Katie Lilly, Owner, and President of Lillyfield Accounting Solutions has grown her bookkeeping firm from herself to a band of seven in under two years. One of her powerful secrets is knowing where to get highly qualified referrals. Well, today, she will pull back the curtain on how she's grown so fast (and expanding soon). In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Katie Lilly dive into:
- How Katie Lilly made the jump from self-employed bookkeeper to full-blown firm owner
- Katie's unheard of strategy to find the best bookkeepers to work in her firm
- The #1 place to locate highly qualified referrals
- Lillyfield Solutions
- LINKEDIN - Katie Lilly
- How to get acquired in under 36 months (interview with Blake Oliver)
- E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
From Self-Employed Bookkeeper to Firm Owner:Katie Lilly, once a sole practitioner, found herself overrun in her Tallahassee, Florida. She was overrun with more and more clients. Katie loves doing 'clean-up' work for businesses, meaning she gets client's books ready for tax returns. She couldn't do all the work alone. She raised three kids and found her time was stretched with her current client base. Her work was consistent each month and systematized. Katie had it done but realized she needed to grow or businesses couldn't get the help they needed. But that wasn't the biggest reason she made the shift to firm owner. She read "E-MYTH REVISITED" by Michael Gerber. In that book, Katie read that if she kept up her current workload, she'd burn out. Instead, in the book, it recommends working "on" your business and not "in" the business. Katie needed to find bookkeepers to take the day-to-day work off her plate. That's when she hired her first bookkeeper.
The Unique Way to Find Top-Notch Bookkeepers:Katie's bookkeeping team (now six working under her) work on maintaining clients' books. They all work from home and interestingly only work 30 hours max per week. Katie believes in family-time and doesn't want to be like other firms who tout 'family-friendly' firm only for the employees to work 70-80 hour weeks. She also caters the work around what the bookkeeper wants and not vice versa. The ideal client for her firm is a service-based business. (no retail or contractors). The firm has tiny clients and large ones. Bookkeepers get to choose their own adventure in terms of workload and time commitment. It's one of the most flexible firms I've ever heard of. But that's not what's the most unique thing surprisingly. The most unique thing is how Katie hires new bookkeepers. According to her, hiring is actually ongoing. Interviews happen at any time even if there is no position open. Whenever Katie hears about someone who is organized, detail-orientated and interested in accounting, she introduces herself and gauges interest. Again, there might not be a job open but if the person keeps in touch with Katie, she knows they are truly interested. To get them tested as a suitable member of the team, she then gives them a trial run of work.
DAVID'S TIP:If you give a trial project, make sure the project is as close to the work they'd be doing on a regular basis as a member of the team. That gives you a full picture of their skills with no gray area.As part of her commitment to following Michael Gerber's advice, recently she promoted one of her bookkeepers to "Quickbooks Manager." This person is now doing the managerial reviews of the books that Katie used to do. This frees Katie up to do other things. Being the owner, she makes it a point to touch base with each team member at least monthly. She also has monthly calls with her new QB manager and the business manager to go through 'big picture' projects and the future. Finally, around 3X per year, the entire team meets together in one place for 4-5 hours. They typically go through some training, have lunch and catch up on firm business. Her most recent training ties into her secret strategy to bringing in highly qualified referrals. That's what we will go into now.