With a successful career managing an advertising sales team for Channel 4 television, Suzannah Whelan realised things had to change during parental leave with her second child.
“It was a busy job with long hours,” she says. “It wasn’t compatible with two children and a family life.”
She’d already moved out of London, settling in Billericay, Essex, and was finding the commute difficult.
But she’d also realised that, while the semirural surroundings of Billericay offered advantages, finding work locally that delivered the same challenges as her old job would be near-impossible.
“I thought I’d find something I can do for myself, and fit around my life, that I can build up slowly as the children grow up—rather than the other way around.”
Her transferrable skills, she realised, involved working closely with people and figures.
“I can’t even remember how I discovered bookkeeping! I found out about the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and studied through them. I slowly got my qualifications.”
Her journey began back in 2009. Borrowing one of the titles from her father’s former chartered accountancy practice, Sinclair Whelan Bookkeeping was born.
20 clients—and continuing development
“I had only one client for quite some time!” she says. “I just built it up very slowly so that I could fit it in around the children. Maybe a day or two a week. And then, when my youngest started school, I took on more hours and more clients.”
Describing herself nowadays as “really busy!”, her clients are from the local area and across a variety of occupations and business types. She counts 20 at the moment, with one big client demanding more of her time.
But it wasn’t long after becoming established that she encountered challenges.
“Some clients want to drop stuff off once a year and get their tax done. But getting paperwork from them is a big hurdle. It just isn’t their priority a lot of the time.”
She continues to credit the ICB with much of her development, and in fact, it was at an ICB event that she first encountered the data-entry automation tool AutoEntry.
Fewer office visits
Although AutoEntry can reduce data entry processes by 90% for bookkeepers and accountants, Suzannah first noticed other benefits.
“With larger clients I had been going into offices five days a week. This meant that, with some smaller clients, I was forced to do their paperwork at the weekends. You lose so much efficiency when going into an office.”
AutoEntry allowed her to increase her remote working for clients to the point where she could almost eradicate in-person visits.
“AutoEntry changed everything,” she adds. “I got my life back.”
It was also perfect preparation for the pandemic lockdowns, she says.
It saved her money and time spent travelling and she was able to switch from largely hourly fees to more of a fixed cost per-job basis (using GoProposal to price based on transaction volume and scope).
And because of the efficiencies, she also found she could take on more clients to fill the gaps created.
The AutoEntry process
Her process is simple.
“It’s just about keeping on top of things. I log into my clients' accounting software and look at their bank feeds. If there’s a payment gone out, which I don’t have corresponding paperwork for, I’ll chase it with them.”
With any new clients she takes on, she informs them remote work is the norm. She adds that it’ll save them the cost of printer ink, paper, and then subsequent storage of the paperwork, as well as finding a desk and computer for her to work at.
“It’s quite a selling point for clients. I tell them they can just send paperwork to me via this amazing little AutoEntry mobile app, or forward me the emails. Or even just WhatsApp me a picture they’ve taken of it and I’ll forward it to AutoEntry.”
She typically logs into AutoEntry several times a day to see what receipts, invoices and statements have arrived from clients, and to publish them through to their accounting. She also likes to add notes to aid herself and the client in future.
All of this allows her to better manage her resources.
“It’s a massive time saver for me for data collection and processing,” she says, adding that this is not least because she no longer has go back and forth to clients to ensure she gets the paperwork.
AutoEntry’s benefits for Sinclair Whelan Bookkeeping
Suzannah sums-up the benefits of AutoEntry as follows:
- Data collection and processing: AutoEntry has dramatically reduced the time taken.
- On-site client visits: AutoEntry has significantly reduced visits from five days a week to hardly any.
- Paper usage: She and her clients reduced paper consumption by at least 80% because of AutoEntry. It means Suzannah has also reduced the number of clients that rely solely on paper-based accounting to around 10%—with the goal of migrating these remaining clients to AutoEntry and accounting software eventually.
- Increased service offerings: AutoEntry has enabled Suzannah to act as virtual accountant and outsourced finance department for larger clients.
- Less lost/damaged paperwork: AutoEntry means fewer lost or damaged invoices and receipts as these are usually sent via AutoEntry straight away.
- More easily up-to-date: Because AutoEntry means paperwork is received regularly, bookkeeping is kept more up to date—which has obvious advantages for both Suzannah and her clients.
Suzannah is also a member of the AutoEntry Partner Programme, that allows both her and her clients to benefit from using AutoEntry.