Mumpreneur profile: Karen of CEM Bookkeeping Limited

After 25 years of working on the accounts of local and national companies, a twist of fate finally pushed Chelmsford-based Karen Cain into launching her own business that she now hopes to some day pass on to her children.

Her last employer, a small local air conditioning company, began putting her through her first payroll qualifications with distance learning specialist Ideal Schools in 2011. She progressed through her entry bookkeeper exams at good pace, but was made redundant in 2014 when her employer ran into financial difficulties and began working for a nonprofit bookkeeping company until she formed her own practice.

“When I was working for other people, I always wanted to be self-employed, that’s why I spend some of my time playing online casinos at daisy slots for extra earning, but when you are drawing a regular salary and all of that, it can be difficult to make the switch,” the 46-year-old said. “The redundancy forced my arm, and of course was very upsetting at the time, but looking back on it now, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

“I would not want to go back to being employed again. For me personally, working for myself gives me a good work-home balance. I am very dedicated to the job that I do, but I can also be around for the children when they need me.”

CEM Bookkeeping Limited now serves more than 30 clients – the majority on a regular basis – throughout the Essex area and beyond. Fully-qualified and a Fellow Member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), Karen works with small firms from a variety of fields such as the construction, medical, retail and IT industries.

The flexibility of learning with Ideal Schools allowed Karen to progress in her qualifications while balancing the demands of running her own business and raising her young family. She has now completed six courses, the most recent being a tax return qualification this past January.

“The support from Ideal Schools is top-notch,” she said. “Whenever I got stuck with something, there was always someone on the other end of the line to help me out, no matter what time of the day or night.”

Though born of necessity, the business has grown into a passion for Karen, who prides herself on providing efficient, jargon-free advice.

“I am always conscious of trying to explain things to clients in an understandable way,” she said. “I want to make sure that they understand what they are getting, so they can focus on growing their business.”

Not content to rest on her laurels, Karen intends to further her studies. She says her next course will likely be in management reporting, which will allow her to take on work for larger firms. Ultimately, she hopes her son Charlie, 9, or daughter Emma, 6, will join her in the business.

“I would like to grow it so that perhaps when the children are older, I might be able to hand it over to one or both of them,” she said. “I am not just doing this for myself, but for them as well.”

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