From Taupo to Australia – a work in progress!
It all started out as a vague idea, buzzing in my brain, about how accountants could really do things better.
Whilst sitting in an accountants practice in Taupo, I pondered the processes that accountants have been faithfully, and profitably, following for years. Accountants have set up ways of operating which dominate the level of service provided to small business owners. It’s all about the best way for accountants to make money which means that clients have to follow what the accountant wants.
But why would a client do that? Because up until recently there was not much option for small business owners. They could do it themselves, using some kind of business software and a slim knowledge of the tax system. Or they could use an accountant.
Additionally, the IRD was a formidable beast with arcane, difficult rules that were hard to access and even harder to understand. They had powers that put them ahead of America’s National Security Agency and a fortress mentality. Any small business owner would have to be bold or stupid, ideally both, to risk traversing that complexity alone. But that’s changed. The IRD has gone online with searchable information, easier filing and a much more customer focused service.
Software has also become more user friendly, making the whole bookkeeping process easier and more cost affordable. So, it only makes sense that accountants have also snapped into action to deliver a better service. Er, actually, not so much.
So, back to my desk in Taupo, how could we flip our existing view around and focus on what the customer wants, and respond to their needs?
First up, let’s use technology to cut down on processing time. You have no idea how wasteful the internal processes of most accountants are… masses of paper, photocopying, manually double (or triple) handling data, filing, mailing, there’s a lot of fluffing around. So let’s cut that out and focus on the safe and accurate electronic transfer of data.
Then let’s build a system which does not require the heavy infrastructure of an office with physical technology depreciating faster than the time it takes for the receptionist to get from her desk to the tearoom, and for that matter, let’s get rid of the receptionist! The cloud is the perfect environment from which to operate an accountant’s office. Light, mobile, safe and accessible from wherever the client wants to be.
And finally, let’s focus on the needs of our market. What do small business owners want from their accountant? They want to be in a great tax position, they want a regular flow of information that helps them run their business and they want that in a convenient, affordable package. I am often asked, “but don’t people want to see their accountant and have a personal relationship with them?” I’m not sure. Do you want a personal relationship with your accountant? Do you want to drive to their office to see them? Or would you rather be able to communicate online for a fixed fee whenever and wherever you want?
So after all the work to research the market and develop the new online accountant model, now it’s time to take beany.biz out into the wider world. We started in Taupo but now we have a presence in Auckland and have been recognised in the Westpac Business of the Year Awards for Auckland Central for Excellence in Innovation.