Break for Bookkeepers Winners

Jayne Smith, Bookkeeper at That’s Ideal, won a dream holiday in our Break for Bookkeepers competition last year.

Jayne was nominated by Emily Whitehead of Simply Great Britain, a small business support community, and they went on holiday separately just before the UK went into lockdown.

Returning to a radically different working world, Jayne and Emily tell us how they coped, how they’ve supported their clients and their advice for the coming months.

How was it to win and where did you go?

Jayne Smith: Last year, I was lucky enough to win a holiday through Dext. One of the team members at Dext said to me, “Jayne, have you seen this? You need to apply for it!” So I reached out to my clients and asked if they wanted to nominate me and be in with a chance of winning a holiday too.

Emily was one of the ones who nominated me and the next thing I knew, we’d won!

A few months later, everything was sorted and I booked to go on a holiday to Costa Rica. It was one of those places that I’d always wanted to go and this gave me the chance.

Emily Whitehead: So I work with Jayne, my amazing bookkeeper, who has been so supportive of my business and actually introduced me to Dext.

When an email popped up asking for a few words about why my bookkeeper is great and how they look after me, I didn’t hesitate to sing Jayne’s praises. Then I got a phone call from Dext asking if I’d record a video interview because both Jayne and myself were finalists. Turns out, we had already won and that was in fact the time to tell us. I had the pleasure of telling Jayne myself which was the icing on the cake.

As close as we are, we didn’t holiday together, I went to Florence in Italy with my husband and had the trip of a lifetime. It actually coincided with our 20th wedding anniversary which was nice.

What was it like returning to a country in lockdown?

JS: I think we were really lucky to get there in the first place, but I can tell you I was very determined! While away, the seriousness of what was happening started to creep in. I had text messages pop up on my phone asking what we were going to do about furlough before I’d even heard of it.

As soon as I was back, I had to hit the ground running. My first port of call was to talk to my clients to find out how they were doing and how I could support them.

EW: Like everybody else, my business completely changed overnight. I was used to spending a lot of my time on the road, having face to face mentoring sessions, and conducting training workshops – and all that stopped overnight.

Jayne really supported me as well, both as a business partner and a friend to talk to. Together, we found a way to support the members of my community who had no income all of a sudden 

We were able to make sure that they didn’t lose some of our services, we helped them manage direct debits and found ways to stop those businesses from losing out at a time when they were being hit hardest.

How will you continue to support clients as the country reopens?

JS: As the country starts to reopen, we’ll continue to support our clients and make sure they know what help is available to them and how best to optimise it. Apart from the odd few clients who’ve missed seeing me in person, we’ll continue to work remotely as we did before lockdown.

EW: I’ve been very lucky to be able to work on some new projects which I’m able to deliver online. Jayne helped me manage that new way of working and facilitating the payments. Jayne also went above and beyond, not only supporting myself but also my clients. Thanks to Jayne’s support, they didn’t lose out on getting help and have a much stronger standing as the country reopens.

What can bookkeepers do to bring more value to their clients?

JS: I think bookkeepers need to feel a lot more confident about who they are and why they do what they do, allowing their passion to come through. We’re all the same. We all just want to serve our clients and make sure that we’re doing the best job we possibly can. 

Having all the software in place to do this really does help – I can’t emphasise that enough. I couldn’t be without Dext and the rest of my tech stack. With all of my tech integrated and talking to each other, it makes our job so much easier and allows us to talk to clients with our personal value and our bookkeeping value.

EW: What I say to small businesses is don’t try and do it all yourself because you will fall over – especially when it comes to bookkeeping. However small your budget to start with, it’s important to find a bookkeeper you can trust early on. They’ll help you put the foundations in place so you can build and grow.

Jayne has shown me opportunities that I would never have seen because your heads down, you’re working hard, and you don’t see things unless you communicate with other people. The best investment I ever made as a small business was to get somebody else who can do that side of things better, quicker and more efficiently.

As a small business owner, you’ve probably started your business because you’re full of ideas, great at communicating and have something amazing to share with the world – do you want to spend your precious time just with numbers? Probably not.

How has Dext Precision helped you to be more forward thinking?

JS: Precision has helped us to feel more confident in ourselves as bookkeepers thanks to the clean up features and the insights it provides. Every week, we’re in our workflows for our clients and looking for any duplicates or other flags that come up.

It makes my clients’ books so clean and allows me to feel much more confident when I’m talking to them about business decisions. That makes a huge difference to my self worth as I can give more to my clients and help them grow their businesses the right way.

EW: Everyone at Dext has been brilliant – not just because you sent me on holiday!

What I like about what you’re doing is highlighting the importance of the small business world to the wider economy. For me, this is the year of the micro and small business world – so thank you for helping support that.

For more, watch Jayne’s full interview and Emily’s full interview.