Client Profile – B&N Properties

By . Posted in Accountants and Business Advisors, Business Growth, Small Business, Xero.


This months client profile for Sidekick is on Brent & Nikki from B&N Properties who run a specialist property management company in Blenheim, Picton, Christchurch & Ashburton. It’s their goal to free up your time and distance yourself from any tenant problems. We’ll let Brent tell you more about B&N Properties, keep an eye out for a special deal for Sidekick clients.

Tell us a little about yourselves and what you do at B&N Properties.
We make rental property ownership stress free for the investors, we take care of every aspect of property management with emphasis on tenant selection and thorough property inspections

Where can people find you?
We operate from home to keep our costs down, we can be contacted on 0800 111 252 or

How did you get into the Property Management industry?
Firstly by investing in properties ourselves, then we started managing other people’s properties, it grew from there

What is one piece of advice for business owners in your industry? Can you share any lessons learnt from business struggles or challenges that you’ve overcome?
Don’t be convinced to sell if things are not going as well as expected, tenant problems or maintenance issues can be resolved, you don’t want to be that investor that looks back 10 years later and says “I wish I didn’t sell that property” (when the value has doubled). Either educate yourself well to manage your own property or employ an independent property manager. Independent property managers have no ulterior motive, they don’t want to sell your property.

What accounting system (if any) were you using before moving to Xero? How did that compare to Xero?
MYOB. Xero is a superior product, easier to use, more functions.

Why did you choose our Sidekick service for your business?
Ric made me! Plus our old accountant wasn’t up to much.

We hope that with Sidekick on board taking care of your accounts, you have found more time to do the things you really enjoy. So what is it that you love to do with your spare time?
Boating and fishing.

Do you have any deals that you’d like to share?
Sign with us before the end of October and pay no advertising costs for the first 12 months.

There you have it! To find out more about B&N Properties go to

Client Feature: Silk Estate – Marquee Weddings by Toni May

By . Posted in Business Growth, Cloud Software, Small Business, Small Business Advice.

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Silk Estate – Marquee Weddings by Toni May is an Ashburton based company who have gown to fill the need of providing beautiful marquees and wedding services. We’ll let Toni fill you in on more about what they do.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Silk Estate.
Silk Estate is a marquee hire business specializing in weddings but also catering for other events. We pride ourselves on making marquee weddings the most enjoyable process for the families involved. Our passion for your special day is reflected in all the details we take care of for you. Through the process of assisting families with their weddings we have identified areas that families really appreciate support with now offer wedding day set up, bar service for the day, and event planning services.

Our wedding day dressing service means we arrive at the crack of dawn (or before), arrange your tables, place linen, set cutlery, crockery, glassware, place your centrepieces, named guest cards and table numbers/names. Style the supper table, fill and heat hot water urns, check power, and run heaters if required. Really all those little jobs that just need doing. We ask our brides to visit our showroom to do a mock table setting (with photos taken) to ensure every detail is carried out to our brides wishes.

Our bar service starts before your ceremony and continues through to the wee hours finishing with a refresh of your marquee ready to go for the next day event. We bring the ice, stock take and monitor your alcohol and offer table service through your wedding breakfast. Recycling of bottles and rubbish removal can all be part of your package. We are a firm believer that you have enough to do without worrying about these details.

Why did you choose to get into this industry?
Silk Estate – marquee weddings derived from our canvas fabrication business Peter May Ltd. Peter started making smaller branded marquees for A & P Shows and a few of our farming clients started to request larger marquees for their daughter’s wedding on the family farm. At first we thought we would supply marquees and hire the other products but quickly discovered the quality and availability of doing this would be a problem, so took a huge step and invested in quality, chairs, tables, linen, cutlery, crockery, glassware, lighting, dance floors, stages, luxury restroom, heaters, furniture, chiller trailers etc.

What’s your favourite part about the job?
My favourite part of the job would have to be seeing the long awaited day come to fruition. For it all to go well and everyone to have a lovely time in outstanding surroundings and the huge smile on the brides face with usually relief and relaxation smiles on that of the families.

What is one piece of advice for other small business owners? Can you share any lessons learnt from business struggles or challenges that you’ve overcome?
Right from the start of our business we identified that the correct software and support would be crucial. We trialled various software packages for our hire product and found a great product that was an ‘add on’ to Xero. Before Xero we had been using the same software for twenty years, but knew for the last five years that it was not giving us the information we really needed. Now Xero and the add on software is such a powerful tool and really easy to use.

What I have learned so far is to persevere. In business there are so many challenges to work through. Having good support is great. I like to have an outsider’s viewpoint to challenge us – to make us realize what we are capable of. Someone to set that bar a little higher than you would have set it yourself and then the satisfaction of achieving that goal. DJCA have been a great source of this prompting.

We hope that with Sidekick on board taking care of your accounts, you have found more time to do the things you really enjoy. So what is it that you love to do with your spare time?
Spare time for us at Silk Estate is spending time at our family bach. This is an off season activity. I must say most of our time is work related, but I really don’t worry too much about work life balance as when you really love what you do and are passionate about it, then it doesn’t feel too much like work. As we are in this for the long term, I believe in being able to stay fit, well and happy even on the most busy of days. Spare time for me would be the morning gym session and the lovely early morning runs I enjoy.

Do you have any new products announcements or favourite recommendations that you’d like to share?
Silk Estate is a forward looking company, interested in current trends and ideas in the wedding industry. Our stock is new and fresh and we take great pride in delivering this standard to our clients. Last season we bought in the wooden cross back chair which have proven to be so popular. This season we have added 2 very exciting items too, copper cutlery and a cut glass tumbler. These have also proven to be very popular for the coming season.

You can get in touch with the team at Silk Estate on Facebook, Instagram, or their website.

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CrunchBoards – the Xero add-on we’re loving right now

By . Posted in Business Growth, Cloud Software, Solutions.


We sat down with Cameron Robertson, our Senior Manager at Sidekick Christchurch to learn more about a Xero add-on that his clients are loving at the moment called CrunchBoards.

CrunchBoards is an all-in-one forecasting and reporting engine with all the time-saving tools you need to grow your business. Features include business planning, budgeting, forecasting and real-time business intelligence.

So Cam, what are your favourite features of CrunchBoards?
It’s a great forecasting/budgeting tool which incorporates directly into management reporting. The customisable management reports allow our clients to focus on particular areas of their business.

What do your clients like best about using CrunchBoards?
The way the information is displayed is the real upside of the software. CrunchBoards turns the numbers behind your business into easy to read graphs, that tell the true story.

How much does it cost?
It’s free in our Sidekick+ package, otherwise it’s only $25 per month plus a setup fee with our other Sidekick packages.

Who is the perfect person to be utilising CrunchBoards?
Anyone with particular points of focus. For example someone in hospitality may want to focus on % of food & beverages against sales, or wages against sales. This can all be displayed on one easy to ready graph.They also need to have good administration processes because CrunchBoards pulls data directly from Xero.

How does it work in with Xero?
It syncs daily with Xero. If your Xero is up to date, so is your CrunchBoards. It can be accessed using the browser on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

Any final words?
To me it’s a must-have tool for any business looking to grow and keep their business in check. CrunchBoards on any device

Getting the right advice pays off!

By . Posted in Business Growth.

Client Spotlight: Challenge Darfield

18 months ago Challenge Darfield was operating out of an older building, where the space wasn’t utilised to its best potential. Seeing an opportunity to service the area in a more relevant and efficient way, a new build for the local petrol station began. The photos of the new premise, we think, speak for themselves.

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More than just a great build and optimised fit out, the team at Challenge Darfield focused on getting the right advice by surrounding themselves with people who had the knowledge to help them with this big change. If you’re considering shaking things up in your business, ensure you’re speaking to experts in their field to make sure your next move is going to put you in a better position than you are in now.

Things to consider:

Who will manage this new project?
Can you continue to keep up cash flow while making this change?
Are you getting the best deal from your bank?
Have you sat down and really looked at the numbers – past, present and projected?

Next time you’re out Darfield way, be sure to check out the new Challenge! There’s a fresh new café, a nice spacious forecourt and you can’t beat the friendly vibe that the new build and the staff bring to your experience. We’re super proud to call these guys clients, what an awesome job they’ve done!

Client Focus: Costas Taverna

By . Posted in Business Growth, Small Business Advice, Solutions.

There is only one thing that we love almost as much as Xero at djca and that is great food and drink. And boy do we count ourselves lucky to have Costas Taverna as one of our clients! Straight from the guys at Costas, here is a bit about how they came to be so darned popular in Christchurch.

Tell us a little bit about Costas Taverna…

Costas Taverna is a place to celebrate the simple joys in life… family, friends, conversation and great food. We will always do our very best to ensure you receive great value, fast, efficient, friendly service, and outstanding food sourced from the best and freshest local and imported ingredients. We believe that eating great food, in good company is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so we want you to sit back, relax and celebrate the moment!

Where do you operate?

Costas Taverna is now operating on Cranford Street 478 shop 3 in Christchurch. We are open 7 days from 5pm till late.

Why did you choose to get into that industry?

In 1904, in a small village near the bank meadows of the river Evros, Greece, the Lakakis family developed a passion for cooking. Not with the advanced cooking methods used today; but it was honest. It was the best food the Village Kiani had ever tasted. Food is something that we have been incredibly passionate about for many decades. We have literally poured our hearts into every detail within our restaurant. Watching our guests enjoying our hospitality is absolutely priceless for us, that is why we are in the restaurant business.

What is one piece of advice for business owners in your industry? Can you share any lessons learnt from business struggles or challenges that you’ve overcome?

Control your numbers using a food and beverage costing calculator and good stock control. The use of Xero to form an accurate budget will do wonders for you.

What accounting system (if any) were you using before moving to Xero? How did that compare to Xero?

We didn’t have one. We used to use Microsoft Office Excel and we worked closely with our accountant who managed it for us.

We hope that with Sidekick on board taking care of your accounts, you have found more time to do the things you really enjoy. So what is it that you love to do with your spare time?

We love to take mini holidays to relax and unwind.

Do you have any deals or specials that you’d like to share?

October is coming up with some exciting promotions at Costas Taverna. Monday is 2 for 1 Souvlaki Platters (Regular), Wednesday 2 for 1 Cocktails or Coolers all night and Sunday kids eat free from 5 pm to 6:30pm. You can find our promotions and deals on our Facebook Page: and on our Website

Creating a Successful Business Plan

By . Posted in Business Growth, Small Business, Solutions.

Simon Telfer from Stimulus is an independent director and business adviser specialising in governance strategy and succession. He shares with us some advice on creating business plans that stick around. You can contact him via

Let me share with you how a strategic plan can still be alive, well and far from gathering dust in the bottom drawer one year on. As my client says “It is a great feeling to know my team is enthusiastic about the future – they can now see what I see.” So, what went right?

Personal goals were nailed down

The business owners spent a couple of months thinking, documenting and refining their personal goals. What they deemed important included good health, flexibility to travel, passive revenue streams and to remain commercially active and involved. These personal goals were the foundation on which the rest of the strategy was built.

Key business themes were identified

The shareholders defined five high level themes for the business. They believed focus on these would be required to ensure the business supported the achievement of their personal goals. The themes were: · Remaining true to the Company values · Increasing turnover & profitability over next 5 years · Strengthening internal systems & procedures and external governance · Removing owner responsibility for staff and operations · Readying the company for a change of ownership in 2015

Careful choice of planning team members

The team had breadth and depth, understanding that two people with similar ideas are, in effect, one person. Strength was derived from the team consisting of an employee, a customer and an independent facilitator, as well as two shareholders.

Customer wants and needs crucial

The customer was always at the forefront of the planning discussions. Their wants and needs were researched and discussed at length. This client distilled it down to three key needs: speed, quality and reliability.

Concise output resulted

Although the benefit from planning derives as much from the process (journey) as it does from the final document, the strategic plan itself is seven pages in total. It is clear, concise, relevant and real.

Staff engagement continues

Employees were fully engaged in the strategy’s initial roll out and this has continued via company workshops, three times a year. Examples of involvement include employees defining the Audacious Goal, allocating responsibility for actions plans and regularly being asked to present examples of the Company values being put in to action.

Accountability established early

The owner managers were under no illusion that an external, independent individual would be required to ensure accountability and monitor progress of the execution of the strategic plan. The plan is regularly referred to at Board meetings and the strategic goals drive real decision making around resource allocation and priorities.

The plan was durable

Almost a year in to the 4 year planning period the Company is still some way off achieving their strategic goals. This is a good thing. A robust strategic plan is not a glorified “to do” list – it took much thinking and discussion to ensure the goals were stretching yet achievable.

And the client is happy!

“As an owner / manager I had a vision for the future but it was clouded with many different options of how to get there. The strategic planning has given me a clear and concise focus for the immediate and long term future. It encompassed the entire company – we are now all working toward the same vision.”

You can do Anything, but not Everything

By . Posted in Business Growth, Small Business, Solutions.

When you start out in business, you often need to wear a lot of hats – sales, marketing, administration, support, production, coffee maker, cleaner… You name it, it’s probably going to be your responsibility. A few months or years down the track and the business has grown up, and yet a high number of business owners struggle to move on from this ‘hands on everything’ stage. Although we’re all smart enough to realise this approach is neither the best use of our time or sustainable in the long run, business owners still struggle to delegate.

As a business owner, you need the time and the head-space to continue driving towards your goals. We’ve all heard the saying ‘the more time you spend in the business, the less time you can spend on the business.’

Without good delegation in place you’ll find your growth potential is restricted, as if it’s being smothered by an old clunky small business straitjacket.

For us, delegating meant:

– Freeing up the owners time to focus on more exciting things, like growing the business and planning for the future.

– Being one step closer towards creating self sufficient offices that managed themselves, without the owners day to day input.

– Letting our staff specialise in what they were good at, which would create more efficiencies across our internal procedures.

– Gearing us up for good scalability and sustainability, so that we wouldn’t burn out in the next phase of growth.

– Taking the highly time consuming and administrative sales process out of the busy owners workload, by delegating this task to a Business Development team member.

– Not losing out on any quality or managerial control, as long as we maintained good training, systems and communication. (Being supported by integrated cloud systems was a big part of this, as they gave us good online connectivity, communication and collaboration as a team.)

Delegating may seem easier said than done at first. But once you’ve done it, everything is easier. It’s not rocket science, so here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:

– Write a to do list and ask yourself – Is each task the best use of my time? Could I add more value to the business elsewhere? Is someone else in my team better at doing this than me?

– Surround yourself with a good team who are well trained and resourced efficiently. When delegating to someone, clearly define their new responsibilities and expectations, and what sort of ongoing reporting you would like from them.

– Simplify your accounting services into easy to sell and understand bundled packages (more on this next week), so you can delegate this process out to your new sales team. Unlike you, they will actually have the time to make sure that follow up call happens and that new business enquiries don’t slip through the radar.

– Make a real effort to stay available to your team for assistance and guidance, especially in the early days. Remember you’re not abandoning them, you’re empowering them. Communication is key.

– Ensure you’ve got in place the best cloud based business systems. Not only will this provide you with automated processing and online integration, but keep you connected and in control wherever you may be (because now that you’re delegating, prepare to be out of the office more!).

We assume you didn’t get into business just to tidy up the paperwork after you’ve put the kids to bed, and we hope you’d prefer to be working towards a self sufficient business model rather than working all weekend.

So go on, admit you are time poor and start delegating.

How to Keep Investors on Your Side

By . Posted in Business Growth, Cloud Software, Contractors, Small Business, Solutions, Startups.

This is a featured Blog from our friends at SeederBoard.

Raising funds for any business is notoriously difficult. Any number of factors can slow things down or get in the way, preventing you from taking your business to the next level.

Once you have completed endless elevator pitches, a frantic search for due diligence paperwork, then working out a fair term sheet, you might finally close the fundraising round. (more…)

Good News for Small Business Owners

By . Posted in Business Growth, Small Business, Solutions, Startups.

Good News, Everyone!

According to this leading Business Index report, the small business output in Q1 of this year reached it’s highest point since 2008. They state “Small and medium-sized businesses in the UK enjoyed the strongest level of activity, year-on-year, for six years.” Essentially this means small businesses are performing better than they have in years.


End of Financial Year – What you Need to Know as a Business Owner

By . Posted in Business Growth, Company News, Contractors, Small Business, Solutions, Startups, Tax Advice.

For most of us, the 31st of March will be the end of our 2014 financial year. We hope it’s been a successful, happy and profitable one for you and your business! Here are some tax tips and helpful information to ensure a smooth end of year process for you.

Need help getting your tax in order? Flick us a message, and we’ll be by your side in no time.

End of Tax Year Obligations – What do I need to do?