Practice Growth & Advisory – Are You Ready to Make it Real?

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Practice growth and moving to advisory services is something we've been hearing about FOR YEARS. They say that automation will save us time so we can spend more of it providing premium level services to our clients. The idea is that we'll make more, work less, and get better quality clients in the process.

But HOW exactly can we make the transition on a nuts-n-bolts level and go beyond the theory? Where can we get support in pursuing this ideal? Answering those questions is the basis of an exciting new joint project I've been working on for many months with Martin Bissett of the Upward Spiral Partnership. Martin is an elite consultant to superior level accounting
firms throughout the UK, Europe, and the US.

Are You Moving Toward Advisory Services?

In a very recent survey of accountants and bookkeepers, they were asked how ready they were to play a stronger advisory role with their clients. Interestingly enough the respondents said:

  • 40% felt they were ready now to offer effective advisory services
  • 57% felt they were not yet ready and needed more training and support to transition
  • 3% felt they were not ready and not sure that they would ever offer advisory services

Based on these results, the transition is already underway. Have you thought out where are you in your readiness to add advisory services? The transition is happening because automation is accelerating (think about what happened to bank tellers vs. the ATM). Whereas advisory services are what clients have been aching for us to provide them for a very long time. That's because machines will never replace the true value we can provide (and with that comes premium fees, by the way).

Choose Your Own Adventure

Making the transition becomes a lot easier when you can actually implement what has been working for those who have gone ahead of you. If you want to step up and go beyond compliance-only services to grow in a way that actually means you work less and make more, this new online learning and support program was created with you in mind. We call it Addviser+

It's for accountants and bookkeepers who are serious about growing their business with high-quality clients by providing premium level advisory services. You create a true win-win advantage by growing both your practice, as well as providing much-needed support to your clients in the process.

If this is your path for 2018, and you want to accelerate how quickly you get there, then you owe it to yourself to see what
will help you get serious results as soon as possible (even if you're schedule is super busy).

Take a look now at the brand new Addviser+ website to learn more

Where Are You Going?

No matter what level you're at in your practice right now (or your budget), you'll find something that you can start using right away. That's by design because both Martin and I believe that bookkeepers and accounts are the most influential professionals when it comes to saving businesses from floundering, failing and all the ill effects that can affect so many people who are connected to our clients. That of course also means that we have great power for good as well!

In fact, Martin created a short video (2 minutes) that illustrates this well. You'll see why he's so passionate about really helping accountants succeed.

(“Quo Vadis – Where Are You Going?” courtesy of Shooters Media on Vimeo)

Addviser+ is the most affordable way to learn from Martin (and me) and go beyond just getting new clients and making more money. We focused on making a real difference for everyone we touch. But it's not all soft and cuddly. It's about taking action to get you results on your bottom line FIRST.

And just so you know, we are adding new programs and resources on a continuous basis going forward, so come be one of the first to join us and start prospering yourself, your clients and beyond starting today!

By the way – Since this is a brand new platform and community, we are also offering a fantastic deal for those who want to move forward quickly and get live support from Martin and myself. If that's you, then become one of the 50 founding members here:

Learn More About the All Access Pass

 

Are you already offering advisory services in your accounting or bookkeeping practice? What did you find helped you make the transition effectively?

 

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Part-Time Freelance Bookkeeper to Seasoned Business Owner: TFB Spotlight on Tracy Irwin (2 Years Later)

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tfb-star-spotlightEach TFB Spotlight interview focuses on an owner of a bookkeeping business (or someone who supports us). It's one of the most popular features of this blog, and for good reason.

Whether you're just getting started, or you've been running your bookkeeping business for years, we all learn and get inspired by the real life stories of fellow bookkeepers and accountants who started from humble beginnings and built successful  businesses… with plenty of real life bumps, bruises, and detours along the way. Success loves action!

In this episode we get the rare privilege of following up with one of our most successful colleagues from the UK (she's the most popular interviewee thus far on the TFB blog) – Tracy Irwin of TI Accountancy.

Hear or watch the original interview from February 2016.

Two years later, where is Tracy with her business? More importantly, what lessons has she learned that you can use as you design and grow your own successful bookkeeping business?

Watch or listen to this latest interview now! Total running time is 26 minutes.

Would you rather listen to the interview on the go?  Download Audio Here (right-click and “Save As…”)

Interview Highlights

  • She now has 9 team members in her office (reduced has been by attrition)
  • They now focus on higher quality clients
  • Big learning lesson came when Tracy's bookkeeping business was growing rapidly. She learned to not take on too many new clients all at the same time because of the time involved in doing onboarding right. They now have a limit of taking on no more than 4 new clients per month
  • Processes have been massively refined and Tracy has, over time, streamlined operations
  • Tracy now spends all her time working ON the business and only fills the sales and marketing role
  • Tracy is no longer physically commutes to her office – she lives in Spain! (Her business is in England)
  • She faced major personal changes that caused her to take a step back from working so hard in her bookkeeping business. Prior to this she struggled to delegate but learned to let go and let employees do their best work
  • While going through the dark times, she felt like she had fallen out of love with her business because of all the difficulties (growing pain learning). This helped Tracy learn to delegate so the business could run without her
  • As a result, she fell back in love with her business and in now so proud of her team
  • Whenever something goes wrong in the business, they never blame people, but the processes. They work on a solution as a team until it is fixed. Her procedures manual is the biggest asset in her business now
  • Starting to create systems was done by creating an organizational chart based on processes (not people), and the staff members documented the systems.

Books Mentioned

  • E-Myth Revisited by Micheal E. Gerber – the business classic on why you should build systems in your business as though it was going to become a franchise, whether you plan to ever sell it or not. The niched version specifically for bookkeepers is The E-Myth Bookkeeper, also worth reading.
  • Work The System by Sam Carpenter – a nuts-n-bolts approach to systematizing your service-based business written by an entrepreneur who learned the hard lessons (with some similarities to Tracy's experiences) for the need to create documented processes and delegate. Highly recommended.
  • Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz – Expected to be released in August 2018 – This book provides simple, practical approaches to productivity and systems that will help you transform from a worker bee to the owner of a business that can run without you.

 

Tracy's advice to bookkeepers now is to let life get in the way of your business and see what valuable lessons you can learn in the process. (This is what actually taught her to learn to delegate and let her business run without her so she could fall back in love with what she had created!)

Want to contact Tracy directly? Go ahead and email her:  Tracy @ TIPayroll.co.uk (type it into your email system without spaces – link not provided directly to help save Tracy from unwanted robot spam)

What did you find most valuable about Tracy's bookkeeping business journey so far?

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Workflow Systems: The 1099 Aftermath

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Your workflow systems affect everything you do. For example, did you make it through the January 1099 madness okay?

In most of the TFB webinars this past year we've been focusing on systematizing and streamlining workflow in one form or another, and with good reason.

Whether your 1099 January crunch went smoothly and was reasonably low stress, or if it was crazy and hair-pulling, likely your experience had much to do with the systems you have put in place. Even if that's the system of trying to figure out what the next step is to get it all done before the deadline.

When the pressure is on we get to see just how organized we've been all year long (or not) when it comes to getting the needed info from our clients. Do you see some ways to improve your processes for 2018? (Yeah, me too!)

Systems and repeatable structure, while on their own are far from exciting and sexy (I mean, who really gets excited about asking clients' vendors for Forms W-9?), the results they produce can make or break your business in January (along with your sanity). And when it comes to improving systems, often pain is an effective teacher!

To plan out a workflow that works (or is improved) it only takes a few minutes while you're feeling ‘inspired'. Just use these simple steps:

  1. Draw out the key functions that lead to the results you're after, whether with good old fashioned paper and pen or some electronic means (I like Bubbl.us for quick mindmap-style workflows)
  2. Consider where the sticking points were and drill down to the specific tasks involved and brainstorm solutions to where things get stuck
  3. Come up with a checklist and schedule for doing it better next time
  4. Put your system to the test
  5. Rinse and repeat steps 1-4

So let's continue focusing on improving systems and efficiency because without it, running a profitable bookkeeping business is only going to get harder as the pricing pressure on compliance work is pushed downward. We need to get efficient and effective in the day-to-day bookkeeping processes so we can then grow to higher value client services.

What process do you go through in order to improve your systems?

By the way, I've started a private Facebook group specifically for comparing notes on both workflow and the apps we use to streamline and automate our services. If you'd like to join us (it's free), please do!

Let's talk workflow and apps on Facebook

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From Corporate Job to Bookkeeping Business: TFB Spotlight on Roderick Robeson

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tfb-star-spotlightIf you're a professional bookkeeper or accountant who has been thinking about starting your bookkeeping business for a long time, but have been hesitating to make the leap, this TFB Spotlight is for you!

Roderick Robeson, who is a CPA, had a very typical beginning working in corporate America for years. He had an entrepreneurial dad, but it took a long time for him to realize that starting his own accounting and bookkeeping firm was the right fit for him. It was a gradual realization.

In this interview you'll hear what it was that made him finally make the (scary) move from the security of a regular paycheck to being his own boss and quickly growing a very successful bookkeeping and tax practice. HINT: He started his business only a couple years ago and already has nearly 100 clients, is making six figures and did very little marketing.

Learn his secrets in this real-world interview from someone who is very deliberately taking action and reaping the rewards of building a true business.

Would you rather listen on the go? Right Click Here to Download the Audio  (41 mins)

Guest Bio:

Roderick Robeson is a Certified Public Accountant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of small business, accounting and finance experience. He owns and operates Roderick Robeson CPA, LLC, which is a virtual accounting firm serving small businesses internationally.

Roderick has a passion for teaching, and due to his unique teaching style, he was selected to teach business courses at one of China's largest and most prestigious universities, SiChuan University.

In his spare time, Roderick enjoys getting away from the computer and reading, traveling, kayaking and fishing. He calls Austin, Texas home.

The best way to contact Roderick is via email or via his website: http://rorcpa.com/

What was your best takeaway from Roderick's story?

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How Will You Grow Your Bookkeeping Business in 2018?

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Have you started working your plan to grow your bookkeeping business for the new year? What does it include?

January is one of the busiest times of year for bookkeepers, since small business owners who have been neglecting their bookkeeping all year begin to realize they need to get their records in order because taxes will be due soon. Or maybe it's part of their 2018 business plan to take better care of their financial management (and stop trying to cut corners when it comes to maintaining their finances).

Point is, if your biggest goal is to bring in new clients to grow your bookkeeping business, this is a great time of year to ramp up your marketing and networking activities.

Or maybe you have enough clients and get new referrals regularly and would rather focus on updating your skills and start embracing the latest in online technology. You're wasting too much time in non- or low-billable activities doing the books at your clients' offices, or want to become more eco-friendly and stop being tied to paper documentation.

Or maybe you are knee-deep in technology but still feel like you're spinning your wheels trying to fit all the pieces together. Your plans to grow your bookkeeping business are more about doing more with less. Streamlining your workflow is your priority this year so you can finally stop working so hard.

Do any of these resonate with you in where you want to take your practice?

I really wanted to know, plus had a practical reason to ask this question. So I did.

The Votes Are In

In December I ran a survey for the topics that you felt would help you most in 2018. We focused on the three key areas that bookkeepers ask me to help them with most: (1) technology, (2) marketing and getting new clients, and (3) streamlining internal systems and workflow. I was curious to find out which was the most in demand now.

Survey says…

Pretty much all three. But a clear trend is emerging. In fact, I run a survey like this every year to come up with the training plan for my TFB Premium membership program. Two years ago was the first time that systems and workflow beat marketing for the #1 spot. But this year technology takes the prize!

Here's how these areas ranked, in order:

  1. Technology
  2. Systems & workflow
  3. Marketing

We will be providing classes surrounding all of these topics in 2018, but clearly we are looking for ways to rise above the noise and future-proof our bookkeeping practices as automation and technology keep surging forward. The scene of our world is changing and we need to adapt.

My mission with The Freelance Bookkeeper is to gather a community of confident, competent, consultative bookkeepers who want to make a difference. I believe that when you grow your bookkeeping business, you can provide important benefits to not only yourself and your family, but also to your clients and everyone we collectively touch. So all of the training programs and resources this year will be to support your success as we navigate the changes together.

In view of this, we've now posted the new 2018 lesson schedule for the TFB Premium program (see below), as well as planning upcoming free webinars that support these three key areas of growth. We're also working on several projects that will zero in on leveraging technology AND honing your consultative and advisory skills to produce the best results for both you and your clients for the long term. So stay tuned this year. We are in for an exciting ride!

The TFB Premium Lesson Topic Schedule for 2018

January: The 6-Figure Bookkeeper – Is it Really Possible?

February: Simple Online Client Attraction for Busy Bookkeepers & Accountants 

March: Your Win-Win Client Assessment – How to Avoid Getting Stuck with the Wrong Clients

April: The No-Risk Way to Specialize Your Bookkeeping Practice

May: Bookkeeping Automation for Virtual Bookkeepers

June: Virtual Service Delivery Systems: How to Assemble Your Own Streamlined Workflow

July: How to Add Coaching & Consulting to Your Bookkeeping Business in 3 Simple Steps

August: CyberSecurity – What Every Freelance Bookkeeper Needs to Know

September: Your Online Presence – What You Need to Succeed

October: Bookkeeper Blogging & Content Marketing for a Regular Stream of New Client Leads

November: How to Set Up Your Client Referral System for More Consistent Inquiries

December: How to Migrate from Hourly to Flat Fee Packages Without Losing Your Shirt

If you've been thinking about joining us for one or more months this year, we'd be glad to have you with us!

Learn more about The Freelance Bookkeeper Premium program here

Additionally, if there are topics you don't see here that you'd like to learn more about or have me post here on the blog, go ahead and let me know using the Suggestion Box at the bottom right of this page.

So, what are your big plans for 2018 to grow your bookkeeping business?

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