How to support a small business with Tracy Hill of Sapphire Finance
- run or work in a small business,
- feel overwhelmed by the amount of admin,
- wish you had more time to focus on the bigger picture as well as supporting your team,
- are on the lookout for advice in areas which you don’t have in-house or at the level of expertise that’s required.
Well then, this blog series is for you. In it, I’ll be answering the question ‘How to support a small business’. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and interviewing freelance, female business experts who share my desire to support you.
I’d love to continue providing useful content so please feel free to let me know (in one word or short sentence as I know you’re short on time) what you wish you:
- had more time to do,
- didn’t find quite so challenging,
- knew more about,
- could read about in a useful blog.
Tracy Hill of Sapphire Finance answers the question ‘how to support a small business’ as a financial, freelance, female business expert
We’re kicking off with Tracy Hill of Sapphire Finance. Tracy and I met each other (only virtually so far) at an online blogging course that we did during lockdown to help us become more visible to you – our ideal clients.
Like me, Tracy supports various small businesses with the aim of making finance simple and understandable. Tracy runs Sapphire Finance and uses her expertise to help dynamic and energetic business owners achieve growth through empowerment and providing peace of mind.
1. Tell us a bit about your journey to freelance life and what inspired you to set up Sapphire finance to support small businesses?
I have spent over 20 years working within the finance teams of various sized businesses supporting directors. This includes explaining the numbers, completing forecasts, as well as all other aspects of traditional finance. I really enjoyed working within these teams however, I made the decision to leave my last company after 10 years for the fear of getting ‘stuck’ and I was keen to try something new.
My dream has always been to set up my own bookkeeping and business advisory company. The aim is to provide small businesses with the knowledge and skills that I have learnt within big business by explaining and implementing reporting, processes and controls. All without the cost of employing an expensive finance team.
It has been difficult to take the leap and initially I took a contracting role. However, from February 2020, I decided to take the leap and so far it has been the best decision. I love working with the clients I have so far and I really hope that this continues long into the future.
2. What do you love about supporting small business?
I find business owners who have an invested interest and a real passion about what they do really inspiring to work with. I enjoy building relationships and working with people to make their lives easier by solving problems. My belief is that the world is a much better place with a large and wide variety of small to medium business and independent traders.
Secondly I love finance and working with numbers. I personally find finance simple and I love explaining what it all means. My passion is focussed around the Balance Sheet and Cash Management. At the end of the day, if your Balance sheet at the beginning and end of the period is correct then, your profit will be. Likewise, if you know what your bank balance is, what you owe and who owes you, you are in a fantastic position, but together we can make it even better!
3. What’s the biggest challenge about supporting small businesses?
A challenge for business owners is being able to accept and recognise where professionals such as Rachel and myself can really help and support. We enable businesses to grow and achieve the goals they have set. We are both experts in our respective fields and can add an enormous amount of value to businesses. This leaves business owners to do what they do best and what they are passionate about, mainly running their business.
The important thing to recognise, and I have also learnt this whilst going through the process of setting up my own business, there is such a lot to cover. When setting up and running your own business, such as: Marketing, Finance, HR, IT, etc before you even get to making any sales. In short nobody is that brilliant and you can’t know everything. With finance for example I have passed numerous exams and continue my learning annually to keep on top of all the changes within the industry so my clients don’t have to.
4. What do you think is the most important/useful question people should ask you and how would you answer it?
How would working with you benefit me and my business?
I position myself as a finance business partner who can recognise and support the many challenges faced by businesses. I work on the side of the business owner. This enables me to advise on the decisions made by owners or directors as to the financial impact that may arise. Backed up with my qualifications from the ICB and ACCA, I can operate as a Bookkeeper with an excellent accounting background.
Secondly, I strongly believe in using tact, respect and confidentiality whilst working with my clients. It is quite often that difficult situations arise and one of the most difficult things to do is admit that you are wrong or didn’t understand what was needed. Within finance generally most things can be sorted. I look to identify issues and recommend solutions to stop the same issues arising again. It could be explaining the impacts or implementing processes and controls.
5. If you were to give people one top tip, to do or look out for in the future, what would it be?
My top tip would be “look after your cash”! This is the life blood of most businesses and without it, failure is almost certain. Most businesses have profit forecasts, however I would recommend getting into the habit of cash forecasting. It doesn’t need to be complicated, there are many software solutions out there however for smaller businesses. A simple spreadsheet can be just as effective. What this gives you is an indication of when money may get a little tight, which gives you time to plan and find solutions before it is too late.