North Sydney based accounting and payroll software leader Attaché, a recent My Business winner, has been announced as the latest supporter of the 2014 My Business Awards as a category sponsor.
At the 2012 My Business Awards, Mike Rich, who started Attaché as a business accounting software developer in 1981 with a mere three staff, was awarded the My Business Award for Best Business Leader. Today, Attaché is one of the world’s longest standing accounting and payroll software providers, and amongst the first to offer cloud services. The new Attaché BI (that’s ‘BI’ for Business Improvement) targets SMEs with over $1m turnover and includes manager dashboards, CRM, cash flow forecasting, document management and more.
At the 2014 My Business Awards, Attaché have chosen to sponsor the Best Growth Strategy category, one of eight popular categories in the My Business Awards in 2014. Entries for the 2014 My Business Awards close at 1700 AEST on Tuesday September 30, with the Awards evening on at newly reopened Doltone House Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday November 11.
You can find out all you need to know about this year's Awards by visiting our newly launched 2014 My Business Awards website now. Tickets to the Awards evening are now on sale via this website.
Read on below to read more about Attaché – this Q&A was conducted with Rich following the 2012 My Business Awards.
My Business: What initially motivated you to start your own business?
Mike Rich: When the first PC was released back in the early 1980s we saw the opportunity to help SMEs level the commercial playing field. We had developed financial software for large computer users and this is what the IT vendors needed to sell their new PCs. It was a marriage made in heaven.
MB: How has your business evolved since its inception?
MR: Attaché started in 1981 – we were the first financial software to be distributed by all the major PC brands in Australia including IBM and HP. As each wave of new PC was launched, we updated our software. When Windows came along we decided to focus on network-based financial software. Over recent years, Attaché was one of the first to introduce cloud services, and embed things like CRM and Dashboards into our software. Prior to MYOB, we were the most well-known accounting package.
MB: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
MR: The Attaché core focus is IT-based ‘intelligent business systems’ and every few years along comes new technology. You have to update your software but ensure it’s an easy transition for your clients. The GFC has added another dimension. Today, the core focus of the ‘New Attaché’ is helping SMEs improve their business performance so they not only survive, but prosper. You have to face these challenges head-on as there may be a silver lining simply by doing the right thing, rather than focusing on a traditional sales outcome.
MB: What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?
MR: It’s the move to the New Attaché – helping SMEs improve their business performance through better business systems, regardless of the outcome for us. For example, we spent $1 million creating a Business Improvement Guide. Many of the 700 tactics can be done manually or by other packages, but we guarantee the outcome. We also developed a Business Systems Scorecard so SMEs can identify if they have adequate business systems in a matter of minutes, rather than in days or weeks. I have been told that we are the first IT vendor in Australia to take ISO 38500 seriously.
MB: What does it mean for you to be recognised as a My Business Award winner in 2012?
MR: Winning the Best Business Leader Award endorses my move to the New Attaché. Moving from a traditional sales focus to helping SMEs prosper had its sceptics, and a number of good staff left as result. It also endorses my belief that it’s time for business leaders to ‘give back’ so the next crop of SMEs can go forward. To also work with government agencies, rather than take a political position, to ensure SMEs do grow and create more jobs and increase GNP in the process.
MB: Why did you decide to enter the 2012 My Business Awards?
MR: Because they’re closely connected with the SME Association of Australia – a not-for-profit organisation with similar beliefs to myself about helping SMEs. It’s also recognition that SMEs value far more than slick advertising.
MB: Please share with us some of your bigger successes.
MR: Being the first software vendor in the world to be distributed with the IBM PC was a great rap when we got started. More recently, being one of the first to embrace cloud services is another. Our electronic document delivery service saves 15 times the height of Sydney Tower in paper every year. Setting up the M Institute this year is another – an NFP organisation whose goal is to increase the number of SMEs with $10 million plus revenue from 6,500 to 10,000 within five years.
MB: Do you have a business motto or ethos you rely upon?
MR: You should always think in the currency that the person you are talking to values most. For example, if I asked you if you’d like to buy accounting software you’d probably tell me something nasty. But if I mentioned I’m in the business improvement business, you probably would engage in a conversation.
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