Not only was it time consuming, it was also very stressful – trying to cover roles that were not his forte. And he was painfully aware of important tasks that weren’t getting attention like financial reporting, budgeting, cash flow forecasting, tax compliance, credit and collections management.
Anthony is an entrepreneur. A smart, savvy technology product manager and product marketer, and founder of Canada’s fastest-growing patient communications solutions vendor, Cliniconex.
He’s not a finance guy.
A recent graduate of the L-Spark accelerator program, Cliniconex targets healthcare clinics with its solution, automating patient outreach such as booking notifications, reminders, cancellations, surveys, and preventative care reminders. In one 30-provider clinic, admin staff is saving 80 hours per month with Cliniconex, enabling the clinic to see 40 more patients each month.
Cliniconex is getting great traction: they’ve signed up 1500 providers across Canada; recently successfully closed their first seed round with Wesley Clover and Capital Angel Network; and are rapidly growing their Ottawa team.
As Cliniconex grew, so did its financial requirements. They quickly outgrew Anthony’s small-business accountant who’d been providing annual reporting for tax purposes.
Anthony needed information at his fingertips to make timely decisions but “I just couldn’t get it,” he says. “Was my revenue growing like I thought it was? Was I getting cash from my customers? Was I spending money in the right places? I didn’t know.”
Not only did he lack critical, timely information, but Anthony had also fallen six months behind on invoicing 20 percent of his clients. He was late filing corporate and HST returns and about 18 months behind in bookkeeping. “It got so time-consuming that I kept pushing it off, month to month, until I was in a pretty big hole. Suddenly I said, ‘whoa, what happened? Where are we?’” recalls Anthony.
Lisa Morel-Misener, CPA, CA and one of Business Sherpa Group’s Virtual CFOs, worked side-by-side with Anthony for the first six months to set up proper financial statements. A BSG bookkeeper was brought in to get up to speed on invoicing, help catch up the books, and other related bookkeeping activities.
Lisa then engaged the experts at Welch LLP to handle the tax side. “There are complicated rules around SaaS companies for HST/commodity tax perspective that differ province to province,” says Lisa. Even most seasoned accountants don’t completely understand how this works; it’s such specialized knowledge. “Cliniconex needed a commodity tax specialist and that’s what Welch brings to the table,” says Lisa.
At BSG’s recommendation, payroll was moved to ADP, which removed significant administration from Anthony’s desk and streamlined the process considerably.
Anthony began to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and gained confidence that his records were compliant and that he now had the right experts on board to support Cliniconex’s growth.
Business owners are not the only ones who require timely information. When it comes to fund raising, potential investors are looking for open, clear and accessible books to provide them with the information they need to make investment decisions.
“When I was asked for numbers, I’d have to say ‘I can give it to you next quarter,’” recalls Anthony. “But that wasn’t good enough.”
When Wesley Clover came on board as a major investor in July, they required monthly reporting. “We quickly had to change our processes,” recalls Lisa as BSG went to work setting up monthly financial statements. For Anthony, the benefit is right at his fingertips. “With the new accounting system and specific reports set up, the data is available the moment I needed it.”
Anthony recommends the BSG model to any startup because of the bench strength they offer. “When you’re in a hole, you don’t know what you need,” he says. “I’m more comfortable on the product side. With BSG, I get both controller-level expertise and the day-to-day bookkeeping focus on my team. It’s a very practical and affordable solution for me.”
The BSG Accounting Associate handles transactional-based activities such as data entry, processing payments, journal entries, invoicing, payroll processing, and collections – all the typical bookkeeping duties.
“I doubt most startups spent a lot of time on accounting,” says Anthony. Lisa concurs: “Most startups are just like Anthony. They try to do it all at first. But it becomes overwhelming,” she says. “Anthony really knows his product and his market, and that’s where he needs to focus. We were able to free him up to be able to run the business.”
As a Virtual CFO, the Business Sherpa model fits Lisa very comfortably. “I love working in this model,” she says. “As soon as a client needs more or less from us, we can make it happen. As our clients grow, they may outgrow us. And that’s okay, because it means we’ve helped them achieve their goals. There’s great satisfaction in that.”
“Until we cleaned up the accounting and the billing, we weren’t in a position to put a forecast together and go raise money,” says Anthony. “Now, nearly a year after partnering with BSG, we’ve completed our first seed round and ramping up our hiring to meet the growing need in the global patient engagement market.”
Cliniconex is currently piloting two programs south of the border and expects to be raising more money for their U.S. launch later this year.
In time Cliniconex may need its own full-time controller. But until then, “Having BSG is perfect for us,” says Anthony. “With the financial side of our business in place, being able to forecast cash…well, let’s just say I’m sleeping a lot better now.”