The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast

Building a remote Virtual CFO Firm with Jody Grunden

April 28, 2022 Season 1 Episode 46
The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast
Building a remote Virtual CFO Firm with Jody Grunden
Show Notes Transcript

This week I’m interviewing Jody Grunden co-founder and CEO of Summit CPA Group, a leading Virtual CFO firm in the creative agency space. We are talking about scaling, removing yourself from your firm, offering CFO services, building an amazing virtual team culture, and lots of things in between.

After we stopped recording, I told Jody I wished I’d found his firm when I was still working in corporate because I totally would’ve worked for him. If you’re not ready to start your own firm or know it isn’t for you but you want to work for an awesome virtual firm, they’re always growing and hiring, so go check them out!

Connect with Jody on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodygrunden/

Listen to Jody’s Podcast: https://www.summitcpa.net/podcasts

Get the Virtual CFO Playbook: https://vcfoplaybook.summitcpa.net/

Thanks for listening. For more information about the Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast or interest in our programs or mentoring visit our resources below:

Visit our website: ambitiousbookkeeper.com

Follow the Blog: ambitiousbookkeeper.com/blog

Connect on Instagram: instagram.com/ambitiousbookkeeper

Connect on LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/SerenaShoup

Connect of Facebook: Facebook.com/serenashoupcpa

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[00:00:00] Serena: On this week's podcast. I have a special guest coming to talk about building a remote virtual CFO firm. Jody Grendon is the co-founder and CEO of summit CPA group. The leading provider of virtual CFO services for creative agencies, as well as one of the largest virtual CFO firms in north America. He's also an industry speaker and a published author. 

[00:00:27] The author of digital dollars and cents. Jodi literally wrote the book on helping digital companies create a financial roadmap to success. He also wrote a book about building an all virtual CFO firm on the cloud. I was so honored to have Jody on the podcast today. I actually listened to his podcast. We will link it in the show notes so that you can also take a listen. 

[00:00:50] But we just, it was just like a coffee chat, a conversation with two firm owners, one a very small one. That's me and one, a multimillion dollar firm owner. And it was, amazing just being in the room with him. So I hope that you enjoyed this conversation as much as I do. Or did, and I'm planning to have him back on the podcast to talk more about building a team. Building a virtual CFO from all that good stuff, but we dove into what it's like to remove yourself, what it's like to grow. He just went through a merger. We talk about the best place to start when. Deciding to offer virtual CFO or advisory type services. The number one question to ask your clients on their meetings and it's simpler than you may think. And we just we just have a great conversation and i hope you enjoy being a fly on the wall for this one without further ado let's get into this week's episode

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[00:02:22] Serena: All right. Welcome to the ambitious bookkeeper podcast, Jody, I'm super duper excited to have you here. I'm a listener of your podcast. So would you mind introducing yourself to our audience? 

[00:02:35] Jody: You want the small version of the big one? 

[00:02:38] Serena: It doesn't matter. You can, you can go either way. 

[00:02:41] Jody: Okay. I'll go to a small version. So basically I run a virtual CFO. We've been doing that since 2002. So it's been a long time. So we've been doing it for a long time. The virtual CFO practice actually kind of rolled right out of our accounting practice. We had a traditional for about two years and really didn't think that was really. It wasn't fulfilling. So it was one something we had to kind of change and do something a little differently. And so about 2004 was when we actually rolled out the virtual CFO side meeting with clients, you know, virtually meeting with them on a regular monthly basis that, that time. And sometimes we did some bookkeeping with it. Sometimes we did, and it was all raised on forecasting, that sort of thing. And we can talk about that in a little bit here, but then we went fully remote in 2013 actually about, it was probably 2013, 2014, we went fully remote. So we basically kicked everybody out of the office started you know, they all work from home and we kind of went from there. And so we've been doing the remote work for about eight years or so, somewhere in that ballpark and have grown in size tremendously. So our growth since 2010 has been we double our size every three years. So since 2010, we've doubled our size. So we went from. Having nothing in 2002, when we started and only having one or two clients to this year we'll do about probably about 12 to $14 million in revenue, somewhere in that ballpark. So, so it's really grown dramatically and it's all subscription based. You know, we've been doing that for, jeez, since 2004, you know, we've been doing subscription-based billing for the whole time. No accounts receivable, a hundred percent is apps or account every month. And it's it's been, it's been a cool process, a fun ride. And the fact that we're virtual, it just you know, just made it a lot. It made, it, made it cool. Make me a lot funner to, to have not have to knowing that, going to work and all that kind of good stuff. And you know, that's kind of where we're at today, I guess. 

[00:04:33] Serena: Awesome. So, oh, I have so many questions now. That's why I love having people introduce themselves because then I start thinking of questions and then we can just take the interview wherever it goes. So you started out, like you said, as an accounting firm, and then was it that you guys were just not an, at this point when you decided to switch to CFO services, how, how large was your team?

[00:04:59] Jody: Yeah, great questions. The team was probably three people, my partner, a receptionist, and me, you know, that, that type of thing. So it was a very small firm. When, when we started off, we wanted to do, you know, well, basically what I kind of backing up a little bit. I left another, another firm. I had some, I worked in public county for a little bit, worked at crutches, and then I worked at a BKD, one of their offices, they actually bought out. And then I worked for a manufacturing company. So I left both of the, both public accounting because of the hours, the long, the long work I didn't want to, I didn't really want to do that. I just didn't feel like I fit in. And so then when I went to the. One of the two, the, basically the manufacturing company it was fun. It was exciting, but then it really got boring because it was like the same thing over and over every month was the same thing. It was like Groundhog day type type of thing. 

[00:05:49] And so I got an opportunity to work for a small regional firm and open an office for him. And I thought that'd be really cool. But when I did that, you know, I just realized that, Hey, Wasn't what I was looking for. And again, now I'm kind of wondering what, you know, what am I doing out here? I've got this accounting degree and I don't really fit in, you know, it's not something that I wanted to do anything with. And so I thought, well, I'll leave and open up my own firm. And so we, when I did that I still didn't know.

[00:06:15] I had had kind of the idea what I wanted to do. I have a huge emyth subscriber, you know, I you know, read the books and you read all their books back then and, and I really wanted to process something. So it was bigger than what we were. And that was the big key is I didn't want to make it the Jody Grunden CPA firm, or at that point I hired My now partner right out of that. So I didn't want to be the Grunden and Hail or the Hail and Grunden CPA firm that was, you know, that, that was not the idea. So I wanted to be bigger than us. And so that's when I, we named it Summit CPA Group, although it was just two of us at that point, you know, and I hired Adam, my partner right out of college.

[00:06:49] So it was a summer out of college and then me starting a firm up. And so the only thing we could do initially was the traditional stuff, like tax returns and stuff like that, because I really didn't have a client base. And so. We had a few tacks, you know, a few clients that I had personally, that friends and family and, you know, all that kind of stuff. And some small businesses, the manufacturing firm that I worked for, they wanted me to continue doing their stuff. So the cool thing about that was their tax rate was pretty big. It was like a $30,000 turn. And that was huge way back then. It's huge now, but it was huge way back then. And it's really kind of how I started the firm and had the money to actually pay for Adam's salary because I didn't take a salary for the first couple of years.

[00:07:29] And because I was basically bootstrapping the entire thing. And so you know, so a lot of excitement there and we had to kind of really do everything. I couldn't afford to buy a big, you know, I couldn't afford to have a huge office or couldn't afford to have any of the stuff that you would see in a typical firms. I had to kind of do things as lean and mean as I could. And so with that, you know, we answered again, I'm going to answer the phones probably for. Oh, probably three or four years, you know, it was, you know, who knows whoever's up next, gets the phone, you know, the next person calling type of thing. And we really kind of worked the existing client base to where, you know, taxes, you know, even for two years taxes, like, yeah, I hate taxes. And it was like, it was just really boring, not something I wanted to do. Clients hated it, a billing process, you know, everything was still kind of broken on the old accounting system. 

[00:08:15] And that's when we're like, Hey, let's do something. It's exciting for clients, you know, something clients actually want to come and meet with us about. And you know, with that, the first thing we did is a cashflow. In cashflow, at that time again, we only had the three people, we had a receptionist slash office manager person, and then we had me and then we had Adam and so we started doing cashflow forecasting. And that was just simply the 13 week cash flows, ins and outs of money coming in money, going out.

[00:08:44] And we sat with the client for a half an hour to an hour a month and they loved it. You know, we, we, we incorporated as part of their monthly meeting, we made a monthly meetings. We forced clients to actually meet with us. So we, the one thing we didn't want to do is just send them financial statements and then in the month or anything like that. So we met with them. We reviewed the financials for a little bit, but then we really kind of forecast. We really focused on the cashflow and clients got really involved in it for us. It was a simple process. Everybody on this in your audience, gonna understand how to do ins and outs. It wasn't a cashflow statement. We don't get into that, but it was true cash flow and the clients loved it. You know, it was great. It gave me the insight that they really never had before. And you know, they had the QuickBooks and they had the financial insight that, you know, the QuickBooks spits out. But for the most part, you know, it was, it was a new thing for them.

[00:09:33] And so the clients were like, you know, Hey, can we meet more often? And we're like, sure. And so, you know what we're going to do now? You know? So then we provided that same cashflow meeting every single week as part of our, our meeting. And so the clients again had that before. You know, they had the forward looking, you know, with their cash immediately. And then we were like, well, Hey, let's make this even more robust. And let's, you know, let's add long-term forecasting to it. And that's when we did that. So we added long-term forecasting. So we were looking at, you know, a couple of months, six months a year, you know, two years, three years, you know, however far out we thought it was, was pertinent to the client. And we really started working with the clients on developing this, what we call now, virtual CFO service. You know, we started at no four and that's kind of how it evolved. 

[00:10:18] And with that, we found out quickly that just by you know, putting it on a paper and creating that roadmap for the clients, like they kind of drove right to the destination, which was, which was pretty cool. Whereas before they're just kind of going along and really weren't going anywhere, they weren't losing money, they weren't making money, but they just. Making enough to pay the bills. And, and typically, you know, I always had that fear of, Hey, do I have enough for salary and stuff, but we actually created the roadmap and showed it really showed them how to get out of, you know, where they're at to, you know, to where they could be, you know, type of thing.

[00:10:49] And we, we put it in not financial jargon terms. We put it in, Hey, here's how many trucks, you have to get through our repair shop, you know, each month or here's what the average truck has to be. Or if you're selling widgets, here's what the widget has to be. Here's how many you have to have. Here's the mix you have to have. And so we really kind of got into how the dynamics of how things actually worked within their company that they could relate to control. And that's how we drove the forecast, those non-financial indicators. 

[00:11:18] And man, when they realized that. Yeah, sorry. That was pretty amazing. Cause lights just turned on. It's like, wow, this is how we make money. I knew this all along. I'm a business owner. I'm a great electrician or plumber or whatever, but now clearly understand what I have to do in order to get there. Then they started looking forward to the meetings. They didn't like ghost us on meetings. Monday, they would, you know, they would come in and we'd have a certain meeting topic. We would have, maybe it was going through the cashflow this week, or maybe it was going through the forecasts or the financial, but then there was a true purpose behind having the meetings and really made it go really well.

[00:11:52] And then. I would say about a third of our clients are like, you know, Hey, did you help out with the bookkeeping? Or can you help out with this? I'm like, absolutely. And so we do the bookkeeping or accounts payable, receivable, that sort of thing for about a third of our clients, about 80%. And we do the taxes and I'd say 90% of them, we actually meet with them, you know, with a more of a strategic type meeting, like the with the virtual CFO.

[00:12:15] Serena: Yeah. Yeah, I've been doing meetings with my clients pretty much since the beginning, because. Like we've talked about this before we hit record, but I used to be a controller. So I'm not going to just hand you a set of financial statements and send you on your way. I want to make sure you understand what it means, how to make decisions based on it. So yeah, that's one thing I tell a lot of my students is like, if you just want to level up a tiny bit compared to most bookkeepers, meet with your clients. Even if you don't go through the financials with a fine tooth comb. You just point out a couple things here and there and then open it up for questions. Let them tell you what they have coming up, coming down the pipeline in like, it's nice for them to just have another set of ears to bounce ideas off of. It's lonely for them at the top, especially, you know what I mean? They, they might not have someone internally that they can have these discussions with candidly.

[00:13:06] Jody: Yeah, I think he had it rarely knows. I mean, straight up, they, the idea is not to be overwhelmed on, Hey, what am I going to talk about? Or what silver bullet I have to bring to this meeting here, because I'm the smart one in the group or whatever, you know, Preconceived and, you know, soft, you know, that notion of yourself, but the idea of just going the meetings with basically an agenda, you know, the agenda is, Hey, we're going to cover financial statements. We're going to cover, you know, whatever the agenda might be. And then always ask questions. You know, the more questions that you can ask up front. It's amazing how that steers the conversation. You know, we, we, we tell our CFOs always start off the meeting with, Hey, how how'd the week go or how, you know, what what's new this month or what it depends upon whether you're meeting with them monthly or weekly or whatever, you know, what's new this month.

[00:13:51] And it's amazing, you know, like I just got off a call with a contractor. Oh, a lot of great things are going on. And, and so he's telling us all these, these five different things at different jobs, he closed that could be reoccurring revenue for a period of time. And so we pop right into the forecast right away and start plotting these out and kind of doing that, you know, doing that type of a strategy type of thing, like from the very beginning. And it's kind of funny, the hard work that we put together initially for the meeting and creating those financial statements put together. We didn't even cover. 

[00:14:20] Serena: That's how a lot of my meetings go. It's like, all right, well, I always same thing. I always ask them like, what's top of mind, what is, what do you have that you need from me right away? So we can make sure we cover that. And then tell me what's coming up. And it eliminates having to ask a lot of questions as you're doing the bookkeeping too, because you already know what's coming like, oh, they're doing a launch of this product or whatever. So it's like, when you start seeing it come through, you already know what it is.

[00:14:47] Jody: Exactly. And like, like you mentioned earlier, they want somebody to talk to, you know, there was somebody that can relate to. That's the importance of what, what you're doing is you're just getting to know them and you're getting, you're making them a friend you're making them, you know, somebody that you can communicate with, and then it can break things down for them on a fairly simple basis and really help them succeed in their business.

[00:15:08] Serena: Yeah. So one of the things that you said earlier was that you didn't feel like you fit in. I relate to that so much. And I think that anyone who goes out and starts their own firm probably has that same feeling of like, I don't fit in, in corporate. I don't fit in, in an accounting firm. And I have this entrepreneurial spirit that I need and creativity of some sort, even though, like, I know a lot of accountants don't think that they're creative, but you guys are.

[00:15:36] So what, when you went out on your own, did you have, cause you kind of already said you had this vision of being a little bit different because you didn't fit in, but how did you get to the point of where you. We're able to kind of develop your own style and learn how to communicate well with, with clients? Was that something that you did pull from your experience in the firm, or did you kind of just like learn it as you went? 

[00:16:05] Jody: I think you kind of learn it as you go. And when you have that entrepreneurial spirit and you're getting out there, you want to do something a little differently and change, you know, the way that people think about a certain area, like ours was accounting. When you change the way people think about accounting, you know, we didn't want it to be the traditional suits that come in, you know, we always talk about, I made fun of them in the corporate world, you know, Hey, these suits are coming in today, who was taking them out for lunch, you know, that was the conversation.

[00:16:29] And then when we're in public, it was like, you know, it was like a race to how many hours you could work. And it was like a badge of honor, if you work 80 hours a week or whatever, it's like, oh my gosh, this was just a weird, it was really a weird environment for me to come into. And with the fact that. I'm a huge family person. You know, I coached my kids and hockey and you know, all that kind of stuff. And hockey just happens to be during tax season, you know, so it's like, I've got to figure it out. How are we going to change things a little bit, you know, to, to handle that because I can't have everybody else working really hard and be out and having fun, you know, or whatever. That's just not my personality. 

[00:17:04] So I wanted to kind of change things around. And the first thing I wanted to do is I wanted to change the way that we dressed and, you know, no suits, you had to dress down, you know, jeans, you know, whatever, it's something you'd feel comfortable walking around a manufacturing plant if you had to, or a veterinary clinic or, you know, whatever, whatever that, whatever your client base might be, you know, something that you feel you fit in with. And so you're not looking like. Like, oh, over above that person, because you want to be on the same level as that person that you're dealing with and that for communication dress, the whole thing. And then the, then the other thing is, so he did that right away. 

[00:17:39] And then the other thing is, is that this hourly billing notion that we had to bill by the hour was really backwards. I mean, I saw it in public accounting. In public accounting, we would, you know, you would have, you would track the hours, all that kind of stuff, and then you'd give them the bill and then you'd think, oh wow, they're going to be pretty excited. Cause I didn't, I wrote all this down and then they're jumping all over your case because all these little things that are challenging or you give them a bill and you're like, oh man, they're gonna really hate this. And then you get, then they're like, oh, I didn't think it was even close to that. You know? 

[00:18:10] So you get the, the wide range from people and it was just a real weird thing. And so we're like, you know, You know, and, and that one kind of Dawned I mean, how we're going to change it. Cause when my son broke a window and we were playing catch in the backyard and broke a window. You know, the I called him to get you know, how much is it? How much is the window gonna cost? And the person's like, what kind of, when did you have blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, okay, And there's going to be $500 and I don't know the exact number, but let's just say $500. And so they came out and within probably 15 minutes, I had a brand new window in there and they walked out and I was happy. I'm like, oh cool. Here's my $500. Boom. But I was telling one of my buddies that, and they're like, well, they're only out there for 15 minutes. I went only cost like $150, you know? So they ripped you off. No, they didn't, you know, I, I agreed ahead of time. That was $500 if they were out there and I'd take them 10 hours to install that still would have been $500.

[00:19:03] And so, you know, what, why penalize that person? Because they can do a great job and efficient job and quick job, just, you know, why do that to the person, you know, why not reward them for that? And so when we looked at the, you know, changing the way that we're doing things, I thought subscription-based billing it would be the coolest way of doing it and nobody was doing it back then. It wasn't even, it wasn't even an option. It was always built by the, send the invoice out and we didn't have the money to be the bank. And so we thought, you know, Hey, this be a kind of a cool thing. Let's just tell people how much it's going to cost for our service. And we'll, we'll, we'll actually build it to, at that point on a monthly basis, not sending an invoice, but just zap their account and see what people think. And we started introducing it to the clients. They thought that was great. They loved it. They could control him. You know, my, my fee would be, they could call me when they needed it. It was really kind of a cool, cool thing. And then plus eliminate all my billing, all my accounts receive all my invoice and I didn't have to do it anymore. And it was just simply a monthly zap of a bank account. And then when they wanted us to come in on a weekly basis, we're like, you know, what, why are we doing, why are we zapping their account monthly when we're meeting with them regularly on a weekly basis. 

[00:20:08] So we thought, you know what, for all of our clients, we're just going to take their annual fee there. Cause we now know, and it's going to be, we're going to divide it by 52. And that's what we're going to zap their account every Monday and clients loved it. Since we implemented that back in 2004, we've had, we've had not even one client pushed back against it, you know, they're like, oh, this is great. They love it. They can see what it is automatically comes out, just less work on there and getting stuff out. And plus when we were actually in the cashflow meetings, it was really nice because. You know, at times it's like, they didn't have any cash in there, but our bills coming out every month.

[00:20:40] And so it wasn't or every week. So it wasn't one of those things where, you know, we felt guilty and we pushed our invoice out and push it off again. And now the client owes a big money. Now they're afraid to come to us as they feel really bad. You know, we took that completely out of the, out of the mix and it was, it was kind of a cool thing. So it was one of those things that we knew we wanted to change things, do things a little differently. And then by necessity, you know, the fact that we couldn't be. You know, really focused and pushed us to, you know, to really make some radical changes in the way that we did things radical way, that we actually build things. 

[00:21:13] And, and then, you know, how we, how we handle the people kind of making a traditional, you know, really lousy career and being in tax and working 80 hours a week to something that was, you could work 40, 45 hours a week, 35, whatever, and all year round and. And take time off as needed. And it was just more of a, the type of lifestyle that we were looking for and that I was looking for, you know, coaching the kids and raising a family and, you know, actually knowing what my wife looked like for, you know, if you're working 80 hours a week, you kind of forget after a while, it's kind of nice. Cause we had a chance to spend more time with each other. It was just the type of lifestyle that we wanted to live. And, and I think everybody on this call has that ability for sure. They just have to, they just have to do it, commit themselves to doing it, and they can create whatever opportunity they want, whatever lifestyle they want, which is kind of a nice thing about being an entrepreneur.

[00:22:09] Serena: Yeah, absolutely. So you took it from three people to now, how many people do you have working at Summit CPA Group? 

[00:22:18] Jody: Yeah, so right now we have about 55 ish people. And I say that because we're always hiring. So it's one of those things that I don't know exactly the number. We also have another 15 folks that we that, that are overseas, that we contract with us from the Philippines and from India. That we, we have them do some of our lower end bookkeeping work. Have you told him everything that we gather maybe 70 ish people altogether, that we're working with on a regular full-time basis all full time with the exception of the contractors. And like I said, it's grown, you know, pretty regularly the key to the growth is you've got to really set up really solid processes. And the E-Myth talks about that a lot, but they're books about how processes are really the key to growth. And he gave you a key to be able to scale. And without the processes put in place, we would never be able to scale grows as fast and as quick as we have been for sure. Keep in mind that when we're, when you're growing and you're on a subscription-based model, like most of you in the audience should be on that type of model. I hope. And if, if you're not get on that type of model, because what it does, it, you always have that base your base on their clients and you're adding to it. And that's what you're doing. You're adding to it every year, every month, every, every week, you know, type of thing. And that's the the idea and that's how you can actually scale revenue pretty quickly. Is having that type of model and having good processes in place to be able to support that. 

[00:23:38] Serena: Yeah. And you, you said pro you said selling the process, but are you talking like, so when you're bringing on a client, you're selling them the process you take them through? Or are you also talking to, you're also talking about internal processes. I know that, but can you talk to the whole, that whole thing? The process. 

[00:23:59] Jody: Yeah. So perhaps a process. So when clients come on, that they're buying. They're buying you, they're buying the processes that you put in place, right? They're buying the fact that maybe you're the person that's meeting with them on a regular basis. Maybe there's another person that underneath you, that's doing all the work. I mean, there's a person that beneath them, that's doing their work, you know. So you're leveraging a bunch of things, but you've got to have those processes dialed in and documented. And the important part about that is, is that, you know, and we're all guilty of this at some point.

[00:24:27] Cause we have to be is that we're all the. We're the main point of contact for a long period of time. And so the clients are getting used to speaking with us and so forth because we are their CFO or their bookkeeper where their main point, but as you scale and grow, you've got to be able to step outside of them. But somebody else in, you know, Jodi too, or Serena number two in there to do that work. And that's where the that's where it's important to have those processes put in place. From everywhere from paying bills to doing, you know, cashflow meetings. So, you know, whatever that might be as simple as it is, you want to document and make it so that somebody could walk in your shoes and fill in for you either on a short-term basis or long-term basis, and be able to handle having it handed off. Otherwise you're going to be stuck in a firm that you know, you're basically captive to what, what only, what you can do personally. And if that's what you want to do, that's fine. You know, that's more of a job than it is a, a company. But if you, if you want to do that, like I said, it's perfectly fine. But if you want to scale it bigger than yourself, You really got to set those processes up. 

[00:25:26] And those processes come down to, even to the point when you're onboarding clients, you know, you should have that document it completely, and it should be a super cool experience for that for the client to come aboard and go through that onboarding phase that, you know, the first eight weeks, you know, You know, checking, you know, checking in all there, making sure all the journal entries made sure that financial statements are dialed in up to the date, make sure all their bills are paid, all that kind of stuff they do, document and doing the first week should be documented and gone through a simple process. And, and so that's when we talk about processes, that's what I'm talking about there. In order to scale, you really have to have it so that every client is getting that same experience whether they're meeting with me on a regular basis are straight out of the meeting with you on a regular basis. They're getting that same experience, from the way the financial statements look to the way that bills are taken care of to way journal entries are done, the communication. Everything should be done to where it's at a systematic process. And that's the I think that's a key to growth is just simply developing those processes document and continuing that medium.

[00:26:29] Serena: Absolutely. Absolutely. So you are now at the point where you're not meet. Cause we discussed this before we hit record. You're not meeting with most of your clients, but there are still a handful because we will always have those favorites. Right. But what was, I guess, putting processes in place was the number one thing that got you to that point, but did you always have that vision of not being the one meeting with your clients? 

[00:26:54] Jody: Oh, a hundred percent from day one it was like, we've got to figure this out. Cause I, I started off in Adam was the person doing all the work and then I was first and going out and getting the clients and then he would do it and then it would continue on. And then I would meet with some clients and I gave him enough clients where he could start meeting with some of those clients. And so it was just one of those times. You know, the, the idea was every time I went into a new client, I had to kinda figure out how can I get myself out of this new client without losing the client? And so that was the, that was the key. Right. And so then you figure it out and then you hand the client off.

[00:27:27] And for a lot of us, we think, man, if we let that client go. It would leave, you know? Cause they, they love Jody. I mean, if Jody wasn't there, why would they stay at the company? And it's like, well, that's not really true if you're giving them great service and you've got the processes put in place and you bring in Serena, she's going to knock it out of the park. You know, just like Jody did and they're going to appreciate that and they're going to stay with it. And, and a lot of times we, we truly feel that, Hey, we can't let this person go or this client is too valuable. You know, if they leave, we'll go out of business or whatever. It's like. Probably not true. 

[00:28:00] Serena: Probably not. And they're also business owners and they're trying to do the same thing. So it's a great model for them. Right. And if they're not trying to do that, then maybe. Not the greatest client because they're not going to grow with you. 

[00:28:13] Jody: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, yeah. So from the very beginning, you've got to have that mindset that, Hey, how can I make myself worthless to this engagement? And so by detailing everything out, bringing other people to actually do the work and then bringing someone to do your work. And then with the same thing with your company, you know, you gotta look at it and say, how can I make myself worthless to this company? Because the more worthless I become to the company, the more valuable and company becomes. So it's kind of an inverse relationship there. And so that goes from, you know, basically paying the bills yourself to your company, you know, your, your own company bills that comes through your own marketing, your own finance for all the different areas that you can kind of separate out that, Hey, how can I train somebody to do that? Or how can I empower somebody to do that and be able to step away and let them fail and let them succeed and that sort of thing, and really kind of develop the company itself. You do that from the client basis, but then you've got to really do it for your entire company basis. Just step back and figure out, Hey, how can I make myself worthless? It sounds kind of a weird comment, but the more worthless to become, the more, you know, the more valuable you become. 

[00:29:18] Serena: Yeah, I think that's definitely people's egos definitely get in the way of that. You are so attached to this thing that you've built. And so it's a constant work in progress. It's not something that one day you're gonna wake up and be like, okay, I'm ready to be removed. Like you're going to work on it physically and mentally for forever. Like, I'm sure you still have days where you're like, they don't need me anymore. 

[00:29:44] Jody: Oh, that's pretty much every day. 

[00:29:45] Serena: But, but that's what you want, you know, that's, if that's what you want to create, you have to definitely put in that work of shifting mindset.

[00:29:54] Jody: It's really difficult because you know, it's difficult because when we, when, when we, when I, when I did it, the way it did is I had. Adam pop in all my meetings. So even though he wasn't really doing anything in my meeting, he was in every meeting I was at, you know, with the client. So the clients saw Adam as much as they saw me. And so then when I had to bow out, you know, what Adam took over and he did pretty good job, of course not as good as me, but he did a pretty good job. Right. But the thing, and I say that facetiously, because when you go in and you're seeing Adam make all the mistakes that you think, oh my gosh, why did he stay there?

[00:30:25] Why did he do. We can circle back with them. And the next day is, Hey dude, you might want to do this a little differently here. You know, this is what she meant by this, or he meant by this or whatever, and it's a great coaching opportunity. And then eventually you, you develop trust in Adam and then Adam is now handling the clients that you were handling. So you just kind of handed that off. 

[00:30:43] And so with what we do that even today with most of our meetings, there's usually two people in the meeting one's kind of there kind of like that karate kid thing, you know, wax on wax off, and then you figure out how to, you know, Hey, what that really means. And just by hearing people talk and hearing people, that whole conversation, you're in the room with them, and it's really easy then to, to jump off. But the trust factor is there. You've got to have the trust in the person that you're handing things off to, and you build that trust by, by seeing them actually doing it and actually watching them fail, which is pretty, pretty tough to do. 

[00:31:15] Serena: Yeah. I, I get a lot of questions about that, where people are like, okay, I want to hire, but like, I just can't trust anybody. And it's like, well, there are certain things you can do to start building that trust and it's not going to happen overnight for sure. And you're probably gonna end up with some bad apples cause we all do because we jumped into things too quickly and ignore red flags and whatnot. But if, if that's your mindset of like, I can't trust anybody, then you're going to be doing everything yourself forever. 

[00:31:44] Jody: Yeah. And you know what, for some people that's okay, but you just created a job for yourself. Right. So if you're cool with that, that's great. But if you don't want something more than a job, then really you've got to learn how to empower people and empower people comes through trust and building the trust. 

[00:32:00] Serena: Yeah. And, and creating a culture. So that's something that. You know, I, I mentioned to you that I'm to the point where I'm pretty much like not doing any of the bookkeeping work I meet with a select handful of clients, but my team is managing everything and it's taken a few years to get to this point and having built that trust and building the culture and, and all that kind of stuff.

[00:32:25] And it's harder than just doing them. To be honest, it's always going to be easier if I just did everything myself. But, but then like, you also have to think about like, well, we want to change this industry as a whole, right. So we need to create, we have the vision, we can create this type of culture for other people to come in and work in because not everybody is going to be an entrepreneur. So we have that power too. 

[00:32:51] Jody: Yeah. And I think by initially giving the power to the people that you're working, that's working under you, it really shows them really how to delegate and how to empower people below them. So they see that and then they carry that. Now they're, now they're pushing things down to people below them as they move into that different role, if that's what happens there. So again, it's a, it's a continuous stream, but it comes from the top. And then the person at the top, can't be the person that's hoarding all the work and, and, and doing everything themselves because they can do it quicker, faster, better than everybody, because of course they can otherwise. Right. But you got to teach that second person to be just as fast and quick and as good and that third person and the fourth person, that's really how you build the team. 

[00:33:34] Serena: Yeah. So who modeled that mentorship for you to become that type of mentor? Whether good or bad? Because sometimes we become the people we are from bad mentors. 

[00:33:45] Jody: And I don't know. That's a good question. I, I think it's probably, yeah, I don't think I've ever no one's ever really asked me that question before. And it's one of those things. If I think about it, you know, it, I don't know. It kind of comes down to. You know, just, you know, just your own philosophies really. I mean, I don't know if he really needs somebody to mentor you or to do it that way. I think it's just one of those things that, Hey, in order for you to be successful in order for you to grow, you've got to have the mentality that delegation's important. You've got to have the mentality that empowerment is super important and I've always empowered people in every part of what I've ever done all the way from coaching back in, you know, high school or being a captain on the football team, you always empower people because you've got to work as a unit, as a team. And I think that it just probably came. It's probably always been with me. I don't know if there's any one person I can think about that I've modeled that around outside is reading a ton of books. Which could, could potentially been where I got those ideas. I don't know. Good question. 

[00:34:43] Serena: Yeah. I mean, I'm sure you had like some really awesome coach or a teacher or maybe professor or something at some point that was, you know, especialy patient or something. I mean, we gather things from all over the place, but yeah. Books are also great. 

[00:34:59] Jody: Yeah. It's kind of funny. You mentioned that because I probably couldn't tell you what one professor's name was ever. I probably couldn't tell you, although I read a book probably once every other week or so I either read or listen to a book. I probably couldn't tell you even a quarter of the books titles, or the authors, but I'll have different ideas from the books that I will latch on to, which is. I think what you're saying here is all the different noise coming into your head. You know, a lot of times, you know, you don't have to cite the exact term or exact quote or exact whatever, but the ideas pop in there. And I think that's what really kind of just keeping your mind fresh with different ideas on, you know, listening to different podcasts. Like this are great for you picking up even one idea. And you know, what, if, if you don't remember that, you know, Serena told you that or had that or podcasts, but you put it in the work 30 days later, You know, great. You know, she doesn't need the credit for that. I don't need the credit for that. That's just part of what you do. You just absorb, all the different information you can. 

[00:36:00] Serena: Awesome. So you also mentioned that you have what doubled or tripled your growth every three years?

[00:36:07] Jody: We double our growth every three years. So that's probably a minimum. 

[00:36:11] Serena: Okay. Is that due to organic growth or acquisitions? Cause I know you just went through a merger. So talk about that. 

[00:36:19] Jody: Yeah, sure. Well, yeah, so up until April of this year everything that we've done was through organic growth. Not, we didn't buy companies or anything like that, or didn't buy books of business or whatever, and just simply building those processes and then really creating the demand for the for that process, the demand for what you're producing out there and becoming a thought leader is really the biggest thing or biggest reason for our growth. And so with that, everything's been organic, you know, up to this point, which is, which is pretty crazy. Cause that, you know, just, you know, three or four years ago, we were only a few million dollars and now we're gonna push, you know, close to the 12 to $14 million mark this year, which is kind of kinda cool. 

[00:36:59] But kind of leading up to what you had mentioned there. Yeah, we just recently merged with a a top 100 accounting firm at the Andrews inner CPA advisors in April. So we just did an April 1st. And so it's a fairly new very new experience right now and-- 

[00:37:13] Serena: Congratulations. 

[00:37:14] Jody: Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate it. And what they wanted to see was they wouldn't ask to come in and be their virtual CFO department, you know, so they wanted to bring our processes in place. The way that we do things from the subscription-based billing to, you know, team retreats and everything that we do as a virtual company, you know, they wanted us to bring that into Their company and kind of teach them how, what we've done in, you know, kind of pull different ideas on, Hey, how can they make their company even better by having us as part of it? So it's been a pretty cool, it was a pretty cool, pretty cool merger so far. I love it. The team over there is great and they're, they're trying to adapt how we are adapt to how we actually. Do things, you know, cause we are fully remote and they're fully brick and mortar. For the most part, they do have some remote workers, but for the most part, a fuller amount. And so that's, that's the fun part that we've got coming up is really figuring out how to help them grow, and help them become, you know, the, you know, they're already way on their way to becoming and you know, the firms of the future for the most part, but really kind of accelerating that through bringing us on. So it's pretty exciting stuff. 

[00:38:16] Serena: That's fun. Yeah. I want to point out for the listeners that like the recurring theme here, being able to grow so successfully really is dependent on the team and the culture that you're creating, because you wouldn't, you would not be where you are today without, without that culture you've created. So that's really great. 

[00:38:37] Jody: Sure. For sure. Yeah. If you're virtual, that's the that's another big thing. If your. And you and your team is truly virtual where you don't actually, they're not in the same city where you can't grab a cup of coffee or go to the bar after, you know, after a hard day at work or that type of thing, you've really have to create time where you can actually get a chance to hang out with each other on a personal level. And with that, we have team retreats all the time. So we have a team retreat, at least one team retreat once a year. And then we divide the team up in different groups and that those groups meet, you know, once a year as well. 

[00:39:09] Serena: In like regions? 

[00:39:11] Jody: Yeah, well, not really regions, but it's more groups that they're working with. So like if we break our team up into pods and so we have one pod that has a few CFOs accountants that work together kind of can mini mini team within the team type of thing. And so that team. Once a year, you know, and just the, kind of as a working retreat type of thing, but then have fun at night. And they'll, you know, maybe, you know, you could take that, you could rent out some hotel rooms or an Airbnb or whatever. But the idea is you actually have to format it in a way that you can actually hang out with each other. Yeah. And you know, and that's what really kind of makes the culture of the way it has, you know, constant meetings throughout the year. You know, every Monday we have a meeting and in the meeting, we're just talking about fun facts, jokes. We have a joke of the day fun facts and in topic it could be your favorite movie and why type of thing everybody talks about it. And, and just to kind of, you know, kind of get that team camaraderie together. And then when the retreats come, it's pretty awesome. They people can't wait. It's kind of, kind of weird because every company retreat I had been to in the past. You don't want to go, but you go there anyways and then you can't wait to leave. You're making excuses why you gotta leave early or whatever.

[00:40:21] And our team retreats, it's the opposite. No one misses them. You know, they love going to them. And when the when five o'clock hits, you know, we break up into mini dinners. You go to these dinners, they're hanging out with people they've never met before, which is really cool because now they're really kind of making the small company big and then they can't wait to hang out after the meetings.

[00:40:41] And so we purposely set it up so that the, you know, the team retreat, doesn't start till 11:00 AM. Because that'll give a chance to, you know, for them to go out in the bars if they went to afterwards or hanging out in the morning, or if they need to get some work done, the more that he can. But the idea is that, Hey, this is something that it's more of a bonding thing that than anything. And so it it's a must for a virtual company. And for those that have been virtual for a long time, I'm sure that they're doing some sort of retreat. But it, it definitely has to spend the money that you're not spending on the facility and give back to your team so that they can create that culture that you're looking for.

[00:41:11] Serena: Yeah, definitely have been budgeting for a team retreat. I got to, my team is very small still, but I did get to meet one person in in-person. I took her to a bookkeeping retreat with me. So there was other firm owners there too, but that was really awesome to be able to connect in person. And we do a lot of like we have a slack channel for team building and we just ask random questions and we meet every week. I think that's a really important thing as well. And then, and one-on-ones as well. So with your direct reports super key to be able to keep that. 

[00:41:46] Jody: Yeah for sure. 

[00:41:47] Serena: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for letting me pick your brain on the podcast. I'm sure that our listeners have gotten a ton of value and some great ideas for growing, scaling a company, whether they decide to do virtual CFO work or not. I'm definitely going to have to have you back on the podcast.

[00:42:06] Jody: Yeah, this would be great. 

[00:42:08] Serena: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time and we'll talk to you soon. 

[00:42:13] Jody: Thanks Serena. 

[00:42:14] Serena: Bye. 

[00:42:15] What a great conversation. I hope you truly enjoyed this. Please check out the show notes for ways to connect with Jodi. The best place to connect with him is on LinkedIn. I've linked his profile in the show notes. He also has The Virtual CFO Playbook available for download, which is also linked in the show notes. And. Yeah, I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. Don't forget, you can enter to win the workshops, bundle by screenshotting the episode, sharing a big takeaway or action item from the episode and tagging me on social. You can find me at Ambitious Bookkeeper on Instagram at Serena CPA on Facebook and LinkedIn. Thank you again for listening each and every week i truly appreciate you talk to you soon

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