RBK Advisory were awarded Accounting Partner of the Year (2018) at the Xero Awards. Here, Director of RBK Jason Robinson talks more about their business journey.
From working in shared workspaces and business centres, to openly sharing our past failures with clients, RBK is part of the world of accountancy and business advisory services that is changing for the better.
When so many small businesses fail before they’ve even got off the ground, everyone loves hearing a business success story. As one of the directors of RBK Advisory I’m proud that our enterprise is proving to be one of the success stories.
For a business that’s only been operation for two years, our growth has been exponential (and quite frankly, a little scary). We’re a young team but we’re already nearly at $3 million in fees under management.
Of course, everyone wants to know the secret to our success. Instead of being secretive about how we work, I’m happy to share the inner workings of RBK Advisory with clients, competitors and anyone else who is interested.
This open, collaborative approach is all a part of being what I call a ‘new age advisor’. Some people may think that group hugs and revealing conversations have no place in business. Others closely guard their commercial secrets for fear of losing business to others. But for us, there’s no other way.
Sharing our knowledge with others, admitting where our business got it wrong in the past, and spending plenty of face-to-face time with our clients delivers real benefits to not only our business, but the community itself.
Location, location, location
I believe that where you choose to work can have a profound impact on the success of your business. One of the biggest reasons why we choose to work out of co-working spaces and business centres is to be surrounded by other small business owners, all day, every day.
While we have our own private suites in the majority of cases, we are still an active part of the community within those centres, and get involved in events the business centres host. Rather than having an insular end-of-week drinks just with our team, we share Friday night drinks with more than a hundred people from within the small business community who our team might be able to help.
A significant part of our growth can be attributed to this decision to be truly immersed within the small business community. Rather than setting up an office somewhere and expecting the business to come to us, we set up offices where the business owners were already playing, so we went to our customers.
In this day and age, technology enables us to do so much, but it’s important that we don’t lose track of the human side. One of the benefits of sharing walls with many of clients is that we get regular face-to-face contact with them. If our clients want to see us, we walk up to each other, shake hands, hug or high-five, and then debrief over what’s going on in our business over a coffee or a beer. As much as we love using Zoom for meetings, it’s still really beneficial to have face-to-face time within the four walls of where we work.
Small business, big impact
I’ve long believed that small businesses are the backbone of both the economy and the community. From café owners to builders, our clients span a wide range of industries including hospitality, construction, marketing, eCommerce and beyond.
When small businesses thrive, the impact on the community is huge. Small businesses not only provide jobs and incomes for locals, they’re also the ones sponsoring the local footy team and donating to the school fundraiser.
As an SME ourselves, we currently sponsor three footy clubs. By assisting the local clubs with much-needed funding, we’re helping to foster a place where kids can come and play football, and be healthy and fit. We also volunteer as a team helping to feed vulnerable people with FairShare. As we grow we anticipate helping the community more and more.
Unfortunately, not all small businesses are in the position to help the community as much as they’d like due to cash-flow issues. Many small businesses struggle to turn a profit and it’s not necessarily because they have a bad product or service, it’s because they haven’t got the fundamentals right. That’s where we come in.
With the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that more than 60 percent of small businesses close within the first three years of operation, it’s vital for small business owners to get the foundations right from the get-go, and be operating from a place of reality, not fantasy.
Many people are attracted to entrepreneurship but have little understanding of what it actually entails. I believe that there’s no point sugar-coating advice when a small business owner is at risk of losing their enterprise or setting up a business that is doomed to fail.
From underestimating the importance of having a business plan, to not researching the market, and failing to set up systems to take care of payroll, taxation and compliance, many small business owners could avoid problems by seeking expert advice early on in the game.
Xero, Hubdoc and Deputy are all real enablers that allow us to help business owners run their enterprises with confidence, knowing that the numbers are looking after themselves. They are easy to set up, simple to use, and make a tangible difference to the way a small business operates.
But when a client comes in twelve months after opening and they’ve already made all the mistakes, it’s harder to fix than getting it right in the first place. They’ve already spent the GST, or failed to put funds aside for tax, and now they’re in a hole. If they’d sought advice first, their business would be in a much better position.
Ultimately, that’s what we want at RBK Advisory – to help put as many small businesses as we possible to be in a better position. When small businesses thrive and flourish, they employ more people and give more back to the community. Small business and community can’t be separated, that’s why we choose to work in the very thick of the small business community, right where we belong.