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Diana Todd is the owner of Balance Tax, creator of Warehouse 16 and an amazing supporter of Small business owners all over Australia.

We sat down over Instagram live on Tuesday 30 July to chat all things Digital WOW.

Here are the key takeaways;

Be consistent and give truly valuable content.

On Instagram Diana has a different strategy for the feed and for stories.  So the feed has almost become like a website, where people go and fact check. They just want to see that you’ve been posting recently, that you’re still active. And so the newsfeed, they try to keep fresh, and relevant, and helpful. 

The game changer for Balance Tax has been Instagram stories. Diana has consistently leveraged Stories every day since they came out, allowing her audience and followers into her life as a business owner and into our their lives as a team. 

Once a week, Diana will go through her new followers on Instagram. If an account has followed us and it looks like it’s a potential client or someone who has a small business, she’ll DM them a personalised voice note saying, “Hi, this is Diana from Balance Tax. Thank you so much for showing us the love on Instagram by giving our account a follow. We really appreciate it.” 

By automating many of their business processes via their website they’ve started to filter out clients who are not suited to their ways of working. It has been a little polarising, but by knowing who their ideal customers are, and who are not, they’re able to better help the business owners who are best suited to their services and processes.

CONNECT WITH DIANA HERE:

Full transcription 

Cat: Well, I’m thrilled that you’re my first guest. When I thought about who I wanted to get on board for the very first kind of episode, you immediately sprang to mind, and I’m thrilled that you said yes. So, for everyone who doesn’t know you, let’s kick off with a little bit about Diana and a bit about, I guess, you know, the amazing businesswoman that you are and all the hats that you wear. So, yeah, tell us a bit about you.

Diana: Sure, sure. Well, first of all, thank you so much for the kind words, and I was so honored when I got your message asking me to be the first guest. I was so thrilled and couldn’t be happier to be a part of this, because Cat is amazing, but everyone who’s watching this already knows that. So my name’s Diana, and I started a business called Balance Tax Accountants back in 2015, and we are an online accounting firm based in Australia that, basically, transforms the lives of our clients who are mostly in the digital space. So we have a lot of freelancers, a lot of business coaches, a lot of marketing agencies.

Diana: We embrace the new age type of clients, who traditional accountants might not really know or have experience in handling their accounts and their tax affairs, and we take the stress out of tax. 

Cat: Awesome. And what are the other two hats that you wear?

Diana: I also created an event space called Warehouse 16. It’s based in Perth, in Balcatta, in the northern suburbs. Basically, it serves as an event space for the small business community to come and hire, to run workshops and get Instagram worthy photos for their marketing.

Diana: Oh, the personal brand. The personal brand. I am still creating a bit of, yeah, I’m trying to decide what I want to do with it. And I think that’s part of actually having your own business and being an entrepreneur is there’s no rules. Like, you write the rules, you make the rules. And so, yeah, I’m going to definitely be doing something with my personal brand in the next two months. I just haven’t quite decided what type of impact I want to have with it. But, yeah, so watch this space.

Cat: Absolutely. I really admire what you’re doing, particularly with Warehouse 16. It’s such a gorgeous space, and, I guess it is so unusual for an accounting firm, but it’s such a natural, beautiful fit with the clients that you have and, you know, the small business community here in Perth, and having been to a few events there, it’s absolutely gorgeous. So it’s really nice to see people thinking outside of the box when it comes to, you know, “What can I provide for clients? What can I provide for the community, and how will that also benefit my business?” Because I know that you and your team also work from there as well.

Diana: Yes, that’s right. Yeah, it’s been really great to see the response of everyone. Because I feel like I’ve spent the last four years talking to small business owners nonstop, I really know who are our ideal clients are very intricately, and so one of the things I kept hearing from everyone is that they didn’t have an event space to run events that had everything they needed. And so that’s what we created and, yeah, the response has been really overwhelming and I’m just very grateful, to be honest. 

Cat: So what does a typical day or a morning kind of look for you? What’s a day in the life of like? Now, I know that you’re right smack bang in the middle of tax season… so walk us through, I guess, what your typical kind of day looks like.

Diana: So one of the things I really love about being my own boss is that I get to control my schedule, and at least I get to have input. Like, if I have meetings or I can choose my own working hours, you know, at least I have control over that. And so that’s one thing that I really enjoy now compared to when I had a job in the corporate world, is that I don’t have to show up behind a gray cubicle and sit there for eight hours a day until, you know, eight to five PM. And so a typical day for me normally starts with getting up and giving my puppy some cuddles. My bichon is my little dog and he’s the mascot of Balance Tax, and he, basically, yeah, he gives a little pizazz to our Instagram stories sometimes, makes some appearances, and, yeah, I’ll get up, and then have breakfast, and then I’ll go either straight to work, or if I have a day of meetings, sometimes I’ll work from home for a bit just to get a headstart on emails and things, and, yeah, get everything sorted and yeah, sit there and smash out some work or smash out meetings.

Diana: Me and my team have really made a lot of effort to try to take breaks, because what we found is we all really love what we do so much that we get engrossed in the work and, yeah, we don’t take breaks. And so now we go for walks. At 11 o’clock or one o’clock everyday we go out and go around the park and get some fresh air and some sunshine, and then come back to work and smash out the rest of the day. And it’s just really given us like a second wind, you know, like to finish off the day strong. And then, yeah. And then at night, lately I have been going home and working at night, which I’m not a fan of, but you know, it is tax season, you just got to do it.

Cat: Yeah. I think that walking as a team during the day is so nice, and it’s probably a nice chance for you guys to just chat about, you know, all the things, not work related, but just, you know, encourage each other to get that break, because it’s, yeah, when you love what you do, it’s very easy to just kind of get stuck in the rabbit hole and keep burrowing away.

Diana: It is. And because everyone who works for us loves everything about our business, and our values and our mission, and so we are all like on the same page. And, in a way, it’s amazing, because we can accomplish … We can make such a good change and such a big impact, you know, in our client’s lives together, but at the same time, yeah, you know, you get to work and then you wake up and then it’s dark. That’s not good.

Cat: Absolutely, absolutely. Now, do you have a productivity or any kind of tech hacks that kind of help you with that, you know, with maintaining that sanity during the day?

Diana: Oh yes. I got my technology, girl. That’s one thing. I used to work in IT as a business analyst, and so I actually have a background in IT, and I would use that in my business to allow us to be able to service the volume of customers that we have, and, also, to control my schedule. So Acuity Scheduling is one. We do all of our client meetings through Acuity Scheduling and Zoom. And that just, honestly, the day before my meetings, I look in my phone and it tells me what I’m doing the next day and if I need to prepare for anything in advance. So Acuity keeps me on schedule, for sure.

Diana: And the other thing is I’m a list person, so I will make a list. If I’m finding I’m getting overwhelmed, I’ll make a list of the top five things I need to accomplish for the day and cross them off as I go. And there is nothing better than the feeling of crossing a item off of your list, man. I just have to write it down just so I can cross it off.

Cat: I am exactly the same. Some things I literally write down as I’m doing them, and then cross them off.

Cat: All right. Now, I think what you’ve done with Balance Tax, particularly on Instagram, is amazing. So can you, I guess, talk us through some of your favorite digital tactics, or things that you’ve kind of really, I guess, leveraged to kind of help grow the business?

Diana: Okay. So, specifically for Instagram, basically, it’s just being consistent and giving content, and giving value, and showing up and posting things that people really want to hear or people are interested in, you know? So I feel like, not that I’m an Instagram expert, but just for me personally, I think of the feed as one thing and the stories as a whole nother, and you need a different strategy for each. So the feed has almost become like a website. So that’s where people go and fact check. They just want to see that you’ve been posting recently, that you’re still active, that you’re not posting tax tips in every post, or every post isn’t a, “Buy now. Contact us for a quote,” or some type of silly teaser where it says, “Oh, Single Touch Payroll’s coming into law. It’s going to affect you and your world. Ring us more info.” You know, like, come on, this is the content that is not for Instagram, okay? And so the newsfeed, we try to keep fresh, and relevant, and helpful.

Diana: And then the other thing is, the game changer for me has been stories. I have always, since they came out, been consistently posting on Instagram stories every day, allowing our audience and our followers into my life as a business owner and into our lives as a team, at the tax firm, and it’s just been … The response has been really great. The amount of views that we get on our stories is really, really high, and we actually have quite a big following of other tax firms and bookkeeping firms out there. So shout out to everyone else in the industry who’s watching us. But, yeah, it’s been really, really good. So that’s a bit about my strategy with Instagram specifically, but be consistent and don’t give tax tips. No one wants to read that on Instagram.

Cat: You really show your personality, and I think that’s why, I guess, you’ve built such a great name for yourself on the Instagram, as, you know, a lot of people kind of recognize you from Instagram, and when you go to networking events and industry events. But I have to agree that you’ve really shown your personality. It’s almost like stories gives you an opportunity to pre-qualify potential clients as well, because they know exactly what they’re going to get. They know who the team are, they know who you are, they know how hard you work. They know that you’ve got other interests. You cross promote Warehouse 16 and things like that.

Cat: So it’s kind of really well rounded, and people, by the time they get to the website to book an appointment, they should feel really comfortable with who it is that they’re going to be meeting with over Zoom or a face to face, which is absolutely perfect, because that’s what you want, particularly from an accountant. You want to feel like you trust them, that what you see is what you get, and I really do feel like, for you guys, you know, that really comes through beautifully.

Diana: Thank you. Do you want me to give you my hack that … Something I do for my Instagram that I don’t think anyone … I haven’t seen many people be doing. And that is so once or twice a week I’ll go through list in the Balance Tax Instagram and look at all the new followers. If someone or if an account has followed us and it looks like it’s a potential client or someone who has a small business, then what I will do, and it’s not like a bot, for example, I don’t do this through bots, but everybody else, I’ll DM them a voice note and just saying, “Hi, this is Diana from Balance Tax. Thank you so much for showing us the love on Instagram by giving our account a follow. We really appreciate it.”

Diana: And then I normally do a bit of a stalky stalk about their business and find out what their names are and actually address the message to them. And the response I have gotten from that, I started doing it about a month ago, has been overwhelming, because no one expects it. So there you go, people. That’s one of my Instagram hacks.

Cat: Absolutely, leveraging the voice message and the DM capability is amazing, and, yeah, people hearing your voice, they’re going to go, “Oh my God,” because it’s not a prerecorded message, it’s you, the business owner, reaching out, and that’s, that’s amazing. Super awesome tip!

Diana: Thank you.

Cat: But that would work with product based businesses as well as service based, so there you go, people. You heard it from Diana.

Diana: You got all my secrets.

Cat: Exactly, exactly. No-one can can implement like you though, Diana.

Diana: I know, and I’m super confident in that, so you can try to do it in your own way.

Cat: What’s one thing that brings you wonder every day?

Diana: One thing that brings me wonder? I would say, honestly, I’m just very grateful. I feel like I’m a really grounded person, and I’m just extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to wake up to a new day every morning and to have 24 hours in front of me. It’s kind of like this incredible gift, that not everyone gets to see the gift of today, and if you are healthy, and you have the ability to work and live your life purpose, I don’t know.

Diana: I live my life with a lot of gratitude, and I have a lot of respect for, especially the small business owners that we work with, because I want to support them and see them succeed in the little part that I get to play in their business and in their lives. I can see that finance and tax and stress is such a huge … Finance and tax is such a stressful area that if I can just play a small part in taking a bit of that stress away and making it easier, it just makes me feel, like, on top of the world. So yeah, that’s, every day, my bit of wonder.

Cat: Yeah, and that’s what makes Balance Tax so different. And you can feel that as well, from your content, from the feedback that you get from your clients, from, you know, interacting with you in real life, obviously outside of the online world. You know, you’ve got so much to give, and you’re doing amazing things for so many people and, you know, really helping people’s lives, because small business is hard. It’s really hard. I’m sure there’s lots of tear that you’ve probably shared with clients as well.

Diana: Yeah, yeah. A little bit,. But, I mean, it’s just part of the journey too. You know, the good comes with the bad. You can’t have the ups without the downs. It’s just life, you know? And we’re all in this together, and it’s just very, yeah, it’s so much better to just do it together, than one on your own trying to conquer the world, but, yeah.

Cat: Now, you know I’m a bit of a digital marketing nerd, so, I guess, what I’d love to know what you love most about digital marketing, the space, the tactics, the platforms. And you’ve recently kind of automated a whole heap of your processes and really designed a business that kind of fits around where your vision for it is going, which is amazing. Again, probably kind of somewhat industry leading for the accounting space. So what is it about digital marketing that just kind of makes you go, “Wow, that’s cool”?

Diana: Just the ability to reach people, especially with social media. It is the shortest connection between a business owner and the potential sea of clients out there who are on social media and your own existing clients as well. It’s almost like it’s the next best thing you can get to being in person. Like, in person connection you can’t replace, but social media, I would say is, from a marketing perspective, the next best thing, and as opposed to emails or website, you know, kind of where you’re either pushing information or you’re posting content to be read and consumed later.

Diana: Social media’s interactive. It’s now, people can see if you read their messages, and so, specifically, I used to have a big focus on Facebook back when the reach and the engagement was a bit higher. Engagement on Facebook is high, but the actual reach of organic posts, because that’s one thing, I’ve never spent a dollar on paid advertising in four years. It’s all been organic, and it’s not that I don’t like paid, it’s just that I haven’t needed it yet. And so, in the future, I’m definitely going be using some paid marketing and social media marketing specifically, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

Diana: And so the fact that I’ve been able to build an account of Instagram followers, like 5,600 followers without any type of paid anything, and just showing up, giving, you know, content that people want to consume, letting people see behind the scenes of our business, the impact has just been really good. So social media just can never be undervalued, but you’ve got to be all in. And I think that’s the biggest mistake people make when they try to get on Instagram, or Pinterest, or Facebook, any of them, is they don’t go all in, and because, yeah, on social media, the thing is, people’s BS radar is so high these days, if you are not being authentic, if you’re not being yourself, people are going to smell it from a mile away, and it’s going to create distrust in you, in your brand, and that’s something that you don’t want. So, yeah.

Cat: Absolutely. I’ve said it a few times, you’re doing an amazing job. It’s a pleasure to know you, to follow you, and I know you work with clients all over Australia, because you’ve developed these kind of digital systems and automated processes, and when I say automated processes, it doesn’t mean, you know, let’s take the human element out of it, but let’s just make it as easy as possible for your clients to do what they need to do with you, and to get in touch, and to book their one on ones, or to book their tax in and things like that. And I think it’s just, you know, it’s really exciting to watch your journey and, yeah, I love following along.

Diana: Thank you. Yeah. One thing I would love to share is the fact that, okay, so our biggest thing that we’ve done in our business in this month was we put all of our tax booking forms online. It’s on our website. If you want to book your tax in or even your BAS return in with us, you go to our website and that’s how it’s done from now on. And so the response from that, because we’ve gotten lots of feedback, were all about feedback, testing and measuring, and the response has actually been really great from the people who love it, but it also has caused the opposite effect and it’s polarized and unattracted some people who are just not organized enough to be able to fill out an online form.

Diana: And so, for us, that’s a good thing because while we want to help, we want to be helpful we can’t help everyone. We can’t be everyone’s accountants, we’re not trying to be everyone’s accountants, and so if a potential client or a client of ours is not organized enough to fill out an online form, which is such a basic, simple thing to do in this world nowadays, then they probably … It’s almost like the website is screening them for us, you know, to determine about what type of people who actually come into our business.

Diana: And so that’s one thing putting the tax return booking form on the website has done for us, in a way, because those are all potential inquiries that we would’ve gotten who were clients aren’t going to be right for us. And then we would’ve spent our time answering them, you know, following them up, and the website has just kind of automated that. And so, yeah, technology has allowed us to reach so many more, like the volume of people than we ever could before, just with us ourselves. So, yeah.

Cat: And it means that you can maintain, you know, a smaller local team. I know you’re really passionate about that. You know, engaged, super loyal, team that are all over the values of the business, and you can still scale, but keep that same feel and keep it local as well.

Diana: Yes, yes. I’m all about supporting local. I emigrated to Australia in 2011 and I just love this country so much. I paid a lot of money, and it was a lot of stress and it was a lot of effort to get my permanent residency and my citizenship, and I am just really proud of being able to support and create a business where I can hire Australian workers who are located in Australia. Because a lot of people don’t know this, but the industry, and the tax industry specifically and bookkeeping, everything’s getting outsourced overseas, and it’s not that the lives of overseas workers are any less important, it’s just that that’s not what I want, the impact I want to make in my business, you know?

Diana: And so the fact that I’m able to do that, like and kind of accomplish my social goals and my business goals at the same time, just gives me the biggest smile ever when I put my head on the pillow at night, just knowing that my life, like the way I did and live my life today made a difference in someone else’s life, you know?

Cat: Yeah, it’s so important that that’s what keeps you going when you’re getting up at 4 AM to smash emails before you’ve got client meetings, because I know that you do that, because you share it on stories. You’re one of the hardest working women I know in business and I really want to thank you so much for joining me for this very first episode. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you, and I’m sure that there’s heaps of takeaways for the audience. So thank you, Diana. I hope you’ve got a nice rest of the day planned.

Diana: Thank you for having me. It’s just been amazing. I’m so excited for you, Cat. You’re amazing at what you do. I’ve never known anyone who specializes in digital analytics and who loves that type of technology and the impact it can make so much, and I am just really thrilled to be a part of a small part of your business and your brand, and thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you today and your audience, and, yeah, we are going to do amazing things, girl. It’s not even noon over here, so we’ve got all the rest of the day.

Cat: Focus to our numbers. Something good is going to happen.

Diana: Yeah, or I’ll manifest that.

Cat: Absolutely, absolutely. All right my darling, have a great day, and thank you everyone for joining us. We’re going to wrap it up now, but this recording will be available over on IGTV. I’ll pop it in YouTube, and you can catch it in other places too.