What if you could have a CFO – in your back pocket 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Well you can.
And here’s why you should consider doing it.
By Michael Mekhitarian
I’ve been talking to a lot of small business owners in recent months, just to take my own ‘temperature check’ on current issues and to provide useful feedback to the NSW Government via my role as President of the Western Sydney Advisory Council with Business NSW.
Aside from the broader impacts of disrupted supply chains, escalating costs and talent shortages one thing that keeps coming up is the issue of financial management.
We all know that small businesses have significant burdens when it comes to accounting and tax reporting, which only gets more complicated and time consuming when you add in responsibilities around employees.
And although the ATO has done a lot in the way of streamlining reporting for small business, it’s still time consuming and it can be stressful, particularly if accounting and tax are not necessarily in your natural or educated skill set.
For example, recently I met a young tradie with a thriving electrical business. He works the business himself with one apprentice.
“Living the dream ….” he said sarcastically. “First client is usually at 7.30am and then on any typical day, after working with clients, I’m working well into the evening organising the schedule and ordering supplies, sorting out receipts and invoicing, packing the truck and making sure we’ve got petrol. On the weekends, my wife, who is pretty good with the numbers, gets it all into some sort of order so that we can stay on top of the BAS – and she sorts out the salaries.”
His wife works three days a week in retail and the work she does on the weekend for the business she does voluntarily, or out of love, as they say.
While it’s admirable, it’s not ideal. Most business owners and entrepreneurs go into business because they want freedom and control. The sparky’s story doesn’t sound much like freedom to me. Nor does it sound sustainable – aside from running the risk of burnout, this young couple don’t have enough time in the week to stop working IN the business to start working ON it, to plan its growth and long-term profitability.
By the sounds of it, they don’t get much time to enjoy the spoils of their labour, either.
There is a solution. And it’s called Virtual CFO. It’s a service we set up some time ago and we have a range of clients using it successfully – from large overseas companies with an Australian presence and reporting requirements, to small local businesses with employee numbers ranging from two to twenty.
Virtual CFO is specifically designed, as the name suggests, to take away the headache from you. It means you don’t have to spend hours in the evening sorting invoices or on weekends completing BAS statements. You get your freedom back, which is equally important to the other benefits, which are accuracy and real-time, customised reporting, as well support from one of our team of professional accountants if you need it.
It’s a completely outsourced finance function and you can pick and choose what you need from the services available, from simple bookkeeping requirements such as accounts receivable and payable, budget, expenses and cash flow, to more complex payroll, and, if you want it, strategic financial planning.
We use Xero software which is compatible with the ATO systems and allows all authorised users (you) to log into your account from anywhere, at any time.
What’s more, we can also set permissions for key staff so they have access to critical data they need, but not necessarily ALL of the numbers.
The other fantastic thing about Xero, particularly for tradies, is that there are a number of add-on apps, like WorkflowMax that enables tradies to tightly manage projects from start-to-finish, including supplies, account for employee leave time and lunch breaks and overtime etc etc etc – all from a mobile phone.
Because it’s compatible with the Xero software, the app hooks directly into the financial management side of the business too, which provides greater control over budgeted costs and actual costs, allowing you to maximise your profits by identifying over-runs early so you can manage them.
If you can take the time to chat for an hour or so with us, we can walk you through it step-by-step and help you understand what might be right for your business.
The ongoing monthly cost is minimal – particularly when you think about the benefits of actually getting your life, and leisure time back. It’s also cheaper than actually installing your own software, training yourself in how to use it, and worrying about updates, security and ongoing maintenance yourself – this can result in significant savings as far as accounting overheads, particularly as the business grows.
Also … if you employ an accountant and you leave, then you have to hire and train someone new – all costs in dollar terms and potential downtime to productivity. But our service is seamless – if we have someone leave at our end, we’ve got enough skilled, knowledgeable people to provide backup in the blink of an eye.
The fact of the matter is that we can whinge till we’re blue … but the Australian tax system is not going to change in a hurry and with ATO audits on the rise, it can be costly if you make a mistake, so for the peace of mind Virtual CFO is well worth it too.
If we can help, then we’d like to. At ATB Partners, we’re a small business ourselves and we have extensive experience working with small businesses, across a range of industries. We understand the nuances and the headaches, particularly the ones associated with the early years.
Good systems are worth investing in. Because when you have everything in place, you’re free to just get on with what you do best. And enjoy your weekends again.