This month has been crazy! There’s been so much going on with Off the Hook Bookkeeping, and I am so excited to share it all with you!
If you follow my podcast, I’m sure you’ve heard about The Bookkeeping Project. If you haven’t taken a listen yet, I highly recommend checking out the latest episode! >>> Listen to The Bookkeeping Project Part 2!
What is The Bookkeeping Project up? In a nutshell, this year, I’ve decided to rebuild my bookkeeping business from scratch, and share my processes and templates with you as I go).
Here’s my top 5 insights of the month.
- Doing Business in The Right Order is Important
Okay, if you follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram you’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s TRUE.
If you don’t do business in the right order, you are going to find yourself overwhelmed, stuck and confused. You’ll be more stressed out and your business processes will become needlessly complicated.
That’s where I come in.
Mentoring bookkeepers is my job, and what I love to do. I KNOW what order to do business in, like the back of my hand. It’s my bread and butter and I have spent years learning, planning and perfecting.
Does that mean I don’t make mistakes?
No way! In the last month, I found myself in that place of not knowing what to do next and realised that I’d skipped my own steps. Just like a camera can’t take a photo of itself, or we can’t look at our own eyeballs, without a mirror or someone else helping us, even mentors need mentors. I have a mentor myself to keep me on track.
So, when I found myself frustrated and stuck this month, I remembered my lovely 6 Steps to Doing Business in the Right Order (diagram below) and put myself back on track.
I’d skipped the most important part. STEP 1: Business Plan!
I was trying to rebrand my website and finish setting up my CRM so we could launch some Facebook and Google Ads, and I realised that I needed to STOP and go back.
When I was running Off The Hook Bookkeeping the first time around I never had a business plan. So this month I went back to that step and started the business plan.
I’ve shared that with the members of The Bookkeeping Project, so if you join you can see how I’ve done it, along with a blank template to use yourself.
When running a business you’re going to be working the 6 Steps over and over, so it’s not like you only ever work on ONE step at a time, but the foundational steps need to be laid.
Very quickly you will find yourself needing to go back and remind yourself to jump back into your Business Plan, and gather your thoughts.
Because it’s so easy to get off track, it’s important to check yourself regularly, and make sure you really are doing business in the right order. If you don’t, you’ll miss building an absolutely vital foundation and your business won’t be as strong, or as stable.
Many times this month I’ve found myself jumping into sales and setting up my onboarding, when there are SO many other steps to focus on too. Even though I’m still moving forward with the sales, CRM and other set up, I’m focusing on the prior steps to make sure they are in place.
And in doing this I already feel more focused, confident and getting the most out of my time.
In The Bookkeeping Project, sales and onboarding is actually step Four in my entire process of how to set up your business. It’s not the first step. It’s not the most important step. It’s just ONE of the steps.
Over the years I’ve determined that there are six vital steps to building and running a successful business.
Steps for Doing Business
- Business Planning
- Branding and Marketing
- Sales and Onboarding
- Team Building
If you “Do business in the right order”, I can guarantee that your business will have a far better chance of succeeding. Just as you lay a foundation BEFORE you build your house, so you need to lay a foundation in your business.
Even I need to remind myself of that from time to time! So don’t forget to check in with yourself, or if you need a mentor, book a Free Strategy session to see how we can help.
2. Mindset Matters
This month, I had some issues with our payment merchant. It was a bit embarrassing because the poor client couldn’t sign the payment form. We went back and forth and she was frustrated. On the inside, I was blaming the software, but trying to stay cool. Turns out it was a user-error; I’d filled out the form incorrectly!
When we bring on a new client, it can cause anxiety wanting to make sure they have a great experience, and that things don’t go wrong. For me, customer satisfaction is very high on my list of values, so this was definitely a stressor for me. My mindset wasn’t great; I was worried about the client feeling stressed or annoyed and I didn’t want to add more to her plate.
But then I realised something that made a huge difference… mistakes happen!
Sometimes, life just happens. As long as you hold your values high, and you’re committed to working through the problem, you don’t have to lose your mind.
“But, Amy, I’m a bookkeeper, I can’t afford to make mistakes. I NEED to be professional at all times!”
I hear you! I’m not saying you shouldn’t try your best to AVOID mistakes. But the reality is that almost all mistakes are fixable! And if a mistake happens, it happens, and you need to let go of that stress.
In fact, it’s this mindset change that can make the biggest difference during a range of challenges.
For example, it’s easy for us to get a bee in our bonnet every time a client is late paying, and to take personally and fail to feel compassion for our clients.
I’m not condoning late payers, what I’m saying is not to jump to conclusions. This time around, I’m really learning how powerful having a bit of compassion and understanding can be.
When my client didn’t pay on time because of MY stuff up with the payment merchant, I was tempted to be annoyed that she hadn’t done a bank transfer. But Instead I put myself in her shoes.
I remembered our initial meeting, that she really wasn’t feeling good about being overdue with her BAS and that she was probably needing some support and understanding.
So, instead of assuming the worst, I had my Client Relationship Manager contact her with the goal of reassuring her and checking to see if she was feeling okay.
When we took that approach, the client was SO happy to get the call, and to have someone offer her that understanding. We weren’t just phoning to ask for the money; we called with genuine intention of helping her out.
And guess what? She paid her invoice that day, no drama and she felt a lot better.
And all it took is a little bit of a mindset change.
3. Define Your Niche
“Okay, seriously, Amy…we hear about defining your Niche every WEEK!”
I know, I know, but I was reminded again of how important this is! By working with people, you WANT to work with, you will end up having GREAT experiences. Instead of feeling stressed and getting pages and pages of complaints from clients who you just can’t please, you’ll developing great working relationships with lovely, positive clients.
I won’t harp on about this forever, but I highly recommend taking the time to review your ideal client and find your niche. It makes such a big difference in how your business runs.
If this freaks you out a bit, don’t worry. It is possible to niche and have variety…I promise!
If you need a little more of a guide, take a look at our business planning method, you’ll know how to niche vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. This way, you can focus on the people who need you the most without limiting yourself to a single category.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Fresh Start
Before reopening Off the Hook Bookkeeping, I changed industries for a while and it changed my world.
I know it probably not practical for you to shut down your business and start again, but you can still implement this lesson in your business TODAY.
Shift your mindset. Consider your client’s needs and how you can help. How can you help them, without stressing yourself out? Where can your business benefit from a change in pace?
Sometimes, taking a break (even just a mental one) can really help you get the perspective you need.
If you can focus on making sure that my clients, and my team, have a really great experience, then you’re already halfway there to having a much better business experience.
5. Have a Vision
Do you have a vision? Are you really clear on your personal purpose, as well as your purpose in business?
I spent years of my life waking up every morning thinking, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this? What is the point of all of this?” I felt like there was just no point to the work I was doing, and that I was meant to be somewhere else. It was absolutely soul-sucking.
It wasn’t until I stepped back and evaluated my work, my passion and my goals, that I started to find meaning in the work I was doing. It allowed me to find my niche, my clients and step into the work that I really WANTED to be doing.
It’s not an overstatement to say that it changed my life.
I only wish that I had done something about it sooner, but sometimes, that just doesn’t feel practical, does it?
We’re all busy, aren’t we? We all have better things to do, right?
Wrong! It can be so easy to underestimate the importance of vision…but that’s such a dangerous misconception. At the time, it might not seem as important as everything else on your plate, but it IS!
Without vision, there’s no meaning in your work. Without vision, you’re just spinning your wheels. Without vision, it is so easy to fall off your path and lose your passion for your work altogether.
And that is a horrible, dry place to be in. It’s soul-sucking, it’s exhausting and it’s just plain awful.
I’m sure you’ve felt that way, at one point or another. Maybe you even feel like that now.
But here’s the good news…If you’re feeling like this, I want you to know that there IS hope. Everybody's life has a purpose and when you renew your vision, your life will have meaning again and you'll be able to go to work every day feeling fulfilled.
Instead of waking up every day to the same old grind, challenge yourself to do meaningful work. Maybe you’re passionate about helping small businesses grow through your bookkeeping, or maybe you’re passionate about something else entirely. Whatever it is, make a point to go after it. None of the other lessons in this post mean much if you have no vision.
So don’t be scared to push yourself until you find that vision, that meaning. Keep pushing until you wake up every morning feeling satisfied with your path, and your work.
When you get there, it will be the best feeling in the world, and I promise you that it will be worth it!
Over to You…
What did you think of my insights? Did any of them surprise you? I would love to hear your thoughts!
If you want to learn even more about my processes and insights this month, head over to The Bookkeeper’s Voice and check out this week’s episode >>> The Bookkeeping Project Part2