Growing a small business can be tough, and when your working life is absorbed taking your company in a new direction, the last thing you need is to expend valuable time managing your finances.
For business recruitment advisors, Developing Talent, facing this challenge has demanded a fresh approach to accounting – one that uses clever technology and proactive, one-to-one advice to help the small business develop itself as well as its clients’ potential.
About the Business
When she established Developing Talent in 2001, business owner Tessa McEwan focused her efforts on teaching line managers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) how to interview prospective employees more scientifically. Fast forward 14 years, however, and it had become clear she had so much more to offer.
By changing tack to become more of a business advisor than an HR consultant – helping internal recruitment teams to review and rationalise their processes – Tessa is now actively engaged in improving the quality of her clients’ hires and increasing the likelihood of them remaining loyal employees for years to come.
Change takes time – and not simply in terms of the man-hours consumed by business development. For Tessa, a key issue was the time she had to dedicate to financial management.
“I used to spend three or four hours a quarter inputting my travel receipts onto a spreadsheet, and eventually had to outsource the job as I didn’t have time to do that and grow my business,” she explains.
“When you also factor in the time I spent invoicing and logging those invoices on spreadsheets – something I did in bulk, when I had a free moment – it was probably an extra three hours a month that I was devoting to accounting: time I didn’t have to spare.”
Tessa wanted to work with one of the Big Four; she knew the association could have a positive effect on her newly expanded business. But it was only when she heard about its Small Business Accounting (SBA) service through a contact that she realised it was feasible for a company of her size to join forces with KPMG.
KPMG SBA’s time-saving technology was another draw.
“The main attraction was that I wouldn’t have to do all the work myself,” she says. “I liked how I could create invoices using the online portal based on Xero, and not have to input the information onto spreadsheets; it’s all automated. I also liked the ReceiptBank functionality, which allows me to email a photo of a travel receipt from my mobile phone and then forget about it because it’s automatically documented.”
Tessa believes there are several benefits to KPMG’s SBA service. To use her words:
Improved cash-flow through real-time invoice management: “It’s so quick to invoice now. I don’t have to set aside time every month to get up to date with my invoicing; I can send them as soon as I’ve finished the work, which speeds up cash-flow. And because I receive reports, I know who to chase and when. The system even shows me whether an invoice has been read.”
Proactive, personalised advice: “I always get a quick response from my dedicated accountant, Chevon. For example, when I asked whether it would be more tax-efficient to get a company or personal car, she sent a detailed response listing the pros and cons before giving me a clear answer. She also spotted that I wasn’t charging enough VAT on my travel expenses.”
Leading edge technology: “I have to be at the leading edge of what’s going on in recruitment, and using technology is one way I can help my clients progress. It’s reassuring to have an accountant that has the same mindset.”
Brand reputation and connections: “I like the idea of having a top accountant. Being able to potentially access new markets through SBA is also a big attraction.”
Ultimately, teaming up with KMPG has enabled Tessa to focus on her core business.
“I needed to free up my time so I could function as a company rather than an independent consultant,” she concludes. “I see the move to SBA as an investment in the potential growth of Developing Talent. I spend less time on accounting, and can put that time back into the business.”
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