Virtual Bookkeeper Success Formula: TFB Spotlight on Deb Howard Greenleaf

tfb-star-spotlightAre you tired of wasting time going to clients and want to become a virtual bookkeeper instead? The latest TFB Spotlight interview can help!

Hear how you can follow in the footsteps of our latest guest, Deb Howard Greenleaf, and free yourself from the inefficiencies of working with local clients. Deb has been working on a virtual basis with her clients since 2006, and shares her story with the TFB community.

Deb-2014-headshotWhen Deb started her bookkeeping business, she never wanted to visit her clients on-site. She is located in a very rural area of Pennsylvania, so serving clients virtually just made sense. Listen in as she shares how she was able to get her business up and running with some smart marketing methods (yes, this totally fits with our current 30-Day Marketing Challenge theme) and a little bit of elbow grease.

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

Interview Highlights:

  • Deb bootstrapped her bookkeeping experience and training after leaving the corporate world, working in a small CPA firm and with QuickBooks software. She started her bookkeeping business very part-time from home, doing QuickBooks Consulting in 2006 and her practice blossomed from there into a full bookkeeping practice with virtual employees.
  • One of the biggest challenges has always been being lured into new opportunities and directions that can send her in too many different directions, but she shared how she has gotten where she is now and finally found her specialty.
  • Her primary focus now is not in finding new clients (see her marketing tips below), but in improving efficiency so she can do more with less; she currently has several virtual employees and they use online tools to keep the workflow smooth

Profitable Lessons to Learn from Deb’s Story:

  • If you need experience, offer to work for small CPA firms during their busy season part time (tax season)
  • Get involved in online association forums / groups for virtual assistants and other complementing professionals by answering questions to build relationships and become the go-to referral partner for bookkeeping and software
  • Let your existing clients know the type of referrals you’d like to get, and also ask for testimonials that you can add to your website, QuickBooks ProAdvisor profile and/or LinkedIn

Tools Deb Uses:

  • Asana – free online project management software
  • Gmail - for use with multiple email addresses using colored labels (she sends email on behalf of clients)
  • Dropbox – for file sharing and management
  • SmartVault – for payroll documents and anything with a SS#

Deb’s best advice to fellow bookkeepers: 

  • Volunteer and give help to others, “Give freely and it will come back to you many times over.” Much of the growth in Deb’s business can be traced back to helping others either virtually or in person. You get experience, confidence, improve your skills, make relationships and learn to build systems. It’s a true win-win strategy, when done in a balanced way.

Deb is a long time TFB Premium member – monthly business training for freelance bookkeepers

Learn more about Deb Howard Greenleaf at Greenleaf Accounting


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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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2 Responses to Virtual Bookkeeper Success Formula: TFB Spotlight on Deb Howard Greenleaf

  1. Amy says:

    Thanks so much for this! I have an accounting degree, and have worked as a staff accountant in my earlier years. Once I had children, I tried my best to not work full time, or try and work from home. I’ve been working from home for about 7 years, but not necessarily in the “bookkeeping” field, but I know I can b/c I have the knowledge and experience. I’ve been throwing the idea around about starting my own virtual bookkeeping business, but feel I need some “refreshers” , and a greater of understanding of how to navigate in QB online more efficiently. Would you recommend getting certified in QB?

  2. Gabrielle says:

    Hi Amy,

    Yes, you would do well to join the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program for QuickBooks Online (it’s free), and go through the training and get certified. That would help you get up to speed with QuickBooks. If you feel rusty on your bookkeeping skills, taking an online course or one at your local community college would help on that side of things as well.

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