Can Bookkeepers Change The World?

changing the worldIn a word, YES.

But the more important question is, Will we?

What we do as bookkeepers can literally be world changing, for ourselves, our clients, and even on the other side of the planet!

I'm not being melodramatic. What we have the ability to do, whether we realize it or not, can have a profound effect on millions of lives, both locally and around the world.

Read on, and you'll see what I mean (and what it means to you).

With Clients and Beyond

As bookkeepers, we are intimately involved in the day-to-day money flow through multiple businesses that affect hundreds if not thousands of people. Many business owners don't pay attention to the financial standing, cash flow or trends. They trust us to take care of the numbers for them, and operate unaware… until there is a problem.

Of course, many of us simply do what is asked of us and quietly keep the books balanced and produce historical financial reports (which clients usually don't look at or understand). We do as expected and make sure the bills are paid and taxes get filed on time. But we are in a unique position to do so much more.

We have the power to make a significant impact on the well-being of our clients' financial situation, which affects their lifestyle, health and overall well-being. This, in turn, can help (or harm) the well-being of everyone who is touched by our clients as well – their employees, contractors, vendors and by extension, all their families. We ourselves are included among those who benefit when our clients' businesses prosper.

This opportunity to affect and even change lives is now being amplified by the fast-moving technology that is automating much of the time-consuming, mechanical work that is the core of what we do. As it takes hold, we will be forced to make a decision.

As I see it, it comes down to three choices:

1. Scale your bookkeeping services as a high volume, low-cost commodity service (these type of bookkeeping firms are already appearing online)

and / or

2. Add premium, high-value advisory services that are focused on working more closely with clients to improve their financial fitness and become more profitable

or

3. Resist change altogether and try to keep doing what you've always done until you retire

Both #1 and #2 embrace the changes already taking place with automation, but #1 by itself is a commodity game. We're already seeing a “race to the bottom” on fees that devalues the bookkeeping function in the eyes of our clients. That may turn out to be a race where everyone loses.

Choice #3 will eventually die out as small businesses become aware, adopt and ultimately demand cloud-based bookkeeping and automation, with or without hiring a professional bookkeeper.

SIDE NOTE: If you are ready to embrace the automation of your bookkeeping workflow by leveraging online technology, I'll be running an online training surrounding this next Thursday (October 20). So mark your calendar now and watch for that registration announcement on this blog (or get first notification by using the form at the top right of this page)

Advisor or Admin?

We've been hearing for years about how technology is freeing us to step into the role of ‘Trusted Advisor' with our clients. But this message is not one that many bookkeepers are grabbing hold of. Advising clients seems beyond the role of a ‘lowly' bookkeeper…or so some believe.

From where I sit, we are in a better position to provide truly valuable advisory services to our clients than even their accountant can. Why? Because we know how the money flows day in and day out in our clients' businesses. We know how they operate. We also can interpret their financial reports and are the first to see dangerous cash flow issues or self-defeating financial habits our clients may be forming. In short, because we're closer to our clients, we are the ones who can help them the most.

But there are reasons why most of the bookkeepers I talk to (and even myself sometimes) hesitate to speak up and offer this kind of service to our clients. It's because we're not always sure how to approach our clients so that they'll listen to us and take our advice. (Heck, sometimes it's like pulling teeth just to get them to answer simple questions about mundane transactions!) How can we get them to see us as advisers, valuable partners to their business, and not just administrative clerks?

The answer starts with the type of clients you have. There are two kinds:

1. Clients who just don't want our advice. They are the ones who want the cheap, commodity services.

2. Clients whom we can truly help and who value our advice.

For the latter type of client, the sticking point is that we lack the skills (and confidence) to know how best to coach them. In fact, it recently occurred to me that the lack of coaching skills is the key gap that will stifle our ability to truly become high-value advisors, unless we do something about it.

The Skills Gap

I was a speaker just a couple weeks ago at ProfitCON 2016, and while there, I got to talking with Donna Leyens of the Provendus Group. We were discussing this needed skill of effective communication and coaching specifically for bookkeepers. It soon became apparent that learning how to ‘coach' clients, even when we're doing traditional bookkeeping work, is a highly valuable (and profitable) skill to cultivate. Donna told me that in her own career, learning how to coach clients has literally changed her world. In fact, she wrote an excellent article that demonstrates just how valuable honing your ability to get clients to listen to you really is.

So this all comes down to the fact that we are on the cusp of a rapidly changing business landscape irresistibly driven by automation and cloud technology where we as bookkeepers are in the unique position to make a significant impact for good. That is, IF we are willing to step up and learn the crucial skills we typically lack.

1. How to effectively communicate with and coach clients for their financial health and well-being

2. How to build our business around this new advisory model

On the latter point, this means that our marketing, sales and practice management skills need to be sharpened as well. That's the only way we can attract the right kind of clients who are aligned with the significant value we have to offer them (and are willing to pay premium fees for it).

Get Skills. Grow Your Practice. Change the World!

There's another change afoot in the accounting profession. In my opinion, it's the ultimate in win-win initiatives, and it's in total sync with all that we've covered here.

My friend and esteemed mentor, Martin Bissett of the Upward Spiral Partnership (USP), will be launching on October 20th a brand new project like none I've ever seen. We can now learn the skills of top level, high-growth accounting firms in a time-efficient online format AND have a powerful impact for good in the world at the same time.

Here's a short 2-minute video he made (at my request) to explain what it's all about:

If you'd like to learn more about this exciting new program, join me in the Asp1ration Alliance Sneak Peek Facebook group (FREE!), and you'll get some of the sample training immediately.

October 20th is a big day! That's when Asp1ration Alliance officially launches, as well as the webinar I'm hosting on putting your workflow on auto-pilot. So mark your calendar now, and watch this blog for more details as they're released.

We're in for quite a ride! As technology continues to drive change, together we can embrace it, get the skills we need, and choose to change the world in a good way. The win-win way.

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and build true win-win relationships.

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6 Responses to “Can Bookkeepers Change The World?”

  • Jane on October 13, 2016

    Hi Gabrielle, I really appreciate your insightful articles as to the evolving bookkeeping profession.

    I am a bookkeeper in Australia, I believe your methodologies definitely applies to many countries other than US. 🙂

    • Gabrielle Fontaine on October 13, 2016

      I couldn’t agree more, Jane! Bookkeepers are having an impact around the world. While there are some differences in some of the functions bookkeepers handle, we are all in the position to be hugely valuable partners to our clients, and make a significant difference.

      Thanks for mentioning this!

  • accountancy firm in luton on December 2, 2016

    Gabrielle nice share. I really enjoyed reading the world changing insights you’ve shared about bookkeeping. Actually controlling every account of a business is the key to get success, therefore by doing the proper bookkeeping it’s possible to make huge changes around the world overall financial improvement.

  • Tax King Inc on December 20, 2016

    Hi Gabrielle! Really interesting question and I am really happy to answer this questions. Because i am really good with figures and I know how Bookkeepers can change the world.

    If we talk about Bookkeeping, Only those who have bookkeeping profession is not bookkeeper. According to my opinion all those business owners who are doing their on recording of business transactions are call bookkeeper. Because they are doing the job of Bookkeepers.

    Without Bookkeeper, its not easy to run the business. Because when you don’t know where from coming, where you are spending. How much you are earning, How much you are saving. You can’t run the business for long term.

  • Danny Coyne on December 22, 2016

    Great share Gabrielle. Bookkeeping job gives a great impact for a business. Without Bookkeeper, our business won’t run smoothly. Bookkeeper with accounting background is a great mix of knowledge and skills.
    Hoping for your next post.
    Thanks.

  • Tax King Inc on December 22, 2016

    Hi Danny Coyne! You are right. Bookkeeping always leave great impact on buisnesses. If there should not be bookkeeping, It means we can’t run the business for long terms.

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