First past the post with her entry into the 2018 Blogfest is Jakki Francis who writes about Her Biz Her Way.
“This blog post comes about as the result of a personal invitation by my friend and coach Judith Morgan. She has recently written a book aimed at entrepreneurs called Your Biz Your Way and she has invited 52 of her clients and readers to tell her about how we run our businesses our way. Here’s my story:
Cast your mind back to February 2008 when things were starting to go pear shaped in the financial world, I remember it so well because we were in the process of buying a house at the time and we just managed it before everything went into free fall.
Prior to this I had been a self employed accountant for just over 20 years. Shortly after qualifying I decided that working in a stuffy office and wearing a suit every day was not for me, outspoken, straight talking rebel that I am, I didn’t fit in, so I decided I would work from home. Bear in mind this is pre-internet days, shocking I know, and all accounts work was handwritten. You can only imagine how long winded that was, especially if something didn’t balance! So bags and boxes full of paperwork had to be collected and returned together with completed accounts, but I loved working for myself, choosing where and when I worked, still do.
For the majority of that 20 years I mostly sub-contracted work from firms of accountants, taking up their surplus if you like as I preferred doing accounts work to tax returns or any of the numerous other tasks that are involved in running an accountancy practice.
Fast forward again to 2008, matters were pretty dire, companies were going out of business and banks were failing. Up until this point I had always had a steady flow of work and I was almost exclusively working for one accountancy practice. Then at the end of 2008, work dried up…for 3 months, eek! Eventually the work did start to trickle back in but it made me realise that I could not carry on with all my eggs in one basket.
This is when I decided to launch More Than A Bookkeeper. Online working was well and truly with us, hoorah! So this gave me the opportunity to run My Biz My Way. I could work online from any location, which is increasingly important to me now that I am what is known as a digital nomad (I travel around house and pet sitting).
I decided that I would offer bookkeeping services only, to women in business and that it would be wholly online. Using the cloud my clients could upload their business info for me and I could produce their accounts. I had a number of female business friends who were desperate for my services, having been let down by previous bookkeepers/accountants and who frankly did not want to do the work themselves, instead preferring to pay someone with my expertise to do it. This gave me the idea for the More Than A Bookkeeper name as I recognised that not only did I have the skills to do the work, but from my many years in accountancy practice I knew want the end result was their accountants needed from me, a skill which many bookkeepers still do not have in my opinion. It also gave me the idea for my byline – liberating you to focus on the business you love.
I love my clients, they place value on what I do for them, they are still all with me and they have kindly recommended other clients to me. I absolutely love working like this and I’ve turned my back on marketing myself in the very male-dominated way we are all encouraged to do with sales funnels, upsells etc blah, blah, blah. Instead I prefer a more heart-centred approach where clients come to me because they’ve got to know me via my facebook page or my personal blog and they like what I stand for, what I believe in and from there we might have a connection that leads to us working together and my relieving the pressure they may feel over doing their accounts, leaving them to focus on the business they love.”
Read this post at Jakki’s own blog and check out her other writing, her books for sale and her accounting services while you are at it – oh, and you can Like her Facebook Page from there too.
UPDATE 14th February 2018: Since Jakki wrote this in January, she and I have found ourselves living quite close to each other for a tiny window, so we took the opportunity to go out to lunch. Fish & chips and apple crumble, since you ask, and neither of us should have been eating that as I am low carb and Jakki is aiming for zero carb. But I digress! As a result of our lunch I encouraged Jakki to update her original post to tell you about her two recent eBooks.
The first is for those who are not ready yet to get Jakki to do their accounts for them and it’s called Accounts Without Fear. The second is about selling your house without an estate agent. Jakki’s done that, on Facebook, and saved herself £2,268. Wow! Get that book here.
Wow! Thank you so much, Jakki. As I told you earlier I got goosebumps when I read this. Not only is it fabulous you are first, such a one to grab an opportunity as you illustrate so well in your story, but I love how far we go back, how you describe me as your friend (that makes me so happy) and that your story has so much synchronicity with my own, accounts and all that.
Here’s what resonated with me and what I noticed and learned. I am sure other readers will spot other things. Isn’t that fab?
- You make decisions that are right for you – that you would work at home when this wasn’t the norm. Those bags and boxes of paperwork being collected and delivered, I remember that so well too. And then they invented the fax machine and you didn’t have to wait for someone send you/deliver to you or have you collect the one vital piece of information you needed right now to complete the task you were working on. Took me right back, that did.
- Even in times of scarcity in 2008 you made another bold decision, to only offer the nature of work you wanted to do (bookkeeping) and to be assertive about your ideal client (women) and single-minded about how you would work with them (digitally) and that the way you express this and live this denotes the determined woman you are. Marmite is most definitely best in this context, despite my not wanting it on my toast (yuk!).
- I admire you knowing that you were so much more than a bookkeeper, i.e. having an accurate awareness of your own worth. I imagine that your twenty years as a freelancer before that well and truly demonstrated that to you? How useful to start out with this already under your hat. Sorry, couldn’t resist mentioning the hat!
- I love that we share so much by way of values, marketing in ways we love and eschewing the rest of the nonsense, working only with clients we love in ways we love, putting love at the centre of what we do and anything we don’t love gets the bum’s rush and pronto!
- I love that you are a sums bird wot writes too (who knew?).
You have reminded me how much my clients valued a woman they could trust to handle their accounts and this is such a great way for you to be making a nomadic living. I often think that outsourcing their accounts is the first best business decision any entrepreneur can make, and kudos to you for being there for them; they love it so much that referrals are your best new source of biz. Rock on.