Episode #097 Interviewing the Interviewer: Get to Know Amy Hooke Part 2

​Today on The Bookkeepers' Voice, we’re excited to be again joined by podcast guest and founder of The Savvy Bookkeeper, Amy Hooke. For last week’s episode, Amy shared her bookkeeping journey including how she became a bookkeeper. She also discussed along with Angie, the concept of profit IQ and why helping clients become more profitable is so important.

A little while ago we asked what YOU would like ask us. So, for today’s new episode, #teamsavvy member Maia, is conducting an exciting Q&A session with Amy! That’s right, Amy will be answering all of the questions that were posted by our bookkeeping community to our I <3 Bookkeeping Facebook Group. We hope you enjoy it!

Key Takeaway: “Life doesn't take your plans into account, so have plans, but be ready to change them if necessary.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #097

Series: General

Host: Maia Coghlan

Guest speaker: Amy Hooke

Topic: Interviewing the Interviewer Get to Know Amy Hooke Part 2

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Read transcript

Being a bookkeeping business owner, juggling life and hiring a solid team of employees



business owner, juggling business, bookkeeper, building a team, hiring, training staff, employee



Maia Coghlan  0:02 

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of The Bookkeepers Voice. This is not Angie today. This is Maia. And I'm here today with Amy Hooke again.


Amy Hooke  0:17 



Maia Coghlan  0:20 

So today we're doing part two of interviewing the interviewer with of course, Amy Hooke, director of Off The Hook Bookkeeping, and The Savvy Bookkeeper. So in the last episode, Angie, and you discuss your bookkeeping journey, and what makes off the hook different and why helping your clients be more profitable is so important to you?


Amy Hooke  0:49 

That's right. Yeah, that was it was lots of fun.


Maia Coghlan  0:53 

Um, so a little while ago, we asked our bookkeeping community if they have any questions that they wanted to ask you. So in this episode, we're going to do a little q&a, from the questions that we got, from our bookkeeping community, through the I have bookkeeping Facebook group. So this is probably going to be fun to and fun for the listeners, because it will be their questions being answered. Um, and just a little reminder about the Facebook group. If you want to join Guys, please answer all the questions so that we can accept you to the group. If you don't answer the questions. We can't accept you. So just make sure you answer the questions. Right. Ah, Shall we get started?


Amy Hooke  1:41 

Yeah, definitely. It's good to be here and be back on the podcast. I'm excited about the questions. So I just said, they can literally asked me anything they want. Yeah, so let's get dangerous.


Maia Coghlan  1:53 

Alright, so the first question, and we've actually got two questions from this person. And the first question is from Katherine Hartley from Nineteen bookkeeping. And she asks, How did you juggle motherhood and running a business? specifically? What did you do when your clients slash workload? What did you do with your clients? When? When Bub was born?

How do I juggle running my own business and motherhood?


Amy Hooke  2:21 

As soon as I heard you ask about how did I juggle us thinking, Okay, what can I pick up from the table and juggle like, I didn't like this, but obviously, you guys can't see me if you're just listening. But if you're in the members group, you can see me trying to juggle with some handkerchief. So it was a big, I guess my point is like, I'm not a very good juggler. It Yeah, it's just something that kind of, I guess, when it's brand new, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. So yeah, I guess, you know, if it's something that you're about to decide to do like this, I think there's nothing that can prepare you for what's next. I think, like, I think it's the one thing I wish someone had told me is like, how much cleaning I would have to be doing. No one ever tells you that they always talk about the bundle of joy and all that sort of stuff. But yeah, there's a lot of like, you know, you'd be amazed how much food, little children drop under the table until they're about five years old. So it is a real juggle. But I think it's one of those things that once you kind of throw yourself in the deep end, it's like you don't I guess when you don't really have a choice, you just got to kind of make it work. So I think for me, so some practical ways that I juggled in the early days, was that and I know not everyone has this has this luxury, but I hired a nanny. So I hired someone to come in three days a week, because in the beginning, you know, the reason that I started the bookkeeping businesses because I wanted to be have a business that I could run and be, I wanted to be around the kids, I wanted to be able to be a mom. And once I sold the business, I realised it's not really possible, like at all. So I hired a nanny and so that I could still, you know, be very much around my first son before he started going to child care at about when he turned one. So but prior to that, I sort of thought I'll just spend the extra money even though we couldn't really afford it just to have, you know, someone come in and watch him. And so, yeah, but look, to be honest, I will admit, I felt very. I have a lot of anxiety at the time because I was working with clients that weren't my ideal target market. So I was always on edge like, oh, is someone going to hear a baby squeaking in the background? I sorted I had clients that probably wouldn't be too appreciative of That. Whereas once I started savvy, you know, I was working with people who have like, been there done that, you know, lots of moms and stuff like that. So it was a lot more kind of relaxed, but then yeah, you know, was child care. And when my second son came along, he said the childcare. Yeah, like, be early Alex six months old or something like that. So, you know, we've kind of had to incorporate that into our plan because I guess work turned out to be. The workload turned out to be a lot more than what I expected. Which was a surprise. I guess. That was kind of how I juggled it. Yeah, like a clown. trying to juggle, like an unprofessional clown who can like it? Um, permission to sound that's? Yeah. So what was the rest of the question?


Maia Coghlan  5:36 

The rest of the question was like, he would normally take maternity leave. Yes. So you just tried to go for it?


Amy Hooke  5:44 

Oh, my gosh, yeah. Um, yeah. So, I mean, yeah, like so obviously. So when you first sort of start in this early parenthood situation, you just try and work whenever you can, you know, like, as you know, you work like I would work into the night and, you know, all sorts of things, I sort of had no boundaries around when I worked, I just had to get it done when I got it done. But as the kids get a little bit older, you sort of have a bit more flexibility to structure things properly. Whereas with a newborn, as you can imagine, you've got to be like, hyper responsive. As soon as they cry, you know, you've got to kind of help go straight to them and that kind of thing. So yeah, so with maternity leave, like, when I when I was pregnant with my first son, I was actually in China. So yeah, we make a little bit of a joke that my son was made in China. And then not he wasn't really bought. Yeah, so we we went on a trip shortly after I got pregnant with my first son, so I wasn't actually working yet was when I got home from China. That's when I realised Oh, I need I probably need an income. So I'll start my business and, and that kind of thing. So yeah, so with the, with my first son, there wasn't really any maternity leave, because I was just kicking off the business. But with my second son, there definitely was that. I think, I don't know, I think when you get to your second child, it's way in a way, it's way easier because you're not as worried you know exactly what to expect, you know, what's happening in that kind of thing. So I'll admit, like, I even was in a team meeting when my labour stopped. Like, I because you know, you just kind of like I just kept working until I'm like, really sure, like, it's time to go and stuff like that. So I was like cooking curries and still doing work and stuff like that. So the first time around, he like, Oh, my gosh, what's gonna happen is it gonna hat and stuff like that. And then the second time, like, I'll just show up, like, on the day kind of thing. And so I worked like literally right up until I said to William, alright, now we got to go. Because the first time we got sent home, a false alarm. So the second time we went, so that that was pretty much it. And so maternity leave from their like, I don't know, like, I think this time around with my first son, obviously, I was straight into working. So I didn't really take any time off. I just worked. But it wasn't super busy. With Ferdie. Like I did say to myself, like I just want to take off three months, and you know, have that downtime, but I'll be honest, like around the six week mark, like I was itching to get back and, you know, sort of by the end of four weeks, I was like, basically back to it. But I still made myself, you know, somewhat available, like after kind of the four week mark, I think in that first month you completely like wiped out because of you know, not sleeping, but sort of stuff.So yeah, I don't know, like, what would I do? I'm thinking I know, you didn't ask this question, but I'm gonna read into it. Um, you know, if I was to have another, another child, I probably would force myself to take more time. I really think that, you know, I underestimated the amount of recovery that I was going to need, you know, I've always just been a bit of a power on kind of person, but I feel like that's caught up with me down the track. So, you know, I do, like regret doing that a little bit. So I think I would probably be a lot more, you know, slow paced. I'll probably take a month off before leading up and you know, that kind of stuff, get the house organised. And, yeah, just a little bit less pressure. So, hopefully that helps. And, yeah.


Maia Coghlan  9:33 

Yeah, I think I think you've mentioned before that I don't have any experience of this. But, um, I think you mentioned before that like people often underestimate how difficult it's going to be when they have their first child. And I think they can start their business and have their first child at the same time and that they can just handle everything because they always have handled everything but it's going to be more difficult than one.


Amy Hooke  10:00 

It's very different to what it's so different to what you expect. Like, yeah, even though things are stressful in your life, and you know, you've had, everyone's had times where they haven't been able to sleep and things like that, but the the difference, or you know, everyone's, like, babysat, you know, a relative or something, and all that sort of stuff, but the thing that I think I didn't realise was the effect, like, because you're like, your hormones go all out of whack, like your body, and your brain is just kind of bit fried. So it's like, Yeah, you've got that on top of all the other things. So it's like, I think it's, you know, I guess, cuz some of our listeners might be, yeah, you know, like, expecting a baby or thinking that they're going to start a business soon. And I've got little kids and things like that. So I think it's really something that's important to factor in, like, just sort of, if you can sit and think about, like, what are all your, you know, what are all the responsibilities that you have to take care of, like, what's your current timetable look like? And how's that gonna look, if your capacity like drops to, like, let's say, 10 or 20%, for time, and, you know, make sure that you've got the supports in place, and also just yet not to sort of have too high expectations, which I know is really hard like, because for us, we needed I had to work for them, you know, for financial reasons for the family, and that kind of thing, you know, like will didn't have a job at the time, but he actually, he actually had an employer, we had to take his employer to Fair Work straight after he came back from paternity leave, he got sacked. So it was a bit of a bit of a, you know, you never know, like, there's always going to be unexpected things that happen as well. Like, just because you've had a baby, the world doesn't stop and say, okay, like, you know, you need a bit of downtime, like it just keeps rolling on. So I think, yeah, if you can plan ahead and not, you know, not plan to maybe projects after the special day, then


Maia Coghlan  11:58 

Just try to keep it simple, as simple as possible. Yeah, that's right, exactly. Alright, so the second question from Katherine- When making the move from employee to business owner, was there a period where you did both?


What is involved in moving from being an employee to a business owner?


Amy Hooke  12:16 

I love it. That's a that's a really good question. And so I think the the questions were probably submitted before last episode, but I did talk a little bit about, you know, my journey through being an employee, and then how I got into the business. So for me, there was actually a complete gap. Because when I left working in the accounting firm, I, I was done with bookkeeping, I didn't think I would ever do bookkeeping ever again. Like I yeah, I just sort of, I think I was a bit. Yeah, like, maybe a little bit jaded, I felt that I wasn't fulfilling my life purpose. And so I was like, Yeah, I left and I had some downtime to kind of, I spent a lot of time trying to think of a new potential new Korea. So I spend a lot of time overseas during that four years, I went to India, Israel, I went to China, and went to the UK and just sort of, I don't know, like, just so I'll try a few other things that I'm interested in, like I worked in, I did some hospitality work. What else did I do? I was like, I did some music stuff, like, you know, teaching music to kids. And like just some really, like very different stuff to try to find out what I liked and didn't walk. I did, like various volunteer work and stuff like that. And just to try and find out like, what's next for me kind of thing. And then when I got back from all of that the last trip was China. And when I got back, that was when I was like, I don't know, like, yeah, zero had become popular. And I was like, Yeah, I think I can make this working from home thing. You know, I for me, I felt like bookkeeping became more interesting. So there was definitely like, not just a gap, but there was a massive gap, where I actually thought I wasn't coming back from being an employee to a business owner. Yeah, yeah. What's interesting that you thought you weren't going to do it ever again. Yeah. And then eventually, you came back to it. And it's turned out really well. Yeah, like I used to say to the manager that I worked in the accounting firm, like, he was one of those like, like, he'll tell you how it is like, he won't pad anything out. And I used to say doing stuff like, oh, like, I think I meant to do something else other than me and accountant Me, me. He'd say, like, why do you think that? And I'm like, Well, I feel like I should be, you know, doing something that helps people. You know, like, I want to, yeah, I want to help people make a difference. And he goes, you are helping people. You're doing their tax returns. And I'm like, Oh, that's not exactly what I meant. Sorry.



Maia Coghlan  14:59 

You wanted to do something that helps people and was fun at the same time.


Amy Hooke  15:05 

Well, also and something that they like, because doing people's tax returns, they don't always like the outcome. So yeah, how are you rewarding? And so, you know, at the time, I didn't have like a heap of client contact back Back then, honestly, actually, now that I think about it, when I was sitting there, in my job towards the end, were starting to contemplate leaving, it still never occurred to me to start my own business. Like, I never really even thought about starting a bookkeeping business. It was just like, it just kind of came to me in that moment when I was like, Oh, I wonder what that zero software's like. And so I tested it out. And when I tested it, I was like, oh, wow, this is great. Like, now, because the accounting software is in the cloud. I don't have to use a PC anymore. So I can get a Mac because I used to use Mac's when I was younger. But once I got into bookkeeping and accounting, I had to use a PC. So I was like, yeah, it's sort of like inspired me, I was like, Oh, this could actually be quite fun. And then like, I can run the business and go anywhere that I want and be around my kids and stuff like that. And yeah, it was just like, just kind of sort of happened from from there. So I went to my boss who had resigned from four years ago. And yeah, like he signed off on my bass agent. Because I wasn't a bad agent, I'd only ever been an employee or contracted through him. So yeah, he signed off on my bass skills and just kind of went for it. So yeah, if it wasn't for zero, we wouldn't have any of this. That's right, exactly. Like when zero first came out, we're like, what is that? And, um, but but I was really wanting to move with the technology, which you'll hear in the previous episode. That's the reason why I left because my boss wasn't down with the technology. And I was, you know, I was really wanting to do, yeah, I was really wanting to do the cloud thing. And he, he was like, a autonet. He's still a pen and paper kind of person. Like, yeah, it was really, it was really challenging. And so, and it was a shame because he was a very supportive boss. You know, I don't, I think he was a great person in many ways to work for so. Yeah, unfortunately, he actually passed away last year as well, which is very sad. But, um, we always had a very good relationship, you know, we did have that falling out at the end. But we still reconnected after the four years. And, and that kind of thing. So, you know, I feel like the experience I got in the accounting firm was invaluable. But we reached a point where it was like, I knew I couldn't grow with the clients the way I wanted to. So we've moved from employee to business owner as well, like, I guess, again, I'm going to try and read between the lines, because I guess there's people who are in the position where they're employed, wanting to start a business and like, trying to figure out like, how do I make that transition? Hmm, trying to fit in all the time and everything? Yeah, that's right. Like, it's a tricky one, because you've got that kind of dilemma of like, should I tell my boss, you know, is it better to be open about it? Or is it better to just get prepared to make the leap? Or? And it really depends, like, that's my favourite answer to everything depends, like on your situation. So I would weigh up, like, What's your relationship with your boss? Like, like, how long have you been there for? You know, are they gonna see it as you competing against them? Like, is it going to cause like a threat? You know, I would look at all of those factors. Because for some people, it's going to be better that you just kind of get things ready, and then resign closer to the time and for others, you might have a boss who's kind of supportive. So it's just really, yeah, it's a bit of a tricky one like, but at the same time, like, I think, I don't know, I'm really big on people like bookkeepers working as employees for season. I think it's, like invaluable and because I think some people go from having no bookkeeping experience, like, Oh, I want to start a bookkeeping business thinking that it's quite easy. But I think being under that mentorship is really a good foundation for the career. So I'm liking this question, because I think there will be a lot of you who are potentially still partially employed. I mean, some of the bookkeepers in our community are still partially employed and partially contracting and that kind of thing. So I think it's just really, like, assess your situation, be wise in like, because you don't want to like mention it and then get fired. Do you know what I mean? Like you don't want to be out on your, you know, backside like having to suddenly, you know, and that can happen, that can happen. Even if you think you get along really well with your boss that can happen. Exactly, exactly. So you just, yeah, I would just weigh that up. And also there is a chance that you might say something and you'll come you'll get a different reaction to what you expected. Like that can just happen. So just be prepared, I think like, you know, and then if you can keep that open dialogue, you know, if it is an open dialogue situation, keep that open. You know, it could be a case of reassuring your boss like you know that you won't be working in competition with them and that you're still committed to doing a good job until the point that you leave and all that sort of stuff. So I think I think that helps.


Maia Coghlan  20:28 

Yeah, definitely. All right. So the next question is from Kristy Fairburn, who we've had on here before from Oasis bookkeeping.


Amy Hooke  20:40 

I know Kristy.


Maia Coghlan  20:43 

Yes. And and the listeners will know Kristy as well, because she did an episode.


Amy Hooke  20:48 

She did. And she did one with me ages ago as well.


How to hire a team of experts to run your business for you


Maia Coghlan  20:51 

Yeah, that's right last year. Okay, so now, Kristy's been on the podcast heaps of times. So Kristy says, How did you take the final step out of your bookkeeping business and have your Australian based team member manage it? For you?


Amy Hooke  21:12 

Yes, so. I love this question. Because it's one of those funny things like this was what I set out to do. when I very first started the business. I wanted a profitable online business that ran without me. And so for about, oh, like, let's say, for five years, I was like, this is a pipe dream. It's never gonna happen, because I thought it would happen really quickly. And it took a long time. And so I think, the final step like, look, I've I've tried to hire different bookkeepers before over in the past and haven't always had the best experience. And so I it was, I think the, the step before the final step was realising that the issues that I was having with my bookkeepers who I was hiring, was actually not their fault at all. It was actually it was when I realised I was the problem. It was, you know, I and I'll tell you how I realised that actually wasn't the fault that just popped into my head. I read this funny book called, what is it called? It's by Keith Cunningham. He's like some, I don't know, Texan business coach who I'd never heard of. And the book is called the road less stupid. So I saw the book title, because it reminded me of another book title, which is the road less travelled, I think, yeah, it's like a really popular book that I read. And so I saw it. I was like, Oh, the road less. travelled. Yeah, I've heard of that before. And I was like, Oh, it's the road less stupid. Okay, that sounds good. Sounds like something I need. So I started to read it. No, I bought the audio book, actually. But I ended up buying the Kindle as well, because I sometimes like to refer back. Anyway, he's this, he's actually quite a funny guy. Like, he's very kind of Texan. And he's got, like, quite a funny, quirky sense of humour, but he really tells it like it is. And he goes through and he talks about all these different things that go on in a business. And when I was listening to him, I realised like, I was giving permission for some of the stuff that was happening with the staff. And it was happening either in the hiring process. So because I didn't have a hiring process in place. I was, it was like, back in the day, when I just take on any client, it's like, you know, I'd post in a Facebook group or something, and I'd get, you know, at hire someone from like, maybe 10 candidates or something like that. And then, you know, when when the team members came on board, you know, because the thing that frustrated me so much is that I feel like they weren't meeting my standards. And I think when it comes to bookkeeping and customer service, I have very high standards of what I like to see the team doing. The problem was there was a gap between the information I had in my head about what I expected, and what they knew that I expected, like it was it was like all of us, we have our business plans in our head, we have our standards in our head and unless it's verbally communicated, especially when you're working with a remote team, you know, other people don't necessarily get that you know, every so often you know, you get an amazing employee like my eye who's just like, you know, super productive, like internally motivated, you know, my loves to do a good job because she's I like to job tough. Yeah. So I don't have to like make, I don't have to, you know, teach Maia  – You know, give good customer service or create a good result because she's she's driven by that. And so and that's also,


Maia Coghlan  25:06 

But I was lucky find.


Building and training a team using an efficient hiring process


Amy Hooke  25:09 

Yeah, you were perfecting the process.. That's right. You got to see a few interesting experiences. So yeah, TMI seems Yeah, sure. Interesting. Yeah, that's right. And so, yeah, so it was also in that book. So Keith Cunningham actually says, He talks about hiring a players. And I was like, Well, I know what an AI play, it looks like. It's Maia, like, I had this, I had a prototype, which was really good for the first time, whereas before, I didn't even realise that there were kind of like different types of employees. So he said, like, he basically said, like, if you want a high performing professional business, you need to hire a players. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, I have not been doing that. Like, you know, and I found especially cuz, you know, I tried to build my business on contractors. And the problem with contractors is that they, they are committed to multiple different businesses, they're not ultimately committed to your business. And so I started to realise that I needed to have an employee I needed someone who was committed to, you know, our business and our brand. I, you know, I wanted to be able to have somebody, you know, who Yeah, I guess, was, yeah, like, different to somebody who's just going to come along and do a little job, because the other thing with contractors is that, especially, you know, like, they're not going to do everything kind of holistically, like, because they're juggling lots of clients. So it's not necessarily a bad thing. But I think contractors are fantastic when they come in, and they assist you with a project. But for longer term stuff. You really need an employee. So you can't contract as a great in a bookkeeping business. Like if you've got a reliable contractor that you've known that you trust, can be fantastic for like overflow work and things like that. But your core team needs to be employees and contractors are kind of, you know, the outer part of that. And so when I, when I started thinking along those lines, because it's scary, so hiring an employee is a scary thought, because you've got to give them work, even when there's not work there. And so, yeah, so that's kind of the, the foundation for that sounds like, Okay, I need, you know, if I want to step out from the business, I'm never going to do it if I don't have a players on the team. Secondly, if I don't have what it had to explain it, if I don't have – if I'm not very clear on my standards, and what I expect, like that has to be out of my head. And I need to even actually create some of this myself, I can't just expect a brand new person to come into the business. And for me to go, Okay, can you like set the standard in my business? Like no, like, for me, it's like, take responsibility. That's my responsibility as the director of the company to set the direction for the company. And so I'm not saying and this will kind of Yeah, I think someone else asked a question about this, which we'll talk about in a minute. But we talked a little bit about Yeah, like a random processes and things like that. So you've got to have, you don't have to have all your processes mapped out. But you've got to have a high level idea of what outcomes you're wanting. And it's you that has to be clear on that before you can expect anyone else to do it. So that I would kind of the three, the three main things plus a hiring process. So it was like, I guess it was a combination of reading that book, plus the pain of realising how much money and time was wasted by employees who weren't a good fit. They weren't or they weren't up to the task, like there were, you know, be employees or maybe see. Who knows. So? Yeah, so So yeah, so I guess that's the final step before the final step. It was, you know, tough to hire somebody according to the new standards. And it was really cool, because like, the first time ever run that hiring process, I actually, like nailed it the first time, but then, you know, I've tested it a few times, since on my business, and now we've been using that process with savvy clients as well to help them recruit their staff as well, because the result was really good. And it was Yeah, it was a surprise, you know, you've got we had like, we usually get about 300 candidates per ad. So that's the difference. You know, I was taking my employees from these very small selection of people and opening up to be able to, you know, to a wider selection of people, you know, allowed me to find that one person like it is literally a needle in a haystack.


Maia Coghlan  29:58 

Didn't you say out of 300 applicants, you only interviewed three people?


Amy Hooke  30:02 

Three, only three. Yep. So, and I mean, some of the savvy bookkeepers that we've worked with on that process it like, it can be a little bit confronting when you go through, like, oh, I've paid this money for an ad and all these candidates coming in, are you telling me I'm gonna be rejecting, like nearly all of these? And it's like, yes, you must. And so that's how high the standards are now here for hiring. It's that literally only three people get to be interviewed. And so we've got, you know, there's a whole process around that. So that's the backstory. So this step out, it's really funny, but you know, like, you can work your butt off for a long time feeling like nothing is happening. And then it seems like all of a sudden, it just happens. Now, the reality is, it doesn't just happen. But it's almost like, you know, I think, if you're in that, like, yeah, if you're in that mind frame of like, oh, like, I'm working really hard, and I'm trying to step out of the business, but I just feel so far away from that. It's like, if you want that goal, it's actually totally possible. It's actually it's not only Yeah, like it is, it's not like a pipe dream. I thought, Oh, is this just like one of those, like, imaginary kind of ideas that, you know, business coaches promote on social media or something like that? I was like, is this a real thing? Can it actually happen? So I'd say like, keep persevering, but get feedback. You know, you need other people to be able to kind of see where you're at and where the gaps are. And once you identify where those gaps are, like, what what is actually missing in the situation that's stopping me from doing this, you can kind of figure it out. So some practical things that you can do, if you want to step out like it was during COVID. That's when I realised the business can run without me, like I was, you know, I'm sitting in the lounge room with the kids. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, like it was involuntary. I was sort of thrown in the deep end. But at the same time, I was like, cool, like, yeah, so, you know, I knew I was 100% confident that our senior bookkeeper was, you know, across everything. And yeah, so that was a really good feeling. So I was like, well, that came out of nowhere. So yeah. So I'm just thinking, get a couple of practical things that you can do to take that final step out is like, yeah, you need to identify what the gap is, like, what's the bit that's holding you back? So a couple of the things could be like I mentioned before your hiring process, you know, your standards being really clear about that. It could be if you've got, you know, do you have your processes ready enough for somebody? Have you identified who you need to hire sometimes, you know, sometimes the wrong hire comes down to, you know, simply hiring, you might hire a junior when you need a senior person, for example, you know, sometimes we try and save money by hiring genius, but we actually need if you want to be able to step out of your business, you need someone who's as good, if not better than you. And that's very confronting for some of us. Because, you know, as bookkeepers, I think, like, you know, we'd like to be the best bookkeeper in our business all the best bookkeeper in the world, you know.


Maia Coghlan  33:21 

Especially when you have your own business, and it's your bookkeeping business, the idea of hiring someone who's better at bookkeeping than you are? Yes. But I mean, and those people are out there. Obviously, we hired one out there, because they don't necessarily want the drama and the logistics of running their own business. They just want to do a good job with their own with their work.


Amy Hooke  33:45 

Exactly. Yeah. And I thought about this a lot as I've been writing the curriculum for the hiring bookkeeper, but hiring bookkeeping staff ecourse is Yeah, like, that's the thing that's, you know, I've been thinking about a lot, you know, just yet, like being able to take that yet take that step back, assess the situation. You know, follow put that process together and caught up. Yeah, just make sure that you kind of Yeah, doing the right steps and that kind of thing. So, um, yeah, yeah. So there was another question. Yeah. So the next question is related in Milan. Yeah. related. So from Katya from Sudoku, bookkeeping.


Maia Coghlan  34:34 

When you were talking about employing Sharon, who was a bookkeeper. You mentioned it took around 15 minutes to hand over the clients. Is this with additional extra support as you went along? Did you have in mind manuals or processes or how do you manage to get that down to just 15 minutes?


Amy Hooke  34:56 

Yes, so Um, so yeah, well


Maia Coghlan  35:00 

You find the right person?


Amy Hooke  35:02 

Yes, yes. So thanks for putting your question in Good to see you. And um, yes. So, um, so we share. Yeah. Like I was saying in Kristy's answer. Sharon is a better bookkeeper than me. She is amazing, like, cleans really good. Yeah, she's very good, like, so, from a technical perspective, she's, she's better than me. Like, for me, I don't like to store technical information in my head, I like to just know where to get it if I need it in case I don't ever need it. So save that brainpower. But Sharon, she's very knowledgeable, you know, especially in the construction industry, which is really vital for us in our business to be able to do a really good job for construction, because there's, you know, there's complexities in the payroll and, and all that sort of stuff. So. So that's one thing. So she's, you know, she's technically she's very good. But she's also like, she's very organised. And she's like, she's very good at her, like routines. So, which, you know, as you've probably heard me share before, I'm not really a routine person, I'm a project person, I'm not really wired for that kind of daily, day in day out kind of doing the same thing. So she's really good with her routines, like whenever, look, to be honest, when I hired Sharon, I was looking for a senior bookkeeper, who was I wasn't specifically thinking, I need to find a bookkeeper who's better than me, like that hadn't occurred to me. I just thought if I can get someone who can take 80% of the work off of me, that was my goal, then then that would be great. And I can just kind of check the bass and you know, all that kind of stuff. Now, when Sharon started after wake, she's one of those people, right? So I went through the whole hiring process, and I narrowed it down to her. And I got on the phone call to her. And halfway through the phone call, I was like, I want to hire you. I knew she was the right person. And it was validated like a week later, when, you know, she was already just handling everything. And within about a fortnight I was complete, like, I'm talking like 99% freed up. And I was like, Oh, yes. Okay. And it was really funny because I've had this idea in the back of my head, like, hire someone who's better than you. And I've even said it in a blog post, or maybe a podcast before. But I didn't think that was what I needed. At the time. I thought I need someone sort of just a bit, someone senior, but not as senior as me. So anyway, when she came along, she's very fast learner. But obviously he like what Katie is asking about. Every client has their similarities like this sort of like the bookkeeping, the foundation of bookkeeping, there's some core things that are always the same across every client. And then there's certain things that don't apply or do apply, depending on what industry they are. And then there'll be certain unique things to their specific business about it, like, which are the actual processes. So when Sharon started, like, we did a 15 minute, handover. And so what that handover looks like, was just me. So keep in mind, so at this point, Sharon's already been on boarded by Maia, right. So like, do you want to just I know, you're interviewing me, but you want to just quickly explain like, how you onboard Sharon, like what kind of things you show her?


Maia Coghlan  38:24 

So the main thing that I would show her it was that I did show her is our project management software, basically. So yeah, that's where all the different client projects are, where their information is saved. And like, sort of the checklists that we use for the bookkeeping processes to make sure you remember to do all the things on the right times. And just, yeah, basically, a task management, project management. So I showed her how to use all of that. And she already knew where all the client information was, and what needed to be done on a basic level.


Amy Hooke  39:04 

Yes, yeah, exactly. And so yeah, exactly. So by the time Sharon had finished the onboarding with Maia, she she knows what all the apps are, obviously takes a bit of time to learn them and get your head around them, but she knows what they all are. So I'm not having to kind of do software training along the way. And then also because I'm confident that she her skill level is high enough. So because she's got that high enough skill level, I know, okay, you know, with a senior bookkeeper, the the type of handover that you're going to do is just like, what are the clients specifics and intricacies? What are some of the things to look out for and that kind of thing. So I handed that to her, but then behind all of that is a framework. So we have a very comprehensive bookkeeping checklist. So what this is, is it covers everything that's included in the onboarding process, then we've got everything that's included in a rescue job or a catch up job, we've got everything that's included in like a Xero or software set up. And then under there, we've got a list of everything that they could possibly have for their weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual processes. So what we do is we bring that checklist in for every new client, they all get exactly the same checklist. And then the bookkeeper just goes through and deletes all of the parts of the checklist that are not relevant. Yeah. So that's basically what I showed, Sharon. Yeah, I already knew how to use that before. My hand over with Sharon was probably took a lot longer than yours, because I had to show her how to use all the different apps and all the different software's and where to find things. So but um, I just finished with you, you just had the really basic stuff. Yeah, the client specific stuff. So yeah, so what I'm thinking like, I'm thinking like a probably a good takeaway from that is because what might happen is, let's say now, because I mean, someone might be thinking, Oh, yeah, but I don't have a my at onboard my new staff. But it doesn't really matter. Because it could have been me doing the thing that I did, and then do the thing that I did, right. And so what it would look like if you're solo, if it's just you doing it on your own, I think the key point here is to do the training on that apps, and the kind of high level overview of how the process works first, before trying to show them a client, right. So let's say they came, let's say, if Sharon came in, and my hadn't hadn't done all of that, I would have said, Okay, here are your first, let's say, five clients. So I'll give her those clients. And then I'd sit down with her and I'd say, okay, we do this, this and this, and then all these questions would come up in her mind. And we could spend hours talking about that one client, because through that, she's having to figure out all of the specific software's. So I would suggest, if you're on your own, that you do that separately. So you come in you show, okay, firstly, these are all the apps that we use, and this is where they live. And then within this app, that is the checklist that we use, and that's how this is how we use them. And then she then she comes to me, and I give her, you know, her clients. So what I did was, I when I hand over the clients, I also cut, we worked at a time table. So I sat down with Sharon. And you know, we started she was starting on 16 hours a week. So we had to kind of budget for her time. And the client requirements. So what we did was we went and mapped out in her schedule where all the different clients would be. I think it's really important that you figure this out beforehand. And it can just be a case of quickly going through, you can look at your timesheets or your own regular calendar to figure out how much time do I spend on each client on what frequency and then what we did was we moved all of that stuff from my calendar into hers. And then what would happen is on the day where it takes over for her to start on that client, we do it during that time space. So like I'm really massive on having like proper time allocations for every single client like this is their time slot. This is when we work on that client. So each time that time slot would arrive, she'd say, Okay, I'm ready for this client. And then we'd spend the first 15 minutes of her doing that. And then from there, you know, once I've done that kind of quick handover, obviously, she can ask questions that, you know, there's always going to be a client that's got a few like weird tricky things that she might need to come back to, but I'd say majority of the clients, she didn't you know, with bigger clients, like we've got a couple of like much larger clients, you know, you would have spent maybe 30 minutes on those bigger ones. So, aside from that, the only time like To be honest, when I meet with Sharon, like probably once a fortnight, but it's really just to work on the financials for my business. So in our meeting, she's my bookkeeper doing the books for my business. And with clients, like, you know, I think she's got, she's got her, um, you know, she, she does her kind of thing. And I think like, I mean, when it comes to BAS time, I'll say I like how are you doing for, you know, a bass time or whatever. And she'd be like, I'm already done. Sorry. Because we do have that kind of routine process. And, you know, she kind of sticks to that she makes and because we've got those allocated time slots for the client, every week, or every fortnight or every month, whichever their frequency is, they're completely brought up to date by that point. So if you know that means that they're completely brought up to date bar, you know, whatever overflowing questions they are, and then you know, obviously making sure that you follow up on those questions for their next time slot, making sure that the clients answered those, you know, when you're sitting in those time slots you really like you kind of always up to date, which means bass time is not very crazy here at all. Again,


Maia Coghlan  45:05 

Sharon said she actually doesn't find it stressful at all.


Amy Hooke  45:09 

Doesn't find it stressful at all. No, no, she just did like a day for her. Yeah, she just like, take the afternoon off, go ride a horse or something like that.


Maia Coghlan  45:18 

And then I think what you said earlier, is really important for this as well is if you have certain tasks that you want to hand over to your new bookkeeper, you need to hire a bookkeeper that knows how to do those tasks.


Amy Hooke  45:36 

That's right. Yes. Yeah, exactly. And, you know, this ties into back to Christy's question a little bit about taking the step out. If you, you know, everybody thinks and I made this mistake myself, I was like, when I first started, I was like, oh, I'll just hard. I'll just hire a student to help me someone cuz studying accounting, that is the worst idea. Okay, then my next idea was like, oh, that didn't work. So like, I'll get kind of like a junior person, or, you know, and then I tried like a mid mid level person. And, like, I tried all these different combinations and that kind of thing. And then I finally realised, like, for people who are in small businesses who are because as bookkeepers, right, we're not like going out there and financing our business, our business growth is finance from our income. So we don't have a lot of capital available. Usually, we don't kind of have a buffer where we can go or I know, just hard team. But you know, obviously, in some of my teachings, I'm I go on about doing business in the right order, or the right order for hiring, it's going to depend on you and your capacity, like if you're, if you're going to be the senior bookkeeper, which is fine. So there's kind of two different business models, right? So you've got one way you're running a business. And one way you're running a practice, okay, so the difference between the two is in the business, if you're not going to be the senior bookkeeper, you're the owner, the manager, the director of the business, and then the senior bookkeepers, you know, underneath, and then they have their team. Whereas in a practice, you are that senior bookkeeper. And the business is always going to rely on you, you're not going to step out of it, you're the expert in the business. And that's also fine. They're both valid. So regardless, like the one, the one where you're going to be the senior bookkeeper, if that's fine with you, then that's you in that position. And what you would need to do is you need to free up a bit of your time and capacity, because if you're hiring someone who's less than senior, there is going to be more training involved. And if you're hiring a junior, there's a lot of training. And so that's why I don't recommend that anyone start with a junior that you need to have someone who's able someone who can free up a lot of your time a junior will increase your workload, not reduce it. Yep. Yeah.


Maia Coghlan  47:59 

Because if you're trying to train someone, and get all the work done, it increases your workload. That's why hiring someone who already knows how to do the things that you want them to do. Of course with Sharon, there was a little bit of training, I had to show her how we send the panda docs and that kind of thing. But yes, that's right. That's not I didn't have to teach her any bookkeeping skills.


Amy Hooke  48:24 

Yeah, that's right. So I'd say that's, that's the biggest shortcut if your goal is to step out of the business, and have it run without you, your first hire. I mean, if you've already got staff, that's fine. Because the senior person can come in and manage those staff, depending if they've got management skills. But again, looking at this big picture, that's how you're going to figure out who you actually need. So if you need, yeah, if you need a senior person, if you want to be able to step out quickly, you need someone who's as good or better than you. And you in order to do that, you need to know how to advertise like how to screen those people. Like you really need to know how to find that person. And so whereas if you have more capacity, you know, some people really have a desire. So I'll use Katia as an example, like, Katia you're, you're, you're in the training space, like so for those of you who don't know, Katia she's a TAFE. trainer, she she will teach like a cert for. So, you know, if training something that you're passionate about, then you may love to have someone come in and train. But for me, what it is, is like, I mean, maybe one day I would love to train, you know, a more junior bookkeeper, but I don't want to be doing it while I'm doing bookkeeping, while I'm checking basses and managing and all that kind of stuff. You know, I'd love to, you know, just more come in and do kind of like high level training on like, this is how we do things here and this is how, you know, these are some problem solving tools that you can use in the future. So you know, if if your goal is to be that senior bookkeeper, then you know, I would start with a mid mid level person, you can have that that mid level person who can come in and they can do the bulk of the work, but you still need to check the bass. Whereas if you get someone more junior, that won't happen. If you've already got that team in place, by all means Junior people can come in, they can, you know, process, the receipt, bank, and all that kind of thing. But you got to keep in mind, like, it's still not, you still got to have some level of expertise. So there'll be still some level of training involved in that. So you just got to assess your capacity and what the business actually needs. And where you kind of sit in the business as well.


Maia Coghlan  50:40 

Cool. That's it. Yeah.


Amy Hooke  50:43 

Oh, actually, I just want to check this as well. So is this with additional site? Yeah. Okay. And so you did ask Katia, if we have client manuals, and processes, so our process is that checklist. We don't have client manuals. As such, what we do is we only create manuals for very specific client specific, unique things. So you know, you can have an overall manual, that's kind of got the day to day stuff. But if you've got a competent team, you know, a lot of them should kind of know that. Whereas if you've got something very specific, like, for example, you know, I'm thinking of a client who has like, this very unusual financing model, like through a financing company, where it's, it's quite, it's a very strange account to reconcile, it's like, how do we do this, and the company that does the financing, I have no idea. So we actually created a process around that, because it's very specific. Or another example could be like, if you have a company that has a lot of motor motor vehicles, something like that, we'll we'll take a template that we have, and we'll we'll create a vehicle register, because there's so many cars to manage for, for that client. So whereas when it comes to the like, you know, the routine stuff that's kind of standard within any business, we literally just have the checklist by week, month, quarter and and yeah, and assume that the bookkeeper knows the steps, the sub steps of those items. So the reason we don't have full detailed manuals. And so for me, the analogy that I use is, so the way I like to teach bookkeepers is like, you can have a moral code about something or you can have an ethics, right. So the way that I teach is more like ethics driven than code driven. And what that actually means is, so if I say to you, so I would say like, the code is like, very prescriptive. So when bookkeepers come and work with me, I'll never prescribe to them, like, Oh, you have to do this process. And you have to follow it to the tee. And you know, it kind of all has to be done a very prescriptive way, what I prefer to do is teach the foundational, like the fundamentals of like, how you can make the decisions yourself on what's best for your business and build a system that works for you. So, you know, obviously, you know, like, through savvy, I share a lot of the specific templates that I make, but by all means, like, they can be customised, they can be tailored, but also from there, like you would decide, you know, on your own business, like is having a manual. Yeah, like is having a client manual, or a staff manual going to be, you know, valuable is it going to be a waste of time, you know, what I would hate to see you guys do is write this whole, like prescriptive manual, and then end up hiring a senior bookkeeper, and you don't actually need it, like, the more senior the person is, the less you need this prescriptive stuff. So it just really depends on your goal. So like to kind of teach that, you know, flexibility, there's no one size fits all. And if you kind of know, like the, I guess the foundations behind, like, how I think about this stuff, you know, hopefully that can, you know, show you how to yeah, you know, figure it, figure it out, but use some of our tools to help you speed that up.


Maia Coghlan  54:08 

Cool. Okay. Yep. All right. So last question. Um, last question is from Melissa Clarence from M books. And her question is, when you come to Sydney next, can we have lunch?


Amy Hooke  54:24 

Absolutely, yes. Now, when am I going to Sydney next? I don't know. I'd love to go to Sydney bid. Um, yeah. When are you coming to Melbourne?


Maia Coghlan  54:34 

Yeah, your turn is opened up now. Come on.


Amy Hooke  54:37 

I know. I know. We're all open. We're allowed to leave. I don't know what if I came to Sydney, let's say like, I don't know if Victoria went to a lockdown or the border got shot again. I guess it would depend on like, whether I can stay at your place or not.


Maia Coghlan  54:52 

Oh, lunch stay over. Increasingly.


Amy Hooke  54:57 

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's right now, we should be fine. I think we're hopefully we're going to stay open for a little bit longer. But yes, I would love to come to Sydney and have lunch with you.


Maia Coghlan  55:07 

All right. Well, that was great. finally getting to know some of the listeners questions.


Amy Hooke  55:14 

Yeah, that was fun. I can't believe it does take a while to answer like what seems like a straightforward question.


Maia Coghlan  55:19 

It's a really long episode. Yeah, so I think we'll just wrap it up there. Yeah. For anyone who wants to learn more about Amy and also bookkeeping. Go to the savvy bookkeeper.com.au. And check out our previous podcasts from the last last week and the week before. Which is 95 and 96. They do 95 and 96 episode numbers. Yeah. So you can check that out there. And we're also going to link out social media channels are off the hook on the in the podcast notes as well. So you can check that out if you want. Do you have any last comments?


Amy Hooke  56:10 

That's a risky question.


Maia Coghlan  56:12 

She doesn't have any last comments. Trying to gauge how long it will take if you say, yeah.


Amy Hooke  56:20 

Oh, good. Oh, good. I think I'm all topped out. I'm ready to go. have lunch.


Maia Coghlan  56:25 

Yeah. All right. So thanks again for for joining me today. I'm sorry that you didn't get to do it with Angie like you planned. Her BAS was a good substitute.


Amy Hooke  56:35 

Well, I did too with Angie. So it's been fun being interviewed by you.


Maia Coghlan  56:41 

Yeah. Good. Yeah. All right. So as always – Stay safe, stay sane. And stay savvy.


Amy Hooke  57:05 




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