“Communication is a key piece. Keeping it consistent, keeping it on brand, keeping it meaningful and actionable to the client.” – Kellie Parks, Calm Waters Cloud Accounting.

Kellie Parks Cloud Accounting Aficionado of Calm Waters Bookkeeping joined me and we:

  • Explored App Advisory
  • Hear about the extensive collection of process and workflow templates Kellies built for practices and businesses and how she has adapted them to Asana, Pixie, Click-Up, 17 Hats, Karbon and Jet Pack.
  • Plus, I convinced her to bring the elephant back to drink at the Workflow Wateringhole!
  • We touched on the elements needs for building a lifestyle practice
  • Explored the importance of creating an ideal client profile
  • and Kellie shared the tools she uses in her business.

Let’s start by sharing with our listeners some highlights of your epic month-long adventure in New Zealand.

Kellie:              Oh, okay! Yes, that was wonderful. We’ll be back, if everything goes the plan, we’ll be there either next year or the year after, and probably for a good three months. Not to get off track, but that’s the beauty of cloud accounting, right? It’s off I go. It was wonderful. I don’t even know where to start. We started out in Auckland, and I have a friend who is north of Auckland, who owns a very cool pottery shop called James and Morris, and so we started up there and we made our way down. We spent half the time on the north island. My husband is a fly-fishing guide, so for him, there is some epic fly-fishing down in a place called Turangi. We spent some time in Turangi, and everywhere that we went, there’s mountains and rivers and things that I can run as well.

Kellie:              The thing that surprised us, and then the South Island was beyond belief for us, like beyond belief. We couldn’t get enough of it and our, Wanaka owns our hearts for sure, and that’s where our Mount Aspiring and Rob Roy Valley are. But the thing that we totally did not expect was how good the food was going to be. It was amazing. When you think about it in hindsight, I guess it makes sense. All the animals are running around. Then, nobody exports/imports to New Zealand so much, so they grow so much of it. The food was amazing.

Heather:         It’s probably smaller quantities than what we have there, smaller production of quantities than what you’re used to in terms of the crops are only so big, so they are a bit more intense, yeah. Look, I think it’s fantastic, and that’s one of the reasons we really love the cloud and are able to work digitally and remotely is this opportunity to travel. I think that there will be an absolute explosion of people doing that once we get past this challenging time with the pandemic. I’m sure New Zealand might have a few people travelling around it, very, very keen to go there once they’ve sorted them, everyone sorted themselves out. It’s funny because our rollout is a lot slower than overseas because … I’m in Australia but our rollout of vaccinations is a lot slower because we’ve got it under control. I think other people will be vaccinated and able to come before we’re even vaccinated here in our own countries.

Kellie:              All the irony.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. I look forward to it, I’ll try and pop over to New Zealand when you do make it over there again.

Kellie:              That would be great.

Can you share with our listeners a bit about your background?

Kellie:              Sure, yeah. A lot of it speaks to … I think the word’s gone out, I’m not assuming that most of your listeners know me, but to anybody who does know me that I love technology, I love what it can do for my clients, I love what it can do for accounting firms, I love what it can do for everybody. But that doesn’t mean that I’m willy-nilly, adding on all kinds of tech, I’m very particular about where I go with it, and what it’s going to do for me or for my clients. But I came from a marketing background, and I did big production. I was in compliance work then too, because I did branding programmes for banks, insurance companies, mutual fund companies, so I was running against securities commission there and compliance was a gigantic part of what we did.

Kellie:              We in the marketing and branding field, especially the print, we took to our cloud-based tech, if you will. I didn’t even know it was called cloud-base then, right? But we took to online programmes way ahead of a whole lot of other industries. We picked on something up on something called FTP sites to transfer files. Our files were huge, so we stopped sending around jazz drives and zip drives, and we adopted the FTP site, which was not pretty, and it’s the same thing with cloud technology. Sometimes we allowed ourselves to get pushed to the wall on deadlines and the technology failed, so I’m super conscious of not being pushed to the wall on deadlines because anything can go wrong with technology.

What do you mean when you say “pushed to the wall”?

Kellie:              If I’m not early I’m late. My deadlines, let’s say I have an end-of-the-month deadline. To me, that’s actually a 20th.

Heather:         Okay, okay.

Kellie:              To me, that’s due on the 20th, because anything can go wrong, and if those last five days, if the client has caused something, then I don’t guarantee that I can file for them, for example, their HST, and a few VAT tax as well.

Heather:         Yes, yes, yeah. If you’re on time you’re liked.

Kellie:              Yeah. Yes! Source deductions, that thing, because the technology fails and I certainly learned that way back in the early, the early 2000s. We went to a digital proofing. That meant we were sending our proofs by email, and the larger proofs, again, could be sent by the FTP site. We were long ahead of this. I actually have been working remote and travelling a lot since 2009, which is when I really started this working thing. That was in my marketing background. Then I just forayed into the accounting world.

Heather:         It’s an unusual move from marketing into accounting.

Kellie:              Well, I own a number of businesses, and I was not having the greatest of experience with bookkeepers. The accountant side was great. On the bookkeeping side, not so much. I took to looking after it myself because it’s a lot of the same skill set. If you are doing project management for branding, it’s very detailed, you involve a number of parties in it, you need the technology to work with you, and you’re deadline-driven. Detailed detail is key to both types, and I’ve really found that I loved that. When did I start? I started with, I was a Mac user, so I started with Fresh Books early on in the Fresh Books game, because I was a Mac user and I wanted all at the invoicing programme. MYOB wasn’t as built out here in Canada. It existed here, but it couldn’t do a lot of what I wanted. Yeah. It was a natural foray. I ran both businesses concurrently, the branding business and the bookkeeping business for quite a long time now.

Heather:         I hear what you’re saying is that you were driven by what you wanted not by what people were necessarily pushing on you.

Kellie:              A hundred per cent. I have always searched for technology that suits Kellie because it’s all about Kellie.

Heather:         I love that, I love that, I love that. Am I correct in understanding that your current business is Calm Waters Bookkeeping?

Kellie:              Yeah, I used Calm Waters Cloud Accounting because the SEO is better.

What led you to start Calm Waters Cloud Accounting?

Kellie:              I really enjoyed the bookkeeping side of it. My cousin was doing some accounting in Simply Accounting, and he had … by then, I had Parallels running on my Mac, so that I could run QuickBooks desktop. I was hosting it. I can’t even remember when I started. Again, early, early. I ran Parallels on the Mac, and I was hosting QuickBooks desktop on Dropbox. I had a good girlfriend of mine, who was also travelling, and she said, “Well, you can have a virtual C drive.” Neither of us called that cloud accounting either, and this is probably 2010, maybe dates are always fuzzy, right? Let’s say 2009.

Heather:         Yeah. I remember doing that with MYOB, suddenly working out, we could actually put it in a Dropbox and travel.

Kellie:              Right, it was magic.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              It was great for my clients. They didn’t care necessarily if I was away because I was still communicating with them, I’m close with my clients. If I don’t have a great working relationship with my client, I end it sooner rather than later for their sake. Nobody wants that, right?

Heather:         Yeah. Yes, yeah.

Kellie:              I was hosting on Dropbox because my girlfriend, Melanie, said, “You got to give this a go,” and it was like magic. Anyway, I was running the businesses concurrently. Then in 2012, I didn’t really want to keep hosting it on Dropbox, but I had a US IP address, I was down in Florida for a good chunk of the winters during this time. I put myself on QuickBooks online, and that was before it was here in Canada, because I had a US IP address. Then I was muckin’ about in Xero as well, which was super fun. Did I mention, I had been … yeah, I think I did, that I had already been invoicing in FreshBooks for quite a while.

Heather:         Yes, yes, yes FreshBooks setup Mac, yeah.

Kellie:              Yup. Then I started mucking about in these two online products, and it was magical in how I could do it. It was not magical in what the programme was. To stick it out from that point forward was quite a chore because they were not pretty in their infancy.

Heather:         I know that in the early days when people did take a jump on board to an online software solution. I’ll talk in reference to Xero. People would say to me, they did it for the vision of where it was going to get to in terms of. And there were other difficulties with other software in the market at that time here in Australia. That was interesting. It’s buying into that vision and a strong leader saying that.

Kellie:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Heather:         Yeah, it sounds similar to you in that I can see it’s going to get somewhere.

Kellie:              Yeah. I love looking forward, and I’ll put up with some stuff if I’m going to get to where I want to go with it. It was fun in those days because there wasn’t a big crowd in it. There was a fellow named Bill Kimbell, and that was it for North America for Xero. I totally had built ear here and he was a super guy, and I just found that Xero listened and Bill listened, those early days were heady and fun and new tech coming in. It was good times.

Do you use the term app advisory or do you call it advising about business technology?

Kellie:              Yeah. Actually, you may be more accurate. I guess it’s app advisory. Although I have a bookkeeping company, Calm Waters Cloud Accounting, I do, I guess you would call it app advisory.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              I do it more around productivity and workflows, it’s general, it’s apps, so yeah, app advisory. Why did I say no? Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. I do that around applications that aren’t just accounting applications as well.

Heather:         Let’s pull back and explain what you do.

How do you define the term app advisory? How do you define or explain what you do now?

Kellie:              Yeah, okay. I do still have a small book of bookkeeping clients. I adore them and they’re perfect. It keeps my hand in it. My husband and I also have a number of businesses, so I’m doing the books for those separate businesses as well, which keeps me fresh, I think, is not just the technology but in the problems that accountants and bookkeepers have, either with client relationships or with the applications. Then, what I’ve been doing the last four or five years is advising people on applications, and the power and mightiness of online technology, and again, what it can do for their clients, what it can do for their business.

Kellie:              I also advise on creating processes and systems for the work. I create templates, so I have a whole host of templates that you can buy that are pre-belt, that work the workflows out within the various applications, whether they’re HubDoc or whatever the applications are, how to make the workflow seamless from app to app to the app so that it is a harmonious client relationship at the end of it all. But also so that your day is not just one big time suck either, because you can get sucked down into the technology if you’re not actually using it correctly.

Heather:         Absolutely, absolutely. I love that … one of the things in that being a pioneer in the language is not necessarily there, and so that’s how I was interested in knowing what you had come through within what I had come through within the … even if we say, “Hey, I offer up advisory,” the end-user, the client who’s searching on the website is never going to be searching for that, so we can’t actually say that we have to use different phrasing and terminology, and I love what you explained there. I know that I have seen you promote your templates, but that’s very interesting that that’s a significant part of your businesses is promoting templates, is producing and creating templates.

Can I ask what format your templates are in?

Kellie:              Sure. It depends on what they are. I build them directly in some of the workflow applications, so they are available in Asana, they are available in Pixie, which is the cutest little name ever. I’m finishing up, next week I have a little team of ClickUp users, who are going to tell me whether they are grand or awful, my ClickUp ones. Then I do them as Excel sheets. I build them out in 17 hats too. I have them directly in an app called 17hats, which is a-

Heather:         Yeah, yeah. Oh my god, you’re just so busy. You’ve got one process for maybe end of month reconciliation, and you have that replicated and built into Asana, Pixie, ClickUp, Excel and 17hats. Is that what you’re saying?

Kellie:              Yeah.

Heather:         Okay, excellent.

Kellie:              They’re uploadable, so you can take them … I built, so in the Excel ones, what I’ve done is all the communications. In some of the other programmes, the communications are templated into them.

Heather:         Yes,

Kellie:              Communication is such a key piece, right? Keeping it consistent, keeping it on brand, keeping it meaningful and actionable to the client. In the spreadsheet version of it, there’s a middle tab of the worksheet that has just to see us or just the tasks that you can upload.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              Because a lot of them, you can just upload a CSV file or click things like Carbon or Jet Pack, they’ll do it for you, and so they’ll upload those in the background for you and you don’t have to decide what your steps and stages of the work are going to be and what your best practices are, I’ve done that. Aren’t I a sweetie? Then the Excel one also has communications and it’s got tasks and then it’s got more columns for things like best practices, weblinks. Some of them are starting to finish onboarding. Some of them are bookkeeping, whether it’s cash coding or full cycle. Some of them are disengagements which can be just as complicated as onboarding and file reviews, especially in the onboarding phase, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into before you even think about pricing a file. I’ve got quite a few of them.

Kellie:              Then I built out, so those are in a number of formats, but then any of the other communications, so I built out client handbooks to create harmonious relationships with your clients because a lot of people like to let their clients guess how they communicate with them, what the workload is going to be, what the deadlines are, how they’re going to share. They’re just letting the clients guess and when the client guess wrong, then they’re upset. We don’t want that. The handbooks are built-in, and I have SOP, start to finish for HubDoc, Pluto, Receipt Bank, all of them, how to use Chrome properly. Those are all built out as PowerPoints, because that is the easiest thing on the planet to brand for the week of marketing or the week of branding, right? Just make it easy for them.

Heather:         Yeah. I love this, oh my god. I knew that you’re into this, but I didn’t know you’re into it so deeply, and you’re just going to make so many people’s lives so much easier. Hopefully, people are hearing this, and I’m going to jump on your website and take a look at that because it’s such a relief to actually have that all built for you, and people are constantly going, “Where’s the template for this? Where’s the template for that?” It’s like, Kellie.

Kellie:              Yup. For me, it’s natural because I have a marketing background. One of the oddest things I have ever done is I used to do the scripting. This one is just as weird. I’ve done a lot of scripting, I’ve done a lot of communications, creating communications, and one of them was, this one was for banks. When a bank got robbed, what the various levels from the assistant manager to the manager to the regional manager all the way up to the top, how they were allowed to speak, touch, react and do … we built out this whole script so that everything would go as smoothly as it could for the most traumatised.

Heather:         That must involve a lot of … it’s actually two different skills that high emotional intelligence but that high very process-orientated skills, that’s amazing.

Kellie:              Well, it was weird. It was very awkward, because the whole time that I’m helping build because there were other people involved in the scripting of it but I did a lot of the editing and the nuancing and the whole time I’m going, “Isn’t somebody just going to want to hug somebody and say it’s going to be okay and swear for them?” Right, no, that’s not how it’s going to go in the corporate world, right?

Heather:         Yeah, yeah. No, it is very challenging, especially in today’s world. You are the queen of practice management solutions. I’ve written nearly all of them down here, that’s amazing that you’re across so many of them. I love to see you have a look at XBert, XBERT, which is coming out of Australia but the team there has built artificial intelligence into it to help suggest what the practice management flow should be. You start, but then it suggests as well, so that will be interesting to see what yours brings in.

Kellie:              That would be interesting.

Heather:         Yeah, yes, that would be. Excellent, that just blew my mind what you, all those things you told me there.

You are very much a pioneer in this space, do you use the term cloud integrator?

Kellie:              I struggle with the word Cloud. Do you know where I use the word cloud? I had this odd moment. I was at, we have a bookkeeping association here, the Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada. I started going to their conferences, and I believe the first one was in 2014. I went to this session that, who is now a friend of mine was giving, her name was Carrie, and it was all about cloud accounting. This is in 2014. I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool. What is cloud accounting?” It turns out I had been doing a lot it but I didn’t have a word for it and I didn’t have a group of people around me other than the app partners. That is when I joined the bookkeepers association, and the bookkeepers in Canada were so far ahead of the accountants, and you know I’m generally speaking here, but because we’re in the technology and we’re always looking for solutions for our clients because we’re so close to them.

Kellie:              I was like, and they were talking about something we have here called Right Networks and all of the ways of hosting QuickBooks desktop. Then that’s when I met HubDoc, the Jaimes, and it was an amazing moment to meet the Jamies. I met Pluto and I met Receipt Bank, and I’m like my whole head is exploding with joy at all of the possibilities to release my clients from the burdens of paper and checks because we’ve been using Dropbox for it. Not for checks, obviously. We’ve been using e-transfers, because like you, we’ve been using e-transfers forever here in Canada, right?

Heather:         Yes, yes, yes.

Kellie:              I was just like, I could not wait to bring the stuff back to my clients. Carrie’s session blew up my brain that cloud accounting was everything that we’d already been doing, that were just other things that went along with it now. It was amazing, and I think that’s about the time that HubDoc came into being as well.

Heather:         Yes. Yeah, absolutely would’ve been. To that, to one of your points, the bookkeepers yes, absolutely, do typically pick up the technology first. I think one of the reasons is typically they’re smaller and there are fewer decision-makers in their business to do it, and they are much closer and there are much more touchpoints for the bookkeeper and the client in what they’re doing there, and that then the accounting firm has more money to roll it out, so any acts coming along you got to get the bookkeepers onboard first.

Kellie:              Yeah. I agree with that. I think we’ve been a good community for the app partners. I do consult with firms on going cloud, even though to me it’s still an odd word but it’s great for SEO. Again, it rocks the SEO, right? I have done work with quite a few of the firms, and a lot of the time they’re so mucked down in the KPIs and turning the ship and getting the partners in agreement and all the things that slow it down, whereas, the bookkeepers are so much more nimble. As you said, sometimes they’re smaller but sometimes they can see the value of the technology and not even bother running the KPIs. Then we’ve got a couple of the really early on accounting firms that adopted it is completely and always have been. They started out in Xero as cloud-based.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              That would be liveca.ca is, it’s an amazing firm and connects CPA and Hawkins. They’re all such forward-thinking firms, and they only started in the cloud. Just like you said, they made a conscious decision.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. When it comes to, I’ll use the term app advisory, accounting professionals can be app aware 00:25:38], they can recommend, they can implement, or they can offer full advisory.

Can other accountants and bookkeepers turn to you to outsource their client’s needs and support them?

Kellie:              Yeah. I love working with their end-users as well. I offer another unusual service. I am not like an IT techie, a high-level person, but I do offer a security evaluation, security in the cloud, evaluation and recommendation. When I take on clients whether I take my file reviews and cleanups and all that stuff, and when I take them on or I took on a new client, I took on a couple this year, and when I took them on, we spent an hour reviewing their own cloud security processes. What are they doing to backup their Google? What are they doing for VPNs? Do they have a product called one password here in Canada, whichever one you want to use? I spend time with end-users doing that, but also with accounting firms. Yeah, bringing the technology to fruition for end-users for other firms, I totally love doing that.

Heather:         Yeah. I think it was important to make sure people are aware of that because sometimes people are out there thinking, “Oh, that person is a competitor to me,” and I think a lot of people in the industry are actually now going to actually support other accounting firms with their service offerings, especially if they’ve taken out and focused a niche in particular areas.

Kellie:              Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think it’s … this has been the beautiful thing about cloud technology. I think it’s brought so many of us together. It is such a collaborating community space out there. Look at you and I even talking.

Heather:         Yes. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I feel that you’ve nurtured very much a collaborative community within your Facebook group, the workflow watering hole. You were one of the first people to create that group based around workflows, apps, systems and processes and best practices for accounting for professionals, and that is a nurturing collaborative space.

What led you two to create your collaborative group?

Kellie:              Yeah. Well, that was fun. By the way, some of my clients are in there as well. I recommend it to my clients.

Heather:         Oh, okay.

Kellie:              Yes. I love having my clients in there. I am about as transparent as it comes. I am what, yeah, what I am, and so it’s good for my clients because I want them to understand the value of productivity, and I do a lot of efficiency staffing, goal setting, and yadda, yadda, yeah. Got to call up that universe, man. I was in a lot of the other groups, and I was answering questions, and it was the same questions over and over. There are some great ones for the accounting space, for the actual accounting and the bookkeeping and the applications that power all of what. What there wasn’t was a place for systems and processes like actually just getting the work done. We know how to do the work.

Kellie:              A lot of people keep it all up in their head, and then it all gets muddled, and then the work is inconsistent or it’s not done on time. They don’t have harmonious relationships with their clients, again, because they’re not communicating well with them. Even clients in the past, just today, I had a client he was sending me some notes on stuff, totally not out of bounds, just totally asking some questions, and just … I love to hear from them to see how they’re doing. Anyways, I started this group because there just wasn’t a space like this where it pulled together the accounting and the processes and the communication piece and some of that up-in-the-air, pie-in-the-sky concept goal setting stuff that I love.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. No, I completely agree. It’s quite a unique group. It’s quite an important area and it is great to have those niche areas to actually talk about and focus on those specific things. I know, for my own group, I felt it was conversations I wanted to be having analysis like, let’s just pull together the people who can have these conversations I want to be happening. I do find it, I probably visit every day. I was going to start a campaign to bring back the elephant.

Kellie:              You know what? The things with elephants are they are such a community-based group, and I think I probably will bring back the elephants, so you don’t need to start a campaign. But it is funny. It is the number and you know I’ve been struggling with this, trying to keep the quality of advisors high in my group because, as far as I can tell, everybody on the planet is advising about workflow applications now, including, and I’m not being grumpy here, but I had someone who booked a 15-minute because I have complementary consultations. She booked one with me saying she wanted to learn more about the apps, and then I realise as we’re going along, she wants to do … she actually said that “Well, I want to do what you’re doing.” I’m like, “Okay, well, let’s see where you’re at on some of this because I got … there’s lots of work out there.”

Kellie:              She didn’t really have a definition or the difference between task manager, project manager, CRM, none of them, and then the next thing I know, two weeks later, I see her in my group as an expert touting her services and I’m like, “I’m happy to share. There’s more than enough work to go around. But you don’t know your head from a tea kettle and now you’re going to try and help my members?” I really, really care that the quality of the apps is high in there, that the quality … I mean, I have a partners page, where there are people who do similar things to me, but they do it differently or they have different specialties or I don’t do the courses in the group stuff, where can you go for that? I don’t mind sharing. My goal in the group is for people to come out of it feeling confident as accounting professionals, and knowing how great cloud technology is for creating a wonderful business model.

Heather:         Yeah, yeah. It is a challenge and I know, for me, I monitor and remove people quite quickly, and I only take about 35% of applicants into my group.

Kellie:              Oh, I made the cut.

Heather:         Yeah. The thing is the quality, you want it to actually be high because some people are like, “Oh! I’ve got a group of 60,000 people. That’s not a focus group.

Kellie:              Right.

Heather:         Tight and niche and focused and sometimes you make a mistake. I’ve removed some people whom I’ve later discovered to be awesome and they’ve actually come back to the group, because I just didn’t realise or they didn’t realise how to behave because I’m like, “You can’t walk into a café and start shouting to people about what you’re doing. Okay? You have to walk into a café and sit down and just become a part of the ambience before you start rolling with that.”

Kellie:              I did that myself in The Successful Bookkeeper, one of my favourite groups, and I was adding in somewhat I thought were helpful files. Now, some of them did have my branding, which I didn’t really think about, so that was a misstep on my part. I lost track of the … I didn’t get quite the connection with peer bookkeeping.

Heather:         Yes.

Kellie:              Debbie has done so much good for the bookkeeper in the world.

Heather:         Yes.

Kellie:              But I didn’t get that connection, so I’m putting in files that are part of their system. I think I’m helping people out.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              But I’m counterproductive.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. They almost need to say, because I slip up on that one as well. They almost need to call themselves The Successful Bookkeeper powered by Pure Bookkeeping, understanding that the difference there and the relationship there because you’re doing a purely altruistically to help people, but yeah.

Kellie:              Well then, I’ve been on their podcast a few times and they’re wonderful and it was … sometimes you have to give somebody a break they may just not know.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. Chester the pup is coming into podcast there.

Do you have a guest appearance by Chester today?

Heather:         Yes, it appears to be.

Kellie:              Heather, he is gorgeous. Hi buddy, hi Chester. There’s something about the intensity. I just love the border Collie Australian shepherds. Their intensity is amazing, isn’t it?

Heather:         Yeah, and they watch everything. He was watching as the printer printed out all my notes for today.

Kellie:              That’s funny.

Why is creating an ideal client profile so important to you?

Kellie:              Oh, yeah! Super important. The ideal client profile to me is not, they are dog people, they are 25-year-old women, single mothers. That’s a part of it. That’s always going to be a part of it. What is their tolerance? What do they like in compliance? Are they fine-line accounting or are they compliant people? You need to know all of those personality factors. But I think even more than that if you were going to have a harmonious relationship with a client, they need to … you need to fit their needs for technology, so if they want to go cloud, if that is not going to gig for them and to have their bank accounts connected, then you aren’t going to be of value to them. You’re going to be fighting them all the way along.

Kellie:              You need to define your technology and where that ideal client fits in there. You also need to define your services. What is it that you absolutely love? What are you going to bring value to the client with the services? What are you offering? I always say when I’m doing the ideal client sessions is have a side hustle document. That side hustle document is going to be your business model, your business plan. You’re going to brain dumping in there while you’re doing your ideal client because you need to … what is it that you do really well, where do you bring the value if you know what those are then that helps you define the ideal client. Or it helps you not.

Kellie:              I suck at inventory. I also need to offload payroll because I have a lifestyle business. That’s my business model over there on the side, the side hustle is, the document says, lifestyle. I can’t have payroll but I can certainly have a payroll provider. I can have somebody who is going to do the source deductions. The client, if they have hourly employees, they’re going to have to manage them through the time tracker, all that stuff. I don’t do taxes. That’s part of my ideal client. Are you willing to work hand-in-hand with me with a tax professional? The ideal client is about your business model, what you want to do, and what value it’s going to bring to the client. It’s really, I say it’s your ideal client but it’s you being ideal for a client.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really good point. It’s very, very difficult to have a lifestyle business if you’re doing compliance work or you’re doing payroll work and you’ve got deadlines.

Kellie:              Yeah. Actually, I haven’t found the HST, is that bad? That one seems to be fine for me. My clients are in real-time anyways. You can always find a way to work, because my clients, I actually … their books are pretty much always in real-time. I’ve set a lot of the processes up. I also take on higher-level or clients that have higher, have people doing a lot of the work. I’m really doing a lot of review, reconciliation, managing the banks, making sure all of that is fine. Then, I like to spend my time discussing what’s going on in the business with my clients or working on processes. Defining your ideal client, it rationalises your tax stack, it rationalises your workflow, because you can’t have 20 different kinds of work going … you can, but you make yourself nuts.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              This is not about being bossy to your clients. You’ve vetted them for fits so that the way you work is going to bring value to them, and that the relationship right from the start is probably going to be pretty good because you’ve already defined what you’re going to do well for them, and what they need to do to work with you as well. I’m not going to take somebody where I’m doing full AP or full AR. I can support that, I can give the best practices, but I … that’s defining your ideal client.

With the clients that you work it, do you have a key app stack that you recommend to them?

Kellie:              I do, yes.

Heather:         If you don’t want to share it.

Kellie:              No, I love my app stack. It’s right on my partner-

Heather:         Okay.

Kellie:              It’s right on my partner page on the Saasy Accounting Coach. That’s two As, SAASY, Saasy Accounting Coach. Not that that does much for SEO.

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              Anyways, it is, at the front end, it is HubDoc, Receipt Bank and mostly Receipt Bank because my clients tend to have heavier AP, so there is a lot more documents that need to be published in batch. That would be the short version of why. It is QuickBooks online. It is Pluto for accounts payable and accounts receivable. That’s an app here in Canada that you can make payments but you can also, I use it to have my clients pay me automatically through pre-authorised debits. I use Rewind to backup the applications, so that we have an ongoing backup for the file individually, not the data as a whole that Intuit holds, and you can roll that back transactionally, you can roll it back to a date and time, you can make a copy, it’s super powerful, it’s super amazing, it’s awesome.

Kellie:              Then, I’ve been using for the last couple of months something called Auto Review, and I am loving that it does a file review of current clients. It’s not useful for reviewing a file for incoming clients, but it makes a month and a snap. I go through the Auto Review review before I move on to let the clients know the books are ready.

Heather:         Oh, okay. That sounds sensational. That sounds similar to what XBert does for Xero, does that sort of checking.

Kellie:              Oh, okay, great, yeah.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              Yeah.

Heather:         Does the Auto Review highlight processes as well?

Kellie:              No.

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              Tell me what you mean by processes.

Heather:         Like your workflow, it’s suggesting additional things to be included in your workflow.

Kellie:              No.

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              No, so I’m definitely going to have to scope that out.

Heather:         No, I wasn’t trying, I was just … it does sound very similar but yes, absolutely. Thank you very much for sharing that, Kellie. I’m sure people will find it very useful, and even if they pick up on one and then roll it out across their base, it will make a massive difference.

Kellie:              Rewind is on the books for Xero by the way, for backing up Xero.

Does Rewind take you to a certain point in time? Does it back up? Can you reinstall it to a certain point in time?

Kellie:              You can. In the traditional bookkeeping world, we had backups where you could roll back to a date. You can do that.

Heather:         Which Xero?

Kellie:              You can also backup a file before you muck in it, let’s say with journal entries or something.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              You can backup transactionally, though. Let’s say somebody entered a whole bunch of sales data and then deleted it, you can put that back transactionally.

Heather:         Oh! This is a rewind.

Kellie:              Rewind.

Heather:         I didn’t realise it worked in the Xero world.

Kellie:              No. I need to rephrase that. It doesn’t work in the Xero world yet.

Heather:         Oh, okay.

Kellie:              It’s on the books for Xero.

Heather:         Oh okay, it’s on the way, that’s what you mean.

Kellie:              Yeah, it does. Its main product is e-commerce. It backs up e-commerce sites. It also backs up Trello. Xero is on the roadmap. That’s that word I’m looking for. Not the books, it’s on the roadmap.

Heather:         Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Well, that sounds like something that, yeah, there’s a definite need for that, so it will be interesting when that comes out.

Kellie:              That’s another Canadian one. It’s like the Commonwealth kids. We do a lot of apps. For the size of our populations, Rewind is another Canadian one. Pluto, HubDoc of course, the boys of HubDoc, the Jaimes.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              Yeah. Then you guys, you’re owning it. I know Xero is New Zealand. You guys are in Carbon, in Practice Ignition and Practice Protect.

Heather:         Yes.

Kellie:              Right?

Heather:         What comes out of New Zealand for the size of their population is astonishing. To think that both like Xero and then Vent, which is just sold for an astronomical amount of money. They’re changing the landscape of New Zealand really with the technology that comes out of there. I think sometimes, is it perhaps smaller population, less complex systems in place, because … I listened to Blake and David on the Cloud Accounting podcast. The things that they describe are just so complex and that the payroll is different in every state. The fact that during COVID, if the CPA moved from San Francisco to Arizona, he now receives different money and has to pay tax in different states just because you moved state and you’re like going, “What?”

Kellie:              Yeah.

Heather:         How does this work? This is so complicated.

Kellie:              Also, we’re so far ahead in our banking beliefs. When I was first starting to speak at some of the conferences and I’d be saying, “Well, it’s a paperless world,” and then I get the blowback on checks from my US friends. Not blowback, but it’s just like … because here, when I was moving it, if I said to my clients, “Well, just tell your vendors,” and they’re like, “Great! Let’s just tell my vendors. We’re going to pay you this way.” I said that at a conference once and I said, “Well, just tell your clients to tell their vendors.” Then I got all these blank stares. It’s like, “Well, you don’t just get rid of checks,” and I’m like … This was a couple of years ago and by then, I had not written a check in probably 10 years.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              Our banking systems are so different. We’re used to pivoting, we’re used to financial transactions being virtual.

Heather:         Yes, yeah.

Kellie:              Whether it’s the front end, the back end, and then yeah, you’re right, we can pivot because we don’t have all of these other things going on.

Heather:         It will be interesting to see whether due to the lockdown, specifically the lockdown, whether that will change some of those things because, again, like David is saying, the ATO just receiving all of this paperwork in, and they’re locked down and they having to take it home and review it is like, you can’t operate like that. They must have done something I would hope, but yeah. I do think that that is one of the reasons why, but yeah, the Commonwealth countries. The Queen and the Commonwealth pushing us forward.

Kellie:              Oh it is. Yeah.

What are some of the accounting or business apps that you’re using on your firm?

Kellie:              Not the accounting ones, this is what I used to run my business?

Heather:         Yeah, what you actually use to run your business.

Kellie:              Right. The majority of my business is run by 17hats is a project management CRM, contracting questionnaire. I still use questionnaires outside of it if I need the information outside of that programme, so I do use … I love all the forms. I love Google forms, I love Type form, I love Cognito forms, I love that. I don’t need them all, but I muck about in them. I use 17hats to manage and CRM my business. I took on financial sense recently, so I am managing my work in the financial sense. Now, my bookkeeping work in the financial sense. I use Acuity as a scheduler. I could use the 17hats one, but I’m so happy with Acuity that I’m not going to break something that’s not broken right now, I got bigger fish to fry.

Kellie:              I use a product called … I mentioned Rewind, but I also backup my G-Suite, my email, my docs, everything on Google, my entire G-suite is backed up using a programme called Cloud HQ. Cloud HQ backs it up to Dropbox, so that I will always have everything that I ever created in Google can be re-created except for forms probably, but they’re not us integral to my business. Everything else is backed up to Dropbox. Cloud HQ also has some fun things. You know text snippets?

Heather:         No. Oh yeah, I can imagine this. It’s like setting up term phrases that you-

Kellie:              I have FLL, and that, putting in those three letters puts in my, the link to my full scheduler. I have 15M that puts in the link to my 15-minute, and it gives a little blurb. I look forward to seeing you, yadda, yadda, yadda, and I put in, basically, three characters and it builds out phrases for me. I use it on my phone, I use it in my email, it’s magical. I use Grammarly because I’m heading into my 60s very shortly, and so a year from, a year from two days ago, and so my typing skills are not what they used to be or my spelling skills, and so I use Grammarly. Acuity, Grammarly, oh, Canva.

Heather:         Scanning product.

Kellie:              Love Canva, yes. I use Square. I’m rebuilding my website, so anybody who goes to my websites and say, “She was a marketer?” “Yeah, shoemaker’s kid.” Even buying my template is a little dodgy, it’s not as smooth and experienced as I’d like, so I am rebuilding some of that probably next week, but Canva is great, but I use Square space for my websites now.

Heather:         Yeah, Canva is astonishing.

Kellie:              I used to build them in WordPress from scratch, not even using Themes. I don’t know what I was thinking. But they didn’t have things like Square space.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. I’ve never heard of someone using 17hats in their business, so that is really interesting. I’ve heard of 17hats over and over and over again, but not within accounting professionals’ business. That’s interesting, I will have to have a look at it.

Kellie:              It’s amazing for onboarding.

Heather:         Okay.

Kellie:              I do it a little, and I love Practice Ignition. I love Practice Ignition. It is a beautiful product and what it does, it does really well. This does it all from the lead capture to the vetting of the client, to the gathering of the information, to the contracting, and I contract very late in the game. I do a file review and get a confidentiality agreement. I only contract the day I can start the work with them. Once they’ve given me all the documents, then I send them back their engagement contract. It’s part of that ideal client. If they can’t get incorporation, I only take incorporated clients. If they can’t get me the information, give me their incorporation documents, the number of bank accounts, yadda, yadda, yadda, all the stuff we need to start the work, then we’re not going to be a fit.

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              Because I’m going to be hounding them and they’re going to hate me hounding them.

Are these templates also available for sale on your template website?

Kellie:              Yup. Yeah. The full onboarded process in 17hats. It’s pretty great. It’s so seamless.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              That’s available from start to finish as well, yup.

Heather:         Fantastic. Fantastic, another one for people to look at. As you mentioned, happy birthday?

Kellie:              Thank you.

Heather:         I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I think it was St. Patrick’s Day, so happy, happy birthday and St. Patrick’s Day. What is next for you, Kellie?

Kellie:              I’m writing in my goal book now. I’m not working Fridays anymore.

Heather:         I’m losing you.

Kellie:              Oh, there. Are we back?

Heather:         Yeah, I’ll ask the question again, okay? I’m just going to flick up while I fit you there.

What is next for you, Kellie?

Kellie:              Well, I’m writing in my goal book. I always write my financial goals and then I mark those by the amount that I want to work as well, so not working Fridays anymore.

Heather:         We’re working Friday in Australia right now.

Kellie:              Right, yeah. As I said, when I was in New Zealand, because I couldn’t do the backwards Math, so I did it, I am one ahead, seven hours behind, and that seemed to work for my little brain somehow to keep track of it more so than whatever it is 18 hours ahead. I just did the Math there, see? I can’t do Math.

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              Building out my passive income is definitely a biggie. The templates is part of that. I don’t do courses necessarily, but what I really love is one-on-one coaching, but I only do coaching with people that are really actionable. I can be overwhelming and I can be a freight train because I just want to get stuff done. I don’t want to talk about getting stuff done. If you book a session with me, we’re going to set up your Chrome browser so you’re working efficiently. We’re going to set up your Acuity so that you’re not mucking about booking meetings. We’re going to whatever, we’re going to get stuff done. We aren’t going to talk about why we should get stuff done, so I can really annoying. I don’t do the advisory work. If you go to my partner page, there are some people that are, especially here in Canada, who are doing how to become a higher-level advisor, not my gig, right?

Heather:         No.

Kellie:              My gig is how can technology and goal setting and efficiency propel you to love your business more?

Heather:         Yeah. No, I love that. I am fine that if I can’t influence the person to do something then we shouldn’t work together, which is a lesser way of what you just described there, because it’s pointless. It’s me wasting my time when there’s someone whom I could influence and move forward. That’s completely fine on them, but if they don’t want to move on that journey, then you’re not getting them a canoe until you move in on the journey.

Kellie:              Oh, I like that. You’re not getting in my canoe. What I don’t want is anybody to send their money and not come out with something done with me. But also, it’s not rewarding for me. I think I mentioned earlier, it’s all about Kellie, right?

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              It’s rewarding for me to see people get stuff done. I don’t want anybody to spend time with me that they’re not going to come out with their goals accomplished.

Heather:         Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, that’s fantastic. I really hope a lot of people contact you after this. It’s just amazing what you’re doing there. Is there anything? I suspect you’re a lady with a lot of tabs open. I’m not sure if you have tabs in MacBooks.

Kellie:              I’m not Mac anymore. I did finally have to give up on Parallels. Parallels is a dog. It suits its purpose but it’s slow. I had to go to the Darkside on PC because Google saved me from hating too much. I’ve actually been PC for a while now, and I’ve learned to love it.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              It’s all good, yup.

Heather:         I’m a G-suite person as well, and I love G-suite. I think there are two things I don’t like about it. I don’t like the fact that my email, I can’t sort it by the person it’s from. I can only … it only sorts by day.

Kellie:              Yeah, the search is fantastic though.

Heather:         Yeah.

Kellie:              I search, which has been great. I don’t like that if you nest a thread you can’t delete the send or it will delete the whole, so I don’t … I think it’s called conversation mode. I keep conversation mode. But I would like to be able to take my sent emails and put them into a folder as well, but you can’t. They just either sit there or you delete them or PDF. Cloud HQ PDFs beautifully including, and I’m going to get off-topic, just ring the bell, Heather. Most people have a bell when they’re talking to me.

Kellie:              Clod HQ, I have folders for my clients within the email and things just go to these magical places and then I can deal with them when I deal with them. But when you’re done with a client or the folder is getting overburdened, you can literally hit one button and PDF the entire folder, and it puts it away for you. You can decide where you’re putting it in that moment as well, so it go to the client folder in Google drive, and then it’s entirely out of your email. When I had the business changed a couple of years ago, it was so … I still got all of those, but I didn’t have to do anything one by one. I literally hit one button and boom!

Heather:         Fantastic. That’s sensational, yeah. I have so much to learn from you.

Kellie:              So much to overwhelmed by.

Is there anything else, Kellie, that you’d like to share with our listeners? How can they get in touch with you?

Kellie:              They can find me there, it is basically … if you search Kellie Parks QuickBooks online, I think I pop up fairly well. Or The Saasy Accounting Coach, that’s with two As as in Saas, so it’s SAASY, Sassy Accounting Coach. It’s actually saasy.coach, I believe. SAASY.coach. I try to keep it really simple when it comes to URL. I’m fairly easy to find, I think. But yeah, I have a trademark saying, do I get to say my trademark saying at the end?

Heather:         Yes, you get to say your trademark saying, yes you do.

Kellie:              Okay. My saying is, “Change is hard, not changing will be harder.” That is really the premise of everything that I believe in.

Heather:         Thank you. Thank you so much, Kellie Parks, for joining us on the Cloud Stories podcast. We’ve really loved having you here. I’m sure the audience really benefited from everything that you’ve shared, thank you.

Kellie:              I love being here. You are such a lovely, gracious host.

Heather:         Thank you so much, Kellie.

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