DISRUPTIVE BEAN COUNTER
9 January 2015, Written by Karen Rickert
FROM a fledgling family business to a large corporate office in the CBD, accounting firm businessDEPOT cultivates a company's ambitions.
Restricted by the traditional accountancy framework, John Knight left his partner position at UHY Haines Norton to establish his own firm with a twist.
Officially unveiled in February this year, businessDEPOT aims to empower small to medium-sized enterprises to execute their ideas and access a level of expertise previously only available to large corporations.
"The biggest challenge would have been going through the disruption process," Knight says.
"It wasn't like I was in a bad situation. I was in a good firm with good clients and a good team around me, but I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do what I wanted within that structure."
Daring to be different, Knight created a unique business model that challenges the norms of accounting from its contemporary Fortitude Valley office, dynamic culture and diverse team of 35 employees.
At the core of businessDEPOT is the usual "bean counter" services, including accounting, business consulting, tax, superannuation and bookkeeping.
Beyond this offering is the Collective, a brain's trust of aligned companies and outcome of the share economy.
Targeted to the SME market, available services range from digital marketing, public relations, research and development, social media and IT without the guesswork or hefty retainer.
"The Collective members enable us to deliver our vision and to make a difference to our SMEs," Knight says.
"I got sick of going out and doing consulting jobs, called a business health check, outlining problems in the business and then walking away to leave them to do something about it.
"The whole idea with the Collective is that we can build a network of people we've done work with before, we know and can trust.
"That's why we're called businessDEPOT and not Knight and Partners or XYZ Partners, we wanted our name to mean something."
The company has a collaborative space for members to meet called The Hub and regularly hosts speaking forums sharing specialist insight known as Depot[x].
The approach has resonated with clients with a few key industries emerging as fields of expertise, including dental, medical, construction and Knight's expertise in real estate.
"That is probably what will enable us to go national and get other offices, as I already do a lot of work in Melbourne for real estate businesses," he says.
"We are now duplicating and replicating that focus in other industries like building and in particular medical, which is a huge growth area."
After establishing a solid foundation for businessDEPOT, Knight has conservatively forecast 15 per cent growth each year with the addition of new accountancy clients and Collective members.
This will allow him to reinvest in the business and eventually open offices in Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast by partnering or licensing the concept to other consultants.
Knight also hopes to delve deeper into collaboration movement with the launch of an "almost crowd-source application" that allows people to share their business problems on the website and receive suggestions, ideas and proposals from Collective members.
"I love the word collaboration at the moment, it's one of those things that keeps coming up and not just in my industry," he says.
"We want to grow fast and we're not going to be able to grow fast if we employ the marketing people or R&D people.
"But if we collaborate with the people we can trust, it can happen so much faster and we're so much more nimble."