Now that we’re about to cross the line into a new financial year, we thought you might appreciate a look at how one small business owner’s approach to automating, streamlining and improving business systems lead to a very successful 2015.
Meet Steph Hinds – founder of superhero accountants, Growthwise, and co-founder of Dig Festival Australia. Growthwise offers more than just small business accounting. Rather, they focus more holistically on the entire business to automate, streamline and improve systems, processes and ultimately profits.
Steph says she’s not your “average pen pushing, number crunching, sit-behind-a-desk accounting nerd”. Growthwise was designed to provide small business owners with the tools and support to solve problems, achieve real success and help them seriously push their boundaries, regardless of which stage of the business life cycle they’re currently in.
Shoeboxed: Talk to me about why you got into this space vs. staying with the more traditional accounting firm model?
Steph: A couple of things, it’s quite boring if all you’re doing is tax and financial statements – you’re not really helping people. Let’s face it, as accountants, we’re trained to analyse the numbers and analyse how a business is doing and where it could do better – not just report the numbers. So we wanted to be able to do that work.
And that work is more fun and more productive from the client’s perspective. And, frankly it provides a better business opportunity for us too.
Shoeboxed: How did you come across Shoeboxed originally?
Steph: When the Xero ecosystem started, it was a good tight knit community with only a few players who had that integration with Xero and Shoeboxed was the absolute trailblazer as far as receipt scanning went.
When we originally met with Shoeboxed’s CEO, Simon, we thought “imagine us never having to do data entry again”, it was just the most tremendous thought. And then we got excited for our clients as well.
Of course, just like every other small business, when we started out we were very small and the last thing any of us wanted to do in our spare time was look at our own internal accounts or be typing invoices and horrible stuff. So the thought of not having to do that got us very excited, and no longer ever having to file anything ever again is amazing.
Shoeboxed: Do you find people have concerns around security, being online and trusting the cloud? Have you seen a change in that over time?
Steph: It’s becoming a lot more normalised. When we started six years ago, the process was about educating clients on the existence of the cloud. Now, it’s about how we can use the cloud to automate and integrate.
We still get the occasional person who likes to double up – for example with Shoeboxed, we’ve got a couple of clients who still like to physically get those paper invoices back, just in case anything ever happens. But, for the most part people are now very comfortable with it.
Shoeboxed: Why do you think more people aren’t using the cloud? What’s the disconnect there?
Steph: Education. This is one of the reasons that we run the Dig Festival. There’s a huge disconnect between industry leaders, who are your first 5%, then the next 10-15% of people who are happy to take up new things a few years down the track once it’s out in the market place and it’s a bit more known and then there’s the rest of the world – especially in Australia – who are happy to just sit until they’re forced to do things. They’re comfortable with the way they’ve always done things, rather than looking for ways to do things better. There’s considerable reluctance to change. And they’re in need of education.
What they need to see is what you can do with data, once you have it, and the decisions you can make! Having access to resources to be able to tell where you’re up to, at any given point in real time is amazing.
Shoeboxed: How often do you say that business owners should be looking at their data?
Steph: For some it’s daily and for the rest, at least on a monthly basis. And by that I mean actually having a really good look at what’s going on in their business as a whole. It means you’re aware of potential issues, how you’re tracking and subtle changes that you see starting to occur over time.
Shoeboxed: So it’s not just about financial reporting from an ATO perspective?
No, a business’ financials offer up so much more than that. But I have to say, Shoeboxed also helps us and our clients with their ATO reporting, especially around auditing.
Shoeboxed: Tell us more about your experience of audits using Shoeboxed
Steph: At the moment, the ATO want to see a lot of quarterly based information and they are doing GST audits quite a bit. Shoeboxed allows us to literally log in, bring up the quarter and we’ve got a PDF of every single invoice that we need. We send that to the ATO and the audit is literally over with the click of a couple of buttons.
Without Shoeboxed, we’d be going through endless paper trying to get that information, needing to scan or photocopy, before sending it to the tax office. From the client’s perspective, if we had to spend hours assembling bits of paper, that needs to be paid for. So Shoeboxed just saves us an enormous amount of time and our clients’ money! We’re doing mini audits every time we’re exporting out of Shoeboxed and then reconciling those invoices in Xero anyway. So we can pick up anything that’s missing before the ATO comes knocking.
Shoeboxed: Do you encourage clients to use the Shoeboxed app as well as Magic Envelopes?
Steph: The Magic Envelopes are one of the reasons why we really pushed Shoeboxed in the first place, because it’s so simple – clients aren’t having to do anything other than throw the receipts in and then drop the envelope in a post box once a week. We also have some of our more tech-style clients using the app.
Even at Growthwise, and we are probably classed as exceptionally “techy” – everything we use is a technology-based product, we still use the envelopes because it’s just so easy.
Shoeboxed: What is the best client outcome that you’ve had at Growthwise with Shoeboxed?
Steph: We’ve had exceptional success stories. For example, we have a 26 year old tradie who has been able to create and sustain phenomenal growth. Even better, he’s been able to do all of that without any extra administration staff. Nor does he spend every weekend doing paper work because we have him as automated as possible.
And Shoeboxed has played a major role in his success.
Of course, if you’d like to ditch your data entry and streamline your processes like Steph, we’d love to talk. You can call us on 1300 00 1333 or you can get started now with 30 days free.