Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
I am Gemma and I am Mum to two boys aged 7 and 4. I unexpectedly became a Mum at 20 but was incredibly excited nonetheless and felt secure in my job having qualified AAT (NVQ Level 4 in Accounting). Me and my husband are childhood sweethearts and we’ve been married for 6 years.
What’s your business called?
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Providing a friendly and dedicated accountancy solution to individuals and businesses at competitive rates.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I opened my practice in April of this year. I have been inspired by many, but mostly my Dad who started his own small business some 10 years ago and I have watched his quality of life and happiness grow.
How did you fund your start up?
Luckily my business required very little more than a laptop to get started! I started work at home but it quickly became clear that I am more efficient working away from home so after gaining my first few clients (and fee income) I visited a recycling charity who cleared offices, canteens and schools etc. and was able to find all of the office equipment I needed to open a small office, at a fraction of the price of buying new. Having a presence on the highstreet attracted more clients and I have been able to fund software upgrades etc. from internally generated fee income.
How do you manage working around your children?
I have always been the breadwinner and have always worked full time. I still work full-time, but I was able to take my youngest in to the office with me on days that he wasn’t at pre-school meaning I was spending more time with him than I ever had before.
He has since started school and I have educated my clients to call ahead to make sure I am in the office before visiting which gives me the flexibility of doing the school run if I want to, even if it means bringing the kids back to the office for an hour or so to meet a deadline! I use a VOIP telephone number so when anyone phones the office it also dials my mobile, my laptop at home and my husbands mobile!
I have set up a remote desktop system so that I can access my data from anywhere as long as I have WIFI so that I can lock-up and go home after school pick up if I want to! Then if a client calls with anything urgent I can quickly remote-in from home and deal with it.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
The beauty of my work is that I am dealing with a variety of people and businesses who all have different requirements so no two days are ever the same. In a typical day I normally have ‘work’ to do which may involve preparing a set of accounts and tax return, a payroll and a VAT return all in the same day! And as I am still growing my practice I try to do some social-media networking every day and I have meetings with prospective clients most days.
I use Microsoft Outlook to schedule appointments and set reminders but I still keep a diary in my handbag as well! I also use a simple workflow spreadsheet which I designed myself so I can check it every day and quickly see which stage each job is at and address any delays.
Since starting my business I have come to the conclusion that ‘you can only do as much as you can do’ and I no longer work myself to the point of being stressed when I feel I don’t have time to complete something. It’s not fair on my family, and it’s not fair on me. So now, if something can and will wait until tomorrow, it waits until tomorrow!
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been gaining new clients. This is very much a word-of-mouth industry so I only needed to gain a few initial clients before word would spread. After my initial low-cost advertising campaign I began networking with social media and demonstrated how I embrace technology and could highlight key issues (such as the recent HMRC Making Tax Digital consultation) to my audience in real-time.
I am pleased to say that this has been successful and to date most of my clients have come through facebook, but now I am seeing more clients who have heard about me from someone else which is extremely motivating.
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Definitely the flexibility it gives me to spend more time with my children. And not having to ask anybody for permission to go to sports day or parents evening! But I also enjoy being able to give my clients the service they deserve without being constrained by time/recovery targets and budgets.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to offer employment opportunities within the local community so I would like to continue to grow my client-base so that I can achieve this. I also have plans for my children to join the business, but I think they have other plans!
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Speak to as many people/businesses as you can, you would be surprised at how many will offer you support in one way or another. Reach out to people on social media – the worst that can happen is they will ignore your message or say no! This goes for real-life too, just ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Only that I wish I had taken this step years ago!