“…I wanted to know the story those numbers were telling me.”

Karens sketchnotes

Karens sketchnotes

Last week my accountant said something that has stuck with me – and come back to me – every day since he said it.

I traveled, attended a lot of events, met amazing people and re-connected with ones i knew already, had new business opportunities… and yet the one thing that stands out in my mind the most was breakfast with my accountant.

It was because of one phrase he used that appealed to me as a business owner, as a person, as a client. (I say ‘my accountant’ but that term is a lot broader lately. He owns the accounting firm we work with at PF, and whenever we get together we talk like business owners about growing our businesses. It’s one of the things I like best about the accountants we have.)

He said “I was looking at your numbers before I came, because I know we’ve been looking at the progress PF has made in the past three years since you took it over yourself, and…”

(here’s the phrase)

“…I wanted to know the story those numbers were telling me.”

One of our themes at PF this year is “stories”.

I love the way marketing has moved from “telling people what to buy” to telling people’s stories so the potential buyer can say “oh, i feel like they did – maybe this is what i need to buy”.

It’s human. It’s personal. And as accountants you know that numbers tell a story.

So Paul told me my story. He told me that in the past three years, we have 40% fewer clients…and an average fee increase of 100%.

I knew that in my head, vaguely. I knew that we aren’t doing the £99/month or £395/month offerings we used to have years ago. I knew we are working with fewer firms in a more focused, more personal way – and I know we’re doing it because that’s what gets them the best results.

The firms who just needed a few things here and there, and weren’t ready to invest too much, we found were not going to get much return, and marketing wasn’t the amazing experience for them that they want marketing to be (and that we know it can be).

So a year or two ago we started changing the way we did things. We created the Marketing Map – not based on what we want accountants to do, but on what DID actually work for accountants. We looked at all the firms who were getting amazing leads and high quality ones and literally turning business away….and all of them followed the Marketing Map.

And we adjusted our services accordingly.

And we’ve spent the past year refining those services, and even building a very cool dashboard app for our clients to manage the outsourced marketing they get from us. (If you’re on a retainer with PF and want to have first look at the dashboard, let me know.)

So I knew all of that. I knew – or thought I knew – what was going on and what changes had happened and why.

And now my numbers are telling the exact same story.

That’s encouraging. Exciting. We’re delivering what is absolutely best for our clients and we’re not trying to be all things to all people.

Because it’s possible for us as business owners to think a story in our own heads, but that’s not the story the numbers are telling.

What stories are you telling your clients? More importantly, what story can you share with them from their numbers – as a story? Something they get excited about and remember and share with the team and use as motivation to keep delivering the very best for their own customers?


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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon