Scott Ivins is a great example of one that worked in corporate America for a number of years before discovering how rewarding working for yourself can really be.
Scott found that he learned more about real-world practical accounting in the 4-week Professional Bookkeeper™ program that he had learned with an associate’s degree. In classes he has taken since taking the Professional Bookkeeper™ program, he knew the answers so often and so completely that the instructor began to defer other student’s questions to Scott! The instructor even invited Scott to teach some of the classes because his practical knowledge of accounting exceeded even his instructor’s.
Universities teach plenty of accounting theory, but if you want hands-on learning that you can put to work right away, Scott is evidence that you just can’t beat the Professional Bookkeeper program.
Complete Transcript of Teleconference
ROGER: Let me begin by welcoming those of our guests that are here listening today. It is wonderful to have you here to visit with you and others with great success in starting and growing your own accounting and bookkeeping services. We will be asking you a number of questions as to your success and some of the things you have experienced as you have grown your company., Let’s begin by you introducing yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
SCOTT: I am Scott Ivins. I live in South Salt Lake in Cedar Hills, Utah. I have a wife and four children and I enjoy being a full-time accountant.
ROGER: Well, with that brief introduction, we want to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to be here with us today. Let me give you a few questions to get the ball rolling. Some of the things I think everyone is going to want to hear about is why you actually considered stepping out on your own years ago.
SCOTT: I went out and decided to go into the field of accounting after working in a semiconductor company. After they had a meeting they decided they were going to close our plant, and then I went to work for another company 6 months later. It shut that down, and so after 2 layoffs/shutdowns, whatever you want to call them, I decided I wanted to do something on my own, and looked at my options with accounting and decided that would be something I would like to do and took off and started doing it.
ROGER: Interesting. When you started doing that, first of all, why accounting of all things?
Scott: I had a background in tax. I had been doing taxes for myself and for some family members and friends. I enjoyed working with numbers and worked with the statistics department at the semiconductor place. I was familiar with working with numbers, but I really hadn’t decided where I wanted to go until I came to one of Universal Accounting Center seminars in a newspaper ad.
ROGER: Well I have to say that your story is one of those many stories I am familiar with individuals starting their own practice, having not done accounting before. So many people think you need so many years experience or so much education to succeed or to work with clients but, as many people know, accounting is simply a number of very basic steps that you do with every company, and once you are able to master that confidence to do it you are able to succeed. One of the things I would like to ask you about is how did you feel about initially making that change? What were your own feelings? Do you recall how you felt when you were just starting to break out on your own?
SCOTT: That was quite a while ago. You know, there was always a little bit of apprehension things of “can I really do this?” But after going through the two shutdowns, I say I was going to work for myself one way or the other, so I kind of took the leap of faith, just went ahead and said I am going to go do it, and looked at my options on where to get the training and who was going to be able to help me the best way to take that jump and get the training and to get some clients.
ROGER: Good. There is one thing I have heard, I am not sure that you have shared this same thought with me, but I have had so many share with me that it takes just as much effort to look for and find an interview to get a position as it does to look for and find and get a client and understanding and realizing that you can at least appreciate the opportunities for you as the business owner and kind of, as some people say, ” take the bull by the horns”. So that’s good. With the idea of going out and getting clients, what helped you in making this transition in your life? What were some of the things that made this possible for you?
SCOTT: One of the biggest things I needed was the training. I came to the free seminar that Universal Accounting provided, went through that, and after working at the semiconductor place, they had re-training funds available so they would pay for a two-year course. So I looked at going to a local college here and looked at getting a two-year associates degree in accounting and looked at the Universal Accounting Center. Instead of deciding on which one or the other I decided I would do both, which is very unique because now I have both perspectives. The Universal Accounting course – we were done in 4 weeks. I knew everything we needed to do was getting started. As to the other one, in that four weeks, I hadn’t even finished the first-class yet, and 18 months later I finally had a little piece of paper that says I have a degree in computerized accounting. But from the get-go with Universal Accounting Center, their training was fast and simple. In looking at both, it was actually more comprehensive than the 18-month class. We had to do the entire extra general education things, and they broke the training up into little pieces, where in Universal Accounting Center you got the whole picture and you got to do it all in four weeks. It was great.
ROGER: Very Good. Having brought that up, I do need to ask you a question that I am sure our listeners are going to definitely enjoy. You have shared with me on a few occasions an experience you have had when you were at the school going for the 18-month program, where the instructor wasn’t always present, and some of the things that took place to interact with some of the other students there. Could you share with us some of that?
SCOTT: Yes, there were a couple of occasions, one where the teacher was gone for the day. We were supposed to be watching a video, but it was pretty boring. Half the students left and the other ones there we just kind of sat there and talked about it and a couple of them were having a real struggle going through it and trying to figure out how everything fit together, and so I was able to sit with them for an hour or so and we went through the whole accounting cycle and everything I had already done and finished with Universal Accounting Center, but we were just getting the little pieces. We sat and went through that and helped 2 or 3 students get a better idea of where the classes were going, what we were going to be learning about because they had no idea. Then in the other class, we were talking because there were not enough students in the class. The same instructor was teaching that class as well as beginning accounting, and he didn’t have time to be in both rooms. We would go in the other room and put on the overhead projector and go through all the examples and every now and then he would pop his head in and see how we were doing, but thanks to the Universal Accounting training, I could go through and tell the other students, “Well this is what we got to do, and this is how we do it,” and we would sit there and go through the problems and all the examples, and so basically I spent most of my time teaching my own class that I was attending.
ROGER: Well, one thing I think everyone is going to enjoy hearing is how you got your first client. Tell us where they come from and a little bit of that story.
SCOTT: It was kind of my first 2 clients. My very first client was someone I worked with at the semiconductor place. Since they were shutting down, she decided to open a GNC retail store, and she had a CPA who also worked at the company doing her books as she was getting started but he was being relocated as well, and so she asked me because I was just starting to take the class. The first time I did these [accounts] I had no idea what I was doing, all I did was copy the exact stuff he did the quarter before, the CPA, so I really had no idea what I was doing, but I got that chance because she let me try it and I just went ahead said, “Yeah, I can do it,” and figured out how to do it later. But after going through the course, it was simple and easy. The actual client I got myself, I answered a classified ad. They were looking for an in-house bookkeeper, and I went in and talked to the owner and basically helped change their mind to say you don’t really need somebody full-time in-house. I can take your stuff and do this much more, and do it for an actual less price overall per month than what they would pay somebody in-house.
ROGER: So oftentimes, it is much better than what they would have gotten from the main person in-house?
SCOTT: And then with the tax, I said I can do your accounting and tax work, we can wrap the whole package deal and we got started that way.
ROGER: One thing I noticed that you said in the stories about the two clients is, you said: “I’ll just do it”. So many times, that first step of taking on the first client is, for some people, a leap of faith, because you are offering some pretty good services. You’re explaining you’re going to be doing their accounting, and that they can rely upon you to be the profit expert for them, and I am always pleased to hear of the people with the training and the background that they are able to get from Universal Accounting Center can have that confidence to go out and succeed.
SCOTT: Yes, it was great with the training and the support staff here at Universal Accounting Center. If there was any situation to come up, they were always there to help and to get you through the problems and to get things done right, and make sure the client is satisfied.
ROGER: Excellent, now what are some of the techniques you have found to be particularly useful in getting some clients, promoting your services?
SCOTT: A lot of my clients have come through referrals, so by servicing the clients you expand on it. The referrals come in. I got a few neighbors and relatives that didn’t jump on board immediately, but after seeing that I was picking up new clients and developing a successful practice, I was then able to add those on and expand quite quickly once we got a few going.
ROGER: Now, remind all our listeners how many years you have been in business.
SCOTT: I started the Universal Accounting Course and graduated about 12 years ago, and have been full-time ever since, working for myself, and working out of the house, the basement room. About two years ago, because I was able to have been so successful, I have gone out and have an office outside the house. It gives me a little more room and a little more of a professional status, but I did do 10+ years out of my basement.
ROGER: Whatever you want out of this business, it can become whatever you want it to be. Whether it be a supplemental income or a primary income for you, either way, it is possible. Now you have had 12 years of doing this. How do you feel about where you are today?
SCOTT: I have been very satisfied with where it has gone, other than this last year. I have been so busy that I should have hired an assistant a year ago instead of last month. And so, it is going really well and keeping [me] very busy and enjoying life.
ROGER: Very good. Now that enjoyment; what are some of the greatest benefits of being out on your own?
SCOTT: The biggest thing is being your own boss and being flexible with your time. And to go in whether you need to. The other day, my little boy was sick. You could take him in the middle of the day and take care of things like that or over the last two weeks, we have had family reunions. So I took a half a week off and worked the other half, and now I am taking another vacation to San Diego next week.
ROGER: Now I am getting jealous.
SCOTT: Having your own time to schedule it around family activities is just great.
ROGER: Now, I know that traveling is very important to you and that you shared with me at one point how often you take vacations. You have got kind of a little rule. Tell our listeners what you do for yourself now that you are in this position.
SCOTT: I started out the first few years. I had the mentality of, “I have to work hard, I have to bring in the money, and if I am not there nobody is doing the work,” and after a few years of doing that, you get to a burnout mode. At that point, I decided we need to schedule vacations. We need to look forward to them and have things. The next time frame, when am I going to take the next vacation, right after tax season, have little goals like that. I try to take a vacation every quarter, every quarter there is an extra week, the 13th week. I try to take a vacation, whether it be with my wife and myself or take the whole family.
ROGER: Wonderful. This is fun for me. I like to travel, and I know you do as well. Please share with us some of the places you have been.
SCOTT: I have been to St. Thomas down in the Caribbean. Last year we went on a Caribbean cruise. We have been to California a couple of times and took the kids to Disneyland. Tomorrow we take off to go to San Diego, spend a day at sea world and go to the beach a couple of days. We like to go to Colorado. We have gone every year for the past 3 or 4 years. We just like being in the mountains in peaceful areas, and those kinds of things. We have a trip planned to Hawaii for next year, and then probably an Alaskan Cruise.
ROGER: Now, in the past 12 years you have been aware of and have interacted with Universal Accounting Center at one level or another, how has your experience with Universal Accounting Center aided you in building your practice?
SCOTT: Universal Accounting Center has been great. First of all, the training classes have been fabulous. They have taught me everything I needed to know to get started. You are always learning and expanding. They taught me the basics to get me everything I needed to get started, and then the support staff helps with questions, with all kinds of extra training, with software and QuickBooks and tax program. They have everything you need to expand your business.
ROGER: I do need to ask you what good advice you have to give to our listeners. First of all, what would you say to someone who is thinking about going out on their own, whether it be to go part-time as their supplementary income, or full time as their primary income? What advice would you give them?
SCOTT: Once you have gotten the training, it is just a matter of going out and using the marketing tools that are taught in the class. The first few things they teach you will get you a few clients to get started, and then, based on where you want to go, how much time you want to put into it, it’s just how much you continue marketing. You can have 3 or 4 clients and have a nice part-time business or you can go straight out, and I am not saying you will be self-supporting in a month or two, but within 6 months you should be able to get enough clients to have a decent income and expand from there.
ROGER: I appreciate that advice and I know you have done it and it is something you can say. So one thing I think all of our listeners would also appreciate is kind of an understanding of what your background in accounting is. We had one person who wrote in a question here. I have been asking a few of them, but one specifically asked if you need prior experience in accounting to succeed. What would you specifically say to that person?
SCOTT: The accounting experience isn’t necessary if you are going to take the Universal Accounting Center course. It will teach you everything you need to know. If I was to try to go out and do it without having taken that, even having gone through the associate’s degree program at the college, I don’t believe I could have done what I have done, just because they didn’t teach us how to go out and get clients, or how to start up your chart of accounts for small business and get them started. [Regarding university training] Everything was so modularized and the training was more geared to how to go out and get a job. So the first thing I say is to go through the accounting program. In four weeks, you will be done. The training is well worth every penny you pay for it, and that will give you everything you need to go out and get started. You expand from there. I usually suggest to new people [to] go through the accounting. Get comfortable for that, usually for the first year, and as you are going for that point, then think about taking the tax class, because every one of your clients and more wants you to do taxes for them since you are already doing their accounting books. So that is kind of the second step. Get settled in your accounting business and add on the tax and it will just bring in much more income.
ROGER: Very good feedback. Are there any other final words of wisdom you would like to leave us with today?
SCOTT: Just the best thing about doing this is being self-employed and having control over your time. And being able to do what you want to do, but having the support staff behind you to get you going, get you the training and help you market yourself, and don’t forget to take some time off and enjoy life.
ROGER: Scott, I do want to thank you for your time and to speak with us today and share with us some experiences you have had and some insights. With your background, a lot of people appreciated what you had to say. For our listeners, we would like to thank you as well for your participation and listening in today. If there are any questions, we encourage you to contact Universal Accounting Center.