In the world of accounting, “future” hasn’t always been regularly used, but what makes a firm future-ready is something that for the past four years Intuit has recognized in its network of accounting practices.
This year’s Firm of the Future winner Cloud Bookkeeping Services does bear some similarities to the previous year’s winner AIS Solutions, not only in that they are both Canadian, but they are both dedicated to educating other bookkeepers to be more future-ready, and small businesses to be better.
“The educational component to what we do is the biggest deal to us,” said Cloud Bookkeeping founder Tanya Hilts, referring to the firm’s Bookkeepers Bootcamp and Business Bootcamp. “We are teaching other bookkeepers about value pricing, workflow, technology and advisory work. With Business Bootcamp it’s coaching, we dig in with them to show how to work better and to implement plans.”
Hilts’ firm has evolved over its 20-year history, the last nine of which have been focused on bookkeeping and advisory services. With only three full-time staff, this Barrie, Ontario firm currently serves nearly 40 clients, down from nearly 100 over a year ago. In that time, Hilts said revenue has actually increased from $150,000 to $200,000.
“Essentially, we scaled back our client base so we could do more for the right ones,” she said. “We can charge more because we do more.”
Hilts also believes her small firm’s new status as a Firm of the Future is not something they were striving for, but that it is more of a recognition of how they’ve evolved and the services they provide versus just embracing technology. Her firm has been using QBO since 2012 and Hilts admits there were some initial challenges simply because it was not the desktop product.
But networking and connecting with other bookkeepers and ProAdvisors, as well as the evolution of the product itself, made everything easier. It also was the impetus for creating the Bookkeeper Bootcamp, which she feels ultimately pushed her firm into the running to be a Firm of the Future.
“People need an example of what “change” looks like, that’s what Firm of the Future is about,” said Ariege Misherghi, Intuit’s new accountant segment leader. “Emerging as advisor and being more welcoming of technology is what we tend to look at.”
Here we asked Hilts about what she advises other firms to focus on over the next year: