Marilyn Bryce has been a bookkeeper for her entire working life. In early 2000, she was working for an accounting firm and realized that all too many micro and small business owners had extremely poor processes in place to handle their tax returns. The implementation of GST was imminent, which would make financial reporting even more complicated than before. Demand for help with accounting programs like MYOB or Xero would be huge, and with her skills, she knew she could help meet that need. Thus, Zen Cloud Solutions was born.
At her business, Marilyn helps small business owners take control of their accounts so they can be confident about important decisions. With the right systems in place, things like tax returns are markedly less complicated. She uses and recommends Xero accounting software, and offers extensive training in it. Zen Cloud Solutions also offers MYOB to Xero conversion assistance, annual payroll reporting, recuse and forensic bookkeeping, and more.
Marilyn is an ATO-registered BAS agent. She has been a certified Xero Partner since 2012.
“Having my own business allows me to develop a rapport with my clients. By getting to know them, I can give them personalised service. I have become quite good friends with several of my clients. While some of the work can become routine, there’s enough variety to keep me interested. My clients often tell me that I’ve given them confidence and taken a load off their minds, so I feel that I’m making a difference.”
Marilyn’s Advice For New Business Owners
- Unless you have other means of support, I recommend starting your business in your spare time and continuing with your current job while you build it up. Don’t place yourself under too much stress by jumping to being fully self-employed too soon. Lack of financial backing is a very common reason that so many businesses fail in their first year.
- Be prepared to work hard – there is no such thing as an overnight success.
- Don’t get yourself into unnecessary debt. Do you really need an office, new computer, new car etc?
- Never buy something just because it’s tax deductible. Buy it if you really need it. Tax deductibility is a minor consideration in the decision to buy.
- Don’t overlook the admin side of your business. If this is something you struggle with, consider getting assistance. Understand the numbers. Don’t just rely on how much money you have in your bank account to gauge how well your business is doing.
- Remember that GST is not your money and needs to be paid to the ATO. If cash flow is a problem, put the money aside in a separate bank account.
- Know the rules and regulations that apply to your industry and follow them to the letter.
- Integrity should be one of your biggest assets.
3 Pieces of Advice Marilyn Wishes She’d Been Given When She Started
- Being your own boss is a bit of a myth – each client becomes your boss. You need to be flexible but make realistic boundaries. If you make boundaries, be prepared to stick to them. It is much harder to impose boundaries after the relationship has been established.
- Don’t take on everyone who wants your services just because you’re desperate for the work. Listen to your gut, and if they tweak your radar, don’t take them on – they’re likely to be more trouble than they’re worth. The adage that 20% of your clients take up 80% of your time is true. These are not your ideal clients.
- Have the confidence to charge what you’re worth. Remember, if you don’t value your services, your client won’t either. This is often difficult in the early days of your business because you’re worried about pricing yourself out of the market.If you only sell your time, then before you set any prices, you need to work out the minimum amount you need to earn each year to make a reasonable living. Divide this by the amount of time you want to work – remembering to allow for holidays, sickness and public holidays – to arrive at your minimum charge-out rate.If you’re selling products, then naturally you need to factor in the cost of the goods you sell. Don’t forget to factor in your overhead costs, too.
Skills and Knowledge Areas That Marilyn Recommends Business Owners Get Acquainted with Quickly
The financial side of a business is critical to its success. This is more than just invoicing, receiving money, and paying your bills. It’s a key metric of how your business is performing. Don’t just look at the Profit and Loss report. The balance sheet is as, if not more, important. If your industry relies on technology, make sure you’re competent with it and aim to be proficient as soon as possible.
Marketing is essential to a business. You need to work out which method works best in your industry to reach your ideal customer/client. Be focused with your marketing and remember, “if you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.”
We asked Marilyn what problem being a HerBusiness member solved for her. Here’s what she said.
In my business, it’s important to understand my clients’ pain points so I can help to solve their problems. While I belong to several bookkeeping groups, they only give me a perspective on my industry. HerBusiness gives me access to businesswomen across a variety of industries and businesses of different sizes. These women have faced a variety of challenges and have a wealth of experience that I can draw on. This variety helps me understand a broad cross-section of businesses and the issues they face. These industries and businesses are my potential clients, so any insight I can gain is beneficial.
Also, I’m interested in growing my business, but unsure of the best way to proceed. With so much experience in the group, I’m confident that I’ll find excellent advice that will help me to develop and implement a suitable growth strategy.