Thanks for sitting down with us! Can you tell us a little bit about how you started your side hustle and why?
When I had my second child a few years ago, I decided to retrain. My career in fundraising was amazing but wasn’t very family-friendly and I wanted more flexibility around my life while being able to work with and help people grow their businesses.
I went through the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, and worked in a few different practices, taking on some bookkeeping and accounting roles. And then a year ago I decided to set up my own business. I started Blue Leaf Accounting where I offer support with bookkeeping, Self Assessment tax returns, limited company accounts, and payroll. I'm a one-man band and I love working at home in my pyjamas!
I had used FreeAgent a lot in a previous role and when I set up my side hustle I signed up with them. My account manager recommended Mettle and I've not looked back. You were just starting out and I was also just starting out, so thought it would be a great fit! I love the accessibility so much that I recommend Mettle to all my clients.
Do you have any plans to turn your side hustle into a full-time role?
Yes, I do. My company started out just being a side hustle, but in January this year, I went full time which was thrilling! I’ve gone from having no clients to well over 30.
But in the beginning, when I first started I wasn’t able to rely just on my business to pay the bills, and I needed some help and guidance. So I worked for another accountant who is also a sole practitioner and runs her own practice. When she went on maternity leave last year I covered her practice and worked for 18 hours a week. I built up my business around the job. I absolutely loved working with her and gaining some fantastic experience while she took me under her wing.
That’s amazing having that support to help you grow your business. Who would you say are your typical customers?
Mostly women who are doing something similar to me. They are the type of people who are living the same life as me – one built around balancing different spinning plates. So I understand their need for flexibility.
Blue Leaf Accounting means I can use my previous career experience – which was quite sociable – to build relationships with my clients. I am an accountant who picks up the phone to talk to my clients, or answer questions on WhatsApp, for example. It’s a relationship-based business.
Tips on how to start your business:
On that, how do you find customers? How do you market yourself?
I've joined a women's networking group for local businesses. But it's tricky trying to fit it all in!
I’ve also found clients the 'old fashioned' way. One evening when my husband and I were out for dinner, I recognised someone from a baby group. We got to talking about what I do now and it turns out she was looking for help with her company accounts! Finding clients is about talking to people and getting to know the community – building those relationships is what I love most about starting this business.
But when it comes to marketing I'm still working on that and trying to get my name out there in a way that isn’t just on social media.
Were there any challenges you faced in starting your side hustle?
Even though I had a plan when I first started, it was just me and that was terrifying. But it was also liberating at the same time!
I felt like everyone was already covered with their accounting and bookkeeping needs and there would be no space for my business. But that simply wasn’t true. The challenge is that it takes a lot of self-belief. It’s about being brave enough to leave your comfort zone.
Also being able to get my name out there. As I mentioned earlier, other than social media, wider marketing is still something I am working on. I decided to go to an actual market and to hand out my card. I would buy a little something from everyone and have a chat with them about what I do. That's how you meet people and build up a network of similar businesses with similar needs.
What’s your ultimate vision for Blue Leaf Accounting?
I really want to be someone who can employ mums. Because I am a mum who tried to go back to a job – and even though they offered flexibility there was always going to be tension around working hours and commuting. It wasn’t easy. I understand that firsthand.
So I want to build a practice where I can employ mums who are thinking about a career change or just need something flexible to fit around their family.