3 top tips from Stuart Wilkinson.
1. Put yourself out a job.
I think my first tip put yourself out a job. And what I mean by that as a business owner, you know, when you create your business, you had a you saw an hole you’re you’re really good at something like you, you know, you were good in hospital or you were really good signmaker or whatever, we saw an opportunity. What that lends to is you kind of that’s your craft that you trade, that’s what you’re good at. Even if you’re in the tech side, you’re a good software, developer, whatever it is. But the only way you’re going to grow your business is actually putting yourself at a job you can’t be you see so many and you would see this there but you see so many clients that have hit a ceiling and that’s not necessary revenue ceiling but a ceiling of capacity, a ceiling of how they manage their team, where they’re trying to be everything for everyone. You’ve employed people for reason, let them do their job and then also trust get good partners around you.
2. Exercises, the first thing you do each day.
I was quizzing Dave as a Dave, how do you manage to stay healthy with all this stuff? And he so I had a client’s do. And they were really up their lawyer and we’re like, you know, smashing out the hours. And so the one thing they talked about is, you know, your exercises, the first thing you do each day has it because otherwise it’ll get shifted. And so you’ve got to have a priority. So he said, so what I’ve started doing and I’m not gonna be one of those CEOs or I woke up at 4am but because I’ve got young kids so i three times and I’ve done it now for a month so it’s pretty recent. I wake up at five and I don’t go from a run I used to run lots because I’ve got three and one year old and I there’s lots of happened with those and a job. The reason I To say that is, you’ve got to look after yourself. And if you’re, you know, you’ve got a big response for your business, you will know that. But if you’re not functioning, and whenever whenever we win, always function 100%, don’t be wrong, but if you’re not doing something for you, and ain’t good, and so, So Dave’s advice was, yeah over have it in your calendar, and it’s non negotiable that gets touched or whether you want to go out to the gym at lunchtime. And so it’s not necessary exercise, it could be meditation, it could be reading a book, it could be anything, but you’ve trained for you time for you. But if you if you know, things get shift in the day, you have to do it first. And you have to work out a way. And I must admit, I’ve done it now for a month, I used to a lot more running before the kids and lockdown stuff. It’s been brilliant. For me, it’s been good for mental health, good for my thought process sets me up well for the day. So that’s my other piece of advice.
3. Understand your cash flow intimately.
What I mean by that is, on a monthly basis, what is your cycle of cash flow, what goes in what goes out, and literally plot it on a whiteboard, whatever it might be you can we help you with this. But cash flow is the lifeblood of your business, you have the best ideas in the world, you have the best initiatives, you can execute them. But if you’re not gonna cash flow, there’s a problem. So really understanding your ups and downs, the movements, tax, it is a point one people forget about it. But really understanding that often 90 days is a good really good window, depending on the type of industry and your payment terms, that kind of stuff, but really get into it. Because because there’s probably some unlock there for you, which takes the pressure off, there’s probably some profitability as well. And even in your cash flow.
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Stuart Wilkinson 00:00
We try to be really open, we probably really, really transparent with people be honest with people, you know, and that sounds obvious. But I think we’ve all experienced in the last three years like, we’ve seen examples where companies they’ve shied away about being pretty open about some trying things, and it’s not going well. Whereas, you know, we’re all adults, let’s treat each other like adults, trust your people. That’s a big one. I also have a big philosophy on and just crane your role as an owner of a business CEO business management team we want to call it is to create an environment for your people to be their best. That’s your job.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:38
So Hello, and Welcome to another episode of Better Business, Better life. Today, I am joined by Stuart Wilkinson, who is a CEO of RightWay, who also has a podcast, which is named Better Business Better Life. So again, we would have a laugh about that number later on. But Stuart has joined us he as a right way is actually would you describe it as an accounting firm?
Stuart Wilkinson 00:58
Yeah, accountancy firm.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:59
Yeah, looks up and basically does an outsourced accounting team for you, if you like. So Stuart, welcome to the show. Yeah,
Stuart Wilkinson 01:06
Great to be here, Deba.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 01:08
Now I asked you what you’d like to talk about. And surprisingly, he didn’t choose to go with profit or cash flow any of those things. He actually wanted to talk about people. Yeah, so we’re gonna talk about, you know, obviously some of the stuff that they do, but particularly around the people, the people issues as well. So, before we start doing that, tell me a little about your journey. Because you are not an accountant.
Stuart Wilkinson 01:26
I’m not an accountant. So yeah, Debra, I’ve I’ve been in I guess, management and business now. 16 year old 17 odd years and I started actually more in sales. So started as an account manager at a firm called Bartercard, first rollout university, you know, kind of thing. And spent 10 years there a great time at Bartercard and worked my way through sort of the hierarchy and this sort of tiers and then got, that’s why I first got into management. So my first role was a branch manager in Auckland, central of Auckland central team, 15 people, I think it was for 15 people. And I loved it. And I thought, you know, this is kind of managing people and teams was kind of thought this is this is probably my jam, and so worked my way up, I then became national sales manager for Barack, I did that for two and a half years. And I thought, probably after 10 years need to work maybe somewhere else and with one place in my life. And I went to rightway, which is six years ago now. And I guess why I made the move was a little bit that it was a similar product, and the center was b2b, it was a concept sell, you know, we’re not selling a tangible product or anything. And I felt that, you know, from an accounting point of view, I did a bunch of research that there was a lot of change going on the industry about then there was kind of the buzzword advisory was on the go. Right, we had a pretty exciting model was quite forward looking as a firm at that time. And so I came in as a sales manager to help accountant sell which accounts are not known for their sales got some of they’re actually really, really good at it. Yeah. And so from there, it’s been it’s been a, an up and down journey, right? We’ve had some challenges had some great stuff. And then two years ago, it was became CEO of rightway. So yeah,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 03:01
Stuart Wilkinson 03:02
That’s a quick 16 years,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 03:04
Isn’t it? So what are you most proud of in your professional personal life?
Stuart Wilkinson 03:09
I guess like professionally, I think there’s no doubt being a CEO of a company is a pretty, pretty cool thing. I think, you know, it was, when I was started to get into upper management bike, I thought, yeah, this is kind of where I want to go enjoy, you know, more of working through actually the strategy of business, but then how you take the business through that, you know, the vision and values and empowering that and your business on the business and your people. And so I thought, well, this is this is kind of where I want to go with my career. So I think when that happened, I was like, this is pretty cool, but I’m impatient. So I’m like, well, now what you know, as a business, where do we keep going? So I think professionally, that was pretty cool. Personally, you know, I think probably, you know, it’s bit cliche, but the family is a big part, you know, me and my partner Desley we’ve been together for over 13 years, we’ve got two kids, and she’s been very patient with me a lot of the time and kept me on even keel. And look, you know, I used to have this this boss and he was always very much business, his business and life, your life and then it would never end I kind of let the two cross I always struggle with that. Because your your personal life and your work life, whether you own a business or not. They are connected, and they’re there. And the if something’s affect you at work, it will affect you at home and vice versa. So I think personally, you know, I say Desley she’ll hate that I’m talking about her like this. Because I don’t think I would have been as successful as I probably have been professionally without without her and the kids to be honest. So they create good balance, to give you pretty honest feedback. And that’s needed some time. So yeah, I think that was what I said my family.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 04:46
Yeah, fantastic. Now we were talking before the podcast and we talked about the journey that Rightway has been on and it has gone from you know, sort of being initially a small kind of business guy created by two founders and then grew quite large up to 140 staff points. New Zealand. And, and then it’s kind of shrunk back down again, but in a good way. Yeah. And I got about 40 staff and yes, that right, tell us a bit about that journey.
Stuart Wilkinson 05:07
Well, he said this podcast we half an hour. It’s been a hell of a journey. And I think what’s core I think, is our founders. Like I said beforehand, they went to the second ever kind of zero con, which is like zero get together for accountants, it’s like a zero party for accountants, and it’s quite your fun. But they just recognize that cloud technology, you know, the accounting in the cloud, in particular, was going to just change the relationship that accounting could have with their with their client, it was not going to be okay rock into the office in September to talk about last year’s tax return, like which you know, what uses that, actually, we can talk about the President, we can talk about what happened last month and actually add value on an area which most business owners to be frank, financial is not what they open the business for, to be really into the numbers. So it’s an area where we can add as accountants great value understanding, and help and short their decision making or where they go, whether that’s strategically or even short term. And we’ve seen that really, in particular, and COVID. And so the decision making have become a lot short term. So the premise of being able to kind of give more advice and more support, I think, from our founders was, it’s still with us today. But the model we put in place, we grew too quickly. And like I said, we’re pretty honest about it now that growth, growth is an exciting thing for business, but it can derail businesses, if they don’t get it right. And for us, we probably didn’t get it right, we didn’t have the systems and process behind the scenes to deliver great work. You know, your clients don’t care how many cards you’ve got, they will they’re the most important. And so they want a consistent delivery. And if you kind of as you grow, that that kind of falls by the wayside, something’s not quite right, new systems and prices. And that’s where we got tripped up. So it was about four years ago, we said that we were stopped growing here, we’re going to start delivering really saw ourselves out here. And we’ve had a lot of change within that. So it’s been you know, we’ve had some pretty tough times, but we’ve also had some, some really good, some good breakthroughs. And we’re in a really good position where we are now in a business. And we’ve and I you know, and why pick people is because, you know, it doesn’t matter what you do, you people are your business, but as an accounting industry, you know, to do our work, we need great people. And a lot of the people we have so in the business day, we’ve been with us a long time, and we are where we are today because of them. So I think that’s why I thought people would be a good chat for us today. Sure.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 07:22
So let’s let’s talk about people, because I mean, they are they can make or break a business, isn’t it? Right? Yeah. So how do you get good people? How do you ensure that you’re getting the right people?
Stuart Wilkinson 07:31
Well, that’s in the current market? That’s the $64 million question. I think, how do you go people? I think, first of all, like we were talking about this before, like, there is some silly numbers, salary wise in all industries that are going on at the moment, people are just, you know, we’ll pay what we need to pay and stuff and like, don’t be wrong, people should value themselves and get paid what they’re worth, and you need to make sure your market right, you can’t not be market, right. But if that’s your only card that you’ve got to play, you’re not going to win, because it’s becoming very transactional. Actually, the reason they’re coming to you. Because a lot of people say, let’s say they’re doing a set of accounts, doesn’t matter where you are doing a set of accounts, doesn’t matter was that firm or art right way or another? It’s doing a set of accounts? Like it’s the same thing. So you’ve got to think, and most business pretty much the same, you know, especially when you competitive an industry, so how do you differentiate yourself? Often it comes to the vision and values of the business and the purpose that you have the culture, that’s a bit of a, I call it the buzzword, everyone talks about culture, but the way I describe culture, Debra, it’s not the morning tea, it’s actually how you how do we react as a business as a team? When something’s not right. I think that’s when true cultural organization comes through. So a lot of people I think, and COVID when businesses have been challenged, probably seeing the true colors of a business. So those things create, I think, you know, real purpose of why people want to get out of bed, I didn’t get you, you get outta bed to pay the bills, we actually want to spring out of bed because you’re excited what you want to do you see purpose and your work, you see the results of what you’ve done for clients or whatever it might be, depending on your business. So I’m not so pedantic about the secret sauce. But I think what we try to be really clear at right way, and I guess my philosophy is a little bit is we try to be really open we primary really transparent with people be honest with people, you know, and that sounds obvious. But I think we’ve all experienced in the last three years, like, we’ve seen examples, where companies, they’ve shied away about being pretty open about some trying things and it’s not going well. Whereas, you know, we’re all adults, let’s treat each other like adults, trust your people. That’s a big one. Also, I’m a big philosophy on and just crane, you know, your role as an owner of a business CEO, business management team, we’re gonna call it is to create an environment for your people to be their best. That’s your job, you know, and you want them to be able to get whatever it is next, wherever it is they want to progress in their career. They want to be able to take on this next challenge that might not even be with you. But I often say when people move for a new opportunity that’s outside right away, which we can give them well that’s to success because we’ve gear them up for and you got to view yourself like that. So as long as you view yourself like that, and then can tell those stories, people want to come work for you because they’re like, Yeah, I could I could do all right here. So that’s a bit of a ramble, I think. But I think you’re in this environment, the moment that we’re finding it tough, you know, you know, it’s, it’s a really competitive industry, we’ve got role at moment we’ve been trying to feel for a couple of months, but you’ve got to show your true colors and be open and put your best foot forward. And that’s not just about money. It’s my big thing, I’d say.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 10:29
And it’s interesting, there’s been a little bit of business bit of life. And it’s like, actually, I don’t think you’re right, even even if you’re not the business owner, you cannot separate your personal life or professional life. And I think it’s important that you’re actually able to have those conversations with your people. I remember reading on LinkedIn once it was this guy who he wasn’t achieving what it was meant to be achieving. So I got called into the boss’s office and the boss colors like you know what’s going on. And the guy said, Look, I’m really, really sorry, but my wife tried to commit suicide last night. It’s like, oh, my gosh, I mean, that should have been mentioned at the time it happened, not because he was performing in his job. It’s like, you gotta remember, we’re all human beings. And we all have this stuff going on outside business life that will affect how we perform in the in the, in our business.
Stuart Wilkinson 11:08
Exactly. Right there. I think. I think one thing that I think one of the good things about COVID, I think we’ve fast forwarded quite quickly on this sort of subject, because we’ve all been in people’s living rooms and stuff on Zoom calls. I never forget, I won’t name her. But there was one Accounting Manager. And it was about week two or three, I think into lockdown. And her five year old son ran through the back door and her her Her door was put to the room was behind her ran through completely naked, her husband was like dying, mom’s on her call. And that was a Jesus, well, why God and so we’ve all had that kind of those experiences over the last three years. And that does create, I think, a little bit more trust within, you know, that vulnerability and stuff that we’ve done have had of being in people’s homes. But you have got it as an owner of a business, your responsibility to make sure that people feel comfortable to speak up. Now. You know, when you’re talking about especially things like mental health and that kind of stuff like that, it’s been a really tricky road for a lot of businesses to think about how you kind of talk about it and all that sort of stuff. But there is no doubt you’re right, like, there, it shouldn’t become after the fact that people should feel comfortable for that. Because work performance, like I said in the intro thing, you know, my my work performance impacts home life, and vice versa. And so that balance is really important. And it might not be even affecting the person that’s in your employer might be something their extended family or whatever. But and we’ve got that a little bit in our organization with people that have got people that have to care over after people with diseases and stuff that you’ve just got to people that people like, it’s okay, like it’s life. And also we, as as people that are responsible for business, were the owners or CEOs. Like we take a great ownership of what we do. But it’s a business, it’s not life and death half the time. And we sometimes we can get a little bit one eyed about Well, no, we need to do ABC and whatever. But we also need to go well, let’s put some balance around some stuff we’ve been a lot of stuff that other people can tend to go through can be a lot more serious than producing a set of accounts.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 13:17
That’s a true, I was just thinking, I don’t think you’re gonna hear but I’ve got a dog scratching at the door at the moment is driving me here on this podcast, but I’m gonna ignore it. It’s distracting me a little bit. Yeah, I think it’s interesting as in the EOS methodology, when we have a level 10 meetings or weekly meetings, we actually encourage you to start with professional and personal bests. And it’s really interesting how much you get to learn about people’s life outside of work. And, and that can just give you such an insight into that you’ve got no idea about, and I think it’s really important. And we will talk about like doing what you love with people you love. And it isn’t just about the business owners doing what they love people, but I think life is too short, you have to really enjoy what you’re doing in your business on a daily basis, you have that ability to, to incorporate doing what you love with people you love across the whole business, not just for the business owner. Yeah, like one
Stuart Wilkinson 14:04
Of our values is have fun, which Graham who owns our business was actually one of the things he came up with, because he’s like, we spend so much time at work, it might as well be fun and so simple. But you know, it’s so right and like, not every day is going to be roses. Like it’s just not lifelike. But you know, it’s what we what we say when we have fun it should be it links to being meaningful, fun with clients, they know like actually being having a relationship where you can have a bit of a laugh is important because you spend so much time putting effort into something, especially as business owners, that if it’s not fun than what’s the point a little bit like you’ve got to get so and you know, and I think as business owners, as managers as leaders, we set the tone at that. And I think it’s really important that, you know, you kind of open the door what you do has a big impact on how other people will act in your business. And I hate to tell you don’t realize that they do I saw this thing actually the other day on Tik Tok, which we were talking about before. And you kind of go, is it real, but I kind of thought was quite good message. And it was this guy was talking about his boss and he said, his boss always left at 5pm. And then he saw him on this long call in the carpark. So why didn’t you just stay in the office? And he said, because if I don’t leave at five people won’t know it’s okay to leave at five, they look at me and it says it’s whether it’s right or not real premises, right? That how you as a leader, you set the tone. So being like, oh, one of the things I thought was really important and locked down. I’ve got two young kids, I’ve got a three and a half year old and a one year old. Then that it’s your okay, you talk about the struggles of life balance of family and all that sort of stuff to know, it’s okay. So you know, you’ve got to be open, and you got to invite people into your life if you expect them to be open about their lives a little bit as leaders.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 15:51
Vulnerability, I think Richard Branson says, the number one word Yeah, distinguishes great leaders from everyday this is vulnerability,
Stuart Wilkinson 15:58
You gotta be able to and yeah, and I think how you act, sets the tone for your organization for that and what you accept, don’t don’t accept what you encourage what you don’t encourage. And you know, whether you’ve got a business of 10 people, 100, people, whatever, you set the tone, and the leadership group set the tone, that sort of stuff. So I think it’s really important, you kind of think about, okay, what this is not having a business of why, what am I maybe doing is the first part cuz it’s easy to blame other people, because that’s kind of easy. Yeah, but you’re lucky itself first, yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 16:28
Okay. So you must have had an in your time some challenges with maybe people who weren’t the right people. Or maybe it wasn’t that they weren’t the right people, they might share the same core values, but maybe they weren’t the right in the right job in terms of what they were doing. How do you work through that?
Stuart Wilkinson 16:42
Goodness We have one of our advisors is people matter. And the way I can not interpret it, one of the views and I talked about this with the business is I think that’s really his honesty. And as, as Kiwis we kind of, we’re not the great kind of computation, that’s, she’ll be right mate anyway. And that’s often the thing, you know, there’s we have with staff is, okay, next month, they’ll be fine or whatever. But I think one, you’ve got, people need to understand where they sit and how they’re performing. And I can’t remember who it’s, I read it this thing, and I remember who it was. And it said, if people don’t get any feedback, they’re in Title think they’re doing a good job. And so your role manager, whatever you’ve got on this, you’re going to give some good regular feedback, both good and bad, obviously, improvement of how people are doing. And I think that links to how often you’re catching up with your team. Yeah, you talked about Debra there, your weekly kind of meetings and stuff like you should, I’m a big believer, if you’re not catching up with your direct reports every week, there’s something not quite right there. And people go, Oh, my God is so much time. But it’s linked to the my first point that, you know, that gives them opportunity for them to kind of raise up for it. And it’s not, it’s not all about you, it’s a workflow or whatever it is you got to do during your business opportunity for them to spend some time with you for half an hour. But that’s also an opportunity of going Hey, Dave, I spotted this last week. And that might be more behavioral, rather than something that’s quantifiable, like a KPI or whatever. I just want to chat to you about this. Let’s just talk about and often these things, if you kind of get ahead of it, and they go actually shoe I thought about that the other night, and I knew it wasn’t that cool. Well, let’s just talk through how we don’t make sure that happens again. Yep. It doesn’t blow up into something big, you know, I mean,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 18:29
At the end of the year, where they’re doing their kind of their final annual performance review, and suddenly you get a lot of waste. You really pissing me off all year and you haven’t done this
Stuart Wilkinson 18:36
In eight months ago. What? Annual appraisals, don’t do annual appraisals, that waste time. I agree with you that that was a controversial. No, it should be frequent. But you know, it is first, I guess, open communication, open feedback on how people are performing. And often that starts surprising. Now, if something’s starting to go off the rails, and it’s not work, it’s not working. I’m not the HR advisor. caveat here was HR person, so check with the HR professional before doing any of this before you go away. But I think we build this up into some sort of big crescendo of a meeting and stuff, but often, it’s just through good questions can actually find out why so Hey, Dave, how are you finding things? How’s it working? And just keep asking questions. So, you know, how is that you know, tell me more. Because often people know, it’s not working. Now, there’s some times where it’s not. But I think at some point you it is about being honesty, and you have to be to the point. But I also think I’m a big fan of Scott Galloway and he says, Look, when there’s something that’s difficult, whether it’s a layoff or something’s behind, you’ve got to do with kindness, and I’m a big I think that’s a really good message is be fair, we can’t but you can’t shirk your responsibilities as a manager because you’ve got to go both stakeholders or you’re not just there for your staff. Yeah, they’ll get to the business as well and delivering whatever that is for the business. And so be honest and be go, Hey, look, I’m here to support you. But we need to see improvement here. And I, you know, I’ve had it with the performance management staff. And some of that is through more of a KPI things, some of it’s more on behavioral value stuff. And often, it’s the decision point for that employee where they go, often my experience, they don’t carry on through that part. But most of them have ended in a really amicable way going actually isn’t right for me. So
Debra Chantry-Taylor 20:34
I think it’s important, we got to remember that this was not right for you, doesn’t mean they won’t fit in somewhere else. Right. And I was having a really interesting conversation with somebody today, where they’re actually saying, you know, I wish people would be more honest about their values, because not all businesses are all about having fun. And people first there are some that a dog eat dog, you know, think about working in the, what he called the Wall Street. Yeah, actually pretty nasty environment, people who thrive and are actually people who really get off on that kind of behavior, everyone for themselves, money, money, man, all that kind of stuff. So it’s like, actually, if we were really honest about it doesn’t they don’t fit in with us, there’s not mean, they’re not going to fit in somewhere else, and then they can be happy somewhere else.
Stuart Wilkinson 21:08
Exactly. Right. And I think I think you know, Cohen’s book been a really interesting thing is we work more remotely versus less than the office, obviously, we’re kind of getting that balance back a little bit more now. But I think what we saw is some people, they they are super organized or working from home, they can manage more than, you know, the family, blah, blah, blah, and it’s, they’re brilliant at it. Some people struggled. And it didn’t work, they need the office, they need the accountability of the office, they need the ability to separate, okay, I’m going out of my home, and I’m into my office and mentally at work. So it’s not just there’s a number of things you said that were that can mean, just because they’re not good for you. It might be actually, that’s the environment environment, and how, as you said, how you work as businesses do operate in different ways. Yeah. And so that’s got a big bearing on if they’re gonna be successful or not with you.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 21:56
Oh, working from home things really fascinating. Because I mean, I must admit, so my husband’s an actuary. So we’re like, you know, if you took every single part of the spectrum, we’re on opposite ends of everything, especially risk taking. But yeah, so he would think that in the lockdown, he would actually be really happy working from home, because he plays on spreadsheets with numbers in front of a computer all day long. He hated it. He absolutely hated interesting. I liked going into an office, he liked the structure of going into an office talking to people and was in the office. Me on the other hand, I was actually sort of reasonably happy because I still had zoom calls. I guess we’ll catch up with Yeah, I was worried me in the slightest. Yeah. But so yeah, it just depends on what people want. And I must admit, I’m looking for a new assistant at the moment. So I can integrate a social system. And part of my requirement is actually you have to work from the office. Yeah. Because I’m the kind of person who likes having somebody in here with me that I correct. Yeah, bounce around ideas and things with rather than having to schedule a zoom call to have a chat about something. Now, of course, we slept structured meetings, but just like having people around me. So
Stuart Wilkinson 22:48
Yeah. But that links back to how you work, isn’t it? I think being reopened through your recruitment process, talking about culture, I remember I do this thing. With a UT called follow up, follow a leader for the day where you get a second year student at off normal in a commerce sort of type of degree. And you get a final year. High school person, yeah. And I got my folio for a day of waterlogged Visio. And I remember we did this mean, and this was the second this session I did two years ago with them. And we had it and they go, and they were in our manager meeting. And they were like, Oh, this is quite cool. And we were, we were recruiting some role at the time, I remember what it was. And we were kind of just kind of updating people that updated the rest of the team on how that was going type of candidates were seeing. And, and one of the guys came, he said, You didn’t speak about their technical stuff at all. And I was like, oh, no, no, we don’t know. What do you mean? And he said, he just asked about their values and how they fit with the team is and their culture. And I was like, Yeah, because if they don’t fit it that like, like, it’d be the best account in the world. But if we’re not right for them, and we’re not right, for them, vice versa, and ain’t gonna work. And so I do think, you know, when you look at your recruitment process, we have a technical interview, and then we have a culture interview, in our process. So, you know, as business owners as leaders, what are you doing around culture, I know, we see this, my other, my previous company I’ve worked with, we would get them in between the first and second interview to do like it not appearing to you, but they’d sit with some of the staff for like, just 10 minutes 15 minutes ago, because I just big thing. I never wanted someone on the first day to go, oh, this is not what I signed up to. So you know, a bit more remote. Now, it’s a bit difficult, but, you know, you’ve got that way. If you get a recruitment, right, you’ve got a much higher chance, you’re not gonna have to initially have this conversation, boom, situation change.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 24:37
Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Well, let’s talk a little bit more about accounting now, because, you know, we’ve heard a lot about the people side, which is really cool, but I mean, from an accounting point of view, you mentioned in the beginning and we talked about it before advisory, so you know, accountants have kind of gone oh, we need to get into advisor but what does that really mean and what is it the right way does that actually helps people in that space?
Stuart Wilkinson 24:58
Ya know, like in us, most people listen this podcast if your business owners, you cannot we’ll be talking to you sometimes I imagine advisory some people don’t. And that’s cool. We the words we put around it is called plan, build, perform, and you know, having a plan, build towards it. And then obviously a bit of performing of that how against that plan, and you’re going. So that’s our philosophy, but it’s kind of layered. For a lot of accountants, it starts with financial advisory and what we term that is, first of all, education. What what are these numbers telling us? What does this mean? How do we use this to help our decision making process? It’s not the only factor that makes decisions, obviously, accountants will believe that numbers are the only reason you things you should look at, but you’re not. But you know, they, they’re a huge indicator of okay, what’s worked, what’s not worked? As I describe it, it’s the results sheet from the school reports a result sheet. So let’s use that to go okay, we did better here. We didn’t do as well here. Well, that’s well understood. Understand why and it’s something in your business, whether it’s a process, whether it’s people, whether it’s the type of customer you got, whether it’s you might give me a number of things. But it’s, it’s that window into Okay, well, I want to do x well, okay, if we want to improve that by 5%, what do we need to do in the business? So it’s just, it’s a really good mark. And I think your accountant, now, they’ve got with cloud technology, we use Xero. For all our clients, you can get information into into, you know, if you compare to what the account accounting systems and stuff, even 10 years ago, zero, you’re miles ahead of what you can do, you know, profitability by sales channel, you know, what are my top clients spending with me? That gives you some growth, I remember, I sat with a client, and they were Oh, my top clients spending less. And I go, yeah, maybe you go visit them, because I will do just simple and summarize the visits. Some of that’s a little bit tactical, but it is a window. So for us, I think it’s that’s the first day of understanding, then being able to inform decision making. And then hopefully, that is into Okay, as a plan, we’ve got a bit more information to help us kind of make an informed and then strategy for our business, because we were saying before, Deborah, like, whatever you as a business owner want to do, whether it’s retire when you’re 50, put your daughter for a university, you know, invest in buying another business, the business has got to do something, yeah. And whether that’s time financially or whatever. So having a chat, your accountant involving them, that process can be super useful, because they they can help you with that and actually start to go okay, to do that we need this thing financially to happen that’s taught then whether it’s with us, or whether it’s someone else that helps with your strategy, someone like yourself, Debra can actually go well, hey, now we kind of know where we need to get to, on your personal goal business goal, we’ve got the numbers to help understand what that looks like. So I think advisory is it’s a, it’s a buzzword and an
Debra Chantry-Taylor 27:45
Stuart Wilkinson 27:47
What it is. So we’ve recently dealt with this term plan build before when we talk to clients, that makes sense. But that can come down right to the right sort of tactical stuff in the next six months that some clients want to do. might they be like me, and the immediate issue we’re going to identify and that can even just be taxed as well, let’s put a blank plan together it’s built towards and then measure if we’ve got success on it, so it’s kind of philosophy. But you know, if your account is not up, I think about the simple term that a lot of candidates now use and this advisory about the future, we want to talk about the future. If you can’t just talk about the past. Getting your
Debra Chantry-Taylor 28:24
Fair Fair enough. And so you’ve now got a team of people who will actually provide all of the accounting services right, right, the way from keeping through to the numbers and planning performing Okay, yeah. Okay, so what are your you come armed with top tips and you know, this is this is just say students, one of my most prepared podcast guests, he’s brought his iPad, he’s got everything written down. Love it.
Stuart Wilkinson 28:45
I’ve kind of actually already talked about some, but let’s repeat them. I think my first tip put yourself out a job. And what I mean by that as a business owner, you know, when you create your business, you had a you saw an hole you’re you’re really good at something like you, you know, you were good in hospital or you were really good signmaker or whatever, we saw an opportunity. What that lends to is you kind of that’s your craft that you trade, that’s what you’re good at. Even if you’re in the tech side, you’re a good software, developer, whatever it is. But the only way you’re going to grow your business is actually putting yourself at a job you can’t be you see so many and you would see this there but you see so many clients that have hit a ceiling and that’s not necessary revenue ceiling but a ceiling of capacity, a ceiling of how they manage their team, where they’re trying to be everything for everyone. You’ve employed people for reason, let them do their job and then also trust get good partners around you. You know, I use bookkeeping example the Americans are no we’ll do our own bookkeeping. One, you won’t be as good as our own bookkeepers to you’ll be slower than our own bookkeepers and three, why just get somehow stuck because you should be focused on what you are good at and growing your business. So So you surround yourself with good partners as a way of doing that but you should be like Why am I involved in this process? You know, whether it is I always do the sales quoting now that might be okay for a period of time. But what was if you get hit by a bus once you want to go on holiday, whatever it is, who else is someone else you start to bring in to help you with coding, you let them take the reins, and often as the bears out no one does it as good as me? Well, no, because you own the business. And you’ve done this for 10 years, and they’ve been with you for two years. And you care a lot more about it than they will, let’s be frank about that. But put the system is good enough, right. But it’s about system and prices, what the system process and your sales process so that the you know, you feel comfortable to start quoting some of the smaller jobs, whatever it might be, but you’ve got to keep our mentality, I have it in my job, how do I put myself in a job so that if you’re involved in everything, that’s not functioning business, you know, there’s always me stuff you have to approve, or whatever, but really constantly look at and some of that, you know, develops with growth in different stages. But that’s my first.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 30:56
And I think it also applies not only if you want to continue running the business and break through that ceiling, but if you want to sell the business, you cannot sell it, if it’s all reliant on you correct. And so you’ve got to let that stuff go, and I always got the $25 an hour work, I’m absolutely with you. I mean, I can do bookkeeping, he can do my accounting, My GST, but in reality, I’m not very good at it, I do make mistakes, and I can actually command a much higher rate. So I think most business owners underestimate what their hourly rate kind of genuinely is. And you kind of go right, I can pay somebody 25 $50 an hour to do that. And I can go out and earn $1,000 an hour doing this. It’s a no brainer, right?
Stuart Wilkinson 31:31
Exactly. Right. And that, you know, start with I use burgers or something I know, but it can be marketing or whatever, but but the checks and balances you feel comfortable with. And look, there’s a bit of, you know, bit of taking a leap. But you know, when you finding a partner, ask for references, do all that kind of good stuff you need to do but really questioning how you spend your time? And is it? Is it on the high value activities? Is it the things that are really important to move your strategy forward? Because I imagine you see this all the time they are they come with a great plan and strategy we’ve been doing, I’ve been caught up with that job and whatever. Well, you know, and will at some point, you have to do that, you know, you have to put out time and that is important for you to get whatever it is you want to do in your business. That’s my first tip,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 32:08
Perfect approval fully on the same page there. Outsource delegating, elevate, correct? Oh, like
Stuart Wilkinson 32:13
Yeah, that’s good. I’ve already talked about it. So when you set the tone for your organization, so and I, you know, I use the example of the boss leave at 5pm. You know, simple things, don’t email your staff late at night, you know, things like that, would you go a small but all the one percenters add up to a lot for an organization that will set the time. So that’s one of the one
Debra Chantry-Taylor 32:34
As you just Just quickly, I want to cover that because I think it’s something I’ve been guilty of in the past. Because you know, I think as a business owner, or even as a CEO, you’re not switched off in the business at any point. So you wake up with something you want to do with it. There is a function on Outlook, we can send it later, which I’ve had to start using, because otherwise I send it and I don’t expect them to respond. But sadly, they expect that they should respond, because the boss has sent it. So you have to do something with it. Exactly. Right. So I think how you conduct yourself every day. And yeah, as I said before, you can donate and encourage different behaviors, and a lot of that’s the non verbal stuff, and that you might do. So I think it is really important to think about that and organization and think, Well, this isn’t quite working well, all the way I want and that can be culturally operation whatever. Start yourself, okay, what am I doing? I’m on my legs Makena first, what am I the bottleneck away involve? Am I conducting myself around that you might need probably someone externally to kind of help you a little bit like that, as I said, your husband was pretty good. But you know, looking them or it can be really tough, you know, these 360 stuff or whatever, if you’ve ever done that it’s really confronting, but it’s really powerful, really powerful. If you’re in you know, and I think linked with that, as a business and you are a leader of the organization, you’ve got to understand that. I know some people don’t realize that, but you are leading a bunch of people trying to achieve something. And just because you own the business doesn’t mean they’ll do it. So there’s more than that says mother. Okay, yeah.
Stuart Wilkinson 34:00
Well, this is one thing I’ve done recently, and a big shout out to Dave jags. He’s one of our business partners who he’s an ex used to own a gym, and physio business before he joined us. And one of the things and we’ve both got young kids. And so I was I was quizzing Dave as a Dave, how do you manage to stay healthy with all this stuff? And he so I had a client’s do. And they were really up their lawyer and we’re like, you know, smashing out the hours. And so the one thing they talked about is, you know, your exercises, the first thing you do each day has it because otherwise it’ll get shifted. And so you’ve got to have a priority. So he said, so what I’ve started doing and I’m not gonna be one of those CEOs or I woke up at 4am but because I’ve got young kids so i three times and I’ve done it now for a month so it’s pretty recent. I wake up at five and I don’t go from a run I used to run lots because I’ve got three and one year old and I there’s lots of happened with those and a job. The reason I To say that is, you’ve got to look after yourself. And if you’re, you know, you’ve got a big response for your business, you will know that. But if you’re not functioning, and whenever whenever we win, always function 100%, don’t be wrong, but if you’re not doing something for you, and ain’t good, and so, So Dave’s advice was, yeah over have it in your calendar, and it’s non negotiable that gets touched or whether you want to go out to the gym at lunchtime. And so it’s not necessary exercise, it could be meditation, it could be reading a book, it could be anything, but you’ve trained for you time for you. But if you if you know, things get shift in the day, you have to do it first. And you have to work out a way. And I must admit, I’ve done it now for a month, I used to a lot more running before the kids and lockdown stuff. It’s been brilliant. For me, it’s been good for mental health, good for my thought process sets me up well for the day. So that’s my other piece of advice.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 35:49
And I agree, I mean, we get up at about 5:30 most mornings and just go for a walk, like with the dogs. And, and for me, it is actually my thinking time, massively. And the days that I can’t do something I wasn’t able to do because I had a very early podcast in the morning. It was actually I don’t feel as good throughout the day, because there’s that vitamin D that you get from kind of being out there. I know there’s a whole range of things. Yeah, we help set you up well, for the day. You miss it when you don’t do it.
Stuart Wilkinson 36:10
Yeah. And my last one was I got I’ve asked for, you know, as we’re accounting, accounting firm,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 36:17
And I go ask the three again, before I like it.
Stuart Wilkinson 36:21
Because there’s always a way of making the numbers work. If you, I know this sounds really obvious, and especially over the last three years, understand your cash flow intimately. And what I mean by that is, on a monthly basis, what is your cycle of cash flow, what goes in what goes out, and literally plot it on a whiteboard, whatever it might be you can we help you with this. But cash flow is the lifeblood of your business, you have the best ideas in the world, you have the best initiatives, you can execute them. But if you’re not gonna cash flow, there’s a problem. So really understanding your ups and downs, the movements, tax, it is a point one people forget about it. But really understanding that often 90 days is a good really good window, depending on the type of industry and your payment terms, that kind of stuff, but really get into it. Because because there’s probably some unlock there for you, which takes the pressure off, there’s probably some profitability as well. And even in your cash flow. So we’ve done that a number of clients where we get a big whiteboard, we put all the time payment terms, and all that sort of stuff. And there is always wins. So I just really encourage all clients, business owners just sit there, if you need some help, you can go and have a chat to them. And just say, I want to understand my cash flow cycle, really. And there might be stuff you go cool, I get it. And that’s there’s no surprises, but at least you now know. But also, there might be some stuff you go, Whoa, that client never pays me on time and never has well. And it’s so he’s got an extra 15 days. Well, what do you do there, you know, it’s a big client, as always, you can get cash in the door, simple things, but just having a bit of understanding cash flow intimately. It’s really important. I think,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 37:52
I did it recently around software, because I don’t know about you, but I signed up for apps and software left, right and center and it was all software as a service, they will get a monthly fee, it’s only 20 bucks. Find 99 of the amount of the amount of different streaming channels for TV. Just cost 599 1299. And on my whiteboard that says in the office, I literally wrote every single piece of software, it is horrendous. Yeah, how much money I’ve been paying on things. And you have to make the call and go I’m actually really using it, does it really give value? Or is it while doing exactly the same with the cash flow in the business, right. And so looking at it as a holistic point of view, you’ll get some insights.
Stuart Wilkinson 38:24
And there’ll be it’ll just be seen as like that you put Oh, I didn’t realize it, because $5 Or this to him before he knows 1000 bucks. And so whether it’s once a year, whatever, but just make sure you’ve got an understanding of what’s going on your cash flow and the cycles of it. Because there’s lots of variables, lots of key points where things can go wrong. Especially if you’ve got a product line of business where you might be importing, we will know about supply chain issues. But obviously, as I say, you can’t you don’t want to be the bank for someone else, you know, so how do you make sure that works really well for you? Obviously can help with conversations, you know, you cash flow intimately helps conversation your bank, because if you’re informed, they’re more confident with you, as well. So that’s my other final tip.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 39:04
Okay, thank you for uh, for our three tips. I love it. So if people want to get a hold of you, I’m talking for obviously, the podcast. So tell us a little about your podcast, but it was a bit of life.
Stuart Wilkinson 39:13
Yeah, it came out COVID. Like we as I said, Debra, like we kind of with this, the phones were off the hook and that first couple of weeks are locked down. And we were just how do we know all that time when there was so much information that government wage subsidy, there was some tax stuff and all those sort of things. So we said let’s just do some podcasts was really for clients just to get really kind of really kind of rich content, really informative way of kind of keeping people informed regularly, in a way we could get out kind of quickly. And so it’s kind of ebbed and flowed over its time, but it’s been going through all the years now. And it just works really well. Like it’s kind of as I said, there’s some of the mundane stuff are usually the ones that go really well like what is profit tax because people don’t really know that. And so it’s a really good way of kind of bringing a better life and it’s kind of so it’s quite good. So it is called it’s got a great title, and it’s called a Better life better a better business better life podcast as well. So if you if you say, what’s the beauty of this? Yeah, if you search in progress, our podcast next door, you can just like buy for the same time. I
Debra Chantry-Taylor 40:10
don’t have a T shirt like y’all can’t see the zero. benefit has been live on a t shirt as well. Yeah.
Stuart Wilkinson 40:19
So that’s a podcast. But if you want to get how right way, right way.co dot and Zed
Debra Chantry-Taylor 40:24
right way. Just spell that because it’s two different ways. Oh, yeah.
Stuart Wilkinson 40:27
So where r i g h, t, w, a y, Zed. And all our contact details are on there. Or you can find me on LinkedIn. Which I think the link will be in the podcast.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 40:39
Whether you share whether you reach out to me, yeah, fantastic. Hello, thank you so much for coming and sharing your time. Really appreciate it. Some really great tips and they’re not as expensive for an accountant. So thank you, I really appreciate it. Talk to you soon. Bye.
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