This year, the Victoria Bookkeeping Partner of the Year goes to Infinesse. We talk to its founder, Karla Hourigan, to hear why her practice in Echuca gives small businesses the big business treatment.
Congratulations on your award. Where did it all begin for you?
I worked as an accountant in public practice for 10 years, and saw a big gap between the quality of the data our accountants needed and the bookkeeping skill set of a business owner. Too often an accountant was left to fix things because the business owner didn’t have the correct data in the first place. I realised how hard it was to run a business and keep on top of bookkeeping; they needed help from someone with specialist skills.
When I got my eyes on Xero I was really intrigued by the way they did things differently. That’s what got me started: the real drive to see what’s out there and help small businesses be more effective. It grew from there.
I started working from home on my own. I now have a full-time staff member, a casual staff member and an office – and a portfolio where every client is on Xero.
What do you do differently?
Coming from a large accounting practice, I knew the powerful tools and systems available to big business – and I focus on replicating that for my small-business clients. I want to find the best systems and tools for their circumstance, to close that gap. It means we spend a lot of energy on education – whether we’re explaining the benefits of outsourcing or helping train staff to keep things in house. Everyone has their strengths and we find the tools to put them to effective use. I say what I believe, in a down-to-earth way. It starts an open relationship that grows and grows.
What’s the future of bookkeeping?
We evolve as technology evolves – and we need to stay at the forefront of that. But personal relationships will always matter. That’s where I see bookkeeping going. It’s more than data entry; it’s about being someone’s sidekick, helping to run their business, train their staff, ease their workload and be their support network.
You’re our VIC winner. Why Victoria?
Melbourne is an amazing city, as everyone knows. But come to the country by the river, and you’ll find plenty more down-to-earth people doing their thing. I live in Echuca, and being a winner from a regional town has blown me away. It just goes to show it doesn’t matter the size of your business or where you’re located; it’s what you contribute. It gives me the opportunity to hold my head high and pass that onto the small business community around me.
It takes guts to start a business, but these days you can do it from anywhere, and still make a mark.