Business Focus, Strength and Determination - Fabiana's Story

Fabiana Silva grew up in a coastal city called Santos near Sao Paulo in Brazil.

After leaving high school, she attended the local University and studied for a Bachelor of Business Administration and Finance. During her degree, she realised she had a real flair for numbers, and took a traineeship with the National Bank which set her on a path of working in finance. She continued to work for the Bank while finishing her degree, and gained valuable experience in the Banking and Finance industry.

She soon moved into a management position with a Strata company and managed several teams within it. These teams included the building and maintenance team, the payroll and finance team, the office support team and the leasing team. She also oversaw the bookkeeping, payroll, budgets and forecasting for the business. This really cemented her love of numbers and she further steered towards accounting in her career.

In her next career move she became a Finance Manager of a Logistics company that imported fabrics from China and the USA. She was in charge of the accounting for the company and the accounting team. Part of her role involved dealing with people in the USA but she really struggled understanding them due to English being her second language. The company provided her with English lessons which she greatly appreciated, and she looks back fondly on this role and the management team who were extremely supportive to her and her goals. Sadly, four years after she started working there, the company began to struggle with the competition in the market – especially the direct imports to the USA from China, which meant they were completely cut out of the deal.

Fabiana had always wanted to learn English, and one of the reasons why was so that she could travel or work abroad and gain experience in an English-speaking country. When she was made redundant due to the shipping company closing down, she found herself with a redundancy package. Fabiana knew it was now or never – she could use the funds to travel, or put them into a savings account and look for another job. She chose the former and started talking with friends about where they could go. Her colleague at the Logistics company had decided on travelling to Australia, so Fabiana decided to join her.

At the last minute, her colleague pulled out of their travel plans, but Fabiana was determined to travel to Australia anyway – she wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass her by.

Fabiana arrived in Australia in 2004 without knowing a single soul, but felt empowered to learn English – because at this point, she could barely speak the language. Fabiana insists she struggled for the first 2 years of living here due to the slang and various accents of people she encountered. Fabiana could work only 20 hours per week as international student, so during her course she worked as a cleaner, waitress, warehouse person and nanny. These jobs covered her expenses while she studied and tried to find a sponsorship in her field.

As well as her English classes, she also enrolled in a Diploma of Business and Frontline Management course. Her intention was to study for 6 months and then go back to Brazil, but she soon realised 6 months wasn’t enough time to fully learn English, so she decided to stay and continue to study.

After she finished her course in 2006, Fabiana was about to return to Brazil but found work in a lovely family run IT company that offered her sponsorship as Office Manager/Bookkeeper. She decided to stay and this is where she learned to use MYOB.

At this time, Fabiana was struggling to find her place in Australia and was feeling homesick, but despite this she didn't leave, knowing deep down that Australia could offer her a better life and opportunities. Fabiana knew that she would have to work hard, but she was determined to overcome all the difficulties life was going to throw at her.

Then tragedy struck. In 2009, Fabiana’s brother suddenly passed away in Brazil. She was devastated. After feeling down and out for some time, some of Fabiana’s friends convinced her to meet her for drinks in the city. Reluctant, Fabiana decided to go, but on her way to the train station she was hit by a car.

Fabiana woke up in hospital with a broken shoulder, nose and several ongoing injuries. She had to have an operation to repair her shoulder, and during this time struggled to pay her rent due to not being able to work. She found herself couch surfing with some supportive friends while trying to recover from her serious accident.

There was a silver lining on the horizon and at the end of 2009, Fabiana was granted Australian Permanent Residency. She was finally back on track and things started to look up. She married, and found an Office Manager / Bookkeeping job with a mining company whose offices were in the Sydney CBD. This company had a subsidiary in Brazil and Fabiana travelled back there to implement their accounting system. Fabiana worked in this company for 3 years until her son was born and it was always her intention to return to her job after being on maternity leave for a year.

12 months later, her plans were dashed as Fabiana divorced her husband and became a single mother without any family support in Australia.

She worked for several companies in temporary jobs, and like many single mothers, struggled to find a job that she enjoyed with the flexibility she needed to manage her work and personal life.

Although she continued to work, she found it a challenge due to her son needing her support with the usual viruses’ children catch. With having no family to help support her - when caring for her son interfered with her work hours she became worried about the effects it was having on her job. Not wanting to frequently ask for flexibility that other colleagues didn’t have, she started to think about working for herself. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate.

Through these tough times, Fabiana never stopped with her thirst for knowledge. She kept her skills up to date (and still does) with small courses, and making sure she knew the latest software thoroughly (Xero, Quickbooks, MYOB etc). She even enrolled and studied online to get her Certificate IV in Accounting – all while juggling part-time jobs and being a single mother.

As time passed and with fewer and fewer options in terms of working and having the flexibility she needed, Fabiana decided it was time to take the leap and start her own business. Focus Bookkeeping was born!

Since then, Fabiana has landed some loyal clients who appreciate her high level of expertise, honesty and integrity. One thing Australian’s may not know is that being a qualified Bookkeeper in Brazil requires the same training as an Australian Accountant, so her clients are getting fantastic value for money.

Fabiana is an expert in using Xero, Quickbooks and MYOB software, and can provide practical advice and training in all of these systems. She can also can rescue messy accounts, setup new ones, and prepare financial statements as well as daily bookkeeping.

If you’re thinking of hiring a bookkeeper, then get in touch with Fabiana at – she’d love to hear from you.

Learn more about Focus Bookkeeping by clicking here.


Did you know?

Business owners on average, waste 6 – 10 hours each week conducting bookkeeping tasks, and their accountants waste many more hours each year fixing up their mistakes.Therefore, hiring a trusted and knowledgeable bookkeeper will save you time and money, and allow you to focus on revenue generating tasks rather than data entry. What would 6 - 10 hours per week of billable hours mean to your business? Even if you paid a bookkeeper for a couple of hours each week, you’d still be making money!