 to 15 and then put them in a shortlist, print them out and use the templates that did develop to do the first interview over the phone and invite them in to do the skills test, which is part of the system. 

SF: 19:57 And then from the shortlist them see if they, you know how they went in the skills just I think it Deb suggest it or 85% pass rate. I think we were always between 90 and 95. We wanted them to pass by and yeah, and then from the, again, again we take them through the orientation, there's the contractor's agreement in the system, so we get them to sign that. Um, and the orientation, Michael is something that I spent a lot of time on. I did get an orientation booklet within the system and it's all written out in like a template that you can manipulate. So we certainly manipulated it to, to our world. And um, I would spend about four hours with the orientation meeting with the bookkeepers and you know, 10 news office was at the back of her house in the garage. She converted it and I'm part of the orientation. 

SF: 20:52 I would take the new bookkeeper, she's 10 years, got a pool and we'd sit by the pool and I'd go through the orientation booklet for four or five hours. So, and a lot of that, you know, obviously there was a lot of practical things about the pure bookkeeping system and how we, how we run the business. But also I talked a lot about it, I don't know if you're familiar with working above and below the line and the identity iceberg and what we see is really underneath. So we talked a lot about where they are at and how we wanted to portray our business to their, to the world, and that we're 100% accountable. So, so what we put out, so something happens that's not working. We don't, it's not a people problem, it's a systems problem. And we go back to the systems so we don't point the finger at the people. 

SF: 21:37 So basically, but it's then all of our responsibilities than to change the system and not, not just let that go onto the carpet. So we're con constantly just upgrading and working from things that we're working on, things that weren't, we were willing to look at that and change it and implement new things from things that weren't working. So that's really how we got it. Got Fantastic. Okay. There are three available keepers who are accountants and I've got the girls to send weekly emails by close of business on Monday just as a snapshot of their portfolios. So just a bullet point of an outline. So I could see if there were any red flags on Ada to contact the clients just to make sure that they were still sticky and happy with us and such. But any little sort of thing that I needed to know, I'd like to know within that snapshot of the portfolio. And then monthly or we, we had mandatory multiple meetings with the girls, whether they called in by Skype or um, we're on site. We did a lot of fun stuff for you. Look, we went on winery tours and things and we made it fun. Like it wasn't just, you know, just a boring day to day business. We did make it fun and we made to feeling in the business to be inclusive and, and fun. 

MP: 22:50 I just love it. 

MP: 22:57 You know, when we think of that story of the franchise, now Pure Bookkeeping is not a franchise, but it's similar to a franchise in that we provide the systems and process, on how to run the business. However, our members, they can run the business however they choose just using those systems. And so yet you've got this bad past career where you looked at the successful ones and the not so successful ones. Can the not so successful ones actually change their behavior and become successful? 

SF: 23:32 I believe, yes. But again, artists love Simon Sinek space-age about coming back to your why. And I think if you've got a big enough why, definitely, but if you've not got a big enough why there's got to be a catalyst for change. So yeah, if they've got a big enough why and they want to change to get the outcome, then you'll be open to, you know what's that saying? Yeah. The master will appear when the student's ready. So then you're going to be open to reading the book a week to learn about how to grow a business. You're going to be open to following a system or seeking a coach. I mean that's what did from the early days she, she got, she put herself into massive, a massive uncomfortable situation by getting somebody to coach her on an irregular basis to get her out of her comfort zone to do what I mean she grew her business I think to tall bookkeepers as well. 

SF: 24:25 And certainly what she's doing now, I mean, you know, she, she was willing to step into the fire. I'm like, oh, and that's, that's, that's a decision to do that because it's, it's uncomfortable. But she, we look at what she's done and half a feeling. Would that be just having somebody assigned what, what outcome do you want? Asking a quick cause I don't think we know what we want and that's the trouble. I think we get stuck in our little world because we don't know what we want. My strategy is always to write down. I've our plan every year in mid-January. And I actually wrote down what I don't want in each of the areas of my life because I think it's easy to say what you don't want. And then, um, I spend about three and four hours doing that. And then the opposite of that is always a, you look at the list and then the opposite of that is what you do want. And I think, um, if, if, if, if a licensee or a business owner ease and achieving what they want to do it, it's actually finding out what's going to make them poor debate, what's going to make them get to that point to, to make a decision to, you know, to change the mindset to do it, to achieve their goals. 

MP: 25:34 Yeah, I agree. And, and, uh, you know, building a business, preparing for the future, building a system-dependent business, you know, working out systems, training staff, none of these things are ever urgent. Uh, it's like something can always, always get in the way. And that comes back to that why and how bad somebody wants to achieve something and that, and that's for each of us to determine and to figure out. I think the other piece of that, I think you're providing today for some of our, our new licensees, perhaps are people that haven't fully implemented a, the system is that its belief. It's seeing others that have gone and done the work and have been successful, and, and to prove that it doesn't take a, a superhero. Now, I'm not saying that you're not a superhero because of course, you are, but you're a human being. You know, you put your pants on one leg at a time or however that saying goes.

SF: 26:33 uh, yeah, yeah. 

MP: 26:35 If you can do it, so can somebody else is, as long as they're willing to do the work, right? 

SF: 26:42 Yeah. Think what stops a lot of people from achieving, I mean, I always look at each of the areas in my life and I, and certainly I've always all my life, I've always looked at PayPal. It's like, if, if she can do that, I can do that. It's just, I'm just gonna find out the steps to do it. But I think what Stoltzes and certainly I've been stopped over the years with certain areas, is that you look at the work first. So you think that's a lot of work to do. So I'm a marathon runner. So the first time I decided to train for a marathon, I looked at one of the girls in the running group and I thought, well if she can do it, she'd done a few and she, she could do it all. I could do it. But you know the thing that I found, which sounds so obvious now, but it's the word to that, the marathons, nothing at the end because you've trained for it. 

SF: 27:30 You're ready. Do you step up at the start line? You are ready. I need to do that math because you could try it. But the hard work is getting up at right in the morning to, to run when it's cool cause it's so dark and wanting to do the two or three or four African to get it and that the hard stuff. So I think that's what in business as well, it's like implementing the pure bookkeeping system of following a system that seems quite laborious and boring and not exciting is actually what stocks are. You kind of look at it and go, I don't know. I just don't think that this is going to be fun for the day and I know if I sit down and I do the working in the business, the bookkeeping, I'm going to be making 50 60 80 bucks an hour and I know that and I'm comfortable with that. 

SF: 28:19 So that's where all goes. So that's put our diversion is to go back to our comfort zone and the other one stops us from doing what I guess is the stuff that I guess you look at as the barriers to get what your outcome is. And again, I'll come back to the why. You know, what do you, and it should be fun. The watch should be a fun thing. Again, this is a vehicle to get you to where you want to go on if, if, if you haven't got anything fun to achieve from Your Business, I think that's where the start line is. That's where you've got to figure out what's going to be fun from putting all the hog work in, setting up the systems, making the appointments with the accounts and doing what you need to do to get the outcome. 

MP: 29:00 Yeah, that and persistence and when I say persistence, I think when I'm a, I may be saying it's not even persistence, it really incremental, right? Is that every single piece that you improve actually ha makes a difference and it adds up over time. It's like savings, right? The compounding interest, I mean if we put a dollar in and have a little bit of interest, you know that dollar creates interest and the interest compounds on the interest and building a business and systems and process and training. It's all, every single one is like putting an extra dollar in that bank account. And I think I also identify with a, with some of our members that they're tough on themselves because they haven't gone as far as they may be though they wanted to in a particular timeframe. And I always say, look, you know, you go, you gotta look back and go, okay, where did you get to? 

MP: 29:55 And you're there, you did accomplish something. If you've done one thing, you are better off one thing, better off than you were if you had done nothing. So I think it's giving, giving all ourselves a bit of a break as well, not being too hard on ourselves and just knowing that, well, okay, if we want more, we'll do a little bit more and try and, and push that and, and, and get a little further each time, each year, each month, whatever it is that we're working on to build that, that business and to have things work better than they were yesterday. 

SF: 30:26 Yeah. It's human nature, isn't it, to be hard on ourselves when we don't, when we don't achieve. And sometimes you know what you signed before when you building on that knowledge you, you growing and you know, sometimes it's, you know, two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes it doesn't work and sometimes you have a rough week or month or two months and you think, gosh, I don't know, is this going to work? And I think the big thing why we don't sort of stretch ourselves or be prepared to sit down and plan annually is because we can tend to think if we don't achieve it, we're going to look like fools. Are we going to look like, yeah, faucets that were running down? Yeah. I want to, I want to increase my turnover too. 200,000 from a hundred this year or whatever, whatever the chunky goal is. 

SF: 31:12 And to actually physically write that down sometimes can be just daunting because it's like, yeah, your internal dialogue is, who do you think you are to achieve that? And then when you might, you first few phone calls for your accounts appointments or over Feral, getting your referral strategies going on, whatever that is. And you get confirmation that when they said no, and I've already got somebody or now or at night, you know, you get knocked back. It's like, okay, yeah, that's confirmation that I'm not gonna make this. So you get a little bit knocked back by that and then that's what keeps you in your box and then that's what keeps you in your books year after year after year. So I think, I think just the way through that is writing down what you want to achieve. If for 2018 and just taking massive action, just taking massive action, know that you're going to get a whole bunch of nos, you can a failure. 

SF: 32:04 You hear it from a lot of, a lot of people you listened to that, you know, they've had more failures than wins, but you know, some of the things even did you know, I think her goal was to allow her husband to retire. Is that right? Yeah, I think she fell short for like two or three years. I think it took her two or three years longer. And to me like, man, lucky did husband, you know, she wasn't bold enough to make that goal. You know, he'd still be working now, but you know, she fell a shorter two or three. So what she, she achieved it an amazing goal. So yeah, I think just being bold enough to write down your goals and just know that you're probably gonna file, you know, 30, 40% of it. At least if you're writing it out there, you've got a nap to work towards to get that outcome. 

MP: 33:04 This stuff works. It works. It works. It works. And, and you're right, it was, it was actually two years. I just had a conversation with Deb, actually a podcast interview with Deb. She was sharing, it was two years for him to go part-time and then I think another year or two for him to go fully retired. So she missed the mark. We could say that she failed, but, uh, you know, she, she ended up getting there and I mean, it was a really big, uh, bold, bold goal, uh, which I'm sure everyone that's listening right now can relate. Right? Think about a time where you, you wanted something in your life and at the time when you set it, it seemed, it seemed big, you know, and, and you, and probably you thought it was going to happen a lot faster than it actually took, but then it did actually happen and you stopped. 

SF: 33:53 You look back and you said, wow, that's, that's great. I mean, for myself personally, I can think of one specific goal where I wanted to be doing something specific in my life and I wanted it right then. I didn't want, I didn't want it to be like two or three years out. I wanted it right now. And yet I still said, okay, I know I want it right now, but yet I know it's not right now and I don't have what I want right now, but I'm willing to work for it. And it took me two or three times the amount of time I thought it would take or wanted it to take and it was like a decade, you know, I wanted it right then, but yet it took 10 years. But had I not had the courage to do the things that I had to do to put that ball in motion, it would have never happened. 

SF: 34:37 It would have never happened. And uh, and so there's, there are lots to what we're talking about. We could probably go on talking for four hours on the subject. As you said, a few things around, above and below the line and a whole bunch of cool things. And we're going to have you back to talk about mindset. I think some more. I'd love that. Yeah. Cause this is such a fantastic conversation now in your opinion, you know, we're going into, and we're late, we were trying not to date the podcast and somebody in terms of somebody who's maybe listening to this later on, but we're, we're having this conversation near the end of the year in 2017 so we'll do that. Shame on us for tea, for dating the podcast. But we get, we run the podcast so we can do what we like, but at what would, what would you recommend for people looking out into this next year? You said a few things, you write down your goals, get really clear. Anything else that you'd, you'd want to share with them on how they can have an awesome year in 2018 

SF: 35:31 Yeah, look, just quickly. Just what I do every year, mid-January, as I sort of said before, I take time to plan. So I give myself about three or four hours. That's usually on a weekend, a Saturday or a Sunday. I think with binding, you've got to go away from your normal area. So not sit in your office or your house or your backyards. I remove yourself in some way.

MP: 35:55 Beautiful.

SF: 35:56 So I go to somebody, look, I'm looking at Brisbane River. I take 50 bucks out of the bank account and I go to a beautiful, um, coffee shop or restaurant. I order the most expensive glass of wine or the least and ordered some tapper. And I sit down with a, uh, generally a blank pipe and not a rule page book that I've purchased, one for one of those crazy expensive stationary places. And I, I say I struggle to do that because it just seems like such a waste of money, but I think I value the book then and I value what then what I'm going to write in it. 

SF: 36:27 So the six areas that I cover local and it sets me up for the year. I work on relationships, my physical body, financial, spiritual, mental and Korea. And as I sort of said before, I actually put a rule, a law down the middle of the page. So I start with relationships and I write down everything I don't want my relationship to look like with my family and my partner and everyone around me for the next 12 months. So I just keep rotting and rotting. And that's why I don't like to have the rule page. So I'll just run and write. My goal is to fill that book up and then I go onto physical, financial, spiritual, mental career and do exactly the same thing. I'll just rod and rod and sometimes I'll just sit and think for 10 or 15 minutes about each of the areas. 

SF: 37:13 And sometimes the writing just comes, but it doesn't have, it doesn't always flow is what I'm saying. Then I go back and I got into the opposite of that. So I look at, okay, relationships, what I don't want. So what do I want? And it's easy to write down what you do want. So then from there I go through each of the areas and write down the opposite of what I've written. And then I finalize that with um, one page of action items from those six areas. So say for Korea, I might have two or three action items. So certainly a great action item from the career it would be to write a plan for 2018 so from that, which is a big chunky goal coming out of that one page. But you know, a business plan doesn't have to be massive. Um, it can be on one page and it says to stop because most people don't have a plan and they just keep photocopying year after year. So that's definitely one thing that I would want on the career section is to write a business plan of what you want to achieve and certainly two or three items from each of that. And then I'd put that one page, I try to copy it and put it up everywhere that can be seen. So when Marie Ramonda did that all year, it's beautiful.

MP: 38:22 You know our last episode that we did, we talked about it was Debbie, we were talking about setting goals and this is a, this is a, an interesting your, yours is an interesting take on it and I think a really great addition to what we talked about. And so I'm going to invite the listener if you'd like. What we're gonna do is we're going to put together a little planning guide for you to use. Go through this exercise. If you'd like that, you know, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and sign up there if you haven't already signed up for the free resources section. Once you get into the free resources section, you go down, find the episode. This particular episode, we'll have it numbered inside our portal and we'll have that document that you can use and, and a little bit of the commentary that a Sharon is sharing with us today and that'll help you do some planning and 2018 so go and do that. Get signed up, spend the time. I think it's fantastic. Whatever you like to do, indulge yourself a little bit. Give yourself that gift of indulgent. You've worked hard, all of you have worked hard in 2017 so give yourself this gift of, of setting yourself up powerfully for 2018 Sharon, this is absolutely been fantastic. Uh, such a, a wonderful story that you have such an honor to hear your story and what you've done and how you've grown a bookkeeping business, I think is an inspiration for everyone listening. So thank you for, for joining us. 

SF: 39:46 Yeah, thanks Mike has been great having a chat. I've really enjoyed sharing it. 

MP: 39:49 Beautiful. Well, I definitely want to have you come back and share your, your knowledge and uh, what you've, what you're going to learn in 2018. So we'll do this again. 

SF: 39:59 Yeah, I'd love to. That'd be awesome. 

MP: 40:01 Well, that wraps up another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com

MP: 40:12 Until next time, goodbye

EP69: Debbie Roberts - How To Set Goals For A Profitable New Year

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Are you THAT bookkeeper?

You know, the one that tells her clients to set business goals for the year, but she, herself, doesn't set any?

Our guest, Pure Bookkeeping co-founder, Debbie Roberts has chatted with bookkeepers like that.

She's discovered that if you don't take the time to set goals, you'll wander aimlessly without achieving what you'd like.

Don't begin a fresh year like that.

Instead, listen to Debbie as she will help get you on track by discussing...

  • The importance of setting 12 month, 3 year and 5 year goals

  • Why KPI reports are crucial to tracking your success

  • Why you should have an accountability partner during your business journey

To learn more about Pure Bookkeeping, visit this link.

To view Deb's KPI report/spreadsheet template, go here.

To ask Debbie questions in The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group, join here.

To buy the E-Myth Bookkeeper, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:22 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer and boy do we have an exciting episode today. My guest is the co-author of the E-myth bookkeeper, why most bookkeeping practices don't work and what you can do about it. That book was written with the famous Michael Gerber, who has sold 6 million copies of E-myth revisited, which is the story of how to build system-dependent businesses. She's also the co-founder of Pure Bookkeeping and she is the former owner of Backs bookkeeping, which was a very successful bookkeeping in Melbourne, Australia. She's been on the show several times. I'm sure if you're a regular listener, you know her already. Welcome back to the podcast, Debbie Roberts. 

Debbie Roberts: 02:06 Oh, thank you, Michael. What a wonderful introduction. 

MP: 02:09 I love having you on the podcast, Deb, because all of our listeners just absolutely always come back and let me know about how much they're enjoying the episodes when you're on. So it's always a pleasure to have you back to share your wisdom and all the things that you're doing. I mean, what's cool is that you're working with literally thousands of bookkeepers all over the world, learning how, what's working, learning what's not working, sharing what has worked, where you've succeeded, where you failed. And I think that's why people love working with you, is that you just give it to everyone straight. You share what works, what doesn't, where you've been and where you're going. 

DR: 02:48 Yeah. And I really love being part of these podcasts and also helping as many bookkeepers across the globe as I possibly can. In the years that I was working, Peter Cook, when he was my business coach, I learned so much about what worked and especially what didn't. And I, I kind of feel I'm passionate about sharing that knowledge rather than just keeping it all to myself. I want, I want to help people avoid those mistakes that I made. So I love this opportunity. 

MP: 03:17 Yeah. It's such a, such a, such a wonderful thing. And I mean, you have an incredible heart and you know, when, when people have done something that's remarkable for themselves and then spend their time actually helping others get to where they, they were. I think it's, I mean it's always inspirational from my, my, my standpoint. So, so Deb, you know, we thought about having, because this is, we don't often date our podcast, but because it is the end of 2017 we're recording this at the end of 2017. We want it to have an episode that talked about setting people up powerfully for the next year, 2018 so we wanted to talk about goals. 

DR: 04:00 Yeah. It's something that I'm particularly passionate about. 

MP: 04:04 Absolutely. And I mean, knowing that you've just recently, um, purchased your, your Dream House really, uh, you know, listening to you share that story and how it came about. And, and really it's just a series of milestones that were created a long, long time ago where you, you set out to accomplish different things and it's not like you were attached to it actually happening, but when you put the right, when you sort of figure out where you're going and why you're going there and yep, you lay out all the goals and the milestones and you take massive action. It's, it's actually surprising, which is funny because you surprised when you get the results, but yet it's not that surprising. 

DR: 04:47 Yes. So interesting how that works. 

MP: 04:50 Yeah. Tell us your take on the whole concept of setting goals. 

DR: 04:56 Again, I learned this from pate when I started working with him as my business coach. I didn't like doing it. I didn't particularly like setting goals because I was afraid that what if I don't hit the mark? What if I don't reach that goal? But I learned how important it was from Pete and our whole business coaching was actually structured around the goal setting. So every session that we had was about, okay, how are we going on the goals that we set in the last month, in the last quarter? How, how has that extrapolate that out to the future? Are we on track for the goals for the next three months, six months, and even 12 months based on what has happened in the last month, the last two months, the last three months? So we will constantly, it was this like this moving like fish swimming in the ocean if you like, as the metaphor I'm thinking of where you, you're going back, you're looking back towards what actually happened and extrapolating that out towards the future so that you were able to make timely decisions if you needed to tweak something. So if you needed to change your marketing strategies or it was a time to recruit, all of this was linked to the goals that we set at the beginning of each year. 

MP: 06:18 So you said you, you actually resisted it or you didn't, you didn't enjoy it. What, what was it about it that you didn't enjoy? 

DR: 06:26 Pete and I would have a full day planning session in the first week of January every year to plan that year, but also to plan the next three to five years now 12 months I felt reasonably comfortable and theirs was always a little bit nerve-wracking. When you're saying, oh I want to add on an extra $100,000 to my business. Cause as bookkeepers, what we do typically when you say that you go, how am I going to do that? So we go down into the detail of the technician. Whereas goal setting is the leader's role to set the goals so that it's the leader with the vision that says, okay this is what I'm going to do. So goal setting is a leadership role and then once you've got the vision set, then the manager works out how they're going to get there. 

DR: 07:20 What systems do you need to put in place, what staff will you need to put on what marketing strategy. So they work out the middle ground picture of what's going to happen and then the technician actually makes that happen. So then if you don't have that vision at the start, the manager's wandering around saying, oh well, you know, what's a good day today? And, and Oh, we've got, we've got some work done and we've built out a few things but there's no, there's no direction to go to. So I was able to kind of manage the first 12 months, but looking at two, three to five years I really, really struggled with because it's kind of crystal ball gazing. And when it came down to it, what I was afraid of is that I would fail and that, which is a very common thing I've learned since talking to, as you said, hundreds of bookkeepers over the past, um, seven years or so. 

DR: 08:12 And the reason is that we fear failure. We think that if we actually put down on paper that we are going to aim for this goal by this date and we don't achieve it, then with we have failures. And that's actually not true. It's got nothing to do with being right or wrong or fail or success or anything like that in, in some respects. What I learned was to play it a bit like a game, and I know in the seriousness of running a business that can kind of seem like a contradiction in a way. But what I learned was to don't get so attached to the goals where you're to absolutely stress out had, have your vision five years down the track, but don't be so attached to it that you're going to have a nervous breakdown. If you don't get it, go hard, go hard at it. But if you don't achieve it, then that's all right. You gave it, you will know, you'll be able to look back and say, well actually I gave it my best shot and so I'm going to reset my, my goals now for the next, the next three to five years. And you keep doing that. But it's, it's mainly the fear of failure that we, we, there's the reason why we don't do it. 

MP: 09:32 Yeah. And I think fear having the fear there, you also made a bold move and hiring a coach like Peter who's a, a master business coach to hold you to doing the goal setting and a number of other things. But I think that's kind of this dilemma that, that is there for anybody that works on their own is, you know, you should be doing goals but there's, or, or a bunch of things in your business. But there's fear there or it's uncomfortable or unknown and without someone there to both mentor, Guide and hold accountable, nothing happens. 

DR: 10:16 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think that's partly due to the nature of the bookkeeping industry. Most bookkeepers go into bookkeeping, you know, they might've been working in a full-time position in accounts payable or some, some accounting kind of role. And they start to have children and they want to keep their skills going, but they don't want to work full time. And so they, they say, I'll, I'll, I'll do bookkeeping and I'll work from home. And because there's kind of, they want flexibility so they can do it around their children. They treated a little bit as a hobby so it's, Oh yeah, I'll do a couple of hours here and then I'll hang the washing out and I'll cook dinner and things like that. And there's nothing wrong with that. And that's certainly the reason why I went into bookkeeping because it was flexible around my children and I took them to school and pick them up and took them to after school programs. 

DR: 11:10 I was an important part of keeping a work-life balance for me. But at some point in time if you are going to, if you have a big vision, you have to get a little bit more professional about your business and part of that is being accountable and, and I think there's a little bit of resistance around that as well that when we set as selves and a little hobby business up and we don't mind, we'll go and have a coffee or we'll meet a girlfriend as well because we can and we'll work at eight o'clock at night or something like that to make it up. We kind of want one to protect that as well, that I want to have a little bit of flexibility and I want to do some personal things. I want to have the scope for that. That, as I said, at some point, if you had the vision to grow a black belt business, and we've talked about the belts before, we might bring it up again, Michael, if you think it's appropriate. But if you, if you want to turn over $500,000, you've got to get serious about the hobby business and start to set goals, set appropriate goals, and have some form of accountability in place to keep you accountable for achieving those goals. Instead of just saying, oh no, look, it'll, it'll be right. I don't actually, I don't really know really attached to that. It'll matter if I don't achieve that. I want to just not work that hard or something. 

MP: 12:38 You know, it's a, it's, it's, there's a lot there that you've said and, and what's really interesting is, is how many bookkeepers come into this business from, and what I see, and I think you'll agree with me, is that many in this industry don't even get how big the opportunity is. And, and not to say that you know, everybody needs to go and build a, what's considered a black belt business in the bookkeeping industry, which would be five, 600,000 plus. But it is what whatever they have, and this goes for any human being, right? It's the setpoint, the set view, what your worldview is, what you believe, what you think is possible as you grow through life into, you know, most people in a bookkeeping business, let's say at least 30 years old, right? Uh, 30, 40, 50 years old. I mean, you've spent 30, 40 years identifying what's possible and what is impossible. 

MP: 13:41 And, and there's, and many times it's so far off from the truth, but yet that's a person's view. So they can't see the possibility that potential without somebody intervening. And I think that's what's really successful in some of the mentoring groups that we run, is that it's like, oh, you know, when you see somebody else that's, you know, even doing $100,000 a year, but yet they're working half the time it's like, wait for a second, what I want, I, I'm working as hard as you, but you're making twice as much as me. So part of setting goals is being in an environment and a conversation that disrupts what's already existing.

DR: 14:25 Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things, I mean for our licensees, as you mentioned, we've got mastermind meetings that happen every month where licensees get together to discuss business building things and the implementation of the system and what issues and people having and setting goals and making each other accountable. That's one of the core features of these masterminds is to, is to make people accountable. And even if you don't have access to something like that, what I would recommend that the listeners do is buddy up with someone, someone who will make you accountable. Now that doesn't necessarily, that doesn't have to be another bookkeeper. That could be your partner, it might be a family member, it could be a mentor that you, that you have, uh, who you respect. Someone that is going to be able to sit down with you, helps you crystallize your goals, and then you have a monthly meeting with that person and say, okay, how did you go in that month? You need to have someone that is prepared to make you feel a little bit uncomfortable as well. That's all, that's a whole thing about growing, growing your business. It's, it's about the accountability really in, in, in most cases makes us feel a little bit uncomfortable because we know we've got to do something rather than just cruising through. But that's the whole, that, that's how you're going to achieve your goals is by putting yourself under that kind of scrutiny. 

MP: 15:56 Absolutely. And I, and I will say, you know, it's, you know, because it's the industry bookkeeping industry, the clients that everyone has are business owners. And, and many times business owners will try to do their own books and at that goes a certain way. And so if you're listening right now and you're thinking, Hey, what's, what's the best way that I can go about taking my business from a to B? You may want to go and say, well, wait for a second, what's the equivalent? And I will tell you what the equivalent is. It's, you know, not you trying to figure this out on your own, but going and finding somebody or some in a program that's proven predictable, that helps people go from a to B and hire them to get you to a, to B because you're going to get there a lot faster. You're going to end up not in the message, just like your clients get end up getting in when they tried to do their own books. 

DR: 16:48 Yeah. And I bet also this whole thing about goal setting, the number of times I've spoken to bookkeepers who when I ask them, so what are your goals for the next 12 months? And they say, oh no, I'm not really sure. I haven't really given that much thought. And yet they admit that they tell their clients that they need to set goals for their business. And when I point that out to them, they realize, yeah, why is it that I am telling my clients that they need to set goals and they need to get a business coach or they need to be accountable for that and let's have this monthly meeting so we can have a look at what your finances are and see if you've achieved your goals and things like that. But they're not prepared to actually do that in their own business.

MP: 17:32 Yeah, it's an interesting, interesting observation. 

DR: 17:36 Yeah. And I think it comes back to the same fears that you had where people come from in this, in this industry is that sometimes it's daunting to ask for help. You know, it's like, don't want to look, don't want to look like you're, you're getting it all wrong. And, and sometimes that's, that's your approach. I mean, Eh, I've, I've coached many, many, many, many bookkeepers and you know, many of them have said, you know, it took me a long time to get the courage to, to have a conversation with the unit. I'd always used to shock me and surprise me because I'm like, that's what I do. I ask questions. I, I love hearing about where somebody is having their problems, you know, because a, I've, I've been there, I understand it. I bet you know, I'm not judging, I'm not gonna judge anybody. That's my job. 

DR: 18:23 My profession is to, to be open and, and helpful. But yet that's what I know. And so it's again, comes back to that worldview, not knowing what it is or what it looks like to be any different. It sometimes is daunting and scary. So for the listener, it's, you know, if you've thought of working with a coach or you know, you're, you're nervous that someone might say, Oh, gee, you really don't know what you're doing. Do you? Here's what many don't. And it's okay. And the best way to get on the right track is to just accept it. And say, I am where I am and I know it's not where I want to be and I need to find some help.

MP: 18:55 And I know Deb, that was really a pivotal point when you came to that realization early in your bookkeeping careers, you, you the big, big Aha moment for you was like, wait for a second, I don't have all the answers. 

DR: 19:14 Yes. Oh absolutely. And that's when I realized I, I probably needed a business coach even though at the time I didn't know exactly what business coaches did, but yes, it's one of those things and, and if you haven't actually read my book, Amy's bookkeeper, please do that because you will see in that book that I have freely admitted the mistakes that I made. I'm very open about that. And as I mentioned, just starting off, the reason I am quite okay with that is that I want you to learn from my mistakes and tried to avoid doing them yourself. I've never had a, yeah, any issues with saying, oops, I stuffed up. In fact, my mantra, I guess whenever something went wrong, I would say, ah, okay, what system do I need to create in order for that not to happen again? And it was always about the systems and that's, that's how the pure bookkeeping system came about and was developed over all those years. 

DR: 20:16 Um, it was when mistakes were made or things were lost or things were forgotten, all those, that, those kinds of things that, that are kept adding to the system kept creating more systems. Um, but we're diverting a little bit too to goals. I think one of the things our stories I want to share is once I started working with Pete, my biggest goal was that my husband would retire, that I would be able to replace his income. So Neil, my husband and the goal that I said. So I started working with paid in 2001 one two kinds of thing. And, or the goal that I'd set was by 2010 that I had replaced Neil's income and 2010 came and I couldn't replace his income and he didn't retire. And at that point, you could have said, ah, you failed Deb. That's, look, it's not going to happen. 

DR: 21:15 Um, and, and you'd be right. Well, you'd be half right. I did fail. I didn't get my reach, my goal in 2010 but in 2012 neo was able to work part time and in 2014 he retired. Remarkable. So yes, I missed my goal, but if I didn't have that goal back in 2001 I wouldn't have even been on my radar. I wouldn't have been, I wouldn't have been looking for that and I wouldn't have been taking the necessary actions to make that happen. So all of that has got a million, as you can probably imagine, and it's got a million actions underneath that in order for us to achieve that. But I didn't go there in 2001 I didn't say, well, how am I going to do that? I had no idea how I was going to do that and in 2001 but I just knew that that's what I wanted to do. And so our whole focus was getting to that point and yes, we missed it, but, uh, only by a few years. And is he worried? No, we're in 2017 now and he's been retired for three years and I'm living, living the life 

MP: 22:33 So it's remarkable. And now back in the beginning, when you made that goal, I mean, that would have been for you a crazy go crazy 

MP: 22:44 crazy. And that was one of those, okay. 

MP: 22:48 And yet if you, if you would have backed down and said, oh, well let's minimize this, let's, let's, you know, that's, you know, that's all possible, then you would have achieved something that was less desirable and not what you really wanted. And that's, I think a really important message too, is to be clear about what you want. 

DR: 23:10 Yes. Yeah. And I'm pretty sure intellectually the listeners would know that one of the first ones that have had podcasts about goal setting there is, you know, you look it up, Google it, and there'll be, you know, there's so much information on there about goal setting. So I think intellectually the listeners will know that. But I think on, um, a really deeper level, that's when you've got to kind of get at those Aha moments where you go, what I want to achieve in the next five years, whether that be a black belt business or your retiring or you being able to support the family in some way or go overseas on a holiday. Um, whatever it is. If you don't, if you don't set that goal, as I said earlier about you just kind of wander through the year. And one of the metaphors I make or use is, it's a bit like when you decide you're going on a family vacation and they pack everything up, you've got everything in the car, all the suitcases are packed, the kids are in the back, you start the car and you start driving. 

DR: 24:20 But you actually haven't planned your destination. So you are just driving round from here to there. And sometimes it's good to be spontaneous and just drive from here to there and get out and have a look at that. But at the end of the day, you're going to get to the end of the day and you're not going to have any way to sleep and you don't even know if you should be going north or south, east or west. So when you think about that, that's what goal setting is all about. It's having a destination and it's having a, it's another metaphor I love using is a helicopter view. So when you're, when you're creating your vision, when you're setting your goals, it's a bit like getting in a helicopter and going up high and looking out to the horizon. And as the higher you get up, the less detail you see. So, but the further you can see out, so if you, if you get stuck into the detail, cause as technicians I spoke keepers, we go, but how are they going to happen? 

DR: 25:15 How can that, well I've got a, what will that mean? I'll need to forget that this when you are setting goals, your job or for that day when you are planning your vision and setting your goals, is to get the big-picture view of what you would love to achieve within 12 months, three years and five years. And you get up in your helicopter and you look out onto the rise and about where it is that you want to be. And then you come down and then the manager steps in and says, okay, how are we going to actually do this? 

MP: 25:47 You know, it's a, it's fantastic stuff. And a, and you mentioned something that we all, we all know about goals and every listener would have heard about goals and why it's so important and what I repeatedly see and hear from people that have gone through some of the goal-setting exercises that we do is that they don't take the time to actually do it. And I think that was one of the other key messages, right? You, you hired Pete, he held the space for you. You did every year a full day of planning where you devoted that entire day, one day a year. So one of three 65 to sit down for a whole day of planning your goals. And I think for, that's the big, big one that while we know to do goals, but do we all spend in divvy out the time to actually put ourselves in an environment where we can have enough creative space and mind share to actually go, hey, what is it that I am, do really want, you know, in five or two years, whatever it is that you decide you want to look at and then start to map it back and figure it out. 

DR: 26:56 MMM, absolutely. And I think the other really important thing is once you've got those goals, it's tracking your progress. You can't just have a five-year goal out there and then forget about it. It's gotta be, it's always front of mind that this is where we're heading and what have I done this month? What have I done in the last three months? Have a look at your, uh, your turnover, how many clients you put on, how many, what your marketing strategies, uh, you've put in place, how many accountants you've met with ha because it's all your marketing strategies are the ultimately what's going to generate the extra income that you're going to, you bring in. And if you're not doing any marketing, then you may reach your goals, but you certainly won't reach your goals in the timeframe that you're expecting if you are just wanting it to grow by word of mouth. 

DR: 27:51 But I think that what the other thing that Pete and I did was we had what I call, well I didn't call, we call it a KPI report, so key performance indicator, that's another very common terminology. But we chose what was our key performance indicators so that the things that we could measure and I had to complete that KPI spreadsheet every month before our meeting if I didn't do that. It really impacted on the quality, if you like, of the information that we are able to share and, and, and are planning for that session. So if I said I didn't have time to do the KPI report, people would go, well, how can we have a conversation about where are you at? Are you on track? What do we need to change? All of that if that KPI report isn't completed. So it's absolutely critical to have some kind of mechanism, some kind of report spreadsheet to be able to track your progress towards your goals. 

MP: 28:50 Yeah and as well the accountability of someone holding you to it because life gets in the way. These things are not urgent, they're not urgent. And there's always something more urgent in life, whether it's personal or business that will, it's like, yeah, should I be sitting down here and looking at what I did accomplish where I'm at? Or put out the fire over there. 

DR: 29:12 Yes. 

MP: 29:13 But having, having Pete holding that and, and holding you to it, ensure that it got done. 

DR: 29:19 Yes. Yeah. So that's really important. So that whoever that buddy is that you're going to buddy up with, whether it be your partner, family member, mentor of some kind, then that's you have a monthly meeting with that person to look specifically at your finances and the growth and, and the marketing strategies that you've put in place and basically generate your own KPIs that, uh, you can report on every month and say what worked and what didn't in the last month. And then what am I going to do in the next month? One of the key actions, which are either going to get me back on track or you will tweak, tweak the goals a little bit one way or the other. Sometimes the growth is so phenomenal. You think, wow, I've, I haven't set the bar high enough. I need to raise that bar, that 12-month goal to this level because I'm going to smash that. 

MP: 30:10 No, I love it. That's beautiful. And it really is a really, is the case all sorts of information now as possible or it's coming to you that makes new things possible, new decisions, new ideas. And that's, that's the beauty of that setting the line in the sand or drawing the line in the sand and then monitoring. How are we doing, how, where's it going? What's happened? 

DR: 30:29 Yes. Yeah, it definitely must do. That's a critical step in the goal-setting process. 

MP: 30:43 Now, Debbie, you have talked about this before and you have done a webinar where you've talked about the KPIs, the key performance indicators and how you've tracked things. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how our listener can get access to that? 

DR: 30:58 Yes, yes. I'm very excited too to let the listeners know that we are making available the KPI report that I used in my business and which you can obviously customize. It's a spreadsheet which you can customize for your business and I also created a Webinar for our licensees so that they would understand why I was tracking certain KPIs and it's quite as with everything, I opened up my heart and I don't hold anything back and I explained the reason. Even the first KPI on there is I completed the KPI report by the first week of the month because what happens is as you said, Michael, when the, it's not, it's not urgent that I complete that I've got clients to worry about and spot fires to put out and things like that and it's only my business anyway, so if I don't get that done, who's going to growl on the boss? 

DR: 31:55 No one's going to grow up me, so what if I don't get it done? It's that was that kind of attitude that I had and then when I started working with Pete, I needed to change that attitude and I needed to say, actually this is more important than anything else that I have this KPI report completed before our meeting each month and so that became my number one KPI had done I get that completed? And there are other important things obviously around income and the billable hours and nonbillable hours and all that sort of thing that we, that we had to track was very important to track all those. 

MP: 32:29 Beautiful, well you know what? I can just see that this is, this is an excellent opportunity. So we are going to have a link in the show notes. So if you're listening right now on your, your iPhone or your android or your listening on the computer down below, there are all the notes about the show and there will be a link that you can go and get access to both that Webinar as well as the KPI, which will help you to start to set up your 2018 or if it's maybe you're listening to this and it's 2021 next year, who knows, but you'll be able to start planning and preparing yourself to have just an incredible year. Yeah, Debbie, this is, this has been fantastic as always. It's just a really big thank you from our listener for your generosity and your time to come and share not only what's worked for you, but as well reveal what hasn't worked with you, where you failed. Yeah, and I, it's just so valuable and again, I thank you on behalf of all of our listeners.

DR: 33:35 My absolute pleasure, Michael.

MP: 33:37 Excellent. Well, that wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful Gaston to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com

MP: 33:48 Until next time, goodbye

EP68: Scott Friesen - 5 Productivity Apps That Organize & Save Your Time

TSBK - Episode 68 - Scott Friesen.png
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It's a precious resource.

Yes, if you lose money, you can make it back, but once your time is used, it'll never return.

With this in mind, our guest, Scott Friesen, who is a productivity expert, will help you better organize your time by introducing us to some great tools.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The power of Asana, Slack and Trello when it comes to project management and communication

  • Why note-taking apps such as Evernote and Google Keep can help you store your ideas and give your overworked brain a break

  • Why the Pomodoro Technique could be a time management strategy that changes your business life forever

To find out more about Scott and his company, Simpletivity, click here.

To watch Scott's productivity videos, visit his YouTube channel at this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:38 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's guest is our go-to guy when it comes to all things related to productivity for this podcast, he runs Simpletivity where he offers training and consulting and now he's back on the show. Welcome, Scott Friesen.

Scott Friesen: 01:55 Hey Michael, glad to be back on the podcast.

MP: 01:56 Oh, it's great to have you. And I know our listeners love hearing from you. They always get a productivity boost, uh, or improve how they do things. They, they're able to work a lot smarter and get more done and have less stress. And that's your promise to the world, isn't it? 

SF: 02:14 That that's exactly it. You know, the, the name, uh, simple productivity as it suggests, the combination of, of simple and productivity. Um, you know, my goal is to, is to help people to, to get more out of their day, to get more out of their schedule and to get more out of their business, but to try and keep it simple at the same time. I, I honestly believe that, uh, we are all at our effective best when we keep things simple. So that's my, uh, that's my aim. 

MP: 02:42 I think you're accurate. And I think bringing simplicity to anything. I mean, we live in a very complex world, it seems at times and I think a lot of that is just so many different apps, so many different tools we can use. A world is moving so quickly, but yet if we stop, take a look around and we're still human beings, we still breathe, we still eat, we still have family members, all that good stuff. So bringing some simplicity to your life I think is super important. And Hey, it, what a, what a perfect time. Like anytime to bring a little more simplicity to our life. Now before we jump into everything, Scott, for those that haven't had an opportunity to listen to your episodes in the past, please share a little bit of your backstory for the listener. 

SF: 03:29 Sure, sure. So I, you know, I started my career in the software and technology industry and I was a software product manager for a number of years. And for those who may not be familiar with that title, a software product manager is basically managing the life cycle of one or more software applications. So that's everything from, you know, what are the new features? Are we going to be, uh, including in the next release? What new products, what new services are we going to be providing to our customers or, or potential customers? And you're dealing a lot with deadlines and very tight, uh, milestones as you're dealing with a variety of different stakeholders. And something that I've found over my time as a product manager is that I'd have a number of my coworkers, a number of my colleagues come to me and say, you know, Scott, you seem to really have it all together. 

SF: 04:25 You, you rarely miss a deadline. You and your team seem to always be on, on top of, of everything. You've got really good communication. How do you do it? And I found myself sort of taking people off the side of my desk and, and teaching them some of the things that I have learned. Also some of the things that I had developed myself to stay on top of all of my tasks and manage all of my projects. And you know, I found myself enjoying this so much, uh, teaching others and helping people do this. I decided to branch out and start teaching people how to be more productive, how to manage their time a little more wisely. And that's what led me to where I am today as a coach, as a consultant, as a productivity specialist, a here with a simple activity. 

MP: 05:15 Beautiful. And you've, and you've worked with a lot of bookkeepers as well. 

SF: 05:20 I have, I've had a, a real pleasure to work with a number of bookkeepers both across Canada and the US speaking at a number of conferences and, and delivering webinars and, and training. So, uh, yeah, I really feel a strong bond and strong kinship with the, uh, with the bookkeeper community. Uh, really thankful for their support. But I think it also shows that it, it really has struck a nerve, uh, you know, in an industry which has a lot of deadlines, a lot of customers, a lot of commitments, a lot of things going on where my type of training and my type of help can, can really benefit those types of businesses.

MP: 05:58 Yeah. And you know, it's, it's interesting when it comes to the life of a bookkeeper, there's a couple of things that I've heard people mentioned and I, they've been called workaholics. And I think it's, I hate to say that because it's, you know, it's kind of a negative thing to think about, but a lot of them work a lot of hours and, and I, and I think the community wants to find ways to, to still have a life, still be able to make the income that they want to make, have the business that they, they want to have, but yet have also the life that they want to have. And it's, it's kind of an interesting situation with, with bookkeepers in that, I mean, the pro is that it never ends. The work never ends. It never stops. But at the same time without boundaries and limits that can be really detrimental to a person's mental health around the work that there is to do. What, what are your thoughts? 

SF: 06:50 Absolutely, absolutely. You know, one of the first things I say to a number of my clients is that you will never accomplish everything that you want to do. And I often get a dumb look back at me saying like, well, wait a minute, aren't, aren't you? Are productivity specialists? Aren't you supposed to help me accomplish everything that I want to do? And you know, when I repeat that phrase, you will never complete everything that you want to do. I'm not just referring to your, you know, your business or your day to day tasks. I often just explode that open even into our, into our lives. I mean, we have on average 50 to 60,000 different thoughts each and every day. We've got new and great ideas and an awful lot of, okay ideas going off in our mind all of the time. 

SF: 07:40 But just because you've had that thought, right? Just because you had that idea or you've jotted down that note doesn't necessarily mean that you should be pursuing it, right? It doesn't necessarily mean that you should be accomplishing absolutely everything that comes across your inbox that comes across your voicemail or that just pops into your head. We need to be selective. And so what I often tell people that it's not necessarily about getting more things done in a given day or in a given week. It's about getting the right things done. And if you can pinpoint, if you can identify the right things, the things that are giving you the most value to your business or the most value to your time, well then you can enjoy that time away from work. Or you can enjoy that time, you know, away from your computer or away from your desk. But if we're not choosing wisely, if we're not prioritizing correctly, that can make it a lot more difficult. 

MP: 08:38 Absolutely. And you know, I'll speak for myself personally. I think there's a lot of, a lot of it, there are things I do that are time wasters, but yet I'm addicted to doing it even though I know I shouldn't be doing it.

SF: 08:56 Well, there's some really interesting research that is showing that we have started to rewire our brains and not necessarily in a good way, you know, with all of the technology that is at our disposal with the onslaught of social media, with the variety of ways that you and I can communicate with each other or communicate with the world. We tend to be bouncing back and forth between this app and that app and this piece of technology and our smartphone and our laptop and our tablet and everything else. And what's starting to happen is this switching back and forth is actually giving our brains a shot of dopamine. And if you know anything about dopamine, that's sort of our, our, our pleasure release, right? Like we liked that. We liked that feeling. As we go back and forth, we, we get a shot of dopamine when we, when we gamble, we get a shot of dopamine when we drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, some things that are maybe not so great in our lives and it gives us that same type of kick in our lives. 

SF: 09:57 And so what's happening as we bounce back and forth, five seconds here and five seconds there, is that our brain starts to like that more and more. So we start to do it more and more. And of course, a serious problem that a lot of us are facing is the ability to focus on a particular piece of work or maybe just to focus on a particular conversation for a specific period of time. So yeah, we, we have to be careful because we're starting to, uh, reward our brain by going back and forth and not really engaging with some of our most important work. 

MP: 10:40 Really interesting. I mean, just the science behind it and how it's affecting our daily lives. I mean, this is, this can be a big problem. Now you've worked with bookkeepers. What do you see as being some of their worst time-wasters? What's getting the bookkeepers every day? 

SF: 11:00 Well, I think for a lot of us, and especially bookkeepers, it comes down to communication. And you know, I, I work with a lot of people with helping them to manage their email more effectively. Although we have so many other areas of communication and ways that we communicate with our internal teams, but also our external clients. You know, email remains the number one form of business communication, even if there are other tools available to us. You know, most of us are spending a large part of our day in email. And so that, that's really where it, where it starts for a number of my clients is, is trying to spend less time in email. And one of the ways that you can do that is just by batching the amount of time you spend in your inbox. So for example, it may mean by starting your day with a solid 30 minutes or maybe even upwards of an hour in email, but then minimizing your inbox for the next few hours. 

SF: 11:56 Right. Get, get back to that other project, get ready for that important meeting that you have coming up or maybe as you're reviewing the numbers or your year-end report that you can give it the full attention that it deserves. But there are other pieces of human communication technology that can assist with this. One of those apps, which I know a number of your listeners use is something called slack and slack has gotten a lot of attention, a lot of popularity over the last four to five years. And for those who may not be familiar with this app, slack aims to really focus your conversations by certain themes or what slack calls channels. So you know, a really big complaint that a lot of us have is that when we're dealing with email, as we're going through our email, you know, the conversations are unrelated. 

SF: 12:46 I may be looking at an email from a client and then the very next one is from a teammate. And then the very next one might be a, a personal email or, or something related to a conference that I'm attending a few weeks in a few weeks' time. What slack aims to do is it allows you to create specific channels. It could be a project, it could be a key client. You get to decide what those channels are, what those themes are. But then you can have a much more focused conversation with other people who have access to those slack channels. So if you and I are working on a particular project and maybe we have another teammate who is working on that project, we can have that whole project including attachments and including other files and documentation, all very much focused within that slack channel rather than trying to search for that particular file or a search for that particular method in, uh, in email. So that's often a tool that I know a number of bookkeepers are either using or at least experimenting with or considering using as an alternative or a way to at least spend a little less time with an email. 

MP: 13:57 Yeah, I liked the idea of, of the time blocking and batching out an email. And you know, the, the thing about you, you mentioned dopamine and went with email when I know when I go into it, and I'm sure it's very similar for listener right now is I ran my email and as you mentioned, one emails from a team member, one emails from a client, one emails a personal, and they all have different, I have different reactions to those different emails based on what it means to me, what it has. You know, maybe it's a, a customer has a problem, maybe there's, you know, and then the next minute I'm getting, you know, a picture of my son from my wife. You know, these are like, it's like a roller coaster of emotions, which can be, I think it's exhausting. So to, to be able to limit, like you say, that experience and using something like slack perhaps, well I think would really help. You're going to get the same sort of things done in a day. But without those emotional roller coasters, it must be less draining for people. 

SF: 14:58 Well, well that's right. And, and you, you've, you've given a great example there of contrasting, bouncing back and forth between different messages, different people on completely different topics versus spending some quality time. Even if it is just five or 10 minutes on a specific problem or a specific project. And, and again it allows you to go that much deeper into that situation, really engage with that conversation or with that problem or however you're trying to address that particular issue rather than just quickly going through things. And I think a lot of us, you know, fail ourselves by rapidly going through our email inbox as if it's a to-do list and we want to check off as many things as we can in the shortest amount of time possible. You know, I think one of the dangers of email is that, you know, when you read a new email it changes color or there'll be something else in your email application that that alters telling you that you've read it. 

SF: 15:58 And of course if you reply to an email, you get a different icon beside that message telling you that you've replied to it. And this gives us very much sort of the same effect as crossing something off of a to-do list or putting a checkmark by a task. We like that feeling, yet that makes us feel good. However, when it comes to email, in many cases we haven't actually done a whole lot. Right? Just because you've read the message, it doesn't really mean that you've done much to solving that problem or actually pushing that project forward. But when we tell ourselves, well, you know what, I just went through 25 emails, that tends to make us feel good. So then we're drawn to go back to email again and again and again. And like you said, referencing the dopamine example, it's like these micro wins or these quick wins, but they don't necessarily add up to a whole lot at the end of the day. 

MP: 16:53 Absolutely. And I think it's, I think it's also an again, that you might win for a while, but eventually, you're gonna lose because there's no limit to the number of things that will hit that list. And like you say, there's, you can't do everything. We can't do everything yet. If we're trying to get our inbox to zero all the time, which feels great. I mean, the whole concept of having no emails to deal with, right? It's like wow, bliss. But yet if I won that game, I want to get there, but tomorrow I could get 250 emails because of whatever happens and now I'm feeling bad because I can't get to zero. 

SF: 17:30 That's right. That's right. You know, speaking of games or gamification and that is a problem that I do see. Although you know, the concept of inbox zero, uh, can be very, very helpful. A lot of people have the misconception that they need to keep their inbox at zero and that's not really, you know, the whole idea of that particular email management system. But one of the things that I recommend to a lot of my clients, whether it's email or whether it's other aspects of their job, is to make use of a timer. Now you could install a very simple timer app on your desktop computer, or of course, we all have a timer built into our smartphones. You don't even have to download anything. It comes pre-installed as a part of your clock app. And what I encourage people to do is to set a certain limit as to how long are they going to engage with email before moving onto something else. 

SF: 18:27 Or even if it's not email, maybe they're working on a particular report, set a timer for 45 minutes and when it goes off reevaluate, should you engage with this particular task a little while longer or do you have other things on your list? Do you have other things in your day that you need to transition to? Uh, one of the problems that I see time and time again is that people do get engaged with a particular project, but maybe for too long of a period and then suddenly they say, oh my goodness, I still have 17 things I need to get done today. So at times, it can be a great way to sort of set a settle limit. You can put it in the background. I'm not suggesting that you have something staring at you in the face, set a timer on your smartphone. And then just put it back in your, in your pocket or on the side of your desk and then when it goes off you can reevaluate where you need to be and what you should be doing next. 

MP: 19:19 I love that idea and I have used it in the past but I have not been applying it of late and actually it's been on my mind a lot lately. This whole concept of having a timer is very powerful yet I want to get one of those ones that you wind up. It looks like a, it's like an a, I think they call it an egg timer. Right?

SF: 19:35 Right.

MP: 19:36 And it's just old school. Right. But we're talking about simple, right. Take it and got, getting back to basics. I like the idea of being able to just say, Oh, you know what? I'm going to do five minutes or 10 minutes, 2030 whatever it is, but blocking not off. Even with appointments coming, like what I find happens to me is I'll have, you know, have a call at the top of the hour scheduled. 

MP: 19:59 I have to call someone, someone's calling me now. If they're calling me, that's the timer right there. It's going to go off. I'm going to pick up the phone. But if I have to call somebody, I find if there's like 15 minutes, it's like, well I'm not going to sit here and look at a clock for 15 minutes, so I start doing work. What do I typically do? I'll go work on some email. Then what happens? It's now you know, 1105 and I'm late because I've gotten into this like the state of, you know, working on some problem or reading some email or trying to get through the list. Uh, so I like the idea that being able to, to a keep myself in check, but as we'll be able to set, you know, set something where I'm going to, as you say, work on something for a set point of time and then change it up. Is there an optimal time for doing certain things? 

SF: 20:46 That's a fantastic 

SF: 20:48 question and there has been a, some good research around that. There is one technique that some of your listeners may have heard of before called the Pomodoro technique. And Pomodoro is Ictaluridae for tomato. It actually originated speaking of a traditional windup timer, uh, I guess in Italy there is this a tomato timer, um, called a Pomodoro timer that you can, uh, that you can use and a traditional Pama Daryl length is 25 minutes that you select ahead of time, you know, what project or what tasks are you going to engage with. You set the timer for 25 minutes and then you do everything that you can, you know, you give it its full attention for that length of time before the timer goes off. Now to sort of complete that cycle, you're supposed to take a few minutes break, right? Take something maybe three or five minutes to, to stand up or walk away from your desk for a moment and then come back and engage for another 25 minutes. 

SF: 21:47 However, I'm sure there's some of you are probably thinking 25 minutes doesn't seem like a terribly long period of time. Uh, other research has shown that 52 minutes and yes, I said 52, not 50, 55, not an hour, but that 52 minutes is around the optimal time. So just under an hour and then we start to disengage with our work. Then we start to sort of lose our focus. So that might be another length that some of your listeners may want to try or experiment with. I know myself, I like to engage with work for around 50 minutes, just under an hour. When I'm working on my projects in the morning, that's when I tend to do my, my most complex or my most deep thinking work is in the morning. So I'll work for a prolonged period of time. However, when it comes to the afternoon, I find that my energy is starting to wane a little bit. So I will condense that to more of a 25 minute or maybe 30 minute period before taking some short breaks. So it's worth, um, you know, maybe experimenting with those two numbers and then finding which one works best for you.

MP: 23:02 I like it. and you know, I, there's another, um, I believe it's Parkinson's law that work fills up the time allotted and so a timer will likely increase the uh, the, the productivity because you, if you take 30 minutes to do something or an hour to do something, the same thing. The law states that if I get if it ta, if you give yourself an hour, it will take an hour. If you give yourself 30 minutes, it's more likely to take 30 minutes so we can get more done, have the experience of getting more done by just using something like this egg timer or tomato timer and setting that optimal time and then take a break and come back to it. 

SF: 23:45 That's absolutely right.

MP: 23:46 And I know that there are probably some people listening to this who are thinking, you know, working with a timer sounds restrictive. I know when I introduced this to a number of, of my clients, a lot of them are a little skeptical because they think, you know, that just sounds really restrictive. It doesn't seem free-flowing that I can go from this thing to that thing and re be more intuitive with my work. But I like to explain that in many cases it's just the opposite and that it's very, very freeing. And I love the example that you gave just a few moments ago about something that you know is coming up. Maybe it's coming up in 30 minutes. We'll instead of glancing at the clock instead of glancing at your wristwatch or your smartphone every couple of minutes to see if that time has come or not, you can set the timer and get completely lost. 

MP: 24:32 And I mean lost in a good way. Get completely lost in your work. Get completely focused on what you are engaged with. You know, some people may recall that many years ago there was a TV infomercial, I think it was a rotisserie chicken device where Ron Popeil would say set it and forget it. But I think he's the one who coined that term. Well, I like to use that when it comes to working with a timer. You can set the timer and then forget it. Get completely engaged in your email, for example, get completely engaged with the report that you're working on. Maybe even get completely engaged with the conversation that you're having and then when the time is up, let the technology do the work for you. That is your reminder and now you can decide what to do next. So I spend a very little part of my day looking at a clock or even glancing at a clock. 

MP: 25:21 I let the timer do the hard work for me so I can get fully engaged with the work that's in front of me. That's cool. Well, I'm taking on the timer thing right after I have this conversation with you. I am going to order a timer and I'm going to do that on Amazon because I love shopping on Amazon because it comes right to my door. I don't even have to go find where would I find an ache, Scott, where would I find an egg timer on this day?

SF: 25:49 That's probably would be my suggestion as well. Start Online. Start with something like, Amazon.com to see what you can see, which you can find, you know, you might be able to find something in your, an in your local, a department store, something along those lines. But, uh, but yeah, get and get creative too. If this is something that you're going gonna bring into your office or, or put on your desk, you know, don't just pick something, I mean, pick something that's functional, something that actually works, but you know, maybe, uh, maybe spend a few bucks and, and, and pick something that 

SF: 26:15 you actually liked to look at or that a, that you're going to look forward, uh, to use going forward. Beautiful. One, one. When I select it and I have it, I'm going to put it on to our, uh, our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. And, uh, and I hope the listener will do the same because I think this whole concept of, you know, we've kind of landed on talking about this using a timer and time blocking and, uh, setting it and forgetting it. Uh, I love that concept and I love the, I love the little tagline, set it and forget it. And so I, I'd love to hear what others have, what our listener, if they're an already doing it, do they already have timers? Are they using some sort of a timer app? Whatever it is, share it on the Facebook page and the Facebook group. 

MP: 26:57 We'd love to, we'd love to hear about it. Now moving on to Apps, right? There's all these different apps, apps that will help us get more done. What are, so you talked about slack already and I think slack is, you know, it's definitely, I mean very, very popular not only with, uh, with some of our listeners but as well just the business world. It's incredible how many people are adopting slack, but what other apps are out there, maybe ones that we may not have heard of or things that are up and coming. What are your thoughts there? 

SF: 27:28 Well, you know, a couple of apps that have also gained some traction, but maybe not as much penetration in the, in the bookkeeping area than I have assumed in the past. Our a Trello and Asana, Trello and Asana are somewhat similar in that they're both in sort of the project management space. They're, their main objective is to help you to collaborate with others and help you to organize your information, organize all of your tasks so you can stay on top of, of all of your work. Now there are some distinct differences between the two. A Trello has a much more visual interface, so for those who who, um, maybe a enjoy a more visual workflow, perhaps those who who really enjoy putting post-it notes up on a whiteboard or upon a blank wall and then moving them around or really enjoy brainstorming on a whiteboard or a chalkboard, a Trello might be a, a great solution or a great alternative for you. 

SF: 28:27 A sauna is maybe a little bit more like a traditional to-do list or a true traditional project management list, but it makes it very, very easy to, to collaborate with, collaborate with others. Both of these tools can support documentation and attachments. Uh, of course, the standard functionalities such as adding a due date and adding different labels and flags if you want. That type of indicator or notifications are, are built right into it. But incredibly flexible tools. And the one thing that is great about, about both of these tools is that, uh, they're absolutely free to, uh, to begin with. And I know a lot of bookkeepers who are making use of just the free version so you can make little to no investment in these applications. You can start using them, you can start playing with them, seeing if they will be effective for your business or effective for your team. And of course, if you'd like to make use of some of the more advanced features, you can always upgrade to one of their more premium plans. 

MP: 29:31 Trello is fantastic and I have not used a Santa's, but we use Trello in our business religiously. And it is such a, such an incredible app. Very, but you know, I, what I find with Trello or any of these apps I'm sure is that if you've never used it, it can be challenging to understand, well how do I make this work for myself? What is the, what is a good use case? How is there something or a resource that you have Scott, that that would help give people an idea of how they can start to use it in their own business? 

SF: 30:06 Yeah. Well speaking of Trello, Trello has a really strong and wonderful community of users and one of the great things that you can do is start by something as simple as putting in a search for Trello along with your business. So you might want to start by just typing in Trello, bookkeeping or Trello accounting or even something a bit more specific, a, depending on your purposes or, or what you are trying to achieve. And the great thing is that many people have made their Trello boards public or there are a lot of great blog articles and blog posts that show how others are making use of their Trello boards. And I know I've used that myself for inspiration. Even if you go to the official trello.com website, they have an entire page, I believe it's trello.com/inspiration where you can see literally hundreds of examples of how people are using their Trello boards in different industries and for different projects. 

SF: 31:07 Now another really good resource if people are wanting to learn the ins and outs of Trello, not only how they can set up their Trello boards, but how they can use maybe some of the more advanced features or features that they may not be aware of would actually be my very own Simpletivity youtube channel. In fact, over the past year, year and a half, I've sort of become known as the Trello guy. And if you do a search for Trello on Youtube, chances are you're going to be finding several of my videos. So if you're wanting to learn a bit more about some of the power-ups in Trello, if you're wanting to learn about some of the latest features that Trello has introduced in the past year, I would encourage you to, to check out Simpletivity on youtube. 

MP: 31:59 I think it's a cool app. It's a, it, like you say, it's free it man. If you haven't heard of it, you're listening, you haven't heard of it. It's definitely worth taking a look at even just to manage a few of your own projects. Personal. I mean it, it is really, really helpful. I've enjoyed using it and I think it's easy to use. But again, I think it takes, take that tip from, from, from Scott, go and, and watch how he's using it and how he's recommending to use it because it can be overwhelming and you can end up with just big massive things. Spend a little bit of time to set your egg timer to 20 minutes and you know, watch a couple of videos on it before you get started. Perfect. So, so what else we got Scott? 

SF: 32:40 There's, you know, we're almost out of time, but are there any other apps that you want to make sure people are taking a look at and paying some attention to? You know, maybe the last thing I'll leave you with is selecting a really good note-taking app or a note application. And you know, one of my recommendations is for people to use Evernote or at least something like Evernote. Evernote is a very, very flexible tool for a quickly capturing, whether it's a text note, whether it's an audio recording, uh, which can then automatically translate that into text. Whether you're taking pictures of things. Evernote makes it so easy for you to capture that information. And you know, I think one of the things that brings a lot of stress into our work lives is that we sort of keep all of these things on the top of our mind or the or the weight of the world it feels like is on our shoulders because we haven't properly put those ideas or put those meeting notes or whatever it may be in a safe location, a location that we can come back to. 

SF: 33:48 And review at a later time. So I really encourage people to, to select a good note-taking app. Evernote is a, is a great solution. Google keep is also a very good solution, especially if you happen to be using other Google products like Gmail or, or Google drive. But, uh, both Evernote and Google keep a great way so you can access your notes on any device no matter where you are working. But, uh, but again, the flexibility of it. I mean one of the features that, uh, that I love to show off with apps such as Evernote or Google keep is that you can take a picture or scan in a picture of a, of a document or take a picture of a poster or something that you see when you're out, uh, away from the office. And these apps will automatically convert the text into searchable text. 

SF: 34:38 Not only can you pull that text into a separate note or into a separate text document, but then you can search for those images based on the text that is in that particular picture. So it makes it really, really easy to, to grab those pieces of information. And a, you know, what's quicker than, than recording a quick audio note. Right? Sometimes we don't want to get out and, and use our thumbs to jot down three sentences. How about take just five seconds and speak directly into your smartphone and you've got it. You've got that idea, you know where it is and you can come back and review it later on in the day. It's beautiful. I'm a big user of Evernote. I have not heard of Google keepers, so that's new for me. Curious to take a look now. It's Kinda funny, my mother was out, uh, about six, seven months ago and she was talking into her phone and I'm like, what are you doing? And she, she said, oh, I, you know, instead of typing this text message, I'm just clicking on the tiny microphone 

SF: 35:38 and it's, it's doing the transcription for me into my text, into my text messages. I'm like, that's cool. I didn't even know that I could do that. And I didn't know how good it was. And so I started using that about seven months ago and it's been incredible around just actually being able to get notes, text messages, emails. I can just talk into this thing now. This is an apple phone. I'm not sure how it works on android or any of the other ones, but on apple it's an incredibly useful tool just right there on the keyboard, whether it's ever known, whether I'm using email, whether I'm using a text message just to get my ideas out and then I can edit it from there. 

MP: 36:18 Yeah. You know, the voice recognition technology has really come a long way. And I think it wasn't too long ago, you know, maybe a couple of years ago where you would find yourself having to make a revision for every third word or, or spelling mistakes. And I think those days are over. Yeah. Whether you're an Apple user or whether you're an android user, you, you still might find a particular word that they, uh, misinterpret. But it is amazing how accurate it has become. And, and yeah, it can make your life so much easier and so much more efficient. 

MP: 36:49 And I think the key message there, whether you're doing any of it, whether you're just using a pencil and a piece of paper, is the key here that you're trying to get across in my opinion, is get the stuff out of your head, get it onto digital, get it onto paper, get it out of your head so that it's not jumbling up the brain and crowding out the space a bit so that you can relax, sleep better at night, and be able to focus better when you're doing the work that you need to do. 

SF: 37:18 Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, I mentioned before, my background is in technology and software. I like to make the analogy that our brains are a fantastic processor, but a very poor, hard drive. And if you know anything about hard drives, hard drives are all about storage. And some of us try to treat our brains as if it's just a big hard drive right there. We're just going to throw information out. We're just going to throw more and more details at it and somehow it's going to remember all these things. And of course, we do that very, very poorly. Our brains really weren't designed to be just a storage location or a or a place for storage. So so make use of Evernote, make use of Google keep or some other note application that makes sense to you. Keep that information separate. So like you said, you can focus 100% on the work that's in front of you. 

MP: 38:08 That's excellent. Well, Scott, this is, this has been fantastic having you back and I think of arms us with a whole bunch of ideas and how we can make 2018 even better. Let's get out there. Let's get more done and have less stress. If you want to learn more about what you're up to, Scott, can you let us know again, what the best way to really enter into your world and get more information from the work that you're doing? What would be the best first stop for people that are listening?

SF: 38:37 You know, the best place to learn more about what I do and also to find all of the videos and resources that I mentioned in today's podcast would be the Simpletivity websites. So Simpletivity, s, I, m p, l, e t, I v, I t y.com Simpletivity.com uh, you can find all of my blog posts, you can find all of my youtube videos and you can also find a bit more about the work that I do for people when it comes to a technology consulting, especially when it comes to using Trello. So look forward to seeing you at Simplivity.com 

MP: 39:10 Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you, Scott, for so generously giving us your time to be on the podcast today.

SF: 39:20 Well, thanks again for having me, Michael.

MP:39:25 Glad to be here. Excellent. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's fabulous guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, we'll say goodbye.

EP67: Jeremy Allen - Your Clients' Success Is Your Success

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Why do you do what you do?

Do you run a bookkeeping business only because it makes money?

Is there deeper meaning?

Our guest, Jeremy Allen, who owns System Six Bookkeeping which generates over a million dollars per year, has his own answer.

The core value for his company is “Our Clients' Success Is Our Success.”

At the end of the day, it's about assisting businesses to become as healthy as possible so they can flourish which ultimately helps our economy, feeds families and provides the quality of life you'd like.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of putting your clients first & committing to excellence with your bookkeeping services

  • How to avoid being full up with the wrong clients by raising your prices

  • Why you should always strive to improve and never rest on your success

To find out more about Jeremy, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:01 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be awesome. In 2008, our guest today started his bookkeeping business from his kitchen table in Seattle with one very part-time employee. Then he would go on to help lead and grow his team to 15 employees in five states producing more than a million dollars. That's $1 million a year and recurring revenue. As a result, system six bookkeeping has become quite an incredible and inspiring success story. And Jeremy Allen is a big reason why. Jeremy, welcome to the podcast. 

Jeremy Allen: 01:43 It's an honor to be with you today. Michael, thanks for having me. 

MP: 01:46 It's great to have you. And we were chatting a little bit before the show and, and you've got some really interesting experiences, um, really broad experiences that I'm sure to have led to your success. But let's actually open that up and share with our listener a little bit about yourself. Tell us your career background leading up to where you are today. 

JA: 02:07 I, that's a, that's, I hope you can hear me smile. That's funny because it's really not that sexy or exciting. It's actually got a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, but, um, I, you know, glad to share. I've always been an entrepreneur, probably many of the listeners, right? Right. If they're seeking out a podcast on building a successful bookkeeping accounting practice, it's probably some entrepreneurial blood there. And so I started out as an entrepreneur. I got in trouble several times at school for doing things like recording copies of cassette tapes and reselling them and having the principals say, I think that's copyright infringement. You can't really build a business doing that. And uh, you know, and fast forward, uh, was pretty entrepreneurial, started, you know, mowing and uh, serving folks in the neighborhood, selling magazine Subscriptions, whatever I could do to create a bit of an income. 

JA: 02:55 And we as a family growing up in Alabama didn't have a lot of money. So if I needed to work and be able to afford the small boom box or you know, the new pair of sneakers or I would, you know, go and do what I needed to do. And so we're delivering pizza, worked as a waiter, had a computer consulting practice that I started a shortly out of high school. And oddly enough with the air force ROTC scholarship, there was a really key juncture for me where I, I was given a four-year scholarship to any school that would accept me and, uh, somewhere got disillusioned with how structured college was and ended up going to manage an Arby's roast beef. And so, I don't know if you've ever had RVs, but, uh, our or the air force two completely different paths and when to manage in RVs only lasted about six months. 

JA: 03:45 Didn't, uh, take the, the, the scholarship and ended up from there. Uh, I really had to develop my entrepreneurial chops and, and get right into business. You know, I, I let go of the scholarship, started working at Arby's that didn't work out as I had hoped, uh, learned a ton about team building and, and Goal Setting and coaching. And, and yet didn't want to be, uh, an Arby's recipe manager for the rest of my life. So started a computer consulting practice, uh, and from there have built several businesses, sold a few of them, none of which have been incredibly sexy. Uh, I think today we were at the news that, uh, Matt from t sheets is Intuit as purchasing t sheets for 340 $360 million. None of my exits have been like that, but, uh, as I build a small business and sell it, learned a bit more about, you know, business and somewhere in the way that was an executive director for BNI Business Network International, learned a lot. 

JA: 04:44 They're built and then sold that business and had a, a pretty, uh, dynamic bankruptcy occur and just kind of went up in flames in the early two-thousands. There was in my young 20s and was making a lot of money, uh, had, you know, B and I and a consulting practice and all kinds of things going on. But I had no idea about good bookkeeping and accounting. A, uh, in many on the podcast listening might laugh. I had no idea that there were estimated tax payments. I thought all the money I made, I just got to keep, you know. Then at the end of the year when I sat down and did taxes with a CPA, he said, Hey Jeremy, that looks like a great year. You owe 25 or $30,000 in taxes and you know, my job hit the floor. And I said, well, I don't, I don't have that money sitting around. 

JA: 05:25 And so fast forward through personal bankruptcy and now almost 20 years later a have built and I'm super thankful for the team that we built. The clients that we serve have built $1 million a year bookkeeping practice and we serve, clients are on the country, have employees and team members in five different states and it's really an honor that from an entrepreneurial perspective, I get to help other business owners, other entrepreneurs improve their businesses, run successful organizations and it scratches my entrepreneurial itch. I get to serve other entrepreneurs and peek into their businesses and that satisfies my desire to be an entrepreneur. But I don't have to go open the veterinary clinic or the chiropractic clinic or the local restaurant we get to serve. You know, those business owners who have become many have become friends and that satisfies my entrepreneurial itch. So I think that's a little bit of background. There's probably a whole lot more there. But I want to be transparent and say this not been a, uh, just a rocket trajectory, right? There's been bankruptcy and a house foreclosure 20 years ago and a car that was repossessed and uh, and I, and we, I laugh, you know, and clients and I laughed it, uh, maybe that's how I got my masters in bookkeeping and having to learn how to run a good business and deal well with finances. So, 

MP: 06:39 Oh my God, what a story, what a story. 

MP: 06:50 Where do I start? I mean, this is absolutely, I, it's just incredibly interesting. First off and I just, I think it's, it's very, it's such a very different path than one would expect. And I think there's, I think there are so many things that we can, we can tap into here to understand your view of the world and how it's helped you be successful because you come at this from a very, very different angle, which is an email EMF, they talk about the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician and you know, that's part of the story of E-myth, the entrepreneurial myth is that most businesses get started from a technical standpoint. They're technicians who then start a business. You came at it from an entrepreneurial perspective and then they likely hired t great team around you, but this story of your, of your life and going through all these different experiences and then brought it all together. When you started the bookkeeping business, I mean you had to sort of like what did, what was going through your mind when you were about to start a bookkeeping business? Having gone through bankruptcies had different challenges like that. 

JA: 08:01 That's a, a fun story that, you know, condensed down for me is you're right, an entrepreneurial journey. I mean that's, that's, I feel like God has wired me that way from an early age. And so after bankruptcy in the early two thousand and I'm getting a chance to serve and work with other business owners, uh, post that. And I was working with BNI at the time doing some technology consulting and was, I came to Seattle, Washington where I worked for the family for 10 years and had an opportunity to learn a lot about business and real estate and book publishing. And, and that was an honor. And yet inside of there somewhere, you know, a good friend of mine, we climbed a Mount Rainier several times together. So we had a lot of opportunities, a lot of long nights in the tent and time on the rope. 

JA: 08:48 And he sold payroll for a local, national well-known payroll company. Uh, and he said, Jeremy, the number one thing people ask me when I'm helping them convert their payroll over to this national payroll company is, do you know a good bookkeeper? And he turned and said, you know this, you've built really great systems and ways of doing bookkeeping and accounting for small business, and have you ever thought like that, that might be a business to start. Do you know? And I was just doing that individually at the time as an employee. And I said, Gosh, that's great, I hadn't, I haven't thought of that, but you're right. And, you know, thought back to my own experiences of bookkeeping and accounting and having good business coaching and good advising around money would've made all the difference for me when I was in my young 20s. 

JA: 09:33 I was great at building a business. I was a great technician, right? I'd built a business, I was doing, uh, things very successfully, but didn't understand the money or the back office or the business processes. And so as, as Brett and I talked more about this potential need in the marketplace, you know, Simon Sinek says, start with why, right? You know, that famous Ted talk. And so we did, Brett and I did a lot of soul-searching and said, this is the marketplace. I really need this. Does do business owners need good bookkeeping, somebody to help run, you know, at the time, QuickBooks and all the associated things that go with a business, payroll and bill pay and invoicing and, and state and city taxes. And, and the more we asked around and the more that we fished, you know, hey and did our own little informal market research came to the conclusion that there's a huge need in the marketplace. 

JA: 10:23 Right? And so drawing on years of inspiration and years of listening to, uh, I'm a huge Tony Robbins or Jim Roan or Dennis Whaley or you know, any of the guys and gals that are in personal development, huge fan of, of their work. And that's the kind of stuff that is inspired me to continue to learn and grow over the years. And they've, you know, said often that like, the key to greatness is serving many. And so I thought, Gosh, can we serve many, uh, in the bookkeeping business? Is there a business to be had? And so after we validated the market research, again, super informally that, yeah, there's a big need here. We sat down and started to spreadsheet out, can we build a scalable, you know, bookkeeping accounting solution that would be a win for us. We'd have a lot of fun doing it. We'd make money doing it. 

JA: 11:08 Our team would be well compensated doing it and that the client would be extremely well-served with us serving those, you know, serving and doing the bookkeeping. And so as we continued to a spreadsheet and think and dream and grow, we somewhere in 2007, eight timeframes said, I think there's a market for this. Yeah, let's, let's go. Let's do it. And so initially formed the entity, it was called bull bookkeeping, which looking back now, I laugh and say thank you, we that we didn't keep that very long. I think I had that registered with the state of Washington for a couple of months and then we made a change to system six strategic bookkeeping and analysis. And that stuck since then. And it really started with, uh, people asking for, you know, asking my friend Brett, do you know, a good bookkeeper? And then his and my time together where he said, hey, I think there's a real opportunity here. 

JA: 11:58 And you know, we did the hard work and the thinking and the spreadsheeting and figured out there was an opportunity. And, and that's how I started system six. And it's kind of fun aside. Brett decided, he fell in love right around the time that we were going to start system six. And he looked at me and said, Jeremy, I can't live off of a startup salary or no salary. Right? I need to take a job where I make money cause I'm gonna propose to Holly, I'm going to marry her. They're now married, they've got three kids. And um, there's still dear friends here in Seattle. But he looked and said, you're going to have to do system six all by yourself. I can't, I've got to go do something different. And so I still think Brett, to this day for his, you know, nobody builds a business by themselves. 

JA: 12:39 And you know, Brett gave a lot of great ideas. Another good friend of mine, Jordan in the early days helped with a lot of sales. And Marketing and relationship building before he moved away. And he's now a CFO of a large, multimillion-dollar seafood company in New York. But there were some key influences early on that those guys encouraged me to start system six. It's going to be, they felt like it was going to be a very successful company. And so now we, we, of course, we text and exchange emails and when we see each other, we laugh and go, who would've thought that this little bookkeeping idea would turn into more than a million dollar a year? You know, multistate multiple employees. And we just continue to grow. I mean, it's, it's, it's a lot of fun. 

MP: 13:15 Beautiful. And what an interesting, interesting path. And, you know, some key things that our mentorship, um, working with people being open to new possibilities. And then you, that's the entrepreneur, right? You saw and heard, uh, an opportunity in the marketplace and you, and you went after it, 

MP: 13:33 That greed 

MP: 13:34 and, and then let's talk about some of the experiences, right? You, you have a big team, a lot of different branches. How did your, uh, experience working for Arby's? Uh, bring that kind of thinking to your business or did it, 

JA: 13:53 You know, I, I would connect a lot of dots there. I mean, starting with, um, someone that when I was a waiter at pizza hut in high school, I think I was 16 years old, uh, somebody pulled me aside. They tried to recruit me for Amway, which I don't blame them for it all. I'm really thankful they did. They, they gave me a book and a, a big tip one night after I served them. And that book was how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. And I remember as a 16-year old that has been, and still to this day is a fundamental cornerstone of, of caring for people. Uh, really being interested in others and you know, connect that dot with the Arby's experience. And the name of that company was RTM results through motivation inc. And so they, lots of processes, checklists, motivation, encouragement, lots of performance reviews and, and coaching. 

JA: 14:42 And so how to win friends and influence people and to get results who motivation and build processes and checklists. Uh, my time with BNI, you, Ivan Meisner often said when he would talk, whether he was talking, you know, informally and we were playing a game of chess, which he, uh, nine times out of 10 would beat me. But when he was given a public speech or talking with his team, he'd say, people don't care how much, you know until they know how much you care. And so these, you know, put together this how to win friends and influence people's ideas from an early age, learning about the importance of building processes and checklists and procedures and building a team. And then getting a chance to work with, with Ivan for several years. And really hearing people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care, you know, translate that. 

JA: 15:27 Now fast forward, you know, our number one core value, we have six of them. Uh, and our number one core value is our clients' success is our success. And that really is a culmination of that idea that people don't care how much, you know, people don't care how great of a bookkeeper or technician or what kind of team we've built. Uh, they really want to know that we're in their corner, that we care about their success, that we have our eyes on their p and l and on their balance sheet and the accuracy of the numbers and running good payroll. And, you know, as we've continued to pay attention to our client's success being our success, I truly think that's the flywheel, that that is what's continued to let our business grow. And there's a lot in there, right? I mean, we have to be great at our craft. 

JA: 16:10 We have to be excellent bookkeepers and accountants and understand the numbers and be accurate and be efficient. But, uh, the fact that we care genuinely about our clients being successful, uh, that I think makes all the difference in our clients know that, uh, they, they continue to refer new clients to us. Just last night I got two emails where clients are referring to other clients and it's such an easy introduction, right? If we're doing a great job serving our clients, uh, they say, hey, I want to introduce you to a good friend. They own a business. You guys should pick it up and run from here. And of course, that person being referred says, thank you. Like I needed a great bookkeeper and they're ready to go. They're ready to start, right? You know, it's an immediate, uh, rapport is built and the relationship is going. So I attract back to those early days. 

JA: 16:54 You know, the question was, what did I learn from Arby's processes? Results, who, motivation, building a team, uh, caring about others genuinely and having to be successful. Those pieces of DNA are woven into our fabric. They, they make all the difference, I feel like for our company. And that would transpose on to any company, right? Bookkeeping, accounting, landscaping, a dental office, like the idea of truly caring for our clients and their success being our success. That's universal, right? I think that universal value, a universal characteristic that makes us successful. And Man, I, I think we could best, the great thing about the entrepreneurial journey, Jim Rowan often said, don't become a millionaire for the million that you'll get, but for the person, you'll become in the process. And I believe that you could probably take me or any other business owner that's been on that entrepreneurial journey and has had some measure of success. 

JA: 17:48 You could pluck us out and put us somewhere else. And the hope would be that we'd be able to take those same principles and build another business. And maybe it's not bookkeeping or accounting. Maybe it's like I said, landscaping or you know, something else. But I think the principles of truly caring for our clients, being successful. And you mentioned Michael Gerber and you know, following processes, really understanding how to build an org chart out and build a great team so that not one person has to do everything. Like those principles are universal and they'll help businesses be successful. 

MP: 18:18 Yeah, absolutely. 

MP: 18:25 You know, this whole concept of success, uh, our clients' success is our success. I get the sense that you really know your value as an organization. And, and I think there's, there's many probably many listeners right now listening and thinking, wow, I, I, you know, how, how could I ever get to that level or, you know, they may not even want to get to that level, but how do, how do we speak with so much confidence and, and be able to help our clients? I think your story is one of the Best I've, I've actually had on the podcast to demonstrate how truly valuable bookkeeping is in the business equation. 

JA: 19:06 Hmm. Yeah. Yes. And yes. I wouldn't say yes to our story being the most valuable, but I would say that bookkeeping, you know, I was just at QuickBooks connect a couple of weeks ago and Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit was speaking and you know, he shared a stat and I'm not sure where the stat comes from and it's often re, uh, shared throughout our industry. But I think his stat was, you know, the number is, uh, 80% or more of businesses, uh, fail and recognize that good bookkeeping, good financials is at the core of longterm success. And, and I would probably put a slight spin on that and say that, yeah, bookkeeping. I learned from a mentor early on, Dr. George Wong, who's a business success coach, former plastic surgeon, turned business coach and George would often say that flying an airplane is a lot like running a business. And if we run businesses and don't have accurate financials and don't know how to read a profit loss and a balance sheet and truly understand how to look at cash flow forecasting, he says it's like flying a plane by sight, right? 

JA: 20:09 Like you can only fly visually so far, so fast, so high. At some point you need instrumentation. We need to know our altitude and our speed and how much fuel we've gotten in a tank. And then those gauges have to be right. And so I think that, yes, bookkeeping is that fundamental piece. It's, you know, whenever I'm talking with a prospective client, I'll, I'll share that analogy that, gosh, you know, they've built a great business. They know how to create revenue, they know how to serve clients well, but potentially their bookkeeping and back office is a disaster. I think a lot of entrepreneurs that come to us have that experience and, and I'd give them Kudos and say, Hey, you've done a great building a business, but at some point, that plane will crash, right? I mean, you can only fly by sight for so long and if you're going to continue to be a high performing business owner and the team grows and the revenue grows and the expenses and complexity and payroll grows at some point, there's better instrumentation needed. 

JA: 21:04 There's better, better data needed. And so I think my own experience was that and that that has translated into a passionate at system six that we recognized. Entrepreneurs are great at some things, building businesses and delivering great products and services in the marketplace. They might not be so great at quickbooksorzeroorbill.com or fathom or any of the tools that we use. Right. And so, and that's okay. That's what we're here for. I A, you know, I think another great analogy that I share often is I can go to home depot or the local hardware store just like you can Michael and anybody can go buy the latest lithium-ion drill or toolset or saw. But man, somebody that's a craftsman can do a lot more to build a house with that than I can. He just can't produce the same craftsman style results. People can go get quick books, they can go get zero, they can easily subscribe to Gusto and all these services. But what we do with those tools as craftsmen that really know bookkeeping, accounting and the importance of how to plug all those things together, I would like that to a great craftsman that, you know, comes to our house here in does repairs or helps build a remodel. Same tools, just a completely different knowledge and passion around what they're up to. 

MP: 22:16 Beautiful. When someone's buying something from somebody that they're looking for, they're looking to that person to show them the way they're looking for leadership, right? If they have a true problem and they're trying to solve that through a problem, they're looking for leadership help me. Right? And there are other parts to it, right? Trusting and you know, get the credibility and all these different pieces. But at the end of the day, it's like to help me. And when you can stand there in front of them and be their peer, uh, at their same level and speak as an entrepreneur to an entrepreneur, which you can and show them the way and show them leadership, it's, it's very, very good for business. And so I think that's what the listener right now can really listen for in the way that you're talking is that the listener you are, Jeremy, you are an entrepreneur. You, you may be more strong on the technical side, but you are an entrepreneur. 

MP: 23:04 If you have your own business, you are an entrepreneur and your Jeremy's peer. And so that with that knowing that wake up each day and, and think like that. And sometimes it's difficult and you have good days and bad days of course, but that will help you express and communicate your value to potential clients and your current clients and be able and, and enable you to be able to close more business at higher, at higher value, which turns around and comes back to your business. So that's why I just love that this story, Jeremy, and you've been such a great guest. Before I let you go, I want to ask a few more questions. And one is when, when you were building your business, what the bookkeeping business, what did you run up against and if anything and how did you get over it? 

JA: 24:01 No, that's there's, there are several things in there and you know, to talk about the nitty-gritty of, of what kind of challenges we faced and how we truly build $1 million bookkeeping practice. I mean, I think you just summed it up a moment ago that there's this huge piece of philosophy and values and communication and confidence that, I mean that's definitely a large part of our sales engine and marketing engine is I'm passionate about what we do and I'm competent in our team and we deliver great results in that. That just oozes outright of me and all of our team members, we, we can confidently say that, hey, we've got great service and, and we see the results. There's 30 or 40 positive five stereo reviews, et cetera. Like that values that Simon Sinek starting with why and we built our company on, on core values. 

MP: 24:47 That piece is there. And then yet the technical side of building the business, I mean, some of the challenges we've run up against, and I imagine a lot of teams would run up against his capacity. You know, when we're good at what we do, there's a piece of old scripture a saying that is, you know, do you see someone skilled at what they do? They won't serve before obs, secure men. They'll serve before kings. And I translate that to our team and clients all the time that hey if somebody is good at what they do, their phone's going to ring off the hook right there. They're gonna have a problem keeping up with the amount of, of potential clients. And so one of the things over the last nine years has been how do we not say no, how do you know a potential client comes to us, gets referred to us? 

JA: 25:32 How do we say yes to serving them? And then at the same time balance that with how much capacity we have been the, one of the biggest challenges is how do we find and retain great team members, uh, because in those great team members have to have the skill, right? As we've had a lot of people on the system, 16 but their heart's in the right place, you know, high integrity and character, but maybe they're not a bookkeeping Ninja, you know, maybe, uh, they're a good bookkeeper, but we need really top-notch first-class bookkeepers. And so I, I think the capacity for us has been a constant challenge. And, uh, one of the ways that we've addressed that, and I would encourage all the listeners on this podcast to really consider, you know, you are not charging enough, more than likely. Right. You know, if I were to earlier how much you, amen. 

JA: 26:21 Like if I were to share how much we charge our clients, you know, we push the envelope on value. We, you know, we'll charge 150 to $200 an hour for cleanup and catch up and process improvement work. We set our billing a fixed fee value billing by the week and you know, automatically process a weekly payment for over 70 of our clients where we're doing ongoing bookkeeping accounting. We're constantly pushing that envelope, not because we're greedy, right? But because we recognize that if our price is set too low, our phone's going to ring off the hook in such a way that there's that'll crush us. Any, you mentioned, you know, Michael Gerber and the EMS, which I had the chance to, to hear him speak a few years ago here in Seattle at an entrepreneurs organization meeting. And you know, he talks a lot about value, talks a lot about pricing and, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs are scared. 

JA: 27:08 A lot of business owners are scared to truly push the envelope on their price. And one of the things that crush businesses the most is an inability to keep up with the delivery of the product or service. Right. You know, the sales have taken off in such a way, but getting a great service, a great product, finished and closed financials out the door each month. That has been a big challenge for us. So what we've done is continually pushed the price up to and tested that upper boundary and not been shy to say, oh, I care. I think our price for that, it's going to be $400 a week. I'd have a client say, gosh, that's expensive. And I say, well, yeah, but you know, you'll probably be a client for the next five years and we'll scale and grow with you and you won't have to have this bookkeeping and accounting transition again. 

JA: 27:50 That's worth it. You know, we have team members that have been with us, you mentioned that part-time team member in the kitchen and, and when we first started, Kelly is still with us. She's in Chicago, she's got two kids, she is our controller and HR director. She serves several of our very complex clients and we pay our team extraordinarily well and give them a lot of flexibility and hey, if they want to move from Seattle to Chicago, we want to keep them right. And so we continually push the price up so that we're filtering out clients that might be okay clients, but really looking for the clients are going to be great clients and, and can afford to pay us what we're worth as a team and the solution that we offer. So I think that's one of the big challenges we've faced that hopefully resonates with, with folks listening today is that challenge, that idea of fee challenge, that idea of value. 

JA: 28:41 And you know, I mentioned to our team a lot, even though it might be that we're making a really, really healthy margin serving a client on one of our weekly engagements. If we're delivering an extraordinary amount of value in consistency and reliability and dependability. And here we are four, five, six years into the engagement that business owner sleeps well at night. Knowing that with integrity and accuracy and efficiency, we're taking care of those financial underpinnings, the foundation of their business and the values there for them. They're not complaining about the fee. And so I think a lot of people are shy to, you know, push on the fee and make sure that they're pricing themselves in a way that's scalable and that they can build a good business. 

JA: 29:29 I think that that's probably one of the, you know, biggest nitty-gritty challenges we've had to overcome. And you know, I'll share one more real quick and that is as we've continued to grow as a team, you know that the processes we talked about, you know, Michael Gerber several times in the EMS and building out processes and checklists and procedures, which I think is something you're really good at, right? And then you coach and help a lot of business owners with processes and checklists. And as we've grown, we've, we've realized that what got us to half a million isn't going to get us to a million and we're having that same conversation now. You know, what's gotten us to the fact that we're at 1.2 million a year in revenue is not those skills, those processes that, that workflow software, that bill pay software, those things aren't going to get us to the $2 million a year firm that we aspire to be. 

JA: 30:20 We're going to have to think differently and learn differently. And so I, you know, going back to the idea of mentors and coaches, uh, it was an honor, you know, six of our team was just at QuickBooks connect. I got a chance to speak into it, shared a video on our team and the power of relationships and technology. And yet I was there all ears trying to learn and grow and take ideas back here to our team of how do we, how do we expand from the way that we're doing it now to the way that we want to be doing it six months or a year from now. And if that means paying for coaching or attending a seminar or, uh, purchasing a new book or whatever that relationship looks like, you know, bet. That's what has worked for us. And, and I think when I look at other successful firms, that's often what works for them is not resting on thinking that we've got it all figured out. 

JA: 31:07 But if it takes out coaching or books or seminars or going to conferences, doing those things right so that we can better improve our processes and our software and our understanding and our industry. You and I talked about this before, the call started, so much has changed in 10 years and I think so much will continue to change in the next five to 10 years. And we've just got to be ever students and constantly learning so that we're able to take advantage of when that new piece of software comes out that we can improve our from our client's lives, we're ready to implement it. You know, we're ready to embrace it. So I would say value in pricing and team capacity and figuring out what tools and processes we're gonna use to continue to grow and scale. You know, those are two real challenges that we've had and still are real challenges. 

JA: 31:51 You know, there are lots of things we push on and we're trying to resolve as a firm. But thankfully, and I'd end with this, we've, I love our team. I admire that our team is dedicated and talented and caring and compassionate and uh, it's a great team to figure these things out with. It's great to be on the journey with them. So whether we stop here and we're at, you know, a million, million, two and 15 team members or whether we double that, it's a fun journey to be on. It's a great team and a set of clients to be, to be doing this work with. So most days I wake up and really am excited about the life that I live and the life and work that we get to do. So I am okay continuing to grow. I think as an entrepreneur we want to do that, but I'd also be perfectly content to just keep serving clients and work with the team that we've got a, because it's a lot of fun. It's really rewarding. 

MP: 32:42 Absolutely delicious conversation. I got to say, I just love your, I love your passion for Your Business. I love your ability to communicate it. I mean if for me as, as the host and asking questions, I mean you, you basically answered all the questions I wanted to ask you and so thank you. On behalf of the listener. Thank you. You gave away so much. So many ideas and thoughts and concepts that I know will both inspire them and as well help them take new and, and interesting and exciting new actions to grow their business. Maybe they dream of a, a $2 million business or maybe even just getting to six figures to 100,000 for them is going to be the dream. Wherever it is, whatever it is. Jeremy, my hat is off to you. Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring us to, you know, fight, fight. The next day, get up and do it again. So it's been great having you. 

JA: 33:41 Thank you for having me. And I'd encourage listeners, keep growing, keep pushing, keep listening. I look through the podcast list. You've got a ton of very podcast material out there and I've listened to some of it now. Keep listening and grow and reach out. Don't be afraid. Go to my website, ask questions of us, ask questions of others around you, and good luck on, on your journey, Michael, and good luck on your illustrious journeys. 

MP: 34:04 Thank you. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what an excellent podcast episode it's been. To learn more about Jeremy and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, 

MP: 34:21 goodbye

EP66: Ron Trucks - The Power Of Online Learning For Your Bookkeeping Clients

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Have you heard of it?

It's an online learning and teaching marketplace with over 55,000 courses and 15 million students.

Recently, on The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook page, we noticed today's guest, Ron Trucks of RJT Consulting, posted a link to his Udemy course, Bookkeeping Basics, which received incredible engagement from our community.

The course is 3 1/2 hours long and features 55 video lessons.

Originally it was for people from non-bookkeeping backgrounds such as small business owners.

So, why would established bookkeepers want to invest in a course that is mainly for beginners?

You're about to find out.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How this course helps bookkeepers teach their clients bookkeeping fundamentals

  • Why giving the gift of online education can make a great impression with customers

  • Why it's important to communicate bookkeeping terms in a way your clients can understand

To find out more about Ron, click here.

To use The Successful Bookkeeper discount for Ron's Bookkeeping Basics course, visit this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:11 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Almost 25 years ago, after building his experience in the hospitality industry and working with many business startups, our guests, Ron Trucks, founded his privately owned firm, RJT consulting, guiding and Coaching Small Businesses and nonprofit organizations in a wide variety of fields and industries, both in his hometown of St Louis, Missouri. And across the United States. I discovered Ron on our Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group where we posted an offer regarding his bookkeeper, basic ume coerce, which has had a fantastic response from our members. So I just had to have them on the show. Ron, welcome to the podcast. 

Ron Trucks: 01:54 Thank you, Michael. Happy to be here. 

MP: 01:56 It's great to have you. And I remember seeing that post and wondering, okay, well what's this all about? And it just had an incredible amount of engagement and the response was really great. 

RT: 02:07 It was fantastic. I was, I was happy to see the feedback from everyone. 

MP: 02:11 Yeah. Which is, which is why, why we wanted to have you on. And, uh, first off, let's have you share a bit more about your career background up to this point. 

RT: 02:23 Good. I, uh, as you mentioned, I actually started in the hospitality business working for some large hotels around the St Louis area and then sort of stepped away from it for a little while and moved down to Florida and opened a bar down there. And in the process, I had friends back here in St Louis who were either opening businesses or continuing to try to keep a company up and running. So who I kept was sort of helping them long-distance remote. Finally moved back to St Louis and was just sort of helping out friends and woke up one day and kind of realized that I had a consulting business if I just would have organized it. So that's how we started from there. Um, and what my company, yeah, well my, you know, the analogy that I use is I help business owners who are really good at what they do, but perhaps need help with the business aspect. So, for example, I may work with chefs that are great in a kitchen but don't quite understand how to process payroll or bodybuilders who are great at personal training but need help putting, let's say an inventory system together. 

MP: 03:20 That's very cool. And there's a lot of those people out there 

RT: 03:23 That's right. From that point in time, one of the things that I, that I realized in working with my clients, I found myself meaning time sort of serving as a translator between the business owners who knew how to speak the language of their business and their accountants or their CPAs or their tax advisors. So I sort of was able to stand in the middle and listen to the business side and then also listen to the questions coming from the accounting side and be able to translate back and forth. So while I was working through that process, it hit me, that maybe some basic elementary lessons and learning on the basics of bookkeeping was going to help the business side. So I could help clarify that translation a lot easier. 

MP: 04:05 Very cool. So how did it start out? You started putting together some content and helping your clients. Uh, and what was the, what was the outcome? 

RT: 04:14 Well, and I also missed it a little bit of a chapter here, so let me kill that is about 12 years ago. I also decided that I also wanted to do the teaching. So I reached out to my local community college here outside of St Louis Jefferson college and just walked into the HR department one day and said, I'd love to teach, but I don't know how to get started. So they helped me first I started teaching some continuing education courses on small business bookkeeping and some QuickBooks courses. And then from there received an offer to start going on staff as an adjunct instructor. So that's sort of how I built my curriculum, knowing what I was teaching with the students and then adapted it into the Yutani platform so that I could reach out to business owners and have a platform for them to be able to learn it also. 

MP: 05:00 That's amazing. I just absolutely love that. Walked into the end of the school and to elect, want to be a teacher in a way you go, 

MP: 05:07 Yup, that was good. They, they sort of looked at me a little bit trying to figure out exactly what I was talking about, but then whatever I explained that I'd had a lot of business with training in the corporate world and working with small businesses on a, on a personal level, we were able to find that right path and fill some needs for them as long as helping to start building my, uh, my career or my teaching portfolio. 

MP: 05:29 I just love it because it says a lot about you and I think there's a lot that can be taken away from that approach to anything. Right. You wanted to do something instead of getting all caught up in the house and the why's and whether or not this would or wouldn't work. He just went in and said what you wanted to do and you had the patience to listen to them and make sure they were clear and kept moving the ball forward. I just love that story. 

RT: 05:55 Thank you. That's that it up very well. And you, there were stumbles along the line, boy, that's how were you also learn and grow from those experiences.

MP: 06:04 Yeah, Absolutely. But a, it doesn't happen unless you take the actions, right? 

RT: 06:09 That's correct. 

MP: 06:10 So you came up with this, this course and I love the multi kind of arms, I guess you would say of different thinking, right? Small Business Education, academic, uh, aspect as well as real-time coaching experience, real-time, business experience. It really puts it at a, puts you in a position where you can and can help a business owner and bring a lot to them. 

RT: 06:39 Well, exactly. And that's, that was the nice part about where quite a few of the threads from my path and I'll seem to cross at one point in time was as we were starting to design the first course, the bookkeeping basic scores, the question was, you know, part of that market analysis of who is it that we're putting this out there for him, there was a tendency to try to pigeonhole it a little bit tighter and we said, no, let's keep it a little bit more general and let's make sure that we're putting a product out of course out educational materials out that can, as you said, and if it's small business owners especially, but also as I said, I teach some bookkeeping courses and students are always wanting to get a little bit tighter grasp, so let's make it available to them. Let's make it available to CPAs and other tax professionals to be able to recommend to their clients, et cetera. So we just sort of tried to keep it generic but yet fill in enough gaps that everybody felt comfortable with. 

MP: 07:34 Very cool. Now tell me about you to me because while you and I are having a conversation about it, I kind of realized that many may have never heard listening, have never heard. What you to me is all about 

RT: 07:48 It is, it's an amazing platform. It, they basically build themselves as a marketplace for anyone who wants to produce and develop an educational video, educational either just a single course or series. So everyone's open to what or they're pretty much open to whatever topics you want to put up. Whether it is a business platform or whether it is recreational. There are cooking classes and there are yoga classes. There was also quite a bit in coding for computer coding, but there's, there's, we're building a stronger business support area and they're also, so courses range. There's a wide range from completely free courses up to very in-depth longterm courses that can run into the hundreds of dollars. So we've positioned ourselves in a very economical range of that market and gives everyone who is interested as they're breezing through trying to figure out exactly what will help them learn the best way. 

RT: 08:49 So one of the things that I love about a year to me is that there, it's required that there be a visual video component of it. So it isn't just an online where you're looking at a quick book screen and let's say you're actually having interactions with students and what a lot, a lot of us do in the courses we have there in the supplement that not only with handouts and other materials but also for example, as you mentioned, um, we have a Facebook group specifically for this class. So we've got a couple of hundred people right now who have enrolled in the course to you, to me, but also has joined our Facebook or a private Facebook group. So as those students come up with questions, they put them up, we can answer them or other students who have experienced can also respond. So it's basically an ongoing educational classroom. 

MP: 09:43 Very cool. Now, would you, when you first started getting this course created, you were essentially helping small business owners and what have you found along the way? Has it who have stepped up and sort of been the clients of this? Of this course. 

RT: 10:04 Well, and we range from quite a few different directions there. What I do personally is anytime that I'm working with a new client of mine, I offer it as is or three experiments that I cover just so they can, well let me take just a step back. One of the things about the courses, it actually can flow in two different directions. You can proceed through this course in sequential order or it can also be used as a reference. So we may, we have a, we have a section on income, we have a section on expenses. We have an exception on accounts receivable. So if the students want to just target a particular area that they're not comfortable with, they can pick those out. And that's what I've found more with my clients is the courses probably about three and a half hours long, but it's broken down into about 55 different lessons. Most of my clients won't sit down and go through the whole thing, but I can follow their progress and they will go through and whenever we start talking about the fact that they're having some troubles, we'll say what their receivables, I watched them, they'll go pull out the receivable section in the course and work through that so that whenever we sit down and talk about it the next time we were all sort of speaking the same language and we understand what he should do. Talking about 

MP: 11:21 Beautiful. What a fantastic way to support your clients from that perspective. Right? It's here's the challenge you're having, here's some education that will help you overcome that hurdle. And, and whilst yeah, it really is designed for the new way people learn. 

RT: 11:41 Exactly. And two things that I think I'll throw in there is number one, I tried very, very hard with the course. I, I'm one of those instructors. One of the things that I tell my students in classes, I don't like answers. Please don't read me a quote from the textbook. Let's just talk about it person to person. So I can make sure that you understand it and that's the way we've developed the course is it, I don't use a lot of terminologies. In fact, one of the phrases that I use in the courses, if you tried to use this exact words with a CPA, the response you're probably going to get is, well yeah, that's basically right, but I understand how you're saying it that way so you can understand it and that's the way we approach it on the course. The other thing that I think that I have always felt comfortable, felt happy about once we developed this course is it's just more value-added for my clients. It's something that I'm able to give them as a resource along with my consulting services or my bookkeeping services that can fit on the shelf. And whenever it's there, it's there for them. So it's sort of included in all of my package with clients. 

RT: 12:44 That's what I love. I love most about that. This whole problem. A lot of I love about it, but this is really cool is that your differentiating yourself by being valuable and you know you could, there's all this knowledge and every single listener listening right now has life experience and knowledge from multiple areas seeing different things happen and we're all constantly teaching, aren't we? Every single day we're teaching something to, to our clients, to the people in our lives. What you've done is you've actually documented that so you don't have to do it every single time, which is brilliant. 

RT: 13:21 That is, that is exactly the case. In fact, it's a little funny because occasionally I'll get a client who will call me and say, I noticed that you gave me this course for my resource, but my freshman and high school daughter is taking bookkeeping. Do you mind if I let her go through the course? Yeah, I mean that's exactly what it's out there for is to be that resource. Use it for business. But it's also there for other reasons. 

MP: 13:45 Absolutely. And so you know, it was a big hit in the successful bookkeeper community. Why do you think that was? Who, who, who was stepping up and actually consuming this? Did they want this for their clients or did they want this for themselves? 

RT: 13:59 Well, and I think the best answer to that probably is for their clients. Um, as I said, we, we approached the course from the, from the pure basics. I would say probably 80 85% of it's for clients. I get some feedback on the other 15% of thank you because you helped me figure out how to express what I was trying to say to my clients in a way that they understood. One of the things that I, one of the things that I tell my students in my classes, I need you all to talk to each other as students because I can say something 14 different ways and you might need the 15th way that the person sitting next to you might be able to say. So that's the other branch of what I, what I hope to do with this, with this course, and we've got some other ones on the way, is being able to also help the professionals in the field find out maybe not a better way, but a different way that their client may click a little bit better for their client. Let's put it that way. 

MP: 14:57 I love it and it's such a cool, yeah, it's such a cool concept, right? Is that people who are really bright know what they're talking about, advanced level of bookkeeping watching the course to essentially understand how to put it in such simple terms that it can help their clients because it's the curse of knowledge, right? When you know, know things, you believe that other people have the same level of knowledge. It's hard to see where the gaps are. 

RT: 15:26 Well, that's exactly right and that's one of the things that I learned because as I said, I'm, I graduated college, we are a hospitality degree. That's where I started and at the very beginning of my career working with, with financials and everything else, I would have CPAs look at me when I'm trying to get them to make an adjustment and they would say, are you getting better? Are you crediting that? And my response was, I don't have any idea. I need this one to go higher and I need this one to go lower. So I was, fortunately, working with the professionals that I was working with for them to be able to say, okay, let me explain to you how this works. But even at that, there were some of those professionals that I was working with. I think you sort of reference, they know their material and their knowledge so well that they struggled to realize that others don't know what as well as they do. So that isn't a knowledge problem. It's actually just a communication problem. 

MP: 16:19 You're absolutely right. 

MP: 16:26 Now you mentioned you are going to create some, some new courses. Tell us about those. 

RT: 16:33 We have our, basically the plan was that we wanted to roll out the bookkeeping basics course because it's our very first course. I knew you'd Amanda wanted to spend six days, nine months getting a feel for how the platform works, getting an idea of how well it was going to be received. I had been using a lot of this, like I said, with my clients previously, but packaging it and putting it out for public consumption is obviously a different approach. So now that we've done that and the response has been amazing, we're, we've got quite a few different courses that were in different stages of development with and we basically break them down into what we call a focus course or a masterclass who keeping basics was a master's class probably like I said, probably that three and a half hours, 55 individual different video lessons. 

RT: 17:20 Some of them were going to do a little bit more short focused 30-minute lesson. So, for example, we've got one that we're in the process of writing the script for right now of what does debit and credit mean and to be able to explain the concept of t accounts and how the relationships work. That's just going to be a short 30-minute focus one. Another one that we're working on and my mom is having trouble figuring out how to get it just into one course is the basics of QuickBooks because those of us who use QuickBooks or even any of the software programs and those could turn into a semester-long full college credit course if you do it right. So the point there is trying to keep that basic level, the open communication without getting too intense on the subject but still, fill it out so that we're covering enough of the basis. 

RT: 18:10 So we've got both of those. We've got a payroll tax system coming up. We've also got one that deals with the basics of how sales tax and personal property tax work. And then we're also moving into some other areas. One of the things that I had a request from fry quite a few clients on was the bookkeeping basics courses. Good. But could you do just a little bit more of a personal finance course that could actually be a good bridge between how people understand their personal finances and how that translates into business finances? So that's actually the next one we've got coming out, um, probably within the next month or so that'd be rolled out. 

MP: 18:50 That's very cool. So it's, it, I, I really see that it's a fine balance between taking it too far and becoming a college course or something like that and keeping it to your core, which is helping people get the fine fundamentals, Right? 

RT: 19:06 Exactly, exactly. Because, and that's, that's one of the things I love working with small businesses and small business owners. I get a little challenged nowadays because I deal with some people who think that a small business is a 50 60 $70 million business and the restaurant that I'm working with down the street needs a different level of service than what typically sometimes will fall into the definition of a small business. So that's where we're sort of targeting these courses is for if we want to use the phrase a mom and pop business. I'm not always crazy about that, but sort of that micro-business level for people who are juggling an awful lot of balls and need to have just a general knowledge so that they can feel comfortable. And that's one of the things that I encouraged them to do is these courses allow you to be able to sit in tax advisors, officer's CPA's office and have it do two things. One, have a general understanding of what they're talking about and make you, or allow you to feel comfortable asking questions, being able to say, okay, I understand what you were saying on that, but here's what I understand. Helped me bridge that difference. 

MP: 20:15 Yeah, yeah. You're, you're absolutely right. It is. And I, I think it's interesting what you're saying about small business, like the definition of it as well. And I would say most listeners are not bookkeeping for 50 to $75 million companies. It's more like the 100,000 to, you know, 2 million, 1 million, 2 million, somewhere in there. Right. That's the real, you know, we look at a community and an anywhere in North America. That's, those are what most people say. Oh yeah, that's a small business. 

RT: 20:48 That's right. That's exactly right. You know, I'm fortunate, I've got a range of clients. Um, I, I vary from those hundred thousand dollars a year, maybe restaurant up to, we also handle it pretty good-sized private equity firm that's dealing with that, you know, 250, $300 million worth of assets. That's, that's rare for me because I do try to focus on more on the smaller end, but there's a wide range in there, but it's still amazing how much the communication questions and the learning questions are consistent all the way across the board. 

MP: 21:21 Absolutely. I, I'm never surprised to hear people be how surprised they are about the little that people know about the fundamentals of accounting. Uh, and, and it, and it really is where a lot of our clients will say, yeah, you know, I just had no idea. Like even a, an accountant or a person that's doing, um, you know, the ca like people expect that because they're at that level, they know everything about anything to do with accounting and it's not the case. It's like that in any, any, any profession, any industry, the medical profession, engineering, you know, you think someone has an engineering title and while they know everything about bridges, they know everything about foundations. Right. And they don't. 

RT: 22:06 Exactly, exactly. I mean that's, that's almost, you know, in tying it back to even food and beverage, you know, they, they think because you're in a restaurant, you should be able to cook everything from biscuits and gravy to an amazing French dinner. And the world turns to, to focus on the areas that it wants to focus on. And that's just the exact same thing in our industry. 

MP: 22:30 Wow. So how was, how was all of this helped your consulting and coaching business? 

RT: 22:36 My business is, um, is doing well. The reason why I hesitate on that just a little bit is that we're pretty much the entire 25 years. I focused on a very small list of clients. I usually got not more than six or maybe seven clients at a time. I don't do any marketing because all of my clients come to me from word of mouth and referrals. Um, one of the things that I have as far as my bookkeeping side of my business, what I typically do is I work with clients that I get referred to from CPA firms that I've worked within the past. So they have a client that's coming in, you know, w we all know those stories. It's tax time and the client walks in the door with a great big cardboard box and says, here's everything for my taxes. They will recommend touching base with me. 

RT: 23:24 So what we do on my end is we'll establish the relationship. We will come in and start with the books first to just get a good general idea and on how the operation works. And especially if it's a field that we haven't necessarily consulted in before. That's where we learned the basics. From there we will help them get organized from there and branch out, um, be able to make recommendations on, you know, perhaps we need to be looking at putting an inventory system in or let's get the HR aspect a little bit more organized and help you build a, an employee handbook. Once they feel comfortable, we sort of melt back into handling their daily, weekly, monthly bookkeeping with the expectation that they will have a CPA on staff at the end of the year because we don't do taxes. But then we're also there for just to assist when a need comes up. I had a client probably about three weeks ago, she was a private chiropractor. She was in the process of meeting to terminate her first employee. She's never terminated an employee before. So she reached out to us and we sort of stepped up into that role and started talking about all the things we needed to help with all the things she needed to be thinking about. Once I was done, we just slipped back into just handling the bookkeeping work.

MP: 24:39 I love it. 

MP: 24:47 You know, it, it's a, on many levels, a very innovative what you're doing with education to educate your clients. And it as well, it'll, you know, may even take over what you're doing with your current business are split into two different businesses. But, uh, as well, you know, just the way that you're, you're growing your business and how you're, how you're treating it very consultative and that's, that's beautiful. 

RT: 25:13 Well, and, and they do sort of feedback and forth between each are there, I was just contacted within the last week or so of someone who became aware of us through our, uh, through the course, or does you, to me, that is wanting to talk about the possibility of us starting to assist with their books. Um, and it's remote client, so we're still working out how comfortable they're going to feel with that system, with that process. Um, one of the things that I've always kind of found is whenever we pick up a new client, somewhere along the line, there is a natural instinct that we need to have either a part-time or full-time bookkeeper on-premises five days a week, eight hours a day. And one of the things that we try to get them to understand is we can do that. But in reality, you're probably paying for more than what you need because at some point in time there's going to be dead time. So instead of that, let's scale that back and let me and my teamwork out of our remote offices and we will meet with you one or two or even three times a week in the beginning until you feel more comfortable with this. 

MP: 26:20 It's the way, it's the way it's a way to. yeah, yeah, 

RT: 26:24 Exactly. Yeah. And that's, that's following them a lot of the models that you deal with on a regular basis. 

MP: 26:28 Yeah. It's what's needed to, in order to maximize the efficiency of what you're doing. And that's part of being valuable is, is, is, is giving them what they need and they don't know what they need. And so it's through education, through conversations and, and I, and what you're doing with this, look, we're gonna hold your hand, if you will, on that. I mean, we're not going to say that to a client, but we're gonna, you know, we're gonna take care of this in the beginning. You'll, you'll hear from us more to help them feel comfortable and to get the feeling that this is the right way to go. But I think that's what Michael Gerber would call leadership, right? You're showing leadership 

RT: 27:12 Exactly right 

MP: 27:13 As to how this is going to go. It's not like they're telling you how it's going to go. You're like, ah, I get how you want to go get it to go. But with you, like reach, you pay off into a way that might be better for you that you're going to absolutely love and get more value from. Right. So I love that. That's fantastic. 

RT: 27:28 Right? And I think the other thing is is that I sort of tried to incorporate and with the education is empowering them to be able to say the words, I don't know about this because all of us are small business owners. There is that self-conscious level of I should be the one that's able to keep all of the balls in the air and sometimes admitting that I don't know, something is going to make me look weak. No, it's, as we discussed earlier and as we were discussing now it's important to be able to say, this isn't my strong area. Can you help me figure this out? Or I thought because I've been told for 20 years that I'm supposed to have a bookkeeper on-premise five days a week, eight hours a day. That's what I thought. Are you telling me that there's another way to do this? And you're right. Leading them and helping them understand. 

MP: 28:16 Mm. Yeah, it's great. Now, how do the listeners take advantage of what you've built for your process? How can they educate, use what you've built to educate their clients and, and, and s and in a way that's gonna support them? Is there a way to do that? 

RT: 28:35 There is one, and that's actually kind of how our paths crossed in the first place because I had been following your Facebook group and um, there were some questions that came up about, uh, helping clients understand and I threw an offer out to them at that point in time, which I'll be happy to do now, which is I would be happy to offer one copy of the course for free for anyone who is interested in it, for them to be able to see what's going on. And then from there, anybody who would be interested in making this available for their clients, we run a really, really low discounted rate on it that they can do. One of the two things is actually one of the three things I've had. I've had other CPAs and bookkeepers purchase a block of the courses of interest, be able to give out the coupon codes for a free course to their client. 

RT: 29:25 I've also had them, uh, reach out to their clients and say, here's the course that we're recommending and here is a discount code that you can get at a cheaper rate. Or they've also just said, can you go ahead and, and if you decide to enroll in this course then let me know when I'll drop that. I'll credit your account back for what you spend on the course. And I know that I know that sounds a little bit like I'm rolling my own blogger that I'm, that I'm promoting the product and I guess I am 

RT: 29:55 in some lawyers. Goodness gracious me. Don't promote your own products. 

RT: 30:00 Okay. Exactly. But I guess my point on that is I have no problems with the professionals or the professionals in guru listeners receiving a copy of the course because I want them to feel comfortable on is it something that will work for them or not. And then from there if they're willing or after I got arrested and making it available, whether they pay for it themselves and give it as a gift to the client, which I will say probably I've heard is a little bit better feedback because your clients are always going to be a little bit more interested in taking advantage of something that they think is being given to them free versus them having to pay for it and give credit back on it later. 

MP: 30:35 I agree. And there's, it sounds like there are multiple ways to do it, but if it's, if what I would be looking at is from the listener is how do you use this as a way to, um, be different, differentiate yourself, help your clients and not all of your clients are going to need something like this, but having it as one of those tools in your tool belt, uh, it, I think it's, it's really important and it could really help your client. I mean, having some fundamentals, uh, basic ideas and understanding will help your client, but it'll also help you and get your job done. So something to keep an eye on. And I'm sure Ron, you're going to be probably modifying it and tweaking it as you go, as you learn what, what the bookkeeping community needs for their clients. Maybe there'll be iterations and changes, but I think it's a good idea to get in there, check it out and see how it can help all of you and your businesses. 

RT: 31:29 Well, and Michael, I'm glad that you mentioned that because that's one of the expectations that you to me has for any courses that are on its marketplace. But it's also something, an expectation that we built in for this course and all the ones going forward is we will be continuing to add material. The entire last section of each of our courses is basically just, and also don't forget about this stuff type of a section. So as we get feedback from courses through our Facebook page, emails, all those kinds of things, we're constantly adding not only topics for new courses, but additional material that we want to add for the courses. They worry already either have up there or haven't development. So we love to hear that kind of feedback. 

MP: 32:10 It's great. It's great. Now, Ron, what's the best way, I mean we'll put links in the show notes, but is there a quick way for them to, for our listener to just jump on and find out more? 

RT: 32:22 There is and actually a probably in, in selling myself, the one thing I forgot to do more than anything else is mentioned the name of the company that was awkward, you know, all this under and that is business atlas but it's spelled a little bit different. It's B s n s atlas ATL an s.com and that's the website that shows everything on the courses where we're at, what we've got scheduled coming up. Plus also that's the way that we can reach out. I will, uh, I'll be making sure to get a splash page out there for you so that all of your listeners can find this off the right away whenever they visit the website. 

MP: 32:57 That's great. Well, we'll have that link in the show notes. So if you're listening right now and you want to to find out about it, just scroll down, tap wherever you need to tap on your phone and get that link and go, go find a find out more. Uh, Ron, this has been great. Thank you so much. It's a, it's been an interest. You have such an interesting story and you're doing great work too to help the community as well as help the small business community. 

RT: 33:22 Well, I really appreciate it. I appreciate the time and I also appreciate what you're doing, helping everyone understand and, and fill in a lot of these areas. In some ways we're, we're kind of following some similar paths here too, so, 

MP: 33:33 Yeah, absolutely. I think so. It's a, and it's great to have someone that's, that's a, in the community that that's helping. So that's what makes a good community, a strong community. 

RT: 33:44 Great. If there's anything I can do for either you or any of your listeners, always feel free to reach out. 

MP: 33:49 I encourage everyone to do that. That's it's great. And thank you, Ron. Thank you. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's fabulous guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye

EP65: Carrie Mulrooney - How To Create A Great Bookkeeping Work Culture

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Bad hires.

As you probably know, they can be an emotionally, financially and psychologically expensive decision for your bookkeeping business.

If you don't have the RIGHT people working for you, you'll be inviting a storm of trouble.

This is why it's absolutely crucial to bring employees on that are a fit.

How do you do that?

Today's guest, Carrie Mulrooney has some insight.

She is an expert in establishing great work culture.

Her company, Mulrooney & Associates, was named Canada's 2017 Bookkeeping firm of the year, so she knows what it takes to form a fantastic team.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The ingredients to look for in a terrific employee

  • The importance of staff having input on company decisions

  • Why celebrating group accomplishments together is great for morale

To find out more about Carrie, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:18 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the founder and CEO of Mulrooney and Associates, which has grown into a leader in the bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and taxation industries, and has over 18 years of experience serving the Waterloo, Ontario region and beyond. Carrie Mulrooney, welcome to the podcast. 

Carrie Mulrooney: 01:47 Thank you, Michael. 

MP: 01:48 You know I saw you at the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, a national event and actually one of our listeners drag you over to the booth and said, this is a person that needs to be on the podcast. I went and had a look at your website and I said, wow, you have built what an interesting business and there are all sorts of signals of things that I can tell are awesome going on over, over at your organization. That's why I wanted to have you on the show, but, but let's help others understand you and get to know you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you up to this point? 

CM: 02:25 Okay. So thanks, Michael. Yeah, absolutely. So I started out doing some basement bookkeeping just over, almost close to 20 years ago. And during that time I realized that there was a real air of desperation out there for good quality bookkeeping services. That being said, I noticed that there were a lot of mistakes and errors and not good things happening from the bookkeeping industry. And um, at that point I said, you know what? I gotta do something about this. So I looked into some designations and professional associations and stuff like that. At that time, I had decided that I was going to move forward with, you know, continuing and finishing my education and working with the employers at that point before I started my business. So that's kind of where I got my start from. Just realizing that, hey, you know what? There's really something out there that really needs to be done about this. 

MP: 03:21 So when I looked at your website, I saw this great picture of you and your staff outside your building and everyone's smiling, happy. And I mean, I've looked at a lot of websites, a bookkeeping business, w websites, and I just instantly felt like, like, wow, something awesome is happening over there. I can imagine that is really been good for sort of putting out to the world what you're all about. But how did you, how did you build a type of team that looks like they're just jumping up, up and down, a happy about working for you? 

CM: 04:01 Well, I mean, we all do have a really good time. So I, our motto is, is here is that you know what, we all work really, really hard. Um, but we also work hard at having a lot of fun. So, um, you know, quite often you can come into our back area where the teamwork and you know, nose to the grindstone faces or in the desks and on the computer screens. But we have a really unique culture. And when we do our heart-hurting, Michael, what we do is we really look for the right fit for our business. And that means that it's going to be the right fit for our existing team, the right fit for our existing clients that we have. And of course, there are all the other components of education and experience that we, we like to be able to mold people the way that they need to be for us and for our services. 

CM: 04:49 So ensuring that you know, they have a great attitude, they're respectful, that they can be really diverse and dealing with all different clients and lots of different ways. So for us, the culture is, we have a really unique culture and we've just kind of built it over time. And it organically, I think sort of happen. But in my years of working for other companies, I realized that I knew how I didn't like and didn't want to be treated. And I ensured that you know what? My team gets to have some say and we get to make decisions together and we get to work together on projects and I don't know everything and nor do I pretend to. So, I always go to the team and say, hey guys, you know what, you know, we need to do something about this. What are your thoughts? What can we do? We have regular team meetings, we have really cool events that we attend. We take the team out to, you know, celebrate our achievements and our busy times of years and stuff like that. So I think that really, um, you know, just organically happens and, uh, they're a great team and we do have a lot of fun. 

MP: 05:53 Well, that's great. Well, I can, you know, I think the, there's always a, you're saying that leadership, the fish rots from the head down.

MP: 05:58 Uh, your fish is not riding. So that says a lot about you and your leadership style and what you're doing. Uh, but I'm imagining that you've, it's not all shiny. You've probably had some, some challenges along the way. Can you share, share what didn't work in your early days? CM: 06:15 Yeah, so, well one of the things that I did when I started my hiring, you know, by no means I'm a, I'm a bookkeeper by trade. So HR is, is not, you know, necessarily are a thing. I think for a lot of bookkeepers. So for me, it was, it was always a challenge in, and it still is a challenge up to these days. But I've learned and I've grown and I've, I've said, okay, this is what I'm not going to do, this is what we're not going to do next time. 

CM: 06:44 And so on. One of the things that I found was that hiring for us, which has worked really well for us is hiring young, fresh, and students out of the colleges out of the university is made a big difference. We used to at the, at the beginning we, we would hire, you know, people that had 25 years of bookkeeping experience and they were great and they knew their thing, but you know, they were always, I found just very focused on the way that they would do things. And you know, we, we like to mold people the way that we like our clients to be serviced in our accounts to be done. So realizing as we would go along and make these hires that, hmm, you know what? I don't think this is the right fit. It's not working out and bringing in those, that, that young talent, especially these days with everything going into the cloud, uh, we need, we need those young people to come in and say, Hey, yeah, we want to do these projects. We want to take this on. We want to take the lead in us.

MP: 07:38 Well, I think it speaks to the number one key that Michael Gerber and AMF and the EMF is the entrepreneurial myth. Uh, and the concept around building a business that, that works and runs on the system is that you're not hiring people that are going to figure it out and do it their way. You need people that are going to come in and do it your way, and you have your way and it's your company and it's your name on the door. And so you have to have people that are gonna subscribe to that. And so it's great to hear that your, you're winning with young, fresh talent out of colleges and universities. That's exciting. Yeah. So you are also, you've been named Canada's bookkeeping firm of the year in 2017 now this, this is a relatively new share, a little bit about what led up to that and what that's been like for you. 

CM: 08:33 Oh, well the nomination and the word came through the IPTC, which is, as you mentioned, we were at the conference just recently at the Institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada. And when I was in my early journeys of, you know, getting designations and getting educated further in the bookkeeping field, I joined IPBC quite shortly after it became the association. And I've worked really closely with the IPPC over the last, you know, eight years and we really have made a lot of progress in the time that we joined. I was a one-man show, one man bookkeeper. I didn't hire my first team member until 2010 and that was part-time. And now we've worked our way up to 1212 team members and a have had exponential growth to the point where we moved out of corporate offices in our home, um, into buying a building here in and operating that and actually now at capacity and looking to expand further into our, our locations. 

CM: 09:32 So, and building other locations. So through that journey, we've had a lot of growth and of course, you know, bringing these, these young students and educated people even in maybe second careers wanting to come in, we've really been real advocates for the IPPC and what they've done for us as bookkeepers. And you know, we ensure that all of our team are designated and certified. It's really important for our clients and for our business to have people who are professionals and educated working on their books. So I think a lot of that has led to, you know, where we're at these days and, and receiving and being honored with the amazing award of the bookkeeping firm of the year. We've had a lot of challenges. We've had a lot of growth. We've had a lot of, you know, great opportunities in the IPBC has been a huge success 

CM: 10:19 part of that for us.

MP: 10:29 It's exciting and congratulations on the award. Uh, I think it really just speaks to the type of business that you've built now as a, as an owner and someone that's gone through this process. What have you seen for you as being the key thing that you need to focus on? 

CM: 10:51 Well, I think the focus always changes and as growth has been the changes. And you know, at the beginning I was, you know, really involved in all the accounts and I knew every client I knew every due date I knew everything. So, you know, I've seen the evolution of the changes happen for us over, you know, these, these 18 years and you know, just really being aware of what's happening and being able to say, hey, we need to integrate software. We need to put new practice management in place. Being able to know when things are on my plate and say, you know what? I need to pass that down. Now I'm a, I'm at capacity. Mental and physical capacity to be able to do everything. And as business owners, we are always wearing 20 hats. But one of the things that we've done recently through, you know, these transitions as we actually have created an organizational structure chart, which actually shows, you know, here, here's where everybody is in our main focus. And our main goal is to service every customer the best that we can. Um, but putting, putting some, you know, supervisory levels and things in place to be able to allow me to go out and, and build and do business development and work with the team and ensure that we're bringing in the right sets of clients that we're able to service these clients, monitoring capacity with those supervisors and just, and just moving forward in a direction that makes sense. 

MP: 12:13 Uh, it very interesting. And, and you've, you've got a large team and you, it's not one service that you're offering, but, but many to help your clients. So I like, you know, one of the things on your website, if, if our listener was to go and look at your website, they're going to see the team. And see that there are all these different roles that people are playing. Uh, I think, I think your website is a really good, another really good example of, uh, how to put together a website. And some of the things I love about your website is your pictures. You've got a whole bunch of pictures on your website of your team, of yourself. Everybody's smiling, they're great pictures, they're professionally done. I mean, I don't even have to, I don't read any of it. I just look, I look go right there and I look and I'm like, there's something here that if I'm an interested prospect, I'm going to likely choose you. How have you found this to impact your business? Have you had any of your clients comment on it? 

CM: 13:14 Yeah, quite often we do, you know, we get business in all different funnels through referrals and you know, people driving by our buildings, senior assign, obviously client referrals, accountants and, and Google. More and more we're finding that people are using the Internet to search out. Um, we do quite often have people come in, you know, they found us on Google and they do comment, you know, oh, your website was great, I liked your website. I could actually see you and see your team. And um, and that, so yeah, we do get a lot of great feedback from that. And we work really closely with, um, a company that looks after our website and that end of things for us. And one of the things that we've worked with them for many, many years, and I remember when we first were recreating our website and doing a rebranding years ago, uh, they came into my office, they sat down, they said, okay, so we're going to take this totally outside of the box. 

CM: 14:10 And I looked at them, I said, all right, show me what you got. And you know, we did some really cooling, unique things with our marketing at that time. And even some of our print marketing is different. And quite often we get the comment from people, they say, you know, you guys aren't just like any old bookkeepers and you like to have fun and it's not boring and it's not, you know, typical accountants or bookkeepers. So, you know, quite often we do get those comments and it's really neat too because that's, that's just the way we are. We're personable, we love our people and we want to be able to show that.  

MP: 14:41 So winning formula can tell you that is the way, you know, it's every, everyone out there listening, it's maybe you're not the fun people, but whatever you are, bring that out in your website, be who you are in your website. And I can't, yeah. You know, I go to websites and I look and it's like stock photo and what, uh, you know, what a, what a waste of space to have anything but who you are and what you're all about on that website. And I can tell you, you've done some work to get found on the, on, on Google and you've done that work and it's paying off. And I can tell you in my belief is that it's because of what your web designer and the direction that you've been given. You hired a pro-Nate delivered, but they brought your personality out on that website and so people can find you all day long, but unless they're going to click and contact you, it's, it's a waste of time. Right? Yeah. So, yeah, another tip of the hat to you on that, it's really, really well done. And, and, uh, you've, you've, you've, you've done a great job there. Now you, you also mentioned on your website that you, you actually services can, may be made in multiple languages. I don't think I've ever seen that on a bookkeeper's website before. What, what prompted you to add that feature? 

CM: 15:54 Well, we have a really diverse team, which we're really fortunate to have. And um, you know, we do, we do really make a point of, of hiring diverse individuals from other countries and languages and stuff like that because they all have really unique things that they can, they can offer. In particular, one of our account specialists right now, she finished all of our accounting and bookkeeping designations in Russia and she came here with her husband for work and now she's part of our team and she can speak full fluent Russian. Obviously, we have a couple of our team members who speak Mandarin. We've got another who speaks only Spanish at home with her family and her child. So you know, we really do have some, some really unique individuals who are able to, and quite often getting it when we get those particular clients that come in that there might be that language barrier in communication, which does happen. They're able to communicate with them in that way, which is great. And I've sat in on meetings, I have no idea what they're talking about, but the client's happy and they're smiling. They're like, yes. Okay, I understand. And so it's really neat to be able to, to offer that service to our clients. 

MP: 17:01 Yeah, it's really, really remarkable. I think that's a, it's interesting. I haven't seen it before and, and I think positions you really well.

MP: 17:14 You know, there's a lot of listeners that are sitting in their car or at work and maybe they're thinking, wow, you have such a big company. How many employees are you up to now? You're, 

MP: 17:25 yeah, we're at 12 now. 

MP: 17:27 12 and 28. Yeah, that's a large firm, really large firm. One of the larger firms likely in, in your area, uh, you know, greater, greater, greater area. Now they may be thinking, Gee, how do I go from where I am now? Some people don't even want to go that, right. They, it's just not interesting to them to get to that size of business. But what, you know, can you share a little bit of how and how does, how does one even start to think about going from where you've been to where you are? 

CM: 17:58 Well, I think ultimately for me, I had a goal and I, when I realized, you know, back almost 20 years ago, how much of a need there was for those services out there. I actually looked around and I thought, okay, why are there so many CPA firms and there are so many legal firms, but why aren't there any bookkeeping firms? Like this is a service that all businesses need. And at that point I just decided, you know what, I'm like, there's gotta be other people like me out there who can do great bookkeeping services. So I'd love to build something to be able to service and help the most businesses that we can. And I think from the ground up, it just was my ultimate goal. It's not for everybody. And I know that. And you know, Kudos to all those, you know, one-off bookkeepers, because I do, you know, refer to them from time to time when we know if there are projects we're unable to look after or whatever for clients based on certain circumstances. Um, you know what, there's a need for all of all different types of bookkeeping out there. And I just went ground running and said, you know what, this is what I want to do and I'm passionate about it and I wanted to build it and I wanted to say, hey, you know what, we can help you and we can help you and help you and here's a great team of people who can do it. 

MP: 19:12 Wonderful. So it sounds like from what you're saying the key for you was your, you had your a really clear this is what I want. This is where I'm going. You had a clear goal and you've, you've built to get there any big setbacks. 

CM: 19:27 Um, I think for uh, the like the biggest setbacks and challenges we've had in the past is always been, I think from, you know, once we get to that full capacity with, you know, we've got capacity with clients, we've got capacity, the team is okay, we've got to take that next step. We've got to make that next step again. And it's always that, you know, I worked to the teams to the point where they're looking at me going, okay, Kerry, like we can't possibly take on another client and then I bring one in. They're all looking at me going, who's going to do this? And that's where I say, well, we're just going to hire another person. And my challenge and my goal are always at that point is to get more business to fill that role for that, that employee or that team member that we bring in so that they can be with us. 

CM: 20:08 You know, working from part-time to full-time level capacity from a, you know, where are we going to go? It's been a challenge. Um, back, you know, in 2013, myself and my partner were looking at, okay, well, you know, we got five people in the, in the house now and corporate offices, we're working on a 400 square feet. We don't have any more room for failing. And you know, at that point we need to say, okay, well we got to rent a space. We got to buy something. We got a cigarette. What we're going to do next. So I think for us, capacity from a, you know, a physical standpoint and then obviously from a work level has always been that challenge. But what it does is it drives me and it forces me to just go out and go, okay, we're just to get more clients. Okay, we're going to get some more space here. And it just kind of, it just happens. And um, you know, and we just, we just go with it. 

MP: 20:55 And so it's really, uh, the capacity when you, you grew out of your space, which I think is an important message, is that your business told you that it's time to get a bigger space and then to go to that next leap. You said I gotta go get more clients. When you, that goes through your head, what actions do you take to get more clients? 

CM: 21:17 Well, I typically will take a look at where are we at on a high level, who's doing what, who's, who can help me more. Because usually at that point, that means that I'm out networking and driving business and, and creating pricing packages and meeting with clients and bringing them on board. So, you know, I look at, okay, who at the time, who are my leaders, who are my people that I can rely on and I pass, you know, some of those rules and duties that possibly I can't maybe do at that time down in. And we're always shifting around. We're always moving around. So, and what I mean by that is, you know, like one of our account specialists may be focused on this type of set of accounts or here working, you know, maybe doing some off state stuff. It's like, let's pull them in, let's move this person over here now and let's, let's do a shift. 

CM: 22:03 And it happens all the time. So, and they, I think they like it because, you know, there's always something new to learn, but they have, you know, they're not stuck doing the same thing all the time. They're like, Hey, what's next? Oh, we have another growth spurt. Okay, what's, what's next and my plate, what's coming? What do I get to move out and, and how do I help that person now and be able to oversee those accounts? And I think everybody really takes full control and manages their roles, which is really neat to see because they're really proud. They call them, you know, their accounts counselor, their babies, right? So they're like, I got to make sure that this was well looked after for this client. 

MP: 22:35 Hmm. Yeah. That comes back to your culture. You've, you've built a great team that, that thinks of it that way. And that's a powerful context to live by and work by now. You know, listening to you use lots on your plate, 12 employees, growth, new people, new locations, Reese, you know, strategies, working with clients, all these things like so much time. I work with so many people that say, you know, I'm bogged down, they're bogged down, I don't have the time. They can't, you know, can't get onto growing the business. They can't get on to working on the business are too busy working in the business. How did you overcome that? 

CM: 23:11 I wouldn't say I've overcome it. I would say that it's definitely a challenge every day because as soon as I think I get a little bit further, then you know a big shift comes of business. Then it kind of sets me back a little bit sometimes. But it's always something that I'm striving for. And like I said, we've, we've put things in places like our new structure and team members to supervise and help and, and I used to think that, you know, I'd sit at my desk and I go, oh, okay, QuickBooks online is coming out and Hubdocs as a Plooto and I got to know all these systems and figure out how we're going to integrate these into our, you know, our growth and to what we can offer our clients. And, and I have to take a step back sometimes and look at it and go, wait a minute, I don't need to learn all these things. 

CM: 23:51 That's why I have these amazing young, vibrant, smart people on my team. And I say, hey guys, who want an awesome project? Paul, you want to lead up Hubdoc? Okay, awesome. Paul is now our hubs doctor. And he manages all of the hub doc clients, you know, and, and, and does the training and does webinars and stuff like that. So I've kind of given everybody the opportunity to take a project on things that typically I would think I should be doing, but I don't, I don't have to be doing, you know, and, and this is where it's great because with their expertise and their experience and their knowledge and their, you know, being young and, and wanting to do this, it allows them to show their talents, which is really cool. Um, and allows me to be able to take a step back and go, okay, good, that's flipped after. 

CM: 24:37 Now I can move onto the next thing. So it's, I wouldn't say that you know, I've perfected it. It just kind of happens as we move along and I'm, there are quite often many days or I have to make sat down and make myself a list on my desk and take, what do I need to get off my plate now? What are these next few things that I need to do? Um, you know, we're making a shift and changing some stuff up with our payroll. I've always done payroll up to the point now I'm like, okay, now I can shift it out if somebody else can manage that because of the new processes and the new programs and software that we put in place. So there's always things that I'm always looking for. Ways to change things and move things out. 

MP: 25:15 Yeah. Wonderful. 

MP: 25:23 You know, this is a, this is it. The enemy of the small business owner is to do it alone. And uh, you know, you're an example of, you know, I love that you've, you're, you're straight with it. It's, you're not, you haven't figured everything out, but you've definitely figured out how to step back and go, hey, where am I not, where am I not doing the things I need to do? Well, and then you, you come up with a solution and it was to get, you know, get a hub doctor in the house and, and delegate and get other people engaged in working on it. So I think there's a really powerful message there. Who have been your mentors, who have contributed to you to help you figure out how to get to this level of, uh, the game you're playing yet? 

CM: 26:08 Well, I would say that you know, I've, I've obviously I've had some great support from my partner, my husband and my life, which has been amazing. You know, he allowed me, not allowed me but enabled me to go back to school years ago, finish off designation. Well, you know, looking after the kids and, and the household and all that kind of stuff and mentor in a different way I guess. But I have had some associates that I've worked with for years. Some are even clients and they're my mentors. I've seen them grow, I've watched them develop in their business and you know, quite often we'll go out for a lunch and I pick their brain and go, hey, like, how'd you do that? My Gosh, this is where I'm at. We're very heavily involved in the Chamber of Commerce, our Cambridge KW and Gwelph chambers here at this end. 

CM: 26:50 And I'm involved in a lot of programs. Um, I had up some peer to peer facilitating groups as well as chair some of the networking groups. And the chamber has been really good support for me. Um, they offer great, great programs and things that I can get involved in where I'm just sitting in a room with a bunch of CEOs saying, okay, I've got an issue here. How, like does anybody have any suggestions? And you know, I'm able to, it all stays at the table. It doesn't leave the room. And I'm able to get out there and get that support that I need for my business. And you know, sometimes you can't always go to your partner. You can't always go with your team. And, and there are just those situations where, you know, I'm like, I look for that. I need somebody to help me and guide me here. So, because, you know, sometimes you just, you do sit in your office and you go, hmm, how am I going to deal with this? How am I going to manage this? So 

MP: 27:41 I love it. There are just so many best practices for an entrepreneur reaching out, asking for help, observing others, learning, being curious. These are what lead to great things in the future. And you know, that's the opportunity that you have as a bookkeeper and working with businesses. You get such an intimate view of what's going on in so many different businesses. That's gold. That's, that's your intellectual property. That's your knowledge. That's uh, and, and so many people don't get those kinds of views into a business. And I think often people discount or take for granted how powerful and valuable that is. Not only from your own learning but also the ability to, to make the difference for those people that you're working with those different cause you're bringing that back to them. Likely. Uh, the other piece that I heard that I want to really bring forward and highlight is you really speak from, you know, when you're sitting with a client, you're sitting with the client as an equal. 

MP: 28:42 And that is a mindset that I would say is one of your success strategies is, and you might not need to even know that it's one of them, but your a person that is not looking at them like you're lesser than them or greater than them, but you're looking like an equal and when you come as an equal and enables people to work together. Yeah. So for the listener, think of it that way. You own and run your own business, whether you're solo or you have 12 staff, you are a person that is running your business. So every single client that you work with at the top, they're running their business regardless of the size of it. You do meet on equal terms on some level. And so think of it that way. It will increase the chance that you can have rapport and respect, mutual respect with those people. 

MP: 29:29 And then that opens up the door for opportunities that Carrie here is just really masterfully done in her career. So my, again, tip my hat to, that's fantastic. Yeah. You know, Carrie, this has been absolutely terrific and I always go over and I'll look at the clock and go, wow, we've already gone through time. Um, you're an inspiration. I think for our listener. You've done some great things. You're running a great business, you're helping small businesses in our country really, you know, congratulations. And I'm sure people will want to learn more about you. What's the best way for them to do that? 

CM: 30:07 Well, um, you know, I'm always around and available like our military team, you know, depending on situations. I mean, there are lots of things that I get involved in. I'm involved in many groups and networking groups. Like I'd mentioned, I do a lot of presenting. I'm on the Program Advisory Committee for the Conestoga College for the bookkeeping programs and stuff like that. So if there are lots of ways to, you know, be able to connect with me and, uh, you know, have a conversation, whether it's over, you know, click chat on the phone or through an email or even just, I'm coming out to one of the events. You know, there's, there's always lots of opportunity for, for, for ways to be in touch. 

MP: 30:46 Beautiful. Well, we'll have a link to your website and, uh, and if there are any other links you want us to post, we can certainly do that. But, uh, this has been really fantastic and thank you again for your time, uh, to be here today. 

CM: 31:00 Thank you. Thank you, Michael. 

MP: 31:02 Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's inspiring guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, 

MP: 31:15 goodbye

EP64: Alexis Prenn - How Receipt Bank Can Help You Provide A Better Client Experience

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If your systems regarding it aren't great, your whole bookkeeping business suffers.

Today, there are plenty of tools in the marketplace that help heal this pain point, but today we'll focus on one - Receipt Bank.

What is it?

Receipt Bank extracts the key information from your clients' bills, receipts and invoices, removing the need for manual data entry. It then allows you to publish this data directly to their accounting software.

During this interview, our guest, Alexis Prenn, who is Receipt Bank's Co-Founder & CEO, will discuss...

  • How Receipt Bank can help you deliver an awesome client experience

  • Why you should always think of how workflow tools will ultimately result in giving customers value

  • The importance of reviewing your clients' files at least 2 times a week

To find out more about Receipt Bank, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:06 Welcome to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an awesome one. Our guest is an experienced entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of Receipt Bank, which is software that extracts the key data from your bills, receipts, and invoices, and publishes it directly into your accounting or bookkeeping software. Alexis Prenn, welcome to the podcast. 

Alexia Prenn: 01:31 Michael, thank you very much indeed for the warm welcome and delighted to be here. 

MP: 01:35 Yes. And you know Alexis, your business, I saw a receipt bank actually at a bookkeeping conference recently here in the Toronto area, uh, called the Institute of Professional bookkeepers annual conference and I was right next to the receipt bank booth and I got to tell you, a lot of people pretty excited about receipt bank and we're signing up in droves. So I am really interested in learning more and helping our audience if they haven't already learned more about Receipt Bank. But before we do that, tell us about yourself. Tell us your background leading up to starting Receipt Bank. 

AP: 02:15 Michael, so I think by interesting enough is good business. At seven years old, we were founded in September 2010, um, and Rhonda Dolly in the technology world that we live in a, we are a seven-year-old stone. So, uh, and we were setting up speakers of the race of grades and Revenue Growth that we sustained over four or five days a year in excess of 100% the last four or five years. And uh, it's a little bit of a stale Jake, but, um, I would say, people, it's uh, if servicing bank is a certain-year-old starter and backward me a 55-year-old teenager. So my background is, um, my head office is in Ohio or London. We see by, I'm all Susan Sydney in Paris, in London, uh, in Washington DC. And we just opened, I think probably a better way to describe it. 

AP: 03:10 There's probably a desk, but it seems to be an office, uh, in, um, in South Africa. Uh, and we're also looking at opening in Canada in 2018. So we have quite a wide geographic spread. We literally started the business. My partner a cofounder, Michael Woods and I are pure because, in traditional startup terms, Michael was just terrible, terrible with his receipts. It's really as simple as that. And to show you how far the world and technology have moved. We started with basically offering clients a mail-in service and um, uh, and we offered them the miraculous turnaround time of 72 hours. Um, and um, so we were literally from day one, we were, uh, focused on supplying these services to accountants. Uh, we knew quite a few accountants from my previous business, which was an investment business and we had sold our investment products to high net worth clients through their accountants. 

AP: 04:13 And so I knew quite a lot of accountants. And when we came up with this idea, essentially, um, we went to the fair and accountants and they, all of them in the space over three weeks ago, they, all of them said to us, no, no, this is very interesting, but what we want you to take care of is not just the receipt. We want you to take care of the invoices and the credit nights. Essentially all of the costs and the business, uh, clients were happy to raise sales invoices, but none of them were interested in basically handling the costs. And after three weeks of saying no, no, no. You have to understand, we have a strategy, I think the modern world is pivoted into something called bookkeeping productivity. So it's very appropriate that you and I should be talking today because since, uh, October of 2010, receipt bank has basically been a pioneer in trying to increasingly simplify and indeed automate bookkeeping workflows and products. The nature of the business we are today. So just in terms of scale, we are a, I think it's the week we just broke 300 employees. Um, and we have raised over 80 million US dollars the last funding round and being in July, basically to spread the word, uh, to the technology and the software that our clients need and to sustain our growth at the sort of hundred percent plus, uh, annual growth rate, uh, in the years to come. So if that helps.

MP: 05:39 It's very helpful. It's very interesting. I love the story. I mean, what's interesting about our audience listener right now is that they work with people like you. They work with business owners, entrepreneurs, people that are either starting up a business or have been running a business for years. I mean it really matters. And so whilst it's interesting and we're going to get into a lot of the conversation about how this tool really helps our audience of bookkeepers, but it's also interesting to be in the mind of their client, of their customer. And I love the story of how you know, you are solving a personal problem for your partner. And then it evolved and grew into something that is, I mean, it's just remarkable the growth and eh, and where you are today. And I mean, it sounds like we're just at the very, you know, base camp, if you will, uh, of where you're going with your company. So I, my hat is off to you for sure. 

MP: 06:35 That's cool. You raised a very, very interesting points and try, I would like to congratulate you because you're the Phillip, but the point you made about youth, about intention and clients' experience and many when you think we'll be approaching our conversation today, thinking about you'd have to about that bookkeeping business and about the tools that they might be using, that bookkeeping business and the productivity that they might get in their bookkeeping business and so on, and then we'll actually completely forget about just how important it is to use these tools to deliver an awesome client experience. When we build a really great bookie thing, what is the client gets? What is the client getting at the moment? What is what acquire the kind of thing that an alive bookkeeper around the world since to deliver a wholesome time experience that they couldn't previously do?

AP: 07:24 We're mailing them an envelope, the materials of being a process on a desktop solution and maybe at the end of the year they were getting some kind of annual falls or angle tax return as a result of whatever they do like for the opportunity today is very much about what do these tools actually allow you, the bookkeeping owner, the bookkeeping practice to do, not only in terms of releasing your own product, but see in generally speaking, and you'll know much more about this than [inaudible], but generally speaking, as a rule of thumb, I work on the basis that a typical bookkeeper is looking after approximately 10 clients. Sometimes they're small, sometimes they're, it depends on the nature of the client themselves. But generally, it's one to 10 and bookkeeping using modern tools using receipt bank. Pretty powerful, uh, using, I'm sure that kind of workflows and processes that are advocated in the pure bookkeeping should be getting a ratio of one to 31 41 50. 

AP: 08:25 So a four, three, four, five times in their productivity. And one of the challenges, I'm sure many, many of your listeners with jobs is I've got a successful business, but I cannot find qualified staff. And what these kinds of productivity came to allow people to do is to, uh, historic, expand significantly their revenues and their profits without actually increasing their staff. And in fact, actually, you might enjoy the very first, uh, accounting customer that we had. We had it back in 2011. I promised her all kinds of wonderful things are going to happen to her and her current [inaudible] she noted very widely at me. Um, and three months off they're starting to work with receipt bank. She moved to a much, much smaller office. Um, and uh, that was a wonderful lesson in uh, what technology can often you have slightly unexpected things.

MP: 09:28 Beautiful. I love it. And you know, there are a few things you said there that we should unpack. Client experience is, you know, I actually don't think you, I think you're bang on with that message. I don't think a lot of people are thinking abou