“Never start a business with a partner,” was the advice Meryl Johnston heard from her father growing up. After meeting her now-cofounder, Ben McAdam, and discussing the various needs in the bookkeeping niche, she decided she was going to try a business partner anyway. Now, she's built her company, Bean Ninjas, into a 6-figure bookkeeping business. Within 6 months of launching Bean Ninjas, Meryl and team 3x their growth and it continues to grow every month. Every month has been better than their prior month. Along with Bean Ninjas, Meryl also runs her own consulting business, MCJ Consulting, where she helps implement cloud accounting into businesses who need to make the transition. In this interview with David Cristello, on Grow Your Firm Podcast, Meryl walks you through:
- How to launch your own bookkeeping company in 7 days
- Her two main sources to grow their company in the beginning
- The BIG lesson she learned that hindered their growth
- MCJ Consulting
- Bean Ninja
- Meryl Johnston - Linkedin
- Dan Norris (7 Day Startup)
- Innovative Accountants & Bookkeepers Facebook Group
- Jetpack Workflow interview with Edward Mendlowitz
“Recurring revenue is much more profitable.” - Meryl JohnstonFounding Bean Ninja in 7 Days: Bean Ninja grew from a two different interests: Helping in the bookkeeping niche where Meryl and her cofounder, Ben, saw plus their desire to start a business FAST. Dan Norris has a popular program, 7 Day Startup, where the challenge is to build a company in 7 days. Meryl had a voice in her head from her father who told her “never start a business with someone” and with her consulting business she never had a cofounder. With Bean Ninja, she decided to take a leap of faith and founded the company with Ben. She felt they both had a similar vision for the company, similar goals, plus (from what she learned consulting) they could both split the work. In July 2015, Bean Ninja went live. The first 7 days, they built the website, built out the pricing, and looked for their first clients. Growing Bean Ninja: The first six months of Bean Ninja were slow. They did much of the bookkeeping themselves and did very little marketing. After six months, they had about 15 clients and made around $3,500 per month. It was not sustainable for them, but they kept building. The target market they focused on was online companies and blogging. Their pricing (under $300 per month) was very affordable for the niche and they made sure to stay laser-focused on their niche. Building the Client Base: When Bean Ninja launched, Meryl’s first client was a referral from an online community she was in. She presented the idea to the community and immediately someone raised their hand. To grow her client base, originally they tried: cold calling, cold emailing, door knocking and other cold-methods. They didn’t work for them. They both decided they enjoyed building relationships rather than just transactional relationships. MERYL’S STEPS TO NEW CLIENTS:
- Join communities online [some are paid which means higher quality members]
- Provide value to them --- Although a bookkeeping company, Meryl would spend time critiquing other member websites and even read a member’s book and provided notes.
- Spend 1 hour per day building those relationships in those communities.
- Focus on content marketing. Keep a log of your blog ideas. (Meryl uses Trello)
- Don’t miss out on word of mouth. Bean Ninja’s first clients were from simple referrals from friends and family.
- The way they reached out without being too “sales-y” was to make it about a story: “We took a 7 day startup challenge to build a company in 7 days. We decided to build a bookkeeping company. To get it off the ground, we are looking for our first clients and thought you might know someone…”
- This helped get their first clients right away.