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At Xero, we use the power of technology to foster innovation, connection and entrepreneurialism. To create beautiful work that makes a difference. This is why, each month, we speak to business leaders within our like-minded community. We want to see how they apply similar values to shape their businesses, and their future.

This month, we hear the personal business journey of Natalie Mills. She’s a dedicated mother of two and the founder of Ocean Business Consulting. Armed with a strong background in commercialization, a keen strategic mind and a natural love for people, Natalie crunches the figures to astutely maximize business results. She also manages to find a fulfilling work-life balance that prioritizes both her clients and her children.

Natalie explains why diversification, innovation and flexibility have been the cornerstones to her success. And how that has translated into the growth of the many small businesses she serves.


“I started my business when I separated from my husband. It’s funny how life can throw those curveballs. We had both worked in the family business so I needed to find a new job. But I’ve always been career-oriented. I used to work in commerce before I had my children – so I knew I could form a career for myself.

“Bookkeeping comes second nature to me, so I started doing bookwork for a couple of companies on a casual basis. One client turned into three and I thought, ‘There’s a ceiling to how much I can earn doing it this way. I’m a casual employee to them but I’ve got two kids, and I need to be more creative.’ So Ocean Business Consulting was born.”

On innovating through diversification                  

“Starting a business enabled me to act as a contractor. Which meant I could work for more people and offer the true breadth of my skill set. I still do bookwork. But I also attend meetings with my clients’ accountants. I deliver strategic small-business and financial advice targeted to their needs. Thanks to my background in commercialization, I have extensive knowledge setting up small businesses and helping them maximize business results.

“It wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t try to innovate. And it’s going really well. I’m at the point where I can hire more people to help me boost the income when I’m ready, and I feel very lucky. But more than that, the diversity really satisfies the creative side of my business brain. I started out being a bookkeeper, but I’m so much more than that now.”

On starting with trust

“It’s a very personal service that I offer, in a way. Because, of course, you don’t want to trust your money matters with just anyone. People can be naturally skeptical when you suggest that they change their accounting practices. So I have to build trust quickly – that’s important in any business. For me, people soon see the difference the numbers make.

“You can make more money because you have more time. You make better decisions because you’ve got better quality information in front of you. It’s empowering.”


On nurturing client relationships

“I have a fantastic selection of clients. I work for a brilliant lawyer who’s funny, dedicated and incredibly busy. She’s just gone out on her own, and it’s been incredible to support her business as it grows.

“I work for a dance studio that used to have an occasional bookkeeper. Now we have a monthly finance meeting where I advise them on growth and I work with them to come up with new and innovative revenue-generating ideas. They’re so grateful to be able to visually see the flow of money, and future of their business. And they’re a fun bunch of people to work for too.

“I also work for a successful family business run by two tradesmen brothers-in-law. Last week, they said to me, ‘We want to pay you more money because the business is really doing so much better since we converted our system. We want you to know we think that it’s largely because of you.’ It’s just incredible to be able to offer that to others.”

On defining your own success

“A successful business to me, at this stage of my life, is one where I am naturally earning money while remaining relatively stress free, so I can be there for my children. They go to school, of course, but I am with them 100 percent of the time between school pickup and drop off. The last year hasn’t been easy for any of us, so it’s more important than ever that I’m there for them now. Any success I build has to allow the flexibility to work anywhere without cutting into my quality of parenting, or our quality of life.

“And we certainly make the most of that! We go camping because I can take my laptop with me, set up a hotspot from my phone and help my clients from anywhere while the kids are off having adventures. I need to be accessible to my clients as well as my children. My friends tend to think I’m a bit nerdy, but it works for us!”

On putting setbacks in perspective

“My advice for anyone with a business – especially those who are supporting children – is to keep laughing. There have been stressful times when I was already emotionally fragile, and I’d look at my bank account and think, ‘Oh my gosh’. But hang in there and keep building the fun back into your day.

“No job is perfect. No business is perfect. We’re all just doing the best we can, so why not do it with a smile on your face?”

The post Mother of two shares her secrets to a fulfilling work-life balance appeared first on Xero Blog.

Source: Xero Feed

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