TURNING SKILLS INTO MONEY AND A BETTER LIFESTYLE
This is an excerpt from the fourth of a Business Ambition series in partnership between The NZ Herald* and ASB*, based on a survey conducted over 6 weeks to give insight into the ambitions, concerns, wants and needs of NZ businesses. Living the dream?
Garreth Collard, founder of Auckland-based company EpsomTax.com, says lifestyle change was the main reason he took the plunge to focus fully on his accountancy firm, which specialises in the residential property sector.
After spending a year in Central America, Collard started the business in late 2008 but was content to let it simmer slowly on the side while he worked as a contractor in IT management.
“But the more time went by, the more I realized I was putting my energies into someone else’s business,” says Collard. “I wanted to have more time to spend with my wife and for myself, so it was for lifestyle reasons that around 2011 I said, ‘okay, I’m going to work for myself.”
But while a better lifestyle might be the dream, is it the reality for a business owner? In Collard’s case, the answer is yes – and no. When a close family member became seriously ill last year, Collard says owning his own business gave him the flexibility to spend time caring for his loved one.
However, Collard says business at EpsomTax.com is booming, with the firm doubling in size for the past three years. He now has four accountants and an office administrator working in the firm but, even so, this year he’s still been spending double the amount of time in the firm than planned.
“A double-edged sword”
“Success can be a double-edged sword,” he says. “I think as a business owner you have to stop working in your business long enough to see where it’s going, so you can work on your business. For me, I soon realised I needed to have a so-called exit strategy; ideally I’d like to get to the point where all I’m doing in the business is having cups of coffee with our clients.”
A better lifestyle is an impetus for his approach but Collard says it’s also about being a careful and successful manager of his business. Extricating himself largely from the operational side of the business means it’s protected should something happen to him; it also means the business is inherently more valuable.
As a result, he’s instituted and documented more systems in the business – storing them in the cloud for safekeeping. He’s also been in discussions with another accountant in the hope they’ll join the firm next year to take over the bulk of his current day-to-day responsibilities.
“They say successful managers should be able to manage themselves out of a job, so that’s the strategy I want to apply to what I’m doing,” he says. “It’s about being prudent in my approach and if I’m encouraging my clients to do that, I have to do it myself.”
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