Name of business: Lifestyle Accounting Limited
Name & Age: Louise Munro, 39
My husband David is 43 and working for Lifestyle Accounting as an Accounts Assistant. He is in the final year of the AAT’s Accounting Technician qualification after joining the company in 2008. Previous to that, David worked in an engineering orientated management position but he also undertook work at Lifestlye Accounting because his main job was shift work. Because he preferred working with numbers, when voluntary redundancy became an option, he took it up. We have two children, Thomas aged five and Hannah aged four and live near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire – where the business is also based.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I worked as an Audit Clerk and then Office Manager for two accountancy practices. When I returned from maternity leave after having my second child, I realised quickly that working and caring for my two young children was a tough challenge to overcome, especially as there wasn’t much flexibility in my job. This inspired me to search for a more flexible alternative, and ultimately launch Lifestyle Accounting Limited. When I established the company the children were very young – Thomas was nearly three and Hannah was not even one – and I found juggling motherhood and starting up a new practice to be an extremely challenging experience. If I chose to dedicate time to developing the business, I ended up paying more for the use of extra childcare which was frustrating. It often felt like I was working twice as hard as I had in my previous job, but the rewards that I eventually reaped made it all completely worthwhile.
My practice employs three employees and the services we offer include: accounts preparation, taxation compliance for both self assessment and corporation taxation, payroll, business startup advice and support. Although Lifestyle Accounting Ltd is based in Burton On Trent and provides a number of services to clients in the locality, due to technology we are able to service clients further a field.
When did you launch?
How did you get started?
I purchased a small block of fees, approximately 30 clients and moved straight into the offices from where they were being maintained from. I initially considered doing this new work in my spare time but it grew far too quickly to manage it part time. My client base is now over 300, I have overall management and control of the practice and three employees. Soon after moving into the premises that I inherited with the clients, the Landlord set about an extensive refit of the building around our ears! Parents and family helped with decorating and networking of computers. Massive disturbance almost made me quit but I persevered and I am grateful that I did.
What research did you do before launching?
I have over 20 years of accounting practice experience covering all aspects of accountancy and taxation compliance. Because I was not changing sector or starting a business in a completely new profession, I didn’t feel that extensive research was required. I was also already a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians and I was aware that I needed to register as a Member in Practice before I started the practice.
With hindsight I should have looked at suppliers prices more carefully – for example stationery and printing cost vary hugely. I have realised that I should shop around to get the best deals on everything.
How have you funded the business?
It was funded by a large private loan and small loan from parents. I didn’t want to have an overdraft facility as I don’t believe in them for new business ventures.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you dealt with it?
Juggling family life, childcare, school holidays and closure of schools in bad weather! Because the practice expanded rapidly and my husband took the redundancy option, it meant we could afford the childcare costs to enable us both to work together for a year until our eldest child went to school. The childcare costs then reduced dramatically. Also, the nearby nursery was excellent, it took children between 8 and 6 during the week which enabled me to work full time at the business. Building up your own practice whilst ensuring the children are taken care of during the holidays was tough but because my husband did shift work, he was able to provide the majority of the childcare when we couldn’t use the nursery.
How do you fit in work with the family?
Obviously the children’s best interests always come first – they ultimately benefit from the success of the business. I try to limit my working hours to a normal office working week. Very rarely do I work at the office in the evenings (occasionally take work home to prepare once the children are in bed in the evening).
I try to plan ahead for any time off – booking holidays up to a year in advance and arranging school holiday cover as quickly as possible. My children are very understanding that I need to go to work to provide them with the nice things in life. Wherever possible I try to attend my children’s school events to support them – having your own business enables you to be more flexible. I believe my children benefit from this hugely.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
When I look back there were massive difficulties but take one day at a time and it will get easier. Time goes so quickly you don’t have time to reflect on your progress. I can honestly say running my own business and having a family is hard work but the benefits far outweigh the downside. I have been able to see my children in all their school performances without having to book holiday leave!
Website link: http://www.lifestyleaccountingltd.co.uk