Small Business Centre's ScaleUp program a groundbreaker

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell


The Windsor Essex Small Business Centre will roll out a new financial administration and accounting program aimed at start-ups that is believed to be the first of its kind in North America.

Called scaleUP Financial, the program offers customized accounting software, in-class training, support for a year and networking opportunities.

“There’s a 50 per cent mortality rate for new businesses (in the first five years),” said Julian Hawkins, a chartered accountant who teaches the course with his wife and fellow CPA Allison Hawkins.

“If people understand their financial numbers, that rate can be reduced to 10 per cent.

“We’re trying to empower small business owners by giving them the tools and knowledge to understand and manage their accounts. They’ll have confidence in what they’re doing.”

Also partnering in the project is the international accounting software company Xero Software.

The company uses a Cloud-based accounting system that is focused on small business and start-ups. It currently supports more than a million businesses around the globe.

“They’ve told us no one has a program like this one in North America,” Hawkins said. “They’ve been very supportive and are subsidizing the software costs for those in the program.”

The program consists of one morning meeting per month for six months.

Among the topics covered are billings and expenses, reconciling your accounts, HST and closing your quarter, understanding financial reports, working capital and pricing, payroll, WSIB and income tax obligations.

Support, mentoring and even retaking parts of the course are available for the six months following the in-class instruction.

The cost of the program is $600.

“The Small Business Centre is doing it strictly on a cost recovery basis,” said Hawkins, a longtime volunteer at the centre and sessional instructor at the University of Windsor.

“You’ll be getting a software system that is specifically designed for your business and access to professional advice.

“It’s essentially a couple of university courses, so it’s good value for money.”

A pilot project involving four fledgling businesses was tested successfully in the first half of 2017.

Plans are now for a full rollout of the program by the end of July. Applications are being accepted for the program on the Windsor Essex Small Business Centre’s website:

A pre-requisite for the program is taking the small business centre’s one-day financial boot camp.

Ty McWilliams, who started his small construction business SPIR Construction in January, said the program nicely packages all the information any new business owner needs.

“It’s so well organized it makes it easy to understand,” said the 24-year-old McWilliams.

“The Xero Software is new age and very user friendly. What I like is I actually used my business numbers, my receipts and bills. You learn what those numbers mean.”

McWilliams said the course has freed him up to have more time to spend on building, creating and nurturing of customer relationships.

“You’re not afraid of the numbers and paperwork anymore,” McWilliams said.

“There’s so much you have to learn about the paperwork of running a business and if you let it slide it can ruin your business.”