The Business of Bookkeeping – Podcast 3

ROBERT GERRISH: (00:33) Now today I’m delighted to be speaking with Kay Godfrey who joins us from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Hello Kay. Thank you so much for joining us.

KAY GODFREY: (00:42) Good morning, Robert.

ROBERT GERRISH: (00:43) Well look, it’s great to have you here… nice warm, hot, sunny day, and I’m delighted to be speaking with you about your business. So perhaps to get it started, Kay, could you just let us know a little bit about the area where your business operates and then we might have a look at the kind of people that you work with. So where are you and what’s your area like?

KAY GODFREY: (01:04) Actually as you said, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Although I call my business First Class Accounts Mona Vale, I’m actually on Bilgola Plateau which is almost up as far as Avalon, a very beautiful area… lovely place to work.

ROBERT GERRISH: (01:22) Very nice indeed. And so you work from a home office or do you have a bricks and mortar office?

KAY GODFREY: (01:27) No. I work from home.

ROBERT GERRISH: (01:29) Lovely. Okay. And what… just for people who may not know that gorgeous area that you live in… how would you describe Bilgola and Avalon? How would you tell somebody who didn’t know the area, what it’s like?

KAY GODFREY: (01:44) I’d probably say very laid back. You know, it’s almost a holiday… it is a holiday destination. You know, people walk around with board shorts and thongs, very friendly. People are lovely, very open. There’s not a day goes by when I go out and see people I know, have a little chat, just wave… even people I don’t know. I think I’m just quite a friendly person, so I just…

ROBERT GERRISH: (02:18) Sounds like you’re a very wavy person! So I can tell from… well I tell because I know that you originally hailed from the UK. So how long have you lived up there and when did you start your business?

KAY GODFREY: (02:31) I’ve lived on the Northern Beaches since 2000, which is basically when I moved over from… not from the UK, but from Germany. Yes, I was born in the UK, raised in the UK, went to college in the UK, but I lived in Germany for 20 years after that. I’ve always worked in the finance and accounting industry, but I’ve always worked in the corporate world.

ROBERT GERRISH: (02:59) Okay. Is the corporate world that took you to Germany?

KAY GODFREY: (03:02) It was that world that took me, not so much to Germany, but brought me from Germany over to Australia. It was the company I was working for in Germany. It was actually based in Windsor.

ROBERT GERRISH: (03:13) Okay.

KAY GODFREY: (03:14) And I was actually making some noises saying I wanted to leave and go back to an English speaking country and my chief turned around and said, “Ah, would you go and work for us in Sydney?” And I said, “Ooh that sounds nice.”

ROBERT GERRISH: (03:30) Oh yes. That sounds nice.

KAY GODFREY: (03:31) Yes. So here I am.

ROBERT GERRISH: (03:32) Okay. So that was lovely. We’re very pleased you’re here. So that was in 2000. And as you say your background has been very much in corporate. So in corporate finance.

KAY GODFREY: (03:42) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (03:43) Can you cast your mind back then to the decision making process when you decided to leave the world of the tall buildings and start out on your own. What precipitated that?

KAY GODFREY: (03:55) I wanted to be more in control of what I did, plus I didn’t really want to do the traveling that I was doing. I was traveling into the city and that’s quite a long way from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. And it was time. It was now or never for me because I’m one of the older generation and I had the… I felt financially stable enough to do it. I never had until actually now, which is… it was only six, seven months ago that I started my business.

ROBERT GERRISH: (04:33) Right. Wow. Okay. I’m just really intrigued because I want to delve into this a little bit deeper. So there you were, you had a career in corporate, a nice steady job, getting a bit fed up with the commute, decided you want to do your own thing. So did you leave knowing exactly what you were going to do or did you leave and sort of sit on a rock by the beach for a while? How did that process?

KAY GODFREY: (04:56) No. No. I’m not that sort of person. I don’t take any risks. I never have. I just… it’s not me. Well, saying that I’m now starting my own business. But no, I already knew. I met… I’m trying to think of his name. I can’t for the moment. I first came into contact with First Class Accounts over a year ago. I Googled. That’s where I found out about them and made contact, explored the idea of taking up a franchise, went to some of the meetings and finally said, “Yes, I’m going to do this.” And I actually started my training while I was still working in my corporate job.

ROBERT GERRISH: (05:43) Okay. Okay.

KAY GODFREY: (05:44) So I was sort of doing two things at once, but they did know in my corporate job what I was doing, so they gave me the time to do that.

ROBERT GERRISH: (05:52) How nice. All that was obviously a good sign.

KAY GODFREY: (05:53) So it was a good transition.

ROBERT GERRISH: (05:550 Yeah and obviously a sign of the respect they have for you that they didn’t mind you doing that. And it’s so very interesting there. You’re saying that you’re not someone who kind of takes risks and then you sort of checked yourself and going, “I have to start on my own business.”

KAY GODFREY: (06:09) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (06:09) So… you know, and someone who is clearly, you know, used to checking all the sort of, you know, checks and balances of things when you make decisions. There were clearly enough boxes being ticked when you looked into the franchise model. So did you… were you sort of sitting there and saying. “Right. I’m going to buy a franchise and oops maybe I’ll do bookkeeping? Or was it, “I’m going to do bookkeeping and ahh maybe I should go franchise model.” What… how did that work?

KAY GODFREY: (06:38) You know, the second one. I knew it had to be finance, accounting, bookkeeping that I was going to do. There was never a question because it’s what I enjoy doing. I love figures, to be honest.

ROBERT GERRISH: (06:53) Right.

KAY GODFREY: (06:53) Always have and always will do. So it was definitely going to be bookkeeping and I knew I didn’t want to do it on my own. I knew I wanted some help, support, assistance. So the franchise model was definitely the way I was going to go and First Class Accounts have definitely ticked all those boxes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (07:16) And delivered. That’s good to hear. It doesn’t surprise me. So when you started, you know, your research into this whole space of a franchise and you know, clearly from what you’ve said you came into that kind of knowing that was the way you were going to go. So here we are sort of seven months in, what’s it feeling like for you, you know, now at the helm of your own business? How does it feel?

KAY GODFREY: (07:45) I’m enjoying it. I’m finding it hard work. I’m not going to say I’m finding it very, very easy.

ROBERT GERRISH: (07:55) Right.

KAY GODFREY: (07:56) But as… and again I’m glad I’ve got the support of head office and a team of colleagues surrounding me. We have, for example, workshops which we had one in Sydney a few weeks ago where I could just bounce ideas off other franchisees and talk to them. I should also say I’ve had a lot of help from Don Doolan.

ROBERT GERRISH: (08:24) Okay. We interviewed Don already.

KAY GODFREY: (08:27) Yes. Don had me… I was working in his office one day a week for a while, which gave me insight into how he runs his business. So it’s helped me and I think on the other…

ROBERT GERRISH: (08:40) So you did that… Sorry Kay. Did you do that sort of after you’d kind of taken on your franchise? But you just spent a bit of time, you talked to Don, you went, “Hey, can I come to work with you? How did that process work?

KAY GODFREY: (08:55) Basically yes, although First Class Accounts do have a mentoring program which is essentially what this is part of and I just really appreciate his assistance because I didn’t feel alone. I did get some ideas on how to set up my own business and again someone to talk to.

ROBERT GERRISH: (09:20) Yeah and I think there’s… You know, there are so many stories like that within the network where people do talk to each other and you’ll never find… You know, it’s not… I’ve been involved with other franchises in the past where, you know, even getting them in the same room together can be a bit tricky, but certainly not the case here. There’s so much of that supporting each other and as you say mentoring each other. But if I can just take us back a couple of moments. So you said, you know, when I asked you, “How is it going,” you said, “Well, you know, it has its’ challenges.” So what aspects particularly? Because it doesn’t sound to me like it’s the bits with the numbers. That I would imagine you’re very confident in. So what is it? Is it the growing the business? Is it marketing? Is it the systems? Is it tech? You know, what are the things that are causing you the biggest sort of challenges at this early stage of your business?

KAY GODFREY: (10:11) I think the first challenge was getting the business. So you may not know, but I’m a very introverted person and going out and putting myself out there networking…

ROBERT GERRISH: (10:25) Didn’t come naturally.

KAY GODFREY: (10:26) No, not at all. I’m beginning to get much more comfortable with it now and at the beginning I think you’re very frightened of not getting business and you almost go out too hard. So I’m finding now that I’m feeling more comfortable. My marketing is working. My networking is working. I’m not trying so hard, but in actual fact I’m probably getting more customers because I’m not trying quite so hard.

ROBERT GERRISH: (11:00) Isn’t that interesting? You know, for what it’s worth, this is not an affliction that’s in any way reserved for people in the bookkeeping business. I think it’s, you know, for anyone, particularly if you are as you’ve said you are, you know, somewhat introvert, then to actually go out and market. You know, just the very mention of the word can be quite intimidating. But it sounds like where you’re getting to or where you’ve got to now is a sense of, you know, calm really and being comfortable and as you rightly point out, once you’re in that position, well you know, then the whole marketing doesn’t feel like marketing anymore and it sounds like that’s where you’re now up to.

KAY GODFREY: (11:42) Yes. No. It’s more like fun.

ROBERT GERRISH: (11:44) Yeah. Well, that’s good.

KAY GODFREY: (11:47) I think the second phase that I’m now going through is, I’m getting the customers. I’ve got the customers. But a new customer… it takes a little bit of time to get to know them, get to know their business, get to know how to put their affairs in order, getting to know their requirements. So that in itself is quite exhausting really and challenging. So… but as you’ve onboarded the clients and you’ve been working with them for a few months and again, that gets easier. So I’m now into sort of… I don’t really know where the next phase is taking me, but…

ROBERT GERRISH: (12:32) Yeah. Well look, I think, you know, again it’s… part of this is… and I’m sure Don Doolan, he mentioned before, would clearly have some input on this if we had him sort of joining us right now, but it’s… that intake process, you know, where you’re starting with somebody new and as you say you’re having to understand their business at the same time, you know, build a relationship with them which if you are a little introvert is a challenge in itself. But when you’re at the other side of that, when you’ve got to that point, gosh that must feel so good and you clearly are very capable of doing that because you have a good business now.

KAY GODFREY: (13:10) Yes. It certainly is just beginning to feel very good knowing that I’m helping my clients. They can see how their business is operating. They’ve got some figures in front of them. I’m helping them with their work load. Yes. So it’s a wonderful feeling.

ROBERT GERRISH: (13:30) Yeah. It’s interesting, you know, I’ve got a friend I was talking to down at the beach from me… not at your beach but at another beach… and we were talking about a very similar issue and she likened it… she’s a bit of an ocean swimmer… and she drew a parallel with ocean swimming and said, “Look, you know, what it’s like is when you’re sitting on the beach and you’re looking at all these big waves crashing in. It is quite intimidating. You think how am I going to get through those. What am I going to do to get through those?” But then if you, as she does, she sort of focuses on the calm that’s beyond those crashing waves and she knows that once she’s got through… and she does know how to get through… and that’s what she keeps reminding herself because she’s done it a lot of times. She just looks at the calm and that helps her every single morning when she goes swimming in the ocean. And she doesn’t like swimming anymore than, by the sound of it you like marketing. But she loves it… well she loves it when she’s in the calm bit, but she doesn’t like the getting through the breakers. So interesting one.

KAY GODFREY: (14:31) I think it’s like any challenge. Why do you do it? You actually do it for the feeling afterwards.

ROBERT GERRISH: (14:37) Yeah, almost like banging the head against the wall!

KAY GODFREY: (14:40) Yeah.

[laughter]

ROBERT GERRISH: (14:42) So what sort of people are you working with? And you described the area where you are in which as you say can have quite a holiday feeling. Everybody’s waving at everyone. It’s lovely. So what sort of businesses are you sort of drawing to your business?

KAY GODFREY: (14:56) I’ve a mixture, to be honest. I’ve got a few tradies. I’ve also got a gym, Kingdom Gym in Brookvale, which is actually where I started. They were my very first client and I’ve got another company, Home Care Assistance which is healthcare, aged care. So I’m sort of thinking I would actually tend… like to go towards the healthcare fitness… those type of businesses. Whether that will actually happen I’m not sure. As I said, at the moment it’s quite a mixture of… I also have an accountant who I do her personal accounts for, which is quite flattering.

ROBERT GERRISH: (15:40) Yeah, very flattering.

KAY GODFREY: (15:41) And… so yes, and I’ve a couple of electricians. Yes, and as I say, it’s very… it’s varied. It’s just how it happened.

ROBERT GERRISH: (15:53) But it’s interesting that you’ve… you know, the very first place that you started with was a gym and was that… did you have a relationship with them in any way? Is that a gym that you went to?

KAY GODFREY: (16:02) I did actually, yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (16:04) Okay.

KAY GODFREY: (16:04) I knew the owner and I trained with the owner and I knew that he was actually closing his original gym and opening a brand new facility and he talked to me before I even entered into the franchise model of maybe me helping him out with his bookkeeping.

ROBERT GERRISH: (16:25) How delightful.

KAY GODFREY: (16:26) So I suppose that as well… it was good that I knew he was there in the beginning.

ROBERT GERRISH: (16:32) Yeah. Absolutely. That’s lovely reinforcement and, you know, into kind of earn your first kind of runs on the border with somebody that you know well and feel comfortable with. That must have been lovely.

KAY GODFREY: (16:44) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (16:45) So sounds you’re… it’s kind of you’ve got your eye on the health and fitness area as a niche and as is again quite normal I would say in the early days of a business, you know, I think we’re all just happy to work with whoever we can work with. So I remember when, years ago when I started a coaching business, you know, if you had a heartbeat and a credit card, you were the one for me.

KAY GODFREY: (17:09) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (17:10) And a little way down the track you start to realize, “Actually you know what, these are the people I really want to work with. This is the market I really want.” So you’ve got your eye on one now, which is this health and fitness area. So I’m just interested, I don’t want to put you on the spot unnecessarily, but how do you think you might work on that niche? What sort of things might you do?

KAY GODFREY: (17:36) Networking in places where the fitness buzz… if that’s the word.

ROBERT GERRISH: (17:43) Right.

KAY GODFREY: (17:44) Where they go.

ROBERT GERRISH: (17:45) Well, okay.

KAY GODFREY: (17:45) I think that’s what I’ve learned is what you do with networking is you actually go to the places where these people meet. And yes, the gym is one place, but then you’ve… well you’ve got your… in actual fact at the gym, one of the girls who trains at the gym said to me would I help her out with her Xero. So I mean, just being in the gym, because I train there as well, is actually… I’m actually networking at the same time. So she’s a trainer and a massage therapist. So she’s not come on board as a client yet. She got very busy with… but she’s training for a strongman competition.

ROBERT GERRISH: (18:30) Right.

KAY GODFREY: (18:30) But hopefully I will be doing some work for her and also of the other personal trainers. But then again go to places, basically the trade shows that they have and meet people there.

ROBERT GERRISH: (18:47) Good. So again you’re clearly starting to, you know, hatch a bit of a plan here. I love the way that you’re thinking of… or you’re experiencing. You know, the value of that sort of word of mouth thing and that people are seeing you and they’re hearing what you do. So that’s terrific. So if we look forward… as you say, you’re still in your first year of your business, how does the business look say a year from now, do you think? How many people do you want to be working with? Are there any other changes you’re looking to sort of bring about in your business?

KAY GODFREY: (19:23) I think I just want to stabilize things. I don’t want an enormous business. I always wanted a small business. I prefer to provide personal support to the businesses that I work with, which basically means spending quite a lot of time working with them, talking to them, going to see them. So I don’t really want to have more than about 15, possibly 20 clients at most.

ROBERT GERRISH: (19:56) Okay.

KAY GODFREY: (19:57) This was just… I don’t want to make a fortune.

ROBERT GERRISH: (20:02) What?

KAY GODFREY: (20:02) It was more to supplement…

ROBERT GERRISH: (20:05) Your life.

KAY GODFREY: (20:05) My income as I go into… I will be going into… not yet, but when I go into retirement. So yeah, I just want to keep on enjoying what I’m doing, keep a relatively small business, a personal business and just feel comfortable doing what I’m doing.

ROBERT GERRISH: (20:24) And seven months in, have you got that business? Have you got the business that’s going to let you do that?

KAY GODFREY: (20:30) I’m not quite there yet, not quite there yet. No, but… still a few more clients to go.

ROBERT GERRISH: (20:36) Right. But can you see that the business you’ve got is going to let you have the life that you’re looking for?

KAY GODFREY: (20:43) Yes I can. I need to be careful I don’t take on too many clients and get too busy and just be careful or make a conscious decision I’m going to keep it at a certain level or make another decision which will be expand and employ staff.

ROBERT GERRISH: (21:03) Okay. Alright. So there’s still a possibility. You’re still thinking that…

KAY GODFREY: (21:06) There’s a possibility, a possibility.

ROBERT GERRISH: (21:07) A possibility. Okay. Again, aren’t we lucky? Aren’t you lucky that here we are. You’ve got a business where you can already see that that’s a choice that you can make?

KAY GODFREY: (21:19) Oh yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (21:19) In the future.

KAY GODFREY: (21:19) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (21:20) You know, you can choose to keep it nice and small and simple or you can choose to expand it if you want to.

KAY GODFREY: (21:25) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (21:25) And that’s really, that’s pretty brilliant and also I think I also hear you speak there, we need to find a word other than retirement, don’t we? Because it’s interesting hearing you say it. I trip up over… on the same word because it’s not… it doesn’t describe, I don’t think, what you’re looking at. You’re looking at something that will allow you to possibly change the pace of your life and the amount of time you spend working. But I don’t get the sense I’m talking to a woman who wants to stop working.

KAY GODFREY: (21:52) No, to be honest. I think that my husband also knows that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t work. I’m a bit of a workaholic.

ROBERT GERRISH: (22:02) But there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean you know, I think as human beings we like to do things that give us fulfillment and that help other people and, you know, business is a great way to do that. So another question I’ve got for you, Kay. I know that you are also… you’re very into exercise. You mentioned you go to the gym a lot. So just talk to me. What sort of exercise do you do? What got you into it?

KAY GODFREY: (22:28) I like to… weight bearing exercises which is body building basically.

ROBERT GERRISH: (22:33) Wow.

KAY GODFREY: (22:34) I’m interested in building up my muscles or making myself look as physically as good as possible and as I said to you before, I didn’t do any exercise until I was about 35 years old.

ROBERT GERRISH: (22:53) Right.

KAY GODFREY: (22:53) But when I came over to Australia, I met a girl who does Phat Camps, which is P-H-A-T, which is physically hot and terrific. She did weekend exercise camps and she… actually she was… she has been Miss Olympia in the United States seven times and she inspired me to do the same thing. So I have also stood on the stage several times. I did the, what’s called the ANB, which is the Australasian Natural Bodybuilding.

ROBERT GERRISH: (23:29) Can I just stop you there. Let me just get this right. You are a self confessed introvert. You are a woman who said, well suggested that perhaps we’re in the same sort of age bracket and you’re telling listeners that you stand on a stage in a swimming costume and body build.

KAY GODFREY: (23:50) Yes. I think it was a challenge. I was terribly, terribly…

ROBERT GERRISH: (23:55) I think it was a challenge.

KAY GODFREY: (23:56) I was terribly, terribly nervous and in fact if I went on the stage now I would also be again terribly, terribly nervous. But somehow it is very rewarding. I think that again it’s a calm after the storm.

ROBERT GERRISH: (24:11) Yes.

KAY GODFREY: (24:12) Why do you do it? It’s an achievement. Yeah. It was… I loved it and still do, so I still do it.

ROBERT GERRISH: (24:22) How wonderful. So many days a week are you down in the gym?

KAY GODFREY: (24:25) To be honest, because the gym that I go to, which is the gym that I do the books for. It’s about half an hour away from home. I probably get there two to three times a week, but I also have equipment at home that I use.

ROBERT GERRISH: (24:40) Okay. And you don’t find yourself at the gym with your client coming out and tapping you on the shoulder saying, “Can you just tell me how to do this?”

KAY GODFREY: (24:47) To be honest, he trains me. We didn’t have to be careful that we don’t talk too much business.

ROBERT GERRISH: (24:54) Right. No. Well like you said, you could charge him and then your training would be free.

KAY GODFREY: (25:00) Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. There’s always that.

ROBERT GERRISH: (25:04) That’s wonderful. Well look, Kay, it’s been terrific talking with you and I think, you know, as you said it… yeah I’ll say, “Here we are on your first year of business. You’ve got a business that’s not, you know, it’s giving you some challenges but they’re ones that you know what to do to overcome those challenges. You’re very much benefitting on the support of other people in the network, which is fantastic. Love the fact that you’ve got such a clear picture of your business in the future. So you’ve moved around the world a fair bit. You’re going to stay still now?

KAY GODFREY: (25:37) Yes. I don’t have any… I don’t have any desire to go anywhere else, to be honest. I rather like… I rather like Australia even if it’s a bit hot at the moment in Sydney.

ROBERT GERRISH: (25:51) Oh well. There’s always a breeze though when you’re up at Bilgola.

KAY GODFREY: (25:55) Yes.

ROBERT GERRISH: (25:56) Kay Godfrey, thank you so much for joining us and enjoy your day.

KAY GODFREY: (26:00) Thank you very much.

[End of Transcription]

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