One of the toughest challenges small business owners face is figuring out how to scale their business.

And that includes accounting and bookkeeping firms.

Whenever owners ask us to help them scale their business, we start by looking at two things:

  • how their business is currently structured and;
  • the goals they have for their business.

Business owners usually have specific goals and principles for their firm, which can influence how the business should be structured. Some want to have lots of growth, and are willing to bring on more staff to meet the increased demand. But others want to keep their accounting or bookkeeping firm relatively small so they can maintain a closer, more hands-on relationship with a select number of larger clients.

Whatever their goals are, every business owner needs to take three key activities into account:

  1. Identifying and generating new business
  2. Managing the firm’s current business (in terms of client relationships), ensuring work is done on time and within budget
  3. Performing the necessary tasks to deliver the services (e.g. accounts payable, bank reconciliations, etc.)

Finders, Minders and Grinders

While establishing their business, owners may wear all three hats and do all the work themselves. But as their business grows, they need to delegate these activities. If they don’t, they’ll soon become a bottleneck for their own business, making it difficult (if not impossible) to scale.

But these roles can’t be delegated to just anyone. They should be given to people who are not only capable but also passionate, which could well mean hiring new staff. Assigning these roles to the wrong people could make them feel disenchanted, or even result in them leaving the organisation altogether.

At ZeroBooks we use a model called Finders, Minders and Grinders. It’s a structured approach to separating these activities, and finding the right person to manage and deliver them.

Of course, these roles aren’t mutually exclusive, and there will often be a bit of crossover. But it’s a great first step to selecting staff and reviewing our options for delivering on these activities.

Finders are usually the principals and/or front people. They attend networking events, meet potential clients, and scope out and present proposals to hopefully bring them on board. They’re usually more outgoing, and will also cross over into the Minder role.

Minders are those who manage the client relationship, along with the client’s work and any expectations they have. They make sure the client’s tasks are being worked on, and gets back to them within the expected time frame and (hopefully) within budget. Minders manage the client relationship, but also help get the work out the door when necessary.

Grinders are those who perform the necessary tasks to get the job done. They’re usually a more junior/less experienced person, or perhaps someone who prefers processing information to doing networking/client relationship work. (Some firms even outsource these task-orientated activities so they can focus solely on the Finder and Minder roles in their business.)

Finding the right people

Sole traders obviously need to perform all three roles, at least to begin with. But once their business starts to grow they need to decide what sort of people they need to take it to the next level.

Here are some questions they should ask themselves when making that decision:

  • What are the tasks I’m good at, or enjoy doing?
  • What tasks would I rather delegate to someone else?
  • What type of personality am I looking for? Do I want someone who’s outgoing to help find and maintain clients, or someone with more attention to detail for data entry?
  • Do I want a junior that I’ll need to spend time and money training? Or do I want a more senior person who can help manage the business from day one?
  • Would I be willing to delegate some authority to this person so I can free up my time for the other activities?
  • What are their long-term goals? Do they have ownership/partner expectations, or are they happy to be a long-term employee?

The five steps to creating a scalable business

To summarise everything we’ve talked about so far, here are the five basic steps to creating a scalable business:

  1. Understand the different activities a scalable business needs to accomplish.
  2. Ensure there’s a proven process-driven system in place to deliver these activities.
  3. Know the type of person best suited for each role.
  4. Select the person with the necessary skills that you trust enough to follow the processes, and delegate the responsibilities for those tasks.
  5. Don’t be too concerned if you make mistakes along the way. Just make sure you don’t repeat them.

Scaling your firm isn’t always a simple journey. As you invest in new staff, systems and processes you may have to deal with staff leaving, upset clients, unforeseen errors and cash flow issues.

But if you can properly manage the scalability and growth, it will help create profits and cash flow growth you could never achieve as a sole trader.

And should you decide to exit the business, having an accounting or bookkeeping firm that’s scalable with a set of strong and proven processes will make it far more saleable and valuable.

If you’d like to know more about how to scale your firm, or our Finders, Minders and Grinders model, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us