Here is a case study provided by Johann Goree MIAB about how he started his own bookkeeping practice in 2017 and how he has grown his business. He also gives his advice for anyone looking to become a bookkeeper or start their own practice.
Q: Could you explain a bit about your practice and how it has grown?
A: I operate JGBC, and I specialise in supporting micro, small and start-up businesses to become more educated about their finances and to find more effective ways of working, in turn, increasing efficiency and profits. I do this by utilising my business management and bookkeeping skill sets and experiences. I aim for my clients to see these three key benefits.
- Decreased costs and increased profits/ capital to reinvest
- More time to either spend on new projects or out of the business
- More confident with businesses financials, past current and future
The plan was to run the business while in full-time employment until the company was earning enough to replace my wage, this I expected to take two years. Instead, I handed in my notice in October 2017 due to the business growing faster than planned.
Q: How did your bookkeeping career begin and what made you choose bookkeeping as a career?
A: Before starting my own business, I worked as a finance manager for a large residential outdoor activity company. I had a lot of friends and ex-colleagues that had set up their businesses in the area, and were often struggling with both their bookkeeping and knowledge of running a business. I would spend much time advising them and decided that I would love to do this for a living.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: There are two main parts of my work I love.
One is the enjoyment I get from supporting my clients and their businesses. I have amazing clients. I don’t work with people I don’t think I can help or work with and this has to lead to a few clients being released over the last eighteen months.
The second part I love about my job is the work-life balance I have achieved. When I’m not supporting my clients, I’m a community councillor and enjoy going for long walks with my dog and camera, living in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands means I’m literally on the doorstep of the most beautiful trails.
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle in your career so far, and how did you overcome it?
A: The biggest obstacle I have faced so far is keeping focused. I often have ideas that are either new or evolutions of prior plans that would lead to me focusing on things that aren’t priorities. I have found two solutions to this problem. One is the CRM software AccountancyManager which helps me see what’s due and when so I keep everything prioritised. The second solution is in the form of my mentor. My mentor Kris McCulloch from the Bookkeepers Alliance has proved a fantastic sounding board for my ideas and helps me think them through and see them from a different perspective before implementing them.
Q: What has been your most significant success, or the moment you’re most proud of (professionally and personally)?
A: I have had many successes over the last eighteen months. The company is rapidly growing, I have great clients and have received some fantastic reviews.
I think my proudest moment was winning the “startup bookkeeper” award at the UK Bookkeepers Conference in June 2017. The reason this meant so much was that my peers within the Bookkeepers Alliance had nominated me for it.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I plan to carry on growing the business and discovering tools to allow me to support my clients carry on developing and understanding their business.
I don’t have a document named “Business Plan” instead I have a plan for my business. This plan is in my head and changes regularly in line with the changing environment my company is operating within. At this point, I don’t know what the business will look like in a years’ time I may have employees I may not I may cap the growth to a level I can handle on my own but I may not. As long as I can maintain a lifestyle that I enjoy, then I’m happy to watch it evolve.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to anyone looking to become a bookkeeper or start their practice?
- Have the confidence to try new ideas. If I get an idea for a service or a package that excites me, then I usually have planned, designed adverts and launched it within 24 hours.
- Keep up with the changing industry and environment both in regards to policies and technology. Our industry is fascinating at the moment with all the new technology coming in, but this does mean our roles, in my view, are changing. My clients have grown to expect more than just data entry and processing from me. They know they will get that and support to understand and action the information that the data provides.
- Don’t do it alone. There’s some fantastic support out there in the form of different groups and organisations like the IAB. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I receive from The Bookkeepers Alliance members and my mentor Kris McCulloch.