Kim Hornsby, Founder of Singletrack Bookkeeping, works entirely remotely. Yet, she’s cracked the code on creating a world-class team all without recruiting or needing an office.
Singletrack serves mostly small businesses and found a niche with cloud-based accounting even getting clients interested in their own financials (a common problem for most firms…)
In this episode of Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Kim Hornsby delve into:
- The one trick to get your clients suddenly interested in their books again
- A secret to hiring and creating a world-class team remotely
- The best communication tool you can use in your accounting firm
- Singletrack Bookkeeping – Kim’s firm
- Linkedin – Kim Hornsby’s Linkedin page
- Slack app
- Grow from 2-10 employees in a year [interview]
- 3 crucial steps to building an effective accounting team [interview]
- How to massively profit from your expertise — Seth David
- Interview with Stacy Kildal of StacyK Academy
- FACEBOOK GROUP: Business Workflow & Management & AppasaurusRex
- FACEBOOK GROUP: Between Wall and Main Strategy Forum
- StacyK Academy
A haunting event sparks an entrepreneurial journey:
Kim Hornsby, CEO at Singletrack Bookkeeping in Steamboat Springs Colorado, spent over 20 years working at United Airlines. She thought that was where her career would end.
September 11, 2001.
Everything changed. Thoughts of “What do I really want to do with my life?” raced through her head. Working in the airline industry wasn’t it. In 2005, she picked up, moved to the mountains and opened the (virtual) doors to Singletrack Bookkeeping.
Quickbooks Online was just in its infancy but still lay the groundwork for the remote firm Kim wanted to build.
Her original clients were simple small businesses who didn’t want to handle their bookkeeping. Kim learned “on the job” what worked and what didn’t for helping these companies. She was surprised at how many business owners simply didn’t care about accounting or keeping track of their finances each month. She didn’t understand.
To provide value and also to keep the business owner aware of the importance in “knowing your numbers” she stumbled on a strategy to flip the switch and get the busy, business owners spending the time to dissect their numbers.
The one trick to get your clients interested in their books again:
For most firms, a client who doesn’t care to look at their financial statements becomes fairly normal. They hired you so they DIDN’T have to do the books, right?
Kim discovered clients couldn’t make the right decisions to grow their business without understanding the finances behind it. Business owners get into self-employment in order to finance their dreams. If they don’t know their numbers, how could they finance their dreams?
Sending monthly reporting didn’t sway owners from opening the statements — “there wasn’t time to do it.”
Kim started with automated reports on a specific date each month to get sent. Clients, now getting predicable, easy-to-read, monthly statements, slowly took interest, but not enough.
Clients would look at the reports but never want to actually sit down and discuss them. There just never was a good time for them plus they didn’t want to do it. If it was a “down” season, they might pick up the phone and call Kim, but other than that, it was pulling teeth to get them interested.
The monthly, automatic report allowed them to at least view the reports at their leisure. But, she went a step further. Slowly, she customized each report to the client based on the metrics that would be most important to their business. If it was cashflow, she would customize a few cashflow reports and send them. If they were a non-profit and needed to show reports to the board, she knew what reports to send.
This shift sparked increases in clients wanting to dissect their own numbers. Kim moved from just a bookkeeper to a bookkeeper/trusted consultant plus it helped retain the clients longer.
Now, it was time to expand.
The secret to creating a world-class team remotely:
Kim’s firm is 100% remote. No office, no overhead, no “closet in the back with the files.” All virtual, using newer and newer tools to streamline faster production. 100% remote usually guarantees 100% team unity problems.
Heck, in any big or small firm nowadays, retaining employees remains a heated and difficult topic. Not for Kim. In fact, employees seek her firm out not the other way around.
They want to work with her because of the flexibility of time throughout the day, being remote, and getting paid competitively.
Kim would love to give herself two thumbs up as a “great leader” but humbly admits she’s just a “good leader” with an “incredible team.”
The secret to creating a world-class team? Hiring those who align with your core values.
Sounds simple. Truth is, firms don’t do this despite saying they do. Normally, they hire on “skills” alone or background. Kim hires only those who are passionate about seeing “growth” in the firm. When a new candidate comes in to interview, Kim gets feedback from all team members to make sure everyone agrees the candidate meshes well with the core values of the firm.
Clients invested in their numbers and who feel they are part of the team adds further to making a tight, remote team. Great clients keep employees happy. Clients savor a trusted relationship with a firm absolutely dedicated to growing their business. Kim weeds out employee candidates who don’t get the same joy as she does watching small business owners realize their dreams.
To keep a cohesive united, it boils down to communication. Singletrack has this down pat.
The best communication tool you can use in your accounting firm:
Slack is the lifesaver of the firm. Slack acts essentially as “instant messenger for businesses.” It gets instant responses from team members and removes the clutter of email.
“It makes us feel like everyone is in the room…it’s all so seamless.” – Kim Hornsby
To prove it’s simplicity, Kim’s only CPA in the firm travels the country in an RV and works entirely from Slack and no one can tell the difference. The CPA gets to live his dream and get the job done.
Problems with remote teams stem from not physically being in the room with each other. Slack solves all that as everyone interacts all day without the hassle of email.
All of this didn’t come easy for Kim. She constantly stays abreast of the industry and utilizes many resources to do so. Check the ADDITIONAL LINKS section for all the various forums and courses she uses (one from a past guest) that has helped her grow.
What about you? Do you have a remote team and looking to grow? Share in the comments how you create an excellent team without living and working in the same office.