by Shuyi Shang, Accounting Community Manager at Bento for Business
If you’ve been in business longer than five minutes, you’ve realized that succeeding as a ProAdvisor isn’t just about being a stellar bookkeeper or accountant. You’ve also got to be able to sell, set prices, schedule appointments, keep your client pipeline full – and more. Wearing so many hats can eat away at your actual accounting work until you feel like you’re barely doing any at all. And that’s frustrating.
The good news: even if you’re a sole proprietor, you don’t have to go it alone. Here are some of the best resources I’ve come across that will make you a more effective ProAdvisor.
If you’re not already a member of any accounting-related Facebook groups, I recommend joining some. These often serve as forums where accountants can ask questions, get advice, share tips, and vent. They’re invaluable as a source of moral support and guidance, especially if you’re running a one-person shop: ask your own questions and learn from others’ experience.
They also offer a much more productive way to spend time on Facebook. A few I recommend starting with:
- Intuit Accountants
- Business Workflow Management and Appasaurus Rex
- Accountants of the Future
- Accounting We Will Go
One online online group, though this one isn’t on Facebook: Intuit Community. A surprising number of ProAdvisors I talk to have never heard of it. It has thousands of articles on pretty much any QuickBooks topic you might need help with, and they’re easy to browse by topic or keyword.
If you’re here, you know how helpful blogs can be for keeping you abreast of industry trends and providing motivation from people making the ProAdvisor life work. Right now, my favorite blogs for accountants include…
- Firm of the Future (obviously).
- Insightful Accountant: Come here to see everything from case studies to tips on making your work environment healthier to using social media to grow your business.
- Accountex Report: This is a blog of big ideas and solutions-focused commentary. Whatever software you’re using, you’ll find helpful and thoughtful pieces on running your practice and overcoming obstacles.
- StacyK.net: Stacy K is a successful Intuit Trainer / Writer, a Top 100 ProAdvisor, and a six-time “Most Powerful Woman in Accounting” who gets into the nitty gritty on how to use QuickBooks Online more effectively. Come here for concrete tips on how to do specific things on the platform.
- Squire QuickBooks Advantage: Another blog that offers deep dives into small areas of QuickBooks and how to use it in your practice. Come here for more detailed how-tos.
- Hector’s QuickBooks Tips blog: Maintained by CPA, ProAdvisor, and trainer Hector Garcia, this is another great destination for tips on using your QuickBooks account better. Hector gets many topics from reader emails, so if you’ve got a question, send it his way!
If you’re looking for a QuickBooks app to perform a specific function, it’s always best to start at the Apps.com for Online Apps or the Desktop Marketplace for QuickBooks Desktop Apps. You can search for apps by keyword, industry, function, or QuickBooks compatibility. Not sure where to start? Here’s our handy list of “Must Have Apps” that almost every ProAdvisor can benefit from:
- HubDoc, which lets you (or your clients) gather and track all financial documents in one place, paperlessly.
- Calendly, a calendar-scheduling app that makes it easy for other people to schedule meetings with you in a couple of clicks. You will cut out all the back and forth about time zones and available slots almost instantly.
- Bento for Business (currently my employer!), which offers employee expense cards that use debit instead of credit. You can use one to track business expenses, but you’ll see a bigger benefit by cluing your clients in to them (it will make expense management much easier).
- ClockShark, a digital timesheet program for anyone who works in the field. ClockShark takes the headaches out of timesheet management. It also offers a neat GPS feature that lets employers verify workers’ whereabouts (again, this is one to recommend for your clients to save yourself time).
- Zoom, a video-conferencing solution with a free option. This is a great tool for building client relationships if you rarely see them in person.
Professional conferences (like QB Connect) are a great way to network and learn about new apps, skills, and business strategies. They’re also a welcome source of human interaction for ProAdvisors who work on their own most days.
For more regular doses of human interaction, check out Meetup.com to find like-minded people getting together near you. Accounting groups are great, but don’t be afraid of exploring meetup groups for your hobbies, too. Remember: the bigger your real-life social network, the more potential clients and referrals you have.
Unexpected Ways to Improve
Everything I’ve mentioned so far will help you streamline or grow your business in a pretty direct way. But focusing exclusively on your business at all times can actually be detrimental to your long-term growth.
Tunnel vision can lead to burnout, which is something a solo business owner can’t afford. Schedule time for non-business activities to make sure you’re performing at your best while you’re working:
- Read Cracked, Buzzfeed, HuffPost, and other websites that report news and pop culture. This helps keep you informed about the world around you, which can prove invaluable as you develop meaningful connections with friends, family, and clients.
- Go outside. Seriously.
- Get some exercise. You don’t need to hear from me how important exercise is to your health and well being. Stop putting it off (or feeling bad about doing it instead of another hour of work).
- Do things you love. They’ll energize you, inspire you, and put you in a better mood – all things that will have a positive impact on your business!
About the Author
Shuyi Shang works closely with accounting partners (Bento Expense Experts, a.k.a. BEEs) at Bento for Business, a QB-friendly solution that combines Visa® debit cards with a desktop/mobile platform to control and track employee expenses. She loves her QBO community and is a regular participant of the weekly QBOChat on Twitter.