Interview Spotlight With Helen Bower

Helen is the owner of a national award-winning bookkeeping practice, Adder Bookkeeping Ltd.  She is a prominent figure in her industry; regularly speaking at local and national events.  She is passionate about the value of professional bookkeeping to help business owners make informed business decisions, based on up-to-date and accurate numbers.                        

Can you introduce yourself to us?

I’m often told that I’m ‘not a typical bookkeeper’ as I’m a fun-loving lady who loves to laugh and I’m known for my joke-telling!  Outside work, I’m a real lover of music – I’m currently attempting to learn the piano and I’m a voracious reader of all kinds of books.

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

I studied languages at university and started my professional life as a translator.  In 2000, my husband started a business and I become a mother at the same time.  Taking over my husband’s books, I discovered a real love for bookkeeping.  I found that making sure everything was in perfect order was very satisfying.  I decided to have a change of career, study for some qualifications and I started a bookkeeping practice in 2006, when my son began school.   This turned out to be a great move, as I had found a job I loved and which had the flexibility to fit around family life.

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

In 2017, the time was right for me to expand the business.  My son was becoming independent and my husband was hitting retirement age – so we had a role reversal and I expanded Adder Bookkeeping by taking on premises and my first employee.  We have now grown to a team of seven.  At the same time, I embraced the new (at the time) cloud technology and changed my pricing model to fixed rates, rather than hourly fees.

Have you ever had a mentor?  If so, how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

Growing a team brought a whole new set of challenges for me.  Last year, I was starting to feel a lot of overwhelm and I invested in a resilience coach.   Being a numbers/data lady, I always thought coaching was a bit ‘fluffy’ – how wrong I was!  I learnt a lot about myself and how to handle change and overwhelm.  I believe I am a more resilient, more confident business owner – and person –  because of the coaching I received.

What outlets do you use for Marketing?

There is a lot of trust when you hand over your accounts to a bookkeeper, so I still find that personal referrals are my best source of new clients.  My best contacts have arisen from business clubs where I get to know people  – it’s the old KLT cliché, but so true!

What or Who has inspired you most recently?

I was so galvanized by a book I read a few months ago, that I wrote and implemented a training programme for my clients based on the ideas in the book -‘Profit First’ by Mike Michalowicz – it’s a new and inspirational way of looking at the numbers in your business.

My favourite quotation (and one I like to live by) is from Martin Luther King – it’s on the wall in our meeting room ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase, to take the first step.’

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

It’s hard to pick out one piece of advice, but it has to be ‘Look for the Gift’.   No matter what is thrown at you and what changes come your way (because they will) – always look for the gift.  Even if it wasn’t a great experience, you will always have learned something from it, to help you in the future.

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

To be honest, this is a work-in-progress, as my personal life has taken a bit of a back-burner the last 5 years.  I have got a cunning plan to improve things this year!  I like to completely chill on a Sunday with millions of pancakes, the Sunday papers and a cryptic crossword.

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

It has to be winning ‘Employer of the Year 2022’ at the national bookkeeping awards.  It meant so much because my team entered me for the award and it has been a difficult year for me personally.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

Having an impact on people’s lives – whether it’s developing my team or helping my clients improve their businesses.  It’s fantastic to know you’ve brought some happiness to someone and made their lives a bit better.  And of course, that ultimate satisfaction of having a perfect set of accounts!

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

Any strong, feisty women who inspire and empower others get my vote.

How do you define your own success?

When I and my family are all happy.  Simple!

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

I’m busy working on a new advisory service to add even more insight and value to my clients.  I’m also having help with a new blogging strategy to improve my Linkedin profile.

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