Seven years ago Kelly Berger started her bookkeeping business, Business Simplicity. Kelly quickly realised the bookkeeping industry was changing significantly as she saw digital products emerging that were quickly and efficiently replacing the traditional bookkeeper. Kelly realised that she needed to evolve her business in order to survive the age of digital disruption. Supporting such a diverse range of businesses including an interior designer, construction retail store, solar electricians and an engineering firm, Kelly decided to become a Business Advisor. When Kelly decided to undertake a part-time Masters in Business Administration to complement her ‘on the job’ skills, she knew Swinburne Online was flexible, had a good reputation for supporting students and their leadership content made her think about the leader she wanted to be for the businesses she was partnering with.
Kelly saw the benefit of changing with the times and has now become a thought leader in her industry by starting a Bookkeepers Support Group. This group challenges old ways of thinking, supporting others through their business evolution. With a community of 3000 members, Kelly is now helping to train those businesses, organises community retreats and has adopted a flexible model inspired by Swinburne Online.
How has the bookkeeping industry changed and how have you evolved your business due to the age of digital disruption?
The bookkeeping industry has come into the digital age. A lot of the work we use to do is now done with the assistance of apps, data reading software and improved accounting software, giving us more automation. The role of the bookkeeper is no longer a data entry person. Instead, we’ve evolved into business advisors. Our role is to give our clients so much more than just the old standard of data entry and reconciliations, as these practices are becoming obsolete. We now have the opportunity to expand our skills and offer our clients a whole business solution. Our role is covering topics such as procedures, job costing, cash flow reporting, business management guidance, HR guidance, training and so much more.
In this age of competitive collaboration, tell us about your 3000 strong community of bookkeepers and how this community supports each other?
This community is what I like to call the virtual water cooler. Bookeepers might run their own businesses, they could be a student or an employee. Our community supports each other in every aspect of what we do. There is so much work available and we all have such varied roles with our clients. We all have different strengths and are suited to different types of work in this industry. So, there really is no need for it to be a competitive environment.
Since starting the community three years ago we have seen so many bookkeepers collaborating on all sorts of issues and working together for clients too. We see questions being answered every day to help each other succeed in this tough industry. Helping each other up when one of us has fallen down. We build each other up to where we want ourselves and our business to be.
How are you applying your Swinburne Online Masters in Business Administration to your current portfolio of clients?
Doing my Masters in Business Administration has not only helped me to develop my leadership skills but helped me understand business from a whole new level. It has helped me to expand my services to include more reporting options and help my current clients to expand their business through the new found skills I have received from doing this course. I love helping more small businesses succeed with my new knowledge.
What did you learn about flexibility from Swinburne Online that you are now applying to your own bookkeeping community?
When it comes to life and running your own business you need to have some flexibility, especially as a working mum too. I now offer my own courses to my fellow bookkeepers, giving them the same flexibility and I record my sessions so they can continue learning at their leisure. I have learned, with online learning, that I need to allow my fellow bookkeepers the option to expand their skillset through professional development in the comfort of their own homes.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge would be being a mum, a business owner (of multiple businesses), a student and a leader all at the same time. Time management has been key, but keeping on top of everything has been a big challenge.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the Bookkeepers Support Group Australia. It’s a large group that has come together and really supports each other. It’s been an amazing achievement in my life.
What is one piece of advice for future female leaders?
My one piece of advice is love what you do and take a risk every now and then.
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