Our latest interview features Paula Tucker from Spark CFO. Paula is a Chartered Accountant with over 15 years’ experience across countless industries in Australia and the United Kingdom (UK). She helps you build your best business and backs you with the knowledge and confidence to understand key metrics, seize crucial growth opportunities, and the best financial advice to bolster your bottom line.
Paula shares what inspired her to set up her business, how to work with your accountant to prepare for the end of financial year and what people can expect when hiring a virtual and outsourced Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Tell us a bit about Spark CFO?
The role of a CFO is hugely variable, but usually involves helping business owners to better understand their financial information, focusing on the most important areas of their business. These areas include: setting targets and budgets and keeping them accountable to those goals, helping with cash flow management and forecasting as well helping drive efficiencies and ultimately make more profit. Business owners are often doing everything themselves and generally don’t have that independent sounding board or source of advice, which is where Spark CFO can come in.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Several years ago, after having two children and returning to the workforce I decided it was time to take stock of what I really wanted my working life to look like. To me that was doing something I was both good at and that I really enjoyed (that’s numbers!) I also wanted to do something that felt like I was helping and contributing to others as well as being flexible enough to fit my lifestyle. Seeing that there were so few roles out there that fit my requirements I decided to start my own business and have never looked back.
What type of clients do you work with?
Typically we work with service based businesses, varying from professional services, training, to more creative industries such as interior design and marketing. Just to keep things varied and interesting we also cover retail and e–commerce. What all our clients have in common is a growth mindset, an entrepreneurial spirit and are great to work with.
What’s been your biggest highlight/achievement for your business?
There have been two key achievements:
- We are a young business at just three years old, so I still clearly remember getting our very first paying client.
- When we grew large enough to hire our first employee.
What can people expect when hiring an outsourced Chief Financial Officer (CFO)?
A CFO typically focuses on the future of your business working with you to set targets and budgets and focus on managing cash and cash flow forecasts. They will also help you stay focused and accountable, keeping you focused on the most profitable areas of your business and helping you to keep striving to achieve those targets. As an added bonus a CFO should be contributing toward making your business more efficient and you less stressed and busy!
Why is a bookkeeper the first job businesses should outsource and not the last?
Simply, a good bookkeeper can save you both time and money. Business owners already have so much to do, working on administrative tasks, like bookkeeping, generally isn’t good use of their time, plus an experienced bookkeeper will be able to get things done more quickly. I also think it’s an unrealistic expectation that business owners should have detailed knowledge of the complexities surrounding GST, Pay As You Go (PAYG) and accounting when it usually isn’t their area of expertise. Having a bookkeeper on board fills this knowledge gap and will help make sure your numbers are accurate. Not only does this help you and your tax accountant, it also ensures you have everything you need to make informed decisions for your business.
What are some handy tips on how you can help your accountant prepare you for the end of financial year without handing over the proverbial shoebox full of receipts?
The best tip is to make sure you have systems and processes in place throughout the year to keep everything up-to-date and accurate, with the introduction of cloud accounting packages to the market, this is easier and more affordable then ever before. Even with this is in place the end of financial year is the time to make sure everything is up-to-date and reconciled and you have any additional information easily at hand, so things like information on motor vehicles, travel, entertainment, asset purchases and sales and copies of receipts should all be easily accessible.
What’s next for Spark CFO?
We will continue doing what we love, working with amazing clients and growing our business.
Beneath a business acumen that will make your head spin burns a very simply defined passion: Help people build their best business. Paula’s desire to help you understand figures, multiply profits and boost your business’ success means you can rejoice in the fact that numbers don’t have to be boring, hard, or chew up precious time.
Like Paula herself, you can think of Spark CFO as your virtual financial support team, that go-to person who’ll help you tackle the big financial hurdles, and take the time and care to address the little questions. She’ll back you with the knowledge and confidence to understand key metrics, seize crucial growth opportunities, and the best financial advice to bolster your bottom line.
You can bet your bottom dollar she’s heard it all before: “I don’t have time. I don’t have the know-how. I’m so overwhelmed. Spreadsheets are boring. Help!”
Find out more about the services Spark CFO can offer here.