Wayne Zielke is a great example of an entrepreneur who saw a problem and created a successful business around the solution.
After graduating as a Chartered Accountant, Wayne spent years gaining experience at other businesses, before setting up his own practice. Then frustrated with the tedious and time-consuming task of bookkeeping he decided to try and do something a little different. He assembled a team of financial and technology professionals and created LedgersOnline, an online service which allows bookkeepers to access their clients’ accounts remotely. Something ahead of its time back in 2002.
Over the next few years, he found that their clients still struggled with one particular area: getting the right documents from the business owners. So, in 2011 he built and launched a web-hosted service.
“LedgerDocs gives bookkeepers and accountants a dedicated tool to help store, manage, and collaborate with their clients’ important accounting documents,” explains Wayne. “It sits between the client, bookkeeper and accounting application and allows an easier flow of information, to make accounting more simple.”
Not one to stand still, Wayne continues to develop the business. Earlier this year he released an update which integrates with Dropbox, allowing better integration with online accounting apps like Xero and Kashoo.
Understanding the Product
The idea wasn’t always an easy sale, however. Wayne came up with the concept long before ‘the cloud’ had become a buzzword. “A lot of our sales calls were spent just trying to explain to people what we were doing. People just didn’t get it. Our first clients were mainly technology firms,” Wayne remembers.
But he stayed true to his original vision, knowing that the product they had developed would soon help hundreds of bookkeepers and accountants do the job they needed to do.
The Intention of Success
“Our intention was to develop a product that is dedicated to helping the bookkeeping and accounting industry. Nothing we have done is by accident. We have proceeded carefully and with feedback from our user base every step of the way,” Wayne proudly explains.
That structured approach probably came from the guidance he gained at the AceTech’s Growth Strategy Program and the support of his fellow BC Chamber of Commerce members. But it is also clear that Wayne is a man fuelled by experience. After spending so many years in the industry, he knows his market. This fortunate position has enabled him to make measured decisions and concentrate on the cash flow and profitability of the business.
This careful and successful growth has recently been recognized by the CPA Practice Advisor, having been nominated for the 2014 Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Award. The award recognizes exceptional production development, breakthrough technologies, state of the art design and implementation of cutting edge concepts that help accounting professionals and their clients become more productive and profitable. Their fate now lies in the hands of the judging committee which includes well-known accounting and tax professionals from a variety of firms across the United States, and who are influencers within the finance industry.
When asked what advice he would give to new entrepreneurs, Wayne is quick to respond, “Find something you can sell that generates cash flow. It could be shares in your idea, but it’s better if it’s something repeatable. And who knows? You might actually develop some part of a business you can sell along the way”.
It’s not surprising advice from a man who is inspired by serial entrepreneurs like Vancouver’s Ralf Turfus, who has been involved in about 25 successful startups over the years.
So What’s Next?
LedgerDocs is heading to the US. Wayne hopes to find a place in the small to medium sized business segment and grow his business across the whole of North America. A lofty goal, but one we’re sure he will meet with focus and determination.