February 22, 2022
When you run a service business as an accountant or bookkeeper, you are really selling two things: your time and your knowledge.
So, it stands to reason that if you want to increase your earnings, you need to have more of those things. You can always upskill and add new services to your offerings, but you can’t really make more time.
What you can do, however, is increase how much you can do in that time.
By increasing productivity and taking advantage of automation in your firm, you can do more in less time, and that will automatically increase your earnings. The best way to do that is to build reliable systems that you can use to scale your business and achieve growth – and it’s not that hard to do. Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing every business should do (whether it’s accounting or bookkeeping) is to take as much of their processes online as they can.
Using cloud-based software is a good start, but you can also do more, by switching your spreadsheets from Excel to Google Sheets. This allows you to work online with ease.
So, when you have tight deadlines or need answers from a client, you can just communicate with them right in Google Sheets without having to exchange emails. No one involved needs to have a Microsoft license to access, view and use your files.
Google Sheets also integrate with a huge variety of online tools, so you can build spreadsheets that act as a source of truth syncing data from various software systems you already use.
The best way to get consistently great results in any business situation is to use templates.
Work through your processes carefully, paying close attention to what you do at every step, and what kind of information you need to have ready for your customers. Do this several times, and then turn that information into easy to use templates that allow you to replicate common processes and deliverables quickly and easily.
Here is an example of the Accounts Receivable template that will help you to stay on track at any point with LiveFlow:
Much of the time you spend in any business that doesn’t use templates, automation and standardized procedures is wasted trying to figure out how to do something. So once you’ve done it successfully once, turn it into a template so you never have to invent that particular wheel again.
If you’re an independant accountant, bookkeeper, or CFO, you probably spend a lot of time focused on the bottom line, and spending is probably not your favourite thing.
However, in this case, the saying “you need to spend money to make money” is 100% accurate.
You can’t increase the hours in the day, which is one of the biggest growth limitations for service-based businesses. However, you can make better use of those hours by using tools that automate hands-on processes.
If you spend even a few hundred dollars a month on automation tools, but you can increase your productivity ten-fold, the expense of the investment will be a drop in the earnings ocean! Instead of taking an hour to complete one task for one client, you can do the same thing for ten clients in the same hour.
Be sure to do extensive research and look for technologies and tools that will significantly cut your hands-on labour time.
The best way to start working on standardizing processes in your business is to really study what you do every day.
Spend a couple of weeks keeping a detailed diary of your day. What you do, who you do it for, how you do it and how long it takes to complete the task. In the project management and process design worlds, this is known as a “time and motion study.” It allows you to really dig into where you are spending your time, and what is taking the longest.
Gather as much information about what might be affecting your productivity, but don’t try to fix anything just yet. You really need to have the whole picture before you do that!
Once you know exactly how you spend your time, you will have identified at least a few things that take a lot longer than you thought and are really slowing down your business’s growth.
Those things should be the first ones you address. Use the tools and tips we’ve mentioned here to find ways to shave time off the things that take up the most time first. Work your way down the list, standardizing each process and creating templates as you go.
By the time you address everything you do in a day, you’ll be surprised to see how many extra hours you suddenly have in the day!
Very often, when you’re working on standardizing and bringing in automation to improve productivity, you might find that there are still “gaps” in the system.
Sometimes, software doesn’t quite do what you need it to do, and there’s still some manual work that needs to be done by hand.
Tools like LiveFlow’s Google Sheets Add-On are designed to fill those gaps. It integrates with QuickBooks, and lets you transfer information directly to Google Sheets, where you can manipulate it and present it as needed.
Like everything else about standardizing and automating for productivity and profit, which means you can do more in less time and have more billable hours every day.
So, whether you’re an accountant or a bookkeeper, you work on your own or have a team, don’t be scared to look into standardizing processes – and don’t be afraid of technology. The time, effort and money you put into these processes and investments will absolutely increase your profits many times over compared to the cost.
So, you can work less and earn more – and who doesn’t want that?