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The importance of being honest

Episode 14 of 18

12 minutes 2 second Watch

The Entrepreneurial Accountant: The journey to going solo

The importance of being honest

11 May, 2023

Boddice Accounting founder Vicki Boddice talks about being open and honest with clients, and maintaining a work-life balance.

Honesty is the best policy. So goes the phrase.

But why is that important when dealing with your clients?

Vicki Boddice is the founder of Boddice Accounting. In this episode, she talks about why honesty is important when talking about costs and pricing.

Following on from her previous episode, How to help clients achieve their dreams, check out what she has to say about getting pricing right, being honest with clients, maintaining a work-life balance.

Here’s what they cover:

The importance of setting up your pricing structure in the early days

Mike Psaras

Welcome to the Entrepreneurial Accountant. Today, we are joined today by Vicki Boddice of Boddice Accounting. Welcome to the show. How are you?

Vicki Boddice

I’m great, thank you. Thanks for inviting me on.

Mike Psaras

In hindsight, what would you go back and tell yourself when you were thinking of starting your own business, or even on day one?

Vicki Boddice

It’s ridiculous, as an accountant to even have to say it, but actually, work out what your pricing structure should be.

Because I know it was quite a steep learning curve for me to have gone from being in large firms where I was charged out hourly at unbelievable rates to, “Well, I know I’m not going to charge that, so what sounds like a nice fee for a client?”

And plucking numbers out of the air that sounded good, as very quickly realised that’s not actually a good pricing strategy, coming up with better ways to do it, and not being afraid to charge.

I think when you’re starting out by yourself, it’s very easy to do the, “And so, that’s going to be this fee, is that okay?”

And that instantly opens it up to, “Well, that’s actually a bit higher than I’d wanted.”

If you just say, “You’re getting all of this for this fee,” it’s a much better way to phrase it. And just be confident in selling yourself and selling your prices.

Mike Psaras

Absolutely. If you do have that very open and honest relationship with your client, I find more often than not, they trust you that you’re not going to be ripping them off.

Vicki Boddice


Mike Psaras

As long as everyone’s happy.

Vicki Boddice

Yes, absolutely.

How using proposal software helped when figuring out prices

Mike Psaras

That’s what it is all about.

What was the process for figuring out your prices? Do you have a formula or do you just, how do you account for how wildly different sometimes clients’ needs are?

How do you bring that into scope?

Vicki Boddice

I have to say software.

Mike Psaras

Yes, okay.

Vicki Boddice

Life got an awful lot easier when I started using proposal software. And in fact, I got more confident because I knew that I had something concrete behind me working it out.

And it also looks like a very professional setup, and it gives the clients confidence that it’s not just been a bit of a back-of-an-envelope calculation of, “Let’s go with this.”

There is actually a method behind it.

Now, I think the mistake that I made at the start and that I rectified fairly quickly was including the price of software, but not telling the clients that that was a cost that I was incurring on their behalf.

Which then meant if prices went up, I was going to them and saying, “Oh, actually, software has gone up, so what you pay each month is going to go up a wee bit.”

They go, “Oh, well, we didn’t know we were doing that.”

So, actually, going and saying, “Yes, this is the price for the accountancy and then we’ve got the software.”

Splitting it out into those components as well has been very worthwhile. And I think going forward, it’s probably going to be more important than ever if there is something that could fluctuate and influence your profit margins.

That you are being clear and saying, “Well, actually you’re getting a bargain with this, but we just have to be conscious that these prices may go up and that might cause an increase in our fee, but that’s really the only thing that’s going to increase it.”

Mike Psaras

Yes, that’s cool. That makes sense.

I see that as an issue. I’m sure many accountancy practices, including ourselves, have an issue, even with, I know it’s small, but the sort of confirmation statement filing fee.

I don’t think any of our clients know that you have to pay for that.

Vicki Boddice


Invaluable resources to fall back on

Mike Psaras

So, it’s just absorbed or registered office address, you’re just getting that and it’s not broken down.

Maybe for accountants starting up now, do that from the beginning rather than trying to re-educate or go back on what you said before.

What resource do you find yourself going back to time and time again?

Vicki Boddice

I have to say the books by Della Hudson, any of them, for actually working out how to run an accountancy firm.

They are constantly – I’ve got a bookcase over to the side, her books are in my bookcase, and they are probably the most thumbed and Post-it-noted, and all that kind of fun.

So, kind of hard copy, her books are definitely an invaluable resource on that and, yes, probably the ones I use the most often.

Mike Psaras

I have no idea what they are – but it sounds like I should know, and I should probably go and find out after this episode.

Finally, in this little segment, what is your single best piece of advice for an accountancy practice looking to grow?

Vicki Boddice

Don’t dismiss any contacts. I think the biggest thing – and the thing that took me completely by surprise is how important networking has been.

Quite often, I’ll be talking to somebody and I know they’re never going to be a client, either because they just don’t need one, or they’re not running their own business, they’re not a decision-maker.

But most of these people will know somebody.

And if you make a good impression, and a good connection, and a genuine connection, I think you stay in the top of their mind.

And then when they hear somebody say either they’re not really finding their accountant easy to work with or they’ve actually realised they desperately need an accountant.

It is phenomenal what you can do when you’re consistently genuine, and that means you get approached, and your attitude’s all come across to whoever you’re talking to.

And yes, it seriously increases your business growth.

Mike Psaras

Yes, it’s an extremely powerful thing. The sort of seal of approval that you have from people that refer you is so much more – your chances of converting that lead are so much more if it’s from word of mouth.

And just being front of mind is so powerful.

I would probably just add – and I think you said don’t dismiss anyone, which I agree with. But the approach that I’ve taken is this is the kind of client that I like working with, this is a business owner who is open, honest, communicative, values my time.

Okay, cool, who do you know? Because chances are you will keep similar company.

Do you have any predictions for the future of accountancy?

Vicki Boddice

Probably nothing earth-shattering. I do think we’re going to see increased amount of push towards the more holistic approach.

But timed with that, we’re also going to, I think, see HMRC cracking down on record keeping.

We’re already seeing that with MTD (Making Tax Digital) situations. And actually, having everything electronic.

How AI is changing bookkeeping

Mike Psaras

Do you think that maybe AI (artificial intelligence) and all that kind of stuff – maybe not in the next couple of years, but maybe in five to 10 years’ time, our job as bookkeepers, that element of our job will be taken away and will become far more interpreters of all of that data?

Vicki Boddice

Yes, and I think we are seeing it already.

The software, it predicts what categories things should – receipts and invoices should go into. It gives you fairly educated guesses. So, I do think that is going to increase and just get better and better.

Partly that’s why being the more holistic, rounded adviser is going to be far more in our interest.

We’ve all seen the adverts about you don’t need an accountant, you just need software. That push is going to keep happening.

And people are going to, “Well, why do I need somebody when the software can do it all for me?”

The reason is going to be that relationship, and that advice. And yes, the software might do it, the software will not explain it.

Getting the balance right between work and play

Mike Psaras

And finally, running an accountancy practice is difficult. It can be lonely. It can be stressful. Do you have any tips on maintaining a good work-life balance?

Vicki Boddice

It is difficult. I think when people set up their own business, one of the things they’re focused on is actually improving your work-life balance.

Realistically, the first couple of years of business, that is not going to happen.

But what I have made a point of is that three days a week I do school pick up, and I will finish – I finish at half past two, I will go, I will do the school run, I will go home, play with my kids, play with the dog, occasionally talk to the husband, but kids and dog come first.

And then once everybody is settled for the night, the computer will come back on, and I will maybe finish off a few things if I hadn’t got them done.

And it’s not being afraid to utilise time where you can.

One of the other things I’ve got just now is my wee girl goes to dancing classes three times a week for three hours at a time, which happens to be just around the corner from my office.

So, I drop her at dancing, I come to the office, I do three hours of work, pick her up, and away.

So, it means that I’m making the most use out of time that would otherwise probably be wasted.

When you’ve got a three-hour time, what do you do normally? You go home, grab a snack, sit down, watch some telly. It’s interesting that it does work. I feel like I’ve been productive and I’ve not missed out on any time with the family.

But making sure you take days off, making sure you take actual holidays. Top tip, go somewhere with no Wi-Fi and no 4G.

I thoroughly recommend coastal towns in Scotland, because I did that this year and clients could not get in touch with me. And I could not check my emails.

It was wonderful.

So, make sure that you do have downtime because otherwise, it’s so easy to get caught up in the “I’ll just work on that a little bit more”.

And before you know it, it’s nine o’clock at night, you’ve not seen any of your family, and you’re away at the crack of dawn the next day.

Mike Psaras

Definitely. I totally agree with everything, and I think you’re absolutely right. We have to have digital detoxes. We have to make the work fit around our lives to a certain extent.

But also, we have to, I think, maybe be a bit patient about how that happens. Because I’m five years into it and feel like only now am I like, “Okay, it’s just work.”

And I think when you start, it’s not just work. It’s everything.

Every word that you say is your brand reputation. Every mistake you make you fear that the client is going to leave you.

And it’s normal to feel that way, I think.

I think what’s important is just to be kind to yourself in those early days of the business.

Vicki Boddice


Mike Psaras

Really, really amazing speaking with you. Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and your experience and just being amazing, generally.

Yes, it’s been brilliant. Thank you.

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