The 6 Secrets to a Simple, Scalable Bookkeeping BizMay 29, 2023
My programs BABs (Become a Bookkeeper) and LIBBY (Life by the Books) are both here to help you build a simple, scalable, successful bookkeeping business.
Become a Bookkeeper teaches the technical skill of bookkeeping and gives you the confidence you need to actually start taking on clients, while Life by the Books teaches you how to actually build a business that supports the life that you want.
No matter which program you’re ready for, ultimately, there are six secrets to building a simple, scalable bookkeeping business…and today, I want to list out all six for you. Let’s get started.
1. A Rock-Solid Skillset
A rock-solid skillset is secret number one for a reason. It's going to make everything that you do in your business a whole lot easier.
I always say the best marketing strategy is being really good at what you do, because when you know what you're capable of and you know that you can do the work (or you fully trust yourself to figure it out), you're a million times more confident telling people that you're open for business.
If you're not sure that you're going to be able to do the work, then you're not even going to tell people what you're pursuing, and how are you ever going to create a business that way?
How are you going to build a business if you're afraid to say you’re a bookkeeper taking on clients?
When you relieve that fear, because it's been cured by knowing you've got what it takes, then you're able to have more conversations, invite more people to work with you, and ask questions, because you're not afraid of looking stupid by asking the question. Not only that, you'll be able to charge a fee that will help you actually support your business and scale your time by having enough of a budget to hire and pay fairly, and then you'll actually be able to do the work efficiently.
A couple common questions that I get asked about in this skill portion are about whether people need a college degree or a CPA license to join Become a Bookkeeper, and I'm going to give you the short answer with a big asterisk.
The short answer is no. However, you do need to know what you're doing, and the companion guide in Become a Bookkeeper has episodes on those questions to explain how you can close these gaps with Become a Bookkeeper so that you're doing the thing without having to go and get a college degree and a CPA license.
2. A Scalable Offer
Secret two is a scalable offer.
If you're looking to create freedom with your bookkeeping business, then you always have to be thinking in terms of what's scalable when you become a bookkeeper.
So what does “scalable” mean? It's nothing crazy or fancy. It just means that you can take on more capacity, more clients, and more offers without always giving a proportionately equivalent amount of your time.
That makes sense to us accountants, right? You're able to take on more without it taking up an equivalent amount of your time.
For instance, if you can sign another client and you have a team member in place, you will be making more money, but you can delegate out at least a chunk of that work. Today, that chunk may be lower, but later on, it's not at all impossible that you would become the person who has put in a system, trained your team well, and have faith in them to do the work themselves, followed by a review from you.
At that point, you're able to take on more clients, you're profiting on that client, and maybe you're putting in an hour on that client per month or less instead of the four hours it would take to get those books done yourself.
Let’s talk about two scalable offers that exist when you become a bookkeeper. There are passive DIY products, like my profit and loss template that I sell to entrepreneurs who aren't ready for outsourced bookkeeping yet, and then there's monthly bookkeeping services, where you can source and set up the client. So you find them, you sign them, you set them up, you put the system in place, and then you find and hire and train the team to do the bulk of the work.
Out of these two options, which one seems the most appealing or scalable to you? The answer might surprise you.
While the DIY templates are passive, and I think they’re a great thing to add into your bookkeeping business, they’re not as great as a monthly bookkeeping business.
It actually took me five years of being a bookkeeper to realize that bookkeeping was scalable; instead, when I first decided to become a bookkeeper, I started pursuing DIY templates.
Then one day, it finally clicked that bookkeeping services can actually become passive income when you have a team. It might not be that today, but everything takes a lot of work in the beginning.
3. A Clear Vision
Secret three is having a clear vision.
As Type A accountants, you may be thinking I'm talking about a business plan, including a number of plans, pricing, hours, work, team members, operational expenses, and so on. I cover that stuff in even more depth inside of Life by the Books, but only to the extent that we've uncovered what you want out of your life first.
When you become a bookkeeper, it’s not just about making money. You can do that in so many ways. And if you're working for someone else, you're doing that now already.
It's easy to get caught up chasing money at all costs outside of your employment, thinking that once you have enough money, a life is going to follow. But it does not work that way.
If we don't stop and consider what we want our life to look like and ensure that our business supports that through every single step of the way, from idea to first client to first hire to full-time income, we can never build what we want in a way that actually gives it to us.
One of my favorite one-liners is this: “When you build a business in a way that dishonors your life, you build a business that dishonors your life.” And that's not the vibe.
My revolutionary moment was when I realized that my definition of a successful business was one that supported a successful life. And to me, that meant being present and actually enjoying experiences, not worrying about work.
I knew that I wanted the most possible time with my kids. I wanted to do the pickups and the drop-offs and be able to go to the year-end parties this year. I've been able to drop everything on a dime and volunteer anytime that they've invited me. I got to do the career fair, the vendor fair, everything. I didn’t have to run it by anyone, and I could do it on short notice, which by itself was such a perk.
I wanted summer vacations. Lots of them. My kids will do some activities, but I'm so grateful that I don't have to think of where to place them for the entire summer. Instead, we get to do things together.
I wanted Tuesday afternoons at the park. I have all of that now, and it's not an accident. It's because the vision was clear before I began to work on what I was pursuing so that I could gut-check each choice along the way and ask myself the simple question: “Does this support the life that I want to live by getting me closer to the goal, or does it pull me from what matters, and therefore further from the goal?”
4. Client Attraction Strategy
Secret four is a client attraction strategy.
Of course, if you're going to become a bookkeeper and grow a business, you need to find a way to get clients.
If the question that stops you isn’t, “Can I do the work?” then it's probably, “Where do I find the clients?”
When a lot of people hear “client attraction strategy,” they think that it's something fancy or complicated. But again, it's not. It's actually really simple, just like everything else when you become a bookkeeper. It's as simple as putting yourself out there in a way where clients can find you and are drawn to you, and then have a clear way to work with you.
It's about drawing them in rather than chasing them down, which already feels better.
There is no one way to find clients when you become a bookkeeper. There’s no way one way to slice almost anything.
For example: how do you eat cake? Is it with a fork, or with a spoon?
It’s a trick question, right? It doesn't matter. They both get the job done. It’s just about which one feels best to you, and it’s the same for client attraction when you become a bookkeeper.
Inside Life by the Books, I go over many different strategies that work, but what they all have in common is my focus on human connection and simple systems that allow people to come to you. And then you're guided to find out which one feels best for your personality, your starting point, your tech capabilities, your existing connections, and your desires in general for who you want to work with.
At the end of the day, it's all as simple as you allow it to be when you become a bookkeeper. I know most people who become a bookkeeper want the formula and the step-by-step playbook that gets you what you want with no deviations, but the reality is…we all have a different set of circumstances, backgrounds, values, expertise, and goals. And since there's no one way to build a business and become a bookkeeper, you won't want to be given a one-size-fits-all solution. You're not going to find it here. And that's a good thing, because you'll be led to embracing who you are and what you want, as well as guided to find out how to make that work for you through each phase as you become a bookkeeper, including how to find clients.
5. A Feel-Good Sales Process
This leads us to secret five, which is a feel-good sales process.
Most accountants and numbers people chose these professions to avoid sales. I know when I decided to become a bookkeeper with my own business, sales used to totally overwhelm me…at least until I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and work through not only my fears, but my approach, and the way that I thought about things.
I'm always evolving and adapting the way that I handle sales calls. Along the way, I released the pressure I had over what any of it meant. I became healthily detached from the outcome, and I now coach through this regularly inside of Life by the Books.
Detachment is acceptance of however things will go.
It’s not apathy. It doesn't mean that I don't care. I just don’t make it mean anything about me, and I don’t make them something scary and intimidating.
Sales are simply conversations. They're nothing more, and they're nothing less. It's as effortless as, “Does this work for you, and does this also work for me?” And if we can meet in the middle, then we proceed. And when we can trust that that this means nothing either way about either of us, then it all becomes a lot easier.
6. A Solid Support System
Secret six is a solid support system.
You may already have one of these, but it's an area that a lot of new entrepreneurs lack. Maybe you don't consider yourself an entrepreneur, but if you're starting out on your own, you are.
It’s perfectly normal for the people in your lives who have been great support systems and love you and care about you in other arenas to not be the right support system to help you grow a bookkeeping business, especially if it's not something that they have ever done before, whether that's a business of any kind or a bookkeeping business specifically.
I’m saying this to help you lower your expectations for what your loved ones should bring to the table in this arena. Give them some grace.
Think about how you feel when someone shares something with you that you're not interested in, or you just don't get.
Maybe you're not a sports person, and somebody is talking to you about the NBA finals. It's fine, they love that thing, but you are not engaged. You really don't care. You're hearing only the words that they're saying, and then you're kind of done and you're moving on to the next topic.
That's disinterest, which you might run into. Other people may echo their own fears and doubts on you, especially if you're telling a coworker who's been at that job forever and is never leaving. You’ll say, “I think I want to start a bookkeeping business,” and their first reaction may be, “You're not going to make enough money. You're not going to have this. You're not going to get that. What about that? What about that? What about that?”
That's their thought. That probably doesn't even have anything to do with you.
All this to say, I just want you to think about how you feel when people are telling you big things that you can't relate to.
On top of that, the people that love us the most will sometimes be the biggest critics. That's because they want to keep you safe, and they know where you are today is nice and safe. And if you step outside of that box, they're worried about you.
It's from a place of love, but it's not the most supportive love that you can receive on a journey like this.
When I was growing my business, it was so important to me to have support from others who had done what I wanted to do and those who were working towards it. And if you're met with criticism and doubts from others, a pro tip is to ask yourself if those opinions come from people who have what you desire, or if they are living in a set of circumstances that you want to differ from.
If you wouldn't want to be in those circumstances and they haven't done the thing, maybe they're content where they are, which is fine. But that doesn’t make them a good support system for you.
We can easily fall into the trap of outsourcing our belief in ourself, and we often end up outsourcing it to the wrong place.
So to recap, the six secrets to become a bookkeeper with a simple, scalable bookkeeping business are a rock-solid skillset, a scalable offer, a clear vision, a client attraction strategy, a feel-good sales process, and a solid support system.
All that gets to be as simple and effective as you want it to be. And if you want to know that you have support from people who have what you want or are also going after it, Become a Bookkeeper or Life by the Books is the place for you.
Register for the FULL Six Secrets event here: https://www.katieferro.com/6-secrets
If you're looking for more tips for bookkeeping, insight on how to become a bookkeeper, and how to say hello to a more confident business model, enroll in Become A Bookkeeper (BABs).
Learn how to take your bookkeeping skills and turn them into a business that allows you to replace (or surpass) your corporate salary, be present for your life, and profoundly impact your clients without selling your life in the process by joining Life by the Books (LIBBY).
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