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Paul Clarke

Paul Clarke on championing financial visibility for business owners

By Paul Clarke

Co-founder - Ookkee

Paul Clarke is dedicated to helping business owners get ahead of the game – providing them with the financial visibility they need to succeed! Through his innovative approaches, he’s empowering entrepreneurs everywhere.

Paul may have a natural talent for numeracy, but it was his decision to become an accountant at the ripe old age of 17 that really set him on the path to success. While most of his peers were still trying to figure college, Uni or job, Paul was already diving headfirst into the world of finance and number crunching.

He’s also not your average businessman. He may have a knack for numbers, but his capabilities go way beyond that. For over 30 years, Paul has been co-founding and growing successful companies in various industries. From a security business to a home tech and entertainment company where he delivered lighting and automation projects all around the world. But that’s not all – he also co-created a global ultra-marathon series across 5 continents! When it comes to business, Paul’s creativity and desire for adventure knows no bounds.

As an entrepreneur himself, Paul knows how difficult it can be to run a business without the necessary support, especially around the area of accounting and the numbers that drive business KPI’s. That’s why he founded Ookkee – an outsourced bookkeeping service with a difference. Unlike traditional firms that simply process the numbers, Ookkee takes a business-minded approach, providing the expertise and guidance needed to empower companies to grown and succeed. By offering a range of services that are tailored to each client’s unique needs, Ookkee has quickly become a go-to resource for businesses of all sizes, allowing owners and boards to focus on what they do best: growing their company.

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Can you talk us through the Ookkee concept?

Our driving force is to provide business owners with meaningful financial management information to allow them to make informed decisions around their numbers.

Most accountants aren't business owners and have never run a business, so they don't know about the entrepreneurial challenges that are faced and how to manage them. We sit at that level; we understand what business owners want to see and get it delivered.

We essentially work as an outsourced accounts department, acting as the entire accounting team for businesses. Using the latest cloud-based technology and workflows, we deliver management accounts, budget analysis and cash flow forecasts on a monthly basis. This is all brought together by keeping control of each aspect of the accounts, including payroll, sales ledger and purchase ledger processing, bank reconciliations and credit control.

We don’t look after year end compliance or any tax filing as we leave this to the specialist accountants. What we do is focus on management accounts to deliver meaningful information on a regular basis to aid decisions around profitability and cashflow.

Supporting companies of all sizes, we work best with businesses that are in a growth phase or scaling. This is down to us being able to create a repeatable platform with the workflows and processes to help to make the business a success.

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How do you add value for your clients with your combined accountancy and business knowledge?

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that business owners expectations are managed with regards to their finance team.

We understood very quickly that there was a huge void between what business owners expect from their accountants and what accountants expect business owners to deliver. I mean HUGE!!

Most business owners expect their accountants to deal with everything financial and want them to find ways to save tax and improve profitability and cashflow. They are also expected to pick up the self assessments, compliance work and monthly management accounts. This is usually well outside the scope for a basic set of accounts.

Most accountants expect business owners to provide a complete set of reconciled accounts with paperwork and supporting documents to enable them to provide a set year end accounts and a self assessment. They end up spending most of their time sorting out basic accounting errors, using up the agreed fee and creating additional bills.

This is where we step in. We add most of our value buy bridging this gap to make sure both business owners and accountants expectations are met.

Becoming part of the day-to-day within each business we work with, we are able to deliver accurate, timely management accounts, making sure our clients have everything they need to help their businesses grow and become more profitable.

We also liaise with accountants to make the sure their time is well spent on tax efficiencies and business structure to aid the overall outcome for the client. In some cases, we encourage our clients to pay their accountants a little more to get a better service rather than just having the basics.

Ookkee has some eye-catching branding, how are you harnessing marketing for accountancy to reach people and get your messaging across?

We’re trying to make bookkeeping more appealing and less undervalued. Afterall, it is the most fundamental process in the accounting industry. If your bookkeeping is wrong, so is everything else!!

I love doing the marketing myself, as I am a secret creative. I couldn’t really get anybody to speak our language, so after numerous attempts at outsourcing I started creating things for myself with Jasper.ai and Chat GPT. It’s great fun and I use it as a bit of downtime.

If you’re not sure where the name came from, we are literally the only name in bookkeeping.

What would you recommend is one thing everyone should do with regarding their accounts?

Look at the numbers. Our whole ethos is around making sure that business owners have got visibility of their numbers and that they understand how to use them. That’s our driving force; that’s why we do what we do.

Our goal is to get a set of management accounts and a cashflow forecast in front of a business owner and encourage them to make their business decisions based on that rather than their gut feeling, how much they have in the bank or how busy they are.

You’ve got to run the numbers. You can be brilliant at what you do in your business does but that doesn’t always mean that you’re brilliant at running the business. We want business owners to understand what those numbers mean and how it affects them and their company.

"Most accountants aren't business owners and have never run a business, so they don't know about the entrepreneurial challenges that are faced and how to manage them."

What are your plans and aspirations for the future?

We have started work on our three-year plan to double year on year, with a target of eight offices servicing clients across the south, of course including Southampton.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I try and get a nice work life balance – I enjoy golf and spending time with my wife Hannah, and our teenage son Harvey and daughter Isabelle, as well as a couple of mad cockapoos – Baxter and Piper.

Getting that balance is something we really advocate as a company. We operate a “results only work environment” in the office and I try to encourage my peers to plan time off around themselves. We’re trying to find more ways to promote that way of thinking because it’s more beneficial for mental health and well-being when you fit in the things that you want to do.

Who or what was the last thing that changed your thought processes?

At the moment I’m currently listening to a book on Audible called Stolen Focus by Johann Hari and it’s really changed my outlook on a few things regarding time management and how distracted we are all the time. It’s such an interesting book; it’s crazy how social media is moulding us and changing society and the way we work, act, and live.

Do you have any mantras that you live by?

If I have a personal mantra, it’s that there’s always a better way. I look at everything like that, every time I hit a problem.

There’s so much negative content around us – you’ve got to see past all of that and rise above it.

I don’t personally tend to dwell on a problem or a setback for too long. You should only worry about the things you can do something about.

Paul Clarke

"Our whole ethos is around making sure that business owners have got visibility of their numbers and that they understand how to use them."

Paul Clarke - Co-founder, Ookkee