Ethne was so determined to become self employed that she decided to juggle starting up her accountancy business along with looking after a newborn.
Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
I’m Ethne, long suffering girlfriend of Neil; not quite so long suffering mum of Erin who is nearly 3
What’s your accountancy business called?
Wood Street Books
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Accountancy, Taxation & Consultancy
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I disliked my job intensely and had long had the desire to become self employed. I had a miscarriage in March 2013 which made me reassess my work/life priorities and I promptly handed in my notice at work. Fast forward 12 months and I had finally completed my long overdue accountancy qualifications and done all the leg work involved in becoming a self employed accountant just in time for Erin’s arrival. Then there was only the small matter of managing a start up as well as a new born baby!
How did you fund your accountancy business start up?
There wasn’t much outlay required; laptop and some software, plus AAT registration fees and insurance etc. Most of my start up capital came from a tax refund I received after leaving my job.
How do you manage working around your children?
At times working from home is the perfect solution; but when it’s not working it’s literally impossible to get anything done. I am very lucky to have help from Erin’s grandparents and she also goes to a local playgroup a couple of times a week which gives a bit of time to work so I’m not always doing late nights or weekends and compromising our family time together. But the minute something like illness strikes all of that goes out of the window: you’re saddled with the usual rigours of looking after a poorly toddler but with deadlines and client meetings mounting up. That’s when life gets really tough as a sole trader.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
One favourable aspect of an accountancy business is that you pretty well know your work flow 12 months in advance. Everything I do is on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual cycle meaning I can generally plan my daily and weekly tasks around my domestic responsibilities. Most days see me in contact with clients over email, doing a bit of business admin and research or marketing. At the moment I have one full day (child and grandparent pending) to work from home and that’s when I do the bulk of the bookkeeping and accountancy I have scheduled for the week. I have a couple of weeknights allocated for work but I try to avoid working very late or at weekends as much as I can but sometimes needs must! This January all of my good intentions have gone out of the window as this year’s self assessment season has been non stop.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
Making money has been my biggest challenge as well as the ultimate goal. 9 months after Erin & Wood Street Books were born I was in a very precarious position financially. I was on the brink of giving up and going back to employment and a reliable wage when the perfect opportunity presented itself, while I was searching for jobs!
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
The flexibility to arrange my work life around my family and not the other way around.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue with steady growth for the next financial year or two then make an investment in a serious marketing strategy to expand the business and maybe take on an apprentice or find another mum in a similar position to work with me. And have another baby if we can!
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Start small and do absolutely the best job you can; 90% of my clients so far have come from referrals. If you are doing a good job your work will speak for itself. The rest of my income comes from opportunities I’ve found via conventional job searches. The employment market is changing rapidly and freelance and self employed opportunities are being created thick and fast so don’t rule anything out.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I wouldn’t have had the freedom or confidence to start my own business without the support of my partner, and I’m extremely grateful to him for being behind me 100%. Thank you Neil xxx