Quentin Haywood is the owner and operator of small business Sun Up Farm, in Gatton, Queensland. A greenhouse operation with four employees that started three years ago, it produces cucumbers throughout the year for the Australian east coast. When Quentin first started drawing up his business plan for Sun Up Farm, he already had a relationship with Jim Vass from ATB Partners, who was his accountant.
But as his new business got underway, Jim was to become more involved – not just as his accountant, but as a mentor. He worked with Quentin to fully understand his vision and goals and to help him get on the right path to achieving them.
“From day one, Jim was there for me. He worked with me on the finances and structuring of my business and he held me accountable.”
Support from one state to another
Quentin was brought up on a rural property in WA and after a stint in construction that took him across Australia, he was keen to get back to his farming roots.
And his location an hour outside of Brisbane would allow him to spend much more time with his family than working nationally in construction.
Jim, however, was a partner in an accountancy firm down in Sydney. So Quentin initially considered working with an accountant local to him in Brisbane – he thought it would be a lot easier.
An honest answer at the end of the phone
But he was already comfortable with his existing relationship with Jim and trusted him to be forthright and proactive. The decision to stay was easy.
“Jim can talk in layman’s terms, not accounting terms. He is very understanding in his approach. And what is great is that Jim always makes me accountable. He calls me at the drop of a hat if we are heading in the wrong direction and advises on what we need to do to get back on track.
On the flip side, I can call him at any time and get an honest answer, which is hard to find these days.”
A confident partnership
Quentin also benefits from the great team at ATB accountants – it’s all part of a unique service that makes clients feel truly supported.
“Jim has good backup from the team. My wife does the books, and if she has any questions she can get help from other team members at ATB. A simple question can often be answered by someone else, it doesn’t have to be Jim.
When I started in business, I recognised that if you have the wrong people in your team, it can be hard work.
Jim has been part of our team from the very beginning – it makes life so much easier if you have the right people.”
Proactive accounting services made simple
Unless Quentin is in Sydney, most of his meetings with Jim are via Skype.
Jim will send a quarterly management report ahead of time, with notes, so Quentin can prepare.
This allows them to use their time more productively and proactively.
And they discuss much more than just the details in the statement …
Hey can look at what’s working and what’s not, what changes there were in the last quarter and what outcome they had – what they can do to move Quentin’s business forward.
Real time advice
Quentin finds that the accountants at ATB are always on top of his budget and cashflow.
“They are very advanced with their technology; everything is done via the system, figures can be viewed in real time, documents can be signed electronically …
small things like that make a big difference – they give a business a big advantage and make us more productive.”
An end to end service
“For my business, the most valuable part of Jim’s service is to make me accountable and to give me guidance. He keeps me on track – whether it’s preparing a budget or helping me plan what direction my business is headed in.
ATB Partners have a great business network too and can always refer me to the right people if needed, so they are really a one stop shop.
As a small business owner, that’s key – they know everything about us so we don’t need to go to anyone else.”
The complete package
Looking to the future, Quentin is working on consistency in his business cycle. Once that is steady, he will be looking to other markets, including overseas. The key to success for Quentin is surrounding himself with good people, with the right experience and proactive planning.
“Jim is not just my accountant, he’s my mentor. He gives me advice about my super and insurance as well as business advice, what we’re doing on the farm and how we can improve that … it’s all included in the package.”
Learn more about taking control of your small business with ATB Chartered Accountants and Business Mentors.