Turning bookkeepers into superheroes

Lisa Martin and Tania Hayes see bookkeeping as a skilled profession that promises a high-flying career

• Many people believe bookkeepers just have to be a bit good with numbers.

• In many SME businesses, the role of bookkeeper will fall to the business owner, a family member or someone in the office admin team.

• Typically, these people have not had any training and do not hold a professional bookkeeping qualification.

• Their bookkeeping tasks often involve the complexities of payroll, HR administration, invoicing, GST returns, tax preparation as well as profit/loss projections. Much of this work must comply with legal requirements.

• Without on-going professional development bookkeepers will make mistakes.

In 2005, Lisa Martin decided it was time to help businesses with their bookkeeping obligations. Working as a fully qualified Bookkeeper herself, Lisa had already spent several years watching companies struggle with bookkeeping tasks.

She saw that the problem was two-fold:

1) Bookkeeping as a profession was not being taken seriously. Instead, it was being viewed as an unskilled occupation that anyone could do.
2) There was a lack of training and professional development for Bookkeepers, which meant companies were finding themselves with inaccurate accounts and out-of-date ledgers.

Lisa knew that shifting the perception of the role of Bookkeepers was going to take time; but she also knew that she could not let companies continue down the potentially law-breaking path of leaving financial administration in the hands of untrained staff. Armed with a passion for accounting, a penchant for excellent customer service and a mantra of ‘because you didn’t go into business to be a Bookkeeper, but I did’, Lisa launched GoFi8ure.

Her clients called her a superhero – racing to their rescue; saving them from financial disaster. Lisa took this as a branding idea and – flew with it.

In 2010, GoFi8ure helped launch the Bookkeepers Association (NZBAI) – a national forum for bookkeepers offering help and guidance, professional development and an accreditation programme. The NBAI teamed up with the Career Academy to create the Certificate in Bookkeeping.

In 2015, GoFi8ure merged with Hutt Valley firm, ActiveAdmin and Tania Hayes (ActiveAdmin’s CEO) was appointed as the new MD for GoFi8ure.

Together with their team of qualified bookkeepers Lisa and Tania work hard to educate SME businesses about the importance of accurate bookkeeping – and how good, financial data is key to the success of any company. They stress that ‘keeping the books’ isn’t something business owners should be doing themselves.

They also work hard to push bookkeeping as a valuable, and financially rewarding, career choice. “It’s a profession where you have to keep on your toes,” says Tania. “Technology, cloud apps and financial software systems, like Xero, are constantly evolving. This means on-going training and up-skilling is essential.”

For both Lisa and Tania, their careers didn’t stop with bookkeeping. Their bookkeeping qualifications have lead them to further study. Tania, already a Chartered Accountant has recently gained a Bachelor of Business degree, for which Lisa is currently studying.

Importantly, GoFi8ure believes that finance can be fun. As bookkeepers, accountants and financial advisors they work hard – their branding provides light relief. “Our clients love our superhero image. They think its great when we wear our cloaks and give them superhero branded thank you gifts. And, our life-size telephone box is always a hit at exhibitions,” says Lisa.

GoFi8ure was recently endorsed as a ‘Perfect Bookkeeper’ by Xero.

Hutt Valley Business Expo 2014 – Such Fun!

Wow what an amazing Hutt Valley Business Expo hosted last month. There was such a great turn out, with so many great opportunities for businesses to sell their services and build new connections and leads.

Did you have a stand this year? If not, did you consider it? Expos, conference and trade shows are not for everyone, so how do you know you will get a worthwhile outcome for your investment?

You start by deciding your goals and expectations for exhibiting before you decide to invest. So what do you need to consider before taking the next step? Below we list some key factors to think about:

Exhibition planning – Preparation is vital for success and for maximising opportunities, giving you better value for money. The more thought and planning you put in before the exhibition, the more likely you are to succeed at the event. Make sure to have giveaways, special offers and an inviting stand or display.

Be seen at the right exhibitions – Exhibitions can be seen as a large investment, particularly by small and medium-sized businesses, but by investing in the short term, you can reap the benefits in the long term, turning the leads collected at an exhibition into loyal customers and clients. Just make sure you choose one that will benefit your business and brings you the clientele you require.

Build relationships – Exhibitions, conferences and trade shows are the perfect platform for meeting people in your industry; it also gives you the opportunity to market your business face to face. Talk to as many people as possible, take time to learn about their business and remember to take their business cards.

Marketing messages – Make sure all your marketing messages are prepared in advance of the event. Your messaging should be consistent across your stand, company brochures and giveaways. You also need to ensure you have a clear, practiced pitch so you can show your potential future clients just how knowledgeable you are.

To put it simply: with the right preparation, exhibitions can provide you with an excellent platform for building brand awareness and generating sales leads. It’s important to build a pipeline of new business opportunities all the time and to keep your current customers happy.

GoFi8ure loves being involved with expo’s especially the Hutt Valley Business Expo, and we love to market ourselves as much as we can. We hope you found these tips useful.