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A podcast where you join me (Colie) as I chat about what it takes to grow a sustainable + profitable business.
CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
What do you financial numbers say about your business? If you aren’t sure, it may be time to hire a bookkeeper! In today’s episode, Laura Kelly of Tula Books, joins us to share common mistakes and misconceptions entrepreneurs have about their finances, along with what. it looks like to work with a bookkeeper!
The Business-First Creatives Podcast is brought to you by CRM and Dubsado expert Colie James. Join Colie each week as she discuss how to build a business that brings you joy and a paycheck! From business advice with fellow entrepreneurs to sharing automation tips and tricks, Colie and her guests are sharing industry trends and resources, along with a little bit of sarcasm.
Laura Kelly is the Founder and CEO of TulaBooks, a modern bookkeeping business serving small business owners and entrepreneurs. Laura has more than 15 years of accounting, finance and HR experience, and she brings that knowledge to her small business clients every day. She is an expert number cruncher, but her true passion is storytelling and translating your numbers to show you what they really mean for your business and your life.
About Tula Books
At TulaBooks, we provide modern bookkeeping services to small businesses to bring balance to their books and their business as a whole. Our guidance gives them confidence to navigate their numbers and embrace their role as CEO to make bold, informed decisions based on the stories their finances tell.
Here are the highlights…
[0:31] Get to Know Laura
[3:40] Why & When Entrepreneurs Outsource Bookkeeping
[5:10] The Intimacy of Bookkeeping
[7:11] Common Mistakes DIYers Do With Their Bookkeeping
[12:03] CRMs vs Bookkeeping Software
[13:40] Integrations with Stripe
[22:30] Financial Health Overview
[31:20] Biggest Fuck Up
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello everyone and welcome back to the podcast. This morning I am talking with financial guru Laura Kelly of Tula Books and she is gonna help us get our stuff straight in this new year. Laura, good morning. How are you today?
Laura: Doing really well. I’m surprised you said stuff and not shit.
Colie: I’ve only had half a cup of coffee work with me, Laura
Laura: Yeah. Well, we’ll get there. We’ll get there.
Colie: get there. Why don’t you tell the listening audience, who you service and what you offer
Laura: well we, so here at Tula Books, we are a monthly bookkeeping agency, if you will. We’re growing a team, we’re, you know, becoming lean and mean and mighty. So we’ve got about five bookkeepers on our team right now. We service primarily small business, and I know that’s like a huge kind of spectrum, but we’ve got like that burgeoning female entrepreneur who’s working her way to six figures.
But we’ve also got like our biggest client is a multimillion dollar e-commerce brand. So we do kind of run the gamut, but I feel like my general overall thumb is, I work with people I like and I work with people that truly value. What we’re bringing to the table, and I can usually tell that on the discovery call.
So we’ve got lots of flavors, lots of industries, but we’re really doing, soup to nuts, monthly bookkeeping. So we’re managing your books. The entire life cycle. We’re issuing your, you, your financial statements. Um, and then I also have an offering that is a QuickBooks VIP Day, and that’s more of a done with you service where someone can come in, I can, you know, tweak their QuickBooks and give them basically a QuickBooks SOP manual for them to manage it on their own going forward.
So we’ve got the done with you and the done for
Colie: Which I think is very smart in terms of having a value ladder because I can totally see someone coming in and kind of doing that v i p day and then being like, oh yeah, no, bookkeeping is not for me. Laura, can you just continue to like do it every month? Which is probably how I got started in my bookkeeping.
No. One of the reasons that I wanted to start this off with who you service is because a lot of people that I have on my podcast, Tend to lean towards photographers since that’s like my sphere and I know you from done in a day putting together VIP days, so I did know that you work not just with photographers, but basically all small business and entrepreneurs, which is why I wanted to get that out of the way.
But after you told me that, let’s start with the money because one of the things that my audience, cuz I have all kinds of entrepreneurs in my audience, but it does tend to still lean heavily towards photographers and one of the, one of the. Like hurdles that a photographer has when they are trying to think about outsourcing their books as number one.
They hate their books. They don’t wanna think about their money at all. Everybody’s worried about getting, you know, audited by the irs. But that’s, we’re gonna talk about that too, Laura, but. One of the things that I think holds photographers back, and it might not be true of other entrepreneurs, is when we look to outsource things in our business and get time back in our business, bookkeeping doesn’t make us money.
bookkeeping is an overall expense. Instead of something like outsourcing our editing, which we can actually charge directly to the clients, like if it’s gonna cost me a hundred dollars to get a session edited, I can just raise my prices. A hundred dollars. And then I’m not paying for the service when I don’t use it.
So when do people typically come to look to you as like, oh my gosh, I’m finally ready to get my books in order. Like, is it that they’ve been in business for a certain amount of time, or that they’ve now crossed this certain financial thresholds? Like what have you seen in the people that are coming to you for book?
Laura: Well I really appreciate that question, and I like you, taking that angle of the photographers because I’ve heard your personal story and how, you describe it was kind of a, it wasn’t a slam dunk decision for you to outsource your bookkeeping, cuz at first you were like, well, is it, is it worth it?
Like you said, it’s a total overhead cost. So I would say all the folks that come to us, um, it, it really runs the gamut. I mean, some of them are, Sick of doing it, right. They’ve been doing it for maybe they’re maybe a couple years in and they’re like, look, I know I can do this. I just really don’t wanna do it anymore.
So for them, it’s just worth it to pay that money to get that
Colie: That was me.
Laura: um, right. or they could be just like so busy. They truly don’t have the time and now they’re 10 months into the year and they haven’t done their book. That’s another reason. Like, that’s usually a, a yardstick. It’s like, okay, uh, how many months ago did I actually do my bookkeeping
So let’s be honest with myself. Am I actually gonna do this? No. So I’m gonna bring someone in. Sometimes it’s revenue levels that dictate it, you know, sometimes they don’t feel comfortable until they are at multiple six figures or whatever. But I, I, like I said, I get folks even, you know, female entrepreneurs that are.
Approaching that six figure mark that wanna outsource. So I, I don’t even wanna say that. Like, it’s a hard and fast rule. Once you’re at 200 K or 300 k top line, you should outsource your bookkeeping. It really is a personal decision, and I think bookkeeping it’s a different decision when it comes to outsourcing also because it, because it’s so,
Laura: you know it, you’re really letting someone in, and I feel like people think that, oh, you’re gonna judge me.
You’re gonna see all the like, oh, I put all these personal charges through my books, or like, I spent too much on this. Like people get worried about that and I’m like, honey, I trust me. First of all, I’ve probably seen way worse than you. And second of all, , like I can help guide you and I can help you understand that.
First of all, it’s all okay. And second of all, If you’re looking for more guidance on maybe how to make things better, I can help you. So absolutely no judgment here. But that’s usually kind of like that last hurdle. People are normally nervous
Colie: Yeah, I, I joined a mastermind recently. I don’t know that I told you this. I’ve joined a mastermind for 2023, and the price tag was nine k. And one of the thoughts that I had after I paid for it was, oh wow, my bookkeepers are gonna
Laura: What’s my bookkeeper gonna
Colie: And I did already get the little note that was like, is this education?
Question mark, question mark, question mark. And granted, they probably meant nothing by the question marks, but I was like, every one of those question marks, judgment,
Colie: because I. just be, you know, you know, totally honest. I joined the Mastermind right after one of my lowest months in business in the last two years.
And so, I mean, you know, I didn’t necessarily, one had nothing to do with the other, but when they send me my monthly, Like this is your profit and loss statement for the month. It’s gonna be
Colie: red y’all. It’s gonna be really red, but it’s okay. I’m just gonna get over it. So you said that people come when they’re just tired of doing it.
What are some of the things that you see that people may or may not be doing correctly when they come to you for their bookkeeping? Cuz I’m assuming that when people come to you for bookkeeping, you’re doing some cleaning up of, you know, whatever they’ve had done for the year. if they’ve done anything on their own.
But what is it that you typically see like a common mistake that people are doing when it comes to doing their bookkeeping on their
Laura: Hmm. Oh my gosh. How long is this podcast?
Colie: own’s? As long as you need it to be. I, I have a couple of ideas too.
Laura: Yeah. Yeah. Um, . Yeah. So the, the first thing I said was, oh, they’re just get, they get tired of doing it, but they’re usually tired of doing it because they’re running into roadblocks and they’re like, things keep coming up that they’re like, so let’s say they are using QuickBooks, let’s say they, you know, they’ve signed on, they’ve kind of made that jump into, more of an automated system.
I’ll just say it, QuickBooks is not the most straightforward tool on the planet. Okay. And it’s, it is meant to be user friendly from the perspective of not being a bookkeeper. , but, but I find that business owners, they almost make it so open and available to do all these things that you really shouldn’t be doing.
So it’s usually just like maybe tossing things into a wrong category. Like they don’t understand that, oh, well if I put it in this category, this affects my tax deductions, but if I toss it over here, It’s not gonna show up anywhere that I want it to show up or something like that. So, so that’s usually an issue like categorization.
Sometimes when, if you have multiple bank accounts and you’re like, you’re, you’re just making transactions where you’re just transferring between accounts, that it sounds simple, but it gets so complicated, so fast, and then you start to have duplication and now you’re showing like two deposits in the one account and then you’re missing it on the other one.
So duplication is another issue. Specifically if you, um, let’s, again, let’s say you’re using QuickBooks and you’re using the automatic bank feed that comes in, in theory, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s just gonna pull in your bank transactions, but you know, sometimes it might pull it in twice or maybe you’ll manually key something in and you forgot that it was in the bank and it’s just, it’s a whole thing.
So that’s the QuickBook side on like the Excel manual side. Cause I know, I’m sure there are folks listening that are still in that boat and that’s fine.
Colie: Shouldn’t be continue. Sorry. No,
Laura: Well, they shouldn’t be. Okay.
Colie: but they shouldn’t be. Continue
Laura: Yeah, I mean, that’s where you can really get into trouble because you know, there is no like automatic feed or connection or no audit point to be able to say, well, what’s in my spreadsheet? Does it actually marry up with my bank statement? And what actual reality is. So it’s so much room for human error because you’re manually keying stuff in and Oh man.
So yeah, it, it. So many issues . So yes, when we sign on a client, there’s usually some level of cleanup engagement, that is going along with that. Even if they were working with a bookkeeper, cuz sometimes we just had, we have to make sure the balances are right. We have to make sure everything rolls forward right?
And sometimes the bookkeeper maybe did things a little funky. So it, yeah, lots.
Colie: I mean, so first of all, you talking about people doing their bookkeeping in Excel gave me hives, like literal hives on my arms. Second, when you started talking about categorization, I think that is one of the things. Because, I mean, you know, I know I have a mathemat. I love numbers. I mean, I, I really love numbers.
I loved doing my bookkeeping, but the fear of getting audited from the IRS and not making sure that I was categorizing things correctly is what eventually made me hire a bookkeeper. I would get worried that I wasn’t being consistent enough. And one of the things that I wasn’t doing was like, for example, You know, education guys is not a category on the IRS thing.
So if you’re making one of those, you have to make sure that you’re consistent in where you’re putting things into your categories. And there was just a point where I felt like, For example, if I bought a template, like if I bought a templated email pack from someone, I couldn’t remember how I had categorized the last email templated pack that I bought, and it was really important for me like, well, no, I need those to be in the same category, so then, I started off on QuickBooks self-employed, which no one, no one hate me, no one judged me.
But one of the things that I discovered really quickly is on that one, you can’t make your own categories. So like I wanted to have all
Laura: So many limitations
Colie: I wanted to have all these categories so that I could really see where all of my money was going. Like I wanted one for digital templates.
I wanted one for like online courses or in-person conferences, and you couldn’t do that. So then I moved QuickBook. But then I, or QuickBooks online, you know, big girl version. but then I just had too many categories. So when my bookkeepers took over , that was one of the many questions that they asked me was, okay, you’ve got all these categories, like, can we consolidate some of these?
And I was like, but then how will I know where this stuff goes ? So I mean, I was over categorizing things. I wanna slightly shift Laura, because one of the things that I hear as a systems guru all the time, and actually I heard it two days ago, which I was like, yes, I’m gonna talk to Laura about this because this is, yeah.
Someone was talking about their CRM and was basically saying that one of the things that they didn’t like about Honey Book was that they had to manually put their expenses, I was absolutely horrified. I was like, you’re using your CRM
Laura: They’re using honey. Okay. All right.
Colie: to reconcile and, and you know, you can’t reconcile.
So I will say, guys, just in case anybody’s listening, if you are a 17 hats user, please ignore what I’m saying because you actually have the capability of reconciling your books inside of your crm. That is a thing for
Laura: Oh, they do? Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.
Colie: cr. So I’m talking to
Laura: it, it’s, it’s a bookkeeping activity. It’s not a
Colie: but 17 hats will bring in your bank feeds.
Like it’s a different, it’s a different kind of beast. So for everyone, not on 17 hats, yes, all of your CRMs have spots for you to put expenses. And I would say that if you’re trying to figure out your profit for a project, it’s not bad for you to enter an expense. Like if you sold. I don’t know, $600 in pick time on an album and it costs you 140.
You could theoretically take that profit and or the expense and the revenue to get your profit and add it onto the project so that you know from that client you made, let’s say, a thousand dollars from the session and then you made an additional $600 or 500 and something from the print sale. I’m not objecting to.
But if you are entering every single expense into your crm, you are wasting a lot of your time, like a lot of your time. And I can’t believe that people are still doing this like now. Because even if you don’t wanna pay for QuickBooks, there’s Wave which is actually free, you know, up to a certain amount or whatever.
But one of the things that I found fascinating, Laura, that you set on one of our mastermind calls, cuz guys I’m in a mastermind with Laura, was when you. Stripe doesn’t play nicely with QuickBooks and like, I swear, I remember my ears just perked up and I was like, what? So first of all, Laura,
Laura: I’m pretty sure you were off video and then you like
Colie: back in and I was like, what’d
Colie: you say? So let’s talk about this because there’s the QuickBooks integration, like as a bookkeeper, there’s the QuickBooks integration that you can set up now for almost every CRM where it will feed your revenue into QuickBooks. And then there’s also the choice inside the CRM of what payment processor we should be using.
So first of all, let’s talk about Stripe. Why does Stripe not play nicely with QuickBook?
Laura: There’s no integration. There’s no integration. So, so here’s what happens when you charge a client. Let’s say you charge ’em a thousand dollars. We’ll make it easy for numbers here. You charge the client a thousand dollars. You don’t get a thousand dollars, you get $970, cuz you’re only getting, like, cuz Stripe is keeping $30 as a 3% fee.
So, The issue is in your books, you wanna, you wanna capture a thousand, and then you wanna capture $30 as a fee. . Okay, so you have a thousand motioning. If you’re watching the video portion of this a thousand dollars at the top right, your, your top line, your income section, and then $30 is down below in your operating expenses cuz you wanna be able to deduct that.
What happens is in your bank feed, , you only see nine 70. So even if you turn on your integration with Dubsado, Dubsado pulls in your invoice of a thousand, which, okay, great, but then it won’t like reconcile that $970 deposit. So that’s still a manual step that you have to do. It just, it won’t, it will not do that for you.
Now I will, You can do your research. There are third party integrators between Stripe and QuickBooks. Cuz if you get off this podcast and you’re like, I’m gonna prove her wrong, I’m gonna look it up. Yes, there are third party integrators, but there’s no native integration. I’ve tested some of these third parties.
They’re all right. They all have their limitations though. Um, so that’s where, personally for me as a bookkeeper, because for me, bookkeeping kind of. Top billing , no pun intended, actually, um, , like I, I value ease of bookkeeping over maybe other workflows or efficiencies, if that makes sense. So for me, I do whatever I can to put my billing through QuickBooks Payments, their own integrated payment processor, and I found.
You’ll be proud. I’ve found ways to try and automate it in the Dubsado side of my business as much as possible. Like let’s say generating a payment link from QuickBooks that can be reused and then inserting that into your workflow in Dubsado. So that’s how I personally get around it. I do see there, there are some limitations with some of the automations.
I’m sure you will agree because you know, there’s certain automations you can kick off in Dubsado based on when someone pays. You’re not gonna get that visibility if they pay in QuickBooks, so I get that. But for me, it’s worth it to streamline my bookkeeping over some of those just like slightly, slightly manual things that I might have to do in Dubsado, if
Colie: And see from my perspective, because I pay a bookkeeper, I’m like, oh, they can deal with that
Laura: Right, exactly.
Colie: more important that when my client pays and they sign the co, well, they sign the contract and then they pay. It’s more important to me that the next step in the workflow. So like their booking confirmation.
Laura: automatically kicks
Colie: and for myself, it’s just an email, but for a lot of my clients that I’m working with, like there’s an actual thing that happens after the clients pay them. Like it sends them a scheduler to schedule their planning call for their session, or it sends them a session guide or you know, it does all of these different things.
And so to me that other automation is more important than the bookkeeping. But let’s get to.
Colie: because when people come to me for me to set them up on a v I P day and they start talking about bookkeeping, the first thing I say is, I will not do anything with QuickBooks integration. I was like, you are to talk to your bookkeeper first.
If you have a bookkeeper, you must talk to them. I want you to ask them if you actually want that. If they actually want you to integrate the QuickBook. From Dubsado into QuickBooks. And the reason that I say that is because there are a lot of problems and limitations with the QuickBooks integration. For example, I was feeling what, I still feel really bad for my bookkeepers, but like I have a membership from my photographers. And so if they’re buying into the monthly membership, that’s a hundred dollars a month. I am now charging them the $1,200 upfront. Like that’s what their invoice shows, and then they’re making monthly payments of $100. But what happens with that initial invoice is when they pay the first a hundred dollars payment, It gets synced into QuickBooks, but then the remaining 900 is still showing, or the remaining 1100 is still showing as immediately due because due dates do not transfer from Dubsado to QuickBooks.
So then my
Laura: Yeah. Cause QuickBooks can only have one due date, so they don’t, they can’t do all of those installment due
Colie: Yes. So then they go into QuickBooks and they basically make the due date, like at the end of the year so that I’m not constantly showing that my clients are 30 days in arrears, 60 days in arrears, and so on. So I’ve actually had some clients that were working with bookkeepers that were like, no, don’t turn that on.
Like I will grab it from the bank feed. We will, we will do other ways, but I would prefer that you not turn on that integration off. So you. Do you work with people and you want the integration on? How do you feel about CRM integrations into QuickBooks?
Laura: Oh man. Yeah, I, so I’ve done, I’ve done probably over a dozen QuickBooks VIP days. That’s normally when it comes up because it’s normally those folks that are opting into my VIP day are photographers or people in the online space, like people that are using a cr. Not to say that our monthly clients aren’t, but we’ve got different stratus of people in that bucket.
So I really make it, I, I make it a subjective decision. I honestly, sometimes I base it on, do I trust that this person can actually like, work with this workflow? Because actually by bringing it in, yes, you’re saving a step, but then you, you have to kind of add some other steps that they have to do to, to reconcile that payment.
Like I said, like to make that $1,000 become a $970 deposit, there’s a manual step in there. So, Do I trust my client that they’re actually gonna follow through on that? And if so, then you know, I, I do very detailed documentation for them on all the steps I need to do to like, make sure everything goes through.
But if I don’t feel like they’re, they’re gonna do that path, then I might do more of a shortcut path that is not integrated, but will still capture the thousand dollars of the $30 fee. And it just kind of makes it a little bit easier. And usually with those, actually what I do with those. I’ll just let them, like all their stripe deposits, it just goes right to income.
So even though it’s the net. We just capture the income as it all goes along. And then at the end of the month, they can do one true up entry and QuickBooks to grab all the fees. So then all they have to do is log into Stripe one time, run a quick report, and do a quick entry, and then it captures everything.
So that’s kind of the. Other approach that I do, but I would say probably in general, I am moving away from getting clients on the integration because there is this kind of manual bookkeeping thing that, first of all, people don’t really understand what it’s actually doing. And if they don’t understand it, they’re probably not gonna latch onto it.
And we wanna give them a workflow that they’re actually gonna use and they’re going to like, the goal after my VIP day is for them to DIY. Yes, we would love to have them as a monthly client, but they came to me because they wanted to DIY their book. So we wanna make that as easy and streamlined for them as possible.
Colie: All right. I think we’ve covered bookkeeping. Let’s talk about the other things that you do. So when you have monthly bookkeeping, I think if I’m remembering correctly, you are giving them kind of like a financial overview, whether it’s annually or quarterly or monthly. What are the things that you are looking for when you are giving someone the financial health of their business, at one of those intervals?
Laura: Yeah, so actually with all of our monthly clients, they get access to me for a 30 minute debrief call every single month. So that’s where they can really, it, it’s kind of like a fireside chat. Um, it’s not real structured. . I’d let them, it’s, I liken it to a financial therapy session. I, you know, if, if you were my client, Colie and you came to that call, I would say, Well, you know, what’s present for you today?
I become your therapist, right? , what is bothering you? And so that normally guides the call. But I, if, let’s say the one thing is, you know what? I didn’t understand my financial statement that you sent me. This one. Okay, great. So let’s dive in. So what am I actually looking for when I’m trying to, I think as you said, it, like analyze the financial health of their business.
So when I pull up a financial statement, first of all, in QuickBooks. So if you have a QuickBook system, you’re, you can very easily do this. I like to track my month over month, over month. So here we are, middle of November when we’re recording this. So what I always do is I run year to date through the prior month.
So like, let’s say at this point, like October’s closed, right? Obviously that’s our last full month of activity. So I would run a profit and loss from January through October, and then I’m looking at the numbers for. Right. So, uh, first of all, income, first thing I look at, right? I’m trying to see are we growing, are we shrinking?
Did we have a big spike? And I’m trying to understand, okay, well what happened? What was a big spike? Oh, okay, you launched a new program. Awesome. Or maybe your business is more of a recurring revenue business. There could be some folks on this call that have, like me, where they, they just keep adding on recurring clients and that piece grows.
If I, if it was that sort of business, I would wanna see that that’s consistently growing. So if it dipped down again, what happened? Did you lose a client? What happened there? So, we’re always kind of looking for, for those types of trends and growth and trying to understand, well, what happened? Then when we go to look at costs, then we look at again, same thing, right?
We wanna see like a big, okay, the $9,000 expenditure,
Colie: and up and up.
Laura: Yeah. So you’re looking at those in relation to each other. So, okay, if you had a big income month, maybe you also had a big expense month associated with that. That makes sense. But again, I could see why your bookkeeper might ask you the question, Colie, maybe you had not the strongest revenue month and you, you invested that 9,000.
Yeah, but not to say that’s a bad financial decision though, because that $9,000 is an investment in your future. So I, you know, again, I wouldn’t just look at that on its face and say that was a bad financial decision because you are gonna reap the benefits of that over time into the next year. So again, we’re just, we’re looking for trends.
The other thing that I like to do with my clients as well, when they have direct costs related to an income that they’re bringing in. So like to your point about you’re a photographer, you hire an editor, right? So you wanna see, for that particular line of revenue that you have, you have photography, revenue, you wanna look at comparing that top line revenue to the direct expenses related to servicing that revenue and, and looking at the comparison there and saying, okay, is this still profitable if you all of a sudden have a ton of costs needed to deliver that revenue, and now your profits are shrinking, , but hey, you’ve also got this monthly membership over here that’s very low cost to you and that’s growing.
Okay, well maybe we double down on the membership and we move away from another stream of revenue that you have where there’s lots of costs involved. And I’m just throwing out examples here. But those are the things that we look at. Profitability of your different types of revenue that you have.
Expenses in general, making sure that if you’re making big investments, that you know it’s being counteracted by the revenue as much as possible. Or we know that it’s an investment that’s gonna bring us something in the future. Those are the kind of things that I look at, with my clients and again, maybe they, they don’t even wanna look at their financials that month.
Maybe they just wanna say, Hey, can I afford to bring on a new so and so person? Or can I afford to do this? Or maybe they’re trying to get out of debt so they’re like, okay, can we put together maybe a rough plan for me to get out of debt and stuff? So we’ll look at cash flow and stuff like that. So it’s very open ended and that’s where I feel like back to one of the points you made at the very beginning of this call, was.
you felt like bookkeeping was just an overhead expense? Well, I would argue there can be a return on investment there because you’re getting that person If, if you say work with a firm like Tool Books where we are giving you that value add every month, we can help you turn the information that’s hiding in your numbers into actionable steps that you can take to grow your business.
So I would argue there’s an ROI
Colie: I wasn’t necessarily, meaning there wasn’t an roi. It’s just not a direct, I mean,
Laura: It isn’t. You’re right. You’re right.
Colie: So I feel like all of this, when we’re in the entrepreneurial world of like, you know, VIP days and that I, I feel like it’s, it’s just, it’s a different mindset. It’s a total different mindset. And one of the things that I really appreciated when I hired bookkeepers that I wasn’t keeping track of, I mean, I love looking at profitability, but I didn’t really know what was. Standard or acceptable, or like what I should be going for. And so I think the first time that I had a quarterly meeting with them, I think it was a quarterly meeting, they were pointing out that, you know, my profitability was hovering, I think it was between 55 and 60%. They were like, it’s good. You wanna make sure it stays above 50%.
And then they were pointing out my cost of good sold, which is what you were just talking about. Like for me, like my editors, they’re like, you have a. You have a lot of room to play with that because while I have big expenses, Which are mostly related to either equipment from photography or like all of the software purchases that I make for the Dubsado side of my business.
In terms of photography, I actually don’t have very much cost of goods sold. And so they were like, you know, that number is way lower. Than we normally see with most of our photography clients. They’re like, you know, as much as you could outsource to get time back to get, you know, it’ll give you a, a bigger return on investment and you’ll be able to get more clients.
And I was like, I hadn’t thought about it like that, but okay. And so, you know, no, I have a photo editor and a film editor, and a virtual assistant. I mean, like, I’m just, I’m just racking people.
Colie: My podcast manager. Yeah, I actually haven’t looked at my financials since I hired all those people at the end of summer.
So, we’ll, we’ll see what my numbers are like, you know, in January when I go through them. So you’re giving your clients their financial health, you’re doing monthly bookkeeping or you’re setting people up for diy. How many people that hire you for a diy cuz they’re, you know, they’re convinced that they’re gonna be able to do it themselves.
How many people actually make the decision to be like, you know what, Laura? I’ve just decided this isn’t worth my time. Can you just do this for me? Thanks, appreciate.
Laura: Well, I would say it, it might be a little early to tell, because. , my theory is no. I, I have had a couple people convert. Out of those like dozen plus that I’ve done this year, might be closer to like 15 that I’ve done this year. But my theory is that as time goes on and then they see that, you know what?
I skipped my bookkeeping this month. I. Skipped it again next month. Like all of that as it starts to build, I, I think probably the three to six month mark after I hold the VIP day with them is probably when I’m gonna start to see some folks come back. There were a couple recently that I had actually that.
They, they actually went through it knowing they wanted to go right into monthly bookkeeping, which I really like that cuz we did, like, we got really familiar with their books in the v i p day and then we very nicely transitioned them to monthly. So we had a couple people that transitioned quite quickly.
But for the rest, I would say I’m kind of giving it a, it’s a wait and see. So I, I make sure that I, I keep in
Colie: I was about to say that. Laura. See, you
Laura: how’s your bookkeeping going,
Colie: was gonna say, as your resident systems person, do you have an email template that you send out at three months to ask them how it’s going? Okay. You stole my thunder. All right.
Laura: Yeah. Well, I, I do need to templatize it though. I’ve been kind of doing it manually, but yeah. There’s
Colie: Yeah. Next time you do it, just copy
Laura: set up Dubsado. Right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I’ve got a nice workflow for like the 30 days, support period after the VIP day. But yeah, I do need to automate that.
But yeah, I just had a gal recently who I, I did one with, It was like earlier this year and, and I did send one of those like touchpoint emails and she scheduled time on my calendar to talk and I’m like, interesting. Does she wanna move to monthly, like, or does she just have a question like, I don’t know, we’ll see
Colie: Well, okay, Laura, so this is a question that I ask everyone, everyone is familiar with. The question is my favorite part of the interview. I want you to tell me about the biggest fuck up in your business, what you learned from it, and how you grew.
Laura: So, okay, let’s rewind a little bit because this. The form that this business has taken in this monthly book, even world, it wasn’t like that when I first started. When I first started, I was doing hourly consulting, like CFO level stuff, financial analysis and stuff like that. So I definitely, I had a pivoting point, but there was kind of a transition from, Hey, Laura is an hourly consultant to, oh, Laura’s got a team of bookkeepers now she’s doing monthly bookkeeping and very different type of work.
So I would say I took a client, I was kind of straddling that pivot period. And that client ended up consuming my entire life, and then consumed, a couple of my bookkeepers lives. And one of them said to me recently, that she had PTSD with this client,
Colie: I think
Laura: And I was like, honey, it’s behind us now. It’s behind us.
But my point in telling this story is that. Because I was still figuring out my business model. I took them on because I needed the revenue, but I knew in my heart that it was gonna feel more like an employee relationship than, uh, I’m you. I’m a contractor. I’m, I’m, I’m setting boundaries. I’m setting my schedule.
It was very much like I had multiple meetings with them every week. I was accessible to them every day of the week. Now I was getting compensated for that cuz we were doing hourly billing. So we were getting paid for that. It was very lucrative, . So when I actually did move away from them, it was painful from a revenue perspective.
Um, , it hurt in the short term, but I knew that it was the best long term decision for Tula Books because we aren’t set up for that. We are set up for predictable monthly bookkeeping that we can do on our own time. You know, we, we deliver to the clients on, on time every month in terms of delivering them their financials, but they’re.
Calling us, texting us, or asking for meetings from us because we’re just in the background doing the work that they want us to do, and then we’re providing the value in the monthly meetings and whatnot. But it’s not this sort of relationship where they control your fucking life.
Colie: I mean, I don’t even know what I would, I don’t even know what I. Email or text my bookkeepers to ask them on a weekly basis. Like every once in a while if I pop in there, I’m just like, oh, you know, this wasn’t this category, this was this. And most of the time it’s because I tend to have some people who like straddle my business.
So for, I call them unicorn and clients, I love you all if you are listening to this podcast, cuz most of them do. I have people that have at some point hired me for photography mentor. Then they’re either in my DOA course or they hired me for a v i P day. But they are also my photography clients in that I photograph their families.
So they straddle both sides of my business and they’ve been, you know, very long term. So every once in a while, my bookkeepers will miscategorize something that they paid me, like if they paid me for photography, I see that it’s in the education bucket, and I’m like, no, that’s like their monthly fee for photography.
That’s not right. So every once in a while I send them notes like, But I just don’t even know what I would email them on a weekly basis. Like, I don’t know,
Laura: Well, we’re talking about a different stratus of, of type of client, like they were a startup technology company that it, it was like we just became part of their team, so it was almost like we were a. Well, my bookkeeper particular, she was putting in 20 hours a week on this client, so she was practically like a, like a part-time employee basically.
And then I was sitting on as like a. on call cfo. So that’s why I was attending the weekly meetings and all this kind of stuff. There was financial analysis, there was budgeting, forecasting, total different type of business than what you and I deal with most every other day of the week, . But again, it, it was a prior relationship that I had.
It did make sense for me in the short term, but what I learned is, that’s not gonna support the growth of Tula books, that’s not scalable. And it also was putting a ton of stress on my team. You know, they, it, it was stressful for them like this, this client used Slack which we used Slack internally as well, but it was the constant pings and tons of channels and getting tagged in all these places.
And my bookkeeper was like, I can’t keep this straight. I
Colie: There’s so many
Laura: I’m surprised. Yeah, she probably has PTSD with a little slack, like knock, you know, notification, sound, . So I kind of feel bad that we’re still using Slack, but our internal Slack is, is way different.
Colie: That’s okay. Laura.
So what you got from that was you learned the trajectory that you wanted your business to go on, and what your ideal client was going forward and that you didn’t wanna do like that kind of on demand Financial consulting that you had been doing. So I mean, good on you.
So today we’ve talked about your offers, which are a v I P day for QuickBooks and also monthly bookkeeping. So if people wanna find out more information about your services, where can they find you on the internet?
Laura: Yeah, best place to get in touch with me. I do have a, a mild Instagram presence, , so you can, it, it’s more for, you know, static posts that you can learn a lot about. Just some of my, my. My values and how I work with clients and stuff like that. So definitely you can mind my Instagram to kind of learn a little bit more.
but if you really want to chat with me, in a, in a no pressure situation, I, I just push people to book a call with me because one of my deeply held values. Is deep one to one connections. I’ve learned this about myself over the years, which is actually why I love being a podcast guest because I love being able to go deep with people like you Colie and being able to unpack these, you know, topics and things like that.
And that’s where I really thrive. So, if you go to my website, Tula books.co, there’s tons of like big buttons that say book a call,
Colie: I am proud of you for your call to actions. Let’s just go there.
Laura: Yes, yes. There’s plenty of calls to action, so, yep, that’s, that’s my next step. Yes, I have a freebie on my website. Yes, you can download it, but just book a down call. That’s all I can say,
Colie: Well, Laura, thank you for joining this morning. It was amazing as I knew it would be. And everyone, thanks for listening and see you next time.
Laura: Thank you. Bye.