Voices

Intuit is exploring bookkeeping, and it’s not a bad thing

QuickBooks has recently started a test on their main pricing page to gauge interest in bookkeeping services. Yes, Intuit will probably be offering bookkeeping services as an add-on to a QuickBooks subscription in the near future, and a lot of people in the accounting industry have been up in arms: “QuickBooks is killing bookkeeping!” or “QuickBooks is stealing my business!”

An increase to potential bookkeeping clients

I think there is another view that people are ignoring - QuickBooks will actually increase the market for bookkeepers. Yes, we will have to compete and differentiate ourselves from QuickBooks, but I wouldn’t mind a few more million small businesses to fight over.

Currently, QuickBooks Online has over 3.6 million subscribers worldwide. And, per Kim Amsbaugh, senior manager of Global Communications at Intuit, only 60 percent of those subscriptions have an accountant user attached to the account. That leaves 1.4 million subscribers who aren’t even considering using a bookkeeper or accountant at the moment. And that number continues to increase each year as QuickBooks Online sales increase.

Educating small business owners about the need for bookkeepers

By selling bookkeeping services right beside a QuickBooks Online subscription, QuickBooks is educating small businesses for us. They are effectively telling small businesses that it isn’t a bad idea to hire a real-live person to help you with their software. Bookkeeping isn’t always that easy.

I’ve been trying to explain to small businesses for years that bookkeepers are essential to business and can help you succeed. In fact, per QuickBooks, “89 percent of small businesses say they are more successful when working with an accounting professional.”

Now, I can show them the QuickBooks website and say, “Even QuickBooks thinks you need a bookkeeper.” QuickBooks has put the need of a bookkeeper into the mind of a small business owner from the very beginning and I think that is priceless for our community.

QuickBooks is also educating small businesses as to what kinds of services they can expect from a bookkeeper. The offerings on QuickBooks’ site are pretty vague at the moment, highlighting that bookkeeping includes:

  • Talking to a live bookkeeper
  • Streamlined setup
  • Getting accurate monthly insights
  • Accessing year-end reports

At least that’s a start. I can pick up the ball from there and sell businesses on other things that bookkeepers can do. But the biggest hurdle is usually getting a small business owner to accept help. Once they know that bookkeepers can make life easier, then they are more open to letting us help them in more ways, increasing our scope and monthly fees.

How to prepare your bookkeeping practice

Since bookkeeping services from QuickBooks aren't available yet and we aren’t even sure what it will all look like, we just have to watch and see. But in the meantime, we need to focus on our own strategies and how we are going to capitalize on this.

From the looks of it, the services seem very basic, so bookkeepers can sell themselves as the next step up from QuickBooks or find some other differentiator. Because this was just a test, we have time to plan that strategy out. But, in the end, I like that they are telling my potential clients that they should consider hiring a bookkeeper from the beginning.