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Hi,

 

My name is Peter Wesley,

 

I started Better Back Office to scratch my own itch. I was running a contracting business that was growing which meant I was getting busier and busier. Growing a business is exciting, getting great results for clients and making money is exciting - doing the paperwork, the back-office stuff is not exciting. Not exciting but supercritical - the job is not finished until the money is in the bank. I knew if I wanted to keep growing and enjoy the business I had to make sure the Back Office was working well and without me having to always be doing it. 

 

I have looked at different ways to do this since I started Better Back Office in 2013. The way we do things has changed but the outcome for my business at the time and our clients remains the same:

  • More Time for what is important

  • Confidence in the numbers 

  • Compliance and no risk of audit 

  • Happy customers and staff

  • Peace of mind knowing someone is looking after the back end

 

Why I have been so good at sorting the Back Office out is a factor of my background and training. I left school and joined the Navy. I entered as a junior officer and went on to drive Warships as a Navigator and Officer of the Watch. This training in the military as an officer set the foundation for my discipline of execution - putting it another way - getting stuff done. After leaving the Navy I had a career in finance and accounting and learned the language of all businesses - the numbers. I have worked with many contracting businesses across all trades (Plumbing, Electrical, Landscaping, Builders et.) I’ve run my own businesses and worked with some of Australia’s largest trade service businesses. Having seen best practice and the worse I bring a huge base of experience to help turn any contracting businesses into a well-oiled machine. 

 

I now have a great team of bookkeepers, accountants, systems experts and admin people that are all excited about making your back office a Better Back Office.

Our team of 20+ staff is dedicated to solving one problem for Trade business - Get the information into the right systems so you can manage your business. When you know where you are you can make the right decisions to help grow your business. We have a team of qualified accountants CPA and CA, bookkeepers, IT experts, and BAS agents. Most of our staff work in our offices in Brisbane and Sydney however because we operate with our clients via the cloud we are able to serve clients anywhere in the world in anytime zone.

 

When I'm not working I love to spend my time with my family and I have a passion for sailing and mountain biking. 

Peter’s Story

 

I get asked frequently about how I started in business and what I have done over the years. 

I grew up in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Australia. I was the eldest of 4 boys, all within 4 years. A small gang of high energy, active boys always looking for something to do, climb, pull apart, or learn. We were a constant force of energy that required a careful balance of nurture and carefully curated freedom managed by my wonderful mother. This was before the internet and computers in homes. Being a gang of 4 meant we always had someone to play with and a willing partner for adventure. I spent most of my childhood with my brothers outside riding bikes, playing sports, building billy carts, tree houses, cubby’s, and roaming the neighborhood.

 

This sense of freedom and adventure drove me through school and the early years of my career in the Navy. I’m sure Mum encouraged us into Scouts, Cadets, and sport just to keep us entertained but I loved it. I took to the Scouts and Cadets like a duck to water, loving the discipline and the freedom that it gave me. I realised early on that if I was prepared, trained, and equipped properly the ‘adults’ would let me off by myself, hiking, sailing, canoeing, biking. As a Scout I discovered sailing at the age of 12, I didn’t know it at the time but my love for sailing would define my life in many ways.  

 

For me, there was freedom in the structure of these organised groups. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that knew me that when I left school I joined the Navy as a trainee officer. I applied for and was selected in one of the early intakes of the Australian Defence Force Academy as Navy Midshipman (a lowly junior officer at the very bottom of the entire food chain). 


 

What Defines You? Learning The Ropes

 

After enjoying Scouts and Cadets I was looking forward to the “Real Deal” at the Defence Force Academy. I dreamed of a life at sea, traveling the sea and of course loads of sailing. I was in for a rude shock. The Academy was early on its inception and mostly run in the style and culture of its next-door neighbor, The Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra. My lovely Naval Academy was a long way away situated on the idyllic shores of Jervis Bay at the end of Hyams Beach. (The Navy has all the best real estate) But not just physically separated, we went through our inductions and shakedowns in Army style. 

 

I hated it. I missed my Mum and Dad and my brothers and my mates from school. I thought about quitting every day. I decided to stick it out for the first 6 weeks and then quit, which would still give me time to join my mates at Uni that year. I heard that the first 6 weeks are the toughest and lots of people quit so I was determined that I would get through the first 6 weeks and then leave. I endured the constant pressure, sleep deprivation, PT, military training, uniform inspections, obstacle courses, marching, lessons, rushing, cleaning, ironing, marching, running...repeat. It’s a bit of blur but it seemed that all I did was clean, march, run and do pushups while some senior classmate or drill sergeant yelled at me. 

 

They weren't trying to train us to be Navigators or Pilots or Soldiers at this stage they were just giving us a shakedown, a wake-up call, and the first “test” I would endure in my working life. It costs a lot of money to train an officer so they want to weed out anyone who is not up for it early on. There was a very high attrition rate in those first 3 years. The end of that induction period was marked by a big parade for the Chief of the Defence Force, our highest-ranking officer. It was a grand event, we hand practiced for weeks to march around the parade ground in perfect unison with immaculately prepared uniforms and rifles (I know, why is a Naval Officer carrying a rifle, that's for the Army). My parents came down from Sydney to see this parade and couldn’t have been more proud. I marched off with my new best friends and couldn’t have prouder of myself. The sense of achievement was what kept me going, not just through the rest of the 3 years of training but also my business career. 

 

I graduated for real 3 years after I joined, I received my Commission and my Degree, and off I went as a junior officer to start my “real” training. There are two parts to Officer training, you have to learn how to be a leader and you also have to learn your trade. My trade was Warships, I had learned how to drive them and manage the hundreds of crew on board. It was an amazing experience, again the structure and discipline of the Navy gave me freedom. I was fresh out of Uni and I was driving a six thousand ton warship around the ocean in close proximity to other ships, submarines, aircraft. We were launching helicopters off the deck, deploying boats, shooting guns, firing missiles, diving for mines, traveling to new places, and dressing up and playing Officer occasionally. The structure, training, systems provide the freedom and support for a fresh behind the ears junior officer to perform. 

 

The first part of your training on a warship is to complete a task book that takes you to every part of the ship where you spend weeks learning the ropes. I spent time with the Engineers in the engine room, the cooks in the galley, the deck crew in the small boots, the divers, the Navigator, the Warfare Officers, you get the picture. To manage a ship you need to have an understanding of all the parts of the ship, you don’t have to be an expert but you need to know the basics.  I was posted onto a few different ships and each ship is different yet the process is the same, learn the different departments, study the operating manuals, train under supervision, get tested, and then execute. Walking up the gangway of a new ship is a daunting moment. A whole new crew, a different type of ship, different weapon systems, different engines, different aircraft, etc. This was normal for anyone in the Navy. This gave me inherent confidence knowing that although this is new I will figure it out. It was probably the greatest lesson I learned in the Navy, no matter how complicated a problem or new situation is there is a way to figure it out. 

 

I spent 10 years in the Navy and left as a Lieutenant.  I’ve been out much longer than I have been in yet these years still define me today. I traveled the world, spent years at sea and despite all the time on warships I got to do a lot of sailing. I was fortunate to run the Navy Sail Training and sail Yong Endeavour for a while. As a twenty-three year old, I skippered one of the Navy yachts in my second Sydney to Hobart yacht race. I was exposed to responsibility at a young age and often in life and death situations - the consequences of a wrong decision on a warship even in peacetime can be catastrophic. 

 

The most valuable skills I acquired during my officer training and time at sea, where those of problem-solving and the confidence to know that whatever the challenge, I would be able to work through in a structured way and find a solution. This was an overlay on a foundation of self-discipline, leadership skills, and ability to work well in a team and contribute to the group's success.

 

1997 - onwards

I left the Navy with some good skills and training but really not much idea about the commercial world. I looked around for a job for a moment but found myself drawn to entrepreneurship. With the excuse of “I can’t get a job” I started a business with one of my best mates from the Navy. With very few dollars in our pockets, we wore out our shoe leather as we built from the ground up a mortgage broking business. I approached this challenge as I would have when joining a new ship, we put our heads down and we worked it out as we went, making mistakes, copying others, trying new things, making mistakes and working hard. After 4 years we had built a very successful business employing 18 people and providing a very tidy living for ourselves. 

 

I soon realised that mortgage breaking wasn’t really for me and I sold my half of the business to my partner and departed on a new adventure. I then purchased shares in an accounting firm and established a business consulting arm in the business and helped to grow the business from $2mill in revenue to over $5 mill over four years. My first business was my education in entrepreneurship and sales, the accounting firm built on that education, exposing me to corporate structure, tax, compliance, and financial management disciplines. Whilst working in this business advisory business I found myself working with a lot of trade businesses, builders, electricians, landscapers, plumbers, etc. There was a cultural match for me, the people in the contracting space were down to earth, pragmatic, and only interested in results. During the 4 years working with trade businesses, I established a strong reputation and I was invited by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to develop a business foundation training program for Electricians. This was to be a mini “MBA” for tradesmen that were either coming off the tools in large contracting companies or running their own businesses. It was a 6-day residential course and ran for about 10 years. You are always learning whenever you are training and I was now immersed in the contracting space which would define the stage of my career.  This was how with a degree in Oceanography and a qualification as a Navigator I found myself in the contracting space. I’m not an electrician, plumber, landscaper, data technician, solar installer, arborist, or builder but I have work in all these businesses. I understand the businesses intimately, I have developed the operational intuition to sniff out problems and areas of inefficiency. 

 

2017 - Present 

After a varied career that started on Warships, I established myself as an effective business leader with a strong financial and operational skillset. In the last few years I have held senior roles in large contracting businesses bringing operational and financial discipline to hand. I still see many trade businesses just missing the mark and not living up to their potential. In a trade business, small changes can make a massive difference to the results for a business and for the owner. I am still involved with coaching and mentoring business owners and often see that the back office function including the financial reporting needs fixing before we can make any meaningful decisions. I established the Better Back Office in 2013 to solve a problem I had at the time and others were asking me to use the service too. Now Better Back Office offers a variety of services in bookkeeping, data entry, and system set up to help businesses make decisions, and operate more efficiently that leads to more profit, productivity, and better lifestyles for the owners. 

Contractors MUST Change:

Competition is fierce, the economy is shaky and we are all under constant pressure to do more with less. The way a contractor organises, measures, motivates their team has a huge impact on the results of the business. There are constant levels of compliance and paperwork required just to get a worker on site. It’s as important for any contractor to have an efficient back office as it is that a tradesman has the right tools. The right information means making the right decisions at the right time. So many contractors are flying blind. 

 

I believe that well-run trade business can provide massive financial gain 

I believe that all trade businesses require simple tweaks to make improvements

I believe that a trade business can be a wealth-creating machine for the owner

I believe that a trade business can be successful without stress and burnout  of the owner

 

I believe these things because I have seen it time and time again. I have worked with some of the most successful trade businesses in Australia and the best ones aren’t necessarily the biggest. The successful trade business owners are not superhuman, they are not and smarter nor work any harder than most but they are doing the right things. You too can build a successful business that will give you financial freedom and a balanced lifestyle.

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