7 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Bookkeeping Business

woman_jumping_linkedinLinkedIn is a powerful tool in the freelance bookkeeper’s marketing toolbox. Whether you work clients locally or via the Internet, having an online presence is a must.

While having a professional website is a key component to successfully marketing your services, it’s even more important to actively be networking with potential clients and building strategic alliances. This is much like in-person networking. Without question, the most effective way to attract new clients is with person-to-person connections.

Enter social media.

Social media should not entirely replace meeting people face-to-face in networking situations (I know that’s disappointing news for introverts). Connecting with potential clients and strategic alliances online vastly extends your reach and can be extremely effective. It definitely has been in my own experience.

I am not, however, a huge fan of social media in general (call me anti-social) and do not spend hours a day using it. It can be a huge time waster if you aren’t focused on leveraging your time! But you can definitely use it effectively for marketing your bookkeeping services… if you are willing to invest a relatively small amount of time consistently doing what works.

There are many social media channels to choose from (and some bookkeepers who love social media use them all!), such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, G+ and LinkedIn. But as I’m sure you already know from the title of this post, my favorite by far is LinkedIn.

Based on my own experience, here are 7 ways to use LinkedIn to get exposure for your bookkeeping services and build relationships that pay off:

1. Make it your home on the web (especially if you don’t have a website yet)

All bookkeepers should have a LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t matter if you already have a professional website for your business or you’re just getting started without a website yet. Make sure you fill in relevant background, including the information that potential clients would want to know about you to decide if you are the right bookkeeper for them.

Include a headshot photo that gives a professional impression. Do NOT hide behind a company logo. Use keywords in your title that says concisely what you do and will speak to the people you want to attract. Include past experience and education that also support your credibility and any specialties you have that clients would see as a benefit.

2. Connect with existing clients and professional contacts

Once you have your profile set up, get to work connecting with your existing clients and business contacts. Reach out to everyone you know. By connecting with people already in your circle of influence, you will be able to expand your reach of potential referral partners and clients naturally. You never know who your existing contacts know that may become your next best client!

3. Follow up quickly with new connections

When you meet people in person, it’s important to follow up with them quickly. A great way to “continue the conversation” is by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Look up their profile and request to connect. Easy peasy.

4. Research potential clients

When potential new client inquiries come in, you can quickly learn more about your prospect by looking them up on LinkedIn, and also checking to see if they have a business page. It’s a great way to (1) get a sense about whether you WANT this new client, and (2) tailor your sales message to better fit their needs and ask relevant questions that will build meaningful rapport.

5. Keep up on industry news and participate with colleagues

Joining LinkedIn groups is a great way to stay on top of the fast changing technology in the accounting world. You’ll find many informative discussions and industry blog articles posted in groups. You can also leverage groups to get the support you need whenever you run into a sticky situation with client work or even internal business operations. Proactively tapping into the vast knowledge and experience of your colleagues is just smart business, especially when you work alone all day.

6. Find your niche

I hear from a lot of freelance bookkeepers who recognize the power of specializing, but flounder to figure out which industry or service offering is a good fit for their skills. Again, LinkedIn groups are a great way to explore different industries and “listen in” on what business owners are talking about. Look for ways you can assist them to solve their financial struggles. Once you find a few groups that are active, consider participating in discussions and offering helpful tips, ideas and advice. You may find at least some new connection requests and even new clients!

Important Note: DO NOT post blatant self-promoting replies or discussions. That is just bad manners and will hurt your reputation. No direct self-promotion is needed. Simply offer helpful advice or tips. Let your profile do the promoting for you.

7. Stand out as a leader and expert

One way you can start attracting a lot more attention on LinkedIn is to offer helpful information that will attract your best type of clients. How? By posting brief status updates and posts. Share a tax savings tip. Answer a common question clients ask. Offer a solution to a typical problem you see clients struggle with. These short, helpful tidbits will likely spark discussions, attract new connections and ultimately build your reputation as a bookkeeper with a difference – a proactive go-to person who can get them the results they’re after.

The purpose of LinkedIn is to build professional relationships online and move your career forward. For us as freelance bookkeeping business owners, it is a powerful way to get in front of high quality clients and build a reputation as an expert on a true win-win basis.

It is not something you do once and get flooded with new client inquiries, but rather an ongoing method to spread the word about who you are, the problems you solve, and the value you bring to clients. Send that message on a consistent basis, and the new client inquiries will take care of themselves. Some of the most powerful connections and referrals have come to me through LinkedIn, and I’m certainly not using it to the full (yet)! Use these 7 methods, and you will get results.

Are you using LinkedIn? Have you found it valuable to your marketing and relationship building efforts?

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Bookkeepers and Taxes: TFB Spotlight on Wayne Davies, EA

tfb-star-spotlightDo bookkeepers and taxes go together? If you don’t offer tax services, how can you still benefit by the flurry of activity this time of year?

Tax season is a busy time for bookkeepers, especially when working with new clients who need our help to get their books caught up to date so they can get them to their tax preparer. Your existing clients may be asking questions about what they can deduct, or what expenses should be included on their books too.  That’s why I’ve invited my colleague and friend,  Wayne Davies, who is an Enrolled Agent and true tax expert in all 50 states to step into the TFB Spotlight and help us out.

Wayne recently published his book on Kindle, and it’s a keeper! It’s a handy reference you can use to work with your clients and make them glad to have you as their bookkeeper, even if you don’t do any kind of tax work. Your clients will truly value your help when it saves them on their tax bill. Using information like this proactively with your clients is a great way to stand out as different and keep them for life!

Wayne Davies, EAHere’s the recent interview I conducted with Wayne so he could share with us his journey, his book and some VERY valuable insight into how we, as bookkeepers, can collaborate with tax professionals for true win-win relationships!

It’s a meaty interview, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy! (In a hurry and want to read the interview offline? You can download a PDF version by Clicking Here)

Please give us a brief history of how you came to write your book, Small Business Tax Deductions Revealed: 29 Tax-Saving Tips You Wish You Knew (for Self-Employed People Only)

 WD:     My book was first released in 2004 under a different name – “The Small Business Tax Reduction Toolkit.” I wrote it because the most common question I get from clients is this: “What can I do to pay less tax?” So one day I decided to sit down and write a book for self-employed people that contained plain English explanations of legal tax reduction strategies.

Rather than pursue the traditional publishing route, I self-published it as an ebook and sold it through my website (www.YouSaveOnTaxes.com). Ebooks were really starting to take off back then, and I didn’t really know anything about how to sell an ebook, so I got some help from Jim Edwards to learn how to market it and use it to promote my tax business.  This ebook has done well for me over the past 10+ years.  And it has helped many small business owners learn how they can legally reduce their taxes.

In January 2015 I decided to convert the ebook to the Kindle format and sell it on Amazon. I also changed the title to “Small Business Tax Deductions Revealed: 29 Tax-Saving Tips You Wish You Knew“. It’s the same ebook, but now you can read it on your Kindle!

GF:       Yes, I re-read it once it hit Kindle, and was delighted to see that you have updated it completely. It got me excited again about using some of the tips you share in common, easy-to-understand language with my clients as part of the consulting I provide them.

Taxes are often something self-employed people think about only at tax time, when it hurts the most. Based on your own experience, what are some of the most costly mistakes these business owners are making?

WD:     Only thinking about taxes at tax return time is a huge mistake. Unfortunately, however, it’s also a very common one. People who do this are leaving a lot of money on the table for at least two reasons.

1.  If you wait until the tax return is due to gather your records, you will likely complete the recordkeeping process in a hurried rush. You’ll be stressed out by the upcoming deadline, and the old saying will become true right before your very frazzled eyes – “Haste makes waste.” In your haste to throw together some numbers at the last minute, you will probably miss some deductions and end up paying more tax than necessary.

There is a much better way! Tax recordkeeping, or bookkeeping, or accounting, or whatever you want to call it, should be done throughout the year. One of the easiest ways to reduce taxes is to keep good records. And it becomes increasingly difficult to keep good records if you are doing the whole year all at once right before doing the tax return.

Instead, you should have a bookkeeping system in place whereby income and expense transactions are tracked regularly during the year — every week or every month. Then you can keep your finger on the pulse of your business and know what is happening while it is happening. You should be reviewing financial statements at least monthly.

Waiting till the end of the year to see where you stand is a terrible way to run a business, and this is one reason why small businesses remain small. And it is also one of the reasons why self-employed people overpay their taxes by millions of dollars every year – they are missing out on deductions simply because they don’t have a good bookkeeping system in place.

2.  Something else to realize is that some of the best small business tax reduction strategies cannot be implemented right before the tax return is due. Some tax deductions take a little bit of planning – such as setting up a retirement plan that allows you to contribute more than an IRA does. There are retirement plans specifically designed for self-employed people, but you can’t wait until April 15 to do the paperwork.

Another great tax strategy is to incorporate a sole proprietorship. I’ve had clients lower their taxes by forming a corporation. But again, if you wanted to incorporate your business for 2014, you can’t wait until April 2015 to do that and make it retroactive.

Now for some sole proprietors, incorporating may not be a good idea; it may be that remaining a sole proprietorship is fine. For many self-employed people, this is a perfectly legal way to pay less tax, but either way, there is some paperwork involved and you have to be proactive about setting things up the right way and at the right time.

GF:       These are some great points we can share with those clients who drag their feet in giving us the info we need to keep their books up to date, as well as helping them see WHY it is so important!

Specifically, what has been the #1 challenge you’ve had in helping your business clients save on taxes? Do you have any war stories you can share?

WD:     The biggest challenge I have faced is simply getting clients to implement good tax reduction strategies. Let’s go back to this idea of forming a corporation. We call this “Choice of Entity.” And I highly recommend that every small business owner takes a close look at this question: What type of entity should my business be – sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC?

Now, if you research this and discover that incorporating is a good thing for you, do it! Don’t put it off. Take action and do it. There is no better time than the present to dramatically improve your tax situation.

I’ve worked with many wonderful clients. And I truly enjoy working with them. I’ve helped many small business owners and self-employed people go through this choice of entity decision. Those that take the time to do it never regret it.  Some end up with thousands of dollars in tax savings for many years to come.

But occasionally I get a client like Tony, the typical small business owner who is just “too busy” running his business to deal with any extra paperwork. Tony came to me and I offered to take him through a choice of entity analysis. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure. Whatever you say.”

So I did the analysis and called him with the results. Tony could save over $3,600 per year by converting from a Sole Proprietorship to a Corporation.  He liked the sound of that, and so he made an appointment to get started with the paperwork.

But making the appointment is all Tony ever did.  On the day of the appointment, Tony cancelled. Something came up.

A month later, he called to reschedule. And on the day of that second appointment, Tony cancelled. Something came up.

And on three more occasions, Tony made an appointment to get his corporation started, and each time, he either cancelled or didn’t show up.

I still do his tax return each year, and each year I remind him of the simple fact that he overpaid his taxes by approximately $3,600 (again). Over the past five years, Tony has paid nearly $18,000 more than necessary, just because he’s not focused enough to follow through on a simple one-time change in his business choice of entity.

GF:       That’s a great example to show how valuable the help of a professional is to our clients, and as in the case of Tony, if his bookkeeper had been there to encourage him to MAKE the time to get the paperwork done, he might be saving a bundle. So that leads to my next question…

 What role do you see bookkeepers playing in helping self-employed business owners save on taxes?

WD:     As I mentioned earlier, having a good set of books is huge. Without it, clients will overpay taxes just because of overlooked deductions that are probably there, but didn’t get recorded properly.

Self-employed people are good at whatever their business does (whether it’s providing a service or selling a product), but they are notorious for being naive about some of the best small business deductions allowed by the tax code. A good bookkeeper should know what’s deductible and what’s not. The idea is to advise the client and take care of it for them, so they can concentrate on doing what they do best – operate their business and making a profit.

GF:       I couldn’t agree more, Wayne! This is a HUGE reason why bookkeepers who do not prepare taxes would do well to grab a copy of your book so they can be educated on how to really help clients save on taxes. This makes bookkeepers invaluable to their clients…. and can even serve as a segue to lucrative business consulting services.

In your experience, how are most of these businesses getting their bookkeeping done? Are they doing the books themselves, or do they have a hired bookkeeper?

WD:     Both. I have clients who do their own bookkeeping and I have clients who outsource it. And I must admit that I’m always a bit baffled by those who do their own bookkeeping. I always wonder, “Is it really worth doing it yourself?” The most common reason I hear for a small business owner doing his own books is, “I can’t afford to hire a bookkeeping.”

My response is, “How can you afford not to outsource it?” If they just took the time they are spending on bookkeeping and spent it on marketing, they likely could increased sales more than enough to offset the expense of hiring a bookkeeper!

GF:       Right on, brother! And as you just illustrated, not only will they more than justify the cost by more profitability using their time, but also the savings a bookkeeper provides for taxes and late payments and so many other ways still adds to the bottom line for the client, rather than costing them. Our services are just a smart investment!

Where do you think freelance bookkeepers are really dropping the ball when it comes to helping clients save on taxes? 

WD:     A good bookkeeper should have a working knowledge of the most common small business tax deductions. A good bookkeeper should also have a good working relationship with a tax professional that she can consult with on tax questions that come up from time to time.

If a bookkeeper isn’t sure about what is deductible and what’s not, she should find out the answer to the question by discussing the issue with a qualified tax pro, or be honest with the client and let them know that this is something that requires further research. If the bookkeeper can’t get the answer, encourage the client to consult with their own tax pro to get a definitive answer.

GF:       This is why we’re friends, Wayne! What you are saying is what I’ve been preaching for years. Bookkeepers should know the basics of what’s deductible (at least), but also proactively reaching out to their clients’ tax professionals so that they can work as a team to support the client.

When we do that, not only are the clients thrilled to have us supporting their interests, but we also get noticed by the tax pro and build a valuable strategic alliance who can refer clients who need a good bookkeeper. It’s the perfect complementing partnership! In fact, that’s the whole reason I put together the CPA Referral Marketing training course. I do this myself and have had fantastic results… and it’s really quite easy to do.

Do you recommend that bookkeepers venture into recommending some of the tips in your book, or should they defer to the client’s tax professional?

WD:     I don’t have a problem with a bookkeeper recommending the tax strategies mentioned in my book. But I think the bookkeeper should also say, “Don’t forget to run this by your own tax person.”

Of course, it’s also good to remember that many small business owners don’t have a tax person, which is unfortunate. It’s not uncommon for self-employed people to do their own tax returns. And this fact presents the bookkeeper with an opportunity to help the client by urging the client to seek professional help with their tax return.

Successful business owners rarely do their own tax returns. They outsource it. Just like with bookkeeping, the temptation is there to “do it yourself” and save some money. But at what cost?

So I think the best thing a bookkeeper can do to help clients save on taxes is to encourage them to find a good tax professional to prepare the returns and provide year-round tax planning.

GF:       I couldn’t agree more!

How do you feel about bookkeepers who also provide tax services themselves? Do you think there’s any problem for the bookkeeper to do both?

WD:     I have no problem with a bookkeeper providing tax services – as long as the bookkeeper has the proper tax training and the credentials to demonstrate competency in the field of tax preparation.

Have you found freelance bookkeepers to be a good source of referrals for your tax practice?

WD:     No.  Believe it or not, when you referred Bill to me, that was the first time that a bookkeeper has referred a potential tax client to me. So over the years I’ve not taken time to develop relationships with bookkeepers (except for you!). But I am still so grateful that you thought of me.

GF:       Sadly, I think most bookkeepers only focus on receiving referrals from tax professionals and don’t understand how powerful it can be for building relationships to send referrals first. I’ll have to make sure I send you more referrals, whenever they come my way, Wayne! :-)

In a perfect world, what are the key qualities that you’d want to see in a freelance bookkeeper that would really make them a pleasure to work with on a regular basis?

WD:     Two qualities stand out:

1) Technical knowledge.  I’m stating the obvious, but a good bookkeeper should have good bookkeeping skills. Be good at what you do, and be constantly striving to get better at it.

2) Reliability. A good bookkeeper should be a person you can depend on. Just like any professional that you work with – you want them to be a person who keeps their word. If I say I’m going to have a tax return done by the 15th, I better get it done by the 15th!

If a bookkeeper says he’s going to get a project done by the 15th, he should do whatever it takes to get it done by the 15th. You want someone you can trust to do what they say they’re going to do by the date they say they’re going to do it. Nothing destroys trust more than failing to keep commitments.

GF:       You’re spot on with that! No one is perfect, but I definitely agree that we really want to try to deliver what we promise if we want to be seen as professional by everyone we work with.

For freelance bookkeepers who are just getting their business up and running, what advice can you offer for building strategic relationships with Enrolled Agents?

WD:     Many EA’s offer more than just taxes. Some EA’s offer a full line of accounting, payroll and tax services. Some EA’s offer bookkeeping services. So I would first find out what services any particular EA offers. If you find an EA who happens to offer bookkeeping services, don’t necessarily rule them out as a referral partner. Be upfront with them and find out if they are ever in a situation when they are “overbooked” (pardon the pun) and could use some help with their bookkeeping load.

Of course, the ideal EA to work with is one who does not do bookkeeping and has clients who need bookkeeping services. It only takes a few of these EAs to send you a steady stream of quality clients. This is the best type of EA to work with, and once you find one, treat him or her well!

GF:       Yes! And don’t forget to thank them in some way for sending referrals. Appreciation means a lot.

What specific “insider” tips, tricks or techniques can you share with us that would help any freelance bookkeeper win the respect and trust of tax professionals?

WD:     Well, I’ll be the first to admit that what I’m about to say will hardly sound like an “insider” trick. But here it is: Be honest. Honesty is just as important as technical expertise or years of experience. EAs are required to comply with a rigorous set of ethical standards and we are expected to live up to those standards set by the IRS.

To put it simply: No funny money. No “looking the other way” when you know that the client is doing something unethical or illegal.

GF:       Yep! Bookkeepers need to remember that the client’s actions can jeopardize our own business if we’re doing their books and they’re doing something illegal. You are not necessarily held harmless if they get into trouble! So I couldn’t agree more.

Do you have any last advice that would help bookkeepers get a better understanding about what you face as a tax professional so that we can make your life easier and build true win-win relationships?

WD:     Be respectful of how stressful tax season can be for tax professionals.

It’s really hard to describe how crazy things can get in the office of a tax preparer during tax season. It’s kinda like surfing a huge wave. At first, the wave doesn’t look that big. And you think, “No problem. I can handle this.” And so you hop on your surfboard and start riding this little wave.

Before long, however, the wave starts to get bigger and bigger. In fact, before you know it, it’s the biggest wave you’ve ever seen in your life! You have no idea how you’re going to make it to shore alive. The longer you ride this wave, the better you get at handling it, but it is still an incredibly challenging wave and you often wonder, “Why in the world did I get on this thing? Maybe I should jump!” But something inside you says, “Stick with it. You can do this. And in the end, it will be worth it.” So you stay on the wave, using all your strength, ability, perseverance and focus.

The wave continues to grow, but just as it reaches its maximum size, it crashes on the beach and you somehow manage to land on the soft sand with a boatload of seaweed in your hair. You’re exhausted and spent, but actually feeling pretty good. It’s April 15 and the ride is over.

Your surfboard is sitting next to you, a bit mangled but repairable, and you head to the nearest hammock to take a nice long nap. Tax season is over and you lived to tell about it. :-)

GF:       LOL! Wow, Wayne! That is the best description ever for what it’s like to “ride the wave” of tax season when you prepare taxes professionally. I did it myself for over 20 years, but finally decided to turn in the surfboard a few years ago.

small-business-tax-deductions-revealedThank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and advice with us. It is extremely helpful and I’m sure my readers will appreciate it as well.

If you’re a freelance bookkeeper, then you really NEED to pick up a copy of Wayne’s Kindle book so you have it handy and can help your clients (and yourself) save on taxes. From where I sit, this is a must-have reference for every bookkeeper’s toolbox.

Click Here to go to Amazon and get your copy.

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The Myth About Bookkeeper Credentials and Education

[Note: This article was originally published in October 2011, but since it is still such a prevalent belief, I have revised and added some additional info as of the above date]
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There’s a BIG myth that most freelance bookkeepers believe about bookkeeper credentials and education, and it’s time to set the record straight. It’s actually one of the key reasons the vast majority of bookkeepers (and even accountants) struggle to get more clients!
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Here’s the common belief: If you get more and more credentials, and more and more education, then you ‘ll automatically attract more and more clients.

It doesn’t work that way!

Yet this is what bookkeepers and accountants believe without even giving it a second thought. In fact, I’ve heard it said repeatedly at  level accounting seminars by industry leaders (who profit by running these seminars) that if you get more education, more credentials, you will grow your business. And when they do, the audience says, “Amen!”

What?

That’s just not true.

It’s time we stop unquestioningly drinking the Kool-Aid that’s, at best, holding you back from growing your business much more quickly!

So where’s the disconnect? In a word, communication.

The way to grow your business and get more clients is to communicate the skills that you have that will benefit your clients. Clients don’t care about the hours you’ve spent attending training sessions to get a technical credential. They are attracted to you for what you can do for them. But they will NEVER come to you unless they know that we exist.

Now, it is true that if you provide high quality services to your existing clients, they might talk to other clients and then you might get referrals. That can happen, and does happen often.

But to effectively growing your business, more important than the number of letters after your name, is your marketing ability. You need to have a good marketing system in place to send you a stream of the kind of clients that are looking for the skills that you have to offer them.

So, yes, we do need the technical skills to provide the services our clients want. But marketing is the linchpin to growing your business consistently. This is especially true in the early years of your bookkeeping business.

So now you know the truth about how to use your credentials (service clients) AND what’s really needed to get more clients consistently.

If you’ve already got the bookkeeping skills you need, but have been struggling to find more clients (which validates the truth of what this article is about), then it’s time to learn how to improve your marketing communication skills. That’s the kind of education that can REALLY grow your freelance bookkeeping business starting right now.

My Freelance Bookkeeper Marketing System is popular because it shows you the most effective marketing methods that work for us and how to get more clients in 30 days or less.

But I’d be interested to hear what you seasoned bookkeepers have been doing and what YOUR best sources for learning how to market your services has been.

Please share your experiences in the comments below!

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Virtual Bookkeeping: 7 Ways to Go from Offline to Online

virtual_bookkeeping_womanVirtual bookkeeping is certainly an attractive idea to most freelance bookkeepers. Working from your own (home) office using the Internet has some BIG benefits. There’s little or no need to travel to your client’s location, and the schedule can be A LOT more flexible. Let’s say it together: efficient and profitable!

But if you’re currently serving clients on site (in their office), or even if they’re coming to you to drop off their info, how can you upgrade your business and make the transition to an online bookkeeping service?

Here are 7 ways to move from a traditional offline bookkeeping business to an online, remote bookkeeping service:

1. Cut back your dependence on paper

These days most of the information needed to get the bookkeeping done is now available in electronic form. As a virtual bookkeeper, you can use automatic bank downloades to gather the vast majority of the transactions flowing through your clients’ bank and credit card accounts. Bank statements are also available as PDF douments. Your clients can even snap photos of paper receipts with their smartphones, or forward the email versions to provide the “paperwork” you need.

2. Become a more proactive communicator

When you don’t see your clients in person, it is more important for you to reach out to them via email and phone frequently. Set regular appointments to review their books and get questions answered. You can even hold online meetings when necessary. Your services will feel more professional to your clients, and will help you stay on track too.

3. Switch to online software

Doing the books on desktop software can make it difficult to work with your clients, especially if they are doing some of the bookkeeping themsevles, such as the invoicing, or paying their own bills. This is a big reason some clients want us to work in their offices. But using online softare is a much more convenient choice. It allows both you and your clients access anytime, anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Examples are QuickBooks Online or Xero.

If your clients need to stick with desktop software, there are tools that can make it accessible via the Internet, such as hosted desktop solutions, or synching apps. But as online solutions proliferate, you’ll likely want to limit the software you will support. Sticking with only a few makes your life a lot easier.

4. Set a schedule and build systems

When we think of our bookkeeping business like a machine, we can create an efficient routine that will have a big impact on profit and how many clients you can serve. Create your own internal scheduling system for getting client work done and you’ll easily be able to grow your business in a predictable way. One free tool that can be used this way is Trello.

5. Migrate existing clients gradually

While the benefits of working on a virtual basis with your clients may be obvious to you, they may not be to your clients. You will need to explain why working off-site is beneficial to them. (HINT: More convenient access for everyone). Change is usually uncomfortable. So make it easier on your clients by moving forward gradually. Transition just one client at a time, starting with the simplest set of books and/or functions.

6. Commit to continuous learning

When you decide to use technology, one thing is constant: Change! This is the reason that you want to start with the basics (like choosing the online software you will support going forward) and narrow your focus to just a few tools. Then become an expert at them. This positions you as a specialist and will make you more attractive to clients who are embracing online technology. That means more clients who want to work the way you do – virtually (and you can raise your rates accordingly)!

7. Get support when you need it

No bookkeeper is an island and we can’t know everything. So don’t even try! Take advantage of what software vendors have to offer us. Reach out for training and support when needed, since your success is their success! Also connect with other virtual bookkeepers and accounting pros online for tips and resources that you may not find even working with softare vendors. LinkedIn Groups is a great place to do it.

Accounting technology is moving at a rapid pace, and it’s making core bookkeeping services more efficient. Yes, some clients still do want on-site, paper-based bookkeeping, but more and more clients are embracing virtual technology and looking for bookkeepers who can work remotely. You can be that bookkeeper! Start now to more your business online one step at a time.

Which area will you focus on first?

By the way, if you want to redesign your bookkeeping service delivery methods to streamline and customize your workflow, then join us this month in The Freelance Bookkeeper Premium program since we’re focusing on HOW to do it step by step: “Virtual Service Delivery Systems & Workflow

 

Bookkeeping, Profit and Fun! (Backfired Freelance Bookkeeper Spotlight!)

interviewOkay, so normally I’m the one putting a freelance bookkeeper into the spotlight so we can share the journey and learn from one another.

Well, this time the tables were turned on me!

This week I was thrust into the spotlight by business author Mike Michalowicz in the popular Profit First Podcast.  Who knew talking about bookkeeping, working virtually and dealing with price-conscious clients could be so much fun?

On the podcast they asked me about..

  • What I do exactly and how long I’ve been able to work 100% virtual.
  • How The Freelance Bookkeeper blog got started.
  • Why working virtually is so appealing… how most virtual businesses get started and why more businesses are going virtual.
  • Do clients resist working with us on a virtual basis, and do they expect to pay less for virtual bookkeeping?
  • How do you effectively “sell” your services to potential new clients who are new to working with you online?
  • How do you deal with the seclusion of working virtually and getting the word out about your services (when you’re not networking with people in person)?
  • How to network with people virtually if you’re an introvert?
  • How do you build a loyal following of people who want to hear what you have to say? (hint: it’s actually really easy)
  • Is it difficult for a bookkeeper to be profitable in general?
  • The problem with charging by the hour and how to navigate it. (And the big trap that can cause you to “lose your shirt”!)
  • The magic phrase you can use when a prospective client starts a conversation with, “How much do you charge?”
  • Where do most bookkeepers start losing money in their business?
  • How much access should your client give you over their money? (And where you and your clients can get into a lot of trouble!)
  • They even got up close and personal about what’s going on in my own business finances

We had a lot of fun in this interview and I guarantee that you’ll laugh out loud at least once! You’ll also learn why Mike now calls me a beacon… ;-)

Seriously, it is worth listening to this audio (you can download it and listen on the go without opting in or anything). It’s just a little more than a half hour.

If you enjoy it, go ahead and subscribe to the podcast since every week you’ll pick up some great tips along with the laughs).

Listen to my spotlight interview here:

The Profit First Podcast

The unexpected bonus you’ll get for listening to this one is you’ll hear how these two very successful small business owners view us as bookkeepers. Notice what they focus in on so you can position your services in an interesting way the next time someone asks you about the services you offer.

profit-first-bookIf you’ve never heard of Mike Michalowicz, you owe it to yourself to check out his latest book, Profit First. He shows you how to make your business instantly more profitable (you’ll hear how it has worked in my business since I started using it on the interview), and you can even use it as a basis to make more money from your existing clients!

On the other hand, if you’re eager to learn more about starting your own virtual bookkeeping business, you’ll want to check out my popular training, The Insiders Guide to Your Own Virtual Bookkeeping Business

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