A ‘Wild’ bookkeeping journey with tech as the engine
Penelope Allard has taken a winding journey in both life and business, and Senta technology is helping her follow a successful and fulfilling path.
Bookkeeping from the word go
“My working life has always centred around bookkeeping and accounting – even with all the changes that have gone on around me.
“I did the books for my Dad from the age of 13 after school – all on paper ledgers and balanced without a calculator. After that I worked with my Dad’s accountant and then moved into industry and became part-qualified through the ACCA. Learning that I wanted to run my own business and have regular contact with my clients, bookkeeping seemed the best way to achieve that. I gained a practice licence after qualifying with the ICB.
“I realised how important bookkeeping was – and that was my focus, alongside offering the standard accounting compliance services.
“I have always spent time around boats and sailing but in 2011, I took up open water swimming. In fact, the ‘Wild Bookkeeping’ name came from a family holiday in south Wales in late October where I’m stood freezing in my costume but facing up to a big wave. ‘Standing firm but being flexible’, which is what I offer my clients. As a single parent my family (including three children) are really important to me – and my clients become my family.”
Out in the Wild with Senta
“My firm has been running since 2008, and ticked along with my main focus being the raising of my children. As a single parent from 2014, I needed to support them which meant growing the business. And then, as the children grew they needed less of my time – and at this point have come through university very successfully!
“The next part of the journey was to push for growth, and if that meant more staff then I realised I would need to systemise the work to be able to delegate. When I took on Senta I found it easy to create and manage processes and workflows… But then there was Covid.
“Things were changing very quickly through Spring 2020 and I was worried. If work came in I had to say ‘yes’ – and then feed the ever-changing information out to clients. Senta was fantastic in terms of mail-merging and sending out information. I then took on GoProposal to help with pricing, and my first staff member came in during December 2020 – I’d also started subcontracting some tax work as well.
“The Senta process templates were broad at the start, but as I took on staff I thought more about what work the new members could undertake – so I added more detail into the system and processes. When staff have ‘gaps’ I use Senta to create routines to answer those questions. It’s almost the instruction manual for my practice, to the method and standard that I want things done.”
Starting off with Senta
“The Senta tech contains out-of-the-box templates. Initially I wanted Senta as a document portal back in 2018 so that I could better manage compliance with GDPR, particularly around the sharing of tax information between the firm and clients. Then I realised it was quickly cutting down the time that would have otherwise been needed to manually share information (while avoiding emailing files).
“As I began modifying the templates it opened my eyes to what was possible. I then thought more deeply about how I and the practice worked, and if things could be done better or more efficiently.
“Now, with staff, Senta gives me reassurance that I know what they’re doing and have been doing. It shows me where we are and if I need to jump in and help, or not. My Senta is now very different to when it came out of the box – and am now even talking to other bookkeepers about its use and now offer a Senta Power Hour.”
The future for bookkeeping, accounting, MTD, and family
“My plan was to support my children, with my business being really important to me as well. I wanted my firm to grow, take on more staff and get to the point where my focus was on developing it. Senta has helped, and is helping, me do that.
“The detail I’m adding into Senta is around steps and instructions – so clients get the same service as if it was me.
“I love the sales and marketing side of things, and love talking to people and clients… and to swim and be with my family – so I become a business owner rather than having a ‘job’.
“With MTD for income tax self-assessment coming down the track, I think Senta will be invaluable with keeping on top of those deadlines – in fact without it, it would be impossible.
“Accountants, focusing on compliance, need bookkeeping undertaken for their clients. So the link between accountants and bookkeepers is closer than ever. With bookkeeping at the heart of my firm, MTD shouldn’t change my business really. My clients already have up-to-date figures.”