The beginning of Dardee & my journey into the Cloud

I look back to my days of working in accounting practices and it seems so long ago. I left school and went straight into working in an accounting firm while doing my degree. I changed firms a few times but was always in smaller firms. I then did the CPA program. It was the last 4 years that really turned me off public practice. I had always wanted to be a partner of my own firm and it was high on the priority list at that stage. I was being told by my employer that it was definitely happening but they just needed to get a few things sorted. This lasted for 4 years. I should have left a lot earlier but that carrot seemed to be dangling in my face all the time. At one stage I was offered a position with another firm with the idea I would buy in after a short period of time. But when I went to resign I was told that I would be partner…don’t go…so I stayed. A mistake in hindsight. I ended up leaving a while later and went to another firm that didn’t work out at all. Sometimes the grass is not always greener.

That left me out in the wilderness and not knowing what to do. I had become disenchanted with the tax side of accounting so decided I would try the commercial side. I took a job working for a battery business and was there for 5 years. It was great, and I learned a lot “being on the other side”. No longer was I working with the financials that had already been prepared by someone else. I was the one preparing them for someone else. After 5 years I decided I needed to chase my real passion. And that is to work with small business. I picked up a few small clients but the real break came when I was contracted to totally reorganise a group of companies who had their accounting systems in an absolute mess. I spent 9 months sorting out multiple years of financials and implementing new systems. I did it so well I did myself out of a job in December 2009.

So 2010 saw the beginning of Dardee as you see it today. I had been wrestling with MYOB during the 9 month contract I was doing. It was an ordeal to use it. It was a large file and it was on terminal services. If you wanted a report it was start it, go get a cup of coffee, and it might be finished by the time you get back. But, it was better than the previous system they had been using. That didn’t even balance and the software company couldn’t tell us why. So I was looking around for alternatives, and I came across a web accounting system called Xero. I did some research, signed up as a partner and did the accreditation as a Certified Partner. This was the defining moment. My journey into the Cloud had begun.

Soon after I started using Workflowmax for my job management and time billing. I needed a program that would allow me to grow and manage staff from anywhere. It was also essential that it integrated with Xero. Now we have team members who all work from home or onsite at clients. I jumped onto Skype and started using it for training and conversing with clients. I moved all my mail to Google Apps. A client was using Dropbox for file sharing and suggested that I should look at it for my own business. I quickly saw the benefits there and have adopted it as the Dardee server. Not long after I started using Paycycle for those clients requiring a cloud payroll program.

Being in the Cloud has been a major part of the business and Xero has been a huge driver of that. Since I joined up I have always felt like part of the team. The team is forever growing but I still feel part of it. At Xerocon last month I networked with a lot of people who are passionate about the same things; Xero, the cloud, efficiency and striving to rewrite the way the accounting world operates. I came away with a number of new initiatives and ideas about what I can do for my clients and how I can improve my own business. It was unlike any other conference I have ever been to and was indicative of the Xero brand: pushing the envelope and rewriting the rules on how things should be done.

Xero and the cloud has changed my working life. I am now the owner of a good business with a team of skilled bookkeepers. I wanted to be a business owner. It seems I was not destined to be a partner in an accounting firm. I have found my true passion and it is amazing.

We have many things on the horizon so stay tuned.

  • Jake Thomas

    Very interesting story Darren! As I’m one of your clients that has benefited from your move to the cloud, I’m very happy you found Xero and then subsequently introduced it to me =)

  • Anonymous

    Great work Darren! Glad we could be part of the journey.

  • Darren McMahon

    It is always a pleasure Jake.

    And thanks to the entire Paycycle team for having such a great payroll product. It has come a long way since the first time I met you last year at Parramatta when I hadn’t even heard of it.