QuickBooks Connect Website
The Main Conference day of QuickBooks Connect was hosted by Bill Rancic, Entrepreneur, Author and Reality Star. Before he took the stage, however, the event kicked off with a very unique “talk” from Sekou Andrews of Poetic Voice. He entertained and informed the audience with a rap like poem that was customized for SMB’s and accounting professionals. The highlight of the piece that got the crowd laughing was “I carried the damned 1!” If you have never seen him in action, you should take a minute to enjoy some of his work on his site at www.sekouandrews.com. It’s worth the time.
Brad Smith, CEO Intuit, followed Sekou where he stated “We are here to celebrate the American dream. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of that celebration. They see opportunity, have the courage to lead and ultimately our world is a better place when people pursue their dreams.”
He outlined 4 trends in the marketplace that everyone needs to understand:
- Biggest platform shift in a generation. Social media, we choose what we want.
- Cloud – eliminate all borders.
- Mobile experience has won – desktop to palm to watches and autos
- Data – improve quality of life and success of business. Data is fuel. Trust is the fire.
With these trends in mind, he reiterated that Intuit is striving “to be the operating system behind small business success.” The company invested over $300mm in small business product development last year. Equally impressive, the company facilitated $45mm in loans for small businesses, a very under served market in in the recent years.
After Smith gave his talk, he was joined by Bill Rancic and the two announced the four winners of the $100,000 from the Hackathon. Cloud Conversion, Jobber and Service Titan each won $15,000 and Method walked away with the grand prize of $55,000. Congatulations!
Rancic then took over as the host and teed up the balance of the session. He focused the audience by sharing that “in order to be successful you need to be able to recognize and seize opportunities and then pursue those opportunities with passion and vigor.” He ended up “hosting” Debbie Sterling, CEO & Founder, GoldieBLox, Tristan Walker, CEO Walker & Company, Charles Best, CEO DonorChoose.org and lastly Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
While these 4 have very different businesses serving very different markets and clients, they all had a common bond: each saw a need, put in the long hours and hard work and eventually took their businesses to a level of success that most business owners could only wish for.
Walker and Sterling each shared their three tips/credos:
Walker shared -1. Don’t let lack of context cloud your judgement 2. You can’t get what you don’t ask for 3. The best piece of advice he ever received came from Tyler Perry – “you realize your potential when you understand the trials and blessings are the same thing”.
Sterling shared – 1. Put yourself out there—it takes a village to run a company- don’t hide- talk to people 2. Ask for what you want – be specific and direct 3. Build a network of advisors to help you take it to the next level –identify who can help you get to the next level and find ways to get in front of them.
Best was a teacher in the Bronx when he founded DonorChoose.org to help teachers raise money in able to fund projects, field trips and to buy books and resources they were not able to get. To date his desire to help “improve education through crowdfunding” has generated $273,000,00 in donations which has been used to help 12,750,000 students. He graciously gave his honorarium to everyone in attendance in the form of a $10 gift card to donorchoose.org so that the members of the audience could take part in supporting a cause on the site.
The session ended with Rancic and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, CEO Magic Johnson Enterprises, discussing success and what it takes to be successful. Johnson narrowed his talk down to a few key points regarding success:
- If you don’t dream it you can’t become it”.
- Have the courage to check your ego at the door and to seek help. Admit what you don’t know and ask for help.
- Make your business about the customer and not about yourself.
- Over deliver; meet their expectation with great customer service and build your brand around that success.
- Believe in yourself and your business plan.
- We all have fear. Keep a strong work ethic and don’t forget who your customers are. Ask your customers what they want.
Other key points that Johnson shared were that business owners need an executive management team and they need to listen to them. Empower them to make decisions. He also stressed the importance for owners to reinvest in the business and to make sure you are ready for growth when the time comes.
In closing, Johnson shared that businesses need to start small and string together multiple small wins which not only gives you confidence for the next win, but a track record of success to show investors, bankers, etc. He stressed that “You are building a track record of success. Each success helps you grow.”