On Tuesday 11th June I participated in a panel discussion at our local Xero Refresh Seminar alongside Zac Hayes from HA Accounting and Alicia Moreau our Xero Account Manager, on the topic of Mental Health in Small Business – something very close to all our hearts and at the forefront of our minds with the end of financial year quickly approaching (aka peak season for Tax & BAS Agents)
Traditionally, Xero’s bi-annual tour brings industry insights and product updates to advisors in regional areas of Australia and has until this week, had a focus on compliance, automation and advisory solutions; which for those of us who are experienced Xero users, doesnt hold a lot of interest, so we were thrilled when Alicia invited us to participate in this pilot presentation.
I’m fully open to admitting I was terrified of sitting up the front of a room full of people I didn’t know, to talk about mental health and my personal experiences with it in my business journey. But I’m super proud that I was able to bring my passion and authenticity to the discussion and SEE that the audience was actually engaged and found the topic relevant and even helpful. I’ll be forever grateful to Alicia for giving me that moment of self deveopment and growth and grateful that Zac, my friend and accountability partner was there to share his own experiences alongside me.
Everyone I know has been affected, either directly or indirectly, by mental health and I’m not just talking about friends, colleagues and family. I’ve had clients break down in tears in my office, have seen clients experience depression following the loss of a child and losing their business due to lack of support as the end result. I have experienced the grief at having had a client end their life because it all became too much and they didnt feel they could reach out and ask for help; having discussed only weeks before, a new business venture and fleshing out goals and milestones.
In this racing world of advanced technology, robotics and automation, we’re quickly becoming disconnected from the very people we need to surround ourselves with. Service providers are now striving to provide a quantitive service as opposed to a quality service and sadly, with time being the main factor, it’s the human to human connection that is sacrificed in these new, superficial engagements with automation and AI taking over.
Having experienced disconnection and mental health issues myself when living in Western Australia, I realised how isolating and lonely it can be running a small business. In particular, a business model that was 100% cloud based, 100% remote and more than easily run from my home office; where I didn’t see people, didn’t network, connect or really have to engage in any form of human interaction. Heck I didn’t even have to get out of my PJ’s if I didn’t want to.
When I realised how poor my mental health was, I made the decision to move back to my home region in Victoria, where I knew more opportunity, more personal growth and more fulfilling connections and relationships awaited me. Where I would feel more supported in my business and life. It has taken a solid 12 months of work, but I finally feel like I have a suppotive network around me and I am where I belong. I’m thriving.
After a time, I also saw these very same issues in my staff, being isolated in their own remote offices away from humanity and their mental health declining as a result. The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my business was terminate my team for the sake of not only their own mental health, but for mine as well and my heart fills with joy to see them flourishing in their new roles, connecting with their peers and communities. I am content knowing they are now better off being more engaged with the humans around them, rather than technology.
I’ve always been a massive addict of automation and streamlined systems and was initially on the same bandwagon as the majority of the industry – in that I was able to increase capacity through automation and outsourcing. Serve as many clients as possible, provide them with a compliance focused service that didnt require hours of one on one interaction and leverage technology to do it as cost effectively as I could.
Now however, I value the time I get to spend in consultation with real people. I’m now passionate about connecting with my clients on a more personal level, I seek to understand them, their businesses, their lives and their driving motivators. I want to make sure that if I see a client really struggling, in life or in business, I can find ways to help support them and to ensure their business is working for them, not against them.
I use AI and automation as it was intended, so I have more time to spend on the human element of my business relationships.
I love that technology has evolved but what I love even more is that our roles as Advisors are also evolving.
With so much more free time available, we are perfectly equipped to take our industries and roles to the next level in supporting our fellow small business owners, clients and overall communities.
If you or a loved one are struggling with your Mental Health, please reach out and ask for help. You’re not alone and should never feel alone in your life or your business.
Beyond Blue Support Services 1300 22 4636