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Aquabumps: Managing a business by land, air or sea

Posted 3 months ago in Small business by Demian Mclean
Posted by Demian Mclean

When you’re living aboard a boat in a remote Indonesian surf spot, how do you manage your business back home in Australia? If you’re photography brand Aquabumps, you turn to the cloud.

“We love that Xero is cloud-based software,” says Aquabumps founder and photographer Eugene ‘Uge’ Tan. “I just spent two weeks aboard a boat, deep in the Mentawai Islands. Xero allowed me to stay on top of our accounts, payroll, and even P&L while I was offshore.”

Aquabumps is Australia’s most famous purveyor of beach photography, named for waves, or ‘bumps’ on the ocean. Each weekday, Uge emails a beautiful picture of beach life to 45,000 subscribers, and posts to 200,000 followers across Instagram and Facebook. His images have also graced Speedo bathing suits, Havaianas sandals and Bailey Nelson sunglasses.

Subjects include waves, surfers, swimmers, sunrises and whatever happens in the early morning hours at the beach. Which beach? Bondi mainly – Aquabumps’ gallery is based there – but also spots in Italy, Rio, Hawaii, Tahiti, the Maldives, and Fiji.

Juggling home and work life

“A global business requires some juggling,” says Debbie Tan, Uge’s wife and Aquabumps’ commercial director. “We need access that allows us to stay on top of our accounts so that we’re servicing our clients efficiently wherever we are.

“This morning, I jumped on Xero from home to see whether an invoice had been paid, so we could start production on a client’s artworks – all while getting the kids sorted for school and before I even started my day in the office.”

For Aquabumps, the best feature of Xero is its live bank feeds.

“They’re incredible,” says Debbie. “We take payments in many ways – Eway, Paypal, Tyro, Amex and cash – and it’s so easy to match the payment to the transaction when the feeds are right there in Xero. I love how Xero even suggests a match, saving so much time. Our bookkeeping fees have come down since we moved from MYOB to Xero.”

A big portion of Debbie’s day is spent liaising with Aquabumps’ sponsors and partners. The company’s sponsors include Samsung, Canon, Corona and Air New Zealand.  Debbie has several aspects to deal with including advertising, royalties and shooting.

Freedom to delegate

“Once a fortnight, our bookkeeper sends a debtors’ report – but at any given moment in Xero, I can see what’s outstanding, what’s been paid, and whether there are invoices awaiting my approval that have been created by someone else in our team,” says Debbie. “This function gives me the freedom to delegate while still seeing the details before an invoice is sent to a client, and allows me to focus on the bigger picture of the business.”

Any business expenses are put through the Xero app on Debbie’s phone. “I shoot all receipts and post them directly to Xero, saving our bookkeeper time. That’s every coffee, meeting at a cafe, etcetera, ” she says.

“Quite often, when doing a warranty claim or exchange, I look up the receipts in the Xero app on my phone. We also use Xero to run our beach-house financials, and it works so well,” says Debbie.

A seamless transition from air to gallery

The app even works in the air, should Uge need it while on a photo shoot by helicopter above Bondi. That’s how he has gotten some of his most famous images, such as Lone Swimmer.

Aquabumps has 12 employees today, and Uge says the business is growing strongly. He uses the cloud-based app Deputy for rostering and timesheets. It syncs with Xero and sends all timesheets directly to the accounting software. Aquabumps’ gallery manager then approves the timesheets, and they go straight to the bookkeeper, in Xero, for payment and confirmation.

“This process is amazing, as we used to use spreadsheets and paper – which were always getting lost and were inaccurate,” says Uge.

“We also send all of our online store orders – taken through WooCommerce – directly into Xero for reconciliation. It’s a pretty cool thing. Makes life so much easier.”

The efficiencies have freed Debbie and Uge to focus on what they love most: their family and their business.

“We live a busy life,” says Debbie. “For us, having tools that give us flexibility around our young family and Uge being away on travel is paramount.”

aquabumps-photography-brand-aussie-xero aquabumps-photography-brand-aussie-xero

One comment

ohad ladany
August 1, 2017 at 12.24 pm

That is a truly amazing operation you have there! Access from the air that’s incredible…
Having the right tools i.e. Xero & Deputy (and many more add-ons) is the new way to operate an international biz like aquabumps.
Have a great day,
Ohad
Founder – Cumulus BKG Australia

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