Yes, I’m a strong independent woman — and I know you are too! But we still need high-functioning relationships in order to grow and scale our businesses.

I’ve talked before about how the best way to market and grow is by embracing referrals. But you only get referrals if you’re delivering an excellent client experience. And how do you deliver an excellent client experience?

By establishing good relationships through trust and communication. 

And the same can be said for your employees! You can only grow so far by yourself, at some point you will need to build a team of employees or contractors. Building good relationships with them is a MUST if you want your business to thrive.

Building a Positive Client Relationship

You already know that being a bookkeeper means that you’re in one of the most sensitive positions a person can be in. You’re intimately involved in someone’s finances, and that can make your clients feel incredibly exposed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ‘til the day I die — Money is like medicine

People need to feel comfortable and build a foundation of trust before they can even think about baring it all to someone new. So, as you could imagine, building trust from the very beginning with a new client is CRITICAL to the longevity and health of the relationship.

But what, exactly, does it mean to build trust?

You need to cultivate a culture of care. Consider how you express to your client that you care and respect them. Show them through your actions and words that you’ll be a good partner through thick and thin.

🚀 It’s not rocket science… yet so many professionals in accounting, financial services, and yes, even bookkeeping, neglect to do the basics like:

⭐ Show up on time

⭐ Ask good questions

⭐ Be a good listener

⭐ Do WHAT you say you’re going to do

⭐ And do it WHEN you say you’re going to do it

⭐ Don’t make a habit of being flaky or unreliable

Basically… the golden rule totally applies to your professional life. Treat your clients how you’d like another professional to treat you. 

Here’s a bonus tip: Part of building trust is looking out for your client in ways that aren’t necessarily part of the job description. Like telling someone when they have spinach in their teeth… pointing out things they may not notice goes a loooong way. Maybe you see someone’s cashflow heading into a danger zone, or you see an opportunity for improvement. Be tactful, but be honest and give your client an extra heads up whenever possible.

If you are reliable, trustworthy, and communicative, you will 100% without a doubt be able to EASILY build a roster of clients. The demand for good bookkeepers is growing, and being a pleasure to work with will get you very, very far. 

Building a Workplace Culture

It’s no longer just enough to pay someone in exchange for their time. You need to nurture relationships with your employees by making sure they feel valued and fulfilled in the work they do.

📚 Quick story time…

My last name is Lackey. Lackey… literally translates to servant. And surprise, surprise, I come from a looooong line of blue-collar workers.

My dad was a civil servant + labor organizer, and he had strong feelings about how employees should be treated. The way he worked with others truly informed my moral compass when it came time to switch from being an employee to an employer. 

This upbringing, coupled with my own experience working under psychotic bosses informed how I wanted to run my company. Basically working for bad bosses taught me how to be a good one. 

By putting an emphasis on my employee relationships, I’ve built a culture of longevity and loyalty with my employees and have had very low turnover.

Successful employee and contractor relationships are built on trust and communication

(No, you don’t have déjà vu, I said the same thing a few paragraphs up about client relationships too.) 

But Justine, how do I create an environment that’s good for my employees to work in, while still building boundaries so people don’t take advantage of me?

By learning how to put the guardrails up so everyone can swim in the same direction. When you create an environment that allows your employees to shine, it will become much clearer who’s propelling the team forward and who’s pulling it down. 

Treat your employees like gold, and your business will prosper in return.

Here’s exactly how: 

⭐ Pay contractors and employees what they’re worth


⭐ Be mindful of their personal life (I’d never fire someone cause they had to stay home with a sick kid)

⭐ Strive to make an environment they enjoy working in

⭐ Give employees and contractors your time (I know this is hard as a small business owner, but it’s so, so, so important)

⭐ Reward big wins and hard work

⭐ And have fun with your team!!!

An important caveat: You can’t phone it in when it comes to building genuine relationships with your employees. You HAVE to mean it, you HAVE to actually care about the people you work with. Your employees are smart, and they will know when it’s insincere or artificial. 

💡And don’t forget, keep your employees and contractors in the loop about your larger goals for the business. Get them excited and aligned with your vision, and they’ll feel more motivated in the work they do to help get you there.


Developing and maintaining high-functioning, positive relationships with your employees and clients is absolutely essential to building a profitable business. Just like raising a kid, it takes a village. 

That’s why attracting and retaining clients and employees is something I teach a lot about in my Bookkeeper’s Business Incubator. The next cohort is starting later this year, but you can join the waitlist now so you’re the first to know when doors open!

Cheers to you,