A passion for helping ‘the little guys’ inspired Business Chicks member Sharon Crombie to start her own business; here are her tips for taking control of your company’s finances.
When I was younger I never had a burning desire to be an accountant – I was more interested in music and anything creative while at school. Fast forward a few years (and one failed hairdressing apprenticeship down), and an accountancy-related job had opened up at the haulage company my parents owned back home in Wales.
At the time I was a single mum with two toddlers, and knew I needed to do something different to turn my life around. I began to really enjoy the accountancy-related work I was doing, so while juggling home life and working full-time I ended up gaining my advanced diploma with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
I started to move my way up the ranks in the corporate world, but I always found I really enjoyed working with small business owners and dreamed of working with them more. It took me a while to turn this into reality though. Mostly because I didn’t think I was good enough, and that whatever I did wouldn’t stand out from the sea of other bookkeeping and accounting services out there, so I wouldn’t be able to secure any clients. I’d often ask myself , “why would they pick me?!”
Putting my inner critic to bed
My family and I made the big leap of moving to Australia in 2013, and at this time I began to really commit to coming to terms with my inner critic, and that often-present imposter syndrome. This led me to launch MicroChilli last September, a remote bookkeeping and advisory service.
ABS statistics like ‘60% of small businesses fail within their first three years’ make my stomach churn, especially because a lot of it has to do with financial management.
I see this being due to the fact that small business owners can’t afford to outsource their bookkeeping and accounting, and then it falls by the wayside because they are too busy catering to their customers and clients, or they have outsourced the services, but their provider doesn’t understand how they operate and the type of service they require, so they don’t achieve the results they need to succeed in the long-term.
All of this combined with my love of working with slightly quirky, like-minded entrepreneurs inspired me to really hone in on my niche and cater to the smaller guys, so I built MicroChilli on a low cost, fuss-free and flexible model, because it suits the specific needs of small business owners.
Learning to love the ups and downs of business ownership
A little over a year later and the business has grown beyond my wildest expectations, but this hasn’t come without its challenges. When starting out I found I was investing a lot of time and money into the business, and it took many months to begin to see any return. It can be easy to become disillusioned when you’re a new business owner, but I’ve learned it’s all part of the process, and remind myself daily that it can take between one to two years to really start to see results.
I’ve found entrepreneurship can be very lonely, but it’s so important to remember that we’re not alone! It’s vital to ask for help, try not to take everything on yourself, lean on family and friends, and build a community of like-minded people around you.
One of my biggest challenges has been trying to fit it all in. I still work a 9-5 job (the dream is to focus on MicroChilli full-time once I see the returns) and I’m a mum of two young girls (and two huskies), so the dreaded mum guilt was very prevalent early on. By developing and sticking to a daily routine I’ve been able to better manage my time, and giving up alcohol two-and-a-half years ago has really helped with this, too.
Four ways to own your company’s financials
It’s so important entrepreneurs and small business owners stay on top of the financial side of their operations. I hope these snippets of advice will help you on your way:
- Create a personal budget. Assess your living expenses, and look to a budget planner like the free, downloadable one on Money.com.au. This will allow you to determine how much you need to pay yourself, and will contribute to how you forecast. A big one to keep in mind – make sure you pay yourself first.
- Forecast ongoing. Instead of creating an annual forecast and then ‘setting and forgetting’, get into the habit of revising it on a weekly basis (minimum). You’ll then see your true actuals, be able to plan for the quieter times and make well-informed decisions about your business.
- Manage your debtors and creditors. Aim to request upfront payment with clients and customers, and negotiate either 30 or 60-day payment terms with your suppliers. If you can, time your incomings with your outgoings to keep your operations running smoothly.
- Embrace technology. There are a number of user-friendly accounting and rostering tools out there that allow you to automate invoicing (and reminders so there’s no need for you to chase) and view your incomings, outgoings and staffing in real-time. I urge you to look at them constantly and make the relevant adjustments to benefit the business. If a particular day was extra profitable last week, for example, it might be worth getting another employee on for the same day this week to keep up with demand.
Are you wearing too many hats in your business? For remote bookkeeping services that’ll free up precious time in your day, reach out to Sharon at MicroChilli here.