New Year, New Start right?
A time to “reset” and start over with fresh ideas and plans. For some of us, January 1st rolls around, we “gallop out of gate” implementing these new ideas, motivation is off the scales, we are determined to make the changes. Then a few weeks goes by and things ain’t working out exactly how you pictured it and you tend to slow down and fall back into overwhelm, your limiting beliefs may set in and you doubt your ability to make and implement those great ideas because no one seems to be signing up like you thought they might. I know because I have been there, a few times over the past 12 years, and have learned a few lessons along the way. I would like to share with you some of my top tips that worked for me, business lessons that will help you keep super motivated and achieve those goals you set and ultimately achieve success and build the business you dream of.
- Perhaps you are struggling with marketing and finding clients, or at least clients who value your services and happy to pay your prices.
- The clients that you do have treat you as if you are a glorified data entry clerk. They don’t appreciate all that you do. And, to be honest, you aren’t making the kind of money you need to live the lifestyle you want.
- On top of all of that, you are finding it hard to get to grips with pricing! Oh the flippin pricing dramas, hourly vs value, fixed vs menu, too much information, which one is best? I know how you feel, because for years I have messed about with pricing, but there is so much more to this than the price. There is a whole lot of money mindset work needed for this before you can implement a pricing strategy. Pricing is a very personal thing. We all have different goals, lifestyles and dreams so how we price will be determined by this stuff too.
Reality is: right now, you have two options to achieve those business goals and dreams:
Option #1: Continue doing what you have been doing.
Option #2: Evolve.
Business Lesson #1: If you want your business to flourish, you must be willing to evolve. Much like the theory of evolution – adaptation is necessary for survival.
Take a look at where you are now and where you want to be. What is working and what isn’t and move forward. Set goals and measure them. Embrace what technology can offer and start to implement new processes and procedures to help you achieve those goals.
If your business is growing and you have the entrepreneurial lifestyle that you always dreamed of, then maybe option 1 is right for you. If so, then you can stop reading now. I don’t know that I have much advice to offer you. I wish you much luck with your business. Really, I do!
However, if you find yourself wanting more for your business (and for your life), then I want you to do something for me.
Take a minute to think about:
How you would like your life to look?
What would your business be like?
How would you spend your free time?
Go ahead….I have a little worksheet to help you do this. Click here to download it.
Remember: You started this business to have freedom right?
You want freedom to spend time with your loved ones doing things that bring you joy. But I bet this business has had you down at times. Some of those times probably lasted longer than others. Maybe there have been times when you felt like throwing in the towel and felt like having a regular 9-5 job would be better. Let’s be honest, you know that if you don’t get it together sooner rather than later, that just may be what you end up doing. You know that you need to do something, but you just don’t know where to start.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The one piece of knowledge that makes all the difference.
Humans are social beings who crave connections and relationships.
There. I said it.
If you think this is too simplified, I promise you that it’s not. This fact is what has helped many businesses become successful. These businesses realise that humans want to connect. They want two-way streets of communication. They want to see to understand and then be understood. They want you to listen and for you to tell them what they need to hear.
Business Lesson #2: To build a successful business, you must master the art of building relationships.
If you want to set yourself apart from the robots, you must show your clients that you have something of added value to offer. Something that the robots cannot give. It’s time to ditch the traditional bookkeeping methods, join forces with the robots, and become a relationship-building pro!
Allow the robots to do what they do best.
While the robots do their thing behind the scenes, you can take on more of an advisory role. That is how you can add the most value and is what will be the key to building those long-lasting relationships with your clients.
Business Lesson# 3: Having a mentor who has been where you are AND gotten to where you want to be can help you cross that finish line.
Why do you need coaching?
Listen, I know all the reasons you can come up with for not hiring a coach. I’ve used those reasons myself when faced with decisions that were big and scary. I can’t say that they are excuses or call their validity into question. That would be assumptive of me. What I can say, though, is that just because you can do something on your own doesn’t mean that you must or that you should.
I also know how it feels to wonder if maybe you should just stick it out doing what you are doing. I mean, if you keep doing it SURELY you will eventually get where you are going. Right? The reality, though, is that sometimes the way you are doing things isn’t the best way and continuing to do things that way can work against you.
I would love to be part of your journey and to help you walk across that finish line with a smile on your face and both fists raised in triumph.
Here is my vision for you…
You wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement. Your diary is filled with clients who you look forward to helping. You smile as you remember what one of your loyal clients said to you yesterday after you helped her resolve an issue that had been tormenting her entire team for over a week. You feel happy that you are doing important work that makes a real difference- especially since you know exactly how much your clients’ businesses mean to them. You feel proud knowing that they come to you even when they have automated systems at their disposal. They know that you have something to offer that machines do not.
You work the hours that you want to work. You get paid what you want to get paid. You have the time and financial freedom to go on multiple vacations each year. Vacations where you don’t have to spend half the trip checking emails or stressing about missed work opportunities. You can unplug and truly enjoy spending time with your loved ones. (I love this bit!!)
Your clients come to you with full confidence in your ability to help them navigate problems they may have. They refer their friends and family to you, singing your praises to everyone they think will listen. You feel appreciated and valued for the important work that you do. You go to bed every night knowing that you have added value to other people’s businesses- and lives. You finally have the business of your dreams.
Sound good? Does to me!! I finally achieved this and I would love to help you achieve it to.
Bookkeepers Growth Academy – check it out.
Register your interest here.
Warning, this post is going to possibly “ruffle a few feathers” but I have to write this blog and hope that I can help shift some mindsets and get you guys thinking about your journey. I have been reading and listening in the Facebook groups, and online forums and the same issues come up over and over again with bookkeepers specifically. To be honest it is not just our industry it is all business owners but I have a passion to help Bookkeepers so I’m going to have a little moan today about us. First let me point out that social media groups such as Facebook are amazingly supportive and provide tons of free help, such as business challenges, advice and opportunities. I love interacting and responding, giving my feedback and advice however my frustration is reading the same posts over and over again and the same advice being given over and over yet there doesn’t seem to be any action. I want to understand what bookkeepers need and want in order to continue along my journey in helping you grow your businesses so I have few questions and please comment on this blog and lets all discuss what we want out of our businesses.
You have started your bookkeeping business so now what? What did you imagine your business would provide for you?
When you paid for all this bookkeeping training what were you planning to use it for?
Do you have a map of where your dream business is going to take you?
Do you know how you are going to get there?
Do you truly even want a BUSINESS? This is the real question! If the answer is YES then do you have a budget to grow your business into a successful and profitable one? You can’t do it for FREE!
This leads me to my frustration and time for the moan I promised in the beginning of this post. You will not grow a business (any business) unless you invest money and time into growing it. It will not grow on its own without you guiding it so be prepared for hard work, determination to succeed, the willingness to invest in your professional development and your business development.
What are you prepared to spend money on to grow your business?
What are you prepared to spend time on to grow your business?
If you can’t afford to build a business both financially and time wise then perhaps it isn’t a business you need, it may be what you want but, it is a actually a JOB you need! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a job in fact if you are just starting out and have no money to build a business that is the route I would advise you take. You will gain huge amounts of experience which will only benefit you when it is the right time for you to start your own business.
I understand why we choose to become self employed. There are many reasons from being made redundant, having small children, need flexibility to name a few. However if you don’t invest in your business you will not reach the financial goals required to be self employed you will feel stressed, overwhelmed and feel like you failed and that is not a great way to start or run a business. This will affect your motivation and confidence to grow and succeed. Reality – there is no free, quick solution to growing a business but it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either.
I thought it may be useful for me to share a few tips on the things that I think you could be investing in to get you started.
Website – important, you need to have a website or at least a web page. Wordpress sites are popular and are free although you may need to pay for a website theme which start at about $49. You can consider outsourcing the design with fiverr.com you can get a website for a great price but have a look around at all the options or offers available by designer and pick one that appeals to you and get in touch and ask questions. You will need to purchase a domain name but they are only a few quid a year so not expensive. If clients can’t find you then you won’t get business. Websites are a must as far as I’m concerned. When writing the copy for your website make sure it is engaging, fun and not the typical boring corporate feel. It is important to create a brand for yourself so you stand out from other bookkeepers in your area.
Business Cards – invest in a good quality business card. Check out moo.com for some examples or meet some of your local printers to get some quotes. Often they will do start up packages so business cards, leaflets and little banner stands.
Facebook Page & LinkedIn Profile & Twitter– set yourself up a Facebook page to communicate your services, and LinkedIn is a great platform for bookkeepers. Tip – make sure you have a picture of yourself on all your social media. You can write blogs, post bookkeeping tips, communicate with your clients etc.
Networking – join a group. Go regularly to the meetings. Networking takes time. You need to build relationships with your fellow members as they will all act as your “sales team” so consider joining a membership networking organisation as they encourage commitment by the members to come every month rather than the free ones that people pop in and out of when they feel like it. You can’t build relationships if they are too casual. Stay active with your online networking with your face to face networking so connect up to people you meet networking on your social media channels.
These are business services to consider but then there is your professional development as well that you can’t ignore. You have finished all your studies to become a bookkeeper and I’m sure that was quite the investment however taking bookkeeping exams teaches you the fundamentals of bookkeeping. It doesn’t teach you how to run a business. With cloud technology and automation revolutionising our industry it is more important now that you learn how to survive in this tech driven world. So investing in your professional development ie business skills is more important than ever before. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune but you need to invest in this in the same way you invested in getting qualified as a bookkeeper.
Here are some suggestions to get you started on gaining some business skills:
The Bookkeepers Alliance They offer a great service to bookkeepers in practice with lots of workshops, a conference coming up in a few months and membership benefits so become a member right now! I know Kris has an awesome service coming out real soon that will help you grow with support. If you want to develop a business then consider this offer seriously.
MND Training Services which is my mentoring and coaching services currently has £99 offer of 30 Days 10 Activities to Accelerate Your Journey to Success check out the details on my website.
Look for local business support courses with HMRC or your local Chamber of Commerce. For example there is a company called Wenta in our area that offer lots of workshops on all kinds of business skills that are really affordable and great fun and a networking opportunity too!! Perhaps you have something like this in your area?
When you run a business you have to take risks, some will pay off and others won’t. They are all learning curves and a necessary exercise in order to experience success. You will make bad decisions along the way, we all do but this is what shapes you helps you gain more experience to build the business of your dreams.
So what are you going to? Are you going to grow a business or get a job for now? Nothing wrong with either choice whatsoever but be prepared for what it will take to succeed either way.
Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts I would love to help you!
MND Training Services – Xero Training and Mentoring & Coaching for Bookkeepers
Revolutionise Your Bookkeeping – Xero Training Course
BookieBook – The Ultimate Financial Planner
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”.