Episode #003 Patience with bookkeeper Mandi Dittloff
Patience as a Business Owner, and why you need it.
Amy invites one of her clients to join her. Mandi speaks about the very unexpected result that came from her business planning sessions: learning to be patient with herself.
The real message of this story is “Let yourself evolve at the pace that's right for you.”
Host: Amy Hooke
Guest speaker: Mandi Dittloff (Bookkeeper)
Topic: Learning to be patient with ourselves (with bookkeeper Mandi Dittloff).
Amy: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining me again, today we're going to be talking about patience and to illustrate this very important topic, I've got Mandi. Mandi is a client of mine, and she's going to be talking to us and sharing a little bit about her journey with patience and some other things that she's been through in her business.
Amy: I wanted to get her along, because she's got an inspiring story, although she is quite humble, so she might not admit that herself. Thanks for joining me today, Mandi. It's great to have you here.
Mandi: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Amy: It is. Do you want to just share a little bit of your background, like what you were doing before you found me? What were you doing in your bookkeeping business and what made you want to get some mentor and get some help with your business?
Mandi: I started my career late in life. I had all my children first, and began on the journey of bookkeeping. I was new to it and a lot of people that I was studying with were not new to it, and they knew a lot more than I did. My confidence from studying was a little bit down in the first place, and so everybody who said, “Oh, I think you should do this, I think you should do that,” I would take it onboard that they knew more than I did, and that they knew better for me than I did.
Mandi: I began my journey, and I had a few hiccups along the way with bullying clients. When I came along and heard about you, that was probably where I was at, the confidence. I just wanted everything to change, and I was very inpatient.
Amy: That's right. Yeah, I remember when you first came along, and I think the sound did break up a little bit there, but you said you had some bullying clients.
Mandi: I did, I did.
Amy: So what was happening? I do actually remember that situation, and I remember what you were saying, but I'll let you share in your own words of what you felt the problem was there with that person.
Mandi: Problem was that they had two sides to them – very two-sided. One minute they were wonderful and lovely, and the next minute they'd be throwing something at the wall. That was due to another employee that she wasn't happy with. It was never about me, but I was in the same room with with her, and things going against a wall weren't quite my idea of fun. It got more stressful and more stressful, and it got to the point where I just had to leave, and I had to up and leave.
Mandi: I had no plans to leave, but then it was a big chunk of my income, and so that left me without as much income as I would have liked. I had to work back up again. I had to work with confidence and get more clients.
Amy: Yeah, great. Knowing what you know now, what would you say to our listeners? Because there might be people listening to this right now who are in a situation where they're working with someone where they feel like they're walking on eggshells, like you were. What would you say to them right now? What would you say to your former self, even?
Mandi: It's like, you know how you feel there's something wrong, but you don't do something about it?
Mandi: You don't trust your own feelings.
Amy: Yeah, that's a big one, isn't it?
Mandi: That had a lot to do with my confidence level as well.
Amy: Right, yeah.
Mandi: Trust your own feelings, and if you can, plan an out.
Amy: Yeah, that's actually very smart, because sometimes it's easy to say to people, “Just leave. Just get out of there,” but sometimes you do actually need a plan, especially when it's your income involved, and other dynamics of what might be in the situation. I think that's really wise.
Amy: One thing you said then, which stood out to me, was when you came to me you said, “I really have this lack of confidence,” but isn't it funny what you just said then, that the lack of confidence was coming from you not trusting yourself. You'd have these gut feelings, all these emotional reactions to the situation, but then you would always pat over it and say, “Oh, it must be me”. I think for you, I remember you used to blame yourself for the situation.
Mandi: Oh, absolutely.
Amy: You kept thinking, “I must be me, it must be me”. I definitely related to that, so when we were first working together, I thought, “Oh gosh, we're sort of like two peas in a pod in a way”. We even turned out the same. We both had the same ENFP Myers-Briggs personality test as well.
Mandi: That's right.
Amy: I thought that was funny, and so I really related to that. It was good to work through that with you. That's interesting, the lack of confidence comes from constantly seeing these emotional responses, saying, “I shouldn't be here,” but not trusting yourself, and then the blame on yourself that happened.
Mandi: Oh, absolutely. It was all my fault.
Amy: Yeah, that's right, that's right.
Mandi: Yeah, I was good at that. I still am a bit.
Amy: Yeah. Well, I think you do it a lot less these days. For those listening, Mandi went through 15 mentoring sessions with me, and just to see the growth in her has been amazing. To see her become gradually more confident, and gradually being the operative word, which is what we want to talk about today, being patient.
Amy: You made that point as well that you always felt like everyone was ahead of you. I remember you saying to me when I started, “Oh, I'm a slow bookkeeper. Everyone's quicker than me,” and that kind of thing.
Mandi: I still do it though, I still do, but I'm okay with it now.
Amy: Yes, I was about to say, what kind of changed in that situation, so that's really good. Yeah, I think it's so important, but it's actually really quite hard to do, isn't it?
Mandi: Yeah, and I think that's the thing, to focus on the work. I try to put more and more time into training myself on the work itself, like to get little bits and pieces programmed to be able to make things a bit quicker for me, to help that way.
Amy: That's right, that's right. I remember you inspired one of my blog posts, so I have a little saying. If someone comes to me and says, “Teach me to be more confident,” I always say, “No, learning to be confident is a waste of time, because lack of confidence, there's usually something underneath that. It's either a lack of competence, so there's a skill level that's lacking, and if you improve that skill level, then you grow in your confidence, and then also courage. So I always say, “Confidence is a feeling, and courage is an action that you take even when you don't feel confident”.
Mandi: Yes, that's true.
Amy: Yup, that's right. That's kind of what I've seen in your journey. You've been working on increasing your competency level in the things that made you feel a bit anxious with the actual bookkeeping work, and I think payroll was a stressor for you as well.
Mandi: Oh, it still is.
Amy: Yeah, that's right.
Mandi: I think it's because it's just changing so much as we speak in that department.
Amy: That's right. For someone like you, who's also similar to me, I remember when I was bookkeeping, I didn't want to do payroll – big payrolls, I'd always steer away from them, because you have that nervousness of stuffing things up and that's an area where you don't want to stuff things up. If you stuff up another transaction, you can kind of go back and re-enter it before anyone sees it, but with the payroll, if you stuff up, it's an employee who comes back to you and says, “Hey, you stuffed up my pay”. It's nerve-racking. It's a real thing. Then with all the rules these days of bookkeepers being liable and everything.
Mandi: Oh yeah, that's scary. Scary for anybody, really. What I got from you over time, was either you choose to go headlong into this, or you don't do it at all.
Amy: Yeah, that's right.
Mandi: I very scarily chose to go headlong into it. It is not as scary as I thought, but there's still a process, and there's a lot of payroll courses, whereas there wasn't at the time.
Amy: That's right. I actually remember that day that we had that discussion. We were talking about your niche, so when we say go headlong into something, what we mean is to have a niche – that means go headlong into something. We were talking about you becoming an expert and specialising in hospitality and cafes in your area, and so you were quite excited about that.
Amy: Then I had to gently burst your bubble and remind you that cafes have higher payroll requirements. They have all the rosters and all that kind of thing. Remember we discussed, “Do you think you can specialise in cafes without offering payroll?” Then that's when you said, “No, and I'm going to have to go headlong into this payroll thing, and everything I can learn about hospitality payroll.” That's the plan you were going to do. Then what happened after that?
Mandi: I had a break, didn't I?
Mandi: I had a bit of a…
Amy: A bit of a, “I think I'm going to leave bookkeeping”.
Mandi: Yeah. I had that moment, where things are just… I'm not even really sure why it happened, except I think my confidence just dropped the ball. There was a moment where somebody accused me of doing something I didn't, and wasn't very nice about it. That kind of was enough to…
Amy: Throw you over the edge?
Mandi: Then about a couple of months later, might have even been a couple weeks, you turn around and you face the fire rather than running from it. I realised that there were truck drivers driving outside my door 24/7, because I live in a town where there's three quarries. I happened to get by chance, a client that was a truck business who drove outside my front door. I had a whole change in my niche and I thought, “Wow”…
Amy: It was very sudden.
Mandi: … “my niche is truck drivers,” because they're right in front of me.
Amy: Right in front of your face, that's right. And often with the niche, it turns out to be that way. I remember that. You came to me and you said, “I think I'm going to throw it all in. I'm just going to start over. I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe not even bookkeeping”. We actually renamed your business plan file from Dittloff Bookkeeping, and we called it The New Mandi Dittloff until we came up with a new name, because we thought, “Okay, Mandi's going to start again”.
Amy: Then you came back and you said, “I found it, I found it”. It was at that decision point where you were thinking, “All right, the mentorship's come to an end. Am I going to keep going on month-to-month, or am I going to just leave it?” So you said, “All right, I'm going to give it three more sessions, and we'll see what happens”. Then in between that session and the next session, you came to me and you said, “I found it, I found it, my niche”.
Amy: Then when you told me, I was thinking, “That was so obvious”. For those of you listening, Mandi's husband is also a truck driver, and her daughter is also a truck driver. Those two factors, as well as the fact that truck drivers are going past her door every day all day, and stopping nearby her place, we just both had to laugh, didn't we? At how obvious it was, and how much you're in that world, so you understand the truck drivers. You know the lingo, you know what they go through, you know their situation. You're really positioned to help them in a very special way.
Mandi: That's it. That was it. It's in saying all that patience that we're talking about in the beginning, it's taken time to evolve, and it's something that I didn't have in the beginning. I just wanted my whole world to change. In your training, we were doing the asset versus job training at the time. You made me realise how to dig into myself and make me, “What do I want? What do I want from this?” amongst other things, there was many things. Patience definitely is something I have learned out of all of this, and to be kinder to myself.
Amy: Yeah, that's right. I think if I had one wish for you at the very start of our sessions together, it would be that you would be more kind to yourself. I think kindness and patience go hand-in-hand, don't they?
Mandi: They do, they do.
Amy: Because I'd see you, you'd put yourself down, and I would always say to you, “Mandi, stop putting yourself down,” and try to help you to see the other side, but obviously you can't make people see stuff, but you can guide them and facilitate them to see it for themselves, and you did, which made me very happy to see you get to that point.
Mandi: Thank you for that.
Amy: I'm still here to remind you, if you need me to remind you, to be kind to yourself. We all need the reminder every now and then. I loved that when I came and we were finishing up our sessions, and I wanted to see if you'd give me a little testimony, that's when you said, “The one thing that I got was patience”.
Amy: I was curious to know, “All right, so what happened…when you found your niche with truck drivers, what actually happened to your income?” That's what I was curious to know about, that's why I started to ask you about your income. Obviously, you might not want to share the dollar figure, but would you be happy to talk about how the percentage of income changed, and just the financial situation?
Mandi: Well, it certainly was a lot better, because I was dealing with more. It wasn't just one truck, it was more than one truck.
Amy: A fleet.
Mandi: Yeah. This guy had never had a bookkeeper before, and his business had grown quite quickly, and so I had to play catch up. I also had to inform him of his obligations and what we needed to do. He said, “Just go for it, it just needs to get done”. As most business owners do. Not all, but most.
Amy: I know.
Mandi: So yeah, I probably increased about a third.
Amy: That's fantastic. I was so happy when I heard that, because obviously, I love it when my clients start to feel better. They start to be more positive, and they have a sense that they're heading in the right direction and to feel good, but when I talk to people about the benefits of mentoring, it's not just about feeling good, but there's also results that come hand-in-hand with that. I was obviously very excited to hear about that as well. You said you increased your income by about 35 to 40%, which is…that's huge.
Mandi: It is, it is.
Amy: Yeah, that's a pretty decent figure, so good return on investment, which is good. I like to know that the work that I do with people pays for itself multiple times over.
Mandi: Oh, absolutely.
Amy: Yeah, so that was…
Mandi: When you start out, like any other business owner, you're only focusing on your business. You're not focusing on yourself, what you want in the future. The work that we've done together has produced something more in that area as well, and so, it's really great.
Amy: I'm just going to double back to something, because you mentioned that at the start I'd taught you about the asset versus jobs, so just for the listeners, I'll just explain what that is. I always like to talk about being an employee or a contractor, versus being a business owner. It's two different mindsets, and so the way that a business owner thinks about their business is very different to how an employee thinks about their business.
Amy: What happens is when we come into starting our businesses, we still think like employees. We have to have a shift in our mindset. Rather than thinking about our business as a job that we do, we start to think of it as an asset, so we start to think of it as an asset that we're building over a period of time. I'll put some information in the notes for this podcast so you can have a little bit of a look to find out about what is the difference in that mindset, so I'll put a link to a free webinar that I have.
Amy: Also, I think I'll put the post to the article where I talked about the difference between confidence and competence and courage. The article that I based, loosely, on Mandi's story, because I really wanted to tell her story as well.
Mandi: Thank you.
Amy: When you first started, obviously you started because you wanted a business plan and that kind of thing, but did you think that you would be looking at yourself so much?
Mandi: No, no. I was like, “No, this has got to do with what I do”.
Amy: That's right.
Mandi: But it wasn't, it was to do with what I want, and what I want for the future, and how I want to go forward. Do I want to just do it for a couple years, or do I want to make a future out of this? When you come to the point where you have to decide that, it's a big epiphany, you could say. It makes a lot of sense, and you go, “Ahh, that's what it is”.
Amy: It's hard, isn't it? These were your words, but you were thinking about at the time, you were constantly having to think about, “Am I on the right path?” You felt that you weren't on the right path, but because you didn't know what else to do, you thought, “Oh well, I'll just keep going on this path that I know is the wrong direction until I find something else”.
Mandi: Yes. Most people do…
Mandi: For the rest of their lives.
Amy: Well, you don't know what you don't know, so it's so hard to break out of, “I'm on this path,” but you think, “Well, what else would I do than what I'm doing now?” And it's familiar. As you start to venture out of it, it's painful as well.
Mandi: Yeah, it can be.
Amy: It can be, yeah. That's right.
Mandi: You have to realise things about yourself you may not want to. Not always, but in some areas you have to realise, “Oh, so I have to change”.
Amy: Yeah, and no one's going to do it for you as well.
Amy: Even though you want them to, it's like, “Please just give me the answer, and I'll…” But you know that you won't, because-
Mandi: It's about that words of wisdom.
Amy: That's right. I sometimes say that to my clients, especially when we're working on finding the niche or on pricing. I have one client, she's so funny. She says to me, “Please, okay, now please reveal my niche”. Like as if I'm some kind of guru. I'm like, “I don't know what your niche is, it's inside of you. I can ask you questions on how we can draw it out of you, but I can't give you the answer”.
Amy: The thing is, even if I did, it wouldn't stick, because discovering your niche, or pricing your services, or doing your business plan, and all that kind of stuff, it's really… For me it's about heart change, and the kind of fruit that comes from that, once you have a change of heart. You have to figure it out for yourself. You can't …
Amy: But you can't figure it out yourself in a bubble at the same time. You need that insight.
Amy: No, no, that's fine.
Mandi: I was just going to say-
Amy: Interrupting me again.
Mandi: It's okay to have suggestions. People can suggest stuff to you.
Amy: That's right.
Mandi: But like you say, it has to come from you, and those suggestions are somebody else's, they're not you're own.
Mandi: You go with what you know until you figure that out.
Amy: Exactly, exactly. What would you say to anyone who's listening who is really… They're not sure they're on the right path, or they feel that they're struggling with the whole patience thing? What advice would you give?
Mandi: Talk to you.
Amy: Aside from that, aside from that. Please, come and talk to me if you need, but what would you say?
Mandi: I'd say it's an evolution. It's not going to happen overnight, as much as we want it to. When it does happen, oh, it's so good. It is. To find out, you've got to put the time and effort in to be able to get the result. If you want a result, be prepared to put in the time, and you will find that it's worth every single moment of that.
Amy: Yup, yup. So to have some, I guess, you have to have some belief, even just a tiny little seed of belief, don't you? That it could improve, because if you don't have that out there… What kept you going when you were thinking, “I don't know even if I'm going to get anywhere?” What was it that kept you believing that something could change?
Mandi: Well I didn't have much other alternative to look at. I thought, “I'm on this path, why can't I continue? I just have to change the direction”. I'm not very good at sticking with things, but in this particular case, I just couldn't give it up. It just had to keep going, because I knew there was something better at the end.
Amy: Yeah, that's right, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it's almost like, I guess, once you've hit a rock bottom of a situation, there's only one way to go, right? Up, which is good.
Mandi: That's exactly right.
Amy: Well, thank you, Mandi. Thank you so much for giving your testimonial and sharing your story. It's very inspiring. So yeah, thank you for coming.
Mandi: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.
Amy: No worries, and thank you all for listening, and we will see you on the next episode.