How A Support Coordinator Slashed her Stressful Paperwork by 75% with a First Class Bookkeeper

February 27, 2024

image of australia small business owner sharon mckinney

In the heart of the Greater Ipswich region, Sharon MacKinney has made her mark by dedicating her efforts to a cause close to her heart. 

As an independent Support Coordinator at SMM Support Coordination, she empowers individuals navigating the complexities of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), helping them not just dream of better futures but actively build them. 

Yet, the road to fulfilment wasn’t without its bumps.

It was a daunting realisation—mastering her role meant not just leading the charge but also acknowledging that doing it all didn’t mean handling it all alone. 

Especially when it came to her business’ finances. 

Embracing the Leap from Uncertainty to Independence 

It’s always scary when you first start off,” recalls Sharon. “You lack that confidence of, ‘have I made the right decision’? ‘Is it going to work’? You don’t get that everyday paycheck, that salary or whatever you were on before that you could count on.”

Sharon works tirelessly each day helping participants in her community navigate the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and link them up with appropriate services. 

But before going out on her own as a sole trader in 2021, Sharon was a manager in a similar role–however, she much preferred doing the groundwork and working directly with her clients.  “I am the director, owner, everything,” she says. “I prefer to be a sole trader and just stay as an independent now.”

image of sharon's small business office work from home
Sharon’s office (Image: SMM Support Coordination) 

Tailoring Services for Families with Flexible Hours 

Having her own business helps provide better services, especially for her younger participants. 

“It gives me a lot more flexibility,” says Sharon, of her working hours. This is especially useful for your younger participants who are in school, with parents who are busy working and can’t make it into “regular” office hours:

“A lot of parents work. If I’m doing something for the children, they can’t meet my office hours,” she says. Sometimes Sharon will meet with her participants in the evenings, on weekends, or public holidays.

“It’s nothing for me to go into a meeting on a Saturday or a Sunday because that suits them better and they really appreciate that, Sharon adds.”

image of smm coordination participants
Some of Sharon’s participants. Sharon, pictured bottom center. (Image: SMM Coordination)

Navigating a Packed Schedule with Passion 

Sharon loves her job. And it doesn’t get any busier. While a regular caseload for someone in her role is about 30 to 40, depending on their complexities, Sharon has 90. 

“It’s full-on,” laughs Sharon, adding: “Put it this way: I never have a down date ever. But that’s the choice I made. I like it. I like it like this busy and I love it.”

“I never have a down date ever. But that’s the choice I made. I like it. I like it like this busy and I love it.”

As part of her role, Sharon needs to do a lot of reporting in the background. 

Every quarter, she needs to report to the NDIA which collects information about the experiences of participants, their families and carers. 

This means staying up to date with policies, procedures, forms, and all of the background things like creating a continuous improvement plan that needs to be updated. 

“You have to prepare for audits and go through that. And so it’s all of the background stuff–that’s not actually doing the job–that I find to be a bit painful.” 

“It’s all of the background stuff–that’s not actually doing the job– that I find to be a bit painful.” 

So naturally, already with a full caseload and paperwork, Sharon doesn’t have time to reconcile her invoices one by one. 

With a full caseload and extensive paperwork already demanding her attention, reconciling invoices one by one simply wasn’t feasible. 

Running her own business has underscored for Sharon the critical importance of proper bookkeeping. Something she realised fast in her solo career. 

Focus on what you love and leave the paperwork to us. Find a bookkeeper near you today.

A Taxing Reality and the Turning Point to Bookkeeping Solutions 

When it came time to do her taxes at the end of her first financial year, Sharon faced a stark reality: she hadn’t reconciled all her invoices since January. “It was probably August that I went to see my accountant Tom, and he just looked at my Xero and he said, ‘we’ve got big issues here’,” she recalls. 

No independent business owner wants to hear those words from their accountant.  

“I went to see my accountant and he just looked at my Xero and he said, we’ve got big issues here.”

Sharon tried to invoice fortnightly, but sometimes she did it every three or four weeks, having to reconcile each case one by one. “And there’s a lot, because I have an hourly rate and I charge in the blocks, the different blocks per 15 minutes, notes Sharon.” 

For a small business owner who charges by the hour, time really is money. And time is the most precious commodity she can give to her clients. 

Reconciling all those invoices was tasking. “I had hundreds and hundreds of outstanding reconciliations because I’d made that one mistake, I didn’t know how to continue and I didn’t have the time to research the software and get really used to it.” 

Sharon had hundreds of reconciliations and didn’t know how to proceed. 

“And so by the time I went in to get my taxes done, Tom (my accountant) said to me, ‘you need to look at a bookkeeper.’” 

That’s when Sharon’s accountant referred her to Lysa and Talia from First Class Accounts Ipswich: “It was by far the best thing I’ve ever her. Lysa and Talia have absolutely saved my life. They really have.”

“And so by the time I went in to get my taxes done, Tom (my accountant) said to me, ‘you need to look at a bookkeeper.’” 

Bookkeeper Lysa White (Image: First Class Accounts Ipswich) 

A Partnership That Transforms Business

Meeting Lysa and Talia from First Class Accounts Ipswich was a turning point for Sharon and her business. From the initial meet and greet, it was clear this was going to be more than just a professional service; it was a partnership. 

“She came in, and we spent hours together. Lysa was looking at my Xero, and she reconciled about 50 invoices right on the spot,” Sharon recalls, still amazed. “That alone would have taken me a week to sort through. And then, just like that, everything was reconciled. It was a huge relief.”

The ease and efficiency that Lysa and Talia brought to Sharon’s business were transformative. “They probably do more for me than they should because, honestly, I can be so clueless with these things. But I just love them for it,” Sharon admits with a laugh.

Whether it’s taking a photo of a fuel receipt or any other expense, Sharon knows she can simply send it their way, and they’ll handle the rest. “I have no idea how to attach receipts to Xero, so I just email everything to them, and they sort it all out.”

“I have no idea how to attach receipts to Xero, so I just email everything to them, and they sort it all out.”

But their relationship goes beyond just sorting out finances. Sharon has developed a bond with her bookkeepers. “I was driving to an appointment out of town, and suddenly, Lysa calls me, asking what I was up to because she was driving right behind me! We ended up talking on the phone for the entire journey.” 

Put in the Hard Yards Early on to Reap the Benefits  

Her advice for those wanting to start out on their own? Take the leap.

“Earlier, I was very scared,” Sharon recalls. “It took me years to leave where I was and so many people had to say to me, why don’t you do this for yourself?”

For Sharon, everything worked out. “I think if you’re willing to go the first twelve months and work twenty-four seven and you have to be really passionate about what you do, I think anyone can make anything work,” she says. “You just be passionate about it. You have to be willing to put in the hard yards at the beginning.”

Find a First Class Accounts bookkeeper near you and dedicate more time to your business, not your books. Contact us to find a bookkeeper near you today.

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