Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How I Transformed The Way I Work And Live By Moving To The Cloud

From day one of my professional career as a CPA, I have been a passionate follower and adopter of the technology tools that are available to assist our profession in doing our jobs better.

I am likely dating myself, but, when those Compaq "Luggables" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable) came along, I was first in line. Why?  Because I could see that the Luggable, despite it's small screen, and many other failings, would allow me to stop typing numbers into a 10 key calculator.  Similarly, many years later, when organizations started providing remote computing solutions (PC Anywhere, GoToMyPC), I jumped onboard because I found that these tools would allow me to assist my employer and clients from anywhere, at anytime.

In 2004, when I started Kensington Business Solutions, one of my priorities was to be able to achieve a work/life balance for my employees and myself by creating a virtual organization.
Initially to achieve the virtual organization structure, before there were tools like DropBox, KBS was sewn together with Internet file synchronization tools.  Everyone had files on their computers that would synchronize to the Internet and then synchronize to the rest of the computers in the firm.  It was innovative at the time, but, I then lost sleep at night worrying about duplicating files, security holes, employees walking away with client files and many other flaws of the solution I had created.

So, again, I realized that there had to be a better way.

Today, KBS is 9 years old and operates successfully and securely and completely in the cloud.  Employees and clients can get to their data from anywhere and, although hard drive failures are never without their inconveniences, they hardly derail me or my team because we can easily work from any computer knowing all the information we need isn’t sitting on one machine, but, is safely lodged in ‘server farms’ throughout the country.

One Software as a Service (SaaS) that has transformed my business the most is the password management system that we adopted a number of years ago.

In April 2008, shortly after meeting with a client of mine who was a well-known writer and speaker in the field of Nutrition, I received a call informing me that my client had passed away very unexpectedly. The call was from the client’s husband, who I had never met.  Her husband, steeped in grief from the horrible, unimaginable event, felt he had to call me, because…I was the only one that had many of his spouse’s passwords.  I went over to his home and provided all of the passwords that I had stored, but the image of that day has stuck with me.

When I came home from meeting with the client’s spouse, my husband and I had a conversation about the importance of these passwords. Since that time we have agreed to keep all of our passwords in an encrypted password management system that we both have access to.

KBS is currently using the cloud-based product, Secret Server Online, for our password management system and it is one of the most mission critical, reliable and valuable tools we have in our tool chest.  With great confidence, we store over 1,200 ‘secrets’ in a secure portal that allows only the appropriate users to see the confidential information.

Because of my business’s reliance on “the cloud” for all of our data and passwords, I am confident that whether I am in my office, walking my dog, or somewhere in between, my information is both accessible and more secure in its spot on a server far away, yet as close as one of my devices nearby.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010



I find that in many organizations, one key weak point is that the owner/management, does not have a centralized location for a critical asset in today's world - passwords and related

I recommend this solution for both business and personal use (after having a client pass away and the spouse did not have access to any of her passwords/account information).

There are so many products available, many of which are very good, secure, low-cost..etc. I currently use a product called 'Splashid' (www.splashid.com)- I use the web based version and backup the encrypted file to my system once a week. I am a big fan of secure web based solutions as opposed to solutions that reside on one computer with one person. Both have their risks, but, I believe the risk is lower with the web based (others may disagree). Other products - www.clipperz.com, www.passpack.com, www.keepass.com.

THIS IS CRITICAL to an organizations disaster recovery and sustainability.

I store all the web logins, bank account information, software passwords, software licensing information (for QuickBooks for instance), tax id's, credit card information, security questions...etc - seems like a dangerous thing to do, but, these sites are more secure than the little sticky sheet method :).

There will be instances where you might want to right something down, verbatim, that a technical person provides to you and then regurgitate to another tech person - the manager is useful for that. Although this website's master information should only be given to long-term, trusted individual(s) and as few people as possible. I do believe it is the kind of thing that a spouse should know about though, in the event of an emergency.

I have two accounts - one that I share with my husband and one for business.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Social Media Trends & Tools - Amazing - 'Did You Know'

Food for thought – from the Maryland Association of CPA's and Maddie Grant's blog…

CPA Success

'Did You Know?' 4.0: Evolution of the revolution

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 05:00 AM PDT

In the interest of full disclosure, I am completely ripping off this blog post from association social media thought leader Maddie Grant. She posted this on her blog recently and I just had to share it with you.

It's the latest edition of one of my favorite videos, the fourth in the popular "Did You Know?" series that examines the emergence and evolution of social trends and tools.

Two points in the video struck home with me. The first is this:

"10 million: The number of unique visitors ABC, NBC and CBS get every month, collectively. These businesses have been around for a combined 200 years.

"250 million: The number of unique visitors MySpace, YouTube and Facebook get every month, collectively. None of these sites existed 6 years ago."

The second is this:

"The mobile device will be the world's primary connection tool to the Internet in 2020."

Combining those two concepts -- social connectivity and mobility -- is going to have a powerful impact on our networks going forward. It'll be fun to watch what happens next.

Tom Hood offered up an excellent point during one of our recent conversations: Social networking has always been an indispensable skill for successful leaders. They have always thrived on expanding their networks and collaborating with like-minded colleagues. The only difference today is the way in which they do it.

Ignore social resources at your own peril. They are not fads. They will, in fact, be important weapons in our business and communication arsenals going forward. And they will continue to evolve quickly. If we don't take the time to master them now, we will soon be lost.

Get familiar with them here. Then, if you're ready to take the next step, get committed with a social media quick start.


__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4456 (20090925) __________

The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.


__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4456 (20090925) __________

The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Manage your Time and Work with Projjex

I am using a product called Projjex (www.projjex.com) to manage our client workload. I prefer it to Outlook’s tasks in many ways. It’s web based, easy to navigate, intuitive and has increased our productivity immensely. Give it a try.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pay your Estimated Taxes in Minutes

One of my goals in business/life is to never hand write a check or use a stamp and an envelope.

To further my goal, I pay whatever I can, online.

You can pay your estimated taxes in minutes by going to http://www.eftps.gov/ for Federal payments.

For those living in Maryland, the site that you go to is: https://interactive.marylandtaxes.com/Individuals/IndivLogin/default.asp.

For those outside of Maryland, look online on your state’s website.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Manna in May 2008 - Food Drive


“Manna in May” Food Drive to Benefit Manna Food Center

May 2008, Bethesda, Maryland: In response to the recent increase in food prices, homelessness is on the rise, and hunger is increasing, forcing many people in our own neighborhoods to turn to food banks for help. “Food drives are usually centered around holidays and special events, but the needs of our community are year round,” says Tim Lanigan, Director, Food Collection Programs, Manna Food Center.

A consortium of local business owners organized by Lisa Flaxman of musiKids have partnered with Manna Food Center in Rockville to help. The businesses, owned and run by local moms, are asking the public to help feed people by buying extra food when they grocery shop and donating it at convenient local drop spots. Donors can place the food in brightly colored purple “Manna in May” bins donated by musiKids.

The consortium’s goal is to collect a minimum of 10,000 pounds of food during the month of May.

Local businesses spearheading the food drive are:

· musiKids (Bethesda, Rockville)

· Be You Bi You Wellness Center (Bethesda)

· The Six O’Clock Scramble (Chevy Chase)

· Kensington Business Solutions (Kensington)

Some of the local businesses acting as drop spots include:

· musiKids Bethesda (4900 Auburn Ave., Bethesda)

· musiKids Rockville (1701 Rockville Pike, B-8, Rockville)

· Be You Bi You (5602 Shields Dr., Bethesda)

· Chevy Chase Super Market (8513 Connecticut Avenue)

· Kensington Safeway (10541 Connecticut Ave., Kensington)

· North Chevy Chase Elementary School (Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase)

· Rosemary Hills Primary School (Porter Road, Silver Spring)

· ArtWorks, Bethesda (7847 Old Georgetown Rd, # 1)

· Art Works, Gaithersburg, (416 Main St. Gaithersburg )

· Rock Creek Sports Club (8325 Grubb Rd., Silver Spring)

· Full of Beans (5502 Connecticut Ave, DC)

· Catch Can (5516 Connecticut Ave., DC)

· The Old Town Market (Wake & Kensington Pkwy, Kensington, MD)

Here are the startling statistics about the increasing need for local hunger relief:

  • FY 2008 has seen an 8% increase in the client base
  • There has been a 21% increase since 2004
  • Manna provides about 78 pounds of food a month to approximately 2100 clients, which means a minimum of 168,800 pounds of good each month
  • Since late Fall, Manna has received 15 requests a week to for jobs at Manna, coming from the client base and the general population, an unprecedented number.

The need right now is for food high in protein and for main courses. Manna needs:

· peanut butter

· canned meats (ham, chicken) and canned fish (tuna, sardines, salmon)

· beans and rice

· soup

· mac ‘n cheese

Cash donations are needed in addition to food and can be made on-line at mannafood.org.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

MompreneurCoach Workshops

Been thinking about starting your own business?

Three local mompreneurs - Robin Thieme and Lisa Flaxman of mompreneurcoach.com and Psychologist Beth Sperber Richie of Mosaic Life - offer a dynamic workshop to help you get started

March 6 from 10 a.m.-noon
B-CC Chamber of Commerce
7910 Woodmont Ave., #1204
Bethesda, MD 20814


let us help you find the balance!

Drawing on over twenty years of practical business experience and professional training, Lisa Flaxman, CEO, musiKids (mother of three), and Robin Thieme, Owner, Kensinton Business Solutions (mother of two), have joined forces as mompreneurcoach.com to provide workshops for women interested in starting and/or in the process of starting their own business. Mompreneucoach.com has teamed with Beth Sperber Richie, a psychologist (mother of three) whose Mosaic Life approach helps women clarify the type of business that will represent their values and be optimally integrated into their lives.

This unique workshop will focus on a wide range of small business, professional and personal development issues for those interested in taking their innovative ideas to the next level.

Benefits of workshop:

  • Practical nuts & bolts information on how to start a small business (such as business formation, selecting and purchasing domains, accounting set-up, marketing);
  • Social support from hearing the stories and struggles of other women who have started their own business
  • Tools in your tool kit to evaluate your life and how your business can fit with who you are and what you want to accomplish; and
  • Materials and assistance that will turn your concepts into concrete plans and actions.