Summer holidays are coming but Eli and Wyndi Tagi won't be expecting to switch off their phones.

"We live on our phones," Eli says. "No matter where we are, or if we're on holiday, everything comes through on our phones. We're always on."

It's one of the challenges the husband and wife have encountered while running their fast-growing small business accounting firm over the past three years, a task they balance with raising their five children.

"Time management and keeping on top of things - and trying to get some sleep in amongst it all - has been another big challenge for us," says Wyndi. "We're really active in our kids' lives, and we work hard here in the office but, after they go to bed, we're sometimes working into the middle of the night."


The pair are far from deterred and three years spent working in the small business sector only seems to have broadened their horizons. They've big ambitions for growing their WE Accounting brand, particularly overseas, and are scoping opportunities to expand into Australia.

"The thing we've really realised over the last one or two years is our market can actually be bigger than we initially thought. We don't have to just focus on our community, or even just New Zealand, but can think on a much larger scale," Wyndi says.

Eli, a chartered accountant, had worked as an auditor for the IRD and a major accounting firm before the pair set up WE Accounting, initially with just Eli working in the business. Their original ambitions were for the firm to give something back to the community - by helping other small businesses grow - and to leave a legacy for their children.

They considered working from home but decided to set up shop in a prime location at the intersection of two busy streets in Auckland's Grey Lynn, figuring the roadside visibility would draw clients and increase brand awareness.

Wyndi, who had spent seven years with ASB and previously held management roles in retail, joined the business as practice manager about six months later, soon after having their fifth child. Not having an accounting background has been an asset, she says, allowing her to focus on growing the business while leaving the actual accounting work in Eli's hands.

"Eli has his strengths and I have my own," Wyndi says. "A lot of people when they start out are the marketer, the accounts person and the person doing the job and it makes everything that bit harder. But we've been fortunate to have had me solely focusing on how to grow the business."

The firm took on its first employee after about nine months and now has four full-time and two part-time staff. Despite having hired and managed staff in previous roles, Wyndi says HR issues have been one of the primary challenges they've faced in the growing business. Retaining good, young staff, and dealing with performance issues with others, has given them some sleepless nights.

The pair say they've drawn heavily on the services of HR Toolkit, which offers online HR resources and HR consultancy services to small businesses. They've also found networking a help and are members of the Grey Lynn Business Association, Samoa Business Network and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.


Proof that the business is humming is in the numbers - its most recent annual growth figure is 66 per cent - but the pair say their clients' figures are their primary measure of success.

"We're accountants so we get to see how well our clients are doing and how successful they are and that makes us feel successful too," Wyndi says. "That's what we set out to do and that makes us feel really good."

Plans are now afoot to set up a presence in Australia, with the pair currently researching Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane as possible locations. They anticipate they'll have clients on the books across the ditch within the next two years.

"That's our first major goal and then we want to expand from there, looking at the US, or the UK," Wyndi says. "We think we've got quite a lot to offer and it doesn't have to just stop here."

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