women in business

Networking…am I doing it all wrong?

Mobile laptop bed

A few years ago at the beginning of my business journey I was told during a one-on-one session with a marketing consultant that networking events are not for making friends. My follow-up emails with the people I met were all wrong. I needed to get to the point about the services I offered and cut the pleasantries.

I do a lot of networking with other women and most of my clients are also women. Do we attend networking events to make friends? Heck yes.  We’re often working from home on our own, we have challenges that other women and mums can relate to and sometimes these are our only opportunities to connect.  Yes, we are there to find clients. Yes, we are also there to find people that we can form alliances with. But when a fellow business owner tells me how she felt about her teenager going out driving on her own for the first time I remember that conversation and I remember that woman and her business, because we genuinely connected over that conversation.

Networking is a time for listening – not just pitching.  If you listen you’ll find out what people’s frustrations are, where they could do with some help.  I don’t want a business card thrust in my hand and to be “sold” to without getting to know that person first.  A wall goes straight up and doing business with them is the last thing on my mind.

There’s definitely room for me to be more aggressive in my networking. I’m getting better at selling my business when I do my “stand up and tell us about your business” pitch.  But I also know that when someone picks up the phone and calls me after meeting me at a networking event, then there was a degree of trust there and they felt I was the type of person that would do the right thing by them (and their business finances).

In hindsight, a lot of the advice the marketing consultant gave me was good, solid advice.  I went ahead with some of his recommendations later (after I got over the initial shock of his bluntness). I also agree that at the end of the day you’re investing time and money in networking events in order to grow your business. I’ll continue to make sure potential clients are aware of what I do and how I can help them, but I’ll also be having a laugh and getting to know the people I’m out spending my night with.

Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina

 

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2017 – The Year in Review

2017 The Year in Review

Well I certainly had some ups and downs in 2017 and I thought now would be a great time to look back and reflect on the year that was.  Mainly business-related but a little bit personal too.

The Ups

Business contacts – I made some amazing business contacts and became more comfortable with being put on the spot and talking about my business. Although I’m used to standing in front of a room full of students, having to promote your business in front of other business owners takes a bit of getting used to.

Out of my comfort zone – I tried some new activities with family this past year that were so much fun and I’m glad I did them.  I’m not a spontaneous person, but I’m not afraid to try new things either. Age is just a number right?

Trying new things

Business growth – December 2017 was my best month income-wise since I started Festival Bookkeeping in September 2015.

Business coaching – I signed up with a great business coach who gets as excited about my business as I do! Her network of business owners has also been invaluable in the growth of my business.

Growing my businessCollaborations – local and overseas.  In 2017 I had the chance to work on projects with business owners locally. I also had the Head of Marketing at a New Zealand software company contact me personally about a blog post I did. Exciting to see what new projects will come about in 2018.  Technology and collaboration will be 2 focuses for me in 2018.

New working space – My hubby made me a beautiful built-in desk which has been fundamental in keeping a clear work-space (and head-space) to while away the working hours.

Xero – Towards the end of the year I received the good news that I’d achieved bronze level partner status. This came from a year of focusing my time and energy on marketing the Xero side of my bookkeeping business, as well as going the extra mile for my existing bookkeeping clients.

Bookkeeping blog award – Also later in the year, Feedspot.com featured me as one of their “Top 40 Bookkeeping Blogs” on the internet. My blog was up there with some popular bookkeeping blogs that I’d been reading over the years, so this was pretty exciting.

Blog growth – My blog “The Savvy Bookkeeping Blog” had 2,762 views. Wow! I had readers from 66 countries reading my posts – from Iceland to Argentina and everywhere in between.

Achieving milestones

 

The Downs

Burglary – Our house was broken into and it hit our family pretty hard.  It took a lot of time and effort to get back to where we were with missing items and the injustice of people taking things they hadn’t earned. Things they hadn’t been gifted by loved ones. We tried not to dwell on it and to not let our kids dwell on it too much either. As a result we’ve changed the way we think about security. You can read more about it, from a business owner’s perspective, here.

Pricing – One of my goals slipped by the wayside last year (although to be fair I hadn’t started working on it until later in the year). Talking with another bookkeeper and with my business coach has been invaluable in the progress I’ve made so far. (Tip for other small business owners – don’t be afraid to reach out to others that you trust in your industry when it comes to pricing advice). I’m determined to tick this goal off my list early in 2018. No excuses.

Distractions – I have too many ideas for my business and the past year I think I could have focused a little better. Too many directions I want to move in and things I want to accomplish. I’m sure I’m not the only business owner who suffers from this though. I think it’s part of the reason we start businesses, because we want to get our ideas out there and create businesses we really love and can be proud of.

Friends and family – Unfortunately I felt that I lost contact with some friends and family in 2017. It’s easy to use working on your business as an excuse not to make the effort to see people.  Deep down I’m not a “hustle at all costs” type of person, so I’m determined to do better in 2018.

 

A Down that turned out to be an Up

Part-time employment – My part-time bookkeeping work ended halfway through 2017 which at the time I saw as a “down” but really turned out to be an “up”. Maybe it’s a coincidence that I got new clients not long after my employment ended –  maybe those extra free days in my calendar gave me the motivation to work harder and put myself out there a bit more.

So that’s it.  Probably a little more personal that my usual blog posts, but it’s been a great exercise to look back over the past year and to clarify my goals for the year ahead.

 

Happy bookkeeping to everyone in 2018…

Sarina

 

If your laptop was stolen

Laptop sofa ipad working

So this is a subject that I feel strongly about. Something I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing recently.

I have a couple of questions worth thinking about.

If your laptop was stolen, what would be the impact on your clients? What would be the impact on you personally and your business?

Would you lose all your marketing materials, invoices, expensive promotional photos, business plans, written procedures, client testimonials, eBooks, training materials?

Would your client’s confidential information be released out into the big wide world? What would your client’s reaction be? Would your business even recover from that?

Would you lose personal photos that you never got around to printing?

If your laptop gets stolen you don’t, unfortunately, get to choose the day it’s going to happen.  You don’t get to say “well I think my laptop might disappear into the hands of strangers tomorrow so tonight I’ll run a backup”.

Backing-up data daily has been a part of my routine from day 1 of working for a hire company here in Adelaide many years ago. They ran a tight ship and I’m glad for that great foundation right from the beginning.

Things to do today:

  • Buy a couple of USB’s. Label them. Make a copy of everything on your laptop regularly. Put the USB’s somewhere safe (taking a copy off-site means you still have a copy if you get fire or water damage in your office).
  • Consider backing up to the cloud as well.
  • Run a search in File Explorer for “password”. Have you got documents that contain passwords for you or your clients? Change the word “password” to something else.
  • It goes without saying you shouldn’t have a document actually called “passwords’!
  • Log into all your websites that require a password. So emails, accounting software, online banking etc. Ensure that none of the passwords are stored. I know it’s a right pain having to remember every different password (but I still hope you’re not using one password for everything, right?).
  • Set up a password for initial access to your iPad and laptop, so that it’s difficult to even get past that first login screen.
  • Lock-up filing cabinets and paper shredders are a must if you have confidential client information in your office.

If you’re like me you may be security conscious when going away for the weekend and you probably also make sure you don’t leave technology in the car when you run into the shops, but what I didn’t realise was just how common home and office break-ins are during broad daylight. School pick-up time is a common one!  Not a nice experience for anyone.

Please back-up, lock-up and password protect.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

Sarina

 

P.S.  I often share small business tips on Facebook and Instagram – just search for Festival Bookkeeping. Look forward to seeing you there.

 

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My 3 favourite productivity tips

Handbag purse calculator phone

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” Dr Seuss

As a business owner, your productive days are the ones that keep you moving forward. They keep you one step ahead of the competition. Importantly, they mean that you can put your feet up at the end of the day with a smile on your face, feeling good about your day and what you’ve achieved.

Today I’d like to share my 3 favourite productivity tips to help you, in Dr Seuss’ words, get on your way!

Play music

Playing music whilst working BUT…only when doing easy tasks I don’t need to think too hard about. For me this includes scanning documents for filing & uploading receipts to my software. It’s surprising how much work you can power through when you have music to boost your mood and it’s almost like a reward for getting through your tougher work earlier on.

Use online invoicing software

Is this how you prepare Invoices? Open up a Word document, change the Invoice number (after checking it’s the next number), add the customer name and details, save it, attach it to an email, type up a professional-sounding email message, send. Oh and remember to back-up all your Word documents in case your laptop fails etc? Well you have probably already guessed what I’m going to say. Of course there are much more efficient, hassle-free ways to do your invoicing and this includes using online invoicing software. Using your mobile or iPad you can send an invoice to your customer whilst you are right there with them and you know they’ve received it. If you send the same invoices to customers every month, you can set up recurring invoices to go out in a fraction of the time than if you had to do it manually each month. For those in the UK, you can try Quickbooks’ online invoicing software free for 30 days.

Do the difficult tasks first

This is a gem of a tip that has really helped me in my business and in life overall actually. It sounds so simple, yet it can have huge productivity benefits. When the weight of a difficult task is lifted off of your shoulders you really do fly through the rest of your day feeling confident and able to tackle anything. I’ve come to believe that success comes to those willing to do the difficult things others put off doing. Pick up the phone and make those difficult phone calls first thing in the morning before you have too much time to think about it. Head out the door and introduce yourself to potential clients. Leave the fun stuff like updating social media until after the uncomfortable stuff is out the way. I tend to overthink things and before I know it part of my day is gone whilst I wait for myself to “feel like” doing the tough stuff. Since adopting the habit of doing the difficult tasks first I wouldn’t do things any other way.

So for me being productive is all about working smarter and not harder, embracing technology and remembering to reward myself. Not all of my days are productive ones, and that’s okay. As a bookkeeper sometimes I get weighed down with the numbers and just need a good break so I can come back and tackle my work another day with fresh eyes!

 
Let me know – how do you stay productive? Have you changed your habits and become more productive?

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Happy bookkeeping…

Sarina