an accountant's perspective

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Gainsborough Woman Celebrates 10 Years in Business

Belinda Darley started her accountancy firm in a porta-cabin in 2004 and now celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a growing team behind her.

corringham road premises

She has taken the number of clients on the firm’s books from 50 to over 1500 and has recently had the ABC Accounting Service’s offices refurbished to accommodate growing demand. Belinda grew up in Gainsborough and the majority of businesses that her firm supports are from the area.

ABC Accounting Services was started because Belinda thought clients deserved a more tailored and cost-effective accounting service than the one large chains and franchises provided. The premises and charge-out-rates have always come second to straight talking communication and an open house policy.

Her local spirit is strong, Belinda proudly stated: ‘I would never leave Gainsborough, it is part of who I am and what ABC Accounting Services stands for – we have tons of local clients that pop in for a chat or just a natter all the time. This town is going in the right direction commercially and I am very happy to be part of its future.’

Of her ten years in business she had this to say: ‘you never get chance to relax and take stock of what you have accomplished. But, when I think about what I had when I started this company and where I am today it makes me want to laugh out loud in disbelief, grin, and cry, because it is so much more than I ever planned’.

The team at ABC will be celebrating ten years to the day in business on the 4th October with a few drinks in town courtesy of the boss!

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10 great resources to help you start your own business



  1. We are completely bias but without hesitation on this account. You usually get a free consultation with an accountant – a try before you buy deal. This gives you a fantastic resource to talk with an expert about what you need to get your business started and what they know from their years of experience about businesses like yours. Grab a cup of tea/coffee and talk to an accountant about what they could do for you and what they would advise you to do for yourself. Yes you can come to us for a free consultation and a chat if you like:
  2. One of my favourite resources is The Start Up Donut because it is such an accessible and content rich site that covers every element of starting a business in depth:
  3. Do not let the Sage sponsorship put you off there is some very useful tools on Startups with some industry specific content to boot. Take a look at:
  4. For a blog rich site take a look at They have in-depth articles about all sort of subjects from ‘how to run a business around your family’ to ‘making a connection’ which is a guide on communication technology:
  5. NBV Enterprise Solutions offers free start-up seminars and there is tons of useful information on their site to get you going. Just go to:
  6. No list of start-up resources would be complete without A comprehensive and trusted resource on all business matters:
  7. Unfortunately, no list would be complete without HM Revenue and Custom’s (HMRC) site either. However, handle this one with care. HMRC have a habit of confusing simple subjects and presenting their information in the driest, yawn inducing format known to man/woman! Enter at your own risk but do consult for deadlines and for trusted lists of employers/employees responsibilities:
  8. For inspiration alone visit the BBC’s page on start-up stories. This will also help you recover from HMRC’s sombre tone:
  9. Start Up Britain is a great site created this year with fresh and in some cases live content being added as the Start Up Tour navigates the country:
  10. To finish off this modest list of resources let’s throw in a bit of Richard Branson. When it comes to business there is always room for Branson and his engaging insights. This piece is called ‘ 8 tips to evolve a start-up into a successful business’:


One of Richard Branson’s favourite bits of advice is:

“Screw it, let’s do it!”

So, shall we?

If that isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger for information then we also have our own book out, written by our marketing manager with sections of insight from ABC Accounting Service’s director Belinda Darley.

This book has the perfect blend of tried and tested formula with a straight talking delivery so you will have a great grasp of the basics and own a resource that you can keep dipping into. To purchase a copy go to: Starting Up Your Own Business: An Accountant’s Perspective 

You can also visit our downloads page for more free resources:

Or arrange a free consultation at our offices in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire:

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Bucking the marketing trend



A recent article on Accountancy Age states that ‘accountants continue to fail in marketing activities’. Research done suggests that less than a third of accountancy firms have dedicated marketing or business development staff. Around a third keep no list of prospective clients, just under half use social media sites to promote their business and record marketing method to conversion stats.

ABC Accounting Services buck these trends and are part of the prosperous minority that embrace marketing with real success. As the research highlights there are three huge necessities when making marketing a priority for your business:

1) Make sure you have staff that are dedicated to marketing even if it is someone who shows a little innovation or independence on the team. Schedule in time that is dedicated to marketing and recording its progress.

2) Hit social media in a big way because clearly tons of your accountancy competitors still are not! There is a captive audience to be reached and tons of different platforms to test your material on. Use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to get started then you can always expand onto other sites that are gathering momentum.

3) Measure measure measure – how can you record what works and what does not if you are not keeping detailed information on what approaches you have tried and how many posts/conversations/leads led to full conversion from prospect to client. A simple spreadsheet will record everything you need to know in an easily accessible format.

Maintaining client numbers is hard enough but if you wish to grow and even expand then marketing is an essential tool that no practice can afford to be without. Start things small with a Facebook and Twitter profile. Ensure that someone can manage it and keep the content fresh and engaging. Then you can add networking events – say one every two weeks. Then comes an e-flyer campaign or an external SEO analysis and changes to the website to make sure you are getting the right footfall on your site from internet searches.

As things build then you need to be looking at employing someone who is dedicated to marketing but still able to liaise with staff and make sure your message remains an extension of what your company stands for. You all have to be on the same page and you have to be saying something worthy of the company name. What do you represent? What message do you wish to voice? What would you like to know about your business as a prospective client?

The article states that accountancy firms are continuing to fall short in marketing activities so this accountancy firm sees that as a massive opportunity. We intend to continue what we are doing in getting our message out there in a controlled, imaginative, and measurable fashion. Bucking the trend is the bright course of action here and we are proud to be doing just that!

Happy marketing everyone!

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Putting the icing on the cake

My karate coach once said to me:

‘sometimes you have to add icing to the cake’

I looked at him gone out but as he explained and as time has gone by I have grown to appreciate icing more and more.

So this is how he explained it. Icing is added when the cake is ready. You put all the hard work, effort, blood, sweat and tears (we are speaking metaphorically here in case you were wondering what god awful cake I was making in my spare time) into making the perfect cake. You get the temperature just right so it rises – nice and firm on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. The shape is flawless and you have left it the right amount of time to cool.

If this were a business then you have reached out to every potential client you can, spent your marketing budget, turned over every commission/contract/sale in record time and delivered top service whilst maintaining top quality on a 24/7, working yourself into the ground, schedule.

The icing is put on when it is time to admire the cake and appreciate all of your hard work. The icing is an awards ceremony, an office party or a day off work! Even half a day off work so that you can have a lie in and roll up to work when you are ready for a change rather than when you have to. It doesn’t really matter what you do because the trick is to do something just for you.

When you are training everyday – head down and rowing against an invisible opponent. Pushing an extra 10kg because it is essential for some reason. Hitting the punch bags harder and faster and sparring with better and better opponents because you have to keep losing to realise where your weaknesses are. My icing was sparring with easier opponents so I could see how far I had come and enjoy a mini victory. Even though those fights would not win me a tournament they made me feel good about myself, gave my confidence, a boost, and just for a moment I could switch my mind off and just enjoy the talent my body had absorbed and watch my automatic fighter step in.

For Belinda Darley this weekend she got to see her business shine in its newly promoted genre of dance. She has grown her clientele over the last six months and brought them all together for a day of tap workshops with The Pulse Collective. The footfall amounted to over 100 happy tappers taking part in Body Percussion, Beginner’s Tap, and Advanced Tap workshops. The day ended with a tap jam where Kane, Ryan and Eilidh showed off their skills and wowed their audience.

It was one of those days that was the accumulation of years of hard work, stress and effort. You could call it a blowout, a blast, a one in a million event that you have to grasp with both hands so for one moment you can say ‘hell yes – this has all been worth it’. Belinda embraced her moment and probably shattered herself out for the rest of the week in doing so but that is what they are all about.

Without the icing the cake is bland, incomplete and just hasn’t fulfilled its full potential. Business is a hard slog so make sure you make time for some icing moments. Take a look at what you have achieved and celebrate it. Belinda has a Facebook page full of thank you’s for organising the day and bringing something big and exciting to Gainsborough. The memories and experience of Sunday will keep on giving and provide the momentum to keep The Studio going for years to come. Icing days are not an over exuberance they are essential moral boosting, grin rendering occasions. You have permission to go out there and pat yourself on the back so go and do it!

If you fancy your own day of tap workshops with Kane D.Ricca leading at the helm then email . For more information on them go to – #RhythmArmy.  


Meet the Entrepreneur

Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

It has been estimated that just over 50% of all entrepreneurs went to University or College, depending on what country you reside in. So, around 50% of all entrepreneurs do it with barely any qualifications whatsoever, some did not even finish high school!

This is a nice message to get across to the children studying for their GCSE’s at the minute. Yes, higher education is a bonus but it is not an essential tool in the entrepreneur’s repertoire.
So what is?

There are those who seem to be born with a creative talent – able to see something missing from the market and create a prototype to fill said gap. There are those who are just too fiery and rebellious to work for an employer and so ruthlessly strut out on their own seeking out opportunity wherever they go. There are those who would like to do something differently and it is their compassion and approachability that make them capable of delivering top service and going that extra mile for each client. And, of course, there are those who combine these qualities and sit on our country’s rich list.

What skills do we see when we look closely at our young and mature entrepreneurs?

It is hard to compile a list of skills/ personality traits that fit entrepreneurs and this is where we find our answer to what makes them who they are. They do not fit in your standard mould and all possess a unique or highly refined trait that makes them stand out from the rest. That could be:

Charismatic – they are approachable and just seem to get on with everyone (Richard Branson)

Fearless – they are bold, powerful and decisive (Alan Sugar)

Ruthless – they do not stop – always searching for opportunity and expansion (Rupert Murdoch)

Talented – they see what we cannot – the future and what we will want next. Practically a prodigy (Mark Zuckerberg)

Innovative – they are always developing and creating new products/new ideas (Bill Gates)

Creative – they see the world in a different way and can show others their own take on the world (Walt Disney)

Ultimately, we can all work hard at these skills and add a little entrepreneur to our business but whether we can reach these heights is a personal dilemma. I do not think you have to be born with entrepreneurial skills to become one but you do have to have something the world will envy you for. Perhaps you can train your way towards that something or you have it and have not put it to its full potential. Seek out your inner entrepreneur and remember that 50% of the world’s best didn’t even go to University!

These following snippets were taken from a list compiled by Paul Hudson for Elite Daily, a piece entitled ‘100 Top Entrepreneurs who Succeeded without a College Degree’. The following were not big fans of higher education but you will recognise most of the names:

Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, US president – Finished one year of formal schooling, taught himself trigonometry and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer.

Ansel Adams: World famous photographer – dropped out of high school.

Barbara Lynch: Chef, owner of a group of restaurants, worth over $10 million – dropped out of high school.

Charles Culpeper: Owner and CEO of Coca Cola – dropped out of high school.

Dustin Moskovitz: Multi-millionaire co-founder of Facebook – Harvard dropout.

James Cameron: Oscar winning director, screenwriter and producer – dropped out of college.

Kemmons Wilson: Multi-millionaire founder of Holiday Inn – high school dropout.

Ray Kroc: Founder of McDonald’s – dropped out of high school.

Richard Branson: Billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more – dropped out of high school aged 16.

Steve Wozniak: Co-founder of Apple, billionaire – did not complete college.

Walt Disney: Founder of the Walt Disney Company – dropped out of high school at 16.

So now you have met the entrepreneur – were they who you thought? Are you capable of more than you have been taking on? Without risk there is no cultural reform – no technological revolution – no product reinvention. Take a calculated risk and see where it leads you…

By Jodie King 

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Are you thinking big enough?

Think Big launched today and was a very well received and successful event. Belinda and Lizzie delivered a great workshop full of helpful tips, facts, anecdotes and advice on how to run a successful business. They brought a room full of self-employed people together and assured them that their lonely, stressful and constant rollercoaster of a life was something they all shared. It takes a tenacious, driven, creative and resourceful individual to run a business but with the right support and mentality it can be the most rewarding and liberating experience of your life. The message today was very much: you are not alone!

The morning was packed full of useful info and it was neither stuffy or boring in the way it was shared – we laughed, we self-analysed and we left feeling like our confidence had been boosted and our motivational levels had been recharged. If you would like to experience a Think Big workshop for yourself then check out the tour dates here:

Here is what stood out to me this morning – five quotes to give you an idea of what it is all about. They are just a snippet of what was learnt and reaffirmed for all who attended:

1) ‘I saw what I wanted, looked into the best approach and I made it happen’


2) ‘It is never about selling what you have, it is about giving the client what they need’


3) ‘You have got to actually enjoy what you’re doing otherwise what is the point!’


4) ‘Go with your gut – it is rarely wrong and you could avoid some very dodgy dealers if you just trust your instincts’


5) Do not be afraid to say no! You do not have to do business with people who take advantage of you, put you down or are just plain rude!’


Belinda was refreshingly straight talking and said what goes on in most business people’s minds. It was the perfect arena to air problems, learn from others mistakes and discuss the pitfalls and pleasures of business. If you want to talk shop then this is ideal because there isn’t always someone to turn to when you need advice or just a good rant – Think Big is giving you this lifeline. Belinda promises to be available when you need her and Lizzie is accessible during sensible opening times! But what we have here is a genuine resource for hard working people who could sometimes do with someone to talk things through with. It is not a big money making venture – it is an effort to give something back to a community that has seen Belinda expand and grow and earn success through a hard slog. She is thankful for where her journey has taken her and now wants to offer a helping hand to anyone who needs it – provided they are human beings who put passion, drive and heart into what they do. To take advantage of her wisdom and expertise, and that of Lizzie Jordan (Yello Story), then get booked into the next workshop – you will not be sorry – absolute bargain for the knowledge imparted on the day.





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Local Connections

A more relaxed piece following on from the Budget article last week. We are all acutely aware of how important tax, VAT, national Insurance and PAYE are to our businesses. From the outset the two focus points for any business are:

1) Can I afford to run my own business: Accounting fees, tax and national insurance contributions, VAT quarters, premises costs, equipment costs, bank fees, employee wages…?

2) How do I get more clients/customers?

ABC has always nurtured local connections and much of the success of the business has come from this relentless activity and interaction. We get transfixed with bills and numbers when ultimately the real source of income is never going to be found at a desk!

I don’t have time to network!

I am too busy working for socialising and drinking coffee!

It’s pointless – everyone is out there to sell- not buy!

Belinda Darley, ABC’s director, couldn’t have proven these statements more wrong. She has an experienced team behind her and a very healthy client base but this has not reduced the amount of time she spends promoting her business. There are three solid reasons to attend networking events and meet with local business men/women:

1) If people like you they will think of your company when someone is in need of what you sell – you will get recommended because people connected to you/liked your story/found you genuine

2) You will get your business name out there – generate interest/make people aware of your existence

3) You will meet the faces behind local business and the ones you connect with can introduce you to friends/colleagues/other businesses – so your network quickly grows

Establishing local connections is far more valuable than sending out a run of flyers because you are face to face with your audience. You are your business and you get the opportunity to tell people why you do what you do. Tell them why this matters to you and maybe it will begin to matter to them as well. What business man/woman wouldn’t want to tap into a supportive network full of like-minded individuals?

Belinda has recently partnered with Lizzie Jordan of Yello Story to launch ThinkBIG. These will be a series of events designed to help those considering becoming self-employed, those who are self-employed and people who are already running a business.  The events are designed to empower entrepreneurs with the confidence and knowledge needed to make smart and decisive decisions from day one.

The workshops will include practical advice and insights from a marketing expert, a discussion about pooled experiences and knowledge, lots of advice from experienced and successful business owners, and lots of networking with likeminded individuals.

Belinda is hoping to impart some of her wisdom in a no jargon, easy to follow, inspirational format.  There really is no reason you cannot be out their putting your business on the map – it won’t sell itself and the greatest spokesperson for it is the person who founded it!

Go to for more information and details on when and where the events will take place.