Melissa was working 70 to 80 hours a week at her job and was starting to get really burned out. She decided that she needed to make a change and that was when she was injured during a run. This gave her plenty of time to look for opportunities to work...
Melissa was working 70 to 80 hours a week at her job and was starting to get really burned out. She decided that she needed to make a change and that was when she was injured during a run. This gave her plenty of time to look for opportunities to work from home. She found her first client online and that gave her three months to find more. Word of mouth and BNI has been how she’s found the majority of the clients she has now, with the process being largely organic.
[4:45] Melissa serves 62 clients that they work with every month and she has a goal to get to 100 clients by the end of the year.
[5:25] We rarely stop to smell the roses and appreciate everything we accomplish. Remember to write down how far you’ve come and keep that in mind.
[6:20] Melissa has made plenty of mistakes over the past 18 months. One of the biggest things she’s learned is to stick to her pricing and not negotiate. If the client wants to negotiate, that may be an indicator that they don’t value your service.
[8:15] Melissa works solely from home and most of her clients are local to Sacramento. One of the motivations for her in starting her business has been to spend time with her kids and this led to her finding a team member that likes serving clients face-to-face.
[10:30] Working at home can be very isolating, so Melissa really appreciates the chance to go to BNI meetings and meet people on the same journey as her.
[11:40] The best piece of advice for someone considering starting their own bookkeeping business is you have to be a self starter. There will always be things out of your control and you just have to push through it and get things done. There is also a major difference between dealing with multiple clients instead of one boss. You need to develop a thick skin.
[13:30] You have to be very self reliant as a business owner because the buck stops with you.
[14:25] There is a lot of room for growth in the bookkeeping industry. Melissa hasn’t run into any real competition in her area. If you’re thinking about getting into the business, now is a great time to jump in.
[16:00] In three years, Melissa would like to be in a commercial space with 10 bookkeepers working for her. The key piece of the puzzle will be a solid office manager to bring it all together so that she doesn’t need to touch client accounts anymore. If you can pay somebody to do something better than you, you should do it.
[18:15] Strategy is marketing, and marketing is the core of your business. It’s hard to outsource the marketing because they don’t have the same incentive as you as the owner of the business.
[19:15] In some ways the desire for an office space is about ego but a commercial space does come with some other advantages. Melissa estimates that she’s lost approximately one client a month that didn’t decide to work with her because of the lack of physical space.
[21:40] A physical space also comes with a lot of baggage. It can become your golden handcuffs or an anchor.
[22:40] Managing people is difficult, every person you bring on increases the complexity of your business. It’s important to think of things from the standpoint of the result instead of the function. Melissa doesn’t want to have 10 people work for her, she wants the result that 10 people can bring.
[26:50] Melissa’s challenge is setting her business apart from the competition. Answering the question of “how are you different from other bookkeepers out there?” is hard.
[28:45] Bookkeeping is first and foremost a relationship business. If we try to compete on the tasks, we’ll lose. You should think about how to deepen and build upon the relationships with prospective clients and existing clients.
[30:45] You have to know how to communicate with your client in a way that they will understand, and then go above that by advising them. Take a vested interest in their success from the deliverable standpoint.
[32:30] Bookkeeping used to be about abdication, now it’s about collaboration. Take two clients a month and think about what you would want to know if you were the owner of those businesses. Give them true advice, practical things they can do to improve their business and save money. Over time you will be able to charge more for your services, not because you are just raising your rates but because you are adding more value.
[36:30] Start with the clients that are already receptive to feedback. Melissa may find that what she really wants is to work with a smaller number of clients in a more personal and involved way.
[38:10] Melissa’s typical client is a small business with less than five employees that are at the point where they are not able to take care of their own bookkeeping.
[40:30] Having a specific niche limits you, but it also allows you to become very well known in that niche. You also get the perception of the industry expert and become a specialist.
[43:30] The transition takes time. Changing a niche happens one client at a time. Take your client list and think of the ones that you love to work with, then reverse engineer what it is about them that you like working with. Write them down and use those traits to figure out who your ideal client is. When you look at new clients ask yourself how alike they are.
[47:05] Try to niche from day one if you can. If you’ve established your business, you will have to go a bit slower and more methodically.
[49:05] The bookkeeping world has changed over the past ten years. It’s no longer about the individual transactions as much as it is about the results you can bring to your clients.
[52:15] The biggest takeaway for Melissa is to find the shared traits that her best clients have and use them to find more clients just like them. She’s also going to use that info to either change how she deals with her existing clients or filter through new ones.
[53:20] For years the bookkeeping industry has been a replacement offer, but those days are gone. Now it’s a new offer, somebody who can interpret the numbers and advise their clients. Adding more value to the clients we serve will insulate us to the changing technological landscape.
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