Spend to Survive Video: Founder of Ask The Boss

Heather Darnell

Heather is the Founder of Ask The Boss. Ask The Boss provides business services to small businesses in London, including bookkeeping, management accounts, financial strategy, and other business analysis.


At Ask the Boss, managing company spend during a crisis is about keeping a tight grip on spending and facilitating client payments. Find out how Heather’s role changed and what she’s prioritised since lockdown began.


Limited travel, limited costs

Ask the Boss saw a few big changes in their adaptation to COVID-19. Categories such as travel and entertainment – which were generally off-limits in the pandemic – and consequently subsistence spending, were completely eliminated.

They also saw a big reduction in office supply costs, as predicted. But besides that, none of their other costs were impacted.

Teach and inspire

As founder (and boss) of Ask the Boss, Heather’s role shifted since lockdown began. She became less of a manager of people, and more of a teacher, focusing on sharing information and experiences with her team.

For unity and transparency’s sake, she has a daily Zoom call with the whole Ask the Boss team in which she shares everything she’s been involved with regarding clients in the past 24 hours.

Control employee spending

There are very few areas in which Ask the Boss could implement Zero Based Budgeting, so they decided not to. Heather broke down their spending as being 80% on people, 11% on premises, 5% on software, and 2% on everything else, from professional services to travel.

In the team of 14 people, only four are authorised to spend company money. And those that are, have preset limits on their Soldo cards, keeping them from overspending. With this type of control in place, they haven’t needed to reduce employee spend. And keeping a tight grip on spending has certainly helped them to keep going.

Keep your clients in check

The pandemic brought on the need for Heather to keep a closer eye on two specific metrics.

The first is the percentage of their client base that pays them via automated payment systems. These are the clients they don’t need to worry about missing or forgetting payments, which avoids the undesired chasing scenario.

The second metric is the number of sales which are paid on retainer or in advance, meaning the clients that will pay them before their work is complete. When you’re in survival mode, you take all the help you get – as soon as possible.