This is the thirteen episode of our series BKOT: Build a KickAss Offshore Team. The title of the video, as it suggests, Nuances of Remote Working which explains how working remotely helps the business owners offload their work and helps to increase in productivity. Listen to the whole podcast to know more.
#BKOT 13 BUILD A KICKASS OFFSHORE TEAM
NUANCES OF REMOTE WORKING
Chris Rivera, Director Client Relations, Entigrity
Katey Maddux, CEO, Millenial Accounting
Chris: Hi everybody, this is Chris Rivera I spoke to you guys yesterday and I have with me Katey Maddux and she's the Founder and Ceo of Millennial Accounting she'll be doing a deep introduction in a moment I just want to make sure that everybody's safe and sound out there heading into the labor day weekend and talk today we're talking about the nuances of remote working but surprisingly Katey and I are both are remote and then also doing this for our audience today so yeah we'll talk about that in a second but first Katey thank you so much for joining me today please tell our audience everything about you.
Katey: My company Millennial Accounting is turning four years old next month and yeah and I also have a speaking business, I speak to women on helping them find purpose in their pain and turn their trauma into triumph on healing from sexual trauma and yeah I've been working remotely for years now I started in the corporate world and then realized I don't need to have somebody directing my life , I don't need to have them telling me when to go on vacation, I can just take my computer and go work from Costa Rica Vietnam, I was like why would I ever want a boss.
Chris: Absolutely! so you've never really had an office or you just started working remotely right away so tell us about that.
Katey: Actually I had a corporate job and then I moved overseas and I was living in Asia and I got really sick I Got a really severe case of dengue fever and so I had to come home and recover and my mom has owned her accounting firm now for about 34 years and so well I had worked for her all through high school to get cash so I'd done basic bookkeeping for years and she said you know I'm not taking on new clients my plate is full but I'm constantly bringing up being approached to take on new clients so she goes I have one that's been requesting me why don't I give them to you because I was at my parents house recovering from the sickness and I
couldn't go back into corporate world why don't you work on this while you're here and then when you're better you can go back to your you know your regular life and so after doing that for about six months I said so I can just keep doing this but go back to my backpacking life I don't have to go back to my corporate job life and so I thought well why would I ever do that so I took out another couple clients and for the first year of my business I was backpacking Asia and Europe and I'm in Miami now, for november will be two years and so some of the time I'm working here some of the time I'm working overseas and I have a team that works with me too so it's great.
Chris: Yeah, that's really awesome story similar to me I've been doing client relations for over 15 years now but I'm fairly new to the accounting industry however the idea of remote working throughout many industries has just been a given I mean remote working something new it's been around since the 80s right but the accounting industry is interesting because there was a lot of hesitations there to do so did you have any hesitations you know starting off.
Katey: Since for me it was kind of a means to an end I didn't really have any fear because it was supposed to be a short-term solution you know it was just gonna be I was gonna do this one client for my mom it was a huge cleanup job it took six months women had four companies that were co-mingled and the person that was doing her books we were like how did she even get here you know it was such a mess took us six months in city tango, my mom was helping me because it was way more complex than we thought it was gonna be and I was like well I'll just get this one clean up job done and then wash my hands of this you know so it, had I realized that this was gonna turn into a four-year remote business with multiple clients and multiple teams I probably would have been a little more a little bit more scared than I was.
Chris: Right, you just you're in the right situation at the right time and it just it just everything fell into place which is awesome, so it works, and you've been doing this
for some time now so there are a lot of starting a newer new firm or now with the ongoing pandemic you know trying to become fully virtual or partly virtual has been kind of some hiccups along the way right and you make it easy no big deal but what would you recommend some firms you know thinking about this so either starting their own firm or trying to move that step over to becoming fully virtual.
Katey: I think having an onboarding process is a game changer because not only does it kind of give you a structure, okay every time somebody emails me as a prospective client, I do this and then we you know for me if somebody contacts me the first thing I do; I say thank you for reaching out to millennial accounting can you answer a few more questions so I can get to know a little bit more about your business before we even go into anything here's a list of questions:
What systems are you using?
Are your books up to date?
Are you in quickbooks?
What industry is your business? because some of them by answering that I can say I'm we're not a good fit and I'm not wasting my time I'm not wasting your time you know and just having that process in place okay when they answer that then it goes to a free consultation okay then it goes to the interview an assessment having that onboarding process makes it easier on me I'm not trying to constantly reinvent the wheel right every time somebody calls me and secondly I can tell that to the client you know the first time that we have a meeting I'll say here's my process:
I do A
You do B
I do C
You do D
I do E and that builds trust with them because they're like this isn't a new business she knows what she's doing even if they have no idea if i know how to do accounting correctly they have some sense of organization there's some sense of process because a lot of people when they're right accountants are bookkeepers they're already kind of in chaos mode or they wouldn't be calling us you know
Chris: Right, well said you're absolutely right it's so for you automatically have to train your client this is the way we're going to do business if we're going to do business so you're getting the the right client and a lot of times you know it's about the quality of the client you want to make this a mutually benefiting relationship and they're there for you and so you're setting those expectations they're liking you're coming at them so organized like you said you don't know if you know accounting but they're comfortable and that's the key thing all right and try and now try if you're becoming fully virtual I mean most of the clients are understanding that things have changed and you know what are the next steps but it starts with you, you know the owner that so you got to make sure that you know what your expectations are and outline clearly otherwise the client is going to kind of get lost in the mix.
Katey: Right and knowing what your expectations then was like exactly what you said is so important not just being able to voice them to them but know what they are when people contact me and they say yeah I want somebody who's 30 hours a week I say I'm not for you I can't give you 30 hours a week you know or if they say I want something in-house I say I'm remote only I'm sorry I'm not coming to your office you know so some of the things we can just weed out the beginning because I know what I want I know what kind of clients work well with me I'm often overseas we don't we don't necessarily do like we plan phone calls but they people can't just pick up the phone and call me I keep my phone on do not disturb I have planned hours of phone calls during the day and if I'm overseas I tell my clients, hey I'm going to be overseas for these dates if you need me schedule time we do a zoom you know what I mean so they have to be willing to work with certain types of remote businesses they have to be comfortable with that or it's going to cause friction nobody's going to be happy.
Chris: So there's a lot of there's a lot of benefits of working remotely, so what would you say top three or five benefits are?
Katey: I think there's no income cap is one of the top ones there's there's no boss right you get to decide how much you work I feel like that's kind of hand in hand like calendar and income you decide how much you work you decide when you work you decide where you work there's just so much freedom secondly you don't have to be in relationships with people who who aren't kind to you frankly you know like you don't have to be in an office or be around people you might take on clients that you don't necessarily prefer their personality but since you're never really in the room with them you only have to deal with that occasionally and or being the business owner you know i never put my clients in contracts I always tell them if for any reason that you are unhappy you are free to leave if any reason that I am unhappy I'm going to dissolve our partnership you know there's no reason for there to be yeah if they're unhappy why would I hold them in a contract.
Chris: Yeah, that makes perfect sense and because essentially I mean the same thing with me I visit clients via zoom we've been using zoom for almost two years now and so rarely do I get to meet them one-on-one and so the expectation is set there and you so you're absolutely right if the client's comfortable with that there's gonna be no issues with it and then when I travel I try to get and visit with clients when I can and it's always you know a great experience to do so but setting those expectations again a lot of benefits but also I think too is health I find that being more productive making your own schedule very important like you said but I just feel that if I wanna work at 8o'clock at night I can work 8o'clock at night if I wanna work at 6 a.m I don't feel like I'm on a specific schedule so then I'm able to take more productive breaks go to the gym or outdoor exercise whatever you can do and I find that there's a lot of health benefits. What do you think?
Katey: I definitely agree, I was in a car accident for the last year I was in physical therapy for two to three hours a day you know and so I just it was so refreshing to be able to say okay assistant here's the work I need you to do I'm gonna be out of the office from five four days a week you know but I'm still gonna be able to run my business I have a team in place, I have a process in place my clients, I'm in the loop you know these are the times that's good to call me these are the times that I'm available to you can always text me if there's a that having that open line of communication so they don't ever feel like they can't get a hold of you, you know I'm like don't text me business questions it's not secure but if I'm at the doctor and you have a quick question and they'll text me, Hey Katey, I have a question can I call you? sure I'll drop the phone at PT you know like that's fine so yeah I think health is everything.
Chris: Yeah! that's crazy to hear that you right you go down but your business keeps on going it's incredible if you're not having that remote aspect of your firm in place holy cow, you might have put a pause to your business and so that just shows like being remote virtual you're you bring it bring anything on bring a pandemic accident you know any obstacles bring it all on right you just still keep going so there's so many benefits. Now you know what some of the we talked about the benefits so how about some other obstacles right a couple obstacles you think that someone would be thinking about and how to kind of overcome them.
Katey: One of the things I teach a lot of webinars for CPA academy and I teach one called client relations and I think it's so important that when people don't know you, they've never met you that one you give them that face-to-face time on zoom because even before the pandemic a lot of people had never used zoom and I always tell my clients we're gonna use zoom at least at the beginning so that you understand my tone, you understand my personality because if I'm sending you emails and you don't know my personality and you don't know my tone you could you think I'm being short with you and another thing is always read frustration emails like I try to write them three times before I send them right at the first time the way you actually feel read it adjust it right read it again, adjust it again because tone is everything when you're remote, you know people don't they don't know the tone you know in being short sometimes it I'm like it takes so much effort to be like “Hey bill, how are you? I hope you're doing well and I just want to be like Bill. You haven't sent me the checks I need you know but that would come off as rude and standoffish. Hi bill you know I know we haven't talked in a bit did you by chance get around to you know, the way that you say things is so much more important.
Chris: Yeah, that's well said on that too I see how to communicate with your clients very important even your staff as well but another one that I could think of are distractions right so you know I didn't have the I'm working I had this idea of my podcast today and it didn't pan out right but still I was focused on what I need to do got something set up boom off we go right so you have to set yourself the whole meeting you have to put yourself in. I couldn't just, you know, go anywhere I had to have that right environment where I would be comfortable for this amount of time so how there's a lot of distractions working from home, especially a family, kid pets, neighbors. I'm in New York city normally there's just people everywhere, so how do you think overcoming distractions are some ways to do that?
Katey: Definitely an obstacle another webinar I actually teach for CPA academy because it's such a huge deal you know I use t-sheets, t-sheets is a game changer for me and I not only do I absolutely love the company I've been with them since I've been using them rather since before they were even owned by quickbooks when Matt Russell was the CEO he's fantastic but what I love about them is it for me is a mental clock in like I'm not billing my clients hourly I'm doing value-based pricing so I don't I'm not clocking my time for the purpose of billing it to the client. I'm clocking my time for the purpose of okay now you're on the clock mentally go into work mode.
I put my phone on do not disturb, I'm not checking social media you know and then when I'm not working on my clients I'm off the clock I'm not checking work emails I'm not looking at them you know if a client texts me it's an emergency of course I'll take their call or their text but I feel like it really helped you to be present when you're working and present when you're not because otherwise you're sitting there being like man. I should have checked some emails I didn't really you know get this productive or maybe I should be doing laundry you know I'm a woman, I'm at home, I don't have kids but it's like there's all the things I need to be clean in the kitchen and doing laundry and all these things you know and it happens it's like none of that matters I'm at work yeah and I think it's a mental switch.
Chris: Yes you just got to be very disciplined right and and yeah in order to avoid the distractions you have to be disciplined, time management set of schedules and get put yourself in a good environment too you know I mean I got a chair here and a desk that's all I need but yeah I still create a home office you know in your space no matter whatever you can get off amazon or your local store in the neighborhood.
Now there's plenty of technology out there to utilize but what did the team do so now you have a remote team everyone's remotely working no matter where and how do you keep them engaged utilizing technology would you say.
Katey: We use all the technology, we love tech so with my clients I use liscio it's a new software have you heard of it, yes I work with liscio and it's an app for my clients, I can request information they can log in my assistants can go in and request information from them and they can upload that so I've really loved working with them in terms of working with my assistants we use slack if we need to text basically we use asana for project management we use t-sheets for time tracking, what else do we use receipt bank portal now receivables.
Chris: Did you find these on your own were you recommended how was your approach with your recommended so it's best to ask fellow colleagues for what they're using because I know a lot of that a lot of the product lines will they have everything in one but normally I should work but it's best to get recommendations from colleagues because yeah I hear different types of practice management systems all the time so there's there's so many so it's like where do you start.
Katey: It can be really overwhelming and a lot of them I find that a lot of them are almost too big they want the subscription that they want isn't conducive to a new business owner you know even in the accounting world like you're not gonna pay I think the most expensive one I pay for monthly is receipt bank but outside of that I'm not paying over $300 a month for any specific tech stack you know unless it is critical but even then I pay for any of them more than that because I have so many if there was one that bundled it all luscio does a lot of it. But as they're new and they're rolling things out I think I'll be able to kind of cut some of the other ones out and go full-on and liscio because I really like their platform. I really like their company.
Chris: Yeah so get recommendations work with them and then some some other you'll realize you know what you like what you don't like and kind of streamline it yeah and so now speaking on remote right so remote isn't is just you know in the states right now it's everywhere right and a global scale which has opened up during this pandemic has opened up the eyes to everybody that it could be offshore staffing. Are you currently working with any offshore staffing?
Katey: Yeah I am.
Chris: Okay and so how was the how's the experience and how has that been set up it was just like setting up for a remote employee right.
Katey: Yeah so the company is actually based in the US but the people are I don't know.
Chris: Yeah exactly so but in order to communicate all the software as you said it's still the same thing right.
Katey: It's the same yeah we found them through quickbooks connect so they're changing the same way that I was trained in the same way that my client does the same processes. I have my clients on so it's so critical I think that we all are in the same mindset.
Chris: Yeah exactly exactly yeah it doesn't matter where you are if you're in the Philippines or if you're in Philadelphia or if you're in Miami or you're in Mumbai if you're in the UK or if you're in the United States, I mean it just really doesn't matter where you are working remotely is anywhere so this has been awesome do you have any other final thoughts or anything else you want to say.
Katey: I just want to encourage people to take the leap i feel like people get um nervous or they're scared how am I going to find clients but at the end of the day people work with people they like and trust you know you don't have to be the the best accountant and I'm not saying this to degrade people's skill but like people would rather work with somebody who's an 8 out of 10 accounting but a 10 out of 10 in personality or a 10 out of 10 in trust they would take they would probably even take a 6, I know that they do because people come to me all the time whose books are a disaster who had accounts they had a 4 out of 10, you know they would even rather take a 6 out of 10 from an accounting skill level if you're a 10 out of 10 in response if you're a 10 out of 10 in trust if you're a 10 out of 10 easy to work with you know they want to work with somebody they can trust and understand and that will answer their calls the biggest thing that I find with new clients is right they're leaving because the accountant doesn't answer their calls right, in my lap and I said I don't take calls, I do take calls they're just scheduled but I never use a call I'm always available on text you know if they need me I'm there so I think that response is everything and just start with I'll start with your warm leads you know everybody needs an accountant.
Chris: Yeah you're spot on and a lot everything that you've been saying I could kind of just get it along the lines of just always setting boundaries right whether it be yourself whether it be with your client whether it be with your team whether it be your entire company structure you know have the boundaries in place and be positive be cheery, be brightful, be happy right, the clients they like you they're gonna work with you and then you know and then look inside yourself and see you know am I ready to make that leap to be remote I think hearing these guys today “it's easy as cake” right so yeah the idea is you have to have your boundaries and you have to have the belief and you just have to do it you have to do it and then as you as you're in the process of you'll start seeing okay I can do this now you know where can a lot of times people think they just have to 100 percent the first time get it right now yeah just have a plan if you fail if you if you fail to plan then you plan to fail so keep that mindset but you have a plan in place you know and some things don't happen you do a little bit quick fixes and it'll work it'll work hearing from you you know it works in day one and you're just put into a situation you loved it right so well that's all I have today, Katey thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule and joining with me today remotely we're both on vacation so enjoy the rest of your weekend any last thoughts for the audience today.
Katey: I had one more comment for them, ants are so forgiving I feel like new business owners are like what if I mess up you know the clients in my experience clients have never left over a mess up if they left it was because there was friction and their business model didn't match mine you know what I mean either they wanted somebody who was in house or that whatever you know it was our business models don't line up but it was never because I made a mistake and you do make a mistake and you say you call them and they don't find it you find it first right your job. As the business owner is to find the mistakes if there are any right I call them I'm so sorry I know I told you your number was A your number is actually B, this is why it was different I take full responsibility it was my problem going to fix it and the clients are usually like don't worry about it no problem.
Chris: Yeah exactly again well said for everybody, again Katey Maddux, Founder and CEO of Millennial Accounting thank you so much again this was for #BKOT How to Build a Kick-Ass Offshore team episode number 13 and going thank you everybody for joining today please have a good weekend, take care bye.