Part-Time Freelance Bookkeeper to Explosive Full-Time Business: TFB Spotlight on Tracy Irwin

tfb-star-spotlightHave you wondered if you can start as a part-time freelance bookkeeper while still working your day job to minimize risk? Then you'll want to listen to Tracy's amazing story and how she was able to grow quickly. If you've been working solo for awhile and wondering how you can take your bookkeeping business to the next level, you'll also find the steps Tracy took (and the sage advice she offers) extremely valuable (I know I did).

I recently spoke with superstar bookkeeping business owner, Tracy Irwin of TI Payroll and Accountancy, to see how she went from a full-time office manager job to the owner of a thriving bookkeeping business with 12 staff members, all sparked by a casual conversation over drinks!

Watch or listen to this interview now! Total running time is 38 minutes.

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

Interview Highlights:

  • Started her business by recognizing a specific need by business owners that was not being served and made that her specialty, which enabled her to get 20 new clients within 6 weeks right from the start!
  • She worked at a day job while building her business, employing family members as she grew
  • Changed her mindset from playing it small and safe to stepping into the role of a true business owner, with amazing results – since 2010 her business has doubled… every year!
  • Her biggest challenge was maintaining high customer service while her business grew so quickly. She developed procedures to address weaknesses immediately, including a team approach and internal “Not Done Right the First Time” form. She also maps out each client's workflow so that problems in the system can be identified and improved quickly.
  • Tracy attributes much of her success to the habit of spending 90 minutes every day working ON her business growth and development (instead of only IN the business seeing that the work gets done) first thing in the morning
  • A big lesson Tracy learned is accepting that she couldn't do everything, and learning how to delegate and outsource so she could focus on the best use of her time. It's really a matter of practicing what we preach to our clients!
  • Tracy's favorite quote that hangs on the wall in her office is, “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.”
  • All bookkeeping for clients is done virtually, but Tracy visits her clients in person at least quarterly; all of her clients are using Profit First in their businesses
  • Tracy believes that people (clients) buy people – so your website should have your picture and your story so that clients can connect with you.
  • To further focused her payroll specialty, Tracy supports accounting firms by subcontracting the payroll work from them, since many do not offer payroll in-house, but with Tracy's help, are able to do so for their clients

Links and Resources Mentioned

- Xero – online accounting software
Profit First – the book featuring the cash management methods Tracy uses with her clients for value-added services
- Profit First Professionals – the organization for adding Profit First advisory to your service offerings
- Short video for ProfitCon 2015
Receipt Bank – for virtual document conversion / management
InfusionSoft – for CRM and automation of email reminders

Tracy's best advice for bookkeepers who are just getting started or struggling? Start or join a mastermind group with other business owners.

Can't get enough of Tracy? She was recently interviewed for the Grow My Accounting Practice podcast too.



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About Gabrielle

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and support true win-win business success.
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14 Responses to Part-Time Freelance Bookkeeper to Explosive Full-Time Business: TFB Spotlight on Tracy Irwin

  1. Romeo Capulong says:

    for a starter, a mastermind group, peer group? Isnt is an expense already and you havent started anything yet?

    And what is an accountability Partner?

    • Gabrielle says:

      Great question, romeo! But a mastermind group doesn’t need to cost much (or anything), depending on the type you choose to join. One idea to be clear on are expenses are costs of doing business, but investments give you a clear return that grows your business. Being part of a mastermind is an investment (of time and possibly money too).

      You can start an informal mastermind group of your own with either colleagues or other small business owners you know who also want partners for sharing lessons learned, and working through sticking points together. Masterminds generally have some kind of accountability built in as well, so you have someone to answer to about doing what you say you want to do to move your business forward.

      An accountability partner can be a single person (usually another business owner, or a coach… someone who understands what it’s like trying to run your own business) who will keep after you about walking your talk and taking your business toward your goals.

  2. I love the idea of adding concentrating on your business (marketing) each and every day as a guaranteed part of your daily schedule. I implemented this about one month ago, prior to viewing this, and I have to confirm that it is an essential part of my day. Tracy had some really great information that she shared with us. Thanks for presenting this interview Gabrielle.

    • Gabrielle says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Pamela! What you focus on consistently expands. So if you want more clients, focusing on marketing will have a huge impact. Yes, I think having the MP3 of this one on your phone or MP3 player for repeated listening to squeeze out all the tidbits is something I’m doing myself because Tracy was such a wealth of great ideas (she was like that on the train ride we shared together last fall… and that was what sparked the idea to ask her for the interview! ;-))

  3. Fantastic interview – great advice! Thank you!

  4. Sarina says:

    Another great interview – thank you Gabrielle. Is inspiring to hear from successful bookkeepers, particularly those who have taken their business to the next level.

  5. Najma says:

    This interview has been so inspiring. Thank you Gabrielle you rock???

  6. Hi Gabrielle! Thanks for this interview. I found it very helpful and picked up quite a bit of useful information.

  7. Amber Sallee says:

    Fabulous interview with Tracy! It’s great for someone just starting out to hear advice from a true success story.

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