Firm of the Future Profile: Cloud Bookkeeping Services
Today, we are speaking with Tanya Hilts of Cloud Bookkeeping Services, a runner up in the 2017 Global Firm of the Future contest. Read more to learn about Tanya’s journey and what makes Cloud Bookkeeping Services a Firm of the Future.
Shauna Maher: Congratulations on being a runner up in the 2017 Global Firm of the Future contest! Tell us about yourself and your business, and what makes your business a Firm of the Future.
Tanya Hilts: I started my own business because I didn’t want my daughter to be raised by strangers, so I needed the flexibility. I started slow by helping people with taxes and teaching them how to run their own books. Fast-forward ten years and my business has blossomed! At first, I was resistant to the cloud, but once I saw the power of the apps and integrations, my eyes were opened. I embraced the cloud three years ago and have been going full force ever since. We now have three staff members besides myself, and more than 50 clients.
SM: What’s on the horizon for your firm in 2018?
TH: For 2018, we’re focused on building out our Bookkeepers Bootcamps – a series that helps others take their business to the next level. It’s always been important to me to mentor and give back, so I’m extremely excited about it. We’re also working on launching a value pricing app.
SM: What’s the most unexpected place you have ever worked?
TH: I once worked on a cruise ship in the middle of Caribbean! As long as I have internet, I can work from anywhere now!
SM: What apps do you typically use? Any you recommend as a must have?
TH: Yes, our core apps are QuickBooks® Online (QBO) for accounting, and we also use Hubdoc, Receipt Bank, InvoiceSherpa and 17Hats. These apps keep us on task and help with our workflows and client interfacing.
SM: About how much time would you say apps and cloud-based technologies save you/your business?
TH: I would estimate anywhere between one to three hours per client, and about 10 hours a month on general administration for the firm. It’s a huge advantage because with that time saved, we’re able to bring on extra clients to fill those hours!
SM: How does your firm use social media to its advantage?
TH: We use social media to create a connection and presence within our audience. Not just clients, but others in industry as well. We have a Facebook Group called Bookkeepers Corner, which is a place for bookkeepers and accounting professionals to connect and learn from each other.
SM: For accounting firms not yet using social media, what would your advice be for them to take the first step?
TH: I’d advise them to just start with one thing and add more pieces as they get comfortable. There’s so many platforms, so start with something simple, such as Facebook, and grow from there.
SM: How do you balance between marketing your firm and run-the-business type work?
TH: When I hire, I hire for my weaknesses. My operations leader has a background in social media and marketing and she handles most of it, so I can focus where my strengths are.
SM: What’s your advice for getting online and adopting cloud technologies?
TH: Start with one thing – one tool – and then add more apps. The easiest thing to start with, in my opinion, is QBO. I found that when I tried to take in too many apps it became overwhelming. Take a step back and figure out how to use things one by one, and then add on when you’re ready. It’s so important to build that solid foundation.
SM:How would you encourage firms to employ a value-based billing model?
TH:There are plenty of videos out there that will show different ways of how to price, and I’d start there because I think that was the hardest part. There are different ways of doing it, and just find what’s best for you. I’d also say never provide a quote on the spot – always give yourself 24 hours. Prepare for giving a quote like you would for a board meeting – do your research ahead of time, and go in confident!
SM: What’s the biggest impact you have had on a client’s small business? Any favorite client stories worth sharing?
TH: The biggest impact I’ve had is taking a client back from the verge of bankruptcy. Showing them different things and helping them save their business was so rewarding. I love working with small businesses and startups where I can make that large impact – helping people on both a business and personal level.
SM: If you weren’t an accounting professional, what would you be and why?
TH: I like being in the service industry and providing results – seeing how far people come. If I wasn’t an accounting professional, I’d work in training of some kind.
SM: What advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?
TH: It all starts with a single step. Don’t get overwhelmed, and embrace the change! You’ll see how it impacts your business, your clients’ businesses and your relationships with your clients. My relationships with my clients are so enriched now – they call me for business advice because we’ve built a true partnership through our work.