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Helping Aussie tradies unravel their finances

Maria Cavallaro was heading towards a career in human resources, when she decided to switch paths and pursue an education in accounting.

Helping Aussie tradies unravel their finances

by QuickBooks Australia

Woman Soldier

Maria Cavallaro was heading towards a career in human resources, when she decided to switch paths and pursue an education in accounting.

She didn’t have a plan or a lifelong passion for accounting, but in her second year of a degree in commerce, Maria recognised that accounting may well be her calling.

“I didn’t actually have a plan to pursue accounting, I enjoyed the subject at uni and that’s what drove me into this career,” reveals Maria.

Having completed a degree majoring in accounting and sub-majoring in law, Maria started working in an accounting firm, then backtracked into commerce, before deciding to launch her own practice.

Her family was her inspiration.

Maria spent her childhood watching her parents run a business. But instead of insisting she remain under the family wing, Maria’s family pushed her to find her own feet. 

“I started my business in a spare bedroom in the house in 1999. Slowly, we became two people working from home,” she recalls.

“Watching people grow and succeed in their own businesses drove me to push myself further. At the end of the day, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

A specialist force of accountants

Her success is largely owed to her business savviness.

Namely, several years into her business, Maria decided she would refocus her accountancy powers on helping Aussie tradies unravel their finances.

Inspired by her ex-partner, and the realisation that an accountancy business tailored to tradies did not exist, Maria found her niche and launched Tradie Troopers in 2014.

“I witnessed the pain that my partner at the time was going through. He was on the tools all day and trying to quote in the middle of the night,” Maria explains.

“He was struggling quite a bit and he couldn’t afford a full-time bookkeeper.”

She soon come to realise that tradies generally don’t invoice, until their bank accounts run dry.

“I thought to myself this is where I really want to be. I felt that when you put people in that industry on the right track, they really appreciate it,” Maria says.

“Yes, we all make money, yes, we get paid, but the appreciation of seeing my clients at ease is what truly inspires me.”

Today, Maria and her team of over 30 employees locate and destroy tradies’ frustrating cash flow and paperwork pains, in real time.

She explains that for her, accounting is about understanding a client’s capacities and exposing their growth potential.  

“Every time we meet, we talk about where we are at. I often ask them what it is they are working for, and a lot of the time they don’t actually know. But it gives them the opportunity to think about it,” Maria says.

Maria’s methods have transformed the lives of her clients. One particular client started as a one-man van electrician. Today, he has four vans, his own home and a half-a-million-dollar car to play with.

Technology to the rescue

But, Maria says, technology has been her saviour.

“At first it was difficult for me to change my own practices. But I attended a lot of conferences and forged a strong relationship with QuickBooks,” she notes.

“Initially, I went to QuickBooks Connect and started to have a look at all of the different apps that are available. You can’t use all of the apps, but you can find the ones that best suit your business.”

She says that ReceiptBank is ideal for tradies because it enables them to take photos of their receipts and automatically upload them into the cloud.

“That particular app is integrated with your online accounting package. We personally picked QuickBooks, and now we streamline data entry,” Maria explains.

Besides ensuring data entry mistakes are reduced to a minimum, she says that automation enables accountants to spend more valuable time with their clients.

“Instead of reporting on what has happened, we are now reporting on what is happening,” Maria judges.

She believes that with the right tools, accountants can become a lot more proactive in terms of the way they interact with their clients. They need to intervene and help their clients understand what the numbers mean.

“We need to be their chief financial officer, we need to be able to predict when they are heading towards trouble and tell them openly when they are in trouble,” adds Maria.

Flip the mindset

She advises other accountants to “flip the mindset” and embrace automation.  

“There is a lot more value in charging clients for advice than spending hours doing tireless data entry,” Maria says.  

“You can actually increase your revenue by generating a different service within your practice and the clients you already have.”

Aside from the material benefits, technology offers accountants a work-life balance they previously didn’t have.

“At the end of the day, we as accountants are responsible for making that change,” she says.

Although her journey to success has been long, Maria admits it has been very rewarding.

“Seeing a client reach success in their business is what floats my boat. It’s not the tax, it’s not the compliance, it’s getting them to a place where they actually enjoy being in business,” Maria concludes.

Helping Aussie tradies unravel their finances
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