EP46: Bob Wang - Hiring Tips To Attract Great Bookkeeping Staff

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Hiring mistakes.

Unfortunately, many bookkeeping business owners make them.

Those poor decisions likely cause emotional and financial stress in addition to the large amount of time used to mop up the bookkeeping messes of those you thought could do the job.

One man who has cracked the code on how to hire great and loyal staff is our guest today, Bob Wang.

He is the owner of Legacy Advantage which has 16 staff and will make $1 million in sales this year.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of building a powerful company vision that will inspire others to want to be on your team

  • Why having the right culture fit is a huge requirement when hiring someone new

  • How to craft an effective and unique job advertisement that will attract your ideal future employees

To learn more about Bob and his company, visit here.


Michael Palmer: 01:06 Welcome back to another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be another great one. Our guest is Bob Wang, who was the owner of Legacy Advantage, a bookkeeping company that started in 2015 and we'll make 1 million in sales this year. What a number, what a growth result. Welcome to the show, Bob.

Bob Wang: 01:30 Thank you. Glad to be here.

MP: 01:37 It's great to have you listen. Bob, before we get too far into this, let's have you introduce yourself to our listener.

BW: 01:49 Yeah, sure. Um, my name is Bob. I used to work at a big four accounting firm and I really enjoyed it. I throw the whole process. I realized that generally speaking, people have a hard time finding good quality bookkeepers. So as an accountant when I got really, really, uh, bad books, I just had to a lot, spend a lot of time kind of fix them all up. And it was just a bad experience for all parties involved. It was bad for me that the accountants that the partners need to build more of, which wasn't a happy conversation, a, their clients didn't know what was going on on the books and we got defensive. So, you know, I just thought there has to be a service out there that provides this high-quality keeping service. And so I wanted to start a legacy. It provides just at a high-quality brand that people can trust in a world of bookkeeping. So a, that that's our vision. And in my spare time as I shared, Michael, I, we just have a one-year-old is she turns one year, one-year-old in two days and a super cute. She just learned how to clap, clap new recently. So she's kind of congratulate herself when she's done something good, which is quite hilarious. 

MP: 02:57 Beautiful. I uh, yeah, just, just such a joy to have small children and watching them grow. So, uh, I can relate having a to just a little over two years old. So I'm a year ahead of you and there are good things to come. Let me tell you. It just keeps getting visitors. Yeah. And that's a lot to take on growing a business and growing a family. It's, you know, it definitely, I'm probably getting a few punches there and some sleepless nights and all that good stuff on both ends. But uh, your growth is, is been incredible. Bob, you started with a bang and the bang just kept going. And can you share with us what has been the, what that journey's been like and, and I'd love to get into some of those success strategies that you've used? 

BW: 03:47 Yeah, there is the difference right off the bat is a, you know, thankfully I had some inheritance from my grandparents. Uh, they save their entire lives to give me a headstart. I think Kim for about six years, $70,000 Canadian because they saved their money in a Chinese yuan. They got translator over and you know, same 70,008 could be a part of down payment, could be a really nice car. But you know, I thought, I want to invest in this business because when my grandparents passed away and they stayed their entire life, they wanted me to get ahead and not spend on frivolous things, things that'd be sets as what I think that the intention was. And I thought, well, 70 grand, that's enough for one year's salary. Let me invest in a new employee right away. So I think that made a huge difference because that allowed me to be out there and do a lot of sales and then have a competent employee, do a lot of the work and obviously I'll review. 

BW: 04:42 But I just allowed me to do quickly myself right away. So that investment was a huge difference. And then actually one of the things I wanted to share with you guys today is just how our hiring process has gained from day one to two. Now, in the beginning, I was super busy. I had breakfast networking events such as BNI. I had morning coffees, lunches, and the Collins after the coffee's dinner event after party because I wanted to get more business, I want to do more networking. So I was super busy and uh, the entire time I thought, pay up, we're doing so much in your business, uh, I need someone to come on board and just execute it because I just don't have time to train people. That was a huge mistake. So recently I wrote an article called hire for fit and train for skill. 

BW: 05:33 But in the beginning, I didn't know that I hired for skill. And you know, even now, not a lot of people know how to use quickbooks online. So I just hire people and look for people and knew how to use QuickBooks desktop thinking that well, hey, the transition is not going to be so, so hard. So, so I did that and that was a huge mistake because even though they're the same brand, the technology, it's so people that I've hired didn't know the difference between managing and adding transactions and the bank feeds. They didn't know how the other uh, GSTs modules work. And it ended up happening. I had to stop sales efforts, any office, uh, fix all the mistakes, eventually let them go hire new employees and fix all know the other remaining mistakes. And you know, I want to, when I put it all together, I counted all the salaries, miss sales wasted time. BW: 06:25 I didn't come to do a $15,000 mistake. So that was a $50,000 HR at VA right there. Yeah. Remarkable. Remarkable learnings. What have you done to correct it? Yeah. So from that, I just realized that having a cultural and a baseline understanding of technology was actually a much better foundation, um, in building a team rather than I was with a skill set I need. So we put together a whole interview selection process. I made sure we have the right people. Now we have two offices, 1516 staff, and each one is a tremendous contributor, both in a team culture perspective as well as a, uh, you know, the contribution.

MP: 07:19 Beautiful to remark is remarkable. 

MP: 07:29 What would you say your ideal tactic to attract the staff in has been? I think, yeah, I don't mind a, I know I love to get into kind of the, our hiring process, but I think taking a few steps by, I really do think the hiring process and the tracking process starts way before that. It starts with having a compelling vision that people can bite into and really follow you for, especially millennials space, you know, I was one, we want more than just a job, who wants a vision that we can fight for a cause, that we can range a reality. And I think if you want to talk to the right talent, you got to have that foundation in place. And for us, um, you know, our vision is to be, um, the most trusted bookkeeping grant in Canada. And that's like one of our first clients in our hiring advertisement. 

BW: 08:20 We want to attract people that believe in that cause. So I wanna say, uh, yeah, right off the bat, you got to make sure that you have a very competitive [inaudible] vision, uh, that people can understand and they can buy into. That's the petition. And then he has gone, it comes down to the tactics such as kind of the Java. So right off the bat, our job ad is very different. It stands out. So traditionally in the job ad is something like, uh, oh, keeping associate or county's use and job description and then, you know, the conversation. It's a very kind of template. It looks like any other job, SARS, say something like that. So our title says we're looking for an accounting associate. So right off the bat, it stands out. And then, uh, we'd go ahead and get to a description of, of who we are. 

BW: 09:07 We say like, I see the advantage is a bookkeeping firm. Uh, though we are a startup, our dream is to become the mall, most trusted bookkeeping brand in the world. So right off the bat, we say it, this is our dream, this is our vision and we only want people that can bind to and contribute to this vision. And then we say, uh, we continually wow our clients by providing them with peace of mind, clarity, financial intelligence. So those are our three brand promises. So again, right off the bat, they know what we stand for, what we're trying to achieve. Um, and then we get into, um, kind of describing what characteristics, what character traits we want from the candidate. So the next section is you want to add value to clients. You want to be part of the team. You appreciate a good debate. Even with your boss, you never settle, you believe in a meritocracy because you love learning, et Cetera. 

BW: 10:00 So right off the bat, you know, people that have these characteristics or tracking this job ad because it describes who they are. And then the next section is about us. We, so we legacy care more about your intelligence and values and your experience. We aren't afraid to make mistakes. If we worked for by the best working experience, we want our associates to become competent SPEC independent business in this office. And then we get into the job description, then we'll get into compensation. So we kind of flipped that job description and a job ad upside down and we talked about the full focus on core values, the results. Uh, we have, we actually have a lot of candidates tell us like your ad was the snow unique and I just want it to be part of the team. So I brought right off that we get the right candidates. 

MP: 10:45 It's remarkable. And sounds like it's helping. You're up to 16 staff, sounds like your, your team is growing and growing and you want to keep on, on growing it. When you hire staff, what would you say your process would look like for training them? What would, what could you help our listener understand around the training? 

BW: 11:08 Yeah, so the training process that takes many forms. So when we first, uh, onboard them, there is a one day aim that first focuses on core values. I went through my behaviors are, and then we get into the technology. So we primarily use QuickBooks online and Podio and we make sure that they know how to use that software and they want, so that's our one-day training. And then we have, uh, an education budget. So we'd give everyone a set amount every year to go to conferences to go to courses. And then we have a very unique program that would have an element, a nonfiction book by bit. So any book that's nonfiction, that's educational, that is not what by for you agile, the legacy library. And you can read it when you're done, come back. And we, the whole point is we encourage our associates to grow as individuals and, and people and not just as an accounting professional. 

BW: 12:12 And the other things that we do is we have individual mentoring programs. We do file reviews. And in the salary process, we sit down with them and tell them where they're wrong, uh, where they can improve and increase our accounting knowledge. That way to other really unique programs that we had internally is when is the leadership development program. So in any business, my, my true belief is everything rises and falls of leadership. And if we want to grow with one, have multiple locations and have a couple of in Calgary carry out, so on and so forth. When you have leaders in everything, a location, and we've got to start training now we've got to start the train started training from day one. So every month we have one Saturday that we meet together for an hour and a half or two hours. Everybody reads a, you should book that we have assigned and then talk together like a mastermind group. 

MP: 13:04 Talk about what your ship is, what are the challenges you faced and where can we grow and help each other out in that way?

BW: 13:10 So it's a very mutually educational environment. The last one is we train our people, what we call financial intelligence. Some people call it financial monitoring, but it's things like controllership services. So we teach people what to keep that as, how to look up for opportunities, how to think like a CFO so we can be that trusted financial advisor to, uh, to our clients. So, you know, in, in pure bookkeeping terms, how do we empower our clients around our finances? You've got to know what those KPIs we can use, basically have two boxes and then using those to educate our clients. 

MP: 13:48 That's fantastic. And I can really care how that would be powerful for, for not only educating your people, uh, satisfying your customers and improving the deliverable to your customer but as well re retention of your staff. I mean, you're, you're helping them get more meaning and, and drive more value in their career and their job at, uh, I'm sure that helps with retention. 

BW: 14:14 Yeah. And, and the on that, um, you know, I've put a lot of thought and intentionality in designing a job. So there's a book called drive by, I think it was Daniel Pink, and he says, motivation comes from three things. Uh, the job has to have autonomy as to have mastery and has to have purpose. And we designed our job to have all these, you know, we give our associates purpose cause you're on this journey to build an incredible brand and they have autonomy. You know, we have a rover environment that says for results work environment and uh, they also have opportunities for mastery. So again, we pulled even even we are a bookkeeping firm, we don't do any taxes, we don't do any audits. But there's so much depth that we can go into in you using that bookkeeping data about providing CFO level services, kind of one of those an inch wide and a mile deep. So that's where we want to focus and that's our position in the market. We want to train our associates to be CFOs and controllers for clients. 

MP: 15:11 It's great.

MP: 15:17 You know, in terms of the technology you mentioned you're using QuickBooks online. That's been kind of where you started and technology is a hot conversation. There are lots of apps not only for bookkeeping but for the general running of your company. You've must've seen a whole bunch of different, uh, tools and different technologies. What have, what have you seen, what have you liked? What have you used? Um, I'm sure the listener would love to hear about that. 

BW: 15:48 Yeah. You know, it's so interesting. There are just so many apps out there. There are new ones coming in all the time that it's actually a full-time job just to even keep up with all that changing. Because you know, even if a new app comes out in the market, you can fully integrate it into your system. You've got to test it, you gotta know how to use it, you better know how to introduce you to clients. You've got to know the pros and cons. And I take this a lot of times, so again, we just chose to focus on a few that we really love and roll it out to as many clients as possible. And then just slowly introducing these new ones as they become more mature and work out their own bugs. So, as I said, QuickBooks online as it had been a platform at our, uh, our nation for all the other pieces of technology we use hopped off a lot for retrieving documents. 

BW: 16:37 We use Cleo for paying our suppliers and teaching ops, uh, clients to pay their suppliers. Pluto has actually been tremendous for the clients because they could get multiple authorizations without actually physically being in there. And then we also use a Tessa for a preauthorized debit for some of our clients. And we have a daycare that they basically get the same amount every single month. It's kind of getting pre precise x, uh, I should say postdated checks. It would just be for tests that you do. Direct belly has made a huge difference for our client actually. Yeah. Michael, I, you raised a really good point in how important Knology is in our firm in any firm, uh, in the future in place for keeping space. And you know, we use a lot of technology. We're not really a remote team, but we use a lot of biology to leverage our time and, and to, into improving our client experience. 

BW: 17:30 And in order to execute that, we actually need our members to know how to use technology and be intuitive about it. So I, going back to our hiring process, one of the key things that we do is we actually put our team members through a technology test. Uh, so they go through the, um, some of the jobs, a lot of forms do the phone interviews. We actually send them an email with a list of questions and a to software so they can learn on their own, demonstrate to back to us. So we use podio a lot as part of our CRM and then quickbooks online. So we would literally send them a list of questions to said, hey Joe, please learn Podio and show us how to create a task, creative, a training task, create a contact and so on. And then quickbooks online, I would say, uh, show us how to create a bill. 

BW: 18:23 I pay a bill. What's the post in general entry behind that out of al GSD NSA. Go Golar. I, they don't know any of those programs before from your, into this interview. So we give them, you know, three to five days, they can schedule a, uh, you know, 15-minute call with us and then they would actually demonstrate through video on how to do those things. So that's been a huge difference in how we hire it because a lot of people say they're good with technology, but they're not really learning new things very quickly. So that this test allows us to assess that. And, you know, three hours might go others within 30 seconds, you can kinda tell somewhat the two of it, they acknowledge it or not. And then we just want to make sure that we're hiring the right people that fit within this ecosystem. 

MP: 19:06 Absolutely. And I'm sure having a barrier like that, it's going to tell a lot about the person, just through the act of them going through that process, how they react to it, what their responses and, and how timely they are to do it, the questions that they send back. There's a lot that can be learned through just something as simple as, as having them do something like this. So it, uh, it's a powerful move. Yeah. 

MP: 19:38 Podio? Podio is a new one. I have not heard of that. Right. I'm not, I have not heard of anyone using Podio. I mean it's not like on the know it all of all technology too in the industry, but that's the first time I've heard someone speak of it. What's, what's your thoughts on, it sounds like you're using it, you're loving it, you talked about it.

BW: 19:55 Yeah. Do you, do you know about the program at all? I guess I should just start from a, from the top or if your listeners, yeah, yeah. It's basically a very malleable platform. It's basically got one template and you can customize however way you want. What I love about it is that it's got so many things to go in. It's got a workspace function. So, you know, we have two teams. We have a management workspace, they have sales and marketing space and this is, allows that information to be centralized and not get too cluttered. It's got a chat function. Um, it's got tasks, bickering tasks. Um, it allows me to at a glance view what my day looks like and look at all my tasks. It synchronizes, we mail chance. So when we add a new contact to our contact database, you know, it adds, it should a male champion as to our newsletter.

MP: 20:45 Is this a tremendous app? 

BW: 20:47 It's great.

MP: 20:49 I look forward to learning more about it and we'll keep it on the radar. Certainly. Uh, certainly. Cool. Cool to hear about new technologies. And I know you're a person that, that uses a lot of it. So you're constantly probably on the lookout and testing all sorts of different stuff. 

BW: 21:02 And this is not a very, uh, accounting, uh, focused, uh, system, but, but we make it work. Uh, you know, we try to sauna pride Insightly, can we, and then we settled on Podio being the best. Yeah, we like it cause it's very customizable. You can add different fields. For example, we want to track who the accountant is. We just add a field to the, uh, the forms. Uh, we want to track what the dollar monthly contribution is in terms of monthly recurring revenue. We added there. So it just allows you to track all sorts of things. 

MP: 21:39 Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, listen, Bob, I like to always ask, you know, you've gone through this, you've, you've got some very great experience from your, your accounting experience. You brought that into your firm, your firms just growing like a weed. I'm sure there's been lots of ups and downs and learnings, but for you as an owner, what, what would, what tips or advice would you give back to a fellow or owner and growing their business from a mindset perspective?

BW: 22:08 Mindset? Oh man, dream big, dream big. I just think, you know, whenever you think is possible, you're right or whatever you think is not possible. You're right. And you know, my big dream is to build a global bookkeeping brand that people can recognize and trust. And we started right here in Vancouver, you know, hitting half a million dollars in year $1 million in year two and then we're going to open a few in Calgary. It's going to happen. And you know, universities are a funny play as you say. It's going to happen. They say people around you are going to help you. I just, I think, you know, Dream Deck, don't be afraid. That was my thought would be my biggest advice. 

MP: 22:48 I think it's fantastic advice and uh, hopefully, our listener will, will take that and, and rethink their own dreams and uh, give them a bit of a, a boost booster shot. 

BW: 23:00 Yeah. What we have, we have what we hope so as well. I was the one that had been big and, and uh, develop your own set of core values as a bar. Cause again, you can't feel the team around you if you don't know who you want. Uh, if you don't know who you are and what you represent, where you're going, then it's kind of hard to find people to go along with you because you don't necessarily know where you're going. So having a great, great vision will help you define who you want in your journey. And a, I think a lot of good things come out of just putting it out there and see what happens. 

MP: 23:31 Beautiful. Well, Bob, it's been a real pleasure having you on and I'm, I'm excited to have you back again to see where you are in a year from now. I May and you may already be at global, a global brand in a year based on the speed at which you're growing. And my hat is off to you for, for building such a wonderful business and providing 16 other families with income at a facility, isn't it? Yeah, it's a huge responsibility and it's also a huge, an impact that it makes on, on our communities. So, uh, my hats off to you and I'm sure the listener as well. My hat is off, the, their hat is as likely off to you as well. So, uh, we hope you'll come back and, and join us again, but thanks for being on the podcast.

BW: 24:15 Um, then good luck to all you guys to the atoll of you who are growing your own teams. You know, don't make the mistake, hire for fit, train for the skill to not look for scale. You can always train for scale. Again, thank you, Michael, for having me on this podcast.

MP: 24: 35 Absolutely. Thanks, Bob. 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 until next time, 

MP: 24:46 goodbye

EP45: Ingrid Edstrom - How To Find Your Profitable Bookkeeping Client Niche

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Who do you want to work with?

If you answered, “EVERYONE.”

That could likely cost you.

Many bookkeepers don't have a clear niche of clients they focus on and, as a result, they likely accept any new customers that walk through the door.

Unfortunately, that thinking can attract potentially bad clients who are not a fit.

By not taking the time to identify what type of client would be ideal from a financial and personality standpoint for you, accepting “EVERYONE” can lead to increased headaches, stress and payment issues.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Our guest, Ingrid Edstrom pointed out that in 2015, her bookkeeping company, Polymath, had 96 clients, but after finding a profitable niche, it now serves only 30, but it makes double the money.

Once you figure out what core group of customers work best, it can be an absolute game-changer in your bookkeeping business.

During this fun and inspiring interview, you'll learn...

  • Why you should focus on an industry niche that you want to work with and that can pay you well

  • What questions to ask yourself to determine your ideal niche clients

  • To not be afraid to refer potential clients who aren't a fit to other bookkeepers

To learn more about Ingrid, visit here

To further explore the Ask A Bookkeeper video series, check out this website.


Michael Palmer: 01:00 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 Ingrid Edstrom, who is the CEO of Polymath, which is a bookkeeping business based in Oregon and I will say award-winning for that matter. Polymath's vision is to make the world a better place built on a foundation of thriving small businesses. And Its tagline is empowering passion through profits and puppets. Welcome to the show, Ingrid. 

Ingrid Edstrom: 01:33 Thanks so much for having me, Michael. This is a lot of fun. 

MP: 01:36 Yeah, absolutely. And I mean the last bit there, profits and puppets, I'm sure our listener right now is wondering, okay, what did I hear that correctly? Empowering Passion through profits and puppets. So maybe let's start off there, tell us a little bit about yourself and how bookkeeping and puppets got to be a part of your tagline. 

IE: 01:56 Sure. So the tagline for Polymath is actually just empowering your passion, the profits and puppets is kind of something I have on my profile at LinkedIn cause we've got a couple of different things going on. We've got our bookkeeping practice at polymath and then we also have our online show, which is called ASCA bookkeeper. And we are basically working to create for small businesses what Bill Nye does for science. Taking those big somewhat intimidating questions and making them more approachable, more palatable and digestible and a lot more fun. And the main way that we do that is with the puppet show. We're essentially creating sesame street for business owners. And this show really is bridging the gap between small business owners and accounting professionals. We have a little bit of problem going on in the small business world and that quite frankly, Michael, a lot of our clients are terrified of us. 

IE: 02:55 Our target market is not a huge fan of accounting because it's not their forte. They don't want to have to learn about it and we speak a totally different language than they do. So we have this issue in a small business where the smallest business owners don't have a business degree, much less a marketing degree or an accounting degree, and they don't really quite know how to tackle some of these big ideas. And they're a little bit afraid to go and ask for help because it's like going to the dentist when you haven't brushed your teeth and oh a couple of years and you know you've got cavities and you think you're going to get yelled at and you're going to get drilled and it's going to hurt and it's going to be expensive. That's how a lot of small business owners see they're accounting professionals and we're working to start shifting that and making it so that we're speaking the same language. 

IE: 03:53 We can make the accounting profession as a whole and accounting professionals more approachable and keep small business owners how to do their home care in business, brushing your teeth, flossing, make that easier and have shows online that show how them, how to do that so that they're not afraid to read it and ask for help and they know how to ask the right questions.

MP: 04:15 Very cool. And how has it been going?

IE: 04:25 It's been going pretty well. We recently did a Kickstarter campaign to get the first handful of episodes of our podcast off the ground. The ASCA bookkeeper's show has three main parts. There's our youtube channel, which we've been doing for several years, and that that started as kind of a labor of love, just a silly fun thing that we were doing for our clients. And then when we got third place in 2015 from the future of contest into it, kind of put a big spotlight on it. 

IE: 04:46 And I said, oh goodness, my colleagues are watching my puppet show. This is kind of embarrassing. I need to up my game. So that's when we started focusing on getting better puppets, higher quality guest stars, those sorts of things, and really brought the Kickstarter together to turn it all around. And now we're in, we just finished the Kickstarter last month and we are in post-production. Um, the videos that we shot. We've got some great guest stars that we're looking forward to getting out on our brand new podcast. We're going to do a video podcast. Um, a couple of you might've heard of Sekou Andrews, who's one of the keynote speakers at QuickBooks connect each year. Um, his fantastic poetic voice is so motivating and inspiring. And I'm looking forward to introducing him to [inaudible] wider business audience with our show. And also Ivan Meisner, who is the founder of BNI. I believe he's been on your show before also Michael. So getting to talk about network marketing and the, some of those, some of those great messages that we can get out to an audience of small business owners that aren't coming home from a hard day at work and reading a corporate White Paper, there's surfing through youtube and saying, oh dear God, please send me a sign. 

IE: 06:06 So we're going to give them something that is much more approachable. 

MP: 06:10 It's very cool. And so you're building an audience of small business owners helping, uh, helping to really educate them and bring these concepts of accounting and bookkeeping a little bit more clearly and, and tangible for that audience, which I think is really cool. And so can you share a little bit about your business side of things. How did you become the owner of Polymath and share with the listener a little bit of your history? 

IE: 06:38 Sure. I started Polymath in 2008 I had been doing some light bookkeeping for a little local company. It was one of those situations where I was doing my job and everyone else's job and not getting the recognition or the pay for it. And one of the jobs that I was doing with the bookkeeper's job, um, she really didn't know anything about bookkeeping. And I managed to figure it out. I apparently have one of those brains that like to eat debits and credits for breakfast. And after several years of working with this company, I realized that it was really kind of a toxic work situation that wasn't going to be healthy. And I went to the employer and said, hey, you know, you've got a team here who are actively drilling holes in the hall of this boat and I'm spending more time bailing water than I am doing my own job and I'm not enjoying it anymore. I need you to fix it. I've got to go do something else. And he said you know how much I hate confrontation? 

IE: 07:36 So I jumped ship and built my own boat. And the main thing that I focused on was bookkeeping. And, um, the first thing I did was becoming a certified QuickBooks pro advisor. I took the desktop certification exam. Quickbooks online was still very new at that point, but we got into QuickBooks online pretty quickly also and being brand new in the world and, you know, not hearing how everything was supposed to be done, we really got into the tech. And that was, that was kind of what differentiated us from a lot of the other bookkeeping professionals at the time. And then the other main thing that really started setting us apart was that I don't believe in competition. That's, um, one of the main reasons why we started the ASCA bookkeeper's show is because I really think that there are enough clients out there for all of us. 

IE: 08:24 And, um, ask a bookkeeper isn't there to just bring clients into Polymath. We actually have a pretty full book at polymath and we're very niche-specific at this point. So if we're going to make the world a better place, building a foundation of thriving small businesses, that's not something we can do all by ourselves. We need other accounting professionals to partner with to make that come true. And we started a local organization before we knew about the Woodard network and what are the groups called? The southern Oregon bookkeepers association working to bring together local bookkeepers and create a rising tide that raises all ships and that kind of set us apart a little bit and it's just been kind of grew from there. If hired our first employee in 2012 and open an office and I'm kind of giving you the highlight reel that doesn't go into all of the work that all of that tapes, but here we are almost nine years later and the things that one pretty well, Vanessa, there it is my wonderful business partner and she started with us as an employee a few years ago, but January of 2016 last year we became an employee on company and we've gotten intention so that every new person who joins our team from this point forward, the intention is to have them be inequity owner in the company because the most effective way I've found to have someone take ownership in their work is literally to make it so that they see that, you know, this isn't about feeling somebody else's dreams. 

IE: 09:57 We need to build the dreams together. And I feel like that's what we can do as accounting professionals with some of the intentions that we're setting and what we're doing with Asco bookkeeper. Okay. One of the main intentions for this show is to have other accounting professionals to join us. On the show and to talk about their expertise because at this point the bookkeeping profession is so diverse. There are so many different niche specialties and softwares that we can focus on. There's no way for anyone person to be an expert in all of that and ask the bookkeeper's called, ask a bookkeeper, not ask the bookkeeper. It's not just a way to bring people into our book of business. We created it as a platform for bookkeeping for other professionals, accountants and other people who serve small business owners to be heard and pass those lessons along. And real education is the best marketing we can do by offering education to the world and you know, three or 10 minutes snippets for free. We are going to set us up as being the experts that people need and they will come to us asking for more and that way we don't have to sell ourselves because if we have to convince somebody we've already locked. It's not about convincing people to buy our services, it's about it chanting them.

MP: 11:1 Absolutely 

MP: 11:30 such a beautiful way to do it. Educating someone leaves such a great mark for the, for the industry. And I love what you've been saying about building up the, your own industry of bookkeepers and that rising tide raises all boats very much. What we believe here as well as is to empower small businesses around their finances is what is needed, is education and for bookkeepers. This podcast really is about bringing information and inspiration and a community such that that tide can be rising all the time. So it's so great to have you on the show from that perspective. Now from a business perspective, you said a few things I've been really interesting that I want to just jump back to. Number one is you have a very narrow niche or specialty, which is an s in the tech hub. And I think that's very powerful from a business endpoint and, and many don't do that. And I'd like to hear just how you got into that and what you've noticed about working in a narrow market like that. 

IE: 12:35 Well, it started with the tech, but I don't consider tech and niche. So, um, we got into QuickBooks online pretty early, which was really beneficial for us because when it came to our area where we were focusing at first, no one else was doing QuickBooks online and it was like pulling teeth to get any of the other accounting professionals to even consider working with it. So we were a little early to the party on that one. Um, but it ended up serving as very well in the long run. When I say niche, I'm referring more to an industry niche. And I think that it's really important that accounting professionals start focusing on industry. And the reason for that is because when we focus on an area specialty, it makes it so that we can really pinpoint who are our favorite clients, who are those ideal relationships that we really want to work with all the time. 

MP: 13:36 Totally agree. 

IE: 13:38 And by really focusing on those relationships, we can ensure that we're offering the best service to our clients. And at the same time, we don't have to do as much continuing education. Okay. So there's a lot of industries that really require a bit more specialty knowledge. And their industries that we've touched on in the past with polymath, but then as we were looking in saying, you know what? We're really spinning our wheels doing continuing education all the time and it limits how much time and energy we can focus on actually serving our clients if we're going to serve medical professionals and contractors and nonprofits. And Low and behold, here we are in southern Oregon, the cannabis industry, which is currently undergoing a ton of legislative changes. It's such a new player in the market. There is a lot of continued education that goes into serving that industry. 

IE: 14:31 There's no way any accounting professional conserve all of them effectively. So what we've done is we've really kind of narrowed it down and focused in on one of our absolute favorite niches, which is cultural and adventure tour companies. So we have, it's not an exclusivity. When you think about niching, you don't necessarily have to serve that niche exclusively. We do have clients in other areas. What a niche is, is a marketing focus. So by directing our marketing to some of our absolute favorite clients, we're more likely to get clients that have the same needs as those clients. But at the same time, the other niches that have special needs that require other continuing education such as the nonprofits and the contractors, we don't take them on anymore. We direct those clients to other accounting professionals who do specialize in those niches. And that makes it so that everyone is getting their favorite clients. Because why would anyone want to work with a client that isn't going to be their favorite clients? 

MP: 15:38 Absolutely. And I think what's powerful about it is as you've mentioned, you, you, you get to be an expert in that area and put all of your focus and time into that area. And that serves not only your bottom line, your effectiveness, your efficiency, but you also serve the client because you bring knowledge that others in the industry may not bring because of those folks, which I think is, is, is great. And some people get hung up on the fact and you know, if you pick one year, you can't do anything else. And that's, I, I dispel that myth. It's really just an area of focus. And so I think that's an opportunity for, uh, a lot of our listeners to, to consider who do they like to work with and where have they made the biggest impact and where has it been the most lucrative or profitable for their business. And maybe start to think about focusing in on, on that narrow area or narrower area like you've done yourself, which I think is, is, is great. 

IE: 16:43 Well, and one of the other really big benefits to it, you know, aside from just the satisfaction of getting to work with the most to filling client relationships really is the bottom line. I got to tell you, Michael, 2015, October 2015, Polymath had 96 clients, 96. Today we have 30 and we are making twice as much money. 

MP: 17:08 Wow. That's shocking numbers. 

IE: 17:12 So by focusing in on a smaller niche, switching to value pricing, but we've eliminated our ar, which is really, really nice. We used to spend two full days a month doing our own invoicing, piecing things out by day of we spent this much time doing this thing and it just invited our clients to question our integrity question every little line on the invoice. Did that really take that long? It's like Ron Baker said they don't want to hear about the labor pains, they want to see the baby. Now we're focusing on the value that we offer to the clients on the results, on the outcomes. And we're focusing in an area in which we're the expert and there's no question about as being the expert. And if a client wants to question that, if they want to come in and say, well yeah, but time and does it really need to be this hard? It's like you are welcome to go and find somebody who will charge you by the hour to, you know, do some of these things and we'll see you when you learn your lesson or not because your business will fail. But in the end, those are the best-fit clients for us. And we're at a point where we don't have to take those relationships on and have to prove ourselves. We take on the relationships with a client who is looking for quality. 

MP: 18:32 Beautiful. So you've got a really interesting journey that you've gone on with your business. What would you say as an owner, what would you say some of the key learnings have been for you? 

IE: 18:49 The key learnings, you know, I would say that the number one thing for me is to go to the industry conferences. All of this shifted for us when I attended scaling new heights in 2015 so it's a little bit of a whirlwind to think about that. In the last couple of years I've been speaking at scaling new heights and there have been awards with the firm of the future contest, the top 40 under 40 most powerful women in accounting. I'm one of the, this year I was the top up and comer pro advisor from insightful accountant newsletter, but September, October 2014 I was too chicken to go to quickbooks connect. Okay. I thought about an accounting conference and I thought that I was going to encounter a bunch of older, well dressed in their fancy suits, professional accountants that we're going to look at this red headed bookkeeping girl and say, what on earth is she doing here? 

IE: 19:47 That is what I had, you know, tricked out in my brain and when I convinced myself to go to scaling new heights in 2015 actually it was Katie Peterson who at that time had her own practice up in Portland, but now she works for intuit. She convinced me to come to scaling new heights and went to New Orleans and checked it out and it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. It was 1500 kindred spirits who were all helping each other and building each other up and the continue education was amazing and it blew my mind, shifted everything. I got back from scaling new heights in 2015 and I turned my practice upside down and a few months later we got third place in the form of the future contest. It can really happen that fast. It was a lot of work, but it can, and that's what I would love to encourage other accounting professionals to embrace change. 

IE: 20:46 Give it a try and see what we're missing. And you don't have to know everything. You don't have to be a specialist or an expert in everything but reaching out to your colleagues. It's kind of interesting. The um, the firm of the future idea from the book from or the future. There are the three main pillars that they talk about to become a firm of the future in the firm of the future contest. Being in the cloud, using value pricing and embracing technology. But I really think that there is another pillar that is missing there and that is collaboration. Collaboration with our colleagues in the profession, focusing on raising each other up, recognizing that there's no such thing as competition and really educating each other, recognizing that we are in this together and that that is the best way that we can all succeed is by recognizing that there is no such thing as a zero-sum game. If we want a bigger slice of the pie, then we don't have to fight for it and try to say, oh well that's my slice there and I want more pie. We did together, we make some pie. 

IE: 22:06 And it's a lot more fun that way. 

MP: 22:08 It really is. And the opportunity in the marketplace is just so open and ready for people like yourself, uh, business owners that need help. They need help though the economy is doing well in the United States and Canada and Australia around the world. I mean there are hotspots of problems for sure, but these businesses are growing and they need your help in order to make a business grow, make those profits remain in their business instead of in somebody else's. And so I really like what you're saying and we talk a lot on this podcast about industry events associations and how powerful they are. And you're a perfect example of where you went to an event and industry event and it had changed the course of your business and very dramatically in some amazing results that you've, that you've been able to produce, which I think has a lot to do with your successes. Obviously, your mindset is that you are a person completely committed to being successful in your business and as well committed to helping others be successful and you know, it comes across, you know, loud and clear that it's not just all about you and money. It's about making a difference about your customer and that produced great results for you. 

IE: 23:29 Yeah, I think the main thing is each of us needs to ask ourselves, what do I want to spend my time doing? If money were no object, money and time if I could do anything that I want, what would that be? Okay. If I could do anything that I want, you know, unlimited time and money. My favorite conversation to have with somebody is about making dreams come true about how to build something that is bigger than ourselves. I love talking business with our clients because these entrepreneurs started businesses because they have dreams because they had a spark of I can do something that's going to make a difference. And those are the businesses that we really focused on working with. If somebody comes to us and says, Oh, you know, I think that if I, you know, sell this, do Hickey at these margins and you know, they'll make a pretty good return and no, I don't really care about it, we're not going to take them on as a client because that's not our favorite client. Now maybe that's somebody else's favorite clients and wonderful, they're welcome to them. We all have different favorites, but asking ourselves, what is it that I truly love, if I could eat the look that people get on their faces when all of this stress melts away and then they feel empowered and inspired to go out and change the world. If I could eat that look on their face, I wouldn't have to make money. 

IE: 24:56 I love it. I love it so much. I, you know, it's, it's, I can't even help myself sometimes. And that's the main reason why with the accounting practice, but also the puppet show. People ask, you know, oh, well the puppet show, we're not monetizing it yet. I mean, it's to the point where we're working on getting in that direction. It does need to be sustainable. It needs to be able to support itself, but it's a labor of love for the last several years. But at the same time, I don't feel like I could just stop doing it because it's a lot of fun, you know, in the same way, we're, you know, Michael, do you think you could just stop podcasting? I'm betting that you probably like this a lot. 

MP: 25:38 Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's, it, I think what the difference though is that whatever it is that you do, it goes back to your purpose and, and core beliefs and values. And, and for us in our business, uh, our, our, our mission is to transform the bookkeeping industry by helping great bookkeepers like you grow their business. And we do that through podcasts like this through our Facebook group, through our products, our services, all of these things. But it all ties in some we do for absolutely no, no revenue aim except for education like yourself education. Um, but if we just did it for, if our mission was just to make money, I mean there's a million ways to make money with this, be it. No, this is the one that, uh, that we found that our, you know, our organization is banded around and you know, we've done a really good job of it, but it, it, we are all aligned around that. 

MP: 26:37 So every time we're doing something, it's through passion, it's through wanting to make that difference. And we just keep asking ourselves, is this really helping transform the bookkeeping industry? And that's the primary question we have to ask when we're doing anything. So, you know, it's a great aside from that one of the important things is why are you doing what you're doing? Make sure that super clear because all sorts of wonderful things can happen when you get really clear about that. Like you guys, it's really clear that you're super clear about what you're up to and why you're doing it. And yeah, sometimes things work. Sometimes they don't. Whether you have your puppet show ever produce a profit or not, it's still making a difference. So it's already reached that first aim. Now it's just the game really to figure out how can you make that pay for itself or, and even more. 

IE: 27:28 Yeah. You know, and it's so funny, Michael, hearing your vision. Oh, really? Empowering bookkeepers to help small businesses and transforming. I think about that. I also think about, um, the Woodard vision statements, transforming small business through small business advisors and our vision statement to make the world a better place built on a foundation of small businesses. Those three visions are very similar and really build on each other. And someone with a lack mentality, a poverty mindset might look at that and say, oh, competition, their vision is too much like ours. They're going to steal our clients. Or, or you know, or do me fighting over the audience or something like that. Now we look at each other and say, oh my gosh, we have similar interests. How can we pray together and how can we help each other? How can we build each other up? 

IE: 28:25 There's no competition here and you know, I teach at Woodard's conferences and I'm pretty sure that if Joe, we're here on this call right now, he'd be like, yes, absolutely. Thank you. Because that's exactly what we're doing is transforming small businesses to small business advisors. By doing that together we have a greater, more profound effect on the world. We're able to reach more people because some of them might hear things differently from each of us. My audience might hear a message that I've been trying to speak to them in my words differently from you and it might penetrate more deeply and to get through to them in a way that I couldn't and it just makes all of us more effective and more successful. It makes it so that we can help more people and that's what it's all about. 

MP: 29:15 Yeah, absolutely. 

MP: 29:24 I think what's interesting is that every business has elements that are their crown jewel if you will. The thing that makes them so different from the others. So you could have two businesses side by side, both great businesses, both serving identical markets, but there's a subtle difference and there's going to be a choice of the consumer or the person buying that that's going to say, you know, I want that jewel over here. Rarely do you see them have exactly identical offerings that are the same? I mean, you look at Google and Facebook, they are two predominantly, they own digital marketing on the planet. There's, they're almost a hundred percent of all digital marketing span is between those two companies and yet they're completely different. The way they go about it, the way they're doing it, it's completely different. Yet they're going after those same dollars, yet they're, they're applying that a different methodology now I imagine they both want to swallow up each other and, and win. 

MP: 30:22 However, they're following their vision to the tee and growing their businesses just like Woodard, yourself, ourselves. And I mean to bring it right back to niche, right? If, if, if we were helping all businesses transform their business by helping businesses, you know, it would be very flat, very, it would have no impact because how can we help every single business on the planet? We have no expertise in every single business. And so the more narrow it gets for us, it's been beautiful because it's very narrow. The people that we serve, people like yourself, you know, we serve them all over the planet. And the shocking thing is they're all very much the same, the same, very similar thinking characteristics, uh, behaviors, all of that. So we get to learn that and understand what it is that, that, that you need and we're able to do a better job of it. 

IE: 31:18 So, uh, I think that's one of the joys of being in a narrow market is that, yeah, there are people like yourself, but you're serving a completely different thing. But we're all trying to get to the same place. And at the end of the day, it is only about, for me, it always has always only been about helping the small business owner, the entrepreneur, because the entrepreneur, they are the, our future, our future of our, of our communities, a future of our countries. Because if they're not thriving, if they're not healthy, we're not going to be in big trouble because they're the ones that create the jobs. They're the ones that create all the innovation. They're the ones creating our future. And bookkeepers are one of the most powerful elements to helping them be more successful. So, you know, that's my deep, deep, deep passion. And if I look at my partners, Debbie and Peter, they have different driving passions and missions. Like my mission is different than theirs, but we align on the mission of transforming the bookkeeping industry by helping great bookkeepers grow their business. And so, you know, it's just interesting if we look at it from both individuals in a company to a company, to the marketplace, it's very, very powerful when you get aligned with your own vision, your own mission. Okay. 

MP: 32:39 Absolutely. And understanding the effect that we're having on the world. By doing that, if you think about what would happen, what does happen by empowering those entrepreneurs? If you think about what is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is somebody who follows their dreams so that they can do something that they enjoy to make money, right? Those are the main reasons why everyone starts a business to do what they love and to make money, and if either one of those things is not in place, go get a job showing it and you're not making a profit and it's not working. Now, if you're not enjoying it, that's a personal thing. You know? Why is it that you started your business and what can help you get back to that? You know that that can be looked at more emotionally. If you're not making a profit, that's something that you might be able to get some help with from a professional, but the main idea here is that when we say we want to make the world a better place, building a foundation of thriving small businesses, what that means is that we want the people around us. 

IE: 33:44 To all be doing what they love and making good money doing it. Because when that happens, our communities will be made up of happier, healthier people who then, in turn, spend their hard-earned dollars, well-earned dollars with other wonderful local small businesses who are doing what they love. And then we'll have healthier, happier communities. And when our global economy is made up of a larger percentage of small businesses, that is something that our legislators need to listen to that makes the world a better place. 

MP: 34:22 Absolutely. Absolutely. So it's, it's, it's been so awesome to have you on the show and we're, we're out there making the difference that we, uh, we truly want to make and really excited to see your show grow. It's already doing fabulous and your businesses doing fabulous. I'm excited to see, see the future. 

IE: 34:46 Yeah. And it would be fun to have you on our show sometime, Michael. You can come to talk to the puppets. It's like being on the muppet show. 

MP: 34:52 I would love it. I absolutely love it. 

IE: 34:56 And that's a great opportunity also for all of the bookkeepers and accountants listening to this right now. We built this show, ask a bookkeeper for you to reach your audience, so if there is a piece of education that you would like to get out there, if you niche in restaurants and have a particular technique or something that you would like to educate restaurant owners about, that's something that we created this show to be able to do and it makes it so that you don't have to know how to set up a YouTube channel and do videos and those sorts of things. We make it easy just like how Michael makes it easy to come and be on a podcast, so we want to make it so that everyone's getting the right people because if a restaurant ever calls us, we're referring to mine and how can we more effectively set each other up as the experts. 

MP: 35:43 Fantastic. Now we're going to have all the links in the show notes but share with the listener. Now, where can they find out more about asked the bookkeeper and yourself if they want to connect with you? 

IE: 35:57 Sure. Ask a bookkeeper. It's pretty easy. It's Askabookkeeper.com and that is the main page that will lead you to our Facebook group. Um, we have, uh, a closed forum on Facebook where people can discuss some of the ideas around the show, bring up other topics. And the main thing is that it's a really nice mix of both accounting professionals and small business owners. So a lot of the other forums for accounting professionals tend to get really, really technical. We like to make sure that this phase entry-level and the puppets are kind of our seatbelt to make sure that that happens. We like to keep things in eighth grade and below kind of ideas. You know, not to say that we can't talk about business, we're definitely talking about business, but we're avoiding industry jargon. So that's a great forum to really reach small business owners and connects with other accounting professionals and can also find our youtube channel and our podcasts from there. And then if people want to know more about polymath and what we're doing, um, we also have a mastermind group for accounting professionals. We do a lot of education with other accounting professionals. You can find all that information at Polymath.com 

MP: 37:05 That's great. Excellent. Well, Ingrid, thank you so much for being on the podcast. 

IE: 37:11 My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Michael. This was a lot of fun talking with you. 

MP: 37:14 You Bet. We'll do it again at some point. 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: 37:30 goodbye

EP44: Lynne Moore - How To Get The Best Referrals Partnering With Accountants & Clients

Episode 44 - Lynne Moore.png
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Be of service.

Usually, you'd think helping your bookkeeping clients would be enough. But, if you want to be truly valuable and generate countless referrals, it pays to be on the good side of accountants as well.

Today's guest, Lynne Moore, who is the owner of LAM Consulting, has mastered the art of attracting the best referrals by being of great value to accountants and her clients.

By assisting both, it has created a profitable business where she doesn't spend a penny on marketing including not even having a website.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • What to ask your new clients in order to connect with their accountants

  • Why it's important to know how accountants want their files prepared

  • Why clients and accountants like when you have a relationship with both sides

To learn more about Lynne, visit here.

Click here to learn how to build profitable relationships with accountants.


Michael Palmer: 01:03 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 Lamb Consulting and as well, she's a Pure Bookkeeping licensee. She's been bookkeeping for over 25 years and we're happy to have her on the podcast. Welcome to the show, Lynne Moore. 

Lynne Moore: 01:24 Thank you, Michael. It's great to be here. 

MP: 01:26 Yeah. Well, for those listeners out there that do not know you yet, tell us how you first got into bookkeeping. 

LM: 01:35 Okay. Well, I started my career in it and when I had a family it was very difficult. So I looked for something else today. Lynn turned her and fell in love with bookkeeping on is analytical, so it fit right in with my mentality. At that time, I started working for a corporation doing bookkeeping and years later I moved over to a c firm and did bookkeeping at a CA firm before I went out on my own. 

MP: 02:04 Yeah. And what's it been like going out on your own? 

LM: 02:08 It's been great because of the experience I've had at the CA firm. It's helped me set myself apart from other bookkeepers. So I prep my bookkeeping biles the way a CA like them and made sure I do a working paper for them, which reduces their time on the file. And that way I'm getting a lot of referrals from Cas because of that. 

MP: 02:32 That's fantastic. 

LM: 02:33 Building that relationship, 

MP: 02:35 That's fantastic. And Yeah. What other experiences would you say from your ca working in a ca firm? What other experiences would you say have been benefiting you? 

LM: 02:47 Part of it is burning me. How's different CA's work? Because they like to get a file within 30 at most, 60 days of the year-end because they would prefer to have it reviewed, um, and do an estimate on taxes if they cannot get the file finish for the three months on the taxes are due. So knowing how their timelines work has really helped me. Um, because a lot of people think, oh, we don't have to file for six months, but tax is due three. So if we can, if I can get the file to them faster, it just makes their life easier and it makes it so they can service the client better. And then it helps me emphasize to the client that I work very well. Can they do the same thing and in return and then the client just loves those relationships. 

MP: 03:37 It's unbelievable. Very proactive. So you're, you're working to help them in their business, which puts you up on the radar because I actually don't think I've heard that particular angle ever from the bookkeeping industry. 

LM: 03:55 I don't think it's um, I, but I know for me, I decided two years ago to go and grow my business instead of it just being me doing bookkeeping. And as soon as I said I was available for more clients, I get referrals on a monthly basis, sometimes a weekly basis. And I actually worked with one CPA firm where all of the partners in that firm referred to me. 

MP: 04:22 That's phenomenal. And it's not surprising based on the fact that everything we do, I mean this whole conversation of value is yes, is about how it being valuable. And so often people are just thinking about, okay, well I want to price, you know, more, I want to get paid more, I want to charge more, I want to do value pricing or fixed price or whatever the case may be. They're thinking about that and whereas you've actually gone and become more valuable to your referral base, the people who are referring business to you and they're sending you incredible amounts of business. 

LM: 04:59 Yes. And the fact that mine is more expensive than a lot of the bookkeepers in my area, the accountant fights for them to come to me, they'll have the discussion for me. They'll explain that just because my mortgage month doesn't mean it's going to cost you more. I do things more efficient sully. And so bill uses specific examples when they're talking to clients to refer them.

MP: 05:22 To me, that is the, the powerful piece around being a value to your referral base. And you know, for them, they, they don't, you know, the cost that is on top of an accountant's time if things aren't done correctly, uh, it's a no brainer that they're going to say, well, we want them to use you. And so what happens is if we talk about advertising, right? Most people think, you know, in fact, I was speaking with the Pure Bookkeeping system today. She wants to, she wants to become a licensee, but she's actually tied up in a contract with another firm that markets, oh, we'll help you grow your business. And it's a coaching firm and, and they're charging her $18,000 a year for this program. And she's walked into this thing. It's, it's, it's despicable in my opinion. And what she gets for it is very little, but she was wooed by the, Oh, we're going to help you grow your business. 

MP: 06:32 We'll show you how to market and you'll make way more money because you're going to have clients ranging from the sky. Now what they've taught her to do and asked her to do is go and create a bunch of youtube videos, go and you know, put up a blog, do social media, created Twitter posts, you know, all this stuff. And it's absolutely brought her no business and she doesn't have the time to do any of it. So this idea that if you market a whole bunch, put out ads, yellow pages, you know, could Jabie, could Gibby to, but you know, you name it on, go on, go on, on and on and on it goes, right? And so that's the lowest form of attracting clients to your business because when you put an ad out, what you get back are people coming to you that don't know who you are. There's no credibility or authority established and they are going to be at that level, tire kickers and they're going to say, and there's my two and a half-year-old son yelling at me from outside in the yard. So you know, it just wants me to come out and play with them, right? So apologize listeners, I've got a beautiful little two and a half-year-old boy and he's, he's saying, come out and help me mow the lawn with my bubble machine. 

LM: 07:56 Isn't that hilarious? So the point, right, it's that those people that are coming into your business are, are, are tire kickers and they are people that are going to be pushing you on price. Well, how much do you charge? Are you the cheapest? There's no, that's the only comparison they have is to compare you on price. The flip side for you, Lynn, and the people that have done this in their business and followed, you know, our recommendations as well. It's one of the key things that we recommend bookkeepers do is build powerful relationships with accountants because accountants already have authority. It's like a business goes to the accountant. In a lot of cases, it's like going to the doctor. I'm not feeling well, I need help. I want to, you know, get fit. I want to cure this problem. Whatever it is. They're going there and they're the authority and they say, you know what, you want to fix this. You got to go work with Lynn Moore. So when they come to you Lynn, they're not, they're like, I have to use you. I have no choice. So they don't even likely ask you what you charge. Am I right? 

LM: 08:58 They, they don't ask me what they charge, what I charge. They, I find out what they need. I'll do an engagement letter. I send it to them and they sign it, no questions asked and I'll tell you, I have been in business now doing this for two years, been on my own for eight. I have no website, I have not done one stitch of marketing other than being a member of a BNI group and working during the best quality working paper I can, especially when it's going into a new accountant who's never seen my work because then chance, usually if I send something in within 30 days of the account and having that, I get a phone call from the accountant asking me if I'm still taking when I'm working.

MP: 09:43 It's beautiful. 

MP: 09:53 It's absolutely beautiful and I, I'm so happy we're talking about it because I get this so often that people say, you know, there's no work out there or you know, yeah, I can't build a relationship with, with, with accountants. All you need to do is do great work and make sure that you're thinking in terms of what that account. Now, there's a bunch of steps you need to take obviously, but the, the wrong way to go is to, and I get an, I'm a little rattled today because I've, I'm absolutely, um, I'm upset at the egregious amount of money that's being charged to this woman for absolutely what I consider to be a bunch of hogwash. And, and so it's $18,000 that this woman is, is paid already and still on the hook for a bunch more. And I just get really upset about it because there's so much business in the marketplace. 

MP: 10:48 And there's account after account that I talked to say, listen, we don't do any book cause we're, we're marketing. You know, we're out there looking for people to take on the Pure Bookkeeping System. And, and sometimes, you know, and accounting, they call themselves accountants. And what they do is, you know, uh, but still, they do full cycle bookkeeping. So we're reaching out and we're looking for, uh, for people that might be interested in and, and what we do. And they say, well, we don't do full-cycle bookkeeping. We're not bookkeepers, we're accountants. But do you know any bookkeepers? Because we were looking for bookkeepers. We need people to work in our file time and time again. And yet it just seems like everybody, when I say that they don't believe me or something. So hopefully people are going to get the message from you, Lynn. And it's not like, Oh hey, just put your shingle up and say, yeah, you know, I accountants, I'm, I'm ready to go. Uh, you have gotta be great at what you do. And that's what shines through for you. And is that you actually put together the quality of the file that your accountants want?

LM:11:49 Yes, it's a, and then a lot of it is if they have a new, if I get a new lead that and they're not using the one area accounting firms that I normally deal with, the first thing I ask is to be introduced to their accountant so that I can make sure I provide the file in the best way possible for them. Because every accountant does like things just slightly different. Yeah. And so I will start the relationship by going to the accountant and asking them, okay, I had been hired as a bookkeeper for this client. I want to make sure I give you everything you need. This is normally what my package is. Is there anything specific you'd like me to change? It's beautiful and they love it. And from there, and now the one thing I do because of the fact that I value these relationships with the accountants, I ended up taking on, I have a bunch of clients and a bunch of different industries because the accountants don't normally niche. 

LM: 12:46 So they're taking clients that are coming through the doors and each partner is finding clients in different ways. So I end up having someone in my office who specializes in sage. I have someone in my office who specializes in QuickBooks, desktop, and I have someone who specializes in QuickBooks online because then whatever the accountant sends me, I can deal with it. I have someone who knows the software. We can get them up and running. We can get it going because if I only, if I said to the account, I'm only gonna take clients that in this specific industry, I won't be this number one referral. I may be for that specific industry, but I won't get the business I'm getting from the account. And then if they don't get anyone in that industry for a while, don't forget about me. 

MP: 13:33 Very interesting. So it's all about making sure they're serviced. 

LM: 13:37 Yes. If we making sure they're serviced and doing everything you can to help them because they'll get clients who are difficult or their books are in math and they rely on you to give them a good product. They want you to help organize the client and get them a good product. That's all fine. She can come through with that. They'll keep sending in referrals because I just got one this week who the accountant's been talking to the guy for months and the guy just cannot get his stuff organized to get it in. And he said, okay, and finally cancer, Genoa, you really need to work as a bookkeeper because you just cannot get into stuff. He's got multiple years, he has to file. So the Hammer, you've got to call in and she can get this stuff organized and get it into me. So I got the phone call and I got the engagement where my engagement letter I sent out on Friday and I got it back today signed. Wow. And he never once asked me for my price. 

MP: 14:33 Wow, that's, that is, that's it right there. Got a problem needed to be solved. Who do we call? We call in Lynne's going to take care of it, get, get in touch and, and bang right away it's done. 

LM: 14:46 Yeah. And the clients like it because if they are dealing with the accountant doesn't understand something the accountant said, a lot of the times they'll call me or he helps told me this, what does this mean? And then I can, I can speak to them and if it's something I think the account really needs to talk to them about, I can go back through the account and said, you know what, they really don't understand this. You need to meet with them and talk to them about it. 

LM: 15:08 You know, it's, it's really, you're an advocate for both sides. You're an advocate for your clients, you're advocating for your referral partners, accountants. And when you do that, you're essentially helping both of them win, which helps you win. 

MP: 15:25 Yes. Yeah. You have to, you have to be an advocate on both sides because if you're only working with the accountant's mind and head headspace and what's best for them, it doesn't always work for the client. The client has to know you are doing the best for them and in doing what you're doing for the accountant, it's benefiting the client. They have to understand that part. 

LM: 15:45 Yeah. Yeah. And that's all communication. It's relationship building. It's being in front of both parties. Like that's a real key thing. I want to just highlight, you know, Eh, you've had a conversation with the accountant, not once multiple times. You're in constant conversations with them to make sure that both things are going well and that you're handling things for the client and you're keeping that relationship healthy. And that's essential to keep the referrals coming. Otherwise, they'll forget about you and, and then your referral business will dry up and so it's not a one and done. It's a get to know them, uh, make sure that they're happy and keep checking in. 

MP:16:29 Yeah. It's the same as you when you're working with your client, if you're doing a monthly statement, you should keep in touch with them every month and review the statement. Well, I will keep in touch with the accountants and let them know what your runs are coming up where I'm at and my delay because the client has me got, hasn't gotten me information just so they can tee up what's going to be hitting them at one if it hit it all right. And sometimes if I'm having problems getting information from my client and I left the account note, then the accountant when they're talking to them and say, you know what, you've really got to get that to Lynn because if you don't, I'm not humid. Look at your end. So the, you really help advocate each for each other. And as long as everyone's up to date and knows where things are, it works great. And I always let the clients know, do you have any problems with, I talked to the accountant, I like to let them know when things should come in and they encourage the relationship. 

LM: 17:23 Yeah, that's a, it's okay. 

MP: 17:24 Yeah, it really does.

MP: 17:25 And you can just hear the power of it from, from being able to have both sides applying. It's not about anything but helping them be successful. And so you're having different conversations at a very different level then, uh, you know, how much did you charge or why are you charging this? It's just very focused which, which essentially you to have on multiple levels in your business. Now you've done this with accountants and you've, you, you really understand your accountants and what they need, what they're looking for, and you deliver an exceptional product and service to them. Tell me about how you work with your clients. 

LM: 18:08 Well, working with my clients, the first thing I usually do, if it's coming through the accountants, it's usually your best job, so the first thing I do is get an idea of what needs to be done, what they're looking for, where they're at. Then I usually will do a meeting with the client after they've sent me some samples of like bank statements just so I can get an idea of the number of transactions and if they do not have any type of software that they're using, then they sit down and find out what is the ideal that they're looking for. Once we get the cone up time, are they looking to do some of the data on training themselves? Are they looking for it all to be done? My office does they, what type of relationship do they want to have with me after the cleanup because that will tell me how I'm going to do the cleanup and what software it can be used. 

MP: 18:58 Interesting.

LM: 19:00 And so we'll go through that. We'll talk about, okay, what type of reporting do you need to be able to get a handle on your business? So if they're sewing products, okay, do you know what your margins are in your products? Do you know what your costs are a month over month? And we'll discuss the types of questions they have regarding that. And then from there, I'll figure out what reporting we could do, give them some samples of what we could do. And then from there off develop where we're gonna end up. And then that helps me get the cleanup. 

MP: 19:31 Beautiful. Absolutely. Laying it all out, uh, through questions. And this is, you know, that the stream of questions that you just asked are, are great. You know, what, where are you at? What's the breakdown? Where are you trying to get to? Uh, and from that, you can then provide valuable offerings that will help them grow their business. 

LM: 19:55 Yeah. Yeah. And again, some who have cashflow wishes. Okay. So what do you know what's causing the cash flow? Cause most business owners at least have an idea if they've been in business for any length of time. And then that's like, okay, so these are some of the offices we can look at versus third party financing. There's some air financing through banks and we'll talk about that type of thing. And then I can say, okay, slow down to get that this is what we need to get to. We're going to need to get your statements up to date. We're going to need to get some ar reporting. If you're looking at Ar Financing, oh, I'm at that type of thing so I can help them with that. I can help them prep that as well so that they, they're thinking about that so that it's not always the end of the world if they're having some issues. 

MP: 20:45 Not surprising why your business is growing, you know, this is it empowering business owners around their finances and that is just what is required. And what, what, what has been the outcome for the clients that you work for? What has, what of their businesses been able to achieve having worked with you? 

LM: 21:06 Uh, well the first thing we, that they're all relieved as they're up to date. They're filing, it's up to date. They're not worried about Sarah calling them anymore. They're not avoiding phone calls from them and they can actually start concentrating on their business and they can look at what their sales are a month over month. They can look at it when you do comparables to the prior year. So they can see the growth and get excited about their business and for thinking of other things they can do to grow their business. Um, in some cases it's a matter of that. Got to look at maybe hiring some, his staff to help them with pieces. Uh, so we'll look at that and talk to, talk a bit about that and what they can do. So right now I have a person that I had a garage that stray started with. 

LM: 21:50 He was a one-man show. He's now got three people working with him. He's grown from just being a one-man show to actually having a core business that he's going to incorporate and is thriving. And he's so excited about it now and he's looking at new technology and how we can help him in that area, which is unheard of usually with garages cause they're all using it as a really archaic software. And he's looked at new software and I've helped him with that and how it integrates with quickbooks and what do we need to get set up and how do we cut over from the old system to the new system and he's just ecstatic and he can't wait. He's a young guy who's got a thriving business now and has got great word of mouth for himself with referrals and he's just got, he'll be incorporating this year and taking off. 

MP: 22:43 I just, you know, I'm sitting here thinking, how do I get this podcast in front of actual business owners? You know, this is all our, all the lists, you listener right now, you're a bookkeeper likely and, and you're probably thinking, oh, this is so great. And yes, I do that. And some of you maybe even are thinking, Oh gee, I'm not, you know, I'm not as smart as lan or I don't, you know, I don't have as much experience as Lynne and I'll never be like Lynne. And it's like everybody, you know, wherever you're at, just calm down. It's all good. What really stands out for me right now is cleanse, helping the small business owner be successful and grow their business and get excited and passionate and they've created three new jobs for the economy. And I mean, this led for me, this is what I call is, uh, a small business here. 

MP: 23:33 And I met my wife, boy says, don't on heroes, heroes or Terry Fox in there, you know, all these great people that have done these wonderful things, saved people from burning buildings. And I'm like, you know what? I don't think so. I that bookkeepers our modern-day small business heroes because when you do a good job and you put more jobs into our communities, it is what builds a strong, healthy community, better families, better education, better promise for the future. And that's what I just absolutely love. And so I'm sitting here thinking, how do I get more business owners to listen to this specific podcast so that they can go and get a great bookkeeper like Lynne, they're all over North America. In fact, they're all over the world. Why would you want to work with anyone other than somebody who's passionate and cares about the business? Like Lynne? I mean it's just for me it's just a no brainer. 

LM: 24:28 Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I know on my local area there's a lot of organizations that work with small business owners who do, would love to have your podcast and have them available to their people because that's where a lot of the small business owners in this area start is by going to that. And they get, they have mentoring and that type of thing through there as well. And I know I can connect with some of the people there because they love getting those types of stuff and they do webinars and things like that for small business owners and teaching them what they need to know. 

MP: 25:03 It's it's wonderful outreach. Yeah, it's wonderful outreach. So for the listener, wherever you're at in your business and your, your skill level, all of that. And the number one thing is to actually care about the owner and do your best to actually provide an environment for the finances that helps them get more clarity, have a great file, be able to keep, keep up to date and have the information that's going to help them make better business decisions. That's the first step if you have that, if you actually care, you're on the right track. So then you've been, you, you're a successful bookkeeper already and you decided at some point that you wanted to become a Pure Bookkeeping licensee. Why? 

LM: 25:48 Well, when I made the decision to expand my business to be more than me, the first thing I knew was I needed process. And in figuring, I thought there's gotta be something out there. I don't want to reinvent the wheel, there's gotta be something. So I started googling and I came across, um, dentist book, the emails for bookkeepers. And when I ordered that, I then got the seminar that I went up to. And so from there, I went, okay, this is exactly what I've been looking for. This will give me the process and this will allow me to ensure the quality of the work that leaves my office is the same. So when a working paper from my office hid some accountant's office, that accountant cannot tell who in my office did the work. And it's been proven, they can't tell cause I was in a meeting with one of the accountants and he had a client who I, he'd asked me to come in and meet with. And when I explained my process to her and the fact that I have a process and people did, which we follow in our office to make sure the quality of the work is the same even though I have more than one person working for me and they can come. But you do all this stuff that comes in here. And I looked him straight one place and I said, no I don't. And he couldn't believe it. He could not tell the difference between my files. Wow. And that proved to me that the system works. 

MP: 27:18 It's remarkable. I mean I love, I know that's the promise, right? It's the promise of system e e myth. Michael Gerber who wrote EMF, the entrepreneurial myth. And the concept is to build a system dependent business, not a people dependent business, which means the systems are operational. The systems tell you what to do, not the people. You don't worry about hiring great people. You first worry about having great systems. And so the concepts are there and is always exciting and rewarding to hear that. Yes, the systems when applied, when, when, when put into place, even though I've heard it a million times, it seems it's still rewarding to hear a story like that where it's yes, systems make the business run smoothly. So, so you've implemented systems and process in your business and what's that been like for your, for your staff? How has it been hiring these staff and the staff love having the process?

LM: 28:13 Cause I'll tell you the, I don't have all my systems and processes in place fully yet. There's still a work in progress. The business has been so busy, it's been hard to keep everything, get everything implemented at once. So I have the staff helped me to put them in place as well. So they like it. Um, the ones where we actually have the full system in place for a specific client, those are the ones that the staff want to work on because it's the ones where they can take it, they can work on the file, they don't need to wait for me, they don't need to ask me questions. They know exactly what's gotta be done. And as we build more and more of that in with our clients, they're more and more excited about working on those clients. So I've found that it's been really beneficial to my business.

MP: 29:12 Exciting. it's very exciting and rewarding to see, see it happening for you and your business in and enabling you to actually scale. What was it like now you use the pure bookkeeping hiring system, which we call the HR system, the human resources system. What was that like for you? 

LM: 29:30 It was good. I'm, I it, it first I looked at, I went a little this cumbersome but I'll, I hired without it and didn't do well. I hired with it and invested the time it took to do it and it's been extremely helpful because especially with the testing, I know, um, when I hire someone where their strengths are and where their weaknesses are from that testing, which you cannot get in an interview and get a little bit of an idea depending on how technical you get with your questions. But I have clients where I'm dealing with pst across Canada. A lot of bookkeepers don't deal with that and don't know it. So having the testing done, it gives me an idea of where and what other areas. There may be weekends that I need to be able to spend some time with them and make sure they get some training on because I find we're all human. 

LM: 30:28 We all have learned from what we've been exposed to, so walking into a firm like mine where I've got different industries and different levels of businesses, some of that just people won't have seen before or they won't know some of the integration that we're using because of the industry that like with the garage that he's now using those new technologies, so I need to be able to know I can train them on that. Using the HR system, that allows me to focus where I need to focus and not have to be double checking things because I know exactly where everybody is at when they walk in the door and they start working so I can put together my plan for them. 

MP: 31:10 Beautiful. It is. It's interesting. I'm glad you mentioned the cumbersome part of it because of it, you know, in, in hiring.

LM: 31:20 Yeah.

MP: 31:21 Often when people go to hire any business it, they're hiring and especially a small business, I'll say small business but even happens in the corporate world is that you need those people, right? It's like we need to hire somebody. We need help. We have a business. We need help. So it's not like, oh, you know, maybe I'll go and hire somebody next week. I mean, we don't really need them right now, but you know, we can put it off. It's usually, no, we need to hire someone. So in that environment, what's dangerous is that because you're in a place of where you need something, you can often see and hear things differently than if you were looking at it more objectively because the heats aren't right. 

LM: 31:58 You need help. And so, uh, with, with any kind of process, the more, the more you want to do is actually make sure that in those times you're spending the time to actually vet the people appropriately so that you don't make a mistake. And so for all those pure bookkeeping licensees that are listening right now, yes. You know, it is, it is. It does take time. But I always say slow it down. You want the hiring process to take time. There is a great saying. It goes like this. Hire slowly, fire fast, hire slowly, fire fast because when you hire slowly and you get it right, it saves you so much time and frustration. You don't have to fire, you don't, you don't have to do any of that stuff in the long run. But I get it because of where you're at in that and that space as you need the help. 

LM: 32:52 So, uh, and then fire fast. Meaning when you see a problem and you've tried to deal with it, deal with it quickly. If it doesn't re repair itself, then remove the person. Because guess what? You'd likely, it won't ever change if the person is, is if you've done your due diligence and you've worked with them to, you know, make sure they're aware of what's not working. And you've had those conversations. If they don't repair, if they don't change their behavior, they're never going to. And so that's another, another, uh, thing that Burns a lot of, is that they hold on and hold on, hoping things will get better and they never do. 

MP: 33:30 Yeah. Yeah. No, I completely agree with that. I know it's, um, the hiring process is very expensive because of the amount of time it takes you to do it. And if you do it wrong, it's even more time because training someone takes time. 

LM: 33:47 Yeah, stand up. Yes. 

LM: 33:49 Speeding. You're hiring too quickly and hire the wrong person and you're doing all that training. It ends up costing you a lot. So it's better to take the time in the beginning and make sure you're hiring in the right person. And I mean, I know because in trouble or can we a told me that, but I'm a person, I was desperate and I didn't do it the first time and I paid the price for it. 

MP: 34:12 Well, you'll be comforted to know you're not the first one right now. And I don't think I'll be the last, you won't be the last, even though you know, I'm sure the listener right now is saying, Michael is really passionate about this. You know, it's like there is a reason why I am because I've seen people make that mistake again and again and again. And sometimes making the mistake is what's necessary for people to do corrective actions. And believe me a, we got a long laundry list over here for me, you know, from people, you know, knowing, hey, don't do it. That might that way Michael a while now maybe it will work for me, you know? And so we all learn that way and that's, that's fine. But thank you for sharing that. Those, you know, those have been some extremely great now gets both on the accountants, the systems, the power of systems, the power of hiring and how to hire, hire, how to hire a great team for you. And it's great to hear your businesses is, is rolling now there's one last thing before I ask, you know, if there's anything else you'd like to share, tips and success strategies that you have is I believe strongly in associations and the Institute of professional bookkeepers. Uh, we've worked very closely with them and I know you're a member and I'd just like to hear your take on the value you get from belonging to an association. 

LM: 35:26 Oh, I've been a member of ITBC since 2013 thanks. When I first became a member and I did not attend their stuff, I was just a, it didn't do a lot for me. When I finally decided, you know what? I'm going to go to the conference, I'm going to get involved in the webinars. I'm going to start learning to stuff that they're offering me and a lot of it for free on. It's amazing the transformation it did on how I look at my business and it's been buried. It's been one of the most successful things other than the trooper came systems. Those are the two that are really spearheaded me to grow my business and learn the new technology that's out there and embrace it. Not all my clients want to embrace it, so I do both, but I always want to look to see what's out there that will help me streamline my business, make things more efficient, and the tools that ITBC does are just amazing for that. Their conference with the trade show is priceless. Like that's just priceless. For someone who's trying to build a bookkeeping business, to be able to go there and see all of those people at the same time and get the information and talk to all of them. The other bookkeepers sit down and kind of with their experience. That's what the staff, I've just found that to be invaluable to the growth of mind. Their phone. 

MP: 36:55 Beautiful, beautiful to hear it. Love, love sharing, sharing that message. And the IPBC is always having a national conference. It's in the fall. You can check out, just go to ipbc.ca check out where the next one's coming up and go. I mean, to go to the event, it's, you know, five, $600. Incredible, incredibly great, uh, investment, um, for what you get out of it. Uh, so I, I'm a big fan of it and I'm glad you shared as well. There is other associations wherever you're located, please just find an association. Ask around, ask your colleagues. Uh, there's the ICB USA, which is a, a very strong one. Uh, ICB, uh, global. It's one of the largest associations on the planet. Go find out more. Get involved. It's the mindset, as I said before with you, Lynne, is you really have the mindset of an entrepreneur, you, you, and you want to help the fellow entrepreneurs that you work with. And it's places like the Ice Sea IPBC, uh, and ICB, um, the Institute of certified bookkeepers that are gonna be more people like you. And that's why, you know, when you said the two things that have been successful, I've had maybe successful as the IPBC and pure bookkeeping. It's one of the reasons why every single licensee that we have, we ensure that they join an association, the very best association in their marketplace. 

LM: 38:31 Yeah, no, because the information, I mean, to me, you, I don't, I don't want to have to learn everything the hard way. It's nice to have people around me that I can talk to. Um, I love getting together with other bookkeepers who are either have gone and been through what I'm already been through, but even once we were just starting out because everyone can bring value and bring knowledge to you because their experience is different than yours and just their experience and giving you valuable knowledge so that I don't have, even if they've just started out, there's stuff that they're learning because they started in the industry later than I did and they're in this industry with all this new technology out there that a lot of the new bookkeepers I get a lot of information from because they know that stuff better than I do. And it helps. And I think it's, no, I didn't stay in a silo on your own as a bookkeeper is one of the worst things you can do for yourself. You need to get out there and get involved with other bookkeepers. 

MP: 39:34 Absolutely. And a, I will say that I've been blown away by our Facebook group, The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group. It's completely free to join and the conversations and support. Ah, really that's what it is. It's a supportive community for bookkeepers to go and get that kind of support and connect with each other and build relationships and for their own business. So, uh, I've been blown away by watching that happen in that community as well. 

LM: 40:04 No, it's just amazing. 

MP: 40:06 So Lynne, it's been a great conversation. I'd love for you to share if people wanted to get in touch with you or to contact you and by chance, there are business owners that love to hire you, a which is unlikely. I will say, you know, we are our community as bookkeepers, but you never know how can they get in touch with you. 

LM: 40:27 Um, they can reach me at my office. The number there is not oh 75157068 or they can email me at Lynn, l y n n e@lamconsulting.ca. 

MP: 40:41 That's beautiful. And we'll post links of your LinkedIn profile as well if people want to connect with you online and, and network with you as well. Lynne, it's just been absolutely great. I'm so thrilled your business is growing, and thank you so much for giving your time today. I know you're super busy with everything that's going on in your life and in your business, so thank you for being on the show. 

LM: 41:05 Oh, no problem. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much, Michael. 

MP: 41:08 My pleasure. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and what a wonderful guest she was, and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye

EP43: John Warrillow - How To Make Your Bookkeeping Business Built To Sell

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Have you made this important decision?

Many bookkeepers haven't.

The decision in question is whether you want your bookkeeping business to make lifestyle income where you trade your time for dollars to hopefully earn $100,000 to $200,000 per year...


You want to grow your business by creating teachable and repeatable systems so it can run without you and eventually be sold to a third party for potentially bigger profits.

Our guest today, John Warrillow, who wrote the book, Built To Sell, feels you should figure out what direction you want to go so you can align the appropriate actions towards achieving your goals before it's too late.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Why your profit and loss statement isn't a good business value indicator

  • How to determine if your business is scalable using the Trifecta of Scale

  • The importance of having teachable systems to help your business function without you and be more attractive to potential buyers

To learn more about John, visit here

To explore The Value Builder System, click here.

To check out his book, Built To Sell, visit this website.

To investigate his book, The Automatic Customer, go to this link.


Michael palmer: 01:37 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer and today show is going to be a great one. Our guest is the best selling author of two books, built a sell, creating a business that can thrive without you. I love that, and the automatic customer creating a subscription business in any industry. He's also the founder of the value builder system, a cloud-based assessment tool business owners use to assess the saleability of their company and accounting and bookkeeping firms actually licensed their value builder program as a tool to help their clients and I'm sure a whole bunch of other great things that we're going to learn about today's episode. John Warrillow, welcome to the podcast.

John Warrillow: 02:00 Well, thanks for having me, Michael.

MP: 02:08 John, it's great to have you on the show. I've been following your entrepreneurial journey for the last decade. I've read both of your books. They're in my top five small business books to read and I, I feel a little bit selfish because I, I'm going to probably take this conversation more personally, ask you a bunch of questions that I want to ask of you, but I know it's going to be super valuable for the listener, but for the listener, yeah. For the listeners that has, is maybe just getting to know you in this episode. Can you share with us your entrepreneurial journey up until now?

JW: 02:59 Yeah, sure. I mean, I, in assured I started four businesses, exited them, uh, made lots of mistakes along the word w way and tried to codify a lot of the mistakes I made and some of the, the things that I would do differently in, in the book built to sell, which is a parable about, uh, an entrepreneur who has a business that's a successful business by most accounts but, but is not really sellable because it's too dependent on the owner. And so through a series of tactics and strategies that it, uh, it becomes more sellable over time. And so that is a journey that I've lived myself having again, started and exited four companies. My last one was to a public business, which is an overlay of complexity to it that is, uh, is an interesting twist as well. Uh, and then my, uh, my latest book business is called valuables are where again, as you mentioned the Intro, we work with entrepreneurs to help them improve their value and we licensed the platform to accounting firms and bookkeeping firms. So that's really sort of, uh, kind of me in a nutshell. Value Builder as the name suggests is really designed to help entrepreneurs improve the value of their company. Whether they want to sell now or, or just know that they could sell some time in the future. 

MP: 04:05 That's why I love your work because it's like what another reason is there in a business other than to grow a business to be sold? I mean a business that can be sold, whether you sell it or not is a great business. 

JW: 04:21 It is and it's, it's not always the most intuitive thing for a lot of business owners because I think we for the most part, use our profit and loss statement as our sort of report card at the end of the year. Right? And the problem with doing that is that not all revenue is created equal in the eyes of an acquirer. So let me give an example. It is a security cap on alike the guys who wire up and install security systems, they have two kinds of revenue. They've got installation revenue and they've got the recurring revenue, what they call monitoring revenue and acquire are coming in looking at a security business. We'll say, okay, we're gonna pay 75 cents for every dollar of installation revenue because it's not valuable to them because there's no tail to it. Yet. When they look at the recurring revenue, they'll pay about $2 for every dollar of recurring revenue. So if you, if you can imagine your recurring revenue, in the case of a security company, he's worth almost three times more. But on a profit and loss statement that's completely lost. Essentially a dollar is a dollar on profit and loss statement, but it's so important for business owners to understand that just myopically focusing in on your profit as your report card is missing the forest for the trees cause it, it really doesn't take into consideration the value of your company. And ultimately that's really what matters in, in, in, in, in many respects. 

MP: 05:40 Yeah, it's interesting and I don't know that I've, I've actually heard it from that angle and I think that's me right there. It begs the question I think of, well, what do you, what do you start to do about it? Because it isn't intuitive. And for, for many that are listening, this could be brand new information. Where does a person that's just sort of found your work? Where do they start? 

JW: 06:07 Well, I think they have to start with the insight that for business to be valuable to an acquisition, it's got to run without the owner. I mean, this was, this was something Michael Gerber first talked about 20 years ago when talked about working on and not in the business, but essentially for your business to have any value to a third party, to someone who wants to acquire it. Um, it's got to be able to run without you. And, and that sounds kind of 30,000 feet and sort of basic, but the, the next step I think folks want to take in, in, in that journey of becoming more independent from their business is to really think about the services that you're providing today and identify which ones meet what I call the Trifecta of scale. So that means that they are TVR tr teachable to employees, valuable to customers and repeatable. 

JW: 06:58 And so for a lot of entrepreneurs, we will, um, you know, go through like broadening the set of services we offer, uh, because of clients like what we do. And so, so bookkeeper, for example, I might say, okay, we're, I'm going to do just the month-end, right? And, and the month-end goes well and they build a great relationship, but they in the business owner says, you know, in addition to doing the month-end, could you like, do reconcile our bank statements and could you do our merchant processing stuff? And you know, every once in a while we have to send a wire. Could, could you sort of set that up with our banker. And after a while, the bookkeeper's offering way, way too many services to really be differentiated on. And that happens in bookkeeping. It happens in virtually every industry. And when you start offering too many services, it means you can't train employees to deliver just one thing really, really well. 

JW: 07:46 And that's the killer, you know, the death knell for most businesses is when you can't teach employees to deliver. It means you can't scale beyond you personally. And again, in my experience, what that means is you've got to stop what most of us do as entrepreneurs, which is to sell too many things to too few customers. And the most valuable companies are doing exactly the opposite. They sell just one or two things to lots of customers. And that's a real headspace shift for a lot of entrepreneurs in particular in the service industry where you're, where you grow up thinking that you've, you know, you've got to serve the customers, you've gotta be customer-centric gotta listen to your customers, you got to respond. Your customers well, pretty much, you know, like Steve Jobs is famous for saying no one thought that they wanted a thought, a thousand songs in their pocket, right? Uh, and if all you do is sort of listen to your customers all day long, you can really, you suck you into a rat hole where you're serving a few customers with a lot of services and your business is completely basically unsellable to anyone. 

MP: 08:55 Yeah. I love, I love that you've brought up Steve Jobs. I think there was an interview that he did where he had a small table in front of him and he said every, we do x or EMEA. I don't know what the amount at that time was, but the company does billions of dollars and all of their products fit on that small little table. And it is brilliant. And I think it's interesting, you know, the human condition that we would be battling against is that we want to be helpful. We want to serve our clients and we want to make money. So we think more is better. And uh, and we have a Trump top role saying no to our clients that ask us to do certain things. And I'm sure the listener is nodding their head right now. How do you, how do you get people to start to say no? 

JW: 09:42 Well, realize that that saying yes doesn't do you any good and it doesn't do the customer to get because the chances are that you're the best in the world. That doing more than one or two things is very, very rare. Generally, it's out of convenience that customers ask you to do something out of convenience to them more so than it is to you. And pretty soon, again, if you say yes to too many things, you're not serving yourself, but you're also likely not serving the customer very well in the end of the day because there are probably better people out there to do some of the ancillary services, some of the adjacent things that you're not really differentiated on. So, so I think one thing is to realize that that's probably not serving either of you terribly well. Again, the panacea here is to find one thing that really is something that you are better than most people at doing and teaching other people and your employee's overtime to do that one thing that makes you infinitely more referable. 

JW: 10:40 And referrability I think is the secret sauce to a lot of small businesses. When when one of your customers can turn to their, their friend or colleague and say, that's the guy you, you know, if, if I ever had, you know, a roof tile, you know, go off my roof, he's the guy who replaces roofs better than anybody else. She's the best guitar teacher out there. You know, if you're just a music teacher, it gets squishy. Uh, but if you're the best guitar teacher, if you can, if you specialize in doing one thing, it makes you so much more referrable than being sort of a generic. You know, bookkeeping is such a generic category that you could, you could argue that it's not specific enough. Whenever there is a name for your category, chances are you probably want to, you find a way to differentiate yourself and get yourself out of that category. 

JW: 11:32 Because as soon as, as soon as you are just a bookkeeper, well then they can compare your apples to apples with all the other bookkeepers on price. They'll say, well, you know, my bookkeeper charges $30 an hour. What do you charge? Oh, you charge 35, oh, well, you know, I'm going to use mine because you've self-defined as a bookkeeper. Therefore you're, you're relegating yourself to live in that whatever the going rate is for a bookkeeper. Whereas if you have the, you know, the, the five-step accounting solution or the seven secret sauce, you know, bookkeeping, formula, whatever, that's something that you can own. You can name it and then you've got differentiation and then you could teach employees to deliver that. You can scale and ultimately build something that's beyond just you. 

MP: 12:14 Absolutely. It, it, it, uh, Debbie Roberts, our founder of Pure Bookkeeping and the early days, it was one of the things she almost did. It was like, well, maybe I could do this and I could go into tax and doing taxes and all sorts of stuff. And her business coach, Peter, who became eventually became a partner, said, Whoa, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, whoa. Narrow focus. You know, get great at doing what you do, which is full cycle bookkeeping and providing the knowledge that you have. That's a differentiator is that many bookkeepers were not able to actually help business owners grow their business. And so she became known as someone who actually helped them put more money in their jeans at the end of the day. And, and that is why we called it pure bookkeeping. And, and so I love what you're saying and I think there's a lot to be learned from for our listeners because I see them making these mistakes, the industry making these mistakes all of the time. 

MP: 13:11 And they put themselves into a box, a box. I'm just a bookkeeper. And as well John, they don't actually even value the work that they do as just a bookkeeper. And that's what we're trying to change is to go, wait a second, you do something that's really great, you have experienced, that's really great. And if you're one of those that have done the training and done the work and have the experience and you really can provide value, then it's to take it to the next level that John's talking about, which is to, to actually say, this is my process, this is what I'm great at. And I love that you've said, name it, and, and focus on that. That becomes something that's not about the hourly rate. It's about the value it delivers. 

JW: 13:56 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, go back to this acronym. TVR stands for teachable, valuable, repeatable. And I think as a bookkeeper you already have two boxes tick. Because you know, teachability is about, can you teach what you do? I mean, we're not putting a man on the moon here when we're doing bookkeeping. I'm not suggesting it's not complicated at all or it's not important work, but it's not putting a man on the moon. So you could probably teach employees to, to execute the actual bookkeeping. So you get a checkmark on teachability. Repeatability means to, customers have to buy this on a regular basis. And bookkeeping, by its very nature, is repeatable revenue, right? Customers have to reconcile their books every month. So it gets a checkmark there where I think most bookkeepers fall down is on value. And so value, uh, it's, it's not the best name, but essentially the opposite of a valuable service is a commoditized service. 

JW: 14:47 So value is in the eyes of the consumer, the actual business owner. So if you could plot, if you will, your products on a continuum left to right on the left-hand side, those that are highly commoditized and on the right-hand side, those for which you are truly differentiated. And, and it's for most bookkeepers, it's going to be lots of stuff on the left, right? So it's, it's a generic bookkeeping service, which is how most people define it. And, and again, you, you get a big x zero out of 10 if you will, on on the degree to which that service is viewed as valuable by the customer. What you want to do is carve some unique territory out for yourself. Come up with a name for what you do, which is different than just generic bookkeeping services. Come up with a, you know, a set of services that are truly differentiated. 

JW: 15:36 I mean, uh, Darren root does this really well. Darren root is a guy who runs an accounting, uh, association a little bit like pure bookkeeping in away. Do you know Darren, Michael?

MP: 15:55 I don't.

JW:16:01 Okay. So he has his organization called Rootworks and basically, it's a membership organization, a of a few hundred firms, accounting firms who, uh, you know, uh, basically learn from, from Darren root about how to run a successful and profitable accounting firm. What they offer or what they suggest their members offer is something called the boss system says for a back-office support system. And what they've, what they do is they target medical professionals, uh, dentists, physiotherapists, et Cetera. What they've realized is that those people want to see patients, they hate spending time on the back office stuff, the, the reconciliation of the banks, the bookkeeping, the, the account management and so forth. 

JW: 16:24 And so what Darren says is, look, we offer the boss system and it's branded boss as a trademark around it. And what it is, is basically the back office support. So you basically hire Darren's company on the backend and they do the monthly reconciliation. They do the bookkeeping, they do all the account management, associated all the medical filings to the, uh, to the insurance companies, et Cetera. And you basically outsource that entire system to route works. Now you could just call that bookkeeping if you wanted or generic back off the support, but he's done something very special, which is, he said, we offered the boss system and all of a sudden you could buy the boss system for $1,000 a month. We're not now charging by the hour. It's not $30 an hour versus $35 an hour. It's, it's, it's, we're the only guys who offer boss and, hey, we get to charge whatever we want to charge for it because we own it. We've named it, we own it, and we charge $2,000 a month for it. And again, it just gives you more margin. It differentiates you. The services are the same. They're bookkeeping services. 

MP: 17:20 Beautiful. Yeah, I love it. I love it. It's very similar to what we've done with pure bookkeeping. It just a little bit of a different model in that we give that root system that he's developed, the boss system, we give that to our licensees and they can call it whatever they want. It's, we're not a franchise, right. So it's, it's basically we're building a whole bunch of Darren roots out there in the marketplace for bookkeepers that want to grow beyond themselves as just a solo, a solo bookkeeper, you know, that will help them improve their efficiencies and those sorts of things. But what I love that you're, what you're talking about is, is really to actually leverage that differentiation. Because if you're doing something different and you have your customers know about that and they value that as being valuable, you, well you can, you can charge more. You can create a longer longterm relationship and the value more. Yup. Yup. For sure. Love it. Love it. And definitely follow up with a Darren root. It sounds like a really interesting company. 

JW: 18:19 Yeah, he's an interesting guy. A couple of companies. It's called Rootworks, R. O. O. T. Works, W. O. R. K. S. 

MP: 18:25 Very cool. Very cool. So let's, let's jump back a little bit into, so we talked about, you know, having the business at an arm's length. So the, the work is being done by others, that systems process, those sorts of things. And that's part of that t that train trainability teachability. Uh, and then the, the middle was, um, I value TBR. I was getting t r V so, so if, if we're going to be looking at like what I think would be interesting to talk about for the listener right now is as well in the book built to sell, there was this concept of envisioning the future and If I forget the fellow's name that you in the, and I know it's a real person that was in your life. Uh, I believe anyways. 

JW: 19:18 Well he's an amalgam of, of a number of different elaborate yeah. Ted Ted. Ted Gordon was the kind of mentor character. Yes. Yeah. And Alex Stapleton was the, uh, was the sort of mentee, if you will. 

MP: 19:31 Yeah. So I think I'd be great for a little teaser on what that the power of actually where to begin. When Ted set the sat, sat him down. You know, that was sort of the beginning is to look at what is it, where are you going? 

JW: 19:48 Right. So, you know, Ted goes through this, this exercise in the book where he has, uh, Alex the young entrepreneur get a, a recipe card out and he says, look, I want you to write down what you want your business to be worth at some point in the future. And you know, first Alex kind of box and says, well, you know, like, it's never going to be worth what I want it to be worth. And Ted goes, you know what, just suspend reality for a second. Write down your number, the number which someone would need to basically write you a check for to have you walk away. So what's your sort of walkaway number? I think everybody sort of has one in their mind. Uh, and so ted asks Alex to, to put that down on paper and everything sort of stands stemmed from that for the rest of the book. 

JW: 20:35 You know, Ted, the, the mentor used that as this sort of guiding light and sort of put it back and Alex his face saying, look, you know, I think in the case of, uh, of Alex Stapleton, he wanted his business to be worth $5 million. And at the time you wrote that down, it was probably worth, you know, four or $500,000. So, you know, it was a 10 x improvement over what, what it was worth at that time. And uh, and so the mentor at throughout the book kind of keeps going back to that like number. And he says, look, if, if your goal is to get here and he holds up the recipe card figuratively, uh, then you need to do these things. And I think one of the things that he acknowledged, it's through the book, and it's part of his advice was, was that, you know, you can create a very successful, very small business that's, that's relatively easy to do. 

JW: 21:25 So if you sell your time and you've got a unique service and you've got a good customer experience, you can create, you know, a business that has a good lifestyle income, 100,000 $200,000 worth of sort of income. But as soon as you run out of hours in the day to sell and as soon as you reach the ceiling beyond which you can't charge more for your service on an hourly basis, you simply run out of runway and you reach a plateau. And for some people that is totally fine. It's a great place there. They're earning a living and, and that's all that they want their business to deliver for them. And then when they, when they sell or when they kind of want to retire, so to speak, they will sort of close up the shop and no value will be created beyond that. There's another cohort of business owners, I believe, where they actually want to create something beyond just themselves beyond the hours of the day. They want the flexibility that comes with owning a business that's not necessarily dependent on you personally. And that's really where some of these harder lessons are involved. These are some of these things where you have all you wanted to do was create a lifestyle, businesses generated profits. You wouldn't really need to do a lot of them, but if you want to build something bigger, more successful, there's a, there's a, you've got to cross this kind of chasm as Jeffrey Moore said, where you, where you've got to make some of these really tough decisions. 

MP: 22:48 It's wonderful. I love, I love that. I think that's, you know, reason every listener should pick up this book. Number one is just to, to actually go through that process. And I think the book does a great job of being a guide for someone that wants to be in that last, um, group that you mentioned. And uh, and I remember reading the book and, and actually thinking very differently about business and just the mindset that a business owner needs to have in order to end up in the destination that they really want to end up. And then did you got to know, well, what does that look like? And so it's a, it's a fantastic read. So your value builder program I think is really interesting. And one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the, on this podcast is you're working with accounting and bookkeeping firms and you're helping them license the work that you do to help their clients. 

MP: 23:43 And one of the things that we, we constantly talk about on this podcast are that the role of a bookkeeper is to empower business owners around their finances and help small businesses be better. You know, that's, that's who their, their clients are. These people that are out there, uh, just like you and I and the listener, we're all small business owners and we want to see others grow their business and have the life that they want and the freedom that they want, all that good stuff. And you're actually, you provide a service that helps bookkeepers help their clients as well from this perspective of helping them build a better business. So tell us a little bit about that and I'd like to get into even some, some examples of how, how that's looked for your business. 

JW: 24:29 Yeah, sure. So, so what value builder, again, we work with business owners to help them improve their business. But a while ago we realized that actually not a lot wild guy. When we first started the business, uh, we realized that, uh, there was two sorts of delivery models we could have chosen. We could have chosen to go directly to business owners and try to build rapport and trust with them. Trust to the point that they would, they would, they would and trust us with their financial information or we could choose to go to market through the people they already trust. And in our case, we chose the latter route. So on hundred percent of our revenue actually comes from bookkeeping, accounting and other advisory firms who license our platform and then in turn use it with their customers as a way to be more strategic with their customers to go beyond just sort of entering the monthly numbers and saying, Hey, I can go beyond that for you. 

JW: 25:24 I can actually be a strategic resource for you. And so value builder is essentially a program where the business owner will invest $10,000 a year or about a thousand dollars a month with their bookkeeper, uh, to go through this 12 step process that we offer. It's all enabled by a cloud-based accounting platform like a cloud-based system. So both the business owner and the bookkeeper have access to the system. And then the bookkeeper basically keeps a hundred percent of the revenue they derive from doing valuable there for their clients. If you have, I don't know, 10 10 clients on value builder, it's a new sort of hundred thousand dollars service line for your Chi, your bookkeeping firm. And we basically charge up the bookkeeping from a, a licensing fee for the platform. So, so that's basically the business model and, uh, there are eight, uh, drivers that, uh, that we sort of coach bookkeepers to coach their clients on helping them improve. 

MP: 26:16 Beautiful. So what, uh, what have you seen, uh, in terms of how that's helped their clients? 

JW: 26:23 Well, statistically we, we, you know, one of the things that's kind of luxury is that we get data. So when business owners complete the value of that or questionnaire, we asked them a whole variety of things about how they run their business. So not only things like what industry they're in, what, what, how much revenue they derive, but, but also kind of describe their management team. I'm, it's recurring revenue. They have, how differentiated their service or product is in the marketplace. And based on all those questions or we give them a score of 100, it's called the value builder score. And we know that the average value builder score through the life of our, our company, uh, which now touches more than 30,000 businesses we served is 59 out of a possible 100. And those businesses, when they go and sell our offered 3.6 times their pretax profits. 

JW: 27:10 So if you've got a company with $100,000 in profit, it's worth around $360,000. If it's scoring average 59 on the value of the questionnaire. When we isolate just those customers of ours who have achieved a value builder score, 80 or greater, those businesses are getting offers that are 6.3 times their pretax profit. So again, if you've got a value builder score of 80 and you've got $100,000 of pretax profit, that business is likely more like trading at $630,000 almost double the business. That is our sort of our average performer. So we know empirically that improving your valuables or score or helping your clients improve their value, their score will have a direct, quantifiable relationship to the value of their company. And they really, that's what, you know, the bookkeepers, a licensed assistant, that's how they convinced their clients to go through the system. They don't say, you know, trust me, I'm your bookkeeper. 

JW: 28:06 They say, look, 30,000 businesses have gone through this and we can see quantitative quantifiably the impact these, these, uh, these exercises have on the business. So don't trust me, trust the system. And so that's, that's sort of our approach. But again, we do it exclusively through advisors because you know, whether it's an accounting firm or bookkeeping firm, you're, you're the one who's in the business at least monthly. You're the one who's got access to QuickBooks. I mean, you're the one who's doing the work and already has the trust of the business owner. So that's how our structure works. 

MP: 28:47 Beautiful. It's remarkable results. And I mean, what I love about it is that it's another way to differentiate their business and in a way that's very complimentary and not, not overwhelming, overwhelming them without having to figure something out or do anything. It's a, it's a, it's a way to take the expertise that they already have and combine it with a very proven system to help their clients. And it's certainly worth taking a look at. Uh, if you're listening, I think it's very much in line with where we're a bookkeeper should be thinking about how do we help the, this customer of mine grow their business and have the life that they want and get all the benefits they want out of their business while said, it's very cool. Well, there's lots, lots here, John. And um, you know, I think last question I'll ask is, you know, what do you see the big mistakes that business owners, and we'll, we'll include bookkeepers in that, but just, you know, generally what big mistakes do you see them making out there? 

JW: 29:54 Well, you know, it's, it's actually kind of a, a, a little tactical thing that may or may not resonate with all of your listeners, but I think it is one of the biggest mistakes that, uh, that entrepreneurs make is, it kind of goes back to something that we talked about right in the beginning of this conversation, which was the [inaudible] that your profit and loss statement is an important document, but it's actually not the most important document as it relates to a business owners life. A really a life. The life-changing document for most business owners is the valuation statement is what's the company worth? That is what gives them, if they choose to liquidate that, you know, their businesses choose to sell her business. That's what gives them financial freedom, freedom over time, money, etc. Etc. So, you know, I think I've seen many, many examples where we're business owners sort of spend a lifetime, 20, 30 years building a company and not basically paying themselves at a market rate, deferring income saying, you know, I'll make it up when I sell, I'll make it up when I sell, I'll make my money when I sell. 

JW: 31:01 And then they get to the end of the road, uh, at, you know, 50, 60, 70 years old. And they, and they say, okay, now's the time I want to sell. And unfortunately, the business is just too deeply dependent on them that they can't sell and they haven't been making money off the table along the way. And it just ends up being these sort of very tragic stories. And so I would recommend, you know, people, bookkeepers, and other business owners think about, make the decision upfront early. Like, am I building a business to sell a, in which case that's great. Let me, let me understand what I do there. Or I'll I building a lifestyle business that will never sell, in which case, let's, let's do everything we can to, to basically draw as much money out of the business along the way. And I think the tragedy happens where you have situations where business owners think they're one thing and get to the end of the road and find out that the other, and uh, and that's the real tragedy. 

JW: 31:53 So I would just encourage people to get really clear on what, what their personal goal is. And then as a bookkeeper, I think you play a tremendous role for business owners to be a mirror, to hold up a mirror to them and say, look, are you making decisions today that, uh, are designed to maximize your profit and the amount of money you could take out of the business because you know you're never going to sell. Okay, that's fine. Let's make those decisions with our eyes wide open. Likewise, if you know their goal is to sell and they're making decisions to maximize, for example, their profitability, they expensive their value, then I think you can play that strategic role for them. And say, hold on a minute. That's, you know, that's, that's not the decision that you should make if your goal is to build a more valuable company. And I think you're in a very unique position to do that because again, you've already got the trust of, of business owners. 

MP: 32:38 Well said. I think it's, it's the foundation, uh, that every listener should be thinking about, do this thinking, think about where you're heading. I mean, lots of, lots of information for both their customers, for themselves, but that one quote, hey, hang up the mirror in front of them that if there's anybody that can do a great job of that, it's the bookkeeper, you know, the financials of that company. And you can start to ask these questions of your business owners, which is kind of really put you into a really valuable light, uh, and being a, an asset on the team to be doing that kind of leadership. And that's what we're encouraging you to do all the time in this and this, in this podcast. And in our, in our groups. It's, I mean, that's the foundation of John. And that's why I knew you'd be a great person to have on this, on this podcast. I am very generous. Thanks. Uh, let's have you tell everyone where they can learn more about you and uh, any kind of offers or things that they should go and start to check out what you're doing. 

JW: 33:39 Well, go to Valuebuilder.com and hunt and peck around there a little bit. What I'd encourage you to do is actually complete the value builder questionnaire for two reasons. One, I think you'll find it interesting. It takes about 15 minutes to complete, free to do and you can see how you score for your own firm. And then at the end, it'll say, hey, are you an advisor? Are you a business owner or are you just here as a student or whatever? And just check adviser. And the reason to do that is then we'll follow up with you. We'll give you a free demo of the platform. You can take five days and free of charge, go through it and actually get underneath the hood, try the tools, see what it looks like and really kind of evaluate it, how it might be helpful for your clients. So I think all that's available just by going to value builder.com and completing the valuable, the questionnaire, 

MP: 34:28 Beautiful, so simple, so valuable and lots to learn from you, your books and the work that you do. And I know I get your emails all the time, they're very valuable. So there are lots of great things too. To go and learn from John Warrillow and we'll have all of the links in the show notes. So again, John, thank you for being on the podcast today.

JW: 34:46 My pleasure, Michael

MP: 34:50 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: 35:04 Goodbye

EP42: Alan Salmon - Discover Revealing Details of How Bookkeepers Learn

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

The classroom.

It was once the main destination where people consumed educational information, but in today's online world, things have changed and bookkeepers are slowly becoming more open to learning in new ways.

Managing Director of K2E Canada Inc. and IPBC board member, Alan Salmon recently conducted a survey that measured how bookkeepers and accountants learn.

It was sent to 10,000 contacts and 990 responded.

The results were fascinating.

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

  • What is the number one online educational tool for bookkeepers

  • How active bookkeepers are in social media groups

  • Whether bookkeepers still consume traditional forms of media

To learn more about Alan, visit here.

To explore his Excel Magic webinar series, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:19 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today we have a guest returning to this highly anticipated show. Alan Salmon has over 27 years of business management experience, education and journalism experience as the Managing Director of K2E, he is responsible for the Canadian operations of this international consulting group, which provides professional development and technology education firm for accountants across Canada and the United States as well globally. And now he's back and it's a really interesting topic today. Alan, thank you for coming back. 

Alan Salmon: 01:59 My pleasure, Michael. I'm always glad to talk to you. 

MP: 02:03 Yeah, and so for those who haven't had a chance to listen to the episode that you were previously on, can you share your, a bit of your background to give our listeners a little understanding of, of who you are more than what I just shared? 

AS: 02:17 Certainly. And let's focus on the bookkeeping community. I've been bald, been involved with bookkeepers for most of those 27 years, most of the time teaching seminars on technology topics. For example, there is an interesting discussion going on right now. I asked the folks on a number of Facebook groups to find out if anybody had any pictures of the original accounting program in Canada, which was Bedford accounting. And that's generated some amazing experience. And I remember that well back in 1985 would you believe? So from there for the last five years, my focus in the bookkeeping world has been on the Institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada. I served in as an advisor for eight years and for the last four years I had been on the board and it's been really exciting working with the bookkeepers on IPBC. They're a dedicated group, but the board is amazing. And they produced some amazing paybacks for bookkeepers in Canada. Their CPB designation is now recognized as the gold standard 

MP: 03:39 That it is. That's great Alan. And it's a wonderful organization. And I know in our previous conversations we've had the founders of IP or some of the founders of IPBC on as well as their, their former CEO. And we, we heavily recommend that every listener listening belongs to some form of an association for the industry. It's such a powerful, uh, experience to go and be around other people that are committed to their own success. So again, we echo that again and I think every episode, but wherever you are in the world, if you're in Canada, the gold standard really is the IPBC, the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. So if you don't, if you're not belonging to that, you don't know about it, please go check it out. There'll be links in the show notes, but as well there are other ones in every country. There's going to be an association that you can belong to. And I think it's a great segue into what we're talking about today, which is you've done a lot of research on how bookkeepers and accountants learn and you've done extensive research on this and you've written a paper on it. And that was the purpose to have you back, is to talk about what this means to us, what you found out and how our listeners can take advantage of, of your learnings. 

AS: 04:57 Like all of the research is always been a passion of mine. And I've done many, many surveys. So my latest one that we launched in May was called a road with no end. And I don't know about to the Lauren, I think back to when I graduated from college, I said to her, ah, I don't have to go back to school and how 100% wrong I was, I have consistently learned ever since that day. And uh, I guess I'll be learning until the day I die. So as I said, my latest research work was conducted in May and we surveyed our database, which is about 10,000 contacts and asked them 30 questions. And out of that, we got 990 responses and that if exceeded our initial expectations. 

MP: 05:54 Fantastic response. 

AS: 05:56 Yeah. That number of respondents give us a very clear picture of where bookkeepers and accountants are in the world of digital learning. And if we look at the metrics first, that response rate of 990 has a confidence Serravallo 99% and the margin of error of 4% the respondents represented a cross-section of the population with representation across Canada and into one of the territories, all the major cities. And we filtered the data because we could do that. And we looked at the comparisons of how bookkeepers and public practice rated the questions and how bookkeepers in industry and government and doctor profits did and surprisingly there reward many differences. However, when we did that same filter on age because we asked age groups, there were a number of differences, not surprisingly from those under the age of 45 and just all, let me focus here for just a moment on the demographics. 

AS: 07:10 The median range was 44 to 45 to 54 slightly more respondents from business and industry than from public practice and they made up just over 60% of all respondents. Respondents were equally, almost equally divided between female and male. But what's interesting when you filter that same question for those under 45 no, that number drops to 30% male, 65% female and five chose not to account. And that has some significance because if you go to the stats from a stat scan, the population I have accountants is almost split as of their survey last year.

MP: 08:10 Wow. So what, what's your big takeaway from all of that?

AS: 08:20 Well, I summarized it as follows and that is the overall results of the survey show that bookkeepers and accountants are not rushing to embrace the digital world of wondering except in the area of webinars which now surprisingly are stepstone from classroom to due to the learning. CPA Canada did a survey in 2012 and asked the same question and the results were 180% in variance from what I discovered. In other words, in 2012 there was a high percentage that wanted what we call bumps in seats where 

AS: 08:59 as you were speaking I am. I'm actually thinking of how powerful that is from the perspective of both the learner and our listeners and as well the people that are bringing them information. And I actually started thinking about how with our own community, how we can better serve them. So I was, I was actually consuming your information as you were actually giving it thinking, wow, there's so many pieces of information that could be get delivered. And the fact that more and more people are finding it more valuable is both valuable for them. And for the people bringing them the information. 

AS: 09:36 Now you've touched on two populations, the provider and the receiver. There's a couple of other worlds that are involved now. 

MP: 09:47 Interesting. 

AS: 09:48 Uh, you've touched on how will you structure your professional development in the 21st century, but the governing bodies like IPBC and CPA Canada have got to balance this to make sure that the learning is delivered efficiently and the standards are maintained. 

MP: 10:08 Yeah, it's absolutely because in a classroom you are, you have a bunch of things that exist to ensure it goes a certain way. Whereas online it's, there's a lot of gaps, there's a lot of gray areas. So what's, what are your, what's your thinking around the challenges they're faced with? 

AS: 10:25 Well, there are some very easy ways of confirming that people are awake and not doing email. One is when I do my mini webinars in my excel magic, every month I get a report that shows me the percentage of people that maintained interest and so on. And certainly in the public webinars that we do, William, we include what is called Polling questions. So roughly every 10 minutes there's a multiple choice question and it's basically to test if you're still looking in because the questions, there's no score on it. But if you miss more than 25% of the polling questions, you don't get your CPD. 

MP: 11:14 Interesting. Very good. And that's from the perspective of the person delivering the insuring that that contents been consumed. And then from a listener's perspective or a consumer of that information, I guess the, their, their desire and demand would be that education helps them move forward, helps, you know, gives them, because if it's not an engaging, if it's not interesting, but yet they need to sit through it, they're going to want better information, maybe more consumable or are entertaining or interesting. And so I think it's, what's neat about it is that it puts pressure on both, I mean, it, and there are lots of benefits to it, but as well, it puts pressure on the, the person that's consuming that education to actually consume it in a new way. But there are lots of benefits that go along with that. But as well from a people producing that education for people, the onus is on them to make sure that it's, it's good, it's engaging, that it fits with the way people are learning online. Otherwise, people will disengage and they won't, nobody's going to win out of it.  

AS: 12:19 Right, right. And two more factors, and again this is something we are just adding this year is a test at the end. And the second thing, or there's a huge payback is let's state the excel, uh, many webinars that I do call, Excel Magic, every month of the week after we've done the live. Then we provide every registering with a recording of the Webinar, my notes for the Webinar and my teaching files for the Webinar so they can go back to her heart's content. And if I did it too fast or there was confusion there because they've got three types of resources to enable them to make sure they get it. 

MP: 13:07 That's fantastic. And I think that leads to that engagement is that again, there are different learning styles. Some people perhaps miss something, they can always go back and get what they need. From your, your past content information and they can do it on demand. They don't have to show up at a specific time. 

AS: 13:26 You're absolutely right. So Michael, what I was going to say is perhaps we should now focus on some of the key takeaways from the survey. 

MP: 13:36 Yeah, let's, let's dig into it. 

AS: 13:38 All right. First of all, uh, the high percentage have the IPBC CPB or a CPA, and that's not surprising because that's who we targeted. And consequently, a high percentage of them require CPDs. And here's a follow up on the point that I was going to make. We ask them Garang cow, they preferred to get their CPE PD credits and we gave them four choices, webinars, classroom conferences, and reading. So their first choice was webinars, 41% by classroom, 26% conference is 25% and readings and so on. 

MP: 14:25 When they opted into that, was that a one or, or nothing? Or could they choose multiple? 

AS: 14:30 Yeah, we actually asked them for their first floor choices. Got It. And it doesn't change. The budget should go across.

MP: 14:44 Interesting. Yeah. So I'm, I'm actually, I'm just fascinated that conferences would be so low because it's a, it's kind of a, an immersed learning opportunity for people from a time perspective though. It could be too great.  

AS: 14:58 Yup. Interesting. All right, so now let's dive into this is we ask questions like, do you read paper, newspapers, digital newspapers, paper magazines, and digital magazines? And I will share with you have a survey respondent reading habits. Let's focus first on paper newspapers. The jury was out there, they were split 49% on a read paper and 51% a don't. And interesting the number one paper that came across, not surprisingly, was the globe and Mail and their community newspaper. Now when we go to digital newspapers, 52% are now reading them online. If we go to paper magazines, 56% still like flipping the pages. But now when we go to digital magazines, only 30%, I have found that to be a useful source. 

MP: 16:07 Hmm. It's interesting. While I like the, uh, it's fascinating the, the fact that people are consuming a good chunk of local community newspapers. Now mind you, a lot of them are moving to digital versions of that, but then when it comes to magazines, they're not necessarily consuming digital magazines. 

AS: 16:29 That's right. 

MP: 16:30 Wow. I think the audience would be very interested to know how they can, hmm. Shape their behaviors I guess on this information. But as well it's, it's fascinating. More so for me listening to that, just in terms of how a community is actually consuming information. It's, it's fascinating. 

AS: 16:53 Okay, so now Mike, only if we move on to um, what I call Groups, these would be Facebook groups like yours. These would be LinkedIn groups. There's some interesting information here. Now understand that we did not ask the question, do you have a LinkedIn profile? Cause if we had probably 90% of the respondents focused on do they belong to any groups? Only 26% are the respondents belong to LinkedIn groups. And if we go to Facebook, the numbers almost the same. Now everybody has a Facebook profile. But in terms of groups like yours, only 24%. And that's interesting because if you look on the other side a coin and you look at marketing gurus, they're all saying, you know, social media is the way to go. But that survey certainly does not prove that statement. 

MP: 18:03 Yeah, it'll be what I've really curious to see is what this would look like in a year from now. And, and you know, as we, as we move through, there are so many changes happening in the way people are consuming and, and, uh, participating in these networks. Uh, I think there's going to be changes happening all the time. And, and it's like groups today could be something else tomorrow. So I think what's nice about this is you created a benchmark that will be very interesting to be refreshing and looking at how are things changing moving forward. But that is a shocking number that, you know, of the people that did the survey, I would say that all very high percentage, as you say, would either be LinkedIn or a Facebook user, but yet only 20% 26% of them are actually leveraging groups. So it either means that there's going to be a lot of growth in groups or this is not something that's valuable to the majority. 

AS: 18:59 And speaking of baseline, you're absolutely right. We intend to do this on an annual basis. So this time next year we'll have comparative data, which should really prove interesting. 

MP: 19:10 Yeah, I think so. 

AS: 19:11 And the same numbers or same reaction is when we ask a question about Twitter and we asked the following, do you follow business people, our technology people on Twitter? And the answer is 10% do, 90% don't. 

MP: 19:29 Not. That does not surprise me because we've been working on our Twitter feed and we're, you know, getting information out on it. And, and uh, and for me personally, I've never been a big fan of Twitter and the way that it works and how it operates. And I, I think that it's very interesting to hear that it's a sort of very powerful information. And the question out, it's like 10% do, 90% dealt, there are millions of people on that platform. Why do you think this is? 

AS: 20:01 Well, for me, I don't find the time to do it. And I know a great friend of mine, Jennifer war, why is the pervert real Twitter? I don't know where she finds the time to do, to tweet as often as she does. I just don't have the bandwidth in my day. 

MP: 20:18 Yeah, I would agree. It's, it is a lot of time. And I think if we looked at Jennifer, we'd probably see that that's her platform of choice and the one she uses and the ones she gets value from. And that's it. And then if we looked at your behaviors, there's, you've got your choices of how you spend your time in the day and it's not Twitter. 

AS: 20:36 And speaking of that, um, and we asked the questions on Facebook and Linkedin, we also asked them who they followed and retrospect, that was a dumb question because guess how many different responses we got. 

MP: 20:52 Not a lot. 

AS: 20:53 990 cause everybody has their own, you know, particular that thing that they want to follow. 

MP: 21:01 Yeah, yeah. 

AS: 21:03 No you're not going to like the numbers from the next one. We asked do you listen to technology and or business podcast, what do you think the response was? 

MP: 21:14 I'd say it's extremely low. 

AS: 21:16 Yeah. And you're absolutely right. 21.4%. Yeah. 

MP: 21:27 It's not surprising. That one's not surprising. If you asked me that before we started The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, I would have, I mean I would have thought that it would be a lot higher, but I think it's interesting where we're podcasts around, I think it's an interesting, uh, point in, in the technology where people are just starting to wake up to that this, this even exists because podcasts have been around for a very long time. However, the ability to consume them has not always been that favorable. And now, right now it's incredibly easy to consume podcasts, but yet the t I think the user interface on apple for listening to podcasts is very clunky. It's very difficult and confusing. And I'm not sure about android, but for myself with iTunes, I'm not surprised. It takes time. You have to actually go in and figure out the user interface, and I've had lots of our bookkeepers that are listening, asking questions like even to leave a review is, is complicated to leave a review and that's how other people find out about things. 

AS: 22:30 So I think it's going to be interesting, as the groups. I'd love to see where that number is in 12 months and we're definitely gonna have an anniversary show when you have that one out because is it growing? I love podcasts and one of the reasons why I started it for the successful bookkeeper is that I, I found out about it not that long ago, maybe 12 months to two 18 months ago I started going, well, I always knew podcast existed, but I started listening to somebody shows and there were so valuable that I just kept. It became a part of my behavior. So whenever I'm in the car, I'm not listening to news or music or anything like that. I'm either listening to a book or I'm either a podcast and mostly the most of the time now it's podcasts. So whether that's going to change in this community for bookkeepers greatly, we don't know we're going to find out. But that's really interesting 

AS: 23:21 and I would agree with you on a personal nature because of my physical condition, Michael, I go to bed early, I'm in bed at eight o'clock and when am I in bed? I do one of two things. I have a wonderful device called a Microsoft surface that lives in bed 24 hours a day with me, which means because of its lightness, I can do a little bit of work. But my preference now is that I'm four or five times a week in the evening. I'm listening to recorded podcasts particularly yours. 

MP: 23:57 Well thank you, Alan. That's great. Sorry, I had a little bit of heads held swelling there. Um, but I think that's going to be interesting for, and I'm, I'm actually gonna ask that question of, of some of our listeners are where are they listening to it? Like you're listening to it in bed. You're, this is part of your behavior now to listen to podcasts and The Successful Bookkeepers being one of them. I'm curious though, what else are you listening to? 

AS: 24:24 Oh, some very, um, involve technology ones that, uh, take it to a high level, like the new Microsoft update for windows 10 for example. I'm in the midst of that. Uh, and then the future of accounting programs, some very carefully colleague sells stuff. 

MP: 24:47 Beautiful. I think that's very revealing. Your very interested in technology and not just on the surface, very deep, deep technology. And for most people that content would just be way over their heads. But for you, you're a part of a very, uh, I'm not going to say small group cause it could be a massive group, but there's a very defined group of people who want that level of information and you can find it through these podcasts, which is amazing really. And so I think that once people start waking up to the power of podcasts, because there's so many of them and they're, you know, you find what you like and it's free, uh, and you can get to the level of information that you really want and you can flip and choose what it is. I mean, if the people you're listening to right now stop producing valuable content, you'd find somebody else to listen to. So again, I think it's, it'd be really interesting to see where these numbers go. 

AS: 25:43 I agree, Michael. And the beauty of it is that you've, um, identify my likes in podcasts, but every single one of your listeners has the ability to create a learning platform or schedule that meets their particular needs. 

MP: 25:58 Yeah, that's, that's what's so exciting about it. Absolutely. And, and so let's continue on with the survey and some of your other findings. 

AS: 26:07 Yeah. I don't want to bury all your listeners and numbers, but here's three more that are interesting. We asked the question, do you read technology slash business blogs nowhere the number goes significantly higher because the response there was 36% and then the one that really surprised me, uh, out in the whole survey questions. Do you watch youtube videos and what do you think the response was, Michael? 

MP: 26:39 Well, this one, I am on the edge of my seat. 

AS: 26:42 53.1%. 

MP: 26:44 Wow. Wow. 

MP: 26:45 Going wow. The other way. Wow. I thought it would be significantly higher than that. 

MP: 26:51 Really. I think even like based on the numbers you've, you've put out write blogs, podcasts, Youtube. I'm actually, uh, I'm intrigued by that. That's very interesting cause I consider that to be, I mean, what's, what's the, what's the highest number of all of the survey questions around how they're consuming digital content. Is Youtube the heights? AS: 27:15 Yep. 

MP: 27:16 Wow.  

MP: 27:22 Just thinking about what we're doing and how we're producing content and the different things that we're doing. I mean, we don't do that much on youtube, if anything. I mean, we post these podcasts on youtube, but we're not producing videos per se. Uh, so it's something to, to look at. That's what the listener 52 was at. 52% are looking for. 

AS: 27:43 That's correct. 

MP: 27:44 Now is that they're looking forward or is that they? Is that what they've sort of, because youtube has been around for a while. There's a lot of behaviors already established around that platform and I mean, Google's done a great job of having an embedded everywhere, but that's the way they're consuming it right now. Whether or not it's where they want it or not, it is how they're consuming it, which is very interesting. 

AS: 28:06 Right. And that's the last number I want to throw at you. I'd like to sum up, 

MP: 28:11 Yes, please do 

AS: 28:12 A real summary of the findings and it goes like this, Michael. The big picture clearly shows that bookkeepers and accountants are slowly moving to embrace the digital world of learning. Starting with webinars. The reversal of their preference for in-person seminars in just five years represents significant shifts in the professional development paradigm. Further, millennials appear to be abandoning the world of print in favor of video delivered through online platforms such as youtube. 

MP: 28:45 Wow. You know, I sum it up with this, it, you know, it was how you started the conversation was about lifelong learning. And I think for me, Alan, it's been interesting just to know these numbers and, and to see how things are changing, but as well, it's inspiring to those that are lifetime learners. And I think the people that would listen to a podcast like this are people who are committed to expanding their profession, becoming better at what they do and growing their business and they're committed to moving forward, which education is a piece of that. And the exciting thing is that there's, there's so never in our history as there been such access to information and content and, uh, the ability to educate yourself from anywhere, anytime on the planet. 

AS: 29:35 Right. And what, uh, just to add a wrap to this, when I do my fifth and last keynote at de IPBC Ignite Conference, the focus is going to be on a lifetime of learning. And I've got some amazing flashbacks to show and some forecasts, so we're, it'll be going in the future. 

MP: 29:58 Beautiful. Well, that is exciting. And if for those of you who have not yet purchased your ticket to the IPBC conference this year in late September, early October, I believe, get on it, it's going to be fantastic. And as Alan has already mentioned, he is, that is a, a sample of what is there. It's what's latest and greatest, what's happening, where the trends were, things growing and you're gonna meet a lot of amazing, wonderful people there as well. People like you, people that want to grow their business, people that are committed to being great bookkeepers and a, and you can say hi to Alan and say you heard them on The Successful Bookkeeper podcast if you haven't met him yet. Well, Alan, this has been really interesting and I think for the listener, uh, there's a lot of changes happening in education and change is happening all over the place with technology. But this gives an insight as to where the, where the crowd is moving and what people are doing. And so thank you for, for being and taking the time to share this with us. 

AS: 30:57 You're most welcome. It's been a pleasure, Michael. 

MP: 30:59 Absolutely. Now, where can they, if they want to get more information, Allen, on this specifically or to get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that? 

AS: 31:07 Oh, a starting point is my short email address, which is Allen, a l a n @ k 2 e.ca. Yeah, I think you know Michael, that my other passion is excel and the listeners should know that every month I run to what I call excel magic mini Webinar, which is 30 minutes. It's at lunchtime, eastern daylight time and it's free. And if they're interested, you go to our website, which is www.ktolead.ca. Click on the burning tab and click on excel magic webinar series and that'll take you to the next pre, which are coming up a week after next and our sorry, next week and then two in July. 

MP: 32:07 Excellent. And we'll have a direct link right to that page. If, if you're listening right now, just go into the show notes, click on that link, it'll take you right in and you can find, find your way. And thank you, Alan. This has been great. And I again, will, we'll have you back, I'm sure for a bunch of other topics, but for sure when this survey gets done, again, that'll be interesting to look back on. Great, Alan, thank you for being on the podcast. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest, they get access to all 

MP: 32:40 sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye

EP41: Melissa Lenos - How To Attract Non-Stop Bookkeeping Referrals

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Are you looking for clients?

If you're just starting your bookkeeping business then you might be.

If you're already up and running then maybe you'd like to add some more business.

A way to do it other than spending thousands of dollars on marketing is to get referrals.

How do you do that?

Our returning guest, Melissa Lenos of King Accounting Solutions, knows how to master this fine art.

She never spends money on advertising because her revenue comes strictly from referrals only.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How to turn a conversation with your client's accountant into a new referral partnership

  • Why you should have lunch and learns with senior managers at accounting firms

  • How to leverage BNI to have a 30-50 person sales team for your bookkeeping business

To find out more about Melissa, visit her website.

To investigate The Bookkeepers Referral Machine, click here

To find out more about The Networking Power Pack, explore this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:09 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be another great episode because we have a terrific returning guest who is the owner of King Accounting and a current Pure Bookkeeping licensee. Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, Melissa Lenos. 

Melissa Lenos: 01:28 Thank you, Michael. What a great introduction. 

MP: 01:31 Yes, one. Thank you so much for coming back. I know when we had you on before we talked about everything other than what we wanted to talk about, which was networking and business referrals, but before we get into that, on this episode, please, for those that haven't heard your first appearance, can you let the listener know a little bit about yourself and your business? 

ML: 01:57 For sure. So I own our 10 accounting solutions and it's based out of Edmonton, Alberta. We go across Canada, so are your clients in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and then the northwest territory. And we do most of our stuff remotely. And I started out in an accounting firm, got my training there and did my accounting diploma and then decided that where my love was bookkeeping and helping clients day to day rather than six months after their year-end. And they've done six months more errors in our stuff and we're just doing adjusting entry. So I went into the day by day stuff with them and have loved it and enjoyed it and haven't looked back to the accounting firm. 

MP: 02:41 Great. Great. And last time you were on the podcast, you talked a lot about tips on hiring and as I mentioned, I'd love to jump in because I know you've got a lot to share around business referrals, networking and bringing new great people into your businesses. So let's, let's talk a little bit about how you came to find that this was a great way of growing your business. 

ML: 03:12 Yeah, so I have never done any advertising at all. I have received all of my clients and work, I was going to count beforehand, but I forgot. Um, I think we are just under a hundred or just one over a hundred clients, um, this quarter. And it's all through referrals. Every single client is either a referral from a client or a referral from an accountant or through BNI. 

MP: 03:38 Wow, that's remarkable. 

ML: 03:40 Yeah. And we've been doing this since 2008, so no, no advertising and no cost for that. Of course, we have a website and we have cards and that kind of thing, but no actual like print advertising. 

MP: 03:53 Well I love that you mentioned that and often people think of business cards and websites as the main driver of business, but they're not drivers of a business. They are simply tools to help people evaluate who you are and why they should work with you. So the business card is, well here's my card, that's a way to get back in touch with me once you've connected with somebody or something like along those lines. But a website that really is the tool in this industry, especially for all of the listeners, very important is this is the tool that helps a person who's been referred to Melissa, for instance, evaluate and make a further business decision. So it's supporting the referral. So as long as the referral and sometimes for you, Melissa, I'm sure don't even, they don't even care, they just come and work with you because you have such powerful referrals coming from your partners in the industry. But for, for a lot of situations, someone refers you business and then the next step is, oh well I'm going to go have a look at their website. And that's just an evaluation. It helps support whatever that person who referred you and help support that message that they gave and reassures them that, yeah, this is a good decision to go and check out or to do business with Melissa over here at King Accounting. So talk a little bit about how, what you've seen, your process of these referrals, how, how does it look today for you? 

ML: 05:22 Um, well, most, most of the processes, just having that first initial phone call with the client, the website, my website is a little bit out to date. We're actually working on a, an update right now. So if you look at my website, it says that I'm a sole practitioner, but I have three bookkeepers that works for me two full time and one part time. But that website still gives them an idea of what our mission statement is, our outlook of the bookkeeping world and what we want to do for the client. So we've very much based everything what the client needs, not what we're to give the client or what we want to give all the clients. So we take the first initial phone call just to see where they're at, what they're looking for, and then help them understand how we can help them with the things that they need. And sometimes that evolves with time that they realized that they'd rather we do everything for them. And sometimes it just sticks with only doing payroll or, or whatever it might be. But that first initial phone call of listening to them and understanding what they want is how we turn those referrals into business. 

MP: 06:37 Yeah, so questioning and asking what they're, where they're at, what's going on, hey, what's going on? I mean, it's really a great situation because when they're calling you, it really puts you into a position where you can be the trusted advisor, you can be the doctor, if you will. You know, a person goes to the, to the, the doctor, they have a problem. Then the doctor sits down and says, okay, tell me about your problems. Right. It's just, okay, here we go. Whereas if you're, if it's the opposite, if the doctor was outgoing in the street, finding people to work with, it'd be kind of weird because they'd be saying, Hey, you know, I help people fix problems. What is your problem? You know? It was like, hey, why are you, I got no problems and I'm good. So you've been able to have people coming to you with their problems. Why do you think that's been so powerful for you? 

ML: 07:28 Well, and most of these referrals are coming from the accountants. So the accountant of having a new business walk in the door, they're doing a year-end. They're seeing problems, they're seeing that they're charging double or triple what they should be charging for a notice to the reader. And then they're able to then give my information to that client and be like, this is how we can help you save money and get inflammation now rather than after the fact and help you build your business to the next step, which is what most people want to do, right? They don't want to just have enough money in the bank account. They want to grow it to something that they can maybe sell in the future. And that's what we're there to help from us. 

MP: 08:09 Yeah. And these, these relationships that you built with accountants, obviously you worked in that industry, you worked, that was that. Tell us a little bit about that, but I'm thinking that was a, a good start for you. 

ML: 08:23 It was a good start. So by working in the industry, I, I know what the accountants need to be able to do that notice to reader or review or audit statements. All of our files go the same. Everything's PDFs. The accountant doesn't even get the box of records. They only get the PDF. So we send them and usually, there's a question or two, but they don't even need to go through the book, the actual documents because everything's there that they need to do. The statement that they've been engaged to do. It did help having worked in the cause. I laughed in a very positive note and the partner, my mentor in the firm that I was with still continues to be my mentor and we worked really well together in that he gave me a lot of bookkeeping clients at the beginning and that just continued to grow my business by him doing that. And now I have such an easy ability to speak to accountants. So a one-off client comes in with a new accountant and the first thing I do once we finish the year-end and get adjusting entries is make a phone call and meet with them so that they realize that we're not just a one-person bookkeeping firm and we're looking for more work until that just grows the referrals. 

MP: 09:38 Amazing. So if, if somebody did not have these kinds of relationships already, what's your recommendation? 

ML: 09:46 Um, so if they have like one, um, bookkeeping file that they are already doing, it may be a good place to start with some examples. Like, get rid of the information. You don't want to be showing other accountants but use it to show what their work is like and just get in front of them, offer to do lunch and learns for the managers. You don't even have to always get in front of the partners of the firm. The partners are dealing with high-end stuff. Um, the managers, the senior managers are the ones you want to be in front of because they're the ones talking day today was clients and are the ones that are going to be referring to you that work. 

MP: 10:23 That's really cool. So a lunch and learn what would you do on a lunch and learn for accountants. 

ML: 10:30 So I would say sit down and just have a small short presentation, but it allows them to ask questions as well and just show them what your plan is with your clients, what you do for them and, and show how the package that they're going to get as the accounting firm so that they see the potential of, of how this could help their clients. 

MP: 10:53 I love it. I love it. I know with, uh, the pure bookkeeping system and our, our program for helping people build relationships with accountants, it's more of the, the theme is more of a one on one. But I love your spin on actually going in and doing a lunch and learn with the larger firm where there's a whole bunch of people in the, in the, in the firm and potentially getting, you know, two or three, four up upwards of people that can learn about what it is that you do and why you're, why you're great at what you do and how it helps them and their business. 

ML: 11:24 Yup. Yup. Yeah. I would do it with the larger firms, but as long as there are two or three managers and some partners like you can do it for any size, right. Cause even if the preparers are the ones also him and the lunch and learn and they may be able to ask some questions that will make your managers think about it. Right. So, 

MP: 11:44 Yeah, absolutely. And it really is a process of building a relationship. So it's not like a one and done. It's, you may not get to going in and doing a lunch and learn. It might be meeting the, the admin staff. It might be meeting the front of the house people like you say, some of the managers, some of the partners eventually. But if you keep nurturing and inquiring and knocking on the door and you know, building that relationship, eventually you get to the point where people know who you are and they trust you and they're willing to refer business over to you. If they don't know you and never have known you, it's going to be very difficult for them to say, Oh yeah, let's just refer that business out. So, um, uh, and that goes for every single piece of business that you're trying to do in any area of business. If you're trying to get on new clients, it's all about nurturing relationships. 

ML: 12:39 Yes. And I've never been to an accounting firm that wasn't looking for a bookkeeper to be able to refer to. 

MP: 12:46 Yeah, that's, absolutely. We call, obviously we're, we're, we're looking for bookkeepers to speak with and people who are doing bookkeeping. And so calling accounting firms, uh, often we're talking to accounting firms in there. Well we, we don't have a bookkeeping arm, but we're looking for bookkeepers and it's, it never fails to surprise me because I think, Geez, you know, it's like just a couple of calls and there's a business out there waiting for people. So if anybody doesn't have a business, this is a place to start looking and building, right? It's not like it's an instant win, but it's something that if you put the energy and time into, we'll pay back big as you've seen Masa. 

ML: 13:23 Yes, totally. 

MP: 13:30 So this has been 

MP: 13:32 referrals from accountants and, and that's one of the very best ways to, to get referrals. And I want to talk just before we get into the next one a little bit about why referrals are so much better than advertising. And likely if you were to go out and spend a bunch of money on advertising, you'd be very disappointed because what happens when you're advertising is that you, you put out a signal and people go, oh look, there's an advertisement. Maybe I'll check them out. So they'll come along back and they'll say, Hey Melissa, I saw your ad and you know how, how much do you charge is likely going to be one of the questions that come up because they're going to be people that have no prior context of why you are great or why your valuable. Whereas a referral, a referral from an accountant referral from a great client, they're, they're saying to that person, you're awesome. 

MP: 14:28 They are edifying you. And that's a big word. But basically, they're making you seem like a big deal cause you are because they love working with you and they're sharing that with someone that they know, like, and trust themselves. And they say, you've got to work with Melissa. So that person comes to you and says, Hey, you know, I heard you're great. Tell me more. And you go, well tell me all your problems. And that's why those convert into being great clients and why they convert likely and to being high paying clients because of that. So referrals are paramount in this industry. They're paramount in likely every industry. So let's talk about how you generate referrals in other areas. In number one, I know we've talked in the past is a, B and I, and we had Ivan Meisner that was actually a recommendation from you to say, Hey, like let's, let's talk about this. And we went right to the top and we got Ivan Meisner who founded BNI business networking international. And so thank you for that. And so, and we actually wanted to talk about it in our first episode, but we with you, but we didn't so talk, let's talk about how you nurture in BNI and give people a little bit of context if they haven't listened to that episode with Ivan. 

ML: 15:42 Yeah, for sure. So I've done BNI twice now. The first time I did it and it was a fun part because shirt, um, and I went into a BNI group, very green on owning a business, but it was great because it's all like-minded businesses that want to refer to each other. So the whole idea of BNI for those that don't know B and I is that it's very rural oriented, but the rules are there for a reason. So it's the weekly meeting. So it's a lot of commitment. But that commitment allows you to get to know everyone in your group very well. So you have that trust factor. The first thing that gives you a good referral is having a trust factor. So you spend once a week in that day, you, um, then cultivate those relationships by meeting with people that used to call it dance cards. They call it one-to-one for now after you spend time learning about their business and the name bite you to learn about your business. 

ML: 16:44 So it's getting to know how to be a salesperson for everyone in your group because everyone in your chapter is your sales team. They are out there, they're listening for those key things that you've told them. So for a bookkeeper, it's, Oh man, I spent so much on my year-end or I just don't know if I made any money. So those things are the keys to listen to, to be able to refer a bookkeeper to your teaching, the 30 or 45 or 50 people in your chapter, how to listen for those triggers to be able to refer you. And that's huge to have 50 people out there talking about your business when they hear those cues that you taught them to listen for. And then the referrals are not cold calls, they're, I've talked to this person, I've told them there that you're going to phone them and this is the reason you need to phone them. And so you get to know the customer that been referred to you before you even make that phone call. So you know how to have that call and that meeting to help them the way they're looking to be helped. And it's just unbelievable. Last month alone, I think over 50% of my revenue was a referral-based out of BNI. 

MP: 18:00 Unbelievable. And really, I don't think people jump right to the power of a BNI group. Like you say, the 40 salespeople working for your business. And I've heard people complain about the amount of time that it takes to, to work in a BNI, right? Cause you're meeting once a week. It's, it's every single week. And there it's a commitment, right? 

ML: 18:27 It is a huge commitment. And the first time I was in Vietnam, I lasted two years and I couldn't accept any more referrals. So I ended up having to leave the group. I then built the business that I have now. So there's four of us in the bookkeeping and one in HR. So I'm in BNI, one of my other bookkeepers and Lindy and I and my HR person's in BNI. So we all work very closely with all three BNI groups. We are there to sub for each other when we're not available so that we meet all of those people. So we actually have like 70 people out there that know our business. 

MP: 19:06 It's amazing. 

MP: 19:14 So it's a big, huge time, time commitment. But if you were to think about having to have a sales organization of 70 people and to be able to train all of those people and employ all those people to work for you, I mean it would be astronomical. So the, the amount of time you put into BNI is just a tiny little speck of sand compared to the amount of potential that really does exist. And so I just love the way you've approached it, which is very serious, very intentional. And you've made it work because it's there for people to make work. But if you don't do the work, it's not going to work. 

ML: 19:54 Exactly. And another good thing to remember is that it takes six months minimum to get what they call a VCP. So that's that visibility, the trust to be able to start getting those referrals. 

MP: 20:08 Yeah 

ML: 20:09 Because you walk in and now I'm a trusted advisor cause I'm now with BNI. It doesn't work that way. 

MP: 20:15 No, for sure. And nor should it. I mean, if we think about it, right? If, if, if you, as a person listener, you're a listener right now, you're sitting there thinking, who are you? Would you refer anybody that you didn't really know that well? So no one's gonna do the same for you either. So you've got to get to know these people, you've got to build trust, you've got to help educate them as to what your value proposition is. And the way Melissa said it so well is to train them on how to find a great referral for you. That's beautiful. And I don't know that I've heard anyone say it that clearly the way that you actually have Melissa, which is listening for these cues and really train your people to actually be able to make a, create a referral. And because guess what, if you're not a bookkeeper, you have no idea what a good referral looks like. So unless you're teaching people to listen for these types of cues, I mean it's a no brainer. 

ML: 21:13 Exactly. And it's a great way for new bookkeepers to get out there and be seen by your community. And, and you do have to speak every week, but it's 30 to 60 seconds. We can all make it through 30 to 60 seconds and you pre-write down your, your speech. And if you're not good with people, you put it in front of your face and you read it out. You don't need to pay attention to anyone else. It's just getting your information out there and then it's all one on one type of stuff. So it's a great way to build your business. 

MP: 21:45 Absolutely and you know what you say, we've got all sorts of bonuses and whatnot inside The Successful Bookkeeper. If you go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and you go into the free resources, we've got lots of resources around networking, some really great stuff. We have a networking power pack that we charge money for, but it's, it's $19 you get a whole bunch of scripts and things to say and all that good stuff. But we actually have a video inside the, the resources section that talks about all of it. So if you didn't want to to pay the $19 you'll get like 80% of it for free. So get in there and get that. And I'm going to put a couple of links on this episode for sure. The first one being our video that we talk about building relationships with accountants. We call it the bookkeeper referral machine because literally when Melissa has built here is a machine, a machine that pumps business into your, into your new business, into your business every single month. 

MP: 22:46 And for a lot of it, it's based on stuff that you've done in the, in the past. So it's literally you're not doing any more work for those things. You're just nurturing and maintaining the machine. You know, putting a few drops of oil here on this wheel and maybe tightening that bolt over there on that wheel and it runs and you just have to maintain. And so yes, lots of work in the beginning, but once you've done that, you've got leverage. So we call that the bookkeeper referral machine. There's a great video in the resources for you to check out. And then as well this a networking power pack which has some scripts and different things that will really help the lesser for you, the listener goes out and do these things. But I think Melissa you've given some great things and I'm going to, I'm going to, uh, I'm going to dig deeper for some more gold here cause I absolutely love it. So let's say that you are sitting down for a coffee meeting and that's what they call them co no, it was a one-on-one, right? It used to be called One-on-one. It's One-on-one. So this is where you've sat down with the people that in your BNI, let's say it's a brand new person that they've just come, they've never been to the BNI before their new member. Walk me through what that meeting looks like. 

ML: 23:58 So you only ever do one side at the meeting. So you always want to set up two separate meetings, one to talk about yourself and want to talk about them. So if you invite then it's talking about them, it's understanding their business inside and out and learning those cues. So ambient either is a form that you can fill out that it asks the questions to help you work through the one-on-one. So in that, it talks about where are your phone, what kind of training you have. I'm just going to pull one out. So that night's in front of me. What you're looking for in a client, your accomplishments, your interests, what networks you deal with. And then it's talking about who's your power team. So BNI is huge on power teams. It's getting that three or four or maybe even 10 people together. So an example for my five bookkeepers, accountants, a financial planner in a management consultant for an electrician. 

ML: 25:00 It's a house builder, an electrician, a plumber, a general contractor, those kinds of things. So it's that power team where they can work together, trust each other explicitly and be able to refer out. So that's a huge way to build a business. So in the package that you get to do a BNI or a one-to-one, it lists all these things and makes you think about them so that you can have that conversation and have a good meeting in that half an hour, 45 minutes or an hour, whatever you've booked to make sure that person understands your business and, and have set up these great forms to make sure you talk about the right thing and don't get sidetracked.

MP: 25:48 I just love that. I love it. And I think it's for, for, for those listening, I think what I would imagine is that this makes it a lot less daunting if you've never done something like this before, it really is, it's uncomfortable, right? Cause it's something new, but you're really mapping it out in a way that, you know, it step by step, everything is there. All you need to do is show up and someone is going to guide you along. Likely.

ML: 26:13 Yes, exactly. Exactly. 

MP: 26:15 That's wonderful. And I love this concept of the power team as well. And I don't think enough people talk about it. I've heard it before and I think it's amazing, right? When you think about the way that you get business in any business, there are typically the key factors. It's like that's how it's a best, where my best referral came from over here and you just mentioned a few of them, right? It's as if there are a few people, like a maybe a bank manager or person who is interacting with your ideal customer and if you can each help each other grow your network and grow your lead referrals. I mean it's just, it makes so much sense. 

MP: 26:53 One, it's also working outside the box. So like a great referral network for me is the construction team because they work with a ton of people that are subcontractors that need their books done. So I need to talk to those people because they're a great resource to get me good referrals. 

ML: 27:12 Yeah, absolutely.  

MP: 27:15 And so getting outside that box, 

MP: 27:17 and you don't know until you're going to get out there and start looking around and finding these opportunities. I mean, there's nothing, there was nothing written down where it said, Hey Melissa, go do this. You had to discover that through just the, the act of, of building your network and going through the process and belonging to be an I 

ML: 27:34 Yup. 

MP: 27:36 Fantastic. Well, this is been great. I think I'm going to end on one last question for you here, which is, as you started to allude to, for many bookkeepers, confidence is a problem, right? And they might not feel completely confident to go into a room and meet all these new people. What would be your recommendation for, for building that confidence? 

ML: 28:03 Ah, well you can, it depends where you are, right? Uh, the chambers are always good. The Rotary clubs are always good. If you're in a smaller community, it's a little less daunting. You walk into the Edmonton Chamber of commerce and there are 500 people there, it's a little bit more daunting. You walk into the Laduc Rotary Club and there are 20 people there and they just want to have a conversation. It's a lot easier, but I think walking into any networking meeting, you need to go, I'm going to talk to three people and I'm okay with only talking to three people. I don't need to hand out 500 business cards when I walk in the room, I need to talk to three people, get a relationship build, and then the next meeting, next month it'll be three different people. Or maybe you're good with five, whatever it might be, right? So start with small goals but always make goals and that'll help you get through. Not Feeling the confidence, but it's understanding. And I went through it as well. I didn't feel confident and, and the partner that mentored me is just looked at me and said, you can do it and you're going to do it by yourself. So it's just having the right people around you to give you that confidence builder. And I think the successful bookkeeper is very helpful with that too. The Facebook page and being able to just, everyone's there for everyone. 

MP: 29:23 I love it. Thank you. And for you, listeners, right now, you can do it and you're going to do it yourself. So go do it. Go do it. You can hear from Melissa that this stuff is gold. It works. But yes, it will be daunting. So just go do it and you can leverage the wise uh, mentor that Melissa had to actually go and do it yourself if you haven't already. Well, Melissa, this has been absolutely fantastic. Please share how people can get more information or connect with you if they'd like to. 

ML: 30:03 For sure. So there is a website that is in the middle of rebuilding, but the old one is there so that Kingaccounting.ca um, they can give me a call. So it's 70804465901 or more. Or they can email me, So it's Melissa@kingaccounting.ca

MP: 30:23 Beautiful. And we will put all of those links for Melissa into our show notes as well. We'll have a link to the Ivan Meisner who founded BNI and I forget the stats on how many BNI's, but it's absolutely reduced like 8,000 BNI chapters, I think in the world. It's crazy. 

MP: 30:42 Across the world. 

ML: 30:43 It might be 12,000 actually. It's massive. It really is massive. So that means it works because if it didn't work, people wouldn't be participating in it. So, uh, I can't say enough about it in terms of helping you grow your business. This is a place to be focusing on. Accountants and BNIs are great networking groups like that are fantastic. So good. Go do it. 

ML: 31:05 That's right. And, and just remember to always stay with what you believe in 

ML: 31:10 my company is. 

ML: 31:11 Do what you do, asked and outsource the rest. 

MP: 31:15 I love it. I love it. Thank you, Melissa. Thanks for being on today. 

ML: 31:19 Thank you. 

MP: 31:20 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye

EP40: David Cristello - Why Your Process Will Keep Your Bookkeeping Clients Happy

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher


No one likes that in their bookkeeping business.

But, when you don't have a trusted process or system in place for staff to follow which details how your operation works, a tornado of destruction will likely ensue.

This could happen because clear instructions are not given on how things get done, so others will come up with their own solutions which can lead to disaster including some angry clients.

Today, our guest David Cristello, who is the founder of Jetpack Workflow, will offer some suggestions to get you started on systemizing your bookkeeping business.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Why it's important to download your brain into a Google Doc

  • Why the quality of your product is dependent on the quality of your process

  • Why you should include your staff in the creation of your systems

To find out more about David, visit here.

To learn about Jetpack Workflow, explore the website.

To start a Jetpack Workflow free trial, click here.

To access the Pure Bookkeeping Session Checklist, check out our free resources.


Michael Palmer: 01:11 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's guest is the founder of a company that is helping many bookkeepers across North America. His creation, Jetpack workflow reduces costly admin time and manages your client work in one place. If that's not enough. Our guests also happen to be the host of a great podcast called Growing Your Firm. Definitely something you're gonna want to check out. Welcome to the podcast, David Cristello. 

David Cristello: 01:36 Thank you so much, Michael for having me. Really excited to be on. 

MP: 01:39 Hey, it's great to have you and I'm really looking forward to the conversation today because I know a lot of our clients are using your program and they're speaking very highly of it, which is exciting because I know it's solving their problems and anybody that solves my friend's problems is a friend of mine. 

DC: 02:01 I love it. I mean that's, you know, that's the true currency. We, we tried to hold ourselves by here at Jetpack, which is just the overall satisfaction and happiness. It sounds a little lofty, but you know, we're a company that based on our business model, based on our longterm objectives, we want to serve the customers and the users and the firm owners the best way possible. So that's music to my ears. I'm literally going to share that with the team later today. 

MP: 02:26 Beautiful. Please do. So to get us kicked off here, tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey and what you were up to before founding Jetpack workflow. 

DC: 02:39 Yeah, absolutely. So I've had a bit of an atypical journey, meaning that I come from outside the industry. Uh, prior to Jetpack I was actually building out sales and marketing funnels for small and medium-sized organizations. I was also running different entrepreneurial events like startup weekends and things like that and came into this specific pain point after, well it started talking with a handful of bookkeeping and accounting firm owners and I kept hearing this phrase over and over and over again. This phrase was, we were having issues with quote-unquote checklist management. And honestly, the first 10 or 12 times I heard that there were problems with checklist management. I kind of just brushed over it. I thought, well, it's been solved in some way, shape or form. You know, let's continue on the journey of what else I could potentially help with a war, learn about what's going on in your firm. 

DC: 03:33 And I heard it five and 10 and 15 and 20 times all across North America and got to the point where an owner who was based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where we're located, he called me up and he said, look, we've been looking for a checklist management solution. It is the bane of our existence. If we can't find one, we can't grow, we can't hire. I don't feel comfortable bringing on more clients. I was going to acquire practice in the new year and I just don't feel like I can without solving this checklist management issue and so I told him, look, I'll come out to your office end of the week and I'm going to show you the Trello's. Podio is a Saunas, base camps, all these wonderful tasks, and project management tools. Let's get you set up with one of those and I'm going to document how you get set up. 

DC: 04:16 I'm going to share it with everyone that has told me about this pain point and then we're going to go on the hunt for something more problematic, more painful that I feel like we can solve. And when I showed up to his office, as the name's will, and I said, well, well, what are you currently using to manage your, your checklists? And like many owners listening, if you don't have a solution in place, you know, we'll open the second monitor. And he showed me his spreadsheet of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients and with all types of different recurring dates that were set up in different columns in each column. Cat had this, you know, one through five tasks or checklists that he managed. And when we tried to take that spreadsheet, which seems to be a very, very common setup when we tried to put it into a generic task and project management tool, which we're big fans of, but they're not really built for having a large set of clients with a lot of recurring client work. 

DC: 05:06 And then we'll turn to be, you know after we were trying to hack together this whole solution. He goes, well, honestly I want to be able to run reports and answer questions about the status of my work. And he goes, for example, I want to see, you know, show me all my bookkeeping clients with something due this Friday. It hasn't been started organized by my team and that was kind of a mini Aha moment, which is it's just impossible to actually get clarity on your client. We're inside of these tasks and project management tools because they're built for service or product sprints, not for recurring client work. And then when we went into the land of CRM and we looked at salesforce and highrise and bays and pipe drive, we realized that they're built for salespeople, for prospect management, for pipeline management, not for ongoing recurring. 

DC: 05:50 They were even one-off client work in some regards. So out of that journey, I ended up emailing a couple of thousand owners, talking with hundreds and hundreds of owners about what the week looks like, what their days look like. Really just became unusually obsessed with this problem and then launched jetpack workflow initially to solve that one specific pain point, which is you have a lot of client work, a lot of it's recurring. How can you quickly track all this information in a way that's very transparent and you can filter, search and sort by your next thing. So that's kind of the short and the long end of it of how we got into jetpack workflow. 

MP: 06:24 I love it. I love the fact that you discovered this through solving a problem and now are helping thousands of clients solve that same problem that that one person had. Very entrepreneurial. Very cool and I'm sure very intriguing for our listeners because I'm sure they're suffering from some of the frustrations that your first client really was. 

DC: 06:50 Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, as firms continue to grow, there seems to be this, this pivotal ceiling. There's a couple of different ceilings that seem to happen, but certainly, the first one is around three team members, two to three team members. Because sometimes what happens is, you know, you're, you're the sole practitioner, you start your firm because you're, you're great at bookkeeping, you're great at your craft, you get a couple of clients. Then over time, you do great work for them, they recommend other clients and, and you know, suddenly you have a very foundational business and it feels very, very good. Yeah. You ended up replacing maybe your previous salary with your new venture, but then you go and you hire somebody and maybe it's a part-time assistant and then usually if you hire that next person or you get that two to three full-time people, all of a sudden the need for transparency over the process becomes very, very real. 

DC: 07:37 And then, you know, the question becomes how do you properly scale the product that you're offering? And so that's, that's the way we kind of think about the product, which is we help accounting firms, bookkeeping firms better productize their service so they can have a high quality quote-unquote product and wanting to get, when I say product, it's the service you're delivering and the quality of your product is dependent on the quality of your process. And so that starts to break down around three, four people. Certainly, you know, when you get into 10 20 and we've worked with firms, you know, 50, 80, a hundred people, each one of the process becomes critically important to making sure that your existing client base, which is your bread and butter, doesn't start looking elsewhere for other providers. But then as you're onboarding new clients, they still have the same quality of service because we know that drives referrals that tries word of mouth, that that opens up opportunities to provide more services. So ultimately we are, we are a tool and so you have to apply an appropriate method. And Michael I know talked a lot about this, um, but, but productizing that quality is, is so critically important. Certainly at that stage where you're starting to hire your first few people and then making sure you have the transparency to, to see what they're up to and make sure that they are adhering to the standards that you set up for the practice.

MP: 09:02 Yeah, so multilayered, right? You've got in your hands the livelihood of another person. And and in some cases, in many cases, multiple people. So if you mess up something when you're doing, they're books. When you're doing their accounting, if you mess up mess a date, there's consequences. And there are financial consequences with consequences, which people don't, you know, that's sensitive, right? You can end up costing people money or having, you know, some failures that could be to the level of catastrophic for business. So you don't want to mess it up. And that's the power of having a tight process, a systematized business where things don't fall through the clock. They're always gonna fall through the crack. But where you minimize to the best of your possible ability, minimize the likelihood that that will happen. And that's, you know, as a, as your duty, as a PR, as a provider, that's what you have to do. 

MP: 09:54 But then when you talk about now the next layer layers like customer service, like people, if you want, if you want to retain the people you're working with and have them want to pay more for it and love you and refer you, it's like you got to have a great product and a great service and make sure that people go, wow, they think of this stuff before I even do right? And that's what people go, ah, you got to work with my person. So there are so many layers to this that I think it's a, such a powerful conversation. And I think right now you listed all of these different solutions, a Santa and you listed base camp and Trello and slack and this and that and everything else that for, for our listener right now it's confusing. Where do I go to? What do I do? Right? So many tools, so many tools and that were where you're first, you know, your client number one really was was how do I make sense of all of this and get what I need to do done, which is making sure that all of the boxes get checked on every single client. 

DC: 10:53 Yeah. And it's a really fine balance between, you know, of course, you want to, you want to research a tool that could be the best fit for your firm, but it is a tool and you still need to apply content on top of it. And we've done certain things, we've put some lightweight templates, certainly not as robust as what you provide over there, but we some, we've done some lightweight templates to kind of nudge people in the right direction. But I think, well, whatever tool you're using or if you're relying on a spreadsheet or you're relying on calendars or, we had a, a client that came on fairly recently that which she did was she had a whiteboard system. And then as she got more clients, she proportionately bought more whiteboards and toys it became a whiteboard wall. And then we have this, you know, celebrate every moment on the, on the phone when I asked her, have you gotten rid of the whiteboards? 

DC: 11:38 And she goes, you know what, I got rid of all my whiteboards, but that's not to, you know, kind of shun a whiteboard system. I think it was important that she at least started putting together some sort of system. And I think the important aspect of it is it's iterative. You like just get started with having anything and then, of course, it will get better, right? But if you're, if you become overwhelmed with the amount of choices, which we know there's the paradox of choice and the more choices end up paralyzing the decision, I would say just pick one. Certainly, if you're, if you're, you know, just kind of getting started with the firm, pick one, start putting content in there, the process of taking that first step forward is going to help you directionally find the right path for your firm. Um, so, you know, we're obviously very biased here at jetpack when it comes to tools, but regardless of what you're using, just start using something. 

DC: 12:30 And I think by doing that, you're, you're leaps and bounds ahead of where you were prior to that. And once you get the ball rolling, um, you know, it picks up speed as it goes downhill and that, and that's a great first step. The one thing I'll say pulling back the curtains on jetpack workflow, because, you know, we, we provide software product, but we essentially run a mini service department in here as well because now at this point with customer support and we have customer success, which assists with onboarding new accounts. We have inbound product specialists that give demos. I mean we have a mini service department and, but, but early on it was just me and then it was me plus a contractor. And one of the best things in hindsight that for the business was, you know, the, the first full-time nontechnical hire I made happened about three weeks before my honeymoon. 

DC: 13:20 And then about two weeks before the honeymoon, I had this kind of Oh crap moment in that this individual was going to be responsible for all the support tickets for all of the demos and for all of the set. And obviously, at that time, one person could handle all of those things cause the scale was a lot smaller. But it forced me to go through this exercise in a very real way of, you know, I don't feel like I'll have a lot of time, you know, especially with going overseas and internet connection and things like that to answer support tickets and the future livelihood of my marriage might've rested on that as well. And so I had to literally download my brain and what I did is I put it into a Google doc and for me, it was the scripting. It was the tools you need and it was just, you know, for me the perfect place to start. 

DC: 14:07 And it was a perfect exercise to pull all this out of me. Cause this is definitely one thing. As you're, as you're starting out, it's really hard to carve, carve out time. But, but you know, if you're an owner or listening right now and you and you have a part-time or full time or maybe a handful of full-time team members, you know, I would go ahead and say whether you do this hypothetically or giving yourself a 10 day, two week vacation, whatever it may be, it will force you to update your process in a very real way because leading up to that vacation, you're just like, oh my gosh, does everybody have the tools and procedures and visibility to accomplish their job? And so it's a great forcing function. So, so jetpack went through that and then we ended up going through that just about every, every 12 months as we continued to grow, updating the process, thinking about how we can improve transparency. But yeah, the best way is to just start in, the best way to start is to leave the country for 10 days and handed off to somebody else. 

MP: 15:06 I love the analogy and I think it's an awesome way to have some fun with it too. Write a book on a holiday and get ready for the holiday cause you, you know, you don't have to do that work but then you get a nice big reward cause you're going to be on holiday. I mean essentially to remove yourself from the business. That's what an entrepreneur is trying to do, right? So bookkeepers starts a business and wants to maybe get away from just doing the books or doing the all the work themselves and get up to maybe more consulting level of where they're helping their clients or you know, having a business that actually, if they're very entrepreneurial, having a business that actually produces income without them. That's the idea is to remove yourself from the entity and the entity. Still, be able to produce the promise for the customer and produce a profit. 

MP: 15:53 That's ideally what we're trying to do. And so what a great analogy. If you want to remove yourself from the business, you got to remove yourself from the business and then actually all with the consequences, right? Because it's not going to go well essentially. And we, I mean that's what we've built, right? Pure Bookkeeping was built by a woman, Debbie Roberts, who essentially did that for her business on every single level of the business. There were explicit documentation and instruction on how to do the very best job in her firm, and now we've just taken that and you know, have hundreds and hundreds of bookkeepers that follow that same system and use it and implemented in their business. But really that's the process that we tell of you. We want to do it yourself. It's a lot of time. It's a lot of work, but it's, it's possible because Debbie did it and a lot of your clients are doing it is it just starts with one checklist. 

MP: 16:44 It's one checklist. I can't remember if you and I talked about checklist manifesto, that book, I don't know if it was you and I, but it's essentially the, the premise, right is how do you ensure things get done while you need a checklist and then the system simply becomes, it's what you did. You've got to go away on vacation. Oh my goodness, I need a checklist for, for my person here. And then they're going to need, oh well they're gonna need more information about each step of that process. So you can start to fill that out and give more context around what that means and if that goes wrong, but you can't build it unless you start. And it just starts with simply five things on a list and then that turns into 10,000 like you, there would be the Pure Bookkeeping system. But what I love about Jetpack is that you now have brought technology that is not for every day, you know, like does generic like a San others' Trello. 

MP: 17:33 Those are like generic platforms that help generically everybody, right? Any business can pick it up and start to use it and manipulate it to work for them. Yours is different. It is an overlay on a very specific narrow industry that's helping them solve their problems with technology. And that's why I love it. Uh, and while I think our clients are loving it, is that it's a great overlay. It's bringing technology that's, that's useful, that helps them, that they can then bring to life and implement or ensure that what the, the system that we've created in pure bookkeeping actually gets done. And there's a great technology to help you do that. I worked in technology for a while myself before doing what I'm doing today. And one of the biggest failure points for technology was implementation, right? If you don't use it, it's useless. And so you've got a success team that helps people get using it. 

MP: 18:27 Any technology, an excel spreadsheet is a piece of technology that will help you manage a checklist. However, is it the best technology? Maybe, maybe not likely not, but it's better than nothing. And if you use it and you know how to use it and it works for you, then it's a, and it's a good piece of technology. So, so what I love about what you guys are doing is that it's saying, okay, well how can we really help people use the technology, produce a better technology that helps them do it and help them be more successful with it through, through coaching and mentoring and, and helping them get to where it actually used being used inside their business. 

DC: 19:04 Yeah. Well, this is us taking our own medicine. So you know, if, if for the folks that, you know, have listened to our podcast or kind of absorbed some of our content, the big thing we interview around and recommend around is, is, you know, solving and helping your clients get to their end desired. How come, you know, w you know, it's a profit margin, take home cash more time off or whatever it may be. And so because of that, you know, I check pack, we, we adhere to the same approach. And so we know that you know, an owner is not laying in bed at midnight, completely stressed out sinking. If only I had one more software app in my life, then everything would be perfect. No, they're thinking, oh my gosh, should I remember to follow up with that client that I missed that due date? 

DC: 19:51 Um, did I, did I check in with that team member? I worried about that new hire. Are they onboarding quickly enough? They have all these types of questions. And so as a company we say, well how do we get the owner to that end desired outcome where they can answer those things very, very quickly. And part of that is setting up the tool. And so because we're so obsessed with this kind of outcome approach, then that means that we invest, I think, you know, proportionately more than other companies do into helping firms get set up. And we do a lot of this is as a complimentary service because we want to get to that outcome. We want to have the client information in there. We want you to have standardized templates that are set up in there. So we do everything we can to help, you know, firms get on board and then, you know, kind of the on the same side of the coin, you know, if you're listening right now, your, your small business clients are thinking the same, same. 

DC: 20:38 It's not about taking look at specific lines of certain, you know, financial documents. They're, they're thinking about, you know, how long can I sustain a business? Maybe they're afraid about running out of cash. Maybe they're having issues with, with profits or they're working harder, but they're making less, um, where they want the flip of that and they want to make more and maybe even take more time off. And so we think that the same way we think, how do we get these owners to their and desired outcome. And then, you know, once they're set up in the application, then it's a matter of, you know, trying to understand where do they want to go as a business. Do they want to be the high-level consultant and they want to have some helpers or do they want to be kind of more of a CEO and run different departments and be very, very large firms? Um, some of that we can help with and some of it we certainly do not, and that's where pure bookkeeping steps in. But yeah, that we are absolutely passionate about trying to understand where you want to get to as a firm owner and then trying to use our tool as an accelerator to get there. But that's where we also invest in services. So we, you absolutely get set up.

MP: 21:44 I love it. Think with the end in mind, it's one of the seven habits of highly effective people. The book that was written, a famous book that was written and that's essential, I love it. It's on in multiple layers. You've got your customer, what's their end, but as well their customer, what's their end, if you can help your customer, help their customer hit their end. I mean we're, we're talking tic TAC toe here, which is, which is pretty cool. 

DC: 22:07 Yeah. And just to make that very, very tactical. So we went through this, we went through this training a couple of months ago, um, for US firms where they were, the tax due date deadline was coming up. So we went through this training of, you know, how to make sure your, your practice is set up to, to manage the upcoming deadlines and due dates. But then, you know, kind of after that, you know, for firms that do offer a tax, and now obviously it varies for bookkeeping and CFO services. But you know, one thing that some of our tax firms want is they say, well, we want to do more advisory work. We want to, we don't want to just talk with owners every January, February. And so we say, okay, well you know what you want to do, you know, you know, you're gonna talk with them about different strategies to save on taxes for the upcoming year. 

DC: 22:54 Well then book and recurring mid-year check-in inside of jetpack. Here's your checklist, you know, step one, schedule the call step to go through the free consultation checklist. Step three, you know, Clint, the tasks in there, set them up to reoccur on the first of every June or whatever it may be as a mid-year check-in and roll it out. And so I think like owners, you know, I'm sure listening, you have a lot of ideas of things that you want to do for clients. Probably a lot of its around check-ins or becoming more of an advisor and I'm sure you have all the knowledge you need to execute on having those check-ins and walking owners through inventory management or just the profit, you know, benchmarking profitability against the firm, but then set that up as a recurring thing that you're going to roll out to clients and in check in with them every six months. Don't leave it up to willpower or whatever you do because your willpower is a pleading and like in a given day, that's why typically food decisions are worst late at night, not in the morning. So just, you know, try to set these things up so they're, they're really recurring. Both services. You don't have a big service in your trap, but even all these other small items, just, you know, be sure to send out a midyear checking email with clients, things like that have you could be big or small. 

DC: 24:03 Beautiful. Absolutely. And it's, what's interesting about the human mind is we're, we have the ability to retain every single image thought, idea, everything goes into our brains. But accessing that is not something that we are good at. So if I think the number is 21 seconds, you've thought of something that needs to get done. If you haven't recorded it somewhere, that will remind you, it will be gone in 21 seconds. And so that's the big problem that's going on is that some people are good at keeping a bunch of stuff, uh, intact. But as you said, once you start to move and scale beyond the few people that your natural abilities as human beings can, can handle, you're gonna, it's gonna fall apart like a cheap tent. And that's not going to be good for business. 

MP: 24:51 Yeah. And, and for the owners that are listening right now, that are already overwhelmed with their workload. Um, cause we, we definitely have talked with those and they said, well this sounds great but in a given week I just feel burned out by Friday or Saturday evening depending on when they stopped. You know, they have a small team because they've hired a small team there. Their time is now stretched between being high-level practitioner, um, then completely in the trenches practitioner at sometimes and then also as a manager. And so for the, for those that have made their first couple of hires and the workload is Olin increased and you see the benefit of trying to become a more process-focused organization than what I recommend. And I recommend this for anybody even if if you have, but it's free time, do this as well, which is to include your team in the process of putting together the process. 

DC: 25:37 Now it's a little Meta but your team also has valuable input on what should be documented, what should be added. And you can roll out a project in which anytime a team member asks you something, you just put it into a Google doc. And so now you have this repository of answers and you just make it so, and if they have a question for you and you know you're on the road and you answered on the phone, they need to put it in the Google doc and you just have them part of the process and you have them also update and enhance and give feedback to it. And not only does that help you put together your process or your scripts faster because they get to take on some of that, but I do believe it helps with your team retention because then they take a lot of ownership over how the, how the business is being built out. Your practice is being built. The best team members are going to absolutely love being a part of that and they're going to contribute, you know, in ways that are going to be so valuable that you didn't foresee them contributing but, but please include them in the process. It's great for your own sanity, for your own time. And it's great for team retention. 

MP: 26:38 Yeah. Beautiful. So I'm going to ask a couple of questions here cause I think for the listener looking at, they don't know anything about your company, I'm going to help speed up the process for them to evaluate what you, what you're doing. And so what would you say jet packs best features are? 

DC: 26:58 Yeah, so we have this thing called the jobs tab, which for those that are coming from a project management system, jobs and projects are essentially the same thing. We just happen to call them jobs. The reason this tab is so important to us, and it's, it's the most used one inside the application is because you can set up your, your initial job or set it up as a template. So here's our bookkeeping services, here are the five steps to complete it. It happens at the end of every month. It's on a recurring basis. You set that up, you duplicate it out to your 50 or 500 or 5,000 clients and all of a sudden you have these standardized recurring checklists that you can manage in the system. And so you can see the job, you can see the job due date, you can see all the tasks associated with that and the progress of them, whether it's been started or not inside of a single area. 

DC: 27:47 And so when, when owners get set up, they're there. There's kind of two Aha moments. The first one is when they finish rolling out the, the, you know, tasks and jobs to their clients and they're shocked that it was kind of that straightforward to do. And we try to make it as straightforward as possible cause we know that's a big leap getting set up. And then the second one is once you have the information in there if you need to quickly pull up, show me bookkeeping clients in the search bar, you can do so. Or if you want to pull up a client file, show me, you know, Chris Stello bookkeeping, then you can pull up that and see all their outstanding work, the progress of all that work. It really is the Goto, you know, control center for your practice where you can check off work, you can track work, you can set it up that that is the place and that's when you're going through it. It has a look and feel of kind of this project management tool but built specifically for firms that have, you know, a large majority of recurring work for a number of clients. They need them. 

MP: 28:49 Beautiful. Cool. That sounds very exciting. I mean, I, I'm intrigued. I think for the listener it's, it's starting to be more, let's have a look at this. What does this look like? And I know at the end we'll, we'll give them information on how they can go and start having a look at what, what you're doing. I'd like to know as well, where are you taking it in the future? What are you excited about, uh, in your development? 

DC: 29:09 Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean this is one area that we are just super passionate about. Um, both working with, with current customers, talking with prospects and then some of our own internal ideas. Um, we are investing very, very heavily. We've actually just doubled the product team. There's a case that it could be doubled again by the end of the year. So for us we feel like the, the initial step of the product was the project and kind of task management level and we started to venture into other parts of going into a fuller practice suite. We want to do it in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming because we've seen practice management tools and they, they ended up being kind of this Frankenstein application that's very, very hard to set up and use. So we started with this recurring job management in the, in the near future we're going to bolt on and we started to do this. 

DC: 29:59 We just released our one-way GMO integration, client email integration. So having one place to view the client communications between you or between your team and the clients. So we're doing a big push around more client collaboration, client communication saying, so email integration is on the near horizon, being able to assign work out to clients. So whether that's for onboarding clients or, or you just have recurring things that you need from them. Um, you're going to see, uh, some, some pretty major features, uh, coming up this year around that. And then we have a, we have an entire new uh, interface that we're rolling out this year and again, we're going to do that kind of section by section just like you would update a, uh, home more or less. So those are kind of the near term things that people are going to see. And then kind of longer-term, again, we're, we're passionate about helping firms from start to finish manage their clients. 

DC: 30:52 So building out that, that fuller practice management experience, time and billing, better client portals, things like that, um, are also being put on the roadmap. And so those are the high-level things. And then there's a whole bunch of kind of smaller updates we do as we go integrations, we kind of, you know, queue up as, as we're exploring that opportunity. Um, but yeah, those, those are some of the features that people will soon, uh, see more of.

MP: 31:23 Beautiful. It's really exciting, really exciting. So let's, let's talk a little bit about..

DC: 31:30 Sorry, I forgot. Oh my gosh. I can't believe I forgot this one feature. Sorry. Sorry to interrupt. No, but, uh, so, so one thing I didn't mention, you can kind of an earlier point is inside of the application we are tracking budgeted versus actual time. We're tracking your turnaround time to understand the velocity of the job. 

DC: 31:40 And so there's already reported in the system. It's the metrics downloaded, it'll show you target due date versus actual duty, the number of days you thought it would take versus the actual, uh, the budget of time versus the actual, and it can give you an understanding of the profitability broken down by client or job category or if a team member. And so that's a downloadable report. Right now you're going to start seeing those reports appear in the application, uh, starting this year and it's gonna continue to be enhanced and, uh, even start to potentially earn some benchmarking stats around that as well. And to help you understand where your firm is measuring up against the other firms as well. But so yeah, we're reports are gonna be a really exciting, uh, uh, feature that we're digging into.

MP: 32:23 That's exciting. So tell, tell the listener how they can get access to a trial of jetpack workflow. 

DC: 32:31 Yeah, absolutely. So if you go to Jetpackworkflow.com/freetrial, it will take you straight to a signup page and you get two weeks, uh, unlimited usage of the application. You can add as many team members, you can create as many jobs, you can attach as many documents, upload as many documents, as many clients as you need. It's really the full version of the application. And a couple of things about that free trial. One, every new free trial that comes in, you get an email directly from me and it says your in Smiley face. Quick question. So if anybody listening replies that email and say, hey, heard, heard about jetpack through pure bookkeeping and the podcast with Michael, I'll go ahead and just throw an extra week onto your trial so he gets three weeks out of the free trial. I'll also make sure that you get set up to have a personalized one-on-one walkthrough of the application so you can really expedite your own research to see if it is a good fit for us. 

DC: 33:30 That's what that trial period is about. It's not this kind of high-pressure sales environment because we are a subscription model. We want you to be very successful inside of jet pack because that's how we succeed as a company. And so really that personalized walkthrough is just making sure it is a good fit, highlighting some of the features that could be very, very impactful, uh, for your firm. But yeah, if you go to jetpack, workflow.com/free trial two weeks that you also get access to the template library. So you can drop in a few sample templates if you want. I'll add that extra week into your trial. I'll make sure we send over the calendar link so you get set up with a personalized walkthrough as well. 

MP: 34:11 Beautiful. Well, I think that's amazing. Amazing offer and a, I'm sure you're going to get a lot of people opting in just to have started having a look at this. It's a must-have any practice that's growing. You have to bring technology to it. This is a great place to start and you know that's why we wanted to have you on the show. Helping our customers be more successful is exciting and I'll also mention as well pull back the curtain a little bit on the pure bookkeeping system is we have our checklist which is called the session checklist and again that will be on this episode. We'll have a link to go in, get to the free resources section and you can download our session checklist and have a look at that and how that can help you work better inside of David's wonderful program that he's built. So this is, this has been great. I really think that our listeners going to get a lot of value checking this out if they're not already using it. So thanks for being on the podcast. 

DC: 35:09 Absolutely. Um, been a big fan of the content you've been putting out there and, uh, thanks so much for having me on. 

MP: 35:15 That's right. Absolutely. And don't forget, as we mentioned in the beginning, there's Growing Your Firm podcasts that David hosts with all sorts of great guests as well. So make sure you check that out. And, uh, and thanks again for listening. 

DC: 35:28 Thank you, Michael. 

MP: 35:29 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 three business-building 

MP: 35:38 resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye

EP39: Scott Friesen - How To Master Your Inbox & Increase Your Productivity

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher


According to our return guest, productivity expert and owner of Simpletivity, Scott Friesen, he says the average professional spends 6.3 hours per day tending to their emails in some capacity.

Those are easily hours that could be dedicated to more important things, but for many reasons we're choosing to be a slave to our inboxes.

Today that's about to end.

It's time you take a stand and Scott will help.

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

  • Why you should space out the time in between checking emails

  • How to turn off your email notifications

  • Why it's important to acknowledge email requests quickly & provide a deadline to address them

To find out more about Scott, visit here.

To view Scott's How To Remove Badge App Icons On Your iPhone Or iPad video, click here.   

To watch Scott's How To Turn Off Outlook Notifications video, explore this link.

To check out Scott's How To Use Trello As A Powerful To-Do List video, investigate here

To learn about Slack, here's the link.


Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today our guest is making a return to this podcast. After our listeners couldn't stop raving about his last appearance. He is a productivity expert who has dedicated his life to helping others through his company simple activity and is an overall amazing guy. Welcome back, Scott Friesen. 

Scott Friesen: 01:36 Thank you so much, Michael. Glad to be back on the podcast. 

MP: 01:40 Well thanks for joining us. Now. For those who didn't hear your first appearance, I recommend that they go back and listen to the previous episode on The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, but maybe give us just a little bit about your career background before running your company today. 

SF: 01:59 Sure thing. So I spent much of the early part of my career in the software and technology industry and in particular I was a software product manager and for those of you may be not familiar with that term, a product manager is really responsible for the life cycle of a software or multiple software products. So you know, I really enjoyed that you really get an opportunity to interface with all aspects of the business since you're the one in charge of developing and improving those products. You're working directly, not only with the development teams but with the sales teams, with the marketing teams, with the support teams, everything within the organization. But I also really love to be able to branch out with the customers themselves. You really need to know what is going on for the, uh, for the people that you're serving. So I loved that role and I guess we're where things spawned for me in terms of branching out into a productivity consultant in a cold coach is that in that world of software developments, uh, probably one of my greatest strengths was taking complex ideas or very challenging or complex processes and boiling them down to their most simple form. 

SF: 03:16 You know, how can we take something that is a multiple steps and how can we take something that involves a lot of numbers and, and perhaps a lot of clicks and how can we reduce that down to make it as easy as possible to the, uh, to the user. And so that's what I've tried to bring with my own companies, simple activity and the teachings that I deliver to individuals and organizations around productivity. And time management. I honestly feel that we are all at our productive best when we keep things simple. It's very easy, incredibly easy to make things difficult. And I'm here to try and try and make things more easy and as a result make you more productive. 

MP: 03:57 Beautiful, excellent. And I think that's why so many love you is that you help them make things simple and their life gets better, which is, which is the feedback that we've been getting. And recently a pure bookkeeping licensee. One of our clients, she recently was a guest on our show. That's Lisa Campbell Marchese. And uh, she told us about how much value she received from a Webinar that you'd done for the Institute of professional bookkeepers. And that's, uh, an association for bookkeepers here in Canada on email management. And she had a really big improvement in her productivity around email. So I'd love for you to share some of the biggest mistakes that people are making when they're dealing with their email. And we'll actually look at the content that came from that Webinar and help our listeners today get something that they can take away and start doing and their and their email management. 

SF: 04:55 Sure thing, first of all, thank you so much for the endorsement Lisa and yeah, thank you for all those. Uh, as a part of those, uh, webinars that were put on through IPBC, I was told it was some of the uh, some of the largest that the IPBC association had put on in the Webinar format. Email is, is often, you know, my most frequently requested topic and I think it's something that all of us can relate to. You know, still, here in 2017, email is the number one form of business communication. Despite the advances in texting, we're texting a lot more these days despite all the ways we can instant message one another. Whether that's through social media platforms or perhaps other applications that you may use within your business. We are still using email more than, uh, than any other communication tool available to us. 

SF: 05:51 You know, I think one of the things where, where we often go wrong, one of the, one of the places that I start off with when I'm an individual or, or coaching a team is just how frequently we check our email. Most people are surprised to learn that in a recent study, uh, it was determined that the average professional spends 6.3 hours a day dealing with email. I mean, think about that 6.3 hours. That's about a third of your waking hours on a typical working day. And of course it's not just reading emails, it's not just replying to emails, but think of how often you're just browsing, right? Think of how often you, you take out your smartphone and you're just, uh, thumbing through messages or you're just managing messages, right? You're dragging things into folders, you're adding flags. That 6.3-hour number is, is everything. 

SF: 06:47 Anytime that you are interacting with email in some way, shape or form. And I think often we do this because we, we tend to inflate or overinflate the importance of email, right? We think that we need to be on top of everything. As soon as it reaches our inbox, we need to be in the know. We need to be able to reply or reply to all to certain emails and that type of thing. And yet when I ask people, when people who arrive or show up at my workshops, when I asked them, of all the emails you receive in a typical day, what percentage do you consider important? Or what percentage do you consider urgent that really provided value to you? Or it gave you an opportunity to, to really, uh, contribute or help someone out? And usually, the response is somewhere between 10 and 20%. 

SF: 07:42 Well, I think that's a relatively low percentage when you think of the number of emails you receive on a typical day. Yet time and time again, we tend to have our emails, our inbox open and in front of us at all, uh, at all times. And we're so quick to reply to new messages that come in are in our way. So I usually encourage people to see if you can reduce the amount of time that you spend in between interacting with your email. Can you go as long as, as two hours, for example, without checking your emails so that you can, um, you can get back to the things that are most important to you? You can get back to your most important work. 

MP: 08:21 It's remarkable how much we are connected to our devices, to our computers. I mean, everything we do, we're, we're on the cloud of cloud computing and it started out, I get, it's almost difficult to imagine and think about, remember I, you know, go back in our memory to what it was like before email and cloud computing. What did we do all day? 

SF: 08:48 Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it is so easy and I think that's part of the problem, right? It's so easy for me to communicate with or to send you a message. And for those of us receiving all that communication, it's become that much more difficult for us to decipher what's important or what is not important. I mean, if you go back a few decades ago, we had, you know, memos, paper memos that may have been printed on a particular color or something like that would have been placed on a, on desks within an office. And that was like an official form of communication. Right? Well now, of course, we don't get paper memos anymore, but we still get email, uh, memos, email notifications, email announcements, and the right beside our newsletters or marketing emails and sales that are happening in our, uh, in our local shopping center, whatever the case may be. It is so much more difficult I think to filter out the, the difference between what's valuable or what's important and everything else. 

MP: 09:55 Yeah. And it, it, you know, it's interesting how when someone had to communicate with someone, they had to pick up the phone or they had to send a fax. And I mean, even fax, fax is, are not that old, but they, they were around for a while, which is a barrier, a barrier to entry. So it would have, someone would have to think to themselves, Hey, do I really need to send this or I have to walk all the way over the cross the room to call somebody or I have to dial these numbers. There's a barrier. Whereas now sending an email or sending a text or sending any kind of communications, very, very little barrier to entry, so people do it. They just say like, oh, I have an, I have a thought here. I'm going to send an email or have another thought. I'll send another email, which is part of the problem where we're part of the problem as much as the world and the way that we're working right now is part of the problem.

SF: 10:49 I'm thinking, Oh, I, I think you're absolutely right. In fact, I've, I've suggested two a to people more so for a laugh, but what if there was a dollar value? Right? What if there was some type of monetary value with each and every one of your emails? Let's say it costs you a dollar for every single email that you sent. Would you be sending as many as you currently do today? And I think the obvious answer is no, of course, I don't, I don't recommend that any organization instills such a, such a program within their, uh, within their company. But I think we would look at it differently, right? If there was either some type of penalty or some type of direct costs and there is a direct cost. I mean, it is our time. It's other people's time. Unfortunately, we don't always think about that when we're sending so many of our emails.

MP: 11:36 Yeah, it really, really is. And so how do you start to move people to a better place with their, with their email behavior? 

SF: 11:47 Well, you know, a couple of tips that a, that I can share with you and, and uh, and the listeners today. One is to see if you can turn off as many of your email notifications as you can. And I'm talking both about your desktop notifications but also notifications that you may be receiving on your, on your smartphone. If you're a Microsoft Outlook user, I can almost guarantee you're familiar with the little notification that appears on the lower right-hand side of your screen for every single email that you receive. Or at least initially that's I believe still the default setting in Microsoft outlook. And you know sometimes that notification can be helpful, right? It tells you the, the subject, it tells you the sender and sometimes you can even see the first sentence or first part of the sentence of that email message. But we're receiving so many emails that are such a major distraction. 

SF: 12:45 If your eyes are glancing to the lower right-hand side of your screen every couple of minutes or maybe even every few seconds depending on if it's a typically busy, a more typically busy part of your day, but extremely distracting to have those notifications on throughout your day. And the nice thing about Outlook and other email clients such as Gmail and a few others is that they do allow you to set up some rules. You can make some adjustments to those notifications. So for example, if you want to be sure. If you want to be sure that you receive those notifications from your boss, for example. Well, you can set up a rule that anyone with this particular email address or perhaps anyone who puts on the red high importance a flag or the high importance, an exclamation mark, then those will show up as a notification, but everything else will not show up and not distract you from your day. 

SF: 13:42 And if you think about your mobile device, whether that's an iPad, whether that's your smartphone, many of us are familiar with the little red badges, a little red circle, a usually in the top right-hand corner on your apps. So this is when you're looking at your home screen on your iPad or tablet or on your mobile device, you have a little red badge app icon with a number on it. And this is usually telling you that, hey, you've got this many unread emails. It might be just a few, it might be a few hundred depending on how many unread emails you have at any given time. I strongly encourage people to turn that off as well because listen, we're getting emails 24, seven, we're getting emails all the time. You should not be surprised that you have a handful of unread emails in your inbox. So instead of being tempted to check your email more frequently than you need to see if you can turn off a number of those notifications on your, uh, on your different devices.

MP: 14:45 So how do we turn off? I'm sitting here looking at my phone as we're speaking and I, I've got these little red bubbles all over the place 

MP: 14:52 because every app seems to have a notification as well. And you have me thinking that, yeah, this is kind of strange. It's kind of stressing me out looking at this, it's like, and it's meaningless because I never do anything with it because like right now there are all these buttons with like, I've got under social, I've got 200 and 252 notifications. Like what am I going to take a week off just to look at my notifications? So how do I turn this off? 

SF: 15:18 Exactly. Well, it's a fantastic question and I love that you brought up that example. Whether it's a social media app, whether it's your calendar, I mean almost every app these days has some type of notification. They want to be at the forefront, right? They want you to be in their mind. They want you to click on your ad on their app more than anything else. So if you a, actually, regardless if you're an ios and apple user or an android user under your settings, if you go to your settings, there will be a section under notifications and I believe they're both labeled notifications, both in Ios and in android. And I won't get into all the details of turning this off, but if you go to the notifications area, you will find that you have control over what you see and what you do not see on individual apps or you also usually have the power to turn them all off if you just want to take them all off for every single application. 

SF: 16:14 And again, when it comes to these devices, usually there are multiple notifications. So right now we're talking about the badge app icons. That's, that's usually how there'll be a displayed or referred to a badge app notification. Those are the red ones, but there are other things such as your home screen notifications. Those are often notifications that will pop up even before you've unlocked your device. You know, those are the things that are, that are notifying you in advance. Again, once in a while, those may be helpful and maybe there are one or two apps that you permit that. But for everything else, I strongly encourage you to take the time, take a few moments, just take two minutes out of your day, find the notifications area under your settings app within your, your mobile device and get to learn how you can turn those off. And then going forward, when you do start to install other apps, get into the habit of saying no. 

SF: 17:09 You know, what's one of the first questions that almost every app is asking you? Hey, we'd like to send you some notifications. Is that okay? Get used to saying no. You can always turn it back on if you like. Start with saying no. And if you really enjoy that app, if you think that you would find some value by getting a notification, you can always turn it on. But I suggest that you err on the side of your own focus. Give yourself the advantage. Turn it off at the beginning, and if you'd like to turn it on, you can always go back and adjust it. 

MP: 17:45 I love it. I'm going to do that. I think it's, it's for me that that's a big win because I, I've always tried to like just, I opened them up and I just opened them up so that the notification, a little bubble with the number and it goes away. And so it's useless, it's just one of those things that I do that I don't really think about. But after, after we get off of this conversation, I'm going to do that.

SF: 18:10 And if you do want some more detailed instructions, uh, I would encourage people, you can visit a, actually my website, it's Simpletivity.com I do have a more detailed video to help you turn that off on your ios device. So if you're interested you can find more information there. 

MP: 18:26 Beautiful. And we'll put that link in our, in our show notes as well. Cause I think that'll be helpful because it is with technology and the phones and people do need a little bit of guidance. So a nice video would be very helpful, I think. So what about, you know, on this conversation you've worked with a lot of bookkeepers. What do you, what do you find that they're having the most difficulty with when it comes to their email and working with productivity? Productivity in mind? 

SF: 18:54 Well, I think something that, that bookkeepers can certainly relate to a lot of other professionals can relate to as well, but is being in demand by so many different clients by so many different stakeholders. Right. Every, every bookkeeper has, has multiple clients, different needs. They may have different schedules, different reporting schedules, a different things that they need at different times. And often we sort of succumb to the person who is screaming the loudest or who is perhaps sending us the most emails or the most uh, the most notifications, the most requests throughout the day or throughout the week. And you know, what I've found as I've worked with, with bookkeepers and also with other professionals is that often the client, whether that is an external client or perhaps in some cases it could be someone else within your, within your organization, if you can acknowledge that request or if you can acknowledge that email with an estimated time of delivery, like with an estimated response time or yes I can get that back to you by such and such a date or such and such an hour. 

SF: 20:03 People are often surprised at how that tends to reduce the amount of communication with that particular individual. And I guess it comes back to human nature. I think most of us when we are sort of a shouting or, or, or making these requests and so forth, we really want, what we're really after is not so much that that task is complete in the, uh, in the short term that it's completed right away or it's completed by the end of the day. What we're really seeking is that someone else is taking ownership of that request. Someone else has acknowledged it, someone else has read it, they've understood it, and they've gotten back to me with something that I can, I can sit on, I can, I can take in and say, okay, that that's being handled for right now. I don't need to keep asking about it. I don't need to keep checking in with it. 

SF: 20:52 And so what I often recommend, whether it's via email or if it's in the case of, of again, maybe a larger office and you're dealing with, with people who are making requests or questions at you at your desk is you know, acknowledged that you've understood them. Right? And part of that is maybe repeating what they've just said to you, right. Repeating what their request is, but make a, you know, make a calculated estimate, a time of arrival and estimate a time when you will be able to respond or when you will be able to complete that task. And you might just be surprised as to how satisfied those clients or those individuals are knowing that, hey, you are taking care of it. Someone else has this on their to-do list or someone else has this on their agenda. And hopefully now again, part of it is a part of it, a science part of it is, uh, is, is doing the best, the best estimate or a guesstimate is that you're accurate with your, uh, with your estimate, right? That you can get back at that particular time. But, you know, acknowledge combined with giving them an estimated response time can go a long way. 

MP: 21:56 I think it's great. And you know, it's, I was just at a, an event with a whole bunch of bookkeepers and it never changes. One of the biggest complaints is the lack of time. And so I think what you're talking about really helps people get a relationship with their time. That will change that conversation too. I don't have enough time to, I'm, I'm managing my time better perhaps. 

SF: 22:22 Right, exactly, and instead of letting something sit, I think something that that that also backfires for many of us is that we get that email. It has a lot of information on it. It has a lot of detail, maybe even several questions in it and we say to ourselves, well, I don't have time to reply to that right now, so I'm just going to wait on it. I'm going to reply to that later this afternoon or I'm going to reply to that tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, that individual is just, they're not sitting on their fingers. I'm not just sitting by the computer or sitting by the phone waiting for a response, but it's lingering on their end as well, you know, have they received it? Have they looked at this? Can I get an answer? And often it is worth your time. You're actually going to save yourself some time in the long run. 

SF: 23:08 And probably a lot of worry as well. If you can send just a very quick reply, right? You're acknowledging that you've received it, you've read it, or maybe at the very least you've scanned it and you can say, listen, I'll get back to you with a detailed response tomorrow morning or by x date or in a couple of hours, whatever the case may be and what, how you're saving time. You're saving time in a few different ways, but you're preventing that same individual from emailing you in another hour or later in the day and now perhaps they're a little more upset or a little angrier. So if you do receive those of communication that is a bit lengthier, maybe somewhat angry or upset in tone, see if you can acknowledge it somewhat in the short term, but don't feel that you have to wait, wait for the right time or wait until you have enough time to formulate your full answer. 

MP: 24:02 Hmm. I really liked that. 

MP: 24:10 There are so many new apps in ways that people are communicating. I guess if we're talking about email, we're moving information where we're transferring data to people and words. And so we said we had the facts, we had the telephone, those were the primarily how people in business communicated, you know, snail mail of course. And now we had emails, had a really long run. There's been, I don't even know what, what, what email would be like early, mid-nineties maybe. I'm not a historian on email that I'm thinking mid-nineties would you agree? Or is it, yeah, a little earlier, right? 

SF: 24:46 Yeah. I often regard as you know, 1995 as is often regarded as sort of the birth of the modern internet. Right? There are probably very few people that you or I know that had an email address before 95 so I think you're spot on mid, mid-nineties 

MP: 24:59 Perfect. I, I guessed right. So, so mid 95 people start getting these emails and it was, I mean novel and amazing and they brought all the behaviors that they brought from writing letters and all the old ways of communicating to this new technology, which it's evolved. But that's a, it's a pretty decent amount of time or 95 to put as to 2000 that's 22 years. So emails kind of had this great run of, of 2022 years. If I'm getting my math right here. And, and now they're in the last, let's call it five years, there was Twitter, there was Facebook chat, messenger, there are text messages, there's now this whole thing. Um, I've got slack, I'm trying out slack. What are your thoughts around all these different apps? And I actually have a couple of questions around apps, but what's your take on all of these new ways that people or channels, I guess people are communicating through? 

SF: 25:56 Well, there are a few different things. One, one of the things that I wanted to bring up is that I think a, some of these shorter and more immediate forms of communication such as texting, which again, all of us are texting a lot more frequently than we ever have before. Although chances are you're only texting with the people you know, within your, your close circle, right? The people that you work with directly or your family members. And so forth. Typically, you know, we're not sharing our, our mobile line with uh, with the entire world or, or people have at least some etiquette as in terms of who they're, who they're texting and whom they won't. But I think with, with texting and Twitter, with this immediate form of communication, it has had some backlash in the world of email because many of us are now email as if it's a text. 

SF: 26:45 And I don't just mean by the way we craft those emails by keeping them shorter or writing the entire message in the, in the subject line, but also our expectation of response time. Now if I'm going to text someone, I'm usually only texting that person because I do expect a shorter response time. Right. I'm, I'm, I'm already filtering before I take out my phone as to, you know, the type of question or the types of things I'm going to be saying and what I want to receive, what I want to receive back. But I think it has had somewhat of a negative effect on email because we start to treat email a bit more like a text, a text messaging application. But I'm really glad that you brought up solutions such as slack, which I'm sure there's a number of your listeners who are using themselves. 

SF: 27:35 And if they're not using it, they've probably heard of the name as well and, and are perhaps interested in trying it within their, within their organization. And I love the idea around slack, right, about keeping your communication focused for those who don't know a lot about what the slack application, uh, is. It is primarily a communication tool. And the great thing about slack is that you can have different channels or different themes, different topics so that if you are going to be talking about one particular client or perhaps one particular area of your business, you can keep that on that channel and try and keep that conversation nice and focus. So as you're collaborating with your fellow colleagues or your fellow a, your fellow coworkers, you can sort of keep that conversation nice and focused. And, and I like that because you think of how often you've been in your inbox or you've been in your email and you're searching for that attachment or you're searching for that what, what, what again was, what was it that she said or what was his reply? 

SF: 28:38 And you're sifting through all of this email applications such as Slack can be a really effective tool for, you know, keeping that conversation nice and focused. Having said that, I've, I've heard some people who their experience with slack is that they can get somewhat loose with the number of channels and the number of different topics and then people are not keeping the conversation as focused. And so it just becomes one other area to review one other area to receive messages. So I think, you know, like with any technology, there needs to be some discipline from the users in terms of how it's used and how it can be used effectively. Um, people who may already be a subscriber to simple tivity.com or who may be a subscriber to my simple activity youtube channel. Know that I'm a big fan of Trello, which is more of a project management tool. 

SF: 29:31 But one of the great things about applications like Trello is that you can comment and keep your conversation focused right along with the task or right along with the project. Or maybe you want to manage a customer in an application like Trello or a sauna and that's another really effective tool. If you can keep a conversation within a project management tool, if you can keep it nice and focused, it's so much easier to review what others have said and, and keep that conversation as sort of a, of an ongoing thread rather than mixing it in with everything else in your inbox. 

MP: 30:11 Yeah, those Trello, big fan of Trello. As I mentioned, uh, Slack, I'm brand new to Slack and I actually think it's really confusing. I like some of the features of it. I do really enjoy the text messaging stream with other people without it being on a phone or a device. And the problem, I guess with slack right now is you have to be a slack user for it to actually work. If someone doesn't know how to use it, it's not going to be very, very effective or productive. But what I do like is that focused as you're mentioning, focused communication and focus channel where it's, hey, we're tar, I'm talking to one person, it's about a specific topic and we're just, it's all right there. I can go back and review, grab certain things and that's really, really helpful. But I think people that are new to this would have a better experience with Trello and I would, I would think that and I'm trying to figure out how slack and Trello can work great together, but I love Trello. It's again, really focused way to manage a concept of a project than that, that we're working on and be able to see everybody chiming in on what's happening or making requests of people and checklists. It's a really, really powerful tool. Very simple to, very simple to use, very inexpensive to use, extremely simple and, and very open-ended as well.

SF: 31:26 I find, uh, you know, when I first try to describe someone what Trello is without actually showing them the application, it can sometimes be challenging because it's, it's not a spreadsheet, it's not a word document. It's not as structured in many ways as those types of applications. And it's certainly not something like Microsoft project with different, you know, different charts and all these complicated things that you need to set up in a, in advance. Yeah, Trello can really be as, as simple or as complex as you would like it to be. And I know for many bookkeeping organizations, you know, there's, there are many teams that are as small as, as three to seven individuals. Trello can be an excellent tool. Uh, number one, it's free. There are some additional features if you do wish to subscribe to a, to business class, but about 80% of the features are 100% free. And again, you can set it up in so many different ways, whether you want to manage clients, whether you want to manage projects, you might even want to manage your, your documents or other processes within your organization. Very, very flexible tool. 

MP: 32:34 Yeah, I really think it's important for people to look at other case uses. So I think probably checking out your website and looking at how you're using it would be a great way to get a start on getting their mind wrapped around how to use Trello. But for me, it is a really blank slate and you can use it multiple ways. It's got core functionality, but what the big breakaway for me was when I saw how other people were using it, I was like, wow, that really, I get that. That's simple, very simple. And to, to implement it for us was, was really easy. 

SF: 33:09 Yeah, I've got, I've got a number of video tutorials at Simpletivity.com if you are interested in learning either about Trello as a whole or like you just said, Michael, uh, see some examples and if you're wanting some even more examples, I would encourage you just to Google Trello accounting or Trello bookkeeping, you will come up with some really, really excellent examples from other users in the, uh, in the Trello space. So, so yeah, it can be a great, a great exercise to look at how other people have set up their Trello boards and see if there might be something that would, a would work for, you know.

MP: 33:44 That's great. Well listen, let a, let's make sure everyone has access to your website. If you could, uh, mentioned that and as well if you've, you've got anything in particular that you'd like to share with our listener, that would be great. 

SF: 34:01 Yeah, thanks, Michael. And the best way to reach out to me and find out more information about both my services and a variety of tutorials and blog articles would be on my website. Simpletivity.com that's S, i, m, P, l, e t, I, v, I, t, y.com and I'm sure Michael will include it here in the description of the podcast and release new videos almost every week. Ah, many of them are tutorial based. So if you're interested in learning some simple applications that can help you to be more effective, can help you and your team more productive, you'll be sure to, uh, to want to log in and, and uh, and access my information at Simpletivity.com 

MP: 34:43 That's fantastic. I love it. I think having those web tutorials just give people a real leap forward and what they're trying to do and today has been fantastic. I've gotten a lot of value out of it myself. I'm sure the listener right now is listening, thinking they can't wait to get back to it and, and clean up some of the ways that they're doing their email and, and the conversation of productivity. So thanks again for being on the show. 

SF: 35:09 Well, you're most welcome. Uh, thanks so much for having me and, uh, look forward to the next one. 

MP: 35:14 You betcha. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and what a productive guest he was, and to get all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye

EP38: Tanis Young - How To Handle Isolation When Starting Your Bookkeeping Business

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Your home office.

It's the location where many bookkeepers begin their business journey.

It's convenient, affordable and comfortable.

It can also be a lonely place.

Think of the days when you're so swamped with work that you don't even have time to go outside.

Before you know it, you're completely cut off from civilization.

You're essentially on your own little island.

Sound familiar?

Today's guest will help you get a little more balance in your life.

Tanis Young is an Alberta-based bookkeeping business owner who knows what it's like to feel isolated because she experienced it herself when she was starting out.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How to be intentionally social by actively engaging with your clients' accountants & seeking associations to join

  • Why having a mindset of collaboration can build strong bonds with fellow bookkeepers & clients

  • Why surrounding yourself with top achievers is a must

To find out more about Tanis, visit here.


Michael Palmer: 01:07 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be a terrific episode. Our guest is Tanis Young, who is the owner of Maven bookkeeping, Inc, and she's also a Pure Bookkeeping licensee. Welcome to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, Tanis. 

Tanis Young: 01:27 Thank you very much, Michael. A pleasure to be here today. 

MP: 01:29 It's great to have you and I nearly messed up the title there, so it's great. So Tanis, tell us a little bit about yourself, your career journey leading up to where you are right now so our listeners can get to know you. 

TY: 01:45 Absolutely. I had a love for accounting at a very young age and I spent probably about the first 15 to 20 years of my career dabbling in a variety of different accounting departments. I spent a little bit of time into financial planning and then returned to my roots. I worked for a small accounting firm for a number of years and then decided that it was time to launch out on my own. So I started my bookkeeping practice in May 2011 so I just passed my six-year anniversary. 

MP: 02:19 Happy Anniversary. 

TY: 02:20 Yeah, thanks. It's been a roller coaster, but it's been worth absolutely every ounce of energy I've had to put into it. 

MP: 02:27 That's awesome. Well, I know we're probably going to get there some time at some point, but I know one of the things I know about you is you have an amazingly positive attitude and I think that's one of your, you may not know this, but I'm going to assert that that is one of your success secrets is that every time I've ever interacted with you, you're always upbeat. You're always moving forward. And it's always refreshing for me just being around you. So I imagine that's like that for your staff. I imagine it's like that for your customers. 

TY: 03:02 I hope so. I hope they're catching on to the energy and passion that I have for the industry and being able to do great things with them to see their business grow. So that's awesome. Thanks very much. 

MP: 03:13 You're welcome. And is it something that you've, have you always been that way or is it something that you've evolved over time? 

TY: 03:19 I think I've always been that way. I don't, I'm not, I'm one of these people that sees my glass half empty. I'm always a half full person looking for the positive and I will trust someone until they prove otherwise. So I think that's a pretty fair observation. 

MP: 03:36 Yeah. You know, and why I, I know this is one of your success secrets is that in a town very close to yours, I met a bookkeeper that was saying the economy's bad, businesses are suffering, there's no business and there's nothing I can do about it. And I was very concerned because I thought of you and I was, I hope tennis is okay. And we actually, I saw you, I was going to see you like a couple of weeks later at the, uh, Institute of professional bookkeepers annual conference in Vancouver. And I walked up to you and I said, Dennis, how's a business in [inaudible] do you remember that? 

TY: 04:15 I do. Vaguely, yes. 

MP: 04:17 And you said, and, and you said this, this is amazing. I'm, hi, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm t, I, I can't, I can't handle it. Oh, I'm hiring people. And I was like, ah, yes, yes, yes. Just a couple of towns away. And it's, and it's because you don't look at the market like it's suffering. And, and the market was suffering. That's the part of the story. The oil industry was challenged, uh, in Alberta and there were definitely, businesses were suffering, but your businesses, your business was booming. 

TY: 04:48 It's booming and it just continues to grow weekly. It's blowing my mind on a regular basis that I'm extra thankful for having the opportunity to work with so many great business owners. So I don't know if our industry is quite recession-proof, that's what I keep telling people. But I think just having those relationships with your accountants and small business owners and just doing an exceptional job just means that that business just keeps pouring in. It's, it's still overwhelming. 

MP: 05:19 Yeah, no, for sure. For sure. And, and having a great attitude like yourself. So let's go back to the early days you got, you got started. What were some of the challenges you faced out of the gate? 

TY: 05:32 Probably my biggest challenge right off the beginning was feeling like an island. So here I was going from the corporate world where you were always surrounded by management and other colleagues that you could download ideas off and, and then you moved to work from a Home Office where it's you and then you realize how alone you are in your venture. Now, I didn't doubt the decision I had made, so that was very, very clear to me. But I realized that I was going to have to be very proactive in building a network around me of trusted advisors. So even though I was putting myself out as a bookkeeping expert, I still needed other professionals around me, other groups of people to interact with and share frustrations with and share my highs and lows with. And so that was kind of where it started was that feeling of complete isolation. And then as things grew and more clients came on board and I made more connections with accountants, that started to flip. So no longer did I feel like I had to have all the answers. I knew that there was a network of people around me that I was starting to build that was going to be a big part of my success. 

MP: 06:48 That's fantastic. So in the, in the early days, because I'm sure that others listening have experienced isolation, how did you, when you didn't have that network set up, how did you deal with it? 

TY: 07:02 I made sure I was intentionally social, so it didn't take long for me to join an IPBC and reach out to a local, uh, just to other bookkeepers and start to figure out who was doing the same thing I was in my area. So that was one of the first things I did early on. And then I started being more intentional about interacting with my client's accountants. So every time I got a new referral I had a new accountant and then I started using them as a sounding board for confirming what I was doing. Was this the right process? Was I understanding this the right way? Here's this, you know, a certain situation. I'm not sure if I've handled it properly. So I started to be more proactive, reaching out for help and not, and realizing that I didn't have all the answers and I would never have all the answers. And then a little bit further onto that, I got into pure bookkeeping and I forget. I think it's just, I'm just coming up to my two year anniversary on that now. So it was kind of a progression. As you start your network, I started interacting with more professionals, start asking more questions, I joining IPBC and then eventually joining Pure Bookkeeping. 

MP: 08:11 Yeah, for sure. Now I love that you went out to first the marketplace you talked to and met with competitors, essentially competitors, some people look at them as competitors. How did you approach it? 

TY: 08:25 I'm a big fan of collaboration and I love sharing things that I've figured out, so why should someone else have to reinvent the wheel over and over again? So I kind of use that mentality where if I'm generous with my experiences and my time and my processes, even with my clients, that's going to come back to me. And if it doesn't, then maybe I've just picked the wrong industry, but it really proved to be valuable because of the more I gave of my time to my clients, to my accountants, to people that I met in my network, the more they were able to come back and ask me advice so we would have an opportunity to collaborate on these ideas and no one was stealing business from anybody. We just both went away feeling like we had accomplished something. But there's so much reward for giving back. 

MP: 09:12 Absolutely. 

MP: 09:20 And I think themes so far generating here is just being out of your office, out into the world where people are actually transacting. Doing business is where you want to be when you're just getting started and when you're, wherever you are on that journey. But the very first stage is to get out there and meet people and be amongst others in the industry 

MP: 09:41 and be amongst the excellent in your industry. There are so many people out there that have just done an exceptional job of growing their business and developing expertise in their area and don't be afraid to ask questions. And ask them how they got there and how it worked and what didn't work because we learned, I've learned so much from the mistakes that I've made along the way. So now I can confidently train my team and say this scenario presented itself before. Here's how we're going to handle it differently this time. Because I had told her that the hard way, 

MP: 10:13 you know, and I would add on to that in terms of the excellence is people with an attitude like yours, people of a feather flock together and uh, misery loves company. 

TY: 10:29 Totally. 

MP: 10:29 So a couple of cliches there, which I was in a communication workshop last week and they told me not to do that, but I just loved them. And it's so, it's so perfect for this, but the misery loves company. People that want to go, oh boy, the economy is not going well. You know, the whole conversation could be about that. I'm guessing your conversations are a lot different. The people you surround yourself, it's a lot different. You're more likely to be talking about, hey wow, things are going great. What, what great new things are you going to do today to grow your business? That's the kind of place you want to go hang out with. 

TY: 11:01 Absolutely. It's really easy, I think for some people to get caught up in that conversation of, especially in Alberta, the economy's bad, people are losing their jobs, companies are laying off. Uh, someone takes, you know, six months to find a new job. And if we can flip it on the other side and realize that it's an opportunity to kind of reinvent yourself. Is there something that's not working in your practice? Is there something that you've been doing the same way for so long and it no longer has a fresh approach and you no longer had the energy to prevent it with? So I think these are learning opportunities and training successes in the middle of all of it. 

MP: 11:38 Yeah. And there's, there's definitely secrets in, in your journey and your success journey, um, being amongst great, excellent people, positive attitudes as well. You spoke about counts, so you build relationships with accountants, which for you has been very powerful and now be Pure Bookkeeping. When you became a pure bookkeeping licensee, why, what were you dealing with that made this be something that would be valuable to you? 

TY: 12:05 I hit a kind of point in my business so two years ago, so it would've been 2015 I was four years in and realized that I was kind of past the island stage, but business had grown so quickly that I felt like I was losing control. The EMS bookkeeper book that I'm sure many of our listeners have read as well, talked about the entrepreneurial frenzy and I still have cycles of going through that now. But that really spoke to me about the franticness I had. So I was desperately seeking process and structure to help me fill some of the gaps that I didn't know were there. Cause you don't know what you don't know. So that was what started me looking into what else I needed to add, another layer that I needed to add to my practice. This was no longer just a test project. 

TY: 12:56 Would this work, I realized that it was going to work and it had amazing potential to really reach so many small businesses in my community and the Calgary area. So I figured that if I didn't get on board with some kind of process and structure that I was going to get left in the dust and I would create just a mess of everything that I had started to build. So that's kind of what piqued my interest. I saw the posting for pure bookkeeping. I'm not sure if it was an email that came in or if it was on the IPB VC website, one of those two. But it piqued my interest enough to go and then that was kind of the starting point of the next phase of building my business. 

MP: 13:35 Right. And you came along to the, The Seven Secrets of Growing Your Bookkeeping Business. Right? At that what have been neither the IPBC or an email. And so I do remember meeting you and again noticed your positive attitude and I really saw the business acumen. You had that right? So, so what's happened since then? What have you taken on and how have you been able to grow your business? 

TY: 14:00 I've been a lot more methodical about the bigger picture. So instead of just getting stuck in what am I accomplishing today, it's what am I looking at over the next three months, the next half year, the next year? And in so many years, do I want to have staff working for me or do I prefer to work on my own? Do I want to establish a storefront office? Do I want a home-based office? Do I want my territory to just be in my community or do I want to expand more from a national level because I've chosen QBO is my platform? So that does allow a little bit more flexibility of working. So those kinds of ideas now started popping into my head because pure bookkeeping started to challenge me about getting away from just looking at the day to day and being able to step back and work on my business instead of in my business. Now it's a daily challenge because I still, you know, gravitate back towards wanting to get caught up in just making everything move forward. But it's helped me and empowered me to let go of the day to day transactions with my client files and being confident to pass them on to my team because I know I can train them and I'm confident in their abilities. So that's kind of the transition that I've gone through in the last couple of years. 

MP: 15:15 And that's fantastic. And in terms of your experience of business and how your business runs today, what would you say about the experience you have now? 

TY: 15:24 It, it shifted my appreciation for small business owners because now that I've been added on my own per six years, I have a much more, I have a much better understanding of really what they've had to go through to get their business to the point when I meet them. And sometimes I meet them right when they open their doors. Sometimes I meet them a year in or a couple of years in, but I have a much better sensitivity to the struggles that they face. On a daily basis and I can see some of their entrepreneurial frenzies and I can relate to their passion for their business. So I feel like I'm coming alongside them and I'm not just providing just another service. It's not like they've just hired someone to do it, work for them or hired someone to clean their office. I see it as being a relationship, uh, getting involved in their business life, but also their personal life and helping them sell it, celebrate all those successes and help them work through those challenges. 

MP: 16:31 You know, it's, it's interesting it has me asking and wanting to ask this question, which is I want you to think of a customer that you know and like, and tell me what that customer would say about how it is to work with you as a bookkeeper. 

TY: 16:49 Hmm. I should've gotten some testimonials together, but I had a recent client actually that I took on last fall and when I first met them, you could just tell that they were stressed. Everything about their faith, their staff, they were struggling so much with their accounting software and they had just spent I think six years, not six years, six, sorry, six months where they had moved from doing their own bookkeeping to the hiring of an external bookkeeper and the personality just didn't work. And I got a referral through our local intuit account manager out here in Alberta and we made the connection. And I think it comes down to a lot of personalities. And when you find that personality that you click with and you can give them the confidence that you have the skills and abilities to help them solve their problems, you could just see the stress just go away. 

TY: 17:45 And he said to me last month, he said, if you ever need a testimonial, your website, I am the first guy in, they've got one lady in the office that was working on the accounting program and she was so stressed and she just has her, her face lights up when I see her. And my clients commented on the change of her demeanor as well. So I see that as a huge success that when I can take away some of the fear and the unknown of their accounting records, then it's, it's a win for everybody. And they went from not being able to rely on their data for many years because everything was done. So historically or so delayed to moving up to something current where I'm not just going to come in and assist. I do all the work, but it's, it's teaching them to fish essentially. So I've worked with one of their staff members to train her on the program and help her understand what it is that she's doing and now she's the one that's saying, hey, I found this and I fix this and we can change this process. And that's just a huge, huge sense of accomplishment for me. 

MP: 18:51 I think that there's so much gold inside of that answer, which is just the amount of empathy you have for a business. And I think for the listener right now is to be thinking about that and many, many likely do. If you're listening to this podcast, you're really interested in being successful and being great at what you do. And so this is probably an area that you've done or been involved in, but you can never hear or think about it enough, which is thinking about where your customers are coming from and what situation they're in and giving them empathy. It builds incredible trust and empathy and relationship and rapport with your customers, which leads to all sorts of magic that can happen inside that relationship. 

TY: 19:39 Absolutely, and I think part of the challenge as entrepreneurs is that we want to take credit for absolutely everything. We want everybody to look at us and say, Hey, look how awesome you are. Look at how successful you are. But I think if we take a step back and stay kind of a bit in the shadow of that, our clients appreciate us more. We celebrate them, we cheer them on, we help them become empowered over their finances. And that's, that's such, I think probably one of the core values that I hold in my business is it's not about me, it's about them. And if I can make their existence in their business more positive, then both of us win. 

MP: 20:16 It's gold.

MP: 20:18 And I've been listening for quite a while now to a podcast called StoryBrand by Donald Miller. And his whole business is, is about just that, which is you are telling your brand story to your customers, prospects, suspects, whatever the case may be. But you're telling it from a story that you're the guide and your customer is the hero. 

TY: 20:43 Interesting. I love it. 

MP: 20:45 Yeah. And I think Tanis that may, one of the reasons why your business is just growing so rapidly is that you, you, you are naturally that way.

MP: 21:00 And he uses the example of Star Wars. George Lucas created this masterpiece, which tells the hero's journey, which is, you know, there's this, this character that has this challenge that, uh, meets this guide, uh, who was both Yoda, and I'm probably telling the wrong story here on this podcast, but I'm sure there are a few star wars fans in the, in the, in the audience, right? But a Yoda and, um, uh, OBU Obi-wan Kenobi. And so these are the guides, right? And everybody loves the guides and they help the hero. And so your, the Yoda, your the Obi-wan of the bookkeeping business right there, camping industry for your customers. 

TY: 21:40 Totally. That's awesome. 

MP: 21:41 Yeah. But what it enables is it enables them to not be able to live without you, enables them to also have their ego intact, fully intact and strong and know that they've got obi wan or Yoda to help back them up wherever they're going. So you're really on the right track with that. And I think the more you bring that out in your messaging for your business, the better off you're going to be. 

TY: 22:02 Absolutely. Yeah. That's awesome. I love it. 

MP: 22:04 Yeah, it's pretty cool. Great podcast as well. Donald Miller is excellent and the, the type of people he has on that show is just absolutely phenomenal. Check it out.

TY: 22:12 Yeah, for sure.

MP: 22:15 So yeah, lots of cool things that you're doing. What's next for you? What's next?

TY: 22:20 Yeah, I kind of looking ahead to the next five years and where I am kind of setting my sites, I am in a transition phase of developing the team of ladies that I've hired a probably need to hire another one. And I'm looking at adding an admin person to my staff part-time. So that's a big deal for me because now I'm going to have to let go of the kind of another piece of my business in a certain way. So teaching someone again how to think like me and how to tackle different challenges and projects that come our way. So I'm looking at adding an admin and probably another bookkeeper and then looking at developing the team of ladies that I have hired a Christie's been with me for a little over four years and then I hired three more last fall. 

TY: 23:12 So that was a big leap of faith and I wouldn't recommend that you hire people right before your busy season starts, but we'll call that a learning opportunity. Uh, so my challenge right now is just to continue to train them on files and with the ultimate goal in mind that I want to get away from the day today. I don't want to be involved in managing the data, getting it into the program. I want to step in. At the point when my staff comes to me and says, Hey, this month all the banks are reconciled. Here are a few questions I had and then I can turn around, generate those statements, reach out to my clients, have those meaningful conversations. Look at your margins, look at your bottom line. How much money have you taken out as the shareholder? Do we need to up your corporate tax installments? Those are the big-picture conversations that I am so excited to start adding to my practice. So as soon as I can get them further trained, the more I can get onto what I call the fun stuff. 

MP: 24:08 Beautiful. 

MP: 24:16 You know, you go to a lot of IPPC events, which for the, for the listener that's not in Canada, that's the institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada. But you can find your own association wherever you are listening to the world. Find your own association because this is the type of person that's there and this is the type of person that you want to surround yourself with. Are you going out to the IPBC EN Ontario this year? 

TY: 24:42 I am, yes. I've committed to going to that conference every year and I noticed a shift from the first year to the second year that I went. The first year was more about product knowledge because I think was more than the space that I was in. And then the next conference became more about relationships and a little bit about the product. So every conference has its own unintentional focus. So maybe it's re-establishing relationships with other people across the country. Maybe it's learning a little bit more about the product or a lot about the product. But it's, it's a great place to connect. I come back from that conference, charged up about my business ready to hit my busy season, uh, basically pants on fire. And the other thing I've added to my docket for this year, and I'm not sure if it'll be an annual thing, but I'm going to try it as I'm going to QBO connect in San Jose in November. So that's a huge conference and it's just going to be a completely different perspective as well. So educating and interacting outside of your community, uh, from uh, uh, Canada wide perspective, even from more of an international I think is just going to add huge value. 

MP: 25:50 Absolutely. So for you, listener sitting in your car, listening to this or wherever you're listening to this, go and register for whatever association that you want to attend to that's local to you. Call them up, register, tell them Tanis sent you from The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. This is the type of person that goes to these types of events. And if you want to grow your business, it's just a, it's a, it's a must-do activity to surround yourself with like minds like this and inspire yourself to grow your business the way Tanis has. And I just love that you're going into the international one and in, in the US to QBO connect, which is a new name, I think, or they've just rebranded to have all of those events with intuit be called the same thing, which is, uh, which is cool. Wow. Well, I, I, uh, you have me inspired. Um, I may have to come down there as well. I've got to take a look at that. But um, absolutely. Yeah. So, uh, Tanis, What other tips can you offer to the listener on how they can run a profitable bookkeeping business? 

TY: 27:03 We need to be patient with ourselves while we're learning because we don't walk into these kinds of environments knowing absolutely everything. You know, you're gonna make mistakes, but just make sure you've got your safety net set up, whether it's insurance, whether it's that network of people that can help you walk through those tough times. And the most recent thing that I've been extremely challenged with is making time in my schedule for my family and my friends and myself. When a business grows so rapidly, it tends to take over my schedule. I always say there are little gremlins in my calendar that keep adding appointments and I look at the day ahead and I think, good grief, how am I going to get through all of this? But we need to be very intentional about stopping and recharging. So I've been working at booking time away from where I physically leave my house. Having a home-based office makes it hard to leave work behind because I live here and I work here. So taking that weekend off, taking that morning off, taking that week off is part of adding value to your practice. 

MP: 28:10 Beautiful. You know, it's been such a pleasure having you on the episode today and it's such a pleasure to work with you. You always brighten my day whenever I interact with you, which is, which is a, which is for me, it's just a big thank you back to you for being here, being who you are and where can people find out more about you, your business, and how can they interact with you? 

TY: 28:36 Right now I have some presence on LinkedIn. I've, uh, I've started tweeting, not very aggressively, but I'm starting to learn that as well. And I think one of the things on my project list is working on my brand in the next few months. I'm working with a designer to create a logo now that I've named my business. And after that's ready, then I will be working on my website. So that's one of the things that's Kinda gotten left in the dust and that's very rapid growth is my website. So I'm challenged with that too, to make that a priority now. 

MP: 29:10 So go and they can connect with you though. Probably your best is on LinkedIn.

TY: 29:20 Correct.

MP: 29:21 And we'll have the link in our show notes so that they can go and connect with you. And I mean you don't have a website and your business is exploding. I mean, it's a, it, it's ridiculous, but it's not uncommon for those that have a great brand locally. And you obviously have a great brand. You're known for being great at what you do. And that's, that's you know, 90% of the game is to have a great brand with the people that you actually work with. So good for you for doing that. And then a website will only help you and I really do encourage you to watch and listen to StoryBrand. There's some good stuff there around building your website and philosophies and sorts of things. Just bring out and that website you'll do fantastically. 

TY: 30:03 Excellent. Thank you so much for that. I appreciate it. 

MP: 30:05 Yeah, that's great. Well, thank you for being on the podcast and I'm sure many are going to want to connect with you at the IPBC this year in QBO connect as well. 

TY: 30:15 Absolutely. Track me down.  

MP: 30:17 I'd love to, yeah, share your stories as well. Beautiful. 

TY: 30:19 Thanks so much for your time today, Michael. Appreciate it. 

MP: 30:21 It's my pleasure. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and I just really enjoyed that one. Tanis is just so great 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

MP: 30:37 Until next time, goodbye

EP37: Dianne Mueller - The One Tip That Will Keep Your Bookkeeping Business Alive

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher


For bookkeepers, it can be a great thing, but also a scary one.

With all types of automated bookkeeping software and apps out there, some of you might be worried that your services may be obsolete because of new advances in technology.

According to today's guest, the co-founder and chair of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, Dianne Mueller, there is a way to make yourself valuable so you can thrive despite these uncertain times.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The one mindset shift that will help your business adapt and prosper during this rapidly changing digital age

  • Why you need to get out of your bookkeeping box to expand your network and build strong connections

  • Why you should learn from successful bookkeeping leaders to get where you want to be

To find out more about Dianne and Soma Small Business Solutions, visit here.

To learn about IPBC, visit this link.


Michael Palmer: 00:52 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be a great episode. I am honored to be joined with a very special guest. She's not only the owner of her company, so much small business solutions that is based on the sunshine, Beautiful Sunshine coast of British Columbia, but she is also the co-founder and chairman of the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada. Welcome to the podcast, Dianne Mueller.

Dianne Mueller: 01:20 Well, thank you. I'm glad to be here.

MP: 01:22 Yes, and it's our honor to have you here. And I'm excited too. You know, we often have conversations about the institute of professional bookkeepers on the show, but for all of our listeners that are listening from the other corners of the world, it is an association here in Canada. And I think everything that we're going to talk about is transferable, likely to the very best association that's wherever it's located in your part of the world. Uh, then, uh, the keyword being the best institute of professional bookkeepers is, in my opinion, the number one association for bookkeepers in Canada. And it's an amazing organization and it's great to have you on the show and we're going to dig deeper into that.

DM: 02:02 Okay. Well, thank you very much, Michael. We're actually celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year.

MP: 02:07 Wow. Exciting. And I'm sure we'll, we'll be celebrating at the conference, which we'll talk about in the show today, but your conference coming up and later part of this year, so it'll be a bit of a celebration anniversary celebration.

DM: 02:20 It will. That's quite a special stuff.

MP: 02:23 Awesome. Well before we get into all that good stuff. Let's talk a little bit about you, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being where you are today.

DM: 02:32 Okay. Well, yes, my story, I've been a bookkeeper since 1988 it all started back with being a small business owner. My husband and I bought a company that he was working for at the time, a millwork shop and uh, we started running it and ran it for 15 years. Uh, he was kind of the production end of things and I looked after the books and when I discovered that I really enjoyed it. I liked the numbers. I actually be able to find ways for us to make more money and hit our bottom line. So I decided, hey, maybe I should be an accountant because I like this stuff. So I started looking into going back to school and getting a designation. And while I was going to school, I was fortunate enough to get a position at an accounting firm here in Vancouver. So I was working in this accounting firm and the first season came along in April and in the month of April, I worked 240 hours.

DM: 03:36 Well, that was not what I wanted to do. So I decided that to perhaps, um, actually being a public accountant was not really what I wanted. I wanted to be out there helping small businesses and uh, you know, looking after their books and their numbers. So I decided I would go to a loan and then I opened, um, my bookkeeping consulting practice, Soma small business solution part-time at first, that was back in 1997 and then full time in 2001 and it's kind of just been history since then. I never looked back. I absolutely loved it. Um, instantly there was so much business. I was turning it away in the first, you know, month or two started to grow the business and became a family business. Actually, my son, my daughter and my daughter in law and sister in law were all part of the Soma small business solutions after a couple of years.

DM: 04:32 So in the timeframe I started to reach out and look for other professional bookkeepers that were growing a business and doing the same type of thing that I was, I wasn't very successful. I really wanted to be in contact with and communicating and collaborating with professional bookkeepers. So in the fall of 2016, myself and three other bookkeepers, um, started talking about creating a professional association and it was January of 2007 that we signed the incorporation papers for our not for profit association really is no accident that it was called the Institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada. And that our designation is a certified professional bookkeeper because that was the goal at the time was to actually have an association that would have members that really wanted that, a professional look that we're going to run their businesses professionally and get away from, you know, the bookkeepers that don't have any real education or um, formal business. And we used to call them the kitchen table. Bookkeepers actually that would be competing with us, but we were usually the ones having to clean up the messes afterward. All three of us felt we had a real need out there for a professional organization that was going to protect both the business owner, the small business owner and professional bookkeepers and now 10 years ago.

MP: 06:08 Wow. All I love. I love your, your story and I, I think it's, it's interesting the 15 years of running your own business and really wanting to help others, small businesses do what you did, which was you said something very important, figuring out a way to make, keep more money in your bank account versus somebody else's bank account, which you know what business that's, that's the kind of bookkeeper you are. And what business owner wouldn't love having somebody like that on their team.

DM: 06:38 Absolutely. And I get that comment all the time. In fact, on my website, you'll see a few testimonials from my clients and they all mentioned that because she was a small business owner prior to being our bookkeeper, she brings that to the table and um, they love it.

MP: 06:54 Yeah. And then it is, and it's, I think, you know, it makes a lot of sense to me. The fact that you created this institute of professional bookkeepers and really wanted to have, because of your deep caring for businesses. It was, you know, you were helping clean up the message that was left behind, my bad bookkeepers. And so the whole concept of the institute is to have there be some way to vet and validate the quality or skill level, of a bookkeeper, which did not exist before.

DM: 07:27 That's right. That's exactly right, Michael.

MP: 07:29 Yeah. Now let's talk a little bit about the 10 years that you've watched this. This organization evolved. I'm sure it looks very different than it did in January 2007.

DM: 07:41 For sure. But you know what, it still has exactly the same purpose and exactly the same mission statement that we've never wavered from. And we've had for Sir ups and downs for sure. As we grew the association, it's not for profit. So, of course, we were doing this on, you know, shoestring money and as the memberships grew, we were able to develop more and more services. And, um, now we're at a point where we're, you know, we do webinars and training and regular information going out newsletters and of course new tests, always being evolving and making sure that we're keeping all of our members up to date with what's going on out there in the industry, what things are changing and also testing them to make sure that they're keeping their skills up so that they can provide that professional service to the small business owners, their clients.

MP: 08:36 Beautiful. Now your, your, the chair, uh, of the IPBC but you're also filling in right now as a CEO and part-time CEO.

DM: 08:45 Yeah.

MP: 08:48 What has that been like?

DM: 08:49 It certainly kept me busy for sure. And I've got to learn some of the sides of things that I wasn't involved in before. But, um, you know, I know this IPBC so inside and out, um, being, living through all of those ups and downs over the last 10 years that, um, I find that, um, I, you know, I kinda enjoyed it. I knew what would the issues where I know who the players are in the industry. So, um, it was, um, not as difficult as I thought it was going to be, but of course, I need to get back to soma small business solutions and get a CEO hired.

MP: 09:30 Yes.

DM: 09:31 The board is, of course, helping with and we'll have that in place most likely by the end of the month.

MP: 09:36 Oh Wow. Great. Well, I'll be looking forward to hearing about that. Uh, so yeah, it certainly, it's probably been a challenging time managing everything, but it sounds like it's been valuable.

DM: 09:50 Yes, for sure.

MP: 09:55 That's great.

MP: 09:57 So in terms of your, you mentioned the mission statement that you started with, with the IPBC and, and that, what was the missing mission statement that when you were all sitting around the table figuring out what this would be, what was the number one thing you wanted to say to remain throughout all these years?

DM: 10:15 Uh, really about professionalism and education. So providing the support and education to bookkeepers so that they could improve continuously, always have a profession that they were working hard at keeping up with and um, moving forward.

MP: 10:34 Beautiful. And it's why I love it is that you're, you know, you had this vision and this mission that you started out with and you've kept true to that. And, and the results have been remarkable, remarkable growth and really remarkable satisfaction for the people involved, not only the members but as well the different players in the industry. It's a, it's very important, it plays a very important role. And connecting all of your membership with the various resources that are out there in the marketplace.

MP: 11:03 All the stakeholders for sure. Yes. Yes. And for bookkeepers, you know that the CPB to be able to test themselves and be awarded the certified professional bookkeeper designation for IPBC members, there's a great deal of pride in that because of course, you know, the accountants have their designation, but a, we were never, we never had any, so they take a lot of pride in it and those cpps that were now just under 800 in Canada that has actually passed are pretty regular tests really hold that designation to their heart. And they love it and they have a lot of pride in it. And, um, it's something that is growing really, really rapidly.

DM: 11:47 Yeah, I think so. And I think it's important for a business person that's committed to growing business and being successful at it. It provides a level of confidence in that, you know, you've reached this level and you, it's not something that lingers out there that, oh yeah, I don't have that or I need to do it. Once you get it, you're proud that you've done it and you see a whole different landscape if you will, and you'll see the world differently and, and your business differently. And that's that. And you get the economics for more money. That's true. Yes, absolutely.

DM: 12:20 I mean, there are lots of places in the rest of the world that, um, you actually do have to have a license. I'm regulating the bookkeeping industry, but in North America, we don't have that yet. It's one of the mission statements and goals for IPBC to at some point be able to actually, um, get that, um, in Canada here. But until then we've created our own and um, yeah,

MP: 12:45 That's incredible.

DM: 12:46 CPBS in Canada.

MP: 12:48 Yeah. Well listen, you're doing the work on your own. And I think that that's gonna lead to the future. But I am curious how that part of it is, is going, you know, you're, that's like change you're changing laws or I don't even know how one would go about that.

DM: 13:06 We do a lot. Yeah. We do have to do a lot of lobbying with the government and making sure that when anything involving the uh, financial standards in Canada, um, are changing or being discussed that we have a seat at that table. And that's really been our goal all along is to get included. So, you know, recently in Canada we amalgamated where we used to have certified, um, general accountants, so cgas and cmas and now all CPA's, they've all amalgamated into one now, certified professional accountants. So they're always lobbying for that type of thing. And the changes that will happen in the standards like gap and international financial standards. So we want to have a seat at that table to, to be recognized and to make sure that our voices are heard. It's a big uphill battle. I'll be honest with you for sure because, um, it is something that has been controlled by the, um, accountants. But I think that we're a dream team and we can work together. So we need to seat at that table and we need to make sure that to accountants are recognizing IPBC and a certified professional book, your bookkeeper designation in Canada so that we can start to work together with them.

MP: 14:26 Beautiful. Well, you know what, it's, it, all these things take time and you know, it's really for those listening that aren't members of the Institute of professional bookkeepers. That in itself is one reason to do that is that you know, the more people you have belonging to the organization, the more resources that you have to enact change. And that all leads to a better industry for even if you're a part of the IBC or not a certification or licensing and designation leads to a more respected industry, which means that the people will get paid better. Uh, all sorts of amazing benefits that come along with this. Uh, so it's a very important thing that you're doing and you don't have to be involved. You don't have to go sit at that table. You can just go and become a member and let the people that are really passionate about doing this do that work

DM: 15:18 For sure. Numbers in all the, it really gets down to that. We need the numbers.

MP: 15:23 Yeah. And you know, it's coming. And I, I've seen it every year since, I think it'll be my fourth or fifth, can't remember now, uh, being at the conference that we're talking about shortly. But, you know, just seeing the, the growth of members and, you know, they are coming and there's just nobody of, I, I mean, I've worked with hundreds of bookkeepers in Canada alone and there's just nobody that's ever said one thing that has been negative about the IPBC or, you know, it's more, it's not even a car. I can't even say that because it's always a conversation of what value they're getting and how it's valuable. So.

DM: 15:59 Well, thank you. That's great to hear that. That's definitely the goal.

MP: 16:02 Yeah. Which is, which is great. And I, I don't think that that could be said across all the countries out there. Uh, there are other organizations, but certainly in Canada really hitting the, hitting the nail on the proverbial head of the nail or whatever it is. However that saying goes.

DM: 16:18 We have a, we have a fantastic board of 12 members that work really hard and I'm really of the 12, 11 of them are practicing bookkeepers and you know, they, they know what they want, they know what they, where the industry needs to go. They can then provide those services to our members. So, you know, the bookkeepers helping bookkeepers.

MP: 16:40 Yeah. That, and that's it. That's it.

DM: 16:43 So it is created by bookkeepers originally, and it still continues to be driven by bookkeepers.

MP: 16:47 I love it. Uh, uh, for bookkeepers, by bookkeepers. And that's where you find the gold. Right? And so our other listeners, or you know, in North America, there are other associations. You, you just need to go and find the ones that are actually doing the work and providing valuable resources. Um, and so let's talk about the conference a little bit. There's actually a couple of things I wanted to talk about. You know, what you've discovered that your members need. Like where do they need assistance most in their day today? Um, so that people can listen and can sort of relate.

DM: 17:26 Yes, for sure. Well, you know, talk about disruption and a changing industry where, you know, smack Dab in the middle of that with bookkeepers. And along with that, what's happened is we've also kind of come out of the back room and with a lot of pride and a lot of um, knowing that we can help small businesses. You know, before we were kind of back job and nobody really wanted to hear about what we had to say or rarely where we asked our opinion. And that's all changing now along with all of the different software that we have, the apps, all of those tools. But I see the biggest tool right now for bookkeepers being associations like IPBC, all of the social media groups that are literally pocket popping up every single day, forums, educational webinars. Those are the things that bookkeepers need on an everyday basis because the majority of us are sitting in our own little office, not, um, you know, not a lot of interaction other than reaching out to the associations to, you know, social media groups, forums and watching webinars to make sure that we're staying current with all of the different technology that's moving so quickly right now.

DM: 18:45 So those are the things that I feel we need every single day. But keepers are really good at technology. They pick it up quickly. They, you know, they learn it, they love to be able to, um, sit and watch your webinar and the latest new app and then find the customer that that's going to help or work for. And um, yeah, the, those tools are mentorship, collaboration, um, advice, all of the things that bookkeepers need and they need it now and in the future for sure to moving into what I like to call the profit and efficiency strategies that bookkeepers will be doing more and more of in the future.

MP: 19:31 Beautiful. So profit and efficiency strategies. You know, just as we're speaking and I'm hearing you talk about this, it's like I. Dot just got connected for me, which is you know, bookkeepers typically their attention to detail, the good ones they need to have that right. I made, if you don't have attention to detail, the going to have some problems and that's what's needed where we're headed with all this technology and all the different pieces and moving parts for a lot of their customers, listeners, customers, they don't have the attention needed to sort of bring together all these different technologies and you know, what does this piece do with that piece and that very well could be a very big opportunity for this industry is making sense of it all and having the enough attention to those details and making sure that the bigger picture, it all sort of connects and that the technology is actually leading to profit and efficiency because you could waste a lot of, you know, your customers, the business owners could lose a lot of money, time and energy trying to figure and navigate through all of the different technologies out there.

DM: 20:35 When you've got someone on your team that knows how to do all of this and how to make sense of it and make sure that it's done right. That's where profit and efficiency lift for sure.

DM: 20:45 And you know, I'll be so bold to say that I truly believe that in the future we're going to be giving away the actual bookkeeping free.

MP: 20:54 Hmm.

DM: 20:55 It's, you know, you know, the bank feeds that are coming into whatever software you're using, zero QBO, um, sage, you know, the bank feeds come in and the credit card feeds come in and now all we're doing is actually categorizing it that that's going to become the data entry of the past and it's not going to take a whole lot of skills to have that happen. What's going to be the skills is doing that strategy for the, for the customer looking and seeing where is it that they can make more money analyzing the customers, knowing which customers are actually making a profit on in which customers they're not. You know, getting into the hidden details of what the numbers tell them.

MP: 21:39 Yeah, absolutely.

DM: 21:40 And, and doing that analysis that will be the, you know, the bookkeeper of the future. And um, yeah, we'll really, we'll be giving away that actual physical, you know, categorizing and, you know, dragging and dropping, um, bank feeds and credit card fees away for nothing because we can pretty much get that done so quickly. Now the other thing that, you know, bookkeepers will do in the in and they've already done that in the past. I just don't think it's been recognized. I think going forward in the future will become more of that relationship worker. And what I mean by that is, you know, we, we now go in and we saved businesses and along with saving businesses and partnerships, it usually, you know, falls into, we're also saving marriages and if they have a, you know, a small business together, you know, we've always done that in the past. But now with automation in the future, we're going to be given, you know, the bookkeeping service away just to be able to gain those clients to be able to work with them and provide actionable strategies so that they can improve their client's bottom line. That's the bookkeeper I see in the future.

MP: 22:51 Yeah, I agree. And I think it, all of this automation, and while it's for some people it can be, uh, make them nervous or the uncertain, we don't know where the future's going. The reality is that it's taking away work that could be filled better. The time could be filled better with things that you're talking about. Helping a business owner understand what is going on in their business, what are the trends, what are, what's the data and information saying and as well, helping them navigate. I mean, that's the, I always love the fact that you know, so many bookkeepers will work with so many different businesses and what they're seeing. I mean, I, I mean, I'm an Aficionado of bit small business, so I love going into businesses and seeing what they're doing and machinery and all that stuff. And they're going there. I just love it. I always have since it was just little. And so for me, it's like, I think there's getting to see the very intimate details of all these different industries that knowledge is valuable.

DM: 23:46 Oh, for sure. For sure. And um, you know, it's becoming easier and easier to concentrate on those aspects of the business. I mean, when you think about when we used to enter in every single receipt, the amount of time that took us, you know, there wasn't a whole lot of time left to be able to dig into some numbers and see exactly how that's affecting the business and where we can become more efficient. But now with the automation that's, you know, becoming less and less manual work every single day, we have the time to actually affect our client's businesses and then we become so valuable to them.

MP: 24:25 Yeah, it's, it's an exciting future, which, which changes every day it seems. We've got new technology, new great things coming along all the time, which is, it's just great. And that's a great little segue, I believe into talking about the conference coming up.

MP: 24:41 and, and for, you know, these podcasts live forever. So I do always want to say there's a conference going to be a conference every year, so take it if it's already passed and you're listening to this, well, go on the calendar and find when the next one's coming. Uh, cause it's great. You know, five even better conferences.

DM: 24:56 Yeah, it's easy for our conferences. You'll always find them at the end of a, uh, end of September. That's right. So they're held right at the end of September every single year. This year it's from September 27th through to October 1st. Pretty much the 30th, I think is the cutoff. But um, yeah, it's going to be in Richmond Hill and Toronto, Canada this year. We always alternate one in the West and one in the east. So we'll be back in the west next year.

MP: 25:27 Yes. Beautiful.

DM: 25:28 Um, it's bigger and better than, of course, every single year we see, we think, oh, how are we going to top last year? But somehow we do, we've got an amazing staff at IPBC that you know, really does listen to our membership and we're constantly sending out surveys and making sure that we've got the information that uh, we'll give them the very best experience at the conference. We have an educational coordinator now that digs in and does the scheduling and actually books all of the speakers that will be at the conference. Um, so yeah, really, really exciting things. And then, of course, we also now provide the ability for anyone to come to the conference and to write the exam so that they can celebrate and get their CPB right at the conference.

MP: 26:19 No, it's very cool.

DM: 26:20 Last year was the first time we tried it. We weren't sure how it was going to go. We ended up with 50 new CPBS at the end of the conference. So I'm definitely something that our members want to be able to do was to get certified at a conference.

MP: 26:36 Yes. I think it's a great idea. And it's something to set, you know, it's a day to something to set in your calendar, work towards, get it all done, have a great conference in and celebrate on multiple levels. And you know, just for my own perspective, you know, let's say I know that an example Patricia Sawatzky use from Campbell River, she's on the island.

DM: 26:58 Patricia.

MP: 26:58 Yeah, she, she flew, she flies from Campbell River, which for those listening, it's, you know, on the way she flew to Mississauga, Ontario, her first year we were talking a five hour flight. She had to take ferries. It's like the movie trains, planes and automobiles to get her out there. But if you asked Patricia, she would say it was the best thing she ever did for her future of her business. And so if you think about the investment, she had to pay for her ticket to t to the conference, she had to pay for her hotel, she had to pay for all of the flights and travel and all of that good stuff. She was away from her business for a couple of days. It's a huge cost, right?

DM: 27:35 It is.

DM: 27:35 But it is

DM: 27:36 not cheap to fly within Canada.

MP: 27:38 No, you've got that right. Uh, so book your tickets early, folks. But the thing is, is that even if it cost her three, four, $5,000, she will tell you it was worth every single penny. And she goes every single year. She doesn't care where that event is happening. And that's a, a sign of how valuable it is. So for listeners, find out where your association is, where are they having the annual conference and go there? For the Canadians that are listening, you've got to put this on your schedule. Just block it off every single year. What you're going to get out of this is you're going to be surrounding yourself with people who are ambitious and committed to being successful. And that energy, that environment is an environment of success. So if you want to change, if you want growth, if you want to improve and have different outcomes in your, in your life and in your business, this is a perfect opportunity if you're a bookkeeper. Okay? So that's my, that's what I have observed. People fly from all over Canada of uh, uh, we have customers that, licensees of ours, they come from, uh, the Yukon way up in the north, uh, all the way down across the country. I wouldn't be surprised if you had some people flying in from other countries this year to see some of the speakers that you've gone on.

DM: 28:55 Yeah. We will be, yes, we will be. Actually, there are a few people coming in from I think, um, I'm, I'm sure some of your listeners will know Melanie power.

MP: 29:03 Yeah, she was, she was on our podcast recently.

DM: 29:06 Yes. She's going to be coming in and we've got some other people coming in from other countries, but last year we had a representative thereof member in every single province of Canada and the Northwest Territory. So we were super proud of that.

MP: 29:22 Yeah, it's, it's really great. So I, I got up on my soapbox. I really believe in associations and that is a good association. I do want to say that it's like not all associations are created equally. So do due diligence, find out where you know, where the switched on ones are, whatever country you're in and you'll know from just the activity who's involved and go to one of these events and find out.

DM: 29:46 The trade show is completely sold out again. So we've got all of the stakeholders there, all of the people that all bookkeepers need to see and know about their products and all the new apps. So there's lots of education there right in the trade show. And then, of course, we have a huge group of bookkeepers, leaders in the bookkeeping industry that we'll be doing sessions on how to build your bookkeeping business. You guys are always there for us. Yes, I'm getting bigger every year and as of right now, um, we're tracking to be the, uh, beating last year's attendance. So we'll be right every single year we've actually grown and had more members. It's looking that way for this year too.

MP: 30:27 That's great.

DM: 30:35 Well, it's, it's a, it's always been great for us, a great way to connect with, with the community. And you know, we started this, this segue with technology and conversation of technology. And I know that there is going to be a lot of different, uh, uh, speakers talking about where, where the industry's going, the teachings of all the new technology you're going to get, be able to connect with people like Hubdoc, which is very, very popular amongst the community. And, and talk to the people who are really working. And it's different, you know, you're on the phone and you're trying to navigate through this stuff, but when you make that personal connection, it changes things in it and you can become more productive and effective. I remember I think it was Seth Goden who said, you know, people listening to a rock concert versus being at a rock concert are very different. And so, you know,

DM: 31:26 good analogy actually.

MP: 31:27 Yeah, it is. Right? And so, yeah, you know, going and hanging out with all the different people, stakeholders, the sponsors, I, QuickBooks and sage and how companies like Hubdoc and receipt bank and you know, all of them, the WHO's who in the zoo are there and you get to meet the people, shake their hand, uh, and really build a relationship with them that will just only make your life better.

DM: 31:49 Yeah. The context that you're going to be able to use throughout the year.

MP: 31:51 Absolutely. And lifelong friendships as well. Patricia talks a lot about, she's, you know, the people she met, she actually, they now room together at the different conferences and they make it an enjoyable, almost like a vacation, if you will. Um, so it's like edutainment if you will. So

DM: 32:07 Yes.

MP: 32:08 Yeah. So really it's really great. Now I know we're probably pushing over time. We kind of went on a, uh, there, we could probably go for another whole hour. We're talking about all this great stuff, but, um, tell us anything more that you'd like to share and get in the hands or eyes or ears of our listeners.

DM: 32:26 Well for sure. I would like to actually, you know, pass on some tips for bookkeepers listening. And you know, my number one tip is don't stay in the bookkeeper box of the past. Um, unless you're going to retire in the next two years, you really need to step out into the world of collaboration. Other people that are out there, other bookkeepers, other associations, other stakeholders, all of them are there and they're online, they're in social media groups and they can really help you move forward if you're a little bit unsure of how to move in to what we see as the kind of new world of bookkeeping. Um, that's the place to start. You will get an incredible amount of help, um, with any of your questions almost every other day. Another bookkeeping social media, um, access is being created out there so that you can find the right solutions for any reclines questions and also get all of your questions asked.

DM: 33:25 And then the other thing is, is maybe to think about specializing a little bit. You know, technology is moving faster than humans can keep up and it would be important to be very, very good. In fact, the best at whatever it is that you do. So I think it's really too hard to be the best bookkeeper at every software and every app or every industry that's out there. So pick an industry that you really enjoy and then determine what that industry needs in software add ons, apps to make sure that they can run effectively and efficiently and become the expert in that industry and then send everything else that you get to other bookkeepers that are specializing in another particular industry. I think that that's a great way to actually tackle what the future was, is going to be holding because technology is not going to slow down.

DM: 34:20 So it's not like, Oh wow, let's take a, you know, abreast there and, and OSI because we got through the first bit of the disruption that's going to continuously happen now for us going forward. So being able to bite it off in a chunk that you can, um, manage is probably a really good strategy for a lot of bookkeepers right now. And then make sure that you're giving back to your profession, get involved in, you know, make sure that you're proud of everything that's going on and be part of the movement. And also to protect it. Making sure that in the future we do have a seat at that table. So that takes getting involved. You know, we've made amazing headways in the last few years and most of it being by ourselves with a few leaders like Debbie Roberts of pure bookkeeping, for sure. She's been out there as one of the great leaders and forging forward through these disruptions. Melanie powers of the bookkeeping revolution, groups like HBO, um, HQ, you know, Rachel fish or finch, all of those are leaders that are, you know, kind of storming through all of this and showing us the way. So we need to be, you know, on their coattails, making sure we're involved in everything that they are and you know, pushing forward.

MP: 35:41 Beautiful and some great tips. And I can't say enough about, you know, all of them are just pure gold. Uh, if you, if you listened to those and you just sort of focused your, your next couple of months on implementing and thinking about those, it will lead to incredible success inside of your businesses. So it's just been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast and I'm sure we'll have you on again in the future.

DM: 36:09 Okay. Thank you very much, Michael. Thank you. Bye for now.

MP: 36:13 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get all sorts of great, valuable free business building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 36:24 goodbye

EP36: Shep Hyken - How To Deliver Amazing Customer Service

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Do you WOW your clients?

If not, you might lose them.

According to our guest, customer service expert and New York Times best-selling author, Shep Hyken, you have to recognize every interaction you have with a client forms an impression, so make it a good one.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The power of gratitude and how it will take your customer service to new heights

  • The importance of truly understanding your clients' needs

  • How to deal with difficult customers in a respectful way

If you'd like to find out more about Shep, visit here.

To access Shep's free Five Ways to Create an Amazing Customer Experience online course for 30 days, click this link. Please use your email address as your username when you setup your account. After that's complete, you may sign in again at www.ShepardVirtualTraining.com. If you need any support or have any questions, you may contact Shep's Client Support at stephanie@hyken.com.

To check out Shep's book, Amaze Ever Customer, Every Time, read this.


Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer and today is going to be an excellent episode. Our guest is a trusted customer service and experience expert as well. He is a New York Times best selling author. His mission is to help companies deliver amazing customer service experiences and we're so happy to have him on the show. Welcome to the podcast, Shep Hyken. 

Shep Hyken: 01:39 Hey, great to be here. Thanks for having me, Michael. 

MP: 01:41 It is our honor and uh, I'm sure the listeners are on the edge of their seats because we have a New York Times bestselling author on the show. I think that's, I think there might be a first for The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. Wow. But it's great to have you. 

SH: 01:56 Hey, great to be here. And I'm excited because we're going to talk about something I'm very passionate about. 

MP: 02:01 Yeah, let's do it. Well, tell me, how did you become this person that is so passionate and delivering such amazing change in the world around customer service? 

SH: 02:13 Well, I mean, it goes back to when I was a kid. My parents taught me the right thing. They taught me, you know, say thank you, do polite things. I had my own little business when I was 12 years old doing a birthday party, magic shows, which I did, you know, throughout my teen teenage years, you know, 12, 13, 14, 15, uh, worked my way in and I clubs. But throughout that entire time, I knew what customer service was and didn't even know it was called customer service. It was just doing the right thing. It was a very common sense. So I'm graduating college, I'm working with this oil company and they sell and I did not have a job. And, and by the way, this is less than a year out of college and I thought I was going to work for them the rest of my life. 

SH: 02:52 And I saw a couple of professional speakers, motivational type speakers, and I thought I could do that. I had little entertainment background, I had, you know, business and going to college and working for a company. So I wrote a speech about customer service and started doing it. And that's how it all started. And I started reading, researching, doing more, you know, playing back on my personal experiences. And over the years of the research and all the different clients I've worked with, I've developed an expertise. The other thing is Michael, and this is what I even sometimes say to myself, Gosh, I don't have a Ph.D. in this. I don't have a master's in business. You know, an MBA, you know, so what qualifies me? And Yeah, there's a lot of experience there and there's a lot of research, but one of the things I pride myself on is the ability to deliver it in a way that's understandable to others. 

MP: 03:45 Beautiful. And that's what I think is most valuable is what people need. Yup. And just listening to you speak, what I really hear is this concept of customer service. And we have, our listeners are small business owners that often, probably a lot of the times they don't get the bandwidth to even think about that concept. And so you, you, you've gone out and spent your greater part of your life really your career thinking and understanding and translating and trying to figure out what's the simplest and concept to help people like our listeners improve their customer service. And now why should they really care about customer service?

SH: 04:15 Right. Well, there's a couple of questions in that one question. And I think back to when I was a kid, I was always the one that said thank you to everybody. And I think a big part of service is showing gratitude and making sure the people you work with or do business with, you know, how much you appreciate the opportunity to do so. 

SH: 04:48 And there's no shortage of people saying thank you. Uh, actually there is a shortage, I think. I think that it's the reverse. I'm surprised when I go into a store and I pay for something and the person bags up, whatever it is I bought and they hand it to me without saying thank you. And I look at them and I go, hey, thanks for taking care of me. And they look at me like I have two heads. So the key is we need to be the kind of person that steps up that expresses the gratitude. And by the way, that may be the very first step to making a customer feel appreciated is to simply let them know you appreciate them and say saying thank you. And there are many ways you can say thank you verbally if it's a great client that you've done business with that spent a lot of money with you, why aren't you sending a thank you note every once in a while? Why not a personal holiday card that does just doesn't have your name signed on it, but it has a note that's personal that you don't send to everybody. And I think that's just a step of starting it. People sending to me, what's the simplest concept of service that I can think of that you know, would help somebody, is to recognize every interaction you have is an opportunity that customers to form an impression, every interaction. So it should be a good one, don't you think?

MP: 06:01 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. 

MP: 06:11 I love what you're saying and I think this is such an interesting story that you told around the checkout and I mean I've become desensitized to that, right? I think it's just we're so far away from why anybody's doing anything, you know? It's like, why are you at the till serving me? Like who, who actually Ben is benefiting in this relationship and you're right. It's a disconnect between, hey, you're in our store. Thank you for being here. My job depends on you actually shopping here and I think people just sort of becoming entitled, I guess to whatever it is that they have in this fast-moving, moving world. But that simple thing of just saying, you know what, I appreciate you by saying thank you and actually believing it and thinking that is brilliant.

MP: 06:53 That in itself it's, yeah, it's uncommon. Common Sense. Yeah. 

MP: 06:58 We need more of that uncommon common sense. Let's keep that theme going. So, you mentioned just saying thank you. These notes, just giving a little bit of the human experience I guess I hear in that is signing a note. What have you seen in terms of your customers after they've worked with you and read some of your, your things, what of that, what are, what are the things that they've taken on and implemented? 

SH: 07:22 Sure. So a, and by the way, it could be sending a note, an email, a text message of the best way. Somebody likes to communicate, any sign of gratitude. So to the question, what have my customers done and client's done when we work with them? Well, you know, so many times when I'm asked to do a speech, I focus on here's things that you can do right away, uh, when you go back to work. But if you really want to change a company, it has to start with the owner and the leadership of a company. And I realize a lot of the people that are listening to this podcast are in small businesses. Maybe they're solo entrepreneurs. So you've just got to make a conscious decision. Am I going to be customer or client focused or not? And if you decided to go forward with it, define what your vision is. 

SH: 08:08 What does customer service look like to you? And I always like to talk about what I call the customer service mantra. And that is a sentence long, one sentence that defines who you are and what you are when it comes to service. And my favorite example of that is the Ritz Carlton who uses nine words where ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and gentlemen, I love that one. Another one that's three words along. Is Ace hardware a helpful place or are helpful hardware place? Uh, three, three words. And what their goal is is they know they provide good service, they know they compete against huge stores, big box stores like you know, a Lowe's or a home depot that also provide service. So what they want to do is take it to the next level. They want to provide helpful service, which means when you go in there and you have a project, they're going to ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you walk out with everything you need so you don't have to come back for something you forgot. 

SH: 09:12 I mean, imagine going in to buy a can of paint and getting home and realize you forgot to buy the brushes. Somebody at ace hardware will ask you, do you need brushes with the can of paint? And, and that's in its most basic example, but, but that's what the folks at ace have tried to do. They've tried to bump it up with, with the Ritz Carlton Carlton Warrior Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and gentlemen. They are saying, Hey, when you come to work for us, this is how we behave. And all of the training they do both at ace and at Ritz in any other company that creates this type of division, the training is toward that vision or that, that service statement, that mantra if you will. Beautiful. And I can see that, you know, uh, for the, for our listeners taking on a concept like this, while it's, it's going to be good for their business. 

SH: 10:00 They're also, they're working with who their clients are, are the owners of small, medium-sized businesses as well, is that their manager can almost treat our customers well and you know, be customer-focused, but as well, help our clients be customer-focused because the training and listening that they're getting right now is valuable for the customer base. So maybe it's setting the example, you know, um, we're, we're, I would love to say that our company is a role model for service. We don't just teach it. We actually model the behavior. You know, if you call us, we're going to call you back in a really short period of time. We're going to follow up with you. We typically don't drop the ball. I'm not going to say that we're perfect, nobody's perfect. But when there is a problem, we step up. We apologize, we acknowledge it, we fix what needs to get fixed. 

SH: 10:50 We own whatever comes our way. And we always do it fast. But I think that's, uh, but when you become, uh, when somebody says, wow, and by that let's, let's pull back and let me tell you, when people ask me, what do you do for Living Shep? I have a real simple answer. I don't just tell them, hey, I'm a customer service expert. I ask them a question. I asked, have you ever walked away from a business, any type of business? And you thought to yourself, wow, those people are amazing. Well, that's what I help my clients do achieve amazing levels of service. And they go, oh, I get it. Because they can internalize that question. And if your people listening to this podcast say, okay, I'm going to be that role model, I'm going to deliver an amazing level of service, their clients are going to say, wow, you're amazing. And they're going to start thinking, how can I be amazing to my customers and clients? 

MP: 11:50 Absolutely. And they're going to, they're gonna think how, you know, how I live without 

MP: 11:54 working with a company that offers that. And I would think that this, in terms of differentiating yourself in a crowded and competitive market service, one thing that can do that, right?

SH: 12:05 Yeah. So service is the differentiator. The differentiator for so many companies. And here's why. And I want everybody here to hear this because it's a really important message. You know, I know that bookkeeping, accounting services, you think that your customers are going to compare you to a competitor who does what you do when it comes to service. That is not the case anymore. It used to be, but now what they're going to do is compare you to the great experience that they just had at whatever business they just recently went to. It could be a restaurant and hotel, it could be one of their vendors. And they're going to say, why can't this person be as good as the company that I, you know, the guy buys my car from the, you know, the restaurant that I go to. So I think it's really important to recognize the bar is raised. Our customers are smarter than ever. They know what good services and the people teaching them good service are the rock stars in their world and we need to keep up with those rock stars and we need to compete not just with our competitors, but in all levels of service. 

MP: 13:15 Yeah, it's beautiful. Now you, you've got a lot of ideas around and you've simplified things very well in terms of the ways to improve service in a business. Can we talk a little bit about that? 

SH: 13:30 Sure, sure. So you're, we're talking, yeah, that's the course that we had talked about earlier. The five ways to create customer amazement. 

MP: 13:37 Yeah, five ways. So let a little bit about those five ways. 

SH: 13:40 Wow. Okay. You know what? I wish I could tell you what those, no, we don't worry. We can edit it out. You could go grab the sheet. No, no, no, no. The truth is there are many, many more ways and five ways to create that, that service. But what I think is important for everybody to understand is that, I mean I have 50 different points that I make when I do my customer service presentations, but some of the basics are this every moment of truth, every interaction that you have with the customers, an opportunity to create an impression and it should be a good one. And that comes from Yon Carlson. That's Yon Carlson's concept of moments of truth and how we turned a business around that was losing, failing, potentially going out of business and made it successful and admired within his industry. And anybody can do that. 

SH: 14:28 They just have to be very proactively aware of every engagement and encounter and interaction they have with a customer. Uh, there are so many different concepts, but, but one of the, uh, several of them that I think is really important, you know, and whether they're not necessarily in the course that we're talking about, but let's, let's give you some good ones. I'll tell you one that is in the course that I think is really important. When I'm doing my speeches, I'm calling it quality. At every turn, you need to have a great service combined with a great product. In other words, being the best at something. If you don't combine the service with it, it doesn't matter. And I'll give you an example that comes from the course. I talk about cable TV, and if you think about it, I'm, I'm old enough to remember before we had cable TV and that meant there were like four or five channels and that was it. 

SH: 15:19 You had your choice and they weren't 24 hours a day at midnight or one o'clock in the morning. They'd go off the air and they'd come back on at five or six in the morning. Then cable TV came along and all of a sudden there were multiple channels that we could watch from different networks. They even had HBO back then. And showtime, I guess came along a, I remember MTV back in the late seventies I believe. So all of this came along and then cable started to grow with their quality and offerings. And today you can, you know, record and watch anytime you want. Very few people actually watch TV, uh, watched the show unless it's news or sports. They watch TV at the time it's actually on. That's where we're absolutely right about. So I mean, it's an amazing invention. What cable TV has done. 

SH: 16:06 So I, I set this up that it's a brilliant, beautiful thing. I could be on the other side of the world, pull out my mobile phone and watch what's on my TV set at home. It's, it's truly amazing. But here's the problem. Cable TV, the industry has done a really poor job when it comes to customer service. They're known as one of the laggards now I think they're doing better and certain things have made them do better. They are. There was a debacle a couple of years ago with Comcast where somebody tried to disconnect their service and the sales rep or customer service rep kept drilling this customer for reasons why customers said, I just don't want it anymore. Just this connect me. And the way it was handled was terrible and the customer actually recorded the incident. So I think that after that went viral, the cable companies said, you know, we need to clean up a rack because typically if you want cable TV installed in your home, you have to take a half a day off work without pay to wait for the cable guy to show up. 

SH: 17:06 That's not very customer focused as no, it's bizarre. Yeah. But it's one of the coolest inventions, greatest technologies ever because it keeps us entertained, et Cetera, et cetera. So what would happen if the Ritz Carlton, Apple Computer, Amazon, Zappos, or one of those great customer-focused companies decided, hey, I want to get into the cable TV business. Do you think they're going to make people wait around for an hour or two hours? You know, however long. No, they're going to figure out ways around it. And the ways around it today, some of the cable companies are doing is they'll say, hey, we're gonna, we're gonna assign you a time. And it will be, you know, an hour timeframe, not a half-day timeframe. We're going to call you when we're on our way so we can meet you there. We're going to extend our hours so that we have hours that are after typical business hours because most people do have to work. 

SH: 17:55 We'll do weekends so we can install and put your cable in over the weekend. So they're starting to do things that are starting to be more customer-focused and not operations focused. So I know I went long-winded on this, but there's a great example of you can't have a great product and not provide great service because ultimately customers, by the way, will switch their cable TV company. If you got the greatest product in the world and you don't give great service, they'll find somebody that's close to what you do that treats them a little bit better. Conversely, by the way, you can have the greatest service in the world, but if you're lousy at what you do, the customer doesn't care how friendly you are. So it takes both together to make it work. 

MP: 18:44 Absolutely. And I love that analogy, that story that you've just shared in that it, we think of companies like Netflix and Amazon and these different companies that are are actually going and they're saying, well, what, what are these customers actually want today? What do they need and want? What are they complaining about? And they're delivering services and products in a way that it works for the customers today. And so cables now having to catch up and, and go and ask their customers. So one, one thing that I've taken away is just asking the customers what, what do you, what is good for you 

MP: 19:18 and what's right for you? What's good for you? Am I willing to bend and be flexible and do what it takes for you? My accountant and tax season, I'll call him up about three weeks before a, my returns are doing tell, hey, I'm ready. And he'll go, well, when do you want to come in? I go, well, when are you available? He says, other than when I'm sleeping, I'm available. Can we do it on Saturday? Absolutely. It doesn't matter. He's there. And I think that's sometimes what we need to do for our clients as well. 

SH: 19:46 Absolutely. And it's, it's just knowing what it is that fits for you. If you're the business, you get to decide and there are consequences to either way. Right. Do you know the, your accountant has consequences for working all hours? I'm sure his wife or his partner eyes. Yeah. It's like there are consequences, but you get to decide and you have to decide what it is that your customer wants and understand what your customer wants and put those two things together. But if you're not willing to do it, there may be somebody else in the marketplace that is. And so we have to take that just like cable, right? They could be, hey, let's not do anything about what our customers are complaining about. Oh, wait a second. There's now Netflix and Amazon and they're going to do it exactly the way our customers are wanting it. So we better wake up or we're going to be like Kodak. 

MP: 20:30 I know. I mean, Netflix is a major disruptor to the cable industry and Amazon's figured it out with, you know, their, their own network. And they've created, and by the way, I love what Amazon's done because Amazon decided they didn't want to compete. I mean, they are competing, but I, the, I read it is this, Amazon has figured out what the customer wanted. Okay. They want convenience. So they're going to charge membership to be part of their prime program. And Jeff Bezos when asked, why are you doing all this expensive programming for TVs and movies and things like that? And he said, well, we need to come up with a way to keep our members happy and want to keep paying the fee because not all of them utilize the prime service just for shipping. So he's a brilliant matte. It's not just about, hey, let's get into the TV business. 

SH: 21:22 Let's get into the customer retention business. Yeah. So, uh, there's another lesson learned there. It's not quite customer service, but some brilliant marketing.

MP: 21:35 Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's very interesting, I mean, for the listeners, these are really big examples. I mean they're massive companies, but all of the concepts are absolutely applicable to a business of your size. And so it's just that going right back to the beginning of the interview, are you going to be customer-focused or are you not? And you don't have to have, you know, you don't have to. I offer free cable TV to have your customers be happy, but you have to understand what do they want and how can you help them. Now I have a great question for you and a, and then I know we'll probably start to wrap it up and we'll learn more about the course that you have, Shep. 

SH: 22:07 But this one is a, it comes up, right? Bookkeepers, accountants, all, all of them. They deal with sensitive things like people's money and there are timelines and you know, sometimes customers, you know, you ask them to do something, they don't do it and that's a consequence for them. And so you could have customers that are upset and it's out of our listeners' control, but they've got an upset customer.

MP: 22:30 Wow. What would you, what would be your advice for them? SH: 22:35 Well first, let's get rid of the rumor that the customer's always right because they aren't.

MP: 22:45 Yes, that's refreshing. I love that. That's good.

SH: 22:50 Yeah. Let's say this together is not always right. Are you ready, Michael? The customer is not always right. And once we understand that, then we could start to work with the customer. So when there's a problem, and by the way, when they're not, right. 

SH: 22:59 Yeah, that's okay. You still need to treat them like they're the customer because they are always the customer and they need to be treated with dignity and respect. So when there is a problem, and by the way, I tell my clients this all the time, hey, we're coming up on your date. There are several things I need. And by the way I say date, I do speaking engagements. So we're coming up on your speaking engagements and when we sent you our agreement, we sent you a couple of other documents that we don't have back yet. In order for me to give you the best speech, you need to fill out this questionnaire and have an appointment where we sit down and spend an hour together. So I understand who your audience is, who the goals are. And by the way, I don't need this to be successful, but if you want it to be better than it could be, we need to spend this time together. 

SH: 23:47 And I tell the client right upfront, this is what I expect from you. And if you don't do it, this is what you can expect. And I think all of our bookkeepers and accountants, things don't come in on the deadline. We need to have a system that triggers reminders for our clients. But we also need to let the clients know that if you don't get it to me on time, I can't guarantee we're going to be able to turn it around in time. So there is the responsibility of both parts. And I believe it's an incumbent. It's so important to be clear that if you don't, the customer doesn't hit a deadline. They can't expect you to do that. So spell it out right upfront communication. It's key. But back to the customer not being right. If they make a mistake, you need to acknowledge the problem and say, you know what? 

SH: 24:35 I'm sorry and you need to apologize for it. That's first the first two things, even if it's not your fault, you know, I'm really sorry this happened. I'm not, you know, I would understand. Let's IX. Let's talk about what I'm, do you remember we talked about when we started that there were certain forums that had to be filled out, dates that had to be met? Yes. Did I get you all of that? Yes. All right. We're going to try to fix this the best way we can, but you need to get that information to me. Do you see what's happening? We have to communicate. We have to go back. By the way, don't ever say it's not my fault, it's your fault. Let's look at the history and figure out what happened. Handle this subject very carefully because it is sensitive, they're upset and in many cases, they're just wrong and if they are wrong, you need to do it in such a way that gives them the confidence and gives them a little bit of control back. 

SH: 25:25 And so ask them, get you what you need, and then turn around. And I'm just using that as one example. I think it's great. That makes sense to you. It makes a great x. It makes great sense. And I love, I think that there's a, something, the way you said it is very, it's subtle, but it's very important. I'm sorry that this happened to you. That is so it's, it's, it's an apology and it's not that you did it, that I did it or anybody did it. It's this, I'm sorry that this has happened, right? And so you're not going to say, Hey, I told you this had to be returned to me. Say, look, we needed to get this and we obviously don't have it now, so let's figure out what we're going to do right now to move this thing forward. Let's not rehash the past, but it's clear. 

SH: 26:12 Well, you know, and I'm just, you know, some form wasn't signed, something wasn't done on a timely basis. Uh, but what can we do to make it right now? What can we, what's the best thing that we could do? You know, I have a friend of mine that talks about the relentless solution focus. It'd be RSF as z as he calls it and everything you do, no matter how bad it is, there's always something that's going to make it better. Figure out what it is. It could just mean taking a breath of fresh air and stepping back and then, you know, and just resting a moment.

MP: 26:42 Absolutely. 

MP: 26:49 Well I love that. I think it's very disarming and I think it gets to that, that solution-focused opportunity, which, which is brilliant. Um, chef, let's talk about, you've got a great course that you're offering. I know it's not going to be available forever and so tell us a little bit about that and um, of course, we're going to have a link on our episode free for people to get access to that, but get them a little bit of a teaser as to what you're offering. 

SH: 27:13 Sure. And when I say offering, it truly is an offer. It's a gift. A, you asked me what could we give away to the audience that would be of great value. So for about the next 30 days, we're going to leave this life and it is one of our courses. It's called Five Ways To Create A Customer Amazement. We normally sell it for $49. There will be a link that is associated with this podcast and all you need to do is click on it. You'll self enroll and uh, you'll set up, uh, your, your, your username will be your email address. You'll set up whatever password you want and you'll have access to this course for 30 days. And uh, we're, we're going to give you access for 30 days, but once you enroll, you'll have it for 30 days. It's not a long course. We'll take you 20, 30 minutes. But you know what, it's what you're going to need to get into the right mindset to get focused, to get aligned with the whole concept of delivering an amazing customer experience.

MP: 28:11 Absolutely. And I know as we talked about, Shep, you know this podcast, if you're listening right now, maybe does this offer if have this great gift that chip has put up is not available, but you've got a great book as well. Tell us a little bit about your book. I think that's one great place that people could go and just start to consume some of the great work you've done. Tell us a little bit about that. 

SH: 28:29 Sure, and before I do that if somebody's watching this or listening to this, a year from now if you click on the link, we'll make sure you get something. Okay, so it's a, if you're listening to this as it comes out, we're going to leave it live for 30 days, but I promise you when you click on that link a year or a year and a half or two years from now, there'll be something of value waiting for you. My most recent book is called Amaze. Every customer, every time love this book. There are 52 tools in this book. I called them tools or tips, tactics, whatever you want to call them, that will help you create a better customer experience. And these are tools that anybody listening, this is, you're the perfect group for this. And I'll tell you why you're smaller and when you're smaller, it means you're nimble and quick and you can implement any one of these ideas quickly. Now there's 52. I look at one a week and say, okay, I can do this at the end of the week. Think about how could I did, what did I do to implement this? And you know, just go through each one of them one at a time and if they resonate with you, go for it. Uh, the books available at Amazon.com and maybe, uh, it's been out a couple of years now, it might still be at your local bookstores.

MP: 29:42 That's awesome. I like it and I think that's great, I love the concept of, I'm very tactical, so I love, you know, here's a bunch of things you can do. Do one, measure it, see if it worked. Go onto the next one. That's fantastic. We're going to have all of these links up on the podcast episode. So if you're listening on your, your device, you could just, there's a link there, it'll take you right to it. You can get to all these fabulous links that Shep's going to be there. And I, I have to say, I love the fact that there's going to be something awesome at the end of whatever link you have, regardless of when listeners are. And that's just your amazing customer service philosophy. And so thanks for sharing that as well with the shop. Oh my pleasure. And I hope everybody here utilizes it because it really is a great value. 

SH: 30:23 We have clients that fast $49 for this course. We're giving it to everybody listening at this point for the next 30 days for no charge, go get it. Start thinking, make a decision to be customer-focused. You will. MP: 30:35 We will, uh, reap the rewards that we've heard about on this episode today. Shep, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It was excellent. There were so many gold nuggets that I think our listeners just absolutely love.

SH: 30:45 It's my pleasure and look forward to doing again with you, Michael. Have me back at any time.

MP: 30:50 Oh, thank you. That wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com 

MP: 31:07 until next time, goodbye

EP35: Lisa Campbell-Marchese - How To Organize Your Office & Be More Efficient!

TSB - Episode 35 - Lisa Campbell-Marchese.png
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Your office.

Does it look like a tornado whipped through it or is everything organized and tidy?

For some bookkeepers, when life gets hectic, it's pretty tough to keep their desk in order.

Have no fear, today's guest has some great suggestions to help you get on track.

Lisa Campbell-Marchese is the owner of a bookkeeping company called The Marcam Group.

Throughout her 25 years of experience, she had to learn different tricks to handle not only the constant referrals she received and current workload, but she's had to do it all while balancing being a mother too.

She understood things had to change to increase her efficiency and make her work/life balance realistic.

As a result of being open to learning new strategies, she's been very successful and now she'll share some of her golden tips with you.

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

  • Why having 3 monitors in your personal workspace can help you be more productive

  • Why you'll want Jetpack Workflow & Hubdoc to be your new best friends

  • Why having systems is crucial in organizing any part of your life

To find out more about Lisa, visit here

To learn about Jetpack Workflow, click this link.

To read about The E-Myth Bookkeeper, check this out.

To access the Own Your Inbox: Manage E-mail Like An Expert 2-part webinar mentioned in this episode, click Part 1 & Part 2.


Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be a terrific episode. Our guest is a licensee with Pure Bookkeeping North America and has some great success stories and I, since I've known her, I've just seen her business explode. She's the owner of The Marcam Group and has 25 years of experience in the bookkeeping industry. Welcome to the podcast, Lisa Campbell- Marchese.

Lisa Campbell-Marchese: 01:30 Hey, thanks for having me.

MP: 01:20 Thank you for being here and I hope I got all the words right and everything.

LCM: 01:30 Sounds great.

MP: 01:35 Did I put Mark? Mark Casey? Oh, Marquese oh my goodness. Well, let me do it again. Lisa Campbell- Marchese.

LCM: 01:45 Thank you, Michael. Yes.

MP: 01:55 Awesome. Well it's great to have you here and you know, I remember our first conversation and to see where you've gone from that point to where you are today, it's really cool to be, have been a part of your journey. 

LCM: 02:10 It's quite, it's been quite the ride. Yeah. 

MP: 02:12 So tell us a little bit about your career journey up to where we are today. 

LCM: 02:17 Okay. So I started off many, many years ago when I had a salon myself and I didn't know anything about the financial end of it and I didn't really trust anybody else. To know the financial end of it. So I went to college and I learned a little bit about accounting and I started doing it myself. And what happened was I found a lot of my clients also had businesses and they found out that I handled the financials and they started asking me if I would handle their financials. And so it kind of just gradually grew where I was doing my work, I was doing my clients work and I found that I enjoy the financial end of it more than the actual running the business end of it for another type of business. And it kind of just exploded there.

MP: 02:50 Wow. And so you, you kind of are, I guess like many bookkeepers where it kind of evolves into you doing this work. 

LCM: 03:11 It does it. What happens is you end up with, you know, a few clients that are very happy with what you're doing and then they tell somebody else. And of course, they tell somebody else. It's all word of mouth. I've never done any advertising. I'm not even on Linkedin. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that. Like you, what's been the experience you people just keep referring you, you find these clients, how has it been? Well, what happens? I think the more, the more groups that you get involved with as well, um, helps and I find like I'm on, um, the IPPC and QuickBooks as a certified ProAdvisor. And so when you have your name up there like that, I think, I guess that's advertising but what happens is you get inundated with calls and you kind of, um, you know, screen them and see if they're suitable towards your business, which is something that I did not know how to do until I got involved with PBS. 

LCM: 03:59 So I learned a lot there and that absolutely qualifying people. I mean, there can be a lot of time wasted talking to people who are just not fit right. And what happens, I think you get, you get inundated with clients and you want to take them all, especially when you're starting up. Even though I had been doing it for a long time, it wasn't on a fulltime basis. And when I decided to go more of a full-time business, I found that I was getting clients left right and center and they're not all a good fit. And so you have a hard time keeping the right clients in and you also have a hard time keeping everything organized. You kind of get overwhelmed with work and then that's when you're going to start to mess up.

MP: 04:35 Absolutely. So let's jump back in time before you became a pure bookkeeping licensee. What was, what was life like? What was your business like? What were you dealing with?

LCM: 04:43 I was dealing with a lot of clients where I found that I was putting in a lot of hours and not getting basically the compensation that I should've been getting. Because you want to do your best, you want to grow your business, you want to make sure everything's good and you want to show them that you can do more. But what happens is because you've got the time, you end up devoting a lot of your personal time into these clients and then the next client comes along and you can't give them as much time. The old clients as much time as you used to because now you're trying to accommodate a new one and you kind of get lost in the shuffle and you're trying to find files and you're trying to make sure this deadline is met and you kind of get lost. 

MP: 05:24 And what was that like for your life?

LCM: 05:30 Hectic. It was, it was trying to balance kids and husband and work and the house and the whole nine yards. It was, it was quite difficult. And how long for your business, how long was it that you were operating like that low? Probably three. Four years. And Yeah. You, what, what had you decided to even consider doing something different? Well, I got an email from you actually, and you emailed me a few times about the pure bookkeeping system and I kind of brushed it aside and then I looked at it one day and I thought, well, it's not going to hurt to watch this webinar about this program. And I'm telling you, as soon as I watched it, I was hooked. I just like, I don't care what it is, I need to have this. 

MP: 06:09 Right. Was that the, the first, so the first vide, was it the first video that you watched? Are they the actual seven secrets of growing your bookings? 

LCM: 06:16 The seven secrets.

MP: 06: 20 Oh, got it.

LCM: 06:25 That's what I watched and I thought, wow, that makes so much sense. And at that point in my life, I was looking for a way to kind of get myself organized before I looked at expanding and you and I had a conversation about that. I wanted to know if PBS was going to help me basically get everything in line and make it like a smooth-running machine before I started expanding further and you assured me that it would. And so I dove in further and I got the license and I went through all the steps that I was supposed to go through. And sure enough, it did exactly what it said it would do. Awesome. I love that. I'll always, 

LCM: 06:55 I'm just, I care so much about our customers, our clients and, and I, I have to feel like they're family. So I always, I'm like always worried that, okay, I know it'll work, but what if it doesn't? You know, I'm no right. And so I always, but you know, since I started with pure bookkeeping and the work that we've been doing since 2009 it's just, I'm always worried about it but never comes back to being the issue is that people do the work. Of course 

LCM: 07:20 there are, yes there is work involved and you have, but like Debbie says all the time you have to work on your business, not just in your business. And that's so true. Yeah. Yeah. But you're also there for your, for your clients, you, you respond to emails, you respond to phone calls and it's very obvious that you do want, you personally want to see everybody grow. 

MP: 07:45 Absolutely. And you know what's interesting for us, right, is as we, you know, in the early days we, we had a lot of time and, and resources to work with every single licensee. And what's happened with our growth is it's become a lot more challenging to do that. So we've now started to add resources. We just added a team member. It's our director of client success. Theresa Doug. Well, you're gonna love her. She's an amazing business coach. She's an amazing woman. She's done all sorts of amazing things and she's going to be tasked with making sure that nobody slips through the cracks and that they get the help and support that they need. So you'll be one of those people to check-in. She'll be checking in when, because that's great. That's it, right? Our promise is really, you know, it's the proven system to grow your business and we want to make sure that we adhere to that and make sure that you get what you need. So I'm happy that you've gotten where you need to go. And the seven secrets of growing your bookkeeping business. It's so funny to hear these past stories because this is now, you've been at least licensee for how long? 

LCM: 08:42 Oh, two years. I don't know how many years. 

MP: 08:45 Yeah. You know what? You were definitely the early days. So now let's talk about that. Cause I want to, I always hear these little snippets from you about, oh my business grew and this happened. But yeah, we've never this deep conversation about what that's been like and, and it's actually candy for me because I love hearing our customers be successful. So there was the first kind of 90 days. How did it go when you first started with Pure Bookkeeping? 

LCM: 09:07 Well, it was a lot of work because there was a lot of reading. I, it, it gave me the incentive to make this happen. I knew I had a dream. I knew I had a goal and I knew that I needed some direction. I couldn't do it by myself. I don't know everything about everything. And so diving into it was at first a little intimidating. It looked like, oh, there's so much work to do. But then as you go through it, you realize why you're doing it. And every little step you take seems to make more and more sense. And as you keep doing the processes that are, you know, part of the system, it becomes so systematic in your brain. You don't even think about it after a while. So I think that those first 90 days that, that worksheet, that, that work program that you do, I think that's imperative that new licensees do that because it's really hard to dive in just on your own. 

MP: 09:58 Yeah, absolutely. And you know what, I was just as you're saying that I'm, I'm a, I've, we've changed so much of it, the online training program and the guided implementation program, it's all probably completely different. I mean when you went back in the day when you started, it was like you had to walk uphill to school both ways, right? Your bookkeeping now it's now its debt. It's, I don't want to say downhill. It's like, uh, you got the wind at your back. Cause we've got all sorts of new things to help you do it more streamlined, more easy and more quickly.

LCM: 10:26 Right. Well and the, the website format that you've got now is really, really efficient. Like just, for example, the other day I was doing a specialized report for somebody that I hadn't done in a long time. So I just opened up your website, typed it in the search, and there it was like, I know that I read it in the book, I know that I've done it. And I thought, well, I don't need to go through all that. I can just plug it in right there. So that website changed when you develop that new website, that was a, a great thing to do. 

MP: 10:51 Yeah. And that's the, the Pure Bookkeeping Central. And you know, we had Matt, everything was paper, we pushed everything into, into the cloud and, and so it's, it was a massive undertaking. But yeah, it's great. 

LCM: 11:03 But it was worth it and it was very valuable to us as licensees because even if I'm at a client's office, I can still log in and find what I need. 

MP: 11:09 Yeah. Beautiful. Great to hear. And lots of great things coming as well. Good. Looking forward to it. Yeah. So some, so the first 90 days in the first bid into your business, what was, what were the results that you've gotten in terms of you did all this work and you're working on your business, but why? Why did it matter? What, what did you end up with? 

LCM: 11:28 Well, what I found was I ended up with a more organized system where I could save time because I knew exactly where things were. I knew exactly how they were labeled and I set it up for each client. And so at first, that's very cumbersome. You Think, oh Geez, I have to reorganize this and all that. But when you get through that, you actually end up being that much more efficient. And the other thing I found out, because I took all the suggestions in the system and, and marketed myself in a different way, I ended up increasing revenues over 60% in the first year. I wasn't even expecting that, but I did, which in turn paid for my license. So, you know, it's, it's been a win-win for me all around 

MP: 12:09 Beautiful. And I love, I do remember hearing about that. That growth that you surprise and growth that you have is huge. Yeah. Which is, which is awesome and yeah. 

LCM: 12:18 Yeah. And I've been able to maintain that. I wouldn't even consider going back to the way that we used to do it now. Everything is done by the book according to the system. This is how we do it and there's no devaluing what we offer. We keep it up high as suggested and it works. If people want you to work with them, they are willing to pay for it.

LCM: 12:47 It's beautiful. and that a big part of that is the mindset, which is one of those hard things to, to explain to people how they get it, but you did the work, you, you, you know, you went deep into your business, you structured it in a different way, you invested in your business and all of that leads to a different and new mindset that you have about what it is that you do and what you really value your time. You value the work that you do and you have confidence because of all of this investment and time and improvement that you've done, you've got the confidence to say, Hey, this is how we do things around here. And if you like this, this is what it's going to cost. And if not, then you know what, there's another person down the street you could probably go work with. Absolutely. And that's, that's just music to my ears to hear it. 

LCM: 13:30 Yeah, it's, it's been quite the experience. All positive. 

MP: 13:33 Beautiful. Great. So now in terms of what, say the first year and then what are some of the things that you've done in your business since then? 

LCM: 13:41 Added more clients. I've added a staff member, I've added more monitors.

MP: 13:46 Yeah, three. My Dad did see that when we were looking at your office. Now I've got two. So I'm like jealous now. 

LCM: Oh, you need the third.

MP: 13:52 Absolutely need the third.

LCM: 14:58 I find that as I keep going, now that I've got my systems in place, I just keep trying to find more and more ways to be more efficient. So there is a third party software that I will use there. I mean, just basically having a headset that makes you more efficient. There are so many things that you add after you make your business efficient with PBS, you want to make it like more and more efficient and you just keep going because you've got this mindset of it's all systematic and it all works. 

MP: 14:23 Yeah, it's beautiful bringing system. So, you know, when I saw those monitors as I said, I had monitor envy and um, and so I'm, I'm very similar. Everything's gotta be, I have a system around it and, and be efficient. So let's talk a little bit about some of your tricks, no tricks, but like secret weapons. Like you, you mentioned some other apps, you mentioned the three monitors. Tell us about the three monitors. Let's start there. Why do you want to have three monitors attached? 

LCM: 14:50 Okay. I'll tell you why I have three. But first of all, it's two computers. I have one computer attached to one monitor and then another computer attached to the other two. And the bonus for that is I will have a client's set of books open on the middle screen and then on the right screen, I will pull up any excel or pdf that I need to view. Rather than having to close the window or split the screen, I'm dragging and dropping across my screens constantly, which makes it more efficient. Screenshotting, if I'm doing a rescue job and I'm logged into a client's computer remotely, I can screenshot the issue, drag it over to my right computer, go back to their database and fix it up. Now the left computer I use for email and calendar, that's all I use it for. So there's a system to my desk. 

LCM: 15:35 I'm telling you, once you start on systems, you just can't stop. I'm going to systemize my kitchen.

MP: 15:45 Awesome. That's another podcast episode. I worked on systems.

LCM: 15: 55 Absolutely. My mom was like, never come back. I'm like helping her with systems and processes and stuff. So that's so cool. And you've got the different machines and I love that concept of doing that.

MP: So what other things do you use? What other apps? Uh, what, what's, how were you applying the philosophy, I guess, using other tools that are out there? Um, Hubdoc is an excellent tool. I work mostly I would say 99% remotely across Canada. Um, I don't feel the need that I need to go into a client's office. It's very rare. Um, so when you take an app like Hubdoc, are you familiar with hub. Dot. We've had to Jamie on the, he's been on one of the episodes. 

LCM: 16:33 I use hubdoc myself. I absolutely love it. Right? So having that there, for example, I could pull hubdoc open on my left screen, which is my email screen, um, download any documents that I need, check all of that. It's, it's just a tool that makes things that much more efficient. I've done things like taking a webinar on email management because apparently, we spend six hours a day checking email. So there's a system that I learned for managing your inbox that made it more efficient. I also found that my desk was too small, so I bought a bigger desk and I made basically a workstation. I made sure that everything was hooked up. You know, the proper lights, the scanner, the monitors, the computers, the calculators, the different hole punches. Everything needs to be right at your fingertips. You've got to be efficient. MP: 17:15 Love it. So tell me about it, so you mentioned something around your email. What is it that you're using for email?

LCM: 17:25 Well, I'm using Outlook, but there was a webinar that I took on inbox management rather than, rather than creating folders for all your clients, there's a system where you archive and you know there's a followup section and there's a junk section and you learn how to create rules on your emails because I'm sure you get inundated with emails that you don't really care about. And we don't need to waste time on that. And apparently people go back and forth checking their emails while they're trying to do work well, that's trying to multitask and you're not really being efficient in either one. So they recommend you take breaks at certain times during the day and that's when you manage your inbox and then you go back to it.

MP: 18:00 Beautiful. Yeah, it's pretty neat. There's a lot of different webinars out there that are, you know, really helpful. Do you, what was this a paid webinar? Was it a free Webinar?

LCM: 18:10 No, it was a free Webinar. It was just a credit that I was doing for my CPB.

MP: 18:15 Yeah. And do you remember what it was called?

LCM: 18:20 It's on the IPBC website. 

MP: 18:24 Let's find the link. We'll find the link. We'll post it on. So for the listener, it will be at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com under the episodes or if you go in and, and uh, join the free resources, you can sign up and you'll have access to this episode and all sorts of, uh, of goodies there. But we'll make sure that the link is available for everyone on this site. 

LCM: 18:46 The only, the only sort of catch there is I believe the link is only available to IPBC members. Well, everybody will just log the, they'll have to become an ICB IPBC member white. And I strongly recommend that everybody does. I also strongly recommend everybody gets their ICPB. 

MP: 19:02 Yes. And we're, we have listeners all over the world, so I'm just gonna and I've mentioned this before in other episodes, the IPBC is the institute of professional bookkeepers. It's the leading industry association, Bookkeepers Association in Canada. It's an amazing and organization. Every country has great ones. You have to absolutely belong to an association. I see B in the US there are several in Australia. The UK is massive for ICB. But for this, let's talk about the theory. Why do you belong to the IPM? 

LCM: 19:35 I belonged to it because I think that we need to kind of set ourselves apart. There are, as you know, bookkeepers out there where they, you know, so-and-so, his aunt's friend's cousin does the books. Well, they're not really trained to do the books and that's why we get hired to fix them up. So I think belonging to an association where you've kind of proven that you know your stuff and you have resources with other professionals and you can discuss issues and you know, continue your education with the required credits that you need. I think it's beneficial because it sets you apart as somebody who does this professionally. You're not doing this on the side and you've actually been trained. It makes you more valuable, which adds to your cost, which adds to your complete success as far as you know, systemizing your, your business and creating your rates the way they should be.

MP: 20:20 Beautiful. 

MP: 20:29 You know, it's interesting, I love that we're having this conversation because Dave and I, Dave works, he's the business manager for North America and we're sitting there talking about how, you know, we have team members that work all over the world doing different things for us and, and so he said, add, you know, 20 years ago or 15 years ago, I would have never imagined that we can all work independently from our homes and you know, from the beach or whatever. And I said, you know, it's great and I agree with you, but it's a double-edged sword because when you're working alone, you, you miss the learning from other people. There is a lot of learning. It's I was working with a contractor recently and they were showing me a bunch of things that they had done on their computer and I was like, wow, that's I, Whoa, I want to do that and I learned something which I think the ITBC is really powerful for in any other association is that you get to see people, colleagues doing the same thing over Canada that you learned from. Right, and if you're, if you're all just working out on your own Solo, you're going to stall out your development and your progress because you're not around other people. 

LCM: 21:33 Yes. It's, it's really important that you stay on top of things, that you connect with other people. Even if you have a networking group in your area, even if it has nothing to do with your business, get out there, start talking to people, find out what's going on and stay up on the webinars, the w the required webinars to maintain your CPD status. It's not about they want to make sure you work and you do this and that. It actually helps your development. You learn about new things that are out there because if you don't learn, somebody else's going to learn and they're going to take your business. 

MP: 22:03 Yeah. And uh, and that's, it's that in itself is, is enough to go out there and join one of these associations. And I think my experience just in terms of people in our associations, the confidence level that, that, that boost of confidence knowing and seeing and having a comparison to where you are and where others are, I mean it's, it's priceless.

LCM: 22:15 Absolutely. And quite frankly, the cost and investment in IPBC or any of these associations are very low in the grand scheme of things. So it's, it's like just a great idea to do that. So I always like to make sure if you're going to be successful, you gotta become involved in one of these associations in my, in my humble opinion. 

MP: 22:35 Well, no, and I agree with you and I, and also, you know, clients come and go and if you're not out there and you're not involved in anything, how are you going to replace those clients that leave?

LCM: 22:50 That's right. You know, we knock on doors and stuff. Yeah, we can do that. But you don't really need to do that. 

MP: 23:00 Absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, in terms of your, you talked about your office set up, we've talked about some of the things that you do to help you be more successful. Tell us a little bit about the staff member. You mentioned you added a staff member. What was that like for you? 

LCM: 23:17 Um, well that was actually kind of interesting because she's brand new. She was a night auditor at a hotel. She's actually my step sister. And what happened is she ended up having twins and then it dawned on her, how am I going to go back to work? So she asked me cause she trained with me. So I said okay. And I sent her off to Mack and she did her, her level one accounting and ran her through some tasks and she's basically just been following me and, and learning everything she can. But she learned PBS the get-go. Also learning how to do the books. She was learning our systems at the same time. So it's actually been quite helpful because I'm not just saying, okay, you have to do it this way and then you have to do it that way. I'm actually saying you're going to follow this page and then you're going to go to that page and this is what I expect from you. 

LCM: 24:02 And it's worked out really well. So she's grown up, her career has grown up inside the Pure Bookkeeping way of doing it. She doesn't know any other way.

MP: 24:20 It's perfect. You know, we have a licensee out in Calgary and that's in western Canada, uh, Alberta and she, she joined last December and she was, she called me up, she did the online training program and she said, you know, I feel like I'm working for the best boss in the world, which is Debbie. Right? And I said, at first, I'm like, what do you mean by that? She goes, well, Debbie, she's just telling, she's laid it all out. I just, I know exactly what to do. And she's just getting started. She's been bookkeeping for a long time, but she's just launching her business. And so I just love hearing your story because it's very similar to the one that, uh, Darlene had shared in that, you know, having all of this laid out for people is very satisfying. 

MP: 24:58 And Michael Gerber who wrote E-myth, uh, the original e-myth, which is to build a system-dependent business and, and the concept of it really was, you know, this is how his, his in the book, he talks about how a person joins and they hand a book to them and they say, this is how we do things around here. And what happens is job satisfaction goes way up because people know exactly what it is that they need to do. They know exactly how to do it and they're no, there's, there are measures in place to let them know that they've done a good job of it. And what those three things lead to lead to great job satisfaction.

LCM: 25:35 Absolutely. Yeah. Well, I find as well, you know, with, okay, her name is Alex and I find this, he kinda gave me a thought. I recognize that I have been very fortunate that I can provide full-time income support. 

LCM: 25:52 My children work from home because family comes first. If I'm needed at the school or something, I can jump out. And she had her twins and she'd had this conversation with me and I thought if I can do this, why can't she do this? She's got the smarts, she can learn, I can show her how to do it and I'm going to do exactly the same thing with the next person I bring on because I think I'm, I'm not being biased, but as mothers we need to put our children first and we have a career that we need to establish as well. So having guidelines in place and systems in place helps us make it more efficient so that we can balance family and work.

MP: 26:25 Beautiful. And that's really what it's all about. It is, you know, your family is number one and that's it. So you build the world around you to support the family.

LCM: 26:35 Exactly. And I find that it's given me the, um, the confidence, as you said earlier, to be able to say no to my clients to say, you know, at five o'clock my phone is off, do not call me, you know, when my hours are, you know, I know what you need and your deadlines will be met and there you go. That's it. That's another software that we should talk about is what's the workflow. Okay, let's talk about it. What are you using? So what I've actually done is, you know, the checklist, the session checklist that, that we have in PBS. Yes. Okay. I have, I use a program called jetpack workflow and it's cloud-based workflow management. Are you familiar with that one? 

MP: 27:18 You know what, it's absolutely hilarious because we've been in conversation with them to have them on to our podcast and, and, and I've been just busy lately cause we're doing so many new things and implementing so many new things. I've been literally waiting to want to send out an email to everyone saying who is using this product? Because I need to know before we go and talk about it. I need to know our licensees getting value from using this, this program. Absolutely. This is, this is great. I'm very happy. So let's start again. 

LCM: 27:51 Okay. So jetpack workflow is, is very sim color. Um, in the way that PBS works there, there is this an intimate group of people who will talk to each other back and forth. If you have an issue, you have a question, you want something added, you can email the developers directly and they will get back to you immediately. The same way you do, if we contact you or Debbie or Dave, somebody always gets back to us right away. So jetpack workflow is cloud-based work management. It takes a little bit of setup time. Um, but again, they're willing to help you with that. And that's included in your annual fee as well. You don't pay extra for that. You put all your client's information, all their documents, your due dates, your deadlines, who's assigned to it. If you have staff working with you, who is managing the project, who's, who's assigned to complete it, it is an amazing tool to make sure you don't miss a deadline. 

LCM: 28:42 And what I was getting at with the checklist is I've actually created those checklists on the jet pack so that I'm not doing them in paper form anymore. They're on the cloud within jetpack.

MP: 28:58 Wow. It's amazing. It's absolutely amazing.

LCM: 29:05 We create each little item on the checklist is a task that needs to be done for the client and it gets kind of merged in there with jetpack workflow. So that's a tool I would highly recommend. I have used other ones I used a client to track, um, and I'm not bashing them. I just find the fact that it's not cloud-based does not help me. Um, if I need, if I'm at a client's office the odd time and I need to check something out or get a login code, I can just log into my jet pack and it's right there. 

MP: 29:24 Beautiful.

LCM: 29:30 So I would highly recommend you get on conversations with them. 

MP: 29:33 Yeah, well it's just a, it's just literally we're going back and forth. We're just going to get a day to that. That's great to know. And what I would actually, I'm going to put you on the,

MP: 29:42 the hot seat is you know, would you be willing to do a webinar for our licensees to show them how you're using it with Pure Bookkeeping? I think that'd be really valuable. So we'll, so that'll be coming. We'll schedule that and we'll do a, a member webinar and they can see how you're using it and, and we'll, we'll even get a check jet pack. It's jet pack workflow, right jetpackworkflow.com. I think it's dot com they also have, um, they've got demos on their site now. Yeah, you can go if you want to check it out just to see what it does. Um, and what I love is the fact that they will book a one on one with you and help you actually set up your clients, your tasks, your jobs, how to archive, how to pull things up, how to document this, that, and the other thing, you can pull documents themselves, they're so you link them to your computer or your Dropbox is just amazing. 

LCM: 30:29 That's great.

MP: 30:34 Yeah. You know what, for the listeners, I know that, and I can't remember the fellow's name, but the fellow that runs, runs the organization was saying, you know, they wanted to offer all of our listeners a great, you know, trial offers some sort of thing. I don't even know what it is, but go to the episode, I'll get in touch with them, I'll get Dave to do it. Uh, we'll make sure a link is there as well for jetpack workflow and there'll be some cool offer that they'll give, they'll give to you. So I'll be calling them up on it for sure. It's definitely worth every penny.

LCM: 31:00 Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful. So that's, that's a big, big one I believe it is. And you know what people say, Oh, you know, I've got to invest in PBS and then I've got to pay a jet pack.

LCM: 31:12 It's all worth it because each of these little things that you add increases your productivity, which increases your bill out rate. Yeah, it's fabulous. Yeah, this is, this is great. So let's talk a little bit about the lead flow and getting, getting clients. Have you, what has been your strongest referral source? Quickbooks. Quickbooks and so terrified pro advisor for QuickBooks. So I'm up there in the cloud. So anytime anybody's looking for a bookkeeper in their area, I will have weeks where I get to three referrals a day and I don't have time to actually answer them all. And then I'll have weeks where I get nothing and, but there's always something. Wow. So that has been, I would say word of mouth number one, QuickBooks certification is number two. I don't think there's a lot from the IPBC. I use the IPBC more as a professional thing, not as a way to get clients. 

MP: 32:05 But I'd strongly recommend being a QuickBooks pro advisor. The certification, you know, I've heard it several times recently in the last, let's say six months. It's a, I think they've made changes to their interface and the marketing that they're doing gap, which I hear that all the time. So listeners hear hearing it here now again, make sure you're doing it. Become a QuickBooks pro advisor and there's a great business and leads and I love that you said you've got a system, you know, using the Pure Bookkeeping System to validate and vet and qualify prospects, which is, which is cool.

MP: 32:40 And that might be another thing to tag on for our licensees is to talk a little bit about how you do that so that they can see, hear it from you as well. Okay. Yeah, this has been great. Anything else you'd like to share? We used to keep them around 30 minutes or so, these episodes, but we could probably keep on talking. 

LCM: 32:56 We could talk forever. Michael, 

MP: 32:57 We're going to have him back. We're going to have you back on the show for sure. Lots of cool things you're doing and just loving it that your business is growing and, and that you're able to, you know, manage your life with the family and your priorities and as well now you've passed that on to somebody else. That's, that just uh, makes me smile. So it's good to hear that. 

LCM: 33:17 Good thing. Yeah, it's all been very good. I'm going to strongly recommend that everybody reads the, um, the EMF bookkeeper.

MP: 33:25 Yeah, absolutely. That that was a big valuable tool. I just find that you know, once I started with Pvs, honestly, I one little tool after the next kept piling on and you start to look at things so differently that you just, you keep going and you keep going and you just keep trying to find ways that make you better.

LCM: 33:38 Yeah, absolutely and it works. 

MP: 33:43 Absolutely, and we'll have, we'll put all the links for our listeners to the EMF where he can get that. We've got the seven secrets of growing your bookkeeping business. We actually have a really great offer where you can get the EMF bookkeeper, you get a course that goes with the seven secrets to growing your bookkeeping business. The webinar, you get a coaching session with one of our team members. You get Q&A as well. Another, another add on business accelerator program, so lots of cool stuff. We'll have a link to that in the show. As you can hear. It's been very valuable for Lisa. It's been just great. Thank you for sharing your success for us and with our listeners and some of the cool things that you're doing. It's been great.

LCM: 34:17 Well, thanks for having me.

MP: 34:22 Yeah, 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, goodbye

EP34: Mark Wickersham - How To Use Value Pricing In Your Bookkeeping Business

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Value Pricing.

Some bookkeepers love it while others don't.

There's no question it can be complicated to implement because setting rates for bookkeeping services is very subjective due to the varying needs of different clients.

Our guest today, Mark Wickersham, who is a chartered accountant, author and public speaker, will give you clarity on how you can profitably use Value Pricing in your business.

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

  • Why it's important to ask commitment questions to prospects

  • Why you need to build up the value of what you do first before revealing your price

  • Why the first price you present to a client should be the most expensive

If you'd like to find out more about Mark, visit this link.

You can also contact him on LinkedIn here.


Michael Palmer: 00:53 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer and today is going to be an amazing episode. Our guest is a sought after profit improvement expert. I'm going to read that one again cause that is an exciting profit improvement expert who wouldn't want to have their profit improve. Everyone talks about home improvement. We're talking about profit improvement today. He's from the United Kingdom. He is a chartered accountant, he's a public speaker and he's a number one bestselling author of a number of books. Effective pricing for accountants, a practical approach to value pricing, how to build a successful bookkeeping business. He is famous for helping bookkeeping and accounting firms double their profits in less than 18 months without having to work harder or do any uncomfortable marketing. Welcome to the show Mark Wickersham. 

Mark Wickersham: 01:44 Thank you so much. That was an awesome introduction, Michael. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it's great to have. 

MP: 01:49 I've heard lots about you but we've never met. So this is going to be a treat for me as well. And I know for our listeners as well. Fantastic is stuff. So let's start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up doing what you're doing today. 

MW: 02:05 Yes. Uh, well I've been, I started in the profession a long time ago now. It was 1988. So, I'm yes, I'm that old. Uh, and I, I trained as a chartered accountant in the UK qualified. Uh, and then a few years later, kind of disillusioned with being an employee, set up my own accounting firm, starting from scratch with no clients, working from a bedroom in my house on built up this practice and it, between 1996 and 1999, it looked like I was very successful from the outside looking in because I grew very quickly in two and a half years, I, uh, I grew with over 200 clients, a 200,000 pounds in fees, which I guess about 400 Canadian dollars. Uh, I had 13 team members at one point and it looked really, really good. The reality was it was a mess, a complete mess because I made so many mistakes. 

MW: 02:58 And mistakes that actually most accounting professionals book keeps us be to do the same thing. I was growing too quick. I was way too cheap. Yes, I was winning lots of clients and I thought I was a genius at selling. No, it wasn't. I was a genius giving stuff away for free. And so life became increasingly tough. And then I was very fortunate. I met a number of people that helped me on my life journey. So my heroes, one of which is Ron Baker, who I know you've had beef on the show before, and Ron is one of my big heroes in the profession. That's when I first came across his, his first book. And that changed everything for me. And as I read it, kind of this light bulb went on in my head and I figured out a better way to price as I coached a system, a systematic approach that would allow me to get rid of timesheets and price in a consistent way using a system to price with confidence. 

MW: 03:51 And my results changed so quickly that within a few short years I then sold my accounting firm in a management buyout. I got involved in a network of Accountants in the U K and I've been teaching accountants in the UK since the year 2000 so 17 years now. I've been teaching value pricing, teaching my process, and in the last few years, increasingly I've been teaching accountants and bookkeepers over in the US and Canada as well, which has been great fun too. And so that's now all I do. I teach accountants, bookkeepers, pricing. I teach my system, I write books, I do Webinars, I do mentoring sessions and I do speaking sessions and I love it. And I particularly love working with bookkeepers over on your side of the ocean because I find in Canada I was up there for, for thrive last November. And the enthusiasm now is just incredible. I absolutely love it. 

MP: 04:46 Yeah, thank you. Well, we certainly get excited about making more money. So it's a, it's great and I'm sure you'll be doing a lot more work over here, so hope you like, hopefully, you like traveling. 

MW: 05:00 I do love, I love the states and I love Canada. I love, I love everything about North America. So, um, and I'm going to be there four times later this year. So really, really looking forward to those trips. 

MP: 05:11 Excellent. You know, as I mentioned earlier in the show, heard lots about you, I've actually looked at your website and just a couple of the demos around the pricing tool that you've created and I've heard people talking about how it works and how valuable it is. Let's, let's get into talking a little bit about how you do actually do this work by helping bookkeepers and accountants primarily. But our show obviously is more slanted towards helping bookkeepers work within value pricing and fixed pricing and the tools that you use. 

MW: 05:45 Yeah. Well, the way I help people is, it kind of has two weeks expand into two ways. I developed my cloud pricing tool as you said, which was, which was actually that piece of software started life off back in 1999 that was kind of for me, the light bulb moment when I understood the process of value pricing. And I created my first piece of software for pricing in my own accounting firm back in 99. So really cloud pricing is the latest evolution is if you like, is 18 years old. Uh, that the concept and, and, but it's only in the last 12 months I've been taking it out to Canada and the US and made it kind of a global product. It's a tool that certainly gets some incredible results. And, and I was just before Christmas, I had my UK bookkeeper sent me a message to say how he'd used it to increase his price by seven times, not just 10, 20%, but seven times, which is so far, um, the biggest result I've heard. 

MW: 06:41 So I help people through that software tool, but I think actually more important in that, uh, I teach p I, I work closely with, uh, bookkeepers and accountants online. I teach, I haven't those mentoring groups and I teach the concepts because the software is great, but you have to understand value pricing first. And the trouble is value pricing is not easy. It's in face insanely difficult. It's inherently difficult. And so we have to understand the foundations first, which is why I spend most of my time teaching in groups, accountants, and bookkeepers to help them understand some of the foundations and some of the processes that we have to go through to communicate value. Uh, and so on. 

MP: 07:29 Absolutely. It is a theme of paying such a difficult conversation and, and we get the question all the time, you know, fixed pricing value pricing per hour pricing and it, and it's, you know, it's debated all the time and uh, in fact, I'm just going to pull up a question, uh, that came up recently and in our Facebook group. So we have this great Facebook group. Hopefully, it'll join it and help answer questions inside of that group as well at The Successful Bookkeeper on Facebook. And one of the questions that came up, it was the help I really need to change my billing to value-based rather than hourly. As I continue to educate myself, I realized that I'm not billing what I'm worth. And so many clients seem to get sticker shock when given an hourly rate. Is there anyone that would be willing to help me build my packages? I will pay for your time. Of course, I know there's a lot of information out there, but to be honest, I really don't have the time to research it and would rather pay someone who has the knowledge to help me. So you know, this is almost want to say that that is a very common thing that I hear along the, uh, the journey. 

MW: 08:40 Yeah, I do. I get the same thing myself and I, I, and I think that, no, I don't think, I know from my benchmarking studies that almost every accounting professional, every bookkeeper is way too cheap and we need to put our prices up, but we have to do it in the right way because we have to communicate value. So the problem with value pricing is first, it's so misunderstood. There are, I found actually a lot of people teaching it and teaching it wrong and, and, and a lot of misconceptions. For example, the single biggest misconception I come across in the profession over the last period, the last five to 10 years, is in the UK, particularly a lot of firms are moving to fixed pricing and they think that fixed pricing is value pricing. And it's not a, usually, people that are fixed pricing, uh, have got a single price, a single fixed price. 

MW: 09:29 And if you have a single fixed price for anything, then categorically is not value pricing with a few possible exceptions. Uh, and also I can guarantee with a single fixed price is always the wrong price. So if you have a client come to you to say, I want you to do the bookkeeping, and they say, Yep, I can do that, and it'll be $200 a month, that's the wrong price because how can that possibly be related to the value of every client gets the same hourly rate, for example. And the other point is when you reveal a price, a fixed price, so let's say $200 a month, the probability of that number is exactly the number, the other person that the potential client is able and willing to spend is so unlikely. It's almost zero. Yes, they'll have a number in their mind they'll, but they'll have a number in mind never pair to pay. 

MW: 10:19 It won't be the 200 it'd like to be a high number or lower number. If it's a lower number, they'll say that's a bit expensive and they'll go somewhere else. So the bookkeeper loses out. They don't make the sale. If it's a higher number, great, you make the sale, but that person would've paid more money and you've left money on the table, you threw profits away, which is almost a worse outcome. So one of the things that makes value pricing so hard is the fact that the first value is subjective. Secondly, it differs from every person, person to person. Everybody will value things differently. And thirdly, just make it even more difficult for the bookkeeping industry is the fact that bookkeeping itself is complex. The scope of the work differs so much from one client to another. You have clients with good record-keeping clients with bad record-keeping clients with a lot of transactions versus smaller clients and that all makes it hard to work out what to price. 

MW: 11:12 And that's why I think historically we just go back to the timesheet cause it's easy but that's a crazy way of pricing. So what we need is it needed a system when you have a system for value pricing and the first thing we have to recognize, which is I teach a seven-step formula. I teach a systematic way of thinking about it. And the first thing that we have to think about which really strikes the heart of value pricing is we have to recognize that different customers value things differently. And so we have to come up with a price discrimination strategy. We have to come with a price discrimination strategy and that's the starting point of our pricing. We have to figure out how we're going to charge different customers, different prices. And the bad news is there are actually dozens of different techniques and ways of doing that. 

MW: 11:58 All of them very powerful and so on. And we've got to pick out what's the best ones that work for us. And there's really, I think three or four in particular that works well for the accounting profession. And I call these options bundles, upsell. And also we can use something which is, uh, based on time, uh, which I've actually won't go into now, but we can use a number of different techniques. And what, why our goal is, is when we're having a conversation with a client about what we do, bookkeeping, for example, our goal has got to be to come up with a price that at the top end that that particular client's able and willing to spend. And so we need to have a system for doing that. And what we can do is we can't ask the question, we can't say, tell me what's the most you're willing to spend on bookkeeping work because they won't answer that question. 

MW: 12:50 Or if they do give a number, they're lying. Okay. So he can't ask. But we've got to have a system, a way of asking the right questions and having a structure so that we can obtain that information because some clients will pay much, much more than they're currently paying. I said the example of the guy who said he got a client to pay seven times what he would've charged before. You only need two or three clients like that and suddenly you could start turning away work and being more confident. The trouble is we don't know how to do that. So we ended up trying to be competitive and cheat with all clients to win the business. And yet the amount of money we're leaving on the table is incredible. 

MP: 13:32 I liked how you were saying the, what was a couple of things that you said that I really liked, but you know, the price discrimination, very interesting concept as well as, you know, asking, you know, what do you have in mind to pay the, to pay the bookkeeper. It's like, it's almost kind of like a chess game, uh, that people play in it. It's not just in bookkeeping. I mean, every industry is like, Hey, what's your budget? You know, it's like, you know what a crazy question. You know, while it's, you know, whatever they say, it's either gonna be, you know, do you even know if that's real or, or not? And they're always gonna come in at low. Like, what's my budget? The lowest possible amount, you know? So I like where you're going with this mark. Go. Absolutely. I mean, it is a crazy question and well, one of the reasons it's crazy is because it creates what's called Manka because the reference price, so when you ask somebody the budget, they'll give you a number and that immediately is going to constrain your thinking on what you'll come up with as a price. 

MP: 14:26 And it also reinforced in their mind that same anchor so that you now, if you were to go in with a higher price, they're now thinking of the number they've given you the budget. Whereas before you asked the question, they'd perhaps never even gave it any thought. So you must never ask that question. You always have to go first with the pricing. The person that goes first is the same with any form of negotiation. The person that goes first, a that's always a close approximation to what the eventual is. And so we have to be confident with our pricing. We have to have a system, we have to be able to reveal the price without asking that budget question. 

MW: 15:00 Yeah. And I think when you do this, people want certainty. And so, uh, when you do this, when you have a system and when you are trained on it well enough that you're confident with it, that provides certainty for people. So even though it might come across as being more than the competitor, they choose that person because they're bringing certainty. It's like, well, it's high. But they were just so confident with what they said and the way that they approach themselves that their unconscious mind is just more willing to go with something that's more certain than the uncertainty of, well, I'm getting a better deal. What? Am I going to get? What I ultimately need or want? 

MP: 15:34 Exactly. Yes. 

MP: 15:36 Let's dig further into this. And, uh, I, what I really appreciate about you, Mark is, is not just theory, but it's actually already you're giving us, uh, the listeners real tangible things that we can start to apply. And I'm sure people are going to be writing your name in Google to find out more and go to your youtube and you've got lots of great resources online to learn more. But let's, let's give a few more pieces of a resource that will help them go down this journey. 

MW: 16:04 Yeah, sure. Let's think about this step one of the formula, the price discrimination, and let me talk about concepts which I call options versus bundles versus the upsell, which are all three ways of, of, of price discrimination probably. I think for our profession, the most powerful form of price discrimination, or at least the simplest but also very powerful, is something called menu pricing. I know you're familiar with, because I teach, I've been teaching this for 17 years and I know Ron talked about it as well on his podcast with you. And that's that you have to give people choices. And specifically three, he called it the goldilocks effect, which I know that's a popular name. I call it the magic of three. You have to get your three choices and they then pick the one that they want. And when you do that and when you do it well, what happens is most people choose the middle option and so straight away, the reason why I think that giving three choices is the starting point on your value pricing journey is that it's easy to implement. 

MW: 17:02 And it's also though, if you're nervous about putting your price up to and most people are as a lack of confidence, what happens if the client leaves? Well, what you do as you go to your clients, who you charged a price for last year and this time you come to come up with three options. The cheapest option, your bronze option, if you like. You priced that, that being an amount a little bit higher. I would suggest two or 3%, uh, higher than what you charge last year for essentially the same thing, but perhaps stripping out on the bells and whistles. But then the middle option, you might charge you, let's say 20% higher and you add into their some ways of adding value. And very often we can add so much more value, uh, with things that are low cost to us, like reports and so on. 

MW: 17:47 And then we have a higher expensive option, uh, that will would even higher still. And what happens, and people have said when we do this in the right way, very often, many of our existing customers who we always thought of as being price-sensitive, when you give them those three choices, quite a few decide to go for the middle one and therefore they choose to pay you 20% more in price and they pay last year for the extra things that you've built in much of which don't actually take you any further, any more time or things like reports. And so just using that one strategy alone, I know of a firm in the UK that has said that they've increased their average price across their whole firm by 20% just by giving three choices and a, if you factor in then fixed costs. And so on. The impact on bottom-line profit can be a case of doubling profits. 

MW: 18:38 So that's the, that's the first strategy that we can do at a starting point. Give three choices. But also what we have to do when we start getting more sophisticated is recognizing that the, we should also think about options and upsells, which are also forms of price discrimination. So giving people three choices of bronze, silver, gold is a nice, simple way to start. And it also means that we can build standardized packages. However, because there's so much complexity in the profession in which every client is different and what has different needs, what we should also consider is giving them options right upfront. In other words, Aston, if they want certain things, yes or no, which allows them to tailor the package to exactly what they want. But it also means that you can get a better price. And so I often have people say to me, okay, mark, if I can't, with a feature for adding value, let's, let's say as part of my bookkeeping, uh, I could, I could give the client every month a valuable management report showing the monthly analysis of, of profit and expenses and, and sales every single month. 

MW: 19:46 Uh, and the question would be, uh, how should I treat that? And, and one option could be, and there's no right or wrong here, but you could say, okay, that valuable management report, I'm gonna make that part of my premium bookkeeping package. And that will be a great thing to do. But instead, what you could do is you could say to the client right upfront before you reveal the price, you could say, would you like us to produce a detailed manager report that shows your profit loss every single month, yes or no? And most people would say yes to that. And what you then do is the yes answer triggers behind the scenes, an increase in the price. So you factor it into the price. Um, of all of your three bundles with your bronze, silver, gold. So in other words, you, you're not making this a standard package. 

MW: 20:32 You're asking the question, do you want this? Yes or no? And there are lots of things we could ask that sort of question we could ask, do you want to speedy fast turnaround service? Yes or no? Do you want your primary point of contact to be me or are you happy to be able to deal with my assistant? In other words, do you value dealing with the senior partner, the owner of the business, yes or no? And these are what I call options. And this is why they're so powerful. When you give people options, you say, would you like this? Would you like this? Would you like this? Usually, they say yes because people say, yeah, I want that. Stick that in the shopping basket, stick that in the shopping basket. They say yes to these things. What happens is behind the scenes, your calculation, your price is going up, up, up, up, and you'll go, which I know for bookkeepers, this is to say gonna sound scary, but you want to make sure your pricing system, whether it's a tool like cloud pricing or an excel based spreadsheet, when you reveal the price, your goal has got to be to make sure that first price you reveal is too expensive, which I know is going to sound scary for people. 

MW: 21:34 But the point is if when you reveal your price if a customer says yes straight away, you know for absolute certainty you've left money on the table. So you've got to change your mindset. Your goal is to get people to say that's a bit expensive because then you know that you found a number that higher than the maximum they're willing to pay. And then when you have a system where there's an excel spreadsheet or a cloud-based software tool when that number is too high, you go back and say to the client, well, let's look at the reason why it's that price. You said to me that you would you really value dealing with me is the main point of contact and not Mary, my assistant on reflection. How important is that? Because if you deal with Mary, you can get a cheaper price. 

MW: 22:19 Hmm. Let me think about that. I suppose really I could, I'd be happy working with Mary and so the client at that point then chooses and they say to they now reveal which of the things they've said yes to. They really do value and which things they on reflection, they don't value so much until you take those things one thing at a time out of the shopping basket and you recalculate the price and what happens is every subsequent price you reveal will always be a lower price. That first price creates an anchor. It creates a reference price by which they then judge everything else. Everything else in comparison is cheaper. Where's, how'd you revealed that cheaper price right upfront. That might've been too expensive and this is to do with the contrast principle that we always judge things by reference to what happened immediately before. If you have a system to reveal a high price where you know you have a system to then bring that back down with integrity, with transparency, then you will end up getting a much, much higher price. 

MP: 23:14 It's wonderful. 

MP: 23:22 There's a lot of psychological things that are happening in this whole process that you're, you're explaining, uh, and the one being comparisons, how people can compare things, but as well, when what I love is asking those questions is, is that they are literally 

MP: 23:39 okay 

MP: 23:39 commitment questions. It's like, do you want this? And when someone says yes, I want that, it's in psychologically.

MP: 23:46 They are, they're actually becoming more and more committed to you just in the questioning process.

MW: 24:00 Oh, they absolutely are. Yes. And, and that's one of the laws of influence is commitment and consistency, which Dr. Robert Cialdini talks about. And one of the techniques that are very powerful is you should always, you should always have a face to face conversation when you're having price conversations. You always, a fatal mistake is to put prices in a brochure, in a followup email on the website. You'd never do that. You've got to have a face to face conversation and the starting point is actually to build up the value first. So you would, you would build up the value of what you do, you'd present your three options, the three choices, and then only when the client fully understands the value, fully understands what's in it for them and what the options are. 

MW: 24:32 Only then do you reveal the price. But a great technique is if you're revealing your bronze, silver, gold bookkeeping, and if you use the right language and the a and build your structures right before you reveal the price is always a great idea to ask the client this question say, so now we tell me out of the three options I've shared with you, which one do you think is the most appropriate for your business? And very often because they've not seen the price at this point in time, they will say the middle of the most expensive. And very often the mentioned the most expensive. If you've got loads of valuable stuff. So what happens is if she says, I think the premium one is the right one for my business, that's what I need. Then you reveal the price with your system. And if the price is too high, you might still have to change a few things about it. 

MW: 25:22 But this law of commitment and consistency, we like to be seen to be committed and consistent in our actions. It means that we marry is more likely to perhaps change a little bit the premium price, but she'll want the premium budget. It's a premium package. She won't suddenly say, Oh, do you know what pre I'd love that premium package button. We'd go for the cheapest one because she's made a coach. She's made that commitment and you make it. I think there's a great point you said about psychology, Atty. The whole pricing is about price psychology. Price psychology is so misunderstood. And yet the reason it's so powerful is because, um, there's no such thing as the right price. The right price doesn't exist. And, and I, and this is a, this is a conversation I have with accountants and bookkeepers a lot because, because we're very analytical, we like precise numbers and this is why I think we like timesheets because we, it's a precise number even though it's a wrong numbers or precise number and, and the problem with pricing is there is no such thing as the right price. 

MW: 26:15 There was no, there is no scientific scale like there is for example with weight or temperatures or colors to tell us what the right number is, is an arbitrary made-up number. We don't know the price of anything. And so given that it's a made-up number, when we, whenever we buy anything in life we make comparisons. And so our job as a business owner running our own business is to use the right language and the techniques to help the client see the comparison that with the value as being a great deal for them. Even our price might be three times more expensive in the bookkeeper down the road. We need to use techniques in our communication to make the value come alive. Build up the value and at the same time techniques to make the price seem much more than it really is. 

MP: 27:07 Absolutely, and that's, I think why you alluded to this is not easy. It's a, is a lot to this because you know, if we're thinking about Domino's, right? You push one domino and all the dominoes start to fall down. Well, the pricing conversation that we're talking about right now, there's like 2030 dominos before this. That can be very powerful to make sure that they're all falling in the right direction and comparisons, like you're saying, if we think about bookkeeping, if you, if you walk into a business and they're comparing you with the bookkeeper down the street, you, you are in trouble because they're going to compare year, your price, whatever that price is. They're going to compare you to what's in the market, what they've known, their experiences, what other they're the people that their social influence has said about it. It's like that's what they're going to come up with. Oh yeah, I pay my bookkeeper $20 an hour. That's what you're competing against. So right away the game has to be a part of, I'm not like those other people. I'm different. I have more things to offer. I'm going to help you get to where you need to get to, which is, which is what I think you're saying, is that this is not one thing. Click a button and you know, here's your price. There is, it's all completely made up. It's completely invented and this is not traditional in this industry. 

MW: 28:29 Absolutely. It's, I mean the worst thing we can do is quote an hourly rate because an hourly rate, $30 an hour or whatever it is, it doesn't convey any value because people don't buy an hour of time. They buy the end result, and so we have to get away from the hour. The Hour. People make comparisons. So if you quote an hourly rate, what comparison will they make? Well, they'll probably think about how much they pay their employees by the hour and in comparison, that's a big number. I, I, your price is going to be a big number. Even though it's a, even though I know that bookkeepers undercharge massively, that hourly rate will be seen as a big number because the client will make their own comparisons and they'll compare it with something that's less. And so we have to break that completely. We have to figure out how do we, how do we quantify the value? How do we communicate the value of what we do and then come up with a price that demonstrates the client, there's a profit on the deal that they're getting so much more back than the price that you're paying. And you can't do that with hourly rates. 

MP: 29:31 Hmm. Now it's, we talk a lot about is confidence, having confidence in yourself and, and believing in what it is that you do and how you can help, uh, your customer. So can you talk a little bit about the work that you do and how do you bring people along to really get that, this, you know, seven times what you're charging that's going to be difficult for some people to actually even, you know, they might feel, uh, like they're taking them for a ride. They, you know, there are all sorts of these things that come up for people around their own psychology. How do you deal with that? 

MW: 30:08 Oh, absolutely. Well, the first thing to, to, to make very clear is that value pricing is not, is not easy. It's but, but at the same time, the rewards when we get it right, are huge. I have seen firms that have literally doubled their profits inside a year on this journey, but for some people, they get it straight away within three or four months, that conference starts to flow. Some take 12 months before it starts to click. Everyone's different. But we've got to start that journey at some point and don't try to expense suddenly everything to change overnight. We just want to try and get some little wins to start with some quick wins, start getting some results. And what happens is as you get those results, the confidence grows. The bookkeeper that got seven times the price, he is not the norm. But on the other hand, I worked closely with a bookkeeper in the UK who actually co-wrote the book, how to build a successful bookkeeping business. 

MW: 31:01 Her name's Jane Elwin and there's a 30-minute interview I did have a year ago on my youtube channel and she, I started teaching her two years ago and by her own admission for six months, you didn't do anything. She didn't have the confidence. She listened to me. She took us a note, she nodded along and so on, but then suddenly she took action. She took action in November 2015 and she's, she told me afterward how she had what she called her week of wow. Where she met with four clients. She followed my process to the letter and the, and this came about, she said she was driving to a client on Monday evening about six o'clock in the evening and she was thinking, why on earth am I doing this? Why am I going to the client's premises when I should be relaxing in the evening? Why am I living my life around clients that don't appreciate what I do? 

MW: 31:50 And so on that journey, she decided she would just follow the process. I taught her at the end of that meeting, two hours later, the client agrees to a slightly more than doubling of the price for essentially the same service because you'd found a way of communicating value and she was so inspired by that. You had three more meetings in that same week with existing clients. She did the same thing and in all three of the other cases, she will turn them. She doubled the price and the other ones you've got four times the price. She said in that one week she increased the turnover of a bookkeeping business, which is an established business with five employees by 12% 12 that increase in the top line in one week from just repricing for existing clients and she's now gone into some amazing successes. Uh, but it's a journey all starts somewhere. 

MW: 32:37 We have to start somewhere and just keep learning. I'm still looking. I'm 17 years I've been teaching this. I'm still learning stuff now then that's because value pricing is an emerging topic. It wasn't until about the 1970s that a few university professors started to teach it in the last 20 years. We've seen a huge growth in behavioral economics, a huge growth in price psychology and we are still at the very early days of actually learning a, that's just the psychology of price and so on. So we just got to look at it as an ongoing journey that we're not going to master it in a few months. We're not going to master it in a few years, probably not even a decade or two. Um, we've just got to keep chipping away at it. And what I'm finding is that firms just keep trying doing the right things, testing things. They start off getting five, a 6% increase in prices. 

MW: 33:29 Then they find a few months later their confidence goes up as a result and they start getting 10 20% higher prices. Then their conference goes to another level and you just get better and better and better. So my advice to anyone takes some time to learn about pricing. You said the word earlier is confidence is a big issue. I think confidence is the single biggest issue is the single biggest thing holding us back and confident or lack of confidence comes from a lack of knowledge and a lack of systems. If you have the knowledge, if you do the education and you have some systems for pricing systematically, then suddenly you have the confidence. 

MP: 34:04 Absolutely. 

MP: 34:09 I echo what you're saying. It's, it's just little bits, little bits at a time or are what going to lead to these really impressive results. They don't happen. The one woman that you mentioned two years, well, even two years is, you know, if you knew it would be only two years, then you'd, you'd take that journey. If you knew that in two years you'd be making way more money and having way more satisfaction. I think it comes back to everything we do in life is just knowing, hey, where am I headed? Where am I trying to get to? What? What outcomes do I want to have? Making more money, having more freedom, having more enjoyment, you know, if you know that's the end. Well, listen, learn more about pricing. We know that's going to lead to those types of outcomes and just take a little bit, increase your education with people like mark today. I mean this has been fantastic. Uh, your confidence will grow. You'll be able to implement things like this, invest in things like the education with mark, uh, and, and join groups like the successful bookkeeper, uh, and get up, get with people who are doing it. 

MW: 35:13 Absolutely. I think where it gets really exciting is once you go on this journey and you start to learn the systems and the techniques, one of the things I know you, you'll agree with us that the world's changing so rapidly with cloud technology, with machine learning and, and blockchain and all these sort of fancy words about, and you may have about it, nothing in the UK, Oxford University in Deloitte did a study in 2015 that suggested that 96% of what bookkeepers do will soon be automated, which is scary, which means that as a profession we have to change. The bookkeeping profession will change because of technology, which I think is an exciting and exciting opportunity. It means that we can, we certainly can't price by the hour anymore because some of the things that we do, which are valuable could be done at the touch of a button. 

MW: 36:02 And I think one of the best examples is thanks to the wonderful reporting built it built into tools like QuickBooks online or if you plug in fathom or spotlight reporting, you can create some amazing manager reports which are just the byproduct you the press of a button, there's all the reports. And the big, big mistake is because it's a touch of a button, we give them away for free. And yet that management information interpreting the numbers is where the real values are. Historically, as a professional, we've been recording the numbers and yes we will for a while, we'll still continue to do that. But where we can change our client's lives is by helping them interpret those numbers, give them advice and improve their business. And what I think is fascinating about price is that not only is it a huge opportunity for us to improve our own businesses by pricing more effectively and for some firms are doubling their profits. 

MW: 36:56 But when we do that, actually I think price consulting as a topic area is a space that accounting professionals can own because there are very, very few price consultants out there. And what we also know is that just like bookkeepers and accountants, most small businesses have no idea how to price. They are way too cheap, they are working too hard for two years on money and I think the bookkeeper can start to change people's lives by helping their clients get their pricing right. Once you've figured out the systems yourself and you are making it work and getting better prices, all that stuff is teachable and I think that creates an exciting future for the bookkeeping profession where they start to change people's lives and be seen as being the experts in business and, and to me being the expert in pricing, it prices a number and bookkeepers and accountants are the experts in numbers. We have credibility there much more so than other areas of traditional consulting like marketing, consulting and sales consulting. That's scary stuff. But price consulting prices just a number. And we are, we have credibility when it comes to the numbers that make up the profit and loss account. So I think the pricing is very exciting. I think the future is very exciting for the profession. 

MP: 38:12 I agree. And I just love what you've said. I echo it completely. The, I guess the spirit of this podcast is to empower bookkeepers so that they can empower the people they serve, which are small businesses. And the more they know and the better they are at running their own businesses, the better they're going to be at helping those small businesses thrive, which helps build better communities, help provide a better income from for their families and for the people that work for them. So it's an admirable and honorable thing to be doing and it's got benefit all over the place. It's like win, win, win, win, win all the way. So this has been just great having you on. I definitely want to have you come back and share more, but before we let you go, where's the best place for our listeners to go and start to learn more about you? 

MW: 39:02 Well, if anyone wants to see me live, I said, I think I had said earlier, I am actually coming across the pond, uh, several times this year. I will be at scaling new heights. I will be a QB Connect in San Jose. I'll be speaking in Accountex in Boston and uh, and then most exciting at the end of the year I will be speaking at QB connect in Canada, in Toronto again, which aren't really looking forward to because I got such a great reception there, uh, last November. So I'll be over at. So come and see me live at one of those events. Uh, also if you want to try out and get a free 30 day trial of my software cloud pricing, I can send you a voucher code and I can also give you some completely free video-based training. I do a lot of video training, so the best way to find out about all the stuff that I do is either connect with me on LinkedIn. 

MW: 39:51 I'm easy to find on Linkedin, go and connect with me on LinkedIn. And then what I always do whenever an accounting professional and bookkeeper connects, I send out a message listing with some links to some free stuff or go and check out my website, which is wickersham.co.uk and when you go to my website, you'll find for example, you can get a few freaks and free things there. For example, you'll get, if you want a copy of my book, how to build a successful bookkeeping business. It sells on Amazon in the UK for 29 pounds. But please do not buy it on Amazon because if you, if you, as long as you pay the shipping and handling, I will, I will send you through the post a copy of the book and you can find details on my website. So my, my, my main advice is to connect on Linkedin and then we can start a conversation. We can start a dialogue and I can send you some links to some stuff. 

MP: 40:41 That's great. Well, all of those links and all that information will have as well at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and I encourage you to checkmark out and, and learn more about what he's doing is fantastic. And, and thank you for being on the, uh, the show today, Mark.

MW: 40: 55 Thank you, Mike. Love. Loved it.

MP: 41:01 Excellent. Until next time, we'll see you later. That wraps up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time. Goodbye

EP33: Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan - How Streamlining Your Family Tasks Can Help Your Bookkeeping Business

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Are you overwhelmed?

Some bookkeeping business owners with families are.

Let's face it.

It's hard work making sure the kids are fed and your clients are happy.

Our guest, Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan knows the battle all to well.

She's a bookkeeper who helps lawyers grow their practices profitably.

But, she also doesn't like grocery shopping.

It used to really drain her.

In fact, doing some of these family tasks would take up her weekends then she'd dread going to the office on Monday especially during tax season.

Well, that all changed when she discovered how to streamline these duties so she could not only be more efficient at home and with her business, but she was able to enjoy life at a more reasonable pace.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How to utilize the power of productivity apps such as Evernote to keep you on track

  • Why delegating tasks to family members is a must

  • Why planning meals weeks in advance is a huge time-saver

If you'd like to find out more about Nancy, email her at info@bookkeepingforlawyers.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:20 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be another terrific episode. Our guest today specializes in working with lawyers and that's all she does. She helps lawyers grow their practice profitably. What I love about that is it's so specific. It enables her to be an expert and deliver incredible service to the people she serves. Welcome to the show, Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan.

Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan: 01:51 Thank you, Michael. It's a great pleasure to be here. 

MP: 01:53 Yeah, it's a great pleasure to have you. And I'm excited because we've been working together actually for a long time now. And uh, I really want to share your journey because I think it's both educational and as well inspiring. 

NGV: 02:08 Well, thank you very much. 

MP: 02:10 Yeah. So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became to be working with lawyers. 

NGV: 02:16 Well, my dad was a lawyer and, uh, I say to people, I was born into the legal profession as a kid. It was a big treat to go into his office. And when I got old enough, he let me work there in the summers and Christmas holidays. And so I had some pretty good training. Um, I went to university and kept changing my major and couldn't decide what I wanted to do with my life. So I decided to take a job for a little while until I decided, and, uh, I took a job as a legal secretary in a small law firm and stayed there for 23 years. And in a small law firm, uh, you learned to do whatever you need to do. And when our bookkeeper quit, she came back and taught me how to do the books and I learned that I really, really love doing that. 

NGV: 03:05 So for, I don't know, maybe 20 years I did the books, the accountant would come in and every year I try to figure out, okay, what are you doing that entry for and how are you getting that information? So we went to a point where I was actually doing all the closing entries and the accountant was just supervising. And, uh, it got to a point where my boss had really slowed down. He was quite a bit older than I was, and I had little kids at home and there wasn't much going on at the office. I was bored and I thought about getting another job, but I had a lot of flexibility and I didn't really want to go and work nine to five anywhere, so I decided to fall back on the bookkeeping. It was something that I could do that would give me the flexibility and I enjoyed it, but I have to say that for many years I did bookkeeping. 

NGV: 03:59 I got a few clients, but at the end of tax time I would always think, oh, you know, I got to go get a real job, and I would think, oh, should I go to law school or should I go get my MBA or a ca? I don't want to be just a bookkeeper. And then I joined IPBC and I met some bookkeepers and I was completely blown away. I met one bookkeeper at my first meeting who was just about to buy her own building, and then I learned about Debbie Roberts and what she had accomplished, and suddenly bookkeeping was no longer just a job for me. It was a career and an amazing career that I absolutely loved. I had to decide was I going to do bookkeeping for all kinds of businesses or was I going to stick with what I knew and, and stick with lawyers and I had a couple of non lawyer clients and it just became apparent to me that I was going to have to really learn about all kinds of different industries and I was going to have to either charge my clients for my learning curve or I was going to have to do that on my own. 

NGV: 05:09 And I really didn't want to do either of those things. So I decided I would stick with what I know, uh, develop a system, get really streamlined and good at that. And then, uh, my business started growing by word of mouth and that's where we are today. 

MP: 05:25 That's phenomenal, I just love your, your backstory and the amount of time that you've put into really the training part of your, of your profession today in the business that you have today is you spent 20, 30 years developing yourself and becoming an expert before actually going into business for yourself when you did go into business. And when we met. Let's talk a little bit about some of the challenges that you faced. I mean, you have the experience, you have the knowledge, you have the technical ability. What was not working for you in business? 

NGV: 06:00 I was, I wanted to fix everybody and help everybody and that was my focus. And you know, in a way when you're doing that, that makes you feel good. But I was doing it in a way that was very, very inefficient. I was running all around picking up books at people's offices, going into their offices, um, because the lawyers all, not all, but many of them work on the specialized software. Uh, at the time I was starting, it was only available in their offices and sometimes they would just have a computer, one computer. And so I'd have to go in when they weren't there or an evening, they'd give me a key to their office and I'd spend my nights and weekends away from my family working. By the time I ran around and, and got all of their stuff at the end of the day, I really hadn't done a lot of billable hours. Uh, so I was working like crazy and not really seeing a big benefit from it. 

MP: 07:05 Yeah. And then from a pricing standpoint as well, I know that was something you struggled with as well. 

NGV: 07:11 Yes. I forgot about that. Thank you for reminding me. Yes, I was charging very, very low hourly rate and I know when you and I started to work together, I went to one of the pure bookkeeping seminars and managed to get up the courage to ask you afterward if you did business coaching and, and that's when we started working together. And that was one of the first things that you, uh, made me do was put up my prices and man, I thought that was going to kill me. I was afraid I was gonna lose every single client and uh, I didn't lose a single one. 

MP: 07:48 Yeah. It really is. You know, the one thing that stood out to me was that you're highly specialized. You've been doing this for a very long time and what you have available to the people that you work with is extremely valuable. And that's the one connection that you weren't making was that your value and how it relates back to your customer. And so putting up you're putting up what you charge these people was just really a clear, clear is about. 

NGV: 08:17 Yeah. And, and uh, and I think a lot of that came from just that perception of being just a bookkeeper. And it's funny when I think about it, that came from something a kid in high school said to me, I got really high marks and did really well. And this kid in one of my classes said to me, Oh yeah, but you know, people like you, you just end up being bookkeepers or something like that. And I, and that just put this idea in my mind that stayed there for the longest time. And it was ridiculous. And I think when I finally started to meet other bookkeepers and go to IPBC events to intuit events, I'm talking to you. That really, really changed my perception of what it meant to be a bookkeeper and the value that I was bringing to my clients. Once I got that them, then it was easier.

NGV: 09:14 easier to,

NG: 09:16 to put the prices up. 

MP: 09:25 I love this conversation because it's a conversation. It's just a language. It's how. Why is it that people consider bookkeeping to be less valuable than working with an accountant?

NGV: 09: 35 It's only because of the people who have been in the business in the past have felt the same way you have and it is made up of people just like you and we're starting to change that conversation, which is I thought about this morning. I was just sitting there thinking about that. Literally the brand, I guess you could say of bookkeepers and why people don't value them. Business owners don't value them. But the ones who are really bright business people actually do value bookkeepers and they value the information that they have and they use that information to help them make better business decisions and to grow their business. And I know you know a lot of really successful, uh, owners that have used bookkeepers to become really, really profitable. 

NGV: 10:23 But you see, it takes a bookkeeper having that knowledge and actually stepping forward, stepping out there and, and helping owners with the information they have in order to change that. So you have to be a great bookkeeper. You have to be someone who's interested in business, that's interested in helping a business owner figure out a better way, figure out how to be more profitable. And if you're not going to be that type of bookkeeper, then well, you're probably not worth that much in the marketplace. But people like yourself, Nancy, you actually really care about helping those lawyers be more efficient, be more profitable, be more successful. And you're starting to do things and say, hey, look it, there's a better way. Let's do it this way. Let's get you more information, let's get you that information more quickly. Those people are the ones that are going to value more and more and more. 

NGV: 11:11 And we're changing people like you are changing the landscape and it's through the help of the IPB. It's through the help of sure for sure. People like Debbie Roberts helping you change your mindset to give you the courage to give you the confidence to do that. So I really have to say, you know, and my hat is off to you and the rest of the bookkeepers that I work with that are doing similar things as you are in particular industries, uh, that are changing the conversation about what it is and what it means to be a bookkeeper and how that's extremely valuable to business owners. 

MP: 11:46 Oh, it's, it's incredibly valuable. And a lot of people don't really understand that the bookkeeper is in such an excellent position to be able to help with the business because they see the everyday numbers and they see, they go into the offices, they see the inefficiencies.

NGV: 12:00 Um, and you know, you can't always rely on the client to know what technology is out there, uh, what potential streamlining we could do in their office. And often I find, at least with the lawyers, they're a little bit resistant to change. And it's funny, when I went to the, uh, IPBC conference in Niagara a couple of years ago, that was the first time that I had learned about things like Hubdoc and Wage Point and QuickBooks online. And I was completely blown away by what was out there and available. And nobody knew about that in the legal profession that I had run into. 

NGV: 12:43 And so I started telling all of my clients about that and they were very resistant at first. Uh, and it was quite interesting. So what I did strategically, I just kept talking about it. Then QBO, uh, gave me a QuickBooks online account as a bookkeeper. And I don't know whether they're still doing that, but anybody who has not looked into that, uh, at least for a time, a lot of these app partners of QuickBooks online are offering free accounts to bookkeepers. It's part of their marketing. They give the bookkeeper a free account and then the bookkeeper can do some marketing for them with his or her own clients. So I got a free, uh, QBO account. I got a free Hubdoc account and I started using them. And then I started going into my client's offices and saying, oh, you wouldn't believe how easy QuickBooks online is. 

NGV: 13:38 It's amazing. And here's things that it's doing and I'm actually working with it. And they started to get a little bit curious. And then I would say, you know, you're a management company that you have, I think would be ideal for QuickBooks online. And I would start talking to them about how I thought that would save me a lot of time and that would, in turn, save them a lot of money and we could have information for them much more quickly in, in real-time. And eventually, a couple of the clients were willing to try. And then of course, once you get one of the lawyers doing it, you can go into the other offices and saying, well, not only am I doing this in my own business, but also so and so and so and so are, are working on that and it's working really well in their firm. 

NGV: 14:25 One of the things that I tried to do when I first go into a firm is streamline the bookkeeping process and, and try to save them a little bit of money, tell them how we can make things a little bit better for them. My husband, who is an hourly employee, used to get really angry with me and he'd say, why are you telling them how to reduce the amount of time they need you? You're paid by the hour and that means you'll make less money. And that was a concept that he really had a lot of trouble getting his head around. And uh, and I said to him, you know, that's how you build the trust with your client. You go in there and, and you go in with the mindset that you're really working for them. You're really doing everything you can to make their business run efficiently, to have them spend as little as they can on the expense part of bookkeeping. 

NGV: 15:24 I would much rather have them streamline their data entry and those sorts of tasks and then spend time sitting down with them and talking about their business saying, hey, did you notice that your receivables are getting really high and you're working on the weekends and your, you're working like crazy, but you're not actually making money. Because at the end of the year we're writing off so much of this and fewer lawyers. They're just in such an ideal position because they can get retainers and you know, they say to me, what's the best way to collect accounts receivable? And I say, Oh, well for you the best way to collect accounts receivable is don't have them get retainers. So we have worked, uh, at least in our business to try to really find ways to make them efficient and technology. The technology that I've been learning through IPBC has gone a long way to really make that happen and to try to really help them in their businesses. 

NGV: 16:26 To get some value rather than just some, somebody coming in and doing data entry. And it's interesting because I talked with a lot of lawyers, some of them are in what they call law chambers, which is the practice with a group of other lawyers. And I've heard comments like, um, oh my bookkeeper said we should try this and this and this. And, and another lawyer will respond by saying, your bookkeeper has ideas. Um, and I, I, I thought that was kind of interesting that there are people out there who aren't taking that approach. And I would really encourage people who are in the bookkeeping profession to pitch ideas to your clients. They're, they're open and they need that. 

MP: 17:17 Absolutely. And those ideas come from things like the Institute of professional bookkeepers, which is a Canadian Association for bookkeepers. There's the ICB in the United States and every country in every region, there's likely one like that. So listeners, you know, that's is where their job is to bring you information and knowledge. Like Nancy's talking about to sharpen your tools and to beat, make you a better person, a better business person, to be able to work with these different clients, which I think is just fantastic Nancy. And that's really how you do value is you be valuable to your customers. When you're valuable, you're, you're, you're valued. And that has a lot of implications around how much you get paid and as well how long you stick with a particular organization. I'd like to talk a little bit about your own, an improvement in your, in your business. And we had a conversation not that long ago about how you've started to see your life improve because of the systems that you're in. You're putting in place in your own business. You actually started putting into your, uh, your own life. 

NGV: 18:27 Yes. And what a surprise that was. And I've always considered myself an organized person. I have had to do lists and spreadsheets and all that kind of stuff and, and thought I was doing a pretty good job. But, uh, we've had a really busy few years in our family. We had a wedding, we had people in and out of hospital. And, and I would like to say that the improvements that that came in my personal life were because I was brilliant and I, I made a plan. But the truth is they happened very accidentally and, and pretty much out of desperation, um, we had this really busy season as I've said. And, and, uh, my house really paid the price for that, uh, was getting really cluttered. Uh, it wasn't as organized as I would like it. And then my cleaning lady decided she was going to take eight weeks vacation at tax time. 

NGV: 19:24 And so last May out of absolute desperation cause I couldn't take it anymore. I took off the first week of May and I spent the month of April really figuring out what do I need to do to make my housework because it's driving me nuts. It's disorganized and it's cluttered and it's dirty. And, and what do I need to do to fix that? What are the areas that are really bothering me? Um, where do I really need to put some effort? And so I spent the month of April. I had a list on a clipboard. I took it with me almost everywhere I went. And every time I had an idea pop into my head, I wrote it down on the list. So that by the first week of May I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish. I set a timeline of what days I was going to do, which tasks, and then I just had laser focus. 

NGV: 20:19 I got up in the early morning and just started working. I would run out by what I needed to do. I'd worked till 10 o'clock at night. I'd send my husband out for dinner, and by the end of that week, I had everything labeled and boxed. I had bags of garbage out at the curb. Um, and then I started to tackle some of the other areas over the summer. I bought QuickBooks online account from my own personal finances, and I started putting all of my bills onto electronic payments. I had all of the bills then go into my Hubdoc account. So I no longer had piles of paper on my desk that were personal that I had to deal with and file and all of that. I preauthorized all of my personal payments on my debit card or credit card. I opened a tangerine bank account and had savings, just a go automatically debited from my account. 

NGV: 21:23 Just anything that I could do to streamline. I tried to tackle that and I tried to do it in the way that I would approach a client. So my systems that I had in place before were pretty good, but I don't take a set of books that are pretty good and hand those over to an accountant at the year-end. And so I tried to apply the same standards or I'm just going to sit and figure this out and take no prisoners, just keep at it and add it an out until I have a system that really, really works. And so I've, I started out with lists and in excel that I printed on a piece of paper to do every day. What are my goals and what do I want to get done? And that got awkward because I didn't always have the list with me. 

NGV: 22:14 So then I would jot something down in my phone or I would do it on another list when I was out of clients and I every once in awhile my to-do list would have this item on it that said, consolidate to-do lists. And so then I learned about a software program called Evernote. They learned about that when I was at the intuit thrive conference. Some of the thought leaders in bookkeeping that I had become acquainted with through these conferences. We're talking about Evernote and I thought, Oh, I've got to explore that. And so I opened an Evernote account and now I have a single place where I have all my lists, all my to-do lists for clients, my to-do list for myself personally. And uh, I have two lists. One is my current to-do list and uh, per Scott Friesan who was on one of the other successful bookkeeper podcast, what's that list is what's going to be done in two weeks, in two hours. 

NGV: 23:16 My other list is called not doing now. And Michael, you're the one who gave me the idea about the to-do list doing now and not doing now. And that has been amazing, amazing value. Now every task that I have to do is captured and I don't have to keep it in my head. And that has been huge. Um, the other thing that, that I tackled most recently was meal planning. And that for me, meal planning and Grocery shopping was just a huge pain point for me. And I know not everybody struggles with that. I have a girlfriend who doesn't even have a list. She just goes to the store and she knows what she needs. But for me, that was always a huge pain point. And my Saturdays would be get up, struggle with figuring out what the meals were going to be, struggle with the grocery list, then make lunch for my family, then go out and get the groceries, then come home and do the cooking and I'd fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day, feeling like I really had no weekend. 

NGV: 24:23 Um, so what I did was I took that grocery shopping task and I delegated it to my husband. I love that. That took a lot. I was afraid he was going to mess it up. And, uh, so I, I created a list, it's a list. It's got brand names on, okay, buy this brand, not this brand. And here are the flavors of this that we like. I mean, we tried to make it as easy and he resisted. At first he was not really thrilled with the idea of doing the groceries, but I knew it was something that he would do because it was important to him, cause I'd get up on Saturday mornings and as soon as he got up, it'd be, okay, do you have the list on yet? Are Low, what are we going to do? Groceries. And so I thought, okay, you know what? 

NGV: 25:05 This is really important to him. I think it's something he will actually do. And so, so we implemented that and then we implemented on Saturday lunches take out. So that's one less task that I have to do. And then I took it even further. I went into crazy detail and I planned several weeks worth of meals on an excel spreadsheet, including here's the grocery list that you have to do to get these meals and here's the prep that you need to do on Sunday to make these meals happen during the week. And since we have implemented that to that level, it's made a profound impact on my business. And that was something that I had not anticipated. I was just trying to get my house cleaned up and, and solve some personal pain points. I really wasn't thinking in terms of how that would impact the business, but I was sitting here, uh, about a month ago at my desk, which is not cluttered with paper. 

NGV: 26:11 And I realized it's tax time and I'm not feeling in a huge panic. I'm busy and I'm steady, but I'm not feeling that sense of dread about tax time that I had felt in previous years. And I, I was trying to think of, you know, why do I feel like that I've got the same number of clients that I had before. I have the same staff I had before. What's the difference? And I, I realized that my head is clear. I'm juggling all of these personal tasks and when I come into my office on a Monday morning, the desk is clean, the to-do list is mostly done because it's in Evernote. Um, so I never have to write and rewrite lists. Um, and that has just created an amazing space for me to be able to work at my business. 

NGV: 27:08 It's incredible. 

MP: 27:16 It really isn't it, it's such a, an eloquent example of a system dependency and that you've built systems in your business, but now you've done it in your life. And a system is simply something that's repeatable. It's documented. People can understand that. And what happens is once you've created it, you can then improve it. And so I just love that example of your husband. It was like, okay, you know, here's the list and here's all the brand names is exactly what I want you to buy. And now here's a, uh, let, let's go further. Let's take this further. Let's have a, a scheduled repeatable scheduled menu with everything that needs to happen in order to fulfill on this, these meals, which takes all of the onus off of your family and the decision making. And, you know, what are we going to do next? I mean, if people can just sort of listen to your story and think, well that's, you know, just, you know, having systems in your life and having systems in your business, it's a game-changer. It gives you the ability to actually have more mind share and space available to do better work. 

NGV: 28:30 Oh, it was absolutely incredible and life-changing. And I'm not saying by any means that I have arrived or that this is perfect. We're still tweaking and, and revising and changing. And I get little nuggets of ideas, um, from listing to successful bookkeeper podcasts, from going to conferences just in, in terms of little things that can make a profound difference in, in how your like life works. And it just creates this lovely space in which to think. 

MP: 29:06 Absolutely. And that is the real key is that it's, it's not that systems are ever done and dusted. They are constantly needing to be retweaked. And same with the business, right? With Your Business. There's new technology, there are things that happen, there are changes in the business environment. All of these things happen. Your systems need to be tweaked and improved. And, and as things change, uh, thou, those changes need to be documented. So the key is though is that you think the system, you think like a, a system-dependent person. That's what enables you to actually put them in place and they take a lot of work. As you can see, just by listening to two Nancy's story here, there, there's a lot of thought went into a lot of work went into it. And, and what's the payoff? Well, the pay off is eventually you get this massive space of time and efficiency where your productivity soars. 

NGV: 30:02 It was amazing. And, and I have to say that the process was really painful and for a very long time I did not feel I was making any progress. And, and I think the key is to really stick with it. You know, it's a little bit like when you're dieting and you start your diet on a Monday and then on Tuesday you have a doughnut and you'd say, Oh, well this week shot. And then you say, well, you know what, I'll start next Monday and since I'm starting next Monday, I'm going to eat like crazy, all my favorite things. And then I'll start again next Monday. And of course, then the cycle just repeats. And I think that the key was that there were two keys. The first one was taking time for extreme focus and we all tell ourselves in our business, oh, I don't have time for that. 

NGV: 30:50 It's tax time. I can't take a week off. And, and we tell ourselves, and I certainly can't take a week off in the middle of talk time to do something for my personal life. I don't know about the other listeners, but my mindset often tends to go to, well, the business is the priority. I, that's where I've got to make my systems. And that's where I've got to put my focus. And you know, spend time with my family and that's also extremely important. But the, those systems things in those focus things that go with the business. And as I say, it was just such a surprise to me when I took that really focused time to do these things in the business. What a profound change that made in the business was just a really a huge surprise. 

MP: 31:39 Beautiful. I love the story and I, I'm, I'm guessing that there's going to be listeners that are going to be inspired to do the same. Nancy, what's the best way for people to get in touch with you, connect with you if they know of somebody that would be great to be working with you if they know lawyers, what's the best way? 

NGV: 31:57 I think the best way is email and my email address is info at bookkeeping for lawyers dot. Ca and I would be very happy to talk to anybody who had a question about working with lawyers or needed some advice about working with lawyers or wants to just shift all their lawyers my way. Cause they're driving them nuts. 

MP: 32:18 Yeah, absolutely. Well. What's interesting is you recently, I saw a conversation on The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group, which is a private group for our, for our listeners, for our community and listeners, if you're not on that group, it's an extremely valuable group to belong to. It's on Facebook. You can also join it on Linkedin, which is, it's much smaller there right now, but we're going to grow that out as well. But on Facebook, if you just simply search for the successful bookkeeper and the search and you request to join, you'll get access to that. And, and I, I noticed that there was a, someone who had a question about lawyers and dealing with lawyers and you had answered a whole bunch of those questions and now I know, I think you both are, can either have or about to connect offline. So just a great example of leveraging the network and you're such a generous person as well, generous with your knowledge and your time, which is, which is great. 

MP: 33:14 So if you want to connect with Nancy, that's definitely a great place to do it is in the successful bookkeeper group on Facebook. And probably on Linkedin, if you searched your name, you'd find on LinkedIn connect with Nancy and she, uh, she's certainly a wonderful person to be associated with. And uh, and then we'll make sure that we have the connection on our show notes as well at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Well, Nancy, this has been just a delightful episode and you shared so many interesting tidbits around how you're operating in your business, how you're operating in your life as well to bring the sense of productivity and, and efficiency, which I think has just been great. 

NGV: 33:56 Thanks, Michael. It has been a real pleasure. I have, I have enjoyed the other podcasts. I have got so much information from the other podcasts and uh, it's been my pleasure to share any little tidbits that I can share with the listeners. Uh, and it's been a great pleasure working with you all these years as well. 

MP: 34:17 Absolutely. We'll definitely have you back again. I know there are so many other things I've, I've seen you do over the years, and I a, I want everyone to learn about it and, and just see the great things that you're doing. So thank you again. And until next time, well, that wraps up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. 

MP: 34:43 Until next time. Goodbye

EP32: Angela Meharg - How To Improve Your Customer Service

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Ask questions.

Some bookkeepers don't do this when working with clients.

As a result, they are missing out on an incredible opportunity to not only help their customers grow their businesses, but they lose the chance to become a powerful asset to them in the process.

Our guest, Angela Meharg, who owns Datisfy which helps business owners receive custom QuickBooks reports, feels bookkeepers should increase their value by digging deeper and truly getting to know what their clients’ needs are.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Why you should research the industry your customer is in and find out the things that are typically measured

  • The crucial questions to ask your client that could be the key in solving their major problems and catapulting them to greater success

  • Why you must send a monthly email to your customer detailing how you've gone over and above to assist them

To learn more about Angela, visit this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:20 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be a terrific episode. Our guest is the founder of data's Phi, which is a company that helps business owners get customer reports for QuickBooks. She is called the crystal reports goddess. Now. That's interesting. We're going to get into that in a bit and I'm happy she is here today. Welcome to the show. Angela Meharg.

Angela Mehrag: 01:30 Oh, Michael Palmer. Thank you so much for such a great welcome.

MP: 01:45 You are welcome and thank you for being so generous with your time to join us on the podcast today. And uh, we want to get right into it and get to know you a little bit. So tell us how you became the founder of Datisfy. 

AM: 02:05 Well, as you said, I had, because I had come to be known in my industry as the crystal reports Scotus crystal reports. Many of you may know that is a software application that connects to databases that allow you to pull information out of any database, any structured database. And I had been working with it for a very long time since 1996 and I had come to a point in my career where yeah, I kept getting hired as a contractor or consultant, but I realized I could never reach my financial aims if I kept doing work for hire by the hour or even by project. I needed to scale something up. I needed to have an enterprise. And a friend of mine who's a CFO asked me if I could do a custom report, a split commission report for QuickBooks. I'm going to, I'm gonna just that lingo cause I know that bookkeepers went understand what I'm talking about. 

AM: 03:03 You are the totally the audience who knows what I'm talking about. I said, well QuickBooks, how hard can it be? I've been doing complex reports for systems like Oracle and SAP for years. How hard can it be? And then I found out how hard it was and I was a little bit stunned by how hard it was to get data out of QuickBooks. And I did it, but it cost me a lot more than I charge the customer. Put it that way, but I learned something and what I learned was I'm never going near QuickBooks again and I wrote a blog post about it and it turns out people search for things and they find you when they, when you mentioned these things in a blog posts and people about three months later found me, they started to vote between one and three inquiries a week, begging me to do a custom report for QuickBooks. 

AM: 03:53 But knowing what I knew at that point, they couldn't really afford me because it was so complicated to get the data out until somebody said, hey, there's this software application you should check out. It's called QQ Cube for QuickBooks. It's a data warehouse it takes, it sucks the data out of QuickBooks. It improves its structure to make it easier to get at the data and makes many more fields and data items available. Drops it into this separate data warehouse that stands alone. And that's what I'm like when I saw it instantly recognized an opportunity to build a true solution for this exact breakdown in the market place. A single click report to get what you wanted, a QuickBooks, the numbers, exactly the way you need them as a business owner, that would be a miracle, especially if he could develop it, those reports fairly quickly and it didn't cost a ton. 

AM: 04:49 So I knew at that moment that I could start an enterprise, but I couldn't keep being the crystal reports goddess. That's a great cheeky personal brand that's not a scalable enterprise-level brand. And so I actually hired someone to come up with a new name and he came up with Datisfy out of our conversations and things that I'd said, he said he's come up with Datisfy and a tagline that says do what counts. So both of those words on that as far as the made-up word, but it says something and I liked that very, very much. And so we settled on that and it was available. And the rest is history, which is now just about three years. In fact, focusing on this very niche problem when working with QuickBooks. 

MP: 05:42 Beautiful. What a story. What an interesting evolution to your, to your business journey. So, with you growing your business, you have more, you work with probably anybody, business owners, bookkeepers, accountants, people that need to get this kind of data out of their QuickBooks. What has been your experience of working in the marketplace and what have you seen from the launch? 

AM: 06:09 There are a few things. One is that typically who contacts us is the business owner, the CEO or the CFO, which surprised me, but that's Kinda, I guess that's typical in a smaller business. And that's who uses QuickBooks. I was also surprised at just how large those businesses can get and they still use QuickBooks. So I've been, I've worked with companies that are, you know, five, 10 20 5,000 million dollar companies still using QuickBooks because it, it takes care of the basic needs and the only thing that's missing for them and how what they need is to be able to just get better reporting and analytics out of their own system without having to ditch the system. Because if you go to upgrade to a more advanced system like Lawson or one of the more advanced sage ones or Microsoft dynamics, you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, first of all, just for the software and the implementation and the customization, the training, the business interruption. 

AM: 07:06 And then you're still gonna need custom reports because every business runs a little bit differently and they need to see their diff, their numbers a little bit differently. And how, what has surprised me the most are, and we've done now hundreds of reports for different companies, different industries, only once have we been able to reuse a report that we built for a different customer in all this time. And that just tells you how unique every company is. And I liked that because it makes it a challenge for us. We really have to listen to what the customer wants. But that is, that's really it. I think that's what people don't realize is so important about data analytics and running a company. You gotta have your, your fingers on the pulse and that's the, yeah. 

MP: 07:57 Beautiful. 

MP: 08:05 I absolutely love what you're saying. And I think there's a couple of things I want to pull out of that in that. Number one, businesses not generic. If it was everybody is doing, it'd be easy just be like, turn on, Hey, can I just start a business that's going to dump money in my bank account? Sure. Just press this button. So it's, it's not like that. It will probably won't be that like that for a long time. So this whole conversation of automation, AI and all of these interesting and exciting things, it's not necessarily going to remove the importance of people like yourself that actually can think critically and laterally and think about, okay, your business, you're unique, what information do you need and let's help you get that information. And that really relates back to our listeners, right. Bookkeepers. Um, and, and another level of that is your surprising discovery of entrepreneurs being the people who are contacting you. 

MP: 08:57 I mean, when I heard that, I'm like yes because that is what we are changing here at The Successful Bookkeeper podcast is that the bookkeeper should be the one contacting you because they should be asking the entrepreneur saying, what is it that you need? What analytics do you need? What do you, what are you really trying to get to in your business? How can we help you with the information that we're collecting and making sure it is accurate? How can we help you bet, make better business decisions and then going out and s and satisfying that by speaking to people like yourself? So I think it's exciting for our listeners to say, hey, I need to be thinking about this. And being the person that is ahead of that entrepreneur and thinking about, well how do I help them be more successful? 

AM: 09:36 Oh yeah. To have that kind of attitude in a bookkeeper would be amazing. In fact, I have a bit of that in the one that you referred to me cause I was having a real struggle finding a bookkeeper who could enter things on a monthly basis for me and just understands how to enter those. And I'm now, because of now, I'm so closely related to this industry and to that the data that goes into QuickBooks, all the transactions, I'm much more familiar with the lingo now, the jargon of the industry. And I actually am a member of a LinkedIn group called QuickBooks tips and tricks and some of the best QuickBooks folks who all are seeing either they may be CPAs, they may be really advanced bookkeepers, they're t, there are tons of discussions about how to do things the right way. And it took me a really long time to find a bookkeeper who could do it the right way and they, I just a first thanks for that recommendation. I don't know if I should mention her name. 

MP: 10:36 Absolutely. You can read your name. We're proud. We are proud to salute the great bookkeepers out there. Shavon Harrop Scott and she will definitely be a guest on our show and she's one of our wonderful clients with pure bookkeeping and she's just got a really switched on business and uh, and is growing like a weed. So we're going to have Ron and I, it was really easy for me to refer to you based on where you were and what you needed. And we've got, you know, handfuls of, of great bookkeepers across the country, but you're right here in Toronto and Chavonne was there and wow, what a beautiful connection. So it's my pleasure. 

AM: 11:11 Absolutely. Thanks for that. 

MP: 11:13 Yeah. And so excited that, yeah, that, that I'm hearing that feedback and it's great and Chavon will listen to this podcast and have a big smile on her face as well. Yeah. So this is so cool. I love that insight that you, you, you gained from Your Business Journey. And I want to make sure though, I think the listeners probably have realized you're not a bookkeeper, but you're, you're a person who understands data and understands the structure of data and how to move it around and pull it from this place to that place and put it where it needs to be to get information out of it. 

AM: 11:40 Hm. So in fact, just if I may, uh, we have a new project that just kicked off last week. It's a company, a construction company in Calgary, and they just, they wanted some cost analysis report, just one actually because they spend a lot of time getting the [inaudible] data out of QuickBooks into excel and then putting it into this other spreadsheet. I'm like, wow, you don't have time for this nonsense. And they have like hundreds of projects to deal with. Not all at the same time, but managing them in an XL is, oh my gosh. So not the way to go. But the other complication of it is that they use an additional system to manage all the estimating, it's called Quickbid. So we are going to actually combine the two into a single report. So nobody ever has to touch excel again. So talk about different systems and pulling them together.

MP: 12:40 That's a perfect example. Wow. Very cool. Very cool. what would you say for the bookkeepers in terms of them being able to start these conversations with the owners, the people they serve, how do you see that going? Well, first of all, just asking a question like that is a great place to start because I, I would imagine that the business owners aren't accustomed to having received a question like that from a bookkeeper. I think also understanding, getting, doing a little research, a little background gathering on the industry that that particular customer is in and finding out what are the things that are typically measured in that industry. And of course you may not have access to all of the systems and your focus would be on the financial system, but to find out what things are measured, what are the typical ratios like restaurant industries run on different ratios than other industries, food and beverage costs as opposed to the rate measured to the sale of the food measures, the cost of the goods sold. 

AM: 13:47 That's not a typical ratio obviously in other industries. So get familiar with what are those kinds of calculations, uh, percentages. And then a lot of business owners tend not to think in the numbers so much. A lot of people avoid the numbers and a different way of asking them is, what's the question you always want the answer to but can never seem to find about your business? Say that again. That's a beautiful question. We need to say that. Okay. 10 Times. Yeah I know like asking them, what's the thing you always want to ask and you don't know who to ask or, or where the information is, but you'd really like to have that on a regular or recurring basis so that they see you could manage something cause if you can't see it, you can't manage it. You can't direct it. Just a beautiful question. It's a great question and I think it's a tough question for people that find themselves doing the work as a bookkeeper in that they are very uh, black and white. They look, they're trying to put things in perfection into 

AM 14:52 perfection and that that behavior, that characteristic in itself could be, you don't want to ask a question that you might not know the answer to. And so part of this I think is an invitation that he, both of us, you and I are actually going to make of our listeners is to give yourself permission to not have the answer to these types of questions and be okay with that. And, and that's where you'll get to, uh, opportunities and new relationships with these owners is by asking questions. Just like Angela asked, is that we don't know. Their problem could be something that you would never ever be able to solve for them, but the fact that you've asked it is going to improve the relationship with them. 

AM: 15:30 Can I tell you another question?

MP: 15:40 Beautiful. Let's do it.

AM: 15:50 I don't think this is strictly a QuickBooks thing. I think it just happens to be very much a thing with QuickBooks. But I suspect this is a thing with other systems as well is where are people exporting stuff to excel and managing stuff in excel instead of in the systems. Now the business owner may not know the answer to that, but it's a worthy sort of investigation because there's this data living in spreadsheets all over the organization. Even if it's a smaller organization, those are called data silos. A, it's not secure. And B, what do you, you can't do anything with that data except in the form that it's in. So it's not, it doesn't lead to great analytics and decision making. So I think that's a really good question to ask is where are things being exported out of this system and manipulate it and played with and stored elsewhere. 

MP: 16:29 It's great. And it's also sort of brings up, in my mind, it's, it's the owner, it's like what question are they trying to find the answer to but can't seem to find it. But as well, if they are a larger organization, do they have other people in their organization that report to them that are trying to answer questions to answer the question for the leader, it's like Kinda like this a hierarchy of, hey, we can't find an answer. You go find it. I don't know where you're going to find it. Do you know? Right down to the bottom of the people's front lines. Right. So that's it's kind of thinking not just the owner, but where else are these people trying to answer these questions and these excel spreadsheets hanging out and inputs and outputs and Angela, I would have to think that the work you do brings a level of consistency to analytics and as well helps businesses scale. 

AM: 17:18 Yes. Consistency. You know, the same old expression, garbage in, garbage out applies just as much to financial transactions as to any tanks. And you just said that bookkeepers tend to relate to things as very black and white because a transaction is a transaction. It's an input or an output, right? It's a credit or a debit. It's, it has to be one of those things. So I can really appreciate where the black and white view is important. You need to have that objectivity. What surprises me about accounting, which is not the same thing as bookkeeping, I've come to learn is that accounting is just as much an art as it is a science or a mathematical thing. And learning how to and where to allocate things is, is very, can be very subjective and having an understanding of that as a bookkeeper would probably be useful too. So that you know what questions to ask depending on your customers' aims. Uh, and it's, it's not, I'm not saying do anything illegal. This is all very legal. It's like, but where are you going to allocate that to? And it tends to be in the bigger organizations, but that they can move things around a little bit more. But I think that's a valid and valuable thing that a bookkeeper's understanding could bring. 

AM: 18:49 You ever been asked that question? I know. I don't even remember what question you asked. I, we telepathically had that conversation and, and it happened because it's bang on and it's a very interesting conversation that we don't have probably enough, which is if we think of any team or, or function, right? There's every system has different pieces and parts that have to make it all work. And all of those pieces and parts are extremely important. You pull one away and it no longer works, right? If you take the spokes out of the wheel, we got problems. Okay. But the thing to do is to make sure that you're in, in collaboration with the other parts and pieces. So with the bookkeeper, you know, that traditionally would be putting them on all of those things in the places that they need to be. They have an appreciation for what the accountants doing, have an appreciation for where the entrepreneur is and what, what they need in the struggles and, and an understanding of what's happening in the system and process. 

MP: 19:49 Right? So it's, it's just knowing your job extremely well. My Dad used to always say, always know your job and everyone that you work with their job as best you can so that you are a valuable asset to everyone and yourself. And so it's a very similar concept. It's knowing your job, know what you're really great at, what you're doing, but also understand what's what it is they're doing and appreciation of what they're doing so that you can be a contributor to what they're doing. And I think that was the essence that I got from you. You, your comment. And uh, I think it's, it's, it's extremely valuable. 

AM: 20:22 I just thought as something that we've cut, we've come up against a couple of times that I'd really love to bring up here and it does have to do with entering things accurately and in a meaningful way. We have a customer in Oakville, we've just done some custom, um, profit and loss statements for them. And we did them and they worked until they started running it, the new fiscal year, the new calendar year. And they're like, well, the numbers aren't working. I'm like, well, let's have a look. And what we discovered was that this person who I'm working with now is new. He's taken over the role from another person and what that other person had done in the past, he, she didn't enter things on a monthly timely basis. She did GL entries later to catch things up and so the dates never fell into the periods where the uh, expense or the transaction actually occurred. 

AM: 21:19 And so the monthly reports would never reflect things. So now this guy has to take what we've done for him cause the new stuff is accurate, the current year is accurate, but he has to go and kind of fix the numbers manually every month until this year is over until they have a full complete year to look back on. I'm like please don't ever do that. If I was ever going to ask anything of bookkeepers, please don't do the shortcut. It doesn't serve anyone in the long run because what you enter is really critical, valuable data that is decisions get made on a GL entry. Just doesn't cut it. I, that my previous bookkeeper was entering my credit card statements as GL, as GL entries. And I didn't know that until I tried to do reporting on it. And of course, it's not there that the data just doesn't exist in the same way. 

AM: 22:09 So just know that the data, the transactions that get entered, they lead to something else and they're really valuable and they're, they're kind of like gold and you can, you've got to mind that gold, but it's gotta be there to mind in the first place. So if I was ever to have a wish for, for waves, for bookkeepers to think of what they do, and I know many of you do, I, they, of course, it's kind of why you like what you do. You love to check things off and do them right. Um, but it's the shortcuts that get us all into trouble. So I hope you don't mind if you just can say that and shared that, but that would be my dream request of them. 

MP: 22:48 Bookkeepers in the world. I think Debbie or my, my partner in in Australia, Debbie Roberts, who's the co-author of EMF, if bookkeeper would be smiling down there in Australia in terms of, you know, doing it right and having a process and system in place to make sure that it can be done right because it doesn't serve anybody to not do it. Right. And this goes back to what we were talking about in terms of knowing where we're going. Okay. It's like this data is important. We need it for reporting. If, if the bookkeeper had understood what the owner, what answers the owner was trying to get to and had that acumen to know, hey, we better do it this way, otherwise there's going to be problems. So understand where everybody's trying to get to. When you do that, you become a valuable asset in the whole process in the system and you're considered a valuable player on the team. And those players typically stay longer. They typically get paid more and they typically have a lot more fun being there. 

MP: 23:45 Having said that, I'm gonna make a rec of recommendation is my sense is most bookkeepers have a sort of um, a producer kind of personality. Like you like to get things done, check them off the list, do them right, kind of your get things done kind of person. And that kind of personality tends not to make the owners or the, you know, the people in charge, aware of the good work that you've done. So and maybe against your general kind of approach in life, but keep a track of the good things that you do for that customer in a way that you can share with them so that they understand your value. Because if you don't, it just becomes something they can take for granted and you need to make sure they know what it is that you do for them. Time is gold. Gold. 

AM: 24:42 I'm a bit of a producer as well. I'll just go and do things and I won't tell anybody about it. I just get it done and it just all works out. And if the opinions of others, if I worked for somebody else, that's not a good thing. You need to, it's like, Hey, what do you do around here? It's like, well I do a lot of things around here, right? You don't want that question being asked. And so it is a bit of self-promotion, self-marketing and it's very important. I'm glad you brought it up and we're tackling like getting some goals here. Uh, in terms of this conversation for sure, 

AM: 25:14 where people can think, how do you think bookkeepers can do this? Well, I think to make a list of where you've kind of gone above and beyond normal data entry where you've had to really investigate something, keeping up, keeping track of that on a monthly basis and say, and then sending a, oh, just an email. It doesn't have to be in person. Just say, I just wanted you to know that here's what we've accomplished this month. Yet we entered the data, but here's what we resolved. Here's this question that this puzzle that we, you know, dug into and here's how it affects you. That's pretty simple, but I've never received anything quite like that from a bookkeeper. But I do that kind of thing as a consultant because that's more, it's a more consultative kind of thing to do. But if you think of yourself in that kind of as a consultant in a role like that, then your, your customer does tend to think, wow, that's something I'm really, I'm glad I paid for that. I'm glad I exchanged my resources for that kind of help. 

MP: 26:23 I love that. I think that's something every single listener can take on is just bringing people up to speed as to what's going on, where you're at. And a probably there's hesitancy because bookkeepers get behind, right? There are data things to catch up and let's listen. They're not the entrepreneurs are not the, uh, the innocent ones here either. They cause a lot of problems in terms of getting, you know, getting things back and understanding where it's all going. So then they've got a tough job and in many cases of keeping the business owner in the business systems moving forward, but yet don't let that get in your way. Even though it's going to get in your way. Uh, listen to what Angela is saying, and literally, if you're behind, just let them know we're behind. We're getting your caught up. We're doing it right. You know, it's important to do it this way. Otherwise, dip, dip, dip, dip, dip. Just like we've talked about. Understand where they want to get to so that you can say, I know we're trying to get you here and here's where we are. A that is valuable. 

AM: 27:20 Well, not only that, if you see there's a recurring pattern to some, the way the data comes to you, the transactions, the receipts, the invoices, whatever it is. And you can see what perhaps what the source of that is. Maybe it's an individual, maybe it's a missing system. Maybe it's just somebody hates numbers and they just don't bother because they don't get it. Um, find out if there's a, a, a way to automate that so that they don't have to work so hard so they don't have to Labor to get you what you need. 

MP: 27:49 Help them help themselves by improving the system and process that they have going on. And that's a lot of what we talk about on this podcast is business systems and the myth bookkeeper, if you haven't read that book yet, listener, it's an excellent book around building a system-dependent business and how to make a small business work and how to make it profitable without pulling your hair out. Because when you put, just like Angela said, it's like you've identified something's not working, the key is to fix it and put up, put it, put a measure in place or a system in place to ensure that it doesn't break again in that it's, it's efficient, that it's some way efficient and we're lucky living in this day and age in terms of all the apps and technology and things that are happening that can help us take care of these small little bits of pieces that then allows us to send out emails as you've just talked about or uh, have conversations that we talked about in terms of understanding where the owner's going. 

AM: 28:46 Huh. I'm going to look like I'm going to have to read that book too.

MP: 28:55 Well you absolutely, definitely. Most definitely should. It will be a, we'll send you a copy. How about that? Uh, Angela, this, this has been great. We've gone off as we said, I am, before we had this conversation, I said, you know, we've got a roadmap, but I'm a, an off-road vehicle so we may leave the road and take some journeys and wow. What, what a great, uh, conversation this has been to get off the beaten track and talk about, uh, your business and what you see for our listeners and just absolute gold that we've gotten today. While totally a pleasure, Michael, it's great to talk to you as always. Absolutely. And now, Angela, let, let everybody know how they can get in touch with you, learn more about you and uh, and get some of the great work that you're doing over at your organization. 

AM: 29:38 Great. So it's really easy to find me. And Datisfy. Datisfy is like satisfy with a d satisfied with your data. I know. Clever plan words. I love how you can, you can find us on LinkedIn. You can find us at Datisfy.com and you can email me at Angela@datisfy.com we, uh, we work exclusively with QuickBooks desktop. So obviously it's not an, it's not a fit if your customers don't use that. But if they do, then chances are we can provide some really valuable help. And the other thing is, because we specialize in reporting for QuickBooks and that is all we do. We get in and out really fast, but we leave a lot of value in our week and it's something that you don't have to learn how to do cause specialization is really where your profitability is going to weigh. Lie, lay even one more split. Yeah. To let you know, let the specialist a delivered their specialty and you focus on what you do the best and then everybody wins. That's my view. 

MP: 30:45 Beautiful. Awesome. I completely, um, enjoyed this conversation and I think our listeners are going to be coming to your website and getting in touch with you and having conversations and connecting with you on a, I invite you to join the successful bookkeeper Facebook private group where you can, uh, help answer some of those questions. I love that you're so specialized in a specific part of the business. It enables you to be awesome at it and a, I think you're a valuable asset to the community. So it's been great having you, and until next time, we'll, uh, we'll keep the conversation going.

AM: 31:10 Thank you so much, Michael. All the best.

MP: 31:20 You Bet. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what an episode. It was tons of gold to learn more about today's guests and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, 

MP: 31:40 goodbye

EP31: Melanie Power - Why Joining A Bookkeeping Group Can Power Your Success

TSB - Episode 31 - Melanie Power (1).png
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

You're not alone.

According to our guest, Melanie Power, who is the head of bookkeeping at Xero, many bookkeepers are working on their own.

They might have staff, but they probably aren't as like-minded.

As a result, bookkeeping can be isolating, but there's a way to battle that.

You could start by joining bookkeeper communities like our own, Successful Bookkeeper Facebook Group.

It's a great way to share challenges and wins with people who know what you're going through and are willing to support you.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • How to collaborate with bookkeepers across the globe

  • Why selling isn't a dirty word

  • The importance of getting your business model figured out

For Xero's latest product releases, check out its blog at this link.


Michael Palmer: 00:59 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today you are in for a treat all the way from down under. Our guest today is Melanie Power and she is so passionate about small business and the people who keep a small business running. Those are the bookkeepers and she is the head of bookkeeping for zero and an evangelist for bookkeepers globally. I am so happy to have her on the show. Welcome, Melanie. 

Melanie Power: 01:27 Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome there Michael. Just excuse me while I heard my kangaroos and pop my Koalas on the shelf there. Exactly. No, actually it's really quite a what we would call a bit of a fib. Um, you know, stretch of the truth in Australia. We do have those beautiful animals, but they're not actually running around in the backyard like a lot of people think so. But anyway, well we today as we say in Aussie land. 

MP: 01:52 Absolutely. It's a beautiful country. I've spent lots of time and been all over the country. I love it there. And uh, yeah, I know you're just being humble when you say, yeah, I'm sure there is a kangaroo in your backyard for sure. 

M: 02:07 They had been known to come into our houses that sometimes people used to keep them as pets and things like that, but you're not allowed to do that anymore. So it's very interesting. But Canada is also a beautiful place. I was there in 2015 and it's incredibly beautiful and I can't wait to come back. Michael. 

MP: 02:25 Yes. Well, we love having your back and I know we're going to talk about it, but you were at IPBC in Canada, that's the institute of professional bookkeepers and you were speaking there. You're going to be speaking there again in 2017 which is exciting. But before we get into all that wonderful stuff, let's let the listeners who don't already know you get to know you by telling us a little bit about your journey and your practice leading up till now. 

M: 02:52 Thanks so much, Michael. So I'm a bookkeeper. I've been practicing since 1994 which quite a, you know, a little while ago now. I've also run a during, um, you know, the last 25 years, a few different types of small businesses as well as having an accounting and bookkeeping practice. I've had a motorcycle dealership. So for any of you listening, if you ride motorcycles, yes, we're kindred spirits already. I've also run some electronics businesses, finance brokerage, uh, those different types of things. So I've, I kind of like to think of myself as the queen of bootstrap small business and it's really given me a unique understanding as to what makes small businesses tick. Uh, in 2012, I decided that I was going to start a whole new accounting practice from the ground up and I did that on the zero a business model, which essentially everything was a cloud based practice. 

M: 03:51 And what that allowed me to do was grow to very quickly. So I grew that on my own as a sole operator to a hundred clients in a year and I hadn't really looked back. I actually merged with another firm and actually sold the practice last year. So from startup to succession, it's been quite an interesting journey. One of the things that I really discovered through that process was that I did have a real passion for helping other bookkeepers be successful and want to actually share my learnings so that I can help other bookkeepers have scalable and profitable practices as well. So it's been a very exciting journey. And uh, I've been speaking to bookkeepers across the globe. I've done quite a lot of trips in the last few years with zero as their head of bookkeeping and it's been a fascinating and extremely rewarding experience. 

MP: 04:45 Yeah, that's, I mean it's, I love your history, true entrepreneur and as well, I'm sure your clients loved you from the experiences that you had growing your own businesses and really understanding where they're at and really curious about the role at zero. I love the title. I remember seeing your title a couple of years back, head of bookkeeping for zero, which I'm sure they loved having you there to help them understand their customers as well. Tell us a little bit about that role. 

M: 05:14 Oh, it's a fabulous opportunity. So in September 2014, I went through the interview process where I applied for the role and I was successful and the role is all about evangelizing the importance of bookkeepers to small business owners and really champion the zero business model. Having done that for myself only just recently, it was a really a natural progression for me to step in into that role. So it's been a part time role. I still was running my business along the side and I've been doing that role for about two and a half years now and it's been incredible to see all the take on some of those growth strategies and grow. One of the key things in this role was I developed a series for zero called grow your practice and it's designed to help bookkeepers understand how to automate, develop business plans, marketing, branding, all those really important things that we need to put in place to be efficient in the here and now of running a bookkeeping practice. That series is available on demand now through the zero websites. So anyone interested, you can get pop along there and register and have a look at it. It was actually some featuring some great stories and also the lovely Debbie Roberts, a founder of pure bookkeeping. I brought Debbie in to share her journey as well. Uh, she's very inspiring. 

MP: 06:41 Yes, that's fantastic. And we'll certainly get the links from you and post it on our site with the show notes as well. And you know, it really is interesting. You know, you've got an interesting perspective as a bookkeeper because you've, you've spoken all over the world, you've worked with bookkeepers from all over the world. Uh, what have you noticed the commonalities around what they're going through and just different insights that you've had working with people from all over the world, specifically, bookkeepers? 

M: 07:13 I think one of the biggest commonalities I've found is that every person that's operating in a bookkeeping practice, we're doing it because we really care about the small businesses that we work with. It doesn't matter what country we're in, it doesn't matter what software we use. It doesn't matter what our systems are internal. The one common denominator is that we're all working together to help other small businesses be successful. That's the biggest thing that I've seen. The second biggest thing is obviously technology. Uh, you know, five years ago with the whole cloud wave really sort of raring up. It has changed dramatically the way that we run businesses and that disruption wave from my point of view has now come and gone. We're in it now. We're running our businesses or thinking about running our businesses, you know, in that new way for bookkeepers. 

M: 08:03 It's actually a point now where we need to look at transforming our businesses. It's almost like we're going on a journey to work out how can we add more value to our clients? We don't need to spend as much time on data entry more because we've got cloud based products that do that for us, like zero, but also with an introduction of AI machine learning. That's going to even take that another step further. So for bookkeepers, it's about how can I bring in extra things or different income streams to continue to service my clients in a new and innovative way. It's not just about helping them understand the numbers. There's so much more that we can do because we're working on the coalface and on the ground and know those small businesses really well.  

MP: 08:56 Very very cool on. Absolutely. It's amazing the change and with the change comes certain uncertainty. But inside of that uncertainty is a great opportunity. Which a, I know you talk a lot about, and I know you're going to, we mentioned it already, you're going to the Institute of professional bookkeepers in Canada. That's the IPBC a bet as well. You're going to be at Accountex in the United States, in the Boston area. 

M: 09:20 Yes. I will be there. Yes. And I'll also be at the scaling new heights event, uh, at Joe Wood Arts event as well. And Ben Robinson's learned to be a bookkeeper in Atlanta and that's in May. So I'll send you the links to those events as well. 

MP: 09:33 Beautiful. So you're going to be all over North America. It's going to be busy here for you traveling all over the place. Hopefully, you'll get out on your motorcycle here in North America. 

M: 09:43 Oh no, that sounds like a definite plan. I'll be bringing my husband with me. We both ride. So I think that'll definitely be on the bucket list. 

MP: 09:49 Yeah, absolutely. Will you be in some good spots? For sure. There'll be some good writing, uh, waiting for you there. Uh, tell us a little bit about what you're going to be talking about at these events. 

M: 09:58 So I think what would, what we actually just touched on is really the key theme of where I'm really wanting to lead bookkeepers. It's really about the transformation process. So how do we make the move from being data entry bookkeepers and some of us are still doing a lot of that and some of us feel quite comfortable doing that as well? But the reality is when we operate our businesses that way around the billable hour model, it just isn't scalable and it isn't necessarily the best use of our time. So I'm really passionate about helping bookkeepers understand there is a transformational process that they can go through to looking at their business, how they can change some of their internal processes, how they can look at changing the way that they have their billing and pricing set up. And also looking at different ways that they can add value through different services and products to their clients. So there'll be quite a few different topics around that. And most importantly thinking about, you know, selling isn't, isn't a dirty word when we're talking to our clients, it's not really about selling. We're offering solutions, we're showing our value, and that's a real change of mindset. So they're the two key things that we'll be really speaking on across those events this year. 

MP: 11:10 All right, excellent. Well, I, there are listeners that go to these events, they're going to likely be back again, but a lot of listeners, maybe you haven't been to these events, they are must-attend events in order to surround yourself with people that are serious about their success. And you're going to get to hear great people like Mau, uh, that are going to be speaking at these events. So this is the fee. This is the year 2017 we're going to have the links go to the website, pick a date, a location that's close, where, where, where you can go and go. Just do it. Commit to it. I guarantee you, and I'm sure, Melanie, you'll back me up here. This will be an incredible and almost unexpected, surprising result that it'll produce in your life by just attending one of these events. 

M: 12:00 It is amazing and there's so much content, but it's also the networking and the people you get to meet in the experiences that you have. You take those learnings way you come back home, revisit your business and think, where am I going to go next? One of the most important things, Michael, that makes us all click together is the automation and the systems and I'm very, very honored to be on the Pure Bookkeeping podcast. Thank you so much for having me. I've actually been a Pure Bookkeeping licensee when I started my practice in Australia in 2012 and I'm a huge fan of Debbie and I'm a huge fan of what the system has been able to help bookkeepers achieve. So for any of you that are listening, you may be not had a chance to have a look at the Pure Bookkeeping System. I really encourage you to have a look at it, have a trial. It's one of the vital things that you need to implement to get everything ready for you to grow in scope practice. 

MP: 12:53 Well, thank you for that testimonial. Appreciate it. And certainly um, uh, 

M: 12:59 and that was natural. That was not planned either for you. Listen to this 

MP: 13:02 Absolutely, absolutely. I'm always, I'm always, I'm like, ah, the person who's a, we're, we're always focused on content and our guests and I sometimes forget to be promoting ourselves and the great work that we do as well, but, and when our guests do it for us, it's certainly much appreciated and that's, that's just awesome. And I was, I was, I just get so passionate about these events that you're going to, and I like account tax and a couple of the other ones and then there's one that I didn't even know about, which I think the last one you mentioned, at any rate, we're going to have all the links, but thank you for mentioning Pure Bookkeeping. And I know you've got a great relationship with Debbie and she was the subject of the book that I wrote, The Successful Bookkeeper and her story and her, her business coach, Peter Cook. 

MP: 13:53 Uh, and certainly anybody can get a free copy of that book. That's a part of a promotion that we're running. If you want to read more about it, you can certainly just opt in at our website and you'll, you'll get that information. But Melanie, thank you for, for her giving us a bit of a shout out there. Let's talk about moving in another direction here because you've got lots of stuff you're, you're working on and lots of great things you're doing for the community globally, bookkeeper revolution, quite a community you've built there. Tell us a little bit about it. 

M: 14:23 It's a cool name. Hey, isn't it? 

MP: 14:25 It's awesome. I mean, coming from someone who loves to ride motorcycles, I'm not surprised. 

M: 14:33 Yeah, it is. It's something that I thought really represents what I'm quite passionate about. It's about the revolution to help bookkeepers transform their lives and businesses. And it is a global community essentially. It's designed to connect bookkeepers across the globe into a community where they can share their knowledge. So it's, we've got a two for two groups set up, we've got a linkedin group and a Facebook group and those groups have around about 10,000 bookkeepers across the globe, all contributing and sharing and supporting each other on their journey and obviously the lovely, Debbie Roberts is a very active part of that community as well, so thank you Debbie if you're listening. And really it's just about providing that network to say, hey, we are a valuable resource to the small business community. These all the great things that we can do and it's helping bookkeepers just be successful and helping them to break the chains that traditional practices have kept them in and transforming into a new way of doing things. It's very exciting and we've only started the group in September and we're just getting such traction engagement, which you know, really means to me that there's been a real need for, for this type of community in the market. 

MP: 15:51 Absolutely. 

MP: 15:57 Well, I've definitely, I'm a member of that group and I've, I've not likely as active as Debbie as, because Debbie's got all the great knowledge, but I certainly get posts and updates and watching the different things. And I, I just love seeing people help each other. It's what I love about it. It's theirs. You know, this is not a problem for just bookkeepers. This is every single entrepreneur out there, often they try and do it alone and they work in their business and they get busy and they're doing it alone, doing alone and the results that are possible when you stop trying to do it alone and go and be with a community of people that are serious about their success, that are giving people, that have great energy, that are positive. When you do that, your results just go up. It's the way that it works. 

MP: 16:46 So whether I'm talking to a bookkeeper or I'm talking to a lawyer, or I'm talking to a, a plumber that owns a plumbing business, it doesn't matter. Don't do it alone. Be Amongst people that are likeminded and moving in a great direction. And that's what your group really provides. So bookkeeper revolution, again, we're going to have that link. Just go in. I mean it's free, it's absolutely free, which is part of that shift in technology that you're talking about Melanie, is things are moving so quickly and there are so many things that weren't there just even a year or two years ago that are extremely valuable. And this is, I think one of them and that's probably why you're seeing such a big uptake on it. 

M: 17:32 It is amazing. I'm getting goosebumps as you were talking in Michael. It is about people helping other people and that's the key thing. I think that in the bookkeeping profession we've got a lot of people that are working on their own as a sole trader and it can get quite lonely. Even if you've got the staff that may be helping you out doing different things, you're still operating as that sole principals. So you don't often have someone that sort of similar skill level and like minded that you can bounce ideas off. And this is where these community groups have really helped. Uh, I've learned so much from them myself, Michael, just by reading what some of our bookkeepers are posting in there. And one of the things I've really noticed is that with cloud technology and these social media facilities and groups that are now available, it's closed the gap on, on, you know, between regions. 

M: 18:27 We are really and truly a global community and we see bookkeepers work with small businesses in a different parts of the world and we'll often see them reach out and say, Hey, I've got a client in Australia from the USA, is there somebody that can help me with this? So we're seeing cross-region collaboration between businesses and often this isn't an engaged service. It's just a bookkeeper putting their hand up and saying, hey, you're a fellow professional. I'm going to give you some of my time to help you. And it's developing all these really strong relationships. It's, it's amazing and it's fabulous and it's definitely raising the level of skill and professionalism within the bookkeeping industry. 

MP: 19:09 Beautiful. It really is fantastic. What you're doing with the bookkeeper revolution. It's super exciting. I want to end on two things. Number one, some advice, your best advice, a bit of a teaser for bookkeepers that want to become more successful in their business. And then the last question we'll get into, we'll be just talking about some of the things zero has on and as well yourself. Sure. So let's start with bookkeepers. What should they be focusing on right now in their business to take it to new heights? 

M: 19:43 Great question. I think the biggest thing that bookkeepers can focus on is betting their business model down. Often what happens, we get distracted with we need to grow or we need to add more apps and fighting. So many people are in app overload. Just press the stop button. Go that to your business model. Make sure you've got your workflows right, your systems right, your ready to take on extra growth. That's the big thing. The second thing is to look at how you can offer your existing client base. Shoot more value instead of going out and getting new clients. Look there first. Go through your client list. Work out. Are these an I? Is this an ideal client? If it's not, maybe it's time to move them on. The ones you do want to work with. Go back to them, have a conversation with them, step them through some of the extra things that you can do. You may find that you can just increase your turnover by looking after and servicing your existing client base. Do those two. Then you ready for the next stage of growth. 

MP: 20:50 Beautiful, wonderful advice. And of course all of our podcasts are now transcribed, so if you'd like to get a copy of this episode and get the wonderful words and advice that Melanie's giving to us right now, simply go to the successful bookkeeper.com and you can download that and just take what she's put. She's given to the gift that she's given to us and start implementing that inside of your business. Melanie, tell us about the things you got on. I know you've talked about the event you're going to be speaking at. It's a super busy year, but uh, there's zero, there's maybe events, Zeros doing what? What, what, what kind of things can you share with us? 

M: 21:28 Well, obviously we have zero con coming up in the USA. That's a fabulous event. A, there is a special on at the moment for our $99 early bird special. I think it's still on check the website, but definitely, that's worth going to. If you've never been to a Xerocon event, you're definitely in for a treat. Zero. I've got some great product and feature releases that are coming out at the moment around the AI and machine learning feature. We've just had a release on this around the invoicing function. So pop on over to the Zeroblog@zero.com to check out some of the latest feature releases, which was really cool. Um, I'll also be at obviously IPBC or be at Ben Robinson's, learn to be a bookkeeper of antenna Atlanta, scaling new heights, which is Joe Woods Conference, uh, that will be in Florida and also Accountex USA. So we're looking at organizing a meetup group for bookkeeper revolution at those events. So if you'd like to find out more about how to engage with the community, you can head on over to bookkeeper, revolution.com. Dot. AAU and join the community there and we can keep you updated as to what's happening. 

MP: 22:40 Fantastic. Well, this has been just a treat. I'd like to say that 2017 should be the year of getting out and going to a conference. It's a, if you haven't been already, make the commitment, you'll never look back and a you will get an ROI return on investment that will surprise and delight you in terms of the results in your life and in your business and what a great year to do it because Melanie will be there speaking and you can tell from this episode she's just got a wealth of knowledge and we could probably take this show on and on and on, but we only have a limited amount of time. So Melanie, thank you so much for being here on the successful bookkeeper podcast, this episode. 

M: 23:20 Thank you for having me, Michael. We'll look forward to seeing you in Canada. 

MP: 23:24 Absolutely. We'll see you over here and we'll see you roll up in your big motorcycle plan.

M: 23:30 Thanks and bye for now.

MP: 23:40 You Bet. Bye. Bye.

EP30: Jan Haugo - How To Be A Leader For Your Bookkeeping Clients

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher


Your bookkeeping clients have it.

They're always frightened or worried about something especially the survival of their business.

When incorporating new software (ie: cloud-based or otherwise) into your bookkeeping services, this may also be scary for them since it's their money you're working with.

Our guest today, Jan Haugo, who is the CEO of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) USA, sees a great leadership opportunity for you, the bookkeeper, when it comes to learning and informing your clients about the new technology you'll use, so you can help grow their business and become their trusted advisor.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of testing new software first for effectiveness before incorporating it with your services

  • Why you should confidently detail what benefits this new technology will do for your customers

  • Why you must reassure and offer continuously support for your clients during this transition

To learn more about Jan, visit this link.

To contact Jan via Twitter, click here.

To check out ICB USA, explore here.


Michael Palmer: 01:06 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today is going to be an amazing episode. Our guest is the CEO of IC, B u s a. If you're not familiar with the ICB, it is the Institute of certified bookkeepers, which has become the largest bookkeeping institute in the world. Jan Haugo runs the American arm. And I'm so happy she's on the show. Thank you for being here.

Jan Haugo: 01:34 Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here and I'm so excited to talk to more bookkeepers. 

MP: 01:40 Yeah. And this is a, this is it. And your whole organization is an advocate for bookkeepers. So I think it's just perfect to have you on and, uh, to lead a Stan, can you tell us a little bit of your career journey and who you are leading up to where you are now leading the American arm of the Institute of Certified bookkeepers? 

JH: 02:01 Sure, absolutely. Thanks. Um, so I, uh, I own my own bookkeeping firm for about 20 years. Um, the past seven I've been virtual and the paper was, so that was definitely a bit ahead of the curve. I've been an early adopter of technology and that was really due to the influence of Intuit. In 2010 I was appointed to their accountants council and I was very privileged to have the insight and participate in the fantastic and incredible changes that were about to happen in our industry. Um, from there I was appointed to the intuit trainer writer network and began researching and writing on third party apps and integrations and just really brought that into my firm and really started trying to get that out to the word out to other bookkeepers. And as I began to see the change, I moved my firm and started to test everything inside of us. 

JH: 02:52 So I wasn't really going to promote anything that I didn't have a great understanding of. Um, the thought was is if I could this and help my clients and staff, then I can go out and help other bookkeepers. Um, I attended conferences left and right and began to grow my network of friends across the country and really started envisioning what they needed in terms of helping, you know, they get to the cloud as well as get their clients to the cloud. And that's kind of where I am right now in terms of how I kind of grew up with this baby of technology and bookkeeping. 

MP: 03:26 Wow. Phenomenal. Such, such an exciting journey, I would say in terms of your way out of the curve. I think thinking seven years ago and now here you are bringing all of your knowledge to an industry that I think really is hungry for it. 

JH: 03:43 Absolutely. And you can see that with the numbers of increasing subscriptions with all of the SAS based products, even the third party apps, there's just a tremendous growth. That's the way that everything's going. And you know, I think sometimes the clients push us into it, but overall I think that the bookkeeper's, they're the feet on the ground. Those are the ones that are, they're adopting the technology and, and they're realizing that it's saving them time, energy, and efforts in their businesses. And um, as they get that enlightenment that I call it, um, they will start to adopt faster. 

MP: 04:16 It really is enlightenment and I've seen that men happen. It's just phenomenal actually to hear, just in the last couple of years, people go from being completely against it to literally light bulb going off and going, oh, maybe, maybe this isn't so bad. And then being a total advocate for it. So it's exciting. You know, I used to work for salesforce.com which is one of the world's largest software as a service. You mentioned saffs and SAS is software as a service. And so salesforce, their founder, Mark Benioff, he has led this campaign, the end of software. And he used to always talk about the fact that he is bringing power into the hands of small businesses because of the technology that's available today for small businesses. It was not even 10 15 years ago. It would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the type of technology that gives these people the inf efficiencies and the gains and their business. 

MP: 05:11 It's such a great time to be in small business, uh, and even better be a time where you're our, our audience is helping small business, small business owners, helping small business owners. So taking that enlightenment to the market and helping these small business owners that might not even know about it is fantastic. And you, your history has a lot of that in it. Tell us a little bit about what you've seen in this last seven years of being in the cloud. How you, how you've helped some of these small businesses, business owners basically benefit from being virtual? 

JH: 05:46 Yeah, well that's a great question. So, um, you know, it was really tough as you said, to really get people's light bulbs to go off. And when I started this seven years ago, I was literally like macgyver think about it, you know, the technologies have improved so much. So I was, you know, grabbing my toothbrush and some duct tape and maybe a rubber band and trying to piece together what I envisioned it integrations to be. So when I found any type of software that had integration with another app or another accounting software, I just, I grabbed on and one of the first ones that I grabbed onto was cannon and smart vault. Smart Vault was my document storage management solution. It was secure, encrypted. And at the time everybody's concerns were, oh my gosh, am I s you know, all my documents and everything isn't safe in the cloud. 

JH: 06:36 So I found the utmost security that I could at any time of document storage from, for the small business. And that was the way that I was going to really comfort them in that. And then canon scanners started integrating directly into smart vault. So at that point, I could put a canon scanner down, somebody could push a button, put their bills on, there was no bill.com back then. And when I had, and we brought that into our smart vault, we got a notification and my staff of bookkeepers and I would go ahead and work on that client's books. And it was just, it was really, you know, enabling us to move forward. But the thing was my clients were still scared and that was the biggest thing is how do you transition bookkeepers and, and other people. So I started to work with my clients. 

JH: 07:27 I went out and I bought a bunch of $200 zero cannons canners and I took them to all my clients and I sat down and I said, here's the deal. We're going to make this better. We're going to be here for you and we're going to move you forward into the next generation and technologies. And I sat that Canon scanner down, I'd already precomputed it to go right into Smartvault. And they said all you have to do is push a button, put your receipts and your bills on here, push the button and let it go through. And I gave them that and it gave them my cell phone number and they said, your text, you call me anything you need and we will be there for you. We will take care of it. And they knew cannon because Canon is a well-renowned name in printing and um, vaccine and everything at the time. 

JH: 08:07 So that's how we got my clients to move forward. And I had 100% adoption and that was amazing for me to see that they trusted me so much as the bookkeeper and that I was able to bring them technologies that help make them feel comfortable and then start to transition. So I took that story out to several bookkeepers and really just an, you know, help them understand that if you are there through the transition period and if you are there to help your clients adopt the technologies that you believe in, because it may not be smart vault in Canon for everybody, but it could be whatever that software is that you truly believe in, you trust, you are going to come through as competent, trusted advisors and they will follow you. And I have been able to work with so many wonderful our eyes and help, you know, helping them to transition their clients and grow their businesses. And that to me is just such a testimonial to the power of the bookkeeper and the voice of the bookkeeper and how you can really, you know, help your clients as well as help yourself a pro. And that to me is how I got this all going. 

MP: 09:14 Well, I've been holding puffin, holding back a hell yeah, because that is an awesome story. That is such an awesome story of leadership and tenacity.

MP: 09:30 Really, you know, all the benefits. I'm just sitting here thinking, wow, you know, leadership to this business owner that's trying to, you know, trying to piece things together, trying to make their business work. And here you're walking in there with a box, a scanner, you know, investing in the business and it's like the calvary's come to save the day, which the perception of that, it's like how does a, how does a client ever question, you know, not having you on their team, right? So for we're, I imagine that your retention of your customers is extremely high because if I had someone that's watching my back like that, I'm never letting them go. I'm just going to trust them that they're going to do the great work with me, which is going to lead to all sorts of great benefits. So that is such a great story. And for the listeners today, it's to just to be thinking, you know, how can you be a leader like this in, in your, in your customer's lives. 

JH: 10:25 Yeah, absolutely. And again, it's, you have to put yourself in their shoes and ultimately we are in their shoes because there's an entrepreneur or a solo preneur bookkeeper. We've got to do the same things. But we know our clients just does it as well as they know themselves. Right? We know their kids, we know where they go to school, we, you know, they don't know their wives. We know where they get their hair cut. I mean we, we know these intimate details. And the thing is, is we've got to use that as a power to go back to our clients and say, you trust me a lot to move forward. I'm going to be here for you. And that's one of the biggest things I think with this shift that everybody's so nervous about that. Yes, it is a scary time, but it's also a very fantastic time and a very great opportunity for bookkeepers to really move forward and take that and leverage it to get themselves in a better position and a trusted position for their clients. And like you said, there'll never let him go. 

MP: 11:23 Never. And there's so much opportunity. I mean watching, you know, it was the same story back with salesforce. The people that we were talking to, this was early two thousand they, we were talking to them and they were like, oh, we can't have our data and the Internet at, you know, access and all of the similar concerns that people have and what, what's going to happen? We're going to outsource. We'll no longer have salespeople or service people. It's not like that at all. The ecosystem around it for businesses implementation and education and help understand data and all sorts of, you know, bringing new technology to space. I mean we're just at the beginning of it. I mean, there's going to be work for decades just sorting out how do we make this great. So I think I really have to echo what you're saying about this massive opportunity and it's going to be the people like you that, I mean, you're a pioneer. I mean you had like an ax and like a little camping stove on your back. I mean, we're talking early days here. People were probably like worried for you going off into the uncharted territory, but now we're, we're still early, but it's the people that pick up those, those camping lanterns in the ax and go out and, and maybe go into uncharted territory that will learn and be ahead of the curve and really take advantage of it. 

JH: 12:37 Yes, absolutely. And again, I think the biggest thing is that bookkeepers are hearing this exactly what you said with the salesforce mind. Bookkeepers are going away, well keeper's going away. It's such a fantastic mantra right now that I think it puts fear instead of competence in bookkeepers and us at ICB, we need to switch that around. We need to provide resources for them to understand, no, this isn't going to happen. First off, ICB is going to be here to protect you and to protect what you stand for. And then secondly, we're going to help educate you and move you forward so that you have that lamp and that ax and everything that you need to move forward into developing your business. And we'll build that community. And that's truly what it's all about because the job isn't going away. As you said, there's going to be work for decades. Is it going to be the same job? Absolutely not. But it will be a bookkeeping job of some type, but you have to position yourself properly so that you are able to handle the shifts in the changes. 

MP: 13:36 Absolutely. You're absolutely right. And, and I, I would say for the most part that while it can be daunting, once this dip in the toe, in the pool, it can be very exciting times as well. And I, I sort of say that with caution because I know, you know, it's not easy. Change is not easy for anyone, but just get your toe in there if you haven't already, and start to look at some of the apps and some of the things and the ICB like you mentioned, I think it is a great place to start. Places like that. And in Canada, we have the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, which I know ICB has a good relationship with, uh, globally. But what I love about the ICB is that they are really forward thinkers, uh, and just looking and working the time that I've had forward thinkers and that's what's needed today. 

MP: 14:25 It's what is coming tomorrow, what's, who are the people that are actually working on what's happening in the industry today? And so don't try and do this alone. Reach out to associations like, uh, the ICB and like the IPBC and find out and get help because there's so much happening. I mean, intuit is, is fantastic in terms of putting on events where there are education and training and so it's learning all of, but it's also learning that positioning of how to actually position to your customers why you're essential in their business. And for me, if I think about the work we do and, and a couple of, I have a couple of different businesses as a business owner, you know, my bookkeeper is, I really feel like she's a part of my family. It's like I couldn't survive without, or the way she treats everything we do is very sensitive. It's my money, it's our business. It's, you know, these are important things. So that education is extremely important to make sure that you have the same relationships with your customer as I do with my bookkeeper, which is she's essential. And she leads and she brings me new technology and she makes me feel like she's got my back. 

JH: 15:32 Yep. Absolutely. And that is the role of the bookkeeper. They've got the back. And when I look at what you need in terms of your life, and it sounds so funny, you need a doctor, you need a great general practitioner, you need a dentist, right? You need a CPA. You may or may not need a lawyer depending on what you've got going. But you always need a bookkeeper. And those are the key people that kind of help keep you running in terms of being an individual who's moving forward in this, this world. And they're the surrounding companions, if you will, to compliment your life so that you've got your, all, all of the aspects of your life covered. And the bookkeeper's right there. And I truly believe that we're professionals. And what bothers me is that, well, you know, when I mentioned all of these people we get looked down on as, oh, we're just bookkeepers. But I, I'm very passionate about saying that we study hard, we work hard, we get our certification, we get our education. And this is not a fly by night type of person. A bookkeeper is someone who is very dedicated and very impassioned about the people they're working for and the services that they provide, they want to provide the best. Um, so they get CPA, they get their education, they stay current with the technology. And to me that is a professional, that's not an amateur. 

MP: 16:52 Totally agree. Totally agree. 

JH: 16:59 Completely undervalued. Uh, in terms of where that is today, but just like things are changing with technology, there are lots of forces at work to change the perception of what a bookkeeper really is a too small business. And I mean, I feel that myself, I mean, I'm an advocate. I love what they do. And I tell the story of my father who ran a small business and you know what? He was amazing at what he did. He was the technician. If you've read e-myth, he was a technician. He was an electrician, an amazing electrician studied. He had his masters, if you will, maybe even a Ph.D. level of electrical. He could work on airplanes, Riggs. He could work on hospitals, electro downs, like electrical, hydro dams. He, there was nothing, he did not know about his craft yet. He was terrible. The books and where he went to was his accountant and the accountant is the guy that wasn't what he needed. 

JH: 17:56 He needed someone that could help them understand what all those numbers meant on a day to day, month to month basis. So that at the end of the year, the results were different. And so I think back, you know, this was 25 years ago, 30 years ago, when his business did not thrive. It was a bookkeeper who could have made a good book here. Great bookkeeper, could've made an incredible difference. So he could have just done the great work that he did and the bookkeeper would have handled and helped him bring that to more customers and help him, you know, make sure that the finances were right. So for me, it's deepened my heart because every time I help a bookkeeper, I know I'm helping my dad. 

MP: 18:32 Oh, I love that story. No, that just almost brings me to tears. It's so true. I mean, truly it is. Having that initial person to help you know, guide and give you the direction that you need is so critical. And I think when you look here in the United States anyway, the failure rate of startup businesses is so extremely high. And the reason is is because almost everyone says, oh, I can do this. But the thing is you absolutely can do it. I'm not knocking anybody in terms of that. But that's not what you're trying to do. You want to do, you want to run your startup, you want to grow that baby and you have to have a support system. And that support system, you know, is that we'll keep her the person who says, well, you need to file your license here, you need to pay your taxes here. We need to, you know, go ahead and increase your sales here because your gross profit margin isn't enough. That is the person who's going to help make your business successful. And you know, I think people look at it as a cost, which it is. It is a cost. But if you look at it, it's an investment in your future and that's the way that, that bookkeepers need to be looked at and valued. They are investments in small businesses and futures. 

JH: 19:45 Beautiful. Beautifully said. And I absolutely echo that. And I was just speaking with a woman this morning who works with lawyers and she works with a lot of lawyers just getting started. And you know, they, they try and do this work themselves thinking they're saving money. And I just, it's such a great example because you know, a lawyer gets paid a lot of money for their time, right? And yet they're trying to do bookkeeping. They're trying to figure out their finances. And it's like I told her as that you've got to every meeting you have with them, you have to help them see the light that this is the last thing they should be doing. Give it to somebody who can do a great job of it, not a mediocre job. And I'm going to say that. Sure, there are people that can do it. Okay, but you're not going to be able to bring the experience that a bookkeeper can bring the eyes on the books, the eyes on the health of the financials, like a bookkeeper. This is what they do. It's like saying, well, I could go, hey, listen, I can go and defend myself in court too. Right? But what if anybody ever does that? Now? Sure. It's maybe a bit of a, uh, a grand example. But listening is the job of our listeners, and it really is, you've got to believe in yourself and what you do. Just like Jan is talking about, believe in what you do, be a leader for what you do and, and go in with that message.

MP: 21:09 Absolutely. this has been such a great conversation. Let's talk more about the ICP USA and what you're doing there. Let's talk about how we had your CEO. If I, I hope I got the right globally. Gary Carter was on and we had a great conversation and after our conversation I said, listen, I really want to have Jan on the show. So tell me a little bit how you got involved with ICB and while now you're leading ICB USA. 

JH: 21:35 Yup. Um, so again, you know, one of the outcomes of me trying to really build that knowledge about technology was attending conferences and um, just developing my network of friends. So I have fun. I'm so blessed to have so many friends and I truly call him friends because everyone is just so supportive around the country and around the world. And I've just met so many wonderful people when the ICB came and they were looking for someone to lead this charge for them, they started asking around and um, my name just popped up for them. Um, and several people recommended me for the job. So that's how they, they found me. I think it was kind of like they uncovered a rock and there I was.

MP: 22:20 Perfect. Well they found, they found someone. I think it really just in hearing your story today really you're well positioned to take what I think the industry needs in, in the United States, uh, forward with your, your background in virtual. I mean, it's so important. So now tell us a little bit about the history now of ICB USA. Gary did mention it a bit, but you're, you're relatively new into the marketplace. 

JH: 22:47 Yup. We had a soft opening, uh, February of last year. So we are just crossing over into our first full official year. 

MP: 22:56 Yeah. It's like a happy anniversary. One year anniversary. 

JH: 22:59 It is, it's so exciting. So yeah. So why my job is to really develop the program in terms of what that looks like for the United States bookkeepers. And I think Gary had mentioned that we have icbs all over the country. And so what ICB tries to do is to come in and localize, um, the experience for the bookkeeper in that area. So I, CBL Australia has done this. Ireland's I'm the UK and now it's my job. So I am taking the concepts of what they have and then transforming them into what works here in the United States. And it's a bit of a different experience somewhat for the ICB USA then it might be in a different country, but we've got higher standards in terms of education. We have some great training providers and I'm always looking for more training providers and I'm working on developing out a network. So there are, there are great networks across the country and I'm working on talking to them saying, Hey, let's, let's work together and get ICB and there so that we can help grow your network as well as grow our ICB base in that area. And I actually have to say that we have a member in every state now. So I just think it's really fantastic. 

MP: 24:14 That's exciting. And I think Gary said you're up around a thousand total in the United States. That number may have changed since we spoke, but that's really decent. 

JH: 24:24 Yeah, I think for a year. I mean, although that's not, I'm not, you know, you want to go out and kill the world. I think, you know, slay it when you can. But um, yeah, I would love 10,000 members, but a thousand is very respectable. Um, given how large the United States is and how, I don't only just have to get, you know, members on board, I have to change the perception of what bookkeepers do and why this is relevant because I feel like Oprah, when I walk out there and you get a certification and you'll get a certification and you will get a certification because everybody is just so certification happy. But what makes us different is that you don't come in unless you take an exam. It's kind of like a placement exam. You go to college, we need to know where your skills are, how can we help you? 

JH: 25:09 And then additionally, we'll, our standards are higher. I mean, I truly believe that the bookkeeper needs to really raise the standards of what their accounting education needs to be so that they can really interpret those books moving forward and create those relationships. And I get a lot of CPAs who say, well, I let this, you know, a lot of bookkeepers, excuse me, is saying that they let the CPAs handle some of this type of work. And, and I said, well that was the old way. The new way is no longer, you can do this and I have faith in you. So that's really what it's about is raising that standard. And then I hear, I'm very technology oriented, so I really tried to implement the technology and they can't move up in our program without having some type of certification on their software. Um, so zero sage, freshbooks, quickbooks, whatever that might be, they need to be certified in order to move up in the ICB USA course. 

MP: 26:03 Fantastic. 

JH: 26:09 Well you know, I think it's the one that really is, well there's a couple of things, but the one I really like is this whole concept of giving them what is going to be needed in terms of education and positioning to do the work that's new today. You know, technology is taking over some of that. And so what is it that they need to focus on? And, and some of those consultative approaches and, and, and analytics into a business owner's numbers is where they're going to need to go. And it's what the exciting thing is way more valuable perception when you start to talk about the actual numbers. So your an organization that's really driving that, I love the fact that you're certifying people before they join the group. It's kind of a, it keeps the WHO's in the group. It's like, you know, someone's done it, done a certification, you know that a little bit vetted, right? 

JH: 26:59 You're not just going into a group of people that just decided to show up one day. There are people who care, they got skin in the game and that's what makes it valuable. And I love that. And so whenever I'm searching for things and looking for things, I'm looking for value. I'm looking for where people, I want to hang around people that are really serious about success. If I surround myself with people who are serious about success, guess what? It's only gonna help me be more successful.

MP: 27:20 Yup, absolutely. Beautiful. Jen, any other thing you'd like to share about ICB USA? And I, you know, obviously we're going to have links on, on our website to find out more and get involved, but is there anything else you'd like to mention? 

JH: 27:41 Um, the biggest thing for me is that I want everyone to understand that I'm very approachable. You can reach out to me via literally every network out there, Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn, um, it's all, you know, I'm very, very accessible. But the thing is is that I'm developing this program for American bookkeepers and for their needs. So I've already positioned several mentorships for bookkeepers and internships and things like this that, you know, our industry needs that might be different than the other countries. So if you see or you feel that there is something that the bookkeepers here in the United States need, shoot me a note. Let me know if you think that we're lacking. And again, we're still a startup so you know my resources have to be allocated appropriately, but that doesn't mean I can't put it on a task list and that we can't work towards it as a goal. And because this is ours, this is ICB USA and this is made and prepared, especially for the United States bookkeepers. But I really want to do a great job in terms of honoring them and respecting them and helping them grow for the future. 

MP: 28:47 That's excellent. And it sounds like the number one thing to do is just to reach out to you and obviously through this conversation, I mean how can someone not think that you're approachable after this conversation and extremely generous and really switched on when it comes to the industry in the business and where things are going. So listeners, if you're listening to this podcast, you're serious about your success. This is something you're going to want to do is just click down. If you're on your iPhone or you're on your android, clicked down, hit that link. It's going to take you right to all of Jen's contact information and you can literally be chatting with Jan just by hitting the Twitter button here like instantly. So it's exciting the world that we're living in. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. 

JH: 29:29 Thank you so much. I had a great time. It is incredible talking to you. I appreciate it. 

MP: 29:34 Pleasure is all mine. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what an excellent episode it was. 

MP: 29:42 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.

EP29: Debbie Roberts - How To Create Realistic Business Goals You Can Achieve!

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Goal setting.

Yes, it can be hard.

It requires deep analysis of what you truly want to acquire, why you haven't achieved it yet and how you'll go about making your dreams a reality.

Our guest today knows how to master the fine art of successfully setting and executing goals.

Pure Bookkeeping co-founder and the co-author of The E-Myth Bookkeeper, Debbie Roberts wouldn't have achieved her great wins without determining her destination first.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of taking time to evaluate what you want to achieve

  • Why you should work backwards when figuring out how to accomplish your goals

  • Why you'll need an accountability partner to keep you focused

To learn more about Debbie, visit here

For information regarding Pure Bookkeeping, click this link

To find out about the useful content mentioned in this episode, sign up for our free resources.


Michael Palmer: 01:08 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and this week's episode, we are going to be talking about goals now. Goals. It doesn't matter if it's January if it's July or it's December. Goals seem to be a conversation that we're either having or thinking about or trying to work into our lives. And today I've got an amazing guest who's been on our podcast several times. She is none other than Debbie Roberts, the co-author of E-myth Bookkeeper. She is also the co-founder of Pure Bookkeeping. And she is one hell of a great bookkeeper and an advocate of bookkeepers around the world. She loves bookkeepers and she loves seeing bookkeepers succeed so they, she is the perfect guest to have on the show. Welcome back, Debbie. 

Debbie Roberts: 02:03 Oh, thank you so much Michael, and thank you for that introduction. That's very gracious of you. 

MP: 02:08 Yes. Well you're, you're doing great. Work with the community all over the world. So, Deb, we decided to talk about goals today. What, what's, what's on your mind around goals? 

DR: 02:19 Well, um, as you said it, it doesn't matter what time of the year that you, you do set your goals, but it is the beginning of the year. So I started to think about the time when I was working with Peter Cook. Every year in January, we had a full day meeting, a planning meeting. I didn't particularly like them because it was difficult to think about the goals and plan your vision and where do you want to be and things like that. I always struggled with that. And yet we still had them though. And I thought, look at to the community about the importance of setting goals, find out why they're struggling with that. Help them identify where they're struggling and what they need to do to overcome that. So, uh, but it doesn't matter if it is the beginning of the year, but it doesn't matter what time of the year. You've just got to do it. 

MP: 03:15 Absolutely. And, um, what was it about those all-day planning sessions that, that, I mean, I think that's probably uncommon for a lot of our listeners. Talk a little bit about what you did during those all-day planning sessions. 

DR: 03:30 Well, part of it was reviewing how did we go last year? So did I reach the targets that I had set for last year and then what, what didn't work then why did I miss certain targets? Where did I do well? What could I do better? So there was quite a bit of time spent reviewing the past year and you know, that took several hours and probably even half the day because it was right down into the detail. It was things like if I didn't hit my meet with, uh, four accountants a week and I didn't hit that, why didn't I hit that? What was it that got in the way of that? And really dig deep into the psychology of that was I avoiding it and if I was avoiding it, why and how can we, um, resolve that so that I don't avoid the things that I don't want to do, which is pretty common. And then the other half of the day was planning what we wanted to achieve in the next year. We had already set goals for three and five years. So what we did was we would just review those, are we still on track? Is that really what I really, what I want in three to five years. And uh, and I'd tweak that if it did, didn't quite align and then we would plan specific goals for the next year, nine months, six months, three months, and monthly goals. So it was really quite specific and, and very detailed. 

MP: 04:58 It's an, it's a, it, it really is extraordinary. The level of detail and the amount of time and energy you put into it. This is not common, I would say, not a common behavior in most businesses. 

DR: 05:12 Oh yeah. Yeah. And I think absolutely. And it's surprising that despite the fact that everyone will have heard that you need to set goals, it's something that not, yeah, it's not very common and not very common in the bookkeeping industry specifically. 

MP: 05:29 Yeah. Not very common. Now let's talk a little bit about your results specifically because your results are not common either. Back in back in the day. This is 10, if we're talking 10 or 15 years ago in terms of the, when you were doing this planning and work, uh, for the listeners that maybe this is our first episode, talk a little bit about where you went and where you, you, you actually went to with your business. 

DR: 05:53 Oh, well, I started off as a sole trader on my own and just working from home with zero clients, I was an employee. I had a job as an employee and I kept that job. And then I grew my business over. Um, and two I had a black belt business and um, a dozen staff at that time. And of course, I made every conceivable mistake along the way. So, and Peter Cook helped me overcome those, those issues and eventually sell my business in 2014. So this goal stuff works. It does. Oh look, w eighties. I can't overemphasize it and I get that it's not a comfortable thing to do. And I'd actually like to talk a little bit about that because it's the, it's the one thing that stops us from doing this and, and it's kind of passively resisting. It's not like you, you say, I'm not going to set goals. 

DR: 06:53 You don't make it a statement or anything. You just passively resist doing it. So you just find ways, oh yeah, well I want to grow my business. Yes, I'm going to grow so you can be vague about it. I am going to grow my business. That's vague. That's not a goal because there are, and there's no figure about what dollar you want to turn over or how many staff you want to have or how many clients you want to have, how many bookkeeping hours you're going to bill out. All those sorts of details. You just say I want to grow my business. And the main reason is that we fear failure. We fear that. What will people think of us if we don't hit those goals? And that was very real for me and I can, that was my fear as well. And I think everyone could relate to that. 

DR: 07:44 The funny thing about that is that no one actually cares. We think that all the world is, is looking at us and spying on us and going to critique us and be critical and all those sorts of things and looking for us to fail. They don't actually care that much. They're all busy getting on with their own world and they've got their own things to deal with and their own businesses to grow and their own. They're very busy. Everyone's very busy in their own worlds. So we put way too much emphasis on what will people say if I, if I declare out loud that I want to grow a black belt business or I want to turn over a hundred thousand dollars in the next 12 months, what if I fail and I only get to 80, what will they think? They don't care. And in any case, if you've set a goal to, to turn over a hundred thousand dollars and you get to 80, hey, high five, I think you've done pretty well. Uh, you're more like, the reality is that you're more likely to try to achieve $80,000 if you set a goal for a hundred.

MP: 08:56 Yeah, absolutely. And the fear of this is can be just really all-encompassing. 

DR: 09:00 Yes, yes. Because we, we bring it all that, that fear of failure about setting goals, we feel it's a reflection of our character. So we really internalize it and personalize it and, and all of that. And it's, you've got to stop doing that because it's not that, it's not a judgment of your character, you know, it's nothing to do with that. It's a problem, a vision of where you want to be. And um, I've heard Peter, and I've heard you say Michael as well, that it's a bit like if you decide you're going on a holiday or vacation somewhere and you pack up the suitcases, you get all your holiday things in your pack, the kids in the car, and you actually don't know where you're going and you end up just dried well pie ways and through valleys and all around and all. But you actually, you don't know where you're going because you, you haven't set the destination, the GPS. So the cars just driving around without any destination. And that is the best metaphor I've ever heard for describing what it's like when you don't set goals. 

MP: 10:12 Yeah, fair. Very frustrating. For sure. Yeah. Not a very enjoyable vacation to be driving around aimlessly.

DR: 10:28 Yeah. and the other, the other thing that we can struggle with as well, I'd mentioned earlier that half the day at the beginning of the year was spent reviewing how I went in the year before. And that can be challenging. It's in itself, it's all great if you've hit your goals, but if you haven't hit your goals, it can be very well-identified in quite a lot of detail where you went wrong, you know, what, what, what did actually go wrong. Um, when you, uh, did you, why didn't you visit all those accountants that you said you were going to visit? What is it that you're afraid of? Identifying those sorts of things that are facing your fears as well. And that can be challenging. So it makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable when you review how you've gone and whether you've hit your target and a, and I could, so I can understand why people are reluctant to actually, it's, it's like ignorance is bliss in a way, but it's not actually, it's, it's dangerous. 

DR: 11:32 It is dangerous and it, and it's actually one that can be both sides of the sword. You could be either living in a fantasy that, oh, I had a great year or you could also be self-deprecating. Say I didn't accomplish enough and I am not. I'm not going anywhere. And so living in ignorance to what's really on and doing a cost 

DR: 11:54 analysis, you could be, you know, suffering from that. Yes. Yes. And bookkeepers know this specifically because they spend the whole week their whole lives working with clients, trying to show them what the facts are, trying to make the clients aware of what the dollars are saying, what the numbers are saying. So we talking to bookkeepers, they know this, they know that they need to know the facts because they talk to their clients, they set their clients down. And say, you need to don't know this. You need to know that your debtors are this. They've blown out to 90 days. You, you need to know that, that you won't be able to pay your bills in three months. You've got to pay your stat that. So they sit down all day long with their clients, giving them facts, empowering them around their finances, but they're not doing it in their own businesses. 

DR: 12:46 It's a really curious thing, it that. That's where when we talk about working, working on the business, it's, it's starting to think like you are the business owner. I need instructions from myself. So there are times where the bookkeeper comes to you and you have a meeting with the bookkeeper. You're the business owner, you're the one who owns the bookkeeping business, and your bookkeeper comes to you and says, Dad, you need to look at these facts. I'm concerned about these numbers. And if you don't review that and spend time, I know it's busy. I know lives are busy and time just flies. This year we'll be going before we even know it. So if you don't take the time, you won't be at to review how you've gone. You won't be able to make those critical, strategical adjustments in a timely manner along the way the, as the months go past. 

DR: 13:40 So that the outcome for Vishy will be what you plan. You've really got to set that time aside. Absolutely. And so where does someone start and put the line in the sand as can we get to that line in the sand? I think so. If you are a startup practice, maybe you don't have any clients, maybe you've got a half a dozen clients, work out what you know, you'd know what your charge out rate is now and how much you're earning with those clients. Or if you are, if you are starting up and you have no clients at all, then you need to set a goal of what turnover you want to achieve by what amount of time. And, and that, of course, will depend. It's personal. So my goals are not your goals. I don't want what you want. You don't want what I want. It's all about you and what you, your needs are for your family. 

DR: 14:35 When I was starting my business, I as said earlier that I had a job as an employee. Now I was working at the time and originally I was working five days a week, but I managed to cut that down to four and then to three as I started to get more clients, but I kept my day job because I needed to bring in a certain amount of money in my, with my family into the household to help support I, my husband was the breadwinner, but I still needed to help support the family, so I worked out that my first foot goal, my very first goal was to replace the income that I earned from the day job now that I 10 years ago or so was not a lot of money, but it was a lot. Then it was put in perspective. It was what it was then, but I still needed to replace that income. 

DR: 15:24 I wasn't prepared to quit that job until I replaced that income and besides it was my backup plan. If it all failed, then I still had my day job to fall back on and it took me 12 months. Now in those days, this is before I met Peter Cook, I'd, that was the only goal I set, so I didn't have the three-year goal or a five-year goal. I just thought, let's see how this goes and instead of gold to replace that income, and I did that in about 12 months. That was, that was working at nights and weekends and any spare time that I had because I had the job during the day and I had children and a family to run as well. So I did it slowly. I took my time, but I replaced that and then then I was able to quit that job. 

DR: 16:10 One of the challenges around that is, of course, you've got to work harder for a period of time because your, you're working at nights and weekends and I think the other thing is a goal needs to be something that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. It's a little bit of a stretch, but it's not completely unreasonable because if it's completely out there, then it's going to be too far off and you'll get, you'll get overwhelmed and, and things won't work. When or when things don't work, you'll quite so heavy. It is something that you feel is attainable and makes you feel a little bit excited, a little bit nervous, but you think, Gee Whiz, if all the planets aligned and I really concentrate and focus on what I need to do, I think that's actually a doable goal. And as I said, if you, if you set a goal to turn over $100,000 and only reach it in, in 12 months, which is also, by the way, a doable goal, I think you'd be doing pretty well and you could give yourself a pat on the back for that. 

MP: 17:19 Yeah, absolutely. 

MP: 17:26 Deb, you know, how does one set a tie, I mean, you had a coach, is that you set aside the time to actually figure this stuff out. How does the listener right now say, hey, you know, how do I get started doing this? 

DR: 17:40 Yeah, I think it's great to have a buddy, you know, you could have almost a board meeting if you like, or a buddy or whatever you'd like to call it. And certainly when you're starting up, getting a business coach is a, is a considerable expense and there are other ways that you can do that. But I think it's the accountability that's critical when you're setting goals. And I'm, I've said for years that I believe the reason I did achieve what I did was because of the accountability and the support that I, that I had with Paige. So if you have someone in your life now, it might be your spouse, it might be your husband or wife, it could be another family member, it could be a close friend who maybe has a little bit of business sense about them, understands what it's like to run a business that would be helpful and have a monthly meeting with that person. 

DR: 18:33 So when, once again, I'll go back to the role of the bookkeeper, when you do finish your monthly processing for that client, you, you should be, and I'm, I'm expecting that you would be sitting down with that client and talking to them about the numbers and educating them about them and telling them whether they've achieved their target for that month and things like that. You need to have the same sort of meeting with yourself, but if you really want to raise the bar of accountability, then have it with someone else. Set the goals with someone else present so that they are aware of the goals that you've set and that that in itself raises the accountability. I'm using another analogy if you want to get fit, it's always, it's more fun actually if you've got a buddy to get fit with and they also make you accountable. DR: 19:27 So if it's a, if you say yes, I'm going to go for a walk three mornings a week and we're going to meet at six o'clock in the morning before everyone gets up and we'll walk for half an hour. If when the winter sets in and things get tough or you've had a late night or things that disturb, if you are on your own, if you, if you're just doing it on your own, then it's very easy to just roll over in bed and pull the blankets up and go, oh no, it's too cold. I won't do that. But if you know that your friend is standing on good for you to meet you on that corner, then you'll move mountains. You'll just drag yourself out of bed regardless of how you feel. So raising the bar of accountability, that's what happens when you have a buddy or a mentor or someone that you absolutely trust who will be able to guide you a little bit along the way. 

DR: 20:21 Give you some advice and support as well when things go wrong. I think that that's a good strategy. It's also, as I said, a lot more fun. You're not on your own. It can be very isolating, growing a bookkeeping business. It's, it's you, it's you doing the work. It's you trying to create it all. It's you trying to do where all your different leadership and hats and marketing and HR, if you're recruiting and all of that, it's, it's, it can be challenging. Anything worthwhile is challenging, but you can make it easier for yourself so you don't have to, it doesn't have to be all hard work buddy up with someone, get a mentor or friend, family, but who can make you accountable. And the other really important thing is to be very, very specific about your goals. 

MP: 21:10 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. No, no. Deb, I want to just point out something there that um, you mentioned, which is the overarching theme here is don't do it alone. Yeah. Don't do it alone. Yeah. Eh, doing it alone. I am going to guess the whole audience here listening if we've all done it alone for big parts of our life and when we stopped doing it alone, things go a lot better. And so finding that person in your life, whoever it is, is Deb mentioned, I find somebody who's trying to get somewhere and is passionate about getting somewhere and join up with them and, and work together to figure this out. I want to say that we do have an excellent resource in our community resources. So as people may or may not know listeners, we are offering a lifetime membership to the successful bookkeeper community. 

MP: 22:07 And in that you get a whole bunch of benefits and all sorts of awesomeness. Uh, one of those pieces is an action plan. So a lot of the things that Deb's talking about, uh, we have that in the action plan. And guess what? Did they come from Deb, because this book, The Successful Bookkeeper was written about you Deb, right? And you are the successful bookkeeper. And so I want to point that out and all you need to do is go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com sign up for a membership of the community and get access to that. And you'll find that resource as well as a whole bunch of other great resources inside of that. To get started. And it's a, it's a roadmap. It's a guide to get you started. So you could find a, a partner or someone in your BNI or the chamber or your friends, family, whatever it is, get together with them, start working on this right away. Absolutely. That's a great opportunity. Yeah. And I want it to just make sure we pointed that out because this is, these are some of the goals that you worked with when you were working with Peter and we put this in the book. So yes, great stuff. 

MP: 23:06 And the second thing as a I mentioned, um, was that they needed to be very specific goals and that includes a date. So you need to, so for example, this year, by the, by December this year or whenever you're listening to this podcast, set a date, uh, 12 months from now about where you want to be. It's 12 monthly goals, three to five-year goals are also important. They're the big picture ones, especially the five-year goal. So you might be starting up now, but in five years you want to be at a black belt, which is very doable. That's a great goal to having five, five to six you might find you'll get there in four but if you, if you set it for five years, getting to black belt, that's a very achievable goal. Then when you've set those three, those three goals, 1212 months, three years, five years, come back and then say, okay, if this is where I want to be in 12 months, what do I need to do in the next month? 

DR: 24:08 So Ham and that will include things like yours, there'll be a turnover you want to aim for, but turnover think go backward and think what, what do I do to get that turnover? Well, it's obvious it's your bookkeeping. So how many hours a week are you going to add each week? And in order to add on that, those hours you need to do your marketing. So going backward, it's like rewinding the tape. This is, we've set the picture of where you want to be. Now rewind at what do I need to do this month, this week, this day to help me achieve my goals in 12 months' time? And, and that will be marketing because if you're going to go from startup to white belt, which is turning over a hundred thousand Michael, is that correct? 

MP: 24:56 Yeah, I actually, yeah, it was a, a thing I wanted to bring come back to and I was actually just thinking how do I, uh, it's a little off-topic now, but it was way back in the beginning. You talked about a white belt, black belt, that you actually went to a black belt. So basically there is a white belt, which is $100,000 out right up to the black belt, which is $500,000 and it's a real or, or more plus you got it. You got it. And it's fantastic. This was put together by you and Pete and this really is a blueprint. It's the bookkeeping business blueprint of which you can get on the successful bookkeeper in the successful bookkeeper community as well. To sort of look at, well, what is it that you need to be doing at 100,000? What do you need to be doing to get up to that 200,000 and when you're at 200,000, what is it that you need to do there?

DR: 25:54 Yeah. and I'm glad you mentioned that because, and to clarify that for the listeners, it's a fabulous little one-page document that you can pin up on your wall or you know, save it as your screen saver or something like that. And you can just be looking at it and referring to it. And that's, that's when we talk about a business plan. There's your business plan on a page, essentially. It's already built for you. It's already built. Um, you, you put that up on your wall and, and when you look up at that, you think, yes, that's right. This is the reason why I'm doing this. This is why I'm pushing through this pain. This is why I'm doing marketing. When I don't feel like it. This is why I'm going to a networking meeting and getting out of bed in the morning and visiting prospects and handing out business cards and all those sorts of things. 

DR: 26:42 All the stuff that you, that when we say hard things that you don't feel so comfortable with, and typically bookkeepers aren't comfortable with marketing. There are exceptions, but the majority of bookkeepers don't particularly like marketing, so that's going to be the biggest challenge when you're starting up is to be comfortable, to be okay, that that we're going to say to be comfortable, to be comfortable, to get out of your comfort zone and just do it regardless of how you feel. It's like getting up in the morning, going to exercise regardless of how you feel, regardless of the weather. You don't make excuses. You, you've made a promise, you've made a commitment, you've got a buddy, you've got a person that's depending on you, don't you don't let them down. So be specific. Set aside the goals. Think back, well, how am I going to turn over a hundred thousand dollars in 12 months? 

DR: 27:34 I'll need this many clients charging this hourly rate, you know, and then you look at the hourly rate. Well, are you charging enough? Do you need to put up your price? What would, what difference would it make to your goal of getting to 100,000 if you put up your prices, 10 or $15 an hour because you are undercharging just by putting up your prices by that amount of money that could make a significant road towards the, your achieving your goal. You know, it's, it's these little details. I had a KPI report, a so key performance indicator, a report that I completed every month, which said what my turnover was, how many accountants I visited, what new clients I put on, how many new hours I brought in that month. So of the, of the new clients, whether any of them were rescue jobs that the new clients and rescues always ended up, or most of the time ended up being ongoing maintenance clients. So that was a measure of my KPI to make sure that I always had new clients coming on board or I was doing a rescue job. All my staff was doing a rescue job. You need to be tracking this sort of information. 

MP: 28:51 Absolutely. And you know, business success is more like growing an award-winning vineyard. You're going to put seeds in the ground, you're going to nurture the sorrow, you're going to build fences, you're going to clip water, clip water for years and years and years until eventually, you'll get to the outcome. There's very little instant gratification and growing an award-winning vineyard. But they do it based on the belief and faith and the knowledge of those that have gone before them, that if they do certain things and follow certain guidelines that they will get to the end gold. And that's why they do it. Business is no different. You plant the seed, you nurture it, you work, you do the work, you do the things you check-in, you keep those that have gone there before and you'll get the outcome that others have achieved. 

MP: 29:46 And in fact, building a successful business is so much easier than building an award-winning vineyard. Right? Yes. And that's a little tip to where you are down in Australia with an award, lots of award-winning vineyards down there and a trip to the hat to the farmer that has to work really, really hard to produce the things that we eat and drink and all that good stuff. But this is it, right? So for the listener out there, Deb's given you some gold. We got some gold in the community, start planting seeds, nurture water, bring people around you. Those people, the people are like your fertilizer, right? I get those people around you and, and, and then you need a couple of people who are like the pruners, right? They're the ones that give you the, you were talking about that when we were before we got on the show Deb, the people that gave you the swift kick in a butt, right? 

DR: 30:33 It's like you get gotta clip back the buds a little bit. You need that. The plant needs it to grow. So do that.

MP: 30:45 And one thing I want to mention to Deb is that you talked about the blueprint book, e Myth, bookkeeper, fantastic book. In fact, many have said it is the bookkeeping Business Bible. Really, if you haven't read that book, listener, go out, get it. It's awesome. We've got a bunch of resources for that book in the community as well. But Deb spends a whole chapter on that. It's a, it's a blueprint for you building your business. Don't overthink this. Don't try and reinvent the wheel. We've got the people that have gone before you have our sharing debt. People like Deb, Michael Gerber, Peter Cook, you know, they've helped grow businesses like this. Uh, and we're talking in the tens of thousands, you know, don't try to reinvent that wheel, right? 

DR: 31:26 Yes. Just, uh, someone has said, I'm just going to do what dad does. That's right. It was done. That's right. And you're a mentor to now hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bookkeepers all over the world, which is really, really fantastic. Deb, it has been such a pleasure having you again on the podcast and I know I'm going to, uh, reach out again and have your back. Um, but I just really, really sincerely thank you for the listeners. Thank you for giving and donating your time to this, uh, this podcast. It's an absolute pleasure. I, I love sharing this information. Thanks very much for having me, Michael.

MP: 31:50 Yeah, our, our pleasure. All the way 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 

MP: 32:17 and until next time, goodbye

EP28: Alan Salmon - 3 Tools EVERY Bookkeeper Should Consider Using

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher


Most bookkeepers can't survive without it.

You probably have your “go to” software that helps you run your business.

Today's guest, Managing Director of K2E Canada Inc. and IPBC board member, Alan Salmon, who is Canada's leading analyst in the area of accounting technology, will open your mind with some different options you might have never considered before.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • 3 tools that can dramatically increase your productivity and efficiency

  • The fascinating results of a survey that reveal what the average bookkeeper earns per year and other details

  • Tips on how to organize your day the night before to achieve optimal success

To learn more about Alan, visit this link.

As discussed during the interview, if you'd like to receive 250 Microsoft Excel tips just email Alan at alan@k2e.ca.


Michael Palmer: 00:53 Welcome back to the Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's guest is considered Canada's leading analyst in the area of accounting technology. Alan Salmon has been in the industry for over 27 years, working in general business management systems education, and really brings his experience of journalism to the industry. As a managing director of K K2 e, he is responsible for the Canadian operations of this international consulting group, which provides professional development and technology education for accountants across Canada and the United States. He really is considered a pillar in the bookkeeping community here in Canada, but as well internationally. Alan, welcome to the podcast. 

Alan Salmon: 01:42 Good morning. Michael, I'm delighted to be here with you. 

MP: 01:45 You know, Alan, I'd be surprised if the listeners didn't already know you or have already heard of you or heard you speak, but for those that don't, can you share how you became one of the leading thought leaders in the accounting professional space? 

AS: 02:00 That's an interesting question. Michael and my life have been full of, uh, challenges that when I accepted them I had made a course change. I'm going to take you back to early 1979 when at that time I was director of continuing education at George Brown College and I was in my office on one evening, it was five 30 in the phone rang and this young woman said, Alan, you don't know me, but I'm the director of PD for CJ, Ontario and we're looking for someone that can present of course on public speaking to our members because it's now a requirement. Do you know of anybody? And I said, sure, that's something that I do in my spare time. So out of that came about two years of doing sessions with the CGAS. And then that young lady called me back and sitting and said, we're getting bombarded by vendors who want to explain our technology, meaning our computer technologies to our members. 

AS: 03:11 And we're afraid that that will become a sales pitch as opposed to education. What can you do for us? So I sat down very quickly and said, okay, they need to know a little bit about VisiCalc. Most of your listeners will be too young to remember that and they need to know a little bit about word processing and they need to learn about the database, put together a one-day technology course. And from there I was into the technology game moving on again, a good friend of mine started the bottom line newspaper. That would be Gundy Jeffrey, because at the Ed time of the three designations really weren't talking to each other and Gundy thought there was a need for news that crossed the boundaries. And I always invited to be one of the first columnists for it. And I wrote for the bottom line for 22 years and that got me into the research. And out of that came about, wow, what am I up to? About 13 books, mostly on comparisons. So comparing one piece of software to the other. And then in 1999, I got involved with my k two partners in the USand got heavily into the teaching. So there, in a nutshell, is taking advantage of opportunities, Michael. 

MP: 04:35 Yeah. And I really, I can hear inside of that, you know, over 27 years really just grabbing whatever opportunity was in front of you and really exploring it is I, you are an adventure. It really comes through. I know I've heard you speak and you've talked about the travel that you've, you know, you've traveled all over the world, but I can now just listening to you now, you know, it's that sense of adventure and curiosity that I think is enabled you to really explore and then bring that learning back to the people who can use it and benefit from it, which is, which is very interesting. Tell me a little bit about this travel and you know, you've traveled all over the world. How has your international travel impacted your view of the industry and the work you do? 

AS: 05:25 Well, I want to come to you on that one from a different point of view.

MP: 05:29 Please. 

AS: 05:30 Um, yesterday was the 19th anniversary of a blind date that I had with a Brunette and um, things went well. So in 2000, I proposed to her and she turned me down. Of course not, not many people proposed by email. 

MP: 05:49 Oh boy. 

AS: 05:51 So the fall, six months later I had to take her to Maui and do it right and out. That came to marriage. That has been really wonderful. And part of the things that Nancy and I did very early on was trying to do what most people do poorly and that strikes a life-work balance. And in my business at that time, whilst am still, April was a down month for obvious reasons. So we decided to take April off and travel the world and one of my dreams was to fly around the world. Yet. Nancy had no interest in that. So in 2003 we visited South America for two and a half weeks and Nancy flew home and I flew around the world. And while I was doing it, I was checking out sites for future longterm visits. And we continued that process right until I had my operation in 2012 so out of that came nine trips around the world and some amazing adventures in Europe and South Africa and Egypt in China and Australia and so on. So that was a case of really balancing life work. And I think we did it very well 

AS: 07:14 by the sounds of it. You did nine times around the world.

MP: 07:25 That's extraordinary. so you're well-traveled, you, you've really carved a name for yourself in the industry and deepened your, your knowledge across technology and bit general business in all forms of the accounting profession, really from bookkeeping right up to cas and you're well respected in the industry. What's on your plate now? I mean it's like the, there's, there's, I'm curious what opportunity you're sinking your teeth into now. 

AS: 07:54 Well, I should've retired 15 years ago. But here's another interesting thing, Michael. Uh, in the last 20 years, I don't think I have ever woken up in the morning and said, I don't want to do any work today. Then Dad has been a great source. So I'm continuing to change in 15 years after I should have retired. I have two new ventures, one that is now solid and one I will be launching in the next couple of months. And I'm sorry I can't talk about it, but my strength is excel in terms of actual technology and I think I've got as good a handle on excel as anyone in the industry. So we have a wonderful newsletter that goes out to over 10,000 bookkeepers and accountants and as you know with Annie, a newsletter subscription list, one of the tactics, how do you monetize that? So I had a brilliant insight a couple of years ago and said, well, why don't I sell excel webinars? 

AS: 09:06 And I quickly got shut down by my friends who said, why would I buy your excel Webinar when I can get it for free on the web, back to the drawing board. So what we launched last October was a one hour noon hour eastern time mini Webinar where for 25 minutes I do what I call excel magic. And for the other 25 minutes, we introduce a product or a service that would be useful to bookkeepers and accountants and that has gone over like gangbusters. We currently have about 700 registered for each of those webinars and we're sold out to the end of the year. 

MP: 09:51 Incredible. 

AS: 09:52 So there, there is the answer to your question. 

MP: 09:54 Yeah, no I love it. I love it. And it's just very entrepreneurial in terms of whilst you really understand that there's information and there's providing information but you've also looked at it from how to make a business of it and, and actually make it valuable to your businesses, which is, I mean I love the format. I think it's fantastic. We fought, we started this, I guess we could call it the pre conversation to this interview. We started talking about the major survey that you did with uh, for the IPBC, the Institute of professional bookkeepers and kind here in Canada and some really interesting metrics that came out of that. And I'd love to, you know, I was really intrigued by what you had said and I'd love our listeners to hear it as well. Can we talk about that? 

AS: 10:41 We certainly can. So let's deal with who the bookkeepers are. 76 are self-employed, the remainder is working in the industry, not for profits and so on. Not Surprising, 76% are women. But here's an interesting metric. Bookkeeping is an aging population. 78% of the respondents are over the age of 45, 77% have a mature practice. They've been in business for more than six years. And the key, and it ties in with the move to the cloud, 56% of them spend less than 25% of their time at a client's office. 

MP: 11:23 Wow. 

AS: 11:24 So there are, there's a significant shift from onsite services to offsite and 80% of them, not surprisingly, run on base business. 

MP: 11:33 Wow. And, and when you, you did the survey, this was a massive survey and I think you mentioned it was 200. How many pages was it? 

AS: 11:42 Well, a report was 200 pages. There were 1600 responses, which gave it high credibility when you look at survey results. 

MP: 11:52 Yeah. Incredible. 

AS: 11:54 And so when you got all the data back and you've chewed through it, what did it tell you that from a bookkeeper that's listening right now, what should they be thinking about and putting their attention on based on your takeaways? Well, I've got to do a disclaimer here, Michael. Uh, as you may know, I am the director of IPBC, but one of the key things that came out of the survey was when we look at income and the median range across all of the respondents was in the area of 50 to 75,000 a year. IPBC certifies its members with a designation called the certified professional bookkeeper, CPB, and the sole practitioner member with a CPD earns on average 14% more than a nun member without a designation. 14%. Wow. No bookkeeping firm with IPBC members. And that would be with, with staff, earns an average of 22% annually. Then a nine I BBC member firm. 

MP: 13:07 Phenomenal. Well, 

MP: 13:13 I don't have to do any disclaimers. I am, I am not a board member and I will say we absolutely love the IPBC and the bookkeeper association. I mean, the IPBC isn't in every country and we have listeners all of the world. But Listener, if you are not part of an association and in Canada, really the number one association, I mean, you don't have to look very far. It is the IPBC. It's an incredible organization. You don't have to look very far if you're not in an association. If you don't belong to an association, I mean those, if those numbers are not glaring, come over here, sign, you know, open for business sign, you're going to love the business sign.

AS: 13:45 Then, uh, you're crazy. And so, I mean, I've seen it. I've been to now I think for the last year I've been to the annual conference, they're excellent. And I think Allen, my take on it is the reason why there they make more. And these are big numbers, right? 14% more as an individual, 22% more income as a business. And I think the reason is, is that they, they're surrounding themselves with people who are really serious about their success. 

AS: 14:26 And I would agree with you on all of those statements, Michael. 

MP: 14:30 Yeah. Big Part of this podcast is about educating and inspiring bookkeepers to do the great work that they do. And this is part of that education. And there's no, I, you know, I don't hold anything back when it comes to associations in my, my belief you have to belong to your industry. Whether you're a plumber, whether you're an electrician, if you are in business, you to be with your association because Your Association is what brings you education and what brings you confidence. It's what brings you like-mindedness. And it's the ones that belong to those associations that are more successful. So, you know, it's a bit of a soapbox I sometimes get up onto, but I, I don't mind doing it, especially the fact that you're on the show today and heavily involved. You haven't always been on the board though, Alan, right. Cause I know you've got back on the board recently. Um, you've done a lot of work for that organization over the last several years as well. 

AS: 15:24 I came on the board as an advisor five years ago or four years ago and was elected to the board three years ago and re-elected, uh, last year. But I've been working with bookkeepers for 25 years. Any other stuff that I've been doing, for example, a was sage and with intuit. But let me again, uh, point to, to something that's, that I'm working on right now that ties in exactly with what you're doing. And that is, I'm developing a keynote that I will deliver three times and it's called learning is a lifetime activity. And I'm going to weave into that all the ways and means that I have learned, taught myself technology, et Cetera, over the last 27 years and I think that will prove interesting. 

MP: 16:19 I think so. And it, it's really a propose with the conversation we've had and your history. I mean, learning is a lifetime adventure or say the title again learning is, 

MP: 16:30 I haven't got it locked in. I think it's going to be learning as a never-ending road destination. 

AS: 16:38 Yes, yes. 

AS: 16:39 Playing with that now. 

MP: 16:41 I like it and I made it based on this conversation so far. You're definitely equipped to deliver that and so let's go in that direction a little bit. You know, people are busy there, time, time-strapped. We constantly hear about people saying, we don't have enough time. You know, we're pulling our hair out over here. And how can the listeners get their mind around what it is they need to do to, to, to take in more information and become a lifetime learner like yourself? 

AS: 17:12 Well, I'm going to go at it from two different perspectives, Michael. The first thing is before I crash every night in my mind, and I gotta admit that I don't write it down, I picked out the three things or the four things that I absolutely have to do tomorrow. And of course that's an ongoing thing and I make it a point very rarely do I not do those things. 

MP: 17:38 And now you said you did that every night before you go to bed. 

AS: 17:42 Yeah, that's my project plan. 

MP: 17:44 Okay. 

AS: 17:44 And then Nancy and I work out five years. We have five year set of goals and they're monetized. So we've got a five-year budget when we can pretty well know what our income will be. And we're starting to cut back a little bit on some of the expenses that we really don't need to apply. So there are two answers from the team of Alan and Nancy. 

MP: 18:11 Yeah, I love it. Think about what the three to four things you need to do that must do to tomorrow and then have your five-year plan clear. And you know, and know where you're, you're headed. And certainly you're busy, you travel a lot, you do a lot of keynotes all over the world and so you make learning a priority, I would imagine. 

AS: 18:33 Absolutely. The other thing that I'm about to do is I'm going to research the way people learn. I started out by, I wrote a dozen of my friends a couple of weeks ago and I said, what's your favorite method of learning blogs, videos, et Cetera, et cetera. And I got a whole bunch of different responses and it was, it would be impossible to categorize them. So sometime in the next three weeks, I'm going to send out a survey that asks more specific questions. Do you read newspapers? Do you read podcasts or sorry, listen to podcasts. Do you have a favorite blog? Do you have a favorite video? And that will be part of my keynotes and I will be publishing those results. 

MP: 19:23 Beautiful. I love it. 

MP: 19:32 So in terms of technology, you're a wizard at excel. Is there technology right now that you recommend bookkeepers spend time learning about? 

AS: 19:45 Absolutely. My call, the obvious first one is I think they should focus on one accounting solution. And really learn it well. In fact, to get certified on it. So at the bookkeeping level lead deliberately leaving people out. You've got QuickBooks desktop, QuickBooks online, you've got sage 50 you've got sage one, you've got zero and maybe a little bit of cashew. So get really good at that. The second piece of technology is a Microsoft product. Didn't understand, I don't get paid for trying to sell software, which I'm not trying to do, but Microsoft now has an online service called office three 65 and in my opinion, and in the opinion of partners, every bookkeeper and accountant should be on office three 65 why? For one thing, you get the four up to date desktop versions. And notice I said desktop. These are not in the cloud and for every monthly license, and I think I'm paying 20 bucks a month for mine, I get five actual copies of excel. 

AS: 21:05 So with $20 a month I'm running excel on two laptops, my Microsoft surface, my iPad, and my smartphone. What would it cost you to buy five licenses? But in addition, there is a little relatively unknown piece of office three 65 called SharePoint. And very, very few people either understand it or even know what it's there for. And I caught a fight SharePoint as being an online library. So let me give you an example of how we use it in k to five years ago and we run about 29 different courses, all of which have manuals that run from a hundred to 200 pages, someone and many cases me would edit the manual and then I would send copies to three or four people and in our firm and they would turn on comments, send it back to me. And before long we were just suffering for what I call version itis. 

AS: 22:14 Which version is the correct one? So now with SharePoint, we have a folder up there for manuals. Everybody has access to it. All right, go up and I make the change and everybody instantly has access to it. So that's one asset of SharePoint. The second, yeah. The second is I can set up folders and there are good controls and security on SharePoint. So if you are a client of mine, Michael, I would set up a folder for you and all of the key documents, your tax forms, uh, your financial statements, any notes, any excel that I do for you would be in the Michael Folder and the only person that would have access to it would be me and you. Now I know a lot of people out there are paying a fair amount of money for that ability to host stuff in the sky for my 20 bucks a month. 

AS: 23:15 I don't need any other software. Now when it comes to a third one, I've been wrestling with that ever since you sent me my cue notes. And I would say that the third piece that everyone should have is something to manage their time. Uh, not the build time because I'm a huge fan of, uh, not billing by the hour, but value billing. But you need to manage your time and there's a lot of different ways of doing that. There are some neat apps for doing that with Dan Quickbooks online. There are things like client track, tps software, Volcom and so on that get into more advanced time tracking and project planning. So I guess that's the three things that if I was going into bookkeeping or accountant, Heaven Forbid, um, I wouldn't want to have, 

MP: 24:15 That's great. You know, it's interesting the Microsoft conversation and just the way the, I do the same thing I, the licensing and you know, couple of extra things to add to that. I mean, it just, just the sheer updates and always having the most, like you're paying that licensing fee monthly, but you're getting the very best, all the updates you never have to worry about, you know, are you using the most up to date versions of what you're using now the SharePoint's an interesting one and I want to look into that myself. So I think that's a bit of a value bomb that I'm going to make sure we highlight. People listened to and think about because for $20 a month and you've probably used one of the more advanced packages, people can start for less than that and dip their toe in the pool if they're not totally confident. The other thing is you can quit anytime, right? It's a, it's beautiful software is as a service. Uh, licensing it that way is, is uh, is brilliant for small business. I just love it. 

AS: 25:10 Yeah. Let me do an add on there since you brought that up, Esq. Can do cancel any time. Understand that your data, and I'm now talking specifically about excel data. If I create a spreadsheet, it is saved not only on my device, in this case, my laptop, but it's also saved in the cloud on a piece of the office three 65, a technology called one drive. So if there's a problem, I've got it in the cloud and if I cancel, I've still got all of my data downstream. And again, an interesting side, Michael, if you are running outlook, which we all run and you're using the desktop version of outlook and you have a hard drive crash, you have lost all of your emails unless you're backing up your PSD for office three 65 outlook comes with co, what's called exchange. And Exchange means that your outlook is not only on your desktop but it's also in the cloud. So I tend to do dumb things. So twice in the last three years, I deleted my inbox. 

MP: 26:32 Oh boy. 

AS: 26:33 But guess what? It's still there in the cloud version. It took me about five minutes and I'm back in business. So there's another advantage of Office 365. 

MP: 26:45 Yeah. In this day and age, there's just no, no way. Or whether you're a Mac user, PC user, if you're not using Microsoft suite, you're, you know, you're, it's crazy. And for the cost, it's a no brainer. I think that's a great, a great piece of advice. Um, I do want to ask a couple more questions and I know we're getting a little long on time, but, um, you've worked with bookkeepers, accountants all over the place, and one of the things that we like to talk about is building relationships with accountants, bookkeepers, uh, in terms of having strong relationships, what would you say there give your best advice around bookkeepers working with accountants? 

AS: 27:25 Well, number one, let's make, let's come at it from two points of view. I'm a practicing bookkeeper with practice and a, I'm doing books for clients who also have accountants. Well, the first step there is obviously to talk to the accounting partner and say, are there any other clients that you'd like me to do the books for? Because bookkeeping is, it doesn't generate a lot of profit for accountants. So go to the source and ask. Now if I was just starting out, and even if I wasn't just starting out, I would very quickly do a Google search and build a database of all the accountants in my area. And I would knock on doors. That could be digitally by the way as opposed to physically. 

MP: 28:17 Yes, absolutely. 

AS: 28:18 Now when it comes to upgrading services or selling value add services, which both accountants and bookkeepers are starting to do now, the bookkeeper has the ground floor on that much to dismiss the dismay of some accountants because they're dealing with the clients all the time. The bookkeeper probably only deals with the client may be quarterly or maybe annually. An addition may be during tax season, so the really smart bookkeepers in this world, and I could name a couple, I'm going to name just one, Diane Mueller, the chair of IPBC as a program where she sends out every Monday morning a cash flow for all of our clients. Here's what you need to have in the bank this week and then she has a monthly online meeting for her clients to discuss issues and p doesn't talk a lot. She listens and if you listen carefully, you're going to pick up some needs. How do I do this? How do I do that in order that will come services and particularly training Michael, 

AS: 29:33 That's another value bomb at one a big one. Big one.

MP: 29:44 Absolutely love that approach. Being in front of your clients and hearing their problems. I mean that's every salesperson's dream to just know what's going on inside of the mind of an entrepreneur in their heart. People to get in front of. Typically, I mean banks and investment companies, they, they, their mouth waters at being able to get in touch with the type of people, bookkeepers, yourself and, and those that are listening have direct access to because you are helping them keep more of their money in their bank. And so the way Diane's doing it is brilliant and she's actually going to be a guest on our, on our podcast in the next couple of weeks, which I'm excited. This will be a great lead-in that we can have a conversation with her about it. So there you have it, listeners. I mean that there is just an excellent, excellent piece of advice around working with accountants and what you can do to grow your business through working with both accountants and as well just being the lead person you're in front of them. Grow your practice through just being in front of your clients. I love that. Now Alan, before we end, you've got lots of stuff. You've mentioned a few things. Let's take a bit of a, a bit of time here to just lay out some resources that you have available that you'd love for your list or our listeners to go and take advantage of. You mentioned an email list. What, what do you got on? 

AS: 31:08 Well I know in marketing mode, Michael, so I'll say that upfront. Let me focus on three things, but first is what we call the accounting technology seminar series. And this is a one-day seminar that we run in 15 cities from coast to coast. And would you believe this is the 25th anniversary Ford? It runs every October and it's just one day chart full of what's new and all of the chick, Donald Gees, tax accounting, you name it, they can get information about that on the webpage for www dot k to e. Dot. Ca and will show us in starting the 1st of May, we'll be marketing it. Second is the newsletter, that's a monthly newsletter that contains three excel tips in one-word tip. And the one that you get on the list for that if you're not on the list is again going to the homepage of www dot k to e. Dot c eight and sign up for it. And the third thing is the mini webinars, which are free. And again you'd go to the website. So there, in a nutshell, Michael is where they can get more information. And as the teaser, one of the things that I will do if people right be at Alan a t o n Ed k to e. Dot. Ca is I will send them 250 excel tips. And my David, my favorite tip is control. Yes. Do you know why? 

MP: 32:55 Tell us, 

AS: 32:56 cause that's the save command. And I do that a lot. 

MP: 32:59 Hmm. No doubt. No doubt about it. Oh, even with autosave these days, so never enough time. Save it. Never enough times. Allen, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. And I can, I can tell right now this, this is gonna be another one of those great episodes, sons of value bombs that you gave today. And for the listeners, if you just go, if you're on your smartphone, just tap on the little write up there. There'll be a link that will take you right to all of the links Allen's just mentioned. And as well, we'll have some notes on this episode for you to gather. But if you're not on Allen's list and getting his information, I mean, you're crazy for the amount of time he's going to be able to save you invaluable information that he's going to be able to give you over his, uh, 27 years of doing this. It's an absolute no brainer and we're just so grateful that you were able to be on our show. 

AS: 33:55 It was a PR privilege. 

MP: 33:57 Absolutely. Well, that wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and what a great guest he's been and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP27: Dr. Ivan Misner - Powerful Business Networking Tips From The Founder of BNI

TSBK - Episode 27 - Ivan Misner (1).png
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Business networking.

If you're an introverted bookkeeper, it can be a scary thing.

But, it doesn't have to be.

Just ask our guest today.

Dr. Ivan Misner is the founder of Business Network International (BNI) which
is the world's largest business networking and business referral organization.

It has over 7,800 chapters and 213,000 members in 72 countries.

So, he knows what he's talking about. 

During this fascinating interview, you'll learn...

  • 4 things to look for when deciding on what networking group to join

  • How identifying certain body language cues in others can enable you to approach them more easily

  • Why networking isn't a face-to-face cold calling opportunity

To learn more about Dr. Misner, check out his blog by clicking here.

To view his books, here's the website

To discover further details about BNI, visit https://www.bni.com/.

To watch the BNI video referenced in this episode, click this link.

To see the networking tools mentioned during the interview, sign up for our free resources.


Michael Palmer: 01:18 Welcome to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer. Today's guest is a man who sees and once called The Father of Modern Networking. He is the founder of the incredibly successful networking organization, Business Network International or BNI for short. Doctor Ivan Meisner. Welcome to the podcast. It's an honor to have you. 

Dr. Ivan Meisner: 01:43 Thank you, Michael. It's a pleasure to be on and you know, it's, it's one thing to be called The Father of Modern Networking, but when they start calling me The Father of Modern Networking, then I'm going to really be worried. 

MP: 01:52 Hey, there you go. Exactly. You must be very proud of what you've created and the impact that you've had on so many small and medium-sized business owners around the planet. Can you tell us a little bit about your career journey leading up to creating business networking international? 

DIM: 02:12 Yeah. BNI. BNI was really, it's a great example of necessity being the mother of invention. Uh, I was 28 years old. I started my own consulting practice. Uh, I was looking for referrals from my consulting practice. One of the people who I had been working within referring was in fact, uh, an accountant. And so I wanted to deepen that relationship and develop other relationships and I was really dissatisfied with the kinds of groups that I was, uh, seen as I was going out there. Networking. On one hand, there were very social groups, there were all about the social interaction, the wine in the order in the evening and, and I wasn't seeing any business really being done. And then on the other 

DIM: 03:00 hand, there were Biz, some business groups that were just mercenary. It was very transactional and it wasn't really about building relationships and I didn't really like either of those. And so I formed BNI as a way of kind of merging those two concepts, having an organization that was very relational but at the same time was focused and had accountability. We don't teach this in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. We don't teach networking or referral marketing. And so we kind of developed this industry and tried to do it in a way that combined both of those together.

MP: 3:30 Yeah, it's, it's fantastic. It's interesting that you mention that it's not done in universities or even really where it should start is in high schools. Right. And I think that's what created such an opportunity for such a large, large organization. How, how large is BNI now? 

DIM: 03:57 Well, as of this morning, we have 7,876 chapters in about 72 countries with over 213,000 members worldwide.

MP: 4:15 Wow. You know, the reason why I'm so excited to have you on the show is that it's one of the things that we would say is almost essential to building a successful bookkeeping practice is to be involved in some sort of a networking group. And you know, the founder of our company, Pure Bookkeeping. And as well the author, co-author of the e-myth bookkeeper, she actually met the, a business coach at a BNI that helped her then put together the strategies and the mindset and everything else that she needed in order to grow her business to the level that she did, which was remarkable and extremely successful business. So the core of our history really is around BNI and we talk about it. I mean, we were talking about BNI all over the world really. 

MP: 05:04 And did you ever think that it would be something that would cross the whole globe, impacting all of these businesses?

DIM: 05:20 You know, I, I'd like, I'd like to tell you that I had this vision of an international business when I started being an I, but I didn't, um, I needed some referrals from my consulting practice and I put together friends and I wanted to help them and I hoped that they would want to help me. And what I discovered was that because we don't teach this in colleges and universities, uh, it went over really well and it was really kind of funny because I, I networked up, I brought in people who I felt were more successful than me. Every single person in that first group that I invited, uh, had been in business longer than I had all of them. And they were almost all older than I am and had more experience. And I brought them in because 

DIM: 05:58 I thought they knew how to network. It turns out they joined because I was a business consultant and they thought I knew how to network. We sat in the room and it's like none of us really understood the process. And that's when I say, that's what I said, you know, we kind of developed an industry. We did, we, we, we learned how to do this together. So, no, I didn't see it as an international organization that I think that came after. Really after about a year of doing this in one year, we, we opened 20 groups by accident and we, we opened it by accident because people kept coming to me and saying, why this is great. I, I love it, but I can't join because as you know, we only take one person per profession. And so they said, why can't join cause my professions represented? 

DIM: 06:45 Would you help me open up my own group? And you know, the first one I said, no, this isn't what I do. I'm not a business. I'm not a, I'm not a networking guy. I'm a business consultant. And she convinced me that it was really consulting to do this. And so I said, okay. And we opened the second one in a way. The same thing happened over and over and over again. So I think about a year into it, I realized I had struck a chord in the business community that I, I knew I had the problem. I didn't realize everybody had the problem. 

MP: 07:10 Wow.

MP: 07:18 You know, interesting how sliding doors, right. You would have said no to that and it would have been a different path. So, so 

MP: 07:27 interesting how, this is a fantastic analogy, sliding doors, the movie, um, we have a chapter in, 

MP: 07:36 Oh I think it's in Portugal or Spain did a short video based on sliding doors for BNI. I mean short, it's like three, four minutes long. And it's exactly what you described there with how BNI is a sliding door, where it's a nexus point where you could go one direction or the other. If I can find that video, I'll send you the link. It did a great short video and it's all, no words are spoken. It not a single word. It's all a, just action on camera. It's very cool.

DIM: 07:50 Please. I hope you can find that because first of all, I love that movie and I loved the imagery and the, and what it represented and I think it'd be very cool to actually post that on our, on our website. But it's a kind of, it takes us down kind of a cool, unexpected conversation in that going outside of your door every day really is a sliding door experience in the movie. If, if the listeners, if you don't know what sliding door is, go find that video and watch the movie. It's a great movie. I think Gwyneth Paltrow was in it. Just the power of the choices that we make, and so if we walk out of the door in the morning and versus staying at home, then there's going to be something different happening in our lives because we know we walked through that door. Very interesting around BNI your every single week 

DIM: 08:56 you're literally opening up an opportunity by just simply going and meeting with people who are ambitious and want to grow their business.

MP: 09:10 That's absolutely right. You know, I think all too often business people are cave dwellers. They get up in the morning, they're in this large cave with a big-screen TV. They go out to their garage, they get into a little cave with four wheels called their car. They drive to this other really big k with a computer called their office. They stay there all day long and at the end of the day, they get back into their little cave with four wheels in. They'd try back to their large cave with a big screen TV and they can't figure out why no one is referring them. Well, networking is a contact sport. You have got to go out and meet people if you want to build your business through referrals. And I know, I know that's gotta be difficult for bookkeepers. 

DIM: 09:42 Um, you know, I'm reasonably familiar with the behavioral style that you see cause when I was a consultant, a lot of the work I did was in behavioral styles and learning about different people and what their styles were. And, and bookkeepers like programmers tend to be much more analytical and not necessarily, well, they tend to be a little more introverted. Would that be a fair statement to say? Most definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So, so, uh, listen, I think what I teach is perfect really for introverts and, and I'll tell you why because listen, introverts tend to be much better at listening then just walking up and talking to people. And that's actually a strength. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them both proportionately. Okay. A good networker has two years in one month and uses them both proportionately. There's this assumption that to be a good networker, you have to just go, you know, you have to walk around and say, Hi Michael, am I even, let's do business. 

DIM: 10:43 And when in fact, just the opposite. What we have found over and over and over again is that people who are good at listening are better. Networkers. I just did a survey of 3000 people online. I published it at entrepreneur just, um, a few weeks ago. The number one characteristic of a great networker. Number one, I was a strong listener. Wow. Now introverts have it made on that. They tend to be much a much better listener than an extrovert. Extroverts love talking and what's their favorite subject themselves? So they talk and they talk a lot about themselves, whereas a good networker should be like, you are here. My goal as an interviewer, you're asking me questions and I'm allowed time to expound on that. And, and that's actually a skill set that works great to be a fantastic networker. And so I think bookkeepers, their challenges in meeting people, they're uncomfortable maybe walking up and meeting people. And so there's, I have a couple of suggestions for, for people in that area, but in BA, basically, I think introverts can make a stronger networker.

MP: 11:54 I love it. These are what I like to call value bombs. And a, you're dropping a whole bunch of them, which is, which is excellent. And you know, what you're doing is you're inspiring bookkeepers that maybe and have not, you know because going in and meeting a whole bunch of new people might even be daunting. Uh, but you're inspiring them to think, hey, you know what, you, the listeners have a bit of a superpower here that's gonna work well by going into an environment like BNI. Now when they get there, they're great at listening. How do they get the opportunity to listen? 

DIM: 12:31 Well, there's a couple of things. First of all, you want to assess the room. When you walk in and take a look at it, you will immediately see people standing in open twos or closed twos. Now it's kind of difficult to describe a just on audio, the difference between an open and closed two, but imagine that you put your two hands together, almost like you're praying and separate them by a couple of inches that that's two people. Let's say you have the God view, you're looking down on him. That's two people standing perpendicular to each other talking to one another. It's very difficult to break into that conversation. Now imagine that you, you put the two palms of your hand together and your hands now shaped like a v and you're looking down at people talking and you see that v that's called an open too. It's much, it's much easier to strike a conversation with people who are standing in an open too than a close to now. 

DIM: 13:23 Now extend that to a close three that would look like a triangle from above, but an open three would look like you. So what you want to do is you walk into the room and the first thing you want to do is open. You want to assess the open groups, the groups that are standing in an open stance because they are very easy for you to just kind of slide in. You don't have to say anything, you can just kind of slide in, nod. And while they're continuing the conversation, at some point they're going to look to you say hello. And then that's your opportunity to introduce yourself and ask them each what they do and get them to talk. So when you walk into a room, look for open twos and open threes. There are two places you can find this in my books. 

DIM: 14:06 You can find this in my book called networking, like a pro, which is on Amazon. And you can also find it in the world's best, no marketing secret, but networking like prose and Amazon. Anybody can pick that up and see the graphs that I'm talking about. That's the first thing. The second thing is that whenever possible, go to networking meetings with somebody that you know who knows people at that group. So let's say, Michael, I were going to go with you to a meeting and it's a meeting that you know, many of the people I would ask you, would you mind Michael, what kind of walking me around and introducing me to people so that I can get the lay the land and I can meet people. You know, can I, can I just be by your shoulder and have you walk around and, and maybe as you meet people, you know, introduce me. Now if I'm an introvert, that's a great technique because I don't have to walk up to anybody. I got you doing it for me and you walk up, you walk up to, you know, Janet and you say, Janet, hi, it's great to see you again. Let me introduce you to my friend Ivan and then I can strike up a conversation with Janet or whoever else based on you making that introduction, that third party introduction. There are two techniques that work amazingly well for introverts. 

MP: 15:33 This is amazing. I just absolutely love this and I've never heard the examples that you've used around, you know, the hands and, and the, you know, the open and looking for those types of groups. I mean, I, I'm an ambivert so I, I love being on my own and doing my own thing, but I can, I can go and sort of, you know, thrive in an environment, but when I go and network, I, you know, it's not my thing. And it's like I go in and it's like if I get into a conversation, I can have a great conversation, but I've never thought about it from this open looking for the body language cues to know where to actually go because I do like having questions and I, uh, I do like listening to people and I'm curious, so it's all good. But for me, I'm getting a ton of value out of this and I'm thinking now too, this is going to be a bit of an open-loop here because I love the, um, the slogan, I don't know if it's a slogan, but then, let's call it a, um, philosophy of givers gain. 

DIM: 16:32 Yeah. But for me, givers gain is when I'm in a group that I know there's other people that maybe aren't comfortable, I'm going to look, how am I standing? What body language am I giving that will enable other people to come up and connect with me? I mean, that's kind of part of, this is another way of looking at it, right? If I'm at a networking group, why don't I just make me one of those people that are easily accessible and do the open, make sure my cues are already, are always open, whether I'm standing with one person or in a group, 

DIM: 16:58 right? And you can do that easily by just opening up your stance so that if you're standing perpendicular to somebody, you open it up a little bit. So you open it to a v and then somebody will fill that pretty quickly. Then it's really important to open it up again so that other people can come in. You do simple techniques like that or they're there, they're simple but very effective and they're the kind of thing, they're very subconscious. People don't even realize you're doing it, but there are other things that you can do that are certainly much more a conscious one is to be a connector and a, I think anyone introvert or extrovert can be a great connector by linking people together who need each other's services. And one of the best ways to do that is, of course, like I said, is to listen to people, get them to talk and to tell you who they are and what they do. 

DIM: 17:45 I think here's where networking goes wrong. Michael. People use networking as a face to face, cold calling opportunity. So they go to these networking meetings and they're trying to sell, sell, sell. I did a presentation in London a few years back and there are about 900 people in the room and I said to everybody there, I said, Oh hey if you are here, raise your hands if you're hoping to. It was an all-day affair or if you're hoping to, you know, at some point today sell something. 900 people raised their hands. Wow. I said, okay, great. I said, how many of you here today, if you answered this question for me, um, how many of you are here today hoping to possibly buy something? No one who's there, not one single person. This is what I call the networking disconnect. People show up at networking meetings, wanting to sell, but nobody is there to buy. 

DIM: 18:35 And, and that's why people go to networking meetings, especially introverts. And they feel like they need to get a shower when they go home because they've been sold to, sold, to, sold to. And that's not, to me, that's not what networking is all about. That's, that's direct selling. And to me, networking is about building relationships and that means you need to have conversations with people. And so, and you need to look for opportunities to help and connect them, which kind of comes full circle to why I was talking about you gotta be a connector. People will seek you out at networking meetings if they know, you know, everybody, if you've helped them before, they'll, they'll seek you out to connect with you again if you are a connector and are helping others. A, when you go to networking meetings, people want to talk to you. 

MP: 19:21 Beautiful. Uh, I have a business partner that is an incredible connector and he's just very curious and he loves people and he's, you know, some people might not get him right away because he's, he really has no problem going into a room and meeting every single person. But he really wants to know who you are, what's going on in your life and what you do, what your superpower is. And he literally, he's got a mind, it's like a photographic memory. He will literally say, Oh, you need to work with this person. I need to connect you with that person. And surprisingly enough, I mean, he's a very good salesperson because he's so well connected and he's driving business to all these other people that are just not even connected to him really at all. So it's very powerful. But can you talk a little bit about that mindset that's needed to actually be thinking strategically like that in one's life? 

DIM: 20:12 Yeah. Well, there's a couple of things. First of all, I think the foundation of everything I teach is based on what I call the VCP process. The VCP process, it stands for visibility, credibility, profitability. You must first be visible in the community. People have to know who you are and what you do. So you have to go out there and be recognized. You then have to establish credibility. And that's where people know who you are. They know what to do and they know you're good at it. Now they may know you're good at it because they've used your service and they know you're good, or they've observed you, uh, operating. Or they know people who know you and they've said, wow, man, Michael's really good at what he does. And so you know, the overtime you build this reputation. That's the reputation builder and it is overtime. 

DIM: 21:02 This is one of the things that people really get wrong is that they think that networking is a get rich quick scheme. It is not. It is a solid foundation for building a long term successful business. But, um, there's something that I, I write about in networking like a pro called the time confidence curve there. No matter what business you're in, it's going to take a certain amount of time before people have confidence in your ability to provide a quality product or service. So you've got to go into this understanding, that time, confidence curve. Now for bookkeepers, that time confidence curve is not short, not like a, a florist. You know, someone might refer a florist pretty quickly. You're talking about a bookkeeper or somebody who's managing my money that's on the outside of the, of the curve. You know, the only one that might be further out might be, might be the financial planner investing in your retirement money. So they're probably a little further out. So what does this tell you? This tells you if you're a bookkeeper, it's all about building the relationship because nobody's going to hand over their books to you until they trust you. Or until somebody refers you. Did they trust? Because that trust kind of has a, it has the ability to rub off on a via a third party. 

MP: 22:24 Yeah. You know what's fantastic that you brought that up because I think that's often not discussed in terms of the sensitivity that people feel around money and, and a bookkeeper is dealing with people's money. And now if you're a bookkeeper or an accountant, let's say in a large corporation, stop their money, right? It's different, right? This is a small business and small business, very close to the revenues, very close to the wallet of the, of the owner. So, you have to deal with all these money issues. So building that trust in that relationship is incredibly important, which is a long game. And so yeah, I've met people that have said, oh, you know, I tried BNI and it wasn't successful. And usually, when I ask what happened, it's because they, they didn't stay in it long enough. It's not a short term game. It's a long term game. And so let's talk a little bit about how to be successful inside of a BNI because I would imagine that not every group is the same and you've got to, you know, maybe date a little bit, a few different groups to find people that you connect with. But I'd love to hear your take on this.

DIM: 23:34 Yeah, absolutely. Let's see. I think you do need to look around and, and, and find a group that is a good fit for you, that, that you like the people, these are people that you could see yourself doing business with and referring. You know, if you, if you go to a group, any group, any networking group and you don't feel comfortable with the, with the majority of the people there, then that's not the place you want to be. So it definitely starts there. Now let's say you find a group that, and you know when you find one don't blink. You know when you when you're at a group and you go, I like these people. I think I could work with these people then pull the trigger and, and, and participate and join and then really actively participate. You have to be fully engaged in the process. One of the first things I recommend that people do is do effective one to ones with every single member. 

DIM: 24:24 A, you're talking about BNI specifically, every single member of the BNI chapter. So, and you can do one on one a week and if you're in a 40 member chapter, it's gonna take you a year. It's gonna take you a year and by the time you've hit all the 40 people that were in the chapter, then there are probably two or three new people, four or five, six new people in the group. So you're going to have to do them. It'll take you the better part of a year for you to do these ones to ones. Now the one to ones needs to be very focused. They can't be, you know, then the purpose of the one to ones are not just to socialize. All those socializing is part of the relationship-building process, but they should also be focused. I have a process in BNI, it's, it's out of a book I wrote called the business by referral and it's called the gains exchange. 

DIM: 25:09 And this is what I recommend that people do when they do to one, the one to one, they exchange their game's information. And that's an acronym. It stands for goals, accomplishments, interests, networks and skills, goals, accomplishments, interest networks and skills. So what happens is you sit down and I tell you what my goal is, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills are preferably in writing. I give it to you and you did the same for me. Now, where the value of this is that the truth is it's the overlapping areas of interest where we make a connection. And when you make a connection, that's where you start to build a relationship. And when you build that relationship, that's when you start passing referrals. So the, the purpose of a gains exchange is to find connections. And if you do that with everyone in the group, you're really going deep and building relationships quicker. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful. It has to both be wide and deep in places. 

MP: 26:11 Yeah. Fantastic. I absolutely love the Gaines philosophy and something to as a listener to write down and actually come up with those gains for yourself and use them anywhere in life. Quite frankly. We actually, inside of our community, we talk about the seven secrets of marketing your bookkeeping business and one of the secrets is definitely being involved. We call it networking, but the main game here is, is definitely be an I. And we have such amazing success stories from our, our members and, and uh, customers all over the world. We're talking like, uh, you know, filling up their entire dance card just from working inside of a, a BNI. Now, one of the other things that we say is don't put all your eggs in one basket. I don't want Ken fat across, but this is definitely one of the big baskets. You want to have your gain for sure. 

MP: 27:03 And we actually have a whole bunch of resources and tools that we provide for what are some of the things you should talk about? How can you, you know, get inside of a conversation with people, you know, these meetings that you're talking about, how those meetings should run. So what I'll do Ivan on this and for the listeners, if you go in and get into the community and all of our free resources and bonuses, we'll put a copy of that so people can get access to that. And I'll make sure we write up that gains a bit as well as all the links to your books in different things that you've talked about today because there's been some real, real valuable stuff that you've, you've given us so far. I do want to ask a few more questions and I know we're sure we're getting a little long here, but, um, it's when I have a person that's giving so many value bombs, I'm going to start to tear up. 

MP: 27:52 If you, if you, if we have to end it, you know, what, what can people do in terms of, you know, assessing the group, like you said, like they go in and they and they are a little bit, maybe they don't feel comfortable or uh, they do feel comfortable. What, what do you see, like when a person comes in, what should they be looking for when they walk in through that door? You talked about body language before. What have you seen that has been this great environment for a great group?

DIM: 28:15 So I would say four things and I'll give you all foreign touch on them a little deeper. The quality of the group, the quantity of the members, the engagement of the members and the stories they tell. Those are the four things that will tell me whether this is a good group or not. 

DIM: 28:40 First, because with quality are they quality business professionals and you can, you can get a sense of that fairly quickly by having a conversation. Certainly a couple of meetings. You have a sense of how good these people are at what they do. A from hearing other people, cause one of the things in BNI that we do is people give testimonials about each other. And so when you're hearing really strong testimonials, that's good. The number of people. Look, if you're in a room of 16 people, you're just not going to generate a lot of business. There's a concept, I call it a squared connection effect, where 16 people actually have 256 connections, 16 by 16 and so I call it the squared connection effect. Uh, but here's something interesting. 32 people have something like 1,054 connections. Wow. So when you double your size, you quadruple the connections that you got amongst one another. 

DIM: 29:32 So you really want to look for a group that's, I would recommend at least 25 to 30 members if you can find a chapter of 40 or 50 members and it, and it clicks off on the first cylinder that they're quality. Now they're a decent size and they're highly engaged, really engaged in the meeting and the chapter on what's going on and listen to the stories they tell, listen to what they have to say about the program and how it's impacted them both personally and professionally. Those are the four things that tell me whether it's a great group and those are the four things I tell groups to do to be great.

MP: 30:10 Yeah, makes total sense. 

DIM: 30:18 You know, I think this episode so far has just been really fantastic and educational to have people be inspired to, to go and to check this out and to make this a part of what they do. Now, there's one thing I have noticed about bookkeepers is in working with, I mean hundreds and hundreds of them all over the world is that you know, they might be a little hesitant to do some things that are new or, or outside of their comfort zone. Like one of the things is in our program, we offer to coach and it's like, you know, Jeez that no one was booking a call with me. And I was like, I started reaching out and I said, you know, why, why, you know, this is part of the program and it's for you. And it's like, well, I was just afraid. I didn't know what it would be like. 

DIM: 31:00 I didn't know I was uncertain. And so I did a lot of work to figure out, you know, to make them feel comfortable and safe and, and all that so that they would take, take upon these, this valuable resource. I think people that are listening might think, oh, I want to do this, but they're afraid. How can we set them up to feel empowered to go to that first meeting or to reach out and, and, and, uh, go onto your website and, and go and get involved in this? What, some, some ideas. It is a great, great point. So first let me address it conceptually and then let me give everyone a suggestion. Um, there's an old Chinese proverb and I love this proverb it. So when's the best time to plant an oak tree? And the answer is 25 years ago. The second part of it is when's the next best time? 

DIM: 31:54 And the answer is today. So what happens is I see a lot of people who haven't done what they, they, they've come to the recognition that they probably should have been doing these things and they haven't. And so release yourself from that anxiety recognizing that you haven't done it is really the first step. And so the second step is to do it and that means you need to go out and actually start doing the things that we're talking about here. Just us. Just listening to us is only the first step. You recognize the issue. Now you have to do something about it. My advice would be either talk to another bookkeeper friend that you have that you know, might not feel like they're competition to you cause maybe they're a little further or talk to us someone you really trust and ask them about a local BNI chapter or you mentioned other groups. 

DIM: 32:47 Chambers can be excellent service clubs like rotary lions quantity. Ask people you know and trust about networks that they belong to and go visit. Don't make a decision to join. Just go visit and assess the group based on what I was talking about. So first step, you got to make this decision and you've got to do it today. The second step if you make that decision is to do it by referral. Don't just wing it. You can go to our website [inaudible] dot com but I recommend you talk to somebody. The best way to join a network is, oh my goodness, what a great idea by referral.

MP: 33:10 Beautiful. Thank you so much. And you know, as you're speaking, I, I, I started to think of one of the massive benefits of doing something like this is that we're, you know, our community is all about building a successful bookkeeping business. 

MP: 33:38 One that you love, one that you have fun in, one that you make really great money doing. And I, a lot of people out there, uh, that are listening are probably busy, right? They're busy with work. They have, you know, probably know enough clients, they're busy, but they're not making enough money. They're not charging enough and their business isn't really growing. And the reason I think that that's happening is a lot of the times people are just taking all the business that comes their way, whatever way that it comes. And it's kind of, you know, if you do bookkeeping and someone finds out you're good, they'll refer your business. The ID here. The big opportunity here is to get out of those safe harbors and go out and find great other great business people that have connector that are connected to great other businesses that can be fantastic clients that can create demand on your business that then enables you and empowers you to raise up the rates that you charge and the value that that comes more in line with the value that you have to offer and it will naturally propel you forward where you have a better business and a more holistic business. 

MP: 34:42 And I would say that there's no better place than to do this out there. And great community groups, you listed a number of them, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, but BNI really, I mean across the board, it is highly recommended by all of our, the community managers. So many community members. It really is a great opportunity and that's why today's episode for sure has been just an absolute pleasure because you've given so many value bombs that I just, uh, we're going to get this transcribed and put that as well up onto the website. Cause there are so many great nuggets that you've given people today.

DIM: 35:05 Well, Michael, thank you, I really appreciate that. Um, I think one of the most important things I've learned in the last 32 years of running the world's largest business networking organization is that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. 

DIM: 35:35 That it's about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. That's what really, really makes it work. And if your listeners would like to see more about what I write about, they can go to my blog and Ivan meisner.com that's Iva, n Mizener m I s n e r Ivan meisner.com. Literally been, it's 10 years I've been blogging. So there's lots of content up there, uh, at Ivan meisner.com all free stuff. And of course, Bni.com so thank you, Michael.

MP: 35:55 Excellent. Been a real pleasure. As I mentioned, we're going to have, if you're on your iPhone or your smartphone or wherever you're at listening to this, just click on the link below and you will go directly to all the links that Ivan has shared with us today. And so you can access his website and the different books that he's been talking about. 

MP: 36:27 This is a real opportunity and I really encourage everyone listening to take this on, embrace this and you will reap the rewards. Speaking from a farming perspective, it's been excellent having you on the show today and uh, we hope to have you someday in the future. We'll invite you back to have more value bombs. I'm sure you've got hundreds and thousands of more of them. I've got a few more and I have found a video we talked about, it was a from BNI Torino in Italy. There are no words spoken. I'll send you the link, I think if you like sliding doors, you'll love that video.

DIM: 37:00 Thank you. That's excellent. Thank you so much.

MP: 37:10 That wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and what a great guest he's been and access all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP26: Melissa Lenos - How To Create A Great Workplace Culture

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Bad hires.

If you're a bookkeeping business owner, you've probably had one of those.

They can be painful and toxic for many reasons including the damage they can inflict on your workplace culture.

Our guest today, Melissa Lenos of King Accounting Solutions, knows what it's like to hire poorly.

She's done it before, but she is wiser now and will share her lessons learned to help you avoid the same mistakes.

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

  • Why you should consider looking for your ideal employee 6 months in advance

  • Why you must hire based on the job candidate's skills AND personality

  • The importance of having consistent staff communication and being available for support

To learn more about Melissa, visit here.

To access our HR job ad template and other goodies mentioned in this episode, sign up for our free resources.


Michael Palmer: 01:28 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host Michael Palmer and today I am joined by a woman who is the owner of King Accounting and a current pure bookkeeping licensee. In 2010 she decided to put her dream of becoming a chartered accountant on hold to do the really important work by helping companies with their bookkeeping needs and she's done that ever since. Welcome to the successful bookkeeper podcast, Melissa Lenos. 

Melissa Lenos: 01:58 Thank you for having me. 

MP: 02:00 Yes, and I just want to say it's a, it's awesome to have you because I know you are an advocate for business owners across Canada, not just in your local community or close geographic area, but you actually help owners all over the country, which I think is awesome. 

ML: 02:19 Yes, I go, so I'm in the Edmonton area and I go all through Alberta as well into Ontario, BC, Saskatchewan, and now the northwest territories. 

MP: 02:28 And I wouldn't be surprised if you started getting clients from North America based on all over North America based on the work that you're doing. So it's awesome. And I'd like to talk about that today and let's start off with telling us a little bit about your business journey up to this point where you are today.

ML: 02:45 For sure. So I started with going to college and doing administration and starting at an s e a firm and they seemed something a little bit different in me. So they actually put me through a number, the CA prerequisite courses here in Edmonton at Nate. And with that information, I was able to go and do taxes, do the audit. So I have actually all my tax and audit hours to get my ca, I guess it's called a CPA. Now. From that point, I worked really closely with one of the partners and he was retiring and so I decided to go a different direction and go into the bookkeeping world. So what he and I did was he gave me the bookkeeping clients that wanted a little bit cheaper of a bill and a little bit more information last month or on a quarterly basis. And so I started doing the bookkeeping for some of his clients, giving him a clean year-end that he could then send out statements and tax returns with very little work internally. So he ended up making a better profit with a lower bill. The client ended up having about the same bill between the two of us, but they were getting quarterly or monthly prepared income statements and balance sheets so that they could grow their business as well. And that's Kinda where I built it up from. And from me being doing it by myself to now I have four employees, three, two part-time and two full time. 

MP: 04:13 Wow. Fantastic. And so I am really curious what, what were some of the benefits that you took from your experiences that you brought into your bookkeeping business? 

ML: 04:24 Oh, from a CA firm. So definitely know what the accountants are looking for. So we don't give them a binder of stuff that they need to look through. They get a pdf of everything that they need. So I know that they need the last month's bank statement or visa statement or whatever it might be. So all of that is pdf for them. So every single item on the balance sheet has a backup so that they're not looking to see why it doesn't match. We've already done that for them. So it's saving them quite a ton of money because our rate, of course, is significantly less than a ca firm. And then the CAS can do what they should be doing, which is the tax planning and the forward tax planning. 

MP: 05:04 Right? And now you say you charge less, but I know that you have a very solid rate and in fact, your rates probably double what the rate most bookkeepers are charging. Talk a little bit about that now. I don't necessarily want you to share the empty, intimate details of your business, but share your philosophy around that. 

ML: 05:26 So what I did when I first started my bookkeeping business is I took what my rate was when I worked in the CPA firm and divided in half. So that was the rate that was being charged out for me. So I started my bookkeeping business charging $65 an hour for bookkeeping. And once I started hiring some employees, of course, the $65 an hour is a little harder to make the profit margins that I was hoping to make. So I actually moved all but my controller type clients to $80 an hour. Wow. That's where they're all at now. 

MP: 06:00 Wow, that's, that's fantastic. And thank you for sharing that. I, I didn't, uh, I think it's very generous of you to share some of the intimate details of your business, but I think it's really valuable and you know, for the listeners right now, this should be a signal that there is room to move up, enters a very important reason to, to get your rates up. Whether you do value pricing or you do just hourly pricing, it doesn't matter. It's the fact is that the service that you provide is extremely valuable. So do you want to talk to a little bit about that, Melissa? 

ML: 06:35 Yeah, so I think a lot of us as bookkeepers and what I moved from 65 to 80 I had a really hard time because I'm like, am I going to lose clients? Are they going to be upset? Are they going to understand? And it's having the confidence of realizing that you know you are worth $80 an hour or maybe it's moving from 30 to 60 whatever it might be. Right. It's understanding that what your doing for that client is helping them grow and when they see that, like almost 90% of my clients said you're totally worth it. Yep. No problem. Start charging like $80 an hour as of today. And I had no issue. I lost a few. But those are the few that didn't need or didn't see the value in the bookkeeping cause it's not just bookkeeping, it's actually paying attention to those numbers and helping them grow.

MP: 07:25 Beautiful. Beautiful. 

MP: 07:35 Now you have clients all over the country. How does, how did that happen? 

ML: 07:42 Uh, it's actually completely through referrals from accountants, hundred percent I don't advertise, I don't try and get business in, in different provinces or different cities. It's all through accountants and worth of accountants are all over the place, so it's easy to get the work in different areas as long as you're willing to travel. Lots of it, I do remotely, like Ontario, I only go once a year just to do your ens, but other than that, I can do everything remotely have, we have such a great ability with it nowadays to be able to do things all over. And so I've been able to grow that business and grow myself as well by being in different parts of the world. Right. Being in just Edmonton, it's a lot of oil fields, whereas now it was Ontario. I get some mining and northwest territories, it rentals and that kind of thing. So it's very interesting. 

MP: 08:37 Yeah. Fantastic. Now with the accountants, you know, you talked about you've got lots of experience with accountants and you charge less than what an accountant would charge. Talk a little bit about the relationship you have with them and why they see you as valuable to them? 

ML: 08:57 Yeah, so I find that the best, one of my best ways of getting work is actually dealing with the accountants. So if I have a client that I've gotten, say from another client referrals, so I don't know their accountant, I made sure that when I send in here and a couple of weeks later I check in and just ask them that when they're done year-end, can we ask the don't have a coffee and maybe we can start referring to each other for other clients. And they're all receptive to that because we give a package that makes it easy for them. It decreases the amount they're writing off. So maybe they do church the same or a little bit more than they did last year, but they're not writing off any other time because the files coming in clean. 

MP: 09:37 Mm. So really it's, you're showing a lot of value to them and they respect you back with giving their time and they get a lot out of what you've prepared for them. So it's a healthy relationship. What would be your advice, uh, to people that have never worked with accountants? Where should they start? 

ML: 09:57 Start with one of your best clients that loves you and get them to do an introduction for you. If you're a little bit scared to try and do that, introduction yourself and get the client to go to their accountant and say, you know, I'd really like you to meet my bookkeeper. These are the things that I love about her at or him and maybe you guys can start a relationship where she can start doing more bookkeeping for you. 

MP: 10:22 Beautiful. Absolutely great advice. And we have a whole bunch of content that we give to our community for free inside of the successful bookkeeper community. So if you, you know, at the end of the show we'll give the link and all of that information so the listeners can get access to that to help them start those conversations and build a similar relationship with accountants that you've done. Uh, Melissa, you know, for you in your journey, what have been the things that have gotten in your way? 

ML: 10:54 Not Hiring the right people is definitely one of the hard things. Not Making sure like I'm on a cleanup job. Make sure that you're charging ahead of time because I've done a couple of cleanup jobs now that I didn't charge ahead of time. And the, you take a look at the bank statement and you're like, oh yeah, they have money, but by the time they get you the last bank statement, they don't have any money and you're on the hook. Right? They've got the information they need to get their filings done, but you're not getting paid because they have no money. So definitely one of those things would be pre-charge for cleanups. 

MP: 11:30 Pre-Charge for cleanups as a golden one. And there's an interesting thing about those cleanup stories because you're not the first one to have that problem. In fact, it's, you know, I've worked with bookkeepers from uh, Europe, Australia, United States, Canada, and we were talking, we're getting into the thousands now and everybody's been barred at some point by the cleanup. And it, you know, from a psychological standpoint, people that have problems, typically we'll be problems. I mean it's just the way there's a high likelihood, it's like going to the casino, right? There's a high likelihood you're walking out with no money. That's just the way they work otherwise, otherwise, there wouldn't be a casino. Um, so, you know, go into it with eyes wide open, which is what you're saying. And I think the theme and the feedback are no, that if there's a problem, you want to protect yourself because there's likely going to be a problem. Uh, it's just how they transact. So it's a great first, first one. What else have you struggled with? 

ML: 12:28 Definitely not hiring the right employee and making sure that they are taking care of your clients the right way. One story that I can kind of give you is I had someone that was going to a client and the client, I would send them the client a bill. They'd send a message back, you know, two or three minutes later, please put through my visa. So in my opinion, everything's all good. Great. You're paying your bills. So there's, there's nothing that I've seen that's wrong. Well, I let go of the employee, I go to do the bookkeeping there and she's like, yeah, I was really unhappy with her. So make sure you're touching base, not just with the bill but with the communication to all your clients. Made sure you're, you're doing that at least one touch a year, if not every quarter or every six months, depending on the client rate. If they're not, you don't see them very often. It's a little less than you're touching base with them, but touch base that you may sure that they're happy things are being done that are supposed to be done in the, and the timing of how much work there is and how much you're actually billing.

MP: 13:40 Makes Sense. I think that's an area that could be very risky because when people are hiring staff, you know, you're hiring them to help yourself, right? Help Your Business, help yourself get out of, you know, whatever amount of workload that you have. So you could risk looking at the staff like, oh, they're here, I'm happy. I just want it to work out. You know, it's almost like if you could call it happy ears or happy eyes, like I'm only gonna see the things that are good because it's, it's helping me. But you actually asked those questions and were willing to hear the unhappy information, which you had power now to do something about it. Did you ever struggle with, you know, worrying about what might happen if, if you lost your staff or, or if you lost a client? Well, how did you deal with that? 

ML: 14:33 So I've done both. I've had both happen. I lost a very, very large client of mine. Like it was, you know, five to $10,000 a month client due to the oil field industry. And they chose to go with an internal controller for their companies, which they offer to me. But I was trying to grow a business so it didn't make sense for me to take a full-time CFO position. So I lost that client. And when I first lost it, it was like, oh my goodness, what am I going to do? But you know what? Things happen for a reason. And I am a true believer of that. And when I lost that client, I had a disability to help my employees grow because I had a little bit more time. And I also had the ability to go and spend more time networking with business people in my community as well as networking with accountants. And I've replaced all that income within six months. 

MP: 15:30 Wow. Wow. 

ML: 15:31 Yeah. Yeah. And on the employee side, I fought with myself to let an employee go because I thought, how are we going to take all the work that she had? Get it done still. But you know what, when you take out the negativity and your business, cause that was my problem was there was a negativity issue. Everyone just piles together and gets the work done. And the change in the attitudes made it so that all the work got done that much quicker because everyone was happy. So as hard as it might be that you're losing that, you know, 40 hours a week of help, or maybe it's only 20 hours a week help, it does make a difference to make sure the culture in your business is good. 

MP: 16:22 Mm. And how do you make sure that your culture is good? What are some of the things you do to either keep the culture or create the culture? 

ML: 16:35 Um, so I'm, I think a fairly, um, nice boss, but if your work's not getting done, that's not okay. So we've added a bunch of policies and procedures in place, which we didn't have before, which has helped as well as just being available to all the employees for any question. We've made it because we work everywhere and we work at clients and we work at the office in the city and we work. I also have an office inside my house for all of us because we work all over the place. We don't always touch base physically all the time. So we implemented a daily email that all of us send out an email when we first start our day, let everyone know where we're at, what we're doing. And then we try to always be together on Fridays to work one day a week together. And it's really helped the culture. 

MP: 17:28 Very cool. So you're, you're doing that by just texting people or emailing. How does, how does it work functionally? 

ML: 17:37 Well, we all send out an email first thing in the morning to let them, everyone else knows where we are and what we're working on because there's always that chance that somebody is working on something and that client sent an email with some more information. So bye. As a touching base and saying what client we're working on today, it's solving a lot of issues where the person that's doing the work isn't emailing the client for the information that's sitting in my email. So it's just always touching base, always having those touchpoints. And I'm always available whether I'm on vacation or I'm at a client by employees, always know that they can call text or email for help. 

MP: 18:16 That's great. And do you, so you use tax? What, what, what way do you find, because it sounds like you have a high level of communication, which is, I mean that's a starting point of culture, right? If you're not communicating, there's not going to be much that will be a culture of no communication. What technology or things do you find or are most effective for you? 

ML: 18:36 So we use email of course, cause that's easy. We all have iPhones. So we do Imessages with the group texting. Of course, we also have a program that's called Brain, which is through Microsoft. Um, and I think they just changed their name to Skype, the Skype app. So we're able to message each other as long as we're on the computer at any time. Um, so and then the phones of course. So we have multiple abilities to touch base, which is awesome. 

MP: 19:05 That's great. Excellent. So your staff, so you've hired staff. How have you been able to hire good people into your business? 

ML: 19:16 Pure bookkeeping HR has definitely helped 100%. Um, prior to being a licensee. The one employee I have, and I don't suggest this because it's not the best way to do it, but it worked out really well for me. I was at a client where I was the controller and I decided to leave because I wasn't okay with some of the things that were happening. And the girl that I trained to replace me called me about six months later and said, I don't agree with what I'm having to do. I'm leaving. So I heard her 

ML: 19:49 right on and excellent 

ML: 19:52 trader and I knew her abilities. So it worked really well for me. It's probably not the way most people want to hire because you don't want to be stealing people from clients or prior clients, but a, in this case, it worked out well. Um, but indeed is a glory to the website to use to put your ad out, um, because it has that ability to send messages out and you can get them to answer a couple of questions. Like, I require my employees to have a vehicle and, um, a driver's license because we're all over the Edmonton area, which means driving to dream valley or white court or whatever it might be. So that's one of the questions. So if they can't say yes to that, then I'm not wasting my time looking at adding a resume. 

MP: 20:37 Beautiful. So tell, talk a little bit about the pure bookkeeping HR program. How have you used it to improve your business? 

ML: 20:46 The exams like to I hired before pure bookkeeping, I hired a lady that she used to own a business, did her own bookkeeping. She told me in the interview, she interviewed really well with fantastic. She sits down in the office with me cause I usually spend a couple of weeks with them in the office with me not going to clients. And I'm like, okay, here's the bank statements. I need you to do this bank rec. And it's one of those I pick the clients that I know are super like they only use their bank account for business. They only use the bank account to pay for things. So it's an easy file. Right. And she sat there for about 10 minutes staring at the screen and I said, do you not know how to do a banker? She's like, no, I never did that. I always had my bookkeeper do that. Oh Wow. And it was like, but you said you did your own bookkeeping. Well, I put everything together and then I sent it to the bookkeeper and I'm like, you know, this isn't going to work. Right. Give me the name of your bookkeeper, maybe I can hire her. 

MP: 21:51 Wow. Well, you were lucky that it didn't cost you. What do you think the cost of that higher costs you? 

ML: 21:58 Okay. You know, a few hours of my time, which of course it's very, very limited time. Right. The thing that we all run out of, but um, it could've been way worse. 

MP: 22:09 Absolutely.

ML: 22:11 And that's, that's, you count myself lucky and I do an exam for all of my hires prior to Pure Bookkeeping. After I hired that person, I had actually created a QuickBooks and a person had to come in and do a few things and I had fake bank statements and whatever to see how that they did. But now that I have Pure Bookkeeping, I don't need to develop that myself.

MP: 22:41 That's right. You know, it's interesting. People talk about skill and character, right? You hire for character versus skill. What would you say about that? 

ML: 22:50 You definitely want them to be able to fit into your culture because you don't want problems internally where people can't communicate or this person doesn't like working with this person or that person doesn't like working with that person. So definitely has something to do with character and their ability to be personable within your own group. But skill is super important. And I would say 75 skill and 25% being able to be in your culture. And I wouldn't hire because of the skill I would hire because both of them work together. 

MP: 23:26 Yeah. But the really great point, right? A man, you can do personality tests till you're blue in the face, but if the person doesn't know what they're doing, that's not going to work either. And you could train them. But really the training cost is going to be extremely high. Why not try and find someone who both has the skill and the character and that's what the jewel and crown that you're kind of looking for. 

ML: 23:47 Yeah. So I started looking a good six months prior to meeting someone. 

MP: 23:52 Nice. 

ML: 23:53 You can find that perfect person. 

MP: 23:55 Very cool. Very cool. So in terms of where your business is going, what's next for you? 

ML: 24:03 Well, I actually just hired an HR specialist, so I'm finding more and more clients that I have need HR help, but they don't need someone in their full time just like they need bookkeeping but they don't need someone in there full time. So I just jumped off the wedge and hired an HR specialist. So she's on with me part-time and she's doing memos on stat holidays and what the requirements are and policies and onboarding and all kinds of things. So that's the new, the new direction and added scope of your accounting solution. 

MP: 24:42 Love it. That's so fantastic. You can feed both businesses with the uh, the added solution. 

ML: 24:49 Yes. So we just added a trading name and we're going with king business solutions. So beautiful new things happening. 

MP: 24:58 Exciting. Well, you are one of those people I think of often around just being a true entrepreneur and a true service to small business owners and the ones that have you are lucky to have you.

ML: 25:10 I got to say. Yeah. It's fantastic to have worked with you and be working with you. 

MP: 25:17 Thank you. I, you know, I love what I do and I love being able to help clients. It never was about the money, it was about being able to help them during the year instead of after the year. So, 

MP: 25:27 Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, you know what, let's end on three business success tips that you would give to our listeners. I look like I needed to provide you that. Oh, it's so much better when you don't have time. When it's a, when it's a surprise and we don't do it that often, but I think a, you're probably come up with some goals right out of the gate. 

ML: 25:50 Um, uh, find a way to network inside your community. Um, I use, uh, BNI. It's fantastic and it's a great way to grow relationships business-wise and personal and be able to be part of your community. You always want to be a part of the community and be able to give back. The other thing is giving back. So I volunteer for personal tax season for old age homes as well. This year, I'm actually doing the cross cancer clinic as it's very close to my heart as my mom passed from cancer. So giving back to the community is huge and just keep your values, your business will grow because people hear about you. I was never part of the chamber and I decided in December to be part of the chamber here. I'm a Duke. And the first comment I had when I walked in was, I've heard so much about you, I've heard so much about you. And I talked to people and they're like, oh, I heard about you at the chamber. And I'm like, I'm not even heard of the chamber. But having your values in and working and doing your business based on your values will help you grow your business. 

MP: 26:59 Really, really valuable. See Melissa, it's all there. You don't need to prepare for anything. Those are extremely valuable. And I will say that we have some really cool free complimentary resources that will help people, the listeners with the success tips that you gave. So there's some really cool scripts around networking and hiring and all sorts of good stuff inside of our complimentary free, if you will, Successful Bookkeeper community portal where we have all sorts of resources and you can get that. If you go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and sign up, you'll get access to that instantly and as a kind of a bonus for this. For this episode, what I'm going to do is I'm going to put one of the ads that we use inside of our hiring system. I'm going to post that up and give that away for free so people can have a look at how we start to open up and invite people to actually be a potential employee of one of our licensee bookkeeping firms, so will be a little gift. I'll add to this episode. If you go to this specific episode in the portal, you'll find that Melissa, you have been great. Let's tell people if they want to find out more about you or get in touch with you or perhaps we have entrepreneurs or business owners listening to this podcast. If we do actually have, which is, which surprised me, but uh, how can they get in touch with you? 

ML: 28:25 Uh, well we're just doing an upgrade to the website as I don't use my website to grow my business. I haven't really done much with it. So it looks like an accounting function did only me, which it's not. So we're doing that upgrade right now, but you can find me@wwwkingaccounting.ca or you can send me an email at Melissa. That's m e l i s s a f King accounting.ca or my phone number is also always available. So, (780) 446-5901.

MP: 29:00 There you go. Awesome. We'll have all of that information at your likely driving or doing something right now listening to this. Don't put yourself at risk. You just go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and go to this episode. We'll have all of Melissa's contact information as well. Melissa is an avid contributor to The Successful Bookkeeper Facebook group, which is a private group that you can request access to. It's one of the benefits of joining our community is you get access to this community. You can interact with Melissa, ask her questions, and find her there and work with her on Facebook. So, Melissa, it's been great having you. Thank you for joining us and I wish you the best this year. 

ML: 29:43 Thank you very much, and I just wanted to put it out there to everyone. My tagline is, do what you do best and outsource the rest and just remember that out there. 

MP: 29:52 Awesome. Thank you, Melissa. Thank you. 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, goodbye.

EP25: Garry Carter - Bookkeepers Are More Valuable Than They Think

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Are you ready?

The time has come for you, the bookkeeper, to realize you're a truly valuable asset to small businesses.

The days of you thinking you're not a core piece are over because, without your expert knowledge and skills, your clients would be in serious financial distress.

According to our guest, Garry Carter, the co-founder of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), bookkeeping isn't a trade, it's a profession.

Many bookkeepers don't think that way.

That's unfortunate because you are a valuable professional.

The more you realize that, the more profit and impact you'll have.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Your number one thing that makes your business unique

  • Why your day-to-day client care is crucial to establishing trust and value

  • Why ICB is a powerful organization to support bookkeepers

To learn more about Garry, visit here.

For information on ICB, click this link.

To explore ICB USA, check it out here.


Michael Palmer: 01:19 Welcome to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer. And today I am joined with a very special guest who is speaking with us all the way from the United Kingdom. He is the co-founder of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, which is become the largest bookkeeping institute in the world. He's also the chief executive of the ICB and its unbreathable organization. I see be global. Gary Carter. Welcome to the podcast. 

Garry Carter: 01:47 Great. Hello. I'm really excited to be here. Very nice to speak to you. 

MP: 01:51 Yeah, it's a, our opportunity to have someone like yourself on the podcast and I know you've been inspiring, educating and powering bookkeepers all over the planet, so this is going to be awesome. 

GC: 02:05 Yeah, I'm fine. The bookkeeper's right across the planet have virtually the same sort of people. They have the same passion, the same vision, the same needs, and they're great people, good people to work with. 

MP: 02:18 Absolutely. We, we loved them and we actually think they're the backbone of small business around the world. So it makes our economy great and thrive, which helps feed families and create jobs. And, uh, it's always been a good time, but it's a great time to be a bookkeeper and doing the search work with all that's changing in the industry. But before we get into all of the knowledge that you have, can you first off share a little bit of your background and how you came to be the, the cofounder of the Institute of Certified bookkeepers?

GC: 02:54 Yeah, it's, well one originally was that I was a businessman. My wife and I ran small businesses, publishing businesses mainly and we always had great difficulty understanding our figures because neither of us has a financial background. Um, I'm what some people call laughingly an entrepreneur that basically I get strange ideas in the middle of the night and then go off and do them. And the role of the finance was something that happened along the way, not necessarily with any sort of planning. And as my business has started to grow and I realized occasionally running short of cash and uh, occasionally needing to grow and find more cash or a lot, borrow some money or something. I find it very difficult to know who to turn to for this advice. Uh, I tried to, banks obviously tried various firms of accountants and for most of the firms of accountants, we were probably too small to worry about at that stage. 

GC: 03:47 So all they wanted to do really was do our year-end stuff. But I wanted somebody that was gonna work with me on a daily, weekly basis. And, uh, my wife likes a lot of small businesses. She used to do that, but, uh, she couldn't help me run the business and do the books at the same time. It was very much a shared business. So we employed a bookkeeper, didn't know how to employ a bookkeeper. Somebody came in and basically, she knew how to spell it and uh, she told us she knew what she was doing and she made a complete mess of our books to the stage where we are quite a bit of money to attacks, man. We had to get that sorted out. A, at which point she sort of disappeared, never to be seen again. But meanwhile, my wife and I were so under the cost of attachment, so we thought this is just not right. 

GC: 04:35 We need to be able to find good bookkeepers as a small business person. And I spoke to a lot of small business organizations and we did prompt by this, we did a big survey about 5,000 small businesses. This is way back in 1995 I think it was. And the biggest problem that small businesses had was actually running their business. They knew how to make whatever it was they were making. They knew how to sell whatever it was they wanted to sell, but actually running a business, most of them have never done it before. I mean, I, I came from a corporate background where I had secretaries and administrators and office people helping me. I didn't really know what they did. They did a good job. But all of a sudden I was, I was doing the lot and it didn't work for me. So w we looked around to see what was available. And bookkeepers seem to be the obvious people to turn to, but how do you tell who's good, but people, they're all going to come to you and say they're the best thing that you know, since sliced bread as we say here in the UK. But how do you judge? So it was really with that in mind, and that's a sort of an oversimplification, but we set about with a group of [inaudible] use a business, people setting up the ICB to provide a standard, which reflected what a bookkeeper really needed to do. We see 

GC: 05:58 education, but to see the businesses that they were serving. And from that, we set up ICB. And once we started the ball rolling, we realized everybody felt the same. And we were very fortunate that as soon as we put our head above the powerboat, everybody said, wow, this is great. Why haven't you been here before? Great. We'll have one of your bookkeepers. And so that's it. Basically, that's where we came from.

MP: 06:15 Wow. And how long now have you been operating, uh, around the world?  

GC: 06:29 Well, the company has existed for 20 years. Our first foray outside the United Kingdom was 10 years ago when we moved to Australia. And since then we've expanded. We're now in 132 countries now. That sounds fantastic, to be honest. In some of those countries, in fact, in a lot of those countries, we've got one or two members that have found us on the web. But we do now have nine offices and we have agents in a lot of those countries. So it's growing on a daily basis, thankfully. But as I said, when we first started, whichever country you go to, everybody has a good story to tell you about a bookkeeper or a bad story and they all want bookkeepers to be part of that business is very important. 

MP: 07:14 Absolutely, absolutely. Well, that's remarkable and remarkable growth in terms of being in all of those countries and doing this work. Now you worked with thousands of bookkeepers around the world and of the successful ones, what do you see that they have in common? 

GC: 07:36 I hope you don't mind me saying this and they almost get some sort of weird pleasure from seeing a set of books work. They just love books. They love accounts and they seem to look at it in a different way to how an accountant looks at it. We have a friend of ours who actually is also a member. It is one of our trainers. He writes books and he says that the accountants and bookkeepers use different sides of the brain and accountants are very much from the creative side of the brain whereas bookkeepers use the mobile thoughtful side of the brain that makes them sound a little bit boring. But you give the bookkeeper a set of books and they will try and find where every single dollar cents has gone. A center's gone and you know it. Sometimes the vuln almost, you know, they, they get very excited about this. 

GC: 08:30 And I was crossing the Philippines recently where we have a very large organization and I was surrounded by the sea of Filipino bookkeepers and they have competitions with each other, uh, to, to figure out who could do the best set of books. And it's amazing what they all want to do. And in the UK here we have a lot of bookings that we have about 60 different meetup groups around our country. Not a very big country, but that 60 meetup groups. And I'd go and talk to them a lot of time, a lot of all the time and meet up with them. And it doesn't matter where you go, where you are, it's almost as if you're talking to exactly the same group. They get very excited when they tell you about their latest client that's just walk through the door with a set of books and a mess and how have they sorted that mess out? And they'd put them back onto a piece of software or a, you know, onto whatever it is they're doing. And, um, they just get some enjoyment out of it, which I think is great. They love their job. 

MP: 09:43 That's beautiful. And it's a really interesting analysis of really around the different mindsets between the accountants and the bookkeepers. And I've never thought of it that way, but I certainly have noticed working with bookkeepers as well, from different parts of the world. They're very much the same, very much have similar challenges, very much have that similar way of thinking. And Sir, it's, it's actually funny cause I'm not that type. So when I put, if I send an email or if there's a document or anything like that, it's like I better have that the, you know, the I's dotted and the cs cross cause they're going to notice. It's amazing. Yeah. And we need that. We need that type of skillset in business because as entrepreneurs, their customer is often not like that at all. 

GC: 10:29 Yeah. I mean the analogy I've used ever since day one really is of the doctor and the nurse, you know, the doctor is the accountant. Uh, they go in, they do a very important job. They decide what's wrong, they need, they tell you what's gonna be cut out or what's got to be repaired or something or other. But the nurses, the person who gives the day to day customer care, they look after the patient. And really that's what a bookkeeper does. You know, most of our bookkeepers work with firms of Accountants, CPAs, chartered accountants or whatever. And it's not an either-or. For most businesses, they need different skills. But you know, again, going back to the analogy of the doctor and the nurse, if somebody comes out of the hospital and they say, well how was it? They always say, oh, the nurses were wonderful. And that's what businesses said about their bookkeepers. 

GC: 11:17 Because I think the way compliance accounting works, it's very much a year-end focus and then looking forward to the next five, 10 years and planning. But there's so much more to running a business that is the day in our, at the weekend, whatever it might be. You know, the cash walking in the cash flow is a constant concern for a lot of small businesses. Knowing where the next new customers coming from, how to keep their current customers happy and everything else. You know, it's, it's, it's a constant. And I think also if you look at most micro and small businesses, the normally the entire family is involved, you know, it's not just husband or wife, it goes off to work and comes home and says, you know, hello dear, I'm home. It doesn't happen like that. And I know from running my own small businesses with, with two grown children, you know, our Sunday lunch tables, we're a constant board meeting almost, you know, and that's how small businesses run and you need somebody on your side batting at your wicked to understand your business, get under the skin of what you're doing. And that's a good bookkeeper. 

MP: 12:28 Absolutely right. And I love that it's a, a person. How did, what was his standing at your wicked? I guess that would be the person, uh, in cricket, uh, managing the, managing the overall, uh, intricacies of the game. It's a great, great analogy. And I actually watched a video of yours online and I really liked what you were saying around, uh, the difference between accountants and bookkeepers and that that Sim, it wasn't the nurse analogy, but it was a similar message in that bookkeepers are such an important piece of the business owners business. Now how can you have more bookkeepers? Because there are a lot of bookkeepers who actually don't think like that. They think it's just a job, you know, do the books, whatever, and they're not that important, you know? And, and even the marketplace in some way doesn't look at it that way. What's your advice for bookkeepers to lift up that, that perception and lift up their own per value perception in the market? 

GC: 13:27 It's not an easy message to get across. I have to say bookkeepers for many years have been pushed into the background because of the prevalence of accountants and big accounting firms, et cetera. And you know, as an outsider, it looks almost as if accountants are the only people that can get involved. But once you get to know about bookkeepers and what they do, and that's different. And each year at our conferences right there around the world, but we have, we have a big conference with about 12 1300 bookkeepers in the UK every year in London. And I say to them, look, look at your business. What is the one thing that your business has that no other business has? And they look at you with a blank look and I say it's you. You are what makes your business unique. And you have to realize just how important you are to these businesses. 

GC: 14:19 And then I talk about some of the things that I've just spoken to you about. You know you'll get the impression I'm very passionate about this. It's just that it's a complete reliance upon me. The diligence, the effort, the trust of a bookkeeper. And you know, if an accountant makes an error, it can be sorted, et cetera. Bookkeeper's different, you know, they've really got to get things right every single time they do something. It's not numb, it's not a percentage game if you've got to do it all the time. And I, and I think that's important, so I just say to appreciate what it is that you're doing for small businesses. Look at the work you're taking off the shoulders of that guy and letting that, that man or that woman go out and just have no concerns about their books. They can just go straight out and I can sell that product harder. They can make more money to bring into the business so that you can look after it and make it look after their family. They could look after their whole future.

GC: 15:27 It's not always a popular theory, but the problem I think has historically been that a lot of bookkeepers are women and they have been undervalued in the workplace for many, many years. And I like to think that it be, we, we've, we've changed all that 74% of our members build us, and we built them up to feel really important. But each year we run the National Sorority, global, uh, bookkeeping. Can we get everybody right away around the world celebrating bookkeeping? And we have a special morning, the Wednesday, they're in the middle of that, that we, which raises a cup of Dan, and we get everybody to raise a cup of coffee to bookkeepers and bookkeeping. And it's difficult to see, to know exactly how many people are getting involved, but it's certainly in the hundreds of thousands. But something that came home to me here in the UK, I had a lady came into our offices because we have a coffee morning in our offices and we all raised a couple of mid-day and said, you know, cheers to bookkeepers and bookkeeping. 

GC: 16:36 And this lady sat next to me and she said, uh, my family comes from India. I'm the fourth generation bookkeeper in my family, but I'm the first generation that has been allowed to admit that I'm a bookkeeper. And what she explained was that her mother, grandmother and great grandmother have all been bookkeepers, but they've looked after the books for the businesses that were run by her grandfather and her uncles. And various other things. And in the evening the men used to hide the books in bags, take them home so that the women could do the books. Then in the morning, get them back into the business before anybody realized that the books had been taken out. And that was for two reasons. Firstly, they didn't want people to know that their wives had done the books because it would bring shame to their family. Can you imagine that Tom Believer warm because a woman should not have a career and a man would allow his business to be run by a woman? And I, I sat there and I said, seriously? And she said, yeah. And in some countries around the world and it's still the case. Yeah, it can. No, I can imagine. So that was an amazing story. 

GC: 18:07 Daddy's no longer the case. I mean, I think people can be bookkeepers and they can hold their heads up and you know, they're making good careers, very, very successful businesses. And what used to be a cottage industry with, you know, a man or a woman working by themselves, looking after two of three 23 whatever clients. We now have members right away around the world who've got quite growing businesses. We're 2030 even 40 bookkeepers, all as part of a, of a High Street office servicing all sorts of companies. And it's fantastic to see it. I'm really pleased. I like to think that, you know, [inaudible] has done its, its fair share of making that happen. 

MP: 18:49 Absolutely. You know, through education and empowering people to do that. They take risks they may not have taken. And I think that's the power of, of any association in any industry. If you have a good association, it's a place where you go and you really own yourself, your industry, and, and that's what builds momentum. So I'm sure the annual conferences and things you do throughout the year contribute to that. And we were big supporters of associations. In fact, the listeners, if you're listening right now, you need to look for an association. And I know we're going to get into an apricot, some questions about, uh, in particular, ICB North America. Cause that's a, a very, probably a very growing, uh, association for the United States. We have a lot of listeners from the United States, but uh, it's really great to hear and certainly amazing when you hear that story of that woman that this is the first generation that they're able to admit that they are the bookkeeper. 

MP: 19:46 And I'm sure you're having a big impact on countries that aren't as, as much a develops as some of the first world countries like the UK and Canada and the United States, Australia, but India and the Philippines. And it's certainly needed. Now from your opinion, there's this conversation of trusted advisors in North America. That's a bit, you know, it's almost a slogan, but I, I'm wondering what your take is on how you see bookkeepers becoming that trusted advisor. And we talked a little bit about it versus that, you know, just the data entry or document collection specialist.

GC: 20:28 I think technology and particularly artificial intelligence will continually take away a lot of the, what I call mundane work of, of any professional, but particularly bookkeepers and accountants. It will make life easier. It will make it look better, it'll make it faster to do, but then that relieves our bookkeepers of all the time they've spent doing that and the stuff that took a lot of time in which to try and really never understood why it took so long. And it gives them a challenge therefore to take the figures that are being prepared and instead of just presenting the figures, analyzing the figures, because it's all very well giving a client a set of books and saying, hey we are, this is how well you've done. That's just a very early step in the process as far as I'm concerned because what they then want to know is, okay, but what do they mean? 

GC: 21:24 And most small businesses are run by people who don't know what a set of accounts means. You know, there's an old guy, a new chair that if you've got money in the bank and that equals profit. And if you haven't got a bracket around it, everything must be okay. So we know that that isn't the case. And therefore I think the bookkeeper can step up to the plate to use another analogy, but an American one, hopefully, to say, this is your business as it is now, what exactly is it you want to do? Have you thought of, you know, expanding? Are you going to stay where you are? Are you going to sell up? Are you going to leave it for your kids? And they can start the thought process that may eventually be taken over by a firm of accountants or other advisors. But it's got to be an ongoing process. 

GC: 22:10 So our bookkeepers already have a very close relationship with those clients. So they've already got a trust. They know each other, they know each other well. And to be honest, when a bookkeeper's done your books for a couple of years, they know every in and out of your business. They know, they know your clients, they know who you're paying, who pays you. So they've got that business, they know what it's about. So it's the next logical step to say, okay, now I can talk to you about what you could be doing better or what you should be doing differently. Or do you realize you could save 10% here if you did that differently? And I, I just think it's so much a logical step now to become trusted advisors and in fact in a lot of people doing, talking at the moment about becoming a trusted advisor, et Cetera, and making a lot of money standing up in front of rooms and people telling them how to do this, et cetera. But I really think bookkeepers have probably been doing this for many, many years. It's just the, perhaps it's a little more formalized now. I don't know what you think, but who better to do this? 

MP: 23:20 Well, I think you're absolutely right. And I think it's that behavioral characteristic of the bookkeeper that you mentioned earlier, right? They love to find the problems, fix it, and they, and they actually like to tell you about it too. And so it would have been natural that bookkeepers would have been trying even to, to communicate with owners. How about the things that they finding, but I think in the past perhaps in the communication would have been a breakdown because entrepreneurs don't necessarily want to hear all of the intricate details of those problems. So what I think is shifting is that there's a lot of education, a lot of conversation around speaking in a language that an entrepreneur or business owner that's happened maybe a little bit of a different character from the mindset perspective and, and have your communication land and so you're absolutely right. They have been advisors, the ones, the owners that really got that, they are the ones that probably flourished. 

MP: 24:21 It's like they have this person that's got their back, that's I, you know, stepped up the plate and as I wait, wait for a second, this person is trying to help me be more successful. So it, and there is a big, is a big conversation and it's one that I think is a great conversation, but certainly, they're the ones that have been doing it. And with a few tweaks, I think we'll, it'll only continue and solidify their place in the industry and in business as being essential to your business and that's where we're, what I get really excited about and like yourself being able to contribute to that in some way through those podcasts is to have them be the a, I think we use them, the guardians of their profit, the guardians of their financial books and to really own that so that they can set the owner free to do the great things that they were meant to do in their business. 

GC: 25:11 Yeah, I mean I take the things you've got to realize that most entrepreneurs do not want to be told that business isn't doing very well or they're doing seniors differently. It's like telling them their kids are ugly. That's right. But if you've got a relationship already with that client and providing that relationship as a good relationship, you can open up avenues of discussion which are not open to other people who drive up into the office and sit opposite the desk and have a chat with somebody on a one-off basis. You've got a hands-on approach, you're part of the team, you're part of the family. In many cases, you know that that's what it's about. Now, I'm not suggesting that all bookkeepers are ready to take this on without some sort of help. A lot of bookkeepers still today I suppose we'll say. Well, that's not really my place to say that. 

GC: 26:03 Well, what we're saying is, but yes it is. You know, it is definitely your place to say this because you're the only one who can say this. You're the only one that has a complete understanding of that person's business. And part of what ICB has always done is, first of all, we, we have entry by examination only. So you don't get in unless you do some form of examination, whether it's uh, uh, studying from day one with no understanding of bookkeeping and you sit as a whole range of exams or you come in and you say, right, I've been a bookkeeper for 20 years. We say great roofing, take an exam, you know, take a test. So we know that everybody reaches out the standard and our standard is pretty high. We have a very high pass mark requirement and you know, that's the start. Then we have a code of ethics and the code of ethics is also pretty restrictive. 

GC: 26:58 We want to make sure, for example, they don't go beyond their understanding or their qualification. They can't venture into areas where they have got no expertise because that would be bad for their clients. That would be bad for them. It would be bad for our institute's reputation. They need to be of high morals and very ethical in everything they do. You know this, this is a very trusted position and Lawanna. One of the things that we as, as ICB has been saying for the last 20 years is bookkeeping is not a trade. This is a profession. This is the same as being a chartered accountant or a lawyer or anything else because of the trust that's placed in you, the knowledge that you have to have and the ability you have to 

GC: 27:44 make your business successful or completely ruin it. If you get things wrong, you have to be professional.

MP: 27: 50 Beautiful. It's fantastic.

MP: 27:58 Yeah. and that's a great segue into talking about your, I think, what's relatively news ICB North America. What, when did, when did you launch in the United States? 

GC: 28:09 Uh, we launched about 18 months ago, very much a soft launch. Uh, we were very lucky right from day wall to have John Hager with us. Um, we went across to the states because although we were over here in England, a lot of people, well contacting those are having trainers on the web and saying, look, we want something like this in the u s that there are alternatives. We are with a Bouchet that in the US already. But we like what you're saying, we like your upfront message about bookkeeping business standards and becoming part of a community. And they wanted to join our organization. And we said, okay, that's fine, but really we ought to do something in America so that you become part of an American group of, of ICD bookkeepers. And, and that's what we did. So when we came across, first of all, and uh, we told America talking to various colleges and companies, meetup groups kept coming up over and over again. 

GC: 29:11 So we spoke to Jan and said, yeah, this is the woman for us. So she has been taken on to too head up our push into the US it's very early days yet, you know, we have a thousand or so members, which is minuscule, but it's growing nicely. Uh, we'd rather take a thousand good people than 10,000 not so good people. So you know, we're a bit restrictive on what we do, but we've been really, really well supported by all of the software companies. They have a different reason for existing. Of course, they just want to sell less software. But actually what we're finding right away around the world is that what they're saying is, well look, we'd like some sort of independent verification of us as a software product and as a software vendor and therefore we'd like some of our users, the better ones to get into membership with you. 

GC: 30:08 So, you know, they've been very helpful. And I, I mean, I love America, my family and I holiday there are a lot, we've got family, limps over in America and you're just so positive. You know, we, we Brits talk about the weather all the time and the weather is never particularly good or over there peer. So, you know, it's usually a wet day or something rather. Um, you come to America and there's always a candle attitude and you just feel it running through your veins. When you, when you're in America and you're talking to business people, they are so excited about what they've got. They want to tell you about their business. And, and this is what I find with the bookkeepers. You know, they, they, they were so pleased, ease that they were looking after American businesses and they were, you know, making America what it is they were there. And as you said earlier, the backbone of the American economy and a, it's really exciting stuff. Uh, as I say, small at the moment we're growing, but, um, you know, we, we've got very, very big plans for America. 

MP: 31:13 I bet. And I, I can see you doing very well down, down in America. You know, the economy seems to be getting better just in terms of what is there. It's a very large country, lots of different people, lots of different thought processes. And I think to bring it together in a, in a, an organization such as yours will be fantastic. And we'll certainly you say her name again, that's heading it up.

GC: 31:37 It's Dan Waco. Hello. How 

MP: 31:39 Jen? Yeah. So what, we'd love to have her on the, on the podcast as well at some 0.02 what she's doing down there and tell us a little bit about what's the best way for our listeners to get more information. Um, go ahead and share that. If you've got any kind of promotions on or anything like that, we'd love to hear about it and the listeners can take action from there. 

GC: 32:02 Yeah, ICB USA is the website. It'll give you all of the information. Jan is spending a lot of her time adapting a lot of the stuff that we've got right the way around the world and turning it into American. But the point about our organization is we have a very strong local focus. The Global is just the umbrella over the top. And what we want in each of the countries we're in it for the local bookkeepers to feel comfortable that we are dealing with their local needs. And, and not saying, you know, we're not a British organization that's coming in here and saying, hey you, you can do whatever. Like as long as it's British, 

GC: 32:40 that's not what we do. We're saying, right, let's get the American people together, let them run their own organization, make it part of a global group so that, you know, we can talk to our members. We've got members up in Canada, we've got members in Brazil, Mexico, goodness knows that. But then also in the UK, I mean we are big trading partners with the US of course. So if you're in the US and you're a member of ACB, you can talk to your fellow ICB members in ICB UK. And it's just this feeling of being part of something big and global and realizing that you're not the only person that thinks this way and works this way. But you have to imagine there is that England is by the side of Florida. So you know you are a big country.

MP: 33:20 Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know what I, I would say that the fact that you operate in so many countries, so many offices around the world, what you are experts in is providing an environment for the collaboration of people. 

MP: 33:42 And so that's what I think is exciting for the community here in North America is bringing that, that expertise and not to say that yeah, if you, the way that bookkeeping is done in the UK and the United States and what people need here versus over there is very different. But I like the model that you've set up and it's, it's exciting and we're so excited to have you on the show. I'm sure it's going to be very informative because you know, getting the word out there is what the stage you're at now is really getting the word out to the bookkeepers. And a lot of them is listening.

GC: 34:10 Yeah. I mean, we were talking off-air before that you've now got a 22-month-old child though of the way in ICB USA. And I think you were saying that your child was going through a slightly difficult period at the moment. 

GC: 34:30 Well, we know we're going to have, um, those as well with ICB and it's not going to be all systems go, go, go wise. But the feedback that we're getting from everybody at the moment is just, wow, this is good. This is what we want. We want to be involved, we want to help. How do we get involved? You know, what is it that I can do for you to help ICD going on in this country? And you know, we're, we're welcoming them with open arms because I mean, when we started 20 years ago in the UK, uh, yeah, bookkeeping hadn't been a particularly well-recognized profession for about 30 years. And as a few people said, well, our bookkeepers, accountants, you know, and then we went through this whole educational thing and we starting to move it forward. But the first year, I think we registered the band 300 or so in the first year, but by the end of year five we were up to 10,000 so you know, it can happen and that's what we're talking about. 

GC: 35:37 Everybody's happy to reach out the standard and sing from the same hymn sheet, then I think we're on a winner. And um, I'd love to think that America could potentially be one of our biggest operations because, uh, you know, you're a big country, but um, you're a big-hearted country. You know, you're very keen on trade and commerce and that's, that's, that's just exactly what we're about.

MP: 35:50 Beautiful. Well, Gary, it has been an incredible pleasure. We hope to have you back and, and other members of your team back on the show at some point, but thank you very much for being on the show.

GC: 36:05 My pleasure and thank you very much for inviting me. So I hope to speak to you when, when we reach our 10,000 members in America.

MP: 36:20 Absolutely. When we'll do our best to help you get there.

GC: 36:30 Great. Thank you.

MP: 36: 35 Awesome Jeff. But that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what a great episode it was to learn more about today's guests and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP24: Mike Michalowicz - Become A Profit Advisor, Not Just A Bookkeeper

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher

Do you know what a lion looks like?

You probably do.

Your brain automatically creates an image that needs no explanation.

Unfortunately, when you introduce yourself as a bookkeeper, people automatically have a mental picture of someone who does data entry, collects receipts and so on.

If you're trying to set yourself apart, your label has to change.

Our guest, Mike Michalowicz, who is the author of books such as Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, can help you stand out.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Why becoming a profit advisor is more attractive to potential clients than just being a bookkeeper

  • Why you should learn the envelope banking system then teach it to your customers for their financial health

  • How you can use the power of Parkinson's law to help you and your clients' businesses

To learn about Mike, visit http://www.mikemichalowicz.com/.

To find more about the revised edition of his book, Profit First read here.

To download his white paper, How Bookkeepers Can Position Their Business To Get More Clients, click here.

To access more great tools to help your bookkeeping business, sign up for our free resources below.


Michael Palmer: 01:22 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's guest is Mike Michalowicz, and if you need pronunciation, you can go to his website and actually click a button and he will pronounce it for you, which is awesome. He's the entrepreneur behind three multimillion-dollar companies and the author of several books, surge profit. First, the pumpkin plan and the toilet paper entrepreneur, which is this week actually called the entrepreneurs called classic. So today's guests, I mean is incredibly accomplished from an entrepreneurial standpoint. He's globally recognized as an entrepreneurial advocate and formerly a small business consultant for the Wall Street Journal and host of the business make-over segment on MSNBC is your business. Welcome to the show, Mike.

Mike Michalowicz: 02:10 Michael, it's a pleasure to be here, so thank you for having me.

MP: 02:27 Yeah, I actually heard of you quite a long time ago from my brother in law, Ron, who was absolutely raving about the pumpkin plan. 

MM: 02:35 Yes, he just loved it.

MP: 02:45 And actually, he, he's a very good storyteller. So I think I've read the book through Ron and just the concept of really developing your key strategies. You know, like when you're growing a pumpkin. I mean, it's a beautiful metaphor for business development and actually any kind of planning I would say. So, uh, he, like, he loves you, he loves your work. And so I've just started now listening to profit first and on audio and I got to say, Mike, I absolutely love it and I encourage all the to listen to Mike 

MP: 03:00 on Audio and I'll tell you why because he actually sounds like he's in your car seat beside you. It's like not the stuffy, you're not that stuffy. Uh, reading this book, it's like you've taken aside. Okay. Let me tell you something that it's not in the book yet. I love it. It's so fun.

MM: 03:20 Thank you. Thank you. Well, if Ron's listening first a shout out to Ron for, for spreading the word. I appreciate that. And I, I actually just re-read private first. So, uh, I'm rereleasing it on February 21st actually, um, through penguin books. So I revised and expanded the book. So I just finished rereading it on Friday of last week. And the same thing. I, I like when an author reads something, but it's conversational. I want to feel the energy. And I also like it when some authors do this, Gary Vaynerchuk famously does this when he breaks from a straight read of his book and says, let me tell you why I wrote that chapter, or let me tell you a new insight that came out after the book. 

MM: 03:58 So this new release of profit first I have even more of that stuff because now I have all of these success stories I've come in. And so I started sharing the stories.

MP: 04:10 Beautiful. Those got to test stick and you're absolutely right. It really does give a different feel to it. And I think the retention level for the listener goes way up.

MM: 04:25 Yeah, I think so. I hope so. Yeah.

MP: 04:30 So Mike, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to getting to this point. For our listeners who have not heard anything and this is their first time being introduced to you.

MM: 04:40 Sure. Well, you read out the Bio and uh, I love lovingly call that a CV or the curriculum vitae, but I have a different use of the acronym. I truly believe a CV stands for covers vomit because, uh, because most of, uh, of my entrepreneur endeavors have been gross and disgusting and some of you don't want to talk about. 

MM: 04:49 And, and I think it's true for most people, but we hear the bullet points and they're like, oh my God, you know, sold three companies and you know, multi multimedia. It sounds so great. Well, I, all those things happened. I sold a company to a fortune 500. I've sold a business to private equity. I've, I've been involved in roll-ups, I've raised capital, but that, that's like one flash of a moment out of years of panic and problem actually decades. So those businesses, I grew and essentially sold, never made money. I was so growth-oriented and so stressed out about housing and cover payroll. And they were, I was saved by someone who thought they could fix the mistakes I've made. In retrospect, I see that. And um, what happens after I sold my second company, I felt in belief or in love with this concept of, oh, grow fast and sell, be growth-oriented. 

MM: 05:43 And the profit really is when you sell your business or profit happens when that big client swoops in. I always thought it was a future event. So I tried to replicate it. And my third try was as an angel investor, I started at 10 companies and it was a business, an abysmal failure. I was an abysmal failure and lost all my money and basically lost my mind. I went into depression and just, that's the vomit. But the most important part of I thinks of my entrepreneur endeavors because for me in awoken, me too, there's got to be a better way. That surviving check by check is extraordinarily stressful and it doesn't need to be that way. And I sat on a mission to, and this is, you know, my mission now is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. And first, you know, patients in this mission was me. 

MM: 06:33 I'm like, I gotta fix my own challenges. And now I'm trying to roll it out on a, on a large scale, there's, I think there are 125 million businesses in the world. I think there's about 80 to 90 million that are surviving, check by check, like literally do not know how to pay their bills next week. So, uh, I started a program profit versus the book that you mentioned. I've also started a program around it that empowers bookkeepers to cause bookkeepers are the front line, you know, they, they work with the entrepreneurs to start guiding entrepreneurs profitability, but in a way that naturally supports the entrepreneurs so they don't have to change who they are so they can become profitable just following the same habits that they already have. So that's my mission. That's what I'm doing. 

MP: 07:17 Yeah. That's awesome. And you know, we have the same mission at Pure Bookkeeping specifically for bookkeepers, but myself personally, I think that's why I love your work so far and love listening to your audio is that I believe in the small business entrepreneur. I believe it's what those are the people that make our countries great and the more we can do to help them be great and have the money they need, the more they're going to do that for their families in the communities that they live at. So they know it's, it's June 30 Internet like hug you. MM: 07:45 Yes, I'm the Internet. Huh.

MP: 07:55 Um, and so, you know, the minute I actually got to say like your, you, you, you mentioned it a little bit there, but your white sheet or white paper or a little one page on how bookkeepers can position their business to get more clients is awesome and it's so short. 

MP: 08:11 It's so impactful. It's so powerful. I loved it. And that was, you know, I downloaded that and I'm like, Dave, get Mike on the show. So for listeners, you have to download this. You're going to go to our website, you'll get the link. And of course, I'm sure Mike, you'll give us a link at the end there as well. But let's talk a little bit about that because what I have to say, what I really loved about it is all of the experience that you've had over the past five or six years, maybe it's more now and embedded in that one page. Yeah. 

MM: 08:40 Thank you. I, yeah, I think there's 10 or 11. I actually don't have it sitting in front of me, but I know exactly what you're talking about. I, you know, I think one unique perspective that I came from as we were writing that document as I was preparing it was I've hired a lot of bookkeepers in my life for my businesses. One is an angel investor. I think I've worked with 10 or 15 different bookkeepers. And one of the big Ahas that I had was that we need, bookkeepers need to be different. And quite frankly, this is true for any industry you're in, but particularly bookkeepers, when I asked someone what they do and a book he responds says, well, I'm a bookkeeper. They instantly put themselves, when I call it a generic box, it's a, it's like if I say the word elephant, the people listening, we can't help but picture an elephant in our mind and we can try and resist as much as we want. 

MM: 09:36 But we see an elephant. And the reason is our minds do these pictorial associations with words. It's the easiest form of memory is called pneumonic memory. And it's the easiest form of memory. And what it allows us to do is to shortcut the requirement for any future knowledge. Meaning if I say elephant, I don't need to say it's a big animal with four legs, a long trunk, kind of like a nose. Like Oh, they explain it, you know, whether it is. So it expedites communication tremendously. So it's a great convenience tool in communication. But we as bookkeepers, we fall into traps. When I approached them and said, what do you do? They say, my bookkeeper in my mind pops up. A bookkeeper, you know, is person clicking and clacking away at the keyboard, writing some checks out, uh, preparing an accounts payable list. And when that picture draws my mind, my mind sees every bookkeeper the same. 

MM: 10:26 Every time you say the word bookkeeper or elephant, the same elephant pops my mind, the same bookkeeper. So the problem is now I see in my mind that all bookkeepers are the same. So if you approach me and say you're a bookkeeper, my mind says up, don't use anything else. I know what you do. And you can go on saying, listen, I've worked with very complicated clients that require inventory management, so forth. I've uh, I have these credentials and this background and experience that really is applicable to your needs. And in my mind, I'm like a bookkeeper's a bookkeeper cause the picture popped up. So one of the principals and I perhaps arguably one of the most important is to change the label you use when you present yourself. Because we don't want to fall in that generic box. The example, and believe it or not, this is all, but this is just one of the 10 things on there. 

MM: 11:17 I already have one paragraph, but I'm giving the long explanation. Now if I approach you, say, what do you do? And you say, for example, I'm a profit adviser, the client will be stunned. Kind of like a deer in headlights for a second. And that's the reaction you want because that means the client can't identify you with a generic label. They can't say, oh, it's just another bookkeeper. And the response it will inevitably trigger is they all say what? What's the profit adviser? And if you hear those words, I am telling you, you are sitting on top of the golden opportunity because that means the client doesn't recognize what you do and therefore they need you to define it. And that's where you stand out and point out your credentials and you say, I'm a private advisor, which means I have specialized skills and driving profitability. I have a mechanism that'll help you drive profit in your business. I've always credentials and so forth. And then you wrap it up like this. You say, and by the way, I leverage all of my bookkeeping knowledge. I have all the abilities of a bookkeeper, but all bookkeepers have that ability. And what we're doing basically is pushing away the generic labeled bookkeepers and saying, I'm different. And it all gets triggered by coming up with a new unique label. 

MP: 12:35 That's fantastic. And really I love the fact that it's so, it's so simple for people to do and it's something that most bookkeepers are not thinking about because they're bookkeepers. They're not. This is, I mean, what you're talking about is, you know, these are positioning strategies that a lot of people have spent a lot of time thinking about and working on and this stuff works. Yeah, it, you know, Mike, the thing I was thinking about as you were speaking, is with the, their customer. Their customer is a small business owner, small business entrepreneur, however, you'd like to call it. And I personally have come across a lot of these people. I work with lots of different entrepreneurs and business owners and I loved them and me, you know, I grew up surrounded by small business owners. In fact, every single person in my family at some point is has owned a small business and oh, cool. Yeah. Unfortunately not too great success because of my opinion, they didn't hire a great bookkeeper. 

MM: 13:40 They try to do it themselves. Yeah, I, you know what I am with you 110% the problem you, I always try to look from the customer's perspective and I've seen that over and over again. Why don't they hire a great bookkeeper and because they feel it's unnecessary. Because bookkeeping's easy because my software does it automatically. And the problem then is not there is a truly ours because we're missing opportunities to really care for clients. So yeah, they're gonna lose that. Their business may go under, even if they mismanage it that that much, but they're missing out on someone that can actually help elevate their business. Someone that can bring them to the next level. So that again points to the client who says, I don't need a bookkeeper. The bookkeepers who say there, and I just use profited visors because that's what we tell our bookkeeper members to do. 

MM: 14:28 But you could pick anything as long as it resonates with you, meaning your abilities. And it's a, it sounds like a distinct technical term. Like, don't ever say I'm the queen of bookkeeping. That's a, that's a marketing gimmick. It's gotta be a technical term. But what happens is if you lead with that unique title you've assigned yourself, now you can acknowledge the customer, you what you're right. You don't need a bookkeeper that's too rudimentary. But let me tell you what we are going to do to drive your business forward and assure it's, you know, in this case, profitability. And then point back to, and I do use and I'm very well versed in all the bookkeeping processes and skills, but you really don't need a bookkeeper. And you know when, when we fly fight someone and say, you know, you really need to hire a bookkeeper. 

MM: 15:13 You really don't know what you're doing with your business. It triggers a defense mechanism. It's like, you know, someone comes to me and says, Oh God, you really don't know how to address Michael, like, what's going on with you? Like instantly, like who, who are you? You're offending me. But if you are looking for something specific and say, you know what, I really need someone who can help me color match ties. I don't just come to you and say you don't know how to dress. I say, you know, I'm in color match specialist. So I talked to the thing that you see you need and I happen to address the underlying stuff that you also need, but you aren't aware of you. You really do at the sell to the want of the customer. Not Argue it because they'll, they'll fight back. It's a natural self-defense but services their want and their need. 

MP: 16:02 Hmm. Absolutely. And uh, you know, just that reframing of what you do right out of the gate I think is, is fantastic. So Mike, the profit first, talk a little bit about profit first. Cause there's what I, I mean I could probably, I'm guessing, have about a whole year's worth of episodes with you alone. Um, just with your knowledge and the different books that you've written and you know, I'm going to probably beg you again in the future to come back and talk about other books that you're, that you're going to write, I'm sure, but some of your past ones too are great, but right now profit first really is a big focus from my interpretation of what's going on online. Tell us about that book. I think it's really valuable not only for people to read for themselves, but I think as bookkeepers it's important because the methodology that you're teaching in that book is actually something that could be one of the tools in the tool belt of, uh, of, of our bookkeeping audience. 

MM: 17:02 Oh, I totally agree. I hope every bookkeeper considers using this system or a system like it, it doesn't have to be private first, but a system like this and when we say what is not and then how it turned into what is not is, um, it's not any more of those reports and traditional cash management. And the reason it's not that its because of myself and the vast majority of entrepreneurs I've interviewed and worked with over the years don't follow the rules of traditional cash management. Now, you know, kind of really playing this out is a, a, a good entrepreneur as defined by bookkeepers and appropriately so. By the way, it should be able to read a P and l cash flow statement, balance sheet, tie the numbers in, know your KPIs, know your budgets, a, know the ratios, like the operating cash ratio, the inventory turn no, all this stuff and assess it on a periodic basis, weekly, monthly at least, but ideally weekly. 

MM: 18:03 And you'll know exactly where you stand. And that's what we entrepreneurs are told to do. But then what we really do is we log into our bank account, uh, see what the bank balances. And based upon our balance, we're making decisions on how to run our business. We literally circumnavigate all these tools and reports that are in front of us and just log into our bank account and trust our gut. And it, it objectively fails us every single time. Not In it, not in the moment, but business after business that runs off of this bank balance accounting's how much is in my bank account usually burned through cash very quickly. So my question is why does this happen? And secondly, I believe that there's a great book called the power of habit by a guy named Charles Duhigg. I love that. I believe that if you have you read that book? 

MP: 18:52 I've, I've, I've read the book, I've actually spoken with Charles. He's a fantastic wow, wow. Phenomenal, phenomenal book. And one of the core arguments in there is you can't change your behavior. There's a kind of click world mentality cause it, you know, you see the trigger and you just start doing it. The entrepreneur logs in that bank account, they're on their pattern. You can't, can't stop it, but you can put guard rails around it to make in some cases a bad behavior, your best behavior. And that's what profit first is. It's a behavioral-based cash management system. And what that means is it allows the entrepreneur to continue to do what they always do, log into the bank account, Cesar balances, and then quote-unquote trust their gut. But the guard rails editor in place is, we use the envelope system. This is something that's, you know, it's everyone's family tree. 

MM: 19:43 At some point someone in your family uses the envelope system. In my case, my mother did it, so I had the first-hand experience with this. My mother worked at a local manufacturer would actually right down the road from where my office is now part-time. And when she'd come home, she cashes in her checks and then takes the cash and divide it up and put in different envelopes when envelopes had food and other envelope said, give back to the community. One was for the mortgage, you know, and, and she, my father is the same thing. They would divide the money up into these different envelopes. And then when my mom went food shopping, she would work with what was in the food envelope. And perhaps the most interesting part was she always had enough money for food. Now don't confuse that with having the same amount of money. 

MM: 20:26 She always had enough meaning when she arrived at the food store, that's when she opened the envelope and whatever's in there she'd work with and sometimes, of course, she was sick or worked overtime. So the money would vary the percentage she put it in there, but she'd work with what she has in business. The core principle profit first is setting up these envelopes. Now my case, we call them plates but set up these envelopes. You have the entrepreneur or yourself and I encourage every book you did for yourself first. If you're going authentically do this for a client, you must understand the system for yourself from practical experience. But you go to your clients, you're entrepreneurs, you haven't set up multiple accounts. And I mentioned in the new reverted or revised version of the book, there are five key accounts that we have to have, but one is, for example, to pay the taxes. 

MM: 21:10 You know, his year-end comes, the tax panic ensues and the entrepreneurs got dig money out of their wallets and they get Piaute owed at the bookkeeper. And the tax count and saying, why wasn't this prepared? I know the big business should be reserving the taxes on a regular basis on behalf of the entrepreneur. When the tax bills do, it pays the taxes. The owners, inevitably the last person to get paid, the best employee in the company is the owner. They work ridiculous hours. They, they will work through holidays. I'll sacrifice family. That's the definition of the best employee. We got to treat the honor that way. So we're gonna have an account for the owner's compensation. We set up another one for the profit itself. The profit and owner's comp is totally different. The owner's comp is for being an owner. Operator means you work inside your own business, but the profit is distributed to people who equity in a business. 

MM: 21:59 Equity meaning you took you the courage and took the risk to start a company and you own 50% or 100% that's the profit distribution. Just like if I own stock in a public company when the distribution comes out, that's not because I worked for GE. It's because I invested in GE. So profit and owner's comp are two different things. And another key account, of course, is the operating expenses. But what happens here Michael, is when money flows in say $1,000 of deposits come in, the first thing we do is we divide up that inbound deposit into its different percentages, these different envelopes and now when the money is in the owners, I'm sorry, the operating expense account instead of $1,000 check is going and being available to spend. Maybe it's only half of that means 50% of it, it's $500 and the initial adjustments kind of brutal people are like, oh my God, I, I didn't expect that. It's kind of an ice bucket challenge, kind of shivering pain. But the reality is that is the appropriate number for your company to run healthily. So just gives them a whole new perspective on profitability. 

MM: 23:08 You know, listening to profit first. Now it's like a light bulb went off and for me a long time ago, this is spoken, I guess maybe 15 years ago, there was a book I read and talked about doing similar to this. For just my personal finances. And I asked that very simple multiple bank accounts. One bank account is for paying all of the bills of life and it's all set up automatic every month. The right amount goes in there and it's just handled. And when I did that, the amount of that it was like, you know, uh, you know, a check would bounce or I would be like married or I can I use my debit card, we'll the rent check, you know, is there enough in there? And when I changed this, it was like, you know, that's handled. And then another bank account was my spending. It's like this is, I can use this to buy groceries, I can use it for, you know, fun or whatever. And I actually think there was another bank account that was for fun and for, uh, for actually, you know, food and utilities and stuff like that. 

MP: 24:13 Your 

MP: 24:13 system applies to business. And I've just never thought of it in a business sense before. And I guess it's because I've been trained, you know, to have a business degree and you know, I've had small businesses and it's always just one bank account. 

MM: 24:29 Yeah. It's always been that way. And um, I think that's the only thing that's unique about privately first. I, there's no, it's not like these are systems I just made up and said, you know, maybe this will work. These are tried and true systems. So the envelope system has been around ever since I think money's been around and there are other principals in there too. The pay yourself first principle, right, where you pay towards your retirement first. Like a 401k is a considered a pay yourself first system profit first has that component in it too. I think what makes it unique is just what you said. I, I think I'm the first guy said, oh, all those principals that work in our personal life work within our business, our personal business. 

MP: 25:08 Yeah. Never heard of like anybody talking about this from a business perspective. And that's what's refreshing is that there's a lot of businesses out there that that would benefit greatly from, from doing this. And I mean, we're one of them. Like we're just literally out of a conversation with my business partner about setting up these different accounts. And the first thing he was like, wait, I don't know if we need that many accounts, it's going to be expensive, you know? So talk a little bit about that. The maybe the resistance that people have to that kind of thinking. It's so, it's almost like this, we're, we're, we're um, what's that saying? We're penny-wise, pound-foolish, right? It's like that's going to cost us a dollar a month. And it's like, well, yeah, but if we don't do it, what's it costing us? 

MM: 25:56 Right, right. So actually talk about those, those arguments. I hear them all the time. You know, I've been speaking about profit first now for three years. I'm literally tomorrow morning taken off again and doing another keynote on profit first. And the most common resistance is exactly that. What if I need to have multiple accounts, it will cost me money. And fees. And the second most common thing I get is I can just do this on a spreadsheet so I can kind of address both those things. When it comes to the multiple accounts, first of all, you don't need to incur the fees. There's a lot of banks out there that don't incur fees. I've worked with everything with from capital one spark who's really impressive to the locals who we use as a local credit union and they're amazing, a no fees. They do get confused though. 

MM: 26:42 When I walked into the bank and say, I need to set up another account. They're like, Geez, you got 12 accounts now because private first there are five foundational accounts, but as your business develops over time and you really start, you leveraging the system, sometimes it makes sense to have more accounts so the fees don't let that deter you. They probably won't even incur. And if your bank says, you know, you can talk to the bank manager to say, listen, I want a store more money here. I want to save more money here by the need to use these multiple envelopes, these accounts that do it. Can you do something for me? And some banks jump right on that and make an adjustment accordingly. So do it. That small little effort, the returns are huge. The second part is I can just do it on a spreadsheet and when someone says that I get it, but then I respond to him and say, well, you know, you can do in your accounting system too. 

MM: 27:31 And how's that going? How's that serving you? And usually, they're silenced and say, well, I'm not profitable. Exactly. What we need to do is insert a system that works within our natural human behavior. We, if, if we log into our bank account to see our bank balance, that is the one spot I know you're going to go every single time. And therefore I need the accounts there. If, uh, if I said a spreadsheet, you can circumnavigate that. You just go right to the bank account, uh, and you avoid looking at the spreadsheet. So any kind of supplemental system, and I've tried them because I want it to do that has failed me every single time you gotta get the account set up. But there's, there's one last little tip as I've been doing this, I get invited back to some events saying, hey, you should come back next year, do a follow-up presentation. 

MM: 28:20 And now I've done so many of these. I start off by saying, who remembers me speaking on profit first? And you know, if it's the same attendees, all the hands go up. And I say, who? Honestly, honestly, who's doing it? And I have a room of say 200 maybe like five hands, 10 hands go up. And I used to get really frustrated. I'm like, I am telling you, I swear to God this will save your business. You'll have more profits than you ever imagined to just do it. I used to get upset thinking there's something wrong with people. And then I said, oh no, no, no. The issue is me, I'm teaching one last fundamental part wrong. And what it was was I would divulge the entire system, the elements we talked about today, and there's some more stuff. I would reveal all that stuff and put it on the table. 

MM: 29:03 And then I realized, uh, in the recent years that I'm asking people to do too much, it's like saying, Hey, I want to get in shape and I'm telling that person, you're gonna run a marathon starting today. Let's go. It's prone to failure. So the one last tip, and if you're working with your clients and why help them start achieving greater levels of profitability, don't do the entire thing that to get started, only do one piece. And that one piece has them set up only one new bank account at their current bank. They don't have to go to a new one, go to their current bank, set up one new account, and we're going to label it profit. And it can be a savings or a checking account that doesn't matter but label its profit. And then every time a deposit comes in, take 1% of that money and put it in the profit account. 

MM: 29:47 And what that means is if they get a deposit, say of $1,000 1% is 10 bucks, and if that client of yours can run a business off of $1,000 they can absolutely run their business off of $990 all we're doing is taking a small piece and no, they won't get rich and know their profits won't skyrocket starting that way, but what will skyrocket is their confidence. Once they see another envelope that starts accumulating money, they'll say, hey, maybe this is worth moving that profit percentage to two or three and over time, five and 10 and sometimes we have some people we're working with, you know, 2030 40% profitably. It's amazing, but the successful people start very slow, no longer raise the bar and say, I'm all in, you know, I'm gonna run that marathon. We're actually going to lower the bar and start very slowly just to win over your confidence in the system. 

MP: 30:45 Yeah, that's great. Great Advice. Starting with one thing is, is another one of the pieces out of Charles' book, the power of habit. It's focused on one habit and then other habits develop around that. So it's a, it's really cool. What I, well, I love to bake is, you know, you mentioned that or started to talk about it. This was huge, these are human behaviors around money and we have, you know, all sorts of weird emotions and thoughts about money. And we're in a small business. We are, it's more of a human that's running that small business when it's small. If it was a big business, I mean, you know, they're going to have people to run those spreadsheets, as you say. And their job is to make sure the spreadsheets managed and the accounts are managed. But as a small business, it's a reflection of you as an individual, as a human being. And so your system really starts to create new behaviors around money that force new habits and will out. The outcome is that businesses will be way more profitable. 

MM: 31:43 That's right. You know, it's funny. So I've studied there, the small businesses and uh, from, you know, revenue less than a hundred thousand. You know, the most common businesses, most businesses do under 250,000 annually by starting businesses all the way up to $50 million and did find you're right there, there's a transition as a certain point. A company is no longer managed by the owner or at least fiscally managed by the owner. But what happens is they start setting budgets. So it is spreadsheets as you suggested, but then the department heads, what do you do that they do? They spend their entire budget actually, you'll sometimes get that phone call saying, I have X, Y, Z budget. I need to spend it to get my budget again. And so what does large corporations are doing is the exact same principle. They set a number, they divide up into now instead of five or six accounts, they have to say 700 accounts. 

MM: 32:32 They just call them budgets. And those budgets are where they assigned to the employees of the business. But one of those accounts is a profit account. Those large companies are pre-allocating profit. They say we're running this at a 20% margin, the money comes in and gets allocated to our profit immediately. Yes, and a spreadsheet, but gets allocated to profit immediately. And then the employees are told you gotta work within a budget, you cannot go over and you better use it all because if you don't use it all, you've proven you don't need it. So it's, it's this very predetermined thing. And what happens in these businesses that we've been implementing profit first with that op-ex basically becomes a budget and it says here's your, instead of $1,000 deposit, here's your 500 bucks to run your business. And what I found is most businesses will actually use up all that money. 

MM: 33:17 But what's fascinating is they will get the same results with less money because it forces innovation. And if we've time, I just wanna share one more story about, yeah. Okay. This was kind of I think the most important part of profit first. One of the behavioral principles is called Parkinson's law and Parkinson's law states that our demand for a resource is dictated by its supply. Meaning the more available something is, the more we demand it. If I served you a very small plate of Sushi, like say two pieces of a roll of Sushi, chances are if you like Sushi, you'll eat both pieces. If I serve you a plate with 20 pieces of Sushi, chances are you're going to eat more than two because there's more available. You may not eat all 20 there's a certain point where it's just way too much, but you may eat six or 10 pieces, you'll, you'll eat more. 

MM: 34:08 And so that's Parkinson's law. The supply dictates our behavior, how much we consume the story when the share is about Apollo 13 it's one of my favorite stories cause it, it points to how even the smartest people in the world are simply human animals and live by this Parkinson's law behavior. Have you seen the movie Apollo 13, Michael?

MP: 34:30 I have. Yeah. It's a great movie.

MM: 34:40 Okay. It's a great movie. It's a real story as you know. And this is what happens in the pivotal scene. A, it's a calamity from the get-go. It's the space race between the US and Russia and the US launch up, uh, the Apollo 13, this capsule and the outer space to circumnavigate the moon, uh, and come back with whatever findings they have while they're up there. Uh, during this horrific, you know, disaster wrote, uh, trip. The biggest problem happens. 

MM: 35:01 They are using the moon's gravitational pull to launch back to earth and the oxygen filters on the capsule fail. Uh, literally the NASA had developed these filters that could take carbon dioxide, recycled it back into oxygen so the astronauts could breathe and live. They radioed down, I'm sure you'll remember the scene. They radioed down to Houston and say, Houston, we are losing our oxygen. We estimate 10 hours of oxygen's left, uh, before we die. And they had like 48 hours or something to return to earth. Next scene, you see the lead engineer of NASA walking into a room with a big cardboard box and there are these other engineers around the table. He takes the box and dumps it on the table and all the engineers look at it and he looks at him and says, we have to make oxygen filters within the next 10 hours out of this stuff. 

MM: 35:57 Do it, and they did. They literally made oxygen filters out of like tubes and duct tape and wire and like a toothbrush. It was the ultimate Macgyver scene and it happened. In reality, the message or lesson behind this though is extraordinary. NASA spent tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money to build the original oxygen filters and they worked. They worked until they failed. Then when NASA, the same engineers had no time. The 10 hours, no money because money was irrelevant to this point and just mix us supplies. They created an ocean filter that worked and I'm not saying they should've done that from the get-go. I realized they use some of the materials and stuff that was already up there, but they were able to fix it. The thing is, the lesson is they could've done something that was more stable, more reliable, more cheaply. They proved it from the get-go. 

MM: 36:54 But NASA, the engineering team was said, you have tens of millions of dollars in your budget, make oxygen filters, and they found a way to do it for tens of millions when they weren't given any resources. They found a way to do it. That's Parkinson's law. We become extraordinarily innovative when our back is against the wall. And so with profit first, when we allocate less money to the running of your business, your operating expenses, you will find the same results. You have to set the same standard for your business. The thing that will change according to Parkinson's law is you'll become extraordinarily more innovative. You have to find a new way. You have to break the industry rules because you have less money. So the greatest irony of all from profit first, now that we've collected literally hundreds of stories that we have documented thousands of emails and just outreaches to us, but hundreds of collected stories consistently. And this is what really opened my eyes. Businesses that allocate their profit first actually grow faster than their competitors consistently because they are forced to become innovative. And find more frugal ways to do things, more innovative, more industry, rural busting ways to do things. So profit first doesn't just make you more profitable. It seems to almost always facilitate better, stronger, faster. 

MP: 38:15 It's super exciting. I love it. And you know what I love about this conversation Mike, our listeners are going to be able to apply everything that you've talked about today and more when they read your book and consume all the information that you have. They're going to be able to apply it to their businesses and those businesses are going to grow faster than their competitors and they're going to have more money in their bank. They're going to be able to do the things they love to do in their lives and a whole bunch more because of this mentality. And they're going to be able to help be the profit guardians for their customers and help them do the same things. And maybe all their customers don't implement everything. But it's the philosophy and I mean we could live our whole lives by Parkinson's law. I mean it's, you know, you want to achieve something. Start thinking about Parkinson's law is, it's fantastic. So you know, it really, it's just the ripple effect that can happen here for our listeners. So I really want to just give you an opportunity to share, you know, how can people find out more about you? Where's the best place to start and start consuming the good work you do. 

MM: 39:22 Oh, thank you very much, Michael, for allowing me to do that. I, uh, and I agree, I, I see this as an upward spiral. It the change agents of financial health. I believe this world is truly bookkeepers. It's, we can serve entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, as you were saying, right in the beginning, entrepreneurs will serve their family, their friends, their employees, and it will perpetuate this. Uh, for me, if you, if you want more information on profit first, uh, you can just Google profit first. It's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, any bookstore at airports. But if you want to get a download you suggested it's on my personal website. It's Mikemichalowicz.com. Now a couple of things, It's brutally hard to spell. I actually sometimes still misspell my own name. So uh, here there are two ways to get to my website. If you go to Google and type in Mike, M, i, k, e and then space bar mic mic. By that point, Google will pop up the longest, most Polish name on the planet. That's me. I select that it brings you to my site and you can download it if you want to remember a domain. My nicknaming in high school was Mike Motorbike because it rhymed a, you can just go to Mikemotorbike.com that too will forge you to the website and all those resources up there plus a private first and all my other books. You can get free downloads of quite a few chapters from the website. 

MP: 40:44 And those, I have done that Mike and I gotta say those. Those blew my mind. The amount of value and the way the simplicity of it, it just makes it fantastic. I got to say, Mike, you're a very generous, very authentic person. People listening. Mike has to be in your top five of the people that you put on your, you know if you call them advisors, business advisors, Mike is maybe number one or two, right. I can't say enough about the work you do so it's fantastic. We love it and of course, we'll have links and everything at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com for people to go to and link right to your right their websites. Thank you so much, Mike. You know I just hate to have to end this because I personally, I'm a fan and I just have so many questions. I hope we'll have been able to have you back in the future to discuss other topics and you know you've got a whole bunch of stuff as I mentioned so but I do really want to thank you for being on the show. Thank you.

MM: 41:30 It was a real joy. Thanks for letting me share.

MP: 41:40 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 the successful bookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.