Happy New Year

Wow what a year! I hope you have had some time to reflect on your achievements over the last 12 months. It's always important to celebrate the wins. I also hope you are ready to start this 1st week of the New Financial Year with a bang. Remember habits only take 28 days to form. The Growthwise gang have been busy behind the scenes preparing for the next 12 months. We have had loads of fun transferring clients to Paycycle & Xero and also finding solutions such as Vend for Point of Sale, Unleashed for Inventory and Simpro for Job Management for our clients. We have also implemented a new system internally to plug into Xero called Workflow Max.

What does this mean for you our clients?

Workflow Max is a fantastic tool from a job management perspective. Over the coming month we will be inviting you to access Workflow Max for yourself. You will be able to see where your jobs are up to, reply to any questions we have, upload documents and also have access to your Reports - all from the click of a button. We think this will make working with Growthwise even easier. We will be sending out our Proposals for the coming 12 months this week so you know well in advance what we will be doing for you and how much this will cost. And as always you will have the option of setting up a Direct Debit to pay our fees monthly. We will also be introducing a *Mother Hen* to our team! If you missed our advertisement you can check it out here YouTube...we certainly had some great applications. Stay tuned for the Introduction in about 2 weeks time.

What else can you expect this year?

Loads more tips! Check out our schedule of updated below Monday - will be the traditional Words from the Wise Guys where we challenge you to improve your business & give you those little hints & tips for success Tuesday - will be our video day! We have been working with some brilliant minds to bring you a video series to start in the next couple of weeks. We have picked several topics to quiz some brilliant minds on Wednesday - will be our Technology day. We will showcase some great tools to help you in your business. Thursday - will be our Technical day. We will give you updates on any changes to the technical rules for running a business. Friday - we will be showcasing YOU. Yes this will be our Client of the Week day. It's always great when we can recommend clients to our clients so what better way then to showcase you. If you would like to be included just let us know. So we don't clog up your inbox everyday we will only be posting the Monday & Thursday Updates to your Inboxes. The rest will be updated on our Facebook Page, Twitter pages and the video on our YouTube channel. If you would prefer to have these all delivered to your inbox shoot back an email letting me know which days you are interested in. If you are not already following us here are the links to our pages: Growthwise Facebook Twitter - just search for @growthwise / @growthwiseSMSF / @growthwiseKW YouTube Let us know if you have any problems signing up to the above. Oh & stay tuned for the update to our new website! Happy New Year - the growthwise gang

But I don't have Time......

I cannot tell you how many times I hear the phrase....But I don't have Time. This is usually from a business owner when I'm suggesting that to they need to do some things differently to achieve that result they are looking for. And for the most part it's true. They work hard, they work long hours and they are constantly on the go. For a lot of small business owners they start out on their own or with a very small team. This means they need to wear all the hats in the business.....they are the CEO, the CFO, the CIO etc as well as being the one to *do* the majority of the work......it's no wonder they are busy. But often the *doing* takes over and the roles to build the business, systemise the process, and keep everything on track get left till last......and because of the busyness.....never get done. Now i'm not just talking about the things that need to be done to grow your business. Some small business owners are fantastic at this & succeed very quickly at ramping up their business turnover. Often this results in the back office being chaotic as there are no systems or process. This means the business owner still needs to *do* a lot of the back office stuff because without any systems or processes they cannot delegate to any other team members. Then there's the cash flow issues.......again normally left till last. Unfortunately cash flow as a business grows is one of the most crucial aspects. As you grow the amount of money you are owed in dollar terms also grows. Unfortunately all too often the time it takes for people to pay you also grows. This is due to having no control over your cash flow. You also need to hire more people, more equipment - decisions are made on the fly with no consideration to the long term effect on your cash flow. Should you lease the equipment as opposed to buying outright? What do you need to increase sales by to cover the cost of a new employee? As you can see NOT making the time costs you money. It can not only cost you money but also your sanity! And the important thing.....You DON'T have to do everything yourself. If cash flow is not your thing for example we can certainly help. Rob Nixon wrote a great little article for the accounting profession regarding time.....but it applies equally to every business. You can read it here: You can't lavish time unless you have time to lavish Whilst there are numerous ways in which to manage and prioritise your time - you need to find one that works for you. I have always suggested to business owners to pick a few hours every week and block this time out to work "ON" your business. For me I find simple things work. I set Friday as my *whatever* day. I start the day with a relaxing coffee at #newcastlecoffee where I catch up with some very dynamic business owners. I then spend up to an hour on Growthwise CFO role (checking cash flow, reviewing budgets & targets etc). I have a few hours for those small tasks that you never quite get to during the week or to see a client if need be, then it's my time to work "ON" the business. Each Month I set a big task that I want to complete for Growthwise. I then break that down into my Friday tasks. I find the other days of the week I start with the biggest and most important thing 1st thing in the morning. This ensures the most important things get done. Really it's all about finding what works for you. Are your priorities in order? Or do you need a little assistance? Do you really not have the time?

Words from the Wise Guys

The Modern Practice - What it means to me.........

Yesterday Xero released an article title The Modern Practice (article here http://blog.xero.com/2010/09/the-modern-practice/ ). The article talks about the need for cost effective solutions for accountants to make running their businesses *easier*. To eliminate the need for expensive servers and software that result in needing IT specialists inside your businesses to run upgrades, install on each machine and be ready to troubleshoot when the problems arise. What are they talking about? Low Fees, Real-Time Integration, Automatic Updates, Online anywhere anytime, Automatic Backups. How much time and money would a solution like this save us!   These costs certainly are a strong factor in the barriers to entry for anyone wanting to start their own Accounting Business. With the costs for a resource hungry server + computers, many can't afford the additional costs to set up a Practice Management and Tax Suite of Products. Having just been through this process over 12 months ago I can assure you the Modern Practice Idea would be a welcome addition. Well here is my two cents worth on what "The Modern Practice" needs to look like.......
  1. Database - The 1st thing we need is a red hot database. And one that allows us to customise to our hearts content. This should be able to incorporate our Clients, Suppliers, Referral Partners, Potential Clients & anyone else we want to keep on our hit list. It needs to be searchable and more importantly we need to be able to manipulate the data inside for reporting etc. It needs to hold all the important information such as Names, Dates of Birth, Addresses etc but needs to also integrate with the new ways of dealing with clients - ie automatic ability to Skype call the client. We need to be able to use this database to have a snapshot of the client. What needs to be done, when billing needs to be done, if the client owes us money, How many clients have been referred from this client, and more importantly what this client is all about - links to their website, linkedin profiles, twitter and facebook profiles. The database needs to be able to tell the story of the client.
  2. Practice Management - This needs to be able to bring all of the collaborations together and allow for the seemless integration of all parts of the business. Workflow needs to be automated, billing needs to be automated, collecting the debts needs to be automated. Timesheets for those who still want to complete them should also be automated - once you open a clients xero ledger the timesheet should pop up immediately for you to just click go. If you prepare BAS Quarterly for a client you should set this up once in a Wizard and each quarter the "job" should automatically be in your system. Workflow needs to be just 1 system. No having tasks and Jobs. No one has time to look at both. Make it simple. Workflow should be able to be done by mining your database. Reviewing your Practices KPI's needs to also be automated and be able to be viewed by the whole team. For the larger firms the ability for Team Members to integrate things like Yammer into their
  3. Compliance - needs to be integrated. The one ledger approach needs to be able to be used for all compliance based activities. The clients Xero file needs to prepare the BAS's, Financial Statements, Income Tax Returns, Payroll Tax Returns and any other Red Tape the government wants to throw at Small Businesses.
  4. Document Management - again needs to be automated. If you publish the Financial Statements in Xero this should Automatically go into the Clients "filing cabinet". Similarly with any emails to the client, skype chats and phone calls etc need to automatically be stored in the clients file. But again one of the biggest things for Document Management needs to be the "intranet" or whatever we want to call it these days. The templates, the working papers & the standards. Again this needs to be automated but more importantly needs to be updateable, easily. We have these great tools available to us now where we can store notes, ideas, blogs, etc and this needs to all be integrated. Imagine having a standard google reader subscription for your team so they can all ensure they are up to date with the latest and can all read from the comfort of their iPad at their leisure.
  5. Advice - what's missing most from the Best of Breed Online Solutions at the moment? The advice side of things - yes the part we accountants get excited about. Yes Xero has reports that show you the Ratio's of the business but what about being able to manipulate this data to prepare What-If Scenarios, project forward for clients, show them the impact of decisions they are contemplating, Input Budget Key Drivers and monitor these Monthly or Quarterly. This is where the online space can really boost the accounting profession. We are the ones with the client's numbers (real time thanks to Xero) so we need to be able to utilise those numbers to help clients grow their business, show them where they can improve, show them the impact of buying new equipment, putting on team members etc. Show them how they are tracking in comparison to other similar businesses. We can be giving real time proactive advice.
  6. Collaboration - the most important thing the Modern Practice needs is to be able to collaborate easily with our clients. This means clients need to be able to access our calendars to book appointments. They need to be able to access their Financial Statements and Tax Returns from inside their own electronic "filing cabinet". They need to be able to share/store all of their Tax Compliance based information with us easily. None of this email to the accountant and then the accountant have to save the file. And even more importantly they need to be able to access our advice. Collaboration does not need to stop with the client though. Imagine just sending one file to the bank manager for them to tick and file.
The biggest thing with all of this is that it needs to be integrated. And easily accessible. No longer do we need to be tied to the grey desk in the beige office with the white or blue shirt and tie. We are now equipped with the cool tools like Evernote, Dropbox, Livescribe Pens, Jing & Xero! Can the Accounting Profession be the one to lead Best Business Practice into the future? What are your thoughts? http://www.facebook.com/pages/Newcastle-Australia/Growthwise/141264916252  

Words from the Wise Guys

The Modern Business

Two weeks ago Xero released an update on the Best of Breed Online solutions for The Modern Practice. It was a great opportunity for me to brainstorm what I wanted in technology programs to help Growthwise run as efficiently as possible & still deliver the added extra's to clients. I followed up with a response which was posted on the Linkedin Group - The Modern Practice as well as Twitter and Facebook. It was great to get feedback from other accountants and the software providers themselves on what the future of Accounting Businesses could look like. You can read it here Blog But that got me thinking........how often to you sit back and brainstorm what the Modern equivalent of your business could look like? Are there software providers specialising in your Industry? Do you know where they are taking their businesses? Do you know all of the products they currently have available? Could you possibly reduce your IT Hardware costs if you did not need the expensive servers and software? What would your business look like if you had access to Low Fees, Real-Time Integration, Automatic Updates, Automatic Backups and you could access your Business Information Online Anywhere Anytime? What software solutions does your business use now? Do you have a Database Management System? Does this deal with your Customers, Suppliers, Potential Customers & Business Referrers? Or do you have separate programs for each? Do you even have a Database Management System? Does this integrate into your Accounting Package so you can produce reports based on money outstanding, time to collect debts, average yearly spend etc. If you had a system like this what would it mean to your business? Does your database tell a story about your client? Do you have a workflow or Project Management system? Is this integrated into the rest of your business such as time billing systems, debtor systems etc? What improvements could be made in your business if you had a centralised Workflow System that helped control the work in your business and allowed you to deliver on time to your customers? Does your workflow system allow you to look at your Businesses Key Performance Indicators? How long it takes you to complete an average job etc? Does your business Compliance Systems integrate? Do you need to have certain things to comply with Industry Standards? How are these documented and managed? How does your business deal with documents? With Notes? Do you have paper files all over the office & spend time trying to find old files? Or is everything integrated into one System? Do you have an inventory management system that allows for streamlined ordering of new products? Does this system give you information per product? Are you able to analyse your best selling product by price, by volume and by margin? What else is on your wishlist to help streamline your business? With the change and pace of technology a lot of these solutions can be delivered and integrated. But you need to be clear on just what you want your Modern Business to look like. Then you need to understand some of the exciting products that are already in the market place. If you need some help with the brainstorming or just understanding what technology is already available give me a call & I can help you with a Tech Review. And keep your eyes peeled for an exciting event showcasing In the Cloud Business Tools from The Lunaticks Society in November. What does your Modern Business look like?