For 11 years I’ve been running my own branding and graphic design agency, Algo Más Marketing, and I still haven’t mastered the skill of working on the business and not just in it. But when I became pregnant last year, I was forced to change my ways.
Even more of a challenge than looking after one newborn is looking after two — and as it turned out I was pregnant with twins. There’s always a risk twins will come early, so it was important that we had procedures in place, early on, so the business could run independently while I was on maternity leave.
Xero enables me to easily see our precise financial position and, one of my favourite features, our work in progress, or WIP, from any computer, tablet or phone, even when I’m out of the office. This makes it an essential tool for any small business owner needing to manage a business from afar.
Systems that help you delegate and collaborate
Once I knew I was pregnant, I sat down with our finance and human resources manager and went through all my day-to-day tasks. We then worked out which could be delegated while I was on leave. For example, our staff of six all use My Xero to request annual leave, and I was responsible for approving that leave. By simply adding our finance manager to Xero as a person to approve leave, and letting staff know the new procedure, we were able to delegate this task in minutes. Our finance manager also prepares client invoices for approval at the end of each job. I then approve them before they are emailed out. I wanted to maintain control over what clients were ultimately charged. As I could log into Xero anytime and anywhere, and the approval process was quick, we decided I could easily continue to do this from home.
We work on as many as 50 jobs at once, from a simple business card design to a complex ad campaign. Most of the time our account manager uses Xero to prepare quotes for these projects. Some jobs take six months or longer, so it’s essential our WIP is up to date so we know whether to request progress payments to assist cash flow. Once a client approves a quote, the account manager accepts it. By simply looking at the Accepted tab in the Quote module, I can instantly see our WIP. If WIP looks healthy, it gives me peace of mind, and if not, I know early enough to do something about it.
Monitor your financial position from afar
We have also tailored the format of our profit-and-loss report in Xero so we can clearly see whether we’ve generated enough income each month to break even. This is another great feature that provides reassurance while I’m not involved in the day-to-day happenings at the office. And it means I am only a click away from monitoring our financial situation at all times.
We had one of our highest-revenue and most profitable periods ever during the first month I was gone, and I still have five more months of leave. When I return to the office, and even while at home, I’ll have the confidence to delegate more and spend more time working on the business.
Raising twins has certainly been a challenge but it’s also been filled with moments of extreme happiness. Whether settling one baby in my arms while checking WIP, or approving invoices while they both sleep soundly in their cots, I’ve been able to be there for the first smile, the first gurgle and am always on hand for a cuddle.
By Julie Wrobel, Managing Director, Algo Más Marketing. Julie writes a blog about her experience of being pregnant while running a business at pregnantandprofitable.com