Being part of the First Class Accounts network has a lot of perks. Like practical technical advice and mentoring to being part of a community that genuinely cares for and supports each other. We are as much about providing service and value, as we are about the business of keeping books. Due to our size and reputation, we also have great access to some of the most innovative and inspiring partner networks. This month, our Victorian franchisees were lucky enough to head along to a brilliant panel discussion and business development workshop, run by one of our software partners, Xero. Here is a wrap up of what we learned during our time in their lovely offices.
Bookkeepers and Accountants – a united team.
A close working relationship between bookkeeper and accountant is paramount to a client’s success. Our panel of accountants and Xero experts spoke eloquently on the importance of the bookkeeper’s role in a small business. With bookkeepers being a more frequent point of contact for a business, their knowledge and understanding of a business’s inner workings is unparalleled. All of the accountants on the panel spoke about how important the bookkeeping role was for them. Having a close relationship with their clients’ bookkeepers meant analysis and compliance were so much easier. They trusted the data more, and together they were able to streamline processes, so when an accountant worked on the client’s file, it saved them time (and money!)
Being able to call up a bookkeeper and get professional input on their client’s data, means the accountant is able to spend more time assessing the business’s future growth and profitability, acting as a virtual CFO if you like. Likewise, an accountant that is always on hand to discuss matters with the bookkeeper, means that the bookkeepers’ data is more accurate. Our franchisees were able to workshop some great ideas with the Xero team for improving their own relationships with their clients’ accountants.
The future of bookkeeping.
This topic always generates lots of discussions. With cloud-based accounting software, the number of daily tasks that once relied solely on a bookkeeper could be streamlined and done by small business owners themselves. This brought into question the relevance and role of bookkeepers. We spent a lot of time during our panel discussion talking about a bookkeepers role. Bookkeepers these days are almost akin to business managers. They look at the whole business, not just the books. We tossed around some new names, like Data Integrity Managers, and Business Affairs Advisors, because really, there is so much more to the role than keeping the books in tip-top shape, reconciling receipts or processing payroll. The ability to use a client’s data to assess where their future customers should come from, analyse profits, make projections and streamline processes, means a bookkeeper has a hands-on role to pay in the future growth of small businesses. And with small business being the backbone of the Australian economy, the important role a bookkeeper plays in that economies success should not be underestimated.
Nurturing your own business.
We also spent some time discussing and workshopping ways to nurture a bookkeepers’ own business. It’s so easy to focus on practical offerings, and neglect to focus on keeping your business profitable and strong. For some people, the idea of networking or marketing their skills is terrifying. They feel exposed, open to people questioning their rates or value. Others may have the perfect client ratio and don’t feel like they really need to think about marketing because they are already at capacity. But what happens when one of your clients drops off? The reality is, there goes a portion of your earnings along with them. Which is where spending time mapping out networking strategies, understanding your unique offering and value to a client – even when you’re not in growth mode – is essential. If you have plans in place and already have ties to your networking community, then getting a new client to replace an old one, or moving into a new direction with clients you desire to work with, will be that much easier.
As bookkeepers, we advise our clients to be prepared, know your numbers and have a plan for the future. But as business owners, it’s too easy to be too busy analysing everyone else’s businesses to focus on your own! Our panel offered some terrific advice for focusing on your own personal brand and identifying the type of clients you wanted to work with in the future. Our panel strongly advised to nut out a plan to achieve your goals and check in with it regularly, so you won’t be caught unprepared if disaster ever did strike.
Being a part of a strong community like ours here at First Class Accounts means we always have someone to talk to about business strategies, client communication and essential compliance information. Being able to tap into our great partner network and gain access to all their knowledge and advice as well is the icing on the cake! Thanks to our friends at Xero, we’ll be running more events like this one in the future, and we look forward to sharing more of these valuable takeaways with you over the coming months.