I just returned from the fourth annual QuickBooks Connect (QB Connect), an annual conference hosted by Intuit’s QuickBooks in California’s Silicon Valley. The event was the perfect combination of information and inspiration for small business owners and the accountants who help them.
The conference was kicked off by Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) CEO Brad Smith, who reminded the audience that 60 percent of all new jobs worldwide are created by small businesses. “Globalization,” he said, “has both shrunk and expanded the world, opening new opportunities and creating new competition” for small business owners.
Quoting New York Times columnist and bestselling author Thomas Friedman, Smith reminded the crowd that we’re living in an era of “exponential change” which can be, at once, exhilarating and disorienting. Change is, Smith says, “a two-sided coin, with challenge on one side and opportunity on the other. Our job as entrepreneurs is to flip the coin from challenge to opportunity.”
Smith acknowledges that is not an easy task, but we don’t have a choice. “We can either wing into the future,” he said, “or get lost in the past.” So, how do we do that? Smith recommends we find our moral centers and give ourselves permission to change. Want to find your center? Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your values? What do you and your company stand for? How do you treat others?
- What is your mission? What impact do you want to leave on society?
- How do you define success?
Smith says while this exercise might seem “too California-y” for some, at Intuit they regularly look at their core values — the three B’s: be bold; be passionate; be decisive and the three We’s: we learn fast; we win together; and we deliver awesome.
At the heart of it all is giving back. Smith believes “when small business owners thrive, we all thrive.” And in that spirit, Intuit announced a slew of new products and product enhancements designed to help small business owners (and their accountants) succeed.
Innovations at QuickBooks Connect 2017
Here’s a quick look at some of these innovations.
Small Business Payments
The sad truth is 64 percent of small businesses have invoices that go unpaid for 60 days or more. Intuit believes one of the primary reason for this is most small businesses create and send invoices by “outdated, manual methods.” Now, that’s a thing of the past as Intuit introduces “effortless invoicing” where small businesses can electronically create invoices which are “payments-enabled,” which means their customers and clients can click a link to send payment. Intuit says this process allows you to create invoices in less than a minute and enables invoices to be paid two times faster.
The company has streamlined the set-up process, allowing small businesses to create a payments account in one minute with three clicks, instead of the typical 48-hours and 33 clicks it takes now.
There’s also a Gmail integration, so you can send an invoice, view its status and get paid online — straight from Gmail. This feature is available to any business that uses Gmail. You don’t have to be a QuickBooks customer.
If you’re a GoPayment user, you can now use a Bluetooth-enabled mobile card reader that accepts both magnetic strip and chip credit cards, and works with iOS and Android devices.
This is a virtual assistant or chatbot, similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, that “combines data-driven insights and natural language processing” so you can ask — via smartphone — questions ranging from how much money you made last week, last month or last year to your profitability, your tax obligations and more.
Using the QuickBooks Assistant saves business owners time, giving them instant access to their financial data and allowing them to retrieve this information from anywhere at any time.
Currently the Assistant is available for iOS and Android devices and will be released for QuickBooks online next year.
As previously discussed on Small Business Trends, Intuit launched QuickBooks Capital, a loan program designed to offer loans to small businesses that might not otherwise qualify. Rania Succar, head of QuickBooks Capital, told me that Intuit is looking at other potential applications for the QuickBooks Capital credit model, which could more broadly transform the small business lending experience.
Alex Chriss, QuickBooks’ Chief Product Officer, also pointed out the power of “Smart Connections,” which helps connect the more than seven million QuickBooks users, 500,000 accountants and 5,000 app developers. The “Find-A-ProAdvisor” program already connects nearly 1,000 business owners with accountants every day. Chriss says QuickBooks customers should look for a new program that will connect freelancers and independent contractors with small businesses in need of help.
All these innovations are designed to help you thrive. Running a business can be overwhelming and too often small business owners feel isolated. But Smith says Intuit wants to make sure “no one is alone — that you have the power of many at your back. Like they say in Game of Thrones, ‘winter is coming.’ But when the snows fall and the winds blow, the lone wolf dies — but the pack survives.”