3 Reasons why I think offering in-house training is a disservice from my company to yours?
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe all business owners should have a fairly good grasp of their financials. What I don’t agree with is offering to train you to do your own bookkeeping.
Understanding your financial position is never more important than in the start up years. Cash-flow is usually tight, understanding which product or service is generating revenue is important and keeping track of your expenses crucial. (Not investing in your business can be just as detrimental as over spending. Finding the balance isn’t always easy.) This is why it is so important to get it right from the outset.
So with this in mind, why do I find it “wrong” for bookkeepers or accountants to offer “training”? Well, as the heading suggests, I have three reasons:
- Even a “perfect trainer” with a million years of experience training you……. you’ll still get it wrong! Solid bookkeeping is not something that can be learned over the course of a 2 or 3 day session. Yes you’ll get the basics and yes you could plod along yourself. However, even a 16 week certificate course still won’t teach you everything. There are actually 2 steps to teaching someone small business bookkeeping.
i) Teaching the fundamentals of accounting practices…. which is a joy unto itself, and
ii) Now that you know where your debits and credits should go; how do you get those transactions into your software.
Think about this…. do you have a degree? 3-4 years of hard slog to become an “expert” in your field. When you get those papers in your hand and the wonderful little hat complete with toggle, are you an expert yet? No, your still as green as they come because of a distinct lack of hands on experience. So trust me when I say the 3 day training session isn’t going to cut it. Think back to one of those seminars you’ve been on before. We’ve all done them. “Excel for Business” or “Microsoft Mastermind”. The exercises are all “in a perfect world” scenario. Does the contents of your training manual include: Section III Paragraph 4 subsection (a) “When you file your GST incorrectly, this is how you fix it.” What if, in your Excel training, nobody caught the fact that you had clicked the wrong cell and your calculating =sum(E3*F7) rather than F8? Congratulations, revenue is now showing 10 times the correct amount and you have no idea why the inflated profit is not reflected in you bank balance! And so the same goes for bookkeeping software. When you get it wrong, could you look at your financials and tell that something isn’t quite right. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “probably not”. So we get why DIY bookkeeping isn’t a good idea.
- Taking reason 1 into account, offering in-house training feels an awful lot like a money grab. It’s safe to say that all bookkeepers (well…. most at least) start off with good intentions. How to supply a service to new companies on a tight budget with limited cash-flow? We’ll charge a flat rate fee to train the owner (or spouse) how to do the bookkeeping themselves saving them money in the long run. Sounds innocent enough. However if we are really honest we know that as we are doing the training there are certain reoccurring thoughts running through our head. “I just know that in 11 months you’ll be contacting me for a refresher session” or “there is at least a 90% chance of me getting this work back later to clean up the mess” I’ve done it myself and it’s kind of an industry joke so I know it’s true. That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that “training” isn’t too far off of a money grab…… and that doesn’t sit too well with me. But neither of these are the most important reasons. That comes with reason 3.
- Unless you are in the business of bookkeeping, this isn’t your passion and you shouldn’t be doing it. You didn’t go into business for yourself to be saddled with dreaded tasks you don’t want to handle. Doing Admin, IT, Sales, Bookkeeping or a whole slew of other work that you don’t enjoy sucks the passion and life force out of your business. Don’t believe me? Ready any book written in the 21st century about productivity, time management, increase sales and revenue etc. They all speak to the same thing. Work within your passion and delegate the rest.
“I’m too new and can’t afford to pay someone” I understand where that mindset comes from but don’t fully agree with it. In my experience, those who took the leap of faith and hired sub-contractors for admin, bookkeeping, marketing etc. have grown their business quicker than those who didn’t. I also suggest that you don’t look at when to hire sub-contractors from a cash position but from a time position. Particularly for admin tasks. It’s time to hire a subcontractor when you run out of hours in a day and not when you have extra cash to pay them. You’ll make that cash back and then some using the time you’ve saved generating extra income.
How soon should you hire a bookkeeper? Before you start. Bookkeeping isn’t just a drag. It’s a skill that takes time to learn. Use your bookkeeper to guide you to the correct price point, help you with your cash-flow and budget your way through your start-up costs. My goal is to guide 50 entrepreneurs who are just starting out. To help them grow their business by understanding their financial position right from the get go! If you’re one of them….. let’s have a chat.