AJM Accountancy & Bookkeeping
As ABBA once sang “Money, Money Money”!
On the ‘morning after the night before,’ after our fabulous SLiB Christmas party, we grabbed some chocolate yule log and went to meet Michelle Chappell, for coffee, in her offices in Viney Street, Taunton.
Michelle explained to us that she started the business in 2006 with her friend Emma. The reasoning behind them starting a business was that Michelle had been recently made redundant and Emma wanted to leave her job. As young mothers they had initially thought to open a maternity and children’s shop in Taunton, however, when they visited Business Link for start-up business advice, it was suggested not to go ahead with this idea, as many similar shops in town were not successful. Instead the Business Advisor asked them about their work experience to establish what skills they possessed. They both came from a financial background and so they were advised to look to those skills for a business. This advice has proved its worth, as AJM Accountancy has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 years.
They based the name of the business on the initials of their 3 children and they had very natural concerns that it would take a while to get going. Fortunately for them, this was not the case and they were soon inundated with clients. Initially they were based at home, but moved to their first offices in Bridgwater, when a client they had there had an office space vacant to use. With the novelty of not working from home and being busy, the dedicated work space had to grow.
Michelle’s first job at 17 years old was working for a building firm doing their book keeping. This enabled her to earn enough money to buy and run her first car. She completed her Apprenticeship, then went on to college to complete a Business and Finance Degree. After that she completed her Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications and has a full AAT membership since 1999, and became a Fellow member of the Association in 2017 (FMAAT) and a Member of Institute of Book Keepers (MICB). She is also governed by The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers which can help Michelle complete the necessary checks on new clients to avoid possible fraud and/or money laundering. AJM Accountancy can complete the financial accounts for all small to medium enterprises (with up to a £6 Million turnover).
When they initially started AJM they wanted the flexibility of being able to spend time with their families, which Michelle still maintains is priority. Whilst her daughters were young she always wanted to be the mum in the playground, to be there to collect them from school for at least 3 days per week. All of her clients have been fantastic and have accommodated her to allow this to happen. Even though her daughters are now teenagers she still tries to get home by 4pm to spend time with them.
Michelle tells us that she and Emma decided to dissolve their partnership, as they wanted to move in different directions professionally. It was decided between them that Michelle could retain the original business name. They are still best of friends and make time to see each other. After a couple of years Michelle expanded again and moved the business to the current Viney Street offices.
When asked, Michelle will say a downside of being self-employed is that she works a lot of hours, both in the office and at home. Like many of us, she always has her phone on to see her emails, and even though she has achieved and developed this successful business so far, she still finds that her time is governed by her clients and the work to do. Although having said this she doesn’t expect her staff, two fabulous ladies, to do the same. There certainly isn’t the expectation for them to work on their days off and at home. AJM is ‘her baby’ that she monitors consistently and doesn’t easily switch off. Ultimately, it’s because she doesn’t want to let people down, either her clients or her staff. Does this sound familiar readers? Only whilst on family holidays does she turn off the notifications and WIFI on her phone and only looks at it once a day, to kick back and relax.
When asked what she felt were the other downsides of being self-employed Michelle tells us that it’s the stress levels which are hard and I am sure that is a familiar subject to many us. Her working hours can be crazy at certain times of the year, i.e. December and January are busy months for Accountants. Financially being self-employed can be stressful, ensuring that she has enough business coming in to support both herself and her employees. Of course, on top of all of this is caring for her family and running the home. Being self- employed can be a juggling act and is not for the faint hearted Michelle tells us.
Her initial dreams for starting the business were quite common, a better house, a nice car and to help her husband provide for their family. She still strives to treat them and certainly doesn’t believe in spoiling her daughters. However, she would like to be able to afford to send the kids on educational and developmental trips with the school and to still pay the bills at home at the same time, she laughs. When asked what her immediate dreams are for AJM, Michelle responds by saying that she would like to keep expanding the business and possibly take on another couple of members of staff. Her 10 year plan/goal is looking forwards towards her retirement. She would like to develop the business further so that she will be able to step back a little to enjoy life. She aims to be able to hand the business over to her youngest daughter who has designs on becoming an Accountant herself. Michelle hopes to become a grandmother in the future and would love to adopt a ‘hands on approach’ as she has done with her daughters.
Michelle used to find it difficult to find the time for networking and she didn’t really enjoy it much either. She attended various groups in Taunton and has gradually come back round to the idea. Every business has to do a certain amount of networking in order to spread the word and to find new customers/clients. She says that she very much enjoys attending Somerset Ladies in Business as it has a more social atmosphere and can be fun due to the fabulous women who attend. There is no nastiness and our members are not competing with each other. We also do not charge huge memberships fees and insist on pressurising our members to bring along new people every month. She sums it up by saying that SLiB is fun, relaxed, professional and non-stuffy.
If you need any help with your accounts we can definitely recommend Michelle Chapell to help you. She is chatty, friendly and certainly knows her stuff!
Top Tips from Michelle for you Self Assessments;
- Make sure you keep all your receipts through the year, make sure you are organised, don’t lose them. You can’t put something through the business if you have no evidence of it.
- Try to do your self-assessment as soon as you can, don’t wait until January, the ideal time would be to complete this during the summer/September, put your accounts to bed! The early you do your return the longer you have to pay your tax bill. It also helps out the accountant’s life!
- Look to make your tax digital, a VAT registered company you have to become digital by April 2019, but will come in for everyone in 2020/2021, so everyone needs the right software, so i.e. QuickBooks & Zero are advertising there product. Implications instead of doing one tax return you will be expected to do four, one a quarter then a final one, with year-end totals, so 5 in total.
Connect with Michelle by clicking one of the links below: