In this bonus episode, we’re continuing our conversation on how to adapt your firm to not just survive but thrive during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis with special guest, Femke Hogema. Femke Hogema is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and owner of ProfitFirst Professionals in The Netherlands. Her new book, The Profit Advisor, is available on Amazon.com. Her mission is to help accountingpreneurs become financially healthy and profitable.
Here’s what we talked about:
Watch Femke’s video, 3 Mindset Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Thrive During Corona.
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How to Adapt Your Firm During the COVID-19 Crisis, Part 2 with Femke Hogema
This is where accounting professionals like you come here to learn all the ways to grow their firm and also the most efficient ways to do that too, sharpen your skills, and have a consistent increase in revenue. We cover topics and some new topics from emergency cashflow planning to networking pricing, learning those soft skills about communication, and caring about your clients in these trying times. If you’re ready to learn and grow your firm, then you are in the exact right place to do that.
We have a very special guest. Her name is Femke. She owns the Profit First Professionals organization in the Netherlands. She’s an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She helps accounting entrepreneurs like me to build a financially healthy and profitable company and teaches accountants to become profit advisors so they can help their clients achieve their goals. She has a brand new book out that came out in English on Amazon called The Profit Advisor.
For those of you that are a bit frustrated and stuck and you’re like, “I don’t know how I’m going to stick it out until July and all these 800-page papers,” and if you’re interested in learning about how to offer an emergency cashflow package to your clients, have them pay you exactly what you’re worth, position yourself as the expert in these times, and get high-quality referrals out of this, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. You must be in business for at least two years.
That’s my only criterion for those of you, but we can have a free coaching session to go through some of these ideas and information so you can see the opportunity in these times and get the confidence to sell these higher-value services with ease. Once again, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com if you’re interested in a one-on-one coaching session with yours truly or my partner Denise.
You must be an accounting-preneur and have been in business for at least two years. This episode is brought to you by Xero. As an accountant, when you join Xero, you will gain access to a full range of practice management tools so you can manage your practice and your clients from almost anywhere. To learn more about building a better practice with Xero, visit Xero.com. Let’s welcome Femke to the show.
Thank you, Michelle. I’m so happy to be here.
Thank you so much for being here with us during these crazy times. The whole world has flipped upside down, but I know that you have some exciting news that you want to share because this is a special day in your life. Can you share with everyone real quick what it is that you do in your business and how you work with accountants? They know we’re going to be having a very unique discussion here on how to create abundance in our relationship capital and connections and how that can lead to being financially healthy, as you talk about in your book. Can you make an intro for yourself? I’ve already done it, but I always like to have any guest here do it from you.
My mission in business life is that I want entrepreneurs to have a financially healthy and profitable business because only when your business is financially healthy and profitable that you can achieve your real goals in life. That could be anything from helping people to making the environment more healthy or whatever your goals are. You need money. That has always been the thing for me to work toward.Only when your business is financially healthy and profitable, can you achieve your real goals in life. Click To Tweet
What I’ve been doing is I wrote three books now. They’re all about finance and being financially healthy and profitable. I’m a keynote speaker. I train accountants to help their clients do the same thing. My second book is called The Profit Advisor. It is available all over the world. I am honestly proud and happy. I’m from the Netherlands. For a Dutch author to get your book translated and published worldwide is a big thing.
That’s a huge thing. If anyone’s interested, you can find it on Amazon going forward from on. Make sure to check it out. It is called The Profit Advisor. You had someone write a review on your book.
Mike Michalowicz. That’s cool too. I’ve been working with Mike Michalowicz because I train accountants in the Netherlands to become Profit First professionals. I’ll put a little piece of what he wrote. He said, “Dig deep into this book. It will be time well spent. This book contains the most important information you can have. It’s not stuck in theory and noble ideas. Instead, it walks you through the exact steps you need to be successful. When you’re finished, you will be as grateful to know Femke as I am. She’s dead good. This book is dead good. Enjoy.” To have someone say that about you is pretty awesome.
That is pretty awesome. It probably is a good thing to pick up and read on Amazon. We’re going to talk about some ways. You’re like me. You work with a lot of accountants. Those that have worked with me have learned a lot of new ways how to shift their mindset, increase their bottom line, and get paid what they’re worth. You want to help other accounting professionals become financially healthy and profitable. We’re going to start by talking. What do you feel, especially during these crazy times?
In America, the tax deadline got pushed out. There’s this whole new 800-page document for all the businesses. The whole world was flipped upside down. To capitalize on this time and create the opportunities that might take effect now or you might see your ROI in the future. What’s the first thing that you believe would help an accountant do something unique and different and set themself apart from everyone else? Everyone’s world got flipped upside down. What’s the first thing that you would share with an accountant?
The first thing that I would share is if you’re an accountant, there are so much information, numbers, paperwork, and clients asking about what they should do now, but the moment you think that all your work is about numbers and filling out paperwork, you are at a loss. This is especially not about numbers. It’s about people, the fears they have, and the goals they have.The moment you think that all your work is about numbers and filling out paperwork, you are at a loss. Today is not about numbers, it's about people and the fears and goals they have. Click To Tweet
An accountant is one of the first persons they want to talk to. When an accountant is too busy to talk to their clients, listen to them, and spend some time with them, they’re missing an opportunity to connect and show their value as an accountant. Many entrepreneurs are scared of losing their revenue and not having money.
I believe that if you focus on getting money from the government or delaying tax payments, you are missing out on the fact that, as an accountant, you can help your client look at his business in a different way. I’m sure that you tell the accountants this, but it’s all about how every entrepreneur is, in essence, solving a problem for their clients. We cannot solve these problems the same we did because we cannot serve food in a restaurant or have live workshops, but our clients still have the same problems that still need a solution.
We still need to eat. We also still need coaching, especially now. Once you as an accountant stop focusing on numbers and start asking your clients more questions and helping them to see the perspective in their business and see if they can make a pivot and still solve the same problem in a different way, you are helping them create revenue instead of trying to scrape by.
That’s a great point because this is an opportunity for a lot of people to make a pivot in their business. Restaurants weren’t ready for takeout, to-go, or delivery, and having them see a different perspective. What are a few questions that you think would be great for the accountants as their phones are ringing off the hook and the emails are flooding in? “What do I do?” It’s not all about getting money from the government. What questions would you recommend that they ask their clients?
This might sound too easy, but the first question should be, “How are you?” Try to spend a couple of minutes asking how they are because it relieves so much stress if you can tell your accountant how you are feeling. That would be my first question, “How are you?” This is what I would ask them, “Can you give me a number of how big your problem is factual?” I’m not sure factual is the right word because I’m looking for the right word.
What happens is clients are in fear. They say, “This is awful. I don’t have any money. I don’t know how to survive,” but these are all emotions. Once you ask your clients, “Give me a real number or a real figure. How big is your problem?” you are helping them get insights into the real issue at hand. That relieves stress because now you know if your problem is €1,000, €10,000, or €100,000. As soon as you know the real size of the problem, you can start finding solutions instead of trying to get money from anywhere, having no idea how much you need.
We’re trying to help clients find solutions to their new problems. They had problems before all this, but with the government programs and the short-term money out there, that’s great. I don’t know what you think, but it’s about having perspective in that this is a pivot in a lot of people’s businesses. It’s very similar to what you talk about in your book and moving to cloud accounting.
A lot of people have an online business. We went from, “That was a good idea,” to, “In most places, that’s the only way you can communicate to your clients and be able to go 100% in the cloud.” It’s starting, asking how you are, seeing if they have a number in mind of how big their problem is. If they’re stuck in fear and they’re trying to be in survival mode, then they might not 100% know.
If they don’t have this number, we are all accountants or bookkeepers. We can so easily help our clients to get this number. We can help them do cashflow planning and give them real insight. That would be second. I would ask them this question, “What is the real problem of your clients that you are solving?” We are accountants. We’re not business coaches. We don’t have to answer the question of how they can pivot, but we should ask the question so the client can answer it themselves.
It’s vital that we realize that. If we do ask this question, what is the problem you are solving? How can you solve this in a different way that fits the current circumstances? We make the client use his brain in a way that is creating options instead of fear. Ask those questions, “What problem are you solving? How can you solve the same problem in a different way? What is possible?” That’s also a great question. When clients keep telling you, “It’s not possible. I cannot deliver my services anymore,” then the question will be, “What is possible? Give me 1 or 2 things that are possible. Let’s go from there.”
What you’re saying is having them get out of fear and into the world of possibility, even though that’s so challenging for a lot of people. These skills that we’re talking about are more soft skills. We were talking about this before we started our chat. Can we talk about how you share in your book and maybe some personal experience that could help? We’re overwhelmed. I’m putting my accountant hat on for all of you. I do that sometimes.
We’re overwhelmed. We have 800 pages of new tax rules, grants, and employees. We’re being HR departments now. You’ve got frantic everybody. You’re working so much. We all thought tax season was about to come to a halt in about a couple of weeks or a month. It has been extended. What are a few ways how they can focus and keep those soft skills present to build real relationships and connections and ask the question, “How are you?” What have you shared with your accountants in these times we’re in?
One of the things is that we cannot be too cheap. The reason is you might feel like, “I cannot charge too much money because my client already has a financial problem,” but if you are working too cheap, you are working too many hours for too little money. You can’t help anybody. It’s important to sit back once in a while and ask yourself, “How can I help the most people but ask good money for it?”
That’s what I’ve been talking with my clients about. How can you give general information to the crowd by doing a webinar or making a short video, posting it on YouTube, and sending all your clients the link to the video where you explain all the current rulings and give them the information so they can do it themselves if needed? The people who are in need of your help should pay you good money because you need the money so you can spend the time needed to ask the right questions and be a consultative accountant instead of trying to help as many people for as little money as possible.
It’s being a consultant accountant versus more of a transaction. It’s so funny because I was sharing with a group that I’m working with to do the same. Do a webinar. If you have 100 business clients, you can share all of that information with everybody in about a one-hour time period and reduce the number of emails and phone calls coming in. I like your idea of recording a YouTube video. I understand none of you want to be on camera. None of you are savvy on YouTube.
I’ve heard everything, but after a few of them said, “Thanks for pushing me out of my comfort zone,” it got a little bit easier. If this is the time for your business to pivot, then get used to being a little bit on video. I was also sharing another little tip. If you do PowerPoint slides, a PDF presentation, and a video, your box becomes small. Your face becomes small, and then the focus is on your slides. That’s a little trick for all of you that don’t want to go on camera and be on video in front of your clients.
I do believe this is one of the solutions. What might help is if you are doing a video, try not to talk to the camera but envision the 1 or 2 clients that have emailed you this specific question and put them behind the camera in your mind. For example, Peter sent you an email saying, “Can you explain this new ruling to me?” Put Peter behind the camera in your mind and talk to Peter without saying his name. It makes it a whole lot easier.
Those are some good ideas. What other ideas did you have? You can’t be cheap. A lot of people are like, “My clients don’t have any money. Some of them have lost half their sales, if not more. They have had to furlough their employees and lay off half of them.” When you say you cannot be cheap, can you elaborate on that? I’ve been telling them the same thing.
I get that it’s difficult, but it’s the story that we tell each other. Put your oxygen mask on first. On the plane, you put your oxygen mask on before you put it on your kids because if you don’t have oxygen, you cannot help anyone else. This is the same in this circumstance. Oxygen is money. Money is oxygen for your company. If you don’t have the money flowing in, you cannot serve anyone anymore. You need to make sure that you have the money flowing in.If you don't have the money flowing in, you cannot serve anyone anymore. Click To Tweet
You cannot be too emotional in this. That sounds harsh, but if you are going to be emotional and help everybody for free, then you end up going bankrupt yourself because you don’t have any money flowing in. It’s interesting because we do get emotional. I spoke to a client. He had a client, and his client said, “Can you help me issue this loan thing first? Once I get the money coming in, then I can pay your bill.” He asked me, “Should I do it?” I said no.
What if they don’t get it, and you’ve done the work for free? He says, “They don’t have the money now.” I told them, “Listen to how harsh it sounds. It’s not your problem. You have to make sure that you survive this as well. Please, put on your oxygen mask first.” I did talk with him a little bit about other options. It’s interesting because he got so emotionally involved in wanting to help this client that he didn’t see an obvious thing.
I asked him, “Is there any way the client can issue this himself? Does he need you as an accountant?” He said, “He can do it himself.” I said, “Why are we having this conversation?” He said, “He doesn’t want to do it himself. It’s a bit difficult.” I said, “You can share all the information, put a template letter on your website, make a video with the general information, and tell him, ‘You can do it yourself with the general information provided by me to all of you. If you do need my help, then I need you to pay me.'”
It’s the done-for-you option for your clients who are willing to pay. I was talking to a group. People still have credit cards. If they plan to get some grants or money from the government, they will be able to pay off their credit card. They have extra time on their hands to do this themselves, but I like your idea of putting templates up and sending out a YouTube video. The biggest thing for all of you to think about is that if you don’t have oxygen, then you’re not going to be able to help all the other clients that you have who also need you. Remember to put your oxygen mask on first.
It is a weird time. It is bizarre, but you have to be able to make sure you are keeping up. My group is doing great. They have gotten so much new revenue and clients. This isn’t affecting everybody but for the clients that are struggling or that are having a problem, set them up with a free option to help the bulk of your clients have a service that they can figure out on their own. For the ones that want to pay and see that value, and they don’t want to fill out the paperwork, then have a done-for-you option.
That’s what helps. What you say is also true. Not all of us are in financial problems. There are plenty of entrepreneurs still making money. You can get new clients. I got many messages about people who did get new clients. It’s also because they have been out there. They have been showing themselves not as accountants but as profit advisors, being personal, sharing information, and making sure they are seen out there and what they can give.
They can help their clients reach results, make a better profit, and these days, make sure that they handle the money that is coming in correctly. They are getting new clients. It’s also about your focus. If you are focusing, “I have to wait this out,” nothing will happen, but if you focus, “This is the time to show myself and get great clients,” you can go out there and get new clients. They’re still there.
Is there anything else that you would love to share with the accountants thinking about those soft skills, asking your clients how they are, and also reminding themselves to keep their oxygen masks on first? Envision you’re sitting on that airplane and the three drop. They say you have to put yours on first before you put your child’s on.
One of the other things that I mentioned that is important is to ask your clients what is possible and to force them to also look at the options instead of what’s not possible. I made a video with some mindset tips. One of the things that I said, and it’s relevant in these times is, “We are all envisioning and fantasizing about what might happen, but we’re fantasizing in the bad direction.” What if we all go bankrupt? What if this takes not 3 weeks but 3 months or even a year? We’re all fantasizing in a negative direction, but we don’t know what’s going to happen.
I said in this video, “If you are going to fantasize, try to fantasize in the right direction. Try to fantasize that you are going to make more money in the coming three months than you ever did before. Try to fantasize that you’re getting better clients and that you’re getting better out of this than you came into this.” The interesting thing is you don’t know what’s going to happen either, but if you are going to fantasize about stuff that you’re not sure is going to happen, why not fantasize in the right direction? What’s in your mind completely creates your actions. Fantasize in the right direction.
I love that. It’s funny because you could even take it one step further, fantasize, and put it on a vision board or find an electronic version of pictures that show you what your business will look like in three months now that you’ve had a pivot, or you’re fantasizing what might happen and speculating on the positive than the negative. I’ve seen way too much negative stuff.
The problem is many accountants feel that this might be a bit too spiritual or not rational enough. It’s good to end this by saying this is very firm because once you have the idea in your head that this is horrible and you will have to sit it out, that’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to wait, but if you think or fantasize that you are going to get better out of this, you are telling your mind to start thinking about how you could get better out of this and maybe even earn money or get a new product or a new service out. You are going to take action to make it happen. The action only follows what you have in your mind. Make sure you have the right things, thoughts, and fantasy in your mind.
Femke, I want to say thank you so much for being here with us. It was an honor to have you.
Thank you so much, Michelle. I loved it.
Thank you all so much for joining Femke and me on another episode. I want to focus on talking about this oxygen mask because I have talked to a lot of you. I’ve had my sales master momentum. We have had our sales class. It’s the time when we want to help people and not charge exactly what we would do, but the amount of work that is entailed in a lot of this stuff that’s going on is a lot of work.
Think about an option you can offer your clients for free, giving them templates, a YouTube video, a Zoom video, or a video you could put in Dropbox. Think about the done-for-you package. There are a lot of you who I’ve talked to about doing emergency cashflow plan packages for your larger businesses, people of 7,500 or 200 employees. There are a lot of opportunities but don’t forget to put your oxygen mask on first and make sure that you think about yourself for you to have enough oxygen.
In this case, think about that as your top-line revenue money to pay your team. I even had one of my students, Andrea. She was sharing with me how she paid out bonuses. Some of the team members got $1,000. Some got $2,500. Think about your team because they can take on more during this time too. With everyone working from home and not having to drive, you don’t have any commutes, traffic, and people sitting in the office gossiping.
There’s a lot of efficiency for those of you that have an assistant in admin or even a small team. Think about that. Keep your oxygen mask on first. You can put it on to your clients. For those of you who want to talk about an emergency cashflow plan option, or maybe you’re frustrated, stuck, and in that negative mindset, we have found a way to help you through a system to get these higher-paying clients even during these trying times.
If you’re having a little bit of a challenge with your confidence, positioning yourself as the expert, and getting the clients to pay you what you want to charge versus giving away your knowledge for free, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. You can book an appointment with me or my partner Denise. We can help you through this process. The only requirement we have is that you’ve been in business for at least two years. Make sure you have clients coming in. You’ve got businesses and higher-value services.
If you’re interested in talking about the emergency cashflow plan package and how to offer that to your clients to put you in a position to make sure that they see you as the expert and that you’re delivering consistent high-quality information to them, and also have your clients tell you yes and pay you what you’re worth, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. Book your appointment. I look forward to talking to some of you. I hope you have an amazing day. Keep your oxygen mask on. I will see you in the next episode. Have a great day.
This episode was brought to you by Xero. Remember to visit Xero.com. Xero provides the tools and human touch to manage all the elements of your practice, including a dashboard with a clear and centralized financial overview, the ability to collaborate in real-time with clients, smart customized reports with links to source transactions, and free 24/7 support. That’s Xero.com.