Taupo-based administration firm Admin Angels is run by chartered accountants Heather Sumpter and Nic McCondach. Sumpter talks about starting a flexible business.
What does your business do?
Admin Angels is a bookkeeping and administration service, which does everything from tidying people's workplaces right through to completing financial statements and tax returns. Our core business is centred around entering data, reconciling payables, receivables, doing debt collection and giving our clients monthly reports, along with payroll duties.
The business began in November 2016 but it wasn't until April 2017 that I reduced my hours at the company I was working for and it really started.
What was the motivation for starting the business?
Nic and I used to work together in Taupo, we used to run at 5.30am, and while we were running we schemed and dreamed and could just see a real need in Taupo for this kind of service. What we saw in Taupo was that we wanted to provide a service that firstly was flexible.
We saw a lot of people spending all of their time working in that administration area, instead of being able to work on their businesses. As we're not tied to any bricks and mortar location we don't have large overheads so that enables us to charge bookkeeping prices.
How big is your team?
At the moment it's just us. We have a couple of contractors who we've used on occasion but we would like to bring on staff with a flexible working policy.
Why you decided to leave the corporate world?
I spent 13 years in chartered accountants' practices with a strong rural base of clients and Nic came from a high-corporate background, and she's also a qualified accountant. The idea for us was not to buy ourselves a job, we wanted to build something that was going to sustain us. What we love the most about moving from a corporate into our own business was the flexibility it gave us - being able to make appointments with clients in a coffee shop anytime and to the ability to set our own standards which is something really important to us.
How have you found running a business of this kind?
The business has exceeded our expectations with its growth, financially. We're both fully self-employed working on the business, and we try to keep a good day or two days to work on the business as opposed to in the business. We find that our work is unbelievably rewarding. Six weeks after we started Admin Angels, we were approached by a nationwide company asking if we would take over running their business but we decided not to. We came away excited and then we thought it wasn't us and that we should stick to the plan we made.
What's the biggest challenge you're facing in this space?
The biggest challenge to start with was getting out there and selling ourselves, and I don't think that there are very many people in the accounting industry that are very good at it. It didn't come naturally to us so that was our hardest stumbling blocks. With that in mind we brought in a marketing company which has been a really good strategy for us. The other challenge was not getting into panic mode.
Historically, what we found is when we did a case on a new client there was a real, what we like to call "a hornets nest", which we have to fix up and that takes a lot work undoing and fixing. Another hard thing to start with was that first leap of faith and that fear of losing that regular wage that comes in every week.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm an early riser, so typically I go to the office early, check all of my emails, go through anything that looks like it needs attending. Usually a couple times a week I've got full days with clients where I go to their premises and then on the other days Nic and I will be doing marketing or visiting potential clients. At the moment we are both working around 40 hours per week on the business.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Always, before you start any business, do your homework - research like industries, find out who you market is, stick to your method and don't get sidetracked with other things that come along. Don't wait for everything to be perfect before you press the go button, otherwise you will never start.