Financial Goals & Flash Cars

Creative Refinery & Thrive CA

For Creative Refinery co-owners Vanessa Preece and Neil Rusden, business success isn’t just about money in the bank. It’s also about being able to achieve certain personal goals – like driving a Maserati.

Many accountants would balk at the thought of budgeting for a high-end car, but for Karen and the Thrive team, it’s just another goal to work on with her clients.

Creative Refinery is a design agency. They work on brand development, digital and print media, logos, packaging – whatever clients need. Neil is creative director, while Vanessa manages the practical side of things. Neither is particularly finance-focused – and that’s where Thrive comes in.

Vanessa puts it like this: “Karen was our saviour. She’s not like a normal accountant – she understands that it’s not just about the bottom line. She’s really an integral part of our business.”

A unique relationship

Vanessa and Neil were working with another accountant when they met Karen. They had an immediate rapport, Vanessa explains, and they both felt that Karen was quite different to their then-accountant.

The Creative Refinery team are big picture thinkers so when they wanted to buy anything or make changes, the previous accountants had said 'no' but Karen was happy to help them achieve what they wanted – even if it impacted on the bottom line. She was interested in the business, and wanted it – and the owners – to succeed.

Vanessa says that because they’ve built up a rapport and relationship, they’re not afraid to approach her with requests for big purchases – like the fancy cars – and big changes to the business.

They have a monthly meeting and brainstorming session to go over their financial state, progress on goals, and any new ideas for the business. Karen’s role is to act as a sounding board and give the team perspective – particularly when they can’t agree on something.

“Neil and I have very different ideas around the business. She’s our sounding board, our mediator – she keeps us grounded.”

Coping with crises

Working with Thrive has been a positive for Creative Refinery. Thrive helped the business weather the recession and survive, even as dozens of other design agencies closed around them. Creative Refinery had to move fast and restructure, becoming lean and efficient and as a result they came through.

They’ve stayed with Thrive ever since, and have found that they’re always available to help with unexpected issues, both large and small.

Vanessa says that Karen proved her worth early on, when the business was dealing with an incident of employee fraud. Karen was instrumental in helping the team sort out the financial fallout, and even dealt with the police.

“She made something that was horrendous a little easier,” Vanessa explains.

Building the business

Of course, running a business isn’t all about dealing with disaster. Most of the time, it’s about the day-to-day management of staff, clients, and cash flow.

Thrive manages the accounts for Creative Refinery and they’ve also helped refine the business’s processes, getting them onto the right workflow management system and integrating it with Xero to cut down on admin. The seven-person team now uses the workflow software to track hours, manage billing, and send invoices, making it far easier to see how much each client is spending – and how work hours are being used.

These changes have helped increase productivity from 68% to around 85%. Vanessa explains that while they’ve definitely grown the business thanks to Thrive, they haven’t made a point of recording an exact ROI. They see working with Thrive as an investment in the health and wealth of the business.

Best of all, car fanatics Vanessa and Neil now have a system in place that ensures they get their new toys on a regular planned basis. That definitely says something good about how the business is going. Vanessa puts that down to Karen and Thrive.

“It’s all about trusting her and trusting her ability. She knows our business and won’t let us make idiotic mistakes. We work smartly, we don’t have loans, we don’t have overdrafts. If we didn’t have someone watching our business, we could be out spending money willy-nilly, but she keeps us in check.”

Benefits for Creative Refinery:

  • Business has grown from 4 to 7 people

  • Productivity increased from 68% to 85%

  • Efficient workflow systems implemented

  • Support and advice for business growth

Thrive CA Services used by On Demand to grow their business:

Want help to grow your business and achieve your dreams?  Talk to us about how Thrive CA can help you and your business.