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Adapt and evolve: FireCask’s pandemic-proof business recipe

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Flaka Jasari

May 25, 2021

Alex and Anna Moss launched FireCask, an online niche marketing and web design agency, from their kitchen table in Manchester. They were able to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a successful opportunity, taking their business from strength to strength. Simply put, they were doing well prior to the pandemic and have performed better since. At Xero, we thrive on positive thinking and sharing beautiful, inspiring stories, so we sat down with Alex to hear theirs. 

Impact of lockdown on business operations, marketing, and client experience

“With our current team of 12, we service clients from small businesses to global brands in all kinds of verticals,” says Alex. “Because we kept a close watch on what was happening in other countries, we started preparing a week earlier. So, by the time lockdown hit England, we were effectively already a remote working team. Fortunately, operations transitioned extremely quickly and smoothly, and FireCask’s business wasn’t really affected as a result.”

Managing finances in a time of crisis

Alex encourages small businesses to bring an accountant on board as soon as possible, if not immediately. ”If you’re a business owner that spends too much time on admin, you’re not alone. I remember spending every weekend doing our financial admin, like paying bills, chasing invoices, and checking bank accounts. Stop wasting your time doing this. The reconciliation feature of Xero alone has all the ROI you need to ensure your finances are up to date and organised,” Alex urges.

FireCask’s business model means that they don’t have to rely too much on connected apps, although they’ve benefitted from offering card payments. “We’ve noticed that many of our Xero-subscribed clients are integrating card payments into third-party apps such as payment processors like GoCardless,” says Alex.

Future-proofing your business

Alex believes planning for the future can be difficult if you’re not flexible. “Things change all the time, and if you’re not willing to adapt and evolve, you might run into trouble. Always keep an eye out for new opportunities. As the company owners, we’re training and working with two members of our team to make them a more integral part of the day-to-day running of the agency. We want them to take on more responsibility to free up some of our time so that we can focus on other growth opportunities.”

Alex and Anna are in the process of launching other businesses. These include Millie & Henry – designing bags for people who enjoy walking their dog; an interiors company called Mila Maven; and NFTU – a new brand in the crypto art space.

Three tips for building an online presence

Alex shares his three top tips for companies looking to do business digitally:

  1. Grow naturally. Growing too quickly can be a mistake that’s all too easy to make. When you have a rush of new business, it’s very tempting to move into a plush office and hire a load of people. However, you need to take stock and assess what would happen if cash flow suddenly became an issue, irrespective of a positive outlook.
  2. Know your areas of expertise. Decide upfront what you want to specialise in – don’t be a jack of all trades and master of none. There are plenty of people out there whom you can collaborate with to pick up the work that you can’t do and vice versa. It can help create a mutually rewarding synergy between you and other companies or individuals. Building a solid reputation not only with clients, but also with your peers, is essential for both the short and long term.
  3. Respect your team. Your team are the most important people in your company, and we firmly believe everyone should be treated equally. We have regularly updated progression for all staff members, and we ask them what they want to achieve and how they want to progress. We do everything possible to make this happen. Where possible, we promote from within and nurture staff into management positions if it is something they want. 

Our dedicated business recovery site has resources, webinars, and more inspirational stories to help your company emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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