Distinguished ProAdvisor Award
Everyone knows the world wide presence of QuickBooks in the small to medium business sector (SMB). QuickBooks boasts over 4.5 million users and enjoys over 90% market share for the small business sector, and an ever increasing market share among emerging businesses with 1 to 5 million in annual sales. While there is some decline in the number of QuickBooks desktop users, the number of users signing-up for QuickBooks Online is more than making up for the decline in traditional sales.
These numbers speak to the incredible opportunities for accounting professionals to turn QuickBooks consulting into a way of developing new client relationships – relationships that will potentially lead to significant new consulting engagements. Some of these engagements may be for tax services, accounting services, or business-related consultations in a wide variety of other areas as your clients' "trusted business advisor."
Rather than convince you of the wide range of QuickBooks consulting opportunities, in this article I will address a primary challenge inherent in QuickBooks consulting: the need to distinguish yourself from the tens of thousands of other consultants playing in the space.
Strategy 1: Earn a Wide Range of ProAdvisor Certifications
Many firms join the ProAdvisor program for the software and other benefits the program provides but they never leverage the program to create professional distinction. Ironically, we have found some of these firms offer very high QuickBooks expertise, and years of QuickBooks consulting experience, but have never taken the time (or had the inclination) to take the certification exams. Regardless of your current skill level and however high your reputation may be among your existing clients, to reach new businesses through QuickBooks consulting you need to certify on QuickBooks and as soon as you are certified on three consecutive versions of QuickBooks you need to become an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor.
You should also strongly consider earning a certification on QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions and QuickBooks Point of Sale. And with the emerging interest in on-line accounting products, and the phenomenal growth of QuickBooks Online, you need to get certified in QuickBooks Online. By getting certified you will increase your profile ten fold.
Strategy 2: Get Published
Many high profile accounting technology sites, including Intuitive Accountant, have an open submission policy for technical articles. Write articles and submit them to those sites. You should also self-publish articles on your own site, in blogs, and through the various social networking platforms to establish yourself as both a QuickBooks expert and an author of QuickBooks technical material. You can expand this strategy to include a larger search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that will set you and your firm apart from the masses.
Strategy 3: Become a QuickBooks Trainer
The web offers numerous opportunities for you to establish yourself as a QuickBooks trainer – with a national audience! For example you can present Webinars and promote them through social media, you can record brief training segments on QuickBooks micro-topics and post the videos YouTube (which is second only to Google in daily search activity).
Contact your local community college or vocational school, and offer to host a free 1 or 2 hour seminar on some topic of QuickBooks; the short time you spend will more than be compensated by not only the new business, but expertise you demonstrate as a 'associate instructor' for the school.
Then, when you have garnered some experience conducting these training methods, assemble a catalog of your training offerings and send those to the hosts of accounting technology shows like Scaling New Heights (http://www.scalingnewheights.com) or shows conducted by your state CPA society. The next thing you know you could be teaching in front of 100's of your professionals at a national conference.
Strategy 4: Join Professional Networks Targeted to ProAdvisors
Organizations like the National Advisor Network and many of the QuickBooks-related Linked-In Groups provide you with opportunities to network with other ProAdvisors. Though the members of these types of groups are technically competitors, there is nonetheless a prevalent cooperative attitude among this peer group that will help you to grow professionally and will also give you the opportunity to help other ProAdvisors grow. You can accomplish the latter by posting articles and participating in forums or even by providing mentorship services to ProAdvisors who have recently joined the program.
Get involved on a local level as well, by participating, helping to organize, or speaking at a Chapter of the National Advisor Network. If there is no local chapter, consider starting a chapter to build relationships among ProAdvisors within your area.
Strategy 5: Become an Expert on at Least One Product that Integrates with QuickBooks
Many of the leading QuickBooks-integrated products have reseller programs with fewer than 100 members. In some cases the developer intentionally limits the number of resellers and authorized consultants to a very select and highly motivated group of less than 50 nationwide. Establishing yourself as an expert on one of these products will empower you to leverage your relationships with other ProAdvisors (who do not consult on the product) and to create additional consulting opportunities. Also, if you become an expert on one of the many products designed for larger businesses you will reach a higher tier of QuickBooks user - those typically with over one million dollars in annual sales.
In expanding this concept, consider taking-on another product of the same basic type in order to develop a 'topical expertise'. For example if you become expert in two or three 'inventory related add-on products', you will ultimately achieve a reputation as being the 'go-to ProAdvisor for Inventory' within your geographical area. Because you know more than one product, you are more apt to be able to help your client determine the 'right fit' for his business, and you will further build your reputation of being a 'trusted advisor' rather than just a product peddler.
This article was originally written by Joe Woodard, a national QuickBooks author and trainer, host of The National Advisor Network and the host of an annual conference for QuickBooks ProAdvisors conducted in cooperation with Intuit called Scaling New Heights. I have taken the liberty to make a few changes to update some of the fundamentals Joe set forth in his article, but even with my few changes, the heart of this advise is indeed True Joe Ways.