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Productivity / Professional development

My ideal ‘lifestyle business’ career choice

Accounting has given me the flexibility to work and enjoy my kids. How has life changed now they’ve flown the coop?

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For the last decade, I’ve been a virtual, soloist worker. It’s been both rewarding and flexible. I’ve attended countless musical performances, sport events and volunteered at heaps of children activities. I’ve used my brain, helped thousands of small businesses, and I’ve been a present parent.

My kids are two years apart and between the first arriving and the last starting university it’s been a twenty-year journey. Of course, parenting never ends but the most time consuming mundane parenting activities are over. I’m finally at the other side.

So, what does the other side look like?

I have grey hair – let’s call it silver.

I can sleep in – however, I’m wide awake at 5 am every morning.

"An accountant told me once she was confident using Xero along with Receipt Bank … she increased her hourly rate by $40"

I have time to think about nothing or everything.

My mind is still fresh and active, and I still have lots of ideas, and now I have the time, insight and capacity to roll them out.

I have extensive experience gained over a long period of time.

I have a rich business network gained over a long period of time.

I’m reliable and consistent, and now I have the capacity.

I’m being approached about board opportunities and business advisory roles.

I’m back baby, and the opportunities are hot!

Accounting lends itself to the life of a soloist.

I’ve found my profession has really lent itself to the life of a soloist, particularly if you have a family to care for. With the advent of online solutions, most work can be done at home at a time that suits you. Yes, interpret that as after 8pm once the kids are in bed!

Being a pragmatic accountant, I got pregnant the day the accounting qualification pass results arrived in the mail. So, with a bun in the oven, I started on a strong foundation. I think accountancy is the foundation of a great career and lends itself to many opportunities.

The accounting world has been evolving fast, and fortunately for us – there’s a lot of learning and upskilling opportunities available freely online. QBO, MYOB and Xero are the main accounting solutions and they offer a plethora of online videos and tutorials. The developing eco-systems of business solutions that integrate with accounting software also have their own learning modules. An accountant told me that once she was confident using Xero along with Receipt Bank – a bills and receipt scanning solution and Expensify – an expense reports solution, she increased her hourly rate by $40 – that’s crazy, hey? But it’s achievable and accessible for accountants, and useful for small businesses.

So, what’s next on this soloist’s journey?

With the experience I’ve gained over the last decade as a virtual worker, rather than moving into an employed role, I’m exploring what it means to be a digital nomad, with my 100 percent online client base.

It’s still a bit of a shock to find myself on the other side. To-do lists get completed. I’m no longer juggling. I have gaps of time with no commitments, and sure it’s great. But so was having the children ask for homework help, sharing their latest dilemma, or noticing something was up and having the time just to hear them.

Enjoy the time you’re spending with the kids at home – twenty years fly by!

Heather Smith

is a Chartered Certified Accountant & Xero Accounting Advisor specialising in moving businesses to the cloud, improving productivity and profits. She's written six books including Xero for Dummies & Learn Small Business Start-Up in 7 Days.

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