Interview with Alex James: Thoughts on Digital Agency Finance

Alex James started a business in New Zealand called Amped, which helps agencies with finance: bookkeeping, CFO services, and anything that helps an agency make better business decisions.

1. What was your path to starting your agency?

Despite us not having an agency as such, we created our company off the back of our finance/accounting experience, but also because we have many friends in the agency/SaaS/e-commerce space, that we knew would benefit from having access to solid financial intelligence.

2. Can you describe what you guys do, and what kinds of customers you help?

From a services perspective, we provide companies with fully outsourced finance functions, everything from bookkeeping right through to virtual CFO services. What we actually do though, is provide business owners with the confidence and certainty that they can make powerful business decisions in order to drive their business forward. We only partner with forward-thinking and progressive business owners, as we are extremely passionate about empowering growth.

3. What are some common misconceptions about financial intelligence, when it comes to agencies?

A lot of agency owners solely focus on the top-line - revenue. If their revenue is up, they are doing well - or so they think. However, what is most important, and always will be, is cash. We meet so many agency owners that are in a constant battle with cash flow, no matter how much they sell. They often overlook WIP, particularly, their write-offs, which cripples a lot of agencies - as it means they are often over-servicing their clients (with no idea that this is happening) which in turn saps all of their cash.

4. Can you give some tips on what agency owners, or business owners in general, can do to improve in this area?
Any tools you can recommend?

Agency owners have to take responsibility for their team, and their productivity. We have found that write-offs often go unnoticed, but have a devastating impact on cash flow. To combat this area, we recommend the utilization of job management softwares (such as Workflow Max) to ensure absolute transparency over job performance. This will also allow you to gauge what types of jobs are most profitable, and which personnel in your organization are costing you the most money. It also provides insight into what your sell rates should be and the type of work that will give the highest returns.

5. Can you discuss a success story, someone you’ve worked with?

18 months ago we partnered with a company called Sell Global. A specialist in helping people get onto Amazon (here in New Zealand). They had no systems at all, and the owner had no idea as to why he never had any cash, despite continuously selling more. We implemented WFM to provide job transparency, which has resulted in a 30% increase in productivity amongst the workforce, a huge reduction in write-offs, and a consistently healthy cash position.

6. What are your upcoming plans with your company?

We are currently designing our website (that's right, 18 months and still no website!) - once this is complete we will begin to ramp up our marketing efforts. We are looking to assist 50 more businesses over the next 12 months and are also looking at creating 2 new products; one being outsourced audit functions and the other in the realm of customer service.


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