Firm of the Future Profile: Pocket Protector 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 Billie Anne Grigg of Pocket Protector Bookkeeping.

Mindy King: Tell us about your accounting and/or tax practice.

Billie Anne Grigg: I started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping in May 2012. Up until that point, I had been employed almost exclusively by small, privately owned businesses, though there was one nine-month foray into the corporate world. I saw a common theme in all of these small businesses: they were all desperate for good bookkeeping and sound cash management plans.

The practice has evolved quite a bit over the past six years. Now, rather than being a standard bookkeeping practice, Pocket Protector Bookkeeping is more of a consulting/coaching practice that uses bookkeeping as its primary tool. I specialize in cash flow management using the Profit First methodology, and I work to empower business owners to be more in touch with their business’ financials and cash flow.

MK: How long have you been using QuickBooks Online Accountant?

BAG: I’ve been a QBOA user for around five years. It’s kind of hard to remember a time in my practice WITHOUT QBOA.

MK: What convinced you to make the move to QuickBooks Online Accountant?

BAG: Ah, this I remember clearly. I was one of those “Desktop Forever” bookkeepers when I started my practice. Then, I got a postcard advertising a QuickBooks training event in Oklahoma City. I made the three-hour trek halfway across the state, only to learn the training was centered around QuickBooks Online (QBO).

Michele Long was the trainer, and she had a tough room to work that day. She tasked us all with creating a QBOA account on the spot and showed us how this could dramatically streamline our work and help us grow our practices. I was impressed enough that I decided to transition a couple of my smaller clients to QBO, just to see how it worked.

Now, I only have one client still on desktop, and one of my requirements for all new clients is that we work on QBO.

MK: What are your goals for your practice this year?

BAG: This is a restructuring year for Pocket Protector Bookkeeping. At the end of January, I disengaged half of our clients and downsized from a team of three part-time bookkeepers plus a manager to just one part-time bookkeeper and myself. When we start to grow again, it will be a slow, methodical and strategic process.

For this year, my goal is to refocus on empowering small business owners to be in touch with their numbers. Bookkeeping is evolving to the point where most of the small business owners I serve could work their bank feeds in just a few minutes each day. The ones who do this have a much better handle on their spending and are soon very comfortable with their cash flow. They are also more invested in scheduling and keeping regular meetings to discuss their financials and what those numbers actually mean for their businesses.

These business owners still need some oversight to make sure everything ends up in the right place, but ultimately I see my role as more of a consultant and teacher than that of a traditional bookkeeper. And, I think this is where the industry as a whole is heading.

MK: What’s your favorite away-from-the-office place to get work done?

BAG: There’s this great little coffee shop in Tulsa called Shades of Brown. It’s loud and has a very artsy vibe, which sounds like the worst place to do bookkeeping work, but I love it.

MK: Where’s the craziest place you’ve done work for a client?

BAG: Oh boy. I’ve found myself working all sorts of crazy places. The craziest place is probably a restroom in a restaurant. I was out to dinner with my family and was supposed to have my phone off, but a text message came through from a client who needed a quick question answered. I slipped off to the restroom, pulled up QBO on my phone and texted him back. I don’t think I fooled anyone in my family – they knew I was working – but no one called me on it.

MK: What’s your number one timesavings tip?

BAG: STOP MULTITASKING. Seriously, just stop it. Bouncing back and forth between tasks might make you feel like you are accomplishing a lot, but really you are just increasing your anxiety level, along with the amount of time it would take you if you just focused on one thing until it is done.

The corollary to this is to turn off your email and only check it once or twice a day. Email is a multitasking magnet. Yes, it might take you an hour to go through your email if you don’t stay right on top of it all day, but you will spend much more time than that if you are in your email and being pulled in a dozen different directions all day long.

MK: When you’re not working, what’s your favorite way to spend your time?

BAG: I love to read, write, knit and recently I’ve started playing with a couple of color by number apps on my phone. If the weather is nice enough, I also enjoy a little informal birdwatching.

MK: What advice do you have for peers that are still on desktop?

BAG: Pick a relatively uncomplicated set of books and give QBO a try. Commit to using it on this set of books for at least three months, and evaluate QBO based on how it streamlines your work for this client, rather than comparing the features of QBO to that of desktop. You can always convert this trial client’s books back to desktop if you don’t like QBO, but I bet you’ll end up converting more clients to QBO instead.

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