QuickBooks Connect: Greater than the sum of its parts

By Owen Linderholm | Small Business

Magic Johnson speaking at the QuickBooks Connect Conference in 2014Magic Johnson speaking at the QuickBooks Connect Conference in 2014

It’s always hard to get anyone, even a business owner, excited about accounting and bookkeeping. But it is a necessary evil, one that the business owner has to embrace. Intuit has been at the forefront of trying to change that, or at very least trying to make accounting less of a pain point for that business owner. And for at least a day it has succeeded. The QuickBooks Connect conference is buzzing.

For its first ever foray into a QuickBooks conference, Intuit managed to attract speakers like Magic Johnson and Martha Stewart who energized the crowd. Attendees seemed to be about a third accountants, a third small business owners and the rest developers and others according to an informal poll conducted from the main speaker stage.

Magic Johnson in particular was inspiring as he talked about the need to persevere. “I thought that because I was Magic Johnson that banks would love me. The only thing they loved was the picture and the autograph. I got turned down ten times for financing. You are going to get turned down but keep going. The eleventh bank finally said yes.”

Intuit also made a slew of announcements for QuickBooks including updates to QuickBooks Online and updates to its mobile applications with improved credit card capabilities and a full service payroll solution. They also offered a new version of QuickBooks aimed at the self employed and home-based businesses. There were also improvements for developers with better SDKs, cloud integration, a new payments API and a revamped app platform. Finally a new version of QuickBooks for accountants – QuickBooks Online Accountant - really improves the ability for accountants to manage their clients’ books as well as manage them as customers

We talked briefly to Dan Wernikoff, Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Small Business Group at Intuit about the conference and where he sees changes for small business over the next few years. He told us that the goal for the conference was to bring together and bridge the gaps between their three main constituents for QuickBooks: small business owners, accountants and developers with the goal of having them all help each other. One tangible result from that was a codeathon held in the two days before the main event which resulted in Method picking up a grand prize of $55,000 for a new app to help non-profits manage donors more effectively.

Wernikoff also talked about how more and more people one person small businesses are being created and people are realizing that they need to treat self-employment properly as a business and understand how to be compliant with things like filings and deductions. This is especially true as larger companies move toward a larger contingent workforce. He cited some internal research that shows as many as 40% of workers for large corporations being contingent by the year 2020. He also referred to how technology and social media are changing the face of small business and what barriers to entry are like and how small businesses do marketing. “How small businesses get started has changed completely, especially around funding,” he said and talked about how access to data is creating new kinds of funders that use data from sales and other sources to make funding decisions rather than looking at tradition methods like FICA scores.

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