CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nicholas Beames, Co-Founder & CEO at Rounded App

Nick Beames is the Co-founder & CEO of Rounded, the all-in-one accounting app designed to empower Australian freelancers and sole traders to run more efficient and profitable businesses.

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1) To kick things off, please tell us a little about your career background and current role.

In 2006 I founded Australia’s best-in-class fintech payroll and billing SaaS app, Astute Payroll. Over ten years, we grew it into a public company called Astute One Limited. In 2019 it was wholly acquired by listed company PayGroup Limited (ASX: PYG), and in June 2022, the company was wholly acquired by US-based $5.5B Deel Inc. for $112M.

After exiting, I went full circle back to startup land, where my entrepreneurial career began. I am driven by a desire to create technologies that help professionals in the gig, freelance, and sole trader economies get the work they want and manage the work they get.

As CEO and Co-founder of Rounded, I get to help our customers manage their accounting in a super-easy way. In a few short years, we have scaled Rounded into a highly trusted app with users in many sectors across Australia.

I have studied Commerce and have an MBA. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Rounded has grown a remote workforce, with team members in many countries, including Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, France, Serbia, the USA, and Mexico. 

Working across so many time zones means no two days are the same. However, I keep as much structure in my week as possible by operating from our only actual office in Melbourne. When I need to be available outside daylight hours, I work from home. I focus on overseeing the business from a high level and deep-dive into areas of focus when needed. 

I work closely with my fellow co-founders, our COO, Oliver Garside, and Chief Product Officer, Grant McCall. I also spend considerable time with our CFO, Trevor Cairney, and our CMO, Michelle Teo.

I’m constantly reviewing and updating our financial, cashflows, and SaaS unit economics models; and looking for ways to improve them and ensure the wider team gets the communications they need to do their roles remotely. 

3) What does work-life balance mean to you, and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I don’t believe in work-life balance, full stop. I believe in building a life where I don’t need to escape or balance my work with my family/personal life. Sometimes it’s full-on work, and sometimes it’s more focused on my family. 

I understand everyone is different, but over 25 years of being an entrepreneur building a sense of ‘harmony’ and nor ‘balance’ between work and life is what has worked for me (and my family). 

I remember arriving in Fiji with my wife and three tiny boys/babies. We checked in for a two-week break, and the minute I turned on my phone, I opened an email that gave us 5-days to submit a tender for a massive enterprise software deal.

At the time, Astute Payroll was small, and I was in charge of enterprise sales. So I spent the next five days on the laptop doing what had to be done. We won the tender, and I got a suntan writing it, so it wasn’t all bad, but that’s where harmony comes into play. I, and with my wife’s support, couldn’t have done that unless I loved what I did. 

I never want to ‘escape’ work; I harmonise it with life and vice versa.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I worked from home for two years due to COVID lockdowns and found that messed up my routine, particularly whilst home-schooling three kids. This year, life has come back to normal in Melbourne, Australia, and in most locations where the Rounded team operates. I’m back to more structure again and getting rid of a few COVID lockdown habits, like chocolate! 

I meditate as much as I can, but I haven’t mastered it (I don’t think I ever will), and I like to get out for even a short walk to recharge on fresh air. I also read more fiction at night and want to be in bed early on ‘school nights’ to get a proper 8 hours of sleep.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I read a lot and like to alternate between fiction and biographies of business entrepreneurs. When it comes to fiction, the more outlandish, the better, and my favourite type of entrepreneur to read about is the brash and ballsy types that dare to do incredible things even if they fail. I’ve never been a podcast listener (for no reason) and have a very light social media footprint. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Ray Dalio. He is widely respected and credited with delving into work-life balance or harmony, and I resonated with his book Principles

In it, he talks about figuring out how to manage your work-life balance, realising that as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to ‘be in charge’ as your business grows when you can create a system and use it to delegate, and how to find the right people to bring into the fold so you can delegate.

I strive to follow Ray’s principles and recommend that all entrepreneurs read and follow Ray Dalio.

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Again, I don’t believe in work-life balance and in building a life where I need to ‘escape’ my work. I try my best to harmonise the two. I know it sounds like a clique, but if I follow Ray Dalio’s principle and constantly strive for a harmonious relationship between ‘work’ and ‘life’, then I am on track to reaching my life goals – and keeping my sanity!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.