Andrew Bird is an investor in a number of small businesses, including the Jervis Bay Motel – a motel on the NSW South Coast, which offers easy access to both Huskisson Beach and Jervis Bay Marine Park.
Squirrel Street (SS): So, tell me about how you’re using Squirrel Street.
Andrew: I use it for accounting upkeep, especially with the motel. I applied Squirrel Street to the motel’s operations, and it worked really well. When you’re managing a small business in a remote location, that’s when you have to think laterally about creative ways to get the job done. I can get access to the information without actually being there.
That’s the business where Squirrel Street has been the most useful, because it solves a real specific problem. Instead of having to drive down and sort through endless paperwork, everything can be digitised and organised efficiently.
SS: Has there been a time when Squirrel Street was particularly useful?
Andrew: We did some renovations last year, and normally the hotel doesn’t claim much in the way of expenses. But during renovations last year, we filed a GST return that had a refund and that obviously triggered something at the ATO because the ATO called and asked for our top three expense receipts during that quarter, so they could approve the refund.
There were dozens and dozens of invoices in that quarter, and yet Squirrel Street was able to pull those up within a couple of seconds. It could have been a real bother, but with Squirrel Street we were able to do it in about five minutes.
SS: You’re not an accountant though, are you?
Andrew: No, I’m a business manager, but I do a lot of accounting work myself. It’s easier when you have it automated. The hotel is remote, but the day-to-day manager scans everything up to me for approval, and then I send it to Squirrel Street. Reconciling everything is a lot easier that way.
SS: What other things are you using it for?
Andrew: General receipt and expense management – my own expenses, for things like travel and especially taxis. We also use it for another business, an online one that has a lot of paper receipts.
SS: Often, when you’re running a business, it’s very hard to avoid the paper and go paper-free.
Andrew: For sure. And most invoices come through as PDFs through email, but you still have to get the data and store them somehow. The hotel used to use the Magic Envelopes, but now everyone can use the scanner, and it makes the process a lot more streamlined.
SS: How did you come across Squirrel Street in the first place?
Andrew: We started using Xero about four or five years ago. I came across Squirrel Street through Xero, because they were an add-on company. And we’ve been a Squirrel Street customer now for about three years.
SS: How receptive did you find your team to implementing Squirrel Street into your accounting processes?
Andrew: There was a bit of resistance at first, with people wondering how much work it was going to be, but in this case it’s just a matter of shoving it onto email instead of shoving it into the Magic Envelope – which is what we started with and that worked too.
The bigger challenge was implementing Xero, because it was a change from manual to automated in terms of putting payroll through, but there was a huge pay-off from the switch. So by the time Squirrel Street came around, they saw the benefits – and it didn’t require a change in behaviour.
SS: So how did you find the Xero-Squirrel Street integration?
Andrew: It’s pretty good. It used to be a bit harder to make sure everything had gone from Squirrel Street through to Xero, but that’s working much better with the new system changes. It’s much more seamless now, which is important when running a small business.
They work well in conjunction – Squirrel Street does cut down on the data entry time into Xero, which is huge.
SS: What would you say to someone thinking about using Squirrel Street?
Andrew: Give it a go! Getting paper off your desk and into somewhere you can easily find it again is a huge benefit. If you need to find something – like invoices, with the hotel last year – it takes five minutes to find everything you need, even if it was from a while ago.
Especially when you’re doing something like an audit, which is a huge process, that’s where Squirrel Street really shows its value – instead of wasting hours and hours hunting for pieces of paper, you can find everything you need in a short amount of time. Even knowing that I’ve got Squirrel Street as an ‘audit back up’ in case there’s a ‘next time’ is a great thing.
Big thanks to Andrew for taking the time to share this experience of Squirrel Street!