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The building blocks of a modern practice

Posted 4 months ago in Advisors by Guest
Posted by Guest

This piece was written by Meryl Johnson, who is the founder of  bookkeeping firm, Bean Ninjas.

Even before I left the world of auditing to start my bookkeeping business, my goals for the future were simple. I wanted to have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from anywhere in the world. I wanted to live somewhere warm and near the surf. And I wanted work to be fun and flexible for everyone involved – not a daily grind that kept people chained to their desks.

Three years on and Bean Ninjas has a remote team all over the world with 40% of our clients based overseas. We work, we travel, and we attract modern like-minded clients with similar values. Now, as industry software players move and merge, I wanted to share three very important things that made my dream a possibility – and why they all come back to Xero.

Collaborate on a single ledger

It’s not an exaggeration to say my business was born because I saw the ways technology was opening up opportunities to work from anywhere. At its essence, Xero’s single ledger provides one source of truth for a client’s finances, which means any advisor in any location can collaborate from this central point.

For me, this made it viable to build a company with a niche focus – bookkeeping for online businesses – without clients missing out on a full, streamlined service. Instead of trying to be a local practice that’s everything to everyone, we focus on online bookkeeping and build specialist processes around that service. We then use the single ledger as a means to collaborate with virtual CFOs, tax accountants and cloud integrators – all in one client account.

As a result, the client receives a full service from a variety of experts – and at a good price too, because each one is laser focused with no fat in their processes. In return, we have a very efficient service that maximises our profitability. I encourage every accountant or bookkeeper to seriously consider the productivity benefits a single ledger can bring to business.

Connect to an ecosystem of apps

The second piece of the puzzle is the ecosystem of apps that each integrate with Xero and provide another level of connected collaboration. We’ve selected a full stack of cloud technology – including Hubdoc, Receipt Bank and Vend – to ensure our bookkeeping processes are as modern, automated and effective as they can be. Your stack may be different, but that’s the beauty of choice.

That network can make the world of difference to your customers. One of our early clients, for example, owns a resort in Indonesia and has staff across Bali, Australia and the US. Before I set them up on Xero and Vend, they worked off spreadsheets. You can just imagine the number of purchases, receipts and complex multi-currency calculations involved in running a resort with a restaurant using a spreadsheet.

Now we can keep track of restaurant sales on a daily basis, and can give their management continuous oversight of their business. And foreign currency calculations are automated.  

Choice and flexibility on connected, modern cloud technology

When I used to work in auditing alongside clients who typically used large and monolithic enterprise systems, I never dreamed that I could be an Australian bookkeeper with clients overseas. Now, working on the cloud, Bean Ninjas is classified as an exporter in that 40% of our clients are outside of Australia.

By choosing to specialise in online bookkeeping and collaborate with local tax accountants, we have the ability to go anywhere, because the bookkeeping required for management level is very similar for every country. Clients around the world come to us because they want our expertise in Xero. In fact, our fastest growing customer segment is the US.

As I mentioned, our team is fully remote, too. We have a small office on the Gold Coast where staff are invited to work, but no one is obliged to come in. We have people working from Argentina and Japan, and others travelling to Bali as they work.   

It’s incredible from a lifestyle perspective, and people are attracted to that. By hanging my hat on a modern platform built around the ability to collaborate in a single ledger, we can run pin-sharp processes and attract top talent and clients from all over the world.

That’s quite something for a bookkeeping company that’s not even three years old.


February 21, 2018 at 11.05 pm

Congratulations on scoring your goals Meryl! Bean Ninjas is an amazing business and a great example of the way modern technology can make life better for customers and employees as well as for you, the business leader.

Michael Davis
March 6, 2018 at 8.04 am

Hi. I’m a Business Accounting Major at Park University. Just read your article and found it fascinating. Your company is making major leaps and bounds in terms of the way traditional bookkeeping is done. I like the idea of putting yourself in a position to service clients all around the world. The use of the software to basically rid yourselves of the traditional spreadsheets for such large entities is amazing.

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