This is part one of a two-part blog series written by Cicih Setiawati of BukuBuku, Xero’s Gold Partner in Indonesia. In this instalment, Cicih discusses her inspiring journey from the beautiful shores of Bali to Australia and back again, and the launch of BukuBuku.
Originally from Bali, my career as a bookkeeper began in Melbourne in 2008. At the time I held a Certificate in Secretarial Studies but had received little formal training in accounting. I knew I wanted to be a bookkeeper, so I knuckled down and developed the skills and credentials I needed.
With some hard work and determination, I established myself as a private consultant to a number of businesses in Melbourne. When I discovered Xero in 2014, I migrated my first accounts over and haven’t looked back since!
The beginning of a new phase
When I moved back to Bali, I noticed a huge lag in Indonesian companies adopting accounting technology, and the problems that arose as a result. For starters, many small businesses still relied on desktop-bound multiple ledgers to keep track of their cash flow. This meant that at any one time there were multiple sources of data. It also didn’t help that hard copy billing and receipts were still the preferred way of collecting and acknowledging payments in Indonesia. This allowed fraud to take place — and it was not uncommon for middlemen to mark up receipts for their own personal gain.
I made it my mission to use my experience with Xero to change the way Indonesians managed accounting processes.
I founded BukuBuku in 2015, and we were one of Xero’s first Partners in Indonesia. At the time, there wasn’t really anyone providing the same service. We used Google AdWords to build awareness and acquire our first customers, and the response was immediate and significant.
Our first customers were Bali-based expat business owners who were already using Xero’s platform or knew about it. News that BukuBuku was a Xero-certified advisor travelled quickly, and we soon carved a niche with expat-run businesses in Bali.
Our work varied. On one occasion BukuBuku identified a massive leakage in one of our client accounts and helped the firm restore a profit. With some other clients we provided counsel on issues such as developing and resourcing standard processes to manage cash flow. More and more cases like this helped grow our reputation as an effective and reliable accounting partner in the market.
Keeping BukuBuku in cloud means Cicih can work remotely. Every Friday, she enjoys working at the beach and watching the sunset.
Beyond beautiful Bali
Expanding beyond the shores of Bali was a logical next step for our business. However, we had to get right. It was essential that our processes and procedures were thoroughly embedded in all of our day-to-day activity before we started the challenging task of taking on new territories. We also wanted to make sure we had a firm footing in our home market.
We started offering wholly-outsourced bookkeeping services for overseas accounting firms looking to take advantage of the low rates we were able to offer in Indonesia. This propelled us to servicing over 120 customers and meant growing our business to a team of 12.
Hiring for a start-up business was not easy; our first hire disappeared after just a few days with no explanation! We were therefore very fortunate to find our first recruits Yuli and Agus who are still with us today.
Once we were confident of our strong foundations and business base, we took the plunge and hired two Senior Accountants in Jakarta to grow that market.
Today we’re proud to say we have Gold Champion Partner status with Xero. BukuBuku has a team of 14 across Bali, Jakarta, and Surabaya with our sights set on further expansion. It’s been an amazing journey so far, but it feels like we’re just beginning!
Stay tuned for Cicih’s next blog ‘How to Market Your Practice Using Google AdWords’ for tried and tested tips by BukuBuku.