In early September of 2014 I was standing firmly in my own way. I was thinking about going to this nifty new QuickBooks Connect conference that I kept getting emails about, but I was nervous. I had never been to a professional conference before. It was in a city that I had never been to. I didn't know anyone else who was going, and I had made up my mind that it was going to be a bunch of veteran pros who had been in the profession forever who were going to be looking at this young bookkeeper and asking what the heck I was doing there pretending to be one of them.
I came up with a million other excuses not to go to #QBConnect14. Our busy season was ramping up for year-end. I was having issues with employees, and I didn't trust that they could handle things without me for even a few days. Promises to clients, and a million other things.
Long story short, I was chicken.
A couple of months went by, and I heard about Scaling New Heights 2015. I mentioned to my best friend that it would be in New Orleans, and before I had even fully decided to go, she informed me that she was coming with. Suddenly I had a travel buddy, and that relieved half of my anxiety. Even if I had no idea what to expect from this conference, I could have a nice time exploring this place I had always wanted to visit. I decided to take the leap, and I am so glad that I did.
#SNH15 turned out to be one of the single most formative experiences of my adult life. Not only was everyone there supportive and welcoming, I discovered that I had a lot that I could share and help my colleagues with. Joe Woodard's keynote on the 5 Essential Spices to enhance ProAdvisor practices made me realize that I might be more on the right track than I thought. I suddenly realized that I was in a room full of kindred spirits. I finally had an opportunity to reflect and grow with colleagues that thought like I did, and suddenly I was too excited to be in my own way any more.
I had literally dozens of groundbreaking epiphanies in those few days, but I'm just going to give you the top 3 highlight reel:
1. Les McKeown's fantastic presentation on Predictable Success. (Check out my blog for more on this. http://polymath.com/visionary-webinar/) I realized during that presentation that I really needed a new teammate. Not only that, I realized that I already knew exactly whom I wanted to play with, and that if I didn't ask her, I would never forgive myself. As a result, my new partner joined Polymath in August on a trial basis, and in January Polymath became an employee-owned company with three partners.
2. Ron Baker's class on Value Pricing rocked my world. I have spent tons of non-billable time researching and learning new software apps to make our bookkeeping work take less time. In turn, I saved our clients time and money, and I had to bring on new clients to fill the gap. No matter how many clients I would bring on, there was always a cap on how much I could earn because the time was limited. I showed more and more value to my client, needed to do more and more continuing education, and as a result, I was making less money. Ron showed me a better way of thinking, and as a result I am now enjoying deeper and more profitable relationships with fewer clients.
3. The two lines I have quoted most often from the entire conference are both thanks to Damien Greathead of Receipt Bank:
First quote is, "This is how we do it here." From Damien I learned that I don't need to totally customize my services to fit the needs of every client. I already know what my firm's specialties are and what we enjoy the most. If that isn't what a client needs, then we might not be the best fit, and that is okay. I'm no longer bending to the point of breaking for each client request, and I'm not trying to keep up on continuing education for software that I don't enjoy supporting. I can proudly say that I'm a QBO girl, and I'm not afraid to turn away the rest if they don't want to switch to my preferred platform. If a client comes to me wanting support with another program, I will happily refer them to a colleague.
Second of Damien's quotes is, "Find your echo chamber." There is an audience with whom your message will truly resonate, and they will shout it to the heavens on your behalf. Clearly Damien's message resonated with me, and I am thrilled to tell everyone to check out Receipt Bank, not just for their fantastic app, but also for the top-notch webinars and education they provide on a wealth of topics. Finding an echo chamber is the best and least expensive marketing you can do, and Damien's words really encouraged me to speak up. Even if some might think I'm a little nuts, it turns out there are a bunch of responsible business owners out there that are thrilled to see bookkeeping tutorials with puppets at AskABookkeeper.com.
When I got home from #SNH15, my team and I set to work in fixing all of the things that I didn't previously realize were broken. Within a month, we had implemented nearly a dozen new apps, started offering fixed price packages to our clients, offered a partnership to a local colleague, and were on our way to becoming an employee-owned company. When Intuit announced the Firm of the Future video contest in early July, my first thought was "Wow. We actually fit all of these criteria... as of a couple weeks ago. Why not give it a try?"
I was shocked when we took 3rd place in the contest. In one year, I went from being the girl that was too chicken to go to #QBConnect14 on her own... to having our award winning Firm of the Future video shown publicly at the conference the following year. For me, it all started with Scaling New Heights. I am so excited to see what Woodard Events has in store for us this year in Atlantis. One way or another, it's bound to be EPIC.
The point is that if I can do all of this, I truly believe that you can, too. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we get out of our own way and step out of our comfort zones. What excuses are you whispering to yourself not to go? Can't afford it? I couldn't afford not to, and I didn't even realize it. Don't have the time? Make time. You deserve it. If you need a friend to meet you there, call us. Our whole Polymath team is going this year so we can divide and conquer rather than having to miss anything. Not sure where to start making friends when you get there? We've got your back; I'm teaching Secrets of Master Networkers first thing at noon on Sunday. We will get you started with all of the right tools to help you connect with your colleagues and have an awesome experience. You will find yourself welcomed by the family you didn't know you had, and they all want to help you realize your vision of success. Take the leap and register now. We'll see you in Atlantis!