As QuickBooks launches a campaign to give small businesses the opportunity to show their appreciation for their advisors, we caught up with one small business owner and his bookkeeper to find out how they worked together to come through COVID-19 stronger.
For bookkeeper Lauretta Finis, the most emotional moment of working with her client, Kemal, owner operator of Atez Electrics, was when she was told they’d been successful in getting a $10,000 business support grant from the Victorian government to help his business get through the pandemic.
“Kemal doesn’t know this yet, but I cried,” says Lauretta, Director of Quick Bizness Bookkeeping Solutions.
The pair had been working closely together for almost three years when COVID-19 struck. At the outset of their relationship, both say Kemal’s books were a bit of a mess. Actually, more of a “nightmare”, if you ask Kemal.
Kemal admits he didn’t know what his business owed. Lauretta took the time to slowly work with him to implement changes to strengthen the business’s financial foundation. She added in processes and technologies that made it easier for Kemal to do things right from the get go.
Working with Lauretta, Kemal turned his business around, gaining more time to focus on his strengths in sales and client relationships, with peace of mind that his financials were being taken care of. They’d gotten to a point where Lauretta said she was “really happy with where we were”.
‘Like a tornado’
When COVID-19 hit and businesses were suddenly forced to stop work, Lauretta describes the impact on her small business clients as like a “tornado”. Projects in the pipeline for Atez Electrics got postponed for six to 12 months.
“Things really slowed down. I was on the phone with Lauretta pretty much immediately. She was guiding me through what I need to do, telling me about the government initiatives we could take advantage of. She’s been like my counsellor – really going above and beyond,” says Kemal.
The pair quickly sprang into action, implementing a plan to reduce costs where possible while ensuring Kemal didn’t have to let go of any staff. Lauretta monitored the business’s expenditures closer than ever, reviewing invoices to be paid and implementing job structuring.
With Lauretta’s guidance, Kemal was able to tap into JobKeeper, the federal cashflow stimulus, and the $10,000 Victorian grant. In this, they joined more than 40 per cent of small businesses who told YouGov in a survey commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks, that their advisors played a key role in helping them interpret and apply for government stimulus programs like JobKeeper during the pandemic.*
“We didn’t hit the panic button. She just said, ‘OK, these are the things you need to look at’ and we got onto it right away,” says Kemal.
Building back better
He’s not alone. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of small business owners admit they would have struggled to survive the impacts of COVID-19 without the support of their advisor, according to our research. For Kemal, working with Lauretta throughout COVID-19 has not just ensured he got through the initial shock of the pandemic, it has also inspired him to reinvent his business.
“I’ve gone back to the drawing board and it’s pretty exciting. I’m feeling really positive right now,” he says.
But when it comes to trying new things, he’s doing things differently these days. “I’m not just going to act spontaneously. I’ll always weigh up the pros and cons and Lauretta is helping me there too. Anything I’m doing, I discuss with her.”
Lauretta admits that working with small businesses like Kemal’s is much more than a job for her. “You really become invested in their business and what they do at the end of the day.”
Her advice to any small business who might be struggling right now is two-fold: take control of your business and get someone on your side who knows what they’re doing. Intuit’s research found that almost half (48%) of small business owners would agree – paying for the advice of an accountant or bookkeeper is the top tip they would give someone looking to start their own business.
“If you don’t know where your business is at, whether your finances are accurate, you can’t make the right decisions for your business. You need to know what expenses you have coming up and when money is coming in. QuickBook’s Cashflow Planner is great in that respect.”
“Then make sure you have people on your side. They can help you in a holistic way, to run and grow your business,” says Lauretta.
For Kemal, having Lauretta on his side has been just that. “I was really lucky to find Lauretta. Her guidance has been so valuable. I can’t imagine running my business without her,” he says.
An attitude of gratitude
If you’d like to express your gratitude to your accountant or bookkeeper for their support you can.
This week, QuickBooks has launched a campaign to encourage small business owners across Australia to express their appreciation for their accountants and bookkeepers by sending a message of thanks via Australian digital start-up, Cardly.net.
To send a personalised ‘thank you’ card to the accountant or bookkeeper in your life, visit the QuickBooks page on Cardly.net.
Choose from four specially commissioned cards, illustrated by Melbourne-based artist and QuickBooks customer Lyndsey Knight.
This offer is limited, so get in quick to share your message of gratitude with the accountant or bookkeeper in your life.**
*Research conducted for Intuit by YouGov involving more than 500 small business owners with fewer than 10 employees. The research was undertaken between 15-29 June 2020.