GET TIME BACK – the playbook enabling SMEs to thrive

One of our most valuable assets is time, and when you’re an SME, the luxury of time can seem like a rare commodity – and it can feel even more so when you’re a female at the helm.

Statistically, women are half as likely to start a business than men through fear of failure. When asked what would encourage females into business, the need for more role models in the media, more mentors, more business startup courses, and better access to finance were the top four replies.

Startups Magazine’s Sheryl Miles caught up with Mark Hartley, CEO and Founder of BankiFi, to talk about the challenges that small businesses face, and to shout, rant, and rave about the new ‘GET TIME BACK’ playbook – aimed at helping SMEs, specifically females, to manage their time more effectively – created in collaboration with founding sisters, Laura and Holly, of Financielle.

The journey to the playbook

Mark has a background in fintech, with over three decades dedicated to both the cash management and then payments services, and he saw how it was the smaller companies, the backbone of industry, that were the ones who were usually the most overlooked. As a result, they were often the most vulnerable, with many of them not getting paid on time and would subsequently go out of business. So, he decided to combine his years of fintech experience in selling software to financial institutions to create something that could actually help SMEs to thrive.

“BankiFi focus very specifically on helping small businesses – from zero to 200 employees – and we try to help banks realise the challenges that those small businesses face. We solve those problems [of getting paid on time and managing time effectively] with technology … because unfortunately, a lot of small businesses go out of business, not because they don’t have a viable product or a solution, but because they find it difficult to collect money from their own customers.

“SMEs, especially the smaller end [like sole traders], don’t have employees in the business so they end up doing absolutely everything themselves, and to them, time is money – so anything we can do with technology to help them get paid is really important.”

It was on this point of time that Mark, Laura, and Holly agreed that there was something that needed to be done.

By combining Mark’s expertise of fintech with Laura and Holly’s knowledge of creating playbooks for their female cohort, they created the ‘GET TIME BACK’ Playbook, designed to help SMEs, especially those that are led by females, manage their time more effectively, thus allowing them to concentrate on running their business, and giving them the opportunity to take back control.

The idea

Mark, Laura, and Holly realised that with their combined expertise, they had an opportunity to do something good for the SME community, so they began to talk about how they could combine their knowledge to help people in a way that mattered.

“If you’re a woman [it’s hard], and if you’re a woman in the North of England, it makes it twice as hard … I mentor women through open banking ... I’ve been surrounded by very capable women all my life, so [helping women] is something I feel very strongly about. It’s wrong that the opportunities aren’t there, and it’s hard to find that time element, especially when … women can still be expected to run their business and do the home jobs.”

The trio quickly realised that by applying the concept of a playbook but refocussing the attention on small businesses run by female entrepreneurs, they had the potential to help save businesses time and subsequently money.

The playbook

Laura and Holly combined their own experiences of running a small business, and Mark talked to his BankiFi customers, after which they set about writing what would become 15 strategies on the best way for an SME to utilise their time, which Mark points out “is a really precious commodity … because the thing about being a small business owner is time can run away with you.

“The idea [of the playbook] is to support business owners to utilise strategies and tools to manage their time effectively, then they can focus on those areas that are really important – like selling their product or service.  Tasks such as chasing money are not a great use of time when there are tools that can help you do this more effectively."

The ‘GET TIME BACK’ playbook has 15 easily-digestible tools and strategies from automating tasks, to using technology, blocking time, and looking after your health and wellbeing – something that can be overlooked when you’re a business owner. The layout is simple, and reading it isn’t time consuming, and you can simply pick up on the points that resonate the most with you and dip in and out as you need to.


“We set ourselves the task that by the end of 2025 we wanted to help 2 million businesses globally – we operate in the UK, US, Australia, and New Zealand – and if something like the playbook could make sure that a significant proportion of those businesses that we help are founded and run by female entrepreneurs, that would be a great thing.”

Mark believes that if people read the playbook and can see the problems they face on a daily basis reflected in its words, and they realise they’re not alone and their problems aren’t a barrier, but rather something that has been, and continues to be, felt and experienced by many people, it will give them the strength, support, and encouragement they need to carry on.

“[In future] We could do things the other side of it, put support groups together … perhaps have a forum for people to share common problems. We’ve all been through that period where you look for sounding boards. groups are communities, which is exactly what Financielle do – build communities of likeminded people who face the same challenges. If you’ve got a problem, you can find someone who’s got an answer.”

Being at the helm of a business, no matter who you are, is hard work. And whilst the playbook can’t run your business for you, it can give you the tools you need to succeed.

To view the playbook, click here: GET TIME BACK.