Posted on: 09/07/2017

Leslie Sagalowicz Barber of Intuit Discusses Quickbooks Online Accounting Software & QB Community

Leslie Sagalowicz Barber

Business & Marketing Lead, QuickBooks Community - Intuit


Podcast Summary

Leslie Sagalowicz Barber of Intuit's Quickbooks discusses Quickbook's excellent online software package including the newly launched QB Community. Kruze Consulting has 150+ clients on Quickbooks Online and loves the service. QBO makes our clients' lives simpler and Kruze Consulting faster & more efficient.

With the launch of QB Community, Intuit has made life even better for startups and small business owners. Now they can ask their peers accounting, finance and even business operations question in a safe and productive community.

Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn:

Welcome to Founders & Friends podcast with Scott Orn, and before we get to a great podcast with Leslie Barber of Intuit, she is running qbcommunity.com, I wanted to give a couple of shout-outs here— first to Kruze Consulting ourselves, it's a self shout-out. We are the number one accounting firm in the country for startups, we only do startups, vc backed companies, we have twenty two people now, and we've grown quite a bit. We're coming down the final stretch for tax season here, it's September 15th, so if your startup needs help with taxes give us a shout-out or just go to our website at kruzeconsulting.com. We also do R&D; tax credits, which has been really big for our clients, we're saving people a lot of money on their payroll taxes and that's a nice little segue for thanking Gusto, they've done a great job on submitting those claims to the IRS, so we prepare the study and do all the claims and give it to Gusto, and then they submit some paperwork; so thank you Gusto for making that possible, I appreciate it. Now on to a great podcast with Leslie Barber of Intuit, thanks. Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, and my very special guest today is Leslie Barber of Intuit Quick Books. Welcome Leslie.

Leslie Barber:

Thanks Scott, it's great to be here.

Scott Orn:

So thanks for taking time. We were talking off mic before I started recording, Kruze Consulting is a huge fan of Quick Books, we recommend it to all of our clients, I think we have something like 170 Quick Books accounts, something insane, but we do that because we love the product, the support is amazing and we couldn't be bigger fans; so we're thrilled to have you on the podcast today.

Leslie Barber:

Well, that's so awesome, thank you so much, I appreciate all of your support.

Scott Orn:

And we also realize that we're both Kellogg, so we can really nerd out about that later, if we want.

Leslie Barber:

I always love all the folks who come from from Kellogg, so it's great to talk to you.

Scott Orn:

Maybe you can just retrace your personal story, how did you get to Quick Books?

Leslie Barber:

Yes, I would love to. As we talked about, I went to Kellogg to get my MBA, and when I graduated, I kind of bounced around Silicon Valley a little bit and didn't find the right home for myself. And at the same time, I was actually brainstorming business ideas with a Kellogg classmate and in 2005, we decided to quit our paying jobs and jump into the world of entrepreneurship. So we co-founded a business called Nutra Bella and the problem we saw is that we had hit our thirties, and everyone around us was having babies and they were all complaining about the horse pill, and we were like what's the horse pill and why are we giving pills for horses to women. And so, we learned that the horse pill is this affectionate name for these massive prenatal vitamins that women take and it makes them sick and they hate doing it, and then they feel guilty, and then it's this like downward spiral while you're pregnant. And we thought, gosh, there has got to be a better way, so we kind of left the technology world and jumped into the the supplement and food world; we created a line of prenatal vitamins and snacks called Belly Bar, and our goal was really to just help those women who were really struggling, and they wanted something different. And so I did that for eight years, we went from 2005, and co-led it with my business partner and oh my gosh— we saw all the ups and the downs that every entrepreneur and small business owner found. It was a little extreme, because we went through 2008 and not only was 2008 such a rough economy, but it also was a time when women were having fewer babies, so we were seeing a very specific and very direct result of the economy on our particular target customer. We made it through, we were selling in Walgreens and target and CBS, Whole Food Market, Babies R US, so the product grew really fast, because retailers want pregnant women coming into their stores. And so that went on for about eight years. About that time, I was kind of feeling what I think many small business owners, many of our customers feel, which is just like wow, I've kind of lost my mojo, and I don't know if I want to keep you know, slogging through and it's doing great for us for a living, but it's not necessarily growing where we had expected, the economy was really tough on us, and at that time I was talking to a friend who happened to work at Quick Books and she's like you should come work at Quick Books and I literally remember saying to her like I know nothing about accounting, I have an accountant, and my accountant is amazing, and she said no, no we serve small business and we want more people who've lived it, right, who have been as I like to say in the trenches, and who have experienced what it's like to be a small business owner. And so, literally like six weeks later, I was working in Quick Books, it just happened super fast, that's kind of how I found my way there.

Scott Orn:

That's amazing, that's a great story. My wife Vanessa, our founder is actually pregnant, so I'm breaking news here, and I've noticed she's taking these prenatal vitamins, and they are, they're like tough on her body, so I think you definitely had something there with the Belly Bar.

Leslie Barber:

Sure, yeah, especially, if you want to go natural, you go to Whole Foods, and these pills are huge and then you have to take eight of them. I know you can get prescriptions and we still sell actually our chewable vitamin in Walgrens, so she can check that out, but congratulations, it's such a great thing, and it's an exciting time it reminds me a lot of starting my business, right, I've had a child and so kind of starting my business and starting my family, there are a lot of similarities.

Scott Orn:

We say the same thing, it's like, we hope it will be, having gone through this together, it'll be easier to raise children as well, so we always laugh about that.

Leslie Barber:

Without a doubt, I think this is your first baby— now we have a second baby, and they both scream and cry and laugh, and they have highs and lows, and you've got it all.

Scott Orn:

And then, it's fantastic that you do have that small business background with Quick Books because yeah, it's like small business owners and startups, we focus on startups, but there are small business too, they have these like really cute pain points and oftentimes, at least with the baseline accounting software, they need something that works and they need something that scales, and I think you guys have done a really good job with that.

Leslie Barber:

Thank you, I appreciate that. One of the things I've noticed coming to Quick Books, is it's a rather large company, we're not huge, we're eight thousand employees, but every single person I've met is not only completely obsessed with what we can do to make our customers' lives easier, but they have so much empathy, they have got a connection to a small business owner if they weren't one themselves, their parent or their brother or another family member has lived the life of a small business owner. And I think that's really important, it's just like when you become a parent you don't really want to listen to the people who've never had a child, right you want somebody— they can empathize but it's just different when you've lived it. And so that was one of the things I really noticed about Quick Books, and they put that drive and energy and empathy into building the best product we can.

Scott Orn:

What were some of the things when you first showed up fresh from your entrepreneurship, that you were like hey here are a few things we got to do differently at Quick Books?

Leslie Barber:

Oh my gosh, where do I start, so it was so exciting; when I started almost five years ago, I first went into product marketing and was working in product marketing and then I moved more into this community role and what I realized is that there was so much, when I was working product marketing, it was so much energy around the product and around making the product really work and the tasks of the product, and that is absolutely critical, right, you've got to get that right first. But what I was really excited about bringing to the conversation at Quick Books with all of the other things that go on around when you use a product, so for example, I remember we used to talk a lot about that moment when a small business owner would hire their first employee and I was working on the payroll product and everybody was trying to get it right in terms of making it really easy to onboard a new employee and to pay them, and to pay them the right way and to get those taxes right, like this task of payroll was really critical. What we weren't having as many conversations about, was what it was like as a small business owner to go from being alone to now being an employer and having somebody else who you want to love your baby as much as you do, but you know won't, because that's just the nature of humanity, and you know and what does that mean, like how do you become a manager, and you're about to spend fifty percent of your time managing this other human, and how do you do that the right way? And so I was really excited to start conversations around that and we created an event called "Hire Smart" and I really tried to dive into content and experiences around what that's like, and that really is what started this conversation around a community and building connection, because I remember when I was a small business owner for eight years, I had my head down on the desk, I was totally focused on what I was doing, I was usually reacting, I probably wasn't planning, I was in it, and by the way, my Kellogg education did not prepare me for what it's like to run a business every day, it's just a totally different beast when you're in it and so I really was like so sucked in, and when I came to Intuit, I remember I walked right into our planning period and I was like playing— who are you people, like this is amazing, we actually get to think ahead, like this is awesome. And so, that really became kind of my launching pad for what we've now developed, almost five years later, which is this Quick Books community to support our customers on things in addition to our product.

Scott Orn:

You guys just launched that, right, so maybe you can talk a little bit about like the functionality and the goal there.

Leslie Barber:

Yeah, I am so excited. So we launched it on Monday, and it's called the Quick Books community, and it's an evolution of a community that I've led for almost two years now which was called onit, and we built it kind of external to the Quick Books ecosystem, to really learn and learn what it's like for small business owners, how they want to connect what they want to hear from us about, what do they want to learn from each other, we wanted to provide a space for them to really connect, get educated, learn, be inspired. And so that community has grown significantly and we are now evolving it over to the Quick Books community so that we can support our two million plus QBO users not to mention all of our millions of Quick Books users as well, and to Quick Books self employed too. So, the community launched on Monday and it will help any small business owner, you don't have to be a Quick Books customer, but it will help a small business owners, self employed professional get connected to people they want to talk to, learn from each other, we do tons of profile stories, articles on the topics that are hot in the community, and we talk in terms that are relatable to where they are in their journey. So our topics are based on what stage are you at, you guys have probably signed it for a baby center email that tells you like well now your baby is the size of a piece of rice or a garbanzo bean, or you know, now here are the things you need when you have a toddler, and my daughter just turns nine and they shut me off and I feel like I'm flailing all by myself; but really, that concept is very similar that when you are developing your idea, when you're starting up, when you're running your business, when you're trying to grow get from ten customers to one hundred customers, you have specific needs, and we really want to help our business owners to figure out what that next right step is for them, for their business, and to support each other moving forward.

Scott Orn:

That is fantastic, I totally can relate, because we provide a little bit of those kind of resources for our clients in the sense that a lot of startups follow the same kind of path, and so they have a lot of the same questions, so oftentimes, we can kind of anticipate what questions they are going to ask, or what new services they are going to need, and it's so comforting to those entrepreneurs; so I think it's great that you guys are doing this in kind of the industrial strength way with using the community, letting people probably post their own histories and their own advice and then being proactive about it, I love that idea of like this is where you are six months into your business, this is where you are two years in your business, this is where you are ten years, that's really smart that you guys are doing that.

Leslie Barber:

Thank you, and it reminds me again of when a woman is pregnant, she thinks she's a special snowflake, like my pregnancy was like no one else's right, and the reality is that eighty to ninety percent of it is the same, ten percent of it is maybe special snowflake, I think it's the same with small businesses, they have to believe that what they are doing is unlike what anybody else is doing, because otherwise they wouldn't get up in the morning and do it, they would just go buy from that other business. And so, by hanging on and really embracing that special snowflake, I think many people want to involuntarily recreate the wheel and they don't need to, so you're actually right, we can help them with the eighty to ninety percent and then we can be their sounding board for the other ten percent, so often they feel alone or they feel like they don't have somebody else to they can really bounce their ideas off of. Our goal at Quick Books really is to bring the power of many to the prosperity of one, so you think about or ecosystem with all of the millions of businesses who use Quick Books, there is so much horsepower and brain power and sweat power and sole power in those folks that we can bring to that next business that is starting up, to that next business that is trying to grow to the next level. We have it all here, it's just a matter of harnessing it so that we can help that next small business owner

Scott Orn:

You said that, so I love bringing the power of many to the prosperity of one, it's really cool. Is it like a searchable community or how do I navigate that, because I can see, I think probably a lot of entrepreneurs even accountants would have a very discrete problem so they'd go to search, and then I think they would probably find a ton of resources, and it's kind of like the fun part of the internet going down different rabbit holes and seeing what different people think or maybe watching different videos— how do people navigate the community?

Leslie Barber:

It's a great question. So in QB Community, you just got o qbcommunity.com, and when you sign in, you'll see that there's a search bar and the search bar allows you to search on whatever topic you are looking for; if you want to, you can also scroll down and find our feed which is the latest and greatest of the conversation, so similar to any other social network we will have the latest question somebody asked us today, a member was asking about venture capital and how does he, does anybody have suggestions he's about to go out on this venture capital excursion, and that's such an exciting and exhilarating and challenging time. And so how do we help that person get to the next place they want to go. In addition, if you want to just browse the topics, you can go to those different stages like developing your idea or running smoothly or heck, we've all seen road blocks so we've got a topic on removing road blocks and you can see the conversations that are happening both the curated content that we create, as well as the conversations that our members generate. We just launched on Monday, so a lot of it is still getting split up but we're there, we're open, we're ready for folks to come in and ask a question and no question goes unanswered, so if we don't know the answer, we'll help you think it through and figure it out.

Scott Orn:

That's great. And you probably don't know this about me, but I actually started a support community called Ben's Friends, coming out of Kellogg, where my co-founder Ben Munoz had a rare brain aneurysm, in the middle of Kellogg and survived, and we built a rare disease support community, it was like thirty six different social networks tied together we are the one of the largest rare diseases, it's a non-profit, but I know a lot about community and community building and it's really cool you're doing this; and my words or encouragement for you would be also it just keeps getting stronger, that's one of the amazing things about the internet is, you get it out there, and all of the sudden, people start finding it and they start contributing and I love your idea of no question goes unanswered, because that's really kind of the power of these communities, people pitch in and help each other and I've seen it in rare disease patient support, and I can totally visualize how this is going to work on qb community, it makes tons of sense in turning those kind of passionate people who are online answering questions, giving them a megaphone and letting them be even more helpful, it's going to be really fun for them and it's really going to increase the brand strength and just the practical knowledge out there for all the entrepreneurs.

Leslie Barber:

Well that's awesome, congratulations on starting that, on what an important community that you have grown, that's just amazing. My hope is that we do something similar, when you're a small business owner, when you're working for yourself, so you're self employed you've got a business whichever one, you have similar needs and you've lived, I joke that you know you've been to war right, you know what it's like in the trenches, you know there's lots of wins, there's lots of challenges, and it's also a little bit of a thankless job like you're doing your thing and unless a customer high-fives you, you don't get feedback, like we do at Quick Books you don't have like a 360 degree conversation with anyone, it is real and it is right out there, and you know if people are buying your product, your service or not, that's your feedback right there. And so what we can do in the community is celebrate that and share those stories with each other, and it was those moments in our previous community that really led us to want to double down, because we saw those moments where somebody would come in and they're like dejected, and feeling like they've lost their mojo and I don't even know what question to ask, because I don't even know where I'm going, and the community which is raised, just raised and just bring wind under their wings and literally help them think about like, well I tried this in my business, you know, would that work? Or I tried this, or this is my story, and really connect with each other, so that we would actually have these moments where people said gosh, I actually think I can do this, I think I can keep persevering. And it was magical to watch that happen, and that's what we hope to build in QB community for all small business owners.

Scott Orn:

That's awesome. The persevering is a magical moment when it clicks, you start believing in yourself and, things take off like a rocket ship. Another community topic, you guys have done— I can totally see Quick Books orientation towards community in the way that you integrate with a lot of other different software providers, and that's one of the things we love about you guys where Quick Books integrates with Expensify and bill.com and Tsheets and all of our favorite tools; maybe talk a little about kind of the corporate strategy for that, and how you've evolved and how you become this like you're the centerpiece of the entire accounting operation and everyone kind of plugs into you?

Leslie Barber:

I'd love that, thank you. I think that idea of kind of being the hub is one that makes a lot of sense. Look when we sit back and we think about what we're trying to build here, we're kind of focused on

three areas:

we're trying to help our small business customers to have access to more money, right, let's just help them put more money in their pockets. We're trying to help them alleviate all of that pain and drudgery of entering data, so that things happen more automatically, because let's be honest, most of us would rather be selling prenatal vitamins than doing accounting, right. So when it comes down to it, let's minimize the amount of drudgery that we have to do and let's make sure that they don't have to work as hard as they have to work, and then finally let's give them as much as we can to complete confidence that what they are doing in Quick Books is accurate and that it gives them actionable insights that they can move forward on, so something they can actually understand and is relevant and gives them something to do, to show them not only how their business is performing, but what they should do next. And so when we think about those three areas that is really are our area focus for Quick Books, obviously our partners we have today over 1500 of them on the platform, I mean, we want to work with the best and brightest to make everything I just shared come to life. We know that we're not going to be able to do that alone, this is a village just like running a small business is. And so, two of the areas that we're focusing on in terms of the future is really our mobile solution and making sure that as our world changes, where small business owners like— I live in Portland and you go to the local coffee shop and there are 25 small business owners and self employed professional sitting at tables doing their work, we want to be there with them on the go. So making invoicing easier, making receipt capturing easier, all of those solutions on your mobile device, that's a huge area of focus for us. And then the other area is really just making sure that small businesses stay a going concern by getting to cash in that they're owed, so get them paid faster, helping to make sure that our partnerships with companies like PayPal and Apple and Google are really smooth and can help our customers get paid twice as fast as our competitors' customers. And so we're really focused on those kinds of things that we hear from our customers that slow them down, that take them away from the craft and the passion and the love that they have every day for what they actually started their business for. And so that's really where we're headed.

Scott Orn:

You said that perfectly, yeah. Having good systems can really help a company succeed you know, like getting as simple concept of getting paid faster or getting paid consistently, it's one of the things when you're sitting in a business school classroom, you're thinking of course, of course everyone want to do that, but you need those good systems, and Intuit and Quick Books really make that happen, and also just having the visibility that is humongous; we onboard a ton of new startups that just raised three or four million dollars, or ten million dollars, and oftentimes, before we actually onboard them, the CEOs will tell us I had no idea where my money is going, I don't even know what I was spending my money on; and so, there's this amazing a-ha moments where you show them what their profit and the law statement actually looks like, and you also show them using like Quick Books reconciliation features and things like that, that everything is totally tied down, there's no missing dollars, there's nothing that's going to keep them up at night; and by the way, you can actually do your taxes because you have accurate numbers. There's all these like little kind of basic things that people take for granted, but the Quick Books system actually makes it doable, it makes it actionable and helps them get on their way and build a business again.

Leslie Barber:

Yeah I love that, you said it so well. I talk to so many small business owners, who said very similar thing, I remember talking to Mike Brown who runs Death Wish Coffee, and he told me that before he found Andrew Berg, his accountant, he used to keep his receipts in a shoe box and I think he whispered it to me when he said it. Because there is a little bit of shame and guilt around not having the business part of the business ownership nailed, but the reality is he makes coffee, and that's what he does and he does it better than anyone else. And so we want people to be able to focus everything on that and really enable their systems like you said, their relationships, their accountants or if they do it themselves have it just be seamless, I love that it might help now, I don't need to accept any bills, right they all just kind of go and slow, what every business should be set up that way too. And so that's what we're trying to do, it's just make it so they can stay focused on what it is that they're doing to work for themselves.

Scott Orn:

Yeah, I love it. You mentioned while you were talking about the importance of support and supporting the entrepreneurs, but Intuit has a really good support infrastructure, and shutout to Carlos Camacho and Eric Randall who are our two guys, but talk about the culture around just support at Quick Books, like every time we have a problem, we can get someone on email very quickly, or we're able to get someone on the phone; is that a core kind of tenet of Quick Books?

Leslie Barber:

Absolutely, I think that core tenet is— let's make it so nobody has to have support, right. I mean, that is the goal, right, like come on guys, no one should have to call in. But the reality is that they do, and sometimes it's not even about the particular task, maybe it's about a business question related to the task, and our team is there and they're there for them where they want to be, so you want to call in, great, you want to ask us about it on social, fine, you want to send an email we're there; and now, you want to come to the community and talk to not only our product team in the community, but also each other about how you've mastered Quick Books— awesome, right, the small business owners want to talk to each other about how they've made the most use of their systems, they are always asking which app do you use, what do you do for this, what do you do for that. So we have a section now in the community as well, where they can come and not only talk to our product folks but also talk to each. So it's absolutely an area focused for us to make sure first and foremost that the product is so easy and simple to use, that they don't need to be calling or contacting us. But if they do, we are so here.

Scott Orn:

I love it, that's such a great point. It's also like the qb community aspect, probably a lot more kind of simple questions can be answered that way, or like you said, one entrepreneur answers the question for many people. And that lets Carlos and Eric and folks like them really concentrate on the big mission critical problems that someone might have or things that really need to get fixed right away, so the queue is lined up and probably makes their job a lot more fun because they're not answering kind of the most basic stuff all the time as well.

Leslie Barber:

Absolutely. I mean, that's what I am hoping evolve with the community that we get it to a place where we're all having a conversation together about how to make running our businesses just a little bit easier; whether it's having a conversation with a Quick Books employee or it's having a conversation with an accountant, or another small business owner who have mastered something. When you talk to other business owners about something they know, talk about a confidence builder, they're like oh yeah I battled that problem you're dealing with six months ago, let's talk about it, and then they feel a little bit of kind of added mojo by doing that, let's give them the opportunity to have those conversations.

Scott Orn:

Yeah, I love it. Well, you're doing a great job, and I love the idea of the QB community. Maybe just talk a little bit where you're going after this, both in terms of product for Quick Books, like what other services, and then maybe recap the community aspect as well.

Leslie Barber:

Yeah, I am happy to. We talked a little bit about kind of what our focus is around more money, no work, complete confidence. And everything we're doing right now is around that whether it's the community, whether it's building our mobile solution so that we're best in class there, whether it's helping people get paid faster with our partnership around google invoice, where a small business can send an email through gmail with a link to get paid and then it shows up in Quick Books, like how awesome is that? I love that the team is really just pushing forward on hey, small business owners, use gmail, let's connect in there; small business owners use square, let's make it super easy for that to connect. And that's really all around that more money in your pocket, don't have to do a lot of work, and the complete confidence, and that really dovetails into what we're doing with community. Over the next six months we will be tying the community even closer to the product, so the experience of the user of Quick Books is not separated between what I'm doing in the product and what I'm doing in my business. But instead, they're actually brought together because for them, it's one conversation, it's one challenge of what do I do next, do I send an invoice, how do I get paid quickly, how do I invoice that person who I know is having a rough time, have a conversation with us about that, right, there are so many aspects to running a business in addition to the incredible product that we offer with Quick Books and that's what we want to do with the community. So I am super, super excited to welcome any of your listeners in qbcommunity.com, you don't need to be a Quick Books user, we will welcome you and help you move your business forward.

Scott Orn:

You said it perfectly, I mean, I can't wait to check out qb community. Well Leslie, thank you so much, this has been Leslie Barber from Intuit Quick Books and she runs the qbcommunity.com so check that out. And I just want to thank you but also thank everyone at Intuit and everyone at Quick Books who makes the products so awesome, it makes our lives a lot easier, and it really helps all the clients that we have, we have a 160 clients that use Quick Books and it's a major system for them, it gives them all the insights they need and like I said, it shows them where their money is going, and it gives them a lot of confidence. So thank you for all the good work you do, thanks to the Carlos and Eric and the whole support team. We couldn't be bigger fans and I really appreciate everything you do for entrepreneurship community.

Leslie Barber:

Thank you Scott, we could not be doing what we're doing without you, and we love your feedback, your ideas, bring those stories from your clients to us, tell their stories in qb community, we're here to help them and help you with your business, so let us know how we can continue working together. Thank you so much, it's been a lot of fun talking to you.

Scott Orn:

Will do. Alright Leslie, you take care.

Leslie Barber:

Thank you, you too!

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