What’s your business called?
Ihelm Enterprises Limited
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I offer bookkeeping, payroll, website hosting, website maintenance and bespoke programming.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
May 2004 – I actually started it as the company I was working for tried to make me feel guilty for having an incurable medical condition. My condition had come out of remission and I had to attend a lot of hospital appointments, and a couple of times had been admitted to hospital. They made me feel guilty for not being in work. I decided that no one should be made to feel guilty for something that they had no control over, so I resigned after my boss gave me no other choice, and started my own company that same day.
How did you fund your start up?
How do you manage working around your children?
At first it was difficult – I had been running the business for 3.5 years before our daughter came along. I took 6 weeks maternity leave (which I regret – I wish I had taken longer) but I still worked my day around our daughter. It meant a lot of working in the evenings or when she was sleeping. After awhile she started to go to nursery – just for half a day to start with, and that eventually progressed in her going to nursery full time. I would work while she was at nursery and then could relax in the evenings. Once she started school it became a bit more interesting as my working day changed in the length of time I had, and I then had school holidays to deal with. I try to fit as much into the school day as possible so that I don’t need to work evenings. During school holidays, we still put our daughter into holiday clubs (different ones) so I work on those days, and then the days she is at home with me or we have other plans, I try to catch up in the evening. I’m always available via e-mail though if any of my clients have an emergency. I’ve been known to catch up on e-mails while at the local soft play centre.
Can you describe a typical day?
I deal with e-mails that have come in the night before, as well as throughout the day. I respond to any tickets on the dedicated help desk. On any given day I might be setting up a new hosting account for someone, or doing work on their website (software updates, updates the client wishes me to make), or I could be going through a client’s invoices/receipts and entering those into whichever bookkeeping software I am using for them. At the end of the month, there are payroll runs to do (calculating payroll figures for payroll clients and submitting that information to HMRC), or there might be VAT returns, or even completing bank reconciliations and aged debtor reports for clients. Once a week I also spend time getting my own accounts up to date and sending out statement reminders, or issuing invoices for work that has been done.
What have you found hardest?
Getting new clients and marketing the business
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Even though I run my business as a Limited Company, there is just only me. I think the best thing is the flexibility. I’m able to go to school functions, or have a brew and a chat with friends, or go to hospital appointments, as long as I meet all client deadlines.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to grow the business so that I have a regular client that I do work for every single day. I would then be able to take a salary increase, and even take on staff.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Be strict about your working hours and don’t fall into the habit of replying to client e-mails late at night, as otherwise they will think that you are available 24/7.