“A lot of people think that accountants are quiet, boring people who wear beige cardigans,” says Kurt Sawatzki, owner of tax accountants and business advisors Devlin & Co and a dedicated amateur go-kart mechanic.
Outside of the office, Kurt shares his life on the track – which he describes as ‘lots of noise, lots of smoke, dirt and dust, and lots of fun’ – with his 10-year-old son, Jensen, who races go-karts around the twisty tracks at 90–100kph.
“There are lots of kids going fast in these little karts, they bump into each other and launch in the air,” says Kurt. “Thankfully my son’s driving skills outweigh my mechanical skills.
“I do the best I can but that’s part of the reason I got into go-karting. It’s a great learning experience for me, a totally different sphere.”
Setting the pace for businesses
Naturally Kurt, who has now taught his son to ski too (“I was nervous as hell,” he says, “but he laughed all the way down, so it was good fun!”) keeps a fast pace in his professional life too.
“We do everything as electronically as we can, and we’re on the cloud through Xero and Office 365. We think it’s normal to operate that way, but new staff members can be quite surprised.”
As a result, things happen fast and more creatively. Instead of phoning clients to ask how business is going, Devlin & Co are proactive advisors. “Now we say, ‘Hey, I saw these numbers in the Xero file. Can we suggest let’s do this, that, and the other?’” Kurt says. “Or, ‘That’s a great result. Let’s go out for a celebratory lunch!’”
The change has even reshaped their calendar year, turning their traditionally quiet month of July into a tax-return hotspot. “I’ve booked a trip to Europe this July,” Kurt laughs. “But the more we use Xero, the more we’re finding that people are ready to roll on the first of July.
“When you bring the tax season forward, you have more time to understand real-time tax requirements, improve cash flow and develop business strategies.”
‘Run-of-the-mill thinking doesn’t get you smart results’
A noise-and-dirt-loving thrill-seeker with an accountancy business may bump against traditional stereotypes, but Kurt says it’s all about your mindset.
“Run-of-the-mill thinking doesn’t get you smart results, you have to think outside the square. Anyone can say, ‘Well, one plus one equals two. Then you add this, and then you get five.’ You have to be on your toes. You have to know your stuff, develop ideas and get results.
“If I wasn’t in accounting, I’d be a landscaper,” he says. “Rolling up my sleeves, getting my hands dirty and bringing things together by design. Digging deep to create beautiful results that people want to see.”