In an exclusive interview, delve into the life and passions of Cirsten Claassen. Hailing from Middelburg, with a background in Bcom Accounting, his journey took unexpected turns, leading to the birth of Finvoke. Discover insights on entrepreneurship, software integration, and overcoming challenges, while embracing the future vision of Finvoke.
- It’s such a privilege to interview you today, Cirsten, please tell us who Cirsten Claassen is. (Where did you grow up, what is your background and what are you passionate about in life)
I was born in Middelburg and raised in Johannesburg. I finished high school in Joburg and then went to study Bcom Accounting in Pretoria. I then completed articles at one of the big four firms after which I obtained my Chartered Accountant (SA) designation. I then did a 6 months secondment in Germany. My passions include music, traveling, reading, and good food. I also very much enjoy spending time with loved ones and fostering relationships, which is why one of our core values at Finvoke is building long-term and lasting relationships with our clients
- For our audience that may not know what Finvoke is please could you explain what work you guys do.
We are a modern accounting firm providing a platform for success for our clients. We are also in the business of providing our customers with peace of mind.
We offer full-suite outsourced accounting services making use of the latest technologies and processes. Our services are perfect for people who:
● Wants up-to-date financial information at their fingertips
● Needs tax advice in order to limit their tax liabilities
● Wants to know what is going on in their business
● Wants to grow their business
● Is serious about their business
Whether you need someone to take care of your accounting, payroll, taxes, financial process, budgeting, forecasting, or advisory, we’ve got you. At a fixed monthly price, you can have a CA and a CFO at a fraction of the price. At the end of the day, we are in the business of giving you the comfort of knowing that your financial processes are handled, allowing you to focus on what you do best, growing your business.
3. How did you first get interested in the field of accounting and decide to start your own company at such a young age?
Ending up in accounting was unexpected and almost accidental. Initially uninterested, I went from wanting to burn my accounting books after high school to finding myself in Accounting 101 just months later. With uncertainty about my academic path, I chose accounting almost impulsively during registration week. The journey felt masochistic, but it eventually clicked. Over time, I developed a connection with accounting, relishing the challenge it posed. I appreciated how chaos could be transformed into a coherent narrative. Gradually, I recognized the power inherent in accounting.
The decision to launch my own business emerged from a blend of influences. Exposure to profound ideas through reading and the expansive experiences of travel shattered my limited worldview. The idea of entrepreneurship had always simmered within me. Thus, upon returning from Germany in July 2022 (triggered partly by a minor quarter-life crisis), I took the plunge. Uncertain of the business’s nature, I realized that waiting for a “perfect business plan” would paralyze action. Evaluating my available resources, I leapt into the unknown. The thrill of business inception fascinated me – each day held mystery and uniqueness. From the possibility of significant client acquisitions to grappling with anxiety, each day’s dynamics were unpredictable.
4. Can you share some examples of the types of operations and accounting software Finvoke integrates for its clients and the benefits they experience from this integration?
We at Finvoke really like Xero, which is cloud accounting software. As a base tech stack, we provide our clients with Xero, SimplePay, and Dext which cover the bookkeeping, payroll, and expense-capturing process of basically any small business. They all integrate with one another leading to efficiency through automation, as well as time saved for our business partners. Of course, every client is unique and would require additional software unique to their operations, and we assess that on a case-by-case basis. No matter what kind of software you might need in your business, we always aim for integration and automation creating smooth and streamlined accounting processes.
5. What are 2 of the biggest problems you have had to overcome starting a business and running Finvoke?
Starting the business felt like a cascade of challenges, with two standing out: adapting swiftly to change and shedding concern for others’ opinions. Learning diverse skills to fulfill numerous roles was daunting. As a former Big Four auditor, I transitioned from never selling to becoming a salesperson vital for my company’s survival. The learning curve encompassed content creation, SEO, websites, marketing, and operational management. Overwhelming as it was, this experience brought invaluable knowledge and hands-on expertise, ingraining continuous learning into my personal and professional life.
Overcoming the fear of judgment was another significant feat. Cold calls, seeking advice, networking, and posting on LinkedIn made me uneasy. Yet, I reached a pivotal realization that I was my own barrier. Despite ongoing challenges, I resolved not to let shyness or fear obstruct my business. If failure were to happen, it wouldn’t be due to my hesitations. I aimed to attribute it to external factors beyond my control.
6. What advice would you give to a fellow South African entrepreneur that may be looking to start their own business?
Just start and take action. The time will never be right, and you will never be “ready”. Every day I aim to do three things, I aim to always take action, I aim to choose the arena, and I aim to be consistent. Also, I cannot emphasize this enough, network, network and then network some more. Networking has opened so many doors and has led me to places that I did not even know existed. I attended a Heavy Chef event and the CEO mentioned there that the relentless interaction between entrepreneurs is the strongest predictor of success. And I truly resonate with that. If you are serious about your business, network.
Then of course, and this is my completely unbiased opinion, get a good accountant or advisor as soon as possible. Investing in a good accountant is not an expense—it’s an investment. Their insights resonate beyond numbers, shaping the financial narrative of your business. The right accountant isn’t just a number cruncher; they’re a strategic partner who interprets financial nuances, exposes opportunities, and shields you from pitfalls. When you prioritize partnering with a seasoned accountant, you’re not just spending money; you’re sowing the seeds of financial prosperity and stability for your business’s success.
7. Through working with SME’s what are some of the fundamental problems you see these businesses and founders making?
- Lack of Focus on One Venture: Entrepreneurs frequently stretch themselves thin with multiple ventures, lured by diversification’s promise of swift gains. However, this can dilute efforts and impede progress. Channeling energy and resources into a single venture significantly heightens the prospects of achieving substantial success.
- Lack of Financial Oversight: Startups and SMEs often struggle to understand spending patterns. Detailed financial reports can reveal surprising expenses, prompting corrective actions that enhance cash flow management and profit margins.
- SARS Misconception: Startups and small businesses often wrongly believe they’re too small for taxes. This misconception can be costly. Upon CIPC registration, a tax reference number is assigned, making them liable for at least provisional and corporate income taxes. Delaying tax compliance leads to substantial expenses: compiling years’ data, penalties, and interest payments, further straining fragile cash flows.
- No Financial Process in Place: Relying solely on bank statements is a common oversight. Many lack software for vital reports like profit and loss statements, limiting assessment of profitability. Proper financial processes and tools offer valuable insights for informed decisions.
- Lack of Advisory: Without professional accounting services, SMEs miss unlocking potential. A skilled accountant offers strategic financial planning, tax optimization, and growth strategies. Their guidance is vital for navigating complex financial landscapes and steering SMEs toward sustained success.
8. What are your future plans for Finvoke? Do you have any exciting projects or expansions on the horizon that you can share with our readers?
We have recently done a rebranding from our original name, Thirtyeight Solutions, to something a bit more sexy – Finvoke. Launching our new and improved website is also something that we are very excited about. We are going to start pushing some exciting marketing material and we aim to establish a strong brand within Johannesburg and later South Africa. Our biggest focus is always to keep our customers super happy, however, we are looking at scaling and taking the business to the next level. At Finvoke, we are steadfastly working towards becoming the premier partner for startups and small businesses, contributing to the expansion of the South African economy. Our commitment is to nurture trust, drive empowerment, and facilitate meaningful growth, embodying a brighter future for all
9. Finally, where can people connect with you if they want to learn more about you and Finvoke?
If you would like to check out our website you can head to www.finvoke.co.za
we’eve got a bunch of cool resources you can check out there, alternativly you can check out Finvoke’s linkedIn or my personal linkedIn
If you would like to reach us to find out more you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at +27(0) 84 898 5352.