Rick Boardman

“IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I WOULD HAVE A BOOKKEEPER FROM THE START”

Rick Boardman, parachute specialist and skydiving instructor, met his bookkeeper Alison Gale, of APG Business Services, Westbury, Wiltshire, and a registered bookkeeper with the International Association of Bookkeepers, through their shared love of jumping out of aircraft. He explains why bookkeeping is important to his business.

Skydiving expert Rick Boardman, based in Amesbury, Wiltshire, is an experienced instructor, parachute technician and workshop supervisor who founded his rigging business in the early 1990s. He has been skydiving for more than 30 years and teaches the sport through his venture Cloud Nine.

“I met Ali through jumping. It was perfect timing because my bookkeeping was woefully inadequate. I’d been plodding along doing it myself.

“Someone did my tax return but that was all, so I was having to all the donkeywork first. Ali has taken on that donkeywork and the complicated bits.

“She does the books for both my businesses and makes sense of what I do. I was late with some tax returns and she’s picking up the pieces. She just comes in and does her thing. She tells me what I’m doing wrong. We also have a cup of tea and talk about skydiving.

“’I’m sure she’s saved me money, not least because while she’s doing the books, I can get on with what I’m good at which is fixing parachutes and packing reserves.

“She gave me some good pointers on the way to cross-check stuff. When I started, I kept a reference. It wasn’t quite as bad as a spike on a table with “receipts” stamped on it, but it was bad. She’s sorted that out and got a nice system going.

“It’s good value for money. She can see exactly how much the company earns. She’s a realist about how much I get out of it, doesn’t push it too hard. If it made more money, I’d expect her to charge more.

“She’s given me good advice on how to keep track of what’s going on and how to make life more efficient for her – as long as I do the right thing and not give her a bag of receipts. You can leave her to it. She’s pretty incisive and good fun to work with.

“We’ve done a few jumps together over the years and then we don’t talk about accounts. I don’t think it’s a courage thing. Once you’ve got to a certain level and got through the fear factor, it’s a question of pressing on and fine-tuning your body. Alison’s a good skydiver.

“I would say to other small businesses: take a deep breath and strongly consider taking on a bookkeeper.

“I wish I’d taken one on a lot sooner. But like many self-employed people, I started off with the best of intentions of keeping an eye on where all the pennies were going. But you end up not knowing where any of them are going.

“You are doing only half a job and not nearly as well as someone who’s properly trained. That’s where you really lose out. Ali has sharpened things up in a big way.

“It’s nice to think you know what you’re doing. But the fact is you’re not aware of the ins and outs like a bookkeeper. If I could do it all over again, I would have a bookkeeper from the start.”