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Highlights of QuickBooks Connect 2021

5th Mar 2021
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QuickBooks montage of attendants
We’ve always enjoyed QuickBooks Connect (or QBC). The industry event has a deserved reputation for being informative, fun and fast-paced. Like many events, QBC 2021 had to move online this year. And, while we missed seeing everyone in person, it was an engaging and enlightening experience.

Here, we’ll look at the event overall and our highlights, including YouTube links to each talk we mention. 

Moving Online 

While the live experience couldn’t be replicated 100%, the substance of a seminar was very much intact.

In her introduction to the day, former professional footballer Alex Scott described the agenda, the social aspects and the extra trimmings - such as a virtual photo booth, the social media hashtag and opportunities to meet virtually. 

The theme of the event was ‘We Go Further Together’, and Scott said: “As a former professional footballer I’m passionate about what we can do when we work as a team.”

Opening Keynote: Chris Evans, VP and Country Manager for QuickBooks

“I’m a firm believer in obstacles being something to knock down, not be knocked back by”

In the opening talk, Chris Evans, described the three pillars of the day’s content: resilience, macro trends and the digital economy.

Evans acknowledged that it was a challenging year, but gave examples of businesses that have adapted and pivoted - a coffee shop that pivoted to grocery delivery, for instance. And he said that the pandemic has brought tech forward by 5 years. 

On the macro trend side, he added that Making Tax Digital (MTD) will generate productivity gains over the next 5 years. 

There was cautious optimism in Evans’ talk, backed up by statistics. The most striking of these were that 60% of businesses in the UK have adopted new digital tools and that 88% of people feel more connected to their local businesses since lockdown. 

Carl Reader: Get your business back on track

“The market is the true judge.” 

In the breakout session, Get Your Business Back on Track, Carl Reader, entrepreneur and author of Boss It, had some harsh truths. 

“Business dreams and personal dreams are often misaligned,” he said. In other words, wanting not to work hard and to make a lot of money are incompatible dreams.

Reader talked about the 4 pillars essential to a business. 

  1. Financial pillar - how will you fund growth?
  2. What’s your growth model?
  3. Management model - what’s the structure so management is not left to chance?
  4. Leadership model - how is it led?

Paul Shrimpling: Help your clients improve their success rate and weather the storm

“Be there when it matters, repeatedly.”

An engaging talker, Shrimpling discussed communication between accountants and their clients, and how to balance optimism with pragmatism. 

For accountants he said: “Be there when it matters for your clients - when big decisions are made. You can’t cook or administer first aid by email. Be there eyeball to eyeball.” 

You can be optimistic while still aware of the challenges ahead, a paradox made famous by former prisoner of war James Bond Stockdale. 

Accountants services should be a combination of the “nuts and bolts” of accountancy (such as tax, compliance etc) and advice: “It’s not just about the numbers, it’s also about the people.”  

If an accountant talks about future plans for the business, Shrimpling said, “meetings will connect on a deeper level.”

Keynote: Mary Portas 

“The heart of what I do is understanding what’s happening and how people are living.” 

The centrepiece for the day was Marty Portas, legendary retail expert, TV personality, author and consultant. She argued that kindness is a new, relevant yardstick for all businesses. 

(Portas’ talk isn’t on YouTube but you can watch it on the QBC’s site. Registration is free.)

“For the past 60 years,” she said, “everything we’ve measured has been on profit and growth...the thing about growth is that we’ve realised that growth isn’t good for us any more.” 

“Values have changed.” Portis cites smoking as a good example of a change in values. Smoking was once glamorous but now is not. She added that Covid has led to “mass introspection” and people valuing “decency in business”. 

“I don’t want to work with businesses who don’t want to change. Businesses should be there to create social progress as well as economic progress.”

James Ashford - Overcome your fear of selling

“People have lots of money - they’re just spending it on Amazon.” 

This was a bracing, informative talk. Although it was aimed at accountants and their relationship with clients, much of the sales advice was transferable to just about any business.

Ashford argued that we have a reticence when it comes to selling because of fear of failure and rejection, or due to our own bad experiences with sales reps in the past. 

However, he argued that if you’re an accountant with a suite of services that would help or even save a business, it’s your moral obligation to inform a client: “Present what you would want if you were them, knowing what you know”.

Michelle Flynn -  Finding calm in times of uncertainty

“Social media is coughing and sneezing all over us with information every day.” 

Michelle Flynn, health coach and CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) practitioner gave practical, optimistic tips for surviving and thriving these challenging times

“None of us have experienced a pandemic before,” she said. “So we have uncertainty, we don’t know how long it’ll take for the vaccine. Uncertainty leads to anxiety.” 

Practical tips included: 

  • Getting outside at the start and end of every day
  • Examining and improving our breathing
  • Adapting a different perspective

Expert analysis of the budget: what it means for small business and the self-employed

Budget day affects just about every citizen of a country, so this panel discussion gave early impressions of Rushi Sunak’s budget announcement. 

Topics of discussion included income support schemes and business rates, “nasty decisions” a Chancellor of the Exchequer has to make and advice for business owners and accountants. 

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