Hi, Let us know about yourself 🙂
I help small and medium businesses to understand and control their finances. I know accounting can be confusing, daunting, and difficult for business owners, so I aim to demystify finances.
With over 15 years of experience as an Accountant and Virtual CFO (Chief Financial Officer) I can help with everything from setting up and planning a business to taxation and strategic planning, for individuals, sole traders, companies, partnerships, and trusts.
Distinct Business Solutions has gone from strength to strength in the last 2.5 years. Starting from a home-based business with no clients or revenue, we quickly grew to over 100 business clients and 200 individual clients with average revenue of $15k per month and office space.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges businesses face on a daily basis.
I grew up with these challenges with my parent’s small business.
This experience grew into a passion for small business and finance, leading me toward an accounting degree and CPA qualification before a career highlight of becoming the manager of the finance team of a publicly listed company.
When my first daughter was born though my priorities changed, I wanted to be the best Mum I could possibly be, but I didn’t want to give up on my career dreams either.
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
In formulating my business plan, I surveyed prospective clients including business, individuals, basically anyone I could find.
I asked them what they wanted from their accountant and what frustrated them about money in general. I noticed one key thing – That people didn’t understand their business’s finances and didn’t have a budget.
I decided I wanted to be different. I wanted to listen to my clients and develop relationships that added value to their business. I didn’t want to be the accountant that just lodged their returns and said, ‘Here pay this’. I wanted to be worth knowing. I wanted my fee to be seen as an investment into their business, rather than an expense.
When a solid relationship has been formed, it is then that open dialogue and trust can happen. You would be surprised at what I find out when chatting about someone’s personal life that then shapes how we run their business.
In addition to usual accountancy stuff, we run business planning workshops for both startups and existing businesses.
Talk us through the process of launch of your business
After researching and understanding what people wanted from their accountant, I took the leap and wrote a thorough business plan.
I understood the importance of a full budget and plan and so went to work understanding all of the costs and risks involved.
I spent days googling and fully understanding the market for accountants in my area and around the country. I knew I wanted to do things differently so I asked every question I could think of, of any person that would answer.
My extensive research taught me that I needed further qualifications if I was going to make this business work, so I studied and became a registered tax agent and gained my CPA public practice license. Before I knew it I was ready to go.
I met up with an old friend who helped me build my website and before long had outgrown my home office and needed to move into a subleased office. Word of my distinct approach spread quickly and the rest, as they say, is history.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
Three years into my business and my retention rate are sitting at about 98%.
I pride myself on providing exceptional customer service and becoming a valued part of my customer’s businesses.
Word of mouth has been my greatest source of customers.
I also ensure my website and social media have regular new content that helps my clients instead of constantly selling to them.
What is the current situation. How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
At the moment Distinct Business Solutions is in a stage of impressive growth.
In the next 12 months I hope to grow my team by adding 3-4 accountants, I plan to focus on finding staff who are like minded individuals taking pride and care in their work and thriving on the challenge of helping business owners.
For the most part though I want to continue providing my customers with services that mean they no longer worry about money and finances. I want to continue to provide people with education, benchmarks and assistance to help them to grow their profitability and understand where and how they can improve.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
I see being a female entrepreneur as an advantage because the customers I love working with respect my knowledge and empathy, rather than the old fashioned, straight, bean counting accountant.
I connect with all my customers as a trusted business partner. I want to use my business to show my daughters that they can be whatever they want to be, and as women they can have it all.
They can give 100% to both family and career and achieve things previous generations could only have dreamt of.
What tools or services did you use?
I understand that while I am an expert in my field, I can’t be an expert in everything. I have surrounded myself with passionate and empathetic people in a variety of industries including lawyers, web designers, insurance brokers and educators who help me and my clients when we require expert advice.
Each of these people have the same values as I do and provide honest feedback to help me make informed decisions.
We also use cloud solutions where possible including bookkeeping softwares, cloud document storage and project management software to streamline and ensure the security of our data. It also means that staff, are not bound to an office and can realistically work from anywhere in the world.
What are your key challenges today. How are you planning to tackle those?
Finding staff with the same values as I do is my single biggest challenge.
Although most applicants possess the technical knowledge and skills required, finding somebody who has a client focused approach who is willing to take the time to explain and build relationships with our clients is much more difficult.
I am focused on continuing the values of the business and helping as many small businesses as I can. I am planning to utilize my networks and word of mouth to find like minded individuals to help me take Distinct Business Solutions to the next level.
I will continue hiring based on values instead of focusing on existing skill and qualifications alone.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
I tend to focus more on my own business and ideas than the ideas of others.
For me business success comes down to relationships and building strong networks of like minded individuals who are willing to help and share ideas and innovations.
I also think it is essential to stay up to date with current events which could effect my clients, this also helps me to build rapport with clients and networks.
Many a times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
I completely disagree, although when I first started my business I did believe this to be true.
I have since found that people feel comfortable with people who are real, rather than those of a particular gender. I feel that being a woman with a small business and a family has actually helped me to be successful as I see the people behind the business rather than the business alone.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi ! This is Misha ?
I interview women founders building profitable businesses ??
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to gt started.