Liz Jarvis runs a unique business that puts a twist on traditional accounting
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
CSI Business Solutions is a new concept in Professional Business Services. We don’t do tax returns, but having been a Charted Accountant for over 20 years, I bring various experiences to the table to help businesses and bridge the gaps between different personalities and services.
Recognising each clients’ business is unique and goals are personal, we tailor our services and solutions.
At CSI we provide a calm and ethical service to all businesses big or small, couples, partners, teams and not for profit organisations.
We provide “Synergy Sessions” – informal face to face meetings about business.
Collaboratively, we review their business- where they are right now, revealing the truth of where they are and opportunities for change. It may be in leadership, systems, tax planning, staffing, responsibility, accountability, succession planning or business/personal balance.
Then we rejuvenate through guidance, support, education and coaching. Recognising their hidden resources and talents, we aim to empower business owners and minimise fears.
How long ago did you start your own business?
My journey to my own business started over five years ago.
My passion and drive to help small to medium businesses thrive was not being completely met. Tax planning and compliance work really limited the number of businesses I could help in my role at that time. I wanted to explore other opportunities in expanding my ability to coach and mentor businesses. The more I could help and empower businesses, the better it would be for the whole community.
Unable to balance that exploration with my job in a Chartered accounting practice, I took the plunge to the unknown in July 2010, but I didn’t really expect to be self-employed ‘til later in life. Circumstances meant that I registered my business name in December 2010.
It wasn’t until May 2013 that I really started operating publically – a push from various supporters including Marilyn Breen of ETC was enough for me to borrow funds to get signage and professionalise my offerings.
By February 2014, with the launch of our website, things were in full swing, and in July 2014 I gave up the safety net of my part-time work.
Was it a difficult move for you?
It was a really difficult move; having the courage to change without financial security was very challenging. Things changed rapidly, and I wondered if I should follow my dreams and passion or get a job back in the comfort zone?
As my business is quite unique, it was hard to plan. The best pieces of advice I was given were, “Build the plane as you fly it” and “There will never be a perfect time”.
Despite all that, here I am today, doing what I love, able to articulate what that is and helping over 70 clients. For some, all they needed was one or two chats to make a big difference to their confidence, others come for a regular synergy session to help with direction, some require project work, and some use me for on call management assistance.
I thrive on the variety and the feedback – last week I had an email that said: “I really enjoyed our session last week too – it genuinely was the first time I felt I could share with an accountant where my business is at – and then engage in a discussion that was “real and meaningful.”
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in business?
Firstly, trying to fit my services into a “box” or “product” description.
Although I am a Chartered Accountant, I have chosen not to be a Tax agent, BAS Agent or a financial advisor. Instead, I supplement other professional services.
Secondly, inconsistent motivation and confidence is an issue for me. Selling my skills – blowing my trumpet – does not come easily.
Oh, and of course, the ongoing challenge that most businesses face – uncertainty and cash-flow!
Have you seen a lot of change to the business landscape in the last few years in our area?
I have noticed significant change in the last five years, not just in our area.
Traditional leadership and management styles don’t match the rapidly changing and evolving business landscape. Social media, mobile technology, Microsoft office (and similar tools) combined with the internet have escalated, in a positive way, to give power to everyone to explore and engage in parts of our world that were once reserved for the wealthy and influential. These things have changed how businesses engage with their customers and employees.
Through this, people from all walks of life have been empowered to share their unique insights into how to make our universe/world/city/town/community a better place. More than ever, business people have the opportunity to be better informed, and that leads to confidence.
The advancement of the technology such as cloud based programs and the access and affordability of internet and devices has changed the infrastructure of businesses and how we do business. We can now access data and information anywhere, anytime, empowering businesses and employees to reach customers and provide services.
With all changes there are also negative implications. Our local businesses are now competing with global competition such as online services and products which are available at people’s fingertips. The ability to adapt to this change is crucial to productivity, profits and survival in the business world.
Another thing, although debt and leverage have been the catch cry of business for decades, I think cash is king right now. Everyone is pushing credit terms to the max, which essentially is withholding from one another. I believe stand your ground, have faith in your offering and get paid promptly, In turn, pay others on time if you are able.
What keeps your business passion going?
I love a good business book and I don’t get a lot of time to read, so I use Audible and listen to them on my phone – usually in the car driving to Sydney clients. Human behaviour is a really important part of business and most of what I read applies to my clients, helps me to relate to them and allows me to offer additional insight to share.
I enjoy Richard Branson, Stephen Covey and Stephen Covey Junior, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek and many others. At the moment I am listening to Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when STAKES ARE HIGH for a second time. To para phrase the authors:
Emotions can corrupt your view of others and lead to unhelpful behaviours. Emotions are very plastic and the ability to control them is within us. Adapting behaviour within business offers hope.
What do you think are the most important things for business owners to focus on to create excellent results?
Building trust and safety within their teams. “Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” Communication is essential – ideas from all levels of the team need to be able to safely bubble to the surface, so that they can be assessed and potentially implemented to provide the continuous improvement required to remain excellent in this fast paced world.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Richard Branson:
“Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.”
With this in mind, it is important to review, reveal and rejuvenate not only in your business but nurture your work/home balance.
This article was from issue 102 of Manning-Great Lakes Focus Focus.