Supporting Small Business Through Design

  • 2017

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Designed In:


The Cash Flow Management Education Program helps people understand how cash flows in and out of their business.

It is simple and visual, making finances transparent and linking business decisions to action. It builds on trusted relationships with advisors, and can be delivered one to one or one to many.

  • MORE
  • Results from the scaled pilot showed the Program brings structure to discussions about cash flow. The clear, simple and action-oriented content makes informed decision making easier. The visual nature of the Cash Flow Canvas makes it easier to see cash coming in and going out of the business. Small businesses can test real-time decision-making and ask more informed questions, opening up discussions to explore practical action to improve their situation. Mobile Mechanic: 'I have been really struggling financially. I used the Cash Flow Canvas and Change Lever Cards to improve my pricing strategy. I am confident of getting back on track and look forward to talking with my accountant in a few weeks' time.'

  • Research showed businesses found examining their cash flow overwhelming and frightening. The Program meets them where they are, helping them address the most pressing issue they currently face. The Change Lever Cards empowers businesses by providing pathways and different approaches, helping them move beyond their current challenge. The Program is grounded in a robust action-learning methodology, which makes content relevant, engaging and useful. As a result of using the Program in the scaled pilot, small business owners have stated they feel more confident about the future. The Program enabled them to see the state of things clearly, and plan a better future for them, their family and their business.

  • Results from the scaled pilot showed the Action Checklist is a revolutionary tool for business accountability. It helps businesses list their actions and keeps on track with their decisions. Follow up sessions are being booked with their business advisors because businesses are excited to review progress on their personal action plans. After using the Program, small business owners are more goals orientated, hopeful for the future and heading in the right direction with realistic plans for change. Retail business: 'I never have any money left over to pay myself. The session helped to put a better plan in place and I will develop an Action Checklist. I am hopeful the outcome will mean I can make a profit.'

  • The Program can be delivered in either a one to one and one to many interaction and have simple or complex approaches. The tools can be used with clients from all knowledge levels/ background/language levels while still allowing the core knowledge transfer to take place. The modular learning approach enables businesses to learn at their own pace, while learning to view their business as organic, and their cash flow as something that they can change. Tax professional: 'I really like the flexibility of the program. I've been able to effectively tailor it to a client new to business that I had some genuine concerns about financially.'

    User research demonstrated that physical content would meet more user needs as a minimum viable product. However, some users groups strongly favoured a digital solution, and thus future delivery through a digital means was considered in the final design. Tax professional: 'The program is well laid out. It offers so much logic and will benefit my small business clients. So far my more senior small business owners have enjoyed the manual and visual nature of the Cash Flow Canvas. My younger clients have appreciated the educational aspect and would be more inclined to use a digital version if made available in the future.'

    The program was developed in a co-design process with small businesses, tax professionals and business advisors. These stakeholders were crucial, as the success of the Program depends on their support to use it work with their clients. Because of the careful co-design decisions, these stakeholders use the Program to deepen their role as trusted advisors, rather than view it as a threat. Tax professional: 'I have run two group sessions with 14 small businesses - they found the program easy to follow and understand. I'm running follow-up 1 to 1 sessions with several who requested personalised sessions, potentially leading to lasting relationships and a deeper understanding about effective cash flow management.'

    The combination of design principles together with simple, effective design choices, allows the Cash Flow Management Education Program to be a truly innovative product, which is highlighted through the quotes presented throughout this application. Credit must go to ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Anstis who had the vision for a new approach based on research evidence that cash flow awareness needs to be embedded in the natural small business ecosystems and involve their accountants, bookkeepers, advisors or influencers. The success of the Program is due in no small part to the vision and dedication of Karen and her team.