The Bookkeeping Project Episode 3

Amy talks about the ups and downs of running her bookkeeping business, networking, marketing and the benefit of having website security protection.

The real message of this story is: “Good things are coming soon for members of The Bookkeeping Project!”

Read Transcript

Good morning. Thank you for coming back again to listen in. Today is the third Friday of the month, so that means it is the bookkeeping project update. Today, I'm going to be just giving you a little bit of an update of some of the exciting things, and some of the good things, and some of the dramas that have been going on in my business.

I think we'll start with the bad news today. You probably tuned in a couple of weeks ago to listen to … We're doing a contest between Facebook and Google Ads, so I will have to let you know that Google Ads is winning by quite a bit. So what we've decided to do is redirect our budget from the Facebook ads and put it all into the Google Ads instead. That's exciting to know. It was as suspected, so you'll be able to listen to the previous podcast that I did with Lucas where we talk in detail about the difference between people who are looking on Facebook versus Google.

Lucas's bet was on Google Ads because basically when people go to Google and they type in ‘hire a bookkeeper,' or ‘bookkeeper in the suburb,' they are looking to hire a bookkeeper. Whereas people are on Facebook to entertain themselves, to browse. They're not necessarily in the head space to buy. They're not looking to buy. They're more looking for entertainment and that kind of thing. So basically, not saying that Facebook ads don't work, but it's just that, I guess, Facebook is good for building brand awareness if you're delivering content, which we are not.

We use Facebook ads very successfully with Savvy, because at Savvy, we're delivering content. Usually when people come and connect to us, they're not necessarily looking to buy. Maybe they're just looking to read relevant information about our industry, or maybe something pops up and it might be relevant to them, for example, learning about pricing or something like that. Then we have some various free courses that people opt into, and over time, we've built relationships with people. They become part of our community, and then eventually, our clients. They engage with us for our DIY services, or our Done for You services, so that's the way it works.

With Savvy, Savvy works really well on Facebook because people aren't necessarily looking for the stuff that we deliver at Savvy on Google. People might type in ‘mentor for bookkeepers,' or they might type in ‘website for bookkeepers,' and that kind of thing, and they would find us. So they're people who are looking to purchase our services, but most people, when they come to engage with Savvy, they're not necessarily looking to buy something initially. But obviously, people who do connect with us, they find out that we do offer a range of various services that are very helpful for bookkeeping business owners, but we also do a lot of media content, so obviously, the podcast.

We do the blog, which is often based on the podcast. At this point in time, it's just working out that way. So, we do a blog post that's related to the podcast every week, and we do some social media posts. That's the media side of what we do, and so a lot of people are engaging with that. We've started to get messages from people in the US, which is exciting to be able to pass the Savvy message through to people overseas. That's been fantastic. We have grown our Facebook community, our email database. We've really grown a lot this year through Facebook ads.

So, as Lucas goes into more detail, Facebook ads work really well for an organization like Savvy where it comes to a bookkeeping business where, I guess, you've got people … Let's say I was offering some service where I was going to be offering people DIY bookkeeping courses, or something like that, that could work really well on Facebook. Maybe people looking for templates or something that they can use to help them to do their own bookkeeping more easily. That might be something that worked, but because I don't offer that service, as Lucas suspected, so I really wanted to do Facebook ads. I really wanted to build brand awareness on Facebook, but I don't think … Yeah, Lucas was right. It didn't turn out that was the right timing for Off the Hook and the specific offers that we have.

The bad news … I was going to start with the bad news, but that's the good part. The bad news is our website got hacked and infected with malware, so we've had to take the whole … The website is still up, but we've disconnected the ads because obviously we don't want people going on our site when the site is infected. I have gotten a notification just this morning that it has been restored, but I also had a notification that according to the security company who cleared our malware for US $300, that company has let us know that if we want a 90 day guarantee, they need to go in and clean all of our sites that are listed on that specific hosting. That turned out to be six websites on there. That is other US $600, so $100 per site. So just received the news this morning, happy Friday, and happy Friday to me.

Basically, I guess the reason I wanted to bring that up is because now, the reason that we got hacked, the reason we have malware is actually, it was my fault, so I can't really be too cross about it. I am annoyed, but obviously, it was actually my fault.

Now, some of you probably already know that we do website designs for bookkeepers, and all our websites are on website management plans. Website management planning includes all the hosting, security, updates to the site, backups, and all sorts of great things like that, great things that most people don't see the value in. It is hard to explain to our clients why they need to pay $49 a month. That's the basic plan. They pay $40 a month, and we keep their site safe and secure. Yeah, so anyway, that includes the malware protection and the security there, and any kind of protection. If something goes wrong with the site, then we obviously cover the costs. It's sort of like a little insurance policy there. However, …

Yeah, so it's just one of those things. People don't understand how websites work, and so obviously people might think, oh yeah, I don't know if I should pay that. Why do I have to pay that money every single month after I purchase a website from you? This is the reason, so I am the case and point here. Thankfully, it hasn't happened to you guys, but it happened to me.

The way that it happened to me was … I'll tell the short version of the story. It was basically when I work on the site, sometimes I accidentally put in the wrong password. I use LastPass, and it's gotten a bit messy. There's too many passwords in there. So what happens is sometimes, I accidentally log into my own sites using the wrong log in. Then what happens is we have this lovely security in place, and it blocks me. It says, “Hey, you're a hacker. Get away from the site,” and so it blocks me out. I kept saying to my husband, “Oh, it's so annoying. It keeps blocking me out,” and he was saying to me, “Yeah, but it protects our sites.”

I always thought it was a bit of an exaggeration, like yeah, as if hackers are going to hack our site, if we're going to get malware, all that sort of thing. Anyway, whatever. My strategy to get around this, instead of cleaning up my passwords, what I decided to do was deactivate the security while I was working on the site. Guess who forgot to reactivate it again? Me. So for three days, our site was unprotected, and there you go. The next thing, I get a lovely little message on site from my husband saying, “Guess what? Off the Hook Bookkeeping has malware. Hurrah.” I'm like, “what's malware?” So he's explained to me.

Anyway, he researched how to fix it himself. Works out he cannot fix it himself, and we've had to pay the security company to clean the site of malware. In the meantime, we have had to stop running our ads. Unfortunately, that's happened, but yeah, that's life. Stuff happens, and we learn from our mistakes. I know I did make a comment before, oh, some of our clients don't really see the value in our website management service, but actually clearly, I didn't see the full true value. I knew that we were doing extra stuff to keep the sites updated, and just WordPress can go a bit funny when the updates go through. So we make sure the site's always looking good, but the there you go. I accidentally let my own website get hacked.

Anyway, maybe not hacked. I don't know if hacked and malware is the same thing, but whatever. It just all sounds like this scary cyber stuff that we don't want to have to deal with. We don't want to have to pay. We don't want anyone to have to pay an extra, I think, US $900 to fix this site. We just don't want that to happen to our clients, so that's why we protect the sites. That's why we don't turn off the security. We make sure that our passwords are logging in correctly, and we do things the right way, so there you go anyway. That's my excitement for the week, and thankfully, that was enough excitement.

Now, on the good side, it was my birthday on Monday, so that was lovely. I had a wonderful day. I took the afternoon off work and went out to a Greek restaurant with my husband, William. We had roast lamb shoulder and a saganaki, which was great. I said to my husband, he was driving down. He said, “Oh, it will be a surprise,” and I thought oh my god, he's taking me to a Vietnamese restaurant, and I'm on keto. I don't want to eat Vietnamese food because it's got a lot of sugar in the sauces and things, or the stuff that I want to eat anyway.

So I said, “Where are you taking me?” He said, “It's a surprise,” and I said, “Is it keto friendly?” He's like, “Oh, I don't know,” and I said, “Yeah, anyway, whatever.” So I said, “Let's go to the Greek restaurant,” because it's all meat and cheese and all that goodness. Anyway, so that was really nice. So anyway, my son made me a lovely birthday card with a giant photo of his face on the front. I thought oh my god, this is the best present I've ever gotten. It's so cute, so I've got that in the kitchen now, and yeah, his sweet little face. That was actually very special, I don't know, for me.

Okay, so I'll admit I'm 38 now. I'm technically and ow in my late 30s, which is very exciting. Well, I didn't think so. I woke up the other morning, didn't actually realize … I didn't even know it was my birthday to be honest. Then I found out afterwards when my husband got the kids to say happy birthday. I thought oh god, I don't really want to have a birthday. I don't want to think about turning 38. It was actually quite funny. My children are three and one years old, and I've been married to William for five years. We worked out today we've been dating for just after maybe seven years or something like that.

Anyway, life goes really fast especially when you have children and stuff like that. But anyway, it was quite nice because having a three year old now, it's really the first year where he's actually … When he was two, he didn't care about my birthday, whereas when he's three, he was so excited that it was my birthday, so excited that he told everyone at creche. That's why they made me a card and everything. I thought oh wow, that really changes things, doesn't it? I thought my birthday was all about me, but apparently, it's all about my three year old who he said, “Make sure that you have a birthday cake when I get home from creche,” so that was really nice.

Nothing to do with the bookkeeping project whatsoever, just went on a little tangent there. I don't know, that was just something that really blessed me. I thought that was really sweet because I know it's really easy to freak out thinking oh my gosh, I'm getting to my … Like a lot of our listeners really, they're in their 40s or 50s really, but it's really funny. Quite a few of my clients are the same age as me, which is funny. So yeah, I guess we're all in the same boat. We're all going to get older and older. There's nothing we can do about it, but I think, for me, I had real shift this week realizing that it doesn't matter if I don't really want to celebrate my birthday because it's not about me. Yeah, to see how happy my three year old was about my birthday was just the best. Yeah, it was really sweet.

Anyway, that's some good news to balance out the malware issue. What else happened this month? Oh my gosh, I backed into a pole, and then my husband got rear ended three days later. So that's cool because the guy driving the Mercedes that rear ended my husband is going to be paying that I caused when I backed into the pole, because apparently that's how insurance works, so that's good. That was a bad story that turned out good.

Then I had … I'll go back on topic instead of just talking about random things from my life. Although, I guess it's good for you to see the person behind the podcast, because someone sent me a message the other day. Obviously, I'm always focusing on bookkeeping and the bookkeeping industry, and I just thought oh, I'm just going to post about my Thermomix. Thermomix has a new model coming out or whatever. I'm not a Thermomix consultant. I'm just a fan because my son is allergic to peanuts and eggs, and my other son, yeah, he's gluten intolerant. Then my husband doesn't have dairy, and I'm on keto.

For those of you who don't know what keto is, it's amazing. It's high fat, low carb diet, the best invention that's ever happened in the history of the world, except for Jesus. Not even a comparison there, but yeah, basically, keto is this cool way to eat where it's really good, so that's been good.

Anyway, so we've got all of these different eating preferences, and anaphylaxis. We've got the range of mom's on a diet, son has an EpiPen, and I was just like oh my gosh. Anyway, so the Thermomix is cool because it allows me to cook all sorts of different things, and I know what's in everything. Because like one of my kids can't eat tinned spaghetti because apparently, it's got eggs in it, and it makes him break out in hives all over his face. It's like, oh my god.

Anyway, I posted about the Thermomix in my group, and this one lady said, “Oh my gosh, I already thought you were amazing, but now, I can see you're making your own food with a Thermomix and stuff like that.” I thought oh my god, and it's like … Yeah., I guess it made me realize that the way that people probably perceive me might be different to how I actually am in real life. So I thought it's probably good for me to share some personal things every now and then, because firstly, a lot of the stuff you see on social media, people say to me, “How can you be in so many places at once? How can you be doing so many things and so many projects?”

I can tell you right now, I only work 30 hours a week. Most people think oh my gosh, you must work 100 hours a week and you're always here, there and everywhere. It's actually not me. I'll make the confession. When you see me posting on Facebook, me as Amy, that is me, because I feel like I don't really want other people pretending to be me on social media, except once with the bookkeeping project. I got 400 private messages, so in that case, I got my VA to log in as me, but it's always me. Except for that situation, it's always me when you see me on social media, but when you see Savvy posting stuff, that's my team.

I don't know, for those of you who are aware, I actually have three permanent staff plus my husband. Then I have a couple of very regular contractors who are a valuable part of our team, so there's actually eight. I have eight employees. So if you're wondering how on earth do you do so much? Well, the answer is I don't. On average, I work 30 hours a week. I spend Monday with my team, so Monday morning is all about my team and just meeting with them developing them. I share with them everything that's going on in the business pretty much. They know everything, so they know when things are going well. They know when things are struggling a little bit.

I don't know, I'm very transparent with my team about what's going on. That's really great because it helps them to get on board and to be able to own what we do together as a team, so I let them in. We're very open here. Yeah, the team, I've got my … we call them the media team, so that's basically three of my team members, so they're in charge of the social media.

Basically, I think this is really going to help you. Maybe I should do a whole podcast on this, but really it all comes down to having a job description for yourself. I never had job descriptions for my staff, and it was a bit of a mess really. The worst part was I didn't have a job description for myself. Now, I'm very clear about what my job is. What I do is I do my job, and I let other people do their job now. Oh my gosh, it's so hard. If you think wow, that's amazing that you can do that. Yeah, it's really hard to learn to get to that point, but you get there, and it all just starts with having a real, clear job description for yourself.

I know what my job description is. My job description is to create content for you guys, hurrah. When I say create content, like the content of the content, so the core message of the business, that comes from me. I get on here, and I ramble on, on the podcast and interview guests and that kind of thing. Then what happens is then my team turn that into blog posts. So what they're doing is they're taking my actual voice and turning it into a blog post. I'm very well aware that my job is not to write blog posts. If I try and write a blog post, I'll get halfway through and then I'll get distracted and I'll do 50 other things. Then I'll remember that I'm doing a blog post, because I have ADHD. Maybe someday I'll talk a little bit more about that as well.

It was so, oh my gosh, so funny. I said to one of my clients … I actually told one of my clients this morning that I have ADHD. He said, “Oh, I don't mean to bug you, but can you please give this thing that I requested?” I said, “Oh yeah, I started to do it. I opened it up, handed it out this morning, and then I accidentally got distracted and I ended up doing 40 other things.” I said, “Oh, I'm so sorry, I'll do it right now.” Then I said, “I actually have ADHD.” He said, “Yeah, I would too if I was doing all the things that you're doing.” I thought that's so funny. I don't know, I might actually do a whole podcast about mental health and things like that.

Yeah, I just found that hilarious, because I guess from other people, it looks like I'm so busy, and I'm all over the place. Yeah, sometimes I can be all over the place. However, I do have a very supportive team. I do have a job description for myself and for my team. I set a lot of boundaries in what I do. For example, I always record the podcast at the same time every day. Even though it's Friday today, it's actually Wednesday because I record the podcast on Wednesday. Then that gives the girls time to prepare the transcript and all that sort of thing.

In your business, it's about learning what your boundaries are, and scheduling things out. So Monday morning, I spend the whole day Monday morning with my team. Tuesday, I spend time in the morning developing learnings and content and training. Then Tuesday afternoons, I mentor, Thursday mornings, I mentor, Wednesday morning, podcast, and on Friday, Friday is my day off. It's not really a day off. It's a me and my business day.

So what I do on Friday is I work on my own business plan. I plan the next week. I spend time with my business coach, and I just work on my own business and my own professional goals. Then Monday afternoon actually, I usually either catch up with my bookkeeper, or I just do lots of odd jobs randomly catching up on things, and that kind of thing. So my week is actually very structured, and I track my time. I have an automatic timing tracker on my computer, so I don't switch on, switch off. Yeah, I don't really do that. Oh, and the other thing I forgot was Wednesday afternoons, I work on client websites and PandaDoc set ups and things like that, and also Monday afternoons, I fit that in too.

By doing it that way, I'm not all over the place. Obviously now, half my Fridays are now getting taken up with working on bookkeeping project stuff, but I work on a lot of that on the Tuesday. Whenever I show up at work, I know what I'm here to do, and I know the bigger picture. I know what I'm trying to achieve in the long term, and I know that in order to do that, I need to do smaller actions today. I know obviously everyone struggles with getting distracted and doing too many things at once, and the whole point of the bookkeeping project is to learn to do business in the right order.

For me, as someone who actually has a brain disorder called ADHD, I have a brain that wants to do things in a totally different way to the way that most people do it. You've got your left brain and your right brain people, and I'm a totally right brained person just like logic and all that stuff. I'm good at it because I have practiced it, but it's not natural to me. So to be able to bring yourself into a point where you're able to focus, for me, it's been a necessity. It's like I can't get up in the morning without my, you know. Yeah, whatever, I'll share about that on another podcast because it's a cool topic. I think it's good for people to understand, I guess, the different way that people's brains work.

But anyway, thankfully, the way that my brain works has allowed me to build what I've got now, but I had to learn and get really serious about having a job description, having boundaries, and knowing what to do and when. It just makes such a difference. So whenever you think oh my goodness, Amy does so much and how could I ever do as much as she does? It me plus eight people. It's nine people doing that job, so if it looks like a lot, it is not a lot. I've made a real priority of I don't want to work 50 hours a week anymore. I've been there and I've done that, and it's not for me, so there you go.

Now, I guess the next thing that I wanted to share with you this month is about how I met an accountant in the elevator at Crown Casino. That was amazing. I don't know if anyone saw my story, but I really wanted to share that again. This related to the bookkeeping project. How it's related is this week, part of the approach that I'm taking with Off the Hook Bookkeeping is yeah, digital marketing is the way that I'm focusing, but meeting this lady got me thinking about just emailing all of the accountants that I already know. I've teed up some partnerships with some of the accountants that I already know, but it was just so cool.

Okay, so I work from home, I have two very young children. I have a small baby. Then obviously, the last couple years for me, I haven't been out networking and stuff like that. Obviously after you have babies, you get in a different type of mode, do you know what I mean? Then you add that to working from home, and all sorts of things. Anyway, for me, I really feel that confident getting dressed up and going out to Crown, and also because last time I drove in a car, I reversed into a pole, so haven't been out into the city for such a long time.

Anyway, I drove out to Crown. I wanted my husband to drive me. I was like, “Can you please drive me?” He said, “No, just drive.” Anyway, so I got in the car, and I drove down, and I missed the turnoff to the carpark. So I had to do a U-turn and another U-turn, which if you know that area near Crown Casino in Melbourne, it takes about 10 minutes to get all the way. You go down past the bridge, do a U-turn, come back and go back around the other way, so you've got to do two U-turns. Anyway, I was like, oh well. I was nice and early so it didn't really matter, but anyway, missed the turnoff, ended up in the carpark, and then I was praying for a close carpark as I do. I thought that was really funny.

Anyway, I noticed in the carpark that there was that song ‘What if God was One of Us.' I don't know if you're religious or anything like that, but I believe in God, so I just thought okay, so that's cool. Okay, so I missed the turnoff, but this song is playing in the Crown Casino. I don't know, for me, it just encouraged me. I thought oh my gosh, I stuffed up, had to do a U-turn, and now, there's a song playing that's encouraging. So I thought okay, that's exciting because to me, I guess my sense was something cool is going to happen. I always know if something cool is going to happen if something like that happens.

Yeah, so I got out of the car, parked the car, went up to the level that I thought I should go to, went to one that wasn't very busy, and I parked pretty close to the elevators. Then I got out, checked the sign, and then went to stand by the elevator. So as I was standing by the elevator, it was about to open, there was this lady, and she looked a lot more sophisticated than me. She was wearing a really nice, professional dress. I was wearing my cardigan and feeling a little bit daggy. I thought oh wow, she looks really nice. She was a very attractive lady, but she looked quite serious. I thought oh, maybe she's looking for where she's going as well.

Because I tend to think oh, that person looks serious, I don't know, it makes me a bit nervous. So I looked at her because I thought oh, I wonder if she's going to the same place as me? But I felt nervous because I thought oh, should I say something to her. Then I just thought all right, I'm just going to be brave, and I'll just say, “Are you going to the Palladium?” Yeah, so we were going there. It was some lunch for business chicks, or whatever. I just said to her, “Are you going to the Palladium?” She said, “Yeah, I am.” Then obviously people look serious until you talk to them, and then they're just really friendly, but obviously with me having my kids and being home a lot and not getting out to networking, I was just like, “Oh my gosh, this is not me at the moment.”

Anyway, that was nice, so I said to her, “Do you know how to get there?” She said, “No, I'm following you.” I said, “Oh, oh, maybe we're both going to get lost.” So we walked along, and we were talking to each other, and then we started saying what brought you here and what do you do, and that kind of things. I said, “Oh, I help bookkeepers with their marketing,” and she said, “Oh, that's great. We actually need help with our marketing.” I said, “Oh, what do you do?” She said, “I'm an accountant.” I was like oh wow, that's fantastic. I said, “Yeah, I've got a bookkeeping business as well,” and she said, “Oh, that's fantastic.” She said, “We're looking for a bookkeeper who we can refer our clients to.”

I thought yeah, okay, that's cool, double cool. She wanted help with marketing and wanted help with bookkeeping, and I just thought oh my gosh, I don't know, it was just a cool experience to be able to go out when I felt really self-conscious, and then do something unlike what I would normally do. You might think oh, Amy does a podcast. She's really extroverted, but I'm really shy. I'm the kind of person like if I got to a networking event, I just find one person that I know, and I just sit next to them until I feel a little bit more confident. Whereas when I'm in a group of people that I know, so for example, my ABN coffee club or something like that, they'll be like, “Shut up, Amy, stop talking.”

When I'm around people that I know, or if I'm somewhere where I feel comfortable, then I'm fine, but otherwise, I'm like … I don't know, I think I'm actually quite shy. Anyway, so that was really nice. We walked all the way up to the event together, and we swapped business cards. I have since been in contact with her, so we're going to catch up in April and work out how we might work together, so that's very exciting. Anyway, it was very encouraging for me because I didn't meet anyone else that day. It wasn't actually a networking event, it was a business lunch for women. Yeah, I guess we didn't do any networking. I sat with people mostly who I knew and there was a few people that I didn't know there.

Basically, I didn't meet anyone else there the whole time. I thought, that is so cool. I just missed that turnoff. I had not missed the turnoff, I never would have met that lady. Anyway, I just thought it was totally cool. Just cool like, I don't know, coincidence, whatever you want to call it. It was just nice.

So that was good, so then that prompted me. After I spoke to her, I thought oh my gosh, I actually know heaps of accountants back from my bookkeeping days, and I used to work in an accounting firm. So I just emailed all the accountants that I know and said, “Hey, I'm back open for business, and we have capacity, so I'd love to see if we can work together again,” so that's good. I've started a couple of partnerships with some accountants there, and a HR person as well, which I think yeah, that's a good partnership there as well because you've got the overlap with payroll.

From there, what else has happened in the bookkeeping project? The last thing is really about the new … I am aware that, I guess, a lot of people are saying to me, “Amy, we need one spot where we can find all of the lessons.” So I've shared a folder of all the videos. I do pin posts in the Slack channel and everything. So for those of you who are not in the bookkeeping project, I still have that open at the moment, the free version. There will be a paid version coming because I'm working on this hectic learning strategy. I'm so excited. I'm working with a guy who is really savvy when it comes to approaches to learning. He's a great guy. He's a really interesting guy and very passionate about helping people to learn. He's putting together a strategy for us, and over the next couple of months, we'll start to implement that.

I don't want to give too much away, but let me just say that there will be a paid version of the bookkeeping project. It's going to be very affordable for people because I want everyone to be able to access this, so it's going to be a ridiculously affordable price. Just give up one coffee a week, and you'll be able to join. I want it to be affordable. I don't know what I'm going to charge for it yet, but it's going to be all in one place where you'll be able to go in and download all of the lessons and access all of the templates and things like that, so that's very exciting.

I don't have an actual due date, but we'll be finished working on the strategy probably sometime this week, so all of the team are going to kick in and start putting it all together. What's that going to look like is, yeah, I mean I guess I'm thinking it could be three months. It could be maybe a month, I don't know. I don't know what the timeline is going to be, but I'm very excited. I will keep you posted, so you will be able to join on that, I guess, premium version or whatever you want to call it, of the bookkeeping project.

What else? I think that's pretty much it for today. I have a guest coming to join me next week, Matt McFedries from Debtor Daddy. He's going to talk to us about collections and yeah, just about how to manage your saveable. We actually connected because the focus of the bookkeeping project is about doing things in the right order, and when it comes to accounts receivable, there is actually an order to do things in that's going to help to do things in the right order. Yeah, so he's going to come and have a little chat to us about that next week. Then that will be the end of March.

That will be March over and done with, and I just can't believe that it's going so fast, but anyway, there'll be links to the bookkeeping project. You can join if you haven't joined already. Please make sure that you join the Slack channel just because you're getting the emails. If you're not in the Slack channel, you're not actually in the project.

Okay, so anyway, I will catch you all next week, and have a great week. See you then.