Hannah found that with her previous business she was traveling a lot and wasn’t able to spend much time with her husband. She was researching jobs that she could do from home at that time and came across the Bookkeeper Business Launch course on the Penny Hoarder website and decided to give it a try. [6:10] Hannah serves around 12 clients at this point. There was a lot of fear originally, taking on a client beyond Hannah’s husband who was her first, but she realized that she really did have all the tools she needed to be an exceptional bookkeeper thanks to Ben’s course. [8:35] All of Hannah’s clients have come from LinkedIn mining, a special tactic that is covered in the course. She spent some money on Facebook but the stuff that has worked and gotten her paying clients has been completely free. [9:20] Hannah originally started out working with farmers but quickly realized they are not clients interested in paying for a bookkeeper. She has since expanded to working with agriculture businesses instead. [12:00] There is always another fear to break through. For Hannah, one of her greatest fears is one she has to overcome nearly every day; that her clients are not going to be happy. That one day she will send them an invoice and they will say she isn’t doing enough for them and they won’t want to pay. [14:00] There are always things that we wish we could do differently, but those are the very lessons that got us to where we are. For Hannah, that came in the form of turning down a client that wasn’t willing to pay the price for the service that he desperately needed. In that case, she was glad that she managed to avoid what would have been a big mistake. [16:30] Some days the stress of owning her own business is too much, but at the same time, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The best part of owning a business is the freedom to choose her hours. [18:20] Hannah’s current opportunity is adding cash flow as an advisory service to her business but she’s not sure how to implement it or how to sell it. [21:10] Everyone is motivated in one of two ways; they either want something or don’t want something. For the client that has requested Hannah forecast their cash flow, they are trying to avoid debt. Before she adds a new service to her business, she should really understand what her clients are looking for and what they want. She should ask to talk to them for 20 to 30 minutes about their vision for their business and what they are trying to achieve. [23:45] In Ben’s experience, 98% of accounting professionals do not present their clients the statement of cash flows. The reason they don’t is because they don’t understand it. Hannah should continue to show the statement to each of her clients but also seek to learn what it means and how to explain the information. [26:45] The most common questions that Hannah gets are basically “How much money do we have?” and “How can I pay these bills?”. Most of Hannah’s clients are somewhat financially savvy, but she’s found that what they want is for Hannah to take care of everything. But what they really need is collaboration. [29:00] Hannah is in a position where she doesn’t have to take on new clients, that means she can filter through clients that are interested in collaborating rather than just dumping their financials on her. [30:30] When looking for new clients, Hannah can look for people that are willing to pay for her advisory services, need them, and are willing to collaborate with her. [31:50] Hannah should surprise one of her clients by just adding that service for free as a way to gain experience and feedback. The name of the game is simply listening to our clients and then giving them what they want. [33:50] Data entry and figuring out problems are Hannah’s wheelhouse. She’s comfortable and confident in those skills. [36:00] Hannah is hoping to take on a couple more employees so she can work in a more part-time role. To do that she’s going to have to get clear on what she wants for her business, what it is that her clients want, and the sweet spot between the two. [38:30] The first thing Hannah is going to do is talk to her clients, dig into what they really want, and then she is going to get to know the statement of cash flows. Next, she’s going to make a big push for new clients that are interested in working with her in an advisory capacity. [40:20] What are the roles that your potential clients are playing in their business that they don’t want to? What are the pains they are experiencing? What are the things that they want?   Mentioned in this Episode: Good Steward Bookkeeping
We are in the middle of some strange times right now but even with the challenges we’ve seen so far, we’ve also seen several people connect better with their audiences. [1:55] There have been several unique opportunities that have emerged since the advent of COVID-19, and Ben happens to be right in the middle of a number of rapidly changing environments. [3:30] With all the changes to the regulatory environment, bookkeepers have been extremely busy helping business owners figure it all out. Everybody who has been waiting to do their books suddenly has an urgent need to get it all done as quickly as possible. [5:00] For bookkeeping professionals that are established, there has never in the history of time been a better time to be a bookkeeping professional. The word of the day in the industry is survive and just do what you can one day at a time. [5:30] We saw a similar cycle 12 years ago with businesses that weren’t prepared, or that weren’t really businesses. They were the ones that didn’t make it through. The most important thing you can focus on right now is how you can help your clients and do whatever you can to help them survive. [6:05] The urgency of tax day has been replaced by the urgency of getting your books in order to secure a loan. What we’ve seen so far hasn’t been as much of a stimulus as it was just enough to allow small businesses to survive. The only way that many businesses have been able to do that is by getting the benefits, and that means bookkeepers are instrumental. [7:40] There is no COVID-19 version of your books, they are either done or not done. Not having the information on hand means your business is leaving free money on the table. [8:05] Paul tells the story of trying to make Mother’s Day special and how different restaurants handled the lockdown. We hear a lot about the economic downturn but plenty of businesses are seeing a flood of customers that they may or may not be able to handle. [10:35] When it comes to economic turbulence, some types of businesses will thrive and some will suffer, but any business that isn’t prepared is going to run into major problems. [11:00] Ben always tries to have at least six months of operating expenses in his business’s savings account. If you have a team right now, they are nervous and there is no such thing as over-communicating and no such thing as giving away too much information. If you are secure, your people need to know that. [12:15] You should work with your clients in the same way. People can typically deal with bad news, what they can’t deal with is unknowns. Having a fight you know about is way better than not having any idea about what is going to happen. [13:15] Take care of the things that you can control. You may not know what is going to happen with schools in the fall, but you can get your books done and find out what your finances look like. [14:05] Everybody is worried, but being in a position to give someone answers can be very valuable. The bookkeeping industry is a recession-resistant industry and bookkeepers are in a position to really help business owners get through the current situation. When we do come through to the other side, those businesses are going to remember who was there for them. [16:40] Right now is a great time to start a bookkeeping business. There are no guarantees, but this may be the absolute best time to be marketing bookkeeping to businesses that desperately need the service. [18:30] It’s also a great time to be advertising since ad costs are low. The one caveat is that hard tactics are out and building relationships is in. It’s the perfect time for bookkeepers to focus on the top of the funnel. [20:00] Bookkeeper Business Launch will give you the fundamentals you need to start your bookkeeping business, but if you want to go far, it’s important to surround yourself with people on the same journey as you. The mastermind and community are huge assets to bookkeepers just getting started. [23:05] Bookkeeper Business Launch experienced its highest period of enrollment ever because more people are coming to the realization that being in control of their income puts them in control of their destiny. [24:00] Some bookkeepers have lost clients or have had to reduce their service fees, but that’s been offset by picking up new clients all over the place. Bookkeepers have to be flexible and creative enough to adjust to what’s happening in the world. [26:20] Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers. Are you a giver or a taker? Your clients need you more than ever so it’s a great time to start giving.
Kim started in late August of 2017 after purchasing Bookkeeper Business Launch. Four days later she registered her business name and closed her first client, who later on became her husband. [3:00] Kim had been in the banking industry for 16 years and knew that there was definitely a need for bookkeepers in business. When Kim’s husband decided to start his trucking business, Kim made the choice to start her own bookkeeping business at the same time. [4:15] Kim currently has 8 active clients. There are always ups and downs in the business, and clients come and go. She mainly focuses on transportation due to her insider view of the industry. [6:05] Kim always had the desire to open her own business, but she never really knew what she wanted to do. The high costs of most business models made them prohibitive. When she discovered the idea of bookkeeping, it made a lot of sense given her background and experience. Time-freedom is the word Kim would use to describe the idea of running her own business. [9:30] Retail banking is extremely time intensive, and Kim felt like she wouldn’t be able to go much further in the industry without sacrificing more of her time. Instead of just working more, she wanted to find a way to make more money while working less. [11:20] Sticking to her niche was one of Kim’s first challenges. Many of the clients she initially took on were not the right fit because they were either too small or not appropriate. It can be hard to say no to a client that wants to work with you, but sometimes it’s necessary. [14:50] Kim’s husband has been a very valuable insider who has helped shape her marketing and how she finds clients for her business. [16:05] Take your time as you go through the learning process. While you’re working your way through it, try to put processes in play that will make your life easier. In a lot of ways, time-freedom is a double-edged sword. It’s all too easy to do work that doesn’t actually build your business. Busy work is the work we do to avoid the work we really need to do. [19:00] The biggest challenge today for Kim is that if her business continues to grow, it’s going to take up more of her time unless she hires someone. The trouble is she isn’t sure if she wants to manage people again. [20:35] For Kim, success means the ability to do what she wants to do and having the means to do it. Reaching true financial security is when she would define success. Given that definition of success, Kim doesn’t really need to take on more clients. [22:50] One of the best aspects of the business for Kim has been the option of working as many hours as she wants. In terms of capacity, Kim could probably take on another 3-4 clients without eliminating the time-freedom that she values so much. At this point, she should focus on finding quality clients and upgrading her existing client base. [26:40] When Kim hits a milestone, she takes a moment to enjoy her achievement but also look towards the next goal. She has to realize the pressure is off her. She can shape her business so that it fits her goals instead of doing things to generate an income. [30:50] Paying off her mortgage and becoming debt free is one of Kim’s major goals. The other question is how does she want to spend her time when she’s retired. When Kim thinks about her goals, she always sees herself with other people and how she can help and serve them. To serve others, we have to serve ourselves. [36:30] Whether or not you have team members, your business is a system. Systems are even more important than a list of clients. Once you define your processes and efficiencies, it pays off continuously over time. Start out where you are and map out your processes, and then think about how you can improve them. Processes revolve around your client; if they don’t, then why would you do it? [42:15] You can gain a tonne of momentum and leverage in your business by hiring a virtual assistant. We think we need a big team that comes with a lot of commitment but it’s not necessary. You can take on a VA for only a few hours a week, and it can completely change your business. Before you hire a VA, you need to have your processes designed first. [47:10] Since Kim works in the transportation niche, she has an opportunity to create a course that could help teach her potential clients how to grow their business. When they develop and grow, they could become Kim’s ideal clients. [48:30] Before working on a new business idea, it’s good to vet the idea and make sure it’s worth your time and effort. If someone else is already doing something similar, that’s a good sign. Don’t just take someone’s word that they will buy your idea. It doesn’t mean anything until someone is willing to open their wallet and give you their money. Before taking the leap on a new idea, make sure that the resulting business fits into your vision for your life. [51:50] For new ideas, always start with the market side of things. Once that’s in place, always undersell and overdeliver.   Mentioned in this Episode: Home Time Bookkeeping
Melissa was working 70 to 80 hours a week at her job and was starting to get really burned out. She decided that she needed to make a change and that was when she was injured during a run. This gave her plenty of time to look for opportunities to work from home. She found her first client online and that gave her three months to find more. Word of mouth and BNI has been how she’s found the majority of the clients she has now, with the process being largely organic. [4:45] Melissa serves 62 clients that they work with every month and she has a goal to get to 100 clients by the end of the year. [5:25] We rarely stop to smell the roses and appreciate everything we accomplish. Remember to write down how far you’ve come and keep that in mind. [6:20] Melissa has made plenty of mistakes over the past 18 months. One of the biggest things she’s learned is to stick to her pricing and not negotiate. If the client wants to negotiate, that may be an indicator that they don’t value your service. [8:15] Melissa works solely from home and most of her clients are local to Sacramento. One of the motivations for her in starting her business has been to spend time with her kids and this led to her finding a team member that likes serving clients face-to-face. [10:30] Working at home can be very isolating, so Melissa really appreciates the chance to go to BNI meetings and meet people on the same journey as her. [11:40] The best piece of advice for someone considering starting their own bookkeeping business is you have to be a self starter. There will always be things out of your control and you just have to push through it and get things done. There is also a major difference between dealing with multiple clients instead of one boss. You need to develop a thick skin. [13:30] You have to be very self reliant as a business owner because the buck stops with you. [14:25] There is a lot of room for growth in the bookkeeping industry. Melissa hasn’t run into any real competition in her area. If you’re thinking about getting into the business, now is a great time to jump in. [16:00] In three years, Melissa would like to be in a commercial space with 10 bookkeepers working for her. The key piece of the puzzle will be a solid office manager to bring it all together so that she doesn’t need to touch client accounts anymore. If you can pay somebody to do something better than you, you should do it. [18:15] Strategy is marketing, and marketing is the core of your business. It’s hard to outsource the marketing because they don’t have the same incentive as you as the owner of the business. [19:15] In some ways the desire for an office space is about ego but a commercial space does come with some other advantages. Melissa estimates that she’s lost approximately one client a month that didn’t decide to work with her because of the lack of physical space. [21:40] A physical space also comes with a lot of baggage. It can become your golden handcuffs or an anchor. [22:40] Managing people is difficult, every person you bring on increases the complexity of your business. It’s important to think of things from the standpoint of the result instead of the function. Melissa doesn’t want to have 10 people work for her, she wants the result that 10 people can bring. [26:50] Melissa’s challenge is setting her business apart from the competition. Answering the question of “how are you different from other bookkeepers out there?” is hard. [28:45] Bookkeeping is first and foremost a relationship business. If we try to compete on the tasks, we’ll lose. You should think about how to deepen and build upon the relationships with prospective clients and existing clients. [30:45] You have to know how to communicate with your client in a way that they will understand, and then go above that by advising them. Take a vested interest in their success from the deliverable standpoint. [32:30] Bookkeeping used to be about abdication, now it’s about collaboration. Take two clients a month and think about what you would want to know if you were the owner of those businesses. Give them true advice, practical things they can do to improve their business and save money. Over time you will be able to charge more for your services, not because you are just raising your rates but because you are adding more value. [36:30] Start with the clients that are already receptive to feedback. Melissa may find that what she really wants is to work with a smaller number of clients in a more personal and involved way. [38:10] Melissa’s typical client is a small business with less than five employees that are at the point where they are not able to take care of their own bookkeeping. [40:30] Having a specific niche limits you, but it also allows you to become very well known in that niche. You also get the perception of the industry expert and become a specialist. [43:30] The transition takes time. Changing a niche happens one client at a time. Take your client list and think of the ones that you love to work with, then reverse engineer what it is about them that you like working with. Write them down and use those traits to figure out who your ideal client is. When you look at new clients ask yourself how alike they are. [47:05] Try to niche from day one if you can. If you’ve established your business, you will have to go a bit slower and more methodically. [49:05] The bookkeeping world has changed over the past ten years. It’s no longer about the individual transactions as much as it is about the results you can bring to your clients. [52:15] The biggest takeaway for Melissa is to find the shared traits that her best clients have and use them to find more clients just like them. She’s also going to use that info to either change how she deals with her existing clients or filter through new ones. [53:20] For years the bookkeeping industry has been a replacement offer, but those days are gone. Now it’s a new offer, somebody who can interpret the numbers and advise their clients. Adding more value to the clients we serve will insulate us to the changing technological landscape.   Mentioned in this Episode: Busy Bee Advisors
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