Sarah Goodfellow, founder of Out and About Showroom, explains the value of her bookkeeper, IAB member, Charmaine Melrose of CJM Bookkeeping Services, Brackley, Northamptonshire. Sarah explains why bookkeeping is so important to her business.
Sarah Goodfellow ran a PR firm in Australia before returning to the UK with husband Phil to set up Out and About Showroom in 2006. It supplies mainly Aussie fashion brands such as MINKPINK, Evil Twin and Somedays Lovin’, working with large retailers like ASOS and Urban Outfitters and smaller independent boutiques. The business has defied recession to grow turnover to around £4 million. It has a London showroom and offices in Brackley, Northants.
“Charmaine has been massively important, getting us totally in order.
“When I started, I did everything myself. I was one of those people who kept paperwork in a carrier bag. I was doing the Vat returns myself every month, which was incredibly time-consuming. The nature of our business means there are a lot of invoices and paying suppliers internationally.
“It became quite complicated to do it myself and not really understanding what products have Vat on them and which ones don’t.
“When I was doing the Vat return myself, I put it off to the last minute and then rushed at it. It would take me two days and then I’d be nervous that I’d made mistakes.
“You can’t be a master of all aspects of businesses and finance is something you need external help with. You can make mistakes that you later have to pay for. It might be something you didn’t realise you were doing wrong.
“I didn’t want to be making mistakes. That’s when you have to look for advice and help just to make sure everything’s properly in order. I thought ‘I’m going to have to pay somebody to do it correctly.’ We got a local accountant in and they recommended Charmaine to us.
“Bookkeeping isn’t a massive expense but it’s massively helpful. I give Charmaine a big bag of receipts and she works through them really quickly. It’s amazing. That frees up my time to do things that generate money. A bookkeeper ensures you are doing things correctly and above board.
“We took on someone to manage our cash flow and she works closely with Charmaine as does our accountant. I recommend loads of people to get a bookkeeper. It just saves so much time.
“When we first started working with Charmaine, we were on about £800,000 a year. That’s now around £4 million. Even though Charmaine isn’t working purely for us, taking on a bookkeeper has definitely helped us increase our turnover. It’s freeing up our time and helped us understand our finances a lot more.
“She has helped us concentrate on things that are making money rather than things that aren’t generating any cash.
“We hope to keep growing and taking Charmaine with us. She’s incredibly meticulous, lovely to work with and keeps us safe and legal.”
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