International Women’s Day is this week, March 8th. We’re celebrating this global day by highlighting the female business leaders working with Xero – for a whole week instead!
This year’s theme is Be Bold For Change, which encourages people around the world to call on the masses (or themselves) to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.
Recently I spoke to Tanya Titman at the Xero Australia Roadshow about empowering women in the workforce; a vision she had when she launched her own accounting firm Consolid8 nine years ago. This innovative Xero advisory firm is now growing and thriving in Brisbane, with a culture that encourages passion for work as well as a focus on family life. However, Tanya and her team aren’t stopping with Consolid8.
Over the past yea, the firm’s work has been recognised nationally. Xero awarded Consolid8 the national Accounting Partner of the Year award at Xerocon 2016. Further to that, Tanya won Brisbane Business Women of the Year and was one of three finalists for Telstra’s Business Woman of the Year in Queensland.
What inspired you to launch Consolid8?
I previously had worked in a male-dominated accounting practice. With two two young children I experienced the juggling of breast feeds and the challenges that entails in such a work environment. I had to pump and put breast milk it in the fridge with a “don’t drink” sticker on it. I learned firsthand about the struggles of being a mum in practice, and I thought, “I don’t want anyone else to go through that.”
It was important for me that my practice supported working mums by making life easier for them. Things like having onsite childcare. That’s why I built a crèche.
The name Consolid8 means to unite into one. That means bringing together amazing talent and people and providing clients with the support they need. I never just wanted to have an accounting practice, but to go far further and provide support for my clients across many areas of their business world.
How do you recruit staff?
I have 25 staff, and that does include a lot of women. However, the mix has ebbed and flowed over the years. I believe in recruiting the right person for the right job. Both genders find our work environment beneficial. One of my long-term employees, Matt, has had four children who have all used our onsite childcare.
The environment lends itself to attracting great female talent back into the workforce. I find there are a lot of amazing women that want to go back to work but don’t because they can’t find the flexibility they need.
You’ve seen success already from a program you started called Acceler8. Can you tell me more about what the program entails?
The mission of Acceler8 is to educate, inspire and empower female small business owners, so they have more money, more time and less stress in their lives. We have a 12-month program. It covers understanding numbers and financials, operations, refining productivity and efficiency, leadership and building great teams, and marketing and social media. We try to teach the ladies some cool things. For instance, we have a green-screen room where we film each of them to provide a video for websites or blogs.
During the program, we pull their businesses apart and help them build them back up. Some people come in on the brink of throwing their businesses away, and we give them the foundational tools they need. They are generally working in isolation, so we take them, help connect them with each other, and teach them to grow. We see tremendous turnaround, and by the end of the program, they are soaring.
Who are the ideal candidates for the Acceler8 program?
We call these ladies Savvy Sally. Typically, they’ve been in business more than three years with between one and five staff and are really focused on growing. We have people from every industry. The foundation is focused on financials. We have people coming into the program in all sorts of places. Some are still on spreadsheets and haven’t used accounting software. We teach and demo with Xero and find that through the course of the year, everyone decides it will be best for their business to transition.
What’s ahead for Acceler8?
Consolid8 is based in Brisbane but I’m ready to launch the program in Melbourne and Sydney. I’d also love to offer an online self-paced education program.
The next intake is capped at 40 in each city. The online program is probably best suited to startups who want to do self-paced learning. I can see it really working for someone starting a side business who doesn’t yet have the time to commit to the full programme.
What’s exciting is to see all the people that I’ve built up on my team who can facilitate the program. I have a full support crew to help with our next intake in July. It is for women only. We have considered opening it to men, but I believe women learn and build support networks differently and this program is designed for them.
I’m heavily involved with all the programs. We have found our happy place. It’s a common factor with all the people involved. They’ve also run their own businesses and understand and have empathy for what these women are trying achieve. We’re keen to launch this next phase and see the impact it will have on businesses across Australia.
For more information on Consolid8 and Acceler8 visit the website.