Firm of the Future Profile: Good Cents Bookkeeping
Welcome back to our Firm of the Future profile series about thriving firms who are benefitting from the cloud and QuickBooks® Online Accountant (QBOA) to better serve clients and find new revenue opportunities. In this new article, we spotlight Justine Lackey of Good Cents Bookkeeping.
Mindy King: Tell us about your accounting and/or tax practice.
Justine Lackey: I began my career in bookkeeping more than 20 years ago, working with artists and in galleries in New York City. Eleven years ago, I “hung out a shingle,” hired my first employee and began the process of building a virtual bookkeeping business. Good Cents has grown to a dedicated team of 10, and the guiding principle in our office is creating an “atmosphere of excellence” – both for our employees and our clients. Good Cents works with a variety of industries, but we really shine when it comes to working with artists, creative professionals and agencies, and internet marketing specialists. We spend a lot of time cultivating meaningful relationships with our clients and I think it shows. I am very proud to say some of our clients have been with us for over 15 years, and many of them for more than a decade!
MK: How long have you been using QuickBooks Online Accountant?
JL: I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started using QBOA, but I do remember using QuickBooks Online (QBO) as early as 2005. That’s the year my son was born, and I began working for the midwives who delivered him, who were using QBO when I started the gig. I think I began using QBOA some time around 2010.
MK: What convinced you to make the move to QuickBooks Online Accountant?
JL: As an individual, my personal kryptonite is inefficiency – I’m always looking for ways to improve how Good Cents operates. In order to achieve that goal, I regularly invest in both my team and myself, when it comes to skill building and implementing new tech.
When I started dabbling in QBOA, I was lucky enough to connect with an outstanding account manager over at Intuit®. He spent a lot of time educating me on the benefits of QBOA and all of the awesome new features that QBO was rolling out. My QBOA rep helped me really “get” that the accounting industry was moving to the cloud, and it was time for myself, and my team, to get in front of the learning curve.
I took the leap and invested in a full day of training for everyone on the staff, including our operations manager, to become QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisors®. That ranks in one of the top five best decisions I ever made for my business.
MK: What are your goals for your practice this year?
JL: Our firm is in a comfortable place in terms of size. I am not eager to become a huge practice. It’s important to me to have meaningful relationships with my employees and my clients, and that becomes harder the larger you become as a firm. As always, this year we will continue to focus on team development and education. The next big training on our to-do list is for Zapier because it’s a piece of tech that you can implement across so many apps + QBO. The one area I will focus on growing is my private coaching practice, where I help other bookkeepers and accountants learn the skills they need to scale their practices and teams.
MK: What’s your favorite away-from-the-office place to get work done?
JL: I don’t do much work out of the office. As the mother of three children, and an entrepreneur, that “work-life balance” thing has had a steep, and often painful, learning curve. I try to compartmentalize my work to business hours, and when I work, it’s in the office (although, like all virtual professionals, I can work from anywhere). My life is so much better with firm work-life boundaries – I even took email off my phone two years ago and my life is much better for it!
MK: Where’s the craziest place you’ve done work for a client?
JL: True story. I was working in a famous stylist’s office in the garment district in New York City when I was pregnant with my first child. Those days, I used to travel around to each of my clients’ offices and it wasn’t uncommon for me to get stuck at the worst possible desk, no matter which office I traveled to.
I was in heels, six months pregnant, climbing a ladder into a “loft” – where you couldn’t stand fully upright no less – to get to my desk. It ranked as one of THE worst workspaces I ever had.
Climbing that ladder, I found myself thinking, “I’m six months pregnant … why in the heck am I climbing a ladder in heels? I have GOT to figure out how I can work from home!”
And, so I did. I loaded all my client’s files on my home computer and started to FedEx my work back and forth in earnest. And, that, my friends, is how I first started working virtually 16 years ago!
MK: What’s your number one timesavings tip?
JL: Client education! Teach your clients how to work with you. Don’t just give them a document or send them an email – everyone is so overloaded with information, chances are they won’t read it anyway. Get on the phone, or better yet, have them join a video conference and educate them on working with you.
MK: When you’re not working, what’s your favorite way to spend your time?
JL: Volunteering, making art and writing! I am very, very active in my town, both in the schools and in local civic activities. I absolutely adore spending time in my kid’s classrooms, whether that’s as a mystery reader, or coming up with, and bringing in, seasonal art projects. I love connecting with members of my community and I really love, love, love where I live.
I have been slowly working on a book (aren’t we all?) for the past two years or so. I enjoy writing, and this year I’ve been attending my first writing class, which is fantastic!
MK: What advice do you have for peers that are still on desktop?
JL: It easy to get stuck in our ways, but if you are still on desktop, I would encourage you to make the leap to QBOA. Take advantage of all the free training Intuit provides for QBO. Skill building is so important if you want to stay relevant in your industry and that is particularly important for accountants and bookkeepers.
There are also a number of really awesome Facebook groups where you can interact with your peers. I’ve found out some of my best solutions to tricky problems by posting in those groups and because others have helped me. It takes time to build new skills, but, overall, we save a TON of time using QBO.
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