Do you want to know the secrets to growing your accounting firm? Then you are in luck because, in this episode, Michelle Weinstein invites the popular host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and CEO of Pure Bookkeeping North America, Michael Palmer, to share with us the three ways to grow a firm of abundance—not only in revenues but also in having clients that pay you the fees you deserve. He taps into what mindset we need to have, how to overcome the burnout of increasing sales and profitability, and how to set up SOPs and systems to your business. Dive deep into this great conversation to learn more about growing a firm of abundance and achieving the quality of life you have always wanted.
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How To Grow An Accounting Firm Of Abundance With Michael Palmer
Our episode is brought to you by Abby Connect. Are you a firm owner that loves those loyal clients who help you drive growth of your top-line revenue? Steady growth comes with great customer experiences that start from that very first phone call. Do you use voicemail? If you do, 85% of callers who reach your voicemail will hang up or get frustrated. First impressions set the tone for the kind of service that you want to provide. Abby Connect is here to improve your customer service while saving you time and money. You get to offload those incoming phone calls that distract you to friendly and knowledgeable receptionist who you can hear smiling through the phone. If you want to get a free trial and try it out, we have a special offer for you over at AbbyConnect.com and make sure to mention The Abundant Accountant Podcast when you set up your trial. Grow your firm with your own professional, reliable, personable receptionist team from Abby Connect. Let’s get into the episode.
Our special guest is the popular host of The Successful Bookkeeper Podcast and the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping North America. He has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the globe push through their fears and exponentially grow their business and achieve the quality of life they’ve always wanted. Before we welcome our very special guest, as an accounting professional, I know you’re frustrated and stressed trying to get the right referrals. You feel like you have no control over who you worked with or maybe even how much you can charge. It’s not your fault. I know that nobody is training on how to fix those problems and connect the dots.
I’ve created my Selling Without Ever Selling system. I am very excited to share it with you and I’m offering a free coaching session with you so I can share this information. Let me help you get your ideal clients so you can build the dream practice, work less and still have the time and money to enjoy your family and kids and be present. We’re talking about being present. Head on over to AbundantCall.com to schedule your coaching session with myself or my team.
I would like to take a moment and make an invitation for you to leave a written review on Apple Podcasts about one thing that you learned from our episode. What is the one thing that you learned that you’ll actually put into action? What was the a-ha moment? Share it with me and I’ll share it on a future episode right here on the show. The written reviews help the show grow organically. I want to say thank you for that. It helps the fellow accountant and bookkeeper find this show. Let’s dive into the show and welcome, Michael Palmer.
It’s great to be here.
Thank you so much for being here with us. Before we dive into our discussion of creating abundance for accounting professionals, business owners, bookkeepers, can you share with everyone a little bit about you and what you’ve created in the accounting bookkeeping space and your podcast?Success is in doing the things that you want to do and are connected to your passion. Click To Tweet
I’m the host of The Successful Bookkeeper Podcast and I’m also the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping North America. What we do is we help bookkeepers or CPAs build bookkeeping businesses that grow and scale and a heck of a lot more fun to run.
That’s always the good thing because I don’t think a lot of business owners and bookkeepers start businesses and then think like, “I have to do this, I have to do that, I have to sell, I have to get clients.” We can find your podcast on any podcasting platform. You’ve had a lot of experiences and grown your own firm and business. What do you think is the number one thing that you believe a business owner in the accounting space needs to do in order to have the firm of abundance? Not only revenue, but the clients they want to work with, that are paying them the fees that they deserve and should be earning, and not discounting and doing all that other nonsense. I know you talk a lot about SOPs, but what do you feel is the number one thing or area that would bring more abundance to an accounting professional who has their own business that you’ve seen has been a little bit on the not so sharpen side?
It’s going to come down to mindset for me. We’ll talk about a few other pieces that go underneath that, but the overarching component of building something successful, and we can probably have a conversation with what success means.
Let’s have that discussion. What is success to you? What does it mean to you? Everyone has a different definition.
It’s evolved over my lifetime. I used to think success meant something about having lots of money and the trappings and be able to be successful in the eyes of others. As I grew older, I realized that wasn’t what success was for me. Those were things that I was trying to achieve. It turned into success was doing the things that I wanted to do that were connected to my passion. Doing things that I thought were a value to the world and making a difference for others. It was a different type of pursuit. As I got a little bit older, I was starting a family and having a family and being able to be present with them, earning income and build a business, but not have that fall to the wayside. They become a picture of success.
When I think about success, I think about my smiling children, my happy, lovely wife, all of us sitting around the table and having enough energy at the end of the day and presence so that I can fully enjoy that. Many people work hard in pursuit of something and realize that the things that are completely valuable to them were destroyed by the fact that they were off chasing other things and that’s sad. I don’t want to have that happen to me and to other people. It’s being clear what’s important to you and making sure that it’s not something you say that’s important to me because what you see is what’s important.
It’s not that I’m awesome and great at it and get it right every single day, but if I’m holding my cellphone while I’m watching my son learn to skate, what’s important to me is looking at my cellphone and dealing with work stuff, not my family. It’s constantly re-evaluate and looking at my own behavior and saying, “Is that what I’m going to look at back at my life and say, ‘I’m glad I spent time looking at my phone instead of my son learn how to glide, instead of chop at each hop along on the ice?’” That’s a piece of this mindset game which is, “What is your mindset? What are you thinking about every day?” Often, people don’t realize that they’re locked into a view of the world of locked mindset of what the way things are and should be in the way that it will be.
Until you go and evaluate that, take a step back and take a look at that, you won’t know what that mindset is. Many people go about their life, they’re lost in the shuffle of things, looking at their phones and business and going around. That’s where the people go, “I’m living in Groundhog Day.” If we interrupt that and we take a look at what our mindset is, that’s where power can happen. If we think ourselves as human beings, we only have one vessel to get us where we want to go. We have to figure out, where do we want this vessel to go? How are we going to get that vessel going there? Is that vessel on its way there? The way to control the vessel is the mind.
What have you done on the mindset side to analyze what you’re doing on a daily basis, how you look at the view of the world, evaluate and step back? Are there any tools that you’ve used that you found helpful for someone that might be reading, “That sounds all great. I know you’ve talked about this mindset stuff before?” If they’re starting from scratch and never stepped back to interrupt the mindset for a human and we’ve got this one vessel that’s going to take us to our version of success. Every single person has a different version of that. What are 1 or 2 things that you do on a daily basis consistently? How did you step back and make this analysis to work on your mindset?
If I look at my daily habits, it’s difficult sometimes to say, “This is what I’m doing. Go do this.” It doesn’t talk about the dominoes that fell prior to me being in a position where I could step back and take a look at what I’m thinking. If you haven’t done any personal development in your life, there’s your education system, things you learn when you’re growing up, and then there’s a whole bunch of programs out there, courses, experiences, where you go and open these things up, even counseling or seeing a therapist or any of that. I’ve done a lot of personal development, different courses and experiences. I’ve done the Landmark Forum, Hoffman Process, Vipassana, which is a twelve-day silent meditation, Sterling Men’s Weekend and a whole bunch of smaller ones.
I’ve done Mastery in Transformational Training. It was a year-long program with these long weekends spread out over about ten months. It’s very experiential. It’s the heart version of Landmark. Landmark is very analytical. For a lot of the people reading, I recommend Landmark for you. It’s more from the left brain, where Mastery in Transformational Training, there’s something similar pretty much in every city and country all over the world. It’s all experiential-based, no chalkboards and no words. It’s all through experiences. I believe doing some personal development or doing it on a one-on-one basis like counseling therapy, it’s a game-changer on the mindset department. What other things were you going to say?
It’s like what you’ve said, they’re a game-changer. They open things up and often, what can happen is it can feel like you’re going in the reverse when you do something like that, because it brings up things. People have grief, suffered from loss, had situations in their childhood and sometimes these things are completely buried, and digging them up is not enjoyable. It can be painful, that’s why you want to do something where you’re working with someone that you trust and that you know you will be safe, all those good things. What it does is it opens up, you can observe it and it’s a part of you. All of these things in our past make up who we are now and what we see.Success is doing things you think are a value to the world and making a difference for others. Click To Tweet
In order to alter what we want to have tomorrow, we have to make sure that what’s happened in the past isn’t impacting that. I look back on those experiences and I got something from every single one. They open something up, and then there was another course that opened something else. For me, as a man and my responsibility in my family, to my children and who I am for them, a lot of that came from the Sterling Institute of Relationship. I didn’t get that in any other program. For me that’s been, “I’ve gotten this piece. I trust that.” The opportunities that are presented to me are going to give something of value, a benefit. I think that’s a piece of a mindset.
If there’s one thing you could start to do now, it would be trusting that what’s being put in front of you will be valuable, and everything you do prepares you for the next thing that you’re going to do. That’s a brain pattern you could set. It’s anything that happens, whether you win a lottery or you broke your foot, this is an experience that is going to prepare me for something next. Right or wrong, forget about it. It doesn’t matter. It’s a preparation for something that’s next. In business, what that mindset encourages is elasticity and fluidity. It’s rolling with the punches and being able to go, “What’s the positive? What’s happening? How can I make it more positive? How can I learn from it? How can I bring this to the future that I’m creating?”
Even a weekend program or starting somewhere, but you summed it up well. This creates elasticity, fluidity and the ability to roll with the punches. If you want to have the firm of abundance in that life that you’re talking about being present, not being on the cell phone with your family, and being able to focus that work, it all stems from new habits. What else do you think, talking about another point for creating what you’ve said your version of success, which is more of the passion and being present and having that quality time, for maybe a new firm owner or someone who’s been having a firm for 5 or 10 years? They’re feeling that burnout, but to increase sales and profitability, be picky and choosy about the clients that they truly want.
Selling is definitely one of them. If you think about it, let’s imagine that I could wave a magic wand and make somebody an amazing salesperson. If they are bringing a person, new people, selling people into their firm, and the firm does not have the capacity or ability to produce the promises that they are stating in their selling abilities, that’s going to create problems. It’s like you’ve got this gift that turns into a nightmare because of the condition of the business. When we talk about the mindset, be really clear. What do you want? Do you want to have a business that has multiple staff? If it is, write it down and get clear about what business you’re building. You then go, “How will we get there?” You write down, “We need to have these many customers. We need to have these many staffs. How will we be able to have the capacity to be able to ensure that that gets done?”
That’s always going to come back to standard operating procedures, systems and process, and people often get mixed up with the word, system. What does a system mean? Simply put, the system is something happens and when that happens, something else has to happen. It’s a flow. People talk about workflow and standard operating procedures. They talk about automation as well. If we think about the workflow of a business, what things have to happen? We have to document what that is. We have to document it to the granularity that someone else could pick up that document, read it and be able to do it as well or better than the person who wrote the document. That’s a great standard operating procedure to enable a workflow to happen inside of the business. Automation would happen where you could take that workflow and say, “What can I automate through technology to make that go faster more reliably?”
Building systems and processes inside the firm is the only way to scale. If you don’t do that, you will limit the business’ ability to scale because people don’t instantly know how to do things and how it should be done in the best possible way and the most efficient way, and all those good things. How do you do the systems? It will take you a ton of time, but it’s very simple. You have to write down the first step, then the second step. You keep going and then you start to document how you get that step created. Why people fail on this is it’s a heap of a lot of work. It is not instant gratification. It takes many years to reap the rewards and satisfaction of having great systems. Most people are like, “I’m getting a system. In two years, I’m going to love this,” or a customer called and something’s broken, and people get stuck. Don’t put that on you like, “I’m broken, I’m bad, I’m a bad business owner because I don’t build systems and process very well.” You’re not alone. Many people have this challenge.
Everybody does and it’s a long game. One other thing that I do is I have some virtual assistants. I record my screen. I type it out in a Google Sheet and we share it, and then they also have a video to watch along with the step-by-step process.
Videos are great because you can communicate so much in very little time. It will speed up the ability to create standard operating procedures. If you record something and then have that recording transcribed or put into bits and pieces, it all takes time. There are many tools available to make this better and easier, but it will still take the time. If you are committed to building that business that has more than just you or even has an efficient business where it’s just you, don’t think that because you operate alone, you don’t need to have systems and process. You actually do to be able to make sure that you’re doing it efficiently and that you don’t miss any steps.
Every time you do the work for the client, they get what they expect and you don’t let things fall through the cracks. If you do this work and you’re committed to having that business, then the work that has to get done to build those SOPs has to be done. There’s no way around that. If we said, “We have SOPs,” there are SOPs in selling, in hiring, in finance and in people. All of these areas are like, “What are we doing? What has to happen? What are the steps to take?” Document it enough that others can follow it.
If you had selling, being an amazing place to sharpen your saw and to improve your business would be the better you are at selling, translating and understanding. At first understanding, what is a client’s desires? What is a client’s view of the world? What is it that they’re struggling with in their life? Having empathy for where they’re at. The better you can do that, ask questions, be a good listener to understand all of that with that client, the better you are to do then get good at translating how your firm is the number one firm, to be able to deliver on the future that client has for their life. That’s what we’re doing when we’re selling.
I love that we’re talking about this because everyone who’s been reading to these episodes, I love selling. I love teaching accounting professionals and bookkeepers the art of selling. You’ve done Landmark. I don’t call it selling. I call it enrollment. Where people get to make the decisions, but understanding the client’s desires and having empathy and being good at translating what ultimately you, the readers want to do, and then having your SOP in the backend in place so you can deliver on that promise. Sometimes from what I’ve heard, “I’m not good at sales, I just want to do the work. I want to do the fun stuff. What do you mean I have to sell? I started a firm or my business, what are you talking about I need to sell?” I always say, “On the P&L, what’s the first thing? It’s either called revenue or it’s called sales.” It’s the livelihood of any business. What do you think is one of the best ways to sharpen the saw of selling? For someone like starting out, were there any good books that you read, other resources that you’ve come across over your journey in your career?
The one that I think is forget about selling, get good at listening. The book that I would recommend and he’s got a Masterclass as well is Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference. He was one of the world’s top FBI negotiators. Negotiation is all about listening and understanding the viewpoint of the person that you’re negotiating with. The only way to get to empathy, to get to understanding their viewpoint is to be able to ask questions and listen. The book has got fabulous recommendations on how to do that. It’s very simple and executionable. He’s been doing this for years in terms of helping business owners, business people, and people in life get better at listening so that you’re able to negotiate better. Part of selling is negotiation. If you do that work and understand those philosophies and get that skill going, selling will become very natural. You’ll learn that what you’re doing already is selling, but you’ll get better at listening and then selling will happen.Forget about selling. Get good at listening. Click To Tweet
That is a fantastic book and a fantastic Masterclass, which I love the Masterclass program. It’s $250 to all these great courses taught by world experts and world leaders. It’s fabulous. I can’t say enough good things about that. I learned a ton from it. That’s the one book I would recommend coming at it from a different angle to shift. What is powerful with the work that you do is you could have somebody learn something, but unless they practice and do it, it won’t turn into anything. Being in a program, to think about the participants in your program, you create a structure that has them do stuff that doesn’t feel natural or comfortable.
It never will until you do it. If we’re right-handed, we try and write with the left, it will be uncomfortable. If we keep doing it though, it becomes more comfortable and we get to get a bit better at it. It’s not like we wake up every day and say, “I want to be uncomfortable asking new questions and doing different behaviors around how I interact with my customers and prospects.” When you’re in a program, there’s a structure that has you do it, and that will make a world of difference for you. That’s where you get your ROI from. It’s being involved in something where it interrupts your practices and creates new practices.
It’s similar to what you said, interrupting the mindset and shifting that to get to the success or whatever it is for you reading this. Michael, thank you so much for sharing. Is there any other last thing that you’ve got that you would want to share with the readers that we did not talk about?
The work you do for small business owners is incredibly valuable. I think often, your clients, the people you work with, those business owners don’t realize how valuable it is. That’s for you to know that it makes a difference. For you to be masterful at being able to show how valuable you are to their business will lead to an abundant business, life and firm. That would be words of encouragement. The work you do is great. You help small and medium-sized businesses. Those are the backbone of our society. Those are the businesses that provide real jobs and feed families. It’s a little bit of a different way maybe of thinking about the work we do every day. When you take that higher purpose into consideration, it’s worth the time, energy and investment you make into growing your own business because of the difference that you’re making in your community. I love the work that I do and I get to help a whole bunch of small businesses all over the world doing this. Keep it up, keep doing the work, keep looking at how you can improve and it will happen.
Thank you so much, Michael, for being here with us. It was such an honor to have you.
It’s my pleasure.
What an amazing episode with Michael Palmer. The number one thing from his point of view to have the firm of abundance is the mindset. If you can’t go to a personal development class or something along those lines, I would highly recommend some meditation. There’s a good app if you have an iPhone that’s called Insight Timer, great, small meditations, music, calming the mind, but being able to shift. The second thing he talked about was SOP, Standard Operating Procedures. I couldn’t agree more. My whole business is run virtually. I have an SOP for pretty much anything. Myself and my assistant have everything documented. We have all of our tasks in a spreadsheet, but it’s about the more complicated things with steps and having the steps listed out in order to be able to make it scalable or delegate it down so you can focus on the stuff you love like Michael was sharing, what are you passionate about?
Number three, sharpening the saw on your sales skills. He said you don’t have to sell because it’s all about listening. Make sure to check out that book, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Remember with the SOP, it’s a long-term game. It’s not a short-term thing. The biggest takeaway that stuck with me from this episode is elasticity, fluidity and being able to roll with the punches because we’ve all signed up for a 24/7 sales career in our firm, in our businesses. Keeping in mind that in order to have the firm of abundance, we have to be able to be elastic and be fluid. When your system crashes or if you use QuickBooks and it doesn’t work, all of that is being able to roll with the punches and being able to overcome the challenges at a calm state. Keep that in mind.
Since sales is important, I want to remind you that if you are frustrated and stressed trying to get the right referrals, you don’t feel like you have control over who you work with or how much you charge. You don’t believe that you can get high monthly fee engagements or annual engagements and you think your clients can’t afford it, then it’s not your fault. No one is training on this, but I am. I can show you how to fix those problems and connect the dots. I am offering a free coaching session so I can share a lot of this information with you, help you get your ideal clients and build the dream practice, work less and have that time with the family and kids that’s present. You’re actually being with them and not on your phone and distracted. If you want to have a call with myself or my partner, Denise, head on over to AbundantCall.com to get that scheduled. Lastly, share with me in a written review on Apple Podcasts what was your a-ha moment from this episode. Thank you all so much for joining. Have a beautiful day.
- The Successful Bookkeeper Podcast
- Apple Podcast – The Abundant Accountant Podcast
- Landmark Forum
- Mastery in Transformational Training
- Sterling Institute of Relationship
- Never Split the Difference
- Insight Timer
About Michael Palmer
Michael Palmer is the popular host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and CEO of Pure Bookkeeping North America.
He has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the globe push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses and achieve the quality of life they’ve always wanted.