One of the biggest struggles that I faced when I started as a solopreneur was the lack of a sounding board. Although I did not miss the office politics and endless birthday cake celebrations that occurred when I was working for someone else I did miss not having someone to bounce ideas or issues off of. When I realized that there were others that felt the same way, the result was the creation of the Bookkeeping Buds group.
It all started when I was invited to join the Chicago QuickBooks ProAdvisor Group in 2009. The group meets monthly and discusses QuickBooks and other related accounting questions. We have a speaker to discuss a business topic and then there is time for general networking. The group is made up of about 60% CPAs and tax Accountants and 40% bookkeepers but everyone is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Although I enjoy the group and I learn a lot from attending, I didn’t feel that I could ask all the questions that I had about running a small business and how to deal with clients.
I brought the idea of forming a smaller group to be able to discuss these issues to my favorite bookkeeper Kay Morgan, Your Front eOffice. The concept was to meet monthly to share ideas on any issues that we were facing and see how others were handling those issues. She was completely on board. We started with only the two of us and a couple of others that met a local coffee shop but then it quickly evolved into finding a separate meeting room to hold 12 pretty vocal Bookkeepers. Nothing is really off limits we discuss marketing, best practices, and new products we are using.
The group is made up of all women who each own their own Bookkeeping business. Some include tax work or other specialties in their practice, some have employees and some do not. The common thread between us is that we were all looking to share ideas and help each other grow our businesses. This year we started requiring everyone to write down their goals each quarter and we do our best to help each other achieve them. Technically we are all competition but we are fortunate enough to have plenty of business in the Chicago area that it is not an issue. Many times we even share leads if there is someone in the group better suited to help the new client and we also sub-contract for each other.
The monthly meeting is a must attend for everyone not because we require it but because everyone gets so much out of the couple hours we spend with each other. I would highly encourage everyone to stop looking at your competition as the enemy and think about learning from them instead. I am very thankful for everything I have learned from the amazing women in our group; every one of them brings something unique to the table and is always very open to share it. I know I am much farther along in my business attending these meetings then I would have been bouncing ideas in my office off my cats.
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