Ahead of the Accounting Excellence Awards in September, we interview ICB member nominees to see what makes them tick and unlock some of their secrets to a successful practice.

In this article we're interviewing, Lara Manton MICB, sole practitioner and owner of the award-winning LJM Bookkeeping. Lara is nominated in two categories this year, including Sole Practitioner of the Year, and Bookkeeping Firm of the Year. 

How did you come to be a bookkeeper?

I relocated 100 miles to be with my (now husband) and was looking for a job. With my ME, I knew I couldn’t work full time, so needed something to work around my health. I’d done the books in my previous employed role and the accountant for the business suggested I look at bookkeeping qualifications, as he thought it would suit my skill set. 

I came across the ICB and loved the fact that I could study from home at my own pace. It took me about nine months to complete the levels needed to get my practice license, and I then set up LJM Bookkeeping.

What makes your practice special?

I’m very hands on. I don’t do tax or payroll, but instead work very closely with my clients, focusing on more of the day-to-day finances. I love becoming part of their team and looking for new ways to help them improve their businesses. I take the pressure off them and deal with all the finance bits that they don’t have the time or knowledge to do and liaise with their accountants for the rest. 

I’m also getting a bit of a reputation around being an early adopter of new software. I’m always looking to enhance my motto of ACE= ‘Accuracy, Continuity & Efficiency’ and use automation to enhance my service offering to my clients.

How do you feel about being shortlisted in the Accounting Excellence Awards?

I wasn’t going to enter again initially. I was shortlisted last year and couldn’t go to the awards. I was chatting to ICB’s Director of Communications, Ami Copeland at the Xero Awards and talked myself into it. When I started writing down all the things I’d done or improved in the last 12 months, I realised that I had come quite far. To be shortlisted in two categories for the second year running is amazing!

What’s your proudest moment as a bookkeeper?

Definitely winning the LUCA for Small Practice of the Year! I honestly didn’t think I would win and was in shock when Garry announced my name. To be recognised by ICB was amazing - for my little business to be worthy of winning at their 25th anniversary awards was a real confidence boost!

How has ICB supported you as a bookkeeper and business owner? 

The ICB team and community is fabulous. Both before and during the pandemic, there has been so much support to help both us and our clients.

Even before COVID, I looked forward to Inspire Tour days where we could ask questions, learn and chat to other bookkeepers. The online webinars that ICB deliver are a great way to keep up to date and dip into as needed.

I love the support that means I can ask all sorts of questions if needed without being judged.

What’s your advice to other bookkeepers looking to grow or start their businesses? 

You can build your business however you want. With ICB you can access the skills and support to make your business work for you, whatever that might look like. Don’t be afraid to try something new or go in a different direction, the ICB member community are here to support you.

ICB are committed to supporting its members in applying for awards and recognition, and will continue to communicate these opportunities going forward. For more on this year’s Accounting Excellence nominees click here and to book your tickets for their star-studded awards ceremony visit their events page here.