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What’s My Type: The Ideal Client for Let’s Do the Books

It feels absurd to start my relationship with prospective clients like this–being so direct about what it takes to make our collaboration successful. But after ten years in the business, I know what an easy, high-service bookkeeping relationship looks like, and this is what it takes.

(Let me also acknowledge that many prospective clients won’t meet these requirements and/or won’t be willing to adapt. I completely understand. These requirements wouldn’t exist if a) I didn’t have a bunch of clients who do fit the description, and b) I didn’t have ten years of frustration and friction working with clients who don’t fit the description. This isn’t coming from entitlement–it’s coming from experience.) 

My ideal client has one or at most two to three dedicated business checking accounts, at a bank that offers “bookkeeper’s access”, which only contains business-related transactions. If my client uses credit cards, they are business only. My ideal client doesn’t use Venmo in her business. 

Let’s take these one at a time. 

One account (or maybe two to three).

My ideal client does not need (and does not think she needs) a bunch of checking accounts. Yes, I’m familiar with Profit First. It’s great in theory. In practice, it’s mostly a mess. So, my ideal client has one business checking account. If the accounts are easy to access, I can happily work with two or three.

A bank with bookkeeper’s access.

Here’s what I mean by bookkeeper’s access: I have my own read-only login for the vast majority of my clients’ business checking accounts. “Read-only” means I can log in, see transactions, statements, and check images without any intervention or help from my client (such as temporary login security codes).

If you have a business checking account, the bank probably has this feature. If your bank doesn’t have this feature, I can’t be your bookkeeper unless you move your business checking to a more modern bank. 

Business transactions only (in checking and credit card accounts).

When clients use business accounts for personal transactions, bookkeeping takes much longer and is much less accurate. It’s just that simple. My clients have to be willing to keep business transactions and personal transactions separate. This includes credit cards and (especially) PayPal accounts. Business is business, personal is personal. 

No Venmo

Here’s why Venmo doesn’t work–there’s no way for a bookkeeper to access it without involving the client. That being the case, I have to request (and wait for) the client to send me monthly Venmo statements. This means I’m always (and I mean always) waiting for at least one client’s Venmo statements. It creates a perpetual open loop in the business that prevents me from ever saying this month’s bookkeeping is done-done. So, I’m drawing a hard line: no Venmo.

Other Quirks and Exceptions

I have some gray-area requirements that don’t universally apply (like those I described above). The following may work or not depending a) your responsiveness and willingness to collaborate, and b) your average position on the sliding scale fee structure. Yes, I’m admitting that a client who pays a higher average fee gets more leeway. This is a simple function of getting paid vs not getting paid for the work. 

Some of these include:

Do you travel a lot for the business, generating a bunch of travel-related transactions? 

Do you have many business meals out per month? Are you in the habit of saying “let’s let the business pay for this” when you go to lunch with a friend or your significant other?

Do you have your business card(s) connected to your Amazon account, resulting in a mix of business and personal transactions that have to be parsed?

Do you write many checks in your business? Could you be persuaded not to write checks in your business (because there are services like Zelle and PayPal that allow you to pay people digitally)?

Each of these habits carries a certain amount of bookkeeping overhead. None of them are deal-breakers (although, if you answered yes to all of the above, I definitely can not be your bookkeeper). If you answered yes to one or two, and if you’re collaborative and responsive, things will run smoothly. But if you answered yes and you’re the kind of client who has a hard time replying to email (no judgment, I get it), we’re going to struggle. 

I think you’re getting the picture here. I can serve a very specific type of client: 

It’s a life coach who works from home, has a dedicated business checking account with only business transactions in it, uses electronic payments to pay anyone who helps her out, travels occasionally but not a lot, has business meals occasionally but not a lot, buys some books and office supplies on Amazon here and there with her business card, pays for some software, some courses, some coaching, maybe a couple contractors (like a Virtual Asisstant), writes one or two checks per year…and that’s about it. 

Listen, I can’t believe I’m being this bold in describing my ideal client. But I know every other bookkeeper in the world would look at this description and wish they had the courage to collaborate this openly with their clients. 

I’m telling you, these are the issues that put bookkeepers out of business. And you, the client, would never know, because nobody would bring you behind the scenes.

If I haven’t completely alienated you, I’m thrilled. You’ll get another message tomorrow that speaks to similar themes from a different angle, all in service of making this an easy yes or an easy no.

Oh, and I’ll also be telling you about the big “easy client” discount I give to, you know, easy clients.