First things first, who are you and how do you help small businesses?
I’m Adam Fernandes, the cloud accountant.
How would my clients describe me? Probably “fun”, “down to earth”, “not your average accountant”. I guess that’s because I am all those things. In fact, all the people who work with me are too!
But it doesn’t detract from my training, experience and qualifications. I’m still a chartered accountant and a very good one at that. It’s just I have my own unique style and it’s one that my clients seem to absolutely love.
Most people think they know what an accountant does – accounts, tax-returns, book-keeping, payroll…. but I feel that puts us in a very transactional box. So we offer more. We give all our clients regular meetings, the tools and advice they need to grow and a range of reports so they really understand what is going on with their business.
To give you an idea, I have some clients who only contact me when they need “accounting stuff” doing. Then, there are those who call me on an almost daily basis because they have queries relating to pretty much anything and everything (sometimes not even to do with their businesses).
Building your own business from the ground up is tough – I know that because I’ve done it myself – and having the expertise to help you is vital when you need it. That’s what I aim to give to small businesses at every stage of their development.
What made you become a member of Start-Talk-Grow?
Helping others has always been in my nature and, having started a business myself, helping others do the same seems a no-brainer to me. I’m a firm believer in ‘Givers-Gain’ – the principle that, if I help you, some day, down the line, that giving will come back to me in some way shape or form.
Stepping out of a corporate environment is a big leap for anyone and I had lots of help when I did it. When Cristina spoke to me about Start-Talk-Grow I saw it as the perfect opportunity to give something back for all the help I’d received on my journey.
What inspired you to start your business?
I had always wanted to be an accountant. In fact, I went straight from school into a small local accounting firm from where I took my qualifications and gained my chartered status. Through a series of mergers, that small firm became a large one. I enjoyed working for large clients and got lots of experience along the way but I always felt that the traditional model of accountancy practices didn’t quite fit my own style.
Small business owners, I noticed, found the suited professional with one eye on the books and the other on the timesheet (charging for their time in 15 minute blocks) really intimidating. I felt there had to be a better way.
So I took the plunge in 2019 and set up my own practice. At first it was just me and some part-time admin support but we’ve grown fast and now serve over 500 small businesses. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve loved every minute.
What makes you different from others in your field?
No suits, no timesheets, just professional support from a fun-to-work-with team who have the client’s interests at heart.
We use the term ‘cloud accountant’ because there are now so many great online tools out there to help a small business and the first thing we do is help each new client up and running on them. It can be tempting to feel that you don’t have time to learn a range of software but I’ve found that, with a bit of upfront effort and our support, we can take a massive burden off your shoulders.
There is no longer any need to have a box full of receipts – just take a photo of it and it will upload automatically to your book-keeping software. No more spreadsheets and written records. The online software keeps track of everything and then generates the reports you need to see in a second how you are doing. And when it comes to tax returns and company accounts – well, then everything is already ready to go, making it so much less painful.
What are the greatest achievements you’ve had in your business?
The growth I’ve seen over the last three years. When I started it was just me. Since then, I’ve built a team of 8 people and over 500 clients.
I haven’t done it alone – there have been some great people supporting me along the way – and now it’s my turn to help others do the same.
What did you wish you knew when you started that you have learned along the way?
To keep recruiting! If you are planning to grow, always be thinking about your next team members. Even if you aren’t ready to hire then just now, finding the right person takes time and energy and when you are ready to grow the team, you’ll want them onboard as quickly as possible.
If you find the right person, before you are ready, you can always set their expectations and most will be willing to stay in their current role until you have a vacancy.
The quick-fire round
Which is your favourite social media platform
I’m not that into social media. I do use LinkedIn and Facebook a little for my business but most of my clients come via word of mouth.
What is the best bit of work kit you have?
My laptop. No! My mobile phone…. I need to have two.
With just my laptop and phone I can run my whole business from anywhere in the world.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you first started? And by whom?
When I shared my plans with one of my previous colleagues, his advice was “be famous for something” and that was what set me on the path to become the Xero Hero.
Imagine you’ve been given an unexpected day off – how will you spend it?
I love to be around other people so it would either be a day out with the family – probably on a beach somewhere – or a round of golf with friends.
Which is your while-you-work drink of choice?
Water – always water. I don’t drink anything else (except at the weekend!)
Which is your favourite business book?
The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz
What is your secret to success?
Always do the right thing. It isn’t always easy – especially if you’ve made a mistake or something isn’t working as you ‘d expected – but being open, admitting mistakes and giving honest views always pays off in the end.
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