How will your firm celebrate International Women’s Day 2023? On the Firm of the Future, we’re spotlighting Susan Pruskin and her all-female firm, Brilliant Numbers, in Cary, N.C. “Eight” is a unique number for Susan; in addition to her eight staff members, she is an eight-time Insightful Accountant Top 100 ProAdvisor. Susan is also a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and certified in QuickBooks Online and Desktop.
Scott Cytron: Tell me about your firm and the kinds of services it offers.
Susan Pruskin: I founded the firm in December 2008, and just until about a month ago, we were known as Susan Pruskin Consulting. An in-the-office firm, we are a subscription-model concierge service for bookkeeping and accounting activity. If we are capable of doing it, it is covered. We are not CPAs and do not file tax returns, but we do partner with some great CPAs who appreciate our services for our mutual clients.
Scott: Why did you decide to change the firm name?
Susan: When people saw my company name, they didn't know what the company did … I wanted a name that was more about our focus and less about me.
Scott: What did you do prior to this?
Susan: In the accounting/bookkeeping world, I was director of operations for a QuickBooks consultant. Over the years, I was office manager/accounting manager for my Dad’s company, a stay-at-home Mom, and a customer service rep at Nordstrom. I taught reading comprehension at Hillsborough Community College and fiction writing at the University of South Florida, and was a romance novelist for Harlequin and three other publishers.
Scott: I guess that explains your love of books; you’re always posting on Instagram about the latest book you’re reading! At the end of the day⸺when maybe it’s time to read⸺what is most important to you about your firm?
Susan: That our clients have peace of mind knowing that we have taken care of their financial data.
Scott: How about personally? What is most important to you?
Susan: First, my family. Second, I want the amazing women on my team to be happy with their positions and to succeed.
Scott: The website for International Women’s Day includes this mantra: “Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity.” What does this mean to you?
Susan: As the owner of a successful company, I have the ability to help women succeed. My team of women includes single moms, divorced women, happily married women, and young single women. Each has her own goals and dreams. I try to help each one achieve what she wants for herself, her family, and her career. Many of our clients are businesses owned by women; our services help them succeed as well.
Scott: In what ways do you make your female staff feel empowered?
Susan: I give them the tools they need to succeed, and instill the confidence they need to have to understand their impact on our clients and each other.
Scott: Your accounting and bookkeeping colleagues can relate to all of this! How has female empowerment influenced you and your firm?
Susan: There are a few stories I can share.
Several years ago, I was interviewing a young man for a position. When I asked him why he was leaving his current position, he said it was because his boss was a woman, and he didn’t want a woman telling him what to do. I just stared at him for a moment, wondering if he understood what he had just said⸺and to whom he said it. Then I said, “Well, you’re going to do what this woman tells you to do right now.”
Another time, my (first) husband and I were having dinner at a friend's house. I went by myself and he was coming over after work. We waited and waited, and I said something about him being so late. My friend's husband said, "Don't complain about how long he works. After all, he brings home the bacon." My instant reply was, "I bring home more bacon than he does."
The point of these anecdotes is this: confidence. Even when I have been bullied or badgered with male attitude, I have not let it bother me. I've just pushed through it and made it to my goals.
Of course, that's not going to work for every woman in every circumstance. Sometimes, the man pushes back. Sometimes roughly. But it definitely helps to show your confidence and your abilities.
Scott: What can the accounting community do to elevate the woman’s voice?
Susan: Have you seen #taxtwitter? Women’s voices are prevalent there!
There are some awards given to “women in accounting,” but I much prefer to be on Insightful Accountant’s Top 100. That is not a gender-specific list. I would rather hold my own against all people than be categorized in a woman-only list.
Scott: You are a new member of the Intuit Accountant Council. How do you think you can impact the decisions Intuit is making with regard to products and services?
Susan: My first visit to Intuit was October 2022. I was absolutely amazed at how much the project managers and other members of the team wanted to hear my opinion on features and services of QuickBooks. And some things we discussed at that session have already been implemented. They don’t just listen to us; they respond to us. They showed unbelievable respect for everything we had to say.
Scott: Thanks Susan!
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