What I Learned From Going to an Accounting Conference Two Years in a Row

Author: Kelly Gonsalves

I love conferences. Especially those for accounting and bookkeeping professionals.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, these events give professionals in our field the chance to swap stories, share experiences, and know that someone understands what our lives are like. Accounting and bookkeeping can be isolating, and friends and family don’t always understand how we work.

In a way, conferences are like a group therapy session for me. I’ve been to a few, and I learn something new each time I attend.

But…this story’s a bit different.

Last year, I was really getting into starting my bookkeeping business, Totally Booked. I was taking on new clients and learning the ins and outs. Everything was going smoothly. But, it could be going better.

I signed up to attend Scaling New Heights 2017, hoping to learn how to grow my app stack, better serve my clients, and ultimately grow my business into what I knew it could be.

Long story short, when I implemented the apps and what I learned from SNH2017, I was able to double my income in the second half of the year.

Coming into SNH2018, I was excited to see what the conference had in store, and what I’d take home with me this time.

It wasn’t exactly what I’d expected.


Way back in the olden days of 2017, Totally Booked wasn’t what it is now, and neither was I.

When I arrived at Scaling New Heights 2017, I was still working with QuickBooks Desktop, had a limited app stack, and was looking to any and everyone for advice and ideas.

I wanted to meet every vendor. I put my name on every list. I wanted to speak to everybody, go everywhere, and learn all the things. I’m not exaggerating one bit.

But, when you attempt my signature “all or nothing method,” you realize very quickly that you’re also on a hundred different mailing lists, you’ve scheduled so many demos that you can’t even get your work done, and you start questioning your life decisions.

You’ve got pockets full of stickers, business cards, and swag you absolutely thought you needed. And that’s not even the best part.

You’ll sit through some panels and demos and think, “Wow, this is really interesting. Do I need to be here?”

Sometimes you do, I’ve learned and taken things away from presentations I never thought I’d need. But I also spent a lot of time on things I didn’t need, and less time on the things I did.

The moral of the story is that in my first year attending Scaling New Heights, I was overeager.

I wanted to do and change all these things about my professional life and my business, learn every app, and so on. It was a kind of self-inflicted torture.

But, it worked.

Like I said, my business kind of blew up after that. Not that I gained all these clients from my newly-acquired knowledge or anything. But I did learn how to make my processes more efficient not only for me, but for the good of my clients.

The rest is history.


This year, I wanted to try something new.

Instead of jumping all over everything, I was uncharacteristically strategic.

I had a very focused list. I decided to take the advice of the pre-conference webinar, which strongly promotes finding your focus and sticking to it.

So, for example, if your focus is marketing, you stick to the marketing track. If you’re desktop focused, online focused or whatever it is, they recommend for you to basically stay in your lane to get the most out of the events.

Last year was my rebellious phase, apparently. 2018 is a new, “adhering to the rules” me.

The biggest change for me this year was that I was really interested in meeting some eCommerce vendors.

I knew I was going to spend some time with the partners and vendors I already worked with, but I was focusing on new technologies that applied to what my business is doing right now.

I wasn’t going to visit every reporting vendor, I didn’t need reports.

I wasn’t putting my name on every list. I definitely don’t need any extra email!

I skipped entire blocks of vendors because I knew I wasn’t going to need their product. Not that they weren’t good for someone else, but they didn’t apply to me or my business.

Don’t get me wrong, last year’s experience great, and was definitely one to remember, which is why I can write an article about it now. But, I can confidently say that I got more out of my experience in the second year.

I was able to spend more time with the vendors I wanted to speak to. Last year I was moving so far and so fast around the conference center that I didn’t have time for in depth conversations with anyone.

This year, I got to sit down with who I needed to for as long as I needed to get a pricing, and other vital information I wouldn’t have known to ask for last year.

But, I can say that I wouldn’t change a thing from last year.

Whatever I did and however much I jumped around, what I did worked. And it gave me the opportunity to try new things at SNH2018.

I’m not sure what the future holds, or what Scaling New Heights 2019 will look like, but I do know that even this year wasn’t perfect, and that it just leaves even more room for improvement in 2019.

Yes, you will see me there next year. But no, I won’t be the same!

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