Full-time bookkeeper, full-time mum and part-time vaccinator
Louise Ball is a bookkeeper on the Covid frontline. The owner of Eleven Accounts Services in Stockport has been juggling her new business, home-schooling and returning to the NHS to vaccinate the public as part of the monumental drive to end the deadly spectre of Covid-19.
After working as a nurse for 10 years, Louise discovered her love for bookkeeping in 2018. Louise loves organisation, accuracy and being in control- everything needed to become an amazing bookkeeper! After studying with Ideal Schools and passing her ICB exams over the course of a year, Louise became an ICB Certified Bookkeeper. She has now risen through the ranks, gaining 15 clients in the last 12 months and is looking to expand her bookkeeping practice despite the pressing demands on her time and her commitment to helping out in her community.
What is the size of your bookkeeping practice?
It’s just me, I have 15 monthly clients at the moment. I offer a full virtual accounts department service for some of my clients. It's very varied and I have gotten very busy in the last 12 months!
This time last year I had two small clients of my own and I was also working part-time at an ICB Bookkeeping practice and then I got furloughed due to having two young children. As it became more evident that returning to work in an office wasn’t going to feasible with the children and the uncertainty of life at the time, that’s when I started building from the two clients to the 15!
When did you start your bookkeeping journey? What challenges have you had to face and how have you overcome them?
I started my bookkeeping journey when I was on my second maternity leave. I was a nurse previously and it had come to a point where I couldn’t be promoted because I wasn’t working full-time hours. With two young children working full time wasn’t on my agenda, and I started to think, well what do I want out of life? I wanted to further myself because I had my children now but, I realised that maybe nursing wasn’t where I had my passion anymore, I wanted to find something that worked for me.
So that’s when I was doing endless internet searches trying to find a new career path. It was important for me to be a professional because I had always been a registered professional in nursing and that’s something I wanted to carry on with joining ICB! I went to the Bookkeepers Summit as a student and got my first bookkeeping job! It was my first conference and I started talking to somebody who owned a bookkeeping practice and she said, ‘we’re always looking for bookkeepers- you don’t happen to live in Cheshire by any chance?’ and I said, ‘Well actually I do!’ We got to talking and she offered me a trainee role and that’s when I decided to fully transition from nursing to bookkeeping.
How do you feel about your PQ Award nomination for Personality of the Year?
A bit embarrassed! I am blown away that they would even consider my nomination let alone shortlist me for the award. There are some amazing people in the category so it's an honour to be amongst them. I was thinking I didn’t really fit into any of the categories when someone mentioned I should try out for Personality of the Year. I thought, well I’ve got nothing to lose so why not just fill it in! I had the application form on my phone late at night a couple of hours before the deadline, basically filling it in saying this is what I’ve been doing for the last 12 months, and I got an email saying I’d been shortlisted!
How did you become a bookkeeping vaccinator?
So, this time last year there was news in the press about how they were calling up nurses that had previously left and the panic was crazy! I didn’t feel like I could manage it with my kids, but I felt guilty. The last 12 months had been horrendous for people working in hospitals. I’ve got a lot of friends who are still doctors and nurses and I felt awful. I still wanted to do something, so I helped set up a mutual aid group for our area. We were sending leaflets, connecting neighbours, and setting up WhatsApp groups to encourage people to support each other. Initially, we were getting people calling us saying ‘I need help I’m isolating’, ‘I need my prescription picking up’, ‘I can’t get any food’, you know all these things and we were matching people together that could help. That was quite intense at first because it was before the council had set up any services or there were any government initiatives.
We carried on working together to set up a food bank collection; these WhatsApp groups would host a weekly food bank and we’d send a box, and everyone would donate, and we’d then take that box to the local food bank to support them because their demands were increasing. At Christmas, we collected presents within the community and the response was incredible - I was absolutely blown away! We filled a church hall with brand-new high-quality Christmas presents to help local organisations and neighbours who were struggling to get gifts for their family.
After that, because the government and the council support fell into place, the need for our group settled down and we began to adjust to the new normal. I thought to myself, what can I do now? A GP friend was involved with a vaccine clinic in South Manchester - an amalgamation of GP surgeries, and everyone was coming together, so I went back on the nursing register just to try to help a bit when I could.
Are people excited to get their vaccine?
Some people come in skipping and others are quite anxious. It’s really rewarding to be able to help a little bit. Everyone wants it to be over and I want to do what I can to help everything go back to normal.
Are there similarities between nursing and bookkeeping?
Nursing and bookkeeping both require accuracy and documentation. That’s something I was quite keen on in nursing, it increasingly became more about paperwork than patient care. But if there’s a box to fill in, I will always fill it in! I think that’s why bookkeeping attracted me because I like everything to be organised. Nursing on the other hand is a bit more chaotic and you can’t be in control most of the time. After 10 years of doing that, I like the control now. I’m still helping people; my clients say to me thank you I was so stressed etc thank me for relieving their stress. I like to do my work in a way where it’s always easiest for the client, I love to help them with their bookkeeping and their accounts.
Are you well connected with your community and has that helped your business?
Yes! I think I’ve got two or three clients through community connections. One of my most recent clients is a Community Interest Company, told me she likes to work with people whose businesses help community, so that’s why she chose me.
What are your hopes for the future?
Well, I hope these vaccinations get done quickly! I’ve got to a point now where I’m busy and I want to keep giving people the level of service they’re used to, so I’m thinking of growing my practice before I take on more clients. I have outsourced to a VA, and I am looking at outsourcing to another fellow bookkeeper to see how I can work that or if I should take on an employee. I’m making sure I’m developing my services as well and getting through my exams, which have been put on the back burner because I’ve just been so busy in the last 12 months! I’ve still got Self-Assessment Tax and Payroll to do so I can offer more services to my clients.
Check out Louise’s bookkeeping business Eleven Accounts Services here, and book in for the virtual PQ Awards to see if Louise wins on Thursday 29th April. Louise is up against ICB’s President Garry Carter, and stalwart of accountancy education and ICB board member, Philip Dunn. To see the full list of nominations for ICB and its members view the article here.
You can book your tickets for the PQ Awards here!