You know what QB Connect going to be like: the massive hall filled with app developers and accounting technology services, the break out sessions on a ton of different subjects, the inspirational key note speeches, and the huge crowd of accounting professionals and small business owners. So how do YOU make it a worthwhile experience? How do you take something away from the QuickBooks Connect conference that will actually make a difference in your business?
Come to QB Connect with Your Own Agenda
Intuit may know accounting and tax, but they don’t know you. They don’t know the specific challenges you face. They don’t know your context. So take some time to answer this question: “If only I could _________________, I could grow my revenues by 50%.” Now maybe you think the answer to this question is actually a laundry list and if so, limit yourself to the top issue. What is the one thing which, if implemented now, would transform your business? Solving that one problem is your agenda.
Someone at QB Connect Has Already Solved Your Challenge
A major hurdle for me was learning to view other people providing accounting services as colleagues rather than competitors. And it was QB Connect that helped me transform my view. I met so many helpful people. Even the ones who work in the same city as me were happy to tell me what works for them. I began to realize that there’s actually plenty of work for all of us. The reality is that there’s a shortage of good accounting professionals, not a shortage of work. The real challenge is to help business owners understand the value of a well run financial system.
So, as you speak to Intuit staff, software vendors, break out session speakers, as well as the people sitting next to you at lunch, be open about your agenda and ask them how they solve your problem and who else they know who can help you. Find out how they deal with staff turnover, clients poaching the best bookkeepers, breaking into a new niche, deciding which apps to support, or wrestling with tax forms.
When you get home, you’ll have a stack of brochures and business cards and if you’re like me, you won’t remember exactly why you took them. Don’t be afraid to make notes directly on the paper about who the person is and why you should stay in touch with them. That’s also where your social media accounts can help you. When you connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, you will stay in touch even if they move, as well as being reminded about what they’re currently up to.
Promise Yourself You’ll Keep this Energy Alive
QB Connect is an exciting event, filled with people who speak your language, who face the same kind of challenges you do. It’s easy to feel inspired there. The challenge is to keep that energy alive as you return to the world of juggling multiple client demands, supporting your staff and finding new business. That’s why you need to focus on that one important idea you can take home and bring to life.
The secret is not to wait until you get home before deciding what to do next. In your hotel room or on your way home, make a list. Start with “To increase revenues by 50%, we need to:” and list the steps. Include who’s responsible for each step and when the step has to be completed. I know you don’t have a lot of spare time for this. None of us does! So you need to keep the individual steps small, but make sure you do something, no matter how small, every day.
Final Tip: Come Back to QB Connect Every Year
Make it a part of your annual planning. Schedule a staff retreat around it. If it’s impractical to bring everyone, ask the people who come to make a presentation to the whole group about what they learned and how they can apply it to the business. That will help them focus, as well as spreading the QB Connect energy!
PS: My agenda for this year’s QB Connect is to meet as many people with nonprofit experience as I can. I’m writing a practical book on nonprofit management and I would like to fill the book with quotes from real people solving actual problems in this niche. This can be a dry subject for many people, so I have created a comic strip to illustrate the book at http://ClariseComic.com