The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast

Your First Hire for Your Firm

January 05, 2022 Serena Shoup, CPA Season 1 Episode 30
The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast
Your First Hire for Your Firm
Show Notes Transcript

In this solo episode, I'm talking about making your first hire — some of the

things that have worked for us and the 4 points you need to think about ahead of time!

  1. What position to hire for first
  2. What to put in the job description
  3. Whether you should have an employee or a contractor
  4. Where to look for your new team member

Plus a few other points to consider!

Here are the resources mentioned in the episode:


Join the Breakthrough Waitlist

Apply to Join the Breakthrough Retreat


Team Work by Natalie Dawson 

Make Em Beg to Work For You by Dr. Angela E. Lauria

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Ep 30 - Your First Hire




I'm going to kind of talk about my experience and what my first hires were in the firm. If you've been following for a little while, you might already know this information. So just bear with, bear with me. But I actually hired a pretty early on just as a contractor to help with the kind of the data entry type bookkeeping. So going through and processing the hub dock, receipts and invoices, reconciling the bank accounts. And then I would just take over review and meet with the [00:02:00] clients about their numbers. So that I always recommend that actually to be your first hire, if you are feeling maxed out with client work and you want to be able to dive deeper with your clients and take on more of that advisory role or that oversight role. That would be my first recommendation for hiring. 

Now you might hear other people talk about hiring a VA or something like that for your first hire. And that could work too. If the support that you need is in other areas, besides the bookkeeping work. But most likely it's not. So you could find a unicorn VA that has some bookkeeping experience, then networks too. You don't have to hire someone super experienced in bookkeeping, as long as you're willing to mentor them and train them on your process. 

So let's talk about whether you should hire a subcontractor or an employee. [00:03:00] And that really depends on one where you're located. So California is really strict on this. So if you're in California, I would advise against hiring a contractor as a bookkeeper. If you are in the business of offering bookkeeping services. So one of their big sticking points and rules is if you hire a subcontractor, they can't be in the business of what you're in the business of doing. So if you are a bookkeeping firm or an accounting firm, it's going to be really hard to justify hiring a subcontractor that offers the same services that you do. So keep that in mind and other states might have similar rules. So make sure that you look at your state and what your rules are. But in general, if you control the work, if you're giving them checklists and certain hours that they need to be working in tools that they should be using and you have more control over the position, then it's more like an employee position than a contractor. So [00:04:00] just be careful with that. 

There's advantages of that too, as well. As hiring an employee, which sounds kind of scary, but there's a lot of people out there willing to work part-time right now. So just because you're hiring an employee does not mean that you have to give them 40 hours a week. A lot of people are kind of doing the multiple employee side hustle type things where you have a full-time job, but also get another part-time job to make more money, to set aside money, pay down debt, things like that. So don't discount that as an option. So for an employee, the advantages of that is that you can control the work product more.

You can give them a clear guidelines on how you want things done. You can set their hours. You can tell them I need you clocked in from here until here. I need you to be showing up to the. You know, team meetings and things like that. I'm not saying that you can't find that with a contractor too, but it makes that [00:05:00] contractor relationship a little more difficult and a little less "contractor-y" if you're dictating all of those things. 

One of the things that has come up for us, and this might be a question that comes up for you is like I said, I have contractors and employees. At this time, all of my team has purchased their own tools, so their own they're using their own computers and whatnot. So I haven't actually given them the tools, the physical tools to do their jobs, but I do reimburse them. So I reimburse them for software for my employees, for my contractors I don't cause that's part of being a contractor. You're responsible for the cost of all your tools, but I do give them access to some of the tools we use. Sauna and slack and all that kind of stuff. So those are some things to keep in mind, some logistical things. 

Let's talk about how to decide what to hire out first. So I briefly discussed that. I think [00:06:00] the best place to hire out is the bookkeeping. If you're at capacity, if you need more time back in your day to serve your clients, then most likely that's going to be where you need support. But if not, or if you don't, if you're not sure the best thing for you to do is actually track your time.

And this is something that I did not do at the very beginning. I was like, I'm charging flat fees. I'm not going to waste my time, trying to track time. I just don't, I didn't really want that culture and all that kind of stuff, even though it was just me. So I didn't track time at the very beginning, but I did have a pretty good feel of what I wanted to be doing.

So that's another gauge. So track your time and get a really good feel about where your zone of genius is and what you want to be spending your time in your business doing. And for me, it was, I enjoy doing the review work. I enjoy. Mentoring team and helping them get better at bookkeeping. And I enjoy meeting with my clients.

So it was kind of a no [00:07:00] brainer to pass off the bookkeeping work and step more into that. So check in with yourself, figure out what it is you really enjoy doing inside your business and work towards a plan or, you know, write out a checklist of all those other items that you don't actually enjoy doing and start tracking your time, recording everything that you've been doing and highlight the things that you would love to just outsource right away. And that is actually how I came up with our most recent job description. So it wasn't necessarily my time tracking, but over the past few years, we've gotten really good at our process and what needs to be done for each client. So I was able to just go into Asana, look at a typical client project and pull the whole section of the bookkeeping work that we want someone to step into that role and be able to help with. 

Currently as of the [00:08:00] time of this recording, we are still in the process of evaluating candidates and we haven't made a final decision, but that decision will be coming soon.

But we have been recruiting for a staff accountant and Most of what they will initially be doing. We'll be doing the basic day-to-day bookkeeping for our clients, and then hopefully they will start stepping into more of that advisory and review role. So like I said, I was able to just go into Asana, pull all the bookkeeping tasks that have to be done for a typical client of ours and build a job description around that.

Now that's not the only thing that was in the job description, and I'm not going to go really far in depth on how to write a really good, compelling job description. But I will say. Writing a job description that would make you want to apply for the position, whether you're at that point in your career or [00:09:00] not, if you can step into the shoes of someone applying for a bookkeeping or a staff accountant position, if you would be lit up by applying to that job and be like, oh my gosh, I want to apply to this job, then you have a good job description because you want people really excited about applying for your job. And I actually, when I finished the job description, I was so proud of it that I was like, I wish that I could have applied to a job like this when I was a staff accountant. And I had multiple of my students and other people, peers that were like, I almost want to apply for your job description, even though I have my own business. 

So I hope that you can write one similar and I will say some really great resources and I will link them in the show notes. Number one is, if you are at the point of hiring for your firm, I highly highly encourage you to get on the wait list for Breakthrough With Workflow. It's her new signature course. And she goes in depth on hiring and writing job [00:10:00] descriptions and team culture and all of those things that if you are ready for that next level, I want you to get on the wait list. It's linked in the show notes. You can also sign up for her breakthrough retreat and I believe that we'll be going on sale soon. Or it might already, the waitlist might already be open. I will link to that as well, and that's going to be an in-person retreat. So we'll be going through a lot of that content live and I do guest teach there. So I'll be teaching a few topics as well. And that is going to be in California this time. Last time it was in Nashville, Tennessee. 

So those are the first two resources, pretty much the same resource, but in two different formats. And then a really great book. If you can't afford a course right now is Teamwork by Natalie Dawson and another amazing book I used, I use things from tips and tricks and strategies from both of these books to write my job description and kind of lay out a career path and a plan for how we are going to [00:11:00] onboard employees. 

The other book is Make Them Beg To Work For You by Dr. Angela Lauria so Teamwork and Make Them Beg to Work For You are two amazing books. You'll spend maybe 20 bucks to get those books. They're super quick reads. They're super easy and you're going to be highlighting a ton and just implementing as you read through those books.

We talked about which position to hire for first, how to figure out what you want that employee doing to help you write that job description, some resources for helping you write a really amazing job posting. 

Now last, I want to talk about where to find employees or team members, where to recruit basically. Based on this most recent recruiting cycle that we went through, I posted the job in multiple places. I posted it on LinkedIn [00:12:00] as a job posting. And I believe your first job posting is free. So this one I did not pay for. This is the first time I had posted a job on LinkedIn. I paid to post it on Indeed and on ZipRecruiter.

Now, the process that we took everyone through, or the job posting basically had some specific instructions. For the candidate to follow, which helps weed people out at the very beginning. So we weren't wasting our time looking at resumes of people who weren't serious. One of the pieces of instructions was to actually email us at a certain email address with a certain subject line. And that subject line was kind of buried in the job. There was some other requirements as well, but those were the, the main points of like, I wasn't even gonna review a resume unless they followed those two instructions. And I actually had all of those being emailed to someone else on my team, so I wasn't bombarded all day long with [00:13:00] resumes.

 However, since I was the one who set up the job posting on LinkedIn and it was connected to my profile and I was the one who set up ZipRecruiter. And indeed I was still getting email alerts every time someone applied for the job. But I knew that since I was getting an alert that they applied for the job through that platform that they had not actually followed the instructions. So I pretty much just deleted most of them. The first few resumes I looked at and I was like, oh, these are really good resumes. Hopefully they apply. And then I just kind of stopped doing that and just archived them automatically because I just didn't want to be bothered with it unless there was a real candidate not clicking, just submit my resume, submit my resume to all these jobs. Because I know the job market is crazy out there right now. I know there's a lot of people applying for jobs and I just didn't want to spend time looking at resumes that are likely applying to every job out there. 

All in [00:14:00] all, I probably had close to 200 applicants through that process, but only about seven who actually followed all of the instructions. So really we were only evaluating seven resumes at the beginning and we narrowed it down fairly quickly. We added some more filtering techniques. So it still was time-consuming but my suggestion is to have something like that to filter out the, not so great candidates and filter in the ones that really want the job. Whatever that looks like for you, whether it's making sure they use a certain subject line, or submit the resume a certain way. You get to decide, but I highly recommend doing something like that. It'll save a lot of time for you so that you can actually save that energy for evaluating quality candidates.

In all, I believe the best candidates that we received actually were from LinkedIn. So even though they could have just clicked, submit their resume on LinkedIn, the [00:15:00] good candidates that we got were like second or third connections, like removed from me on LinkedIn. So they somehow saw the job posting and were able to figure out the instructions and apply.

So that is the process that I went through. I hope that this has been valuable for you in starting to think about hiring. And I will make one last point that I didn't really touch on before is that when I hired at the beginning, my first contractor, I only had five clients. You'll hear in lots of different groups and from other experts in our industry that you shouldn't hire until you hit a hundred thousand in revenue or until you hit a certain number of clients.

And I just, I don't subscribe to that whatsoever because if you're like me and you want to build a business that is in alignment with your [00:16:00] lifestyle, if you don't want to be working full-time, then you're going to have to hire much sooner if you're continuing to grow, there will be a point where you are at capacity and you have to decide whether you want to spend more time working in your business or. Maybe take home less of the profit, but still be making money by not having to work as much. So you get to decide it's your business. So like I said, I hired my first contractor just for one client at a time. And initially I set her up hourly until we got kind of comfortable with how much time things typically would take and then we switched to a flat fee. So then she, since I was billing my clients as a flat fee, I knew that I was going to stay profitable in the engagement and she had incentive to be more efficient and find more efficient ways to do things.

That's one way that you can structure it, especially with a contractor. Like I said, we started with one client and then we kept building from [00:17:00] there. I would get another client and then I would onboard that client, come up with a process and hand it over to her. And now. We, we kind of continue to do the same thing. I typically onboard all the clients and pass those off. My goal this year is to not be doing any of the client work, including onboarding. So that's part of why we have been hiring so that we can continue to grow and the business is not as dependent on me because while I want to continue to grow the business, I don't want to continue to increase my hours.

At this point I work about part-time between both of my businesses for the firm and for Ambitious Bookkeeper, there's some times where it's more like 30 hours a week, but for the most part, it's around 20 hours a week between the two businesses. And I'd like to keep it that way, but continue to grow them. I hope to be an example for you listening and inspire you to build the business that you want to build and do it the way that [00:18:00] fits your lifestyle and your family and what you want out of it. 

All right that's it for today. Check the show notes for the links for those resources. I mentioned, don't forget to sign up for the breakthrough waitlist with Alyssa Lang, The Workflow Queen, grab yourself a copy of Teamwork and Make Them Beg to Work for You. Those will be super helpful in you growing your business. All right, we'll talk to you next week.