Under the hood: wearing multiple hats

There’s a saying ANZ Group Executive Australia Retail and Commercial Mark Hand used to share with me which I think rings true for many people: “small business owners are time poor control freaks”.

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Pic: Aider CEO Brendan Roberts and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her 2020 visit Source: Aider

Now, this may sound extreme but if you dig down into what this actually means, I think it’s quite accurate. Running a small business means you are more than just the CEO or founder – you’re often also the head of human resources, technology, finance and more. When you’re potentially the only staff member of a business and wearing multiple hats, delegating responsibility and deeply analysing the business can be nearly impossible.

"If you get the financials right - the money in and out, keeping on top of bank reconciliations, keeping in touch with cash flow - that's 80 per cent of the job done.” - Roberts

That’s where Auckland-based technology company Aider come in. Originally built as a digital financial assistance tool, ANZi alumnus Aider helps small business owners stay across all the key things going on in their business using artificial intelligence.

Aider CEO Brendan Roberts says when you’re running a small business, you often don’t have time to sit down and analyse the various aspects of the business. By training Aider to understand your needs, it becomes easier to ask questions like what is my top selling product, who owes me money, how much money do I owe, what is my cash flow going to look like next week or what is my website traffic?

Roberts says Aider has initially focused on getting a business’ financials right because that will provide the biggest long-term benefits to small businesses. The next focus is leading indicators such as point-of-sale, social media and website traffic.  

“If you get the financials right - the money in and out, keeping on top of bank reconciliations, keeping in touch with cash flow - that's 80 per cent of the job done,” Roberts says.

Roberts believes New Zealand is a very good place to start a software company because of low barriers to entry and solid government support.

“Fintech is in a really good space in New Zealand. Banks haven’t moved to fully open banking yet but [they] are trying to be proactive and work with fintechs.”

Roberts says Aider was initially hit quite hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and that wage subsidies introduced by the government kept them afloat – something he was able to personally thank Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for during her recent visit to Aider’s offices.

Combining the government’s wage subsidy with capital raising meant the company survived a “really rocky period”.

Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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