A Bookkeeping Business in a Box?

As you know, I often lead classes on how to streamline workflow and bring in more clients to your bookkeeping business. In all my years of doing this, there’s one thing that keeps coming up again and again – and it drives me nuts!

It’s some kind of subconscious belief that someone else has figured this all out, and if we just copy do what they do, we’ll suddenly have a bookkeeping business packed with clients and systems that work smoothly and efficiently every time.

Have you ever wanted that? The thought has crossed my mind too. And if you’re running a virtual bookkeeping business, it seems some of the apps we use like to make promises that smack of this idea too!

It’s a Lie! 

There’s no one-size-fits-all method to running a bookkeeping business! Period.

When you decided to start your practice, you wanted to be your own boss. You wanted to decide how much you make and with whom you’d work. Right? Well all of that is 100% possible and you CAN have a highly successful and profitable virtual bookkeeping business. No question.

But your bookkeeping business is NOT going to look like my business, and mine won’t look like yours or even bring in the same revenue. That’s true even if we worked closely together.

Why?

Because there are too many variables that go into running a true business. With the most important one being YOU! In fact here are just a few of the key aspects involved:

  • Your long-term goals and aspirations for what you want your business to look like when it’s “done” (solo, small firm, mini-empire, or big company)
  • Your business structure and model (local or virtual / contractors or employees)
  • The clients you serve (general practice or specialty)
  • The services and scope offered (compliance only or advisory or boutique level)
  • The technology you use (high-volume automation or personalized, high-touch client-centric focus)

Add to all of these your experience, level of expertise and even the ethics of your staff and your leadership style. The combinations are nearly endless!

So when someone asks me for a workflow that they can just ‘plug and play’ into their bookkeeping business I cringe. It doesn’t work that way. The best I can do is provide a basic bare bones chassis of a workflow or marketing methods, and you need to build it out to fit your own vision.

What’s your vision?

Choose Your Path and Stick With It!

It’s a risky time to be in business, especially without a clear direction. But in that dark statement there is a beam of light.

Small businesses are desperate for guidance and direction right now too. They need our financial expertise during these precarious times. We have the experience to support them, and we should!

If you want to thrive amid the increased demand, you need to be clear on the type of bookkeeping business you want to build and then custom fit your services, workflow and marketing to fit that plan. No one else can give you a perfect-fit bookkeeping business but you.

We have many choices, as mentioned above. But after all that ranting, there are some “short-cuts” you can take, especially if you feel like you could go in any direction and you’re willing to build the skills you need to create your brand of success.

Here are some of the models that are working during these shifting times…

  • Highly optimized compliance-focused bookkeeping with a twist
    • Small, price-conscious businesses want this
    • Charge flat fees and optimize your workflows with automation
    • Your selling points will be speed and efficiency
    • Protect pricing for the long term by focusing in a general industry, like legal or medical.

This combination allows you to be ‘specialized’ enough to avoid being seen as a commodity and get the efficiency (and profitability) that comes with standardization.

  • Premium bookkeeping plus CFO or Advisory level services
    • Established to mid-market clients who want more than ‘just bookkeeping’
    • Opportunities for premium level advisory services
    • Higher touch, proactive contact with management / executive level
    • Flat fees and value pricing to reflect the premium level results clients can expect

This model can work with a small bookkeeping practice or with a sizable virtual team. So there’s flexibility to grow.

  • Small, highly focused boutique specialty bookkeeping plus
    • High-quality, loyal clients who are leaders in their field and want top-level, quality, responsive services
    • Premium fees; value pricing works best here
    • Proactive and high proportion of advisory services
    • Current knowledge of trends and tech in the specialty industry needed

This model is the most profitable and can be either a very small practice or a mid-sized firm with top talent. With this model you make more with fewer clients and long-term relationships.

As you can see from these descriptions, it’s not about finding a client onboarding workflow or a new practice management app that’s going to build the perfect bookkeeping business for you. It’s about learning to lead your business to what you want it to become and involves far more than your day-to-day workload. It’s being a business owner.

How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

As with any journey, it’s one step at a time. When you know the big picture then it’s just a matter of assembling the pieces to fit together.

Whee to begin?

Start where you are. If you’ve just been offering compliance services to your clients to date, but you know you want to move toward more premium level services, start by becoming more proactive. Ask your clients what they are most worried about or focused on financially right now. Then listen.

In fact, nearly all clients are focused on cash flow, especially now. They worry how to make ends me, and how taxes are going to affect them (and where they’ll find the money to pay).

While bookkeeping is not a one-size-fits-all business, taxes just by their nature are more uniform and our clients need help. Sadly, most CPAs and tax preparers are not meeting this need. And this is where there’s a crossroads that can give you a boost without trying to design it all yourself.

Consider whether offering tax services may be a “check the boxes” stepping stone in the right direction for you.

I prepared taxes for many years and the knowledge has been invaluable in supporting and gaining the trust of my bookkeeping clients. It’s also the easiest path to moving toward advisory, premium level services. Clients value tax knowledge and support immediately.

Want to find out if tax services are a good fit for you? Do you want a BIG, reliable revenue boost every year without fail? Then come to the FREE “4 Month Fix Workshop.”

This is a workshop that starts on August 24th, led by Ben Robinson (CPA who had a tax practice for many years) It’s all about how to realistically start your own tax preparation business from scratch. You’ll walk away with a clear direction you can implement right away. He uses a Learn-Do-Results approach you’ll love!

I’ll be attending this workshop myself. Please join me and together we’ll create our own success that no one else can copy.

Even if you could find a bookkeeping business in a box, it would go obsolete very quickly in these changing times. It’s a formula for getting left behind. Instead, we can put together the pieces that will build a unique business that drives your vision, improve profitability now and become worth so much more in the long run.

Posted in Articles, Training, Virtual Bookkeeping | Comments Off on A Bookkeeping Business in a Box?

Navigating Changes in Bookkeeping: From Stress to Strength

There’s no question. Changes in bookkeeping are all around us. Are you keeping up with them, and do you really need to anyway?

The answer must be YES!

Important Changes in Bookkeeping

COVID-19 has caused a major shift for our clients and for many freelance bookkeepers as well, forcing us to be working differently, and most often, via the Internet rather than on-site. Did you find you needed to re-think the workflow for how you are serving your clients?

You aren’t alone. Those who hadn’t yet embraced virtual bookkeeping were thrust head-long into it!

Additionally, some of your clients likely needed urgent help with navigating the cash flow impact of the shutdowns on their businesses. There were government loans to apply for (requiring up-to-date financial records, among other things). Now many of these clients have a new perspective on just how important it is to have a capable bookkeeper by their side when the financial going gets tough! And that need will continue as loan forgiveness looms.

If you were already running a virtual bookkeeping practice before the virus-induced changes were thrust upon us, you were likely helping your clients get set up at least on a basic level with online meetings and other ways to operative or innovate to stay afloat and keep cash coming in or employees on the payroll.

The good news: While you were learning by fire new skills and becoming more flexible during trying times, you were also learning to get valuable results for your clients (even if they were stressed and didn’t thank you enough).

What Hasn’t Changed

There are a few things that haven’t shifted in our profession as a result of our new reality. Our clients’ need for accurate books and their desire for proactive support from capable, caring accounting professionals. In fact, these needs have become even more keenly felt.

Something else that has not changed is the need for us to improve our communication skills. We also must stay current on the current online options available to us and our clients. Cybersecurity threats are rapidly growing and our clients are counting on us to keep them informed and protected.

More than ever, we are key partners supporting our clients’ financial well being and their ultimate survival.

How to Go From Stress to Strength

Of course, all these changes and unpredictable future yet ahead have been stressful for everyone. In fact, you may have noticed that some of your clients are emerging as high quality ‘A Level’ players based on how they depend on (and value) your services when the chips are down, despite the high stress. You also may be seeing your less-than-favorite clients putting more pressure on you, possibly demanding you to work without pay in order to support their business survival. You know the type. The ones who play win-lose.

If that wasn’t enough, new regulations for government loan forgiveness are changing nearly daily, along with needs to update and upgrade your tech stack in a work-from-home world. There’s a steep learning curve here for many of us. In fact, this may be causing you to re-think your own business goals for the rest of this year and beyond.

All of these factors probably has you busier than ever (maybe even a bit worn out), including providing more advisory and premium level services that your clients need right now. Do you feel like you don’t know how to make these changes quick enough, especially in the current economy?

While these changes may have disrupted our comfortable pre-COVID-19 basic bookkeeping routines, it has opened the door to many more opportunities for us to grow to a whole new (more profitable) level. Where have you shined over the past couple months? What new services have you started to provide out of necessity?

Taking a moment to see what good is resulting (even beyond dollars and cents), and what new opportunities for growth have been planted with your client base means it’s time to rise to the challenge, leverage your strengths, and build a more prosperous bookkeeping business. You truly can be the valued (and well paid) partner to your best clients and an invaluable guide through the rocky economic road ahead.

If any of this stirs your vision for a stronger, growth-focused bookkeeping business, then you may be realizing that you can’t do it all on your own. Getting the needed support from those who have traveled this path ahead of you will speed up and smooth out your ascent. We can make much more progress together than we can alone.

Get the Support You Need Now with Bookkeeper Lab

As you know, The Freelance Bookkeeper has joined forces with Bookkeepers.com. The main reason we have done that is to support bookkeepers like you who want to truly step up and play win-win while facing the challenges and opportunities that are now here. Bookkeeper Lab is the community, training and support that is designed to do just that!

If you want to learn more about the NEW Bookkeeper Lab  Click Here Now

However, if it’s just not the right time for you yet, that’s okay too. It’s definitely not for everyone. Bookkeeper Lab will be here when you’re ready for the next level. Like I said, we’re all about playing it win-win. 🙂

No matter what, I’d love to hear about the changes that you’ve been experiencing since March, and the opportunities that are presenting themselves in the process. Please share your experiences (and any hard won lessons) in the comments below!

Posted in Articles, Training, Virtual Bookkeeping | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Navigating Changes in Bookkeeping: From Stress to Strength

The Freelance Bookkeeper is Joining Bookkeepers.com

Big news! The Freelance Bookkeeper is merging with Bookkeepers.com.

Bookkeepers.com was founded by Ben Robinson (known for his Bookkeepers Launch program) in 2015. Ben’s mission is to grow an army of “21st Century Bookkeepers” who use their expertise to help clients see the path forward to prosperity and financial success.

Sound familiar? For good reason.

Like me and The Freelance Bookkeeper, Ben offers a range of online courses, (he’s a former CPA) but he works with both beginners and experts, and leads the largest online community of virtual bookkeeping professionals online. He also recently founded the Digital Bookkeepers Association (DBA) and hosts the I Love Bookkeeping podcast.

Ben and I decided to join forces because we share the same core values and vision for elevating the status of our profession and embracing the vital role we play in the success and prosperity of bookkeepers and small business clients. We came to the conclusion that we can do much more good for our profession working together rather than working independently.

Our goal is to provide bookkeeping professionals at every level with quality training and education so we can reach new levels of competence, confidence and prosperity together.

What This Means for You

For the time being, TFB training programs will continue to run as they have. The reality is, it will take some time for us to mechanically merge our operations. But you won’t miss a beat and in fact, we have some fantastic upgrades coming your way!

For a short time you can get the best of both worlds. When you join TFB Premium, you we will also get access to the Bookkeeper Lab program when we merge the two programs.

Take advantage of this crazy good, high-value opportunity while it’s still available!

 

Join TFB Premium Here:
Click here to access the latest TFB Premium class now

After you join TFB Premium, within a few weeks you’ll also get an invitation to join
Bookkeeper Lab as a VIP. (Please be patient because this is a manual process)

By the way, you won’t see this special offer on the information page. That’s because this is exclusively for TFB subscribers (That’s YOU!). It’s our way of saying thank you for being part of the TFB community. So let’s celebrate what are actually bright opportunities for us right now together!

We are in challenging times, for sure, but that’s no reason to stop us from seizing all the exciting, new and emerging advantages we have now that are ripe for us to grow and prosper!

THAT is exactly what Ben Robinson and I see for our future as freelance virtual bookkeepers, and we’re thrilled to be sharing this journey together with you!

Stay tuned, since we have more exciting announcements coming your way! 🙂

Posted in Articles | Comments Off on The Freelance Bookkeeper is Joining Bookkeepers.com

TFB Spotlight: Yoseph West of Relay – Virtual Bookkeeping & Online Banking

We’ve long been saying that virtual bookkeeping is what we all need to be offering to our clients, and now more than ever this is true, thanks to COVID-19.

In this TFB Spotlight we caught up with Yoseph West of Relay (more on that later). He shares a very candid view into how “work from home” is affecting the operation of even online companies.

Take a half-hour break and have a listen to this interview and learn not only what likely many of your clients are going through, but also some tips on how you can help them on the road ahead.

Download the audio version here. (40 mins)

Interview Highlights

Continue reading

Posted in Audios, Q & A, Videos, Virtual Bookkeeping | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Help for Working Virtually and Growing Your Practice in Uncertain Times

If you’ve been running your practice virtually for some time, keeping your business running on an online-only basis is not as stressful as if you’ve not quite gotten there yet.

Sudden change, however, is always stressful.

In uncertain times some businesses who have what is needed most in such circumstances start to gouge prices due to the high demand. They’re looking to cash in on short-term gain without considering the long-term fallout. That’s not a win-win solution.

By contrast, there are others who are stepping up to find ways to do what works for all concerned because they care and realize we are all connected. An example this week is how Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers, making their surge in demand benefit those who are losing work (and taking the pressure off their employers who may not have the resources to continue paying them while operations are paused).

Continue reading

Posted in Articles | 1 Comment