Episode #125 Grow or Start a Client-Centric Bookkeeping Business Plan

In this episode, Amy and Maia talk about why traditional business plans are not relevant to bookkeepers today. We show how a client-centric business plan helps you understand your client's problems better. By following this process, you can attract better clients, better staff and have more profit in your business to reward yourself.

Listen in to learn the following tips on how to Plan for Growing or Starting your Bookkeeping Business:

  • What's included in the Savvy business plan
  • What's included in Bookkeeping Business Foundations eCourse
  • Why our business plan is so different from a traditional business plan
  • How doing business in the right order can save you time, stress and help you earn more

Key Takeaway: “A Savvy, Client-Centric Business Plan will pave the path for the direction of your bookkeeping business.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #125

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke 

Guest speaker: N/A

Topic: Starting a Client Centric Bookkeeping Business Plan

Read transcript

Episode #125 Grow or Start a Client-Centric Bookkeeping Business Plan



business, bookkeepers, clients, plan, bookkeeping, goals, marketing, unit, foundations, step, website, template, pricing, people, helps, hire, picture, spend, problems, portal


Amy Hooke, Maia Coghlan


Amy Hooke  00:01

Hi, it's Amy Hooke here. Welcome to the bookkeepers voice today, I'm going to be joined by Maia. And we're going to be going through with you all of the ins and outs of the savvy business plan and our bookkeeping business foundations ecourse. And the reason that we're going to be doing this is because we discovered some time ago that the traditional business plan is not something that bookkeepers really enjoy doing. And I understand why because it's not relevant to how our business models are set up. And also, I didn't like the fact that these business plans are very much centered on the business itself.

Introducing the Client-Centric Business Plan:

So I come up with a business plan that is very much centered on the clients. And in that way, by doing this business plan, which is very different to a traditional business plan, it helps you to go through all the steps that you need to work out what are the problems that your clients are actually having in their business, and to understand from a client's perspective, and to be able to present everything that you do from a client centric perspective, whether that's to set up a business plan, I'm sorry, a website or whether it's to set up a marketing campaign of some type, whether it's online or offline, or whether it's to hire a staff member, everything that we do in the business plan has a specific purpose, which is designed exactly to help you to do business in the right order, which in the end is going to save you time, it's going to help you to stop stressing, and it's going to help you to have more profit at the end of the day. And I know from personal experience of having made lots of mistakes myself and closed down my bookkeeping business because it was too stressful and not profitable enough. And then going back and restarting that business and having a fantastic business. Now, that runs without me, that pays me a great wage, I want you guys to be able to have the same and the way that I was able to do that is to stop thinking about me and my business and to think about who are these clients that I need to really be connecting with in order to have the business that I want. And to be able to build the business in a way that actually works for me personally. So it's very much a very important step, whether you're going to be doing your pricing or your hiring or your marketing. And I think that, you know, once you see the difference that our business plan actually provides to you and how different it is from a traditional one, that you'll actually realize how important it is for you to do. Because the thing is 20% of bookkeepers, according to the icbs annual survey said that only 20% of bookkeepers have a written business plan. And I can understand why, because the old version just doesn't cut it anymore. So come and check it out. And join Maia and I as we go through and show you the ins and outs of the savvy business plan. Today, we're just going to talk a little bit about business foundations, portal and the business plan itself. Business Plan, and we'll just give you a little tour for those of you that haven't started or you've got halfway and a little bit stuck. So


Maia Coghlan  03:02

Or you're not even sure what it is.


Amy Hooke  03:04

Exactly. So some of you have already worked through these with us, especially those of you who have done a website design and that kind of thing you would be familiar, you've got you know your cover page where you put in your details, then you've got a pre work section. And for those of you who are going through in the portal that will give you all of you kind of homelife the steps to do. And then as you go through here, like each step, each section of the business plan has a little instruction for Yeah, how to kind of fill this out.

The 6 steps and high level overview of the business plan:

As you go through here, you'll notice that there's those six steps that I've talked to you about before, which is, so the first step is like this high level overview of your business and goals. So I just call that business plan, then the next step is about the profit and the income goals of the business, including your pricing, how much you're going to charge for your services, followed by branding and marketing, which is how you're going to meet your ideal clients, where you're going to find them and how you're, you know, how you're going to, you know, present the message of your business as you promote yourself in whichever kind of way whether it's social media or at networking groups, or just approaching accountants or people that you know, so then we have sales and onboarding. So the sales process starts when someone who you've marketed to so let's say you put some, I don't know, whatever it is flyers or Facebook posts or anything like that, as soon as someone gets in contact with you they into the sales process. And that's where you go through that initial consultation process. You do a health check, and a quote, and you work your way through there until they sign the proposal, or engagement letter, and then they come and come on board with you. So then there's sort of that onboarding step in between signing and doing the actual service. Then this is your actual services itself. So what are the services that you offer? And how do you deliver them? What are the apps that you use in the practice? What Your customer service standards, you know, you're, you know, how do you actually roll those services out and deliver those services and make sure your customers are happy as well or your clients. And so then step six is your team development. So this is including yourself. So this would include your own professional development, your CPA, but it's also got in here about your team purpose, the type of people that you're going to need to work with you in order to reach your business goals. So whether you want to have one staff, or maybe you don't want staff at all, or maybe your goals need you to have a big team, so you kind of plan that all out in there. So that's sort of the high level overview of the business plan.

Business Foundations:

And so business foundations, you work through step one, you touch on a little bit of the profit area of step two, and then also you fill out most of the first section of Step three, to get that, you know, kind of big picture. So I'll hand you over to Maia.


Maia Coghlan  05:58

All right, the business foundations portal. So you can see everything that's included, sort of broken down the four units. So first of all, you go through discovering your business purpose, which is section one of the business plan, overview, all about your why. And then we go on to identifying your niche and ideal client, which is also section one of the business plan. And then we look at your values and that kind of thing, your target market and the problems that they experience. Then in unit three, we're looking at what so communicating your marketing message, we're looking at section three of the business plan with your branding and marketing and your tagline and your unique selling proposition. And then in unit four, we've got strategising your marketing approach, which is the how you're going to attract new clients, how you're going to onboard them your mission statement value statement, and getting together your marketing channels. So you can actually start bringing new clients on. So that's an outline. And then you can go through each unit. And each one has a little blurb at the top, and some homework to complete before watching the videos. And in the first one, oh, there's also the helpful links section as well. So in the first one, there's the Sell Your Value masterclass, which is actually a different thing. But we decided to include it in here because it's relevant to the first step of your business plan. And then you've got the video for unit one, which also has a little timeline description. So then with Unit Two, it's the same kind of layout, you've got your homework to complete for this unit. So the values exercise, for example, is described in the video. And there's also the link to access it. So anything that it mentions in the homework, you have to complete, the link will should be there for accessing those templates, but it will mostly just be the values exercise and the business plan that you'll need to access.


Amy Hooke  08:19

That's good. I love the comment on the previous unit. Judy, she says, This section is awesome or something like that.


Maia Coghlan  08:29

Yeah, she says this exercise is awesome. A little bit time consuming, but well worth the results.


Amy Hooke  08:35

That's good. Yeah. So that's probably a good opportunity to bring up. You know, just the whole idea behind doing a business plan. So I already know, like that. So the ICB statistics, a report that came out in 2016. So saying they didn't keep going with this stat, but only 20% of bookkeepers have a written business plan. So it's not really surprising because, you know, we, like why do people want to take the time out to do a business plan, especially when you're a bookkeeper, which seems like a fairly, you know, like, sometimes we don't have any staff or sometimes we have, you know, a small staff base and things like that, but it feels like a business model that you can just kind of go with the flow, you know, we we don't need to think about all these different areas of the business because the business is quite small, and things like that.

Doing business in the right order:

And the reason that I think that that's a mistake is because what happens is so you will see my little chart that's, you know, on in unit one which talks about doing business in the right order. And this order was like kind of what I realized when I would go to do something in the business, I think to myself, I need to do some marketing. So I want to put some things on social media. But then when I go to do it, I spend all this time trying to think of what to write. So I kind of realized that whenever I went to do something, that something else it would become a parent that something else needed to be done first before I could go ahead with that thing. So I felt like I was constantly getting stuck as I tried to do that. And it was frustrating. So I started to think to myself, maybe there's like a hierarchy of like the order that things need to get done in. And if you do them in that order of flow, then you'll actually have everything.

Why traditional business plans don't work

So when you do the business plan, right, like I got a business plan from, I can't remember where it was, I think I just googled business plan or something like that. And when you do that, you'll notice there's all these different templates come up for free, and they're all the same. And they're all this very, what I would say, is a very traditional way of doing a business plan, which I agree that version of a business plan, it's not really relevant to a bookkeeping business, or even lots of different businesses. So these type of business plans are usually required by banks to get financing. So it's a specific format that the bank requires, they want to see, you know, who are the directors, and what's the budget for the business, and what's the financial forecast, and you know, all of these different things. And then you've got businesses that are looking for investors, so they need to put this together in more of a presentation style, and neither of those versions are relevant to us. And that's when I started to realize that not only are those business plans sort of a bit outdated for what we need today, but they're also very business centric. So that business plan gives you a document that's only relevant to you and your business and how you plan for things to eventually look, whereas this business plan is very centered on your clients. So as you work your way through the business plan, it's all about figuring out what do your clients want and need, and helping you to kind of focus in on that, so that you can avoid, kind of when you start to do marketing or promoting yourself, you know, not sounding like every other bookkeeper out there. 

Bookkeeping website or online resume?

Someone said to me, yesterday, I did a consultation about someone that's looking for a website, and she said that she had asked her daughter or younger, like teenaged daughters and their friends to review various websites for bookkeepers to find out what she liked and didn't watch for her own website. And she wanted to know, what do younger people think, of various types of websites. And one of the feedbacks that came back was that, that these younger women thought that the bookkeepers websites were like the online resume, like it was them, it was a version of their online resume. So they just listing These are my skills, these are my qualifications. This is what I can do. This is how long I've been doing it for. And then sort of, you know, I guess, like bookkeeping, jargon and stuff like that. So it wasn't easy for them to understand. And this particular person was wanting to know like, how can I communicate to a younger demographic of people who are coming into the world of business and reach them? And what she said very much lines up with what I found years ago in that old bookkeepers, you know, I look on their websites to get inspiration. And I realized they're all kind of the same. And they're not client centric. They're like, I have these registrations that I have this much experience.

What business owners are looking for instead

And, you know, for a business owner coming to your website, for example, like they don't care about all that stuff, because they don't know what it means. They don't know what the ICB is or the Australian bookkeepers network, like they don't know what those logos mean, they like all the things don't represent anything, what means something to them, is you demonstrating that you understand their real problems and here and that you can show how you solve them. So this business plan, as you work your way through, you'll notice that the difference is that it's very outward focused, it's very focused from the client perspective. So when I get you to do your values, exercise, for example, you tell me what your top five values are. But then you want to ask yourself, like, so what like, why would a client care? If I value integrity? What does that mean for them? And then I get you to explain, in your own words, what you know, what does that mean for the client? So by doing that, the client gets a much better picture, you can say that you have value efficiency and integrity, and, you know, honesty or whatever else, but you've got to show the client, how does that benefit them. And then by doing that, in this business plan, you can when you're ready to do any kind of marketing or set up a website, you can basically just copy and paste. And the cool thing is, it's all in your own words. So if you decide to go to a web developer or a social media person or hire a VA, you don't need to then think about what you want to say. You can say, here's my business plan. It tells you all about my clients, and you know, how they think and what they really need. And it gives that content so that you can different like you can differentiate yourself. So yeah, like that. That's partly what the point of all of this is to keep yourself client centric, because that helps you to work with the people that you really should be working with, rather than just taking on any person that comes to work with you which can as you know From experience can lead to a whole lot of problems, you know, working with people that aren't a good fit for your business. So that's kind of the summarized version of that. 

People often want to skip ahead

Maia Coghlan  15:12

And the reason why we get our members to do it as their first thing is, because, like you said before doing business in the right order, a lot of people want help with their pricing or their team building. But they haven't done the foundational aspects that they need to have to be able to figure out what they need for their team, anyway. Yeah. So that's why the business foundations is the most important thing to do first, because if you don't do it in the right order, your result from doing Step six first is not going to be the same as if you do steps one to five first and then do step six.

 Differentiate yourself 

Amy Hooke  15:51

That's exactly right. And the market, it's really funny that the marketing, this thing that we call a value proposition, and I guess it's got different names for different reasons, or whatever. But we call it a value proposition statement. What it is, is it's like, it's like differentiating you between other businesses, and specifically saying in one sentence, what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it. And that gets used not only through your marketing, but you also put it on your ad when you hire someone. So by doing all of this groundwork, it makes those processes a lot easier. But also make sure that you're not just being very generic, because if you go out there and be generic, when you're hiring, looking to hire staff, or you're not going to specifically find those exact people that you're looking for, you're going to get all sorts of people. So you want to be able to filter out people that aren't a good fit, whether they're staff or clients. And so I think the other thing that you said, while I was really good point, you know, if you come to me and say, Amy, I really need help with my pricing. But I have no idea what your bigger picture goals are, then I it's actually a lot harder for me to help and advise you. So sometimes I do mentoring with clients who will say to me, yeah, you know, can you help me with this one specific thing in my business? And my answer will be, it depends. And, you know, I want you to get good value for your time, and you have sessions with me. So if you've done this work, first, you can come to me with specific questions, and you can come up to me with the information that I need to make a quick decision and advise you on that. Whereas if you haven't done that, you're going to spend those sessions with me, and we'll do it together, which means you get to spend, you know, and that's actually Okay, as well, like, I don't mind, if you like for example, if you're getting stuck on a part of the business plan, you can definitely use your mentoring session to start to work through it with me, and then we'll get a bit of it done together. And then I'll give you homework. But also, you don't want to spend all your entire mentoring sessions just with me explaining things that are already explained in a video and business foundation. So it's just making a better use of your time. And it's helping me to be able to say, so for example, if you're working on your pricing, or you're hiring and you've already filled out your team capacity worksheet, for example, which is like you're part of one of our other programs, but it's what it's an example of a template that I get everyone to fill out, then I can immediately get a snapshot of where your business is that. Whereas if you haven't completed that part of the work, when I look at your when you come to me now it asked me that question, I'm going to spend half an hour saying, All right, tell me who are all your staff? And what are their hourly rates? And how much Is there time, billable and all of this sort of stuff. So we're going to spend all this time kind of doing that groundwork. So it just helps me to be able to give you a much quicker response. Because if I can see that snapshot there, it's much easier. So it's the same with this whole section of your business plan. Like don't assume because you're a bookkeeper. And because I only coach bookkeepers that I already know everything about your business. Because, you know, out of all of the bookkeepers that I've worked with over the years, there's so many differences between your personal goals, how much income you would earn, how you plan to roll it out? What are your actual strengths? In bookkeeping? What are your weaknesses, which are the type of people that you do your best work with? Like it's always very varied. So, you know, don't always assume that it's just like a carbon copy thing where I just automatically know all the answers just because you're a bookkeeper. I actually need to know those specifics about your business so that I can help you with the next step. 


Maia Coghlan  19:37

And you need to know those things about your business too. You might think I'm just another bookkeeper. But every bookkeeper is different. Every person is different. Every business is different, and your clients are going to be different to somebody else's client. So doing this process will help you realize how you stand out from the rest of the other bookkeepers.


Amy Hooke  20:00

Exactly, and help you to build your business. And it will also help you to be able to charge the prices that you want as well. Because when you go into a specific niche, if you know which like, which type of clients you want to work with, then you will be able to, you'll find that you'll be able to actually, you know, charge the amount that you want and structure your packages the way you want, based on who those people are. And it doesn't have to be an industry, but it can be a type of attitude of a person, it could be a type of way of thinking, or, you know, there's so many different ways that you can work that out doesn't have to be limiting to one industry kind of thing. So, but it does help with the pricing as well. It helps you be able to, you know, if you know straight away, like when someone comes to you, this is not a good fit for my business, it's going to actually not be profitable. It actually helps because you can sort of move on and wait for the next person to come. So all right, so that's basically the portal, where did you get up to? You did one and two.


Maia Coghlan  20:59

Yeah, one and two, I think three or four. So the pages are all laid out exactly the same?


Amy Hooke  21:06

Exactly. Yeah,


Maia Coghlan  21:07

you've got your video, except for the first one, which has the sell your values masterclass, in addition to the actual course video.

Problems and solutions

Amy Hooke  21:14

That's right. And so you've got your master class actually just goes very detailed into that very first part, that high level view of the business plan, which is really good. It gets you thinking about the problems that you solve your clients, because and I'll even even say that the start of this video, but whenever I've asked a bookkeeper to tell me the top five problems that their clients have, they always list the solutions. Always, I'll say, Tell me your top five problems and they problems that you solve for your clients. And they'll say, bookkeeping, bas lodgement you know, regular jobs, payroll? And it's like, no, that they are actually solutions. And then what we do want to do is I teach you to kind of go backwards from those solutions. What's the core problem? And what's the impact of the problem? Having like, what's the impact of that problem that the client is having?


Maia Coghlan  22:05

And also, what they think the problem is, like, what's the problem in their terms, because you can't sell them? Like you've used the example before of wanting to hang a picture on the wall and trying to sell someone a hammer. So they can hammer in a nail to hang up their picture. But someone who wants to hang up their picture doesn't know that they need a hammer. They want a hole in the wall.


Amy Hooke  22:31



Maia Coghlan  22:32

So it's, it's thinking about it from the clients perspective, and figuring out okay, what does the client actually think they need? What are the problem that they are experiencing in their mind that I can then fix in the way that I know how.


Amy Hooke  22:47

That's right, but then don't fall into the trap of trying to oversell the hole, how you can fix the hole in the wall, if you're wanting them, if you keep in mind as well. But the end goal that they want is to hang a picture. So that in their mind, they've got a picture of like, maybe it's like a family portrait, or a photo that they took overseas, or some special painting that was given to them as a gift, and they want to hang that up on the wall. So often, we assume like, you know, we look at a client's accounts and we go, Wow, that's such a mess, like they need a rescue job. And we come in and we tell them like 100 different things that are wrong with their data file, but their goals, and the things that they're trying to achieve in their business are so much broader than the issues in their bookkeeping file. Now, the bookkeeping file mess might be a roadblock for them getting to their goals, but you know, it helps you to just sort of step out and see like, what are the actual struggles? And you know, even like, how are those clients feeling when they first come to you? And how can you kind of make that connection with them. So that it's a no brainer, you know, you want it to be like, they wouldn't even consider working with anyone else, even if they found a cheaper price somewhere else. Like that's the way that we mark it off the hook. And that works for us because we end up working with clients that are a good fit for the business.


Maia Coghlan  24:04

Which is what you want.


Amy Hooke  24:09

So yeah, so that gives you an idea of how the whole thing works, even though we won't go through every single unit, but it's basically taking you through the business plan. And obviously, you know, just like in our analogy, we know that what we know that your end goal is not to get a business plan, like I can tell from the statistics of you know, one in every five bookkeepers having one shows me that most bookkeepers end goal is not to get a business but because otherwise you would have won, but I know what you do want. And so you want to be able to work with clients that you feel happy working with or that your team feel happy with. You want to be able to have a profitable business to be able to pay yourself to enjoy what you do like I guess, you know, it'll be different for everyone but you know, you've got these end goals. And in order to do that some of the things that you come to me and ask for is I want to set up my pricing packages. I want to hire and use member, I'd like to get a website or launch a marketing campaign or any of those things. So in order to do that, like this is the stepping stone to doing those things like this is an integral part of doing those things. And you cannot do it without it like, I mean, you can, but you won't get the same results that we get for all the clients and for our own business. 


Maia Coghlan  25:22

So having the foundational work done first makes all of the rest of it so much easier and so much beneficial. So much more beneficial for you.


Amy Hooke  25:32

Exactly. It's like building a house, right? Like, the end goal is living in this beautiful house, not even the house itself. But it's like having a place to live and place to enjoy. But you're gonna have a foundation on that house. Like it's boring, right? It's concrete and wood and holes in the ground. But every house needs it. And you know, no builder would ever skip that. Unless they, you know, want the house to crack think, I think and all that. Yeah. So that's, that's basically it. So cool. So let us know if you have any questions. All right. Well, that's it. See you next time. Thank you so much for joining more. And I today, we really enjoyed showing you that little sneak preview of inside our Learning Portal and also showing you our business plan. So we'd love to invite you to come and have a go at this business plan yourself. So you can either become a member which gives you access to the all of the resources that you need, including the Learning Portal, and the template. Otherwise, you can purchase these individually from our shop. So if you just go to thesavvybookkeeper.com.au/businessplan, you'll find all of the links that you need to go through and to be able to find that information. I'll also pop a link in the description to the podcast so you can also access it from there. So anyway, we look forward to working with you. We look forward to helping you to getting your non traditional business plan done your client centric business plan done so that you can have your business and build it the way that you actually want it so that it supports your life and your income goals and helps you to have a more rewarding experience when you're at work and growing your business. So I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, stay savvy