Editor’s Letter: What I Learnt at QuickBooks Connect 2018By Angelica Malin
I never intended to be an business owner. It just, kind of, happened. I’ve been making it up as I go since March 2014 – and do you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fear and meticulous planning can put you off a project – you can freak yourself out by over-thinking and over-planning a venture. We’ve all been there: something we’ve been so passionate about, which never happens, because we literally talk it to death. But the problem with being an “accidental entrepreneur” is that there’s an awful lot of blanks to fill in – from business plans to tax returns, cash flow to legal know-how, man there’s a lot you’re going to work out on the job.
The business-side of running About Time has, I can freely admit, not always been my strength – I never really planned to have employees, offices, overheads, tax bills – but it’s the part I’ve come to love the most. Because working on our weaknesses is what makes us grow. I am no longer scared of the thing that once had me in a cold sweat – with the help of a good accountant, great software (like QuickBooks) and a great support network around me, I feel more confident than ever in my own abilities. People don’t fail in business, plans do – you probably just need a new plan.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This week, I had the privilege of attending the QuickBooks Connect Conference 2018, an annual conference in San Jose that gathers accountants, small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers from all the world to learn, connect and grow together. You can find out more about QuickBooks here and making tax digital here. It was honestly one of the most inspiring, powerful few days I’ve had in the 4.5 years of running About Time. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals, with similar struggles, worries and pressures, was such a reminder that it’s totally normal to not always feel confident in your business. We all have days of doubt. We all wonder sometimes what we’re doing. But one of the main takeaways I had from the conference was that we’re stronger together: with a network around us, that can help support our business vision. Find your people, your tribe, your North Star. Whether’s that’s a mentor, an advisor, an accountant, a friend – your business has the best chance of success if you’re not going through it alone.
“If you think you’re leading but no-one is following, you’re only taking a walk”
For those who are thinking of launching their own venture, going freelance or just in need of some inspiration, read on to discover my key learnings from QuickBooks Connect 2018. And if you’re interested in getting involved, QuickBooks Connect is coming to London in 2019. You can book your place at QuickBooks Connect London 2019 – a unique experience designed
to help you grow your business – for 50% off until the 14th November, at £49 for a day pass or £74 for the full three days. Here’s a few thoughts to leave you on:
Charge what you think you are worth
One of the sessions that really resonated with me was on value pricing and self-esteem; how what we charge is a reflection of how we see ourselves and our worth in the world. Author Ronald J. Baker described how pricing isn’t just about your time – it’s about your knowledge, experience and value – and that can’t be measured on a time sheet. It really forced me to ask myself some difficult questions on pricing, and how I could improve my self-esteem at work. Another key message from the talk was that you cannot put a set price on ideas – there is no standard price for creativity – and you are not a commodity. Where your value comes from is innovation and marketing, how you tell the world about what you offer and how you innovate for the client or consumer. If you think you’ve been under-charging, then ask yourself: what do you think you are worth? Be strong in your convictions and know that people will respect you for that.
Build your personal brand
Another session that I really enjoyed was Ramon Ray on building a personal brand. Ramon has made a career from speaking on the topic of personal brand and getting noticed with his signature high-energy style; he spoke compellingly about the need to work out your personal niche, build a tribe of loyal fans and communicating your message through social media, email marketing and blogging. One of Ramon’s key messages was: your personal brand is key to success. He talked about the “soft sell” – building relationships before trying to win a client. Some other takeaways were the importance of having good-quality photos of yourself, a personal website that displays your offering and investing in video content for your social media. He really inspired me to not be afraid of presenting yourself as a brand to world and being fearless in your conviction of self.
Maximise your online presence
Another great session was was with Lindsay Williams, founder of Be Digable, on maximising your online presence. Whilst I work in the digital space, it’s easy to overlook some aspects of your online presence. Her tips on social media were particularly useful: don’t try to be on every platform, but pick 2 and do them really well. She believes the key to good social media is consistency, authenticity and storytelling – making sure your story connects with your audience. She suggested planning ahead by batch working – blocking out a whole day a month to blast through writing content, social media posts or filming videos. By preparing your content in advance, you’re more likely to keep it consistent and keep your audience engaged. She also believes that engagement is far more important than number of followers – no matter what your audience size, focus on building relationships, conversations and engagement on social media to amplify your online presence.
Turn the lens inwards & own your mistakes
Alex Rodriguez, former professional baseball shortstop and third baseman for the Yankees, was one of the keynote speakers at QuickBooks Connect 2018. Alex, also known as A-Rod, spoke compassionately about the mistakes he made in his career and how they changed him. The speech was a good reminder of the need to own your mistakes; that unless you ask yourself where the poor decisions stem for, you’ll never grow as a person. He implored the audience to turn the lens inwards – to look inside yourself, ask some tough questions about your own personal motivations and be more grateful for what you have in life. He made me think deeply about gratitude – how much we take for granted, even simple things like being able to pay bills on time, and how I can factor a bit more gratitude into my everyday work life.
Change how you see obstacles in your life
Another fantastic keynote speaker at the conference was Amy Purdy, an actress, model, para-snowboarder, motivational speaker, clothing designer and author. Amy shared her moving story of losing both her legs at age 19, and how it changed her so deeply as a person. She spoke beautifully about seeing your obstacles in life as challenges that you can overcome, and how they can benefit you as a person. She said that losing her legs ended up being her biggest advantage, not disadvantage, as it forced her to think more creativity as a person and dream of bigger goals. Her incredibly positive attitude is so refreshing and inspiring to see – turning all the hardships she’s faced in life into positives, without complaint. Amy’s moving, heart-felt speech left the whole audience in awe, and she made me consider so deeply the mindset that I take in life, and in work, of turning negatives into positives.
If you’re inspired by this feature, QuickBooks Connect is coming to London in 2019! You can book your place at QuickBooks Connect London 2019, for 50% off until the 14th November, at £49 for a day pass or £74 for the full three days. Book here. You can find out more about QuickBooks here and making tax digital here.