Being a ProAdvisor Helped Jay Holmes Build His Practice

The QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Program equips accounting professionals with the tools they need to fuel small business success. Jay Holmes, CPA, is a partner at BlueBack Accounting, a runner-up in the 2016 Firm of the Future contest. Jay is also an Advanced Certified ProAdvisor and serves on Intuit’s® Accountant Council. Read on to learn how the ProAdvisor Program has helped him to build his practice and positively impact the small businesses he serves.

About My Practice

Blueback Accounting has its world headquarters in Boise, Idaho. That is supposed to sound a little ridiculous, as we only have one office. We try and keep things light and not take ourselves too seriously. We currently have 5 full-time employees. 

We started Blueback in May of 2011, with no clients. For the first couple of years, we took any client that walked through our door. As we have grown, we have come to realize that the clients we deliver the most value to are the ones we have the most contact with. We've moved away from the once-a-year tax client to focusing on business clients that need payroll, bookkeeping and tax services. That helps us to build strong relationships and enables us to deliver awesome service. In order to do that effectively, we only accept clients who embrace the cloud, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Payroll.  

Why I Became a ProAdvisor

When I was going to college in Chico, Calif., I was lucky to land a job as a bookkeeper/controller of a mortgage company. It was back in 2003-2005, when your pet could get a loan, so the company was extremely busy, and it was a great experience. The office used QuickBooks, and part of their onboarding was sending me to a two-day QuickBooks intro course. In that course, I met other bookkeepers and, through conversation, learned about the ProAdvisor program. The next year, when the company needed an update to their software, I became a ProAdvisor. I loved the support, both in the ProAdvisor community and within QuickBooks. The interesting thing was that I was a finance major going into my third year of college, and due in large part to this job, I ended up switching majors to accounting. You could say that the ProAdvisor program played a part in shaping my career. 

My Start as a ProAdvisor

At first, I was working for a company, so there was not much entrepreneurial effort on my part. After college, I went into public accounting and it was rough. Long hours, no appreciation for the work I was doing and watching those non-billable hours became everyday occurrences. I didn't really fit into that culture, and after the great recession, I got laid off from a small local accounting firm in Boise. I started looking for other work shortly after, and met a ProAdvisor with some extra work that she needed help with. We started working together, and this reminded me of what attracted me to the accounting field to start with - working with super passionate business owners and helping them decode their businesses. It was the fuel that energized me to start Blueback Accounting a year later. 

How Being a ProAdvisor has Helped Me Build My Practice

I think it is interesting how people perceive you by the designations and associations you have. I find that most people think of a CPA as an after-the-fact person that is always looking back in a historical fashion. There's also this huge value gap, since most CPAs do compliance work and many business owners don’t see the value in that. Being a ProAdvisor breaks that barrier because most ProAdvisors are great at helping fix and manage operational problems. They get to jump in next to the business owner and really improve their lives. Filing a tax return doesn't really improve anyone's life, but helping a business owner set up a system to get paid faster through QuickBooks, or setting up QuickBooks Online Bank Feeds and automating a process that took hours, provides value that is immediately realized and feels so powerful. Being a ProAdvisor has helped me break down that "CPA" barrier,  allowing me to be much more effective at helping business owners succeed. 

How ProAdvisor Support Enables Me to Better Serve My Clients

I've relied on the support team a lot over the years, and feel it is a major confidence booster. It creates a collaborative culture, where you can always go into a challenge knowing you have a team to back you up. That allows me to push myself because I know I have resources to figure out any problem. The cool thing is that clients don't look down on this; they are actually impressed I have the resources to get even more expert help. 

Looking Ahead – My Goals for the Coming Year:

Blueback's goal for this year: focus! For the past four years, we have wandered in and out of different service offerings and approaches to perform those services. We have really found our groove in cloud technology, performing outsourced accounting to small businesses. We have turned all of our energy towards this and need to focus on it, in order to grow in a smart way. Opportunities abound.