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October 29 - Business Advice - Interview

What We’ve Learnt in the First Year of Business

Being a business owner is one huge, ongoing lesson. Although Future Advisory wasn’t Jase, Greg and Shelley’s first rodeo, there are always new mistakes to be made and sometimes we can’t help but do things the hard way. Often, we do get it right and give ourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

To celebrate our first year in business, we’re recapping the wins, the losses and the lessons that our three directors have made so far.

Greg

Lessons learnt the hard way:

Rapid growth almost always puts you in treacherous waters. What you think would work to scale a business quickly… doesn’t. Having the correct procedures (technology, processes, software, systems, guided support, education and dedicated time to the team) is so vital to seeing the business through a high growth phase. 

We’re good at adapting and pivoting but in hindsight, we should’ve moved even faster on these fronts. Evolving programs and processes and showing off Future as a workplace that amazing talent want to join was done a bit too slowly. We got there eventually though!

Another common mistake that we made was not enough cashflow planning to fund and allow all our new team members to find their feet. As any business owner knows, this is often the biggest point of stress.

What you’d do differently next time:

  • Planning the next hire earlier and making sure they are the right hire! Easier said than done but enough resources need to be dedicated here because hiring the wrong people will cost you more in the long run
  • Set up a more systemised and automatic process for onboarding new clients and new team members. Hiring 13 new people in under 10 months meant we needed a structured process to help make this smooth 
  • Internal processes for the team to learn from, help with education and training, and expectation management

Things you’ve nailed:

Culture. Our team has been built around having the right people, culture fit and an all round great vibe. We’ve set the team tone really well; we work together to achieve a team outcome and one goal – it’s a collaboration not a dictatorship. This has allowed us to thrive, help each other when times get tough, and succeed together.

A flat line structure with open communication depending on position in the company is a huge barrier to break down and the team thrives on it. Connecting and checking in with each other, our weekly team catchup (no matter location) and celebrating all things important (birthdays, anniversary, weddings) has been something we’ve nailed from the get go. 

Shelley

Lessons learnt the hard way:

  • Recruiting well and fast enough, and getting ourselves organised with the remote working situation (especially with different time zones and locations)
  • Not measuring data, productivity and team wellbeing enough
  • Burnout is something we’ve all struggling with this year; probably our hardest learnt lesson

What you’d do differently next time:

Be on the lookout for good talent constantly, rather than waiting until the team are under pressure with workload. It is *always* better to have over-hired than under-hired.

Engage people outside of Future to be involved sooner (business coaching, outsourcing roles, personal mentors etc) to have an external view and also to take some tasks away rather than trying to wear too many hats as a director.

Blocking out my calendar for my personal life and sticking to that routine, rather than letting work take up that time and getting burned out. It also sets a clear tone for our team that a life outside of work is so important and it’s not only okay, but encouraged to prioritise that.

Things you’ve nailed:

Keeping our team as connected as possible given our different locations and the challenges of lockdown.

Using Everperform team surveys to make sure our team are ok and identify any struggles to mitigate them ASAP. Getting the corporate Headspace app for our team and making sure that they allocate time to it.

Going into business with epic humans who have the same genuine care for team, clients and each other <3 

Jason

Lessons learnt the hard way:

  • We simply grew too fast. We went from 14 to 27 team members between Jan and October this year. It was a deliberate decision; more of a necessity to help business owners get through the pandemic
  • The huge emotional toll on the team due to caring so much and wanting to be there for everyone (particularly in this climate) but with limited hours in a day. We really underestimated this 
  • We weren’t just accountants. We were mates, friends, counsellors, a shoulder to cry on, someone to celebrate the wins and deal with the losses or hard times and it has been rewarding, but it’s also been A LOT. We didn’t prioritise our own wellbeing enough and it took a personal toll on our team 

What you’d do differently next time:

Around growth, COVID, and supporting our clients, not much would change; we come from a place of genuinely caring about our clients, so we are here through thick and thin. What would change is how conscious we should’ve been of timelines and communication around this. 

Sometimes you can over promise and under deliver when juggling so much, and as a business this kills us. Operating in this way isn’t aligned with our values and culture. In an ideal world, we’d have hired faster and had more resources to support our clients. 

We move at a fast pace, the team hustle is GO GO GO, and the word “BOOM” is used regularly when we have wins! While I love this energy and passion from the team, we want to work on the future of Future to be sustainable, smoother and more focussed on our own wellbeing. There’s no point in having a successful business if we aren’t enjoying ourselves and prioritising what’s most important.

Things you’ve nailed:

*Clears throat*.

We’re award winning; even during 12 months of craziness we’ve managed to stand out amongst our peers. 

We’ve helped businesses with grants to survive. A recent example, we successfully applied for 140+ COVID Hardship fund grants, totalling $2,800,000. 

Going above and beyond to support our clients is something we’ve consistently done. Providing extra value through social media, The Numbers Game Podcast, video content and our blogs has been something we’ve nailed from day one.

Clients feel comfortable calling our phone and chatting to the team. That’s culture. We haven’t just been accountants. We’ve had genuine impact on businesses and the lives of our wonderful clients because they *trust* us. 

Our ambition is to be industry leaders – pushing the boundaries of what is possible and continue to lead the way in growth, to use technology to our advantage and inspire our colleagues and the next generation of accountants. Business owners who want to grow and embark on a similar journey should look to an accountant doing the same thing; someone who understands the pain points and frustrations in running a business and can provide real life advice. 

The uniqueness, diversity, beautiful mix of people and backgrounds our team has is what allows us to truly think and behave differently. We’re a family and we respect each other – it’s allowed us to develop into an incredible team doing incredible things.

If that’s not some business owning gold, we don’t know what is. Want to chat further? We’d love to hear from you.