The events of 2020 and the years since have forced us all to change in some way or another. Many changed how we work, our long-term goals, and most importantly, how we prioritise what’s important to us.
This was certainly the case for Carly Shaw from Clarative Accounting. During the pandemic, Carly made the difficult decision to move away from her nearly-18 years as an employee in practice to set up her own firm. Her aim being to spend more time with her family, whilst also getting closer to clients businesses and making a greater impact beyond the bottom line.
With these aspirations in mind, Carly and her colleague and friend Katie decided to embrace change and founded Clarative Accounting – a practice dedicated to helping small construction companies.
Here, Carly tells the story of Clarative Accounting.
A question often posed to Carly is a simple one: why construction? She explains, “I’ve always had a lot of experience with the construction industry, including helping my husband who’s a builder. We knew we wanted to focus on a niche, so it was a no-brainer that we’d choose that.”
She adds that many accountants don’t like dealing with construction because it has its own set of rules and a separate tax system. “That can be hard to navigate, when you don’t deal with it day in and day out, but we love it.”
Starting her own firm had huge personal benefits, too: “Being able to take my children to school in the morning and being able to pick them up each evening has been a massive changing point in my life. I’ve even started pilates too!”
Carly tells us that she’s always been someone who really liked getting to know her clients and their businesses, and they’ve been able to build Clarative Accounting with exactly that in mind.
As scary as starting a new practice was, Carly and Katie have carved out distinct roles with regards to the admin – Katie taking care of the compliance side of things; Carly getting to grips with marketing. With the pieces in place, they set to work helping their clients tackle one of the biggest pain points facing small business at the moment: the cash flow crunch.
Cracking the cash flow problem
Our recent report found the average UK small business faces cash flow crunches – where monthly expenses exceed revenues – for more than four months each year. There are many reasons for this, from larger businesses making late payments to broader economic trends. The results can be devastating.
Thankfully, accountants like Carly and Katie understand the cash flow issues that construction companies, in particular, are facing and act as trusted advisors to their clients, guiding them through difficult times.
“A really common pain point in construction is managing cash flow, so we ensure we speak to clients regularly and make sure we’re checking their figures in real time – in fact, it’s built into our services. We insist that all clients start using Xero, if they don’t already, and work with them to get things systemised, in the cloud and in real-time. We’ve received such great feedback from existing clients for working in this way, that it’s also helped us gain more clients.”
Clarative Accounting uses Xero exclusively – its ease of use and ability to offer clients clear visibility into financial health is imperative in helping improve cash flow. Carly describes invoicing on the go and auto-reminders for chasing invoices as helpful features for clients. Clarative are also huge fans of Xero’s CIS function which ensures they know where all their clients stand with regards to CIS, both suffered and payable.
“Xero’s great for construction businesses, it really streamlines things for my clients,” she enthuses. “A lot of the time when we ask someone what their turnover is, they don’t have a clue. But with Xero, they can access their information in real time, so they really know their numbers.”
With Clarative Accounting built on firm foundations, Carly looks ahead to what the future may hold – and it’s looking bright:
“We’re absolutely loving what we do. We want to grow our business, and our ambition would be to get to a place where we’re a little more hands off. Maybe I could lie on a beach, and only log in a couple of times a week. That’s the dream!”
Find out more about why Xero is a great choice for trade and construction clients here.