Category Archives: Business Advisory Services

ExpensiCon II – 5 Insights Gained

Bora Bora - #ExpensiCon II

The picture postcard South Pacific Island of Bora Bora – Home to #ExpensiCon II

There are occasions in life when our experience completely transcends our expectations – ExpensiCon II has been one of those moments.

A “Contrarian Conference” held at one on the most exotic locations on earth (Bora Bora – the small picture postcard Tahitian island literally in the middle of the South Pacific) was the most amazing Accounting Technology event I have ever had the privilege of attending.

Whilst the invitation list was limited to under 100 delegates, it was by no means elitist, without exception you could sense that everyone attending embraced their role and responsibly to converse, collaborate and contribute to the profession that has given us all so much. My hope is that by sharing some insights gained at ExpensiCon II it will help you further commit to, and enjoy, your journey in the Accounting | Bookkeeping | Technology professions and continue to create partnerships that impact others in a positive and constructive way.

So what made ExpensiCon II such an Amazing Experience and how can it benefit you?

The following are my top 5 components (from an attendee’s perspective) that the Expensify team completely aced at ExpensiCon II.

1 – Creating Community

Expensify carefully curated an audience of diversity from around the globe, with each of us sharing a common connection of Accounting & Technology.

The moment you set foot on the island it was like walking into your favourite sports team’s club room. There were so many people I have admired, respected and grown to know (mostly online) in the room (or in this case on the beach). In our online, “pseudo connected” world there is genuine magic to be made when people meet in real life (I must admit that on more than one occasion I was chatting away to someone thinking we had met before only to discover that this was the first time IRL). Sort of embarrassing but at the same time amazing that we know so much about each other and share so much online that sometimes we forget that we have never actually met. There is always so much more to discover about someone’s story beyond what appears online.

What I have discovered is that no matter how connected we think we are in the online world the real connection occurs when we have the opportunity to greet each other in person and have the time to ask questions and listen intently to the answers, each and every one has an amazing story within them and one which we can always learn and benefit from. Thank you, Expensify, for bringing the Accounting | Bookkeeping | Consulting | Professional Association and Technology Vendor communities together at ExpensiCon II.

2 – Collegiate Collaboration

At first glance you may think that the gathering of 100 leaders from various fields within a profession may be a risky thing to do. Business can often be seen as competitive, win and lose, scarcity, protective and proprietary of ideas and methodologies, with the occasional egocentric megalomaniac thrown into the mix. ExpensiCon had none of that. Hats off to everyone for checking the ego at the door and fostering genuine collaboration, and to all fellow delegates I thank you for your inclusiveness with a collegiate and collaborative mindset. There was a genuine sense of a pioneering spirit, friendship, creating abundance of opportunity for all in our professions by sharing experiences and insights gained over decades of commitment to the craft. What I continue to experience is the more you get to hang around those of greater experience and attitude the more we are inspired to raise our standards and set a course for continual improvement and refinement via life-long learning.

3 – Contrarian Approach

ExpensiCon is different to any other conference I have ever attended (100+ over the past 20 years), not that other events haven’t been worth attending, in-fact all have had unique moments and have been special in their own way and I have always gained something from attending each event. Most have the recurring theme that long after the content has faded the memories remain, and upon reflection these moments are anchored by the experience of human connection. The breakfast meetings, the catch up over coffee or the extended (and often entertaining) post dinner conversations at the bar where most of the challenges of life, business and the profession are solved and sometimes created. What I loved about the way in which Expensify approached the creation of ExpensiCon is by throwing out conventional wisdom about events (such as, large scale for maximum short-term impact, content rich, sales and marketing based at a convention centre location) to instead focus on laying a foundation for collaboration within and outside the profession, a long-term view, a balanced agenda in an idyllic location focused on the attendees obtaining maximum benefit from the shared experience. Next time you are looking at running a client event think about how some of these facets could be baked into the DNA of your event.

4 – Cultured Confidence

Sometimes our futures can be hamstrung by the successes of our past. Thinking we must conform to how we think others see us, making sure we don’t take risks and playing it safe within the industry tram lines. What I noticed (again) about Expensify is an unassuming inner confidence, like they have taken the time to discern their future and are diligently and confidently working towards making it a reality. Whilst this confidence can sometimes foster aloofness and even arrogance, this is not something I have ever seen at Expensify; and going back to the contrarian conversation, it’s as though they have recognised this possibility and have made a conscious effort to move in the opposite direction. What I continue to learn is that the inner confidence game is always worth playing and seeking to master, and the good news is, it’s a single player game in which we control the ultimate result.

5 – Care Free Attitude

Having fun isn’t something that we need to reserve for our after (business) hours life. When work is enjoyable, much of the other parts of our day also become more enjoyable. It’ s as though increased irreverence brings even better business / work results. With our hyper distracted worlds and increased time being devoted to learning the art of being present, perhaps we could benefit from caring a little less about ourselves and more so on the contribution we can make to others. Caring Less (about our expectations) to Gain More (Understanding of others and their needs). The vast conversations at ExpensiCon had two recurring themes, discovering more about the other person (both attendee and Expensify team members) and what are the needs of the people who we are looking to serve. The amazing thing is when focused in these areas we are present on the needs of others and naturally enter a shared discovery mode as opposed to going straight to solution mode, perhaps worth remembering next time we have a conversation with a client.

People sometimes ask me how do you get to go to something like ExpensiCon? and the short answer is I don’t really know (it’s certainly not something I ever expect), however perhaps some of the answers are in these 5 key elements that Expensify created and delivered to perfection at ExpensiCon II.

Mauruuru (Thank You in Tahitian) David Barrett and Team Expensify for the incredible honour and privilege to be a part of this truly unique experience.

Clayton

Oh by the way Expensify make a really cool app that takes care of expense management, you can discover more about ExpensiCon II and Expensify

 

What I discovered by connecting with Bookkeepers & Accountants at the #GetConnectedAU Roadshow

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Roadshows are both a Marathon and a Sprint!

They are also engaging, repetitive, exhausting, invigorating and enlightening ……. providing an opportunity to deliver/receive direct unfiltered communication from the audience to the organiser.

I have an affinity to roadshow events having presented at more than 100 of them over the past 15 years, they are my favourite way of connecting with an audience. Whilst we have organised many of our own here at QA Business, its always great when someone else handles the logistics and fills the room and that is exactly what Intuit Australia did over the past 3 weeks.

It was my privilege to present the Keynote session at #GetConnectedU and share some thoughts, experiences and stories that hopefully helped (ABC’s) Accountants, Bookkeepers & Consultants re-discover some Confidence about the industry direction, gain Clarity on their relevance in it and create deeper Connection with others who will be a part of their extended team to enhance their client experience.

#GetConnectedAU (held in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane) saw hundreds of ABC’s invest a ½ a day in learning about industry trends from Trent McLaren, Website design tips from Wayne Schmidt, company and solution updates from Nicolette Maury, Meagan Wood and Luis Sanchez from Intuit, Shark Tank Style pitches from App Eco system partners and a Power Panel of Peers sharing insights on building their Accounting & Bookkeeping businesses.

It has been a great Roadshow that reinforced for me a continued shift in mindset in the market, as the frenetic pace of having to learn all apps in the accounting tech eco system (which created overwhelm and inertia) is beginning to settle down to a more considered approach to discerning what to learn that will be relevant to the clients you are looking to serve and the business (firm) you are building.

3 noticeable takeaways I observed were;

Renewed Focus on Strategy

ABC’s, no matter how long they have been involved in the profession, have a renewed focus (and are taking the time) to devise their future, based on discernment as to what the market needs are, combined with learning new skills to compliment current and emerging demand. Technology is a tool that is here to stay and whilst there is no doubt there will be a continual evolution (and perhaps consolidation) of solutions there seems to be a propensity for advisors to absorb a broader array of solutions and discern their relevance and application to their client’s business and their own.

A Viable Profession of Choice

I was both surprised and encouraged by the number of new entrants to the profession (within the last 5 years). People choosing Accounting | Bookkeeping | Technology as their vocation of choice. From diverse backgrounds, including Corporate positions, unrelated Small Business, Education and even the Trades. These new Tech Savvy, Enthusiastic (Baggage free) entrants are also coming with a plan, creating and building a business that will afford them lifestyle choices and fulfilling work as they serve clients with a model they have designed to service the customer and themselves.

Bookkeepers & Accountants are collaborating

Accountants and Bookkeepers alike are continuing to partner and collaborate to serve the small business community. Traditionally there has been some “Us and Them” mindset on both sides but Technology seems to be assisting by breaking down the barriers. With so much change occurring in the industry, professionals in both camps are recognising that more can be achieved by utilising the unique skills that each party has to offer each other. Coincidentally this dovetails perfectly in a session I’m presenting at #QBConnect in Silicon Valley next week on why “Accountants & Bookkeepers Go Together just Like Peas and Carrots” 😊

Thanks again to the Intuit QuickBooks Australia team for enabling me to be a part of the Roadshow and delivering a platform for ABC’s to Learn, Connect and Collaborate.

The next major event for Intuit is the Australian edition of #QBConnect which has been extended into a 2 day event to be held in Sydney May 24-25 2018. I would encourage all independent professionals who have an interest in the future of the profession and the impact of technology on it to attend – I know I will be.

– Clayton

 

Start With a Profit – Free eBook by Accounting Industry Leaders (Including our very own Clayton Oates)

Start With A Profit

Start with a Profit: Best-Practice Tips for New Entrepreneurs from Top Accounting Industry Leaders is the latest guide to helping new (and existing) business owners become successful.

Editor Sandi Leyva, CPA, asked fellow accounting industry thought leaders one question:

“For someone who wants to start a new business from scratch today, what is the most important strategy or tactic you’d tell them about to help them succeed?”

One dozen thought leaders (from around the globe) along with Sandi provided their answers.

Co-authors include:
• Alison Ball, Senior Manager of the Global Influencer Program of Intuit​.
• Sharada Bhansali, Co-Founder of Accountants World
• Randy Johnston, CEO of Network Management Group, Inc.
• Ed Kless, Senior Director of Partner Development and Strategy of Sage​
• Sandi Leyva, Founder of Accountants Accelerator
• Monika Miles, President of Miles Consulting Group, Inc.
• Clayton Oates, Chief Solutions Officer of QA Business​.
• Edi Osborne, CEO of Mentor Plus
• Leslie Shiner, Owner of The Shiner Group​
• Doug Sleeter, Founder of The Sleeter Group​
• Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder of Boomer Consulting, Inc.​
• Geni Whitehouse, Countess of Communication of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard
• Scott Zarret, President of CPA Academy

“To my knowledge, it’s the first collaborative work of thought leaders in the accounting industry,” says Sandi Leyva. This is Sandi’s 30th book and her first collaboration as editor.

Although each author’s contribution is quite unique, a few client-centric themes emerged, including how to market most effectively, how to build customer relationships, and how to interact with clients. Others focused on business models and pricing. Still others urged the entrepreneur to embrace their passion and their “why.”

The 75-page ebook is available in PDF format only at this time. A quick read, and it’s free with email registration at http://accountantsaccelerator.com/lp/startaprofit/

Luck (Success) is When Opportunity Meets Preparedness !

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This blog post is probably more for the ABC’s (Accountants | Bookkeepers | Consultants) out there who provide services to those of us in SMB (Small to Medium Business) land. Although business owners and/or operators are certainly welcome to read on for a sneak peek into the future services that ABC’s will be offering you and your business, and perhaps not before time too!

But first some philosophy – Lucius Seneca (first century philosopher and tutor to the young Nero) has a famous quote: “Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity”.

We have been brought up to believe business success is achieved through hard work, customer service and going the extra mile, not really on Luck. So what about this notion of preparedness meeting opportunity? How applicable is it right now to us – the Trusted Advisors who champion the small business community?

As ABC’s we are all facing an Inflection Point (Opportunity) which has the potential to finally deliver on the long standing promise of providing true Value Added Business Advisory services and solutions to our clients. However as Seneca put it, Success (Luck) is reserved for those of us who are truly Prepared.

So what are Business Advisory Services? And how can we best prepare for this unique opportunity? In order to answer this it is perhaps best to have a look at what Business Advisory Services are Not !

Business Advisory Services are not compliance work e.g. Tax Returns, BAS Preparation, Payroll End of Year, Software Conversions, Compulsory Audits or providing Reactive Business Advice requested by the client. So perhaps it is worth considering that all services/ solutions offered by ABC’s to SMB’s that is not compliance are in fact Business Advisory Services.

We have all heard the doomsday predictions that ‘Compliance is Dead’ and whilst I don’t fully subscribe to this fear driven notion, I do believe that Compliance work is fast becoming a commodity, the value of which is being eroded. I don’t meet too many young budding ABC’s that want to spend all of their time in the compliance world. They’re keen to move through this level as quickly as possible to get to the real fun and meaningful roles which are found in the Business Advisory space.

Business Advisory has not just arrived with “The Cloud” (Take it from me this really does feel like Groundhog Day from 1990’s with the Windows, Desktop PC explosion). Now more than ever the tools are becoming available to realise the opportunity. It is important to remember that whilst technology is certainly the Enabler, it is not the solution……YOU are the Solution! (always have been). It is your willingness to take the available technology and deliver it in a way that achieves the overall Goal of delivering true Value Added Business Advisory services that clients actually want.

So, what if you are currently not prepared for this opportunity – what do you do? Well my advice to you is to do whatever it takes to get prepared and quickly! It really is an amazing time in history to be an ABC working with SMB’s.