How my firm’s vision changed as we grew
Being able to identify new opportunities is an important skill, and while we have grown as a company in revenue and staff, time has also been a major factor in the pivots and adjustments we made to our company as we have grown. Over time, trends change. We launched in the middle of the cloud burst – and that influenced a lot of our company strategy.
Early on as a solo ProAdvisor, things were very simple. I handled the books for a few clients, did some freelance QuickBooks® training and implementations, made sure clients were happy, networked and shut down at the end of each day knowing my life was pretty simple, and things were good. However, I knew I could do more.
Going into 2012, growth was at the top of my priority list. I felt like I’d gone as far as I could as a self-employed freelancer, and decided to formally start and grow KHBOffice LLC. First, I researched incubators and startup organizations in my area, and ended up applying to an accelerator in Cincinnati. They accepted me based on my business plan (those ProAdvisor and business coaching skills came in handy!), and on the basis of an application that we were required to submit. I am pretty proud of the fact that we were something like one application out of more than a hundred.
As a solo practitioner, you are forced to handle everything, even if it’s something you aren’t gifted at. Even if you have a vertical focus, you will end up being pulled into working with multiple programs or platforms, and you may not be an expert at all of them. You can only study so many programs, given the all-too-real limitations of time and requirements of nature – sleep and food, for example.
I contracted our first resource in 2013. Immediately, we learned that while I was strong in certain industries and could bring my own experience into many of my projects, Sarah (one of my staff members) was very good at other industries and had experience in verticals that I didn’t, such as marina or hospitality (she is a Certified Hospitality Accountant). So, we used this niche knowledge to assign clients accordingly between the two of us, and we worked on what we enjoyed. Clients were happy and life was good.
We grew a little larger, and brought on a Point of Sale (POS) specialist with extensive retail experience, who used POS previously for more than 10 years in the retail environment.
So, we continued to develop our niches, differentiated by vertical and platform. We hired Kim, who was QuickBooks® Online Certified prior to her hire, and we continue to help new colleagues “find their fit” when they join KHBOffice. We are a team, and feedback from everyone here has also strengthened our strategy as we have grown.
As we find qualified and engaged help, we are able to grow as a company by expanding software packages as well. We have people who specialize in Nutshell CRM, Constant Contact, QuickBooks Enterprise modules such as Advanced Inventory or in industry-specific programs such as Buildertrend.
We recently added a social media manager, Bridget, who is helping us to navigate into social media and general digital marketing. We are still learning together and stumbling on occasion, but our growth has helped us to relate and engage with clients who we otherwise talk to once a year or so, if that. I still hate doing Facebook Live, but I’m getting better and they are getting more fun!
Each person here has helped me learn to trust and let go of different hats, which has also enabled us to find our voice and adjust our strategic plan. We are working with some independent integration developers and are hoping to expand those offerings. As we look to the future and to future growth, we are working to continue to be trusted advisors by listening to our clients and what they need, and using qualified and highly engaged staff to be able to specialize and support those needs.
My vision is to be a well-positioned value-added advisory and software implementation practice that continues to do just what we set out to do – and to help clients scale gracefully. The vision has not changed, but the strategy definitely has, thanks to the people here and listening to what our clients want and need.