The Backstory of Become a Bookkeeper: Part 2

babs for bookkeepers Feb 19, 2024
become a bookkeeper



Welcome to Part Two of the miniseries dedicated to Become a Bookkeeper, my program that teaches the technical skills of bookkeeping regardless of experience level!

Last time, I walked you through the backstory of Become a Bookkeeper, why I originally created it, and some of the hesitations that I had in the beginning.

Today, I'm going to talk to you about how I overcame those hesitations, and how I was able to intentionally build Become a Bookkeeper with simplicity and integrity at its core.

As a recap, the idea to educate bookkeepers was first pitched to me through someone else as an idea two years before I actually created the program. During those two years, I had to work through my (fair and valid) hesitations over whether I could create Become a Bookkeeper the way I wanted to, in a way that I could stand behind, and in a way that would actually help others accomplish their goals.

However, while the undertaking of teaching the technical skill of bookkeeping was a daunting task, I also believed that I could do it, and I knew that it would help people.

I'm a problem-solver by nature. That makes me a pretty great bookkeeper…and a pretty good teacher! It also makes me someone who, when I saw that I was leaving behind a subset of people who weren’t accountants who still desired a bookkeeping business, I wanted to fix that.



What I DIDN’T Want to Teach

While brainstorming my way through the hesitations I had about starting Become a Bookkeeper, I started solving problems when I realized that there were parts of accounting that I didn't want to teach.

For example, there were parts of tax that I didn't want to fully teach; even as a CPA who worked in a CPA firm and went through a couple of tax seasons at pretty high volume, I still wouldn't want to teach tax to anybody. I didn’t feel I could sign off on that in good conscience.

When it comes to tax, the answer is always, “It depends.” And even then, the things the answers depend on are always changing, because tax laws are always changing, and the way that you would come up with an answer is very nuanced.

At first, I thought that tax and bookkeeping would go together, but when I thought about it, there were actually many things I avoided doing in my own business, and giving tax advice was one of those things.

In addition, I knew I didn’t want to teach off of QuickBooks. I didn’t use—and still don’t use—QuickBooks, so why would I teach it?

I also don't touch sales tax. I don't touch job costing. I don't serve lawyers. There are many complicated things that I was so stumped about trying to teach…until I realized I didn’t have to.

I realized that could explain the way that bookkeepers can narrow the focus of who they're serving to make it as simple as possible—and to complete that piece, I could explain why I avoid it myself.

Once I realized I didn't have to teach everything,  it became a little easier to imagine the path forward to Become a Bookkeeper.


What I DID Want to Teach

Once I figured out what I didn’t want to teach, my focus then turned to what I did want to teach…and how to teach it.

I believe that bookkeeping is a relatively simple skill. If you’re somebody who has a knack for numbers, if you’re someone who has a very logical brain, if you’re someone who likes right and wrong things, and if you’re a problem-solver, then bookkeeping will be a simple skill for you to learn.

Most of the time, that’s the type of person that's interested in starting a bookkeeping business. I think bookkeeping can be hard if your brain doesn't work that way, which makes our skill valuable, but it absolutely can be learned.

For the most part, the job is knowing how to categorize things, how to work within a system, how to repeat a process, how to deal with things that come up here and there, etcetera.

So it is a skill that can definitely be learned; I knew that. But I had to ask myself how I could teach it in a way that really achieved the goal.

That’s when I came up with the three-part process of Become a Bookkeeper. It all starts with…




One of the things I struggled with was figuring out how I could teach accounting better than whart you would learn in school…and the truth is, I can't. I can't, and I shouldn't.

So instead, I decided to take a textbook and actually go through it with my Become a Bookkeeper students.

When you go and get a four-year accounting degree, you’re going to take two years of stuff that leads up to it, including prerequisites and general ed credits that aren't even relevant to accounting. Then you're going to take some accounting classes that are well beyond what you'll ever see as a bookkeeper. You'll be taking audit, you'll be taking trusts, you’ll be taking managerial accounting…things like that.

There might be a place for those things if you take on complex businesses, but for the bulk of what you're actually going to see in bookkeeping, that’s way out of scope.

I chose to look for an accounting one-on-one textbook specifically focused on service-based businesses, and I found a great one. We go over the entire thing (only nine chapters!) in Become a Bookkeeper, and I explain it to you as if we're taking the class together.

We're going to learn the foundations of accounting. We're going to learn how it applies to you and your goals as a bookkeeping business owner. And then we’ll have that simple textbook to refer back to throughout the course if needed.

Like I said, though, Become a Bookkeeper is for all experience levels, including people who have a four-year accounting degree like me. When I went back and read the textbook, it brought things even clearer for me; even though I was already doing it, it helped me solidify some things that I’d probably read before, which reassured me that others with degrees would also benefit from it.

As for those with true imposter syndrome—which is the unmerited thought that you're not good enough—the Learn portion of Become a Bookkeeper will help you see that those doubts are, in fact, unmerited.

So if you go through Learn feeling like you’re not prepared, it will help you see if you actually do know what you need to know foundationally before you move on…and if you didn’t, it will cover those bases.

At worst, it’s a great refresher; at best, it can actually fill the gaps in your knowledge and give you the confidence you need to move forward.



Next, we move on to phase two of Become a Bookkeeper: Shadow.

In Shadow, you get to see the actual software. Personally, I use Xero, so that’s what I teach.

If you're a QuickBooks person, that’s totally fine—you’ll already know QuickBooks, so you'll still be able to follow everything in a different software.

I get a lot of people asking, “If I only plan to use QuickBooks, does Become a Bookkeeper apply to me?” and the answer is yes. Many Become a Bookkeeper graduates have gone through the course, ended up using QuickBooks, and agree that everything is translatable.

However, I recommend Xero myself, so I chose to stick with that rather than trying to teach people about multiple platforms.

The reason I intentionally built in a Shadow portion was because I realized that in most other jobs, when you’re being trained, before you start doing the job yourself, you shadow someone. You sit next to somebody in their cubicle, they do all the clicking, and you take notes on what they do.

Before you get in and roll up your sleeves and try the job yourself, it is a good idea—once you have the base understanding of what they're doing—to actually see the job done in real time, which is what a lot of people are missing when they’re trying to start their own bookkeeping business.

This is where Become a Bookkeeper can be an incredible resource for those struggling with imposter syndrome, because if they have a good idea of accounting, and they think they've got what it takes, but they don't really know…well, what better way to know than to watch somebody else do it?

At first, when I created Become a Bookkeeper, I thought those two portions—Learn and Shadow—would be enough.

However, I began to recognize a gap: I knew that I was giving people the knowledge and the demonstration, but I couldn’t be sure if they actually followed everything and understood it.

When you can do something with your eyes closed, and you try to teach someone else, you can easily skip over things you think are obvious, even if they aren’t.

So I sat down and went, “How do I make sure that they followed what I taught them?” And that’s where the “Apply” portion was born.



The third phase of Become a Bookkeeper is “Apply,” which is the section where you take what you’ve learned and put it into practice on a real (redacted!) set of books.

The practicum in Become a Bookkeeper is where you're going to recognize what you know and expose what you don't know. And once you find out what you don’t know, you can go back to figure out where you’re missing things and fill in those gaps.

When you’re finished with the practicum, you’ll then get to compare your work to mine. Afterward, you’ll receive an answer key that unlocks to show you where you might have went wrong. And don’t worry if you did go wrong—I think it would be weird if students went through and made no mistakes at all!



What Will be Changing…

As you can see, Become a Bookkeeper is an incredible program. I love it so much…so why the revamp?

We are not revamping the course because it’s bad; we’re revamping it because it’s already great, and we want to take it to the next level, as well as bring some of the information a bit more current. (It is three years old now, after all!)

This series isn’t done—over the next few weeks, I’ll be chatting about why I use Xero over QuickBooks, who this program is specifically for, and a more in-depth look at the changes we’re making to the new and improved Become a Bookkeeper program!



Want a peek behind the curtain into what it really takes to have a simple and scalable (and successful) bookkeeping business? Get access to my free, on-demand four-part series, 6 Secrets to a Simple, Scalable Bookkeeping Business:

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