James Middleton owns and runs Elevate Advice, a small practice in Congleton. He looks after businesses of all sizes but what they have in common is that they want to build a better life, both business and personal. It's this shared belief in work-life balance that keeps them with James.
James used Excel before switching to Accountancy Manager but just ended up being overwhelmed by lists. He had a lot of information but no real way to make sense of it so that he could run his practice the way that he wanted to. It meant he had to put the brakes on growth. Today, he's in control, lowered his stress, grown his team and unlocked growth knowing that he can keep his promises to his clients.
What were you struggling with?
I had no easy way of seeing everything that was going on and there was a lot of reliance on me to hold all the strings and hold it all together. I had a nagging feeling all the time that something somewhere was being missed.
I was under a sort of “invented” stress that I carried around with me. I was second guessing myself and double-checking things all the time. I found it difficult to take time off as it took so long to catch up afterwards, so I had no recovery time either.
It’s not good for you and ultimately, I was slowing down my growth.
I thought ONKHO was interesting because it felt like it was built as an in-house solution. It felt scalable which was important to me because I was going through a strong growth period. After talking to the ONKHO team, I felt that they had walked the walk and understood all the frustrations I had. The other software companies haven’t. They always seem to say that “you’re going to it like this”, but the ONKHO team instead ask, “how do you want to do it?”.
It was easy to set up, easy to run, I’ve got all this data, and I can manage by exception. Most importantly, I can run my business the way I want to run it. It means I could deliver that level of service that I promised to my clients and take the brakes off growth.
How do you use ONKHO?
It’s the centre pin wheel to my practice! Its permanently open, it never gets closed. In many ways, it’s what runs the practice and I’ve got an overview of it all. It’s got that individual feel to it – I have built my own dashboard and each of my team members have their own. That’s because what is important to them is not as important to me and what’s important to me is probably not important to them at all!
I drive the business from my dashboard which shows me things that are Red, Amber or Green. The Red stuff is on fire, so I need to sort those out right now. The Amber stuff I know is going to get done so I just need to be aware of it. It’s the Green stuff that used to keep me awake at night! Now I can just look at that and tell myself nothing has been missed and I can go back to sleep.
It also helps me clear out problems before they happen and see pinch points in the future.
How has ONKHO helped you?
I’m a control freak and absolutely, not a nine to five guy. I try and make sure that the business works for me, rather than me working for the business. I want to be able to just dial in once a day, just look at things, say everything’s fine and then walk away from it again.
I’ve not missed a deadline in 18 months. It’s enabled me to grow the team around me and delegate without micromanaging while allowing me to run my business how I want to run it. I couldn’t have got through the pandemic without it and I’m not putting the brakes on growth anymore.
It’s the thing that has helped me sleep at night. Everything that goes through my mind gets put into ONKHO too. All those things that I might forget, it’s just my brain in a piece of software!
Why should accountants get ONKHO?
It’s the single thing that will transform your practice. I thought it would be Xero, but it wasn’t.
It’s not static, it will grow, flex, and change over time. The things that I look at now are vastly different to what I was looking at even 18 months ago. I wanted basic information back then. Now I drill down and just have a better feel for my practice. I want service levels for clients to be as high as possible and you can set proper client expectations and keep the promises.
My business is not standing still. It’s growing and changing and the things I need to track are changing all the time. ONKHO shifts as I shift. It’s just going to go wherever your practice goes.
Onkho picks up where others leave off and addresses the challenges faced by today’s busy practices. It is the brain child of Susan Rahman, who has her own thriving firm in South West London and her husband, Emanur, who was an accountant at the BBC and a CTO at the London Stock Exchange, to develop the missing technology piece in the practice jigsaw. Since starting to use Onkho, Susan's client retention has increased from 85% to 99%.