The Sleeter Group's Solutions14 Conference is aimed at providing small business consultants and accounting professionals with an array of ideas, practices, technologies and information that will empower them to be experts in their field. The conference will be held November 9 – 12 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
The Accounting Solutions Conference focuses on a variety of topics for consultants including different accounting software alternatives you won’t see at many of the other events. Doug Sleeter, conference founder, said, "Changing technologies and new business practices are being introduced each day, we are seeing numerous changes within the industry and a real desire for consultants to be well equipped in more than just the numbers."
The conference offers over 70 different educational sessions which are categorized into 13 focus centered learning tracks. "At Solutions14, we offer continuing education and deep-dive sessions on proven solutions, but we also include sessions on new technologies that are disrupting traditional business practices," said Sleeter. Some of those tracks include, "Transforming Your Practice Using Cloud Solutions", "Accounting Firm 3.0: Jump Starting the Next Generation Firm", "How to Unleash Your Marketing Genius", and many more.
Because we just ‘wrapped-up’ the QuickBooks Connect conference last week, Intuitive Accountant can’t possibly prospectively cover all of the educational sessions and their instructors at the Solutions14 Conference, before the conference starts. Accordingly I decided to review each of the 13 tracks and pick out some of my own favorite sessions based upon their descriptions and instructors, as well as how I felt they would fit into the typical ‘practice’ of our readers. So here, in no particular order of importance or scheduling, are some of my favorites. Be sure to 'look around' when you are in one of these sessions, you just might find me sitting-in and taking notes (Murph).
Do You Work Excel? Or Does It Work You? – David Ringstrom, CPA
David Ringstrom, CPA is president of Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based spreadsheet and database consulting firm that he started in 1991. Many years ago David coined the phrase “Either you work Excel, or it works you!” In this jam-packed session David will help you turn the tide in Microsoft Excel by revealing hidden features and shortcuts that can transform your spreadsheet work. David will teach primarily from Excel 2010, but will share tips applicable to Excel 2013, 2007, 2003, and Excel 2011 for Mac. His highly detailed handouts include numbered steps, plus he provides a copy of the example data he teaches from. You’ll be able to easily recreate later what you see him demonstrate live. Techniques he plans to cover include creating keyboard shortcuts for features that don’t natively have one, creating fallback positions in Excel, dispatching annoying prompts, and tweaking overlooked settings in Excel.
Comparing Online Accounting Apps: QBO, Xero, Zoho Books – Greg Lam
Greg Lam is a passionate small business guy who loves technology and automation. He's a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Xero Partner, and Kashoo MVP. Greg’s session will focus on various online Accounting Apps for small businesses that have well-developed open APIs, accountant specific tools, and payroll solutions. This session will review the pros and cons of each of these Apps, how they compare against one another, and will also explore use-case scenarios for each one.
How to Reduce the Risk of Fraud in Small Business – Stephen King, CPA CGMA
Stephen King, CPA CGMA, regarded among the accounting industry’s top thought leaders by AICPA CPA2Biz, is president and CEO of GrowthForce, a recognized industry leader in providing cloud-based bookkeeping and controller services for growing businesses. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has reported that small business owner continue to suffer disproportionately large losses due to fraud with the median loss per case rising to $145,000 in 2013. In this session Stephen shares how you can help your clients protect themselves against employee theft by teaching CEOs and accounting professionals alike how to establish internal controls by leveraging QuickBooks with today's advanced technologies. You'll learn how to avoid becoming a victim of each of the top five ways small businesses are getting ripped off; how to design a finance system to reduce the risk for fraud; and best practices for leveraging technology to separate duties in any size accounting department. (Hum.....Stephen King, Stephen King.....doesn't this guy write suspense, horror and sci-fi novels on the side???? Probably not the same guy, ya think? Murph)
Is Bitcoin Your Future? – David Barrett
David Barrett is the founder of Expensify, a complete online expense management service that does everything from import expenses and receipts from credit cards and mobile phones, to process expense reports online, and reimburse electronically with direct deposit, PayPal or even Bitcoin. Learn what Bitcoin is (and isn't), how it works, and why you could be getting questions about it from your clients faster than you might expect. Get a quick historical overview of Bitcoin's shadowy origins, dramatic rise, equally dramatic fall, and gradual resurgence. See a live demonstration of how your clients can use Coinbase to accept Bitcoin payments from customers using mobile wallets, hear why doing so to reduce processing fees (especially for international transactions) isn't as crazy as it sounds, and learn accounting best practices and tax implications for the corresponding revenue. Finally, learn Bitcoin's current legal status in various local and international jurisdictions, and prevailing wisdom on what the future of Bitcoin might hold. Leave equipped with a broad context of the alternative currency ecosystem, prepared to offer specific advice to your clients who need it. You probably know from the 3 articles I have written on BitCoin how much I like this 'banker-less' idea, so don't be surprised if you see me here. (Murph)
Hosting vs. SaaS – Randy Johnston, MCS
Randy Johnston, MCS was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame in 2011, and has been a top rated speaker in the technology industry for over 30 years. He started and owns both Network Management Group, Inc. and K2 Enterprises. There is a lot of hype around Cloud implementations. Is the Cloud right for you? What are the pros and cons of this approach? What are the benefits of remaining with an on-premise solution that is hosted versus a Software as a Service (SaaS) product that runs in a browser? Perhaps mixing some SaaS and on-premise into a hybrid solution is the approach for you. During this session Randy will help you understand the various options as well as their costs, risks, and rewards. He will also discuss how to implement and manage the best solution for you and your team.
Reporting, Analytics & Dashboards – Chuck Vigeant
Chuck Vigeant is the Managing Partner of CLEARIFY® and is known as the “grandfather” of Crystal Reports and Business Intelligence for QuickBooks®. He is the principal architect behind QQube™, the ground breaking data warehouse technology for QuickBooks. In this session Chuck will discuss how to formulate and display data that comes in all sizes, formats and application deliveries, into information from which to make better business decisions. This session is for those who want to learn more about the industry, understand new trends in analytic concepts, and determine what tools and service delivery work best for you and your clients. The class will delve into delineating the differences between reporting, analytics, and visualization, determining the appropriateness of one over another with case scenarios. Other topics covered include the four pillars of analytics, a historical perspective and industry trends, an overview of the major tools in the market, how to avoid the ‘one tool fits all’ pitfall, understanding the various methods of delivering client services, and principles for managing customer expectations as well as your own. Chuck is one of my all time favorite thinkers, a regular 'brain trust'; you will probably see me standing among the other 'Vigeant groupies' after this session (Murph).
The Government Agencies Cannot Leave QuickBooks Alone – Bruce Andersen, CPA
Bruce Andersen, CPA, is the founder and principal of Bruce Andersen, CPA, and BTA Consulting & Training. He has represented business clients with QuickBooks audits and consulted to many tax professionals involving QuickBooks audits. Bruce has a keen interest in the developments of IRS examination of Small Business and writes frequently about it. In 2010 the IRS announced that it would begin auditing small businesses using QuickBooks. The IRS has continued to build its audit programs around this initiative, and now many States are adopting similar audit practices. QuickBooks auditing is spreading across the US as well as penetrating into many tax areas far beyond income tax. This is an essential session to attend if you are helping your clients in any area that touches any type of business taxation. Bruce will help you sort out your chances of seeing audits of your clients. He will also discuss how these developments are impacting accountants and their clients across the US. Best practices for small business auditing will also be presented. This is one of those 'scary story' topics that has been the subject of controversy for the last 4 years, it will be great to finally hear an expert on this topic. (Murph)
MBA Crash Course: Propel Yourself into the Role of Strategic Advisor – Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina Parsons, a graduate of Princeton University, has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007. She and her husband, Noah, founded a UK software distribution company in 2001 that was acquired by Palo Alto in 2002. Sabrina is a staunch supporter of entrepreneurs, and supports several entrepreneurial organizations. Sabrina will be your guide through this “MBA Crash Course” workshop where you will acquire the knowledge and skills to transform yourself into a Strategic Advisor. You will walk away with the knowledge to help not just your clients, but your own practice:  plan strategically  forecast and budget  understand how to pick and track the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), and  how to move from “Accountant” to Strategic Business Advisor. The session will cover: Business Planning, Cash Flow Forecasting, Budgeting & Forecasting, Industry Benchmarking, and demonstrate how using financial dashboards, integrated with your accounting system, will help you and your small business clients grow 30% faster. Sabrina 'walks-the-walk that she talks-the-talk', always a pleasure to hear her presentations (Murph).
Achieve Sustained Superior Growth: Building a Predictable Business Pipeline – Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson has 25 years’ experience in the accounting and technology industries. Prior to becoming Avalara’s chief evangelist, he most recently led the Avalara ERP sales and channel development teams. Previously, he served in executive sales, channel development, and marketing leadership positions at Sage and Timberline Software. Rob is author of numerous published works, including the critically acclaimed book, Kick Your Own Ass: The Will, Skill & Drill of Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible. You have to think differently about what you’re doing in order to succeed. While creating new customer relationships is the lifeblood of any organization, creating a business development engine capable of achieving and maintaining sustained superior growth can be a model for success of a professional consulting firm. The problem is that such a strategy may prove to be very difficult for anyone who is not comfortable with the sales function. During this session Rob will guide you as the session explores three core concepts every company needs to embrace if they are to achieve sustained superior business growth.
Marketing Hacks to Improve Your Productivity – Misty Megia
Misty Megia, Director of Strategic Programs at The Sleeter Group, brings over 18 years of experience in Marketing, Event Project Management, Corporate Brand Marketing and Channel Marketing mostly in the hardware and software industry. She also ran her own small retail business for 6 years. This is one of the most interesting ideas for a session on marketing I have ever seen (Murph). This session provides you with an opportunity to sit in small groups with a marketing rockstar and learn the marketing hacks that will bring you social media success. These round table discussions allow you to speed date your way through solutions, tips and tricks to get you digitally socializing. Select what social media solution tables you would like to learn from/about and bring a notepad! Tables for: LinkedIn, Twitter, SEO, and Social Media Management tools (i.e. BufferApp, Sprout).
Prototype Your NextGen Business Model – Adrian Simmons
Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. As Chief Creative Designer at Elements CPA, LLC, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so they can focus on what matters in life. He is a Practicing Fellow of the Verasage Institute, and Director of the Thriveal Accounting Laboratory. In this session you will learn the nine fundamental building blocks of every business model that must be adapted as it evolves. See how these building blocks can be woven into a simple visual tool, and learn how to apply the principles of prototyping to innovate new models. Hear the results of Thriveal Accounting Laboratory's Business Model Protoyping Experiment for insights into what firms of the future might look like. Walk through the beginning steps of prototyping the next iteration of your own firm's business model.
In our next feature about Solutions14, we will look at some of the major vendors who are sponsoring the conference and providing presentations about their product offerings.