Courtney Milne was a new mother when she discovered her baby, Taylor, had a medical condition which required repeat surgeries. Working at an accounting firm, she asked for an extension of her maternity leave, without pay, and was instead made redundant. With her husband leaving the army and financial uncertainty looming. Courtney had to make some drastic changes.
Without the emotional energy to care for her unwell baby and simultaneously fight against the retrenchment, she talked with friends who were in the startup ecosystem in Canberra, who asked her to come and help them set up their payroll. Others who needed bookkeeping services also asked her to do their books.
“The financial stress was horrible,” says Courtney. “I’d been studying my degree at uni and I was only halfway through. I had a few friends who worked in startups in and around Canberra – a couple were mums themselves. They asked for help setting up bookkeeping, and a lot of real estate agents I knew needed help with their trust accounts. I could do a couple of hours here and there, and have my baby with me.”
Using her daughter, Taylor, as inspiration, Courtney soon formalised her activity into a business called Completely Taylored – truly a business that was born out of necessity.
The business offers accounting, payroll, administrative work and real estate trust account management, as well as all facets of bookkeeping such as payroll, BAS preparation and taxation services from data entry to lodgement. But its specialty is trust accounting and childcare centre bookkeeping with specialised systems.
“We found there was a need for an onshore outsourced solution that provided flexibility and accessibility,” says Courtney. “I was able to pass on the savings to my clients as I was paying minimal overheads and on-costs.
“I got busier and eventually Taylor was able to go to daycare, and I needed to go back to studying.
“I was contracting to five different businesses, and when I was pregnant with Duke, I didn’t want to give up working so I pitched the idea to a few clients and I started to see there are plenty of people in the same boat but nobody will give them an opportunity. They had these amazing skill sets but for one reason or another they weren’t provided the platform to utilise them so I created one.
“I put out the feelers and found a girl I used to work with who had a baby and amazing skills, and I employed her on the same work-from-home basis. Not only were we providing an outsourced solution for people, but we were saving money on overheads.”
Since then, Courtney has had two more children, and Taylor, her eldest, is now six years old. The need for others to work in the same flexible manner is obvious to her. She knows there are many other skilled workers in the same situation. She now employs eight people and the business is humming.
Working from home became much more possible for everyone during COVID-19, and while it appeals to some, it does not appeal to others. But for those who need workplace flexibility such as home-based work, whether for parenting reasons or for those people with conditions such as chronic fatigue or a disability, Courtney says Completely Taylored is an example of how an employer can embrace full workplace flexibility, enabling people to complete their work at their own pace.
“Everybody I employ has the skills, they just need the flexibility,” she says. “They might work at night, for example, work in the middle of the night, but they still get the work done. We tailor the service to whatever the client wants and needs. And we’re hoping to expand and grow and be able to bring more people onboard who fit this working model.”
For more information, head to Completely Taylored.
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