Digital Solutions Success Story: Debra Rieniets Accountancy

September 11, 2023

Debra Rieniets was 20 years old when she knew she wanted to work with numbers. After a career that included working for the State Bank Victoria and teaching at SMB- School of Mines and Industry (now Federation University Ballarat), the proud rural Victorian resident set up her own business in 2000, with the introduction of GST.

With the introduction of compulsory super for employees in 1992, many self-employed people and business owners were able to see the benefit of preparing for their own retirement, creating growth in what we today describe as Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF). Australia’s number of SMSFs also increased after being formally introduced in 1999. After working with Super Audit Managers for some years, servicing a large number of SMSF clients, Debra decided to work exclusively as an SMSF auditor in 2017.

She hasn’t looked back.

“My role is to help ensure your super is still there when you retire, ready for you,” Debra explains.

“I consider it as part of a three-armed process. I review accounts to check the trustees (and others) are meeting the rules for SMSF, so that they can continue to grow their wealth, with the help of their financial planner and tax agent.”

Debra completes all of her work from her home base in country Victoria, which she loves.

“Working online means I can work with clients from not just all over Australia - but all over the world. It also gives me the freedom to continue working whilst travelling, whether for work or other experiences. As I grow older I’m looking forward to having a nomadic lifestyle that’s supported by work which I enjoy and provides benefits for others.”

Freedom, flexibility and control are what Debra loves most about running her own business; all of which are enhanced by the digital options available. While Debra didn’t rush to digitalise her business, she says even the incremental changes have been transformative.

“I initially moved slowly online as the accounting programs moved online. Not everything was provided by computer in the early days. I would pick up documents or have them dropped off or mailed to me.

“Now, almost everything is exclusively supplied via computer. I can work for and with people I have never met in person; location isn’t a restriction to who I can work with. My desire to live in a rural location with good internet does not impact my education, networking opportunities or client base,”

Not one to lose the human touch, Debra adds: “I do still like an old-fashioned conversation, some social politeness and kindness in my interactions.”

Ready to level up her business, Debra joined the Digital Solutions Program.

“I felt it was time to update my website and digital presence. Due to government changes I had to either expand or retire from SMSF Auditing, so I decided to expand. Given the best advertising is word of mouth and networking, I had to improve my access to people in the (digital) neighbourhood and (digital) networking environment.”

Debra’s website launch was stage one of her implementation and she also uses LinkedIn for professional digital networking. Once she has expanded to employ more staff to assist with content creation and workflows she plans to expand her digital platforms.

Since joining the program, Debra has enhanced her website, improved her digital efficiencies by optimising how she spends her time online and is now in a position to promote her business.

But Debra’s most valuable lesson from the program is perhaps harder to quantify.

“Confidence! It has given me more confidence to set up some basic data analysis, control my digital interactions, trust that I understand the basics - and more. I had no idea there were so many tools available to provide data analysis, and I understand there is someone there to help with my digital strategy.”

Would Debra recommend the to fellow small business owners?

“Yes! It is so important to be up to date. Regardless of whether you have a registration requirement within your industry, Digital Solutions has webinars and workshops that will directly benefit your business if you make the time to get involved.

“Be brave and give it a go. It’s not as hard as you may think to improve.”

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