1997 was a long time ago. The world is different in so many ways now and yet, not so vastly different in so many other ways. I am certainly different now than I was 21 years ago, but the lessons I have learned along the way have been essential to the growth of my business.
21 years ago I started out on my own.
In the beginning, I was doing whatever I could do to help professional practices with their business using QuickBooks as a new software accounting tool. I was baffled they did not know the true costs of their business. It was an uphill battle as many groups came out against doctors learning accounting software – “they shouldn’t do accounting, they aren’t accountants.” The truth was and still is that practices “do” accounting every day in their practice software. Practice software is the accounts receivable portion of practice accounting.
In two months, it will be 21 years since I wrote the first Getting the Most Out Of QuickBooks In Your Practice.
After writing the 7th book in 2003, I struggled with the recommended chart of accounts being used by the large industry organizations, including CPAs. A client once asked me if there was a book available to understand the accounting lingo. With these two struggles in mind, one with the chart of accounts and the other with the accounting jargon, I finally asked myself, why can’t the process be simplified for doctors? So, I set out to create a chart of accounts using language any practice owner can understand. Thus the creation of the Practice Management Chart of Accounts.
In 2004, a client asked if the book could include how to do journal entries.
I struggled with incorporating what is typically an accountant function in a basic how-to book. Yet, clients continued asking about using advanced QuickBooks features, so I knew something had to be done. Later that year, I wrote the Advanced QuickBooks In Your Practice. Now, with the new QuickBooks Pro 19 out, I am on to writing books number 40 and 41. That still amazes me.
One young doctor launches my national speaking career.
I believe it was 2005 when a young doctor took a chance on me by inviting me to speak at the Texas Dental Association Annual Session, which resulted in my teaching QuickBooks in a back to back accountability with practice management software all over the country. Since then I have been asked to share my systems and procedures with thousands of dentists and their staff at some amazing meetings.
One embezzlement case kick-starts my path as a Certified Fraud Examiner.
It wasn’t until an amazing dentist in East Texas, who I had previously worked with, was embezzled that I finally took the step to become a Certified Fraud Examiner. Armed with my degree in psychology, many law/criminology classes, I felt compelled to do everything I could to help dentists not only organize their finances but help them protect their investments.
21 years creates one large, loving community.
My heart has been enriched by the beautiful people that I have met the past 21 years. The community of consultants, attorneys, and CPAs who have become dear friends. The few I met 22 years ago are still friends today. Generations of dentists, doctors, veterinarians, chiropractors; moms, spouses, and kids working in the practice; young ones, old ones, ones just out of school, ones with one foot in retirement. Truly some of the most caring individuals in the nation.
The six takeaways I want to share with you from my 21 years of experience:
1. Be available and flexible for the success of the client. I’ve always done my best to be there and always answer their call. Many of my clients are facing a crisis. I am there for them.
2. Design your business around your client’s needs and what you can provide. Rather than tailoring my services on what I want to deliver, they are based solely on what my clients need. I also believe in staying in my lane. When what they need is not what I offer, I refer out. Under no circumstances do I attempt to do that for which I am not the expert.
3. Change and grow as technology evolves. Windows has undergone so many changes since 1997 when I started my business. The internet has grown from dial-up to fiber optics. New software, online sites, and applications have taken business organization to new heights and provided exciting opportunities. I love trying new things to ultimately help my clients.
4. Never compromise your ethics. I believe in speaking truth – with my clients and my speaking engagements. Perhaps it is why I speak about ethics. If we want to change our country, our town, our business, or our living situation, it starts with us and our choices. Period.
5. Be your authentic self. What you see is what you get. I am direct, I do not mince words, but I am always honest. Be honest in your business. Others are watching and perhaps modeling their behavior after yours.
6. Never limit the scope of your business. You never know the endless possibilities unless you explore! Expose yourself to new learning opportunities, acquire new skills, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new means of helping your clients.
Life will not turn out as planned.
At church one Sunday morning, I asked a friend’s 90- something- year-old mother if life had turned out as she had planned. She answered quickly, not giving it much thought. “Nope. Not at all. But it turned out way better than I ever thought it would.”
21 years ago I started this business to be available to my elderly parents and their numerous doctor and hospital visits. If you had told me 22 years ago, that I was going to start my own business, write over 40 books, speak all over the country, help practices organize and keep their finances, work with law enforcement on tough embezzlement cases, and be recognized for doing what I love, I am sure I would have never believed you.
Memories include a hotel fire alarm for three hours in the wee hours of the night before I spoke all day. Watching the bomb squad dismantle a backpack left across the street from the convention center. An earthquake prior to speaking. Countless mics/projectors/ air conditioning/laptop not working. Many flight delays/cancellations/bags lost because of floods/sandstorms/snowstorms/lightning/ice. And of course, there is nothing like being in the top of a tornado while it rips through you and explodes your hotel room. But the people that I have met along the way have warmed my heart with shared stories and deep laughs. It’s been a great 21 years.
In the very early years, I remember meeting a well-known consultant in Dallas who chastised me for teaching an accounting software but not being a CPA. I walked away heartbroken and defeated, but not for long. I am thankful I did not let his hatefulness discourage me because I have thoroughly enjoyed helping professional practice’s take ownership of their QuickBooks. Our words can tear other’s dreams and plans down or we can use words to build and encourage.
A big thank you and hug to everyone who has endeavored to make me successful in my business by their support and encouragement.
I did not make it to this day alone, and there were days I was thinking I would not make it to year 21, especially while caring for my aging parents. But I have and with some exciting new opportunities on the horizon for the next year.
Thank you. It turned out way better than I ever thought it would. Truly, it has been a joy.
My nephew just popped in to tell me my company is now old enough to drink!
A toast – here’s to the next year full of new adventures, new friends and new projects!