Chatting A Bit

Chatting A Bit with Julie Wilkinson

With this very challenging and worrying time, many rural business owners will be concerned about how their business can survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

In our latest Chatting A Bit interview, Sam Hobden speaks with Julie Wilkinson from Wilkinson Accounting Solutions working with businesses from all areas. With our passion for championing rural business, Julie’s financial expertise during these testing times is vital in ensuring all businesses survive and thrive particularly from the countryside:

What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work in the financial industry?

After I finished college, I was not quite sure what I wanted to do with my career so I took a year off and went travelling around Australia. I had always imagined that I would work within an office environment but I did not think as a childhood ambition that I would become a chartered accountant and end up running my own successful business.

What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making accounting their career? 

My advice to school leavers would be that it is ‘OK’ not to know exactly what you want to do and if you do not achieve everything you expected at school/college that there are still opportunities later in life. I did not start my accountancy career until I was 23 when I asked my employer at the time ‘How can I progress in my job’ and I applied for an apprenticeship to study my AAT.

I did this as an evening course for just over 3 years and realised that I enjoyed finance and after passing all my exams the first time I decided to proceed onto CIMA, which I took as weekend college for another couple of years. I successfully passed all of my qualifications and became a chartered accountant. At the time I was only 1 of 2 people that had ever qualified as an accountant within my company, as it had always been the norm that they took on university graduates, who then qualified as accountants.

As a recognition, I was asked to do a talk to 500 staff members about my experience as a non-graduate accountant and I am now passionate about advocating all people interested in finance that if you work hard, the possibilities will be there for you.

Tell us about your business and all about Wilkinson Accounting Solutions.

The overall mission of my accountancy firm is to help businesses grow by offering innovative solutions that manage their profits, cash and resources effectively, whilst helping business owners transition from working in their business to focusing on its future growth. 

I offer a wide variety of bespoke packages including 1-2-1 business planning sessions for small start up’s and SME’s to financial coaching for larger firms including support on cost saving initiatives, implementing measurable KPI’s, non-financial reporting, budgeting, cash flow management, audit, financial controls, system implementations and process improvements.

I also offer a fully outsourced finance function which enables business owners more time to focus on their core activities knowing that their back office services such as bookkeeping, management accounts, tax, VAT etc are being looked after by qualified and experienced professionals, giving them more time but most importantly more enjoyment, which enables them to focus on what they do best.

What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business?

My triumphs have been offering such a wide range of services which are suitable for small business but also large corporates and enabled me to work with sole traders all the way through to businesses with turnover of up to £50m. 

The main challenge I face is really helping businesses understand how a structured finance process can help them and that it is not just large corporate firms that should be forecasting and managing cash flow. My experience has taught me that most business owners (large and small) often think that finance is about their accountants sitting behind computers, processing their receipts and yearend tax.

The reality is that finance can be so much more than numbers, I am a true business partner that helps business owners understand opportunities and then implement solutions that help them measure if ‘what they want to do actually makes money’. 

Which part of your work do you enjoy the most?

I love the variety of my work as I get to work with so many different businesses, of different sizes and in different industries. 

With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation, working within rural business is extremely challenging. What advice would you give anxious business owners to get through these difficult months ahead?

I would advise business owners that there are 4 main steps they should take in these uncertain times.

  • Develop a cash forecast of at least 12 weeks which shows immediate income and cash so they can track their cash position and know at which point they are at risk of not being able to pay their bills.
  • Review all of their costs to see if they can reduce their cash outflow. Speak to suppliers to see if they can defer payments or if they need loans to fund their business. There is a new CBILS loan scheme set up which applies to businesses of under £45m turnover and I am offering a free consultation to help businesses determine whether they may be able to apply
  • Identify new revenue streams to generate cash. For example, if people were selling meat at a market can they deliver instead or if you teach horse riding lessons, can you now sell worksheets or online riding instructions (like people use for driving tests)
  • Create a business plan of how they want their business to be post COVID-19 and how they will get there. This should be at least a 12-month forecast and be realistic in terms of what will they need to spend on marketing etc to build up new clients.

What are your future plans with Wilkinson Accounting Solutions?

I am focusing on growing my business, increasing my client base and advocating the importance of finance. I offer free financial and business planning presentations which are helping business owners understand the importance of finance.

On a day off, where would we find you?

I am secretly a bit of an adrenalin junky and these days my main hobbies are either using my jet ski or speed boat on the south coast. I have two beautiful dogs and generally love to spend my time outdoors either using our ‘motorsports’ or going to the middle of nowhere camping with my dogs and husband.

Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?

My plan is to grow my business so I have clients in every main city and have a senior leadership team that are running the day to day activities, so I can take a step back and enjoy my hobbies even more!

Against the Clock 

Gin or Champagne: Champagne

Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate

Sunshine or Snow: Snow

Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties

Spend or Save: A little of both (but more spend)

PC or Mac: PC

Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out (unless a roast dinner)

Music or Film: Film

Julie has developed a cash calculator that is perfect for small businesses and sole traders, who want to quickly ‘track their cash’ and monitor their closing bank balance over a 12 week period.

All purchases also come with a FREE PDF including hints, tips and exercises for businesses to learn and find innovative ways to improve their cash (usually worth £25) For Haynet readers you can take advantage of a special discount quoting haynet at checkout for the discounted price of just £4.99. Click here to purchase.

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