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Simplify and Scale

For today, I want to send a special thanks to our wonderful TSB Program member Bec, who – with an open heart – continues to share what she is challenged by, so that I can help her along with everybody. Because, again, the more I know about you, the more I can help you. So please do jump into the Facebook group and tell me exactly what you're struggling with because most of the time, it's a case of me too with the rest of the community.

So going back.. what Bec shared, I absolutely struggled with early on, and I learned and I solved the problem. And so for this read, we're diving into simplifying in order to SCALE.

Taking notes on how to simplify in order to scale a bookkeeping practice

When you simplify and scale, a few things happen. Number one, you are able to DELEGATE work to team members. Number two, it will contribute to you doubling your PROFIT.

This is a linear system. You need to build your thriving practice, because what you'll find is all of this will delight your clients even more, and you'll end up with the income and lifestyle that you want and deserve. I know I harp on about this, but this is the end game and this is the stuff that connects you to that.

Just a quick side note – if you did not join the program when the doors open on August 1, it doesn't mean that you can't join in. The program is evergreen. We have a way to bring you into the program seamlessly, so that you can absolutely start working with me to build your thriving practice, delight your clients, and live your dream on your terms. If you are keen to know how that works, just drop us an email or ask in the The Strategic Bookkeeper's Way Facebook Group.

Because, three things: Number one, the program comes with a MONEY-BACK guarantee. Number two, I do not get you to spend extra time working with me – this is about ON THE JOB application and implementation. And number three, that money-back guarantee, it kicks in after a year but my expectation is to help you get the ROI really early, allowing you to pay for the program as we go along.

So back to what the community has been telling me in the group – I had done a post relating to how to save time because one of our wonderful community members, Jen, said to me that she was struggling with TIME. She just was really busy and she couldn't find the time in her day to do the things she needed to do to work on her business.

She was too busy working in her business, to work on her business.

Bec has then made a comment to tell me how she's struggling with that too. She mentioned that she has got some clients and some staff on the team. So for her clients, she has access to their bank accounts and their email inbox. She is expected to and has agreed to check their email inbox and deal with what comes in, and pay the bills through the bank account.

Problem is,

she doesn't feel that she can DELEGATE this work to one of her team members,

and that's probably for risk and privacy.

Firstly, I've been there, absolutely. So I've been in practice almost 40 years now, and at the beginning of my journey, I kind of thought that being a bookkeeper in practice was about people coming to me and saying, I want you to do this and I want you to do that. And if I had the skills to do that, then I would say, "Okay, I'll do that for you. I can do that."

And then, I would charge them an hourly rate, thinking that it was twice as much and that it is going to equal thriving practice, delighted clients, income and lifestyle. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. I learned something special from an amazing successful entrepreneur, but also it's something that I've learned over the years and I've had a bit of fun with actually. And this is,

the Jack of all trades or the Jill of all trades effect

– the way that it doesn't necessarily serve us.

So, it's a real double-edged sword. As bookkeepers, we do tend to be intelligent, Jill of all trades and Jack of all trades people. And actually a lot of the time when people say, can you do this and can you do that? The answer is yes.

This very successful entrepreneur once said to me that one of the reasons he believes he was able to build such an incredible empire is,

"I'm not that skilled. I'm not that smart. I was just good at one thing. And so I did that one thing really, really well. Other people had to do all the other stuff. And I got to focus on that one thing."

That dazzled and delighted me so much, that I went to do some forensics on success and failure, and a forensics on when people are thriving versus just surviving. And, I started to notice that this theme was happening elsewhere. These business owners that were not Jack or Jill of all trades – those that could only do a limited number of things really well – were also being really, really SUCCESSFUL.

Now, it's not the one key to success, but what I learned and what I went on a journey to do was to SIMPLIFY. Simplify my services, simplify my productised services, and what I was going to say I could and would do. And, it was the beginning of a journey that has just continued to evolve into a point where in my practice, we now have such a limited range of beautiful services and we are able to serve clients in an amazing way. They're delighted raving fans. Our attention has gone from good to great. It really has contributed to the thriving practice, delighted clients, and me having the rewards of time really to prioritise into whatever I want.

So way back when I would access the bank account, access the inbox, things like that.. it was a very long time ago. And something I love about this day and age, this economic-tech landscape, this global workforce, is that there really is not much need anymore for us to be accessing bank accounts and inboxes and all that kind of thing. And clients don't know what they don't know, all right? Prospective clients, when they first reach out to me, they're 10, 15 years behind what I know about administration, accounts, and bookkeeping. So the last thing I want to do is let them tell me what I'm going to do for them. And what I'm going to do at the very beginning is the NEEDS ANALYSIS, and this is part one of how you're going to tackle this problem.

You absolutely need to slow down and do the needs analysis

– which is something we give you on the program, and as a bonus at one of the two events that we'll be running (so be sure the stay on the loop for our web events!)

So absolutely, do a thorough needs analysis where

you are seeking to understand everything the client thinks they NEED.

And I'm not sure if you've heard me say that before, but that's a game I play. What do you think you need? Because, they don't really know what they need.

They might say, oh, well, I guess I need to give you the keys to the kingdom. I need to give you the keys to the bank account, and you would just take over checking the inbox and then you would pay my bills and then I guess you'd do that bookkeeping stuff or whatever, and they don't understand what we understand.

So please, don't let them put the bookkeeper hat on.

You need to be the skilled technician – the skilled trade technician, just like a plumber or an electrician. We don't tell them how to do their job.

So, do the needs analysis, seek to understand, but please don't start saying, yes, I'll do that. Yes, I'll do that. Seek to understand, so you can...

Step two, say "Thank you – I'm going to digest everything you've told me. I'm going to go away and come up with my personalised recommendation to get you the OUTCOME that you want.

And I'll send that to you by close of business tomorrow in a proposal."

You've got step one and two because you may be just engaging with that client saying yes, yes, yes. Giving them an hourly rate and off you go – that is definitely not what you want to do. So, separate those things.

The next thing we do, we absolutely charge like bookkeepers,

using our pricing calculator which you'll be given in The Strategic Bookkeeper Program (plus, we teach you how to use it).

Ultimately, when you move from hourly to outcome billing or even fixed price billing, you have to do your calculations. We use our pricing calculator that we've developed over the years, and when we calculate our rates,

we calculate BOOKKEEPER RATES, not accounts clerk rates, not admin rates

– because bookkeeping, true bookkeeping, is much more highly skilled and high-end than admin or accounts.

And I do see a lot of bookkeepers charging out. They're an admin clerk or an accounts clerk. So one of the things I do, sometimes during the needs analysis, I educate my clients because educating your market and your prospective clients is really, really important. So I educate my clients that there is a difference between admin accounts and bookkeeping.

So let's say they say to me, oh, we really need someone to check the email and get the bills. And so I listen and listen and then I say, okay, so with accessing the email and obtaining the bills, that's an administration job. And then I'll go on to say there tends to be three parts, Administration, Accounts, and Bookkeeping. Now, my practice is ultimately there to serve that high end bookkeeping need, and there is quite a chasm between the accounts, the admin, and the bookkeeping. Then I say to them, we can absolutely help you with those administration needs. We can even help you with the accounts payable and receivable needs. I just want to make sure that you understand that there are three separate categories. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to make sure I consider that in my personal recommendations for you.

From there, I'm going to list out the things that are administration type duties, and the scope of what they are that you need done. Then, I'm going to think about the accounts functions, and then there's the bookkeeping. Because in terms of the bookkeeping, what we do for all of our clients clients is almost identical – it's the double entry accounting. Are we doing full service end-to-end bookkeeping, or are we doing what I call bookkeeper DIY, bookkeeper support? They're the two categories of bookkeeping that we do in my practice. And then beyond that, to rinse and repeat, if there's admin, that's scoped separately.

Now, the next thing...

Why would you need to access the client's bank accounts,

and pay their bills for them?

In my experience and in the past years, what I've found is that, if a client comes to you... and absolutely we've had them – I'm thinking of a really lovely client we work with right now, and I remember he was like, "I'm so busy, I don't even have time to pay the bills or check the email." So rather than doing that for him (because realistically, I didn't want to charge him out at higher rates for that, and he also needed help with a whole lot of other day-to-day duties), I recruited someone for him. So that's a service that you can offer that's in my system, and a what's next on the menu for a VIP client. In that case, we can offer to recruit and onboard and administration support, and we did that, and we've done that many times.

Now, we still do the end-to-end bookkeeping and monthly numbers results meeting, which is again, an advisory piece that you find in the succession area of my methodology. Basically, that is one option that you can offer: to RECRUIT. But, we do have clients that we do the admin accounts for, but it's all got to be something that can be delegated to team. I don't see why you can't delegate checking an inbox to a team member, because there's very limited risk there. The risk around bank accounts is much higher.

And I actually educate my clients that, in my opinion,

they shouldn't really be giving the keys to their bank account to their bookkeeper or accountant.

And if their business is big enough that they need somebody to pay the bills, then they do need to start thinking about getting someone to help them.

But ultimately, we help our clients SYSTEMISE.

I fix the source of their problem, not just the symptom.

So if I want to treat the headache and the headache is like, I don't have enough time to pay the bills, then I'm going to jump in and pay the bills. If I want to treat the source of the problem, then I'm going to say to them, and this is exactly what I say,

"If you follow the systems that I give you, that we give you, then just like my VIP clients who have walked through the velvet rope and are part of the Cloud 9 family, then life will be easy-breezy for you because we really know what we're doing.

So let's take the bookkeeping off you.

Let's get all that sorted. Let's get everything working so beautifully."

And in terms of the bills, I don't see that any business should be paying bills more than once a fortnight. So we help them to quickly say to the staff, the subcontractors, that there will be payroll period changes – with a note that for period changes, always allow three months for. We give staff three months notice, and then we help them to get everything sorted so that every second Tuesday, they are going online and they are paying the bills that we are happy to prepare for them. So we can do AVA files, we can do administration work like that, but then they just sit down at their desk and they open their online banking and they spend the 10 minutes that is required to pay things.

So, we're getting to the source of the problem, which was poor systems. And if we don't fix the root cause of the headache, the headache will remain and that client will not have a great chance of really thriving in business. So we take a really long-term approach with our clients, and we have not really had any need to access bank accounts anymore. And you know what? When we sit down and do a thorough needs analysis and then present our recommendations, and then we talk to them about wanting a LONG-TERM relationship and helping them to systemise for the long haul, they would much rather me fix the source of their headache than give them two Panadol knowing that tomorrow they'll have the same headache again.

So couple of key takeaways:

Stop saying yes.

Slow down, do a needs analysis,

and only offer up a simple range of productised services that are scalable.

Which means, you can delegate them. When I helped a business grow from 10 to 100 million, I had to go to a department, fix it, systemise it, train somebody to take ove, and walk away. So to say that somebody can't do what you do is a limiting belief that is not serving you. You will never hear that come out of my mouth. I have learned over the years that I can train anyone to do what I do. And I mean anyone, to do what I do and do it better than me. And in The Strategic Bookkeeper program, that's what I want to do.

I want to train you to do exactly what I've done, and then do it better.

So everything that I've told you today works incredibly well for us. I find that clients love to be educated around the difference between admin accounts and bookkeeping. It works really well for us to have those two narrow bookkeeping services. We use Ignition software for our proposal, so that we have those productised services. We structure the bookkeeping part of the job, and then we scope out the admin, we scope out the accounts work, and we add that into the proposal as additional items, and we're able to calculate a fee for those. And, it's very important to be clear about the service level agreement and the scope of works that you are providing. All of that is contained in the program – we give you all the done for you messaging templates, productised services, and then exactly how you implement them, and we help you make it work better and better over time.

Now, actions you are going to take – straight after this blog, the easiest thing for you to do is to commit to slowing down when you do the needs analysis. The action I want you to take is from now on, when you get on the phone with a client, you're going to say, "okay, I'm going to start by doing a needs analysis, and I've got my worksheet here in front of me. So let's begin, and begin with your powerful question, which is tell me about yourself."

Notice I didn't say tell me about your business?

Because the business is the what, the self is the why.

They're going to tell you about their business, and they're going to tell you about themselves. Let them tell you anything and everything that they want to tell you, and then go into the technical stuff. Are you behind on the books? What software are you using? What's your business number? All those different things.

The needs analysis is not the place to talk about price. You are going to make your final recommendations. You might even do a little thinking out loud! Sometimes I even say to my prospective clients, I'm just thinking out loud a little bit. However, I'm going to digest everything that you tell me before making my recommendations.

You're going to slow down, make the analysis about seeking to understand and gathering needs. Then, you're going to give yourself that time to finish up that conversation. And then while you are alone, you're going to hang up the phone, and you are going to sit and think about those three categories. So bookkeeping, that should fairly be same for everyone. You should have DIY bookkeeper support and end-to-end bookkeeping. Then, you're going to think about the other admin and accounts that needs to be done, and scope those. And of course, you are going to come up with a beautiful outcome billing fee attached.

And so if you enjoyed this blog post, we have Bec to thank.

And, if you jump into the private Facebook group or you email me, you can tell me anything that you'd like to hear about on the podcast, and if you're in the Facebook group, I'll do a video for you. Tell me what's challenging you, and also celebrate with me. Share it with the community. Tell me about the wins you're getting from the content that I share. Tell me about the challenges that you're having, so that I can help you overcome them, and any questions that you have about the Transformation Program as well.


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