A Chat with Kate Brown

Today we caught up with Kate Brown who runs the successful Stenson Office Services in Derby.  Kate had a varied career before becoming a bookkeepers with roles as diverse as working for Harrods and the British Army.  After gaining invaluable experience of small business finance within a construction firm, she set up her bookkeeping business in Derby four years ago.  She is a member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and when she's not busy helping business owners with their finance she can be found chairing the ICB Derbyshire branch.

How did you first get interested in bookkeeping?

I used to run the office for a small construction firm, and because I was enthusiastic and liked learning, my boss kept throwing extra responsibilities my way, one of which was the bookkeeping. The light this new information shed on the business was really interesting, and I decided to put myself through the ICB qualifications to reinforce my experience.

What made you decide to start your own business rather than working for someone else?

It all stemmed from a sense of frustration that, as an employee, I couldn't influence the direction of the business I was working for; I had very clear ideas about customer service, quality and business strategy, which I wanted the opportunity to put in place. Basically I had ambitions well beyond what that business could offer, and I wanted to be in control of my own destiny.

What is the best thing about being your own boss?

Being in control of where the business is heading - starting with nothing and building a business that makes other people's lives easier, creates employment and provides me with interesting challenges and opportunities that I just couldn't get anywhere else.

What is the biggest challenge you face right now in your business?

Getting away from working in the business to working on the business. The client work still needs doing, marketing the business is all down to me, and I need to find time to develop systems and find and train staff. Not easy!

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?

Have a clear idea of what you want from your business. Will it be just you, or you and a team? How much do you need to make to replace your current income? What does that look like in terms of numbers of clients? Working for yourself should mean that you can suit yourself in a way that an employee can't - but it won't happen without some proper planning.

What does the future hold for your business?

My current office will become a blueprint for a number of branches across the Midlands (maybe the UK?). I'm also planning to introduce a training arm for business owners who want to do their own bookkeeping.

You can find Kate's website at www.stensonoffice.co.uk

1 comment


Hi Kate. That sounds really good. I image it can be quite challenging working with the construction industry but very interested too. I'm chairing the first Dudley ICB meeting this week so any advice would be appreciated. Well done Kate
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