MEET NICK & ANDREW FROM WALKER HILL CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS (TALKING ALL THINGS SMALL BUSINESS)


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Who are the owners behind Walker Hill Charted Accountants, and how did you get started?

The co-founders and owners of Walker Hill are Andrew Walker and Nick Hill. We began Walker Hill because we were tired of working for firms that didn’t inspire their staff and clients. The idea of starting Walker Hill began after a pub catch up in June of 2012, and 2 weeks later Andrew quit his job and started Walker Hill. After a few weeks of watching Andrew begin his business journey, Nick decided to quit his job and join him – creating Walker Hill Chartered Accountants in July 2012.

With no money and no plan (which we don’t recommend to our clients), we started the small business ownership journey and the first 12 months were a flurry of cold calling from local ads, profits from selling a fridge on Gumtree, (which we used to buy our first office printer,) long drives for client meetings, the first Walker Hill hire and our first office lease.

What has been the most rewarding element of owning your own business?

For us, the most rewarding element of owning Walker Hill has been growing something from nothing. From beginning with just us, to growing to over 20 staff and having many clients that we’re able to help grow their own businesses, it’s very rewarding.

What did you work on today? What does your day-to-day look like?

As business owners, our days are always different. But there are a few things that I can count on. Every day we work on client’s problems to come up with solutions. In fact, most of our day is spent problem solving – either for our staff or clients.

What kind of clients and small business do you work with?

We work with many different types of businesses across a lot of industries. However, the one thing that all of our clients have in common is that they’re driven and want to achieve their business goals. When we meet with a prospect, we want to know that they want to do well and grow their business/es, which is where we can really help.

What are three most important things small business start-ups should all be thinking about?

The three most important things that we think start ups need to know are below.

1. Finding the right customers and converting these into cashflow

The first point is the most important for start-ups, because if you don’t have customers or clients, then you don’t have a business. Thinking about how you’re going to find your customers and how you’re going to convert them should be at the forefront of every new business’s mind. Also remember to evaluate the types of customers that you have so you can really target your ideal audience. At the end of the day, no customers = no cashflow.

2. Knowing where and when to get advice

This can always be a challenge, and often running a business can feel very isolating. We recommend finding a wingman to help with advice (preferably someone who is well connected in your industry or the areas that you need to know about). These advisers need to be trusted enough to give support and sometimes the harsh reality check that you need to do well in your business. They should challenge the way that you think and help you put together a game plan, and, most importantly, they should want to see you succeed.

3. When and what to reinvest

At a certain stage of your start up, you will become stagnant if you don’t re-invest back into your business. When you decide to take the plunge, and also what areas of your business you decide to invest in, can be a tricky balancing act for a start up or new business as you weigh up the overall cost of the investment with current cash flow against the long term forecast results. These investments can be in the form of technology (increasing efficiencies and automation), outsourcing or through staff hires.

It is often perceived that accountants are reactive in small business, meaning they do our taxes, and work out our tax bills - but how are you proactive with small business owners?

Being proactive in business is one of the best ways to make sure you are set up for success because you aren’t caught off guard. The way that we can help make sure that you’re being proactive in your business is through our advisory services, which includes budgeting, forecasting and advisory, as well as the usual compliance areas that we work in. Being aware of how your numbers are tracking means that you can see what’s working, and what might need changing to get you the best results, and have a thriving business. Plus, we like to make sure that our clients know their tax obligations a full 12 months in advance, meaning there are no nasty surprises from the ATO, come the end of the financial year.

On that note, we are all taught to see our Accountant once a year, how important is it to look into the health of a small business often?

We recommend a minimum of 2 catch ups per year. Although it’s very important to stay on top of your end of year obligations (which is the mandatory 12 monthly catch up) we also like to touch base with our clients at least once more for a tax planning meeting. This is when we evaluate the last 12 months of business and see if anything needs to change (budgets, structure, etc) to put you in a better position for the next financial year. We usually catch up for this tax planning meeting at the beginning of the calendar year, when our clients are motivated by the new year.

Whenever we are chatting with other event industry suppliers, they mention that they have or haven’t registered for GST, what is this, and when should a small business register?

Simply put, GST is the goods and services tax that is applied to the goods and services that you would be providing in your small business. You need to be registered for GST if you plan on making $75,000 or more in revenue per year. However, there are a lot of different areas that may affect if you need to be registered for GST, so if you’re unsure it’s best to speak to your accountant or a lawyer who can look at your specific requirements and advise.

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see in small business?

We believe one of the most common mistakes that a small business owner can make is making cash flow mistakes as a result of not properly budgeting for taxes. This can be really detrimental for businesses, especially when they’re in the first few years of trading and is often the difference between a small business succeeding them going under.

What are your insights or tips for small businesses when managing their business, finance and day-to-day operations?

Managing a business, finance and day-to-day operations can be tricky to manage, especially when you’re running a small business and also need to wear a lot of other hats as well. Our four best tips that we recommend for our clients are below.

Tip 1: Sort out your budgets and cash flow

This is best done with the help of an accountant or bookkeeper and is paramount to know how your business is tracking, and for making sure you remain compliant with the ATO.

Tip 2: Track your finances weekly

Do this at least weekly. After all, if you don’t know where your money is coming from, and going to, you’re going to find it hard when to know where to make changes when they’re needed.

Tip 3: Keep talking to clients and staff

This is the best way to identify opportunities to sell, and problems to resolve.

Tip 4: Have fun

Because if you’re not loving what you’re doing, there’s no real point in doing it.

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INSPIRATIONJen MacMillan