How to Draft a Vision for Building a Team
When you’re running a home-based accounting business and find yourself needing some extra hands, you might think that hiring staff is out of your reach until you can move into an office space … think again!
When my business started taking off, I could see that I was quickly reaching the point where I wouldn’t be able to take on new clients unless I had someone to help with the workload. I ran my accounting business out of my home, though, so I knew that any employees I brought on would have to work remotely. Before I started actively looking for an employee, I wrote down a detailed description of what I wanted the employee and my interactions with that employee to look like – in other words, I drafted a vision. It went something like this:
The employee has a strong base in accounting (i.e., had either a four-year or associate’s degree in accounting) and has experience using bookkeeping software.
These qualities would minimize the amount of training I would need to do, which is important when dealing with employees that work remotely – training will always be part of bringing on new employees, but it is very time-intensive – and even with the technology available these days, it is still easier to train people in person.
I have efficient and effective processes in place to manage workflow, documents and communication.
Processes, processes, processes – if you do nothing else, be sure to incorporate the right processes into your business from the beginning. If you don’t have good processes in place, fix them before you start bringing on employees or growing your business. It is even more important to have solid processes when you bring remote employees into the mix because these processes are the foundation for how they will approach their work for you – because you won’t be physically there to keep them on track.
I have identified tasks and workload processes that I can delegate to the remote employee, and I have mapped out how I will transition this work to the employee.
You can’t expect to bring on an employee and experience an immediate decrease in your own workload – the transition of your workload to someone else takes time, some coaching and typically, a bit of patience. If you start the delegation process with a solid game plan that outlines how the transition will play out, you’ll be setting yourself and your remote employee up for a successful working relationship.
So, how do you put the right processes in place and delegate workload in an efficient and effective manner?
First of all, move your document management system online, if you haven’t already. In order to collaborate with remote employees, it is crucial that you make it easy for you, your employees and your clients to obtain documents and information from one another, in a secure environment. I use SmartVault to manage documents and share information securely with employees and clients in my business. I love SmartVault because it also has a feature that allows you to connect documentation within QuickBooks® files. Score!
The next step is to implement a tool that manages your workflows and communications with your employees. Enter Mavenlink. This web-based project management tool allows you to track workflows for each of your clients, assign tasks, track progress, communicate with your clients and employees, set schedules and deadlines and much, much more! Before I started using Mavenlink, managing my business and my employees was time-consuming and exhausting. Within one week of implementing Mavenlink, all of that changed – suddenly, my employees and I had an easy-to-use tool to manage the workflows for each of our clients. And dare I say, it made managing my business fun!
The third step is to clearly communicate your expectations with your remote employees. For example:
- Walk them through the entire client workflow process – from onboarding new clients to completing the recurring monthly and quarterly tasks to providing deliverables like reports and tax returns. When your employee can see the whole picture and has been educated on the everything that you do for the client (even if they are only involved in portions of it), it will be easier for them to provide excellent client service – and that’s good for you, your employees and your clients!
- Clearly explain how you want them to handle communicating with clients – the method (email, phone, text) and the frequency (daily, weekly, monthly).
- Encourage them to help you improve your business – make sure your employees know that if they identify a better way to do something, you want to know about it!
There are a ton of other tools out there that make it easy to incorporate remote employees into your accounting business. For example, I use QuickBooks Online for many of our clients because it is easy for me, my remote employees and my clients to get into the file anytime and from anywhere! For my clients that prefer to use QuickBooks Desktop, I use Swizznet for hosting their QuickBooks files – that way, my remote employees can work in those files simply by logging into the Swizznet dashboard. Just remember – put the right processes into place first, and then you’ll be set to grow your business quickly and easily!