Angela O’Leary, founder AG Associates, Accountants & Advisors
Tell us a bit about you?
I am a Cork native, and I set up AG Associates accountancy practice 15 years ago this year. I was always interested in finance and technology having graduated from UCC with a degree in Economics and then did a diploma in Software Engineering. Having started my career as a software engineer, I moved into a training role in various accounting software systems. And then I fell in love with accounting!
So, I continued to work and took my CPA exams and started working with a local accounting firm here in Cork. After 5 years I was ready to take the plunge and branch out on my own.
Tell us about your business?
When I started my business, like many others, it was in a room at the back of my house. I received great referrals from friends and colleagues and that got me started and gave me the confidence to stick with my decision to go out on my own. The next biggest decision was taking on my first employee.
I needed more room obviously and so we moved to a “real” office in Little Island. I had my little 6 month old son at home so getting out was vital and yet I had to plan and manage my home life too.
I enjoy advising clients on all financial aspects of their business, on strategic planning and decision making. We help business owners manage their accounts more efficiently by outsourcing their accounting and bookkeeping to us, while they focus on growing their business. We use technology to make the process more streamlined which saves our client’s time and money and gives them a snap shot of their accounts in real time.
We are now 15 years in operation and as well as providing all standard accountancy services for clients, year-ends and taxation, we also prepare monthly management accounts so that SME’s can make strategic decisions based on the latest financial information. We have become business advisors to our clients as well and I would advise to get the basic foundations right with sound bookkeeping practices so then you can get real accuracy and visibility with your financial reporting.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in growing your business?
Actually, it is my fellow women leaders on the “Going for Growth” nationwide programme. Seeing other women succeed after joining the programme like me and face their challenges and multitask both work and home. I have made great friends through this amazing network and I have met business leaders who I can call upon as we all help each other.
What do you love most about having your own business?
Knowing that my team and I are supporting our clients to grow their business and that our clients know their financials, margins and KPI’s that are needed to drive their business forward. Most accountants look backwards in that they correctly report on past historic performance as part of the year end accounts and compliance. While this is essential, we also focus on providing real time information on how our clients business is performing giving them clear visibility on the numbers and managing their cashflow along the way, which vital.
What has been the most significant thing you have done to grow your business?
Continuous self – learning is key to growing your business which I did through the “Going for Growth” programme. You have to be confident in your business model to take on your first employee and move to a larger office outside the home office and I did that early on and thankfully it worked out.
What is your business and what led you to start it?
I am a qualified CPA Accountant and took the plunge to set up my accountancy practice. Our services include a full range of accountancy, bookkeeping, payroll, taxation along with business advisory. There is great satisfaction to see my clients businesses thriving and that they are using accounting metrics and margins as part of this process.
What is your number 1 tip for anyone struggling to overcome entrepreneurial overwhelm and keep going?
You need to have a strategic plan and get it down on paper – “think in ink”. See the roadblocks and manage your way around them. Your plan should help you to map out your key business goals and then apply laser focus – that is what is needed to achieve your goals. Put together a SWOT analysis of your business also as part of this exercise so that you are very clear on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your business. Know your financials and manage your cashflow effectively also as this is key in the daily running of your business. An added tip also is to be sure that you are availing of all the Covid supports and grants that your business is eligible for during the pandemic.