EP108: Roger Pierce – How To Stand Out With Content Marketing

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For busy business owners, writing blog articles is a hassle.

Writing business blogs can be time-consuming, expensive and tricky if you don’t know what small business owners want to read.

Our guest is one of Canada's top startup experts and he will help you get a fresh box of professionally written expert small business articles ready to post to your blog, newsletter, and social media channels.

Roger Pierce is passionate about helping people to start a small business. While creating and running 14 small businesses during the past 20 years, he learned first-hand what new business owners need to do to succeed.

Today, he focuses on one of his companies, BoxofBusinessBlogs.com which is used by bookkeepers and accountants to make their content marketing easier and more relevant.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • What is content marketing

  • How it will help your bookkeeping business

  • Different marketing strategies that can positively impact your profitability

To learn more about Roger Pierce, visit here.

To view a free article about finding your ideal client, read this.

For Roger’s Facebook page, click here.

For his LinkedIn page, go here.

For his Twitter page, discover here.

To learn more about Box of Business Blogs, explore here.

For the Box of Business Blogs Facebook page, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:14 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is one of Canada's top startup experts who has launched 14 businesses. Coauthored a book and trained thousands of entrepreneurs. He runs a content marketing agency, Pierce content marketing, which creates small business advice content for big brands including Scotia Bank, sage, Mastercard, and Rogers. Today our conversation will focus on his company box of business, blogs.com, which is used by bookkeepers and accountants to make their content marketing easier and more relevant. Roger Pierce, welcome to the podcast.

Roger Price: 01:58 Thank you so much, Michael. Nice to be here.

MP: 02:05 It's great to have you, you know, and we've known each other actually for a very long time and have some interwoven connectedness, uh, with one of our past guests, Mark Bowden, which is how we came to having a conversation to have you on the podcast, which I'm so excited about because I think what you have to share is going to be very valuable to our listeners.

RP: 02:22 I hope we can offer some insights and some helpful tips in terms of content marketing for sure.

MP: 02:27 Yes, absolutely. Now, Roger, before we get into all of those wonderful ideas, thoughts, and actions that our listeners can take, tell us a little bit about yourself and your career leading up to this point.

RP: 02:39 Absolutely. Thanks for the opportunity. Up until now, I have been a lifelong entrepreneur. I owned 14 small businesses, so I've never really had an honest job. Michael, I started my first business right out of school and now we're a businesses marketing and advertising. I went a trade show company, I own the billboard company. What else do we have? A media buying service and a couple of others in there. But around the year 2000, I got really involved with government contracts through one of my companies, a marketing agency at the time. And the government office asked us to put together a program to help a young entrepreneurs or help people learn more about entrepreneurship, how to start a business, what's involved, what are the costs, that kind of thing. And um, we put together this great little program called exploring entrepreneurship and basically involved going around to high schools, colleges and universities.

RP: 03:43 And we hired a bunch of speakers and trainers, set them up with laptops and projectors, I think slides back then and we gave presentations on what it's like to run a business and how to get started. Basically, there was a website too that backed up the whole thing, so a young person and graduating from high school or graduating from college or university could go out and find information about, hey, what's this career path called entrepreneurship? Because at the time there was a void. There was a lot of industry professionals out there talking about careers and nursing or trades or engineering or becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Those groups were well represented, but it wasn't anyone's thinking too much about entrepreneurship. So that led to a series of companies. I co-founded a company in 2003 called dislodge, which I sold to my partner back in 2011 biz launch was a small business training company.

RP: 04:36 I think you and I met sometime around that period to Michael and we provided small business training and seminars and webinars for small business owners, so it included a 30-hour course someone could take if they wanted to start a business. We also offered 90 minutes seminars and webinars on specific small business topics. Towards the end of that time at this launch we got into content marketing, some of our sponsors of the training programs like visa and bell said, Hey, could you guys do some articles for our website? We'd love to share your expertise with our audience. And we said, of course. And we took their money and we made articles and things for corporate websites and that kind of got me into the whole content marketing of small business topics. So today, peers, content marketing, and my other company, box of business blogs, that's all we do. There's content marketing focuses on content items, which I'll explain what those are in a minute. For big brands, like you mentioned, banks, sage, FedEx, mastercard, we've worked with staples, et cetera. In the past and box of business blogs is more of a service for the actual small business owner, primarily bookkeepers and accountants where they could go in and subscribe for a very few dollars a month and get, um, articles that they can post in their social media

RP: 05:58 channels. So he takes all that worry away from, you know, where am I gonna find the next topic? Because every week he'll be sent a fresh article that you could use in your social media on your blog or your newsletter. So that's a roundabout a story. Michael I sort of explain how it got to where I am today. I am a small business expert. I firmly believe everyone should start a small business. I do my best to support small business owners out there through, through my work. But really our, our company now is all about bridging that gap between big corporations and small business owners. And big companies are very interested in content marketing because they see it as a cost effective way and a thought leadership path to engage small business owners. And we want to help small business owners succeed through content. And we do that through our content. We'd love to put advice and information into our different materials that the brands can then run with in post. So in a way we're reaching a much larger, larger audience by working with companies that have big platforms and I could working directly with small business owners for my own platforms. So it works out pretty well.

MP: 07:04 I just love your, your backstory in the rich deep experience learning, you've been there, you've done it and evolved to now being able to do what you're doing today and we love anyone that supports small business. So I know our listeners are loving the fact that we are having this conversation because they are, they are you and there are also people that can really, I think benefit from learning from you and and as well you've, you've worked a lot with organizations that are in the bookkeeping and accounting space. You're, you're currently doing a lot of work with sage, is that correct?

RP: 07:48 That's correct. Sage has been a client now for, I'm going to say three years. And our work with stage includes content to help them market products such as sage 50 to small business owners, but also we're working with sage accounting solutions and the sage accountants network across North America developing content and programs to help them help their clients, which are bookkeepers and accountants. So one of those examples, Michael is a for about a year and half now, but we're running a webinar program called sage marketing webinars for accountant counting professionals. And these webinars are free. Sage broadcast them out to their database and bookkeepers and accountants can join the webinars and learn topics like how to use social media to grow your practice, how to make your practice stand out in the marketplace, how to, uh, do most of the marketing things you need to do. We also have one on improving your sales techniques.

RP: 08:47 One of my favorite topics recently was finding your ideal client. And it talks about, you know, what, how do you a profile a client. Let's take a look at what your ideal clients are. Now let's make a profile of that client or persona and let's figure it out. I'll plan to engage more people just like them because then as you as you know, most bookkeepers have a preferred type of customer. They would like Moro, someone who pays the bills on time as cooperative, someone organized, et Cetera. So those are the types of topics that we're doing in this webinar program with sage. And I'll say just doing what it can get out there and reaching small business owners and bookkeepers and accountants and we think content marketing is the best way we can support them.

MP: 09:37 Awesome. And that we will have definitely links to for our listeners, I'm sure there's many listeners going, where do I find that? How do I get more information? So the link will definitely be in the show notes. Uh, and I allow Viejo your, you're helping an organization stimulate really the usage in small business of their products of that bookkeepers that work with sage 50 can actually have customers to go and work with. So you're, you're, you're helping all in many of our listeners right now, you know, it's one of those things that most people would probably not even be aware of, but there's many people that are in the ecosystem of business and how business gets fulfilled and marketing and how it gets sold. So interesting from that perspective. But let's get into content marketing. So many of our bookkeepers may not even know what content marketing really is. So what is it?

RP: 10:32 Good question, great place to start. There's lots of different definitions, you know, to me, the simplest one, it's about demonstrating your expertise, sharing information, providing helpful tips and advice and, you know, not being salesy, not focusing on the pitch just yet. So for example, a blog as a form of, of content infographic, you know, a visual rule, illustration

RP: 11:02 of a topic, uh, certainly short videos. You can pick up your iPhone and or whatever and take a quick video of yourself and offer a tip. Talk more about that later. Uh, ebooks are very popular. I'm sure most of your listeners have a onepoint downloaded a free flashy ebook in exchange for their email address. That's a form of content and thought leadership articles, which are longer pieces on more weighty topics. And the trick of mode content marketing is you don't want to be too salesy. Like I mentioned earlier, this is different from advertising. This is a form of marketing. Advertising is when you pay for an ad and a radio station or a newspaper or a magazine, TV or even online, and it's pretty blamed. Buy from us, buy from us, buy from us, content marketing, seek to add value to the prospect. First seeks to differentiate your brand through some soft leadership, uh, seeks to share expertise.

RP: 11:56 In other words, you're giving before you get the sale you're giving before you get the sale. And I really believe in that philosophy. You know, consumers and business owners out there are inundated with pitches left, right? And Center, excuse me, how many times does your email box fill up with pitches, Michael, on a, on a daily basis? Um, you know, we get tons of spam stuff and, and we're inundated. So anything that helps a seller like a bookkeeper stand out by providing some thought leadership, like giving something first, um, is going to separate them up. So a bookkeeper can do a number of things and we'll, we'll give some concrete tips in a minute, but really content marketing should be part of an overall marketing strategy. I never say do one thing only focused entirely on content, but for example, you might decide that you know, half of your efforts are going to be on content marketing, maybe 30% are going to be on paid advertising online, like pay per click ads or Facebook ads. And maybe another 20% is going to be through referral marketing or networking. So really content marketing should be considered as part of an overall mix.

MP: 13:04 Yeah. And those percentages would definitely be up for discussion depending on what market you're in, what stage of business you're in and all sorts of thoughts and ideas. But content marketing should be definitely one of those things I believe everyone should be thinking about. And so really the point is attracting clients. How do you think content marketing helps a bookkeeper attract clients? You've mentioned a little bit about that, but is there, have you seen specific examples of where bookkeepers and accountants have been using it? That that's, they've said, wow, like, look at this. This is just attracting clients for us.

RP: 13:42 Ooh, you know, I can inundate you with lots of stats about the effectiveness of content marketing, but I won't do that. You raised a couple of good points. First of all, then I'll address this. You know, why? Okay, now that I understand what is content marketing, now let's talk about why. Why should I bother? Um, content marketing is way less expensive than traditional forms of marketing and advertising. So, you know, that's a big one. Writing an article and sharing it through Facebook, Twitter, linkedin,

RP: 14:10 an image on, on Instagram, doing a quick little youtube video or something. Those things are, are mostly far less expensive than say, buying ads in a magazine, which most small business owners can't afford. Spending lots of big bucks on a fancy, expensive website. Um, certainly doing direct mail. I mean all these things cost a lot of money, which the small business owner may not have a lot up. So content marketing is far less expensive and it's effective. I mean, you know, we've got lots of stats. Things like content marketing can generate over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and typically cost 62% less. That's according to the content marketing institute. So it's far less expensive and it's effective. It works. I'll give you an example in terms of a bookkeeper. So let's say a bookkeeper offers some tips through their blog. Perhaps the article is about, you know, three easy ways to organize your, your documents for tax time.

RP: 15:11 So that's a good kind of piece for a bookkeeper. It's relevant to what they do. It's offering some advice and sharing some thought leadership and you know, it helps the business owner who's going to read that save time and maybe save some money. Those are things entrepreneurs are looking for online entrepreneurs, by the way, what they searched for topics online's about marketing and sales, how to make money. Then let's search for topics on online, how to estate save time and save money, and how to be more efficient. So three easy ways to organize your life for tax time and you offer those three tips and maybe you talk a little bit about using software or using an app like sheep bank or how to organize physical receipts, doing it well in advance, whatever the tip might include that you post that article, post that blog on your website, and it's easy to put something up.

RP: 16:00 Most website services these days have a built in blog publishing platform, or you can use something like WordPress that attaches pretty easily to most things. And then you start to share it to your Facebook channel, your, your LinkedIn channel or Twitter feed, and any other challenges you might, you might have as well. And what happens is, you know, someone will read that article and go, oh, this is a useful tip, and then they'll share it out to their network. So that's one thing that traditional advertising can't do. It's very unlikely someone's going to cut out the ad from a magazine that you paid $5,000 for and share it with all their friends, right. By social media because it's digital makes them so easy. Just click, click, click. Before you know it, you've amplified your reach. And I think that's very attractive and very powerful for, for small business owners, especially bookkeepers because we're all looking for cost effective ways to get the word out about our conversion.

MP: 16:59 Yeah,

MP: 17:00 you and beautiful and, and it is getting the word out, but there's as well as you've mentioned, it's also being valuable to people, which puts you on the right footing for doing business with somebody. They get to know, they're getting to know you and they're getting value from you before they maybe even have met you or interacted with you. They're already a, the bank of value's already been. Couple of, uh, dollars had been dropped in that bank. And so anybody who comes at you from a content marketing place is going to be in a better place than many other forms pay per click. Um, you know, advertising a, even a referral, right? Uh, so I think that that part of it is really exciting. Now, many bookkeeping business owners don't have a lot of time and, and maybe even the writing, because I know enough to know about content marketing, that not all writing is going to be valuable. It takes, it does take a little bit of talent to create this type of content and then there's, you gotta implement it. You've got to get it out into the world. How can they overcome some of these barriers?

RP: 18:12 What you're talking about there is what's gonna be my content marketing strategy and how do I have enough time in my day to stick to it? And you've raised some good points. So just some basic, basic advice to begin with. Number one, making a commitment to content marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy. That's key. So let's say you decide you're going to do an article a week, okay? You're going to allow an hour, perhaps a week to write that article. Or if you want to use a service like ours, selfless plug here for box of business blogs.com but we'll send you the article ready to post. And by the way, a good article Michael should be, I'd say three to 500 words. This shouldn't be an essay. It should be short and sweet to the point. Lots of white space, lots of bullets, small business owners love to read, you know, quick points or tough three lists or four or five points or five ways to set aside money for taxes or three ways to see them for your receivables.

RP: 19:16 Those types of things are what entrepreneurs will respond to you. So you write up the piece and when it's all done, you edit it a bit. Do you want to pay careful, close attention to the headline because think of your own online behavior. We serve through the web and we click on headlines that are catchy. That's the old newspaper trick. If the headline doesn't work, the rest of it is kind of moved. So spend some time on the headline. You can actually look at some sites on the web that that'll give you tips and advice on how to improve or make your headline more juicy. It is important to be catching things like you know, three ways to speed up your receivables is a, is a, is a great topic to, to run with. So you've got the great headline, you've got an article, maybe three to 400 words inside the article.

MP: 20:04 By the way, at the end it's okay to put a link to your website or your landing page or whatever you want the entrepreneur to click through next because after I've read that article, I want to know how to make contacts. You could even just put it on the bottom. This article provided courtesy of agency bookkeeping services. You can reach us that that's fair game to the point is you don't want to make it salesy. You want to put the content first, but certainly provide a link at the bottom that'll take them back because this is going to go to the end of the online university. You want to make sure there's lots of ways for people to reach you. So you've got that article, you post it on your blog or your website or on your wordpress site, and then you start to share it around, share it with a click of a button on Twitter and Linkedin, Facebook, unless you've got some images, put it on Instagram, you're doing a little video.

RP: 20:51 Of course, that's a separate topic, but it's easy to put up on youtube and you share it around and that should take it no more than an hour. If you're not a writer, you've got options. You can, like you said, Prebuy logs from a service like ours. You can hire a freelance writer, or here's a trick. Maybe someone in your office is a better writer than you are or has more time to write stuff that you do. So you share that out and that's just one hour of original content. But here's the thing, you don't need to just do your own content. You can create or curate content from other sources. So I often say to people, look, if you're planning to post something every day, don't think you have to write five pieces of original content. That's a lot of work. Think about writing one original article a week, but you just described doing four days of curated content, meaning sharing other people's content. This accomplishes some of the same effect that positions you as a thought leader. Provide some value to your prospects and it sure is a heck of a lot easier in creating content from scratch. So you know, bullet mark some of your favorite sites to do with taxes or business practices and things like entrepreneur or inc or fortune or any of those types of sites because there's a ton of stuff up there ready to share

RP: 22:03 and all you have to do is click on the link, it shares it to Facebook and add a little note saying, hey, I found this really helpful if you're starting your business, or hey, here's a piece though how to sell your business. Or Hey, here's a great article about preparing for tax time and boom, you do that. All of a sudden you got up on a content strategy in play. But here's where most business owners fail, Michael. It's just a frequency of it all. They get tired, they get distracted and distracted, they give out. I understand that there's a lot of work running a small business. I've had lots of them.

RP: 22:34 So consistency is key because once I start to engage with your content on Twitter or Linkedin or

RP: 22:40 Facebook, I'm going to expect the same thing again. If you're posting on a Tuesday, I want to see that post again on next to thing. I'm on Linkedin, I'm actually gonna look for it. That's how you build an audience. That's how you start to get people interested in your business and that's how you engage. So you've got to allow some time and most importantly, be consistent. And I think it's key. Again, just to keep it simple, an hour a week and maybe 15 minutes a day, all you need to do, I develop your social media profile and to start to build that inbound funnel

RP: 23:13 in the I, I. D I would imagine, and I've had these conversations with many bookkeepers that that's it. No, I don't have the time, but you've laid out a very, I think, straight forward approach to being able to a number one budget to start doing it. But I, I will, I will also highlight that it's, it is really all about the consistency. And I think that could, we could probably say that around every, almost every aspect of the business, right? As if you're going to do something, do it, do it right. Don't do everything but do the important things. Do them right and do them the same way all the time and be, be consistent with that. That leads to longterm results. This is content marketing is not a, Hey, I dropped a post and got business today. It's not like fishing where you throw a hook at a warm into the lake and, and you know, within a few hours you're pulling out dinner.

MP: 24:05 This is a, Oh, uh, you're investing, it's more like farming, right? We're investing planting seeds, but those, that farming, it's like an orchard versus like a corn crop, right? You're planting an orchard that's going to have multiple years of bounty coming at you if you do the work and invest that time. So I really love it and I think you're making it very straight forward and simple. And I love the fact that you've, you've built an organization, a company that delivers on a need for our listeners, which is they don't have a lot of time. Their core competency maybe isn't writing. So box of business blogs brings fresh, relevant content that is can be very useful, which I love. Now, one thing that comes up in my mind and I'm sure probably has come up in the listener's mind as we're listening is what if somebody is already writing the three steps or the five steps in? It's been done. It's been said before. I can imagine, and I've, I've experienced that myself when I'm coming up with content. It's like, oh well somebody has already written this. What, what do I do now?

RP: 25:09 Very good question. And here's the thing. It's hard to come up with absolutely original unpublished previously topics, right? We'll keepers and accountants will know that painfully well. There's a lot of stuff out there on cashflow. For example, I can't tell you how many times or you've written about cashflow from different angles for companies large and small. And it's a challenge to come up with, you know, uh, interesting angles, but an article on three ways to improve your cashflow. For example, that you, right, you might do a better job sharing it out there than perhaps someone using the exact same title. It might be on page 10 of a Google search, which no one's gonna see, right? Or it might be something that was published a couple of years ago and therefore it's not really up top on the search rankings. I often recommend that you search for a title first on Google to see if anyone else is using that exact same title. And if it's a big media company like a fortune or a Forbes or entrepreneur or a Roman male or whatever, and change your title, you don't want to compete with that kind of online muscle. So you come up with a different angle to it, you know, three ways to improve your cashflow for your service based business. Or this summer embraced three ways to improve, prove your cash flow is he just come up with slightly different variations. So the topic and remain attacked, but you're not gonna compete head to head with those existing titles a lot

RP: 26:44 of, and the content probably could have a similar, he could, I attack it the same. Similar way in that the content could come from you know what to do when it's summer around that particular topic or find some other angle that you weave into the topic that makes it more unique towards your, your readers or your, whoever's going to consume that content and for yourself.

RP: 27:07 Seasonality is a great way to mix it up. I forgot to mention one key point too and, and I think you, and you mentioned it there a second ago, but profile your audience profile, your target customer. I mentioned earlier some of the work we're doing for sage and we did this to this Webinar or on finding your ideal client and that's really what it's all about for social media to before you begin to write anything, before you make any videos, before you create any infographics, you've really got to start with your end reader or user in mind. So who is that person or that company you're trying to attract? Are they local? Do they earn $100,000 or less? Do they earn a hundred thousand to a million dollars? How big is their operation? Do they have five employees or 50 you know, what industry are they in? All these things are going to help you shape the content and develop the content specifically for them, so addresses their pain points and therefore increases the chances of them reading it.

RP: 28:03 Next, you want to make sure you build your online audience, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et cetera around those target markets. So if I'm trying to get more business in the transportation industry, the trucking companies, I'm going to make sure I follow all of those people on Twitter and get, find out their Twitter handles and do a little bit of digging and make sure that I've got them on my social media channels and see if they can follow me back. Right. It's also okay to send out your blog of catering to the trucking industry to that association or to people in that, in that industry and say, hey, here's a piece I thought you might be interested and maybe they'll start to sign up to your social media channels as well.

MP: 28:45 Yeah, those are some great, great ideas. Great thoughts. And I'd really like to make sure we get the link to that Webinar that was done on finding your ideal, uh, ideal customer because I mean, I think that's almost, should be required training before anybody does anything in business. I mean, whether it's what we're talking about today, content marketing, but how you serve your clients, how you do all, I think about all, all aspects of your business. The more you can be clear on who you're serving, the easier business will be for yourselves. Now, Roger, we, we've been really dipping our toe in the pool of content marketing as well. I know of a an accountant in Australia who has built marketing content programs for like a book and you've mentioned some of these books, podcasts, all sorts of other things. Like there's all sorts of content that can be created, but this is really the pathway into all of that and I think applies to, you know, a unique business and a unique person that wants to go that angle, but it can be very powerful. Do you have any examples that you'd like to share in terms of bookkeepers or accounts? Yeah, like what have you seen in terms of people taking it, that next step where it's like, well, we're putting out a little bit of content and some blogs. What, what have you seen in terms of books or podcasts or, or anything like that in the industry?

RP: 30:08 Well, this is a very podcast you're doing right now is an example of content marketing for sure. I mean, I know it's a lot of undertaking to set up a podcast and keep it going and you have to do it every week to build your audience. But what a great value added service you're providing to your clients, your customers, bookkeepers, I mean, that's a great example right there. I know you're talking with one of my, my friends and colleagues, Andrew Wall and the next couple of months and he's an owner of a Toronto based accounting and bookkeeping firm called wall CPA and he actually has won some awards across Canada for being a one of the topic intellectual apple, keeping an accounting firms in Canada and he just dominates social media, tens of thousands of Twitter followers and Linkedin, et cetera. But his platform, his video, he loves to do videos, right? He provides video tips.

RP: 31:00 So there's an example of someone kind of doubling down on a particular type of content. I think that's key as well. Just like you're doubling down on podcasts and spending a lot of your time and energy on that and it's working out well for you. Andrew Wall and his firm are, are focusing on videos and social media. Other people I know might say, you know what, I'm not so good on video. I podcast kind of scare me. I'm just going to focus on articles. Other people might want to do simple, um, graphics or even things like online webinars. So there's lots of different options and I think it's important to play to your strengths. Look, I know a bookkeeper or a small business owner, it doesn't have tons of resources to try all these different content marketing options, but pick one that you think is best for you and pick one that you know is going to resonate with your target audience and maybe pick one that your competitors down the street aren't doing. So if a affirm down the road is really big on, on videos, maybe you can start to dominate two really good thought leadership articles.

MP: 32:02 Beautiful. You know, Roger, we could probably go on talking about this plus plus plus plus. Plus. I'm gonna love to have you back to talk more about small business and marketing. And you know, there's probably a whole host of things that we can, we can go into that or are going to help our listener do better each day in their businesses, but before we say goodbye, tell, tell our lists are a little bit about where they can find out more about you and as well if they want to engage with you, what's the best way to do that?

RP: 32:36 Absolutely. I think the best website to go based on our top

RP: 32:39 today would be www.boxofbusinessblogs.com that's the service I mentioned that provides a weekly email with a fresh 500 word article on a business topic design or small business leaders. Salts are perfect for bookkeepers and accountants and financial advisors. Added costs. Just $39 a month and I get you a blog a week. If you don't like a topic, you can send it back and we'll send you a replacement blog at no charge. That's worth checking out. I love it if I'd love it, if your followers would follow me on Twitter too. My handle is at Roger Pierce and of course, I'm also on LinkedIn. Twitter, Roger Pierce, he's checked me out anytime.

MP: 33:20 Thank you so much. And of course, we'll have all of those links and contact pieces of information on the show notes so that you can go and start doing that. Roger, this has been a treat. Thank you so much for generously giving us your time and your expertise and sharing it with our listener.

RP: 33:40 Thank you so much, Michael. It's been fun.

MP: 33:43 Yes, and we'll definitely have you back very soon. I hope your bet. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time

MP: 33:56 goodbye.

EP107: Melissa Agnes – The Ultimate Roadmap To Business Invincibility

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Crisis ready.

No matter the size, type, or industry of your business, being crisis ready will help you to be perfectly prepared for anything life throws at you.

Our guest today is the author of Crisis Ready - Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World. Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. She is a coveted speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today's leading organizations faced with the greatest risks, helping them become crisis ready and build brand invincibility.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Why it's important to become crisis ready 

  • What it means to build an invincible brand

  • How to prevent and manage issues before they become catastrophic, with the aim of never having them become catastrophic at all

To learn more about Melissa Agnes, visit here.

For her Facebook page, click here

For her Twitter page, discover here.

For her LinkedIn page, go here.

To get a copy of her book - Crisis Ready, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:24 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast, I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. She has a coveted speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today's leading organizations faced with the greatest risk. Melissa Agnes, welcome to the podcast.

Melissa Agnes: 01:49 Well, thank you for having me, Michael. It is my pleasure and honor to be here.

MP: 01:53 It's so great to have you. And you know, uh, you seem to be all over the place advising people, all sorts of organizations, uh, big and small, but at a, at a global level. And I think it's such an opportunity for our listeners to hear what you've been up to for, for your career and, and helping small businesses get prepared for what risk may be coming out their businesses. But before we get into some of these questions, tell us about your career leading up to this point.

MA: 02:22 Oh, leading up to this point. Um, okay. So I have been an entrepreneur my entire adult life and I started off on, my goodness, it's kind of embarrassing. I started up doing photo montage is for senior people who were, I lost more money than I made in every sale. Um, you know, back in the day when I was very young and just starting off. But you know what it led to where I am today. So from that led to a digital kind of online agency that focused on branding and social and a website development and different things for digital, the digital realm for brands. And one thing to note I suppose about me is the way that my brain works and has always worked for as long as I can remember, is I see risk everywhere and then it takes on this pattern. So I see risk, I see mitigation strategies for risk and then I see opportunity through that mitigation, this kind of, if I were to put my brain into a linear fashion to describe it, that's the way that it has always kind of just played out.

MA: 03:31 And so back almost 10 years ago now, I was doing social media strategies right at the cusp of, you know, in time when brands were just figuring out that they could use social, that they should use social, that it presented all of these wonderful opportunities. And from there I remember one day, one morning doing my morning reading and it just struck me, why is nobody talking about all of the risks, all of the risks of technology, of the digital landscape, of you know, real-time communication, 24 seven news cycle at two way communication, all of these different factors that were becoming very, very prevalent in, you know, businesses day today. And then through that, of course, my brain went to, if we understand these risks, we can mitigate them. And then on top of that, through the mitigation, there's all of these wonderful opportunities that are unprecedented to actually communicate with our stakeholders in times of need.

MA: 04:25 And so that kind of triggered something within me, which led to about a year of studying, learning everything that I could on the topic of crisis management with before that point in time I didn't realize was a thing, and yet I discovered this thing that just really, really resonated with the person and the human. You know, the way that my I'm made up and at the same time I also realized that nobody was talking about all of these, you know, the digital components of all of this, which I kept turning to my business partner at when I pull them points saying there's something here, there's something here, there's something here. I just don't know exactly what it is. And then one morning I get a call from one of my clients, which was real estate investment trust. We had just launched their website and the VP called the very, very early saying in a panic saying, our president's in the car with a prospective investor, the radio is reporting that one of our buildings is about to explode.

MA: 05:23 Our investors are very concerned. They're thinking of with withdrawing their money. It's not true. It's total rumor. Apparently, this rumor started on Twitter. We have no idea what Twitter is, but we hear it's a digital thing and since you just launched our website, we thought to call you, can you help us? Right person to call. I walked in within a half an hour, I had the media correcting themselves. I had you know, the right information streamlining to investors. Anyways, long story short, I had the president of the company called me the next morning thanking me saying not only did our unit price not go down since yesterday, it actually went up a sense. Thank you so much. And that was my moment of, oh my goodness, I know what my purpose is in, you know, in this world, I had no idea where it would take me. I had no idea to what extent this was my purpose, but it was the, it was the catalyst for this career path and I jumped, I jumped a was started a blog.

MA: 06:16 Mine was the first in the world to really start addressing really big issues and, and thoughts and ideas and concepts that people, I felt people, businesses, professionals needed to be raising and they weren't and a right place right time. It kind of picked up from there. Wow, that's such an interesting story. I made the back story how it came to be and then really ultimately being put to the test where you actually created such an economic difference. I mean, you said 1 cent. I imagine that one sentiment that a lot of money to somebody. What I think no one was thinking about this or talking about it. I think, well, so you know, when I'm fluttering, it's a good question. Um, I have two kind of answers that I can give. One is when, so when I started blogging, mine was the first to start really addressing these issues at, or I was the first and I'm very, very prevalent online.

MA: 07:10 So I'm very, when there's something to think about or to talk about or to raise, I raise it. And I've always been like that. And I remember when I started the blog, I had a lot of, had many crisis management, longstanding crisis management professionals that were nearing retirement came to me and said, we found your work yet we absolutely agree that these are issues. We don't necessarily know if this whole digital thing is a fad or a trend or you know, how long it's going to last. And we're nearing retirement so we don't necessarily want to learn it, but we are smart enough to know that our clients need your services now can we partner? So there was one component there about, you know, it just those who were doing it didn't see it the way that I did and just happened to be that way.

MA: 07:57 And then the other component was, I remember when I first started, the reason that my business has always been primarily American is because even the Americans were more receptive to it. So I remember sitting down with businesses in Canada, which I'm Canadian, so that's where I was living. And they would look at me and say, Canadian companies don't have crises. So there was this mindset of being closed off to anything result, anything. Nobody wanted to look at the risk of anything. And that's what I do is I look at the risk, I prevent the preventable and I help organizations prepare and be ready for the unpreventable. Americans were more receptive to that, but I was also a little bit ahead of, that's why I was the first, right. So I was a little bit ahead of the curve. I saw something coming that people weren't ready necessarily to see it. So I basically had to, I basically created a marketplace of one as a friend of would say, and that would made it extra difficult. Today it's easier today, it's easier to, people see the risk everywhere and they realize how prevalent it is and they realize that they're not ready for it, the smart ones anyways. Whereas before it was kind of creating this market where I saw a need, but they didn't necessarily know or realize that this need existed and pertain to them yet.

MP: 09:17 Beautiful. Well, you know, I think that our listeners is probably a lot of listeners that are, are doing a fist pump right now in the air going yes, you know, someone else's is looking at these things. Cause often it's a, you know, people don't pay attention to things until they absolutely have to and then often it's too late. Um, and so, you know, I think our, our listeners as bookkeepers are, it's part of what they do is looking for the, the, the black and white in situations and making sure that it's eyes wide open and, and really looking at what the truth is, what the reality is and then preparing for that and dealing with whatever that might be at.MA: 09:54 Well, I mean, absolutely. And as bookkeepers, you do such a service for your clients just in preventing risk. When you do your job well, you mitigate risk for your clients and risks that is preventable. So therefore no excuse, right? As like from the client's perspective. Um, and does wonders in letting them sleep easier at night, have all of it risk mitigation. So 100% I agree.

MA: 10:22 There's more fist-pumping happening.

MP: 10:34 Awesome and so this came up you, you had this Aha moment really, and an economic like wow. For a client and then now it's taken you all over the world. What, what sets you're going to be in like?

MA: 10:46 It's been wonderful. I love my job. Um, it's funny, my, my little sister who is 19 at came and stayed with me in New York last week. It was her first time and I spent the whole week with her. I did about an average of two hours a day on work. And as much as I love and adore her, she's one of my favorite humans on this planet. I was, I missed my work. So I really, really, really love what I do. So that's, you know, it's been wonderful, but it's, I don't know how I started, so I can remember the precise moment when I knew that this was my, my path, this was my, my calling, if you will, if you will. I don't remember the precise moment that I decided to be a public speaker. I do remember a moment in grade eight winning an award, as you know, did giving a speech and having this feeling within me or this knowledge within me that one day I would do this, but I don't remember how that actually developed to be. I just know that I started one day and I love it and I continue, so it's the speaking that takes me around the world and then it's the advisory work I do for clients sometimes takes me to travel depending on the client, but a lot of that is is I'm tapped into virtually.

MP: 12:01 Yeah. Now it's interesting, your background, you said that you see risk and you see the Pitino this, it's like this way about you throughout your life. Do you, do you see where there were places in your life that showed you how to actually take this on and handle them?

MA: 12:20 More and more? I'm starting to realize in the last, really in the last about six to eight months, I've really started to realize how much crisis readiness, everything that I teach, everything that I do with clients, everything that's in my book is really, really who I am and always has been since I was a kid. So it's, it's interesting, I mean, I mean it's interesting to me. So for example, so I talk about, I often talk about identifying your high-risk scenarios. So every single business, I don't care if you're, you know, solo preneurs right through to the biggest brand in the world. There are a handful of high-risk scenarios, so most likely high impact events that can strike your organization that you're the most prone or vulnerable to every single business has. You know, whether it's two or three or a dozen of these high-risk scenarios that pertained to them, you know, and, and then I, I go into my work that I do as an advisor as well as where I, where I take people throughout the book is diving into those high risk scenarios and preventing the preventable and planning effectively.

MA: 13:28 For the unpreventable so that you are crisis ready and all of that to say, to answer your question, to bring it back full circle, about nearly a year ago, my husband and I got divorced and I realized today that we were together for 12 beautiful years. And in that, throughout that relationship, because I was preparing, so when you're in a relationship, one of your high-risk scenarios are split, right? Splitting up. That's it's, it's a high-risk scenario if you want to look at it through that Lens. And I was doing things throughout that relationship to allow us, enable us, help us be crisis ready for that potential risk one day if it were to materialize. And as a result things like setting tone or addressing it, talking about an advance, telling him things like I hope that I don't conform. I don't be, I have a strong thing with that.

MA: 14:21 And I was saying to him that if one day we aren't in love anymore, I hope that we are strong enough to, you know, hug each other, wish each other well and leave each other right. Not stay where we're not happy. And that's exactly what happened. And when we, not that we weren't happy anymore, we just weren't in love anymore. But when it happened I was able to call back on those things, those, you know, seeds that I had planted throughout the relationship and say things to him that enabled us to have this mutual goal of best case scenario. What we are striving to achieve in this throughout this divorce is a friendship because we both love each other dearly. We shared 12 beautiful years together and I don't, I don't want a picture of my life without him. I just don't want to be married to him anymore and vice versa.

MA: 15:10 So even throughout the management of that, let's call it a crisis because no matter what, it's an emotional time, it's difficult. It's difficult in every single regard, right? Just separating everything and going through the motions and life changes and all of these different things. Today we're 10 months out from the day that we decided made the decision and he's one of my dearest, dearest friends. So just to say that I, I'm, it's only now looking back in retrospect that I was doing everything that I talk about in my book and everything that I do with clients from a professional standpoint, a business standpoint I was doing in my marriage to address one of these high-risk scenarios. And so yeah. So yes, it is intrinsically who I am and how I see the world. And I really believe that being crisis ready means that your entire team can identify a rising risk in real-time is trained to understand and to assess properly the material impact that it presents to the organization.

MA: 16:12 So is it an issue versus is it a potential crisis and then can respond in a way that doesn't just manage the incident but manages it in a way that fosters increased trust and credibility in the brand. And that's where that lens of if you are crisis ready, you have built brand invincibility because it means that you can withstand or weather any type of negative event that may strike your organization or your business in a way that you walk out of it with even more trust. And credibility built up with those who matter most to your business, if that makes sense.

MP: 16:45 It does. It does. And I think what might be helpful is maybe a, an example, I know I've seen you sort of bring up different examples, uh, that are popular examples. I guess you could say. What would be one that you would typically share in one of your talks of a company that is crisis ready?

MA: 16:59 Well, a situation where maybe not, maybe they weren't crazy. I think I, the one I looked at that is very common was I think it's the United with the guitar.

MP: 17:11 Yeah. I mean, yeah, United United United's an interesting case study because one of my crisis ready roles is people above process and bottom line always United has the opposite culture process and bottom line above people. So they're constantly, you know, making gaps in the media, in the news. I'm dealing with issue management because they have a backwards culture and my perspective. Um, but if we want to look at something that I find at one of the case studies, one of, you know, some, a recent event that happened at the start of this year that is just so fascinating to me. I love it. Is happened with a crockpot. Do you remember that one? I don't. So at the beginning, do you watch this as us or did you, do you know of that show? I don't. Okay. I don't want to be, so neither did I. This is us as one of the most popular television shows on at nighttime television shows how prime time right now it's, it's been on for federal no button.

MA: 18:14 Likewise. Because when this happened, I watched it because it was a potential crisis for Crockpot and I was fascinated, but I had never seen the show, never heard of the show. If you go back and you watch this five minute, second segments, so basically this is us. Has the father dies in the show and everybody knows that he's dead, but nobody knows how he dies. So there's this buildup to the storyline of how he dies. He dies because, so finally I think in February, January, February of this year, they put out that show and it's this 5 million minute, brilliantly crafted segment, you know, of, of television that I'd never seen the show before. And it, it almost brought me to tears. Like it's beautifully, beautifully crafted as a storyline and as a production. So he dies because, so the scene is, he's in his kitchen at night, he's cleaning up, he's cleaning the kitchen, he's going to bed.

MA: 19:06 He turns on a generic slow cooker. It's not a crockpot machine, it's not, this is not product placement. It's a generic slow cooker that the storyline of this generic slow, slow cooker is that it was very old and a little bit faulty. So he turns it on, he goes to bed, this slow cooker, short circuits and sets flames to the house and he dies of smoke inhalation. So that's the storyline. And that takes about five minutes to, to really reveal this story through and through. Now, if we look at from the perspective of people, of society, of those who love, love, love this show, and watch it every week and they love this character, they're sitting at home, they're watching this show, they, if it almost brought me to tears and I'd never even seen the show, imagine the way that it captivated them on this emotional level and then their minds went, oh my goodness, I have a crockpot machine.

MA: 19:59 I don't want my family to die. That is literally like the pattern and it's not necessarily logical, but that doesn't matter because it had that emotional relatability factor and now logic goes out the window. We can never Trump emotion with logic. It's another one of my crisis ready rules. So in this sense it's very, very real and it instills this deep-seated fear that, oh my goodness, I don't want this to happen to my family. So crockpot wakes up the next morning. They weren't even on Twitter at the time, and they realize that there are thousands upon thousands of loyal customers threatening to throw out their crockpot machines because they are scared that this terrible incident might happen to their family. And so they wake up. It's primarily on Twitter. It's on, it's being talked about it.

MP: 20:53 Dave Colbert.

MA: 20:53 Uh, what's his name? He did a, sorry, go ahead.

MP: 20:54 Stephen Colbert.

MA: 20:55 Thank you. Yes, that's him. He did a monologue on it. It was in local morning talk shows like this. This new went viral and people were very, very upset and very scared. And so this is something that nobody can foresee. This is us. Couldn't foresee this happening. They didn't even put crap out in the picture. It was generic. A generic slow cooker crockpot could not have foreseen. This w I talked earlier about identifying your high-risk scenarios. This is not something we could have identified. It's not preventable because you can't, you can't fathom that it'll ever happen. And yet it did happen and it was a potential crisis for crockpot because they risked these longstanding customers having a negative association, emotional association with the brand and throwing up their crockpot machines and never buying from the brand again, so they did not want to lose those customers.

MA: 21:50 Whether it was one customer, I don't believe in any one customer being statistically insignificant as my friend Dave Carroll puts it, so whether it was one customer or 10,000 customers, there was this risk of this longterm negative sentiment on the brand as a results of this series, this show or the storyline and the way that crockpot answered this is for me, this was true crisis readiness. It was true brilliance, so they quickly jumped onto Twitter. They created a Twitter account, which was first moved to make because it the story, the, the crisis, let's call it the issue was going viral on Twitter. They then realized that they cannot, a lesser brand would have potentially said something like, this is irrational. This is crazy. In the history of our company, we have never set fire to a house. Nobody has ever died because of a crockpot machine like this is irrational and crazy.

MA: 22:50 A lesser company would have risked either saying, this will die down. I'm not even going to pay attention to this. Or it could have just come out and said, guys, this is ridiculous. It's a fiction fictional TV show. Like, come on. Right? So we had the risk of either one of those two responses, however, that would have done nothing. It would not have served, and either one of those cases. Instead, what Crockpot did was they understood that they could not come out and just say, this is ridiculous. You're being rational. They had to validate the emotions of their customers, otherwise, they would never have reached or communicated with them in an effective way that reached their brains, the logical side of their brains, because it was emotion had taken over. So what they did, and I'm paraphrasing here, but they basically went onto Twitter and they said things like, we are devastated with you.

MA: 23:41 We can't believe this is the way that Jack died, you where our hearts are broken with along with you. So they really, they focus first and foremost on validating emotion and relating to their audience on that emotional level. And then they followed through with, but we want you to know that your family safety has always been our priority and here is the proofs. And then they point to the logic and the stats and the history and the data that, you know, our machines are designed to never let this happen. And as a result of this brilliant Li intuitive and emotionally intelligence affective and quick response, I didn't take time to do this. They jumped on it the second they detected it, they were able to change the narrative. They were able to connect even closer with their stakeholders on an emotionally relatable level and they did not suffer any, what I call a crisis response penalties, CRP, as a result. So I love this example because it comes out of left field, like you can never expect this to happen or fathom that it could ever happen. And yet they responded so brilliantly because they were crisis ready.

MP: 24:58 It's such an interesting story and yeah, it makes a could have gone really, really sideways, something that's completely made up, but yet people watching that show, it's part of their reality and, and I love the story of how they connected with them on their level first and then reinforced once you have th they, they basically went in connected at what was happening and then we're able to change, like you say, the narrative's such an interesting example of the work that you do and this is a, what I love about it too is such an interesting kept vowels like waiting to hear what, how did they ae, how did what happened and then how did they actually deal with it. I was part of thinking of, you know, I have a family and you know right away I could feel the agitation and fear in myself. Right? It's like what are we plugging in or not plugging in at night? My first was like, I'm never plugging in a slow cooker at night again. I think a way to leave that up to the day, at least I could put the fire out or get out of the house while I'm awake.

MA: 25:58 Absolutely. And that, and so think of that on a scale of, you know, there's millions of people, I think it's, I think it's 13 or 14 million people that watch this show every week. We get absurd. I have the stats somewhere, so don't quote me on that. It might be a little bit off. It's a little bitty ball, like millions and millions of people. Yes.

MP: 26:17 You know, it's like, ah, I used to be growing up, I watched, you know, my, it was more of the a the nineties I guess. Or was it? Yeah, 90s with Seinfeld and friends and all that. We were just having a conversation the other day about how those were such a big part of our life and how connected we were to those. That's what it is today, but probably times two or three, uh, so massive amounts of followers watching these shows. And so the impact could have been catastrophic for the brand.

MA: 26:45 Absolutely. And, and like I said, a Lesser Brennan, I say a lesser brand, I mean a less crisis ready brand. Um, could have easily said, guys, this is ridiculous. Either it'll die down or just come out and said, guys, this is ridiculous. You know, and it would not have resonated. It would not have had the power. And again, crisis readiness is being able to do this instinctively and in a way that fosters increased trust and credibility and the brand doesn't just manage it, comes, manages it in a way that builds that relationship, that connection on an emotionally relatable level. And it's a challenging thing to do when things are going viral against your organization. Nevermind when you're blindsided by that by reality,

MP: 27:29 You're absolutely right. And I think one of the key factors must be having an organization with the right values meant, you mentioned United Airlines in their value system or crockpot probably has a better value system and set up where the customer really is first. I love how your first one is, you know, uh, humans before numbers. Was that what was headed just bottom line always. Yeah. Which is a great place to start. Tell me a little bit about what you would recommend a small business owner to be thinking about small to medium sized business owner to be thinking about around their own crisis and brand protection.

MA: 28:09 Oh, great question. Um, so there's a couple things and it's, it's a simple process that can go really, really long way in helping build Brendan Mitzi ability. The first thing is define issue versus crisis for your organization. Because of a crisis for one organization or for one company does not necessarily translate into a crisis for another. So, and I'm, I won't just leave that like that. I'm going to give it to you. So the definition, like a high level base point to start from crisis is a negative event or situation that stops business as usual to some extent. It stops business as usual and requires direct escalation straight to the top of leadership because it requires they're, you know, they're at their eyes, their minds, their directives, their guidance or decision making, et cetera. The reason that it needs to be escalated to leadership and stops business as usual is because it threatens long term material impact on one or all of the following five things people.

MA: 29:10 So stakeholders, whether internal or external or both business operations, the environment, if that's applicable, the organization's reputation and or the organization's bottom line. So we have people, we have business operations, we have environment, we have reputation, we have bottom line and we have a long term negative impact on one or all of these five things. That is a crisis. An issue on the other hand is a negative event or situation that doesn't stop business as usual. I see issue management as business as usual on hyperdrive. It does not require to take required taking leadership out of, you know, a meeting right away to capture their attention because it doesn't threaten that longterm negative impact on again, people, business operations, the environment, reputation and or bottom line. So understanding, defining what an issue versus a crisis is to your organization. And then I mentioned earlier, that's the first step.

MA: 30:14 The second step is then to take that definition and to look at your high-risk scenarios. So what are your most likely high impact issues and most likely high impact crises that your company is the most prone or vulnerable to? Every single company can add a few things to each of these categories or can put a few things into these categories. Then when you, when you understand the difference between an issue and a crisis, you don't get overwhelmed or you don't risk getting overwhelmed or you mitigate at least the risk of getting overwhelmed with things like virality, something going viral against your brand or your business does not necessarily translate into a crisis. Issues can go viral and not threaten longterm negative impact. Whereas crises can also go viral, right? So it's, it's about understanding that where those thresholds lie and what are the most likely negative events to strike and whether they fall into crisis or issue buckets. Once you have those defined, then you can do what I call is a deep dive approach and you can look at your both of those columns and say, what can we prevent? So how can we prevent the preventable and what can we prevent? And therefore if it were to happen, how can we be prepared for it?

MP: 31:36 You know, I do find that there's certain types of people that would work better in on these tight at this type of thinking than others. Absolutely. That's a great question. Um, absolutely. And, and the wonderful thing about having a team involved is that everybody brings a different dynamic. I mean, not every, so I often get asked, you know, how do I do this? How do I approach if, so, for example, I have a webinar series, um, it's a six part webinar series that takes registrant's through the entire process of becoming crisis ready. So doing all of these things and no matter the size of their business, no matter if they're corporate or business or practitioners who are providing these types of services to their clients, it's kind of who this is tailored to is as these categories of people. And I often get asked that question of like, how do we, how do we deal with, you know, confrontation internally when we know that there's, you know, two heads that continued to but, and in a crisis they have to work together.

MA: 32:35 Or what should we be looking for when we are, what types of attributes, if we're very crisis prone or risk prone, what should we be looking for in our higher, in the talent that we hire in terms of attributes that would be strong in issue and crisis management. So it really does depend on, on the people. And it's what's wonderful about having a team, even if it's just, just more than one person, is the dynamic that that brings. Everybody has a different touch point with the brand, with the business, with your stake holders and there and also everybody has a different expertise. So you know, your head of legal is not going to be thinking of the same risks as you're head of it. Um, and having both of those brains at the table will provide you with a comprehensive scope on different, you know, the different angles of different risks.

MA: 33:27 So your question was more along the lines of are there specific types of people that are, are better? I would say you want to look for emotional intelligence. You want to look for strong leadership, you want to look for, um, open mindedness, not closed mindedness. Cause that's a hinderer that I see often is, you know, that will never happen to us or you know, that's ridiculous. We shouldn't even address it. For example, with Crockpot as that could have, that snare could have gone in that direction. But then you just want to make sure that everybody, that everybody has a seat at the table that needs to have a seat at the table.

MP: 34:01 Yeah. I think the, uh, you know, that's really helpful because I think there are people in an organization that their thinking is completely opposite to this and almost needs to be in order for them to do their job. Because if they only thought of risk, they would likely not get out of bed in the morning. Right. But yet the openness, I think that's key in that everybody's got to be open to the fact that these things can happen and often do. And, and so it's not that somebody has to be always thinking about it, but making sure that somebody is and the right people are and that everybody's at the table. And you know, almost like one of these things like we've discussed it. We have a plan now I need to go over and be my risk and my risk world and you know, and then over here on this other side, they're there.

MP: 34:50 They're taking care of the, making sure the risk is mitigated. So just really interesting from perspective. It's, I mean, a lot to do with communication and, and dynamics of an organization. But this is a big one. And I think for our listeners, there's a lot of change happening in, in the industry. Uh, increased regulation, increased global, uh, effects happening. So no business really is becoming, uh, insulated from all these potential things that are, are happening. I mean, data is out there in the world. There's all sorts of regulation around the movement of of currency and money, but this is, this has been fantastic. I think it's probably an exciting opportunity for anybody that's listening in bookkeeping industry is that this is going to be part of the, I think one of the cards that will be in your deck. It might not be your key key thing that you're working on, but it's partly something that you will likely be involved with or advising your clients around and how does the, what's happening in the world of finance impact your potential customer and so such an interesting conversation and Melissa, you have a whole bunch of content out there, I'm sure.

MP: 36:05 What would be the best way for our listener to get more information to learn more and maybe even connect with the work that you're doing.

MA: 36:15 The best way is to go to Melissaagnes.com that is the hub of, you know, you can find everything there from videos and podcasts and blog posts and free downloadable resources that will help in your crisis readiness straight through to getting in touch with me. If you're looking to have a speaker or an advisor, the links to my book on Amazon as well as that webinars series that I, I mentioned earlier.

MP: 38:30 Beautiful. And we will have all of those links in our episode notes, so if you're interested, you can just click below and you'll see it all right there. Melissa, this has been truly an honor to have you and thank you so much for your generosity with your time and taking yourself away from the things that you're up to.

MA: 37:45 Well, thank you so much, Michael, for having me on. It's been a true pleasure chatting with you.

MP: 37:49 Yes, absolutely. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 37:18 goodbye.

EP106: Beth Buelow – How Introverts Can Flourish In Today's World

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Understanding and appreciating what it means to be an introvert in an extrovert-leaning world is hard to do.

But, our returning guest, Beth Buelow has mastered it.

She helps introverted entrepreneurs amplify their strengths and build sustainable energetically aligned businesses.

She is also a professional coach, podcaster, speaker and author of The Introvert Entrepreneur - Amplify Your Strengths & Create Success On Your Own Terms.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to create empowered, productive environments where introverts can flourish

  • How to provide services for introverts and those who live and work with them

  • Information and inspiration on professional introverts

To learn more about Beth Buelow, visit here.

For her blog, The Introvert Entrepreneur, click here.

For her Twitter page, go here.

For her LinkedIn page, discover here

To get a copy of her book, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:09 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 making a return appearance to the show. She helps introverted entrepreneurs amplify their strengths and build sustainable, energetically aligned businesses. She is a professional coach, author, podcast or end speaker and is based in the Pacific Northwest and serves introverts are across the globe. She's also the author of the introvert entrepreneur. Amplify your strengths and create success on your own terms. Beth Buelow, welcome back to the podcast. Beth Buelow: 01:45 Thank you so much, Michael. And you know, I noticed I was looking back and I was on your ninth podcast episode, which feels like so long ago. And now your way around. Episode a hundred or so.

MP: 01:58 We're up to the hundreds. Yes. It's now early hundred graduations. Thank you. It's been an amazing journey.

BB: 02:06 Yeah. Well, and speaking of journeys, I realized as you shared that intro that I've moved since we last spoke. Oh my goodness. Where are you now living? I'm now in Michigan, so I'm in the, the American heartland, the Midwest. And uh, we moved here in January, which I never suggest moving to the Midwest in January, but um, but that's what we did. So we've been here a little over six months and our, um, very much enjoying our, our new, our new home.

MP: 02:35 Beautiful. What prompted the move?

BB: 02:45 My husband's work. He's a, yeah, he's an orchestra executive and, and that's the kind of career where often, you know, depending on the size of the town, if you're looking for a new position or a new challenge you're under, you're going to end up moving, um, most of the times. So, um, so that's just been sort of part of the Gig and we've, um, wanting to get back to Michigan and specifically western Michigan for years. Um, we loved, loved, loved our time in the Pacific Northwest and I, I do miss it. Um, and we have roots and connections and friends here in western Michigan that we are, I'm really delighted to be back, um, on our old stomping grounds.

MP: 03:20 Beautiful. Well, congratulations to your husband and too to the family for moving out that way and getting back to your roots. Yeah. Thank you. That's great. Now I know back on episode nine, a, we talk about your backstory and who you are, but maybe just for our listeners to get a little bit of a catch up that the ones that haven't had a chance to listen to. Episode nine is to tell a little bit about yourself and your expertise.

BB: 03:48 Yeah, well, I am, uh, I'm a professional certified coach and as you mentioned, I specialize in working with introvert entrepreneurs at the moment. And I'm an introvert myself. I discovered this back when I was in graduate school using Yahoo back when it was, uh, like one of the only search engines. And I'm looking for personality tests cause I was procrastinating. I'm working on a paper, you know, came across in a version of the Myers Briggs online. And it was the first time I put together my personality with a word that explained it so well. And that was of course introvert. I had, I think I had also like many people then and now had a perception that introversion meant that I was shy or socially awkward when really the gift that came out of that experience of doing that assessment, um, was that it, it simply needs, it's about where you gain and drain your energy.

BB: 04:45 And so once I understood that I was better able to, you know, of course, understand myself and how I respond in different situations. And how I can use my strengths. And when I, you know, I then was working on a career in Arts Administration and nonprofit management, which I pursued for a little over a decade, um, before making the transition into coaching. And when I started coaching, I started noticing I'm attracting a lot of introverts. This is really interesting. And at the same time I didn't know what my target market was. And so it took me a little bit of time to make the, you know, connect those two dots. But once I did, um, it was a really powerful tipping point for me and my business because I had that clarity of message and was reaching out to an audience that I, of course, felt personally identified with. I felt I could speak that language and I felt that, um, introverts can be the underdogs and I've always had a place in my heart for the underdog. So it all just Kinda came together. And, and so I've been focusing on that for the past eight years and I'm like you said, published a book back in 2015 and I'm grateful all the time for having had this opportunity to spread this word and to, to create what I call introvert pride of ownership. Um, so that introversion is something that you can embrace as opposed to apologize for.

MP: 06:14 That's great. A pride of ownership. Yes. I liked the angle on that. Uh, just in terms of, you know, it makes it, it makes jumps right out at being more positive and too, you know, just as you were speaking, my thought is, you know, it's just interesting that we often go about our life doing the things we do. We forget to, to be introspective, to look at, well, what are our strengths? Who are we, what, what are we, what are we typically like? Not only is that powerful for ourselves, but also understanding it from, you know, the opposite side of the table. Knowing how we interact with others and others interact with us and the different personality types. It can be very enlightening really around going on, uh, the business of doing business and life. What do you see as being some of the biggest challenges or mistakes that you see introverted entrepreneurs making when they, they meet New People?

BB: 07:09 Yeah. Um, and when you say New People, I think, I think most, well, new people, yes. It's always the, there's always a little bit of a, um, there's a story that introverts tell themselves about meeting new people and it's often hearkens back to even if they understand it's about energy, they can go to that place of it's exhausting. You know, we make the mistake of making up those stories and believing them that, oh, it's exhausting to meet new people that I'm, I'm not good with people. I won't know what to say. Um, I'm not that into, you know, I don't have an interesting story. There are all sorts of, um, uh, you know, these layers that we can put on ourselves, these burdens that we put on ourselves, that, that get in the way of us just connecting with people. And when I'm working with clients often when they're talking about meeting new people, that's sort of code for I'm meeting with prospects or people that I want to do business with.

BB: 08:05 And well, what I've noticed isn't the exclusive domain of introverts. There are a few themes that I've noticed and first is that they see the person as a prospect instead of as a person. And that's especially like even networking, right? Um, we, we think when we're walking into a room to network that it's like, oh, I have to, I have to be prospecting, I have to be looking for where's the potential sale? And that can cause a lot of anxiety because we, we move very quickly from, it's just a person too. I have to sell to them. So that's one thing that gets in our way and another is that we don't, we don't, sometimes introverts like to be prepared, right? We, we tend to like to do our research and know who we're talking about, know or know who we're talking to and what we're talking about.

BB: 08:50 And we tend to forget to, and this is going to sound really, but it does add to our anxiety. We forget to practice that preparation out loud. We can think and think and think about what am I going to say? Who do I want to talk to? 'Em what's my value proposition? But then we forget to practice that out loud, you know, to try it on for size and see how it flows. Um, we, we think about it so vividly in our heads that we think we've spoken it when we have it. So like I said, you know, that might seem like, well Duh, of course you know, we need to say it out loud, but I think we forget to practice it and say it out loud when we're by ourselves when we can just sort of do a little practicing and dress rehearsal so that when we get into those situations where we might be feeling a little bit tongue tied around new people, it flows a little bit more easily. We have the words a little bit more quickly because we've, we not only have them in our minds, but we have them in our ears. So those are, you know, a couple of the things that, that have come up. And then the other thing is, you know, being clear on your value, um, especially as a business person and an entrepreneur, um, you know, trusting your value enough to know what your service or your product is worth so that, that how much does it cost? Part of the conversation isn't quite so awkward.

MP: 10:12 Hmm. I like that. Spend more time looking and thinking about the value that you produce for somebody and it almost erases the whole thought patterns around, Gee, this is expensive. Or you know, worrying about whether they can afford it or whether they'll pay for it. All of that noise is just noise and thoughts. You're replacing that space with thoughts about how valuable you are.

BB: 10:36 Yeah, yeah. When you're coming across with that kind of confidence, you're also not attached to their answer. You're open to whether they say yes or no. And you know that a no isn't a reflection of your value. It's a reflection of something else that's not a good fit. And when you can release that pressure then that lets off some of the anxiety as well.

MP: 10:57 When you're working with people, does it, does it take, how much time does it take typically? What have you seen when, you know, the, you give them these exercises and they take them on, how does that look and how does it typically go?

BB: 11:13 Well, usually they're coming, if you know, say it's a coaching client, they're coming to a session with a very specific challenge that opens up the bigger conversation. Like for instance, I had one client who happens to be a sales coach and a sales trainer and he was, um, he's been doing it for about six months and he was talking about, um, offering some workshops and some seminars. And I ask him how much he was planning to charge. And when he told me, I, you know, I was like, um, okay we need to look at this. And, and so we were able to kind of, you know, take a look at what it was. You know, what the challenge was. And this is a point that I learned early on that I like sharing, which is when you're thinking about how long you've been doing something, it's not just how long you've been offering whatever that service is to people.

BB: 12:08 It's the culmination of all of your experiences. So when I asked this client, how long have you been in sales? And he said, 30 years. Well, okay, 30 years counts. It's not just about six months, it's about 30 years. So I'm, I'm sort of roundabout answering your question in that people will come often with that particular scenario, but then that opens it up and we can have subsequent conversations over time about, okay, so if your count, if you're taking that into consideration, what does that, how does that impact your coaching services? How does that impact your, you know, any direct service that you provide? How does it impact your consulting? Um, so it might unfold over a little bit of time, but sometimes it's just that, you know, one little catalyst of a situation that forces the question for us to talk about something like value. And then we're able to, you know, have that as sort of an ongoing theme. But oftentimes sometimes it's just like a glow, like a snap to, you know, a tipping point of awareness that says, oh yeah, that's right. And then they're able to apply it to other things.

MP: 13:15 You know, it's, I love this train of conversation or train of thought. It is that I think with our audience, they, they, their job technically is to make sure that everything is, is black and white. You know, it's like this happened, this didn't happen, this should go here. You know, these expenses need to be categorized as these things. It's not about, you know, an art form, paint, throwing paint up on the wall and figuring out, you know, where it's all going to go and who cares? It's very, very specific. It's very detailed and it needs to get done correctly. Now, I think when I've noticed when I'd asked new, new, new people that I meet that are our bookkeepers, you know, well how long have you been at it? They give me exactly the amount of time that they've been running their own business or, or bookkeeping as their own business, where in reality most of them come with all of these different life experiences that all make up a bit of what it is that they do in their current roles.

MP: 14:16 A bookkeeper, I mean it's like if you, if you were in a management position for 20 years and then you decided you wanted to take up bookkeeping that 20 years counts and incredible amount next to your comp competitor that may have none of those experiences. So, but yet that's what they lead with. And, and, and so when you're meeting, so I was like, well, how long have you been doing this? Well, I just started now it's not, and there's going to be a resistance to say anything but that because they don't want, they want to be black and white, transparent. Sure, sure. But yet, coming from a sales perspective, a marketing, it's about appreciating those other attributes that, uh, that leave the, the prospect prospective client and a positive frame that you're the person that is best suited to solve my problems. And so there's this dilemma of being black and white, but as well ha putting the right angle on it that it actually sits well and in a positive light and positions that person as the one that can solve the problems. What are your thoughts around that and how to best uh, arm everyone with, with the, what they need to do a great job of this and B and, and feel that they're being black and white.

BB: 15:32 Yeah, that is such a great point, Michael. Thank you. Um, you're right because there's numbers don't lie, right. And, um, they don't fudge and there's not necessarily, I'm assuming, you know, there's not a lot of nuance there. It is what it is. Um, and we can't necessarily apply that same principle to the way we talk about ourselves and position ourselves. And what you say, Michael is so important about, I'm mining our back experiences because what that does, if you don't take those things into account, then you're missing an opportunity to differentiate yourself. You know, for instance, in my background I've had to get over this, you know, I feel self conscious because somebody will say, well what did you study in school? Or what's your background? And I feel like I should be able to say it's psychology or social work or you know, some other sort of profession that seems like a natural lead in to coaching.

BB: 16:25 But when I say I have music performance degrees, Huh, well how does that fit? You know? Well it fits because you know, during the time that I was doing that, I learned how to be in front of an audience. I learned about discipline, I learned about collaboration. I learned about working on something to reach a point of excellence. Um, you know, so all of those things are critical to informing who I am as an introvert, as an entrepreneur, as, as a person. And by being able to include that in my experiences, that deepens and enriches the story of who I am. It helps somebody to connect with me on a different level and it differentiates me from other coaches and consultants that are out there in different ways. The key is like claiming that story, recognizing and saying, okay, yes, that experience might be really different, but what was valuable about it? What can I carry forward that helps my story stand out from every other bookkeeper who can use the same software, crunch the same numbers, you know, identify the same categories. Why me and your story and your experience is part of how you can help to answer that question of, you know, why me?

MP: 17:51 Totally agree. It's so valuable. Our life experiences are our story prior to what we're doing is so, so valuable. What, what, what are your thoughts around extrapolating that from and knowing what's, what's the good stuff versus the irrelevant stuff? You know, any thoughts around that?

BB: 18:11 I think it would be around doing something that introverts love to do, which [inaudible] are, tend to be good at, which is that introspection and reflection. So that's where, where I would start. And even, you know, I've been known to pull out my resume because I'm like, I don't remember what, you know. Exactly. Um, you know, I need a refresher on what were the things that I thought at some point work important enough to pull out on my resume and highlight. So I'll pull that out and I'll, you know, think back and say, okay, when I was at that position, you know, what did I learn? What was, what were some challenges that I overcame? Um, how did I grow? How was I different from the time I started that job till the time I ended that job? And how did that inform who I am?

BB: 18:51 So using something as basic and simple as a resume to help trigger reflection points and to ask yourself the questions that I just toes can help you start to identify the pieces that you want to pull out. And you know, there are probably some lessons that, like you said, you know, you that aren't necessarily relevant that you can leave by the wayside. More important though is to like, you know, pull out those ones that you feel like, oh, this is, this is a story that nobody else can tell or this is an experience that nobody else can talk about and apply to this work the way I can in. So when you're, you're making that pitch, it's, you know, again, software, you know, numbers, categories, all those sorts of things, all things being equal across, you know, multiple people. It's really those stories that differentiate them.

BB: 19:45 So it's worth the time to do that. The other thing is you can ask current clients, you know, what, what do you appreciate about working with me or what, you know, you've worked with other bookkeepers before. How am I different? Ask family, ask friends, you know, just do a little bit of informal surveying about it and just, you know, gather some information and, and trust what you hear. Because often, you know, what we hear is not necessarily what we think is true, but often people see things that we don't. And, and I'm mainly talking about, you know, our strengths. We have to take those in and hear them and say, Oh yeah, well, you know, maybe I am really good at x, Y andZ or really have a good way with people or I'm really know how to listen. Those are all positive points that can be, um, used and leveraged, um, in the way that you positioned yourself to clients.

MP: 20:34 I love that. And surveying and collecting data, such a great way to, to shift one's view of themselves and, and find what's valuable. So talked a little bit about meeting people, New People, meeting prospective clients. What about in the sales, you know, an actual sales cycle that's occurring and it's a sales opportunity. Is there a difference do you find with your clients that are introverted, you know, there's asking for the business, there's, you know, asking questions. What do you see there for introverts and how, how they get challenged with that stage of, of business.

BB: 21:15 I think there are a number of things that can happen. One is this feeling that sales is an icky activity and then we don't want to do it. We want to accelerate it, we want it to, you know, get it over with. We take it very personally and, and as I'm saying these things, it's not that they're not, you know, sometimes I'm sure true for extroverts as well. I think, I think I'm identifying some universal human emotions, but introverts can internalize these things to, to some extent and they can become these barriers that, that keep them from moving forward. And you know, one thing to notice is if you're coming from scarcity, like if you feel like this is a do or die situation, one thing that helps is, and I think I said this before, to go into the conversation, open to either a yes or a no.

BB: 22:02 And that means yes or no from your prospect and it means yes or no from you. So that's part of it too, is to remember that it's a mutual agreement. You both have to agree to say yes to the relationship. And so if you're sincerely hoping to work with someone, you know, say it, but don't sound desperate, you know, you can say something like, I'd really enjoyed this conversation and I think we'd be a good fit. Um, it'd be a pleasure to work with you if you want to keep exploring what that would look like and have a know ready as well. For instance, I, and I think I've used this, um, based on what we've discussed, I'm not confident that my services would be a good match for your needs. Um, I really want to help you find a great fit. So would it be okay if I offered you a few recommendations of trusted colleagues to check out? So that one, you know, it's, even if the lack of the fit is about them, not you, it's still works because it makes it about the client's needs and not yours. So that's, that's one, you know, way to help alleviate some of that anxiety and some of those barriers when you're going into these situations is to kind of hold it more lightly, you know, take it seriously, but not too seriously. Um, you know, be prepared but not over repaired. Think about it. But don't overthink, you know, there's always those flip sides of the coin.

MP: 23:23 I totally agree. I'm really curious about you just overall your, your clients that you're working with, introvert, you know, what, what is the main thing that they're coming to work with you on? Is it, is it around confidence or selling or, you know, leading people? What do you find?

BB: 23:45 Often the thing that brings them in the very early stages is just getting clear on what it is they want to offer to people. I think the introvert entrepreneur is somebody who is often really super creative, has lots of ideas. It feels like I could go in all sorts of different directions. I've got all these different things that I want to offer and I recognize that in order for me to be sustainable, I have to focus. Um, I can't spread my energy out over too many things, too many offerings, too many people, too many audiences. And so one of the priorities that often arises pretty quickly in our working relationship is how do I prioritize amongst all of these different ideas? How do I determine the ones that are going to both respond to a need in the marketplace as well as fulfill an expertise that I have that will be satisfying for me as well.

BB: 24:37 So it's often, uh, a winnowing down, you know, a bit of spring cleaning of all of the ideas that they've had. And then once they have that, it's, you know, how can we position it? You know, how do I use social media? That's another big one because I think introverts, they understand the power that social media has, not just, you know, objectively because it reaches a lot of people. But because for them it's a very energy-efficient way to meet a lot of people. Um, and to get their message out. It's somewhat levels the playing field, even, even though it's very noisy, we all have access to it. So often that's where the conversation will start to pivot is, okay, so now I know here are the three things I'm offering. Here's who I'm offering it to now, how do I do that in the most effective and efficient way?

BB: 25:21 And then all the conversations that come with that. So those are often, you know, some of the topics. And then, of course, we get into the stories that we have about, you know, who we are as entrepreneurs, what it means to do sales, um, what it means to promote myself. Any fears around that. And then there's also just the, that whole sustainability. How do I make sure that I'm creating, I'm not creating a monster. You know, I want to create something that is satisfying and successful and profitable and I want to make sure I'm doing it very intentionally because I also value my alone time. I value my privacy. I need, I, I don't like the word balance, but I somehow need to have, you know, whatever balance means to me in my life so that I don't burn out.

MP: 26:08 Um, from, from our audience perspective, I think that everyone listening would, would, would resonate with that. Right? It's often there is this conversation of the wheel that just keeps turning of work. And there's so many different avenues that they can take from marketing, what to learn, the change changes in the industry. So I think prioritization is really a critical conversation. It's like what is the most important piece? And then narrowing down to, okay, this is what I'm going to do. What are the barriers that are in my to getting there?

BB: 26:44 Yeah. Yeah. What are the gaps? And you recognize you're not, again, this is why it's important to be clear on your audience that you're not going to have to necessarily need to catch up and learn and know everything. You know, every single trend, every single piece of software, every single platform. You know, if you're able to focus, you can focus your energy and attention on learning as much as you can, as deeply as you can about that particular target as opposed to, again, you know, feeling like you have to be all things to all people and therefore you have to know everything. That's exhausting.

MP: 27:21 Yes, absolutely.

MP: 27:30 You mentioned energy efficient. Tell talk a little bit more about energy-efficient and it when it was in roots guard to social media.

BB: 27:40 Yeah. You know, like I said in the very beginning when I learned that introversion had to do with energy and not necessarily social capacity in our social capability, it was really eye-opening. Introverts will gain energy in solitude and we drain it during social interaction. So being energy efficient is largely about recognizing your own personal capacity and ratios. In order for me to be energy efficient, I. E. Sustainable, I need to be able to know what do I need in terms of interaction, time and downtime. I've sort of figured out that my magic formula is I need about three hours of, you know, solo work or downtime for every one hour of social interaction that I have. And so, and usually I'm defining social interaction as something that's, you know, pretty, pretty. Um, putting myself out there like going to a networking event or going to a conference or a peer event or you know, something where it's, um, or a speaking engagement.

BB: 28:43 Um, something that really requires a lot of energy. And in order to balance that out, I need to make sure that I'm being very intentional about working in that, that downtime. And, and one way you can do it is to look at your calendar and your blocks of time, whether it's spending time with clients or planning or catch up or Administrivia or uh, you know, social media instead of looking at it in terms of time, look at it in terms of energy segments. So, you know, for me one hour of time is, you know, two hours of energy. And if I look at it that way, I'm not going to be as tempted, you know, cause I can look at my calendar and I can say, oh look, I have eight solid, I have eight hours today that have the potential to be filled with stuff.

BB: 29:31 So I could do, you know, eight back to back, 45-minute clients if I wanted to. Well, that's not going to be energy efficient because by the time I probably get to about client, I'm my capacity to listen and be present and to be effective is going to be severely diminished. So I need to look at that calendar in energy blocks and say, okay, so energetically over an eight hour period, I can probably do two to three clients and I need to make sure I have this much time in between them so that I'm able to recharge or I need to bunch them up so that I get it all over with in one and then have a large block of time afterward. So some of that is, you know, giving yourself permission to do some trial and error and figure out what is most efficient and effective for you. You know, what are your patterns? Would you rather go, go, go all day and then have two days off, you know, or two days just working in the office on paperwork or, or doing social media. Um, you know, it took me a few years to figure out my pattern. And so to give yourself space to do that and, and again, you know, look at your calendar in terms of energy instead of time and see how that might impact how you schedule your days.

MP: 30:42 I love that. I can remember that from episode nine and I think it's just, just such an interesting way to think about it. You know, we have so much energy in the tank and we're either filling it up or we're taking it out and it's like don't often think of it that way. I don't anyways. And I think it's a refreshing way to look at it. It's like, oh, why am I feeling tired while I'm doing things that are emptying the tank? I haven't put anything in the tank. Right. So yeah, I just loved that you know about, that's always refreshing to speak with you. I know our audiences just loved listening to the episode. We had lots of feedback and I think it resonates because many would be more introverted likely than the opposite side. What's the best way for them to learn more about you? If this is the first time that they're listening to you, would you recommend?

BB: 31:29 Um, I recommend visiting my website. So it's the introvert, entrepreneur.com and there you will find, you know my podcast episodes and you can also find it on iTunes and subscribe there as well as find links to you know, other places where I've written and appeared and offer advice just like this. And you can find out more information about the coaching and speaking services that I offer. So that's probably the best place to start cause that's the portal to everything else. And of course, I'm like you mentioned my book is called the introvert entrepreneur and you can find that on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and anywhere fine books are sold.

MP: 32:07 Beautiful. Well Beth, thank you. On behalf of all of our listeners, thank you for your generosity of your time to come and share your expertise with us. You're welcome.

BB: 32:18 Great pleasure, Michael. Thank you so much for having me back again and best wishes to all of your listeners.

MP: 32:23 Awesome. Thank you. And that wraps 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 until next time, goodbye.

EP105: Jennifer North – Why You Need The Risk Management Checklist

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Risk Management.

The forecasting and evaluation of financial risks is vital to the life of your bookkeeping business.

If you don't pay attention, your business will suffer.

Our guest, Jennifer North is a certified professional bookkeeper who developed the Risk Management Checklist. 

She joined the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers USA (ICB USA) as an Administrative Manager. 

The checklist along with her wide range of skills and experience, both in marketing and accounting, are now helping ICB USA in its efforts to lead the future of bookkeeping certification in North America.

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

  • The Risk Management Checklist

  • The list of key mistakes to avoid

  • What value and credibility you can add to your client

To get in touch with Jennifer and receive a free copy of The Risk Management Checklist, email her at jennifer.north@icbusa.org.

For her Facebook page, click here.

For her LinkedIn page, visit here.

To further investigate ICB USA, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:17 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is a certified professional bookkeeper who joined the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers USA as an administrative manager using her wide range of skills and experience both in marketing and accounting. She is now supporting the ICB USA organization in their efforts to lead the future of bookkeeping certification in North America. Jennifer North, welcome to the podcast.

Jennifer North: 01:49 Thanks very much, Michael. I'm really happy to be here.

MP: 01:52 Yeah, it's great to have you. And I know we've had lots of conversations, uh, in the past and I'm so excited to have you here so that those conversations can actually be shared with our listener cause they're so valuable. But before we get into all of that, can you tell us a little bit about your bookkeeping career leading up to this point?

JN: 02:12 For sure. I started my own bookkeeping firm, uh, about a decade ago. And the prior to that I had been in the marketing world and I always felt that I was missing something. Uh, the numbers side didn't always make sense to me. So I did go back to school for Accounting and decided that I wanted to hit the ground running with a bookkeeping business. So I started, first I started in north accounting services, which later became umbrella bookkeeping solutions. And I still run that today, but I do it as a consultant now. So I, I moved away from actually being, I'm the forever bookkeeper for my clients and I've now moved into sort of a management level where I help support other bookkeepers in their businesses now.

MP: 02:51 Beautiful. That's excellent. Well, I love your background. I mean the marketing, the bookkeeping, a what a combination. It's not often that you have such a strong background in marketing, uh, and as well bookkeeping. So I think that's extremely interesting in terms of your viewpoint of business and, and business as a bookkeeper.

JN: 03:11 Yes. Well, I, the topic today that I wanted to sort of delve into, which relates to both marketing or all areas of business marketing and bookkeeping is risk management. So that's what I was hoping to sort of get into because I think that it's really important that bookkeepers who are leading their, their clients down the path of success that they understand for their own selves and for their, their clients, how they can manage risk and avoid some of the mistakes that bookkeepers kind of fall into are the traps and pitfalls of running your own business either as a solo-preneur or somebody who is leading a team. Uh, there's lots of things you can do to minimize risk.

MP: 03:51 Absolutely. Well, tell, tell us, give us some background. Like how did you get into actually doing and focusing on risk management?

JN: 04:00 Well, it became sort of a natural piece of what I was doing already. I, you know, I love the, first of all, I love your book, the successful bookkeeper and I reviewed it before our podcast session here today and I, I love chapter eight because it does dovetail nicely with what we're talking about. It's the 10 mistakes bookkeepers make. And I love the first quote for Eleanor Roosevelt that you quote, say, learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself. I am a big believer in learning from the mistakes of others and trying to avoid having to make the mistakes yourself. So early on in my career as a marketer, I, I certainly made a lot of mistakes and uh, you know, as you, as you grow and as you mature and as you get into your business more, you realize that there's the right way to do things and then there's the maybe not the right way to do things and why go the long way around all the time.

JN: 04:52 So I often try to find the right way and the right solution the first time and through, you know, just lots of experience and years and years of working with, you know, hundreds and hundreds of different businesses. There's, there's definitely a list that I've put together that key things that keep coming up that repeatedly people continue to either avoid or they just, they have no knowledge of or they don't know or understand that they could be, you know, minimizing those risks. So I feel that that's really important for me as a bookkeeper or somebody who consults with businesses. I feel that it's important that I help businesses not step on the landmines or avoid the land mines before they step on them because it's far easier to avoid a problem and then to actually have to live through it and experience it. So that's, I think how I came to it is that I just became passionate about it through all the business work that I've done. And I'm now at the point where I believe that it's a value that I add to any client relationship. I, I know what I, I know what I know, and sometimes people don't know what they don't know. So helping them through that and helping them prevent is far easier than having to fix mistakes or go back and actually, you know, where the embarrassment of the, the mistake and then have to, you know, fix it. Uh, and, and going through the pain of that

MP: 06:18 You know, it's one of those common sayings, which is a stitch in time saves nine. And I'm sure a lot of what you're going to share with us today is, is that right? It's like do a little bit now. So that down the track it's not going well.

JN: 06:33 That's right. That's right. And I think that there's a, there's probably a few key areas especially, you know, focus towards bookkeepers, that bookkeepers are oftentimes on the front lines. They're, they're dealing with our customer and they obviously have their, their duties as a bookkeeper to keep, keep going and keep the business going. But every area of the business touches bookkeeping. And it's really important to see the big picture as well as the micro detail and try to, you know, certainly keep your business strong as a bookkeeping business. If you're running a bookkeeping business or even if you're a bookkeeper in an organ, a larger organization, you can add a lot of value by bringing the conversation out. So, for example, if somebody is running a business and they don't have errors and omissions insurance for example, certainly, uh, you don't have to have errors and omissions insurance, but it's very handy in the event that you do make an error or there's a mistake somewhere and it costs a lot of money. Uh, you, you want to avoid, you know, being financially devastated by a lawsuit. So an errors and omissions insurance policy would protect you from that. That's just one example of something that I would highly recommend. First thing that a bookkeeper is starting their business to look into that it's, it doesn't have to be that expensive and certainly you can grow the policy to suit your needs and a budget as you grow in your clientele.

MP: 07:54 Beautiful. And is there, is there kind of like a, an amount in terms of what, like what does something like that cost in terms of, uh, an average bookkeeper?

JN: 08:06 Well, it can run a hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. It depends on the coverage and policy that you'd go with the, I would say the average, you probably want to get at least a million dollars. I think that that covers a small to mid size solo operation and you want to make sure you know that the, the pieces of that policy also cover the people that are working for you as well. So again, it's hard to say right now I get a special discount because of the organization I'm with. But the, I'd say the average is somewhere in between five to $1,200 a year.

MP: 08:40 Okay, great. Well that's not that much money considering what it's protecting you against. Uh, and it sounds like it's one of those critical things that uh, as a business you should have.

JN: 08:51 Absolutely. I think it applies to board members and nonprofits. Also, you want to make sure that accurate sitting on a board, you want to have insurance against anything that you know, you're taking responsibility and accountability and that whenever you do that, there are legal risks that you should be well aware of and go in with eyes wide open.

MP: 09:11 Great. Now you, you actually created a whole checklist around risk management to help entrepreneurs in bookkeepers. Like what are the big mistakes you see them making around risk management and beyond like not having insurance?

JN: 09:32 Well, I'd say that there's many different areas. It depends on the nature of the industry you're working in and so for example, if you were in the restaurant industry, I know some bookkeepers who specialize in the restaurant industry, you want to make sure that their employee safety training is in place. You know that's not really related to bookkeeping, but it is a business risk if they haven't followed the proper safety training or they haven't reviewed fire escape plans with their, with their employees. Payroll is another example. Payroll for a lot of businesses, you want to make sure that you're deducting the right amounts and make sure that the right questions are asked at hiring time and that the right paperwork is filled out. There's a lot of compliance issues with government legislation to make sure that you're up on that. The latest changes in legislation around employee management and employees and laws around how to treat your employees. So I see that as a big, big sort of, unless you've had employees, if it's a new area for you, you really should consult a professional and make sure that you learn what you don't know about that cause. That's a big area of mistakes that I see.

MP: 10:34 Absolutely not knowing, not knowing something is huge and there's so many people out there that would know that or have that information. So seek help.

JN: 10:43 Yes, exactly. Yeah, that would be, that would be the, and having a certified bookkeeper at your side, if you're running a business, I always recommend that my clients, you know, work to making sure that they have the right team in place. And part of that is putting right controls in place. Unfortunately, our industry can fall victim to fraud and fraud is really 99% opportunity and it's removing that opportunity and making sure that you're protected. And if you have employees working for you that they're, there are separation of duties and controls put in place to make sure that fraud just can't happen. And that's another big area where I see big room for improvement across the board and all industries and all businesses that there should be a fraud protection plan in place. Something that is, you know, give it some thought once a year even that who's got access to the funds, who's got access to a transferring monies and who's got access to writing the checks or doing bank deposits. All those things should be really evaluated and make sure that you do have a good culture around making sure that everyone's informed that you have policies and procedures around protecting the company and their assets.

MP: 11:49 Yeah, it, it's, I mean I feel like this episode is all about cliches are cliches, sayings, but locs keep honest people honest. It's true. It's true. And I think that, you know, what I've developed over the years, and this is what I talk about whenever I'm consulting with clients or educating bookkeepers, it's creating this risk management mindset. Having a mindset when you go in, where identify the problem areas meet. That's the value that I bring when I, when I go in and I do a discovery process with a client or with other bookkeepers, we sit down and we can talk about where are the holes here, where are the gaps? It's always going to be different. It could fall in the line of financial, it could be technology risks. Another big thing I see across the board, people not backing up their computer data. I've, I've seen it time and time again. Somebody is using one computer station and they've got their software on that one computer and it's not being backed up regularly.

JN: 12:43 Well, we all know what the risk is, is that you know, when, when the power goes out or something goes wrong and the computer motherboard gets fried because somebody dropped a coffee on the keyboard, then we're, we're at risk of losing all of our data and all of the hard work that the bookkeeping manager was doing. And so it's important to make sure that that is dealt with and that you look at all areas of business. So financial is one area and this is part of my checklist. We talk about the financial set of risks. We want to make sure that the reporting is accurate, it's a risk if you're reporting and that that accurate, the accuracy isn't there. So you want to make sure that you've got real checks and balances, making sure that, um, banks are reconciled on a timely basis and that you are reporting in tandem with that reconciliation process on a regular basis.

MP: 13:29 Technology, having password protection on different, uh, devices and making sure that you're not going to be hacked, for example. That's another area, you know, making sure your antivirus programs are up to date. Another area of risk is human resources. We talked a bit about payroll, making sure that their job, the job descriptions are clear that employees understand their roles well, that they're there, they're submitting time sheets on time and that it's not creating problems with the cashflow. And then there's also the health and safety side and again, insurance. So there's different types of insurance. There's office insurance, there's health insurance. Another big area where I think that owners of businesses should really pay attention to is what do you do if you get sick and you have to be away from your business for an extended period of time? Do you have a plan for that?

JN: 14:19 It's all about just thinking ahead. Obviously, we'd love to have a crystal ball and we'd love to know the future, but we don't. But planning for some of these key scenarios that happen time and time again. A owner gets sick and has to be away for a month. Do you have backup? Do you have a plan for your clients if you have to be away from your seat for that long? That's another big area that I see for room for improvement in a lot of businesses. Do you get any pushback from your businesses that you're working with when you're talking about risk management? Do you ever get pushback because it's, I could imagine

JN: 14:52 there would be the sense of Ah, you know, there's so many things to worry about and yet we, you know, even the things we know we need to worry about, there's like a whole host of things that we should be worrying about as business owners that sometimes it can be almost overwhelming.

MP: 15:09 Absolutely. This area can be overwhelming and I'm very careful when I am introducing some of these concepts. If they're new to the business owner, especially in new business owner, I would, you know, tap it. Typically how I would approach this as I would have a special risk management session. It's sort of opened the door to the conversation. I present my checklist for review. The review is, we pick maybe a few things on that list that we could do immediately pick the low hanging fruit, you know, so to speak. Pick those things that are not going to cost a lot of money, that don't require a lot of time, but it's just a bit of thinking and introduce the concepts slowly for sure. I get pushed back and usually that's a sign to me. If somebody is resistant to doing any risk management work, that probably they're not the right client to be working with me because I want to work with people who are taking that kind of thing seriously.

MP: 15:58 We want to avoid the pitfalls of, like I said, fraud or anything like that. And if a business owner, uh, really is resistant to that, then it's kind of a, it's kind of a, an alarm signal to me that they don't have the right attitude towards their business because everyone does need to consider these things. Uh, you know, properly. A lot of the contracts I get, um, they're higher level and they're, they sometimes involve government and government regulations and, uh, government, uh, opportunities are usually brought forward because there's been some sort of, um, compliance issue or some sort of risks that wasn't managed properly. And I'm often brought, uh, books that have to be, you know, um, brie Donner or there's been an emergency situation where they really need the data that they, they, they thought they were getting but they can't get it. Now I can see the past and say, well, this should've been done. This should've been done, this should be done. That's where I get my risk management checklist from is all of these experiences that I've had and all of the things that have gone wrong. I, I accumulate that knowledge and I, I hope to share it for the benefit of everyone and hopefully people are receptive to it.

JN: 17:13 Yeah, I think so. I think it's interesting, you know, the pushback and I, I think that is just from my own experience around, I have a great friend who is a contractor and he, you know, he's the type of contractor that when he tells you what it's going to take, it's exactly that and he's going to get it done right and all of this good stuff. And he's got a very high attention to detail and, and sometimes, you know, when we're, we're doing something or working on something, he'll be like, you know, look, you've got five years left on this and that's going to be a $20,000 repair. And it's like, I don't want it. You know, it's like, I almost don't want to hear, it's like, oh, but it's the truth, right? Sometimes the truth can sting a little bit, but it, you know, after I've sorta swelled up and say, okay, yeah, we're going to have to take that into consideration.

MP: 18:00 So I think it's a great message from you and that when working with owners is lightly get into it, make sure that the context has been set and, and that they're, you know, slowly introduced to this thinking because it can be, I think, overwhelming but so valuable. And I think it's, from what I'm hearing and just listening to this, I think it's just such a, an added value to clients because they're not, if they're not thinking about it, nobody is. And this can be an area that can, can be a probably open up to a whole bunch of opportunities to be able to be more consultative with your clients.

JN: 18:37 Absolutely. And it can be what are those things that certainly you did do, you dig in and you go deeper and you find that, wow, there's a blind spot here. Nobody even knew this was a risk we didn't realize. And so the conversation is steered and now you're a leader. You're in a POW and a powerful position because you know something of green value and you can use that to your benefit to build credibility with your clients and to gain their trust. So I think that it's really important that people, uh, have this risk management sort of viewpoint or you know, attitude and take that and use it for the benefit of both their client and themselves. I mean, anything you do for your client that helps your client is going to help you in the end. If you help them become a more stable business, if you help them understand the reports better.

JN: 19:24 One of the areas that I think could use improvement sometimes in different organizations is making sure that communication even is improved. Uh, there's a risk sometimes where communication breaks down and that's where you see sometimes the bookkeeping relationship breaks down and then the bookkeeper gets blamed for things. And so that's another area where we try to make sure that when I'm working with bookkeepers, I know the areas that can can lead to um, you know, miscommunication and misunderstanding. Sometimes the bookkeeper is the most knowledgeable person in the organization about finance. And so walking that line and communicating that clearly and making sure that that's done well is also a skill that's required. A lot of bookkeepers are beyond the, the technician level and the, so we're talking higher level opportunities for, for bookkeepers who are certified at the highest level. Those people understand their duties and, and, and want to be a leader for the business. And the organization. And, uh, the more education they can get around this, the more professional they can be. It's only gonna help them in their business in the long run.

MP: 20:30 I totally agree. And I think it's the future of, of, of bookkeeping. It's, it's, you know, business owners need that level of person that is a steward of their, of their financial situation so that they understand what's there. There's transparency, there's clarity. And with that, with all of that, they can make better business decisions. And I think often in the marketplace, people think that they, they, they, ah, I don't know if the words marginalized, but they, they simplify the concept of bookkeeping. And you can see in this conversation that this is a very complex, uh, practice and there's a lot to it. And so what's required, excuse me, a frog in my throat. All this talk of risk management, I'm like afraid, um, is, is that going into the, the, the work and taking on this responsibility is, it comes with, you know, I believe that the bookkeeper should prepare themselves and make sure that they're, they're educated as much as they can.

MP: 21:35 And that's, that's why it's like belonging to associations like ICB USA, uh, where they're, they're learning, they're keeping up on their skills, their, they're expanding their knowledge and wisdom because that's what the owner needs and wants is while a lot of the times they don't even know that they want it, but they, they certainly need it. And that's part of the education selling and education process. But it's really going in and saying, what, where do I need to be prepared? What information do I need to have? And making sure you have all of that so you can deliver this level of service to small business.

JN: 22:10 Absolutely. And a lot of bookkeepers haven't even thought of this area and it's, it's something that they can bring to the client conversation, adding value and building that trust and you know, earning the respect that, you know, a lot of bookkeepers aren't just doing bookkeeping, they are doing a lot more and they're often relied on as a source of information for a lot of different, you know, areas of the business. And so it's really important that you do know the current legislation. There's a lot of areas that you can specialize in and that's another area. You know, another thing I would say is that sometimes it's good if you don't know something and a client's asking you, it's better to just say, I don't know the answer, I'll find out for you rather than, you know, make up the answer on the spot. That's something that doesn't win you credibility if your answers wrong.

JN: 22:55 So you want to make sure your, your answers are correct. One of the things that you did speak about with previous podcast guest Louie prosperity from our organization, you talked about full capacity getting, getting further, you know, in your business and not taking on too much that you're at total capacity, 100% capacity or even 120% capacity. It's a, that's a big risk for bookkeepers as well that I find that a lot of bookkeepers take on too much and they've spread themselves too thin and so the, they could have not done that by choosing the right clients, making sure that they were monitoring their time better. So there's things that you can do to minimize those common things that almost every bookkeeper has to learn on their own. It's better to not have to learn, you know, through the school of hard knocks. You know? It's better to learn as you can through other people's and that's really what I love to try to do is share those things and prevent bookkeepers from making mistakes. I even made, I've made a lot of mistakes in my career and most of them have been, you know, the in private, so that's good. The worst is when you make a mistake publicly and you know, you really have to have a plan for that too. How do you, how do you manage when you've made a mistake, what do you do? How do you bring that to the business owners attention if there is, has been a mistake and communicating that very carefully. You can also when you credibility as well.

MP: 24:23 Yeah, it's this whole conversation is about thinking, right? Thinking about and looking at and understanding and so even around the, the practice management, if you will, a person's own practice management. Who are your clients are, you know, what's this leading to? Whenever that conversation comes up? I think of the movie Jerry Maguire. And have you seen the, have you seen the movie? Yes. Everybody's, I say, I asked that question because I want to bet everybody say, who hasn't seen Jerry Maguire? I'm like, yeah, it's a great movie. I love it. So you know, in the movie the Jerry McGuire, the character is, is saying, look, we're going to do, we're going to take less clients. We're going to uplevel our service and support. I think that is such an interesting conversation. It's such a, it's, it's the opposite of the Walmart model. It's, we're going to go boutique, you know, bespoke and charge a lot more money for it, but deliver x, x exponential more value to, to the clients. And I think that if you think about it, your conversation is, you know, if you're over capacity and you're running around, I mean how can you really service the clients and do a job that's going to have them go, Ooh, I love the work you're doing and I want to keep you want to keep you as well as we're free to all the people that I know. I mean it's not going to happen if you're not able to deliver high level of service and value.

JN: 25:44 That's right and I've made that mistake myself. I've been over capacity. I know what it feels like. The stress is not worth it in your book on in Chapter Eight it's the 10 mistakes bookkeepers make. I love that. The last two mistakes because these are time and time again. The biggest ones that I see all the time that the no systems, number nine you have no systems having no systems in place. If you had a proper system in place, chances are you're not going to get yourself into the trouble of being over capacity. And then number 10 no exit plan. This is a big one. And I think that one of the things that again, has sort of naturally or organically happened in my own consulting is that I work with my bookkeepers and my clients to make sure that I, if anything ever happened to me, and I'm the only one with access and keys to the, you know, to the whole accounting system that I make sure that if anything ever happened, they can pick up and carry on without me.

JN: 26:38 That is a really important one. Having an exit strategy and making sure that I'm not essentially, because I'm the only one who knows how to do or access the information that's required to run the business. It's really, it's a big responsibility that bookkeeper. And I think that sometimes people make the mistake of, well, if I give all the information away, I might lose the client or I, I'm afraid that, you know, they'll hire someone else. And you know, to me, I think that that attitude is more operating on the assumption of scarcity versus abundance. There's lots of business out there, lots of businesses who want to work with really high quality bookkeepers. And so, um, you know, that's not really a valid worry in my opinion. I think that you, uh, have to look at the best interest of the company you're working with. If they, if it's a client who has also a team, you want to make sure that the whole team is aware of where to find things, how to access the information in the data.

JN: 27:31 Obviously keeping a integrity of the system secure and sound. That's another thing I see oftentimes a too many cooks can spoil the brew in bookkeeping and you don't want too many people having access to the books and being able to alter transactions and things like that in the past. So you want to put, you know, closing dates on, on your QuickBooks file for example, or, or whatever. So there's just, these things have to be thought of. They just have to be really thought of. And really the person who's in the leadership position is the bookkeeper and they have to think of these things and adviser clients on them. On an ongoing basis. And this isn't just a onetime thing, you, this is a constantly evolving conversation and you're always looking at the gaps. And certainly you don't wanna spend all of your days, you know, managing risk, but you want to think about it and maybe devote once a year, this is my slow time, I'm just gonna, you know, brush up my, my systems and make sure that everything is, is in check and that my, my policies are in order. Everything I have, you know, is, is up to date.

MP: 28:29 I love it. I love the conversation. And the whole conversation around leadership, you know, is, is valuable. It's what we, it's a kind, I think it's a context shift or a shift of mindset in that if you think of the small business as you know, you're there to help them. I mean, be really like really think about that and walk in the doors as I am the Stewart, the shepherd of this, this, this businesses finances. I mean just that mindset shift and the context that you walk in with it, it's gonna translate really, really well to the right customers. Not Everybody is gonna want that. Like you said, right. Somebody, but I don't want to talk about list management if you stay in risk management one more time. JN: 29:16 Yeah, I don't, you know, it's like, guess what? We're not meant to work together.

MP: 29:21 And that's beautiful. That's a beautiful thing. It's like you, you said if your clients like giving away, you know, making sure that if something were to happen, you know, making sure that they're set up to move on without you. I mean, if they move on without you, that's great. It's meant to be, I mean it's, it's, it's thinking it's a different mindset. I mean, maybe it's not meant to be, but it's like this, and I'm going to give one more, cause it's been this, that episode where we've got these sayings, but if you, if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to, you know, the love was true. Right? And so that's an abundant, it's like abundance. Love is abundant. There is no limit, no cap, nothing to it. And so just let it go. And, and new things will open up new views of the world. Will open up when you start to embrace those things because the right clients that want to work with you and value what you do. If you're truly giving great value in doing the things that we're talking about, they will stick with you til the end of time.

JN: 30:18 Absolutely. And I think that, again, this is a conversation that evolves. There's always new technology, there's always a new ways for, you know, unfortunately there's people out there trying to hack into systems. There's new ways of, of that happening, making sure that you understand and can guide your clients on the best softwares, the best things that they can do to protect their business and their interests. It's only gonna help you in the long run, you know, and that that is, this is a long game like this is, this is something about looking forward to the future, making sure that you're proactive. It's a mindset for sure. A mind shift for a lot of businesses and bookkeepers and you know, businesses are, are relying more and more on the bookkeeper for this sort of service. So I think that it's a, it's a good timely conversation for a lot of people to, to engage with their clients on.

MP: 31:05 Yeah. So absolutely great. Absolutely a great conversation. And there's, like you say, there's so much more to learn and it's going to be evolving. And on that note, what's the best way, now we've mentioned this checklist, what's the best way for our listener to get in touch with you or find out more about you and the work you're doing around risk management or the ICB USA?

JN: 31:27 Well, certainly, uh, this risk management checklist will be made available to all of our members at ICB USA. And if anybody who's listening to this podcast wants access to it, they could simply email me and I'd be happy to share it with them. And, uh, my email is Jennifer.north@icbusa.org.

MP: 31:47 Beautiful. And we'll have that contact information and links and whatnot in the show notes. Absolutely. And, and also, Jennifer, I really want to thank you for, for bringing up The Successful bookkeeper book sometimes I forget to talk about it and share about it. I mean that's the name of the podcast, but we do have this, this wonderful book that I wrote.

JN: 32:08 Um, it's a great book. I recommend I, it's a great, it covers all that. All the topics we talked about today and and more. And it's again, it's if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and this book is a good start for somebody who wants to get a planning on their business and your whole pure bookkeeping system is part of that conversation too.

MP: 32:27 Absolutely. And even better news, the books free, if you join our community, you get the book free, just pay the shipping, very small shipping fee. We'll ship that out to you. So if you don't already have a copy, get one of those. We'll have a link it as well. And again, Jennifer, thank you for mentioning it and highlighting it. I think it's a, it's always good to make sure we're letting people know the things that are available to them. Well, Jennifer is, this has been great. I know already. I want to have you back to talk about some of the other wonderful things that you're doing in your own practice, but as well with ICB USA and just again from our, from our listeners. Thank you for generously giving us your time today. We'd love to talk to you again anytime.

JN: 33:10 Michael, it's been a total pleasure. Thank you so much.

MP: 33:13 Thank you. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to the successful bookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 33:28 goodbye.

EP104: Traci Yates – Tips From A Former Corporate Controller

TSBK - Episode 104 - Traci Yates.png
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Bringing peace of mind to clients so they can focus on their businesses and not have to worry about daily financial operations are passions of our guest, Traci Yates.

She is the founder and owner of Tralissa Inc. which offers bookkeeping, tax, and controller services to small and mid-sized businesses in Texas. 

Prior to founding Tralissa Inc, Traci served as corporate controller for three businesses. Her experience includes the automotive, lending, and startup industries. 

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Importance of the 8300 form to your bookkeeping business

  • How to communicate accurate financial information

  • Tips on saving companies money and improving their efficiency through automation

To learn more about Traci Yates, visit here.

To reach her via email, here's her address - info@tralissainc.com.

For her Facebook page, click here.

For her LinkedIn page, go here.

To check out Tralissa Inc, click this link.

PLEASE NOTE:  In this episode, a Jennifer North interview was mentioned as being a past episode, that is incorrect. Jennifer's episode will be released on Sept. 11th. Our apologies for the error.


Michael Palmer: 01:07 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the founder of bookkeeping from Tra Lissa Inc. She has served as a corporate controller for three businesses. Her experience includes the automotive lending and startup industries. She has more than 20 years experience in the automotive buy here, pay here industry. She also earned a BBA in finance and an MBA in finance and real estate from the University of Texas at Arlington. We actually met through the successful bookkeeper Facebook group. Tracy Yates, welcome to the podcast.

Traci Yates: 01:47 Hi Michael. Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:49 It's great to have you. And you know, it's such an interesting way that we met. You were, you were helping post info or you were posting information to the group to be helpful to our members, some of our members that, that were struggling with their, their experience and education and you offered to help. And so that led to a conversation and I just, I loved it so much. I wanted to have you on to talk about this whole concept of experience and what does it take to actually be a bookkeeper that can truly serve small business.

TY: 02:24 Right Michael. And one of the things I noticed is, is there were a lot of people out there with little to no experience asking some very basic questions. And, um, the concern is that they didn't have the experience or knowledge to really put themselves out there. And I see that a lot. I see that happening a lot. I see there's a lot of marketing people and marketing schemes going on right now where, hey, start a bookkeeping service with no experience, no, no this, no, that will teach you how in three men shall be up and running. And that's just absolutely not. The case. Takes years to learn how to be a bookkeeper and be able to do all of the tasks on your own. And you can maybe be an accounts payable specialist, but to know how to do the full scale, it takes a long time and you really need a strong mentor if you're going to be out on your own.

MP: 03:16 I love the, I love that and I, I love that you actually versus sort of just saying, well Geez, these people don't know what they're doing. So you know, good luck to them. You actually put your hand up and said, look, I can help the best that I can to help you. And that what that speaks to me is your, your, your, your professionalism and real commitment to the industry and making sure that people are, you know, not getting themselves into trouble. I mean it's massively impactful to them. They could end up in really serious hot water, uh, with a whole bunch of different parties at. But as well, the people that they serve, these are small businesses that, you know, the implications if you're not doing it right or making mistakes could be catastrophic for employees and families. And so this is serious, serious business.

TY: 04:06 Yes, I agree. One of the things that's very important is that bookkeepers understand what the 8,304 minutes and how it relates to them. This is a form that is for homeland security and I am in a border state, Texas and many of the people I spoke to are in a border state, California. And you need to understand when you start seeing some strange transactions, you must report them to homeland security. And I see, I see a lot of these businesses targeting very inexperienced bookkeepers to try and get the minimum amount done to get their taxes done, things like that. And, and these girls had a lot of strange questions and I, my advice to them is run, don't walk away from these types of establishments. They will do you look good and, and especially when you're new, just just, just walk away.

MP: 04:59 Yeah. And some of the, some of the issues that they were having when, when you and I were talking were, were things like, you know, that it actually looked like there was, they were breaking the law.

TY: 05:09 Oh, they were in it, especially with the fact of paying employees under the table using cash for everything constant. Um, we not being able to reach their client because of the going back and forth over the border. Things just didn't add up.

MP: 05:26 Yeah. Yeah. Well before we, we kind of jumped right into it before we go too much further down this conversation and tell, tell us a little bit about your career and how you ended up being the Tracy you are today.

TY: 05:40 Okay. I actually started out as, I'm a receptionist, I'm in a company where very quickly they started throwing small bookkeeping assignments, reconciling the cash daily. I got some accounts payable, ended up landing payroll and I worked my way up. We had a CPA firm that worked for the company and it was a small company, but the CPA really mentored me when I didn't know how to do things. This was back by the way, before we didn't have excel, we had spreadsheets, we had greenlight spreadsheets. I was trying to calculate depreciation, things like that didn't understand. I had a CPA who, who was also a professor and he would say, well, pull out your book and look it up, and he really taught me a lot of things, so I kind of did it backwards. I learned a lot about the bookkeeping world. And then once my children were in school for full time, I put myself through college and went all the way through. And then I landed corporate controller jobs for companies that required you to have an MBA to work for them. And I've now I mentor people who were just like me when I started out. And it's, it's a really great experience.

MP: 06:51 Yeah, that's great. I think it's an interesting, and I would say many fall into the profession and, and you've, you've made it your life, your life career around finance and managing finance. And then you've also started a bookkeeping firm and now this bookkeeping firm is very small. It's, it's brand new really. And, and so I just love having you on the show to talk about your perspective because the need is there in the industry for bookkeepers, not just any bookkeepers but great bookkeepers, but keepers that are passionate about what they do and passionate about helping small business. So if, if someone doesn't have any experience or any education, what can you recommend to them?

TY: 07:34 I recommend to them that they absorb as much as they can. There there are so many online courses that are free. I mean, my son sits in his room and he googles how to code something bizarre. And next thing you know, he's coding. I don't even know what coding means. So you can, you can find just about any, anything on the Internet for free. But with bookkeeping, it's about repetition. And it's really, you can't just go into your own business, but keeping it, in my opinion, unless you have had on the job experience and had people teach you, look over you, your work show you what you've done wrong, you can get really confused on your debits and credits and what the natural balances of counts are. If you don't understand those basic things, you're gonna look really foolish when you turn in financials to your new customer and your client. You just can't do that. So the best way to get that is to have a mentor or someone that you're working with that is a second glance at a higher level over everything you turn into your clients. That is key.

MP: 08:47 You've had a lot of experience as well in doing this work and working for people and having these mentors. And I think if there's, and then there's experience and often what I find when I'm talking with people who are just starting is that also they can not look at the experiences that they had, right? The being a controller for 20 years is worth a lot in terms of, of being able to transfer those skillsets and experiences over to your own business. But at the same time you also have to think about, well, what is the missing gaps that you would have from an education standpoint? Do you need to go and work for somebody else? You need to go and take some courses from a reputable place that provides education, that can give you the right foundation and to do it right.

CS: 09:36 Right. So for me, where I am in my career, I w the one thing I've learned is every day I learn something new. If you are not continuing to educate yourself in this business, you're just going to crash and burn. And I, the very niche market, which is finance and the automotive industry, so somebody from oil and gas came up to me and asked me to take over their business. I would have to tell them, I don't know anything more than what I learned in school in two chapters. Oprah's four days. That is my experience in oil and gas. Now, if you want me to take that on, I'm willing to go take some courses, go to some conferences and do what needs to be done, but you need to know that's where I stand. I would never misrepresent myself to the client and if I saw a lot of people coming to me in a specific industry, then I would certainly seek out opportunities. Maybe even go to Robert half or something like that and ask them if they had a temporary job where I could start getting some skills in that area. Kind of did my fit in the pool there.

MP: 10:41 Yeah. Beautiful. Now you're, you're, you're growing your firm and you know, I'm always curious to know, you've got lots of experience, lots of training. You've got a, a, a bachelor of business administration and Finance and MBA in finance, lots of education, 20 years experience, and yet you have barriers and walls in front of you. When it comes to growing your business. How do you feel about your own barriers and growing your business? What are they and what are you going to do about them?

TY: 11:10 Okay, well, one of the things, I've spent most of my life in accounting. I'm an, I'm a bean counter basically. So I'm going out and marketing my business is very difficult and I can see how these things look so glamorous on the Internet. Hey, we can teach you how to market your business and get you all those clients. All you do, all you have to do is pay us thousands of dollars upfront and you'll be rolling in the client's before you know it. Those things scare me. I'm wise enough to know better. Um, and, and I'm not saying that they will not give you some great marketing advice, certainly better marketing advice than I could give anyone. But I believe there are better ways to get that, more reputable ways to get that and I am starting my business. I will be putting some money. Don't think you can start a business for free. I will be putting money that I budgeted into a marketing campaign and that may involve hiring a part-time marketing person to set these things up for me. Better use of my time to focus on bookkeeping and then than it is for me to try to figure out how the marketing world works.

MP: 12:19 Yeah, beautiful. Well, you know that's an area that I can tell you. Marketing your bookkeeping business is not very difficult. It's it and it should not cost thousands of dollars to learn how to do it. And in fact, in the resources of the successful bookkeeper, many, many have already joined the community, the successful bookkeeper, Facebook community. Once you join, there is a portal, an online portal with a couple of different free courses. One of them is the seven by five marketing strategy and this is seven strategies to find five new clients for your bookkeeping business. Now, the key is that the message, and we're constantly have to remember this, is that being a bookkeeper is a technical job. It requires certain experiences and knowledges to, to be able to do the job. So you know, people who say you can just start a bookkeeping business without any education or experience is leading into a bit of a difficult situation.

TY: 13:19 Anybody can start a bookkeeping business that is true, but to be able to do it correctly and do it well, you need to have those. So that as a base, before I talk about marketing and finding clients, that is a base. Now, these seven strategies have worked for hundreds if not thousands of bookkeepers. And there's no Ninja moves. There's no paper click advertising. There's no, none of that. Uh, the market right now does not need that. It is there less bookkeepers in the marketplace than there are clients that need help understanding their financials, making sure that things are done correctly, making sure that they have the information and clarity that they need in order to grow their business and make, make business decisions. So I'd recommend that as a starting place. For everyone that's listening that wants help with their marketing, go check that out. The seven by five marketing program online, free in the successful bookkeeper resources. If you go to the section and just sign up, you'll be able to get access to that. And so I agree with you Tracy. It's uh, it's daunting. People want to be successful. In fact, we've surveyed thousands of bookkeepers. You know, what the number one fear of bookkeepers that are getting started in their business or even expanding their business. Do you want to take a guess at what that number one fear is?

MP: 14:38 I would guess marketing,

TY: 14:40 It's actually close. It's, it's number two. Number one is fear of failure.

MP: 14:46 Um,

MP: 14:47 fear of failure. And so what fear of failure can do is it can lead people to make rash decisions and, and think that they have to do a whole bunch of different things, you know, that they might not necessarily have to do. And that's, that's where, uh, as well the, the Facebook group where we met having that conversations, people like you actually giving advice, uh, and sharing their story is extremely valuable. So if you're thinking about doing something, ask the group as what have other people done what's worked for them, uh, where have they gotten their experience? Where have they gotten their education? I think that's a valuable thing to think about is that I remember traveling and when I was young in my twenties and I got lost a lot. You know, it's like we didn't have Jake Google gps or anything like that. It was like these old outdated, because we were cheap, so were buying outdated, like used travel books.

MP: 15:42 So all the information was like dated and old. Couldn't get much more if you bought the new book. It was outdated anyways. But I quickly realized that if I was going to ask directions, I'm going to ask three people and I'm going to ask and see is the, is it three same answers are there, you know, different answers. And guess what? I got lost a lot. Well when I did get lost, I found my way a lot more quickly when I did that. So ask people, do research, find out what the best route is going to be based on where others have gone.

TY: 16:14 Yes, I agree with that wholeheartedly. And I would also say that they probably, what I've heard is time and again is the number one way to get your next group as a bookkeeping keeping clients is through word of mouth. So if you are delivering the goods, then you're delivering them well and your clients are happy, then you're going to continue to get more and more referrals.

MP: 16:42 Yeah,

MP: 16:43 that that really is the gold standard is referrals. Uh, building strong relationships with CPAs, tax accountants, and really just networking. I mean those are the top three networking with other small business owners that no other small business owners to get to get connected. Now there's a lot there. And as simple as that is, there's lots of different steps. There's lots of different things to think about when doing that. But at the core of it is that if you don't know what you're doing, it's not going to take very long for people to figure that out. And, and literally if your, your reputation will be ruined or, or spoiled and that will not be a good way to get referrals.

TY: 17:21 Yeah, I agree with that wholeheartedly. And a lot of people out there are being trained right now, have some kind of misrepresent themselves. Just go out there and bring in that business and then you can find somebody to take care of the cow, the customers, what they want to hear, get the engagement and an outsource it very quickly. And, and I just don't think that's the way to go. It's about building that relationship with the client.

MP: 17:43 Yeah. So Tracy, in terms of your, your career, what have been some of the big learning that you were able to glean out throughout your 20 year career?

TY: 17:56 Well, I've had a lot of Ben. Um, number one, um, I've had to reinvent myself a few times. I've had companies that I've worked for that have gone out of business and then you're stuck and you think, Hey, I've done all this work. I've made myself a name in this industry and now here I am starting all over again. Or at least it feels that way for a little while. But if you can just get through the panic, maybe weighted out a month or two, you'll find that that you can build yourself back up very quickly.

MP: 18:28 Beautiful. And in you, you've had a lot of mentors throughout your career, what would you recommend in terms of finding and sourcing a mentor if you're just getting started?

TY: 18:40 I was very fortunate. My mentors fell right into my lap. I have had excellent teachers around me. If I had never gone to college, not a single day, I think I would be just fine because I have, I was blessed with having great people around me who were very knowledgeable in accounting and also educators and they flocked to me. They saw something in me and they wanted to help me succeed. I, I'm so blessed in that area. I don't know what to say about going out and finding one, but I would say you would start with providing value to our mentor. Going out and seeing if you can help them with something. You're struggling with them during busy season. You go in there, you do a good job, you help them, they're going to want to invest time in you. So I think that's what it's all about is finding somebody who wants to invest their time in you.

MP: 19:34 Wonderful. I think that's, that's great advice and a great way to actually take it into action. We, we, in a previous podcast, we had a, a woman by the name of Jennifer north talk about risk management and so often with risk management it's like it's what you don't know. You don't know in the business. Right. So what, what can, what's at risk, I would imagine in your career you've tackled risk yourself. What have been some of your insights around preparing yourself to be able to mitigate risk for yourself as a business owner and as well for your clients?

TY: 20:16 I think that you have to diversify and not put all of your eggs in one basket. That is, that is the thing I'm seeing right now. And people will tell you the opposite. They'll say, you know, niche down so, so tiny that you're the only person they want. But at the same time you need to be able to market yourself to more than one community, especially as these different communities have had that been downs with the economy. And so definitely become an expert in two or three areas that help you in one

TY: 20:48 area. Falls have a backup plan. You know, I, I knew I'm a corporate controller and I knew things weren't going so well, so I started planning and starting my business months ago so that I could have a foundation for when the stay finally came and I could decide and have a choice, hey, do I want to go back into these long hours as a corporate controller or do I want to take it easy, cut back a little bit and focus on my new business. So I think just diversification is key in helping mitigate risks.

MP: 21:10 Yeah, that's wonderful. That's wonderful. You know, it's so interesting speaking to you on this topic because you're, you have a lot of the experience, you still have your own business to grow and develop and, and I'm gonna love having you back to talk about, you know, where are you, where are you won and where he had setbacks and you know, there is no failure. There's only learning, right? And so, um, uh, it's been wonderful having this conversation before. Before we go, I, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the 8,300 form. I mean, many people may have not even heard about this and I think is a really important, it's one of the things that we talked about and, and reasons why we, why we got together and actually had a conversation. What is the 8,300 form?

TY: 22:08 Again, I wasn't prepared to give a training on it, but the basics of the 8,300 form, you should have every single person in your business trained on it. In fact, at my business, every three months we do a training where people sign off on it. If you're dealing with someone who gives you more than $10,000 cash within a certain amount of time, you have to report that to homeland security using the 8,300 forms. And additionally, if you're dealing with anybody, you, you just feel might be doing something wrong and they didn't hit that $10,000 mark, you must report that to homeland security using the 8,300 form and in border states and in certain industries where they feel there, they're more at risk to have these types of people come around, especially used cars. That's a great way where someone could come in and just pay cash for a car quickly.

TY: 23:04 You must be reporting that. So if you're seeing transactions of cash coming and going and your clients, it's not only the company that could get in trouble, but you yourself could land in jail by not reporting on the 8,300 I don't want to train anybody on it, but I'm telling you, you should. You need to go look it up. They have step-by-step trainings out there that are very simple and easy to follow. And the three. And, and understand what, what it means to report bizarre behavior. You need to know that about the 8,300 and every employee that comes into contact with cash within your business. They need to be filling out the 8,300 for theirselves. If they have a transaction that meets those, the criteria.

MP: 23:58 You know, it's great and, and I think that gives us an understanding of what it's all about. And your recommendation is bang on. Go learn about it. It's not only for you to learn and protect for yourself as the a, as the bookkeeper in these businesses, but as well to make sure that business owners know about it, that they're adhering to it. That is a value-added service to, to be the one who knows about what's going on in government and tax changes and different things that are happening that this information can be then translated back to your clients. And so, um, this is a big one. This is an important one. Absolutely. And I think in the future it will only grow to be more. Uh, a part of the role of the bookkeeper is to help business owners understand these things and make sure that they have these pieces in place in their business. We are not going to less regulation in business. We're only going towards more, which I'm not going to debate whether that's good or bad, uh, but it's the way of the world right now. And so it creates a lot of confusion at, creates a lot of stress for business owners that need to work inside of heavily regulated industries and, and uh, and states. So be the one that understands it, that knows it and get that information in the front of your clients so that they can make better business decisions.

TY: 25:24 Right, right. I think it's also important that whenever you talk to your client, whether it be monthly or quarterly, that you have some something like this to talk to them about that, hey, are you aware of the 8,300, hey, are you aware of this new law coming out? That just adds value. It's conversation and it makes your client feel like, okay, I'm dealing with someone who's keeping up with things. They're going to make me aware when things change. I felt much better about the services being provided by my bookkeeper.

MP: 25:54 Beautiful. That is a great gold tip. Use that to have conversation and the positioning of that. Absolutely right. Tracy will make them view you as a leader, uh, that they can rely on for their business. So this is absolutely great. Tracy, if people wanted to have a conversation with you or learn more about you, what would be the best way to do that?

TY: 26:17 Yes, you can reach me at Info at Tomasa, t r a l I s s a n I n z.com and I will be happy to speak to anybody who wants to find me. I'm also on Facebook at um, Trulytracey.com oh and LinkedIn look me up on LinkedIn as well. I'm, I'm pretty big on LinkedIn.

MP: 26:40 Oh Great. Well we'll, we'll have those links in the show notes and as well you're in the successful bookkeeper group, so feel free to reach out to Tracy there. Tracy again, on behalf of the listener, thank you so much for being here and generously giving us your time and sharing your experience on where you're at with your business and what you're seeing in the market place. And, uh, I've really truly enjoyed this.

TY: 27:05 Michael, thanks for having me. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 27:20 goodbye

EP103: Cindy Stradling – The Sales Edge to Help Your Bookkeeping Business

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Resilience is the key to dealing with change, stress and adversity.

Whether you are an entrepreneur who wants to make more money and experience more success, an individual looking for professional development program or an organization interested in giving your employees new skills and tools to work more effectively, our returning guest has the information to help everyone become more resilient.

Facilitator, coach, speaker, sales consultant and author, Cindy Stradling brings over 25 years of practical hands on business experience to her work. 

She has developed unwavering resilience through her journey and has developed her sales and resilience programs to show others how they can too.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The keys to lasting resilience

  • The right tools you can thrive in times of change

  • How to develop new coping techniques needed when life throws you a curveball

To learn more about Cindy Stradling, visit here.

For her Twitter page, click here.

For her LinkedIn page, visit here.

For the link to her program, visit here and you can take advantage of the early bird pricing by using the code: ATHENA.


Michael Palmer: 01:11 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be awesome. We have a returning guest who is a resilience coach and accomplished speaker and author. She works with entrepreneurs, individuals, and corporations such as 3m Canada, Scotia, McCloud and CIB c to do what's needed personally to get where they need to go. Cindy straddling, welcome back to the podcast.

Cindy Stradling: 01:40 Thank you so much, Michael. I enjoyed it so much that I was so happy that you invited me to come back.

MP: 01:45 Well, I know that you're probably just going to keep on coming back because I love having you on and I know our listeners have said they love having you on because you've done so much in your life and you're just constantly doing new things and bringing more value and especially to a big part of our audience who are females. You have, we're going to get into that, into this episode. You, you make a really massive difference for a lot of women in business, so I'm so excited, but for those that have not heard your last episode, tell us a little bit about your career background up until this point.

CS: 02:24 Okay. Michael, I only admit to 25 years in sales. I've been in sales for a very, very long time. I've been running my own training and development and coaching business for 14 years. And prior to that I sold a rewards and recognition. I sold books. Um, I shouldn't call them books, binders and presentation packaging. And you know, the truth is we're all in sales. No matter how you look at it, whether we formally go into sales, you know, B are going to go to, you know, take your bag and go out and sell something or get on the phone and try to sell something. It's something that is becoming more and more to me, prevalent. The everything that we do is, as long as we're influencing people, as long as we're sharing and we're wanting people to come to our site or an agreement with whatever was going on, it's really, I think we're all in sales and I'm just finished reading.

CS: 03:17 The book to sell is human by Daniel Pink. And it really, when you think about it, you're in sales. Your bookkeepers are all in sales. They're always selling their ideas. They're, they're selling their services, they're selling their ideas to their kids. And so, um, I'm really, really excited to, to, to share everything that I've learned over the years, which is I've done a lot of training. I have my, um, CSP through the Canadian professional sales association. I'm actually also one of their certified trainers. I've also got my certification through Erickson College for coaching. And that, as you know, is one of the ways that each and every person can excel and go beyond wherever they think they can go.

MP: 04:01 Yeah, absolutely. Well, you've really made it your, your career in terms of helping yourself be a better salesperson, but as well now helping so many others. And I love how you've brought all of your different experiences together, whether it be the coaching, the, the selling, the presenting. I mean, you're an accomplished, uh, award-winning speaker as well. Uh, but you're bringing all of this to now delivering and helping, uh, women actually excel in sales.

CS: 04:35 Yep. 100%. And I, you know, I don't want to say that men are better or women are better, but I think from an empathy perspective, I think that women generally have, and this is a generalization, but women in general have a just more empathy when it comes to consultative sales. When we're talking about consultants as sales and women often don't even think about sales as a career to be honest with you. And so when, when I started to talk to them and they see the freedom, there's so much freedom around sales and there's so much opportunity to, to advance and make a great income, they open rate up and they really take, take it to heart. And they've, a lot of them have taken my course. The last uh, program we ran, one of the girls literally changed her whole career. She said, didn't 10 years in business.

CS: 05:27 She hadn't done any active sales training. And she said, actually it, she caught it at call it a game-changer. And periodically she still sends me emails. I can't believe I did this. I got, I closed this. So it's really a boat having the confidence. I may think that I'm for women and I know that few my conference and, and through just my own personal development, sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit that we can do though a lot of things, not just sales. And I think that is through, you know, Professional Development and Training and coaching that people can actually do whatever they want.

MP: 06:02 Yeah. Which is exciting. And you know, for our listeners it's likely one of those areas that it comes up and it's like probably that I'm not that good at it or I don't want to do it. Um, but when you start to talk about, wow, what if you just improved a little bit the impact that would have on the bottom line, on the satisfaction of, of the work. I mean, it's incredible. Um, I've, I've known you for a very long time and you've always been someone who's doing great work and you've spent a lot of time in the last several years inspiring female entrepreneurs with your various programs. Now recently your work with TD bank, they actually surprised you with a gift to your organization of $50,000. Tell us more about that.

CS: 06:52 Well, I have to tell you that was a total and complete shock. TD was running a national campaign and they were recognizing local heroes and I didn't even realize I was nominated. I was just ended up in the conversation with my bank manager and her boss and there was four people come in the room and they started asking me questions and I qualified. And so what they were looking for was people that make a big difference in their own community and you know, through the women that come through our women moving forward conference. It's like I said on my video, I think the biggest thing that a lot of them get is hope. A lot of women have faced various challenges, whether it's employment challenges, whether it's physical challenges, whether it's, you know, they've had difficult relationships, whatever the is. Our conference is a day of celebration, so we've had it for six years and so be literally impacted.

CS: 07:47 I figure between 450 to 500 women's lives and the walk away feeling more confident. They take on new jobs. One lady in particular, she was coached by one of our current volunteer coaches and she worked for, the government, knew him and I don't remember exactly her position, but she moved up to levels and was actually able to by her ex husband out so she could keep her kids in the matrimonial home. For stories like that are just so inspiring and that's what I love to do and all that I do. So whether it's a sales edge, a training program, whether it's the women moving forward, whether it's, you know, the work that I do with the Scarborough women's center or women's place at the YWC, it doesn't matter. I, for me, I get the greatest joy out of sharing something maybe that I've learned and see someone else excel. I think that that's the greatest gift to anybody is to be able to contribute to someone else's development.

MP: 08:55 Yeah. You know,

MP: 08:56 it just gives me goosebumps hearing you talk about it. And you know, I was just thinking about you the other day and I thought it, Oh, you're the type of person that if I were to explain to somebody, well what's Cindy like? You're the type of person that's really just out there looking to help people as best you can. It's still like delivering value to people everywhere, whether you're being paid for it or not, you're always delivering value. And I think such a such a refreshing, I think that's probably why we've been friends for so long and why I just adore you is that that's the kind of person that you are, is you're just looking to make a difference in the world any way you can. And and so you've worked really hard to get there. You've had ups and downs in your life and now you're giving back to, to people that maybe are on a down place in their life and you're helping them lift up their lives.

CS: 09:47 And you and I are both on the same page when it comes to you're the same way, Michael, you've got a big heart and you deliver beyond, beyond value. I know that when you first started coaching, you coach one of my good friends and it changed his life. So, and you were getting paid very minimal amount of money, so it wasn't about the money at that particular time. So I think we're cut from the same cloth. And you were like that with your customers too, that you know, it's not about selling to them. It's about actually contributing to their lives so that they have freedom to be able to do the things that they want in their lives and their businesses. A vehicle to do that.

MP: 10:23 Absolutely. Well, thank you for saying that. It's always nice to hear the words and uh, but this is, this is more about you and this podcast interview. Uh, but, uh, it is so interesting and, and that's, you know, all of our listeners, I mean often forget that they're doing something so honorable, which is, which is helping small business owners get more clear and empowered around their finances. And when they do that, you know, it makes a big, big difference. In fact, probably you have no idea how big that difference is. So, you know, it's the long, the same train of thought and that you're helping the community and that's, if you're doing that and you're making a living doing it, well my goodness, what a great place to be. What a wonderful opportunity that every day a bookkeeper can wake up and be able to help small businesses be stronger.

CS: 11:16 I mean, it's just, I love it and I love helping. I love that my life is to completely designed around waking up and all I have to do is figure out how to help bookkeepers be more successful in their business. So it's, it's, it's cool enough about that though. Let's, let's get into giving them some things that it's going to really help them rev up their own sales. You have a program called the sales edge and I love that name and it's a three-day sales training program. Tell me some of the content that would be useful to our community to take up their sales and really get their own sales edge.

CS: 11:52 Well, I partnered with my

CS: 11:54 sister on this one. She retired a few years ago and she has just as many years of experience and training and, and um, she just is excited and she's comes from the same cut from the same class. We both really want to help people and help them make a difference in their lives. And what, when we design the program, and I've done tons of training as you know, from, for other diff, different companies at schools. And the one thing I believe and Susan believes with me is the foundation piece at the very beginning is the most important part. So we said spend a good part of the first day on mindset and understanding some of the means and some of the, even the vocabulary around sales that give people that yucky feeling that they don't want to do it. And when, when we can have them shift, when they really get their value and they really get that they can make a difference for their customers, it changes everything for them. It's like they're really excited to, to pick up the phone or send the email or whatever it is. And I think that really, you know, getting down to listening, like actually this a couple of the exercises we do around really, really listening. Like you remember global ears listening when we were in alright.

CS: 13:06 So we have them actually do that and with their body language and things like that, we, we helped them with their communication, even their tone of their voice, like if their, if their voice sounds really tough and or, or too high and squeaky and we work with them on, on a very personal level and they walk away with everything is so customized and so personal to them. And I think that's what helps them have the confidence because it, it, they create it with us. We helped them create it together. Um, but it's based on all of the principles in our processes, but it's all customized. So that people will walk away. I think it's like anything when they became a bookkeeper or you become anything when you're first learning. It's that whole unconscious incompetence thing. And as you do things and you get repeating and repeating and repeating, you actually get it to become unconsciously competent.

CS: 13:58 So you start doing things without even realizing it. And we all know there's no growth without coming out of your comfort zone. If you're staying in your comfort zone, you're doing what you're always doing, you're going to get what you've always gotten. So we really work in that area that we pushed people, not a lot, but push them baby steps to get outside of their comfort zone to try things on. I'll give you a perfect example. So when you do a call to someone that you've never, I don't even like the word cold call, but you call them on the blue color color, the cold call if you like. And in the old days we used to ask them if it was a good time. Well, the truth is it's never a good time when you're calling in someone in it. Fun solicited. And if you call them, ask them if you caught them at a bad time, they will.

CS: 14:44 I've done it unanimously. There's the nobody ever, ever, ever say it was a bad time. Even when lady getting on an airplane for kind of loud a no, no, I got a couple of minutes. There's just something about it. As human beings, we want to be able to support each other at a very fundamental level and almost everybody, in fact, everybody has said I've got a couple minutes. And that gives you that little window of opportunity. You may not only get one or two minutes with them, but then if you can talk about value, ask them a couple of really good questions to find out if they'd be a really good prospect for you. Cause they may not be, not everybody is going to be. But if you could strategically set that up, that when you did speak with someone, you get that first initial foot in the door, which is sometimes the hardest part.

CS: 15:28 Then you got a, uh, an, an opportunity continues conversation at another time, whether it's a meeting or sending more information or whatever that is. So we're filled with all kinds of tips and tricks of things that I don't even think the word, tricks, techniques that aren't the sort of the status quo. And most, most of the people that have taken the course, I won't say everybody because people still get challenged by it by, by some of the things. And we work with them. And then some of them have hired us for coaching afterwards. But the most important thing is they walk away. And I said it before, it's confidence that they, they can see and they know if they do this repeatedly, there's going to be confidence because there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything right. And so it's really important that they have a process that they follow a process, but everything, their verbiage, all of that is customized for them so that it comes out natural and authentic. We don't, we, we teach them a little bit about scripting, but it's more about, uh, asking the right questions to get the information to be able to give them the right answers.

MP: 16:36 As you're speaking, I'm thinking, you know, like just this whole tips and tricks as well. Like it's common that we say tips and tricks, I mean are true. They are tips and tricks but at the same time, another way to think about it, I have a, a very close personal friend who is a master martial artist. And when I say that most people think of like Bruce Lee but he's he or like Chuck Norris or maybe people won't even think of those people, but uh, it's you think of like fighting and like, you know, you know, knives and all these crazy things and he is actually the more the artist of, of that kind of work and it's, he's, he teaches people, you could call them tips and tricks on self defense and as well just these sorts of things. But really the, there, it's, it's artistic movement that he's doing and it's like a dance.

MP: 17:25 If you were dancing with somebody, there would be moves that you would, you would learn and, and you would move, you know, you would practice those moves and you'd get better at those moves and you become more eloquent on your feet with those moves. It's so different. I think from what your, you're teaching, you're teaching people moves and, and you're, you're, you're allowing them to incorporate those moves in with their natural way of being. What would normally sound like or say with a few tweaks and a few, uh, modifications so that at some point through practice, through doing it, you actually are eloquent at it and have a really high, uh, result like at a, a risk desired result out of all of that work. I think that's the beauty of what you do is it's not just, oh, hey, go do these things. No, it's, go try these things, apply them, do the same thing, learn up a specific methodology that works that produces a consistent outcome, but make it custom or bespoke to yourself. The more you do it, the better you're going to be at it.

CS: 18:27 Hundred percent. And it's really about creating curiosity with each other. Like when you're, when you're talking to a client or a potential client, it's no different than if you met them at a dinner party. You ask questions, you start to learn about each other, just take all the stigma out of it. That's what I, where we really work, work on is that it's, it's as natural as breathing.

MP: 18:48 Mm. And that's, that's what I like to hear. And I think that's inspiring and exciting for our listener because if it's definitely one of those areas that we, I mean we've spoken to and surveyed, I mean we're in the thousands of bookkeepers. We understand one of those things that comes up is finding clients selling. It's a challenge. But the exciting part is that when you do something, it's not, it's not like there's some magical thing that needs to be done. There is a process, there are ways of doing these things. And if you get in and learn the way and you, you commit to doing it and you do it a little bit and a little bit more and a little bit more, it becomes natural. And if you can do that well that's a competitive advantage against the marketplace. And that's exciting.

CS: 19:35 Yeah, for sure. And like I said, once they've done it once or two, nothing feels better. Like then when you, when you've tried a new technique and it works, it's like so uplifting, you can't wait to do it again.

MP: 19:47 Hmm. So I completely agree. So let's do this. Let's focus on one of the areas of your three day program and, and, and arm our listeners with one thing that they can do differently today that's going to impact the way that they're selling out there in their lives. What, what, what, what would that be? What could we pay?

CS: 20:08 Well, I think one of the biggest things, and people are really surprised when we talk about it in the course is the objection handling. So there's so many unspoken objections, usually in the sales, and no, I won't say a percentage because I don't know for sure, but sometimes the objection is in our own head. And so we come into a situation where they won't buy or this to this, but there's two that, and my sister has her saying, don't be the buyer and the seller. And I think that you know, you need to be prepared for objections. Objections are just part of the process. In fact, if someone's just sitting there nodding their head and not having any dialogue with you, highly unlikely they're going to engage with you. But if they're asking questions and they're posing, you know, an objection. Now some people will be an automatic no, no matter what.

CS: 20:58 And then what you need to do is then you have to understand why they're saying no and what they're saying no to. Because sometimes it's not you and it never, ever, ever take it personally. It's not about you personally. At least I don't think it's ever about them personally. So the thing is, a lot of the times what we do is teach people and we'll, we do practice scripts and we do role plays is actually putting the objections up front. So the time and money are the biggest ones. So if you, if time and money are the biggest objections in, in, in you speaking with someone that at the very beginning of the conversation say, you know, it was pretty typical that people don't have the time or the money to spend on a program such as mine. As an example, if I was telling you my program, I'll say, but Michael for, could we just for a couple of minutes just to explore what it's all about and the value take away, and we'll put this back on the table, but let's just take a few minutes and just put that off the side. We'll park that and then we'll look at it later. Nobody's ever said to me, nope, we're only going to look at price right now. So what they'll do is then you show your value because people buy value. If everything was ever sold on price, it'd be no premium products.

MP: 22:06 That's right.

CS: 22:07 You can show value for whatever it is that you do. And for bookkeepers, I mean, I know from my bookkeeper it's like peace of mind. Like if I get something from the Cra, I don't worry anymore. I just take it to them. You know what I mean? So I've got that back up. I've got that confidence. But if I didn't have someone to trust, then I'd be just someone who would be confused. I've spent a lot of time with the phone and whatever. So I think from a book, bookkeepers perspective, when they really get their value and they really get what they, what they even save in terms of time and efforts and all the things that they can take care of for their clients, like money and time shouldn't even come into it.

CS: 22:49 No, it'll disappear. But what I love about the leading with those objections is that if they are, if we know that they are one of the most common objections, then we know that they're, that it's likely the person they're sitting in front of has that objection. And if it's not addressed, it's in the background, the entire conversation. In fact, you, you, you will not get full listening from someone because it's in there listening right now is they're thinking about eventually I have to ask about price and I have to, you know, time and whatever the objection is, that's what's there so that are fully present with the conversation with you. So even if you are demonstrating value, they're likely only getting a percentage of that, you know, do the communication because they're still hung up on price or whatever it is. I love how you worded that out, where just sort of parked it and what it does is now we'll, in that situation, I guarantee you that there's a whole new level of comfort for the person that you're sitting with because they feel like they've been heard because Anna and it's like it's magical because they didn't have to do anything.

CS: 23:59 They didn't have to really say much. It's really just yes, that is an objection. Okay, let's park that. We're going to come back to it and then it's almost, it could be forgotten. It's like kind of like, oh look there out the window that's gone by. It's like forgotten. So that objection could completely disappear because now they're going to be lost in your value

CS: 24:20 100% and the thing is to let them know, if this doesn't work for us, we'll then, you know, basically have it a no risk situation. That's one of the things that we encourage people to do as well. And I say that to my clients all the time, you know what, I may not have someone sense a fit for you right now. And if that's the case, I will recommend you to somebody else. It just takes it out of the way.

CS: 24:50 And the thing is in your own head too, because sometimes we come in and we think, oh well they have the budget or will they have this or will they have that? You know, just go with the intention of delivering value.

MP: 25:02 Yeah. Let's go back to that a bit because I want to explore that a little bit more for our listener, which is this whole concept of having these preconceived objections. Why do we have those preconceived objections?

CS: 25:16 Well, because of just the way we're programmed, the way the world is. I mean, even just think about sales in general, the means that have been alive for years and years, like prospect who wants to be a prospect or a target. Yeah. Maybe it's just some of the language around that. Now, we're not in any position to be changing hundreds of years of, of that kind of language, but when you think about it, that sets up all kinds of things. They may have had a rejection before they miss them in might've said no to them before and they took it personally. They have to, they then, what they have to do is look back at what they could've done differently. Cause I don't ever think that you lose, there's no such thing as failure. You just learning how to do it differently the next time. And I always say no only means no today. And I've got tons of stories where someone said no at one point and then there was no need or they didn't see a need. And then six months or a year later I'm doing business with them.

MP: 26:11 I love that one. It's

MP: 26:12 just be keep that head clear on the value that you're bringing to them. I remember once at a networking meeting I stood up and I was doing a talk and one lady come up to me and she said she put her hand up and she goes, well aren't you bothering people when you're calling them? So cause I talked about my three by three process and she's wanted you bothering people when you call them so often. And all I said to her was, if you think you're bothering them, they don't pick up the phone and she, she come to me afterwards, she's, Oh my God, I got that. Yeah, I really got that. I'm bringing that, I'm bothering them and that's what I'm going to deliver. That's how the message will be delivered as a bother as opposed to bringing value. So we have to keep ourselves in check to make sure that we got our own focus.

MP: 26:59 We have our questions, we know the process and we always tell everybody, you need to know what stage you are at this in the stage of the sale because all you're really doing all the way through is earning the right to continue and continue the conversation. And some people, they, they go right sort of for the stage shit sale before they've even created desire there. There's a whole series of steps that you need to go through first and gain agreement before you can go to the next one. Don't go to the next one, go to the next one. But some people, they don't even know you and they're trying to sell you. Everybody hates that.

CS: 27:34 Yeah. That's, you know, really speaking to that sales really is a process and often people, it's more misunderstanding of sales that causes the problem versus understanding what you're doing in the end. You've really created a new frame, a new way of thinking about it. Right. It's like if you think you're bothering someone, don't pick up the phone, change your frame, Right?

MP: 27:55 Your bother. Yeah.

CS: 27:55 Yeah. Call with a purpose, right?

MP: 27:59 Yeah.

CS: 28:00 You can say, I say to myself, and not so much anymore because I'm pretty confident when it comes to picking up the phone, but in the old days when I was first starting out, I used to be just as nervous. I used to have all the same things we teach and all the same dialogue in my inner voice and all that. And I remember thinking, I used to switch it around and say, boy, and they're lucky day. I call him today and I could just feel my whole energy change and not in a conceited smarty pants way or anything like that. It was just to have me be at the top of my game when I made those calls.

MP: 28:28 Yeah, no, for sure. And I think for a, for a bookkeeper, for one of our listeners, I mean, you know, every single one of their customers has mouths that they're feeding, right? Whether they're staff or their family, I mean they're a small business entrepreneur does not have a safety net. I mean, so what a bookkeeper is doing is helping and not all owners are open to it, but when, when you find great customers that are open to it, do want to have it, they're creating their own safety nets to create through financial awareness, better business decisions in their business. And so when you're calling them like that's something to put in your head, I'm going to help them create certainty and consistency and legacy in their business that's going to help them feed more families, create more jobs, and make sure their family's taken care of, make sure that their employees are taken care of, whatever the case may be.

MP: 29:16 I mean, if you pop that into your head before you call, whether it's calling to sell, you know, follow up on a prospect of call or whatever the case may be, or you're calling them to have them too. Cause selling isn't just about getting them on as a new client. There's also sales involved in having them do the things that you need them to do in order to fulfill on your services. Right? That is sales. We often forget that, how it's about influencing people and so it doesn't end at having them kit come on as a client. You continue to sell to retain them as a customer, to have them do the things that you need them to do so that they get to the results that you need them to get to. So I love that reframe.

CS: 29:56 Yeah, and that's what we do a lot of is reframing. And when things come up that we, you know, aren't predictable that w the way people think about things, we reframe them. How else could you see that? How else could you see that you would bring value? We spend a lot of time on that as well. And we just found even in the course when people are talking, you hear it in their language. But what about this? What about in while we get rid of that it's yes. And it's that whole yes. And is there should be no butts or however you should be changing your language because the world occurs in language as we know.

MP: 30:27 It does. It does. Well, this is, this has been just wonderful. Let's talk a little bit about, uh, your program when it's happening and how they can access it because I really do think that this would be a great fit for our listeners. And so what, when is the program happening?

CS: 30:45 It is October 2nd to the fourth, second, third and fourth. It's in Toronto at the Adler School, which is eight 90 young street. And that's right. That young and bluer. We specifically chose there because it's right downtown. It's super easy to get to and includes the lunch and snacks. And that's actually, there's, um, depending on when this is, uh, aired, there's a early bird special and it's the 24th of August that might run after that, but we are looking at it as possibly extending it as well and they just have to go to my website and they can register there. Is that Cindy straddling DOTCOM and go under events and then go to October and it's right there.

MP: 31:27 Well, our listeners are all over the world, so I, this is one of those things where I can, I can say you, if you're anywhere in the world and you want to have a lift in your selling and your ability to influence, this is something that you should get on a plane and go and do its three day program. Correct. Ah, yeah. Now, what about for those people that can't travel? Cindy, do you have anything that you can help people along if they are located somewhere and they can't get to Toronto

MP: 31:56 that we're looking at doing webinars at some point in the future. We're not there quite yet, but that's something that we would want to do.

CS: 32:01 Yeah, definitely.

MP: 32:03 Okay, that's great. Well, this is if, uh, if you're listening and selling, yes, we'll have the link to Cindy's website and there's all sorts of resources there that you can get connected. We'll have links that you connect with Cindy and have conversations with her as well, but Cindy, this has been so great. I know every time you're on, I love giving gifts of gold around your skillset to our listeners and on behalf of our listeners, I thank you for the generosity of giving us your time.

CS: 32:34 Oh, and thank you Michael and I look forward to coming back again.

MP: 32:37 Yes, we will definitely have you back. I already can think of a topic I'd love to talk about. Follow up again and go deeper and following up and how much you should follow up and some of the things that come up when you are actually calling and doing this whole sales process. We'll leave that conversation for the next time.

CS: 32:55 Fabulous. I look forward to it.

MP: 32:58 Beautiful. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 33:10 goodbye

EP102: Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan – Great Apps To Improve Your Bookkeeping Business

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If you're a bookkeeper, you must embrace it.

Today, there are so many great apps that you can use to make your bookkeeping business more efficient, productive and profitable.

In this special episode, you'll discover a few.

This won't be a typical interview because you'll hear audio from a Pure Bookkeeping Licensee Monthly Success Call, hosted by Michael Palmer, which features the President of Graham Consulting & Training Inc., Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan.

She'll share her technology findings from the Intuit App Roadshow she attended.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • Different apps in the industry that can help small and medium businesses

  • How to use technology efficiently

  • How different apps can be powerful to business owners and their clients

To learn more about Bookkeeping for Lawyers, visit here.

For Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan’s Facebook page, click here.

For Nancy Gwynne Vaughan’s LinkedIn page, go here.

For Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan’s Twitter page, check this out.

To get in touch with Nancy, email her at info@bookkeepingforlawyers.ca.


Michael Palmer: 00:56 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a special one. I'm releasing a recording from one of our monthly success calls I host with our pure bookkeeping licensees. This one features a returned podcast guest, Nancy Gwinn Vaughn who runs gram consulting and training, inc that helps lawyers grow their practices profitably. She was on the call to share her discoveries from an intuit hosted technology roadshow where she learned some amazing apps that can be beneficial for bookkeeping businesses. She did a fantastic job and I'm positive her information will be very useful for you. Here's our chat. Uh, our guest today, Nancy, Gwen Vaughn, she does bookkeeping for lawyers only lawyers, very specialized in that. I really love that angle. She's from Mississauga, Ontario. Uh, she is a pure bookkeeping licensee and she is one heck of a great person she's been on before talking about working with lawyers and it was a lot of great feedback that came from that.

MP: 02:02 She's been on the podcast several times. Uh, she's just so, so generous with her time and with her knowledge and she's, she's, her firm is growing. She's got 35 law firms and growing that she serves. She has two staff members and growing. Yeah. And recently she attended the intuit app roadshow and she's constantly doing research on how to use technology in her business. Now she's going to tell you that she's not an expert in any particular way possible way in technology, but I'm here to say that she is an expert in tackling problems and persisting on those problems until she finds solutions. And that's what I just absolutely love and I'm so happy that she's here to share what she's learned about all these different apps at this roadshow for you. So thank you Nancy for that. So welcome.

Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan: 02:55 Thank you very much, Michael. And it's a very great pleasure to be and, and indeed, I am going to say I'm not an expert in apps.

NGV: 03:03 I knew you'd say that I'm not an expert in apps or an expert in providing bookkeeping services and office services to law firms, but in part of doing that, you spend a lot of time figuring out how to make your practice and business better through technology.

MP: 03:23 Absolutely.

NGV: 03:24 I have a great love of streamlining and making things efficient and technology is just a beautiful way to do that. Um, and it's interesting because the lawyers are super, super conservative and it's taken me a while to sell them on some of the apps. Um, I didn't even really know very much about apps until I think it was 2015 I went to the IPBC conference in Niagara Falls. And uh, that just opened up a whole new world for me in apps. And I started using some in my practice and then I made it a point to go out and, and intentionally go to different conferences and different workshops and things just to get to know more about what apps were out there and how I could use them in my practice. And, and that's been a lot of fun for me.

MP: 04:18 And what for, for you right now, just a few of the apps that you're actually using, we were not actually going to be talking about all of them probably, but what are some of the top apps that you're actually using now in your business? I know Karbon HQ is one of them.

NGV: 04:32 Yep. Absolutely. That was one of the more recent ones. The first one I started out with was QuickBooks online. I loved the idea of not having to do data entry. I hate data entry. And the thought of having that reduced by QuickBooks online was amazing. Um, now the interesting part of that is that most of my clients are not on QuickBooks. They're on a special program called PC law. That was built especially for lawyers. Um, so a couple of my, my small firms I was able to put on QBO, but for the most part, I've been using QBO with their credit cards. They do a lot of purchasing on their credit cards. They like points, they like the convenience. And so what we've done is even though primarily their books are on PC law, we hook up QBO to their credit card and just use that to create a monthly or quarterly report to do financial statements and prepare HST returns.

NGV: 05:33 And that has been just amazing. The efficiency that that has created has just been really impressive. And then after that, the next step that I got was Hubdoc. The cool thing about some of these apps is that they will give a free account to bookkeepers and accountants. So when I'm getting a new app, I usually use it in my own business until I get familiar with it. And I get past the learning curve. I know that for QBO particularly, that was so different than what I was using. I can remember just sitting there thinking, I want to tear up my eyeballs trying to figure out how to do stuff on QBO. But man, once I figured it out, it was amazing. Just amazing. So then we got into Hubdoc. I haven't really got into publishing in Hubdoc. I've using Hubdoc as a fetching and storing app.

MP: 06:30 So for those of you who may not be familiar with Hubdoc, it will, you can link it to your client's bank accounts. It will download their bank statements every month, their credit card statements, anything that you can do in e-billing, you can have it go in and download and it's adding new places all the time. That can automatically download. You can email invoices into there and you can upload them from your phone. Um, then there's another feature where you can actually publish that information into QBO and it will store that invoice in that transaction and in QBO so that if you're audited you can just click on that entry in QBO and up pops your invoice. So how dog was something?

NGV: 07:18 Yeah. Oh, it's wonderful. I love it. We use it and becoming a inter integral into our system,

NGV: 07:23 it's, it's amazing and it's really cool because some of the lawyers are really administrative and they're awesome, but some of them are just so not administrative. And there was actually one lawyer this time last year doing his year-end and his tax stuff was such a nightmare that I made an appointment with him and I said, I am going to fire you as a client unless you get QBO and Hubdoc. And we signed up that day. Now I don't have to worry about getting stuff from him. Of course, they unlinked themselves, which is one of the downside of the apps. Occasionally they become unlinked and you have to go in and link them in again. I kept emailing him saying, you know, can you log on and link back in and note didn't do it. Finally, I said, okay, I'm coming in. What are you in the office?

NGV: 08:11 And I went and we linked it back up and everything's fine, but oh, it's been a lifesaver for some of my clients having not seen. The other huge pain point that I get in some of my firms is payroll. They don't send you their payroll. They send me payroll stuff that's wrong. They forget to pay their source deductions and those are just huge pain points for me. It causes a lot of friction and a lot of lost time and trying to figure that out when I get into their office. And uh, so I think the next one that I got after a QBO on Hubdoc was wage point. I love which point I can go in and do the payroll. It's great for my tiny firms because they might just have one or two employees and we can set the employees up on auto deposit, which is great.

NGV: 09:03 I go in, I do the payroll, I input the information. It gets automatically deposited into the employee's Bank account. I have access to all of the reports that I need. They're accurate. I can then input that information into PC law. And it also does your records of employment and t force, um, and your source deductions. So that has just saved huge amounts of time. And I like the flexibility. Some of my clients like to run their own payroll and so we make them an admin on their wage point account. They go in and they do that. But I can access all the reports I need. Some of them want absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. So I do it all. I've got one guy where I do it all, but he likes to actually push the button that says I approve this payroll. It's different in almost every firm that I work with.

MP: 09:54 Oh, that's one that a, that's one that I, I implemented for pure bookkeeping as a result of your recommendation as well. And, and I love it. I have it actually because ours is very quite simple. It's on autopilot.

MP: 10:09 So yes, and that's another option too, which is great.

MP: 10:12 Don't have to do anything. I just threw the money's in the bank and that's about it yet. And so it saved a ton of time.

NGV: 10:19 Yeah. And, and there's some cool things that I've learned lately about wage point just from various colleagues and I, and I can tell anybody who uses wage points that if you realize you've made a mistake, they tell you you have to do it three days before and you have to do it three days before for the money to commit of your account that you can actually make changes to that payroll if you need to do like a different bank account or something like that, you can actually do that within that three day window before the money actually gets deposited. So there's even more flexibility than what they tell you.

MP: 10:54 Very cool. Very cool.

NGV: 10:56 And then the one that we implemented after that, which I think for me personally has been the biggest life-changer is t sheets. And I haven't been able to implement that into any of my clients practices yet, although I think it's going to be ideal for some of the small firms. But I'll use t sheets to track my own time because I haven't made the leap yet into value pricing and flat-fee billing. So I still track hourly time and it used to be such a nightmare to try to do that. I would do it on dockets and then it would take me half a day that entered the dockets because even though I had the best of intentions, I would always save it until the last minute. Or I'd have to pay somebody to enter the dockets and tee sheets is great. It's right on my phone. I just punch in when I'm at a client's office, punch out when I'm done, and then it just imports into QBO. So that's marvelous than the, than. The latest addition to our firm was carbonate GQ and I looked at jetpack, I really liked Jack back and I really liked Karbon. It was very difficult to make the decision, but I ended up going with carbon because I liked the email base way that it was set up.

MP: 12:15 That one, that one we're working through. Um, I've got,

MP: 12:19 or it could be a, well forgive jetpack and pure bookkeeper more. Forgive you for that.

NGV: 12:23 Yes, yes. That was before I knew, but the link between jetpack and pure bookkeeping.

MP: 12:28 Okay. Well we are, we are remaining somewhat software agnostic in that it's not for us to say what's good or bad and I will tell you that jet pack, SRE, carbon HQ and pure bookkeeping are building an integration in Australia. So we worked on jetpack here because it was our licensees lead in particular, uh, Lisa Campbell Marquese and as well, uh, Miss Solentos and a few others that were saying, hey, you know, we're using this and it's great. But absolutely carbon HQ will be available for in the future. But right now it's just jetpack and in Canada and soon the United States.

NGV: 13:06 Oh Wow.

MP: 13:07 Yeah. So will cause and, and as well, there's an Australia practice, uh, what does it practice?

NGV: 13:14 Practice ignition. Yes. I looked at that one as well. I've seen that in a number of, of workshops and things. And that one I kind of have my eye on as well.

MP: 13:33 Yeah, they fell. They've built the integration in Australia. Again, that's just another project that'll come to North America. So now you, obviously we can, you've used technology have gone up against there as the alert learning curve pulling your hair out through this process and then you went to an app roadshow that was hosted by intuit. Tell us a little bit about that roadshow and then we're going to get in and start actually sharing what you learned about each one of these apps. Not, not all of them you use, but something we can share back to our community.

NGV: 14:08 Yeah, absolutely. So it was smack in the middle of, of what was still my tax time because a lot of my clients are sole proprietors and so they're on a June 15th deadline and this app roadshow came out in May and they literally went all across Canada doing these single days in each city. And the premise was we're going to show you not only the apps but also how to use them together. And that was the been that I had been kind of struggling with because I knew I had Hubdoc and I had QBO and I had all this stuff, but I wasn't really sure about what was the most efficient way of making them work together or could they work together or how do they best work together. And so they had a bunch of out presenters and they presented them sort of in the order that you would use them and they took you through, okay, so they have this to this business that they made up, Allison's accounting. So you're Alison and you are trying to grow your bookkeeping practice and how are you going to use these apps to do it? And it wasn't very kind of unique approach, which I really enjoyed. So in addition to learning about the obs, there was also an element of figuring out, you know, okay, you use this up first and then it flows into that app and then it flows into this up this way. So just sort of a logical way of using the apps together in the most efficient way possible.

MP: 15:47 Awesome. And now you, you made some notes and your takeaways. Remember having a conversation with you just about the different apps and the first one was this app called rewind. Tell us a little bit about that.

NGV: 16:00 Yeah, rewind was so cool. So cool. Um, it scared me a little bit and it certainly taught me a whole bunch of stuff that I didn't know. One of the things that I had always thought was one of the big advantages of being in the cloud was you didn't have to worry about backup because you know, QuickBooks would take care of all of that. And boy was I naive, the guy from rewind got up and started talking and said, yes, QuickBooks, they back up. But they cannot go back in time. So if you have a problem with your books and you need to go back in time from before you got the virus or the ransomware or whatever happened so that you can restart QuickBooks online, can't do that for you according to rewind. Now for me, that was huge because I have had a number of clients in the past few months who have been hit with ransomware and ransomware for anybody who doesn't know, that's where they infect your computer and basically they encrypt all of your files so that you can no longer access any of your files.

NGV: 17:16 And then you get an email from them saying, pay us x amount of money and we'll give you the encryption key. And from what I've heard, sometimes you pay the money and they give you the encryption key and most times they don't. But I had a client of a fairly large biller who got hit not once, but twice in a very short period of time. And the only thing that saved him was that he had cloud backup that allowed him to go back to earlier versions of his file from before when the ransomware hit. And they were able then to restore those versions. So he lost a little bit, but not nearly the disaster that would've happened if he couldn't get anything. And so having just had that experience to hear from this guy at rewind that QuickBooks could not go back in time if you had a problem.

NGV: 18:09 That really gave me pause to start thinking that, you know, perhaps I'm not as protected as I had assumed I was because I'm on the cloud. And so what rewind is, is there a Toronto based company? They back up online services, they started about three years ago building for Shopify and they've now been adding other platforms and QBO is one of the platforms that they have now added. So for five bucks a month you can have them back up your QBO file so that if you ever do have a problem and you need to go back to a certain point in time, they can do that for you. So that, that was super interesting. The other thing that was interesting, he was doing a bit of a talk about just about general computer security. And one of the things that stories that he told was he had a client who was doing e-commerce and just before the Christmas rush, the client had installed another app that was supposed to do marvelous things for him for e-commerce.

NGV: 19:15 And what happened was that there was a glitch in the app and it wiped out all of his stuff just before the Christmas buying season. And so because this gentleman had rewind, they were able to take him back in time and restore all of his data. So one of the things that he was suggesting, which again I had never really thought about is if you are using a new app, use it on a test account before you actually use it on your account or your client accounts. And, and that I thought was a little piece of advice that I hadn't heard before and that that could be very valuable.

MP: 19:54 Absolutely. I say save a ton, a little extra step in the beginning, but it can save a ton of anguish.

MP: 20:02 And the thing is, the more that technology comes into play, you know, you just can't keep up with all of it. And, and one of the things that I love about things like the IPBC conference or the intuit conference or the intuit app show is a lot of these guys that are getting up to talk, they're techie guys and you know, they throw out these little tidbits, which otherwise you may never come across until you have the disaster.

MP: 20:31 And, and you mentioned that rewind does a QBO and, and Shopify, do you know of other apps? This was a question that came up from Suzanne.

NGV: 20:42 Yeah, no I don't, but, but there's a contact, the guy that I met at, um, at the roadshow, his name was Mike. And if you just take a look at the bottom of the slide, there's his contact info. They also have a website, which is rewind.io. And so I would really encourage you if, if you're interested to connect with him and, uh, or take a look up the website.

MP: 21:08 Great. And a couple of Teresa, we've, Teresa slack is, has shared, they're using QBO with hub dock and t sheets. So she's right there with you and they're using rewind as well. So definitely hitting some notes now. The next, the next app was white pay. Tell us

NGV: 21:27 This is, this is the next app that I'm going to try. And it was funny because I went to the app roadshow and I saw a way pay and there were some things that, that I wasn't really sure about. Starting with. It was 89 95 a month. That kind of really turned me off. But then I went to see whey pay a couple of weeks later at an IPBC regional meeting and I got talking with the guy and there was a lot more time because that was the only app there. And just through seeing him in those two places, whey pay, it's really cool. It is an online payment application, which would be similar I think to something like Pluto. I know a lot of people have been working with Pluto. I tried Pluto and I just didn't find it very user-friendly. Um, it frustrated me because it took a whole long time for that payment to actually get made and it wouldn't do big companies.

NGV: 22:26 It wouldn't do any company that like Bell. Like if you had to phone at Bell and say can we have your banking information? They, they'd still be laughing but way piece seems to address some of those pain points that I had with Pluto. And it was something that I got really excited about. It's a Canadian company as well. They work out of Burlington, it integrates with QBO and it integrates with, with a QB desktop, works with all the major banks, credit unions, credit cards. The, the cool thing though about way paid is that you can use whatever payment method is at your disposal whether or not your vendor takes that payment. So for example, if you have a vendor and they say, we take mastercard and we take visa but we don't take American Express using way pay, you can pay with your American Express but, and then the payment goes through way pay and it can go through as a visa payment.

NGV: 23:30 So you're no longer limited by what payment methods your vendors are, are going to use. And you can also combine payments. So if you have a big bill and you want to pay it partly with your visa and partly with your operating, you can set it up that way so that it will go in one payment to your vendor and you can take it from numerous different sources. So it provides a lot of flexibility. It has immediate foreign exchange at what they tell me are competitive rates. That isn't something that I've tested, but that was something that they were really talking about quite a bit at the workshop. They were also a lot faster. You could get same-day payments. And the other really cool thing that impressed me about way pay was you can pay bigger companies. Um, they have a library of banking information that they have collected that they add to as people are using whey pay and, and putting information in.

NGV: 24:37 And so you can connect to that library and you don't always have to by yourself get all of the banking information for companies like Bell Canada. And those larger companies that you can't pay with Pluto or at least you couldn't. When I tried Pluto and it has a lot of the same features that Pluto does have, it has multilevel approval. It syncs with QBO. It was a really cool application and I'm, I'm actually really excited about trying to, to get going on that one. The other thing that I, that I learned at the IPPC workshop that they didn't say at the APP's roadshow was they were saying for the IBC anyway that they were giving a free bookkeeper account that did not come out at the roadshow and they were saying at the IPPC workshop is that there were levels that you could use.

NGV: 25:34 So if you just had the odd payment that your client would be making, they would charge 75 cents a payment, which again is Pluto was a dollar when I was trying it. Then they have two other levels. One I think was 39 95 and then the other was higher. That gave you more flexibility. Some of them were unlimited, so there was a lot more flexibility and I didn't put in the notes, but the name of the gentleman who came to the apps roadshow and came to IPBC was Paul Chappell. I was playing around with their website yesterday just as I was preparing, and I have to say a lot of this stuff was not on the website. So if you're interested I would suggest that you connect with them and see if you can connect with Paul Chappell. He was awesome. And, and then you know, get your information from him. He has a lot more detailed than what is available on the website.

MP: 26:39 And we have a question from Teresa slack. Uh, I think you answered the one, which is how you pay the large vendors. You answered that, but can you make cra payments? Do you know if that was..

NGV: 26:49 Yeah, they also do cra payments.

MP: 26:52 Ooh, I think Theresa will be happy to hear that.

NGV: 26:54 Yes, yes. And that's one of my big pain points is my clients lose their CRA forms. And so I can file returns online, but we run into problems paying online because they don't know their debit code. So they can't do the Cra online payment or there's a limit on how much they can pay at a time. And so I'm, I'm hoping that way pay is going to solve some pretty big pain points for me.

MP: 27:20 Yes. Bullets. Uh, it sounds like a really interesting app and, and definitely it was a, the mention of the, the $90 a month. It's, it's not an inexpensive app, but if it can produce a whole bunch of savings, you've gotta look at it.

NGV: 27:38 Yeah. $90 a month is not inexpensive, but they do still have those other levels that he was talking about. Then it just puts it right into the ballpark with Pluto. Cause the beauty of Pluto is it's a dollar a transaction.

MP: 27:52 Yeah.

NGV: 27:53 And so if they're at 75 cents. And the other thing that I really liked about them too is that when they do the transactions, he was saying that they, they keep their fees separate from the vendor payments, which I really like because then you're not trying to figure out payments that are plus or minus a dollar 75 cents. The payment is just the actual amount and then the fee is charged to separately.

MP: 28:15 That's good.

NGV: 28:17 So yeah, so I was super excited about that. They're not brand new. I know when I was at the IPBC regional meeting, one of the ladies there said she has seen way pay about a year ago, but at that point she was not impressed and, and she couldn't believe the progress that Ha that they've made in a year. And actually just today I saw on Facebook that she just got certified with way pay. So wow. I guess she was excited about them too at from the IPBC seminar.

MP: 28:48 That's right. Beautiful. Excellent.

MP: 28:57 All right, well moving on, we're looking at centrix one,

NGV: 29:00 It's interest one that that one was kind of cool. That's a brand new app and again, a Canadian company, they're based in Montreal and they were launching about a week from the APPS app roadshow. They were sort of one of the little ones that was brought in as though we've got surprises for you. Um, and they look pretty cool. They're an all in one CRM and marketing automation app. And uh, what the gentleman was saying was that he felt they would fit most industries. They're built for probably one to 50 employees. It's, he said it's very simple, very user-friendly, kind of a do it yourself kind of tool specifically designed for simplicity for small and medium businesses. He says it, it keeps your database centralized. It integrates with your website, it will sync your contacts, estimates, invoices, and accounts with QBO. Only the online version, not desktop.

NGV: 30:05 It has a small document vault. He says mostly for marketing materials and proposals. Um, and there's drag and drop. There's Kanban style, which are the little tiles as opposed to a list. So it's very easy to read. They have website analytics, they have a full email tool similar to MailChimp. They can do some marketing campaigns. A, they have a form builder tool, which he says takes about five minutes and it's very simple. They are about to launch globally. Um, no limits on users or contacts. Uh, their costs are on their websites. So they just came in and did kind of a very brief introductory sort of pure we are, we're new up in the marketplace kind of thing. But I thought that was Kinda cool. Excellent. And you also saw method CRM and I saw method now methods CRM. I remember back in the day when I was first starting with QBO and I talked to the guy who was my intuit advisor and I said, you know, I'm thinking about a CRM and what do you think method was the one that at that time they were really recommending as in as something that goes with QBO and met was kind of cool Silabs or something that I haven't really spent a lot of time exploring.

NGV: 31:30 And I think for the first time hearing the gentleman speak, I really started to understand what a CRM is. So method is something that will collect information about leads. So thing you have a website and you have a bunch of people that email you and say, I'm interested in your services and can you connect with me and you have your initial contact from your website. It will bring that in. It will track that lead. You can track where you are with that lead. Um, you know, have they maybe got a welcome email from you? Have they, uh, do you need to respond and send them more information? It just tracks where each of the leads are down the pipeline on their way to becoming your customer. One of the cool things that, that they were talking about was that they will keep the information in method and not put it into QBO until they actually, you actually have signed them up as a customer, which is kind of Nice because once a customer goes into QBO, it's, you can't get rid of them.

NGV: 32:46 And so you don't want to clutter up your QBO with a whole bunch of potential leads that don't become customers. So that was something that, that they would do is that they would just keep that information. Once they become a customer, then you can sync it right into QBO. And so, um, that workflow that we were talking about at the very, very beginning about where these start inputting your data, you would start inputting your data in your methods CRM and then import to QuickBooks rather than entering everything into QuickBooks and then having it come through method. So you can set up follow-ups in there, you can automate that, you can set up products and services, you can do estimates in there. It integrates with Gmail and with outlook. It's very user-friendly. It helps you become efficient. It offers customer portals so that 24, seven day your customers can use that self serve options.

NGV: 33:51 It will liberate your staff. So they say from doing all of the manual followup so that they can actually focus on building your business. Um, yeah, it has, it can generate reports relating to leads, you know, did, how many wins to do you have, how many leads did you lose? It can create engagement letters. It can create templates. Um, it can do a, again, it does an email campaign, it will tag your user, your, um, your leads. So if you want to say for example, I want to just send an email campaign to all my quickbooks desktop customers, encouraging them to migrate to QBO, you can do that with the little tags that you put on there. You can build customized templates, um, that they have a builtin unsubscribe option. So if you do an email campaign, um, and people want to unsubscribe, it's got that built right in. It's got, you can customize drag and drop. They've got nice little screens in there.

MP: 34:58 Yeah, I think that's right.

NGV: 35:01 Oh yes. There's two CRMs. I mean we, we definitely hear people asking about CRM. I think workflow automation is definitely a more of a hot topic just based on the volume of leads and clients and that sort of thing. So, okay.

NGV: 35:15 And that's where I started. I started with the workflow management and, and I'm still, I still don't think I'm really ready for CRM. It's really super easy for me to track the one new client I get every once in a while.

MP: 35:28 That's right. Exactly. I mean, it's not like you're getting hundreds a month.

NGV: 35:33 Yeah. And you know, as, as we all build businesses using awesome pure bookkeeping system in CRM,

MP: 35:42 Absolutely. Well let's, it's using the right tool at the right time and, and being cost-conscious. It's like you can't have every single app, so B, B, make sure that what the app you're using is actually drip driving results and a return on investment in the business. And so that's, that's always gotta be the two questions.

NGV: 36:02 So. Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing that you need to be really careful of is it takes time to figure out an app. Um, and so do them one at a time, right. Don't feel like you have to jump on the bandwagon because in your Facebook group, everybody is using this app or you know, um, your colleagues seem to be doing this, that, and the other thing. Take your time and, and really make it work for your business.

MP: 36:30 Agreed.

MP: 36:35 Now we're on the t sheets

NGV: 36:36 And now we are on to t sheet and I love t sheets. I wish I could use it for more things, but the lawyers just basically do time, time dealing. But it has some super cool features in it and they're adding features all the time. And actually t sheets I believe just recently got bought out by QuickBooks. And so it, even though they still have their own brand, I believe it now is actually an intuit company. That's correct. Wage point. Um, wage point is actually integrates with QBO and they say that their payroll system is po, they call it powered by which point. So which point is I believe is still separate, but they, they have done a very serious connection between QBO and wage points. But t sheets is, is this super, super cool little program. So if you have clients who are, I'm thinking maybe a landscaping company where they have people who are out in the field and in different locations and in different locations every day working on different jobs.

NGV: 37:48 T sheets is just amazing for that. I use it in my business. I use it on my phone. When my contract bookkeepers come in, they use it just on the desktop. That's how they prefer to use it. I like the phone because I tend to be out in the field while they're mostly in the office, but it has that flexibility. It also has the ability where you can use an iPad and set up what they call a kiosk. So for example, I have one non-lawyer client, their union, if they have a job somewhere then the shop steward can be in charge of the kiosk and people can just come to that physically come to that iPad on the job site and login and log out. You can do that on your, it has a cool little gps feature so you can track where your employees are.

NGV: 38:40 I can be out in the field and I can track who is working, who's on the clock and who's not, how many hours they've gotten, what job they're working on the kiosk. One of the things that they were seeing in the kiosk that was kind of cool is that they now have the ability to do facial recognition. So, so people can't log in for somebody who's not actually there. Uh, which was a cool, yeah. So, so they've gone out of their way to try to make it really convenient for employers that have that kind of, of staff where you're just, they're all over the place. And um, it also allows you to approve time. It allows you to change their time sheets so you can set it up. So they log in and they log out, but they can't change anything other than that. So if there's a mistake, you know, you can go back and you can fix it and there's some flexibility there, but people can't play with their, their time sheets.

NGV: 39:40 And it's kind of cool. It does not let you, for example, log out later in the day. So if it's four 30, you can only log out at four 30. You can't log out at five o'clock and try to buy yourself an extra little half an hour of paid time. It's got some fail safes in there. Um, they also give a free account to bookkeepers. So, um, again, that's a really nice feature because then you can use it yourself and you can figure it out before you roll it out to your clients. Really get comfortable with it and decide if it's something that's going to work for a particular client.

MP: 40:18 Dynamite.

NGV: 40:19 And again, very easy, very easy integration with QBO. You set up your customers in QBO, then you, uh, you uh, import that into t sheets, you do your time and t sheets and then at whatever interval you want. I do it weekly. No, um, I approved the time and then it's just a very, very easy click and sync that right into QBL.

MP: 40:47 Yeah. Um, this is a cool app that just sort of highlights how the, the different apps can be so powerful for you as business owners, but as well for your clients and really bringing them tools and technology that's going to help them in their businesses. Let's uh, let's keep jumping along cause we're running out of time and we've got now Hubdoc, which you've spoken a little bit about earlier on. One thing to highlight around hubdoc. This is a popular one amongst the community.

NGV: 41:17 It's a very, very popular one. I think the big, the big news that I got at the app roadshow was that, um, hubdoc used something called machine learning to view the things that you upload and, and put them in there. They're now moving shortly towards, um, optical character recognition, which is a lot more accurate and a lot quicker. So, um, that, that was, that was kind of the big news for me. Um, also they realize that there have been some glitches and some of the downloads and they, they were quite clear on the fact that they, they knew about that and they were working quite hard to try to make that work. I think probably the other cool feature that, uh, that I learned was that a lot of people are now using hubdoc and another program called receipt bank together. Um, and that, that was kind of interesting to hear the dialogue about that because any of the places that I have been to up until the up road show, it was sort of a, you use hubdoc or you use receipt bank because they sorta did the same thing.

NGV: 42:29 And one of the things they brought out in the app roadshow was, well, hubdoc fetches receipt bank doesn't, receipt bank has a much better dashboard that allows you a lot more flexibility. And so what a lot of people are now starting to do is use hubdoc for fetching and receipt bank for the receipt part of them. Um, Hubdoc, again, they have a free account for bookkeepers. So you can go to the website, you can sign up, get your free account, um, they'll do a demo, help you walk through it. The thing that I don't like about receipt bank is that they don't have that and they are $300 a month. Now you can, with that $300, you can use unlimited usage, unlimited clients. But for me, I don't have enough that I can justify that quite yet.

MP: 43:18 MMM. Yeah, it's a, I've heard that are a few times.

NGV: 43:23 And so it's, it's knowing that it's there, but as well as the doing the calculation and figuring out is this an app that'll work? Depends. It depends on how, you know, there are people that have clients with massive amounts of receipts and that would be really valuable for them. But I think that those were sort of the basics about those two apps. Yeah. And then the last step, the last step that we've learned about was an app called fathom and, and that one's Kinda cool and I've heard that one before. Um, again, it's not something I've gotten into yet, but that is a reporting and analysis platform. So it takes your data in QBO and it allows you to prepare reports that are much more visual and can be customized much more than your QBO reports. So you can create reports specifically for your clients for information that they might need in a way that helps them to really understand it. I know sometimes when I'm taking a financial statements into my lawyers, even though you assume a certain level of sophistication in somebody who's got a law degree, they're there just like everybody else. Some of them love that. Some of them get this deer in the headlights. Look at Seattle. I don't want to know. Um, so fathom is a way that you can package that information in, in a way that's a little bit more client friendly.

MP: 44:51 Very cool. Definitely a lot of apps and a lot of information and I'm thankful so much, uh, on behalf of the community, Nancy, for you collecting this information and Brett and bringing your thoughts and ideas around each one of them. Not all of them, Gee, you use, but yet these, if put them on the radar for our community and there may be a solutions that others want to learn about it. I'm sure though this won't be the end of our conversations about apps, right? They seem to be popping up like Danny Lyons on the line, uh, on a hot June, June, July day. So more apps to come, I'm sure. And thanks for helping, sort of keep, keep up with all of it.

NGV: 45:34 Oh my pleasure.

MP: 45:35 Now we have a couple of other comments. Michelle, uh, mentioned that receipt bank is adding fetching. So that's something new coming of her that it will be uh, uh, something similar to Hubdoc's and then as well, uh, just to comment on pricing, there may be different options and whatnot, but again, whenever you're looking at that, the, the pricing on the web, there's often, uh, incentives and, and just canceling those sorts of things. So make sure you inquire with your salespeople when you're dealing with them and get the best possible rate that you can. Uh, that's great. But again, Nancy, thank you for all of the commentary that you've given us.

NGV: 46:16 My very great pleasure

MP: 46:17 Wasn't that fantastic? The power of community. There's a saying, I love many hands make light work and I hope that Nancy has been able to save you some time with her information. And with that, we'll wrap another episode of The Successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 46:43 goodbye

EP101: Laura Vanderkam – Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

TSBK - Episode 101 - Laura Vanderkam.png
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Busyness is hyped in our present culture. 

It shouldn't be.

Living a full life, at work and at home, is about doing the right things well, and positively missing out on everything else.

Our returning guest will show you how to get there.

Laura Vanderkam is an expert at finding that balance and has helped many people through her various time management and productivity books including her newest, Off the Clock - Feel Less Busy When Getting More Done.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to spend your hours more meaningfully, regain enormous amounts of wasted time, and live an improved life

  • What makes time so different for those rare productive and unstressed people

  • Ways to do more without losing your sense of peace along the way

To learn more about Laura Vanderkam, visit here.

For her Facebook page, click here.

For her Twitter page, check this out.

For her Instagram page, discover here.

To learn more about Off the Clock and buy a copy, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:09 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest is making her return to the podcast. She's the author of various time management and productivity books, including your newest one off the clock. Feel less busy while getting more done. She's a mother of four children, so you know, she's always thinking of better ways to manage your time and be more productive. I'm happy to welcome back Laura Vanderkam to the show.

Laura Vanderkam: 01:41 Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:42 It's great to have your back and I love the title of your book.

LV: 01:45 Oh, thank you. Yeah. Who doesn't want to feel off the clock, right?

MP: 01:48 Exactly. I, I when I first saw the title I felt I just started to relax. You know, it's like, yes, off the clock, uh, feel less busy while getting more done and we want to have more of that. I know our listeners want to have more of that, but, but it's been a while since you were on the podcast. You were back episode 13 and there's more of your backstory, but before we sort of get into some of the questions, maybe just share a little bit about why the new book.

LV: 02:20 Yeah. Well, I've been writing about time management and productivity for a while and so there are lots of you know, strategies for people who want to manage their schedules. But I've long been interested in why some, you know, seemingly busy people seem to feel very relaxed about time. Like why, you know, you want to set up a meeting with them. They've got plenty of time to meet like their, you know, they're talking to you, they're not looking at their watches to see when the next thing is starting. And so what are, what are these people doing that's, that's different. So for off the clock, I, you know, explored this question, I interviewed a lot of people about it. I also did a time diary project. I had 900 people with full time jobs and families track their time for a day. I then asked questions about how they felt about their time so I could give them various scores on based on their, their time perceptions. There are people at the top felt time was abundant. They felt relaxed. They felt like they had the time for the things they wanted to do. People at the bottom of the spores felt starved for time, stressed, you know, didn't have time for the things they wanted to do. And so then I could just compare the schedules of the people who felt relaxed with the people who felt stressed and see, well, what are they doing differently? These are equivalently busy people. So why do some people feel differently about their time?

MP: 03:29 Wow. And what were some of the things you found out?

LV: 03:32 Well, there's a lot of different things. It's not the obvious things. For instance, it's that either most people worked about the same amount and since everyone had families, they had about the same sort of responsibilities with that. But the difference were, you know, how you choose to spend that disposable time. Um, people who fought relaxed about time are more likely to spend it interacting with friends and family or planning little adventures into their lives, doing something fun on this March Monday that they tracked. Whereas people who felt stressed and starved for time, we're more likely to spend their leisure time watching TV, being on social media and things like that.

MP: 04:07 Interesting. I am in. What, why do you think that is?

LV: 04:10 Well, you know, the inventure is part is kind of interesting of my even sound like a bit of a paradox that people who, um, feel like they have more time where we're doing these things that were in, in ways commitments in, in their lives on this Monday night. Uh, I mean you had people who, somebody went to salsa dancing lessons, like somebody who went for a movie on Monday night, but we went to a big band concert. I mean the people at the top end of the time perception scores. But I think what it is is that when you do these things in your mind, you become the kind of person who has the time to do these things. And so that makes you feel like you have more time. Um, there's also the matter of when many people say, you know, like, where did the time go? What they really mean is that they don't remember where the time went. And part of not remembering where the time went is that there was nothing memorable in your time. And so, you know, things like surfing the web, watching TV aren't all that memorable ways to spend your evening, whereas going to a big band concert is, um, so if you do that, you'll remember your time and the more memory units you have of any given unit of time, the more it feels best in your accounting of it.

MP: 05:14 It's so interesting. So the busier we are, the less busier we're gonna feel.

LV: 05:19 Well, if you're busy with the right things, I mean the word visits, the right things. If you're, you know, busy with like meetings that have you staring at the wall clock counting the minutes, like you're not going to feel good about your time. But if you're intelligent, busy-ness, intelligent, busy as well, you have, I like to use the word full. A full life feels like time is rich and very textured as a, as opposed to just sort of slipping through your hands sort of sand going from one side of the hourglass to the other.

MP: 05:46 Yeah. Well it's just, I mean it just occurs more interesting, right? So intelligent really isn't the word. It's like it's a thoughtful life. Interesting. Doing interesting things, living out your passions and, and television can be fun and entertaining. Uh, just so interesting that people who watch also on TV or go to a salsa event is totally different and has a different impact on the future. The future of your life, how you, your, your satisfaction? I find that fascinating or to think about it this way.

LV: 06:14 You know, there's, it's a difference between looking at photos on Instagram of somebody else's dinner party versus actually hosting one yourself and an obviously hosting on yourself. It takes a lot of work. Um, it takes effort. It takes, um, making a commitment to that time, but, but it stands out so much more in your perception of time then that time spent scrolling around to, on social media.

MP: 06:39 Beautiful.

MP: 06:47 I just loved that, you know, I can just hear there's a real opportunity for everyone to stop and look at, you know, what are they filling those little bits of time in their life with and to test out maybe blocking out something and doing it some sort of adventure that lays isn't align with their, their passion and see what the, the effect of that could be. Yeah, exactly. Now you talk about buisiness and you and you spell it. B. U. S. Y. N. E. S. S. What is this busy-ness that you're talking about?

LV: 07:21 Well, you know, you've been part of these conversations too, I'm sure, where people, you ask somebody how their weekend was like, oh, busy. You know, how's your life going? Oh, same as usual. Busy Times. Yeah. Well, we use busy sort of interchangeably with fine. It's a synonym for, yeah, all is, is kind of at the same. But if you think about the mindset behind telling people that you are busy, uh, it's a nice way of saying that the demand for my time is high, which is also a nice way of saying how important we are. But you're not going to walk around talking about how important you are. Um, so it's easier to say, oh, we're busy. But you know, the, the problem with the busy narrative is, is that we start to believe it and we start to believe that we don't have time for the things that are important to us. And that can be a problem because then people do have time. Do I have leisure time? They could do fun stuff with, but they are, you know, telling us how is that story that they have no time. So they spend their leisure time in very mindless ways. And that's what leads to, you know, the hours spent scrolling around online or watching TV people didn't mean to watch or puttering around the house or doing housework very inefficiently rather than higher-quality leisure time activities.

MP: 08:28 No, it makes sense. You know, it's this, um, life is so short and it's, it's really a purse. It's a perception of, of what, what our life is like. So if I know for myself when I say I'm, I'm busy and I say it a lot and I, I, I've heard this conversation before and so it's almost minute it comes out of my mouth. I'm like, AH, don't want to say that. But I find myself saying it and it is absolutely accurate. Like the more I say that, the more busy I feel, the more life is busy and the reality is that I'm in control of my day. I'm in control of my life. I can slice things out and goes different places. So if I create the new narrative, I'm going to be in better shape, I'm going to be more satisfied, more enjoyable, be able to spend more time with the people that are important to me.

LV: 09:16 Exactly. I really do think that time is a choice. And I'm not saying that there aren't consequences to making different choices because of course there are, but in the long run we have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there.

MP: 09:29 Interesting. Now you've, you've been at this awhile, what I'm really curious to know, like how have you shifted in your perception of the work that you do and the people that you work with since you started?

LV: 09:43 Oh, well I've definitely learned that, you know, people are a good use of time, but I saw that on the time diaries for off the clock. People who spent more time interacting with family and friends, uh, felt like they had more time than people who didn't make those interactions a priority. So definitely always on the lookout for ways to invest time in relationships and know that those conversations are really an important part of lights. And, you know, the, I mean, the issue is people often sort of relegate relationship building to time after they've done the so-called important stuff. And I even have people tell me this all the time, like, oh, I'm really good at time management. I never talked with my colleagues. Like, okay, well that's, that's one approach. Um, but, uh, it's somewhat limited, uh, in the long run and that, uh, you know, we're more engaged at work if we like the people we're working with. Um, you know, it's the spending Monday with people you'd be willing to spend Sunday with is, is a really good way to make work feel awesome. You know? And, and also it's just the other people occasionally have information that might be useful that might be important for us to know. So it, you know, these are more of the substance of the work than we often think.

MP: 10:56 Yeah, I agree with you 100%. And our listeners, uh, as bookkeepers and, and, and some accountants, listeners as well, the technical people are out there doing work that never ends. There's a, you know, there's always something more to do it more to check out. And, and what I find in the conversation is that, you know, they're, they're not, they're not making it up when they say, you know, I'm, I'm swamped or I'm buried. Uh, but again, those are narratives, right? There's other ways to describe it. But in terms of the research that you've done and what you've found out and for the, the type of listener that we have, how, how would you recommend to them to change or alter this narrative of saying, you know, I'm busy or I'm swamped or run, I'm overwhelmed. I don't have to say over what they might experience being overwhelmed, but I don't typically say that, but here's a lot of stuff coming at them and it never ends.

LV: 11:55 Yeah. Well, I mean certainly it's true that um, people can feel very busy. I think the best thing to do to get a hold of your time is to track it. You know, it is really the best way to get a good sense of where the time goes and just start to change those stories that we have. Because, you know, the honest truth is that, you know, we all have a lot going on, but often these stories make things out to be worse than they actually are. Um, and so, you know, we want to make sure that we are working from, from good data and the only way to get that data is to, um, you know, track our time.

MP: 12:36 Do you know what I think, I think you've got the audience for you here. They're going to be interested. They're, this is their, this is their wheelhouse so to speak. I mean tracking, recording, documenting, making sure things are accurate. But often people don't often do these things on themselves. They do it great for other people. So this is, this might be a good challenge, a good exercise to, to audit and reconcile your time and look at now what's going to happen, Laura, is they're going to, they're going to track their time and I know you, you probably have tons of resources that would, would actually walk them through this and open this up for them. I mean, you know, what would be the best place for them to go for something like this if they're going to take this on?

LV: 13:19 Well, I have spreadsheets on my website that you can download. I can follow the subscription for them. And I will mail you one. Um, you know, but you could also use one of, you know, dozens of commercial time tracking apps on the market or if you have software that you're billing your time to different clients, you might be able to hack it to, you know, have it work for your personal time too, right? To sort of think of the different things you do in your personal life as clients. It'd be well, and then you can, uh, use that to just track your, your time for all your life, not just your work time, but yeah, you know, you want the data, you want to look at it and then say, well, what do I like about my life? You know, there's probably something you really do. So we should celebrate whatever that is. And then you want to say, well, what do I want to do more of with my time? And then, you know, what do I want to do less of? What do I want to change? And, and if you can do that, then you can start to make good choices.

LV: 14:20 It was it Drucker that said what gets measured gets managed and, and if you want to take a crack at this measuring is for really the core principle and the key thing to do as a measure so that the data's there and new, new things can come of that. So I think that's, that's excellent. An excellent challenge for anybody that wants to make a shift in this area of their life. Let's do it. Okay.

MP: 14:46 Yeah.

MP: 14:47 Now getting back to these interviews, I mean, that's fascinating. You interviewed so many people and got all this data. Was there a difference between, um, the, the, like the percentage, if we looked at the, the women that you surveyed, was there a high percentage of people that are saying, yeah, I'm busy? Or what was your discovery there?

LV: 15:08 Well, I mean, I think a lot of us talk about the, the busy thing, but I mean, it's, it's really just, we all have the stories we tell ourselves. I choose not to use the word busy as much as I can anymore. Um, I prefer to talk about life being full, but that seems to imply that it's, you know, full of stuff I've probably chosen. And um, you know, just because you have a lot going on doesn't mean that things are chaotic or anything like that.

MP: 15:34 Yes, I agree. The language is very important. There's one of the things I've shifted, and I still say it a lot is people will say, well, how are you doing? I'm saying, I'm okay. I'm okay. You know, it's like this where I'm okay versus I have friends in my life that, how are you doing? Oh, I'm awesome, I'm great. How are you? You know, it's so, so different. So I've started to shift, uh, using just a different language. Now I'm not typically one of those people that will answer back. I'm great, how are you? I'm still the, you know, a little bit of a low key person, but I will say, how are you doing? And I'll say, I'm doing great. Thank you. Yeah. And I think it's along the same, just a stream of thought, right? So instead of saying, how are you doing? Well, I'm pretty busy. I've been busy. Well, I'm doing great. My life was full. I love that language. LV: 16:21 Yeah, no. And, and it, it starts to change this busy narrative that leads people to believe that they don't have time for the things that are important to them. Um, and so I, you know, in general, I know I do have time for the things that are important to me. I may need to make some better choices with, with how I'm doing things. And sometimes things get a little bit harried, but then it's usually something I can change to make better.

MP: 16:42 Yeah. Well, your, your message really resonates with me. I mean, earlier on in the conversation you talked about the people that, uh, when I think of the people that I admire, uh, executives, business owners, um, doctors, professionals, like people that you go, wow, look at those people. They're really inspiring, living great lives and you're absolutely accurate. They, they, they are cool, calm, and collected. Even though they've got the world on their shoulders often. So many people wanting their attention, their time and responsibility, super high. Yet they're, they're living. And I think you're, you're onto something around this, uh, really taking control of your language and how you relate to time and making sure that you're, you're creating and designing a life that you go, wow, I'm living a full life. Cause guess what? It's not gonna eventually just end up that way. It's gotta be designed.

LV: 17:36 Yeah. And you know, I think one of the things that helps people relax about their time, I as first realizing, you know, yes, they may have a lot of responsibility and all that, but on the other hand, we have to take ourselves a little bit less seriously too. Um, the earth is going to keep on spinning on its axis regardless of what most of us do. And that can be sometimes a little bit disconcerting to realize, um, that if we disappeared, life would go on, which, you know, the world will go on without us. So, so like, calm down a little bit. Uh, another thing I also find it is helpful for people to think about is try to recall today's date two years ago and think about, well, what were you doing then? You know, you're human, you were probably upset about something. You are annoyed about something.

LV: 18:20 You were like worried about something stressed about something. You have no idea what it is now. Right? Like you cannot remember what it is, you have no memory of it and that sort of, you know, you can tell us that probably whatever it is that you're annoyed about today will also have disappeared into the ash heap of history by two years from now as well. So yeah, all of these things can help us take it down a notch, which I think know, paradoxically can help us make deal with having a lot of responsibility is that, you know, a lot of this stuff is, is a lot less high stakes than we might imagine.

MP: 18:55 Absolutely. You can certainly hack away at this. Uh, you know, our significance a and seriousness of life. We have that naturally it seems at times. And just chill out a little bit, which leads to a more satisfying and enjoyable experience of life. Now in your book, what are some of the things that you've heard your readers come back to you with? What they're getting out of the book, off the clock.

LV: 19:22 Well, one of the most, I think practical things, people have been figuring out how to do, you know, they have been planning these little adventures into their lives, right? To go to the big band concert to go to salsa dancing lessons and realize that it will help them feel like they have more time. But another thing is I have a chapter on lingering and this idea of trying to expand good moments and our mental accounting of good moments just sort of linger in them a little bit longer. Uh, so that we seem to expand them in our mental accounting. And there are lots of little strategies that you can do to save her a good moment. I mean, first to notice that it is happening. Um, our brains are not very good on, uh, noticing the good, so we have to train ourselves to do that.

LV: 20:05 You know, it's about planning and good things. So you know, they're coming up so that you can have that anticipation, which is very exciting, uh, to take in sort of all the details as you're enjoying something. To really be fully aware, be in the moment and then figure out a way to uh, cement the memory by either recounting it to someone afterwards or you know, writing about it somewhere. And when you do these things, even small chunks of time can become bigger. And our memory of them, you know, one of the things that I've thought about recently, I use these techniques while listening to a piece of music that I really enjoy that was sung by is soloists towards his voice. I really like, I know the, the work itself is like four minutes, right? You know, it's not that big, but I knew it was coming up for a week, so I was excited about it. I was, you know, fully present listening to her while this music was going on. Afterwards, I wrote about it on my blog, like I remember those four minutes, you know, but how many other periods of four minutes of wildlife. I know Mary, you know, I'm getting my coffee this morning. I can barely remember that I did it, you know, walking through the terminal of the airport where I was yesterday. You know, the, those four minutes are gone, but the four minutes of those musics are there and that's, that's what savoring, uh, can do for it.

MP: 21:24 I really liked that. That is it. I'm going to take that on and I, it is actually, uh, something that I, I have relatively young children and you know, I'm not a spring chicken, so I, I, I waited later in life to have children, pros and cons to that definitely. But one of the things that as a pro and a con is that I'm older, so you know, my mileage isn't. You know, I've got a limited amount of mileage here and I constantly think about, just because I've heard so many people say, oh, you know, the kids that grow up so quickly and one minute they're a little baby, the next minute they're 10, the next minute they're 20. And so I've taken that on since the birth of, of my first child and now we just have three word, three week old little baby girl.

LV: 22:13 Wow.

MP: 22:14 Yeah. Thank you.

MP: 22:16 It's just a true Blessing. And I, I do, I do try my best to savor moments where I just look at my children experience, what's happening, where am I, what am I doing with them? And now obviously there are times where it's like, especially with a three year old and a brand new baby, that definitely some, some a chaos. But you know, that's, that's natural. But that even that sometimes I'm stepping back and going, wow, I'm in the chaos here. And it's like, this will eventually end and I won't be able to get it back. And I'll probably, uh, remember those times going, oh, I remember this and that. So I think the message is so important for people to take on, uh, what, what, what your message is around this savoring moments and expanding them. Uh, it's, it just leads to a fuller, like you say, a fuller life. I've experienced that and I'm going to do it more. I actually, um, really love this and it's the summertime here and, uh, where we are right now at this time of the year. So I think it's a perfect time to take this on and really lay into it. And I'm going to encourage all of our listeners, if you're listening right now, where, where can you start to savor the wonderful things in your life and appreciate them?

LV: 23:31 Yeah, and I would say with that, um, because I, you know, people do tell you this all the time. If somebody who's in the restaurant in the hotel restaurant last night and she was, she was talking to me a night, you know, I was going to say, I'm kind of enjoying my quiet, you know, because she like, oh, it's no fun to eat by herself. I'm like, ah, I have four small kids at home. Kind of is fun team. I myself, but, but you know, she would say, oh it goes so quickly. I, yes, it's a cliche I think, you know, you can't enjoy every moment. And so I don't want to put out there for people who are feeling stressed with small kids and there are stressful moments with small kids who are feeling like I can't enjoy every moment now I feel like a bad person because I'm not enjoying every moment when I'm supposed to be enjoying every moment.

MP: 24:15 You can't, there's nothing enjoyable about your three year old screaming while your infant's having a diaper blowout and you're in the supermarket and you're like trying to, you know, wait in line to get your food home and you're tired. It's not fun. It isn't. You can't enjoy that. However, you know, savoring isn't about enjoying every moment. It's about enjoying the enjoyable moments. And I think there's certainly we can work on that. This sort of discipline of joy, of noticing the good moments and not letting the bad moments become your narrative. Right? So yes, you've got that. You know, diaper blow out in the grocery store, which is tough to deal with with the temper Tantrum, the three year olds toss and everything off the shelves don't enjoy that. Instead, you know, some moment where they are both playing quietly or you're looking at the newborn and you know that those little tiny toes. I, you know, my, my youngest is now throwing us off quite a little tiny toes anymore, but it's so enjoyed those moments and notice that they're happening and that, and then you can kind of keep the, the, you know, grocery store temper tantrum and context.

LV: 25:24 Yeah, absolutely.

MP: 25:25 I mean, I, that's my, my son had a massive meltdown the other day and, and you know, that was not enjoyable, but even this conversation and uh, you know, at times it's, it's really, it's to just expand the wall. That wasn't fun. You know, it's like, if that happened every day, it'd be not a great experience. So it's filling, filling my mind with the things that I do enjoy. The d the thing, the wonderful things, even though that experience needs to be there to learn from. I mean, I'm learning myself about, you know, just my own ego, my, my patience level. You know, I think that's the pro of being an on older parent is that, you know, I've got a little bit more wisdom if you will. I could still use more and we'll work on that. But you know, it's the ability and perspective and I think that's a lot of what you're talking about.

MP: 26:17 It's not just the let life just roll out in front of you and, uh, pay attention, pay attention to what's happening and pick your battles and pick the things that you're gonna you're gonna save her. I think for me, that's what I'm getting out of this conversation for sure, is to save are the ones that are an enjoyable and expand that in my brain that's going to lead to a more enjoyable experience every day. And I just love this. Now you, you, you also a lot of speaking as well. What's are you on, uh, do you have a speaking tour this year? What's happening there?

LV: 26:49 Well, I do a lot of speaking in general, um, you know, corporate speaking events. I don't really have any large public events coming up, but you know, I'm, I'm blogging and podcasting, so people want to listen to me talk about this or read it, you know, please visit my blog, Laura Vander, cam.com. Um, I also have a podcast. So if you've made it through all the episodes of the successful bookkeeper in you are, you know, looking for something else to listen to or you can come listen to him best of both worlds, which I'm talking about these issues over there.

MP: 27:18 Beautiful. Well that's great. You know, Laura, it's just such a pleasure. I know from a, an inside source that you are one of the most highly rated speakers, uh, on the circuit today. Uh, so if people do get an opportunity and see you publicly, great, do it. Absolutely. Whatever the ticket is, go see Laura, you will be delighted and as well, I'm sure it would be the same, probably not as, as experiential, but listening to you, uh, I think do both. I encourage my listeners and, and we actually wanted you back because of our listeners. Several listeners asked about having you back because absolutely love the episode and Love the work that you're doing.

LV: 28:00 Oh, wonderful. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

MP: 28:03 Yes. So let's talk about, before we say goodbye, you likely have, uh, an opportunity for people to get this book. What's the best way to do that? Uh, and maybe just mention your website again with the best place to go there. And then of course we'll have all the links, uh, in, in this episode notes.

LV: 28:19 Yeah, well, it'd be great if your listeners would check out my new book off the clock. It came out in May, 2018 if people are listening to this far in the future, but I'm off the clock. Feel less busy while getting more done. You can get it through any of the major retailers or online, you know, Amazon, Barnes and noble, all those places. Also available as an audio book if you're commuting and want to want to listen to it like that. And you can come visit my website, Laura Vander cam.com. I blog four times a week. And so lots of content. There are lots about managing our time and we have a great community of commenters. There is one of the nicest places on the Internet, so please to chime in and we'd love to hear from you.

MP: 28:54 That's wonderful. Well, we're going to have a all of those in our notes and Laura, I know you're a super full living, a super full life, and so thank you so much for your generosity of giving your time to come and share your knowledge and your wisdom and experiences with our listeners.

LV: 29:12 Thank you so much for having me.

MP: 29:14 My pleasure. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and what a wonderful episode it was to learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.

EP100: Roger Knecht - How To Make Your Bookkeeping Business More Profitable

UPDATED - TSBK - Episode 100 - Roger Knecht.png
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Does your bookkeeping business earn enough profit?

Our returning guest, Universal Accounting Center President, Roger Knecht, who co-wrote the book, In the Black, helps small business owners grow their operations successfully.

It helps owners understand how they can run their businesses more profitably and also speaks to the importance of the accounting role in the success of the company.

It is filled with principles and concepts that you can use immediately to enhance your expertise and wisdom in business decision-making.

During our 100th episode, you'll learn...

  • The importance of being efficient

  • The tools you can take advantage to help your business

  • The major functions of business


Michael Palmer: 01:23 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. I'm excited to have today's guest back on the program. He's the president of Universal Accounting Center. Since 1979, UAC has worked to help accounting professionals excel in their careers. He's an expert in helping people launch and grow highly successful accounting and bookkeeping firms. Roger Knecht, Welcome back to the podcast. Roger Knecht: 01:59 No, it's a pleasure. Thank you. I appreciate this. MP: 02:03 Yeah. Well, I'm really excited about today's interview because you're actually talking about profitability and more specifically about a book that you actually co-wrote cold in the black. Roger. What had you write a book about profitability?

RK: 02:12 Well, basically what it was is Ellen Bostrom at the time was dealing with the fact that his father was retired and was in a situation where he was growing older and he wanted to pay kind of an homage to what it was that he had learned from his father who had originally started universal accounting center who is a health Bostrom. And as the two of us spoke, Al Allen and myself, we decided that there was a good opportunity here to really put some, some, uh, paper to what it was that we had experienced as a company in our growth. And what were some of those maybe presuppositions, if you would, that we were using to run the company successfully. And so we sat down and started to go through what were those lessons that he had learned from his father and how were they applying to the company today.

RK: 02:55 And so as we wrote, the book in the black became kind of this, this catchall of what were those things we were doing from a marketing, accounting, and production point of view. They were leading the company to be successful. And it was at that time that we were achieving such awards, his inc 500, we were recognized five years running as an inc 5,000 company, uh, where our corporate headquarters are in Utah. We were recognized as a Utah 100 company for five years running. So when those accolades started coming and coming, we wanted to record or document what we felt were those things that were helping us achieve those successes. And most importantly, it was in an essence and homage, as you recall, two alphas father who originally started the company, Universal Accounting Center. So with all that in mind, we started to really put some energy and effort to really kind of write a book that would kind of help small business owners everywhere, see what it could be that they could use as a template to grow their businesses and be successful.

MP: 03:56 That's great. And now having written this book and haven't gotten it in the hands of probably quite a few different people in businesses, what have you learned about people's reaction to the book?

RK: 04:09 Well, it's in its seventh edition. And so I can honestly say we've seen a number of people take and read the book and apply it in their companies. So, because I know so many of your listeners are accountants, let me just mention that we have a number of people that were aware of that literally use the book not just as a marketing tool, but oftentimes they'll hand it to all their clients as they're onboarding them or perhaps at a holiday period of time where they're able to kind of give this out as a gift. And it's all with the premise of first and foremost, it's for every business owner to help them understand how they can run their businesses more profitably. But the underlying tone of the business is really kind of a subset or a secret little message that comes through that really speaks to the importance of the accounting role in the success of the company. And so for the accounting professionals, this is kind of like a nice pat on the back that helps all the clients understand as business owners that the, the accounting is essential to the success of the company. It's not something that is an afterthought or an unnecessary thing, but truly it is an integral part of the success.

MP: 05:11 Yes, such a fantastic concept Roger actually to to be giving your clients a gift that actually it's a gift but it also leads to a potential really awesome gift, which is more an increased profitability in their business. And I think anytime you're giving something away, it does a great deal for relationship. But in this case very consistent with what a bookkeeper or accountant as is all about is about building and helping businesses be more profitable.

MP: 05:41 Of course now this is something that I know you're going to resonate with. Um, e-myth is a phenomenal book that I would suggest every business owner read and liked to it. And I'm obviously biased. I think in the black is a great compliment. It essentially just kind of takes that business to that next level and for a small business owner, I think it really does address the three things that they need to be aware of in their company as they're wearing a variety of hats in their company to run the business and be effective and be profitable. But the nice part of it is it's all with the focus, the intention of being profitable. It's not just let's talk about marketing and sells or let's talk about fulfillment and production. It's really, let's do all these conversations in the context of how can we ultimately be profitable as a company.

RK: 06:26 In the book, we speak to it as mapping the business. When we talk about mapping the business, we're trying to say there are three core elements that exist in every company. No matter how large or small, no matter how old or young, every business is made up of marketing, accounting, and production. With those three things in place, it's the business owner's responsibility to go over each of those three and pull them together and within those find the profit of the business. And so the book does a phenomenal job of helping the business owner understand of all these things that they're juggling. All the hats that they're wearing. There is in fact a nice systemic way that you can intelligently, proactively, deliberately run the business to ultimately find the profit in the company.

MP: 07:13 Beautiful. Well, let's talk a little bit about that. I'm, I'm really curious to get into a little bit about about the book and some of the concepts, because I know our listeners, not only is this a great opportunity to muscle up in terms of their understanding of what should be happening for their own business, but as well to be able to consult and advise their clients when they're working with them. Sure. There's some great angles to go out from that perspective.

RK: 07:39 Well. Yeah, I'd love to share with you a few of the things that or if anything, themes of the book and try and kind of help everyone understand why the book would be helpful for their own companies as you own and operate your own business, but at the same time, how it can be helpful to the clients that you're working with and ultimately have a full circle benefit to you as you have. Have them read it. So I've introduced, obviously mark are mapping the business already making up the business, being marketing, accounting and production. Well, within each of those three areas of the company, they each have their own three elements that need to be addressed and prioritized by the owner. So obviously with there being three areas, marketing, accounting, production, and three subsets in each, there's a total of nine principles for profitability, which is the subtitle, if you will, of the book in the black and those nine areas.

RK: 08:34 What we need to recognize is as an owner, there are short term things that you need to be doing, things that need to be done now that are immediate things that need to be top of mind. And those three things. Each one exists in one of those three categories. So in marketing, the very first and preeminent thing that exists for every business owner is nothing happens until you make a sale. One of the things that I like to share about this is the fact that as a business owner, if you were to make yourself akin to a, uh, an ex excellent athlete, let's say, uh, a phenomenal baseball or football or, or basketball player, a golfer, that's great, wonderful that you're phenomenal at your, at your skill, at your ability. But unless you're playing a game, unless you're actually on the court with another team, with an opponent and your playing, does it really matter that you're as good as you are?

RK: 09:26 So in the accounting world, what we're trying to do is obviously go out and acquire clients because if you're not working, if even if you're a great accountant, bookkeeper, tax repair, if you don't have clients, it doesn't matter where the rubber meets the road is when you take on your clients and get paid for your services. And so first and foremost, we want to make sure that we're not being caught up with some of the things that I think we sometimes consumer time with organizing the office, learning a software, getting on top of something that needs to be done and it's when those things are organized, we feel comfortable to move forward and go out and market and meet or our potential clients. We're in first, first and foremost, what we've got to do is put the priority word needs to be, which is nothing happens until you mega sell. Once you make the sale, then we can go back and figure out some of the particular so that we can competently do the work. But it all comes back to, unless you're making the sale, what does it matter?

MP: 10:22 Absolutely. I agree with that and I often think, you know, people, uh, use the catchphrase. If you build it, they will come in and it's actually not the way you want to think about it when it comes to sales.

RK: 10:35 Yeah, very true. Yeah. I think sometimes we be garl ourselves that the better and better and better we build a mousetrap at some point a mouse is going to come along well we've, let's go find the mice first, find the mice that we can build the trap to catch.

MP: 10:56 Absolutely. And you know, I think for our listener too, this is something to be thinking about in their own businesses, which is often the selling part is not that which comes naturally and therefore it can be easy to procrastinate, pull it off because there are so many other things that do look important to be, to be getting prepared or to work on. But yet really the most important piece is that making sure that things are beginning sold.

RK: 11:24 Well, you bring up an excellent point and it's something that I'd like to just emphasize a little bit here. I shared earlier that every company is made up of marketing, accounting and production, and in the accounting business when you're offering either accounting, bookkeeping, tax services, one of the things that's actually quite interesting is because of the nature of the work, you're being a bookkeeping firm. Yes, your product, your service, the deliverable you're offering in the production side of the company is the bookkeeping service. But what's Nice is you're able to do your own bookkeeping and accounting. So we're a company is made up of a, of marketing and accounting and production. You just innately have the first two covered. What's not common is someone having been the comfort and the skill level, the competence and confidence to go out and market those services. And so when you talk to the accountant and a bookkeeper, the tax repaired, they're comfortable doing the bookkeeping for themselves and their clients where they're uncomfortable is going out, marketing those services.

RK: 12:23 And just to take that a step further, one of the things that I think is extremely important as part of the marketing is a lot of accountants don't understand that there are two things they have to be familiar with. One is marketing, the other is sales. You could do a great job marketing your services where you go out and you're in the right places, generating the right contacts, meaning the right people, but you're unable to close the deal. And that's the sales. So sometimes people are really good at the marketing side of the business, generating the leads, making the contacts, getting the referrals, and where they struggle is actually selling them, getting them to accept and engage with the client, paying you for your services. And so what we want to do is make sure that you have both the marketing and the sales skills. Some people, it's the opposite. They're really not good at the marketing. They don't know where to find the potential clients. They don't know where to go to get the leads, but they're really good if they can ultimately get a lead to close them. So if they can just get someone in front of them, they're good at closing the deal. Well, there's a difference between marketing and sales and it's important to be good at both have.

MP: 13:27 Absolutely. I just love that. And, and really I think everyone listening is that, that's the opportunity here. And I think we've spent a lot of time on this podcast talking about it and, and we will always continue to bring more information about marketing and sales on the podcast because it's so essential and it's so important to, to everyone's business the, so I love that we're on a great stream and Oh, you know what? I had a, actually a thought I wanted to just before I skip over here, I made a note [inaudible] you mentioned something around bookkeeper's doing their own books, right? So there's marketing, accounting and production and, and sort of they can do the production because they're bookkeeping and accounting, but then they can also do their accounting. You know what's interesting is I've actually spoken to a few bookkeepers that one of the breakthrough moments in their business was actually hiring another bookkeeper to do their own books and their business.

RK: 14:26 Not Interesting. It actually is very interesting and I make it akin to this. One time I had a rental property that I owned and the woman that lived in the home happened to be someone that for a living. She went out to other people's houses and clean their homes, so she was doing kind of a maid service and she spent her entire day going over to other people's houses and dusting and cleaning and doing the laundry. Well, when I would go to her house because I either needed to repair something or check-in or whatever the case may be and I'm checking in on my renter. What do you think the status of her home was? Right. It was horrible when she came home from working all day long cleaning other people's houses. Do you really think she wanted to clean her own home? Unfortunately, no. No, absolutely. What was sad is, is some people describe it as kind of like the cobbler's kids not having shoes type of a thing because it's amazing to me. Um, how sometimes when I'm working with an accounting professional, they're doing so well, but when it comes down to how, you know, are they doing their books? When was the last time they looked at their own financials? When was the last time they looked at or even close the book of business. Uh, it's just astounding to me how many of them actually a forgo that as they're working on all of their clients. So you, you make a valid point. I understand exactly where you're coming from.

MP: 15:45 Yeah. It's an interesting one. And I think for, you know, the listeners too, is I think what had them not do it sooner was that they were embarrassed about the fact that their books weren't impeccable right there, their job was to do packable file for their clients and they were awesome at that. Excellent at it. But yet they were embarrassed because they didn't, you know, it was like the, your, your renter who was, who was, whose probably embarrassed. And I was always, I would also say she probably would have been really specific in particular about it. So you know, it's like, are those people that she hired gonna do the job that she's expecting? So a whole bunch of different emotional and psychological things that go alongside of that. But encourage anyone out there that if that's one of the, they're at the stage in their business where they could, they could handle it and, and use the help, hire somebody else to do your books. Well said. Beautiful. We kind of went off on a little bit of a cha tangent. Let's get back to profitability and dig deeper into these nine principles.

RK: 16:44 So let me share the next one that I think would be of interest. I mentioned obviously in the nine principles, the first and foremost is that of nothing happens until you make a sale. And that loves in mapping under the marketing area. So let's move from marketing into accounting. In accounting. The very first thing that we need to emphasize is cashflow, and I'll emphasize it by saying cashflow, cashflow, cashflow. One of the things that's very important here is to understand that for our clients, we first need to distinguish are they familiar with the accrual or the cash form of accounting in which are they leaning towards or do they prefer? But when it comes down to the, the reality of business and the book does a great job of explaining all of this is how, how key and essential cashflow is. And what I love about this is something that I, outside of the book and experience I had where I was attending a conference and it was a panel discussion and in that discussion there was on the panel, someone who had just recently attended a government meeting.

RK: 17:44 This was in the United States and it was at a congressional committee. And there we're talking to these senators and the senators in the committee. We're actually asking economic and business-oriented questions and what stumped them is how a business from an accrual point of view can be profitable but yet from a cash point of view be bankrupt. And it was difficult to explain to these senators how a business can be selling and could be successful and profitable but unable to pay its bills, unable to make payroll, unable to fulfill its financial obligations. And I think sometimes what is hard for a lot of small business owners especially is to balance that. That's why when you hear these statistics oftentimes of businesses failing within the first few years, it's not because they had a poor product, it's not even that they weren't selling it. What it was is poor cashflow management.

RK: 18:40 And so what we want to do is just basically understand that like our clients, we ourselves need to be sensitive to the cashflow management of our companies. And so whether it be lines of credit or what are your, what you're using to manage the cashflow, there are tips and tricks. There are things that you can do that can give you some leverage points that enable you to kind of weather the storms that allow you to get ahead in the business. So we just want to understand that. The second thing that's very key in business is something that I find very few people will argue against. And it's the cashflow situation. Cashflow is king.

RK: 19:23 There you go. So we've got, nothing happens until something gets sold. Cashflow, cashflow, cashflow. Cashflow is king. And I love that conversation of cash flow. And there's so many stories and case studies of businesses that literally had a great business but cash flow wrong and, and lights out. Yes, that is so true.

MP: 19:37 Excellent. What is principle number three?

RK: 19:40 And we've kind of got this, we've got, I guess sales is the Queen and cashflow is the king at Sota. Sex starts to sound kind of interesting because I would agree with that. Like you, the queen can always come back and, and sell something and get cashflow back and track. Right? So, and everyone, what

RK: 20:05 knows? So it goes the life or wife still goes life. So if the Queen Sappy, we know the king's happy. So there you go. So the third thing in mapping the business leads us from marketing accounting to production. So the primary thing in production that is immediate is pouring on the communication. So when you're a small business, maybe, perhaps even a solo entrepreneur, one of the things that you're doing is you're wanting to make sure that the communication between you and the customer is good. And when you start getting employees, those people that are actually fulfilling the orders, the product or sells delivery, that the communication there is impeccable. And what I mean by this is so often in business what we're trying to do is we're trying to overdeliver. We've got some expectation that the customer has that as they've paid for the product or service they expect as part of the deliverable.

RK: 20:57 This is what's going to determine whether or not they're happy with what it is they purchased. We want to make sure that from a sales point of view, we didn't oversell them and whatever was stated in the sales process is deliverable and we want to make sure it's documented so that we know that when we're finished delivering, we've achieved what it is that the customer had purchased. And so pouring on the communication comes at a number of levels. The first being that of the customer are their expectations being met, is everything being taken care of? The second happens to actually be within the company. So there's a number of examples and one that I'll just share from the book. You can read the others, but it's essentially imagine for example, in a company where you know the cost of goods are such that you're able to sell this particular product at a discount.

RK: 21:43 Let's assume that the inventory is such that you're going to liquidate a particular product. And in doing so, one of the stories that we share is has how a company comes up with the idea of making a cell, doing a cell. The cell works, it's going well, things are going out the door. The salespeople are being commissioned and they're making a good bonus because cells are up in this particular cat category that we're emphasizing because we're liquidating something. But what fails to be communicated is when the product is taken care of, it's liquidated, it's gone. It's out of inventory. And the people in production seeing that they are running out of the product rather than canceling the sale and saying, hey guys, we were finished. We did what we wanted to the cells over, they go out and buy more materials to fulfill the continuing orders coming in.

RK: 22:33 Well, the problem is is that when they bought these new materials, the cogs, the cost of goods sold were actually more than they were originally because it's been some time since they did that order. And you have to remember the, we're doing this as a liquidation to get rid of something that they had already determined that they didn't need to have on stock in stock. Well, the problem is now you're selling something at a loss and nobody knows that. And in this particular example, what happens is the cells continue for some time. Everyone being excited. The salespeople are producing, they're doing well, everything's going awesome. We just love what's happening here. Everyone's busy. And it's basically about three months later that the accounting can come in and actually determine, hey guys, every time we sell this, we're losing money. The cogs are such that we're selling this at a loss and because of the commissions that we're paying the bonuses for the cells, um, every time we sell this, we're losing money.

RK: 23:27 And so what you want to do is make sure that inside of the company that there's communication, that there is this open dialogue that's going on. And in the book we talk about various ways to achieve this. Uh, there are things that you can do where you can sprinkle the communication, you can reign that communication within an organization and you can also flood the organization with communication. And so it's, how does your organization do that? In smaller organizations, it might be certain technologies like apps and so forth that enable the employees to communicate in other organizations that might be a CRM of sorts that they're using to manage the workflow or the product management. In smaller organizations where it's a solo entrepreneur, it's just where you documenting and recording everything so that you can actually see that things are following a workflow and being done effectively and profitably. So a, it varies business to business, but the concept, the principle is pouring on the communication first and foremost with the customer so that we know that their expectations are being met and then internally so that we make sure that we're able to delight the customer and overdeliver. And then lastly, so that we're being profitable so that there's a line of communication to ensure that we're not selling something at a price that we ought not and a, that we're being profitable from the get go. It's been deliberate.

MP: 24:47 I love that. You know, communication I think is, is underplayed and I don't know what card in the deck we could call this one, but uh, there was a catchphrase that I used to and I still think about all the time in, in times, usually in times of where things are, are tumultuous if you will, is everything can be resolved in communication. And so what it says to me is really there's nothing that can't be altered or made better through communication. And, and I love the fact that you've got a couple of different strategies around your communication in the book.

RK: 25:23 Well, if you're choosing to do a card, I'm going to say it's the ace up the sleeve. Your, your clean is definitely the cell's. The king is the cash flow. But the aces, if you can't deliver in such a way that your customer at the end of the day is delighted you run the risk of dealing with frustrated customers, you'd run the risk of having them asking for refunds. You have the risk of getting a social network reputation that is, is not favorable to your business. You run a lot of longterm issues if not done correctly. And so pouring on the communication I think is something that you, you don't want to overlook and get caught up in. I'm selling cash flows good, but I'm not taking care of my customers. Uh, I'm losing them. This is kind of a tangent. We've already gone on one. I'll go on another long story short.

RK: 26:07 I knew someone that was in a state prison. He was in prison because he was an excellent salesperson and he was selling log home kits. What it was is it was pre-manufactured log cabins that people could actually build up in there up in the mountains as a second home. And he was a phenomenal salesperson. And what he was essentially doing it was he was selling the kits faster than they could be delivered and produced. And so he got into a point where he was taking cells and being paid for kits that he couldn't deliver on because the company was behind in their orders. And it got to the point where he was selling so many of these that it got to be a lawsuit where these people wanted their money back because the deliverable wasn't being done. And you can imagine with cabin homes, if you can't build it in the spring or summer, it's not until the next spring or summer that you can install the home.

RK: 26:59 So people were paying and giving the gentleman money, but it wasn't for two or three years out as I recalled that he was going to be able to fulfill the order and yet he was telling the person upon sale that he could, you know, deliver it pretty quickly. So you could see the, the, the essence of making the sell, he was first things first he was selling, cashflow was good. He was bringing in the money, he was not taking care of the customers and he was doing such a bad job of it. It landed him in prison. So yeah, it, it, it can be that much of a deal-breaker if not done correctly. So don't want to put the heavy on it. I don't want to make this a frustrating, it's just to prioritize and emphasize that as a business you're an owner of a company and you're needing to just make sure that these things are all being taken care of and it's a priority on your part to just ensure that your customers are delighted and happy.

RK: 27:50 And I think the thing that we want to emphasize here is as an immediate need in marketing, accounting and production, we just want to emphasize that first and foremost when we wake up that we're focusing on today, what can we do to bring in a new sale? What are we doing about cash flows and make sure that we're able to take care of our obligations and what kind of cushion do we have in place to kind of help us float when needed. But lastly, is everybody happy? Are we delivering on what we said we would do? Are we able to over deliver and delight our customers? Are the employees working as a team to make sure that we're actually doing this profitably? That's the whole idea of what we're talking about here as we're looking at the nine principles of profitability and the first three that make those up.

MP: 28:32 I love it.

MP: 28:40 What's the fourth?

RK: 28:41 Well now we're getting into, we're about, we're coming up on close to half of these, but let's, let's talk about it. So the fourth one here actually takes us into what's called the mid term goals. The midterm midterm emphasis and so we've just talked about the short term. The mid term is in marketing. A good deal is a good deal if it's a good deal for both parties, so only a good deal when it's a good deal for both parties is I think an important principle to understand because first and foremost, I think when we're selling, there are times when we kind of get a little zealous and eager and we might make concessions that in order to get the sale, we sell the farm and with that eagerness to get the sale, we failed to realize that it's not a good deal. We might be excited about the fact that we closed a deal, but when we look back, it probably wasn't the right customer.

RK: 29:35 It probably was offering too many services or we threw in too many goodies to sweeten the deal and at the end of the day, it's just not a good thing. I'll give you an example. One of the things that we teach from an accounting point of view is when landing a customer, one of the things you don't want to do is cheapen your monthly fee just simply because of the fact that you want the deal so bad that you're willing to concede and offer your services for less. Where you want to concede and maybe help the customer realize that they're getting to get deal is perhaps on the setup fee. The set up fee is a one time fee and in theory if you're going to say that because you're from a friend or a family member or a networking group, I offer to those half price on my set of fee.

RK: 30:20 Well, you gave them a discount and you took a little bit of a loss on the set of fee for the time you're going to take to set that client up. But notice you didn't discount the month to month to month fees that you're basically going to be living off of. And if you discounted that, that's going to be a, a loss that you're going to incur for who knows how long for months, for years. And so what we want to do is just make sure that when we're getting excited about a sale, we're not shooting ourselves in the foot and, uh, hurting ourselves longterm. So the other part of this is from a management point of view, sometimes when we're working with employees, we have to recognize that sometimes they get a little eager, zealous to get the sale. And sometimes we've got to look back at the offers or the packaging or the discounts that they're assembling as they're closing deals.

RK: 31:06 And make sure, well, you know, what did they take a little bit of liberty here and offer more than they should have just to close the deal and get the sell for the day or the week. And we just need to, from a management point of view or an owner point of view, just make sure that those people who are closing deals are doing so within the parameters that are set. So that in fact it is profitable and in fact a good deal for both parties. So that's a, I think one of the key things. That's the second item in the marketing side of things.

MP: 31:35 Beautiful. Makes Sense. And you know, I often, you see, you know, I've, I've, I've known people who have started to increase their prices and it's just like, yeah, hey that worked, that worked, that worked. Eventually, it no longer becomes a good deal or perceived good deal on the other side. So it's like constantly looking at and evaluating is this working for both parties and, and if you have a win win for everybody, I mean a win win leads to longevity in the relationship.

RK: 32:03 It's exactly right. Okay.

MP: 32:05 Okay. So, well, I think we're getting into principle number five.

RK: 32:10 We are, this brings us back to accounting. So in mapping the business, we're in accounting and the mid term thing is knowing your business. And I think this just really talks to your example of preparing the financial reports and looking at those in business. What we're emphasizing here is the need that they have as companies, as owners of businesses to really understand what the numbers are. And uh, I think this is kind of akin to what I was sharing at the beginning of how through reading the book they come to appreciate and value the role of the accounting professional in helping them in their organization be profitable. So if you're looking at this from the business owner point of view, this is just simply to say that the language of businesses accounting, you need to know what your company is saying to you. You need to listen.

RK: 32:57 And as you go through this process of becoming more and more familiar with what the financial reports are saying and looking at them regularly, not just yearly, it may be tax time, but perhaps quarterly or monthly as you should be. What it does is it just gives you a greater appreciation for the fact that the numbers are helping you make more intelligent business decisions. Now from an accounting point of view, it kind of comes back to what you were sharing earlier that sometimes this is overlooked or neglected in an accounting firm, that they themselves aren't doing this and so to your listeners, I just challenged when was the last time you actually prepared your financials and light your clients? When was the last time you went through them and looked at the details and saw what the KPIs were for your business, what your average revenue per client is, what your billable hours are, average rate is. It's those types of numbers that you need to be looking at to know how well your company is doing.

MP: 33:51 Yeah, essential, absolutely essential and I think that this, what I can see in so far, we're only at number five. What I can see in this is just excellent conversation pieces and thinking points. Working with clients and being valuable to clients is to, to actually look at and evaluate yourself, where, where are your clients actually standing in terms of these nine principles more specifically around two and five because they're the accounting function and that's where you're likely going to be working with. But it's a a great lead in to give something like this to your, your clients even at on upon a new introduction or you've met them at a networking event and you think that they're very good prospect. This would be a great way to like, here's a booklet. Let's set up a time where we can discuss further. Uh, I think it's great so far, Roger.

RK: 34:47 Thank you. Well, that's one of the things that I really liked about this book. It's something that even though I'm biased, I feel every business owner needs to look at. I think it takes all those things that we're overwhelmed by as we run our companies and helps us at least break it down into three hats that we can the least where and then it helps us realize what, what type of balance can we have between these three and really what is the relationship of profit to the three roles, marketing, accounting, production, where's the profit? How do we find it in there? How do we ensure that we're going to get profit and how do we maximize profit? What are the things that we can do in those three areas of the company to ensure that not just that we're profitable, but very profitable. So, uh, these nine principles that we've spoken over began, uh, they're, they're all relative. I think every business owner will appreciate them. It's just now taking the time to implement and implement them in your company.

MP:35:40 Beautiful.

MP: 35:46 Well, this is great. Should we continue on and take a look at number six?

RK: 35:50 Well, I'm happy to go as long as you do. So. Yes. So number six, improve the internal processes. One of the things that I really feel that this addresses in the production side of the company is the fact that workflow is key to what we do in a company. And that's one of the reasons why I absolutely love pure bookkeeping, pure bookkeeping, helping people recognize that the back office administration, the efficiency of the workflow to ensure that the client work is consistent and being done profitably is so I think tantamount to the profitability of the organization. And so improving the internal processes is just taking what you have and making it better. Imagine if you were doing work today like you did five or 10 years ago. I don't know if any of you are old enough, but I definitely know I'm old enough to remember carbon paper and typewriters.

RK: 36:40 There are just so many things that we would consider to be archaic and if we were doing them today would be so slow. If you were old enough and you were remembering journals and ledgers and to prepare a financial report, you're having to take days to run the numbers and calculate everything. Uh, that's something that today because of technology is so easily done, you're preparing financial reports just by putting in date ranges in your running reports by simply asking for a range and then it produces bar graphs and so forth. It's just amazing what can be done. But if you're not trained and familiar with the tools, the resources that are available to streamline your internal processes, I think you're really cutting into the profit margin of the company. And so what we want to do is we want to look at what can you do in your company to basically take advantage of the technologies, the trends to basically become more efficient and profitable in your organizations. So again, because this is in the production side of the business, it's essentially what can you do to better deliver the product or service that you offer so that it is more easily delivered. It is more easily implemented so that it is better received by the customer. All of this is basically taking what you have and making it better while improving the internal processes of the company. And so if you can just basically recognize that your business needs to evolve and change and improve, you'll accept and be more welcoming to change.

MP: 38:10 That's fantastic. Well, I just, I love that. And as you were speaking, I was thinking of the, the, the, it's so the, the rate of change is so quick. I mean, we think back to the, the carbon copies, the fax machine, I mean, just even between telephones, there was a time where there was a lot of the time in your life where you were not near a telephone. It's like you going to drive somewhere to another city, it's going to be three hours. Well look, I'm off the grid for three hours now. There's none of that. So things are constantly changing. And so I'm getting that. The principle number six is about looking at that. What's changed? How can we make it better? That Chi is an approach to continuous improvement that leads to incredible opportunities for profitability inside of a business and all sorts of other, other wonderful things.

MP: 38:53 Now I think we're getting a little bit out of time and I actually think it's kind of exciting for the listener to go and actually learn about these last three while learn more and deeper about all nine. But go deeper and learn the final three. Roger, you've offered to give this book away for free to our listeners, which I think is extremely generous and extremely valuable in the form of an ebook. Now we're going to have that as a link that they can on this episode right now. Go and get this download. Um, so if you're listening right now and want to to use this and get this out to your clients and use this for your own business, just get down there below the, into the description and you'll be able to find that link. Anything else, Roger, to share about this particular resource and how, how they can get the most value out of it.

RK: 39:48 Certainly. So we at Universal Accounting Center like to pride ourselves as, as to helping the accounting professional get paid what they're worth. And we have a tour that essentially just introduces to the accounting professional what types of opportunities exist for them in their career, whether it's getting a promotion, a pay increase, uh, finding a new job to actually take their career to that next level or start or build their own successful accounting, bookkeeping or tax practice. And for many people it's a, it's basically a combination of both or it's a, uh, consideration of what opportunity is most appealing to them. And so I invite them to go to universal accounting.net and their universal accounting.net. We've got a nice little journey or towards kind of like a choose your own adventure type of experience to give you a chance to see what really is available out there as to helping you improve and take advantage of in the coming year, your opportunities in the accounting world.

RK: 40:43 And one of the things that I think is really key and essential here is the fact that it's endless. Whether you're starting in the accounting profession, whether you've been in doing, in doing this maybe 15, 20, 25 years, there still is a way to make that next year is the best year of your career. And we're happy to help in that process and I appreciate this opportunity, Michael, too, with pure bookkeeping. Look at the, the different things that are basically essential to helping someone be successful in their career with the tools they need to do so. So, uh, loved your podcast. I think this is just amazing. So thank you for the opportunity to be here.

MP: 41:17 Roger, The pleasure is all ours and thank you for generously giving us your time and on behalf of the listeners, thanks for being on the podcast today.

RK: 41:27 You're very welcome and I'll get you that information. You need to make the ebook available to them. I appreciate you that offer being made available to them. I think it's something they'll appreciate reading and I hope that they'll see value in providing this as a gift to their clients, for them to actually find ways to improve the profitability of their companies. And a, again, I hope that the journey is something that they enjoy going through and just seeing what types of opportunities exist for them. So thank you.

MP: 41:53 Okay, excellent. Excellent. All, all our pleasure. And I have to say it's the gift. I really think this is the gift that keeps on giving you help a business be more profitable. That's likely going to stick around for awhile. So awesome, and thank you so much.

RK: 42:07 You're welcome. Take care.

MP: 42:09 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.

EP99: Mark Bowden - How Your Body Language Affects Your Business

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What's your body language?

Our guest, Mark Bowden, who was voted the number one body language professional in the world, has been fascinated most of his life with visual imagery and the way other people perform and how they affect our behaviour.

He's passionate about giving people the most influential and persuasive communication techniques to stand out, win trust and build credibility every time they communicate.

Today, his work has reached millions of people and presented to many of the most innovative organizations in the world.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of being persistent in what you want to be good at

  • What are the 2 types of body language and how they influence people

  • Why thinking a little bit different than others will benefit you

To learn more about his website, visit here.

For his LinkedIn page, click here.

For his Twitter, discover here.

To buy his book, Truth & Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:20 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a treat. Our guest was voted the number one body language professional in the world. He's written several books on the topic. His most recent book is truth and lies. What people are really thinking. He's passionate about giving people the most influential and persuasive communication techniques to stand out when trust and build credibility every time they speak. Mark Bowden, welcome to the podcast.

Mark Bowden: 01:50 Michael, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

MP: 01:55 Well, I am so excited to have you here because I think our audience is going to absolutely love the content and the work that you've literally been spending your life researching, understanding and now teaching so many others around the world. Uh, I'm just pumped because I think it's going to make a massive difference for them, their lives and as well they're businesses. But for four, we get into some of these questions I have for you. Tell us a little bit about yourself up until now.

MB: 02:26 Yeah, so a, I mean a lot of people often say, so how did you get into this world of, of body language? Because they're thinking that that can't be a usual track. I didn't see the course at college on that. That would make me a, uh, a body language expert. And it's true that there isn't a usual course for, for any of us though. Some of us go through the kind of, uh, areas of, of, um, uh, investigation bureaus and, you know, FBI, CIA, that kind of area. I'm, I'm, I'm not quite the same as that. Uh, I was just obsessed as a kid with, uh, animal behavior, especially marine biology. Uh, you know, how, how a fish behave and, and then it progressed on as I got a little bit older into human beings, I was quite interested in how human beings perform, why they do that, why, why I do certain things, why they react in a certain way.

MB: 03:15 So I think there were issues of control that, you know, why do people react in certain ways to what I did? Could I control their behaviors? Could I control my own? And so I've just been really fascinated for most of my life with visual imagery. You know, the, the pictures around us essentially that are out there, including ourselves and, and the way other people perform. Those, those moving pictures of people and objects and things in the world around us and how they affect our behavior. And is there anything that we can do about it? Can we make our worlds better for us, more productive for ourselves by having some understanding of how we're affected by the way other people move around us and the way we move. So there's, this is, you know, kind of how I got here today on a podcast with you.

MP: 04:11 Wow. I remember seeing you speak actually at Tedx Toronto and I, they had an incredible B roll. I don't think that's what they call a little video about you and, and you were, you told a little bit about yourself and you've, you've got a wide variety of experiences in your life leading up to, to what you're, you're now doing, which is you're, you're teaching this all over the world. What's been your biggest take away from just studying it as you know, your own general interest to actually now teaching others how to understand this and use it in their lives and business?

MB: 04:55 Yeah, that's a really good question. I think I've got a couple of answers to that that come immediately to mind. One is that if you want to get really good at something and really understand it on the whole, I think you've just got to be really persistent. You've just got to keep on investigating, keep on exploring, keep on getting more and more knowledge. Just keep on being persistent and never give up. That pursuit of understanding pursuit of more knowledge and especially look in areas that wouldn't be obvious. Look in the areas for information that others in your area aren't looking. I think if I've done anything that's changed, you know, my area of expertise, this world of, of body language, what I've done is think about it in a very different way than most other people. I mean, first of all, I started thinking about it in a way of how you can use body language on purpose to stand wind trust, credibility.

MB: 05:58 So it was, it was how you can use body language rather than how you can read body language. And then when I finally moved onto this area of people really wanting to know about how can you read other people's body language again, I started thinking about it in a different way and saying, well, it's really about the way you think about reading that's ultimately going to help you understand how to read people's body language better. So this, this last book that I wrote with my coauthor Tracy Thompson, truth and lies, what people are really thinking, I think it's actually really a book on critical thinking disguised as a book on body language. So I think there's two answers to the question. There is be persistent and see if you can think a little bit differently than others. Now you know, that's, that's interesting. Just to the fact that it's critical thinking about, it's actually like, yeah, it's pay it, let's pay attention.

MB: 06:57 That's the first thing I'm like today. I didn't wake up thinking what? What's my body language, right. Number two, I didn't wake up thinking about what other people's body language telling me. So this, this is actually a way, it's actually two very powerful tools that have been sitting in the toolbox that for many listeners I'm sure have not been paying any attention to that can be very, very important in winning or losing and in their lies in business. Right?

MP: 07:20 Well, yeah, absolutely.

MB: 07:23 But look, there's no reason why you should wake up in the morning and pay more attention to this. Look, you're alive. You managed to wake up. That's a good thing. Yeah. You know, you've got to think about yourself as a, if you're out there and you're, you're a, you're a bookkeeper. Look, my guess is is your business is doing okay? It's doing okay.

MB: 07:50 You know, hopefully you're not on the, on the brink of collapse or otherwise, you know, maybe you know, get off this podcast and start doing something about it. You know, your, your, your, your listening to this podcast, my guesses is because things are going pretty well, but you'd love it if they could go even better. And you're saying to yourself, well, what are one or two really nice, simple, easy to execute things that I could do that would really optimize or increase the business that I'm doing or, or the work, how I'm producing the work. And what I'm saying is, is well, thinking about your body language in a more conscious way, that's something that could really increase how easy it is, for example, for you to get clients and, and, and, and for you to work with the people around you. Be that, um, your team members, your employees, and your clients and the wider community. So, so look, you know, you don't have to think about body language at all. You will survive and you'll keep on going. It's when you want things to go even better. When you want to maximize your abilities, that's when you really want to start thinking about it.

MP: 09:05 Beautiful. Let's start. Let's start thinking about it now. I love and I know from having conversations and listening to you in the past, I've learned always learn so much every time because it's a, it's a big subject. There's a lot of different things going on and our listeners as bookkeepers have, you know, I would say that it's not their number one thing to go out and have sales conversations or to be in networking situations can be it's, it's just not their normal state for many. So from a body language point of view, what can you recommend for them?

MB: 09:40 Yeah, so let's keep it really simple because simple stuff that has a massive effect, it's easy to execute and you get big payback from it. So we keep this really simple for you. Let's just say there's open body language and there's closed body language, there's open body language and there's closed body language and whether you're with a client or you're networking or you're out in your general community and you're just thinking, how could I perform on purpose in such a way that might leave me open to having better conversations for people asking me more about what I do and me giving them a really great answer that that attracts me to tracks them to thinking about me as a potential service provider for them or help for them. Where you want to be thinking about the open body language now, what does that look like?

MB: 10:32 Think about a cold day and you come in from the cold and there's a fire there. What's the kind of behavior your body does in front of a fire? Well, my guess is if it's cold day, you open up your, your jacket a little bit. If you're wearing one, you open up your body, you open up your hands, you bring your hands up more to belly area where the, you know, it can take in that warmth and that heat into the palms of the hands and into the belly area. You're opening up that torso area. You starting to smile a little bit because of that lovely warmth. And that's what I'd say is open body language and think about the voice and the conversation that's now going with that. Now let's think about closed body language. You've come in from the cold, but it's just as cold inside as it is outside.

MB: 11:29 And so you've crossed your hands in front of that belly area. You've tightened up your body, you've tucked your elbows into your torso there, your Chin is tucked down to more towards your, your sternum area and your shoulders are hunched up and now you're having this kind of conversation with the people around you who are all right. So trinet's keep themselves warm in this cold environment. And that for me is closed body language. The more you veer towards the open body language, the more open you're going to be to other people, the more they'll mirror that open body language and the more open they're going to be to you. So it's very simple, open body language, closed body language.

MB: 12:27 Such a great visual and something that every single listener I think kids think about before they walk in the door to either a sales opportunity or to a networking situation is are you walking into that warm fire or are you walking into the colds outdoors?

MP: 12:44 Absolutely. Very simple image to think about. Everybody can imagine it in their head. Anybody now can start as I was going through that, that kind of talk about it, you know, go back to that, play that again and perform that and notice can you do it on purpose? Is there an image in your head about that? Remember what that body language looks like and now you know, just to humor me, you just to humor you now just try and practice that a little more with people. I mean, I mean practice it like a doctor practices it on, on, on real people, you know, doctor's practice, they practice on real people. They don't do it on their own with nobody. They practice on real people, which means yes, absolutely. There's a, there's a risk that there is a, there is a risk to it, but you've gotta, you've gotta trust me that if you try out this open body language, you will only see great results. The risk is actually very, very low for you. Nothing can really go, go, go, uh, go wrong around this. So

MP: 13:50 I think the big risk is a risk might be that someone would actually give you a hug.

MB: 13:54 Yeah, absolutely. Right. That's a big risk. Yeah. The big, the big risk is, is you might get more clients and you might have a little bit more work to do, to take on more people. That's it. You know, that, that's a, that's always a risk. But as you say, simple to do, easy to think about. You know, the key now is, is go and do it. Go out and, and, and do it. You know, just a little story about, about, uh, this, uh, people often ask me, you know, what are the books that I should read about, you know, networking and, and getting on with people and winning more business. And, and I always say to them, well, you know, one of the great books is how to win friends and influence people. You know, and, and they, they often go, oh yeah, no, I, I've read that.

MB: 14:40 And I always say to them, well, yeah, you might have read it, but did you do it? Because there's a huge difference between reading something, maybe even understanding it, but then going on purposely doing what it says and, and what I'm going through, uh, you know, with everybody today is practical help that they have to do with their bodies. So if you like that idea of open body language, my best advice now is look, just go and do it. Do it immediately and get the results out of it. That's great advice. And that's the challenge for everyone. Just go and try this out. It's so simple. Big Opportunity as well. And I love how simple it is. And how big of an impact it can have. And then what, what would be interesting mark is to share like what, what would they be looking? Because the other side of what you do is looking at observing other people's body language.

MP: 15:43 Tell us a little bit about that side of it. Like if I'm all of a sudden now open, I'm walking into the fire that's gonna re that's gonna likely create a new response with the people that I'm, I'm greeting and meeting because I'm open. What should I look for in and the people that I'm greeting and meeting? Absolutely. And that's a great thought because you need to now switch on your radar to really notice the difference in the response in other people. Because the more you notice, the good response that you get, the more you're going to start to perform these open body languages without, you know, having to put so much conscious effort into it. It's always going to be something of a conscious effort because you're going into an environment that is a little more tricky to navigate that, that, that you know, meeting strangers or in that business environment where you're looking for new business and there is the opportunity of, of an element of, of not succeeding.

MB: 16:44 Essentially there's risk there. So you've always got to do it on purpose, but you've got to look out for the positive responses that people give you in order that your brain can learn that this is a great thing to start doing more automatically. So what will those positive responses look like? Here's what I want you to look out for. I especially want you to look out for people mirroring that open behavior. I want you to really see when you approach people and you're really open with that body language. So I'm going to be really specific with you. You know, open palm gestures at naval height, opening up that naval area, that torso area, doing lots of open palm gestures, keeping your hands away from hanging down by your side, which is more what you do when it's a cold day. Elevating your hands, being more descriptive with your gestures.

MB: 17:40 You're going to see people doing the same back to you. They're going to be more open in that naval, that barrier belly area, that torso area. They are going to smile more around you will, you'll be smiling more. That's for sure. You don't need to do it on purpose. You'll find actually when you do that bigger warm open body language in the torso area, in the belly area, you start to naturally smile a lot, a lot more. So allow that to happen and allow yourself to see that inclination in other people and, and when you see that inclination in them to be more open, to smile more, there'll be talking more to you, you'll be talking more to them, you'll be more orientated, you know, to be facing there. And there'll be less kind of side on shoulder to shoulder kind of conversations. You'll be more exposed to them because it's warming when you're exposed to them, when you, you know, see that behavior happening.

MB: 18:46 Think to yourself, oh good, this is going well. You know, allow yourself to congratulate yourself around the results of this cause. You want to get this kind of positive association with you being warm with your body language and you receiving warm body language back. Is that a good description, Michael, of, of, of what you might say around that? MP: 19:05 Absolutely.

MB: 1:08 And what that, I mean it's a fast train to rapport and trust.

MP: 19:14 Absolutely. Absolutely. And you've got to realize this actually could be a really fast train, expect faster results on this than you expected because you're being really purposeful about this now. And you'll recognize in the rest of the work that you do when you're skilled at your work. You all have noticed that when you're skilled at your work and you know a technique that is real fast train, my guess is in the world and I'm not, obviously, I'm not a bookkeeper.

MP: 19:49 I have a great bookkeeper and my expectation is is that my bookkeepers, they have tools and techniques that they use. The, I don't know about that. I probably do their job. They've got tools and techniques that they use that get them to the end result faster. And then I probably look at those techniques and they go, well, I don't know why everybody doesn't know this. You know, this is so simple to use this technique to get to the end result faster. Well look, I'm giving you those, those, that simple tool and technique of open body language and really looking out for the open results. And because I'm giving you this technique, you've got to understand that you will get to your result faster and you need to be ready to be surprised by that and go, oh, this is actually really easy, really simple, you know, so look out for that speed. I love it.

MP: 20:52 We're going to have a lot of open conversations, body language in the next, a week after this episode, I'm sure. And hopefully for a long time after that. Let's talk a little bit about bringing this to networking and as well presentations. And when I, uh, we have a, a lot of our listeners go to networking meetings, continue continuously. And one of the, the ones that would be the most popular, uh, is business that working in international or BNI. And there's lots of presentations that need to happen. What can you arm our listener with in terms of using this techniques in their presentations? Short presentations are the longer ones.

MB: 21:36 Yeah. So here's what I would say about this. And, and just to let you know, I'm a little bit biased around band. I just because, uh, I, I was a member myself when I first started out around this, you know, trying to get my message across and, and win clients. And here's what I noticed about a business that worked international and the idea of giving, giving infomercials is what that really is through my understanding is when you give an infomercial, what you actually try to do is win trust and credibility with the other members of your group. Your less trying to tell them, I think about your product, your surveys, what you do, what you're trying to do is go, you know what? You can trust me, you can trust me and you can get into a longer conversation with me about what I would do for your referrals.

MB: 22:32 But ultimately what you're trying to do with those colleagues in the same chapter as you is to win trust and credibility and do that as quickly as you can. The faster you can escalate how much trust they have for you and that feeling of your credibility in your product, your service, whatever it is, the better. They're more likely to give you those referrals and trust. Giving you those referrals. So here's what I want you to do is the next time you go to a network meeting of any sort, I don't mind what sort it is. I want you to take your attention away a little bit from your infomercial in terms of the content of it just for a little while. Because my guest is, is you've put a lot of, a lot of attention to that content. And maybe you've, you've, you've listened to, uh, you know, podcasts about how to do infomercials and create content for those. Michael May, maybe, maybe you've had some, some, some podcasts for the bookkeepers around that potentially. So, so it's not that that's finished, but just take your mind away from that for a moment and all I want you to, the next networking

MB: 23:46 meeting you go to is concentrate on open, warm body language and go, it doesn't matter so much what I say because they're gonna know they can trust me and then go to no uncredible because of the open warm body language that I do. And the content will sort itself out. And if they didn't get my content, they're more likely just to come up to me afterwards and go tell me a little bit more about what you do because they're now genuinely trusting of you and they're genuinely more interested in you. So again, I'm, I know I'm kind of ringing the same bell again and again, but it really is this simple is go back to open body language with people and concentrate on that just for one moment and see the results that you get from that. Does that make sense to you, Michael? It makes great sense and I love the ringing of the bell.

MP: 24:48 It's a great ring. Excuse me. Um, but I was, as you were sharing, I was getting goosebumps because I think that angle, this is really a completely fresh way to think about, you know, an elevator speech or an Info mercial on yourself in that really getting to the core of it. I love the thinking. It is, the whole point is to have people have trust in you and see you as credible such that they'd want to engage with you. I think often people do think too much about the content and the and the the talk or the presentation and not enough on body language, which is why we wanted you on the podcast because you're an expert here. But this is such a valuable piece in terms of fast train coming back to the good old fast train. I mean anybody who's not an a BNI, I paid incredible organization, incredible results. I mean if you want to grow your business, it's a place to go. But fast train when you join, if you use Mark's philosophy, I think you're going to get to results so much more fast that that you're going to surprise again, surprise yourself.

MB: 26:02 Absolutely. It will. Look, I just want to agree with you that Michael, you know I've got, I've got no shares in BNI as I'm sure you haven't. I've just been in a, in a chapter and it's worked really, really well and I've noticed it work for lots of people. So, yeah, if you, if you're not part of that organization or something very, very similar, you really should get involved because it's a great way of not only getting support around the work that you do in a bunch of colleagues cause it can be a bit a bit lonely if you're a solo preneur or you're just working with a small organization and you're out there kind of doing everything and trying to get everything done. There is that benefit as well. But it's a very, very powerful system for creating business and really getting your business moving.

MB: 26:49 And so the, I experienced that but what I did experience as well was how much concentration people put on the content of their infomercials rather than that idea of winning business. And it's an elevator pitch and I'm telling you the elevator is only going a couple of floors. It's not going 11 stories you haven't got very, very long. And my take on it was is what can I actually do in terms of helping people understand my product or service when the elevator goes two floors and I came to the decision of I can't get them to understand anything about it. What I can do is get them to trust me and then via that being climbed to want to talk to me afterwards to engage with me more or over time, you know, take a um, a business development meeting with me to really get down to look, what is it you, you actually do?

MB: 27:54 Cause I totally trust you and I would buy your product and service, but I have no idea what it is. You know, that was my, my objective is, is to say there's nothing that they can, they can never fully understand what I do in this elevator pitch, but they can get that feeling of I like this person, I trust them. I would trust them with a client, a friend, a colleague, a family member of mine. I want to refer them now what is it they're up to, what is it they do beautiful and so on. Open, warm. Say the three things again. It's open. Yeah, open, warm. I would, I would say what it comes across as in people's minds when you're doing that open, warm body language is they see you as trustworthy and credible, calm and assertive. Now, nobody ever in life said, you know, we're not going to work with that person.

MB: 28:54 They're too trustworthy. They're too credible. You can't have too much trust or credibility. Nobody ever said, you know, they were a little too calm and assertive. We can't work with them. They're just too common. Assertive. Now maybe too calm or they're too assertive. May Be, but those two factors together, Carmen, assertive, you can't have enough of that. Especially when you're a service provider. You know people are lacking something. They need your help. So if you can be the help provider who's trustworthy, credible, calm, and assertive, my guess is you are on the right lines for getting that person's business and keeping that person's business.

MP: 29:41 Love it.

MP: 29:49 Now you, you said that we don't want to focus too much on that traditional content information. We only got a couple of floors. What are some ideas around, you know, first of all, it's like we're walking into the fire. We're coming out of the cold, warm. We're going to have that in our minds. We're going to open up our palms, we're going to open up our, bring our hands up. Uh, so we're thinking warm. We're, we're acting like we're in front of the fire and what should be coming out of our, our, our mouths in terms of, is it stories, is it, uh, just a little tidbits. What, what would be great ways to, to, to build that credibility and trust?

MB: 30:29 Yeah. Lovely. So first of all, you want to think about questions rather than you having answers. You want to be thinking about questions. Okay. And maybe questions that are most likely to elicit from the other person. A sense of positivity. Yeah. So maybe I'm at a, at a, at a business meeting or you know, at, at a networking meeting and I approach somebody and I'm open and I'm, I'm warm. Okay. And instead of going, hey, I'm, I'm, I'm up bode and I'm an expert in human behavior and body language. And, and you know, here's my service and here's my, instead of doing that, I'm going to approach them and I'm going to say, so I'm just interested and curious what's going really well for you in your business right now. So I'm, I'm opening into getting them to tell me a positive story. Yeah. Now the reason I want to do that is I want to put them and me in a good mood.

MB: 31:37 Yeah. I want us to get on because if we can get on then there's a chance that they'll accept help from me. So I start with the positive story and they're going to start telling me, well, you know, this is going right and this is going right and here's what I'm going to say. I'm going to go on.

MP: 31:47 Interesting. Tell me more.

MB: 31:49 I'm just going to get them to talk more because here's what I know to be true after a while, as I get them to tell me more about this positive situation that they're in, they will start to tell me some of the barriers to that. They'll go, well, this is going really well and this is going really well and we've had a little lot of success with this. I have to say, you know, we, we have, we've had, we've come across a little bit of a barrier about they will tell me something that is stopping them getting what they want and the moment they go into that, I'm going to say so that's interesting.

MP: 32:34 Tell me more about that.

MB: 32:35 Okay. They spill the beans about what's going wrong. If you get them to spill the beans about what's going right, eventually they will get there. Now the K is don't jump in with solutions or your solutions. Get them to talk a bit more about the issues, the problems, the barriers. And the thing is is that their problems, their issues, their barriers. They may not be something that you can supply to, but maybe you know somebody who can and that's the way you're going to start winning trust and credibility from that verbal level is to show them, look, I'm connected. I know service providers who can help you in these areas. And even if you don't, you can show empathy. You can go, wow, yeah, I see how that would be a real, a real issue, a real issue. And then you can say, what are you already doing about this?

MB: 33:37 What are you doing to try and get over this barrier? So think less about yourself and think more about how can I investigate the other person and find out what situations they're in, what's going well for them, where they're seeing those barriers. Do I know people who can help with those barriers now? And again, you'll, you'll, you'll be able to say, well, you know what, it's interesting because you know, I have a product, I have a service that absolutely deals with and helps manage that issue that you have at the moment. Would you be interested in hearing a little bit more about that? Chances are they're going to go, well yeah, because, because there's already a Barrett and we're already a barrier, a problem that they've, that they've put up. So, so you know, the long and short of this, Michael, is that is I'm saying go for more questions about people. Start on the positive, let them there towards the negative, investigate the negative. They will tell you a lot via that and then let them know if you feel like you have contacts or a product or service yourself that you can help them through those obstacles. Does that, does that make sense, Michael?

MP: 34:49 It's makes such sense. That's the end. You've put it in such a, a vivid as well as simple framework that I think everyone listening can can take on and use and really a lot of what we've been talking about today is to take the focus off of ourselves and more onto others and, and to really relax into being with other people, which, which creates more the ability for people to relax and be with us.

MB: 35:19 Yeah, absolutely. Because that's where the, how they're working out, how they could work with you. Are they relaxed around you? Do they trust you? Do they feel it would be a good relationship? My guess is, is, is look, we know as, as a, you know, if you're a bookkeeper for example, there is a certain level, practice, and education that you will have had to have been through. Okay. And that's, that's kind of a given. So now we're working out, uh, do we like you? Do we think you'll perform well, uh, as a coworker for us as a provider to us? And, and so we're looking into the future around this. And our only way of telling the future is, how are you performing in front of me right now? Do I trust you right now? Are you inquisitive about me right now? Are you interested in me and my business right now?

MB: 36:13 Because this is our biggest predictor of will you be interested in me and my business and can I trust you with me and my business in the future? So I often say to people, one of their, the best networking skills is to start the work with the potential client immediately. And you start that work immediately by showing them, look, this is what it's like to be around me. If you with me in my office, if you visit me, if I visit you, if we go out and get lunch together to talk about business, it's going to be like this. It's going to be warm, it's going to be open, it's going to be easy. I'm going to be interested in you and the things that are barriers to you getting business. I'm going to celebrate your successes with you. A, you know, I'm going to be here for you and I'm going to be going to be a great ally and a great friend.

MP: 37:03 Beautiful Mark. You are a true ally and a true friend to so many people and I just, I think the listener can get that in this, in this very short interview with you. It's just the, the wealth of knowledge and the way you present things are just absolutely fantastic. I'm excited for our listeners to take some of this goal that you've given them to use in, in their business and their life with their relationships with their staff. I mean, it's, it's applicable everywhere, so lots of success is going to come. I believe out of this interview. We've only touched a very small amount of information and, and that's what I love about your content, mark. As you, you bring just simple things that can produce massive outcomes. But tell us a little bit about if listeners want to get more from you, which I'm almost positive they will, where can they go? What kinds of things do you have on tap that would be helpful to them to go and consume?

MB: 38:03 Yeah, so three areas to look at. Number one is to just put the word truth, plain, t, r, u, t, h, p, l a n e truth plane into a Google search and Apol comm. And get over to my website, truth plain.com. There's lots of video content on there that you can consume for free and lots to learn about there. So get yourself over there. The other thing is, is to just put the name Mark Bowden, Bowd, e n mark with a k into a Google search and our Paul Carmen and over to my youtube site. That's Mark Bowden. And uh, there's lots again of, of um, uh, video content for you to consume over there. Last places, get yourself over to truth and lies, truth and lies. Dot Ca Truth and lies.ca. Cause if you get yourself over to there and you sign up to the list for my new book, truth and lies, you will also get some free video training that you can't get anywhere else. It's not on Youtube, it's not on my other website. So you might want to get yourself over to there and, and pick up that free training on how to present yourself as a leader in your area. So some really great, uh, presentation skills there. So just three areas, truth, plain Mark Bowden, truth and lies. Dot. Ca. Check me out around those.

MP: 39:23 Beautiful and we'll have all of those links in the show notes and I highly recommend picking up both of your books, the content in there. I mean the, this is valuable content that I think is really, really well presented as you can tell from this presentation to today. This conversation really it mark is, is, uh, I mean there's just, I've heard so many other things. I have so many other questions that I'd love to share with the audience that I've learned from you over the years of following you and consuming your content, but I'll leave it up to our listeners to go and find it from you and, and to, uh, to enjoy it. It's valuable. Mark, this has been absolutely fantastic. Thank you again for being on the podcast today.

MB: 40:07 Oh, my pleasure. Always a pleasure. And so, you know, anytime you want to chat with me for your listeners, I'm here for you.

MP: 40:14 Beautiful. Would love to have you back. And 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: 40:31 goodbye.

EP98: Andrew Argue - How To Strengthen Your Sales & Marketing Skills

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Andrew Argue, who is a CPA, spent years and years learning and understanding the fundamentals of how to become great at sales. 

He studied some of the most successful salespeople, read books, attended webinars, trainings, talking to mentors, and anything that he could get his hands on to help himself develop these skills.

He started to work with larger accounting firms to grow their customer base.

After a few months, his clients started seeing significant increases in new client fees.

Today, he has assisted over 200 clients in 4 countries.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of seeing your clients’ situation

  • Steps in taking control of your customer relationships

  • How to help clients position themselves in the market

To learn more about Andrew, visit here.

For his LinkedIn page, go here.

For his Facebook, click here.


Michael Palmer: 01:14 Welcome back to The Successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and I am super excited about today's guest. He is a CPA that helps people start and grow hyper profitable accounting and tax practices. In fact, he's assisted over 200 clients in four separate countries around the world. His name is Andrew Argue, welcome to the podcast, Andrew.

Andrew Argue: 01:38 Hey man, how's it going? I'm glad to be here.

MP: 01:40 It's great to have you. You know, Andrew was really excited about having you on the podcast because we here believe that accountants are one of the best partners for bookkeepers to grow and scale their businesses, and you're an expert in that field, and so I'd love for you to share your backstory and tell the audience what it is that you do and then we'll get into helping the listeners with working with your type of clients.

AA: 02:07 Cool. Absolutely. Yeah, I do work with accountants, bookkeepers, CPAs, and eas. Most of the people I work with are in the US but I have worked with some people in Canada as we'll see UK, Australia. Really, I kinda got into what I'm doing now. You know, a few years ago when I started working with some larger accounting firms that were doing like one to 4 million a year in sales. Honestly, when I first got started, they were teaching me like about as much as I'm teaching them. And I just kind of learned the ropes and the INS and outs of how to grow and accounting firm. And I kinda got some requests from some of the smaller practice owners, you know, people that were doing anywhere between five and 20,000 a month in the beginning just to kind of show them what I was doing with the larger practices. And so probably about 18 months ago now, we started doing, working mostly with smaller practitioners, accountants, bookkeepers, CPS, NDAs, doing anywhere from just getting started to about 50,000 a month, helping them grow, helping them get clients, getting consistent pipeline together, closed deals, whether it's on the phone or in person. Yeah. So that's a little bit of my background, how I got into this.

MP: 03:04 Great. So let's maybe talk a little bit about how bookkeepers can work with accountants. What do you see in the industry?

AA: 03:14 You know, it's interesting like more and more and more, there's like a blurred lines at least in the US cause I think for most of the small business services, like you know, I think traditionally a lot of people think, oh, you know, CPAs or accountants just do tax. But more and more and more they are also doing bookkeeping. So a lot of people that I work with at our bookkeepers that, you know, or working with accountants or getting referrals and whatnot, that definitely is something that they do. But I think one of the big challenges that bookkeepers have in particular are when they're just living off the referrals of accounting clients. I think one of the challenges for them is, you know, kind of quality. Like it's not, it's hard for them to pick a niche and really stick to it when the accountants might not have a niche.

AA: 03:51 They might be a generalist accountant working with tons of different people. And I think they also have challenges with pipeline and flow, like how one of these referrals going to be coming through. And so while I do recommend if you're a bookkeeper, um, it, you know, having an accountant that you can refer your clients to for the tax side. Um, I do think that's important and then also get some accountants to refer clients to you. I really do focus mostly on helping bookkeepers and the bookkeepers that I work within the accountants focused on like a direct pipeline to get potential clients themselves, like directly to the source. I think referrals are great. I think referrals are awesome, but I love to have more control and I love to be much more specific in terms of the type of clients that we go after than just what referrals generally give, if that makes sense.

MP: 04:34 It totally makes sense and we, we certainly subscribe to that. But specifically working with accountants, you know, what would you recommend they do to help strengthen their relationship with them?

AA: 04:47 Yeah, I mean I think when I look at a bookkeeper, let's say there's a bookkeeper that's doing 200,000 a year in sales, I honestly think that it's very, very good to have one. One, one person can be a tax preparer. It doesn't even need to be an account, but someone that can do taxes, like whenever you look at your client relationship, I want you to control the whole thing. And in fact, a lot of people that I work with that are doing bookkeeping, they will have a, an accountant, uh, that does tax work, whether they're a CPA or not, that literally all their bookkeeping clients go to that one person and they continue to manage the relationship. I think that's so important for retention cause more and more and more accounts and CPAs are also doing bookkeeping. And so to kind of protect your base and to make sure that it doesn't get taken from somebody else, I definitely recommend managing that relationship. Being involved. The person knows that that person works with you, but you're the main point person for the whole engagement. I think that is a total game changer. And I wish more people were doing that. So yeah, that's really one of the things I, I've helped a lot of the bookkeepers do that I work with.

MP: 05:44 Yeah, that's great. It's very interesting. And how might they start to manage that relationship? Take control? Like what would be the steps you would recommend?

AA: 05:53 Yeah, well, I mean to be honest, I mean a lot of the people I work are actually managing that relationship with the client on the tax side. I think, look, whenever I work with somebody I like, some people don't want to do the tax on it, it's totally fine. But I think you still need to understand it. Like the total value that you bring to the client. If you're just doing the bookkeeping but you're not really thinking about their total financial picture, how much they're paying themselves, what they're setting aside for taxes, are they making their quarterlies? That's a big part of the engagement. And so I like for them to be clued into that and I like for them to actually manage the relationship in most cases. Some people don't do it. I've got people that do some 50 a year just doing bookkeeping. I don't do any tax, but if somebody's just getting started or they've got a smaller practice, I would love it if they're managing the relationship, the clients paying them and they're outsourcing the work to someone that's doing the work cause they don't want to do it. That is what I really do like to see. But it's not what everyone does choose to do.

MP: 06:49 No, for us for sure. So when you're working with the, the accountants that you work with, what do you see the feedback that comes from them about the bookkeepers they work with?

AA: 07:02 You know, it's funny though, it's kind of the language and the phrasing that you're using because I don't see that big of a delineation between bookkeepers and accountants. It's in today's world. You know, when I think about the people that I work with, you know, they're doing accounting for small businesses. I've got people that are bookkeepers that are also tax repairs. I've got people that are accountants that are also bookkeepers. I got people that are experienced CPA's, 20 years experience that are outsourced CFOs that are going all the way down to taking over all the bookkeeping and with things like bill.com and some of the other tools that are out there nowadays, you can really get the amount of work you have to use it to deliver the services on the bookkeeping side really low. So a lot of accountants more and more and more taking that over.

AA: 07:36 So I actually don't typically look at it with a clear delineation. You know, in the US you don't have to be a CPA to prepare tax returns. You don't have to be a CPA to be a bookkeeper. And so they're really a blurred lines. I would say 95% of the small business services in the US you don't need a license, you don't need to be an accountant to do, whether it's on the tax or the bookkeeping side. So I think the lines are becoming a lot more blurred. And you know, I can't tell you how many people I've worked with that are bookkeepers where if you were to ask their clients, some of their clients might even think their CPA's, they've never presented themselves as a CPA. They've never said they're a CPA, but they've just been working with them for so long and it doesn't even matter because that person totally nails the engagement, provides value to the client, get some the results and all they know is that's their accountant.

AA: 08:20 They don't really focus on the, whether it's a bookkeeper, an accountant, a CPA license or on license cause for that service it's, it's not. What's more relevant is not that person just is the biggest thing I harp on. Most of the times when you're trying to get clients, when you're trying to grow your business, your story, your background, your experiences, the words that you use to define yourself doesn't matter. Clients don't care if they're working with a bookkeeper and accountant, they could really care less. What they want to know is specifically and clearly how are you going to transform their business? How much time are they going to save? If they work with you, how much money specifically are they going to save it? They work with you. Let's say there's a construction CEO right now and he's spending four hours a week on his accounting.

AA: 08:57 He's trying to do some of his own job costs and he's messing with invoicing because they've got no good system in place. Four hours a week, that's 16 hours a month. Okay. Let's say that he's billing his clients $200 an hour. That is $3,200 a month. He is losing by not being on job sites and doing his accounting right there and so if you can get them to clearly understand that, I mean they wouldn't care if you're a bookkeeper, an accountant, a CPA, or if you're a baby from use Pakistan, if you could save somebody $3,200 a month, there's an engagement there. That's just on the time factor. Now we've got to get into the money. I mean he's he paying any other money for other consultants. Does he have somebody on site that's doing 40 50,000 a year is going to outsource to you a 1500 a month? Are there any tax implications? Does he have the right entity structure? So I care less about necessarily exactly how we define ourselves and what we do and more about how we're defining clearly the transformation that we're providing to clients. If that makes sense.

MP: 09:46 It makes total sense. It's fantastic. So let's talk a little bit about the, the way you help your clients position themselves in the market. You, you obviously helping them grow and scale their business and very, you know, remarkable numbers that you talk about. What, what would you say to a person who's never worked with somebody like yourself, let's call them a bookkeeper or an accountant, whatever, whatever the case may be. You know, you actually started to allude to the fact that you start talking more about value. What's, what's, what do you typically see when you first get working with these people and what are their biggest problems?

AA: 10:22 What I find most people's biggest problems are, and what most people think their problems are different. Most people think their problem is, you know, just not getting enough leads. I'm just not getting enough appointments booked on the calendar. I'm just not getting enough people to meet with week in, week out and everybody thinks that's their problem. But the reality of it is that's very rarely their problem. That's not that hard of a problem to fix. It's not that hard to get appointments with potential clients. It's not that hard to get leads. Once you get a basic system together to get some appointments, you'll find it's not that difficult to meet with three to five people a week that could work with you. Most people think their problem is lead generation, but it kind of what you alluded to there, I think where most people are falling short is, you know, there's all this trip Chirp Chirp in the industry about Oh, value pricing, this, that and the other.

MP: 11:01 Okay, but specifically how do we do it?

AA: 11:04 I would say probably the biggest value I bring to somebody when you sit across from another human being, how do you clearly figure out what are their problems in their business and what are the true costs of those problems in terms of time, like I said before, how much time are they losing, not working with you money specifically on the accounting and the tax side and how much money are they losing, not working with you. And what about like the gut wrenching, you know, emotional anxiety that they're going through. They can't open up their credit card account cause they're worried to look at their balance. They can't look at their bank statements. They're worried to run payroll cause they're not sure if they're going to override. Like they don't know what their profitability is, they don't know which jobs are going over.

AA: 11:37 Like what are the, what are the emotional fears and anxieties that they're having where they're sitting in bed with their spouse on a Saturday night looking at the ceiling, worried about the finances for the next week. And if you can clearly define to them those problems in a sales consultation where you're sitting from them, that is how you get the highest. So it's not that hard to get appointments, but closing those appointments, those clients into high paying clients, that's the biggest skill in business. And I think that's where most people are lacking. You know? It's unbelievable how many people, you know, okay, I don't really care. To be honest, I'm not big about all, it has to be hourly versus fixed. I don't care if it's hourly, as long as it's two, $300 an hour, $400 an hour, I'm fine with hourly. I just, but I want it to be high end.

AA: 12:16 I want them. And if people understand that working with you, they're making money, then they'll go for it every time. And the reality of it is that if a small business owner takes money out of their account and gives it to you in some way, in their mind they're making money on that deal, they'd rather have your services and they have that money. But what you need to do is get good at. Clearly defining that to them so they see it so clearly and so obviously that it fully solidifies the relationship and the value in a high fee. And I think while most people think the problem is getting consistent appointments or whatever, that's not that hard of a problem to solve for most people, the real and true skill comes in building that, that, you know, 30 45 minute consultation with a potential client to see if it makes sense to work together and getting them to commit be a pain

MP: 13:03 It's absolutely mind-boggling when you start to think about it, right? But say a person that gets 10 leads a month, even a and another person gets a hundred leads a month, if that person with those 10 can close them even for 25% more, it'll, the impact is, I mean it's, it's crazy when you start to think of what those numbers are so late. It is true. People are always thinking, I need more leads. I need more people talking to me. No, you just need to do a better job of the people that you do get. You could, I bet you could probably run a really great business with just a couple of leads a month if you really did that deep dive as you're saying, and really connected the dots on what is their problem or challenge and how you can truly help them put more money in their bank account. I really love that.

AA: 13:53 It's true and I think a lot of people are dealing with a few leads and they're like, you know, I can't tell you how many people I literally in the last 12 months, myself personally have spoken with over a thousand practice owners, bookkeeping, tax accounting. It's amazing how many people are like Andrew. I mean, I'll tell you, if I get somebody in the door, I close them 80 90% right? People typically have like five appointments a month, right? They get like three or four clients. Okay, cool. Um, but the problem is, is that that's not a badge of honor. That's something to be, I'm always weary of that. Look, if you're closing 80 to 90% of the people that you're talking to, you're number one, you're not talking with enough people. Those numbers are not typical. And you might say, oh, they are good at this.

AA: 14:26 Okay, well, number two, your prices are too low. If you're closing 80 to 90% of people, you're not meeting with enough people and your prices are too low. I mean, if you only closed 20% of people, but the prices were triple, that'd be the same money, heck of a lot less work. And so I think sometimes people have to be careful what they're proud of in their practice and think about, is that really the best thing? Is it really good just to get clients or is, do we want to get the right clients at the right fee?

MP: 14:53 Yeah, absolutely. It really is a focus. You know, our experience as well. I mean we have hundreds and hundreds of clients all over, um, North America, uh, Australia that we work with. And it's that common conversation of leads or the good thing, if I close at one, one that I laugh at all the time is, you know, I have too much business. I'm turning business away. And then you ask them what the price they're charging. And it's like, well, you know, it's, it's just they just can't see it because they've been, you know, inside their business for so long. So this is why, you know, I love doing this podcast to bring this kind of knowledge and awareness to, hey, there's people out there that are charging 10 2030 times what you're charging and they're doing it differently and when you like to be one of those people. So I love what you're saying, Andrew. It's fantastic. So this whole concept of helping them convert clients at a higher ratio, I loved that. What you were talking about in terms of the problem and helping people connect those, those dots with the numbers, and you gave us a really fantastic gift of just the person's time. Right? What, what else do you, what other areas do you focus on and what are those sort of hotspots, if you would?

AA: 16:09 Yeah, the key, or most people get it wrong is they think, and this is why everybody has all these insecurities. This is why I always say that you don't need a license or a degree or a certification to be successful doing accounting and tax because you don't, I mean, you're real people that know how to sell themselves. Their services grow their business like they know that the focus is never on them. It doesn't matter how many years experience you have, it doesn't matter how many clients you've worked with, it doesn't even matter your testimonials. That's pretty much irrelevant. Everybody's always going to find a reason to say, oh, I'm different than them. So testimonials don't matter. Licenses don't matter. Degrees don't matter. All that matters is how clearly you can see that client's situation and picture. Get them to understand it with you. That one area that I went into before it was time.

AA: 16:52 We used that example of the construction owner. Alright, four hours a week, 16 hours a month. If he was on his job sites, billing $200 an hour, that'd be $3,200 a month. That's one example of time. The second one is money. I mean specifically is there any way we're going to be able to save this person any money now that could be with this construction owner example, there could be another bookkeeper on staff. They're paying 30 or 40,000 a year to plus benefits plus vacation and they're going to work with you for 1500 a month. So instead of paying 50,000 a year, they're going to pay 18,000 so they're saving 30,000 there. So I found 30,000 on the time and I found 30,000 on replacing the in house person. Now, what about job costing? Currently, then I'm doing job costing. Okay. All right. Now if you were to do job costing Mr Construction Cu, how much more do you think you'd be able to go back on some of these jobs and bill additional for overruns and if you had job costing right now, I mean how do you think that would change your current pricing?

AA: 17:44 Like how much more do you think? When you look at the last year, how much more do you think you would have built if you knew the costs for every job that you had done over the last year and you haven't really a much better feeling of how much these were going to cost? He said, honestly, I think I could probably do an extra. Yeah, at least 75,000 a year. All right, so right now we got him to admit that number one, he's losing $30,000 on time. Number two, he's going to be able to save $30,000 by outsourcing to me, university in house provider, and number three, if we work on a value add activity like job costing, we'll be able to make an extra $75,000 a year. So all of a sudden working with you for $2,500 a month isn't about an expense. Oh my gosh, I have to work with you and I have to pay $2,500 a month.

AA: 18:22 I'm going to choke. It's like, this is literally an investment. I'm going to pay $30,000 to make 130 or $140,000 assuming those are the only problems we saw, which they're not, because we haven't even gotten to the emotional anxiety of someone who's running their business with numbers that aren't correct. They aren't on time, they're late, someone that's incompetent, that's not doing the value out of work, like job costing. And they're stressing out spending all this time looking at the books rather than out there growing the business and make magic happen. And so when you factor it all in, you start to make the relationship of what I call, we get to this like no brainer stage where it's like you'd have to be a total moron to not take that deal. And the only reason why someone wouldn't take that deal is number one, because you have not clearly articulated it to them.

AA: 19:01 And number two, because they don't believe you. And so if you can get them to believe you and you can get them to clearly see that working with you as an investment and they're gonna save time and they're going to make or save money and you can specifically get them to admit that to you how much it's going to be. Okay. I mean that's how you get high fees and it's so important to do that in the beginning because I don't care about getting a yes. It's not just about getting the yes, it's not that hard to get the yes, but what I care about is a relationship that lasts for a long time, that first moment, that first consultation where you're defining the problems, you're figuring out exactly what needs to happen, exactly what the problems are and the true cost to them and exactly what your fees are going to be in that moment.

AA: 19:39 When they understand that and they're paid 2,500 bucks a month. If you do a great job in that meeting, not only will they pay 2,500 bucks a month this month and the next month they'll still understand it for a year or two years or three years later because of that first meeting and how you clearly defined your value. So really is everything honestly. And is that is, those are a couple of examples. I mean I'd commonly refer to it as time, money and emotion. The three areas that you need to clearly get the client to see on in terms of how much time they are losing, how much money they specifically make or save if they worked with you. And then also the emotional costs of not being where they want to be financially and from an accounting perspective.

MP: 20:23 It's brilliant. I absolutely love it. And I think that's where, you know, when people start to think more in terms of a niche area that they're going to work in, they can really get to understand that industry used the example of a construction. Well, if you're working with more construction businesses and you really get to understand that and you can talk the talk, it lands so much better and you come across as an authority in the space, which even goes that much further when you're having these kinds of conversations, like that belief component that you're talking about.

AA: 20:51 I, and that's why I'm a hesitant on so much of the referrals from accountants. If you're a bookkeeper, because most accountants don't have a niche practice. A lot of them do, but most of them don't. People are still learning and understanding this, but if you as a bookkeeper or an accountant or someone who has an accounting or tax practice but wants to work with a niche, the best, the absolute best way right now is to just get a direct pipeline of meetings from that space with, with the decision-makers in the business. Typically the owners, the CEOs, the executive directors that you're working with, organizations are not for profits. You know, because if you rely on the referrals, it's not just that they come in sometimes. Sometimes they don't. It's that they tend to be a mix and so you will get better and better and better.

AA: 21:28 The construction one is a great example. I've worked with basically every single niche at this point. You know, across the board it does make a big difference and every single time you talk to a potential client, you're kind of building your cumulative knowledge and experience about their experience in their business and you're bringing that to the table every single time. I mean, I think he used that construction one because it's an obvious one, but every single niche has that exact same calculation of time, money and emotion. And we know that because business owners are paying people to do it all the time. The problem is is that the business owner is coming up with that calculation themselves in their gut. We haven't clearly spelled it out for them most of the time. And so that's really what we need to do.

MP: 22:06 Absolutely. And I, I w the one thing I would say when you're working with accountants in my personal opinion would be if you really do have that niche is just to be clear. I mean, we have some people that have very, very specific niches and they tell accountants upfront, listen, I only accept these types of clients so you know, we don't take on anything else. And I think that's one way to maybe improve that relationship because if they're really clear, while you're not going to get that many referrals from them, but you're certainly going to be only getting the type of referrals that you can actually work with. But I do agree with the whole concept of the niching and you know, we say nourishing up here in Canada, a niche for the United States. But I think it's really, really powerful from the perspective of just being able to understand an industry and really be able to talk to people from that deep knowledge versus, Hey, I work with a hundred different types of businesses. Well, how can you really be an expert in any of them? And so I love this stream of conversation for sure, Andrew.

AA: 23:05 It's true. Yeah. And I, and I don't want people to think that, oh, you know, like with the referrals and everything that, okay, that's a bad thing. It's a good thing. And I, and I do recommend, look, even if you're focused on a niche, like a specific type of clients, whether it's dentists or construction companies or medical practices or marketing agencies or attorneys or not for profits or whatever it is, I do still think you should take other deals as they come up. You should look at those deals and try to get the highest fee possible for the work. But I think when you're getting intentional about marketing and growth, you want to try to design it intentionally. You want to know exactly how many clients do you want, exactly how many fees, exactly how many people you need to be meeting with every week to get there. But if you're focused on marketing agencies and an offer profit comes and you just think it would be an awesome deal, you've got a great fee. But I think go for it. I want people to build a niche practice, but I, I think they should also take good opportunities as they come.

MP: 23:53 Yeah. And I do like what you're saying about I, I want to make sure we make it really clear. Having all your eggs in one basket or never is never a good idea. So going direct to the industry where you control it. And I love that concept, right? It's like if you are working in the construction industry, we'll stay with that as a theme. If you become known in your local area of construction that you have this ability, and let's say that the s the example that you've been using where you know, the savings of, you know, an additional revenue of 75,000 a year, you're saving him a time of $3,200 a month. I mean that starts to get around. I mean that person starts to want to refer you to his best mates and, and on and on and on it at goes. And then now all of a sudden you don't rely on really anybody. Like whether it's an accountant or whoever is referring business, you have referrals coming direct from the, from the industry. So it's really, really great advice, Andrew. I love it. Yeah, absolutely. So listen, I'd love for you to share as we sort of wrap up the show, share anything that uh, you'd like to offer our listeners that could go to your website and find out more information about you. That would be great. And we'll certainly be posting all of the links and whatnot on our site as well.

AA: 25:12 Absolutely. Yeah. So this is a pretty short podcast and so really, I mean if you want to learn more about all the stuff I've been talking about today, like specifically how we get appointments, like how do you get a direct pipeline to potential clients in a niche? Like how do you make sure you're getting three, five appointments a week sitting down with people, whether it's on the phone or in person to see if it makes sense to work together. How do you get appointments and how do you really turn those into high paying clients? Like how do you run a sales consultation if you want to learn more about that. And also service delivery, like specifically the services that we're offering. I mean, how are we structuring some of these to get the highest fee possible while also doing the smallest amount of work? I mean, one of the big beliefs that I have is that I want to do the bare minimum work for the maximum fee.

AA: 25:54 I want to get the client that result in the value, but if something only takes us two hours, but it saves the client a hundred grand, which a lot of people have experiences like that, I don't want to charge them $200 I mean, I think that's absurd. It's all about specifically how much the client's gonna net from working with us and the less time we can put into it, the better. So, and we talk about that from a service delivery perspective. So if you want to learn a little bit more about some of the stuff we talked about today, really the best place that goes, Andrewargue.com/training and if you go there, uh, there's a webinar that we put on. It's a brand new webinar that I've just released. And so that's really going to give you a good idea of all the different steps that we go through to clearly define the value to clients, how to get consistent appointments, how to deliver the services. So yeah, I'd love to have you on the Webinar and you know that's really the best place to go.

MP: 26:38 It's awesome. We'll certainly post all of those links for you, Andrew. It's been great having you on the podcast.

AA: 26:46 Absolutely. Thanks. Appreciate it.

MP: 26:48 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 26:58 goodbye.

EP97: Kathleen Shannon - Creative & Strategic Branding Will Help Your Bookkeeping Business

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What do you want to be known for? 

Your brand can get to the heart of what you want to say, create a vision for where you're going next, and give you renewed focus and confidence in sharing what you do.

Kathleen Shannon, who is the co-founder of Braid Creative and the co-host of the Being Boss podcast, has perfected her branding.

Through her work at Braid Creative and Being Boss, she has helped thousands of creative entrepreneurs worldwide to authentically brand and position themselves as creative experts, cultivate confidence in their business, and blend more of who they are into the work they do.

She continues to have a positive impact by co-authoring the book, Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • Branding advice and insights

  • Brand vision, positioning and platform

  • Creative services and media strategy

To learn more about Kathleen, visit her website.

For her Facebook page, click here.

To connect with her on Twitter, check this out.

To find her on Instagram, read this.

To learn more about the Being Boss podcast and book, visit here.

To read about Braid Creative & Consulting, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 02:09 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be terrific. Our guest is the co-founder of the branding agency braid creative and Co-host of the wildly popular being boss podcast that inspires creative entrepreneurs and provides them practical business advice. She's also a first-time author with the release of being boss. Take control of your work and live life on your own terms. Kathleen Shannon, welcome to the podcast 

Kathleen Shannon: 02:39 Thank you so much for having me, Michael. 

MP: 02:42 Yeah, it's fantastic. And we had your coauthor and cohost. Yup. Uh, on the podcast recently as well. So I'm really excited to get your take on things your take on business, your take on life and I know it's going to be highly valuable to our audience. But before we get to all of 

MP: 03:00 that, tell us a little bit about your business background and how you ended up being the Kathleen Shannon of today. 

KS: 03:15 Sure. So it probably starts with me going to college for art school. I thought I was going to be a painter, but then I found out how competitive the graphic design program was. So I thought, well I'll try that. My older sister who's seven years older than me was also a graphic designer that went through that same program. So she kind of paved the way for me and I got into this highly competitive program and graduated, got a job as an art director at an advertising agency and probably about five years into that I worked my way up to senior art director. I was really taking the lead on a lot of accounts, including whenever the NBA Hornets came up from New Orleans to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina. 

KS: 03:49 I was a lead on their account, but I was also working on other accounts where I was not only client facing, but really managing the budgets behind the scenes and it really set me up to be able to do the creative side and the Admin side of working for myself. So about, you know, five years into working at an advertising agency, I was feeling that itch. Like I know I could do this on my own, I could do it on my own terms. I could create when I want to create and have the flexibility and freedom to travel the world, whether I want to go to mount Everest and hike through the Himalayas or if I want to go work from the beach for a week. So I was really craving that flexibility and freedom. I was also really wanting to work with a certain specific type of dream client. 

KS: 04:35 So for me, that was creative entrepreneurs who were sharing their content online and really blending who they were into the work that they do. And with my strategic background, I was able to bring not like the kinds of systems and processes that maybe even my cohost Emily spoke to you about an, I don't know what she spoke to you about, but sometimes I think of her as being kind of like the more logistical side to my creative side. But even with like being a free-spirited kind of creative, I still had a lot of strategy and agency background that I was bringing into the work that I was doing for other creative entrepreneurs. So I really got into branding and positioning other creatives who wanted to blend more of who they are into the work that they do because ultimately people buy from people. I think that sometimes we try to put on our professional hat and end up sounding like robots and really repelling the kinds of dream clients that we could be getting otherwise. 

KS: 05:32 About a year after I started freelancing for myself, I convinced my big sister who was a creative director at an advertising agency to join me, and so we joined forces. We created braid creative. We thought that we would be working with credit unions and financial institutions. That was something that we had a background in and it is something that we're working. We are working with larger organizations now, but that's seven years later. Whenever we launched our business, I said, hey, you know, I'm excited to do whatever we've got to do and whoever we want to work with. I love working with marketing directors within organizations, but I also really love working with creative entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, people who are really wanting to make a name for themselves and position themselves as experts. So we really created this dream client profile and it worked for us. So we've been doing that for the past seven years now and it's, it's been great. 

KS: 06:27 And then somewhere along the line you all met my cohost, Emily Thompson. We started our podcast together called being boss, where we were really sharing a peak behind the scenes of what it looks like to run a successful business and what it's like to be in it. Because I think that we're all seeing these things on Instagram and on Pinterest of, you know, make six figures in one launch or you know, how I became a seven-figure creative. And that's just not the case all the time. Sometimes it's about being a working creative and figuring it out as you go. And those are the conversations that we're having behind the scenes. We call ourselves business besties and we wanted to hit publish on those conversations so that people, you know, just like you're doing for your audience, that people can see what it really takes to build a business that works for you. 

MP: 07:18 I love it. It's so, so interesting. And you know, I think the theme definitely between your cohost and yourself is you know, bringing all of your experiences and the things that you're great at and and as well you just, your own personality and strengths as a human being found a really great combination in the two of you that has now put out something really valuable to people who were actually doing really doing the work. I mean, yeah, there's lots of lots of people out there in the marketplace offering like the get rich quick type of hey just add this one little thing and you'll magically be on a beach drinking my ties while your business is pumping out money. And for those of us that have, you know, there are some people that have done that, but for those of us that have done the grind and done the, the actual real work of building a business that drives real value, not always like that. 

MP: 08:08 So I just love that you've brought what you're great at, your superpower to, to this conversation. When we're talking about branding, that seems to be your, and and from my take and speaking with Emily is that your very, very much a creative person. What's that like working with someone like our audience? They, they're very much, I mean it's not that they're not creative, but they're creative in a very specific way around financials and very detailed oriented around, you know, this is what they're looking for. The fine, fine details of everything. How does that work when you're working with somebody who's bringing your expertise in your gifts as a, as a big thinker, big creative thinker, anything to share around that? 

KS: 08:54 Yeah, of course. I mean, so whenever I see the word branding, what might come top of mind is a logo, like a brand identity, but a brand is so much more than that. A brand is really bringing what you value to the forefront. It's that outer layer of, you know, kind of that hour layer of an onion for example, of what people, whenever they see you on the outside, what they can expect whenever they go deeper. A brand is a promise, you know, it's a story. It's what you deliver on. It's what you want people to know do and feel. It's a first impression. So a brand is so much more than just a logo. It's all those things I just listed. And so for a bookkeeper for example, I think that, you know, whenever I talk about personal branding, a lot of people think about celebrities like Beyonce or Michael Jackson or you know, other personal brands that are like Ellen. 

KS: 09:50 You know, people who have TV shows named after them or have an album or are a spokesperson for something. Or you know, you might even think about some of these like celebrity bookkeepers, like even those people within your industry that are making a big splash and you don't necessarily have to be like them. You just have to turn up the volume on who you are and what it is that you offer and provide. And so, you know, it's so funny because for example, right now I'm trying to find a graphic designer for my company and I put out a call for applicants and I'm getting these like really long winded cover letters and stories about how I'll work late into the night and how I just want to be a great team player. And I'm looking for someone who just has really great typographic and layout skills. 

KS: 10:38 And so for a bookkeeper, for example, I want someone who can crunch the numbers, do it reliably, and not get me in trouble whenever it comes to tax time. Right? And so I don't think that you have to like go overboard with your personal brand or blending or personality into your brand story, if it's going to confuse the main message of what you want your customer to know, do and feel. And so thus, you know, the main thing that I would say for your audience is like, what is it that you want your customers to know? What is it that you want them to do and what is it that you want them to feel? And I think that that feeling part is where you can really bring in some more of your personalities. So do you want them to feel taken care of? Do you want them to feel empowered to do it themselves? 

KS: 11:28 Do you want them to feel organized? How is it that you want your customer to feel? And I think that's where you can start to bring in that brand story and blend the emotional side of what you have to offer into the really practical nuts and bolts side. But at the end of the day, what you are offering, what you want your customers to know is how they can hire you and what it is that you do. So I think that a lot of getting clear in your brand is really getting clear on your offering. What is it that you do? What's the process along the way and how do you explain that to your customer? 

MP: 12:12 Beautifully said. So simple and I think often gets over complicated. 

KS: 12:17 Yeah. For sure. Yeah. And, and it's easy to get over complicated or to be too simple. You know, like on one hand, you know, we see people that don't have any sort of brand consistency, you know, they don't have any sort of look and feel to convey who they are, what they do. And I think that that can be a challenge. On the flip side, they might be trying to be so creative or big vision or even, you know, I've found vagueness is a threat to brand clarity. Like whenever you're vague about what you do and what you offer, I especially see this like among coaches, so this might not be as much of a problem for your audience. Like your audience is in a really great position to say, here's what I do, here's what I offer, here's what you're going to get and here's how we do it along the way. 

KS: 13:05 So as long as you're clear on what you do, then you can start to blend in some personality on top of that. And sometimes it's as little as if you are working for yourself saying I instead of we. It's really just being a little bit more honest in how you communicate what you do. It might also be being a little bit more plain speak and not speaking like a robot or using industry jargon that your client might not understand. These are really simple ways to blend a little bit more personality into the work that you do. 

MP: 13:36 Yeah, it's fantastic. I think that the challenge that our audience and many of the bookkeepers that I've worked with, the challenge is their expertise is not the work and things that we're talking about right now. And so they know they want to attract a certain type of clients. Perhaps, maybe more clients, maybe better clients, but yeah, how do they do that? And you know, to think about a website or logo or anything, it's just, it goes so much deeper into a conversation like we're having and, and I think the opportunity that I'm hearing in this is, is to, is to give that some thought and think about number one, what you, the way you see things is probably not the way your ideal clients see things. And so how can you be very clear about what you do, but at the same time bring the, the, the natural differentiator, which is yourself and your own personality to something that's simple, clear, uh, shows them how to buy what you have, but brings that personality that can differentiate them selves. Cause I do hear a lot of complaints like, well how do I differentiate myself? What would you say about differentiation? And you know, there's a lot of bookkeepers out there. How do, how does our listener become the one that the, their ideal target audience, a customer picks them? 

KS: 14:56 Well, I think that really having an ideal customer is one of the first things that you can do to differentiate yourself. So think about who you like working with the best. I have, we were talking before we hit record, I have actually a few different bookkeepers on my team and on my side. So I've got one for my branding agency and she's handling a lot of the media dollars that are going in and out and we're talking like hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. So her personality and what she's offering is a little bit different than my other bookkeeper who specializes in working with creative entrepreneurs. And that might be different from someone else who's implementing a profit first model or you know, someone who specifically partnering with Zero. So not only like the tools that you use could help differentiate you, but who your dream customer is and what their needs are can differentiate you. 

KS: 15:49 And that's going to automatically start to narrow down your expertise and what you're known for and your positioning toward your dream client. One of my favorite ways to think also about differentiation is to imagine that you are in a coffee shop and you're grabbing a cup of coffee and you go and sit down at a table and you overhear one of your clients talking about you. Think about what you would love to hear them say. And what you're doing here is you're getting into the mind and language of someone who is not you. So this is, you know, perception, right? It's outside perception. So it might be, oh, I love my CPA. She really breaks down concepts for me. In a way that I get or I love my CPA, I don't know how she does it, but for the first time ever I haven't had a pay thousands of dollars at the end of the year. 

KS: 16:46 In fact, I got a tax return. So you can almost think of this in terms of plain speak testimonials, but also on the flip side of that overheard conversation is what would you be terrified to hear? So for example, you might be terrified to hear, I don't know what I'm spending money for. I could do this myself in quickbooks. You know, like the, maybe that's your biggest fear. Well then how do you respond to that biggest fear? Or you know, your brand isn't just about the people that you attract, it's about who you repel. So you want your brand to automatically turn away people who are not a good fit for you. You don't want to be everything to everyone. And that's a really great way to remember to differentiate yourself. 

MP: 17:28 That's such a fantastic exercise. I just love that. And I think if our audience were to do that, a lot of interesting things would come up not only for working on your brand but taking that brand and that positioning and those thoughts around to sales conversations, to networking conversations and as well content perhaps for, for the so valuable. Tell me a little bit about being boss and what being boss means to you. 

KS: 17:57 Being bosses all about taking control of your work and living life on your own terms. So it really is about blending that personal side of you with the professional side of you. It's about being able to take a Friday afternoon off to take your kid to the zoo or it might even be having no limit to your potential and how much you can earn or how you can scale. It really is about being creative and connecting dots and getting into that confident mindset, knowing that you've got this, getting your systems and processes organized in a way that feels good so that you can scale or hire a team. Um, it's also about getting into habits and routines that really help you do the work. So it really is all about doing the work. And so for you, that might be meditating for 10 minutes before you sit behind your desk or it might be, you know, getting a workout in every single morning. So, or it might be taking off at 3:00 PM everyday or having unlimited vacation or being able to work from anywhere. Being bus is really just defining what it is that you want. You know, setting these like really big goals and then breaking it down step by step and trusting that you're gonna hit hiccups, you're going to have failures, but that you'll figure it out along the way and that step by step you will be able to get to your biggest dreams. 

MP: 19:21 Beautiful. Now this, this is an interesting, I love how you, you both refer to it as your business besties. What were some of the best conversation topics that you had before you decided to launch your podcast being boss? 

KS: 19:37 Oh, that's a good question. I think that, and you know, just like that, I think that good conversations start with really good questions. So I remember one of the first questions I had was whenever I was working one on one with my clients, helping them with their branding and their positioning and their identity and really thinking, okay, but there's only so much of me and there are so many people wanting to work with me. Is there a way that I can scale this in a meaningful way, in a way where I can make money while I'm asleep and help people without being there and be more affordable for people who can't afford to hire me one on one. And so this was the question and that was answered in a conversation where with Emily, and this was probably, yeah, this was about six years ago. 

KS: 20:26 She said, why don't you turn your one-on-one content into an ecourse? It is perfectly set up for it. I can help you build it out. And so we did it and that ecourse has made me well over six figures since launching it. It's been iterated a few different times and I would have never thought to really do that or had the confidence to do it without really fleshing it out with Emily and we continue to ask questions. So even just yesterday we were having more, it's so funny because sometimes we'll have to like separate business partner conversations with business bestie conversations. So I'll say, okay, I'm talking to you now as a business bestie. What would it look like if we completely got off of social media altogether? I know that that's such a stressor for so many people and probably for your audience as well. 

KS: 21:15 They're probably hearing that they need to be on social media, but they don't know where to begin or where to put their efforts. And now more than ever, there are so many questions coming up against the ethics of social media and we're just constantly being sold to. And so I love social media. I have a love hate relationship with it. And I was like, okay, I love it. But also what would it look like if we completely ran our business off of social media and as an online business? That's a really big question and I don't have questions. I don't have the answer to it, but really just asking what would that look like? Allows us to get really creative and innovative and start to come up with even more solutions for our audience who also has a love hate relationship with social media. 

MP: 22:04 I love that. I mean, the question, I mean that question resonates for you or resonates for me. I'm sure it resonates for anyone that's listening, that uses social media to grow their business or uh, in some way. But, uh, what I love about it is that there's so many other great questions that our listeners could just sit there and, and maybe write down two or three questions. Like what would it look like if x, Y, Z, whatever it is, to start thinking creative about how you're handling, how you're dealing with business, how you're dealing with problems in your business, how you're dealing with opportunities in your business. I just love that. Now you had the privilege of, of having a best, a business. Bestie. Yeah. Emily. And so maybe that's the other part of the formula is, you know, asking these questions by yourself and you know, in a room by yourself might not be necessarily, wouldn't be a bad thing, but to amp it up, make it better as to have, uh, a business bestie. What would you recommend around getting a business bestie. 

KS: 23:04 All right. Well, I mean there are so many different online communities and there are some offline opportunities as well. So I think that podcasts have been a huge part in making people feel a little less lonely. And that's why we decided to hit publish on our podcasts over at being boss or to hit publish on our conversations that we were having because a lot of creative entrepreneurs didn't have a business bestie. And we went into invite them into the conversation. So we started hitting publish just like you're hitting publish. And that alone can make people feel a little less alone and it will give you some food for thought that you can start pondering on your own. So if you don't have a business bestie, if you don't have a mentor, you can find these in, you know, places like podcasts or books. For example, right now I'm reading Tim Ferriss tools of titans book, which is incredible. 

KS: 23:57 And there are so many different prompts and thoughts from different leaders and creatives and entrepreneurs in there. It's incredible. And it has really opened my brain to be more creative and innovative and to pondering, you know, new questions. So that's the first thing. But then if you, I think that is incredibly valuable to have someone to talk to you, to have someone to talk about marketing tactics, to talk about branding, to talk about money and numbers. I remember, you know, I felt like my business Bessie conversation with Emily went to a whole new level whenever I was like, okay, here's the deal. Here's how much money I'm making. How can we double that? How can we triple that? You know? And so finding that person is imperative. I think that right now there are a lot of, even though I talked about getting off of social media, there are a lot of really great Facebook groups where there's some interaction happening and you can go in there and find somebody, but then you have to take it to the next level and either you know, join a mastermind or even just find someone individually and say, Hey, would you like test Skype? 

KS: 25:03 I definitely recommend, you know, if you don't live in the same town as someone where you can literally go grab coffee or grab lunch and have this conversation, is to hop on Skype and have a video conference where you're chatting face to face and schedule it for every single month, if not twice a month, if not once a week, just depending on how much you need it. You've got to make space in your calendar for it. You've got to treat it like an incredibly important meeting because it is, it's going to help your business grow to the next level and it's not. What I love about a business bestie conversation versus hiring a coach is that you're really in it together. You don't feel like you're being like coached. I guess it's more of a peer relationship, like of what's working for you. It's more like studying with somebody in college versus going to office hours for your teacher. Right. There is something really valuable in figuring it out together and I think that you get a more creative approach and different things to try like in real-time in real practice. 

MP: 26:03 So cool. Yeah, I think there's a lot, a lot of great ideas around taking things from online to offline to, uh, but literally the, the big theme is get, get this out of your own head, get it into a question, get it into a conversation, don't do it alone. Do it with other people. And I know from my own perspective in my business, which is when I hired my first staff member, a member, it wasn't, I'd, and I don't even really call him a staff member often I feel like he's more of a partner. Uh, but that's where things really started to gel in the business because I could have those almost business bestie conversations where it's like, you know, what do you think about this? Because my train of thought, my creativity, my, the things I'm good at alone on their own has a limited life span or limited potential. But with other people's expertise, what I've found is that it's like, wow, you know, it's like that bad, that piece, like putting together a bit of a puzzle. Uh, and it's a heck of a lot more fun. 

KS: 27:06 Yeah. And you know, they don't even have to be an expert. So you were talking about your staff and we have a team as well and we are certainly the leaders of our team, but we invite and encourage all discussions. So whenever it comes to podcast content, sometimes it's even nice to have someone without as much expertise or experience cause they lend a different perspective. So sometimes it's really about, you know, getting out of the weeds and looking at it from a different point of view to have something new to talk about or to position yourself in a new way or to market yourself in a new way. I think that's incredibly valuable and really understanding how you process. So for a lot of it's, it's verbally, it's talking out loud, it's why podcasts are so popular right now because we get to chat it out and there's so much nuance in tone and in expression and in conversation, but you can also write it out. So I'm a huge fan of lists and lists making magic and so I'm not, I'm not really a big journaler like I can't sit down. I always feel very dear diary whenever I sit down and try and journal like in the traditional sense of it. But if I sit down to make a list, I can really start to process a lot of new ideas and just get what's pinging around in my head out on paper. I think that that can be hugely valuable as well. 

MP: 28:25 Totally agree. Have another question for you. It's, you know, our audience, uh, many of our audience members are, are females just like yourself and, and have businesses. They're running businesses. You have a bunch of businesses and I'm sure that's not always easy to manage a life. I'd love to hear your perspective on how you handle a bad day. 

KS: 28:48 Oh, okay. And how I handle a bad day. Like so do you mean say more about that? Like, like do you think that like how do I keep it from effecting? Like how do I make a bad day? Yeah. 

MP: 29:00 Well it's actually stems from a question we had in our Facebook group speaking of, of social media, but on the Facebook. 

KS: 29:07 Oh good. So you have a Facebook group, so your, your listeners can find their business. Bestie in your Facebook group. 

MP: 29:13 I'm sure some, some of them have. I'm sure some of them have, which is, which is lovely. But I've, I have not asked. I mean, I'm so curious now. I love this business bestie. I've got to be looking and encouraging everybody to get a business bestie. So I just love it. But, um, I should've framed the question a bit better. What, what happened is, uh, one of our members of the group said, look, I'm having a bad day. How, how do ya, how do you, how does everyone here deal with having a day like this? And I think she some, you know, the situation that she was in, but it was just interesting to hear how the different perspectives of how all these different people were dealing with a challenge. A challenging Dan and let me say a bad day. I mean you sound like the type of person that doesn't have bad days. 

KS: 30:00 Yeah. 

MP: 30:00 You probably have like days where you have more barriers or things that don't go your way, whatever the case may be. 

KS: 30:06 I certainly have my fair share of bad days. So I think it works in both ways because I blend so much of who I am into the work that I do and vice versa. A bad day at work can certainly affect my life at home. So I can be quick tempered with my husband. I can be really short and impatient with my four-year-old kid. Like that is certainly a challenge. Or if I'm feeling challenged by my child, like I went two years without sleeping. My kiddo whenever he was born was up 10 to 12 times a night every night for the first year. So I was incredibly sleep deprived and that was certainly challenging whenever he came to work. So I think that for me, whenever I'm having a bad day, it really is this series of questions and prompts. I feel like there's so much opportunity to get to the other side of that bad day. 

KS: 30:58 If you can understand one, what is it that you're really afraid of? Because I think that any time a day feels quote-unquote bad fear is the underlying root of that. So what is it that you're actually afraid of? Continue to get down to the nugget of that fear? I find that every single time, ultimately I'm afraid of dying, right? Like, I'm afraid of my own mortality. And I know that this is getting really deep, really fast. But at the root of it, it's like, okay, what happens if I don't get this client? What happens? You know, if I can't pay the bills, what happens? You know, I just keep like almost following that bad day into it's worst case scenario. Like truly what is the worst thing that can happen? The worst thing that can happen is that I die without making the thing that I made, right? 

KS: 31:46 Or without it being successful. And that always then challenges me to find a new creative solution to it. So yes, I will have a bad day and I will let myself feel it and I will let myself examine what I'm afraid of and then I'm going to get back to work. So I'm going to use that fear. I'm going to use that challenge. I'm going to use that problem to find a new solution to find a new answer. I also find that, you know, I deal with a bad day by just getting really vulnerable. So instead of being a jerk to my husband, I might just say, Oh, I'm sorry, I'm kind of freaking out about this deadline. I have this thing I have to design and I'm afraid I'm not a good enough designer. You know, like I get really vulnerable and then he knows it's not about him. 

KS: 32:28 It doesn't spiral into something else that it's not. So I think I deal with a bad day by one, getting clear about my fear and to getting really honest with the people around me. So even like, let's say I'm having a bad personal life, like let's say I haven't slept or I got in a fight with my husband, or whatever it might be, whenever I get on a call with my team or with Emily or with my business partner, I say like, ah man, I got in a dumb fight with my husband and we might spend like three minutes on it and then we move on. So for me it really is about blending the personal with the professional, getting really clear about what is I'm afraid of and getting really honest with all parties involved about what I'm going through. 

MP: 33:15 I love your take on it and I think it's such a common thing that when we're having a bad day, often we're just dealing with it on our, on our own. I think the theme for you and what you've built with being boss is it's like, don't just leave these things to be on your own shoulders, uh, spread, spread it across, be in communication, open up. There's so much more, not, not only from relieving the pressures of a bad day or a challenging day, but to invoke creativity, invoke business growth and vote, you know, happiness and joy with the people that you surround yourself with. 

KS: 33:48 Totally. And I'm also a big fan of like I run my body like a machine and so I'm a big fan of working out. I'm a big fan of eating really well. I take some really like hippy supplements, like mushroom powders and my coffee and I'm staying really hydrated. And so I, this might sound like off topic, but I think that really taking care of yourself can really lend itself to, you know, you thinking more clearly to coming up with better creative solutions to really just taking control of who you are and how you're living in the world. 

MP: 34:24 I don't think it's off topic. I think it's, I think it's an interesting, um, uh, uh, improvement upgrade on the conversation or topic, which is, you know, just in terms of taking care of ourselves and, and leveraging things that can be helpful. I mean, the body, the human body, I mean it often, I have thought not that much about the ship that sorta sailing me around here. Right? Yeah. It's like this is it. That's all I got. It's not like, oh, I broke that one. I'll go buy a new car. Um, it is, and I, I recently, I mean I'm, I'm a healthy person. I, I've been, I think relatively knock on wood than born with good genes. You know, I get relatively, you know, I get out exercise a little bit here and there, but I'm blessed that I don't have to worry too much about this or that. 

KS: 35:14 So far in my life. And yet just recently I've gone on a new, and I don't even like calling it a diet, but I've started to put new things or different new choices I guess is a good way of putting it. New choices around what I'm eating. And I can tell you that my performance, my productivity, my clarity has tripled, quadrupled, 10 x, I don't even know what you want to call it, but I'm now 45 years old. I've spent 45 years doing what I was doing and now here, 45 years later, I've just recently had this whole new energy. I have more energy than I think I've felt in 30 years. And so I think it's a great topic to be if we're, if we're trying to do something great in the world, we're out there trying to help business owners. I am speaking for our audience. Our audience is out there. You know the pressures of the world, pressures of life, pressures of family, different things like this. If we take care of ourselves and find a way that works, that that how that's going to work for us to really have our bodies and our minds be in the best possible condition to do that. Life just gets a lot more fun and I would say easy 

KS: 36:27 for sure. I mean, you know, whenever you were asking like how do you deal with a hard day? I wanted to say a glass of wine, but honestly that's not the truth anymore. So I just turned 36 and even one glass of wine just does me in the next morning. I don't think as clearly. I love wine on the weekends. I love pizza on the weekends, but during the week I'm eating, you know, pretty like a Paleo style diet for the most part. So like no sugar, misleading, just clean protein, eggs, healthy fats like Avocados and oil. I'm going green, free lagoon free. This might sound crazy to your listeners, but it really does keep me super sharp mentally. And then I also really am getting into, and I'm not perfect at it, but really trying to get into meditation and one of my favorites is called the candle concentration. 

KS: 37:15 And I wrote about this in our being boss book, which also like presenting some of our concepts and ideas of self care as health care and how that helps us be more boss in our book to our publisher. It felt so weird, but it really truly is how we integrate living like a holistic life and not just being the boss of our work, but being the boss of our bodies. And so I like this candle concentration exercise where I simply light a candle and it can be a smell good one and I focus on the flame without training. Have any other thoughts for 10 minutes? I set a timer and I found that it boosts my concentration through the rest of the entire day. And so something as simple as that. I'm really trying to get into finding a way to relax my heart rate and relax my mind and get into, you know, the brain waves that are conducive to creativity. Like it all. Like you just can't, you can't work well if you're freaking out. Like if you're in that lizard part of your brain and what you eat and how you relax and how you sleep and how you take care of yourself, like it all goes into that. 

MP: 38:21 Absolutely does. And such a nice turn in our conversation. And I think, I think you're going to talk about this but we never know. We never know, but it's, I think it's valuable and for those that didn't find a valuable that you can turn it off. You know, I think, I think everyone can turn ask themselves is like, how do you feel each day? If you feel like superhero ish energy to, you know, spend for the rest of the week, 10 x, all that good stuff, then you're in the right shape. But if you ask yourself that, and it's not that well, there are ways it's, I think it's different for everybody to figure out what, what it works. But things that you've mentioned already, getting rid of the sugar, some of these things that just don't work. But we need as much energy as we can and focus as we can so we can give it to our clients, do great work for them, and then bring it home to their, to our families where they need us most. So love the conversation and, and that's forever our listener to explore, go explore it being boss, learn more about Kathleen. And on that note, Kathleen, tell us a little bit about how our listener can find out more about you, but the book about your podcast. 

KS: 39:27 Yeah, so you can find being boss where every listen to podcasts and you can find the book being boss wherever you buy books. So it's pretty easy if you just Google being boss, you'll find us there. 

MP: 39:39 Beautiful. Well, this has been an absolute pleasure. I've gotten so much out of this myself. I know for sure the listener has as well. I just really want to thank you for the generosity of your time and for being on the podcast. 

KS: 39:51 Thank you so much for having me.

MP: 39:55 You bet that wrap up, it's another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast to learn more about today's wonderful guests. And to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 40:07 goodbye.

EP96: Louie Prosperi - How To Plan A Successful Bookkeeping Business

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Starting a business is a risky journey.

There is more than one way to make mistakes that could hurt your long term success.

Our returning guest, Louie Prosperi, who is the CEO of ICB USA, shares a way to help you get a firm plan in place.

It's through The Proactive Business Model which is a program that ensures bookkeepers are consistently valuable to their clients and are running their businesses more efficiently.

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

  • The importance of taking care of your clients and employees

  • The difference between working on and working in your business

  • How an ICB USA Certification can lead you to success

To learn more about ICB USA, visit here.

For ICB USA's Facebook page, click here.

For ICB USA's Facebook closed group, go here.

For Louie's Twitter, discover here.

For his previous Successful Bookkeeper podcast episode, listen here.


Michael Palmer: 01:32 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 return guest is the CEO of, I see B u s a, which is a bookkeeping association that provides development of certifications, education, resources, and tools for its members so they can be the bookkeeper of the future. Louie Prosperi, Welcome back to the podcast.

Louie Prosperi: 01:59 Well Michael, I'm very happy to be back, so thank you so much and again, thank you for that great introduction. You just do me so much. So much justice on that one. I just really enjoy when you introduced me. So EMV, you put a smile on my face.

MP: 02:13 Do Louie, it's easy to do so we love having your back and I'd love for you to just really share a little bit about yourself. For those that haven't gone back, maybe to new listeners, don't know who you are. We'll start off with just sharing a little bit about yourself and then we're going to get into doing some planning for our listeners business and talking about the proactive business model. So let's start with a little bit about you and ICB USA.

LP: 02:41 Well, uh, my background is, has always been in a professional accounting and bookkeeping. Uh, I started getting, uh, my honors degree in accounting and then have been working in public practice as well as industry and then set up my own practices, uh, before going into the association world like we are now today. So I've always enjoyed, I think my passion has always been about helping people and helping businesses succeed. And now in my new role, I'm helping a professional bookkeepers succeed in their practice and their businesses. And it's, there's been wonderful in a, with the ICB USA is all about, it's about helping the professional bookkeeper through certification as well as providing that service to the customer, the end customer, making sure that the bookkeepers that come through our program are the best in the world to be quite honest.

MP: 03:35 So awesome. Well, you know what, an ICB USA is the world's largest association for bookkeepers. I think that's what makes it really powerful is that it's leveraging knowledge and resources from around the globe.

LP: 03:50 Yeah, ICB USA is part of the ICB global network, which is the largest in the world. So we have more than one association around the world. And that's the key, I think, uh, for ICB is that we take all of our knowledge base around the world and we utilize it for every association. So you get more than just your normal, what you have in your country. A good example, I know we're going off topic a bit, but money laundering legislation is becoming a very big thing right now in the world. And ICB is, is the, is the leader in, in making sure that the, uh, regulations and technology are, uh, incorporating the professional bookkeeper. We're doing that in, in the UK. We're doing that in Australia and so forth. So when it does start creeping into North America and requiring our professional bookkeepers to be integrated in that, we're already on the leading edge on that.

MP: 04:49 Beautiful. I love that. I love that the world is changing quickly and we're going to need leaders too to help give the information necessary in order to do the work efficiently and excellently for our customers, small business owners. Now before we get into planning, tell us a little bit about the proactive business model ICB USA is developing and then we're actually going to get in and, and I, I'd love for you to help our listeners do some of this work on their businesses.

LP: 05:20 Oh, that's great. Thanks. Thanks, Michael. Uh, the proactive business model is a continuation of what's happening out in the market today. I think, you know, into its doing firm of the future and so forth. And that's all about value pricing and value components. What the proactive business model is doing is taking that to the next step. It's, it's incorporating the value-centric ideas of value pricing and putting it through the entire, uh, from not just that, the, uh, acquiring into establishing value, but also making sure that the processes and systems are in place allow you, make sure you, you meet those expectations. And then the third component, and I'm going through this very quickly by the way, there's more detail and the third component is to have your organization always producing and preparing services that meet the customer's needs today and tomorrow. What that means is that you cannot develop a series of services and expect that to meet everybody's needs, uh, even your current customers, their needs will change and you have to have the proactive systems in place to allow you to constantly be on the forefront. And that's what the proactive business model's all about. When we did one Webinar with you, Michael, uh, with regards to processes and systems and how valuable that is. And, uh, that's just the start. We will be adding articles, we'll be adding more webinars and content and all three of these, uh, pillars that we just talked about.

MP: 06:54 Yeah, absolutely. I had a ton of fun doing it and, and I think highly valuable for your members and as well for our listeners. And we'll have links to that of course, in the, in the show notes. So Louie, let's, let's get into doing some work on our listeners business today. We talk often about e myth, the work that Michael Gerber did 40 years ago, EMF, which is the entrepreneurial myth, why most small businesses don't work and what you can do about it. And one of the key factors in there is, is that you have to take time to work on your business and not just work in your business. Now, getting time to work on your business and pulling yourself from actually doing the work can be difficult. But I want to talk about how you can help our listeners do that and as well the benefits of doing it. So in terms of planning for the business, Louie, what's the first step that our listener should do in order to start thinking differently about the growth of their business?

LP: 07:55 So, uh, Michael, with regards to working on your business and working in your business, let's first define what that is because I do believe that that's a significant difference in a lot of sole proprietors or sole practitioners think that they're the same thing, right? And working in your business is actually taking care of your customers, taking care of your employees, uh, making sure the services are done, the quality control of, of what's coming out at the back end of your product, collecting receivables and payables and making sure that the company is running, but that's working in your business, working on your businesses, taking yourself up above that and looking at what is this business supposed to do for me? Like what, what are my goals and objectives for this business? Where are we going? How do we get to the next step? What are our customer base right now?

LP: 08:48 And so those are much different questions and answers and they require a different mindset and you need the capacity to do both. Now, uh, the things that I'd like to talk about, which I think we mentioned that at the last Webinar, Michael, was customer capacity and emotional capacity. Um, and those things are very important when you're running a business, particularly if you're a sole proprietor and you're basically the entire business. So customer capacity basically means how many customers can use successfully service without causing any strain. On your practice. Uh, people think 100% is probably the right number. And I would disagree with that. I think if as soon as you start to exceed 75 to 80% of capacity, you're already hitting the top or top end of your utilization. And why, why do I say that? Because you need at least 20% of capacity at the top end to allow for emergencies. LP: 09:53 When a customer comes in and says, look, I need this done tomorrow and they're an important customer, and if you already at 100% capacity, what's going to happen is either you won't be able to satisfy that customer, which is bad, or one of your other customers will be suffering and also will be a negative on you. So that 20% allows you to make sure that everybody is taken care of, they get the results that they're expecting and your branding does not get hurt. That's why you need at least 2020 5% and the other component is to deal with new customers that are coming in. So if a high value customer walks through the door, you want to be able to serve as him, not necessarily any customer, but a high value customer. Without that capacity, someone's going to have to get push back. Or you might have to say no to that.

LP: 10:44 And that's why 100% if anybody out there is at 100% capacity, they're already over the capacity limit. So how do we do that? How do we define customer capacity, I guess is the, is the next question, right? Like, like where, where do we go? Okay. So a good way to do that is to determine what is your minimum pricing. So for example, that's a hard question to answer, but I usually start at the top end, which is what is the amount of revenue that I want to make? So now I don't expect you to make silly remarks like I want to make a million and you're only making $30,000, right? What it is, is that I want to make $100,000 a year, let's say. Okay, so, so let's, let's use that as an example. And then let's, let's assume that you're a one person operation or bookkeeping accounting firm.

LP: 11:41 So now you take a look at your customer base and what's the smallest client customer that you have? And let's say it's $1,000 a year, right? So that, that if you took on all only these small customers, that means you would have to have $100,000 a year customers. So the first question is, can you handle a hundred customers properly? And if the answer is no, which I think it is, then that's minimum price is way too low because you can't have anybody at that price. What's your minimum price should be, is the number of customers that you can handle effectively based on the top revenue line that you want earn. So my price normally for $800,000 is about five to $6,000 per customer. What does that mean? That means I handled 20 customers a year and I know at 20 customers a year, I am very effective and I have enough capacity to deal with emergencies and growth and possibly going and developing new resources or new services.

LP: 12:50 If you don't have that number, then work, work around it and see what you can do. Now, let's say your business model doesn't allow you, let's say, well, I can't do that like my customers that I want. I only have one or two customers at 5,000 the rest are at three. Okay, fair enough. So now the next step is how do I manage those customers effectively? That means I'd probably have to hire somebody and then you have to factor the employee rate and making sure that when you hire someone and add additional costs, how much of the top line has to go up to satisfy that number? And the reason why you have to keep doing that is to make sure that you have enough return. If the return is not there, then then you have to do a different analysis. Meaning that, am I in the right business model? Am I attracting the right customer? Those are the things that you, that you can do. Now, by the way, we're going through this very, very quickly. I'm just trying to give you a very quick ways to just do a quick assessment of your customer capacity that should only take you a few hours or one day to do and now at least we'll give you a guidance of where you are and where you're heading.

LP: 14:05 Emotional capacities and other one what emotional capacity is, and that's a tough one because I don't know about any of you, but if you've had a very difficult customer and Michael, you can help me out on this one and you spent an hour on the, on the phone with a difficult customer, the rest of the day could be shot for you.

MP: 14:22 Absolutely. Absolutely. The energy that gets invested into, into that experience, it, it goes not only into your work day, but as well has a potential to leak into your personal life and affect your family and all sorts of things. I mean there the cost of just that one example is I think very often underestimated the cost of having a, an emotionally draining customer,

MP: 14:50 right? Imagine if you have that everyday. So the the amount of effort it takes you work with bookkeepers Louie, that's great.

LP: 14:59 My Day, every day is an awesome day.

LP 15:02 Well we knew both. I do enjoy my work too cause I do get to meet a lot of them as well. But for them and I've been in, in practice, customers can be very demanding. The interesting thing is that the emotional capacity, uh, I would start ranking are your customers and you would know them almost instantly when you look at your list of who's a high emotional capacity customer and who's a low one. The next thing I would do on that is, is put the amount of revenue that that person generates for you and it's interestingly enough, if you have a a, B, c, d clients, what I mean by ABCD clients, I mean that's the number, that's the amount of revenue and call it how much revenue you collect from them and how well they pay and so forth. That's an a client and it goes down the list.

LP: 15:47 Usually the high emotional capacity customers tend to be the C and d clients. There is a couple of ways, but in most cases that's, that's what happens. And I would strongly recommend to limit the high emotional capacity customers. Now if it's a high emotional capacity customer that makes you feel fantastic after the meeting, then keep that one. I'm not talking about those. Okay. I'm only talking about the ones that are draining for you and I would definitely review that component and eliminate as many of those as possible. I know that sounds scary, but if picking up the phone and talking to this customer causes you to have an anxiety attack, there's something wrong with that relationship. You're in a trusted relationship as a professional bookkeeper and there should be mutual respect and there should be mutual understanding and openness. If that customer is constantly in a negative format with you and you don't have that respect, technically you shouldn't be servicing that customer. It's just not the right mix. So any of those customers should automatically be on your, on your list to remove. And once you've improved your emotional capacity, your ability to work on your business and work more effectively goes up through the roof. And, and I think we all know that personally.

MP: 17:16 Yeah, absolutely. I mean it's a, it's a Hallelujah on the whole concept, right? But firing clients is, is in my experience, has been kind of a, a, a rite of passage, if you will, to, to a successful practice or business. And when you do it, it, it's, it's really, you've gotten yourself clear on what you're saying no to. And when you're clear on what you're saying no to, that means you're clear on what you're saying yes to. And if you can clearly differentiate around what of clients that are yeses, well, it's another decision factor that you can use when you're out in the marketplace. And I would take it, I would add another level to this Louie. And one of the things I've helped a lot of people do is clarifying who the customer, their ideal customer is and who they want to work with.

MP: 18:08 And so add in some other factors to that list, which is what industry are they in? And when you said the money that you're making from them, I always like to think of it really simply, who have you loved working with? Where have you made the biggest impacts? So where have you felt like, wow, I really made a big difference there. And then where have you made the most money? Right? So if we can have, hey, I love working with this person, I really make a big difference for them and that difference means a lot to me and I make a lot of money there. That's a, that's a, that's, those are some easy things to say. Whoa. Imagine if we had, as you say, Louis, we're at 80% capacity with those types of customers. I mean your emotional capacity, you're going to have a lot of a lot of real estate there to get through the day and take that energy to your family where it matters most. You know, Louie, this, this type of thinking, I think is so refreshing because so many, I mean, I think the pathway a bit small, but in small businesses, you know, you go into business and it's like, Hey, we've got some clients who, Ray, we're actually making money. But it's a risky journey because if you start picking up the wrong clients, it can lead you into failure.

LP: 19:20 Yes, and failures more than one way. By the way, it's not that you can have a thriving practice, meaning you have 30 40 50 customers, but here you're on the nerve of a nervous breakdown or, or, or you, you, you have all of these customers but they're not paying or you're have to reduce and you're almost in financial bankruptcy because the customer where the customer is pay, how they're paying you and what they're paying you compared to what resources you're using is putting you in a negative position. So you're absolutely right. Top, there are men more than one way to get in a trap that could hurt you longterm by looking at the short term success. And I agree with you, startup companies or startup individuals, they'll, they basically take any customer. And the reason why, one of the reasons why is it makes them feel good.

LP: 20:08 Because let's be honest, if someone says, yes, I want you as a bookkeeper, I want your service or whatever the, the product you're selling, it's like an immediate saying, yes, I'm accepted out there. But then when they come back and start and the price points isn't where you can survive or do well, you kind of ignore that. You Go, I'll, I'll work on that later. I'll build that later. I'm good. I just want to go out there and build my brand or get my experience or cut my teeth on this stuff. The funny thing is that's the pathway of a high risk pathway. And I, I don't say that you'll fail or you won't succeed, but it's a very difficult to succeed. People have succeeded, you know, they've learned and they've managed to, to adapt it and gotten out of that mess, but a lot don't.

LP: 20:55 And um, and I, I think the key is to start off and not worry about rejection. You know, if you have a price point that's too high, you think because you went out there and 15 people have said no to you. Okay, maybe that is true. Well let's take a look. Um, get a coach, get a mentor, talk to someone else in the business, but don't automatically assume that you have to lower your price. It might not be the price. It might be the exactly what you said, Michael. They're looking at the wrong customer. I'll give a bake example cause I just had a real, uh, an interesting discussion with a young entrepreneur where they're, they're baking, uh, they've just graduated and they've done, uh, and they're very skilled individuals and what they've done is, is now they want to set up a, the ability to bake cayenne cakes.

MP: 21:48 You know, the, like the, the event cakes, you know, like the big birthday cakes or the anniversary cakes and so forth. And what's happened is through their resources, they've been getting people that normally go to Fortinos to buy their cake, right? So what happens is people love their cake. So don't get me wrong. I mean, I, I, it's a fantastic cake. You're getting a lot more and the quality, it's all fresh ingredients, all homemade. But the, the person that's coming to you is expecting to pay 14 old prices, which I don't know. A 14. Oh, is a, this is, this is a grocery store. So I'm trying to think of another store. Walmart, you know, anywhere where they have cakes on the side.

LP: 22:32 Yeah. Like fries be like a fries down in, in the United States of fries or a, uh, um, I mean there's so many grocery stores, but it's a, it's a, it's a, it's not a low tier grocery store, but it's, it's sort of like a mid to high tier grocery store.

MP: 22:45 Right. And they have these specialty cakes that, you know, they'll write happy birthday on in store bakery.

LP: 22:52 Yeah, that's exactly right. So when you're talking to that and you, and you go to a professional bakery where they actually do wedding gigs and so forth, it's a totally different market. But what's happened is, is that they're having difficulty, they're getting a lot of high praise and their product is fantastic. But then when they put in the price points, they get a lot of resistance. And it's not because the people aren't except don't agree with the quality is that they're already coming in with expecting the inhouse bakery price point, which is mass produced and there's no way that you'll ever get them to go up to the level that you have. So they're doing great success. Uh, they're building their market. The only problem they're going to have is when they finally get to a point where they have to expand to a level of high production or value.

LP: 23:43 They have the wrong market, the wrong segment, and that's going to be hard to switch over. And that's what I've see in professional bookkeepers. They start off with, you know, the 200 or $300 a year client customer, and now they've got all of these two or $300. Now they want to go to the next level, they want to hire an employee and so forth. But the margins aren't there. And so they continue to acquire those, those customers and it doesn't work. So what you should do from the beginning is start at a very high level. I would say if you can only handle 15 or 20 customers, and that's your price point, and if you want to make $100,000 a year, that's where you should go. All you have to do now is develop the product that justifies that price point.

MP: 24:35 Beautiful. Do you know, I think there's a great movie. I talk about it often. I liked the movie anyways, others may not, but it's called a Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger. And in the movie, Jerry has this manifesto. He's working for this, you know, really the top agency where they, they charge a lot of money, but they have, they really deliver probably a lower service level. It's really just more about the, the money and their customers are numbers and he has this manifesto where he's going to change the way the business works to say, yeah, we're going to charge a lot of money, but we're going to offer incredible value to our customers and help them be more like partners. Right. And I think that what you're talking about Louis more that more of that philosophy where it's like let's have 15 clients where we find 15 clients who really are committed to growing their business and and if they don't, you know, are open to seeing the value of what a great bookkeeper can bring to the table in their business and that that part of the job, right as as a bookkeeper, a, you've got to be able to translate that value in and go in and sell yourself appropriately to a customer.

MP: 25:49 But let's get 15 clients like that and say, look for me, I'm going to deliver this value to the world and what I need a less why. I love this thinking that you're giving us to our listeners, I need this much money. This is what I need to do in the next one year. I want to be at this level of a business. Let's just say it's a a six figure business of $100,000. Well 50, like the math, you've given a formula to figure out the math and now those are the people that we're going to go and figure out. It's like, now we have this kind of like this, almost like this treasure map. It's like we don't, we haven't found the treasure yet, but we've got this map where there's this big acts on this gold little gold chest. Now there's a bunch of things to figure out, well, how do we go get those 15 clients?

MP: 26:32 And I think as a startup, as a, at any level, really a business, but as a startup for sure is to stop and do this kind of thinking and work is going to lead you to the end. I mean, the seven habits of highly effective people, one of the, the, uh, uh, really, uh, a Bible of personal development is a good book to read, some very simple philosophies, but the one of the seven is think with the end in mind. And so by doing this kind of work in this kind of thinking, you're going to end up more likely heading that x mark on the gold chest than if you just kind of go at it and say, well, you know, we'll just get a roll the dice here and hope to get some clients. And, and away we go. So I love this and I think it's a great exercise for, for anybody at any stage of their business to actually do and do this thinking.

LP: 27:26 Uh, you're, you're taking the words right out of my mouth, Michael, like I couldn't have said it better. I think you're absolutely right on, on this, uh, component where, where you have to [inaudible] the customer. Now, one of the things that people come back to me or that I hear honestly back to me, but I hear is that, well, you know, the market doesn't have that price point or this doesn't, you know, the market that this guy over here is charging 50 bucks and I can't charge more than 50. And I always ask my question is why can't you charge more than 50? You know, because, uh, professional bookkeeping services are not commodities. They're unique and each customer is unique. So the question is, it's not you that you always have to look at your competitors. Don't get me wrong, I, I'm not saying to ignore your competitors or what's going out in the market, but when you have to do is create the value.

LP: 28:19 So when you look at that person and what they're, what they're getting for $50, two things, you have to find out, are they really, is, is that $50 true in the sense that are they getting everything that, that the person is promising or is there going to be a big let down after they sign up with that person? Like if there's a high failure rate on that. Secondly, is it, is it what you're offering or are you offering a lot more? Uh, and you should always make your product or service unique. So when you set up your minimum price, build, what's in it? Um, couple of things that you should automatically build into your pricing is a money back guarantee and all that scares a lot of bookkeepers. But what does money-back guarantee offer Michael at? One. Number one is that it shows your confidence in your expertise because if you, if the customer is not happy with what you've delivered, you'll give them all their money back, right?

LP: 29:22 So that alone is unique too, is also access. If, if they want unlimited access to you, you can price that in now. And people get nervous about unlimited access because that means they'll be constantly contacting you. But the reality is that's not necessarily true because a lot of, uh, technology companies give you what they call, uh, maintenance contracts, right? Unlimited maintenance contract. And they price it in cause they know only a small percentage of people will be using it. And the turnaround and the value in there is much higher. So when you give certain things, uh, payment terms, if you're going to provide someone with payment terms, that's an added value. So these are little things you can add to, to your, to your, uh, service mix that aren't even related to the service but are related to the customer experience. That should make things different than what you had then when the other person wouldn't be dealing with.

LP: 30:21 So now when it comes to money back guarantees, uh, one note that I would do is I'd put a time limit on it. So if they, if you've delivered the product, uh, uh, when, when I talk product, uh, book keeps on talking service. If you deliver the service 90 days after the service, the a money back guarantee expires. So, uh, you don't want a year later they go, well, I want my money back. That's ridiculous. They should have within the first 90 days of after whatever service you delivered, if they're not happy, they should communicate that with you. So always make that, always have a time limit on that.

MP: 30:55 Yeah, and I, I really love what you're, what you're saying, uh, with these differentiators. And I would say, you know, it's very fresh, very fresh, very cutting edge thinking, uh, for the industry because very few out there are doing this. And this is a really great way to differentiate yourself. And just to add onto what you're saying around the guarantees is yeah, the have, make sure that it's very clear as to what you expect from the customer and what they can expect for you. And if those things all happen, then that's when guarantees kick in. And, and if we jumped back a bit, all three of the things that you said that suggestions with the, uh, payment plans, uh, the guarantee unlimited service. I mean, if you think about it, if we've got 15 customers that are our ideal customer, low emotional cost, right? They are, we love working with them, we make big impacts with them and they value what we do.

MP: 31:53 None of those people are gonna want a guarantee because they're not those types of people. Likely you're going to do great work. And if you did, likely the guarantee it's going to be a real one where it's like, yeah, you need to stand behind your product and solve the problem. You know things like, well your money back or it's like I'll fix it until it's, you know, I'll work until it's fixed. Like you don't have to, it's like removing the risk for making decisions. Same thing with support. I mean if you're working with great people, great people. I know because the bookkeepers that we work with and Pure Bookkeeping, I mean they're all wonderful people. They're ambitious, they're there, they're bright, they're working on and they know that their time is valuable. They don't call with a problem. That's not a valuable problem to solve cause they know their times.

MP: 32:33 They don't want to jump on a call with me or, or any of our team unless it's like something that they really need help with. And that's, that's what ends up happening when you put together our customer base of people that are really serious about growing their business, they're not going to burn up their time. And if you do have people that are burning it up, well again, you got to look at it. Is it worth having that relationship, that business relationship and your business? Uh, so just love though that thinking around different, just that one little bit around differentiating yourself. I think it has gold Louie.

LP: 33:04 And by the way, these are, we've had people be much, much more creative. And what's interesting is once you start being creative in your business and working on your business, you'll find out that you'll be able to add these unique services and content and you'll be able to fine tune it per customer. That there is no way that your customer will be able to somehow look at your service or what you provide and try to compare it to your customer because it's too unique. It's not, it's not capable of of comparison. And that's where you want to be at the end of the day. You only want your customer to compare you amongst your options that you provide. Not about the competitive with the competitors do. And I always use the telephone companies, their cell phone companies, they have so many different options when you, when you buy a phone and all the different options and have like a, B, c, d, e, f.

LP: 33:57 And what ends up happening is when you try to compare it to a competitor, they're never exactly the same. So you're never really comparing apples to apples. You're always either apples or oranges and sometimes you get so confused. All you end up doing is comparing options of the provider that you're already using. And before you even bother, you call them up and say, look, I'm about to leave you. I don't know how many of you have done this. And then they go, well, well, well we'll send you to our customer something. You go there and automatically they give you a bunch of discounts and then you stay there. And that's, that's a really good technique. And, and, uh, but you want to do is, is create that vision for your customer, with your services and your options so that what they're going to do is because of the relationship and how the comfort level and the quality that you're producing is, they're always going to come back to you first and say, look, this is what I'm doing.

LP: 34:49 And, uh, you go, well, great. These are the options you have available to you. So, and you can only do this if you first of all, develop the capacity in your business to be creative. And secondly, focus on exactly what Michael says. Build the customer base that suits what you want just to provide. Because if you're providing the services that you want to provide, that means you're having a great time doing it. And if you're having a great time, everybody around you knows that and the experience just emulates from you. And it just, it's just a, it just grows on itself. If you're having a lousy time producing these services, I'll tell you, your customers are going to nail it and they're not gonna. And if you're miserable and they start feeling it, there the are, they're probably going to leave you. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but that probably says you got the wrong man.

MP: 35:47 Louie, it's just gold, gold, gold. Love it, love it, love it. I think the listener is going to be, I feel the excitement already out there around being more creative in their business and saying, yes, I'm going to have a client base that I love working with so I can be creative and I can have the business that I love. I just love it. Louie, tell us about how the ICB USA can help our listener get to success faster because I know there's a lot of different options in the marketplace around certification and training and uh, all sorts of different things that, that happen in the marketplace. But I really love the power of associations and what something like the ICB USA can do for helping around mindset skill levels and just really giving people the confidence to go out and do the things that we're talking about on this podcast.

LP: 36:46 That's so true, Michael. Um, there, there are a lot of associations and, and there are a lot of good ones out there. I mean it's not, um, I'm going to be biased. Uh, I'll tell you right up front with the ICB USA and the ICB network, I don't know if you noticed that, but I do work for them and uh, I committed myself here. I moved to the ICB purposely because of their global perspective and their passion to the profession. So let me start it off with the difference between certification that you get from a course or a program or school and what a professional body certification means because they're both good. There's nothing wrong with either one, but they're different in what they represent. The certification that you get from a course or program, and it could say you've been certified as a professional bookkeeper from universal or Ben Robinson or college university.

LP: 37:45 What they've done basically is they've tested you on the theory and the knowledge base related to being able to do the services or understanding the concepts. It's related in that profession or in that a study. And that's always useful because you do need that. Now in bookkeeping, a lot of people have learned, what do I call, hands on training or through mentoring. So there's other ways to learn the same knowledge. I'm not saying that it's only the lane one, one one way, but it is a good, very useful way of doing it. So I definitely rec, I always recommend some formal training as a possibility. If you're starting out or you've been in the industry for less than three or four years, the chances are formal training will not hurt you and only benefit you are professional. And I can only talk about ours because I, I cannot talk about other associations and what they do in the bookkeeping realm.

LP: 38:43 But I do know what we do and what our professional certification talks about is about, is about your future after you've been certified or your future in the profession. What we do is we test you on your professional knowledge, on your ability to apply your knowledge in an actual work environment. Um, and our exam is a general exam which covers a lot of different areas where you should have a certain level of expertise, some very high expertise, some general knowledge and some basic knowledge. So that way when you get certified by the ICB, the customer knows that you've achieved a very high level standard at professional bookkeeping. And what we do on top of that, it's not just the certification that matters because once you pass our professional exam, then you have to keep that certification. You have to have a certain amount of continuing education requirements.

LP: 39:37 And for us it's 40 hours a year. A 20 hours have to be verifiable, meaning you have to somehow show us evidence that you've gotten to a specific course or program, uh, on an annual basis. And the other 20 is self-taught. They, whatever you use to continuously to keep up and, and we want, we don't ask you to be very specific as of yet. We are developing it to be in different categories, but right now we've allowed it to be very general. And the reason why we picked general is because a professional bookkeeper needs more than just understanding one component of a business cycle. Nowadays they have to know a lot more about the business cycle for their customer. Uh, technology, uh, inputs, outputs, audit trails, you know, uh, cash flows. And so for them just naming a few things that professional bookkeepers provide nowadays as a small business owner.

LP: 40:33 So that, that's another part that professional certification brings you that, that a certification from a school does not. The next one is we provide a code of conduct. So our certification is tied into our code of conduct. You have to perform based on our code. If you do not, then you put your certification, uh, in jeopardy. So you have a code of conduct, continuing education, and professional certification. Those are the three things that are very specific to a, an association and professional based certification compared to a school-based. The other thing that we do, and I'm not sure about the other associations, is that once you have our certification, once you've been certified by us as a professional bookkeeper, what we do is the exam kits constantly updated and modified to meet net, uh, the future needs of the, of the customer, your customers or of the profession.

LP: 41:29 So that every two or three years there'll be a brand new exam. So what happens is that people that are being certified behind you are always going to be at the top level. The exam doesn't get stale dated. And that is very important. And the reason why we have the opportunity as a profession is our goal is to make sure that we're the leaders. So we're constantly looking at what are the needs of the customer based on our profession for next year and the year after. And that means that we have to make sure our exam modifies and is up to that date. So I would say that in two or three or four years down the road, the certification requirements to become a professional bookkeeper at the ICB will change. It will not be the same as it is today. I can guarantee you that you'll probably have more requirements or more issues, or I might have more different types of components of the exam. So that's why when people ask me, what's the difference, that's the big difference. And then being part of the associations, being part of the community, this is where a bookkeepers don't have the same access as a lot of, uh, accounting bodies do. I know bookkeepers on islands and being part of the ICB brings you all in. And it also brings in the global component. You're not just part of the USA network. You're, you're part of the world network of ICB.

MP: 42:51 It's wonderful Lou, and so many, you know, it's just, you, just, everything you were saying just opens up, you know, you can, you, you stop and you go, whoa. I think a listener needs to go, whoa. You know what? I do a lot of stuff that's pretty awesome. And there's a lot as well. It's probably daunting to think. Yeah, there's a lot that, I don't know. There's a lot that's going to be coming at me that I'm not prepared for. So, so many, so many benefits to belonging to an association like this. And you know, as Louie mentioned, there's lots of great ones out there and I know Louie and the ICB USA is a fantastic organization that will support you and your journey of being the bookkeeper of the future. So it's so great to have you, Louie. I know we're going to have your back and I want to just keep on downloading your, your, your brilliance and the things that you've learned throughout your career and you know, you're just so committed to helping bookkeepers in the world be successful and build businesses that they love. And that's why you're a big friend of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast.

LP: 43:49 Well, I want to thank you for this opportunity. I always enjoy coming on and by all means, anytime you'd like me to come on and let me know what, what I can contribute with. It'll be my pleasure.

MP: 44:00 Beautiful. Now. Louis, is there anything like if someone was really interested in looking at the ICB USA as an option for them, what's the best direct route that they can do that?

LP: 44:11 Well, thank you, Michael. A way to find out more about us. Go to the ICB usa.org and you'll be able to get more information. If that's not enough, please contact our members services email address and we have quite a few staff members that will address any questions or queries or how to sign up.

MP: 44:30 Beautiful. I love it. I recommend anybody that is listening that wants to take their profession right to a new level. Take that action, go do it you, your life will change. Your mindset will change in your business. We'll see a result, amazing investment that you can make in your business. Louis, this has been great. I know we're going to have you back again, but I just want to thank you on behalf of all of our listeners. Thank you.

LP: 44:55 Thank you, Michael. It was a pleasure.

MP: 45:01 Absolutely. Now everybody listening right now, I want you to look up and I want you to hold your head high because just after listening to this podcast episode, how can you not think that you are doing one of the greatest things you can do in the business world, which is helping small business owners be more successful in their business? The work you do is honorable. Keep doing it, keep working hard to do it better, and I wish you all the best until we talk. Again, this has been a lot of fun and that will wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests, get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP95: Adele Spraggon - Change Negative Patterns & Unleash Your Potential

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Our guest, Adele Spraggon, who is the CEO of Shaped Within, struggled with a lot of subconscious patterns.

She quit 3 viable businesses, business partners, and sponsors. She even attended personal development programs to help her but didn't work out.

Adele started to journal and created a highly effective 4 step technique that removes unwanted patterns.

She created her own solution and it completely changed her life.

Today, she speaks to hundreds of people about how to recognize when they are sabotaging their dreams. 

She also shows women entrepreneurs how to break through their limiting blocks and step into leadership roles in all areas of life.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of embracing being uncomfortable

  • How the 4 step technique works

  • The guides that will help you take on leadership roles

To learn more about Adele, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Facebook, check this out.

For her Twitter, discover here.


Michael Palmer: 01:07 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. Our guest believes in you mastering your genius. She's really a guide in your life that helps you take on leadership roles with ease, communicate confidently, improve your relationships, and transform anything negative in your past, into an empowering future. Adele Spraggon, Welcome to the podcast.

Adele Spraggon: 01:36 Thank you, Michael. Terrific to be here.

MP: 01:39 Well, thank you so much on behalf of, of the listener for being here and giving us your time today. Now before we get into the brilliant work you do, I absolutely love reading. I've started reading your book. I absolutely love it. I've known you for a long time and I love your message and the work that you do is just literally a gift to the planet. So before we do get into all of that, Adele, please share with our listener a bit of your backstory and how you became an Adele Spraggon today.

AS: 02:12 Well, that's an awesome question. Um, you know, whenever somebody says to me, why do you do what you do? I always say, do I have a choice? Or maybe listeners can relate, like entrepreneurship is more like a calling, right? But how I got to be here is, um, I really struggled with it. A lot of subconscious patterns which were preventing me from feeling powerful. Um, I actually started three highly successful businesses and quit them. As soon as I started to get up to a level of success, I just turned tail and I just ran away. And so I'd walked away from three business partners. I'd walked away from three sponsors who had paid for all my initiatives and I was just beside myself frankly. And so I also struggled with panic attacks. I've, I had at the time, I had about 10 years of daily panic attacks every morning at 2:00 AM I would wake up in a panic.

AS: 03:06 So at this point, and I tried everything Michael, like a lot of your listeners may have as they struggle with things, but it keeping them stuck. I tried every personal development program on the market that I could find and nothing seemed to be really working. So anyway, I reflected and by myself, I actually started to use my journal and I came up with this four-step re-patterning technique, which completely changed my life. And because of that I thought, okay, I don't have a choice. I have to go and teach this to people. And so I started teaching it and boy, like lives all over the, all over the planet really are being transformed through this technique. So it's extremely powerful and yeah.

MP: 03:53 Wow. It is a, I mean that is a calling. I love that you called it that and you discovered it and created it. How did you come about this actual solution? And I've read a little a bit about your book and I think it's, it's, it's an interesting take on like you went and looked all over the place for the solution, but yet you ended up creating your own solution, which I think is incredible.

AS: 04:17 Yeah. Yeah. I, well, the night I quit, but they asked him that I quit my third business and I took my, my business partner held for dinner and I looked in her eyes and I told her, you know, I'm quitting. And I looked in her eyes and I just saw this look of disappointment. Just come over her face. And before my other two business partners had been angry. But this look of disappointment really woke me up. It was like, Whoa, what am I doing? And so that night, you know, like many people do when they have a problem, I was tossing and I was turning and I just could not sleep. And about two o'clock in the morning I got up and I grabbed my journal and I just started writing and mostly I was just writing a word and I just kept on underlining it.

AS: 05:01 I was crying like, why am I doing this? Why, why, why? And believe it or not, my pen started writing and I started reading the words that were written there and what was being written there was just making the Harris on the back of my neck stand up because here was my pen telling me the, the reason I was quitting has nothing to do with the situation out there. You know, I was blaming everything and everybody and myself and it was saying no. The real reason Adele is because you have pattern of quitting, change the pattern and you'll never quit again. Well that was profound. I didn't even know what a pattern was at the time. And so I kept writing and it this entire new philosophy, this new perspective started to unfold on those pages, and it's one that so empowering, so affirming and liberating.

AS: 05:56 It was just remarkable to me. Like I said, the hairs on the back of my neck just stood up. My background, Michael is and meditation. I'm a meditation facilitator. I've been meditating 25 years and what this journal was showing me was that I could have those results that I was looking for through meditation inside of a two minute technique done inside the privacy of my own head. At first I didn't believe it, but as I started to apply it, it was like, wow, holy crap. That's true. I'm actually getting where I where I would hope to have been after 25 years inside of months. So it was just remarkable.

AS: 06:36 It is

AS: 06:37 people, and they get those results too at that, at that speed of transformation. So it is a very, very powerful way of doing life.

MP: 06:47 It's, it's remarkable. And you know, it's just, Eh, I'm used the word magic before. It's, it's magical in terms of the knowledge. Where did that knowledge come from? How did it get there? You know, it took what to get there. You know, maybe it was 25 years of you doing this work on yourself to be ready to receive a message like that. But it really is magical. And, and you've mentioned results. What I, you know, some of the people, what, how have you worked with them? They come to you and they say, you know, I'm, I'm dealing with this problem. What kind of problems are you helping solve?

AS: 07:23 Well, really I do work with a wide variety of people, but one of my primary group of clients that I work with is entrepreneurs because in my eyes, if I can help one entrepreneur, then I can help hundreds of people. Because entrepreneurs, the gifts that they bring to the planet is tremendous. So your people working with bookkeepers base support, other entrepreneurs who are doing fantastic stuff and that support is amazing right there. They're there back a hand, know the right hand for everybody to go forward. So I love working with entrepreneurs and helping them to get on Spec and to be fulfilled. I also work with capital that if I can start with some entrepreneurial stories from no one at one of the woman I worked with, she uh, oh wait, I just did a workshop this weekend and she was struggling with money for a long time and she just came into this workshop just to review and you know, I said, how's it going?

AS: 08:26 I hadn't seen her for a couple of months and she said to me, Adele, do you know I have more money today sitting in my bank account than I made in an entire year before working with you? And I went, wow. Like you know, she's just has this freedom around making money and she just walks up to people in her for money and she has no qualms about it whatsoever. So that's just one result and it's just this complete liberation on, can I, can I make, can I reach out there? Can I take risks, ride those waves. Do what you need to do and the honor to make your business flow and just get the money that you need in order to flourish and succeed. So I work with people around sales. I work with people around standing on a stage and presenting anything really that's in their way of being successful.

MP: 09:21 Wow. So, so essentially, I mean, it's remarkable results and this, this person essentially had something in their way and you work with people's patterns and they, you help them identify those patterns and turn those patterns, rewire those patterns, if you will, into patterns at work and get them what they want.

AS: 09:43 Yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the things that really bugged me out there in the market is this one stop shop kind of approach right here. Let me tell you what the solution is for you. But everybody is unique and so whatever somebody is stuck, it's not a one stop solution. It's not a bandaid. It's like we've got to dig in there. We got to figure out what the problem is, figure out which patterns are unworkable and then work to remove.

AS: 10:10 And that's always unique to every individual.

MP: 10:21 I can imagine. I am refreshing to hear it. So we've tackled one for entrepreneurs. What about relationships? How have you been able to impact people in relationship?

AS: 10:31 So a couple of come to me who are on the verge of divorce and they are, this is usually they're okay and we're, we're either gonna split up or are we going to give it one more try? Right. And so I again, I work with them each individually. We look at what are their patterns individually that are preventing them from having that happy, healthy relationship that they want. And then each person removes their individual patterns and as they do that, the other person shows a brand new. You know, there's one thing Michael, that I always say the biggest gift you can give another person is to allow that person to show up brand new every time you see them. And that's the gift that the couple of gives each other. And when they give them each other about gifts, it's like, oh that conflict, all of that negativity just melts away. And the empathy and the closeness, the connection is incredible. I mean, I worked with one couple, they went from being on the verge of divorce to being newlyweds again within eight weeks, then now building a business together. Believe it or not, we all know how much conflict that creates and yet they're just failing through happily and really supporting each other. So it's amazing to watch.

MP: 11:45 That's fantastic. It's beautiful. And so you say that again. So the way they're showing up each other is they are being, was it a new version or say that again?

AS: 11:58 Yeah. So the biggest gift that you can give another person is to allow that person to show up brand new every time you see them.

MP: 12:06 Got It. So it's the, it's me giving them the gift of like they're brand new. When I see them, like my wife for instance, she walks in the door and it's like the first time I've ever seen her.

AS: 12:17 Yeah, yeah.

MP: 12:18 That's powerful.

AS: 12:19 And then you, you wait for her to say something and then she, you get to know her based on how she's behaving and she's doing the same gift for you. And it's, it's truly, yeah, it's very, very powerful. And the beautiful part is, is as you do it for another, you start to do it for yourself. And that's really powerful because a lot of us struggle with past histories that bring, I'm not getting enough messages or shame or you know, all sorts of stuff. And when we allow ourselves to show up brand new and get to know ourselves in every situation, it's like, wow, like all of that in a conflict, all of that negativity, all of those not good enough voices, they just melt away.

MP: 13:04 Hmm. Magical. I absolutely love it. So you know, you could have just listening here, I could see how powerful this can be for people, not just in relationship, but yes, entrepreneurs, business people, staff of those businesses, everyone can benefit. Tell me a little bit more and help the listener understand what, what does, what is it a pattern?

AS: 13:26 Yeah, great question. So the easiest way to think about patterns is think of yourself as an iceberg. And at the top of the surface of the water is everything that you do, all your actions that you take, all of your beliefs and all of your behaviors. Both conscious and subconscious. Under the water is where the patterns lie. And so a pattern is simply an intertwined, super cold sensation. Emotion under thought. When all three aspects about being comes together, it creates a particular action. So patterns are there in order for you to take an action or to hold a belief or to have a behavior and those live under the water. So all that we do is we go in and we identify those patterns first of all, and then there's a four step technique to just remove it. So it's really a method of subtraction versus a method of addition is the easiest way to say it. So most people try to co, most programs try to correct something that is perceived to wrong. It's about fixing something that's broken. This is about just removing what isn't working. So patterns aren't good or bad. They either work or they don't work. And we just look for the ones that don't work. And then just remove them. And then that action, that behavior, that belief, just to just go the way this disappears.

MP: 14:46 Remarkable. So our listener listening right now, they've maybe never heard of something like this. What would be the first thing, not likely, not a, and some remarkable results? I, I mean, I'd be surprised if there weren't a listener listening or thinking I'd like some of that. Uh, what's the, what would be one step that they could take today while listening or after they've listened that would, would help them start to move towards some of the wonderful results you're speaking about?

AS: 15:20 Yeah, great question. So, um, well I would say one is the not working. That is the first question that you need to ask. So let's, let's give some examples, right? Let's say that they are not getting the clients that they need in order to take their business to the next level. So the first question to ask is not what do I need to do, but where am I trying to get to? And then what's in the way of me getting there? So for example, let's say that they, that your listeners says, I need to bring in a hundred clients over the next three months. What is preventing them from bringing in those three, those hundred clients? Is it that they're not picking up the phone and making phone call? Is it that they're not generating leads? Is it that they're not, uh, they're afraid to get on the stage and speak about what they do?

AS: 16:13 Right? So the first thing that they need to ask is what is in the way of me accomplishing that goal? And then that's the top of the iceberg. So that's the action behavior belief. Then you want to close your eyes, look inside yourself and identify the physical sensation, emotion and thought that is preventing you from taking that action. So is it fear? Is there some, you know, and it can be anything like we never know. We have to start digging in there and find out. But what is it that's preventing that action from taking place? I mean, emotion always speaks louder than our logic. We can tell ourselves, yes, I need to phone 10 clients today. But if the emotion is fear, the odds of you being able to push past that boundary and you can phone those 10 clients or potential clients, it's cute. Very, very, very, very likely chance you won't unless you have a pattern for commitment, which allows you to do that. Hopefully that makes sense.

MP: 17:21Kind of. It's like, it's like you're, you're removing some pieces and inserting certain pieces, which is, it's very interesting because if you think about it, it's, if, if we simply try and remove something, I mean in most situations, you know, you know, like we're fixing a car, right? And I'm sorry I use these analogies in my car just in the last couple of episodes. But if we're taking our car to get the car fixed and just roll, the tires are broken, we take the tires off, it's like, well, that doesn't fix anything. We need to replace it with something that actually will support it, like new tires or, uh, something along those lines. So this is very interesting in that often I think for myself, just in terms of my own performance, I'm often, oh, if only I wasn't doing it that way or could do something differently, it would be better. And really it's, it's, it's, it's a combination or a formula that needs to be rewired to actually create the lasting change that you're talking about.

AS: 18:24 Yeah. So we tend to think only about solution without first removing the problem. So like you're saying, you have to take out off the old tire that's broken before you can put a new one on. Most people just try and pick a new one on top and that actually creates another problem. So the solution that we come up with inside an an unworkable pattern often just creates the next problem. Does that make sense?

MP: 18:51 It does, yeah.

AS: 18:52 We take away that that old pattern or one that's not working. Now that we have room for the new solution to come into play.

MP: 19:02 Excellent. Now what resistance do you have with clients like this is people start taking this on. Do you find people instantly succeed or do they, does it take a while for them too to get traction?

AS: 19:19 Uh, it takes six weeks in the beginning to learn the technique. And the reason is if you, if you think about how the brain is wired, so neuroscience is really catching up now to what the Buddha told us 2,500 years ago. Um, that we can, we can actually rewire our brain was basically what he was trying to say without the understanding of neuroscience. So if you think about how the brain is wired up, we have these channels that are knitted together that bring you the particular information or ways of seeing the world, our perspective, our worldview. And as you start applying this technique, you start to weaken those neurons but a Nessa together and as you apply it daily, over a six week process, those neurons weekends, the point where they pull apart and then they snap into different channels. And that's what brings us solution.

AS: 20:12 It's that pulling apart of the old and snapping into new channel where suddenly a whole new world view a whole new perspective comes into being. And that's, that's that magical element that you're hearing, right? That in the beginning it does take that six weeks of consistent application. Now as you keep applying it, as you keep going, this, this technique speeds up. The brain gets used to working with its own plasticity and it gets used to rewiring itself faster and faster and faster to the point where, you know, now I can do it in, but it doesn't take booths at all. Um, but in the beginning it does take something. Now this technique itself as simple, simple as heck, Michael, it's four steps, but it's so simple. Simple is not easy. And because the brain likes to complicate things, we like to try and understand things at a deep level when really if we just apply the four step, it would work so much more effective. But you know, human being, but human beings and, and complications come into play. So yeah, in the beginning it's like consistent application, learning something new. And then at six weeks you started to get those magical results and then things just start to roll from there.

MP: 21:27 Hmm. So how do you take people through this? I mean, it's sounding very interesting and you know, we think we were very much aware of software on computers in this day and age. I mean 25,000 years ago with the Buddha. Yeah. There were talk about apps and Ios and all this other stuff, but the idea of having some new software and having it running and once you get that software running better, yeah, we've all had the new phone where it's like, Ooh, this thing's awesome. Uh, you know, and then eventually it, it kind of degrades a bit because it needs another upgrade perhaps. So this process, what does it look like to upgrade the software? It's just doing these exercises in over the eight weeks

MP: 22:12 if it's done in the privacy of your own head. So it's just four steps that you learn. I can give you a step one if that would help.

AS: 22:20 I love stuff.

AS: 22:20 Step one is, okay, so step one is you would identify the pattern. So something in your life that's not working. So, no, I'm just going to make something up here. So let's say the two leadership issues and you've got an employee that's not working for you. Okay. Or not doing what you expect them to do. And so rather than going and speaking to the employee, you would turn in would and you would say, okay, so I've got this employee, you would think about this employee and then you would ask yourself, what's the emotion that's arising in my body? And then where do I feel that emotion? So where is it physically? And then what is the one thought that pops into my head when I think about the situation. So it might be anger for example, it might be a set jaw that you noticed and the thought might be they are not doing what I told them to do.

AS: 23:17 So that that is the pattern. Then. So you've just done step one against by the pattern and then the next two steps take, take the process of pulling that pattern apart and then the fourth step you would be able to create an pattern. So very simple done in the privacy of your own head. Something like I said, that as you get better at it, you can do on the fly, go walking up to the microphone to do a speech. You Notice, oh, I'm feeling uncomfortable here. You'd just be applying the four steps on the steps up to the microphone and boom, you arrive when you, you entire behavior is different as you hit that mic, right?

AS: 24:01 Did that answer your question?

MP: 24:03 Yeah, it did. It's exciting. I mean it's like, okay. It's a very simple, like you say, we try to, as a human being, we want to overcomplicate things. I never do that every day, but it's a very simple way to really rewire every set your, your, your software, your operating system to get the results that you want in life. And that's exciting and it's, and it's, and it's empowering and that this can be done just in your mind and, and over a period of time. Now I know that you have some brilliant free resources on your website about how our listener and, and people that they know and people in their lives, even anybody can use to get on stock and then stay on stock. Can you tell us a little bit about that because I think that's a great next step for everyone listening.

AS: 24:54 If there's something in their way, and you've mentioned a few things that I actually think that the a hundred I mean, I know our listeners, many of them want clients, right? Not just any clients and want great clients and they want to be paid more. They want to earn more and to get there, they have to do things that they're uncomfortable doing. I mean, one of our mattress in our community is to embrace being uncomfortable and doing things that are new, uh, because that's where you find new results in new, new, uh, opportunities. And so we know that there's all sorts of results. Now, a hundred clients is going to be overwhelming for every listener to like a hundred. So let's call it five. But whether it's new clients or hiring some staff or you know, there's just things in your way, I think this will be a great next step for them to go and start actually rewiring their thinking for greater success.

AS: 25:45 Then can I, can I add one thing in there, Michael?

AS: 25:50 I always advise people never push past your comfort zone. Um, believe it or not. Now as I say that, I am aware that everything that somebody wants is outside the current comfort zone. But when we push up against the boundaries, patterns are designed to keep us safe and those patterns start pushing back. And that's why it's a somewhat uncomfortable and B, why it's oftentimes the case that you can only push so far before you retreat back. Right? Like I did. So I was pushing, pushing, pushing to get my business into existence. I want those three businesses and so existence. But eventually, those pushing those patterns just push me back into the safety of where, who I used to be and said, no, you're not going any further. We're quitting. Right? And that, that's what tends to happen though. I always advise, please don't past your whole thing is to look for where you're uncomfortable and remove the pattern and then you're just stepping forward with it. There is no,

MP: 26:51 I love it.

AS: 26:52 I actually, I really liked that and I think it's an opportunity for us to upgrade our thinking around being uncomfortable and so what language could we use that would be empowering us to embrace the being uncomfortable. I don't know what the language might be, but how would you, you know there is this the waves.

MP: 27:13 Right, right, right.

AS: 27:15 Then the bigger the waves, the more excitement the better they become because once you've got this tool in your pocket, it's like, yeah, bring it on, bring it on. There is nothing that's going to stop me.

MP: 27:25 Beautiful. So ride the wave is to just ride the wave and explore. I'm going to talk to you offline about that because I really, I like the energy of that.

AS: 27:38 And I think I want to have our mantra because we have a manager that we, we talk about every month around success and we, we sorta set the stage and I'd love to upgrade that with empowering, empowering language that works with the wiring of your brain, which you're an expert in. And I think if we add some improvement, there will be naturally moving people forward to, to break through these different areas in their life.

MP: 28:03 Beautiful.

AS: 28:04 Yes, of course. I'd love that.

MP: 28:06 That's great. Okay, well tell us about these, these resources where they can go and find them on your website and what they should expect.

AS: 28:15 Yeah. So go to www.Adelespraggon.com so my full name and A, d, e, l, e, just like the singer s, p, r, a double g o n.com. And there you'll find lots of free resources. There's a three part video series, which will really teach you how to get unstuck. There is a free strategy call they can book. So yeah, start there, Adelespraggon.com grab that three part video series and you'll be on your way.

MP: 28:48 Beautiful. Well that, that's awesome. We're going to have the links literally right there on your phone. If you're listening or you're on the computer, just look down and you'll find the link where you can go right to Adele's website and get those free resources and begin your journey of riding the wave. I love that. I'm wearing my shirt today. Again, I wear this shirt very often every day California. It's like I'm going to have to get a couple of pairs of it cause for me it's all about riding the wave and chilling out and just literally having fun with whatever we're doing in the day.

AS: 29:21 Yes. Whooping and hollering all the way to success.

MP: 29:24 Exactly. I think we're going to, I'm working the brand for the people that, uh, so I've mentioned this shirt a few episodes. Going to be like, Michael, you wear that shirt every day. We're going to have to send you some new shirts. Adele, this has been fantastic. I thank you much for being so generous with the work that you're doing and thank you for the work that you're, the results are creating in the world, but as well coming, taking your time to help our listener, you know, challenge, deal with the challenges in their life. You know, there, there are people out there that every day are working hard to help small business owners like you and like the people that so many people, you know, that make our communities great. So they thank you. I know. And hopefully, they can get the work that you're doing and take it further in their life.

AS: 30:09 Yeah, no, I don't know where I'd be without my bookkeepers. So you guys are amazing.

MP: 30:14 Yes they are. Yes they are. You're all amazing. Give yourselves a big hug from Adel and for me and Adel. I know we're going to have you back on the show in the future to tackle more of this and see what else you're up to creating in the world.

AS: 30:30 Thank you. Thanks, Michael. Awesome to be here.

MP: 30:34 Thank you. That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's fabulous guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP94: Lisa Campbell-Marchese - Know Your Value By Implementing Systems In Your Bookkeeping Business

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Do you know your worth?

Our returning guest, Lisa Campbell-Marchese, owner of The Marcam Group, has 27 years of experience in the bookkeeping industry. In the beginning, she struggled in her business and worried about getting things done on time or missing a deadline.

She sought help from the Pure Bookkeeping System and started implementing systems into her business.

The results were incredible.

It kept her organized and her clients trust her more because she doesn't miss any deadlines. 

It helped her grow as an individual because she knows she has more value and expanded her business beyond what she expected. 

Now, she has more control over her work day regardless of how many clients she has. She's freed up, and spends more time on what is important.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of day-to-day documentation

  • Why focusing on the value you create for your clients is important

  • What systems or guides you should use for your bookkeeping business

Watch the webinar mentioned in this episode:

How Workflow Automation Software Can Put Your Business Success On Autopilot

To listen to her previous podcast episode, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:30 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our return guest is a Pure Bookkeeping North American licensee and has 25 years experience in the bookkeeping industry. She's the owner of the Mark Ham group and I'm happy to chat with her again. Lisa Campbell-Marchese welcome back to the podcast. 

Lisa Campbell-Marchese: 01:54 Thanks, Michael. It's great to be here. 

MP: 01:55 It's small, it's great to have you. And I'm so excited to hear, it's actually exactly one year ago, this actually 13 months ago cause you were, you were here with us May 2017. That was episode 35. And if listeners are listening at is an awesome episode, go back and listen to that one. But uh, I'd love to, we're going to talk about some updates where you've been, how you've improved upon your business. But before we get into all of that, can you tell the listeners, for the listeners who are just meeting you for the first time, a little bit about yourself and your journey thus far? 

LCM: 02:31 Oh sure. It's been quite the journey how case, so I've been a bookkeeper for a long, long time, kind of on a part-time basis. And in about 2012 2013 that's when I started to focus on really becoming more of a full-time business. And at that point I really didn't even know that I could turn it into a business that was more than me and people were skeptical saying, you know, how are you going to turn this into a business? You're a bookkeeper. My thought was, will you just me? And so that's when I received an email from you, Michael, regarding your seven secrets of growing your bookkeeping, those lists. And that kind of wowed me. When I listened to that Webinar and I watched everything that was involved in your bookkeeping system, I was really quite wowed and I decided that this was a journey that I needed to take. 

LCM: 03:21 And so I spoke with you and looked into implementing systems in my business because I was at a point where I was pulling my hair out and I was up all night and, and you know, waking up in the middle of the night because things got really, really busy and out of hand and I couldn't find things. And truthfully, when I was looking into getting into pure bookkeeping systems, it was more to kind of organize myself because I felt really maxed out. And that system has taught me that I can expand, but my bookkeeping business beyond anything I ever imagined when I first started this journey. And there's so much to this slide, I think we need to take it in stages, Michael. 

MP: 04:05 Yeah, well I love, I remember the call our first call together and remember you sharing your vision of where he wanted to take your business. And I was, I was so pleased to see you make such rapid gains in your, in your business. And I think it's a testament to you once you like, just like you said, you know, look, people said, hey, oh, you know, you're going to be able to build a business. I don't know. And you're like, I'll show you. Just watch me. I think that says a lot about you as an individual about just going and taking action, which is so, yeah. 

LCM: 04:38 Well, I mean it is a little intimidating to dive in, but I'll tell you, I couldn't have done it without the support of pure bookkeeping because the system is what guides you. It makes you, it holds you accountable. It makes you take the steps that you need to take to get where you want to go. I could not be where I am right now had I not taken the leap and, and you know, invested in a system that is amazing. I mean, I've never seen a system like your bookie thing. Um, and it's just, it's really helped me kind of grow as an individual as well. 

MP: 05:15 Beautiful. Well, thank you for sharing it and we're, we're proud of what we've, what we've built and what the community has built and contributes. I mean, it's not just pure bookkeeping but the entire community that, uh, of great people like you, but keepers like you that support each other and getting the results in their business. Uh, I'd love for you to share a little bit about where you are now because you've done a lot of work and in those first, uh, couple of months of starting, you made some gains. Share a little bit about that and what your life is like now. Because I think that's inspiring for our listener to hear that, you know, the having the business that they love, that gives them the type of lifestyle that they want as well as the income that they want and freedom that they want. I think that's really inspiring to hear others who have gone in and built it. 

LCM: 06:08 Well, I can tell you that, you know, in the beginning when I first started turning it into more of a, I, I say business, but we all know it's a practice because if it's just you, it's a practice, you do the work, you don't get paid. And I never really thought about, you know, what happens after this. So I maxed my time out and I maxed my rate out, which I thought was inappropriate rate at that time. Turns out it wasn't, it was much lower. And at that point I really had, you know, two big clients and a few small ones. And when you put all your eggs in one basket like that, you can run into trouble. And I actually did, I lost one of those clients. I went through a rough time and I lost kind of track of what I was doing and I lost one of them. 

LCM: 06:46 But what happened, it was because I had the system sort of building up and, and showing me how things should be done properly and how that equates to my value as a bookkeeper. Because I am a good bookkeeper. I know what I'm doing and I don't, I don't skimp on things. I think it's really important to, you know, dot all your i's and cross all your t's. It's, it guided me along to a point where I knew that I could grow this based on the systems that were in place, regardless of how many clients I had at the time. Because new clients come along all the time and in the beginning you will take every single client you get because you think, oh wow, somebody wants my business. So I'll take them. And you get those people that just do not value what you do. 

LCM: 07:33 They have no respect for your knowledge and they become a pain. Like they're just more hassle than their work. So what happens when you start implementing systems and, and learning how to grow and recognizing your value is you get to a point where you not only have control over your work day, but you also get to pick and choose your clients because you're now in demand. Your clients know that you get things done on time. You don't miss deadlines because of your systems that you've got in place. You don't spend time struggling to find, where did I put this file? Where did I put that file? You know where everything is at the drop of a hat, it's, it's so systematic. You can also now bring someone else in because you can train, they'd learn pure bookkeeping system. They know your processes, you've already evaluated them as a bookkeeper. 

LCM: 08:21 You bring someone else in, they're doing things exactly the same way you're doing it and you're now freed up. You can move on to things that are more important to you. You're still picking and choosing your clients because now you have more value. Which I found by the way, just in the first year of of implementing PBS, my value went up tremendously because I recognized that I was putting more work into smaller clients that weren't really appreciative. Whereas I could use the knowledge that I had and the experience that I had to attract those more high end clients. Know basically your business. That's what you want. 

MP: 08:57 Mm. So, so awesome. And now you talked a little bit about systems and I think it's it for those that are listening that don't know what a system is because often people think of software, it's like a a software system, right? But really systems and process is different standard operating procedures. It's like a guide that it's like this is how you do it right down to the nth degree. Talk a little bit about that, right? To help our listener understand what a great system should look like in your business. 

LCM: 09:30 Okay, well first of all I recommend everybody reads the email bookkeeper that that really helps you to understand why a system is important because your business cannot operate without you. If you don't have a system in place and if you don't have a business that can operate without you, you are basically a slave to your business. You can't grow. So a system is when everything that needs to be done in your processes is documented and it's very granular. You have literally checklists for each procedures. So that would involve things like payroll, processing, source deductions, HST onboarding, client documents. You have everything in one place. So when you don't have a system in place, a client calls you up, it needs, you know, you may have your own internal checklist of, of things that you need to get from the client. You may not, you may have it all in your head. 

LCM: 10:24 If you have it in your head, it is imperative that you document it because every time you, you bring on a new client, you need to go do the same procedure over and over again. Uh, and you miss things along the way. And then you'll six months in, you think, oh Geez, I never asked the guy for his articles of incorporation. Well, that's something that a good bookkeeper would have at the very beginning. You make sure you have all of your documents in place so that you can move forward and provide the best service for that client. So systems, I don't know how to explain it, it's, it's, I cannot even imagine at this point going backwards to working without a system. You are frazzled. A system will not only enable you to grow, it will enable you to have peace of mind because you know that things are done and they're done right. 

MP: 11:15 Beautiful. I think it's beautifully said. I mean it helps people understand and, and really thank you for the recommendation on E-myth bookkeeper, which was written by, uh, Debbie Roberts, our cofounder and Peter Cook, our cofounder of course, Michael Gerber, who is, who is the, the, the king if you will, or the, what do they call him? LCM: 11:35 The Guru. He is the system-driven Guru, that Inc magazine called him the world's greatest small business coach. Really Excellent. 

MP: 11:46 Yeah. Excellent. Excellent stuff. I've loved. I love Michael Gerber. So it's a, a good read. Uh, and we'll give definitely the listener understanding of system, how to build a system driven business. Now do systems. How did systems help you though, as a solo, as a solo practitioner, as a, did it help you when you were just yourself working with yourself? 

LCM: 12:06 Oh, absolutely. And that was my big question to you at the beginning. Is this going to help me? And you assured me that it would, and it did because it helped me gather my existing clients and put things in order. Even just the filing system. So the protocols for filing within your systems, I don't really know how to explain it to people that aren't familiar with the system, but there's a protocol that we follow for filing documents for filing reports, which reports are filed, how they're labeled. Um, that in itself allowed be to be far more efficient because I knew where everything was, I could find things so quickly. So let's say for example, you have, you know, let's say five clients and they've all got different aspects to their business and you have, you know, a client folder, let's say it's on Dropbox or whether it's on your desktop, Google docs, it doesn't matter, but you don't really have a format for filing things. 

LCM: 13:00 So let's say your client calls you up and says, oh, I need to know something about this, this or this. And you now have to go through that file folder and figure out where did you put it. And I've been in that spot where I'd been embarrassed on the phone because somebody is on the phone waiting for information and I can't remember where I put the file. So when you have a system in place, you don't even question it, you know exactly where it is. It's immediate because it's the same for each client, which also makes it the same for your staff. They have no issues. 

MP: 13:29 Beautiful. Well, that's that streamlining and that, so you essentially streamlined your entire practice as a solo, which gave you better efficiency. Billability did deliver a better product to your clients and now you've got staff. And so that's where you've started to leverage and, and what's, what's life like now as opposed to then with staff and systems and process and your life? 

LCM: 13:55 Oh, life now is I, you know, get the kids to school in the morning and I get organized. I get on my computer about 9:30 I work and by 5:00 at the latest, my computer is shut off my clients. No, don't contact me at night. I do not work on the weekends. And I make sure that I, you know, if I take on a new project, I made sure that I have the time to do it within my regular business hours. I don't sit there at night and wonder what I've forgotten to do. I don't panic over the weekend. I don't work on the weekend and stress myself out. That family time is really important to me. So having, it's allowed me to basically have a nine to five job with freedom to take time off to go to my kids' events at school or run out to the doctor, dentist, whatever I need to do because I know everything is in order. 

MP: 14:40 Beautiful. Yeah, I love it. I love it. It's a family first and, and you've built a business that's delivered the promise. Uh, I don't think there's many business out there that I can say they, they've actually had the promise of having their own business delivered to them, which is, you know, people want to make more money. They want to have more freedom and have more fun. And it looks like you've been able to do that for yourself and your, your, the true winner is your family. 

LCM: 15:09 Oh yeah. Family is very important. I've, I've done that from the beginning. I don't want to be sitting in a, in an office and worrying about doing what the kids are doing and I mean my kids are a little bit older now, but at the time when I was starting, you know, it was very important for me to be home, create an income, but also be available for my kids if the school calls and like, you know, I'm around the corner. So that's been a huge, huge benefit. And let me touch on the money that there for a second. If you focus on the money, you're going to have an issue. What you need to do is focus on the value that you're creating for your client by implementing systems because then you're at your best. The money will come naturally because your value has just shot through the roof. 

MP: 15:51 I love that. And natural price, natural price pressure and natural attraction of more money just simply by working on delivering more value. 

LCM: 16:01 Yeah, I mean you, you do get what you pay for it. You've heard that saying, if you, if you hire an ama issue thing, if you think it's expensive to hire a pro, wait until you hire an amateur. Do you know that saying? 

MP: 16:12 Yeah, absolutely. 

LCM: 16:13 Yeah. So I mean it's just, it's a natural flow. If you, if you put everything in place, you're giving that client the very best that you can give them and, and you're, you're, the money just comes naturally. Don't focus on the money. It'll happen. 

MP: 16:27 Love it. Love it. Very inspiring. Now you, you've spent a lot of time innovating as well in your practice and even with the pure bookkeeping system in terms of your suggestions and, and contributions to pure bookkeeping have been incredible. But as well, you, you said, I want to have software that automates my systems and process and you looked to jetpack workflow. Tell us a little bit like what was the turning point when you realized you needed practice management software? 

LCM: 17:02 Well. Okay, so after getting everything in place, I'm now super busy, but you know, I'm, I'm falling within the lines of what I want to do as far as work hours. Um, so I needed to have some type of system that could track dates, um, things that needed to be filed for compliance for my clients, you know, and just cleared of an overall, um, one touch record of, of phone numbers, business numbers, that sort of thing. And so I did start with another, um, software system and it didn't work out for me because it wasn't cloud-based and I came across jet pack and I find that the function of jet pack is amazing. I can access it from anywhere. If I met my client's office, which I do do occasionally, um, or I'm sitting here or I need to refer to staff or, or somebody, it's all in one place. 

LCM: 17:47 And what I found was I was creating tasks, jobs and tasks on jet pack that were very similar to, you know, the processes that I needed to follow in pure bookkeeping. And I thought, well, why wouldn't I just duplicate and put all of the processes that I need to follow in PBS on to jetpack? And so I started with a few templates. I did it with stage first, which is my least favorite socks where, I'm sorry to say, but I did start with that one because that was one of the more difficult clients with my thought. Okay, let's take all of the checklists that I need to use. If you're bookkeeping, get this client on board with jetpack and see how it goes. And the functionality of it was incredible and I kind of thought, wow, why not expand this? So I ended up adding all of the templates to jet pack that correspond to pure bookie begin. Now when I onboard a new client, I literally log into jetpacks, I dropped down whatever template I need for that client. Like if they don't have payroll, I don't need the payroll template. But if they have HSE, I need to pull that one on. You know, the anything to do with onboarding a new client, client documents, everything is right there in one touch. So that has saved me so much time and so much stress about worrying, you know, how to, how to get this client onboarded properly and how to maintain their books. 

MP: 19:07 That's incredible. And you spent a lot, I mean just hearing you talk about it, you, you spent a lot of time working on creating this. How much time do you think you've spent building out jetpack workflow for your business? 

LCM: 19:23 A lot of time. But I can tell you that anytime you put into any system that's going to streamline your business and make it more efficient is well worth it. 

MP: 19:36 The reason I ask is I want to give, you know, when you're sharing the success, it's it, it's often people will look at successful people and say, oh well they, you know, they're an overnight success and they don't see the blood, sweat, tears and the, you know, the 20 years prior that it took to get to where they're at. But what I, what I love about any great story is when an NRA, my own personal journey is when you know, the harder you work, the longer it takes. Often you, you, you get eventually get something that you truly cherish and love. And especially from a motivation standpoint for our listeners is that when you know that you're, if you're building a business, like we know what we know is a big bookkeeping business, a thriving one, a successful one, a highly profitable bookkeeping business is very, very possible. 

MP: 20:29 I mean, it's not uncommon. I mean, it's not like everybody has them because they're not doing the right things or not taking the right actions, but to know that what you're building, if you really want that, if you want to have that kind of a life, it's very possible and it just takes work. And when you in the work and the actions, you take the right actions, you will be able to have this outcome. So it's, I think it's a motivator to think every day for you, Lisa, you wake up, you're building an asset, you're building your future, you're building your retirement. And, uh, I just love hearing about it. 

LCM: 21:03 Well, that's great. And, and I can tell you as well this, this point in time is also sort of a shift for the bookkeeping world in general. Um, I know there were a few kind of new bookkeepers who were a little bit panicked with all the apps that are coming out. You know, they're, they're saying a five minute bookkeeping and you know, um, apps like, excuse me, apps like receipt bank and Hubdocs, um, that are saying they can pull the data for you. And, and you know, bookkeepers are thinking we're not going to have a business that all the stuff is going to be automated. Well, I can tell you that that's, that's not what's happening. You still need a bookkeeper who's going to put things into place. But what it does do is it eliminates a lot of the data entry that the bookkeeper needs to do. 

LCM: 21:44 And it gives us opportunities to step up our game. We are now in a position of being more in an advisory role to our clients. So it's kind of in between the bookkeeper and the accountant, but clients are now looking for more guidance from their bookkeepers. And so having your systems in place ahead of time by having put all that work in, gives you opportunity to really step up your game and be available to those clients who need more than just data entry and compliance. They want to know what can you tell us from our books? Where should we go from here? We need your help with this, this decisions. And that's where I think having all of this in place is really going to show those bookkeepers who really want to build a good business, that they are worth something very valuable to their clients and their years and years of experience is finally gonna pay off. You need to put the work in. 

MP: 22:38 Yeah, absolutely. And I love, I love that. No, it's not hard. It's really, it's actually quite simple. It does take time and it does take energy and uh, tapes moving, removing like there were, there were sacrifices that you had to make to get to where you are now. 

LCM: 22:56 Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, back then when I was setting everything up, definitely evenings and weekends they were full. I would work my full day with my clients. Uh, and then you know, I was working on my systems and yes, you're exhausted. But I had that vision in my head and I knew something could come of this. I knew that I had, I had it right in front of me. I had Pure Bookkeeping right in front of me. I had jet pack right in front of me. Let's make this work. Just follow it. You've got to just jump in. And I'm one of those people that will stand on the side of the pool and put my toe in before I jump in. But not with this. With this, I went full on, put all of my energy in. My kids dealt with it. You know, mom's busy, but I always say to them, I'm busy right now because I'm working on something that's going to benefit us all in the long run if temporary. So it passes. And so now the next thing comes up. Right. I'm always looking for more. 

MP: 23:41 Thanks. Exactly. Well, that's expansion and growth. And I know you've become a bit of a hero in the Pure Bookkeeping licensee member community because the hundreds of hours, yeah. The hundreds of hours that you've put into creating the jetpack workflow integration is now literally getting, being delivered to them at the flip of a switch where all they need to do is just learn how to use it. And it's an instantaneous that they can bring that level of streamlining to their business using Pure Bookkeeping and jetpack, which is a big, big thank you to all our, our listening licensees to you, Lisa, for doing that. And uh, and you've been really helpful in sharing your knowledge and what you've done. I mean, that's, that's the cool thing I love about the Pure bookkeeping. Sorry, I, I, it's actually not the pure bucket. It's the bookkeeping community globally. There you are all just such generous people sharing. 

MP: 24:35 It's so almost like I had a, a, a bookkeeper had a conversation with someone that I had just met and she was saying, you know, when I first got into the business I thought, you know, it's like competitors. Like I'm going to, I'm going to have a conversation with a competitor. Will they do the bucketing? And then she realized that when she met them, that person treated them like almost like a partner, like the like appear. And it's not it almost like that there are competitors, but it's such a almost indirect because there's so much opportunity in the marketplace. So many business owners need bookkeepers and there's a limited supply of them that it's such a collaborative and sharing and generous community and that's why I love, I love doing the podcast. I love working with bookkeepers, but you're definitely right. 

LCM: 25:16 It's a great community. It's fabulous. We are really, really big on helping each other out. I, you can put any question out there and somebody will respond and you get several different perspectives, which really helps you make the right decision if something comes up or even just something that you haven't experienced before. The community itself is so welcoming. Nobody shoots you down and dough. And I find that especially the, you know, the newer bookkeepers that come on board, they need so much direction and they're listening to two bookkeepers that have been doing it forever, who know things like the back of their hand and, and we want to share that. We want to help people succeed. You don't succeed in life by knocking other people down and stepping on them. You succeed by helping them. 

MP: 25:57 Absolutely. And it's, uh, you know, uh, I think that's what we, we pride ourselves on with the successful bookkeeper Facebook community is that we don't tolerate any negativity. There's no place for it. It's not needed. And it's not like we need to police it that much. That's the cool thing is that most are, uh, like the 99% of people that are on their totally positive, uh, generous and, and, and, and wonderful people. But if there is anybody on there that, that, uh, talks, you know, negatively to people or shoots people down or anything, it's like by, by, you know, it just, there's no place for it. And we pride ourselves on that because we don't, we have enough negativity in the world. We don't need to have it in our, our own communities. Right? 

LCM: 26:42 No, it's, it's a great space. It really is a great space to communicate, to put things out there and just in general, follow what people are doing, seeing what people are coming up against and see how people are struggling to build their business and guide them, help them out. And then when I say struggle, I mean they might be stuck on an issue. Well there's lots of numbers that can help them out and it's, it's definitely a community that wants to help each other grow. 

MP: 27:07 Beautiful. 

MP: 27:15 Now, so you've created a lot of freedoms in your life, freedom in your business. You're, you, you have some staff, you have the ability to remove yourself a little bit from the business. Now, what's the future look like for you? Where are you going? What things are you going to be doing? 

LCM: 27:30 Oh my. So right now I am doing my certification for profit first, which I could never have done in my opinion had I not set all of this up because I, I am using now my bookkeeping business that I have created as a tool because what I can, what I can offer people in the profit first realm is now more of a cash flow management system, more of how to get them out of debt, how to have their tax obligations already set aside. That's an amazing community in itself. But had I not put all of this in place, I don't think I could do what I'm doing with profit first. So to me it's just one step at a time. The business is now in place. It's almost like I don't really need to think about that as much because I know that, you know, the bookkeeping will be done, it will be done properly to be documented properly. The audit trails are in place now. I can spend more time bringing in those clients that, like I spoke of before, that really want more guidance in their business. So that's, that's where I'm going now. I'm, I'm looking more towards the, the nine would I want to say salting, I don't like that word, but the advisory part of, of the bookkeeping position with the client. 

MP: 28:42 Yeah. I think advisory's yeah, 

LCM: 28:44 I'm very excited about it. 

MP: 28:45 Yeah. I think it's exciting. And, uh, you know, you, you spoke a bit about the role that bookkeepers need to up their game and, and, and use this as an opportunity, which it really is. Small business owners need, needs someone to help them. Right? And so who better than someone who has an incredible knowledge of their financial situation, it's a very trusted place and, and uh, power a powerful place, eh, but it takes, it takes the confidence you have to match your confidence with the owner's confidence and, and show up like a leader in the small business owner and you know, in the presence of the small business owner and lead them. Now you've talked about being advisory and profit first. I mean, just another tool for you to use with these clients to help them be more profitable. I mean, what a great mixture. I love it. And I love Michael Ocala. Amazing. He's a lot of fun. He's been on the podcast as well for listeners. Um, I don't have the episode handy, the number of the episode handy, but if you go in there and search, you can find the episode with Mike McCale and reach out to Lisa if you have questions about it. It's a beautiful program and I've listened to his book. I think it's just so simple, you know, in many ways the energy is amazing. 

LCM: 30:03 Yeah, absolutely. 

MP: 30:04 And the philosophy of it. 

LCM: 30:07 Yeah, exactly. It's all about the client. You have to make your work. Everything that you do has to be about how can you benefit the clients. And so this is why putting the systems in place is how you benefit to clients. That's where you get the confidence because you don't second guess yourself. You know, things are done, you know everything is done the way it's supposed to be done, which gives you the confidence to step up your game. 

MP: 30:34 Beautiful. And what's what, what is it? Tell us a few stories of what, what have been the responses from some of your clients with this, the, the changes that you've made over the last couple of years? 

LCM: 30:45 Oh, it's, I mean, I just get tons of positive feedback and you know, I just met with a client yesterday and you know, I was telling him I can have a month where I'm just, you know, working away and everything's smooth and all of a sudden I get six inquiries is whether it's from, you know, a Googler or QuickBooks, um, accounting online, that sort of thing. But all of a sudden they'll be inundated with clients and I screened them out and I've actually had clients email me back saying, do you even have bandwidth to accommodate this given your screening process? I do have the screening process because I don't have time for those clients who are shopping for the cheapest bookkeeper or somebody who just wants you to file their HST because it's three years behind. Yeah, I can help you with that. But that's not my focus, that my focus is, is being able to pick and choose the clients that really want to benefit from what we can offer them. So the feedback all around has been very positive. I generally have a very good working relationship with my clients. They're not struggling. I do have a couple that are and they are so excited to get this profit first program in place. I'm, I'm just in my training stages on that right now. So I'm actually working with Beta clients, but just in the little bit that we've done so far, they are stoked and ready to go. 

MP: 31:59 Beautiful. That's excellent. And, and nothing like making people more money, uh, for getting, getting a bit of positive feedback. 

LCM: 32:07 Well, yeah, I mean I need to help them. 

MP: 32:10 Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's, it's beautiful when they're making more money. You're, you're their hero. 

LCM: 32:17 Well, you know, it goes full circle, right? They make more money, you make more money. Everybody's happy. Everybody sleeps at night. 

MP: 32:23 Exactly. That's a, that's we, we, we should have the, uh, the, the theme music for, it's a wonderful life really. It can be business often is not. And so when there's bright shining stars like that, uh, it's exciting and it's not, it's not difficult. I mean, business has been around for thousands of years and there are practices and processes that are our benchmark. They're just the standard. So, uh, human beings, we overcomplicate things and we make it difficult. And so when we can streamline and simplify and bring the right actions to play, great things happen. And it can be really easy. You know, that big easy button can be pressed. 

LCM: 33:06 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You know what, these people that take the risk to open up a business to and you know, they sacrifice family time and whatnot, they shouldn't be struggling with that and not getting paid. And bookkeepers have such a crucial role right now because, you know, the definition of a bookkeeper is somebody that, you know, records all transactions within a business that is so outdated because of the apps that are in place. Don't be intimidated by the APPS, use them to your advantage, help your clients. These clients should be, you know, rewarded for taking that risk and opening up a business. Yeah, I be successful. 

MP: 33:40 Beautiful. I think under the, the definition of bookkeeper really needs to change to the shepherd of your finances is really, really what the way I, I like to think of it as. And, and our great bookkeeper that we work with bookkeepers, there's a team of them. They, they that do the pure bookkeeping books. I mean, we haven't read business too, so we need great bookkeepers, right? Uh, they, they, I, for me, they occur like my shepherd, right? I know the flock of our dollars are being cared for and it helps give us the knowledge and information to make sure the herd of our money or profit, uh, stays healthy and vibrant and does what it needs to do. And, and that lets me sleep at night. So I just think it's a perfect analogy or metaphor, if you will, for bookkeepers. They are the shepherd for your finances. 

MP: 34:28 So that may be a, a new podcast coming out. I don't know. Maybe this has been so greatly. So now you know, I want to share some really great resources that uh, you've been a part of recently that our listener can take advantage of. There is you did a Webinar, uh, with myself and as well with David Cristello from jetpack workflow where he actually unpacked and, and demonstrated how your using jetpack workflow in your practice. And I just want to let the listener know that in the show notes of this episode, there's a link where you can go and register and watch that replay. I think that's a really good opportunity. And of course, if you're interested, there is the seven secrets of growing your bookkeeping business program. You can do that online and as well we'll have some notes and Lisa, thank you for mentioning that. It really is. 

LCM: 35:20 Oh, I would highly recommend that. Yeah, great places. And then I took all of your listeners 

MP: 35:24 Beautiful. And of course the group if you want to interact with wonderful people like Lisa, get onto our Facebook group, the successful bookkeeper on Facebook. You just search that and join. If you haven't already, you just have a chat with Lisa. If you have questions or want guidance or inspiration, get in there. The community is there for you. Don't do it alone. There are many others that are generous and, and want to help you have the business that you love and the future that you love. So come and come and join us. Lisa, this has been so great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Anything else you want to add in terms of if people want to get in touch with you or work with you? 

LCM: 36:01 Oh, I've, you know, I would say absolutely be a part of the Facebook group. It's a wonderful resource. I'm on there all the time. I try and help as much as I can. I don't know everything I ask questions too, you know, definitely join that. Definitely read emails. Definitely do the seven secrets program. They, they really make you see things from a different perspective and it's going to change your game. 

MP: 36:25 Beautiful. I love it. Thank you so much. Uh, and we'll look forward. Yeah, we'll look forward to having you back. And maybe another year, maybe even sooner than that, because you've got so many things going on that are awesome, so thank you. 

LCM: 36:38 I look forward to it. Thank you. 

MP: 36:39 Beautiful. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP93: Emily Thompson - How To Take Control & Be Your Own Boss

TSBK - Episode 93 - Emily Thompson.png
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Take charge.

That's Emily Thompson's mindset and it helps her be “The Boss.”

She is the founder of Indie Shopography, which helps creative entrepreneurs build online businesses, and she is also a co-host of Being Boss, a popular podcast for creative entrepreneurs where she inspires, writes and curates content.

She is also a first time author with the release of Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to be a boss

  • How to take control of your work and live life on your own terms

  • How to understand your strengths and challenges as a side hustler, freelancer, or business owner

To learn more about Emily Thompson, visit here.

For Emily's Facebook page, click here.

For her Twitter, check this out.

For her Instagram, explore here.

To learn more about Being Boss and get a copy of the book, click this link.

To learn more about Indie Shopography, discover here.


Michael Palmer: 01:26 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be great. Our guest is the founder of Indie Shopography where she helps creatives run online businesses and she's a cohost of being boss, a popular podcast for creative entrepreneurs where she inspires rites and curates content. She's also a first time author with the release of being boss, take control of your work and live life on your terms. Emily M. Thompson, welcome to the podcast.

Emily Thompson: 01:59 Thank you so much for having me. My goal. I am pleased to be here.

MP: 02:02 I am so happy to have you here and hopefully I didn't make a, uh, a jumble of your name. It's a very interesting name that you founded Indie Shopography. Yes, and that's a a cool name, but before we get into all of the cool things that you do, tell us a little bit about your business background and why you started being boss.

ET: 02:23 Sure. Oh, good question. And I'll try to make this link because as many entrepreneurs that may find, especially if you're starting out pretty young, your path can be quite windy. And mine was one of those pads. So I um, I had my first business when I was 18, I had the opportunity to purchase a tanning salon and it's a wild, fun story for sure. By ended up owning that business for about two and a half years, I ran it on my own. I had my first couple of employees I had to really get into like customer education and contracts and, and those sort of, and those sorts of things really, really early on. And not even like my business career, but like my professional or like adding value to the world career, like that time of my life. So my first, my first business experience was very early and I knew immediately that that would not be the last business experience that I ever had.

ET: 03:20 I absolutely loved it. I had been bitten by that work for yourself bug that I think many of us get bitten with. And I got bitten with it early enough that had absolutely shaped the entire trajectory of my education and my, you know, business experience after that. So I ran that business for about two and a half years. I ended up selling it so that I could finish college. And then I ended up starting, um, a couple of business and businesses in relatively quick succession after that as I was really figuring out what I wanted to do. So I think a lot of people early in life, you know, spend a couple of years sort of hopping from job to job, but because I had like gotten into business early, I sort of hopped from business to business for a little while in order to really figure out what it was that I wanted to do and really hone my skills and, and dive into businesses in a really cool way.

ET: 04:14 So as I was completing my degree in geography of all things, I, um, I started a jewelry business. So I had been making, I've made things my entire life and that was about the time that Etsy came around and was a popular platform for makers who wanted to sell things online and I was smitten by the platform. I love the idea that you could meet people all over the world. You could sell your, you know, crafts, I guess on the Internet, you could connect with these people. So I spent about two years selling jewelry on Etsy and learning a whole lot about branding and online positioning and curating, you know, a community online, these sort of very, very odd business experiences. You know, at this point, like 12 years ago or so. It's funny to think that I was in on like doing business online at such an early phase because we all know the Internet is going to be around forever.

ET: 05:15 And so I was selling jewelry on Etsy. I wanted to get off of Etsy into my own website. And so I took some skills that I had picked up in high school of designing and developing websites and I created my first e-commerce website and it was such a fun experience. I loved getting back into code and that way. And I soon had some of my community members coming to me saying, I love this website. It's super awesome. Can you make one for me too? So over the course of about six months, I sort of weeded out my jewelry business and moved into this website business where I spent 10 years in the websites is where Indie Shopography came from. And the name stems from this idea of being an Indian independent, independent business owner. Um, but also that sort of like Bohemian theme that is, uh, is conjured when you think of the word Indie and then Shopography being this idea of like really studying and diving into what it means for an independent person to build a business and sell things.

ET: 06:14 So there's a lot that went into that name, probably more than there should have been, but I spent 10 years making websites and for anyone who knows anything about websites for businesses, you know that you're not just designing and developing a website. I learned very quickly that in order to really do a good job for my clients, I couldn't just design and develop a website. I had to understand their business models. So I spent 10 years diving into the business models of many creative businesses, whether they were, you know, makers doing jewelry like I had started out doing, or if they were a t shirt designers or if they were wedding invitation designers or people who made stationary who also wanted to do wholesale or Yogis. I was diving into so many different creative entrepreneur business models. It gave me some legit expertise and what it was like to be a creative who wanted to build a business in the online world.

ET: 07:15 And in some cases also the offline world as well. Because many of my clients were also brick and mortar store owners who wanted to grow their presence into the online realm. So it was that expertise and some of the community building that I had done along the way that led to the creation of being boss. I had met my friend Kathleen, who is my cohost of the podcast on the Internet before it was cool to meet people on the Internet and we started having these business bestie conversations as we were calling them about what it was like to be a working creative building, an online business. I had my web design studio, she was building a branding studio with her sister and we were having these conversations about what it was like to show up and do the work and to, you know, deal with clients over the Internet and what it was like to, to find a work-life balance whenever you work from home.

ET: 08:09 And these conversations were very valuable to us. We were having them probably every, every month for about two years before I had what I describe as like a big magic moment. There's a really great book by Elizabeth Gilbert called big magic where she talks about these moments of creativity and how they just like come to us and they're almost like these their own like living, breathing entities. And the idea to start a podcast I think was one of those big magic moments where I sent my friend Kathleen an email was like, we need to share these conversations with the world because we find them valuable. We think other people will as well. Are you in? And she said yes. And that was the beginning of being boss.

MP: 09:00 That is so cool. You know, the, the, your journey is such an interesting journey and an inspiring journey I think for just discovering and taking, you know, along your, along your journey, taking and picking up things that you might not use right then, but it's like, oh yeah, Hey, I've got this experience where I, I, I learned about this in high school. More pie it here. I think that's such a valuable trait of an entrepreneur to be able to just make use of whatever is in your, your arsenal, I guess, uh, of life experiences. And business experiences all sort of jumble I end up together that you've used along the way. You know what, listening to you, your experience of diving into business models and understanding business models. I am almost certain that our listener right now is going, hey, if you really know a lot about the business models and how to communicate and do a great job of presenting yourself online, what would be your advice to them around their own thinking that needs to go into their own Shopography if you will, and thinking about their business.

ET: 10:10 I love that. So one of the things that I say all the time that I feel is just across the board good advice and can and should be applied to everything that you do, especially online but offline as well, is that consistency breeds legitimacy. And you can think about this in terms of the graphics that you share online. So whether it's your website and pairing that with your Instagram feed or your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed, like is there consistency with the graphics between the two? Because if there isn't, then you're not going to look legitimate. If there is, you are making yourself look more legitimate. You can also think about it in terms of the words that you use whenever you talk to a client in person. Are you talking to them the same way as it reads on your website? Are you using the same words, the same tone, those sorts of things?

ET: 11:02 Because again, if someone sees here a website and reads the words that you have there and then have a conversation with you, they'll sense a disconnect and you will therefore it look a little less legitimate. So that's one of the lessons that I've definitely learned in terms of the kinds of businesses and it doesn't even matter the kind of businesses. It's the businesses regardless of the kind that make it are the ones that really grasp onto this idea that consistency breeds legitimacy and everything that you do. And that means, you know, graphics and words. It also means always showing up. Um, you know, if you have a newsletter, make sure it goes out every single Tuesday or whatever it may be because people will expect that. And whenever you stop, whenever you start breaking that consistency, people will sense it.

MP: 11:49 Mm. So great.

ET: 11:51 And it has me thinking I need a police officer to go through and check all of our stuff. And I'm sure, you know, we're, as we're building often building things in the building the plane while it's in the air, sometimes it's like, oh yeah, we forgot to Polish up, put that door back there. We need that door in the back of the plane, Right?

MP: 12:15 You know, and that's being us being a small and growing business, all of our listener would appreciate that. And I think it's something to embrace. It's that whilst we want to go for the consistency, it's give yourself a break to say, hey, wherever it is, it can only be always be polished and improved. Um, and, and your journey is kind of sounds like that you constantly reinventing and looking at how to, how to look at your business and how to do things that make you excited and, and that you're passionate about.

ET: 12:40 I really, I'm really interested in Chicago. Gruffy I think that is, you know, the way you presented it, first one I read Indie Shopography I was like, you know, what is that like, you know, it sounded like music, but now just hearing you, it's, it's the, it's both an art, a science. It's something that people could be interested in. You know, this whole concept of shopping and, and presenting yourself to people and being, you know, consumable, I guess if you will, is, is, is an art. It's a science. There's a lot to it that I don't think many people think about when they go about running their business.

MP: 13:15 Absolutely.

ET: 13:16 And that's definitely one of the things that I've found is that, you know, it's not just, you know, getting a premade logo, opening up a Facebook account and expecting people to throw you cash. I'm like, that's, that's absolutely not how, you know, the Internet works and it's not how business works ever. There have, you know, obviously been some cases that have found that a little more easily, but those that have sticking power have to put significant more energy behind it. You know, a lot of times people think, oh, I'll just start an internet business and online business because the barrier of entry is lower and it's cheaper to start up. And one of the things that I found is in many ways that's very much not true. Um, you have to put just as much energy and you know, resources and whether that is time, money or energy, you have to put all just as much into starting an online business if you want it to have the kind of traction that say a brick and mortar would have or you know, of legit like brick and mortar consulting agency or you know, for you guys it's having that physical place where you're showing up and meeting with clients and doing your work.

ET: 14:22 Like the overhead is different, but the overhead is still there. It still requires just as much thought and intention as you know, a traditional quote-unquote business. Um, business has. You have to do all of that for your online business as well. And that's definitely one of the things that I found. I started an online business because it was flip it into end easy. Um, and it's been 10, 12 years of the hardest education ever in that you can easily get on and make a couple of bucks for sure. But if you want to actually build a sustainable, profitable business, it takes just as much art and science and you know, resources as anything else.

MP: 15:04 That's very interesting. And I, you know, there, there a lot of listeners would be thinking about either starting a virtual bookkeeping business. We, you know, that these words and this language is, is really the, you know, there's not a lot of clarity around it, but when we say virtual it's like, yeah, they're there, there isn't an office, you're not going out to see a particular person. You want to do it and you know, from whatever region and have clients all over all over the place and not have geography be in the way. Now that's like you say a great idea and there's lots of opportunities there, but there are other challenges that come with it. And I think you're alluding to that and that your business, what you put into your business and what you give your business and where EEO is what you get back.

MP: 15:48 And so if, if it's just online and we just want to have like online relationships, well those come with certain conditions, right? At an online relationship I think is different than a relationship where you have, where you've met somebody, you have shaken their hand, look them in the eye, you know, and so there, there has to be thought brought into the human aspect of what humans want, what they're willing to pay more for. You know, if you want to be the lowest cost online, 24 hours, seven days a week shop, well you're going to get a certain type of client. Talk a little bit about your, your journey in terms of, you know, who shows up based on the site you build, the, the business you build, whether it be virtual or physical.

ET: 16:31 For sure. I mean this is a vast subject for sure because you know what it is that you put into it both like energetically but also like what type of energy that is will absolutely be the return that you get. So you know, I've definitely found that if you want to throw up a really quick cheap website with just some basic stuff on there, you're going to get the type of client who um, who is going to expect you to be cheap and basic as well. Basically, because that's what you're putting out there. And that's that consistency breeds legitimacy. You know, if you're putting out a presence that is different from what who you are and what you expect, there will continue to be a disconnect between the type of person that you want and the type of person that you actually attract. And so just as much thought and energy has to go into how it is that you're presenting yourself on the Internet because there is a direct correlation with the types of people that you will attract.

ET: 17:28 And that goes right along, you know, with like the language you use, the graphics you use, I mean a lot of people like to sort of dismiss this idea that, you know, my branding doesn't matter because it's just a logo. I mean similar to similarly to how people feel about the way they dress. Like people should just love me for me and not, you know, not care that my shoes are dirty or whatever they may be. And yes, I think in an ideal world that's absolutely the case where we just all, you know, except each other based on all of our wonderful like personality characteristics. But that first impression is an absolute real thing. And that doesn't usually come from the words that come out of your mouth, but how it is that you look and doing business online is all about that first impression.

ET: 18:11 And it's about having, you know, cohesive presence. And that doesn't mean that you have to go spend a lot of money doing it because you don't, it's very possible to, you know, get yourself a nice, like quick little tax-based graphic logo with a very simple website. And you know, Squarespace these days is really wonderful for giving you beautiful functional websites pretty cheaply and was very little effort. But even then, whenever you get to a time in your business, when it's time to start upgrading those simple things, stop working as easily. If you want to start upgrading your clientele, then you have to start upgrading everything about how it is that you're presenting yourself as well.

MP: 19:00 Beautiful. Such, such interesting dialogue for that's provoking for thought around the website and, and different stages of business. You know, it's, it's pure start with this and then keep improving it. And I love this whole concept of upgrading your clientele. Uh, you know, and we start off in business. It's often, hey, we'll take anybody with me.

MP: 19:22 And, and I think for the first year that is so important. I think you, I think, and that is one of the things about the Internet that I do love, is that it does really have such a low barrier of injury. Like you can just set up a Facebook page and call it a day and start getting people in. But, um, but the quality may not be exactly what you want, but I don't think that matters in the first year. I think in the first year if you really want to dive into it, say yes to everything, you're going to not probably lie because most of the experiences that you have, but you will learn so many valuable lessons that will just take you further.

ET: 20:00 Yeah, absolutely. And I think listening to podcasts like yours being boss, where you can hear somebody who spent, you know, 10 or 15 years making a bunch of mistakes and having a lot of success in different, different along the journey is a great, is almost prerequisite for starting your business. So Listener, if you're listening, you know, and you're just getting started or you want to upgrade, I mean this is a great opportunity. Another great channel of content that can help you navigate through all of these things. And on that point being boss podcast, I'm really curious to know, you know, you share things, your journeys, your, you have the, the, the knowledge, the things that you were discussing with Kathleen along the way would have been kind of those, uh, hot topics. Everybody's like, oh please do more about that. That's what we're really interested in.

MP: 20:52 I love that because I feel like this is really relevant for your crowd. Cause it's money and people love to talk about money. I wouldn't say right me neither. And Kathleen and I weren't expecting that. You know, we started the podcast with a couple of different topics that we wanted to like dive into quickly and really like get out and start defining what, you know, what kinds of things we would be talking about. Money was one of the first episodes that we did. It was like, um, how to start freaking out about money or something like that. And what we have found is that our crowd, like creative entrepreneurs, the people who just want to make some money doing what they love, they freak out about money a lot. And in a way that I think also stifles their creativity, which if they're stifling their creativity, they're also stifling their ability to make money.

ET: 21:40 Would you just like this negative feedback loop of awfulness basically. Um, so money is one of those things that our people want to talk about. They want to talk about how to attract more clients. They want to talk about how to price themselves, how to sell themselves. They want to talk about managing money, um, and they want to know what to do with it once they have it. So what is it like to invest as a creative entrepreneur? How are they going to figure out how to get, you know, the benefits that they're going to have to provide for themselves because they're opting out of traditional employment. So money is one of those names that we find ourselves talking about a lie or at least people wanting us to talk about it more often. But we also do have some, what we call, you know, the pillars that are, I guess they're actually the foundations of being boss.

ET: 22:27 And this idea that all the bosses that we've talked to, and these are like industry leaders or thought leaders or just working creatives, they have these things in common, one of which is a boss mindset. So they, you know, they believe that they can do the thing that they want to do and they do it regardless of whether or not they know how to do it. They're willing to show up and give it a try. Um, also boundaries. So you know, bosses for us have really strong boundaries. They know what they're going to say no to and what they're going to say yes to. Um, also habits and routines. They know how to show up and do the work and they also are putting some effort into defining work life balance and work. Life balance doesn't necessarily mean that they're half and half. It means it's whatever you need it to be in that moment.

MP: 23:13 So cool. You know, there's some gold there and I know a lot of our listeners are actually working for somebody else right now and thinking about making the leap into business. And it is, it's one of those to formula for your mindset, your, your courage, your, you know, your belief in yourself, not just around how much money you're going to need. A, so that would, I'd love to link to that episode. I think our listener would get a lot out of just listening to that episode as well as the foundational sound. So great terms of giving our listener, you know, just information, ideas, inspiration really to help them navigate through their life and this whole work life balance. I think Ivan Meisner, the founder of business networking international, he's been on the podcast a few times and he, he says he talks about work life harmony, which I just absolutely love and I think that's what you're alluding to when you say it's not what, you know, this amount of this or that amount. It's like harmonies are constantly changing and what harmony means today might mean something different tomorrow.

ET: 24:19 Yeah, for sure. It's fluid. It's very, very fluid. You know, I definitely have weeks where I'm more focused on, you know, making sure my life is in order. Whether that's because I have family coming in and I need to make sure my house is clean and I have like cooked food in the refrigerator, um, or you know, if I have, um, if I just need to spend more time with my immediate family or if I need to just spend some time on myself or whatever it may be, there are definitely days or weeks or even whole months that are more focused on my lights and then my work and then vice versa. There's also plenty of days or weeks or a month when I'm more focused on my work because the demands there are higher or maybe just because my life demands are lower and I want to get ahead or whatever it may be.

ET: 25:04 I do think that that like half and half work life balance is a myth and I also think that you're missing out on the opportunity to live an interesting life. Whenever you think about I'm going to hit nine to five, you know, five days a week for work and then not think about work after that. I know as a creative, my creative moments can come in the middle of the night or you know, before nine and definitely after five as well as sometimes I want to go to yoga at noon or whatever it may be. I think that, I think that there's much more, much more pleasure and joy that comes from, you know, building a life that you find interesting when you break that, you know, um, that societal rule that you have to have either work life balance or, or work life division and really figure out how to blend them in a way that actually serves you and no one else.

MP: 26:08 So, so refreshing and an absolute, it is a design of life and that's the, the blank canvas. And, and I think it does take, it does take that mindset to say, my canvas is blank. If I so choose to, to say whatever age we are, we can always reinvent and create from nothing every single day. And so, you know, I, I've, I've always searched for myself, searched for where I can do, so wake up every day and do something that I love. Like I, that was literally 15 years ago, I had a coach and it was like, you know what the big, big theme. I was like, well, what do you want? It's like, you know what, I just want to wake up everyday and feel like I'm going to leap out of bed to go do what I want to do. And, and I wasn't living that at that time, not to make the thing I was doing wrong, but it wasn't for me.

MP: 27:05 And so that was the beginning of where it's like, okay, well what, what's that got to be? And that took a while for me to figure out. And I think a lot of our listeners have already figured that out. They're doing it in their life or they're moving towards it. And it's really helping small business owners understand their money, understand their finances, and help small businesses grow from the financial aspects, which is really exciting. And that's the, that's the flame. I want to disc, just completely ignite and fuel a, because it makes such a big difference in our communities and for these small businesses. But for me helping our community go and do that, everyday I wake up and like you say, it's like a creative thought. I'm always working, but it's never feels like work. It feels like I'm doing something like a hobby almost, which you know, I don't want to say we all need to make money, right? But a lot of the times I would do what I do for free. It's sad that, and so I think your message is so refreshing and that it can be whatever you want and have the courage to take the canvas, clean it off, and start drawing it in a way that's powerful for, for, for yourselves. Now you, you have written a book, you're first time author being boss, take control of your work and live life on your own terms really sounds like what we're talking about. So tell us a little bit about the book.

ET: 28:27 For sure. And I do have to say, I still like do a happy dance whenever people say things like, yeah, that's okay. We got the happy dance. Go ahead and have a happy dance. We love it. This has been one of those long term dreams too. For whatever reason. I've always wanted to write a book. And so this is one of the is this is exactly one of those things where, you know, I didn't go to school to be a writer. Um, I've never written a whole lot though. I've always felt I was a good writer. I, Kathleen and I had talked about it a ton and it was just one of those things that regardless of anyone's expectations, I was going to write a book one day and it was going to be a beautiful business book. And when have you ever heard those words all put together in the same sentence? Um, so for us it was, it was definitely practicing what we preach in order to just get this book out into the world. We were going to do something new and kind of weird, but we felt so energized around it that we knew it had to happen.

ET: 29:21 So yes, this being boss book is, um, one of the funnest things. It is actually the funnest thing that Kathleen and I have ever done. We've had a blast putting it together. Writing the book was so much fun. Even though everyone told us that writing the book would be the worst thing that we had ever done, let alone together. Um, we had a blast doing it. And it's really the place where we've, everything that we've learned along the way. And for me, you know, even like since that first business that I owned when I was 18 all the way up until actually writing the book. So all of the conversations we've had on the podcast, all the conversations Kathleen and I have had together privately or even with other bosses, and we've distilled it down into the being boss books. So it's those, it's those foundations that I talked about earlier.

ET: 30:07 It's mindset, it's boundaries, it's habits and routines. It's your life and work. And it's also another foundation that we didn't give. We didn't give it its own chapter because it was one that we could not separate from any of the chapters. And that was around your tribe and how important it is to have people in your life to support you and who you support. And how that is sort of the common thread that weaves itself throughout everything that is that we talk about and people with whom we speak because they're always talking about their support systems or their mentors or their peers or their friends or whatever it is, the people who help them out along the way because we talk a lot. I think about, you know, being a solo preneur and I think it's becoming more and more evident that that's a little bit of a myth that you can't actually happily do these things all by your lonesome and it's that fact that has created being boss.

ET: 30:58 It's because there was a mass of other creative entrepreneurs just like Kathleen and I who were in the world feeling the exact same way that we were, that the podcast came about and it was the fuel that got us to write this book. It's what made us sit down and think about these bosses that we've met, met, even very particular ones that we've met thinking we want to write a book for these people. The kind of book that they can sit down with anytime, pick it up, get a bit of inspiration, a little bit of a confidence boost, remember why it is that they are here doing this really hard thing, whatever it may be and keep on doing it because I completely agree with you. I think there is something very inspiring and moving about this idea that we're all deconditioning ourselves from thinking that we have to take this traditional route, whatever that may be, and really giving ourselves the opportunity and grasping onto the responsibility to do something at new and fresh and innovative and fulfilling because I think that's the piece that that has been missing maybe always from like the human work condition is this idea that work can be fulfilling and it can and should be for everyone, not just the rare few who figure it out.

ET: 32:17 We have room in our lives and tools at our disposal to really figure out like take the time to figure out what it is that we want to do and then make the decisions we need to make to put it into action.

MP: 32:34 Absolutely. You know, it is, it's delicious conversation. And I think that if we think about it, number one, we have to be thinking about it. So the exciting part is we have listeners listening right now and they may be living the life that they have. You know, the life of their dreams and they, and there's some that are not going to be living their life, their dreams. And guess what the life you have right now, all of us, we actually created it and it's ours. And we set the table, we sat that table. And what we're having for dinner tonight is the life that we have. So what's exciting is let's set a new table, let's get prepared to have a wonderful meal and have that meal keep going on for the rest of our lives. And you know, what are you gonna put on that table? So it was quite clear the table off and start preparing your life as if you're preparing your table for the wonderful life that you want to lead.

MP: 33:29 Just absolutely lovely concept. And I want everybody, you get a copy of this book and start listening to this podcast. I think it's going to help our listener in their business. And uh, and before I know we're running at a time, but before we do that, I, before we, we started recording, we're having a little bit of a conversation and we talked about your bookkeeper and I just absolutely love having the voice of the customer, the eye of the customer, the mind of the customer because you're not a bookkeeper but you have a bookkeeper. And so yeah, I'd love to hear about your bookkeeper and what you like and what you know, what that experience has been like for you.

ET: 34:07 Sure. Well, I'll even tell you a little bit of story because I used to be my own bookkeeper and I did a really good job of showing up like as a, you know, a small solopreneur as, as it were or as I thought I was and I would show up every Friday and I would do my own bookkeeping. That was like one of my weekly routines that I did. I did that very well for a very long time and it worked out perfectly fine until my work and life started getting a little busy and once they started getting it started getting busier. For me, that was one of the things that stopped happening. And I remember, I guess it was probably five or six years ago now, sitting down just before tax time as you can imagine, trying to do the bookkeeping for not one but two businesses for like six months and sitting there with multiple screens up in tears like absolutely in tears because bookkeeping was hard and I didn't love it and it's not my core genius is not what I wanted to be doing all day.

ET: 35:08 I have great respect for it, but not what I should have been doing with my time. And My, my life partner walked into the room, sees me crying and wants to know how he can help and I hired him that day and he has been my bookkeeper and now pretty much CFO for not only Indie Shopography but being boss as well ever since. And so he has, he also has an education and geography, but he has done some training before that he wanted to be a financial advisor. That's what he wanted to do with his life. There's even some funny stories around some pictures he drew as in like a daydreaming session and like our early college class of him sitting next to a pool surrounded by a pile of money. That's what he wanted to do when he grew up in whatever. Everyone was supposed to draw out what they, what they wanted their profession to be because he wanted to manage wealth basically.

ET: 36:02 And so he always imagined that he would do that for some guy somewhere one day. And what it's turned into is that he's actually doing that for himself and for us and for the businesses that we run. And so he is our bookkeeper and it's taken off a load from my shoulders and allows me to really just focus on the creativity side of what I do or I'm also, I'm also actually the super practical one between especially Kathleen and I at a, at being boss, I'm the one who is super systems-oriented. I, I'm able to give Kathleen the space to be a little more creative. So I'm tend to be even the bridge between the two of them to really be able to, to really be able to have someone though who can look at the money, who can understand everything that's happening, but also have such a close connection to not only me but the businesses to really give us, you know, really healthy feedback and really knowledgeable feedback is, is monumental.

ET: 37:02 And we also, it's funny too because we've been working with a lot of vendors over the past couple of months for the book launch and, and some other things that we have planning. And in all occasions, everyone mentions how much they love working with us as a business because our money is on lockdown because it's so refreshing for them to know that an invoice will be paid within 24 hours. Always. Like that is just always the case or um, you know, W2's always gets, or 10 99 is always gets sent out immediately. Like as soon before anyone else's does. I'm having someone on board who allows our companies to look that much more professional and who has, you know, vendors wanting to come back again and again to work with us is invaluable. It is invaluable for the type of business that I want to be running and the type of experience I want to be having in my own business.

MP: 37:57 So great. You know, it's a, is some, some really gold nuggets there that can be gleaned in terms of just from, from our audience perspective as he, and hearing this, and I think it speaks to number one, when you're working with a business, the, the characters and the, you know, the personalities of those people. I mean, you have a part, there's two of you, there's a partner and you're both different and you're gonna expect different things. You're gonna transact differently than each other. And so it's really understanding your customer and what they need and what's gonna set them free. But that's, that's the positioning for most small to medium-sized businesses is to set a set, the owner set the entrepreneur free so that they can go and work on their, you called it genius. What was it?

MP: 38:43 Your core genius.

ET: 38:44 Yes. My core genius.

MP: 38:45 Your core genius, which is such a wonderful, wonderful way of putting it is to focus, enable you to focus on your core genius. And I think you definitely have a place in our hearts being a system driven person and building systems and process. Our audience will love that part of you. And so do I. And so this is, this is just been great. So thank you for sharing that and, and awesome that you are, your life partner is, is taken care of the numbers because that's helping you do the great work that you do. Now, Emily, this has been terrific. Uh, I feel like we could just keep on chatting and we'll likely want to have your back at some point. But before I let you go, can you tell, tell our audience where they can find more out about you and the book and the podcast?

ET: 39:29 Absolutely. You're going to find everything you need at Beingboss.club.

MP: 39:35 Perfect. That's so simple Beingboss.club and we will, of course, have that information on the show notes as well. Emily, thank you so much for being on the show.

ET: 39:44 Thank you so much for having me. It was an absolute pleasure.

MP: 39:48 It's 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: 40:00 goodbye.

EP92: Brad Wolford - Why Client Communication MUST Be A Priority

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How are you speaking with your clients?

If the way you communicate with them isn't transparent and open, it can lead to trouble.

Our guest, Brad Wolford, who is the CEO of Wolford Companies Inc., has made sure effective client communication is a top priority.

By doing so, he's able to find out what his customers need and they understand specifically what his firm requires to assist them.

This is one of the reasons why Brad's company has transformed from nothing to a large firm in a very short span of time.

Today, Wolford Companies Inc. (with 11 staff including Brad) provides financial accounting services for business owners to manage operations on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

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

  • How to increase your rate and earn from $14,000/year to $65,000/year or even more

  • How having a checklist will make your life and business easier and healthier

  • How implementing the Pure Bookkeeping system can help your firm overcome challenges

To learn more about Wolford Companies Inc., visit here.

For Brad's Facebook page, click here.

To find Wolford Companies Inc. on LinkedIn, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:26 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 runs Wolford Companies Inc based in Washington, DC. His firm, which now has a staff of 11 plus himself, provides financial accounting services for business owners to manage operations on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I'm happy to have him here. Brad Wolford, Welcome to the podcast.

Brad Wolford: 01:53 Thank you, sir. Great to be here.

MP: 01:55 Yes. Well it's literally our, our pleasure to have you and I'm so excited to have you share your story, your journey, uh, and the bookkeeping world because you have gone from literally nothing to a very large business and a very short period of time and as well, you just chock a block. I mean, every time we have conversations, I mean, I learned so much from you. You have so much to share. You're so generous with your, your knowledge and information and experiences. So I want to get that in the, in the hands and ears really of our listeners. Before we get into all of that, Brad, tell us about how you got into accounting and why you decided to launch Wolford companies.

BW: 02:38 Alright. So I originally got interested in accounting when I turned 16 and I guess that was in 1996 and I got my first job at a restaurant. And so, of course, you were getting paid in cash and we had this extremely low hourly wage of like two and 14 cents or so. And so I ended up getting quicken for personal finance and cause I was like, well I have a job now I want to understand what these paychecks mean. I mean I see that there's social security deducted from it. Medicare income tax, like what does it all mean? And so that's kind of what peaked my interest right off the bat as well. I want to understand what money making money means and then I can live my life I guess. Right? I don't know. So many people go out in the world and they, you know, their goal is to make money, but they don't understand how they're paying taxes or anything like that.

BW: 03:37 So that's kind of originally how it started and it just became a little hobby on the side. And of course, when you go off to college you have no idea what you want to do. So I did just the general business administration, my one of my first classes, first semester freshman year. What principles of accounting one and so many people were like, don't do that your first semester. That's a tough class. Yeah. After I took that first course, I was like, this is more fun than I ever thought and that's kind of what got me interested in college alone. Just the specialization of it and I was actually enjoying like the three hours of the homework involved with the accounting course. I don't know how, I don't know why, but I could not make a balance sheet balance for the life of me and I just kept trying and I came into the class with the, with the balance sheet not balanced and I was actually interested in how in the heck this all worked.

BW: 04:34 So I would work with the professor, like to figure it out. Of course when a that was going after my associate's degree. So when I got my associates degree I was like, all right, I'm going to go out in the world and try to work for a living. And I had a few jobs. I was, I guess at the time when I was in school going for my associates degree, I had an internship as an accountant on a construction company and then when I graduated I got a full time job with a subsidiary of theirs. I'm move is a move management firm where we moved businesses, like a law firm in d c had three locations, bought a building and moved everybody into it in one, which was a terrible job. And so I quickly switched out of that, got a job with a friend and a title company.

BW: 05:23 And of course we, as we all know, oh five oh six oh seven was going through the roof with the real estate business and it kind of felt cyclical. You know, I was working 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM like almost daily and it was great. Had a bunch of fun doing it. The company I worked for was excellent. Obviously. I was telling myself, if life goes awry and things go belly up, I'd like to go back to school to get my bachelor's in accounting, and of course it was oh eight whenever the business finally took a dump and I was jobless and I was like, all right, now's the time. Going back for my bachelor's. That's when I started Wilford companies. It was December of Oh eight first semester in school. I went back for accounting, had a few classes, and then my, my goal was to figure out how to apply what I'm learning on paper on the streets.

BW: 06:18 So of course, right around that time, two of my buddies were starting businesses, one of which is still a client today is my first client, I guess. So I was telling him, I was like, Hey, I'm in school trying to figure out this accounting crap. Do you have any accounting yourself that you're planning on hiring? No. Okay. Can I do your accounting? And I did it for free just while I was in school to figure it out. And so then when I got my bachelor's, I ended up in school doing it for free. And as soon as I got out, I charged them $20 an hour, which was like dirt at the time, but I couldn't find a job. I had like double digit interviews and I just told them, I was like, look, I have to charge you now. And so that's how I started the business.

BW: 07:01 So I had two clients at $20 an hour and I shortly thereafter got a law firm client because it was like a spin off. I was doing some title work for them on the side and of course they needed an accountant so they were like, hey, you're in school for accounting, you do accounting. And so that's essentially how I started out. So it was literally from nothing like you said, to what we have today, which is 11 employees and we're going to be hitting the moon soon. But there, there's one thing I did want to say just so everybody knows how much of a struggle it really is to start a business. Um, the first year with those three clients when I actually graduated and while I was trying to interview for jobs that I thought I, because you're all confident in college and you're like, all right, I'm going to go out and I'm going to nail it. Like, this world is mine. I'm going to take it on. I'm smart, I graduated, I'm a Badass. And then you go out and you just get your

BW: 08:03 confidence shoved on the ground and you would tend to take the CPA exam and that just shows you how much you didn't learn in school and what you need to know. So meanwhile, my confidence is shattered. I've double-digit and interviews my head's way bigger than what it should've been. They'd ask questions like, you know, I'd go for a staff accounting position and they're like, hey, where do you want to be in five years? You know, like the standard questions. My responses were say, well, I want to go to law school, I'm going to get my CPA and then I want to pass the bar and be a tax attorney and I want to go into big corporations and I want to save them millions of dollars and make millions of dollars in return. And so the interviewers were like, all right, this is a staff accountant positions. So in five years what you're telling me is I'm going to be asking in interviewing somebody just like you all over again. So if you think about it, their perspective, I obviously said all the wrong things because they want to hire somebody once Shullman like the, you know, process wheel and hope that it just works for the next 20 years and they don't have to hire somebody again.

MP: 09:10 Yeah, that's generally how it works. Absolutely.

BW: 09:14 Yeah. And needless to say, that first year I made $14,000

BW: 09:20 well boom

BW: 09:22 money, but it kept doubling from there. Your one $14,000 year too. And that's what I'm saying. Then you're, and this is gross revenue by the way. So maybe seven when it was all said and done. So it was a struggle. And then year two, I did 30 in revenue, 50,000 in 100,000 and that's when I hired my first employee. It was like 2012 it was right when I got the first client that I actually changed my pricing with because you know, at the time I was making 20 bucks or charging $20 an hour and I went through some terrible clients along the way. I had a everybody, I was in this marketing network group where everyone wanted to barter for services. Like I'll give you a watch if you do my accounting.

MP: 10:16 Yeah,

MP: 10:17 sorry, my, my mortgage company doesn't take fish. Like I can't, I have to exchange services in cash. Like if I want to buy a watch from you. Sure. But yeah, mortgage company doesn't take watches. So I need cash brother.

BW: 10:37 That happens a lot. And, uh, I remember just coming home one night and it was after six months of like, somebody's not paying me and you know, working for plenty of clients at the time and I just had $0 million. I'd open the mail and there was no check and I would just like slam it on my coffee table. Just frustrated. Like I just wanted to kick my furniture, which I probably did. But yeah, it's not, it's not an easy deal. And eventually you start to get better, better clients and then you start to value yourself really because you think, you know, if you're charging $20 an hour, that's kind of where you're putting your self worth at. And then the moment you bill somebody $1,000 in a month, you're like, oh my God, I can't give them that kind of bill. They're normally used to 500. And I'm sure you've heard in the past, people talking about they use their spouse to do their invoicing because they're the ones that lived. The sacrifice that you make, putting all your time and effort into your business and sacrificing, you know, skipping the dinners that they make for you that you don't show up for or being there for whatever, you know, family situation or activity have. It's always a struggle. So people love to say, make your spouse do your invoicing so that you know, they, they get that thousand dollar invoice and they're like, hell yeah,

MP: 12:02 I've never heard that before. I love that. That is such an interesting comment. Even just to think about it, what would my right, how would my, my spouse feel about sending this invoice? I mean what an interesting perspective, right?

BW: 12:16 Yeah. Cause you get it from the other side, the people who deal with all the sacrifices you make. So it's, it's, there's value there. And of course my wife, she's an attorney so she works til, you know, eight o'clock at night sometimes. And it's funny, I just sit there and work until she comes home and she's like, did you eat? You know, she'll go to like an after-work little dinner Bar Association, get together and I'll just continue to work. She'll come home at like 10 o'clock sometimes you're like, did you eat? I'm like, no, I forgot. I just kept working. So hopefully you don't get yourself into that position, but

BW: 12:53 expensive expected to happen. If you want to go off and run your own business there are those times be.

MP: 13:06 Absolutely. So you, you, what was the turnaround point? Not Turnaround really breakthrough point you, you were saying you, you raised your prices a around, was it around the hundred thousand mark or before that?

BW: 13:20 The a hundred thousand is a result of my first price, like increase and it wasn't. I did increase my rate from like 25 20 to 25 then I did 35 and 45 and 55 then 65 which I can tell you how I got there, but that's probably two podcasts long. However, the first year that I earned 50 grand, it really started to get to the point where I was like, man, I kind of need some help. And of course, well luckily along the way, because I started taking on so many clients, I started developing my own checklist and that that's a really important task that you want to get yourself involved in because that's the only thing you can use to pass down to a new employee and communicate with them. Uh, tasks and duties and expectations. If you have it all in your head, it's damn near impossible to disseminate that information on to someone else because then they just receive it and go and they don't write anything down and it becomes a snowball effect of bad management and terrible books and it just gets convoluted and technical and disgusting.

BW: 14:32 So checklists are key. And Luckily for me, because I was charging dirt to clients, I had to take on and cast a wide net and have a lot of them in order to, you know, make a decent wage. So, as a result, I had to create checklists cause I was in and out of so many client throughout the day. I wouldn't remember anything about anything. Like I've made an American Express bill payments. One of my that jeweler client, you know, I paid his bills every single month and he was like, how much was my Amex last month? And I'm like, I don't know. And he's like, you're a my account, you should know. And I'm like, absolutely not. Like I've paid a lot of credit card bills here, brother. But that is a result of checklists whenever you have these sort of tasks documented and articulated so that you can jump into a client, knock it out, be confident it's completed correctly and move on.

BW: 15:25 You don't have to remember those sort of nuances about every individual client and yet you're still doing a good job and you know they're going to appreciate you. That's a critical, critical task. So as a result, my first employee got like the best checklist. He, he got the best training from me and we talk about it all the time. Every time we bring on a new employee, they get less and less of me. So obviously that's how critically important it is to have these checklists. And mind you, that's one of the things I know, I know you guys talk about the pure bookkeeping system a lot on this podcast, which was a huge deal with my business. If you want to scale it, you have to have this sort of information that, you know, these checklists are all built into the pure bookkeeping system. And the most value I get out of it is how it describes how to do things.

BW: 16:19 It's, it's the things you talk about to your employees everyday. Like, Hey, what I can see what I call perfect competition is like gasoline, stuff like that. Parking. Nobody cares that they're parking in a garage that's owned by PMI, parking or any various business because they're just looking for a spot to park in. So that's considered perfect competition. Gasoline, I don't, I don't, there are people that, you know, care about Exxon versus sho. But the truth is when you need gas, you're pulling into the first gas station. You see? So from an accounting, bookkeeping perspective, they do, they want to know how much they spent it on Exxon last year or do they want to know how much they spent in gasoline? So why have all these payees for all these millions of billions of gas stations that people go to instead just have one payee that's called gasoline.

BW: 17:14 Anything that's related to that goes there. And that is are some of the things that the pure bookkeeping system articulated for me without me having to have that same conversation with everybody every time they came on board and created an Exxon payee when there wasn't one before. But back to your original question from five minutes ago, how do I get from 50 to a hundred with the pricing? This client, they needed a full time person and they were looking to pay like $45,000 for the individual. The person before me was fired for stealing. So they brought me on as a temporary basis through friend of a friend while they were searching for a new accountant and they were paying the other person like $65,000. And so armed with that information, go back to this pure bookkeeping thing, but Debbie is another big benefit I get from it is that she has this thing called a health check that you provide a clients before they come on.

BW: 18:20 It's a courtesy deal. That's a great place to find out how much people are paying their bookkeeper. So you can use that to kind of gauge what their willingness and what their prices to pay. Now mind you, some people have been burned in the past by their accountant and so they understand the value in, you know, maybe they under, for example, there was one client that charged at that, there's one bookkeeper that charged a client $1,000 a month flat. He wasn't getting a lick of service from them. So we come in, show them all the things they do wrong that's through that health check and get an understanding of the pricing. Well, there are times where you could blow that pricing out the box and they're totally on board with it. I think we started that client at $33,000 a year or some sort and maybe 33 eight I think it shook out to be some number divided by 12 they were totally on board with it.

BW: 19:16 From there we, we picked up some HR, we picked up their invoicing that was produced by an employee in house at the time, so now as of today, it's been about five years. We've been with that client and we charge them 82,000 a year so there could be clients out there. You don't want to base your pricing on what it was in the past and either undercut it or just take it up a notch. You really do want to use that, you know your skills to kind of evaluate where it's going to be, but that's just a helpful gauge to use that health check courtesy situation. It's, that's also built in the pure bookkeeping system. There's a checklist what to look for, and that helps me a lot of times to kind of get an idea of what the client, obviously with the interview tool, you can get a feel for what their needs are. If they're more desperate than what they've been getting in the past. She kind of pick that out.

MP: 20:14 It's such an interesting journey and yes, lots of, lots of experiences. When did you start implementing the pure bookkeeping system into your business?

BW: 20:25 This was about three years ago at the time. Now they didn't have a QuickBooks desktop version of the Pure Bookkeeping system for the US so it was right after I read the e-myth bookkeeper edition. Did you ever hear you've heard of that Michael, right?

MP: 20:48 Absolutely. We wrote the book. Oh, you a part of it.

BW: 20:51 Yeah, absolutely. Well, I didn't write the book, but Deb and Pete, my business partner wrote, wrote it with Michael Gerber, but the story is I met Mike Gerber, so Michael Gerber wrote EMF 40 years ago. Now I think it is a, which is a fantastic book in any list. All the listeners listening, I mean it's definitely, you know, for a bookkeeper you want to read, I think both books because he goes deeper, deeper into, I mean it was the book e myth. The original book is the book that Debbie read and got from Peter in the beginning and said, look, you need to create a system-dependent business. You need to get everything that's in your head and to documentation and in a way that other people can follow it so that you can train people to do it your way and know that you can trust them.

BW: 21:36 Right? So I had a chance to meet, I was going to be interviewing Michael Gerber, uh, for another big event that I was a part of where we brought in big thought leaders into the, the Toronto area. And so Michael Gerber was one of our keynote speakers. So I said, well told Pete. And he's like, Hey, could you get Devaa signed copy? Cause she's just a big Fan, right? So I, I bring in and I brought in some of the systems and process and manuals and showed Michael and he was, he just lost his mind. He's like, oh my goodness, I can't believe this. You know, here's a woman who took my book, uh, created a system-dependent business, grew it to 12 bookkeepers and then then now is helping and now over 800 bookkeepers around the world use those systems. And so he invited them to write the, the e-myth bookkeeper with him. And that's the book that you read that helped you find us.

MP: 22:24 Yeah, that is, that is like the quintessential person. I mean, talk about Michael Gerber must've felt like 1 million bucks. Like hell yeah, this is exactly why I wrote the book and this is it in flux. That's awesome.

BW: 22:41 Yeah, I mean, Michael, yeah, great guy. And really has, has impacted hundreds of thousands of businesses and help them get more freedom, make more money, more certainty for the future and you know, help build better communities through it. Right. So he's a, he's a hero. Maher and our hearts

BW: 22:58 was the um, e-myth bookkeeper or does the myth revisited? So it was like his kind of rewrite and that was through a friend that was just talking about it and I was like, all right, pick it up. And how I found the bookkeeper edition was I was thrilled with the book and one of my clients, he was a state farm insurance agent. I was talking to him about it and it was right as we started our engagement and I was like, I'm going to buy this guy, this book. So as soon as I go back, you know, send them the engagement with the book. But as I was searching for it, I must have got it on Amazon or something. And I saw that there were these industry-specific additions and I was like, let me look through these. And of course it blew my mind to see a bookkeeper. I was like, people even know that bookkeeper's exist. This is great.

MP: 23:50 Okay.

BW: 23:50 That's how I came across that book. So mind you, at the time I, I was gonna buy them the e myth revisited. I saw that there was an insurance-specific book and a bookkeeper. So I bought that from myself and the insurance one for him.

MP: 24:05 Beautiful.

BW: 24:06 Yup. So Do, do we want to go back to that whole pricing increase thing?

MP: 24:11 Absolutely. Well tell, so you um, uh, you, you ready math. How did it happen and then how did it impact your business? I mean you've gone, I mean you've gone from a hundred years, 100,000 was your first employee. How, how did you get from get getting beyond a hundred thousand mark?

BW: 24:31 I think that because of this whole new like realization with asking well beyond what you were originally going to ask the client for. Cause at the time I was going to tell him I would do it for like $25,000 and then I found out that he was trying to hire that somebody for around 45 but he was paying 65. I kind of just threw it out there. I was like, I'll do it. I'll, I'll come in here every day and I'll work for you full time. Cause he actually had me interview the bookkeepers and I was like giving him my feedback and so then he goes, can you just do it? Can you just work for us? I was like sure. So I go back to write up the engagement and I was going to put $25,000 on it and I just said, you know, it's screwed.

BW: 25:25 I'm shooting for the moon and I often put it up for 55 grand that I would do it full time and I wanted to offices cause right at that time it was, I was kind of stretched to where I was. Like if I, if he says yes to 55,000 that means I can hire somebody and if I'm coming into DC every day to work at their office, I'm going to need two offices. And so I threw that into the deal too. I was like 55 grand in two offices and I thought for sure there'd be pushback. He didn't even push back, signed the engagement and it was off to the races. From there all you get this whole new level of confidence like I'm better than I think I am. And so of course I immediately wrote all my clients, I'm increasing another $10 an hour and with my letter I basically wrote the letter and said, sign here if you do not want the increase, and this is also you acknowledging that the agreement is going to be terminated within 30 days of the day that you return this document signed and if I don't hear back from you, that means that starting on this date you except the increase in price.

MP: 26:42 Beautiful.

BW: 26:44 That was a cool little concept that you know, and the funny thing is not a single person signed the thing that is continued services.

MP: 26:54 I love that. I love the, the, the reverse psychology, right? It's like you can either make them work to remain a client, like sign this back if you are okaying this or it's like you're just creating a path of least resistance. Right? It's like make them work to actually leave as a client or do something different. Right. I love that. Such a, such a nice context shift, right?

BW: 27:15 Yeah. Do not thing. And this is what's going to happen if you don't agree with it or you don't want it sign here and yeah, do a little legwork and send it back to me.

BW: 27:32 Now of course as you get more expensive, you get more complaints. So as a result, and this is a very difficult thing to do, is shift from billing people by the hour to the flat fee. And I'm constantly working on it. We're, we're heading in that direction, but it's still imperfect and I am pretty good at getting the pricing right, but it's not perfect yet. And that's a, that's a tough concept to understand and praise yourself effectively so that it makes sense to both you and the client. Because the truth is is I don't want to screw anybody out of money. I don't want to say, Hey, I want you to pay this much a month and we're going to do half the work or something. Ha Ha. Jokes on, you know, I try to get it priced to where there definitely months where you know we're going to get screwed a little bit and there are months that they're going to get screwed a little bit so that in the end it falls right where you were, you expected to be.

BW: 28:32 Cause there's nothing worse than feeling like you're getting one over on somebody but you also do want to want the prices so that you can have a little bit of wiggle room because whenever you have a issue or something that you want to figure out what the client, you don't want to not give it the time of day because you're stretched so thin and you know that it's going to break the budget. So you give some, give your clients some haphazard, you know, quick fix for a problem that you could really dive into and provide a good solution for. Like a lot of times there's payroll issues when you're using third-party services and you just, you want to go down the rabbit hole of, you know, reconciling unemployment insurance over the last three years or something. If it hadn't been done in the past. So you want to price those into your engagements.

MP: 29:22 Beautiful. Now you, you've gone and hired a lot of people. Tell us about your hiring process.

BW: 29:30 That too is another challenge. I've tried the whole interview questions and that seems to not be the most effective. What I've found as shooting as another peer bookkeeping thing is the most effective is the skills test that's included with that package. And it's an actual QuickBooks accounting system file that you basically invite somebody that passes through the sniff test on your phone interview to come in and take this test. So you can actually see, it's basically a month worth of bookkeeping in the test. And so you, you get to see what the person would do on a monthly basis. And if that test is booby trap to hell, not to deceit anybody, but it basically, you know, it's an accrual-based business. So at the end of the month, you know, there's prepaid expensive insurance built into it. There's no instruction on booking the or expense, you know, for that, that monthly period.

BW: 30:35 But it exists and you just, I just like to use that and it's actually not graded in the test either, but certain little nuances like that are built throughout the entire program so you can get an understanding of what someone's strengths and weaknesses are so that you can make sure when they start with you that you have an idea of the sort of things that they're going to miss. If you give them, you know, a certain client that has a certain need, hey, this client is cruel based and you know, know that you didn't pick up on the accrual entries at the end of the month. So let's make sure to cover that. And No, you're not going to do something. You don't have to sit with the employee if you know that they have a strength in, you know, entering the tax id for a law firm because you know that they have to be 10 90 times in the US no matter what the entity type is, LLP corporation doesn't matter. Lawyers get 10 99 they know that, you know that, oh, why cover it?

MP: 31:34 Do you have [inaudible]? You know, it's interesting and I imagine, I'd love to hear your take on this, but when you're using a test like that, you're seeing, it's like the perfect scenario of evaluating somebody because you're evaluating them when they don't know you're really evaluating them. What, what have you seen about people's character? Cause a big, big, big part of having people join your team and hiring people is you're going to spending time with these people. You gotta make sure they're a fit. Culturally, you got to make sure that they're a fit culturally into your culture of your business. And then from a personality perspective, what have you seen using the skills and speed test? What has that enabled you to glean about the people you've hired?

BW: 32:16 All right, so to test, once it was finally completed and we were going to roll out the skills test to all the new recruits, I had everybody in the company take it and we did like a little competition. Whoever got the best guy, like I don't know, a hundred dollar bonus or something. And I realized that I have created, if you were to take every single person at will for companies and they were one damn good accountant, it was amazing to see how some people pick up. Like one of our employees was really insist, insistent on making the charter of accounts perfect. The other one had all the vendor details in there and everything looked good and I was like, man, you guys make one great employee. If we were to put up everyone's strengths together, it would have been awesome.

BW: 33:08 But so that's one of the things I picked up on, which is what's so critical, equally effective about that skills test is that you can pick up on the weaknesses. So if you're giving responsibilities and duties to people, you can, you know, understand that you're not, it just helps you from throwing people in the fire and then getting mad at them because they didn't know how to do something. Like whose fault is it really? Is it yours for giving somebody something they weren't skilled at or is it there is for not being skilled at that. Whenever you know you have an expectation. So you set expectations with it. It's really, so it's really good for

MP: 33:47 Brad, you have uh, hired a lot of people in your business and you are a student of Michael Gerber's work and the concept that Michael Gerber put forth and EMF was, you know, build a system-dependent business, which is, you know, you can trust your systems versus relying and trusting on staff. Like in a, in a business that relies on staff, they come and they run the business and if you were, if you assemble a bunch of people in your business to do work, you train them all to do the work and they each retain that information. If those people leave a, you're out. You don't have a business anymore. So it's a people dependent business, which is a chaotic business. It's what causes a lot of stress and anxiety and, and businesses. Whereas a system-dependent businesses, you've documented the processes and procedures of the business. People know exactly what to do. They know exactly how to do it and they know when they've done a good job of it, which leads to high retention rate of staff, a high customer, not customer but high staff satisfaction, employee satisfaction if you will. And so you've, you started building this using the help of pure bookkeeping, but what is, what, what has it been like having a system driven and a system dependent business?

BW: 35:02 Yeah. What's so good about it is it cuts the fat. It helps you as the educator, I guess you could say whenever you're giving employees, you're disseminating duties unto them from yourself. It helps with you not being required to talk to them about every nuance of the client. Because as we all know, as accountants, our work is cognitive, which means, well my definition of that is there's not always a right answer. It's kind of like, you know, civil litigation's like 50 50 you know, a little bit tip the scales this way to scale that way in an audit. Would it pass? Well? Yes it would pass. If you stand behind it, you have a process written and you stick to it. So the critical piece of a well-documented system is that it is your industry best practice. It's not here, Mr. Robot, do this.

BW: 36:06 Don't veer from the, from the path of the system. I don't, I haven't been able to create such a specific way that you could actually, you know, give somebody a book and say, follow this to the t for every single client. That's never going to happen. So there's always individual specific needs with the client, but that's the conversation you want to have with your employees. You don't want to have the stupid conversation about, like we've talked about earlier, for perfect competition businesses such as gasoline, creating all these various payees and vendors and them asking you, Hey, uh, why isn't should I create Exxon? You know, no can use the gasoline thing. You don't want to have that conversation with every single employee anytime they come across a problem. So those systems, the best industry, best practices will knock out those sorts of conversations so that you can have the more meaty conversations that actually mean something beautiful.

MP: 37:07 And I'm sure that that, you know, having 12 staff has, has changed your life as well from the days of just working on your own and cranking it out while your wife's out doing, you know, you'd be, you'd be up 24, seven all the time. How right. How has this impacted your life?

BW: 37:28 Uh, it's extremely challenging to deal with all the people and all the personalities. I, you wouldn't believe how many stories I get every day about, you know, who has to leave and for what reason and blah, blah, blah. It, it gets overwhelming for sure. So what we're trying to do now in the business, because right now there's Matt and me who are essentially the guys that anytime an associate has a question, they go up the chain to us. So it's kind of a flat structure. Well, we're finally getting to that point where our business is like a, it's maturing. It's like the awkward teenage phase of a business where we want this hierarchy so that there can be levels of authority and Instruction provided by other knowledgeable people instead of everything coming to Matt and I because now we're, we have to, I spend a lot of time like writing engagements in specifying our duties and statement of work with clients to the point where if someone has a small problem that it just takes me away from it.

BW: 38:39 And I've actually this week, since Monday I've been writing an HR statement of work because somebody wants us to do HR since Monday. I could have finished it halfway through Monday if there were zero people around. But right now it is still not a complete, so that's the challenge or the distractions by having all the employees. So inevitably that's what causes you to start to bring those people up in and develop a management role. And you know, for us, we've never had to have a manager, so we don't have the, haven't had those conversations before. It's, it's a new concept to us. And you know what? I always tell what actually my cousin told me years ago, he said, if the revenue drives it, do it. And so he's got like a $30 million business. And so I kind of looked to him for advice cause you know, we're not even doing $1 million yet.

BW: 39:38 And so I'd like always like to pick his brain to find out how to get places that I want to go. And one of the Times years ago how that came up was I was just starting out in business. I had like, you know, I wasn't making anything from money as you guys heard thus far and I want him to get an a satellite office in DC. And so it was like some stupid expensive $2,000 a month and I may have been making like $3,000 a month at this time. I don't know. And so I was telling them, well, if I can get into DC then I'll get the business. Well, he was like, uh, do you have the business? No. Do you think if you get into DC and get that place, you'll get the business? Yes. Okay. Why don't you just go into DC and try to get the business.

BW: 40:22 And if you get, if you're so busy, you're going to DC because you have so many clients, then it makes sense to get an office. So I liked that concept of if the revenue drives a do it and I've kind of lived by that ever since. So as a result, you know, we get to this point where there's 12 employees and there's so many distractions that we say we need a third level of management here. So we need the executive level, the middle management level, and then the associates so that we can have a buffer. So that's some of the, most of the questions can be answered by the manager that I can actually get my job done in price jobs and get more business in the door. So inevitably it gets to that point. And so my advice would be if the revenue drives to do it.

MP: 41:11 I love that. What a beautiful piece of advice, Brad. This has been, this has been awesome. I've got like at least I, a handful of other questions we're going to have to have you come back and share cause you just, like I said in the beginning, you're so generous with your, your, your stories and where you're at and you just, you tell it from just the way that it, I personally think it's refreshing and I love hearing the stories and the real true story. Right. So I'm gonna ask that you come on back sometime in the future and share a few other tidbits as we go. But this is, this is awesome. If people want to learn more about you, what's the best way to do that?

BW: 41:53 That's sweet. Do that would be to send me a text message. We have the most terrible website. It is literally one page and it's some brochure that we kind of just plastered as a wallpaper on the background. Funny thing about that is some people do look at your website before they call you. That's what happens nowadays. And so I will actually get calls. Most of our calls are referral based, but you know, I'll get calls and someone's like, oh, I was looking on the internet and I couldn't really find anything about you. And I was like, Oh, I guess that my website worked because it has my phone number on it. And you called me and I'm our best billboard right now. But needless to say, you could go to www.wolfordcompanies.com and Woolford is w o l f o r d and companies is plural, c o m p a n I s.com. And uh, I took some advice from you and I'm very close to getting that intercom, which is like a text messaging capabilities. So if you visited the website, hopefully I'll be there to say, hey, take a look around even though there's nothing to look at.

MP: 43:03 Yeah,

MP: 43:04 maybe instead of texting me directly we could use intercom.

BW: 43:08 Absolutely. conversation.

MP: 43:10 Yeah, absolutely. Well there were, there you have it folks, if you have questions, more questions, you want to connect with this awesome human being, go and do it. And we're going to have Brad come back and share more of his knowledge for those that want to follow in his footsteps and learn from his mistakes and also from his successes. And, and uh, and so again, Brad, thank you for being on the show.

BW: 43:32 Thank you so much.

MP: 43:34 Well, that wraps 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. Until next time,

MP: 43:47 goodbye.

EP91: Jennifer Blake - Why Emotional Fitness Will Help You Win In Life & Business

TSBK - Episode 91 - Jennifer Blake.png
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These are some of the examples that may affect your emotional health and day-to-day living.

Jennifer Blake, founder and owner of Blake Consulting, helps entrepreneurs shift their emotional health incrementally everyday so they can focus on growing their business and improving their lives.

Since she was 14 years old, she began helping, facilitating and volunteering in workshops. It was always her passion to make a difference in people's lives. 

Most recently, she became the Director and Co-Owner of the Hoffman Institute of Canada which facilitates The Hoffman Process, a life-changing 7 day residential self-development program that helps people release the limiting patterns they learned in their childhood and lead their lives with choice, empowerment and passion.

Today, Jennifer guides entrepreneurs to focus on finding a deeper sense of happiness, fulfillment and passion in all areas and facets of their lives.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of getting the support from the people around you

  • How taking care of yourself will bring you balance

  • What the steps are to emotional fitness

To learn more about Blake Consulting, visit here.

To learn more about Hoffman Institute Canada, click here.

For her LinkedIn page, check this out.

To get in touch with Jennifer, email her at Jennifer@blakeconsulting.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:24 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. Our guest is an emotional healing specialist who helps entrepreneurs shift their emotional health incrementally every day so that they can focus on growing their business and improving their lives. Jennifer Blake, welcome to the podcast.

Jennifer Blake: 01:47 Oh, thank you very much, Michael. It is my absolute pleasure to be here.

MP: 01:51 Well, thank you so much for giving us your time and I'm so excited about this episode. Did to really help our listeners shift incrementally every day. Sounds exciting. But before we get into all of that, Jennifer, please tell us a little bit about you and what brought you to being Jennifer Blake today.

JB: 02:10 Oh, thank you, Michael. Uh, my, my back story is I've, I've always wanted to make a difference in people's lives. And so ever since I was a child, I began helping, uh, facilitating, preventing, doing workshops. And in fact, at 14, I was volunteering and creating workshops for, uh, for youth that are still actually running here in Ottawa at the YMC today. So my, my desire and my goal to help people incrementally shifting their lives. They didn't know it in that kind of mature language at the time, but my heart was always in it. So then I moved into a venture of helping people in the employment realm and doing career counseling and doing workshops that took me right across Canada and North America doing presentations. And I, in that time I, a program called the Hoffman process that literally shifted my life and at a very, very deep, profound level.

JB: 03:06 And so what I ended up doing was finding that this was going to be my path. So quanti 20 years ago, I took off a process. 17 years ago I became a Hoffman teacher. And for the last 17 years, I have worked in the emotional healing area. I've worked with thousands of people and help them at those profound and deep levels in their lives, coming through trauma, coming into happiness, joy, and relief. And through that I really realized that I love working with entrepreneurs because I myself am one, my husband is one. My parents were one. And I truly understand the, the um, the piece, the stresses, the balance that goes into working on your own, possibly working from your home and managing and balancing a life. I have three children, three beautiful boys, 10, seven and four. I keep me very busy. And throughout all of this on my journey, I realized that, you know what? It's actually the incremental shifts, the pieces that I can act every single day in my choices that make the large difference. And so recently I have relaunched the lake consulting and I am out helping entrepreneurs, helping people shift and make these changes in their life that is simple, real and doable.

MP: 04:32 Absolutely love, love, love, love it. And of course, this is where it really got to know you was I was one of your students in the Hoffman process and I concur. A wonderful program changed my life for the better. I fell in love with myself and I felt, fell in love with the people around me and it just enriched my life. So thank you for that. And it's so wonderful to see you now, uh, helping people. On a much grander scale and entrepreneurs because anybody who's helping entrepreneurs, our friends are the successful bookkeeper, podcast and all of our audience absolutely tipping their hat for you as well, Jennifer. And you know what I love about this topic is that the business isn't really that complicated. It's the humans that complicated.

JB: 05:22 Well said.

MP 05:23 All right. And so anything we can do to take out the complication of being a human being, I think it's just going to make business so much more fun.

JB: 05:32 Well, and that really is that the piece, I think what you're talking about is even the nature of how I help people in the coaching and the programs that I got, I facilitate and the retreats that I facilitate is, let's keep it simple. We as humans, we have a tendency to overthink. We try to overanalyze, do, do too much worry, concern, try to balance. And whenever we take a look at ourselves, we'll never measure up to our own expectations. So if you can imagine taking that kind of high stress that we as human beings put place on ourselves and of course there's such a collective stress that you know, to do more, be more, be the best at, and then we bring that high stress into our businesses. Or already we've created like a pressure cooker situation where it's not allowing us to be as productive as healthy and emotionally healthy as we can, which then of course improve the emotional health of the, of our businesses.

MP: 06:29 Yeah, I like to call it the magic, you know, it's one things or there's places in business when, when all of that stress and it's let go that the magic of business and really the magic of life can actually kick in and it's like, wow, that's cool that just happened. How did that happen? I don't know. It almost like magic, right? When we're all bound up and worried and stressed, there's no opportunity for creativity. There is no opportunity for the real powerful, massive, you know, exponential multiplier effects of our wonderful brain that we have here waiting for us to use. That's why I think so many people are walking around stressed and, and caught up in just the daily grind of life.

JB: 07:15 And that's what we see. You know, I mean I for years and years, if you remember I was sharing that I worked with in the employment-related field and there was this seem that we could separate. Okay. And also I have a uh, a background in psychology. So I have two degrees in neuropsychology. One can kinesiology. So I know the mind, the body very well. And there was a theory a long time ago that said that we could separate, you know, and there was all these meditations you could do when you stepped out of your job, you could sort of unzip your suit and then step into your role at home or in your extracurricular life. And yet, unfortunately, that theory does not hold as as well as it as it should because we are one, we are absolutely one. And that magic that you're talking about, Michael, is very possible, but it starts on the inner level.

JB: 08:04 We can't expect it to be there in the outside world, meaning in our life, our work, our jobs, our family. If we are not cultivating it on the inside first. So it's really quite a simple step to start there. But it literally all comes back to you and with the focus being back on yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else. So actually you already know what to do with yourself, but it's through support and podcasts like your yours, Michael, and your programs and, and the ways that people can seek, um, the support of others that helps us realize, Oh yes, yes, I do have the answers in here, but how do I find them? How do I do this on a daily basis? How do I get through, like you said, all of the noise out there to find the magic that has always been there. You're born with it, you have it. Our bodies are innately programmed to heal. Our bodies are innately programmed to have that magic. It's just uncovering how, how we can actually get it.

MP: 09:17 And I think, you know, we've talked a lot on this podcast about doing it alone and, and how really detrimental that is to anyone's, uh, success. Whatever their third journey to success or journey of success in that, doing it alone, that second set of eyes, whether it be someone like you who's helping somebody identify, it's like you, you might, someone could be stressed and not know why. And at it could be if you, you know, with one person having a conversation with you, you could identify quickly that it's like to actually know what that it's something else. You know, it's not about, I remember my, one of my favorite books that I read was, um, by Lance Armstrong, it was called, it's not about the bike, right? The bike isn't what, what had had, had him win those races. Now I read this before all the drug stuff, but you know, um, the point is, is that often in life it's not about what we think it's about. It's about something else. And so a set of eyes like yours and the work that you do helps bring that additional set of eyes. And identify things that just aren't there in your perspective.

JB: 10:20 Just shirt. I love what you just shared there, Michael, because you know, I have this thing that says understanding the why is important. Understanding the what is better and understanding the how helps us take action. So those are common questions, right? It's, it's, I mean, as a child, when we process emotions, you ask a child why they're feeling some way, they have no idea. But for us as adults, as entrepreneurs in the work field, why is important we don't have to stay there. And the what is important and we don't have to stay there either, but the, the how, how can I now understanding where I am, why I got here, but most importantly, how I can shift out of this. That's where the action takes place. And so often we get caught up in the why. We can take a look and say, well, why aren't I being more productive?

JB: 11:16 Why is, you know, so-and-so doing better than me? Or what is happening that I'm not able to move this? Uh, this next level in my business is until the how comes along that we can then say, okay, thank you, thank you for that valuable information. Our brain needs it. And I could, we could spend a whole other podcast just on the brain, my goal, but our brain needs that to be able to see safely, securely say, okay, I understand. I'm going to showdown. Now I'm going to settle into a place where yes, I'm ready to take action. And that action, he's often, when I find than propels people to take those next steps in their business too. Find the place to create and also, which is really important, enjoy themselves. Because really, why would we do something if it's not enjoyable? Remember when I said that the body is innately program to heal.

JB: 12:06 The body's innately programmed to feel joy. Joy is a higher energy than any other kind of emotion. So we will, if we're in that place of joy for enjoying what we do, and I'm sure everyone who's, who's listening today can remember the times when you sat down to work or to, uh, you know, complete your next task. And you weren't in a place of joy. Was it easier? Was it, did it have more flow? Did it end up being more productive? Were you more efficient? And my guess would be you could all listen to and if you could all answer at this time, but the answer would be yes. So it's also about finding that joy and bringing the joy into those magic moments and that, that magic and the joy together. You're unstoppable.

MP: 12:55 Mm. Well, and that's one of the aims of this podcast is to help our listeners build businesses that they love, whatever size business they want. But one of the flags are one of the, the key performance indicators, if you will, is I love my business and I love what I do. And so the work that you're doing really is opening a door to, to having more of that. And, and what I want to say as well, just in listening to you, it's, it occurs to me is, is this set state? I've recently, well it wasn't that recent, but it was a couple of months ago. I went and I had a shoulder problem and I needed to get it worked on. I tried all these different things and it was painful. And finally, if I went to this massage therapist who worked, worked on the problem and fixed the problem and it was a muscular problem, I have no idea what, but he did what he did and it fixed it.

MP: 13:51 And I was like, wow, it's amazing. But he also did some more massage on the rest of my body and all of a sudden I'm like, I don't know what the heck just happened. But I feel different, like a whole new level of relaxation that I did not know existed. And so what, what it was was that I was walking around at a set state of pain or discomfort or uncomfortableness or whatever we would call that and, and didn't know it. Like for me it was like, oh, there's nothing wrong, but it was the shoulder that you know, was super pain that triggered me into this whole new level of, you know what, there's a new normal here. And I like this new normal. And I think that's what's available for so many people, many of the listeners. And, and it's not just the listeners on this podcast, I absolutely 6 billion people on the planet or how many ever it is a whole new level, whole new normal of life that is a lot more easygoing, a lot more enjoyable, a lot more fun.

JB: 14:52 Okay. I'm going to agree with that, Michael, and, and I, I think that you said about your shoulder and the body is so profound. Um, so if I could just branch off on that end and add, please do. Because really, if you remember me saying to you earlier about that the body's innately program to heal right now our body, um, I have a thing in the first coaching session that I do that, um, and I have everyone write it down that the body holds the state. Okay. When what that means is our bodies will always reflect what is happening inside. Now this is not new information, right? I mean, it's stuff definitely that's commonplace. We understand. But what that does is it highly attuned people. Because when I work with people and we're, we're working on the incremental shifts, it's about listening and it's about being quiet enough to hear what is going on.

MP: 15:45 And often when we have a busy business or we're growing our business and therefore there's buisiness in the growing stages, then we can often just ignore our body. So actually when I'm working with people a lot that is listening to your body, how are you treating your body? And our body will talk to us. So just like my goal and your body was talking to you through your, through your shoulder, for whatever reason that happened. And we may know that's the why, the what in the house. The fact is what it led you to do is pay attention, get some help and then all of a sudden feel a way that you had not felt before. Our brain also learns through contrast. And so it's really important. And I was actually just sharing this with someone that, uh, we were having our coaching call this morning and she said, you know, like, Gosh, my life has just incrementally changed.

MP: 16:37 But it's all the small pieces that make the big difference. Jen, and this is unbelievable because I've never felt this way before. And what she's really saying is that, you know, it's just like ourselves in our body. And if you think about it, they don't, they, they are independent cellular one, one cell at a time. They're sending a message. But together they may get this incredible piece that we say our is our physical body. Now they each are incrementally changing and shifting every day, just like weekend. It's not a big meeting that everyone has and you know, and they call the cells together and they have a meeting and they say, okay, go do your job today. Each one is working independently, but it makes the overall difference. Whatever happened for your shoulder, that was an incremental shifts that then made a massive difference in the rest of your body because there's oneself, one group of cells shifted.

JB: 17:30 So did the rest of your body, and this is exactly what people may or may not realize as they're going through and you know in their daily grind are working really hard or want striving to do better, is that even those small shifts that we may not see is going to increase our profitability or make a difference in the bottom line or get help with catch that deadline even faster is actually shifting. They'd be just as simple as stopping, taking a breath and realizing that when we consume something that we're putting in our body, even what we're consuming is going to make a difference in our day, which makes a difference in our body, which makes a difference in our productivity, our wellbeing, our emotional health, et cetera. And so it's about listening and Michael, you listened. Now I'm also going to share that sometimes we need to get to the place of point of pain, you know, in our body or in our businesses or in our family or in our relationships to be able to listen to part of the human journey.

MP: 18:27 But also the more you get in the pattern of listening, and that's why I work with people on a weekly basis. The more you get in the pattern of listening and you're able to hear what your body is telling you because you're tuned in, the more you are able to listen to what your emotions are sharing with you and understanding your emotional health, then the messages don't have to be so drastic, like a very pain shoulder, right? They can drag us down and that is the beauty. We then can experience something like you said, Michael, that is a new normal and from that new normal who wouldn't want to stay there? Who wouldn't want to create from this place? And it's not to say, it's not to say that we're not going to have those blips on the, you know, the ups and downs, the shifts, the that, the drops and that the peaks and valleys as they would say, that's part of our human journey in this part of our human experience. Welcome to life. But it's being able to move and flow with that. And by listening and making those incremental changes every day, they're not boulders, which is small little pebbles that make the wave. Does that make sense? Does that, does is what I'm sharing is that helpful?

JB: 19:48 I like the idea that what we're doing when we're making these incremental shifts is that we're, we're getting closer and closer to this knowledge that we have as as a human being. So whatever we want to call that, but to, to remove the noise that's preventing us really of listening to this incredible, incredible thing. That's our body, right? That is our host, that is our, our, our ship through life. And it's almost in a, in the western world anyways, I would assert that it's Kinda like, oh, forget about the ship cares about the ship. It's like, wait a second. Where, and we're in any kind of situation we forget about the, the ships that get, you know, forgotten about the, if you don't worry about your car, if you don't, you know, take care of the things that get you around. Guess what they break. And so it's like just for me anyways in this, in this conversation, it's like, yeah, pay to the vehicle that's moving, moving around. Not only is it an awesome vehicle with all sorts of magical things that it can do for us, but it's the only one we've got.

JB: 20:57 And you know what? My goal is so interested in that you're sharing that because Nicole program that I'm, I'm working with people in the first call. I spent one full hour asking them very, very detailed questions about heightening their awareness on not only first and foremost, how are they treating the body because the body holds the state and the energy, but also everything. Because everything, and I know you've heard this before, but everything is energy. Well that's, that is the truth. And so I say to them very clearly, I'm going to start, we're going to start right when you wake up, before you feed him and hit the floor and we're going to get through as much of your day as we can. Okay. In one hour. I have not yet successfully made it for anyone of the the clients that I coach to breakfast in one hour.

JB: 21:47 So you can just imagine Michael, how many moments we can be aware of that can make those incremental shifts in our day. But we, we as human beings, we just get so tuned into, okay, yes, I get up, I get dressed, I get going and get my coffee again. Work mode now. Now how can I be productive? And what actually starts the minute your eyes open. That's how our day starts. That's how our productivity start. That's how we start as entrepreneurs. But everything else that we have to balance on top of that, and so it's those. It's by listening in not only to our body, but body is a super one to start with and that's where we do start often, but it's in our, it's our environments. It's what we listen to. It's what we ingest, it's who we talk to. It's how we talk. It's how we hold ourselves.

JB: 22:35 It's how we dress. It's every piece along the way. Now taking a look at that big picture, that would be overwhelming. That's why we do it incrementally. And that's why for those who are listening today, even if you can take something from this podcast to say, you know what, just stop. Take a look. Where are you sitting right now? Are you driving? I was listening to this, you know, in a plane, traveling somewhere. Is this a morning ritual for you or are you at your desk? Just pause, stop and look around. He did everything in for a moment. What kind of, what kind of, what kind of state is your desk in? How were you holding your body? How were you dressed today? What have you ingested so far and has it been healthy? Is there outside noise and distractions? What kind of conversations did you have thus far today and what, what kind of relations did you have with family members or friends or colleagues?

JB: 23:44 How were those, how were those conversations? Everything. Everything makes an overall difference. And when we can take a look, when we can really dissect and see what those pieces are and then we can harness it and be as joyful as we can be, as as happy as we can be, as connected to our emotions and life experiences as we can be in productive communication. That healthy communication, the relationships as we can be. My Gosh, I mean talk about a new normal. I go, imagine sitting down into that state, you can pour so much of yourself into your creativity. You so much of yourself into your work, so much of yourself into your job that you do love your job because you love yourself. That's it. That's as simple as it gets and it can be that simple. There's a lot that can be confusing out there and so when we boil it down, when we distill it down, we take a look almost like a, we take a look under a microscope. That's when we can really see what's going on. The human body gets really simple. When we look at it under a microscope, we're like, oh, we're just all a bunch of cells. So cool. On the same thing to our days for our truck productivity and to our businesses step-by-step with support along the way makes it doable. Real. And I love what you're going to say, Michael. The magic and joy is there.

JB: 25:09 I can see how this is already just as you were, as you were going through that list, you know, it's just amazing when I pay attention to some of those questions that you asked. It's like, what am I wearing? What did I eat today? You know, it's kind of like, hey, you know, these are all things that, why did I choose to wear what I wore today? And am I happy with my choice? Yeah. It's just, and it happened in a really, in a flash of a second, um, in a blink of an eye as this. Um, we're, you know, it's a book that we're reading right now with my son, which is a Franklin the turtle. And I think that would be beginning of every, every thing. It's like in the blink of an eye, I can swallow 30, you know, 82 flies in the blink of an eye while in the blink of an eye, I had all of these thoughts around, you know, I can make a choice that's different now. I'm happy with what I wore. But, uh, it had me think about why did I wear it and I wore what I'm wearing today because it reminds me to chill out, to be, you know, chill. It's a shirt that says everyday California. And for me, California is like really cool, chill place. And so yet just the exercise helped me get in tune with something that I'm doing that supporting me.

JB: 26:28 And that's the key. And again, Michael, the message support, right? So we can, we can do things the hard way on life. And Trust me, I've tried. I have pushed many, a boulder up a hill and for those of, uh, those people who know me very, very well, I do have that competitive edge and competitive side as well. So sometimes though it can be my compete with myself, but I got to tell you, there's always a point when that boulder literally flattens me and that that upward battle up that hill is just not enjoyable. And unfortunately when you're, so when I, and I will own this one, I was so bent on pushing that boulder up the hill. I tend to ignore all the messages of support and love from my family, from my friends, from my coaches, from people around me because I'm so darn set on that one folder.

JB: 27:24 But that is one way to do life. And I've been there and I've been there many times. And then there's that time where I can stand at the top of the hill and I can coach the boulder down and I can watch it go and I can spend the rest of the time that I would have spent pushing it up the hill with my family and friends. And to me, just like you and Michael, you've got a beautiful son. I have three beautiful children and a wonderful husband and fan family and friends that, that, that is my, that is my why that I wake up for every day. So if I can do things the easy way, meaning simple, enjoyable, real and doable like I was talking about before, and why wouldn't I choose it? And so if I can make those incremental decisions that are going to support me, like you just said, Michael, support me and food body.

JB: 28:13 How's my emotional health, my physical health, my spiritual health, my mental health and that can help me push that boulder down the hill instead of pushing it up. Then I'm on board. Well, we don't know until we, until we experiment, we don't know until we experience it. And once we've experienced it and trust me, I'm a human being on my journey. Michael, and for all those of you who are listening, yes, there are some times still that I stop and go, oh by the, here I am pushing the boulder again. So it's not, it's not foolproof. I live is not foolproof. And so what's going to support you today that chill out, relaxing, and California shirts may not support you as best when you're up doing your presentation by call, right? That being conscious around it activates that level of support to help us be who we can help us be our authentic self.

MP: 29:13 I just loved it and I think the more that we all do these things, the more we can tackle those boulders. You know, I've got my shirt on, but yeah, you're absolutely right. Something gets thrown at me that is a, you know, uh, a coming at it from a, from another angle throws me off guard. It's like, but if I'm not paying attention, then I'm susceptible to just letting these boulders get bigger and baker and baker and Baker, and then I think of all of our listeners, right? They're in their business, they're doing this work, you know, just a little bit of this work. It's got a multiplier effect. It'll show up, it'll impact your staff, it'll impact your, the clients that you work with. Even just doing it yourself, whether you do anything different with them. I truly believe that the, the more you're in tune with yourself, the better tuning you give to others that you're around. So, so that's, that's kind of the exciting part is like the unexpected, unpredictable, extremely delicious results that can come from doing this kind of work in your life.

JB: 30:14 You know, I was just reminded of what you shared. I recently watched Evan Almighty. Okay. So a, if for those listeners who remember this as a chemo, probably about 10 years ago, um, Steve Carroll and, and he's, he's asked to be by, you know, basically he's, he's asked to build an arc. Okay. Become like a present time, Noah. And you know, there's a scene in the movie at the end, if you haven't seen this, don't worry, it's not ruining it. And he said, you know, I ac, he's talking do to God essentially. And he says, you know, but I really wanted to make a difference in this world. And he thought he was going to do it. He was going to be a politician. It's going to enact all these changes. And I'm Morgan Freeman who plays God, turns from and says, well, we'll send, you did right.

JB: 31:01 You build the arc and the arc is the ax urandom kindness. And of course the movie is fantastic and yes, you save all these people and I'm sorry to ruin it if I just did I haven't seen yet. But that's as simple as it is. We've always talked about the ripple effect, right? By you taking care of you, you are, you are that stone that you're dropping in the water and we have no idea how many of our ripples or our waves or eventuall wave will impact other people. Show up with your family and friends if that's not motivation enough to do. And then it filters into your business, into the people that you effect into the people that your clients, even the energy that you complete your projects makes a difference. I mean this is that. And that's of course where the say of the quantum physics come in and you know, we can go down that path as well.

JB: 31:55 But your energy being as high as it can, being as, as healthy as you can be. It does make a difference in the world. And sometimes when we sit there and we're, you know, we're plugging away and as entrepreneurs we're often, it's a lonely road. Okay. Um, so that's why the sport is so helpful. Also, we can think like, am I seriously in the heat, different small world, but by doing what I do on this scale, and the answer is yes. And that's the most beautiful piece. There are people in the world who will stand on when at a podium or making changes that are globally heard. Your, your showing up as healthy as you can be does make a difference. And it's the small incremental changes. That's what I'm talking about here that make the big difference. So it's not another piece of motivation that you're helping the planet or you just helping yourself. It's, it's pretty amazing.

MP: 32:57 Gorgeous. Absolutely love it. And this is what this podcast is all about. So now I know, Jennifer, you've got an incredible resource that you have available on your website. Can you tell us a little bit about that resource and the best way to get that per our listener?

JB: 33:16 Oh, absolutely. Well, it'd be my pleasure to, and again my, uh, I stand here just in, in wanting to bring value, uh, being in service to others. So I hope if any of you have questions that you can always reach me at Jenniferatblakeconsulting.ca and be happy to answer them and shaky words or, or lastly, if you could put your questions in and get they do read them and then I will respond to them. And if you go to my website, so it's Blakeconsulting.ca. So www.flightconsulting.ca you'll find a link on there to download the free five incremental ways of improving your emotional health on a daily basis. So it's a gift to you. I really invite you to try it on. Um, you can always give me your feedback in the way that it's made, a difference or a shift in your life and in your business. And I would be happy to have those conversations with you.

MP: 34:12 Beautiful. Thank you so much, Jennifer. You know our audience, what they do every day is help small businesses do better, grow, help, take the pressures off of small business owners. So thank you so much for really giving us this time to help our audience take care of themselves so that they can take care of the people that make our countries great.

JB: 34:35 Oh, you're my, my absolute pleasure, Michael. Thank you for the invitation and for all of you who are listening, thank you for the opportunity and thank yourself for taking this time out today to really once again be reminded that it starts with you and it can be simple with me. Doable. It can be real. It starts with you and you make the difference in your world. You make difference.

MP: 34:57 Okay. Yourself.

JB: 34:58 Thank you for making a difference in the world that I live in. MCU.

MP: 35:01 Thank you, Jennifer, so much for being here. Thank you. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's fabulous guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP90: Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan - Tips For Improving Your Hiring Process

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Hiring employees is not an easy process.

Our return guest, Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan, President of Graham Consulting & Training Inc, encountered problems when she started hiring employees for her bookkeeping business.

Three or four years ago, her practice got to a level where it didn't grow any further. She got super busy, her other employees quit the firm and she couldn't get anything done. 

That's when she decided to hire a professional bookkeeper.

She started speaking with other bookkeepers, getting their advice, listening to podcasts and followed the Pure Bookkeeping hiring system which helped with her trust issues and the hiring process.

Today, Nancy provides practice management and bookkeeping services to 35 law firms and counting.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The importance of adopting a positive mindset everyday

  • Figuring out your hiring process and what it's going to be

  • How allowing yourself the freedom to make all kinds of mistakes will benefit you

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

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

To get in touch with Nancy, email her at info@bookkeepingforlawyers.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:34 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. We have a return guest on deck. She's a bookkeeper who runs Graham Consulting and Training Inc, which specializes in helping lawyers grow their practices profitably. Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan, welcome back to the podcast.

Nancy Gwynne-Vaughan: 01:57 Thank you very much, Michael. It is a great pleasure to be back.

Mp: 02:01 Yes, and so wonderful to have you and for the listener. We're going to have a link in the show notes where you can go and listen to a previous podcast episode with Nancy, but before we get into any of the details of what you're going through and what you're working on in your business today, Nancy, tell us just a little bit about yourself for our listener.

NWV: 02:24 Yeah, absolutely. So I started my career working as a kid in my dad's law firm doing various and sundry jobs. Um, and then I went to university. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I kept changing my major and I thought, well, I'll take a job until I figure out what I really want to do. And I took a job as a legal secretary and I stayed there, oh, about 20 years. Eventually going into the role of bookkeeper when our bookkeeper quit. And, uh, I came to a point where my boss was really slowing down. I knew I needed to do something. I didn't want to go and work in another law firm because I had a lot of flexibility and freedom where I was. And I decided, you know what, I think I'll go into bookkeeping. I did that for a bit, just part time when my kids were little.

NGV: 03:13 And then I joined IPBC and I met some really incredible bookkeepers and I learned about Debbie Roberts and what she had done and I thought, wow, that is incredible. And I would love to do that. Um, and so I became a full time bookkeeper and, uh, I've been working for law firms. That's my area of expertise. I, I tried a few other little things and decided I was gonna stay within the niche of the legal profession. It's something that I'm, um, experienced in and comfortable with and I feel like I can give very good service. And so we're up to Oh, about 35 law firms I think now. And, uh, it's, it's been a great journey.

MP: 04:02 Fantastic. And so, and for our listeners that, um, may or may not know the IPBC, the IPBC is the institute of professional bookkeepers of Canada and, uh, and that's been one of your successful really success Mus is belonging to that association.

NGV: 04:23 Oh, absolutely. That has been life changing for my practice. Um, the, through them I have been introduced to, as I said, just amazing bookkeepers. Um, I've been introduced to all kinds of apps and seminars and conferences and I've attended those and just got so much, so much content from them. It has completely changed the way I do business.

MP: 04:52 Beautiful. Yeah. It's, it speaks to, you know, put it, putting yourself around people that you want to become like, and that can help you be successful and as well providing back the same to the community, a wonderful community that they've created. And for any listener, if you're not a part of a, an association like that, uh, they're not all created equal of course, but, uh, check them out and find one that, that, uh, you can get the same kind of results that Nancy is getting. So is, it's, I see it as being one of the key things for any person in any profession, uh, to really go and find, well, what is the, the, the main body that's advocating for your profession and you got to belong to it.

NGV: 05:35 Oh, absolutely he did. My father says the same thing about when he used to be in his law practice. He would always be off on seminars and, and there's just something about going and meeting other bookkeepers in person. And it's really funny because bookkeeping is, is one of those professions. But keeping an accounting where if you're talking with people who are not within the profession and you start talking shop, their eyes kind of glaze over and it's so much fun to go and talk to bookkeepers who are excited about the same things you're excited about. I can talk workflow, I can talk apps where I struggle, I can find out where they struggle and help them with some of the things that I've learned. It's just an amazing thing to do.

MP: 06:23 Beautiful. Nancy, your practice has been evolving and as you told a little bit of your story in the beginning of this episode about your journey into business and, and growing and you know, taking the leap, uh, and then how that evolved and, and really recently, you, what's been on your mind and what you've been tacked, tackling and struggling with has been this whole concept of hiring. Tell us a little bit about that journey.

NGV: 06:53 Oh yeah. That has been such a journey. When I first started my bookkeeping practice, I had this idea that bookkeeping would just be the most perfect profession for moms who were home with little kids who were in kindergarten and they just had a half day here or there are students and, and I had this whole idea that I would hire a whole bunch of them and it would be a way that I could give back to, to this group of people that that needed part time work. And I hired some students, I had them doing very simple data entry. Um, but I think I was really unrealistic in that because I got thrown into bookkeeping because our bookkeeper quit. I picked it up really quickly. I had an aptitude for it and I love doing it. I learned to do a lot of the closing stuff. Our accountant used to come into our office every year end to do the closing entries and I would just bug it. Well, what did you do that for? Oh, how did you calculate that to eventually I got to the point where I could do most of the closing entries on my own. And I think because I had picked it up very easily, I had this idea of what bookkeeping is easy, I can just quick, quick, quick teach it to a student or a single mom and uh, yeah, that was just not a good plan.

MP: 08:15 Hm.

NGV: 08:15 I, I, uh, I had some students, I had one student who was very good. She worked for me probably two or three years, but doing very basic data entry. But my practice got to a level where it was just, it couldn't grow any further. I was at capacity and everything depended on me. Um, about three years ago at around this time, tax time, uh, out of desperation because I was just absolutely swamped with work. I called up the lady that I had met, she worked for one of my clients in his office and he became a judge. And so she was looking for a job and I said to her, just, can you come and help me? Just help me catch up. Um, that was three or four years ago. She's still with me. Um, we had a deal. I said, just do what you can.

NGV: 09:11 I'll do the rest. And so that helped. But it also created this giant bottleneck because nothing could get finished without me looking at it and tweaking it. Um, she wasn't a bookkeeper, she was quite upfront about that. She worked in PC law, which is the software in Canada that, uh, quite a lot of the law firms use. So she could do data entry, she could do to the day to day stuff, but the reconciliations or troubleshooting or finishing things off for a year end for an account. She was just not able to do that and, and not frankly interested in doing that. And she was pretty upfront about that. So again, it just created this great big bottle knock where I was super busy and nothing could move forward until I looked at it. And so we continued on like that until, I guess probably spring of last year or I'd just, I'd been talking to bookkeepers and listening to podcasts and, and I just came to, I've read the myth bookkeeper and it just came to the conclusion, okay, this isn't working.

NGV: 10:27 I'm not serving my clients the way I want to. The work is good, but it's not getting done in the time that I would like it to get done. It's not getting to the accountant as early as I'd like to get to the accountant and it's time to just hire a real bookkeeper. And I was terrified because I had never hired a stranger. My business was in my home, so I had students, but I knew them through their parents. I had Ann Marie, but I had known her for years working in the law firm and now I was going to have this stranger. And I thought, you know, I just don't feel comfortable having a stranger come to my home. Um, it had been a challenge having Ann Marie and you know, that was so lovely. She was willing to come to my home one or two days a week and we did that.

NGV: 11:19 But there, there were some close calls. There was one time when my husband forgot she was coming and she missed him in his underwear in the kitchen by about a minute and a half. And, uh, you know, that it was just, it was hard on my family to have somebody there even though they loved her, just, it didn't feel like home when you had employees there. I'm so I, I decided I needed to get commercial office space if I was going to really expand this practice. So I worked away at that and uh, the beginning of this year we got commercial office space, which is awesome, but last year, but this time I decided I was going to hire and I got it. The pure bookkeeping module on hiring. And Debbie talks a lot about being really clear, what's your mission, what's your vision, what are your core values that's really important that you can communicate this to do staff.

NGV: 12:18 And I thought, well, you know what? I know in my head what my business is about and what I want it to be, but I didn't really have it down on paper. So I thought, well, I'll just zip that up. Oh my goodness. You can't zip up core values and mission statement and vision statement. It took me probably most of the summer to just get really clear on that. And I looked at at a websites of books, other bookkeepers I had respected, I looked at the information in pure bookkeeping. I looked at companies that I respected, like apple and Ikea, just trying to figure out, okay, how do people do this? So I sat down, I finally finally got that piece up and running. And then in, I guess it was probably November, I put an ad in indeed and I had been to a seminar with IPBC probably the year before and they had this cool little thing in the breakout seminar that I went to where you have the resume answers, go to an email address and then you set up that email address. So it has an auto responder that says thank you very much for your resume and your application. Please answer these six questions. And so basically what I did was I followed the Pure bookkeeping system with that one little twist

NGV: 14:07 and I got probably 50 resumes and out of the 50 resumes that I got, only six of them answered the autoresponder. And the autoresponder had questions like, why do you think you're a fit for this position? What are your salary expectations? I think there was, what was the last book did you read and why did you like it? Just some questions to, to see if to see a little bit more about them. But also the real test was are they detailed oriented and are they willing to follow instructions? And the last question on the autoresponder email was please acknowledge that there will be a skills test. And um, I went through all of the resumes. I called, um, maybe six or seven people who stood out. Some of them it was really easy to discount. Some of them they were accountants, they were only interested in month and work. NGV: 15:12 And I was actually interested in somebody who could do the, the stuff from beginning up to month then. So those were easy to kind of weed out. And then I did telephone interviews and that was really interesting. After that I narrowed it down to two candidates and I had them come in for, in person interviews. And again, I was going through the pure bookkeeping hiring system was with the odd little tweak here and there. Um, and I decided to call them in for interviews first and then do the skills test. I was heading off on vacation, I was moving into my office. There was just all kinds of stuff going on. So I had them in just before I left. And the two candidates, two candidates, they were both excellent. Both experienced, they both had their own business. And by the time I kind of got to that point, I was in a state of absolute terror. I'm thinking, you know, what if I make a mistake and, and what if I hire the wrong person and what if, you know, something happens. And I had worked myself into this state of almost paralysis where I was just afraid to move forward. And I was listening to Sharon Francisco's podcast on the successful bookkeeper. And I remember saying to you, when I, when I first listened to that podcast, Michael, I'm going to listen to that podcast once a week for the rest of my life.

NGV: 16:56 It was just so amazing. And she had this section in there where she was talking about following the pure bookkeeping marketing module and how she was not a bookkeeper and so she was terrified to go out and meet with the accountants and she came to this plan where she decided, okay, the first 20 accountants that I meet with, they don't count. I'm going to completely expect, I'm going to mess that up. And it was, it was awesome. And she talked about, you know how then she approached the whole thing with a completely different mindset and so I decided, okay, you know what, I'm terrified. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm afraid of making a mistake. I'm afraid of doing that's going to not be good for my business, not be good for my clients. And I decided, okay, you know why the first 10 times I go through the hiring process, that doesn't count.

NGV: 18:00 I'm going to expect that I'm going to mess it up, hire the wrong person, has to get rid of them, have to do it all again. And I'm going to allow myself the freedom to make all kinds of mistakes and be okay with that. And when I did that, it was amazing the freedom that I found. And, and so once I sort of adopted that mindset, I was able to just sit down with these candidates to go through the questions. I went through the pure bookkeeping questions. I, I, I tried to do sort of some of my own that or industry specific and I sat down with these two ladies. Um, and then I went on vacation and I come back and I had them do the skills test. Now I did, I did a again, um, I used the pure bookkeeping skills test as a base. But because I work just with the legal profession, there are certain things that I wanted them to be able to do. I wanted them to be able to do time tracking and I wanted them to be able to create a bill from time entries and throw in photocopies and throw in some bills that they had paid through accounts payable. So I, I went through the Pure bookkeeping skills test. And then I just tweaked it for some of the things that I wanted for my own business.

MP: 19:24 Nice.

NGV: 19:25 Yeah, it was, it was, and it was so helpful to, to have that starting point. So I took the skills test. It took me an hour and a half. I had the first lady come in and do the skills test and it took her, I think two and a half hours. And then I had the second lady come in and I was supposed to have my phone installed in my new office and Bell Canada just totally messed it up. They didn't show

NGV: 19:58 what a telephone company messing things up.

MP: 20:01 I know, I know.

NGV: 20:02 And anyways, so, so Bell Canada had said they would come in the same day this lady was coming in and I thought, well, you know what, that's probably okay because they always do all those things outside of the office and there's very little involvement in the office. Well, was I ever wrong? This poor woman came in, Bell Canada showed up just afterwards and it was a complete disaster. They were in the office. I had to keep moving her to different offices, to different computers was just, I felt so terrible. It took her four and a half hours to do the test and then I kind of left everything. It was march. Um, I have a whole bunch of reports that are due for the lost society in March. So march is a super busy month for me. And I came to the beginning of April and I finally sat down and I looked at the skills test and I have to tell you it, it was really quite something I had pretty much made up my mind, which of the two candidates I was going to hire, there was one candidate that had actual formal accounting training.

NGV: 21:19 She had run her own bookkeeping practice for a number of years and then had to quit that for some health reasons. She had all kinds of availabilities. She lived just 15 minutes from my office. There were all kinds of things that she really had going for her. And I felt out of the two candidates that she was probably the best one to hire. Um, and you know, it was very close. The other lady was lovely. And then I looked at the skills test and the lady who I thought was so experienced who had sold herself to me as this really great bookkeeper, made some pretty basic errors in, in the skills test. I mean nothing glaring. It wasn't terrible. If I'd hired her it probably would've been fine. But, and when I came back to sort of thinking about her interview, she had said to me the first time she came in that she really figured it was an employees market. And in fact she'd had a couple of handout headhunters call her just that week

NGV: 22:35 and then when she came in a month later and did the skills test when she left, she seemed to be really anxious about when I would be letting her know about which candidate would be hired at it. You know, that all just didn't sit well with me. And I started to think, why does she not have any clients? If she's got headhunters calling her and she's got all this availability, why does she have, why, you know, is she anxious? And it just didn't feel right. And, and having her tell me she could do all these things and then make some basic errors on the skills test at that. Mm. I felt really uneasy about that. And San, I looked at the skills task for the lady who did not have as much experience and she actually caught things on the skills tests that the more experienced bookkeeper had missed.

MP: 23:31 Yeah.

NGV: 23:32 And when I first handed her the skills test, this the, the second candidate who is less experienced, she looked at it and she said, oh, I, you know, you've got a bunch of computerized payroll stuff here. I've never done computerized payroll stuff. I do payroll manually for my clients. That's where my experiences and here this woman who had been bounced around from office to office with Bell Canada coming in and out who had not done computer as payroll, she had managed to figure out on her own a whole bunch of the computerized QuickBooks desktop payroll stuff. There's some stuff she missed, but I was blown away by her skills, tasks.

MP: 24:28 I mean, my head is just filled with thoughts and, and it's so exciting to hear the work that you've been doing and gone through and I've got just, my mind is on fire listening to you because I just, I absolutely love, I love the story. I love the journey. I love that. It's not easy. I love that. Even though it's not easy, you're still, you're working at it, figuring it out and you know you've got, yeah, tons of resources. But even with all of those resources, there's still, there's still unknowns. There's still fears, there's still your own mental stuff that you need to get over and barriers your own fears that you have to get over to do these things. I mean, in the, in life, everything could be laid out and set out in the table, fully set in everything. And yet there's still us as a human being and how we're going to go and navigate that.

MP: 25:19 So I love this story and the thing that rings really, really loudly is something that I learned early and constantly love to share this with other people that are thinking about hiring for their, their business businesses. That there is a golden rule that goes like this. Hire slowly fire fast and you have slow played. You're hiring incredibly such such to the point that people say, Oh, you know, couldn't we do this faster? And I've had people say, well, I just want to get it done. I want to get high people hired. But your slow playing of it has enabled you to really, really, really get clear about why you're doing it, what your business is going to be about, right into finding the right person to hire into your business because you're spending a lot of time preparing, looking at it, analyzing it, a sorting through vetting. All of that is a ton of time, but yet the decision that you're making to hire somebody is such an incredibly important and critical decision. If you make the wrong decision, the costs are 10 x a hundred x, maybe even a thousand x more than the time you would've spent doing the right things to make sure it were to increase the likelihood that you're hiring the right person.

NGV: 26:48 Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And that just the process of having them in to the office twice. So I spoke to them on the phone, then had them in for an interview, then had them in for skills tests over a period of several weeks. It gave me such insight and, and I was terrified. Terrified to ask somebody to take a skills test.

MP: 27:12 Yeah. What were some of the responses? Did you have any responses about what people said like you, you were terrified about it. Did, did people push back?

NGV: 27:21 Nope. Not One person now. Now most of them did not specifically respond to that little thing in the autoresponder that said there would be a skills test, but of the ones who did, yep. They all acknowledged that would be fine. And the ones who came in were very happy to take the skills test and that's skills test. That piece was the deciding factor because people can come in and they can tell you they can do things and they can tell you that they have all this experience, but when you actually get them to sit down and say, okay, show me that just reveals so much.

MP: 28:05 It really is powerful. I mean to think of, you know, people often talk about, oh well have people do a, you know, we want to hire for character, right? So do a character assessment, do a personality assessment and there's no better indicator of a person's character and personality than watching them when they don't know they're being watched. And often when people are put into this situation, it's exactly what's going on. As you get to be a fly on the wall and watch them, how do they react to things? What are the questions in your, you're taking data, you're making notes, you're giving yourself all of this information to sit back and go, what do the facts say? What does what? It's almost a science based approach to actually hiring somebody in your business, which going to increase the efficacy. What you're doing right? You're more likely to get the right solution, right, the right situation for your business based on what's really happened versus a hypothetical stuff.

NGV: 29:06 Oh yeah. And you know, you sit and you agonize about what interview questions to ask and you ask them and you're trying to get information. But in an, and I used to interview and I used to hire when I, when I managed the law firm, but actually having people come in and do a test revealed far more than any of the interview questions and, and made the decision much more easy for me. And so then I was able to say, okay, well who do I want to come into work with every day? And I thought, I want to come in to work with somebody who's honest and says, I've never done that before. I don't know how to do that. And then, then we've got a good starting point. Okay, well I can teach you, that's no problem. Rather than someone who says, Oh yeah, I've got all the experience in the world, but then they actually can't do it when it comes right down to it.

NGV: 30:03 So that was just really, really instructive for me. And also to see how this lady operated under pressure and pressure, which I didn't intend to put the poor woman under. Um, but she just responded with such grace and you know, the next day she sent me an email. Thank you very much for the opportunity to do it. And I'm, you know, really excited about the possibility of working with your firm. And I'm really interested in learning PC law and I'll do that on my own time and just what an attitude. Just amazing. Any, and so she's the one I did hire and she has been with me now since, uh, probably I guess it's been almost a month and she doesn't have a whole lot of availability. So I had to think about, okay, what's the best use I can can put her too. And so we're working away on that. But Oh, she's lovely. Just absolutely reliable. She's here at nine on the dot. And I tell her about apps that I'm going to be showing her. She goes home and she researches them online on her own times. So enthusiastic and dedicated. And, and a pleasure to work with health.

MP: 31:23 Mm. So great. You did the work, you getting the results. Um, and that's, and that's, and that's it. And whilst it's early days, you know, you're already, you're seeing signs of a really great addition to the team and you know, often people forget that. What, what having other people, so this is conversation of automation, right? Well what is automation? Automation is having somebody else do it other than you. And that can either be an a machine like an app. Uh, and there's lots of that happening all the time and we're always looking to, you know, how can we add, how can we have a machine do something that we're doing where we can have it done by the machine. Automation though is also having staff, staff is automation because you are no longer having to do it. The key though is that you have to make sure with people, you have to make sure you have the right person in place to do it. Otherwise the promise falls down because automation, the promise of our automated automation can never get there unless you have somebody that you hand something to them and that, that there's a predictable outcome that will come of you doing it. And so you've done the work to find somebody who's going to actually deliver on that promise, is that you've now automated part of your business where you were having to scramble and do that work even a month ago. You now have somebody that's trusted, reliable, that can do the work for you.

NGV: 32:48 Yes. And I'm very excited about that and excited about having somebody who's a full fledged bookkeeper who can just take things off my plate completely and, and get rid of that bottleneck that I created for myself by hiring people who were not really experienced

MP: 33:14 So what is the onboarding of this, uh, of this new new person then like into your business?

NGV: 33:22 Oh, it's been awesome. Just, just awesome. So again, I, you know, I went back to the pure bookkeeping system as my starting point, which has been so very helpful. And we sat down, the first thing we did was we sat down for morning and we went over, okay, what's the vision? What's the mission, what's the core values? Who are we as a company? What kind of services are we going to provide for our clients? And what's that gonna look like? What's our culture going to be? How do we want to serve the clients? How do we want our business to be presented to the clients? And we talked quite a lot about that. And then I've just sat down over the period of a few weeks and just thought about what tasks do I want to give to somebody else. And one of the, one of the big things that I'm trying to accomplish at the moment is historically our work has gone in peaks and valleys.

NGV: 34:24 So at year end there's just this enormous peak where we are catching up on anything that was done. We are getting everything ready to give to the accountants. And then there's other periods. HST quarter end is the peak period march when we're doing the reports to the law societies, the peak period and their peaks. Not because it's difficult to do, for example, in HST return and HST return is not difficult at all. It takes five minutes, which takes the time in doing the HST return is you have to have all the data entered, you have to have everything reconciled and if you're at all behind in that are there because you haven't got to it or your client hasn't given you the information. That's what creates the peak because you've got to get all of that done before you can do an accurate HST return. And so what I'm working with with her is to try to get that work done. We're, we're aiming for weekly to have her follow up with the clients, hey, we don't have your payroll information this week. Can you send it to us? Rather than that happening with me the next month going, oh, I gotta give you your source and you haven't told me what your payroll was for last month. So that's where we're going.

MP: 35:42 That speaks to the client's satisfaction, right? Know you were doing, you were doing the job that you were doing. You had a level of quality, which you know, with the clients you have, and I know very well your clients love you and, and you do great work even though you're tough on yourself around, around it at times, but you've now you're doing a lift, so you're investing in your business. Your customers are going to get better satisfaction. That's going to lead to increased referrals, that's gonna increase your ability to actually deliver on and capture new client revenue. So lovely, lovely, lovely. You're building a foundation that you're going to scale this business that's going to enable you to have the freedom and lifestyle that you want to have.

NGV: 36:26 Yup. Absolutely. That's the plan.

MP: 36:28 Well, Nancy, if you're, you know, a lot of listeners right now that may have hired people and, and really, you know, messed it up and believe me, it's your, you're not alone. If you've messed it up, everyone that's been in business has probably messed up, uh, hiring if they've ever attempted it. It's not easy as we've heard from your story. Uh, and then we have some people that have never tackled this and going through the same fears as you. What's your recommendation to them?

NGV: 36:56 I think my first recommendation is just get rid of the fear. Just say to yourself, I may mess this up and that's okay and if I mess it up, I'm going to fix it and not make the state and the same mistakes next time I make different mistakes maybe, but to give yourself that, that freedom and, and then figure out what your hiring, hiring process is going to be. For me, the pure bookkeeping was just huge. It gave me a starting point and then I was able to just tweak it for what I needed and then document what you do as you go along and document, Gee, I wish I'd done this better. I wish I'd done this differently because when you come to do your next hiring, you'll have forgotten all of that and it it, I find it very, very helpful and so I documented all of the questions that I asked. I've documented the skills test, I've documented what works, what doesn't work and and just go for it. Do the best you can. Read books, uh, listen to podcasts, get ideas from people and then just go for it.

MP: 38:08 Tearful. And we, I will add as a resource, we have a really cool guide. It's a hiring checklist which goes through a lot of the steps that Nancy has shared with all of you today. And we'll have a link to that in the show notes as well, where you can download that checklist and start to think about what, what hiring somebody in your business can look like if it's the first time you're doing it or the, or you've done it a bunch of times and you want to improve and amp it up. You know, Nancy, this has been absolutely fantastic. I just love having you on to share where you're at with your business and what you're doing. You, you're the type of person that really just goes in and does research and is so positive about the people you work with and the people that you meet along the way. And so thank you so much for your generosity of bringing that back to us and sharing all the hard work and learning and blood, sweat and tears that you've had to go through to be able to even share this with our listener.

NGV: 39:09 Thank you very much, Michael is a great pleasure to be back and, and to share a, anything I can with the, with the successful bookkeeper community. I know I have received so much help from the podcasts that I have listened to and, and uh, it's just a great pleasure to be able to give something back.

MP: 39:29 Beautiful. Well, thank you. And for the listener, the work you do is honorable. You help small business owners grow their business. And without you, I don't know where the heck we'd be. So give yourself a pat on the back. You do great work. Keep on doing it. And uh, if you need any help, you've got people like Nancy out in the community that can help you and so many others. So don't do it alone. Put your hand up if you need help. We're always here and we want to help you. And, uh, and with that, that will wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful Gaston to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com.

MP: 40:12 Until next time, goodbye.

EP89: Stuart McConnell - How To Be A Champion In Your Life

TSBK - Episode 89 - Stuart McConnell.png
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Did you know it takes 4 to 8 years to fully transition to a new chapter of life?

Our guest, Stuart McConnell, is a life coach who helps transition professional athletes into retirement. He's also a part-time high school teacher who inspires students to embrace their entrepreneur within. 

He teaches his students the fundamentals of business then encourages them to leap into entrepreneurship and make money with their enterprises before the semester is done. 

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

  • How to be an entrepreneur and make money

  • Learn the tools to never have to work for somebody a day in your life if you choose

  • Great life hacks on how to be a champion in your everyday life

To learn more about his podcast, Do it Like an Athlete: Inside the Minds of Champions, visit here.

For his website, click here.

For his Facebook page, go here.

To get in touch with Stuart, email him at info@uncommonlife.ca.


Michael Palmer: 01:07 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an inspiring one. Our guests helps transition professional athletes into retirement. He's also a part-time high school teacher who inspires students to brace their entrepreneur within. He teaches his students fundamentals of business, but then just encourages them to leap into business and make money with their enterprises before the semester is done. He's also the host of a fantastic podcast. Do it like an athlete inside the minds of champions. He's an inspiring story and I'm happy to have him on the podcast. Welcome Stuart McConnell.

Stuart McConnell: 01:51 Say to Michael. Thank you. I'm really excited to be on and share the story about a, about my students.

MP: 01:57 I think the stories incredible. Literally the, when you were telling me this story, when we had a chance to, to meet a couple of weeks ago, I literally gave me goosebumps. I just absolutely love these stories. It's part of what I love about helping small business is just hearing stories like this. But before we get into this story, Stuart, tell us a little bit about your journey that has led you up to this point in your life.

SM: 02:25 So my journey up until this point was in high school and university. I hated it. I could not stand it. I wanted to be out of school as quickly as possible. And you know, ironically enough, I ended up as a high school teacher and what happened was I went back to to help out a little bit and I realized that it was the way that I was being taught that I didn't like. So throughout my 18 year teaching career, I've always chosen to teach in a way that I would have loved to have been taught. And it's always been very hands-on, you know, real world as possible.

MP: 03:02 Wow, I love this. I love you. Something broken. You can't stand school and yet you become a teacher and now you've found yourself actually being the teacher and transforming the way students learn from the curriculum that you designed and teach.

SM: 03:19 It's funny as this is the career that I'm, I want, I wanted so badly to transition out of for years. Um, it's as I'm becoming more, I'm just okay with being a teacher again. It's all these amazing opportunities are showing up and people are hearing about this course and, and uh, and giving me such wonderful feedback, which is, which is nice, which is really nice. I think that telling me that I'm, every, everything that I am doing is in the right direction.

MP: 03:52 That's such a, such an important message in it. I totally get that when I speak to you about the students there. There's, there's some really powerful energy around that and wherever it takes you, it's, I think you're tapping into your purpose in life.

SM: 04:09 Yeah. Well, thank you.

MP: 04:10 Yeah. Not to say that, that it, it, you know, I don't know what that looks like, but I just really, I feel the energy of it and I, I think it's, it's incredible service that you're doing and who knows where it will go.

SM: 04:22 Exactly. Who knows where it will go and I'm good with all of it

MP: 04:25 can, I know. It's just awesome. I think that's part of your success formula. It's a, is surrendering to that, which is, which is cool.

SM: 04:33 Yeah. Yeah. Definitely

MP: 04:42 Tell us a little bit about this curriculum and how you, you kind of said, okay, wait a second, let's just do something completely radical that's gonna make a difference for students.

SM: 04:54 So how this started was a year, a few years ago when I started doing personal development work myself and I started to bring it into my classroom. So as I learned things, I started to share with my students and I started sharing on very deep levels. And what ended up shaking out of that was a very interesting connection with my students that I never actually thought was possible. It was more, I wouldn't say friendship, but it ended up being a, a very special relationship. And as I expanded and as I got into being an entrepreneur, I started bringing that into my class. So as I would learn things about marketing is I would learn things about media, social media, all that kind of stuff. I would bring it in in bits and pieces. And I had a class last semester that the students and I like it just really clicked well. They really clicked with the material that I was, that I was delivering. And uh, for whatever reason, at the end of the year, I, you know, guys, this was amazing. I loved having you and if you choose to take the next year's class with a grade 12 version, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to teach you how to be an entrepreneur and I'm committing that you make money by the end of the semester so that you will learn the tools to never have to work for somebody a day in your life if you choose

SM: 06:22 remarkable.

SM: 06:23 And I actually had no idea how I was going to deliver that. It's not part of the curriculum at all. In fact, it's a communication technology course and it's got nothing to do with entrepreneurship or, or, or business skills or business studies. But I just really felt in my heart that this is what I wanted to do for these kids. And I would figure out how all the, all the things in terms of how to give them marks across the whole year and how to fit it into the curriculum and everything else. Just as we go.

MP: 06:55 Hi, just isn't this such a fantastic story? I just have my listeners right now sitting in their car driving to one of their wonderful clients that's likely a business owner, but the adult version of the teacher, of the two of the students that you're teaching like and and so, so interesting how you got here. You, you went to work on yourself in terms of your own personal development, really getting in touch with the best part of your humanity, humanity really as a human being. And, and that led to better relationships with not only your students, I'm guessing probably people in your life. So there's a bit of a, a clue there around how to, how to improve. Just all results in life is work on yourself in your own purse, purse, you know, your own personal development. But then it led to this kind of evolution of taking this the step and creating this almost like, hey, we're going to do something totally different. We're actually going to show you how to make money and I school. I mean, what was that? That wasn't, that wasn't part of my high school experience.

SM: 08:04 Yeah.

MP: 08:05 Well it certainly wasn't part of part of my high school experience that everything tends to go through, okay, these are the curriculum, this is, these are the expectations and now let's figure out how to use what we've done before to meet the expectations. And it ends up just being the same cycle over and over and over again. That has been there for, you know, like forever.

SM: 08:29 Yeah. And you know, it's, it wouldn't be a newsflash to see in the, in the paper or on the news that, you know, education, health care, all these things are, are broken the way that they've been done for years and years and years. It w it requires, if it's broken, it requires something new. And I, and it's what I love about this, something fresh, something new. And I think we can learn a lot from this. Just in terms of that number one, you don't need a lot of experience to be able to go out into the world and actually create a business and, and provide value and exchange that value for money. I think, and we're going to get into some of those stories, but as well, what I love about this is that our, our s what working in our society in, in, in, in North America is small business.

MP: 09:25 It really is, you know, if you look out and what's working, what's working right now is that there's businesses that employ most of the people out there and those people are, are the ones that make up our communities. I mean, every single one of us that are listening to this podcast right now, we all either in a small business or our family members in a small business. So you're actually starting earlier with people to help them become more likely that they, they'd have really great success in their small business over their lifetime if they so choose.

SM: 09:58 Yeah. Yeah. And it's about having a say in your future on a completely different level and understanding that it doesn't have to be that you have to go out and work for some big company for the next 40 50 years until you retire. You have a choice in terms of what it is you want to do and how you want your lifestyle to be.

MP: 10:23 Yeah. So what, tell, tell us a little bit about what the reaction's like, it's the first day of class. What, what, what has been the reactions from that point?

SM: 10:35 Well, the reaction is actually started before the beginning of class. So because this is a, a really different model, I wanted to make sure that the students knew what they were getting themselves into beforehand so that they had the option to drop it if it wasn't what they were looking for. Because in terms of what it said in the course catalog, it wasn't very similar to what was in the, the course catalog. And the level of work is significantly higher than it would normally be from my course and from most other courses and being their grade 12 year, their final year, you know, a lot of them are hyper concerned about getting high grades and the level of stress that they're already under. So I called in each student and had a conversation with them individually ahead of time to tell them what the requirements of the course we're going to be including.

SM: 11:30 There is a, um, a special book that I, that I wanted them to have that I believe would be of enormous benefit to them achieving what it is they wanted to achieve. And that's the freedom journal by John Lee Dumas. And each student would actually have to buy their own copy. So I told them that they would, they needed to put aside $100 to be able to invest in their company and the book going to be part of that investment, not money that I took from them. In any way, shape or form. But that was what they needed to actually have in their pocket too, to cover whatever they needed to cover to make their business work.

MP: 12:06 Okay. And what were the reactions like the, what were those conversations like with these, these young people?

SM: 12:12 Some of them were absolute excitement. Like, wow, okay, this is way better than what, you know, what I was expecting, this is going to be awesome. A few people were very grateful that I had that conversation with them and they did drop the course because it wasn't what they were looking for. And you know that that was the whole point of having the conversation. But for the most part they were all really excited about doing something different.

MP: 12:35 Wow. So they, the ones that you spoke to, which is I, I love that you've had a conversation, hey, this is what we're getting into. This is what you need to be prepared for. And so now you've upped the level of commitment, I would guess. And really you've put the right people in the room to take this on. So that's going to be interesting around just even the class dynamics. Yeah. Which is not nontraditional, right. You go to a class, it's like well we're going to go over there to biology. Right. It's like yeah, it's like everybody, people are going there cause I have to go there. You kinda gave this, you can opt in here. Like this is going to be what, what you're, what you're getting. So now you've got people showing up who really, really want what you're offering.

SM: 13:18 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And, and you know, even still with all the, uh, the pre-work that I did, you know, there's some, I had somebody who dropped the course actually last week cause you just couldn't, couldn't keep up with the demands of my course as well as the demands of his other courses. And it's confronting, you know, it's, it's really confronting because it's not a typical course where, you know, the teacher gives you the material, you go and you study it and then there's a test at the end of the week. It's pretty demanding and you have to figure out all the aspects of your business. Pretty much on your own because everybody is doing something different. So I'm there to help work them through it, but in order to make their business actually viable that they're the ones that have to do the work. Plus there's also a whole other aspect to it of understanding what money actually is. You know, understanding the fact that uh, the of, you know exactly what I said, right. I've of what money is and how many actually works in our society. I think that that's a key cornerstone with being an entrepreneur. So they've had to read several books, including richest man in Babylon and turn in reports on it and everything else in very short periods of time. So I, they're on average, they're spending an extra 10 hours, 10 to 15 hours a week outside of school on this course and their businesses.

MP: 14:41 Wow.

MP: 14:49 That was incredible. And, and it's, it's not just theory. This is practical actions. Tell us some stories of how students have taken this. I've done this study, done the, you know, the conversations in the classes and then they've taken this out into the world.

SM: 15:06 Yeah. Actually, I, I was just dealing with that with a bit of a story today. So one student, she is a baker, she loves to bake and she thought it would be a great idea to sell cupcakes. So she's been doing really well. She in the last, uh, three weeks, she's had over 10 or 15 orders for cupcakes, uh, and she's been selling them to an elementary school that she's been working at. But there was obviously some issues around making sure that their peanut free and everything else. So that all kind of came up today to make sure that everything was on board. But it was, but it was great. I was so excited for her to, to hit this obstacle because now what do you do in the face of this obstacle? Okay, so who have you have to Collab the conversations with? And she was asking me for a letter to be able to take to the principal and I said, well no, I'm happy to give the letter if it's absolutely necessary.

SM: 16:01 But this is you and your business. I want you to have a conversation with that principal. And this is how you're going to have the conversation. So I actually coached her through having a proper conversation in order to get what it is that she wanted through building up the proper relationship with the principal first. So that was a really great, interesting story. And other students, he had a side, the way he had a hobby of buying a limited edition merchandise online and reselling it. And he's now taken that to his business. He's on track to profit this month, should be around four to $5,000 for him.

MP: 16:41 Unbelievable. How old is he?

SM: 16:45 Uh, 18 years old. These are high school students. They're in there. This is their grade 12 year grade. 11 year. Great Fault grade 12 right. Cause it's great. 12 year and he's on track to make $4,000 this month from a business while going to school. Yeah.

SM: 17:04 He's actually on track to hit probably $10,000 in profit by the end of June.

MP: 17:10 Wow. So this semester he will do a total of $10,000 in profit. Wow. It's incredible. Now what kind of like

SM: 17:22 Michael, that was actually just, that's for the month of June. That's not up until June. That's for the month of June. He'll make probably 10 grand.

MP: 17:33 Love it. Yeah. My goodness. It's so inspiring. You know, it's like we overcall as adults. I think we overcomplicate things. We, we've had a lifetime of, you know, this happened and that happened. I mean, even the cupcake stories just so great, right? Like that's just the of look, there's going to be, government is going to get in the way. There's going to be a competition that's going to get in the way. There's going to be suppliers that come in and out and problems and you know, it's just go out and do it. Find the problems, get over the problems. I mean, it's really simple when you, when you think about it and it's, and not to say that it's easy, it's not easy, but it's, it's just so inspiring to see these young people going and doing something that wow, if they can do, if he can actually do that at this stage in his life, what's possible. And I think it's a message for all of us that, you know what, go after that spirit that is, wow, they're excited about their business. They're taking it out there. They're taking bold actions.

MP: 18:34 Just do it.

SM: 18:35 Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And the, the reasoning for me doing this is if they don't have to work for anybody a day in their lives and they can be massively successful at their business as well as taking the personal development, coaching that, that, that I'm giving them, imagine what they're going to do for the planet. Yeah. And that's, that's the big reasoning for me. So they're out from under the thumb of, Oh my God, I have to do nine to five. It has to do nine to five. I gotta be at my job, I gotta be at my job. And just with that freedom, that independence, you know, like what can you do for the planet if money were no object.

MP: 19:17 Yeah. Really empowering them around. They have choice and they can, uh, they're empowered to, to go where they're going to go. And I, I love that. And for you, that's your big why. And I can totally see that and hear that. And the way you're excited about it, what kind of pushback have you had along the way?

SM: 19:41 I have had no pushback along the way actually. I've just sort of gone and done what it is that, that I'm doing and it's working out. Wow. So, oh, you know, over the years I've gotten my myself into a, a share of trouble with you know, administration and doing things the way that I want to do them and everything else. And I've learned the INS and outs. [inaudible] is a, is the best way to put, I've learned the INS and outs and how to play the game within the confines of the structure that I've been given.

MP: 20:14 Beautiful. You're, you're, you're an inspiration. You mentioned personal development. You're not just teaching them fundamentals of business, which I'm sure that's a big part of it. Business plans and thinking and strict, you know, strategy and, and t, w, w w you know, the, the, you know, critical path that getting something accomplishing something. But you've talked about personal development. What are you teaching them around personal development?

SM: 20:40 Uh, it ends up being largely individualized depending on the problems that come up for each person. So you know, as, as you know, as an, as an independent business owner who you are, who shows up as you any day is going to be dependent on what happens in your business, right? Like if you're having a bad day, chances are your business is going to have a bad day. So it's so important to understand who's showing up day to day essentially. So as they run into problems, then they come and talk to me about, you know, oh, this is happening with my business or that's happening with my business. And then we look and see what's actually there for them underneath. And then we work, we work through it from there. Actually we just, I just took them rock climbing, indoor rock climbing a couple of days ago in, in the horrible weather we, uh, we, we had to, we had a, our trip booked and we went rock climbing. And it was all about overcoming the things you didn't think you'd be able to overcome.

MP: 21:39 Wow.

SM: 21:40 Yeah. And then we also do a in class discussions of, you know, they'll bring in videos about different, different topics that they've found and we just start talking about all those, all those different things. And I get to basically freestyle whatever comes off the top of my head is the perfect thing that needs to be talked about that day. And, and uh, and it's been, it's worked really, really well. The difference that it's made for these trans kids is, it's pretty amazing. I actually had the, the principal come and talk to me. I was a little nervous, we're going to shut you down. But uh, she was talking to one of the parents of a student in my class and she said, whatever you're doing is, you know, good, good work because these parents are really impressed with their, their kid right now.

MP: 22:38 So wow.

MP: 22:39 Well that's, that's exciting because it's, the results are, are, are showing up, which is going gonna give you hopefully more freedom to do what you're doing and the good, the good work, good work that you're doing. What have been some Aha moments for your students, you know, through this personal development? I'm sure they've had to overcome things about themselves or insights about themselves. What can you say there?

SM: 23:04 Oh yeah. The big thing is understanding the idea of being deliberate about what's going on in your life. So the idea that right now you're living life haphazardly, right? You get up in the morning and you get, you know, you shower, you get dressed, you go and, and you just are in reaction to your entire day. In fact, you're not even paying much attention to the food you're putting in your mouth and all this kind of stuff. So just taking a step back and being deliberate about it and making clear choices about the things that you're, that you're doing has been huge. Because you know, when you're, you're a teenager, there's so much drama that can go on too, right? Like you're just in reaction to, oh, this person said this and this and that, blah, blah, blah, and everything else. And my parents said this and, and all that. And being able to step back and say, well, actually no, I have a choice on how I choose to react to this situation. And I have a choice in terms of what I bring into my life on a daily basis.

MP: 24:13 Amazing. Cutting out the noise and, and having clarity. I mean, these are, these are excellent messages for our listener right now is, is just that, and for me as well is to, to can never hear it enough. It's like, look, step back and go, what, what's really important right now? And, and be deliberate about what I'm doing and what our listener is doing. It's like, what are you, what are you doing today that's gonna move you closer to where you want to be in your own business?

SM: 24:44 Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. The last thing that I gave them was looking at a, making food journals and then asking themselves the question of, is this particular food, uh, match for me or not?

MP: 24:59 So tell, tell me more about this. What's that gonna look like?

SM: 25:03 Yeah. So looking at each thing that they ate over the course of the day and you know, and then just asking themselves the question, is this food a match for me or not? Because you know, especially we wake up quickly in the morning and then you're, in their case heading to school, they're grabbing stuff on their way out the door quickly. They're grabbing stuff from the cafeteria. They're not really paying attention to what it is there they're fueling themselves with and asking them themselves. The question, is this a match for me or not? Gets them to look at what it is they're putting in their body in a very, very different way. So it's not in terms of this is this food is good for me or not good for me in terms of like, oh, it's got sugar or whatever it is. How does, how do you feel about this thing that you've put in your body? And then it also gets them to connect with themselves on a deeper level in terms of understanding what, what does it mean to for something to be a match for me or not. You know, is it a vibrational match? Is it, you know, an emotional match? Is it whatever kind of match.

MP: 26:15 I love it. I mean I think these are things that as adults, as adults, I mean we're not immune to it. It's like just waking up and thinking that the way it was done yesterday needs to be the way that it was done today. Is it working and ask the question, is this a match for me? I mean I love it with food. It's just a match for me. Is the thing I'm doing right now a match for me? Or is it not a match? And just thinking about it can apply to food, comply it to the things you're doing, the you're doing, their strategy around your business. What a great question.

SM: 26:48 Yeah, thank you. I, and that's actually where it's going. Where you starting with food, we're expanding out from there.

MP: 26:53 Beautiful. You really building some, some strengths in these young people that is going to make for great communities that they live in in the future. It's such a fantastic story and that's just one piece of what you do. You also work with, uh, and transition really professional athletes into retirement. Tell us a little bit about that and how that came to be.

SM: 27:17 Yeah. Well, how that came to be, it actually started through a podcast that I had, I felt in, you know, oh, I need to be doing a podcast. It was one of those things just felt right to do one day and it bounced around a little bit until I started interviewing some friends who are athletes and it was like, wow, there's some, there's a connection here. There really is a very strong connection. I'd been a life coach for several years before that and it's, you know, when the, when life lines up in a particular way, it, the doors start opening and the door opened on these athletes and when I started hearing their stories of these retired athletes and what it is they went through in retirement, my heart just really went out to them essentially like an existential crisis. They that the loss of identity, the loss of purpose is, is huge for anybody to go through to all of a sudden be in your mid twenties or, or, uh, maybe even early thirties and be standing there and you have no idea who you are because you're not, you're not a pro athlete anymore and now you have to hang your hat on something else.

SM: 28:28 Like, well, who am I? That's a big hard question for people to answer and to not have anybody there to support them with, with that is, um, doesn't sit well with me. It really doesn't sit well with me. I feel like that I just need to do something about it. Like that's sort of the end of the story. My why in it is it's because I need to do something. These people are hurting and I just need to be that person to do something.

MP: 29:07 Well, we love that around here. Our why are of our listeners love doing the bookkeeping for small business, small, medium-sized businesses and the, and they, they, they love it. And that's their why. And they do it. And it makes a big difference for those business owners. Some of them listening right now don't realize how valuable it is and we're helping them realize that. But if there's parallels, I see between the work you're doing. So I really wanted you to come on the podcast and share your story with our listener. I see parallels all the way along, right? You have a really strong connection to your why and, and the people that you serve, you're just tread channeling that into the people you serve. And they're very, very different. But they're very similar, uh, from the athletes and the students. And, and so I think there's messages all throughout this, this conversation around, you know, being clear about why you're doing something and, and clear about the value of it and, and just taking the action and learning from wherever you're coming from.

MP: 30:07 Just absolutely love it. I nominate you for the order of small business. It's a, it's an award that I'm just made up and uh, I can't nominate you for the order of Canada that, uh, I don't think, but I will nominate you for the order of small business in terms of the work that you're doing for students and as well for the work that you're doing for, for people that are going through transition from professional athletes into, into the next part of their life. Well, thank you very much. Absolutely. Now Stewart, if, if people want to get in touch with you, if they want to consume more of the interesting and radical ideas that you're up to and we'll likely invent and do tomorrow, what's the best way for them to do that?

SM: 30:51 You can reach me through my website, which is StuartMcConnell.Net and a social media. I am that head coach.

MP: 31:03 Beautiful. Well, we're going to have those links on the show notes for sure. And Stuart, I just want to thank you for generously giving us your time on behalf of our listener. I just think thank you greatly.

SM: 31:15 Well, thank you for having me. This has been a pleasure. Awesome. Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,

MP: 31:35 goodbye.

EP88: Roger Knecht - How to Increase The Value Of Your Bookkeeping Business

TSBK - Episode 88 - Roger Knecht.png
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Looking to get more out of your bookkeeping business?

Since 1979, Roger Knecht, who is the President of Universal Accounting Center, has worked hard to help accountants and bookkeepers excel in their careers.

His post-secondary school trains and certifies individuals in accounting, bookkeeping, tax and consultative skills so they can get paid what they're worth.

He has developed proven strategies, processes and procedures for business owners to increase their profits and sales up to 71%.

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

  • The importance of creating a plan and goal for your business

  • What are the 4 keys to success and profit

  • What are the accounting principles that will grow your firm


Michael Palmer: 01:38 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a terrific one. Our guest is the president of Universal Accounting Center. Since 1979 UAC has worked to help accounting professionals excel in their careers as a post-secondary school trains and certifies individuals in accounting, bookkeeping, tax, and consultative skills to help them get paid what they're worth and I love that part. He is an expert and helping people launch and grow highly successful accounting and bookkeeping firms. Roger Knecht, Welcome back to the podcast.

Roger Knecht: 02:15 Well, thank you. This is an honor and a privilege. I appreciate it.

MP: 02:25 Beautiful. Now, Roger, before we get into all the wonderful things I know we're going to hear from you, can you give us a bit of a backstory about you and how you became to be involved with Universal Accounting Center?

RK: 02:34 Oh, sure. So it actually goes back a number of years ago, so I'm getting older. Uh, back in the late nineties, I had the opportunity to, uh, work with universal accounting in the sense that I was at the time a head hunter or recruiter. I was doing temporary and direct placement for some, uh, companies where I would essentially take their graduates, people that had gone through the various accounting programs that they had and placed them either in temporary assignments or direct for employment. And I was having great success. I found that their graduates were very competent and capable. They were well trained and so were the clients of mine were paying for these, uh, new employees to come in and do the work. I was regularly asked if I knew of anyone else that was similarly trained or skilled. And so I found it, it was a great car, a great kind of relationship, at least for me.

RK: 03:22 I kind of found this little gold mine, if you will, that I could take their graduates and place them in assignments. And I was really enjoying working with their graduates, being that they had the skills that I felt were needed on the, in the worksite. And so I got to know the president of the school, got to work with some of the employees there. And in that time became a consultant where I was doing some things on the side, helping them as a school go out and acquire new students and enroll various people in their programs and very short order. The opportunity became available for them to offer me a position. And I took it. My wife really encouraged me taking the opportunity and I did. So. And from that grew up through the ranks and universal accounting. We grow the, grew the business quite a bit.

RK: 04:06 Uh, ended up experiencing quite a bit of growth to where we received the inc 500, inc 5,005 years running accolades, our corporate headquarters in the State of Utah. So we received some Utah 100 awards for five years running, so a number of awards for our growth in our success. And so really had a great deal of, let's say, Opportunity in the organization as a grew. And the second president of the school happened to retire a few years ago and in his retiring he pegged me to be the third president of the school and I found myself being given this opportunity and was both privileged and honored, but also let's say a scared and, and curious as how as I, how was I going to put my fingerprint on the, on the company. And over the last number of years I felt that I've done a good job in doing so and, and pleased with where it is today.

MP: 04:59 You know, I love that, that story of how you progressed from being a user of the offering right up to growing and, and, and progressing along in your career right up to president. It's so refreshing to, to hear these stories and yours in particular because what I, what that speaks to me is number one, you actually like what you do and you get to work for a company where he had really liked the product and you in fact I would say like is probably not the word. It's more love. You love what you do, you love what you do for people and here you are at the, at the very top to be able to make all sorts of things happen and, and differences not only in your company but as well the industry.

RK: 05:41 Well the love comes from the students. Uh, we're a postsecondary school and so as a school we're basically training people to have the skills, the confidence they need to go out and excel in their careers. And where I found a lot of people were coming back to the school or coming back with the stories of their successes. Originally, it was obviously with those that I had more direct contact as they were going out and finding employment, but we're about 70% of our students. We're actually starting and building accounting firms. It was amazing to me that over the course of the years as I traveled the United States and Canada primarily, I would find that I would run into people, whether it be a conferences or wherever, they'd come up and and share with me their story of how they were able to with confidence go out and finally start the business that they always wanted or go out and market their services in a way that they were confident that they were able to get the clients they didn't think they could or should or may have deserved and how it changed their lives. And I've got story after story having done this for so many years of of women who have just become independent and men who have changed their careers and, and it's just a story upon story and that's where our success is. So you're right, it's, it's nice to know that as I'm providing for my family, as I am putting a roof over my children's head and putting clothes on their back and feeding their bellies, I can do so with confidence knowing that I'm doing something that I love, that I know is making a difference and it's improving people's lives.

MP: 07:04 Beautiful. It really is a congratulations on that. Now, you mentioned a couple of things when you were talking about the, the path that you've taken. Is that one of the reasons why you took notices that Universal accounting center was putting out some phenomenal people to come and do the work that you were looking for them to do? Why do you, what do you know? What do you feel makes Universal accounting center unique within the accounting world?

RK: 07:32 Well, one thing is, is I think quite obvious. We are a postsecondary school, so we are regulated as a school. And so the training that we provide, the certifications that we're able to offer are basically from a school point of view. But what really makes us unique is I believe the coaching that we offer. What I've really felt strongly about, and this is even become more so in my 10 years, the President, is that the coaching we need to offer, it needs to be such that as a student takes the training into the real world and they go out into either their client or their employer to do the work they need to do. So with confidence. And so often to have that coach in the back that is someone that they've worked with for 12, 18, 24 months, it's given them the confidence to call and maybe role play a situation or ask an accounting question that they otherwise wouldn't have someone to reach out to. And so the support that we off the caliber of people that I'm working with that are our coaches for our students really gives our programs and our school here a unique, uh, perspective that our students don't get anywhere else. In my opinion.

RK: 08:36 That's, that's you know, really when you think of it, uh, being a postsecondary institution, I mean you can go and put your, any kind of training that you do, any kind of learning that you do is, is beneficial I believe. I mean my dad used to always say it never stop learning. I mean that's the whole point is learn, learn, learn, always learn, just make, it may be a lifelong learner, but then with your organization, you actually have a body of work that is designed to, to end somebody with a, a, a, a certificate, something valid that says, look, I've achieved this level in my career and sort of puts a, I think a stamp on the experience and the training that someone has done and that can be converted into value in the marketplace.

MP: 09:22 Well, when you think of it, there's so many people out there that through either experience or training, they've gotten certain skills, but it says a lot. When you can go to a third party and get some training, be tested and actually have this third party give you a credential to say you in fact do know what you thought you did. A, they've tested you and they've confirmed that you actually have that skill. And so to be able to say you're someone like a certified professional bookkeeper and carry a PB designation after your name or you're a certified professional tax preparer and carry that PTP designation. Maybe it's where you're a quickbooks specialist and you have that qs designation after your name. Those means something simply because of in the accounting profession. There are a variety of things you can go do. But really where's your expertise?

RK: 10:06 This is just kind of a tangent, but I've, I've had people who've chosen more of a career in the larger companies working within larger companies and uh, they'll go out and become like a CIA certified internal auditor or CMA, a certified management accountant. Well, these are all designations to say what we've chosen within the accounting profession to specialize in. And when you're a professional bookkeeper and you carry that PB designation, it shows that you're proficient in the day to day applications of small business accounting procedures and that's huge, especially when you're out there offering and providing accounting bookkeeping services to small businesses.

MP: 10:45 Absolutely.

MP: 10:50 You've worked with accounting professionals who have started and built their own successful firms. What, what, what have you noticed or trends that you've seen that really is that secret sauce for success?

RK: 11:05 Well, in the years that I've done this, I can honestly say that the people who have impressed me, that have built thriving practices that have gone out there and maybe even exceeded their own expectations, it boiled down to two things, their confidence and their competence. Whenever you've got the confidence enough to look a business owner in the eye and say that you can do their work, you can take care of their accounting needs, you can provide them the financial information they need to more intelligently make business decisions in their company. That confidence is something that that's hard to fake. And when you're out there marketing your services or you're presenting your services in the office to a client, a potential client, and they can see in you that confidence that really can sell your services and it removes any self doubt that that may exist both on your part and the client's part.

RK: 11:56 So that confidence is, I think the first key. The second is competence. There's a lot to be said for the ability to do accounting services. You know, you know the debits and credits, you know how to make the transactions, record the entries, produce the financials. I think that's all great and Dandy, but the competence to do it not just in a skillset but in a professional way that's profitably. You've got the efficiency behind you. You know how to quickly do it in such, such a way that you can actually do it with a profit margin and be in business. That's different because I'm not doubting some people's abilities to go out there and record transactions, but I will challenge them to say, can you do it competently that you're in the end profitable and able to offer this service? In a way that you're able to run a viable business.

RK: 12:40 And so when you've got the confidence, and sometimes that comes from either credentials, whether you've maybe become a CPA and ea, a professional bookkeeper, professional tax repair, that confidence is huge, especially when you have those credentials after your name perhaps. But the competence to say, I've got a system in place, a way of doing the work that's efficient, that allows me to be profitable, that's huge. And that's one of the reasons why I really love pure bookkeeping. Pure bookkeeping provides that system that's needed in the back office to ensure that the work's being done efficiently so that they can actually with confidence, go out and market the services knowing that the back office can do the work in a way that's profitable.

MP: 13:20 Yeah, I, I agree and I think what really when someone has something that takes care of and, and ha just knows that something's handled like a certain certification, right? They know that that has been handled. We've got that. We've done the training. It puts, it puts one into a whole new level just from a mindset perspective. So similar to pure bookkeeping, it's, it's systems, their systems, processes that are, have been proven time and time again. When you implement those, it's now handled, it's done. And that no longer needs to be a part of our, our thinking. So in the case of a certification, you know, you wake up in the morning, it's like, you're not going to be like, oh dude, do I need to get a surfy certification? Oh, what would be different if I had a certification? It's like, uh, um, you know, all these questions that's gone.

MP: 14:05 It disappears. And the funny thing, Roger, and I think you would agree, is that when people don't have the certification or they don't have systems in place, what comes up in their life? The barrier, the barriers that come up in life are related to those things because that's what they're thinking about when they've, when they're handled, when they're in place, no one's going to ask them about it. No one's going to talk about it. It'll be as if it never happened in many cases, but yet you'll be dealing with new problems, bigger problems, but more interesting and probably problems that lead to more, more income and more growth for your business. But it's really, it's in your mind and that's the beauty as remove all the things that don't need to be there. The that draw it are noise that are taking you away from being successful and doing the things that you love and want to do. Remove them, have them handled and when they're handled then there's new things and we just keep progressing. And I guess that's the journey towards successful business or successful practice. What are your thoughts?

RK: 15:00 Well, first of all, these clients that we're getting when we're offering accounting services, they're, they're serious about their business. That's what they're doing for their living. That's what they do passionately. And so we need to, I think, take that same passion to our own profession. If we're bookkeepers, accountants, tax preparers, and we're trying to provide quality services, let's do so professionally. And one of those things that we can do professionally is just step up our game. And where these certifications are helpful is they help you actually, uh, kind of meet that demand of now you're able to step up your game and be that professional that they expect you to be when you're being paid for a service. And one of the things that I think these credentials also bring to the table is there is a lot of you don't know what you don't know and what can really pull away from confidence is self doubt.

RK: 15:49 When you're starting to doubt, am I doing the right thing? Is this the next thing I ought to be focused on? Uh, am I running my business or is it running me? And what we can do with these certifications is remove a lot of that self doubt so that you're actually prioritizing correctly what needs to be done so that you can build your business and put first things first. And so really it's meant to be a way of taking what maybe you could do on your own in maybe months or a year and takes it down to now. You can do it in weeks, if not months. So what we're trying to do here is just pull out all the ambiguity and make it so that you can just follow tried and proven systems. Starting to building an accounting practice isn't anything new. I'm, I jokingly say that accounting is the second oldest profession.

RK: 16:31 I say that because I think it's always been around and we'll always be here. And since for Luca Petroleum, you know, over 500 years ago, the accounting model really hasn't changed. Debits and credits are exactly what they are. T accounting it is, is what it is. What's changing in our profession is how artificial intelligence is coming into the accounting software. Uh, how our roles are changing with our clients. They're needing less historical data and they're needing more realtime data. Well, if you want to remain on the cutting edge, you've got to remain relevant offering quality services and it's these types of things that come from you're taking your profession seriously and staying up to date.

MP: 17:06 Beautifully said. Absolutely love that. And you know, we have a lot of listeners, Roger, that are literally just looking to get started. Uh, and we also have listeners that are maybe, you know, they've started but they're there, they're not really haven't taken that next step. What you say is to really embrace the PR profession and treat it like a profession and be serious about it. What advice would you give to those two categories? Someone that's just looking to get started and then someone who's, you know, already just started but looking to grow from beyond where they're at?

RK: 17:42 Oh, excellent question. And you know, I would imagine there are plenty of people that are in both scenarios, both starting or building their firms. So the advice I'd give it before things and actually as I'm saying this, I'm going to throw in a bonus. So let's do four with a bonus. Love bonuses the ass. So the four things, first of all is passion. That's just focus first and foremost on what you're passionate about. Some of the people that I work with want to go out there and do a full service accounting practice where they're offering bookkeeping services and they got accounting services and tax services and consultative services. That sounds all great and dandy, but let's just do it in baby steps. Which of those are you most passionate about? That when you get excited, it's obvious and the business owner when you're talking is going to see that enthusiasm for the work.

RK: 18:26 If it's about bookkeeping, getting clean, crisp financials, then focus on the bookkeeping services and just say that you're doing bookkeeping work. If it's accounting where you like to take the financials and tell a story and help the business owner understand what the numbers are saying and what the trends are showing, then be an accountant and oxy actually offer that type of accounting services. If you're really passionate about tax and helping people leverage their tax situation and really get tax savings where they may not have in the past, then go after the tax services and be passionate there later. You can offer add these other things, but the first and foremost thing is what are you passionate about that will help you more easily sell your services because then it's contagious. All of the sudden the business owners talks to you and they see within you that energy, that light that they don't have for the same thing, but they know it needs to be done and you're the right person for them to be working with and paying to do it.

RK: 19:21 The second thing is quality. Don't ever shortcut what you're doing, especially where a lot of us start our practices carrying our names, your connect accounting services. Well, your name is out there. By all means offer quality services. Do what you're saying that you're going to do in the timeline you commit to and be someone that they can trust and rely upon and a lot of that's going to come down to systems. What systems do you have in place to provide the quality of work that you're, you're saying you deliver. If you say that you deliver monthly financials to your client by the 10th of the following month by darn, you need to do it and you need to do it in a way that they expect it. So some of the clients just want the, the tertiary financials. They just want to see the cashflow, the income statement, the balance sheet, and they're happy.

RK: 20:09 Other people, they want to see some of the expense details and they want to review the, the minutia of it. Well, are you prepared to give them what they feel they need as the business owner to run their business? The third thing is commitment. I can't stress this enough. The people that I've seen successful are the ones that are committed. They don't run their day watching the clock. They don't, uh, try and get consumed by everything they're committed to what the thing is that needs to be done now. And they stick it through until it's done. And sometimes that means early days. Sometimes that means late days. Sometimes that means missing your favorite television show and putting it on DVR and watching it on the weekend. Whatever it means, your commitment is what's gonna make the difference. What it really boils down to is no excuses. The fourth thing is knowledge of the numbers.

RK: 20:59 And I think this is really key. When a person who is paying for accounting services, paying a bookkeeper to uprooted, produced the financial statements has a question. Have you bothered to look at the information you're handing over to the client so that if they ask a question about it, you know what they're talking about. You need to know the numbers behind your client's business. You need to know their business better than they do. Here at Universal Accounting Center, we referred to it as becoming their profit and growth expert. That's who you need to be for your clients and as a profit and growth expert, you know their numbers better than they even do it and it will take a little bit of time. It will take a few months of preparing the financials to get acquainted with the nuances of the numbers, but that's the goal is the commitment of doing the work and then the knowledge of the numbers too.

RK: 21:45 Now, you're familiar with the intimacies of what's going on in the business, but the bonus I'd throw in there is a vacation. So many of the people that I know who are passionate, that are doing this quality work in a committed way. Guess what? There is a burnout and a yes. As you start build your practice, you're going to put in maybe the long hours and you're going to neglect your spouses. You're going to maybe be torn away from family, but the best thing I can tell you is don't let that go on too long. By all means, put on the schedule a vacation, and I can go into this in a greater detail later on, but there's been studies that show that you need a vacation about every eight to 12 weeks. I strongly recommend that you always have something on the horizon that you're looking forward to that can give you purpose and meaning as to you're not just working and going through this for the motions. You're actually working towards, Hey, I'm going to have this vacation in a few weeks and I'm excited about it. There's something that's, that's proven in psych, in the psychology of it all to say that it helps with our health. It helps with our mental stability. So the vacations, if you can have something on the horizon about eight to 12 weeks out that you're looking forward to, that's going to be huge. That gives you the energy you need to work through all of this stuff that you're doing as you're building your firm.

MP: 23:05 Hallelujah.

MP: 23:12 I absolutely love the bonus.

RK: 23:14 You're welcome.

MP: 23:15 I love the bonus and I think right now, I want every single person listening right now. Pull out your calendar, your schedule, whatever you call it, whether it's on your phone or you write it down. I want you to look out there at 10 to 12 weeks and I want you to block something that is going to be a vacation and I don't want you to do anything but block that time out and it doesn't have to be anything but that time. Who knows what you're going to do? Where are you going to go, who you're going to spend the time with, but block it and start planning it and, and take Roger's advice. I mean, if there's something that's going to put some fuel in your rocket pack, I think that one bonus tip right there is going to be a little tidbit that will, if you're not already doing it, that's just going to be rocket fuel for your, for your life, for your family, for your business, for your customers. Because you've got to take care of yourself.

RK: 24:11 You do. And you know, Michael, I appreciate you adding that in there. So I'm just going to add one little tidbit. Some people, when I bring this up, assume that I'm saying you've got to take this three week long vacation to Tahiti or to Europe. That's not what it is. It could be as simple as just a weekend that you're looking forward to where you're going to take off with someone special in your life, whether it be your family, your spouse, uh, maybe it's going to see your mom and it's just something you're looking forward to. Maybe it's a camping trip. Everybody's got their own thing that they like that re re Rabiger rates them, invigorates them. And that's what we're looking for is we're trying to just say, what's that thing you're looking forward to? That when you have a moment, somebody asks, you know, if you've got something on the calendar, you're able to with enthusiasm say, this is what I'm looking forward to in a week, I'm going here. That's exciting.

MP: 24:57 Yeah, I love that Roger. And I think what happens is, is um, when, especially when it comes to vague, the talk of vacation is that it's the belief that it's got to be something big or it's got to be expensive. And you know, if you did a very big expensive vacation every, uh, 10 or 12 weeks, that could be, it might not just be possible. So then that shuts down even doing what we're talking about. So I would say that this is it, let's call it minimal viable vacation, that MVV is practice. Just having those blocks of time where you really saying, this is a vacation. This is a time for me. This is a time for my family, or, or whatever it is. But primarily it's for you because this is you. If you are not in good shape, if you're not in good health, if you're not a good mentally, you can't run your business to the level that you want.

MP: 25:49 You can't get where you want to get to. And so this is about taking care of yourself first. This is the oxygen mask on you first. But I guess what you get to put the oxygen mask on you and you can bring along your family and friends with you while you're doing it and have some fun. And, and just, I think Roger, that if, if our listeners starts doing this, this will lead to bigger, better vacations because you can start to make this a part of your, your daily thinking. It's like, Oh yeah, in 12 weeks or now it's nine weeks, I'm going to be doing this. And then you're going to do that. But then what's it going to be the next time? Maybe you'll do something else. Maybe you know, you'll start to see the results in your business that'll lead you to having different, you know, different types of vacations or different, different times that you're going to spend with it.

MP: 26:32 So I just love that you brought that up. I love the idea and I don't think we've really tackled it on the podcast in the past, but this is, this is a gold nugget that I don't think many people are leveraging that can make a really big difference in the quality of your life and that the end of the day, that's what this is all about. This, we have businesses, we do work, we do differently. If you're not getting what you want in your life, you're not having any satisfying life, then something's got to change. Something needs to be different because that's why we're doing it.

RK: 27:05 Well, Michael, I'd be happy to come back and elaborate on this, but I'll, I'll end on this point and then maybe we can move on and it's simply that a lot of the successful people I know are passionate about what they do. They love it. They get enthralled by it, they stay late at the office, they're workaholics. They are committed to the work. And what happens is an all of us see it as we get older, the days or they, although they may be long, the years are short. It's amazing how fast years go by before you know it, the years past, it's over, you're onto the next year. We're already in the middle of this year and it's astounding to me. So there's a quote that I use and that I'll reference here and then we can move on and it's basically no success can compensate for failure in the home. And what I really feel that boils down to is as we're all thriving to provide for our families and do something we love and excites us and really can make a difference for our clients. I think we need to never lose sight of what we're doing here. We're living the life and we don't want to be on our death beds with regret. Believing that we were doing what we needed to when we neglected the very thing that we were most excited and passionate about. So yeah, we can definitely come back and revisit that and I'd be happy to. Can you read the quote one more time? No. Success can compensate for failure in the home.

MP: 28:21 Beautiful. That is golden. Well, as much as I'd like to just keep on talking about vacations, taking them to a, we will move on. Um, but I love that quote and that one's going to be a, that one's going up on the website and a, I hope all listener hope you've written that down and please take on the challenge of planning something and doing that. Getting back to business and what we can do. Um, you know, what, what services, you know, you mentioned AI and all these changes that are occurring and you know, yeah, the world is changing fast, but what services should a bookkeeping firm really consider offering?

RK: 29:03 So, um, this is going to be kind of an interesting thing because I'm sure other people have maybe commented or [inaudible] mentioned this before, but as I've attended a number of the accounting conferences in the past, say three to five years, there's been a growing trend. And what it is, is this discussion of how bookkeeping is becoming more commoditized as the various accounting softwares are able to automate the processes that they do. Uh, whether you go to the intuit conference with QBO or whether you're at sage or you're listening to fresh book or zero, all these different software programs are moving more and more towards helping the business owner get their accounting information in time in an easy way so that they can more intelligently run their business. And so it's removing more and more the bookkeeping process of recording the transactions. Now, before I go any further, anybody that's a bookkeeper, please do not be worried.

RK1: 29:57 Your profession is not going away. The need for you is not disappearing. It's just changing and it's changing. Similar to what happened back about 25 years ago when we moved from recording by hand and journals and ledgers and we finally started having access to computers. And Yeah, I'm going back to the years where computers were filling rooms and we were actually dealing with ticker tape. The accounting process went through this evolution where it actually allowed us to go into business and offer the services that we have today. The accounting software is a blessing and it is helping our profession, but to remain relevant with our clients, you're going to need to know what software is most appropriate for them. And I would encourage if you're not already going to these accounting conferences that are available because there's a variety of plugins that further assist the accounting software and many of them are industry specific.

RK: 30:50 But here's the answer to the question you just posed, Michael, where I think it becomes more and more relevant today is that the bookkeeper, they have access to the accounting information of the business in such a way that no one else has. It's like reading a book that you're the only one that has the training to read. I like to refer to accountants and bookkeepers as interpreters and the language of business as accounting. You know the language, the business owner doesn't need to learn the language, but what you do is you translate or interpret the information for them. And so you become more and more vital to the client as you're able to more and more help them understand what the numbers are saying. And so I think for the bookkeeper, really what's going on is many bookkeepers, they don't feel that they have oftentimes the permission or the expertise to advise the client on the trends that they're noticing.

RK: 31:46 And so we here at Universal Accounting Center want to suggest that to become profit and growth experts, literally helping empower the bookkeeper to helping empower the accountant with the tools they need to now become strategic advisors for their clients so that they can now help the clients more understand and use the information from the financials to make more intelligent business decisions. And then the power comes from offering these consultative services. And I really stress these three things. If in your services you're able to emphasize that what you do with your clients is first help them understand accounting. Second, you help improve profit and third, you help them build value within their companies, removing the risks associated. Uh, then you're doing huge services for your clients and you're now standing out from your own competition in your market, in your market. There's going to be a lot of people that may claim to be accountants and bookkeepers, which they perhaps are.

RK: 32:45 But what you're able to say is that you're a bookkeeper, your accountant, and more your story. You're a strategic advisor. We again teach that you need to become a profit and growth expert offering these services where you help your clients understand the accounting, improve their profits and build value in the organization. And so those, those skillsets of being that coach, that, that a consultant, that strategic advisor I think are where the bookkeepers now have opportunities to grow their firms in offering services that bring in additional revenue. I mean, you get paid very well are offering these services because they're more value-based.

MP: 33:28 I absolutely agree in and what I can, what I can almost hear the listener, uh, asking as well. I get all of that, but how do I, how do I start to implement that?

RK: 33:41 Well, there's a number of steps. The first thing is I really think Pure Bookkeeping being in place, that you have the back office structured in a way that the work can get done efficiently and profitably. So we've got to definitely emphasize that as you're growing your practice, you've got to have those systems in place that the work is getting done. Uh, the second thing is, is delegation. You've gotta be willing to delegate the things that you're perhaps not best at or maybe you're really good at it, but because you're the owner of the, of the accounting firm, the bookkeeping firm, you need to be doing other things. And I would suggest be the consultant with your clients. You shouldn't be necessarily the one in the back office recording the transactions or preparing the financials. You need to be reviewing the financials and delivering them and helping the client and understand and interpret them.

RK: 34:28 But the last thing is probably not the most obvious, but I'm going to stress it as being perhaps one of the most important. And it's one of our nine principles that we teach for profitability. And it's the fact that nothing happens until you make a sale. I think what happens is the accounting professionals walked in times get, uh, kind of excited and become placated by the fact that they have a busy practice. And what I would always emphasize is, what are you doing to market and acquire the next client? What are you doing to get the next client? And I always want to ask that because too often I think we get lacks of days ago and the marketing efforts, and we just need to make sure that we are always marketing and growing and there are so many businesses out there that can benefit from our services. It's what are we doing to find them and help them see that there's so much more to be had in bookkeeping than just historical financials. And a, that's kind of a passionate thing that I bring to the profession now is really helping accounting professionals realize that they can be so much more for their clients. They just need to step up their game and become more of accounting professionals.

MP: 35:38 I absolutely love it so much. So much gold. You've given us a, and in this episode Roger and I, I want to have you come back, if you'll accept come back. I think there's probably a dozen things, topics we could probably tackle with your experience, your expertise. I mean you've been at this and you're passionate about doing, doing all of this and I really want to have you come back so we can fully tackle some of these and dive deeper and, and definitely dive deeper into having more vacations. Right. It's been great having you.

RK: 36:09 I, it's an honor. It's a privilege and I appreciate the opportunity. I hope that this has been, as you said, something that everyone's benefited from. I would like to believe everyone's taken some good notes.

MP: 36:19 Yeah, well we're, that speaks to having the notes. We'll have the notes and I definitely want to have you gave, um, some really good, uh, lists like the, the four keys to success with the bonus. We won't forget that and we'll have those in the show notes. But before I let you go, Roger, what, what would be a great next step after listening to this, there are listener wants to get more from you. What do you recommend that they do?

RK: 36:46 So working with a number of accounting firms, one of the things that we do is something like a personality assessment. Um, I don't know if each of you have had the opportunity to do one for yourself. There's disc Myers Briggs color coding, there's a variety of them out there. But what we offer for accounting firms is the ability to do one on their own company. And it's essentially kind of like a SWOT analysis is really identifying what your strengths are as well as, as well as the opportunities in your organization to really kind of improve your business model. And we refer to it as a business score and it's based on the eight drivers that literally determine the value of your business. And these eight drivers are essential in any company, whether it's a new business and old business, a small business or a large business that's irrelevant.

RK: 37:31 It's basically a business score that applies to business. And it's something that I'd like to offer for free, so everyone here with the podcast can go to universal business builder.com and at universal business builder we have a form that you can go through and answer some questions about your company and with that we'll provide a score. It will be an overall score and it will also show the eight drivers that made up that score with basically where it is that you're doing well and what it is that you need to document and a really kind of focus on to make sure it doesn't change because it's working and then where are those areas of opportunity that exist in your company that you could do a little bit better in to improve the value of your business. Whether it be that you're choosing to have an exit strategy years from now selling your business or perhaps go out and get a small business alone or have a line of credit whenever you have a third party entity looking at your business. This business score is what they're looking at, so you might as well have a chance to look at it yourself before anyone else does and we're offering you this opportunity for free to go to universal business.com and

RK: 38:36 take that a quick questionnaire and we'll send you the results of that as well.

MP: 38:42 Thank you so much Roger, and we will have that link in the show notes as well for the listener.

RK: 38:51 Perfect. Hey, thank you, Michael. I appreciate this opportunity MP: 38:59 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guest and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.

EP87: Diane Brochu King - How To Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

TSBK - Episode 87 - Diane Brochu King.png
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Often times, people tend to make a lot of assumptions and fail to ask more questions.

That's why in order to avoid that, build your relationship and trust with your boss, employees or your clients.

Our guest, Diane Brochu King, who is a team builder and coach, has helped people understand where others are coming from. 

She guides her clients to see their most pressing challenges in a new dimension and the world in a new light, inspiring and enabling them to make better choices, identify new ways of relating and reacting, resolve problems, and collaborate for success.

Today, she has taught over 25,000 people to appreciate and learn new strategies for navigating the world of human relations.

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

  • The importance of showing care to others by being interested

  • What are the ways to developing awareness

  • How to understand different types of people

To check out her website, visit here.

For her LinkedIn page, click here.

For her Facebook, explore here.

For her Twitter, discover here.

To learn more about The Platinum Rule book, check this out.

To investigate further into Ken Blanchard's Situational Leadership II model, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:36 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is a team builder and coach who wants to make sure you have a healthy, vibrant, and radically human workplace. She also helps clients improve their interpersonal skills and learn processes that will assist them in handling difficult conversations and presentations. Diane Brochu King, welcome to the podcast.

Diane Brochu King: 02:05 Hi Michael. Thanks for having me.

MP: 02:08 Well, you know what, it is our opportunity to have you and I really thank you for for being on the podcast today, but before we get too far down this conversation, tell us a little bit about your career leading up to this point and why you wanted to help people with their interpersonal skills and create better work environments.

DBK: 02:30 Okay. Well, I guess it all started when I, way back my background was in restaurant management, retail management, real estate sales and everything I did from university up was all around dealing with clients and very face to face and [inaudible]. Um, I did my, my education in social communications, everything up around human dynamics, group dynamics, understanding people. And I have this fascination with people and I see so many misunderstandings that come just from lack of awareness of others. And so it became my passion to want help people understand each other better, connect with each other better and become more successful because of that.

MP: 03:24 That's beautiful. I love that. I'm excited about this, the direction of this conversation, because I can almost hear our listeners ears perking up around, you know, miscommunication, right? Because that's, they're the people that they're dealing with and what they're doing. A bookkeeper's being very technical oriented, doing the right thing around the books and making sure everything's done correctly, whereas their client often, you know, has this chaos going over in their business. Not all the time, but it's kind of a classic scenario. And so what's happening is there's this really great opportunity for the breakdown in communication and a misinterpretation of what each party is trying to accomplish.

DBK: 04:05 Well, absolutely, and it's funny you raised that because I teach a lot about the difference between introverts and extroverts and generally this is, I know this is very stereotypical, but a lot of bookkeepers would tend to have more of a preference for introversion, which is more of the detailed people, the people who are more meticulous, the people who you can get things done in and do it in the right way. Whereas people like me who need bookkeepers tend to be more the extroverts. We're not the detail-oriented people. We're the ones that need the others to do it for us. And oftentimes it's where the miscommunications happen and it's where we can drive each other's nuts. But it is where there's so much value in understanding where we're coming from and the gift that we each bring. I know I rely on my bookkeeper because I, when I first started in business, I tried to do my own books. I thought, oh, that'd be a great challenge. I'll stretch myself. Ooh, I realize it's not so easy and I value what my bookkeeper brings to the table, but I know I can drive her nuts when she's trying to get the details from me.

MP: 05:14 Absolutely. You and I are very similar and from that standpoint and so I just love that you have this also understanding have been there, right? You have been the person that our listener goes and sometimes call it a rescue, right. Rescue you from this work that you've been trying to do and there's so many other business owners like you and I out there that are trying to do this themselves thinking it's, it's easy or that it's one thing that they should, you know, try and do and it just always ends up being the same conversation where they need the help of a bookkeeper to rescue them.

DBK: 05:52 Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And keep them in line and keep them organized.

DBK: 05:57 Right?

MP: 05:58 Yeah. But like you were getting to the, there is a, there can be a breakdown. There is the way that your bookkeeper communicates and the way that you, you know, what you like or don't like or trying to avoid or try to move towards. It's like they, they could say things that are gonna set you off or put you off and, and vice versa going back the same way. And so it's not a harmonious relationship.

DBK: 06:30 Exactly, exactly. And a lot of it is understanding where the others are coming from or where the other's coming from and speaking their language and making it easy. Just as a quick example, if we were to move into, you know, just the, the dimensions of introversion and extroversion and I'm thinking of my own case, for example, when my bookkeeper works with me, what I really value as an extrovert is when she makes it really easy for me to give her what she needs as opposed to writing out a big long email.

DBK: 06:57 Just give it to me bullet form, don't give me all the little details, just tell me what you need and I will give it to you in this format. Make it really easy. And we get along that way because she understands where I'm coming from and I value what she needs and I'll give her what she needs when she needs it because she's reaching, she's meeting me where I am. And that's the key to any kind of interpersonal relations is meeting people where they are, understanding what they need. Because when you meet people where they are, they're more open to your message, they're more open to listening to you and giving you what you need.

MP: 07:41 I think that's fascinating that meeting people where they are. I've heard of that before, but I don't think I've ever heard it in that context or way. And I'm almost thinking like I'm in a helicopter and I'm flying in and it's like, oh hey, here's someone I'm going to communicate. Let's go over there and land where they are and find out where they are. And from that, I mean it's a totally different context of being like, Hey, I'm over here. Come on over here. I want to communicate something.

DBK: 08:16 Yeah. Well, it's interesting because one of the things I always teach is that people don't care until they know you care and how do we show that we care? Are we showing care by being interested in them, by listening to what's important to them. Bye. Again, connecting with them where they are and then they're more open to come into where you are and it just makes a lot more sense. I mean I think of people for example who are, well let me give you a quick example. A number of years ago I was teaching ski instructors about the difference between introverts and extroverts in people who are more detail oriented versus people who are more action oriented and this was a series of three workshops. On the second night, the skiing truck instructor came to me and she said, I have to tell you this story on Saturday I had a private lesson with this gentleman and going up the chairlifts.

DBK: 09:17 He was asking a lot of technical questions and she said normally I would have just said, don't worry about it. I'll answer those when we get to the top of the hill. Just enjoy the scenery. It's a really nice day. She goes, but this time I realized that for him that was really important. So she answered his questions and she said by the time they got to the top of the hill, he was visibly more relaxed. And she said before, I wouldn't have done that because it wasn't important to her. But she gave him what he needed, which reduced his stress and he was able to get off the chair lift and just feel comfortable after that. And that's what I mean by meeting people where they are picking up the cues, the questions that they asked lead you to figure out, okay, that's valuable. That's important for them. Well might not be important for me, but it is important for them.

MP: 10:09 You know, that is such a great, I mean that is such a great story for any business that has them even themselves or their, their staff. I mean this is, this is, this could have gone two different ways and this just by simply answering the request of a, of a customer and saying, you know, I could easily say don't worry about it. Which is an answer or answering that question. I mean the long term effect on the, the, the perception that that skier has about that entire ski hill and everything that they do and that instructor, I mean it's transformational.

DBK: 10:51 Oh absolutely. Well two things. One, the person now has trust in that ski instructor or in the service provider or whatever, that that person cares about their needs because that ski instructor met that client where he was. So the caring shows that the trust chose x. You want to build a trusting relationship, you show you care. That's a way of showing that.

MP: 11:24 Let's flip this around a bit because often it's not going to be in, in a, in the scenario for our listener it's going to be the reverse. It's going to be, um, the, the, the, the bookkeeper in this situation is the person that's got this, uh, is talking about technical is down into those technical details and the, the small business owner or entrepreneur likely is, is more wants to just the short and the sweet and I'm not interested. How do you flip that around and are the, because almost like saying, I'm not going to tell you as much because they need to check-in and find out how much do you want to know about how this all works here.

MP: 12:03 Okay. And you've just hit the nail on the head. It's asking each individual how much do you need to know or how much do you want to know in what format would you like to give me the information? Do you want me to ask you, just send me things in bullet form. Do you want me to send you a table? What is the best way that I can get information from you? And it's the tree, each individual individually. It's getting to know each of their needs in each of the ways that they like to communicate and give information. For some people it's checklist. Give me a checklist and I will check it off as I do it. Give me bullet forms, um, give me a, but it's asking each client in which way can I make it easier for you to give me what I need?

DBK: 12:55 So it's really checking in and I think this is where, you know, our listener here often we talk about building system driven businesses. And I would say that for the most part, our, our listeners or our listeners who are building system driven businesses. And so to put this into a system, it's literally, you know, every conversation that you have with a new customer should have a few of these questions to sort of go and meet them at their as a reminder, right? It's like almost not a script, but it's like, you know what, I want to go and check-in and land in at where they're at and get a sense of who they are. And that's the, the building maybe, maybe the most important a point. And that entire relationship is that the beginning is to say, hey, like, where are you? What do you need to know and have some of the questions that's Diana that Diane's giving us here to put in. Just kind of like, I'm just going to ask like, Hey, what kind of, how do you like getting communicated with? How do you, um, do you want bullet points? Do you like to understand why I'm asking for that information? So that's part of what leads to a system that you can do that every single with every single client. Everything. Single prospect.

DBK: 14:02 Yup. Oh, that's right. You'll do it with every single person. You'll do it slightly differently with each one, although you'll see generalities with each ones. But the whole point of it is that everything is a combination of the task that needs to get done. Awesome. The relationship, and that's the piece that we tend to forget. People are very good at the task. Well, keepers are excellent at what they do. If we want to have sustainable businesses though, the piece that really clinches it is the relationship that you have with a client. People that feel that they can trust that you've got their best interest at heart. If a client is just a number or another portfolio or another account, they'll go somewhere else eventually. But if there's relationship that's built, oh, follow you anywhere because the trust is there. The same thing with my mechanic.

DBK: 14:58 I've been with him for 31 years because I trust that he's not failing me when I go in with my car is making a funny noise because we all know, well, you might not know, but I know sometimes I feel as a woman that if I go somewhere into a garage when my car is making a funny noise, they might try to take advantage of me because I'm a woman. I know that's very stereotypical, but with my mechanic, I don't have that feeling because it's not just about getting my car fixed. It's about the relationship that he's built up. I have trust that he's got my back.

MP: 15:34 Yeah.

DBK: 15:35 Things are not just transactional. It's not just about the work that gets done if adult being radically human in the work we do and building those relationships.

MP: 15:46 So how do we build a like this, this mechanic. What are some ways that you've seen that and with your bookkeeper that they've been able to build that relationship so strong with you?

DBK: 16:02 Mm Huh. Well with the mechanic, it's talking about, actually it was both my mechanic and my bookkeeper. It's sharing information about our kids, about our lives. My mechanic actually gives hugs.

MP: 16:20 Wow.

DBK: 16:20 Um, yeah. And it's powerful. You come in and Tom gives you a hug and he's actually told me about one lady who came in and he doesn't just give this little tap on the back. She actually fell asleep on his shoulder. Ugh. The quiet ready to let go and she didn't.

MP: 16:45 Wow.

DBK: 16:46 However, okay. He's, he's present, which is so nice for me. He is presence and yes, for adults, my life and my kids and, and just little extras. And I just feel good about going in there and I recommend him to others and, and you know, if ever he retired, I'll be devastated. Although he is recruiting, he's got a couple of his mechanics right now who I absolutely adore as well. And when Tom Retires, if these two brothers take over, I'll still stay there because I know their kids. And so not just the camera, kind of like they become family and little bit of a way. And at the same with my bookkeeper, I'm friends with my bookkeeper. I'd Facebook, I see her twins growing up. I've seen books. It's kind of, and we weren't friends before, but it thought there was a connection then I'll stay with her because one, she's doing it. I mean if she weren't doing great job I wouldn't. Okay. Um, first and foremost, the person has to do a great job, but I stay with her because, and she could raise her rates, I'll stay with her because I trust her and I have that relationship.

MP: 18:08 Yeah. That is such an empowering story, uh, on both fronts. And I think our listener, our bookkeepers, the people in the community, they care. They care about number one, they care about doing a great job. They want to be great at their job. I think what this podcast episode may be doing is giving them permission to be just authentic Lee, the caring people that they are and, and to do things like Tom is doing. And, and it might not be the type that's hugging your clients, but there is your human way of being, the way that you are with the people that you love that. And that's the way that the world wants you is just to be the way that you are. And, and what I love about the community is that there's so many listeners that are like this already. I mean, this is their, their in this business. They love doing it. They love helping and seeing problems be solved for people. People like you, right where they've come and they do a great job and you're able to run your business and grow your business. But I think it's like permission to be just more authentically you. And if you're a hugger, start hugging your clients. I mean, I love the concept of care. If we care for our clients and care about helping them and their families that they're feeding the business, we'll just go. Well,

DBK: 19:25 Yeah. So I want to raise a caveat though, because I mentioned introversion and extroversion. Another dimension is also the preferences of thinking and feeling. And this is based on Carl Young's worth work. Um, Carl Young was a Swiss psychologist in nearly 1900 and a lot of people are familiar with his work through Myers-Briggs in the NBTI personality type instruments. Um, but the thinking and feeling aspect, and that's important because when I talk about hugs, that's great for people who have a preference for feeling. Cause the f people are all about relationships and building relationships and trust and impacts on others and stuff. But those that have a preference for thinking and t they're more the facts. People, the ones who are logical and rational and objective driven and strategies. And in some cases, okay, don't hug me like so. So I might be a hugger, but if I'm dealing with someone who's a t and I try hugging them, that's not going to build trust.

DBK: 20:37 So it's recognizing that part as well. So yes, it's being authentic, but that's what I mean by meeting people where they are. It's understanding are they, do they, do they want to be friends? Do they want to have the hugs? For me, that works. What, for someone else who may be my opposite type, that might not be the way I connect with them. With understand being red. Well actually let me go back. You know, that whole thing about treat others as you want to be treated. Yes. You know, that's a golden rule that we learn at school and except that it gets us in trouble because when we treat others as we want to be treated, it works well when we're working with people who are like us. But when we're working with people who are our opposite type that can get us into a lot of trouble, it can feel disrespectful or weakened, feel disrespected. Wednesday are treating us the way they want to be treated. You follow me on that one?

MP: 21:42 I totally follow you on that. And it's, it's a, you know, like the person that wants to be, you know, is more into the numbers or, or facts. They need a hug from numbers and facts, not a hug from you. Uh, what'd you like that, that concept in that visualization. But uh, how do we, how do we know?

DBK: 22:00 A really good question. Um, that's where I do a lot of, well this is my life passion. I made it my life's mission to make the world a better place, one person at a time. And it's all about developing awareness. The people can learn more about this. I doing reading, research, taking courses, developing self-awareness. And there's a lot of emphasis right now on emotional intelligence, which is wonderful. That's only half the equation. The other half is developing social awareness. It's social intelligence and that's developing awareness of others and where is they coming from? Because we all see the world through our eyes and we make assumptions that the way we see the world is the way it should be. And whenever we hear ourselves saying, oh well they shouldn't do that, or they still do this, well that's coming from our perspective. But because there is different personality preferences and ways to see the world, it doesn't make the other wrong. It just makes it different. And so developing that social awareness and social intelligence about where others are coming from, we can then value what they're bringing to the table and we can go, oh, they're not being difficult. It's just being true to type. How do I meet them where they are? Because I can tell you if someone's being difficult for me, I'm being difficult for them.

MP: 23:30 So, so interesting. And I think it's our jobs. All of our jobs too, if we're working with people is to, to continue to skill up in terms of our own awareness of how we are as a being and as well, how the people around us are as human beings. And this has been so far, I think a kind of a, uh, almost a guidebook into looking at a few different points of the journey we started with, you know, just getting in and finding their place. Where are they at, you know, meeting them in their world and now with how do we show up for them? I mean, if we're huggers then that might not be right. But it's a, it's just the next level. And it's like there's no, I have a feeling that our listeners going, oh goodness, uh, I don't know what to do now cause there's so many, these, you know, is a lot to think about.

MP: 24:20 But I want to give everybody permission to take a deep breath. And if we just start with getting really great at going over to where they are and being interested in curious and really getting what they want, that's going to lead us naturally down to the next stage, which you're talking about. And you said true to type. That's a, that's a, you know, true to type. There's other types. Tell us a little bit about more about this true to type. What types are there and if a listener was interested in getting more information about that understanding how to deal with different types, what would your recommendation be there?

DBK: 24:53 MMM. Okay. So what I tend to do with my clients is I break it down really simply too. The four basic quadrants of extroverted thinking, extroverted, feeling, introverted feeling. And