The Journey Beyond Compliance.

Compliance is disappearing

Compliance accounting and bookkeeping is a service that is dying, fast.

But instead of a cause for panic, it is actually a huge opportunity for firms. Here's the story of The 'Planning Day Guy' and his recognition of the huge potential of accountants and bookkeepers.

The Same Day Tax Return

Prior to founding Unicorn Business Solutionsin 2000, Craig Badcock aka "The Planning Day Guy" was one of four partners at Badcock McKay (which later become Pinnacle and sold to then-WHK). Craig worked out that most individual tax returns were essentially the same, and that it was possible to accurately predict the results of a return within the space of a single interview if you had the right system behind it. He spent weeks sitting with a programmer writing a program to do just that. He then marketed it to the pulic as the same day tax-return.

The same-day tax return was an enormous success. It made Pinnacle incredibly successful in churning out high-volume low-value work.

But Craig wasn't satisfied, and knew that it was simply a matter of time before the system would be copied and become an industry standard. Today, the Australian Tax Office (with some hiccups) have practically completed the same process - 20 years later.

The beginning of Unicorn Business Solutions

Craig had noticed that each year he would do the accounts for his small business clients, they would come in, discuss them, and have the same conversations each year. There were gaping holes in their business, holes that could be filled with some decent advice - but no-one was having those conversations with them.

He pitched the idea to his partners, who didn't agree. They were happy to continue to do compliance work, and not branch out to small business advisory.

Unsatisfied with this, Craig sold his share at Badcock McKay, and founded Unicorn Business Solutions (originally Badcocks Pty Ltd) taking some key clients with him.

Rise of the Planning Day

It took a year and a half for Craig to transition his clients, and crack advisory services. In March 2002 the first 'Planning Day' was run for $2,500 ex GST, with a monthly ongoing investment of $1,500 continuing after, not including any accounting fees. Craig had turned a $2,600 client into a $20,000 client. Another eight were sold that year.

Craig's business took off: he hired additional staff and expanded to larger premises twice in the next 10 years. The Planning Day became the conversion point where existing clients or prospects would approach Badcocks Pty Ltd enquiring about compliance accounting, and end up with a far more valuable relationship. The Planning Day quickly became $7,000 ex GST, and its format evolved as the key items that worked well were refined.

Single Ledger Accounting

But the accounting files remained a problem. Contained in them were the key numbers that drove the businesses, and gave an indication of the performance of advice Badcocks was providing. But like most accounting firms and small businesses, Badcocks had the issue of double ledger accounting. Determining to fix this, Craig started hosting MYOB files on remote servers so both his team and the client would work on the same file (single ledger accounting).

About the same time a short flight across the sea in New Zealand, Rod Drury had founded Xero to tackle not only single-ledger accounting, but also utilising bank feeds, Cloud accessibility and add-on products to automate data.

Hearing about this, and listening to Xero's vision for the future Craig knew it would be a game changer.

Modern Business, & The Decline Of Compliance

With Xero and its ecosystem add-ons, and every other accounting platform racing to catch up, the work required for compliance accounting is disappearing. Machines are now able to collate and organise data far more efficiently than a human ever could - and the accessibility of Cloud means that the humans doing the work are frequently in low-paid countries.

A fully formed Xero with add-ons eliminates the vast majority of administrative work. It's like SAP for small business but without the price-tag of an ERP. Xero has transformed accounting, and basic compliance work is rapidly becoming a pricing race to the bottom as work is automated or outsourced overseas. The ATO is taking care of the individual tax return.

So what's left?

Remember back to 2002 where Craig had created the Planning Day and turned a $2,000 client into a $20,000 one? In the last 14 years this has changed. It's now turning a $5,000 client into a $50,000 one.

This is high-value, low-volume work. It's arguably what accountants and bookkeepers should have been doing for a long time - the technology just needed to catch up to enable it.

The problem for most accountants and bookkeepers is not that they're incapable of doing the work. It's that they're incapable of selling it.

The Planning Day changes this. It makes anyone who can analyse numbers and understand a business model a top salesperson. Because at it's heart it's a process. And while many accountants and bookkeepers might be rubbish at sales, they can all follow a process.

"The Planning Day Guy"

It was a rainy day in Summer (we live in Tasmania okay?). Craig had just come back from Bali after being one of five on a panel at an accounting donference. The phone rang.

"Good morning, Unicorn Business Solutions"

"Hi, it's ABC from XYZ Accounting. I was at the accounting conference. I'd like to be able to speak to the Planning Day Guy. He spoke to us about his strategic planning session he sells to his clients for $7,000. I'm really interested in being able to use it in our own firm."

"One moment, I'll just put you through."

The rest is history.

Great story. What do I do now?

Simply put, your business must change, or it will go out of business. You can strike out and build your own value-added services. Or instead of re-inventing the wheel, you can buy one ready made, and reverse-engineer it to suit your firm.

Choose one of the three options below

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