#FuelSmallBizAu: Nigel Bowen, the Content Sherpa

As small companies grow beyond their humble origins, they often need tools at their disposal that will help them adapt and flourish as they mature. Here, Nigel Bowen, aka the Content Sherpa, explains why Intuit’s QuickBooks Online has been the first mate to his ship’s captain on his small business voyage.

Nigel Bowen is the man behind Content Sherpa, a Sydney-based content-production company. Bowen comes from a journalism background, but because of the recent disruption in the media, he set up his own business about four years ago, producing content for other clients including content marketing agencies, universities, other SMEs and government departments.


For Bowen, being a small business owner is all about the autonomy. “I probably should’ve realised earlier in my career that I like being the captain of my own ship,” he says. “And although I can do it – and have done it – I don’t really like being involved in an office hierarchy, having to deal with office politics, being at one place from nine to five and doing things the way people tell me to do them. In that sense, I find the freedom of being a small business owner quite intoxicating.”

And for a while at Content Sherpa, Bowen was indeed both captain and crew of his ship. “In the early days, it wasn’t too much of a challenge to stay on top of the bookkeeping side of things.”

But as his business grew so too did his need for proper bookkeeping software. Now, as a small business with money both coming in and going out – with contractors to pay and clients to invoice – it was time to take things up a notch. “One of the first hires I made was a bookkeeper. Initially, he got me on to Xero, but with further investigation and trialling, he concluded that QuickBooks Online was the better system to work with, so I made the switch a couple of years ago.”

With a lot more to keep track of, Bowen wanted a solution that presented both well-organised and readily available information. Among its benefits, what stands out for him is QuickBooks Online’s user-friendliness. “I find the interfaces and displays much more intuitive and the overall user experience better and more enjoyable.”

Feature favourites

Bowen’s standout user-friendly features include:

  • Overdue invoices that display within a red bar: “When I see that, I can chase those people up, which helps reduce any cash-flow problems”
  • A reports section that identifies profit and loss: This section divides your income into quarters, so you can see how you’re tracking against previous quarters – and whether your business is going up or down
  • The company snapshot that lets you find out, at any given time, your financial position
  • The ability to save customer contact details and have them promptly on hand
  • The fact that QuickBooks Online links with your bank account, so at any time you know how much money you have available

“I access QuickBooks Online mostly from my desktop computer, and I’m probably on it two or three times a week, primarily sending out invoices and checking on my overall financial situation.”

Challenges and results

One of Bowen’s challenges, which many business owners face, is not having enough time in the day. “They say you should try to automate your business processes as much as possible. QuickBooks Online has helped me do that. It efficiently organises your bookkeeping, freeing up your time for more important tasks.”

On the one hand, Bowen says his QuickBooks Online fee is rolled into his bookkeeper’s fee, so he’s probably less conscious of it. “On the other hand, because it makes my bookkeeper’s job less time-consuming and more efficient, this results in cost savings for me.”

Given his own experience, Bowen is quick to recommend QuickBooks Online to other small businesses. “It is user-friendly and time-efficient. Just looking at the homepage, you can get a lot of business data and a very clear view of your financial situation in a matter of seconds.”