Episode 373: Show Notes
Today we have our first roundtable discussion of sorts! We are joined by Parker Stevenson of Evolved Finance and Amy Northard of Amy Northard CPA! Both of our guests are people we work with and they are here to tell us about their experiences scaling service-based business scaling service-based businesses. Parker is our resident bookkeeping and financial guru and Amy is our tax accountant and so much more! Now you might be thinking that these topics might not make for the most interesting episode but we promise this is going to be super fun and not at all dull!
Both of our guests spoke at our recent summit about growing a team and productizing your services and we wanted to pick their brains just a little bit more on the subject! So they are here to give you some suggestions on realistic scaling and how they have found it possible to move things upward in their service-based businesses. So if you love client work but also want to keep growing and cannot quite imagine how it might all work, this is the episode for you!
Some of Amy and Parker's Backgrounds and the Work They Do Now
Parker has been working for Evolved Finance for the last few years and joined after his business partner started the company in 2010. Parker took the lessons he learned in the corporate world and applied it to the smaller system, where he preferred to work. He saw what they were building and saw it as a great opportunity to help out and work in a way that challenged and suited him. Amy started her CPA business 7 years ago and it was also influenced by her prior work in a CPA firm, where she was pretty unhappy. She wanted a more regular schedule and less work in taxes and so she started Amy Northard CPA! Once she began her company, she realized that she did not hate taxes so much but just needed to work with people she found inspiring and working with creatives really provided this for her. The business has been growing steadily and she is getting closer to her goal of more focus on education and providing low-cost accounting tools to people in the field.
Finding and Employing People to Work for You
Amy started out using contractors and has now ramped up to hiring new employees. She has hired a junior and senior CPA for the team and she can comfortably say this was a great decision because when life comes at you, things can fall apart if there is no support system. Contractors often flake and get sick, as Amy has experienced and so her attitude is to add one person at a time as they continue to scale their services. They have about 500 clients at the moment so things are looking busy on their end! Parker wanted to build out to serve more people but at the same time stay in control of the growth. This means the scaling had to be very well researched because doing it well requires caution and expertise. Parker and his partner realized the expertise of the business needed to be distributed beyond just the two minds of the partners and if they did not plan well, the onboarding process would be slow and hazardous. Another consideration was keeping the standard of the service and improving on that rather than letting it drop with new, inexperienced employees. At Evolved Finance they have an attitude of hiring before they actually need someone, that way by the time they do, the individual will be experienced enough to handle the work!
Differentiating the Offer and Connecting with Clients
For Amy, it all starts with a discovery call with new clients. This gives everything that she does a personal touch and welcome new customers into her world. She is there for them and if they have any questions or problems she is on hand to help them out. They also offer a virtual CFO at a later stage to help the process along. It was a big realization for Parker and the founder of the company that what they were actually selling are their processes and expertise. What differentiates them is their knowledge around the industry and this experience is easily transferable and just needs to be delivered, which is what their business is all about! So the education side of the business has been getting more and more attention and is what Parker spends most of his time on now. He believes you have to document, track and analyze the work you do for customers and the more you stay focused on delivering the best service the easier it is to grow.
Using These Models to Get New Clients
Getting yourself out there and personable can make a big difference in growing your business. This is what Amy did when she started appearing on podcasts, guest blogging and attending local meetups. It was there that she made friends with other business owners and started networking her way to success. Parker advises to start with having a really good service; he reminds us that your service is your advantage. It is just a matter of not taking your customers for granted and building slowly from there will build up your revenue stream. So if you can prove to clients that you get the job done well, you can easily stick in their minds. Parker believes predictability and reliability are a big plus, no matter your field, so give your clients a reason to refer you. As you grow you can hone and productize your work. If you don't do these basics you will miss massive opportunities for growth; if you need to pivot at some stage that is fine but running a service-based business is the best way to learn the ropes.
The Jobs to Delegate to New Hires
Amy's first hire was her mom! She was someone she trusted to do good work and treat clients well. Next was her husband to help out with organization and admin, so these first hires were all about keeping things strong and reliable. After that, she went outside the family to get someone for a full-time CPA position and bookkeeping. In Parker's case, it has also been a mixed bag of hires but the main focus has always to be able to serve more clients well. He wants the company to get better and faster at the technical side of things and now they have scaled up. They have hired an admin assistant who has been a lifesaver! You do not need to hire everything out straight away, rather stay strong and steady and build with a purpose!
Some of Amy and Parker's Backgrounds and the Work They Do Now. [0:04:03.3]
Finding and Employing People to Work for You. [0:12:30.8]
Differentiating an Offer and Connecting with Clients. [0:23:51.9]
Using These Models to Get New Clients. [0:32:40.2]
The Jobs to Delegate to New Hires. [0:41:47.4]
Look at profit.
Outsource when you have extra.
Clarify your audience.
Niche down your service.