Sticking to my “5” tip theme following on from my 5 WAYS YOU CAN ADD VALUE TO YOUR BOOKKEEPING CLIENTS I wanted to share with you my top 5 Tasks that can help you grow your Bookkeeping Practice.
If you are experiencing the overwhelm, working crazy long hours and not feeling you are compensated financially for all the hours and work you put into your bookkeeping business then this post is for you.
I had the same struggles when running my business for 10 years. Always feeling like I was “fighting fires, overwhelmed with the work, clients undervaluing the service I provided and then the hours, working until 3 am and still not feeling as though I had accomplished much. Dealing with clients who call and email all times of the day, night and weekends and worse I took the blinkin calls!!! All because I thought that was providing excellent customer service! I did this for years and even when I left the bookkeeping business behind there were still some aspects of this dopey way of working that still existed however some areas did improve with a few lessons learned along the way. So I wanted to now share them with you and maybe they can help you become more successful, tame that overwhelm and help you take control of your business. This will help you become more productive and demonstrate your value to your clients and potential clients, which can only result growth and success.
If you are starting out in your bookkeeping practice or have been going at it for a few years now take some time to think about:
What does your dream bookkeeping business look like?
How will this make a difference to your life?
Do you want to grow a practice with staff or just a have a few clients that can provide you a living (a job) but one you have flexibility and control over?
What do you want to achieve by running your own business both professionally and personally?
If you have been in business sometime now, what have you experienced so far, such as what works for you and what doesn’t so much? What do you spend time stressing about? What amazing things have you accomplished?
When you answer these questions think about all areas of your life, not just your business but how your business will impact your family life.
Suggested Task: Write down how your day looks from when you wake up in the morning all the way through to when you go to bed at night, tasks and time it takes to do them. What did you learn? Can you now plan how much time you have to work on/in your business and time you have to spend with your family?
Working out who your ideal clients help you focus on how you run your marketing activities, what problems you can solve, attract customers who value what you do, which creates loyalty to your business. From loyalty comes referrals resulting in the growth of your business. Marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. Can’t remember where I heard that, but it was the best advice and I have always remembered it. However, identifying who your ideal clients are can be a challenging exercise (well at least I think so!) First it is important to clarify who you are as a business because you can’t work out who your ideal clients are if you don’t even know who you are as a business. To work out who your ideal clients are think about what they may have in common, what their values would be, their age, gender, income, industry and where do they hang out ie Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as a few ideas, but if you research this on Google you will get lots of ideas on what considerations you need think about to come up with this Avatar. I would also recommend the following workshop by Sophie Jewry – Brand Kitchen http://www.brandkitchen.co.uk/ideal-client/
Suggested Task – Write all these characteristics down. Think about what you can offer and if you had a dream client who would they be? Then build an ideal client avatar based on your dream client perhaps. You could also score your current clients and work out who your best clients are, the ones you really enjoy working with who value your service, pay you on time etc. Perhaps they are your ideal client and you can focus on finding more of them.
Goal setting is so important for any business. It encourages you to focus and plan, but don’t forget to measure them. Measuring your success will help you improve, grow and succeed. It is important that your goals are achievable but you can also have one or two that are the “DREAM”. So once you work out what your priorities are from gaining more clarity on what you want to achieve in your business, you can focus on your journey by setting goals in order to achieve those results.
Suggested Task: Set out your priorities, maybe start with 1 or 2. Then work decide on 5 or 6 goals you can focus on.
Whether you work on your own or have a team, implementing clear processes and systems is so important. Processes and systems can:
Reduce Overwhelm – Having good systems and processes gives you direction, focus and defined steps you need to take to get stuff done in an organised way.
Enables Growth – By systemising your processes this minimises mistakes among your staff, provides a structure to hiring new staff, minimises disruption in your business when employees leave.
Improve the quality of your service or products – having systems and processes allows you to identify where the weaknesses are in your business and enables you to constantly improve which can make a difference when it comes to success or failure.
Suggested Task: Breakdown everything you do in your business on a daily basis. Then look at each one of those tasks and break them down step by step how you get them done.
EMBRACING CLOUD TECHNOLOGY
90% of businesses use at least one cloud software. Google and Yahoo Mail for example. So we have been embracing cloud technology for some time now. If you want to survive as a practice in the future I strongly believe you will need to embrace cloud software to run your practice. The most popular accounting software are Xero (www.xero.com) and Quickbooks Online (www.quickbooks.co.uk). Here are few reasons moving to the cloud will benefit your business:
Making Tax Digital – It will soon be mandatory for businesses to submit accounts through HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme. So if you want to be able to advise your clients confidently you need to understand cloud accounting yourself.
Communicating with Clients – With this move to Making Tax Digital you will need to be able to communicate much easier and more regularly. Clients will need support. The relationship between you and your client will benefit as you can provide real time information on their business and they will be able to have more visibility into their accounts.
Work from anywhere, anytime on any device – It doesn’t matter where you are in world you can still view your financial reports. If your computer or laptop dies you don’t have to worry about losing your information. Just log in on any computer or device with an internet connection.
Automatic software updates – no extra charges and no versions going out of date to which you have to buy the latest version of in order to continue using the software.
Scalable – Easily streamline your processes by connecting to a large range of add on products. You can integrate your website, appointment scheduling, stock management as examples to each other which creates less duplication of work in different programmes and improves accuracy and consistency.
Suggested Task – Trial and have a play with all cloud accounting software that you have an interest in. Once you decide, concentrate on one of them and get to know it so well you become an expert. Ensure you use it as your own accounts software as that is the best way to learn it. Make the software choice part of your Ideal Client avatar and only work with clients that are happy to use that software. Do not try to canvas clients for their choice then try to implement what they want because you will always have clients who want different things and you can no become an expert in them all!
Hope you found these tips useful.
I’m Mel Dowie and I’m a Xero Certified Trainer and Bookkeeping Mentor. My passion is to help Bookkeepers and Accountants grow their practices whilst building amazing relationships with their clients who value and love what they do for them. I am also passionate about helping business owners understand their finances and how they too can grow and succeed by keeping their “fingers on the pulse”.