QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper profile: Sabrena Utley-Giza
Welcome to our series of profiles spotlighting QuickBooks® Live Bookkeepers. This Q&A features Sabrena Utley-Giza, a Certified ProAdvisor® and QuickBooks Live lead bookkeeper.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping (QuickBooks Live) is a monthly subscription service that’s intended to fill gaps for small businesses and self-employed who aren’t currently connected to ProAdvisors and accounting professionals. To learn more, go here.
Mindy King: Hi, Sabrena! Tell me a little bit about your background. How long have you been providing bookkeeping services, and what types of small businesses do you typically serve?
Sabrena Utley-Giza: I originally wanted to become a teacher. While in college, I took an accounting class and fell in love with it. Before I knew it, all of my classes were accounting classes.
I called my grandfather, who is a retired CPA. I told him I was going to major in accounting. He told me, “Good luck.” After college, I worked with a CPA for about two years and was planning to become a CPA. My plans changed when my employer died. I was informed that my hours working for her would not count. I would have to start over, and I was crushed.
From there, I opened my practice in November of 2016. I remember spending hours on the phone with my family, trying to decide if this was the right path for me. Fast forwarding to the present, I’m still operating my own firm and in love with accounting.
Although I service many businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores, and construction companies, I love working with small businesses that are creative in the services or products they offer. I’m a very creative person, and I enjoy small businesses who have that same creativity.
MK: What do you enjoy the most about working with small businesses?
SU-G: What do I enjoy the most? That is a hard one. I think my favorite thing about working with small businesses is the connection during the appointment, while teaching workflows and using QuickBooks Online apps to improve their knowledge and efficiency. I often hear, “I wouldn’t have been able to figure this out without you.” That feels great!
MK: Why did you decide to become a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper?
SU-G: I attended QuickBooks Connect in San Jose, Calif., in November 2019. I talked with Intuit® employees and had a blast learning about them. I went back to my room and thought about our conversation. I concluded: I love this company because I’m already using QuickBooks in my firm. I would love to work for them even more! So, I went back to the QuickBooks Live booth the very same day, and told them I was interested in the job and wanted to have an interview.
MK: What do you like most about working on the QuickBooks Live platform?
SU-G: What I like most is the people. I feel like I have a second family. When we accomplish something individually or as a team, it doesn’t go unnoticed. I feel like every employee in QuickBooks Live is valued. I would never dream of changing this about them.
MK: How does serving small businesses on QuickBooks Live actually work? Can you tell us a bit about the process and the kind of work you do?
SU-G: With QuickBooks Live, we help small businesses with their books, from setup to monthly maintenance. We train on workflows, such as bank feed rules and categorizing transactions, to understand the importance of adapting industry best practices. Being a lead, I have an amazing team that I mentor and coach on best practices. I utilize more than 50 apps that integrate with QuickBooks Online in private practice. So, I pass that knowledge to our bookkeepers to better serve our small businesses.
MK: What types of small businesses have you worked with on QuickBooks Live?
SU-G: Being a lead on a bookkeeping team, I’ve not been assigned a small business. However, I’ve been able to help our bookkeepers on the front line with businesses, including restaurants, woodworkers, construction companies of various sizes and trades, and various online and storefront retail businesses all over the United States.
MK: What do you love most about working with small businesses?
SU-G: I love the simple fact that they are the backbone of our world. When a small business can look at their books and say, “Hey, I know where I stand, and I can see what I have coming in and going out,” it makes my whole day. Then, I know they are ready to make good decisions for their business.
MK: What do you believe is the key to having a successful relationship that is 100 percent virtual?
SU-G: I believe the key is as simple as communication. Regular communication with small businesses and co-workers via all means provided, such as email, messages, Slack, and video conferencing, gives us a high rate of success.
MK: What would you recommend other accountants or bookkeepers consider if joining the QuickBooks Live platform?
SU-G: If your primary interest is helping small business owners – especially in this economic climate – join QuickBooks Live. They reach a large client base. I would also recommend it because we support each other, using Intuit values such as “We Care and Give Back” and “Win Together.” We are a family in the sense that we are there for each other, by communicating on many levels, especially through this COVID-19 pandemic. I often hear our coworkers say to each other, “You and your family are in my thoughts. If you need anything, we are here.”
MK: What advice would you give to new accountants or bookkeepers just starting out in the industry?
SU-G: My advice is to find your niche. You can have all the clients in the world, but if you do not have a niche, you will not enjoy it.
MK: Now, some just-for-fun questions! If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one book you would bring with you?
SU-G: “The Successful Bookkeeper.”
MK: If you could have dinner with one celebrity or public figure (living or dead), who would it be and why?
SU-G: Sarah Michelle Gellar. I love her show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” To this day, I still watch it over and over again.
MK: If you weren’t an accounting professional, what would you be?
SU-G: I would want to be a marine biologist. I am obsessed with the ocean and all the sea life. One day, I want to be able to live on a boat and study great white sharks.
MK: If your playlist got stuck on repeat, what would be the one song (or album) that you would want to listen to over and over?
SU-G: “The Fireman” by George Strait
MK: If you were allowed to watch only one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
SU-G: “The Deep Blue Sea.” I love this movie. Scientists now observe and copy wildlife to help the human race, and because of this, I feel like it could be a reality.