A determined Perth mum and self-proclaimed 'numbers girl', who has been running a successful contract bookkeeping service for more than 15 years, says the secret to her success is hard work and building long-term connections with customers.
Jackie Roufail, owner of Jackstar Bookkeeping Services, began her business in 2004. Then, she was unexpectedly single and needed an income to support herself and a new baby.
Ms Roufail had studied accountancy and worked in the industry but did not complete final exams. But she had bookkeeping skills so she launched her company and has made an excellent living since, knocking into shape the accounts of many Perth firms.
“I wanted the flexibility to be a full-time mum, but still earn an income,” she said. She was fortunate with her business timing. A tariff – the Goods and Services Tax – had been introduced in Australia in 2000 and was causing admin difficulties for small businesses.
“A lot of people were in a position in which bookkeeping was something that was quite daunting,” Ms Roufail said. “I found that there was a niche for people to have a contractor bookkeeper, especially with the smaller businesses that couldn’t afford someone full time.
“And it worked really well because I would have clients come and drop off their paperwork to me at home. While my daughter was napping, I’d be able to do their books and then they would come back and pick it up.”
When she was studying accountancy, ledgers were commonplace. Her career evolved with software packages replacing pulp. She noted, too, how her business evolved with demands of a growing child.
“As my daughter got older – she was one at the time – she started going to day care. When that occurred, I started getting clients where I’d go to their offices for a day,” Ms Roufail said.
About 10 years ago, she received another fillip when the Australian Taxation Office began registering bookkeepers who worked on business activity statements. Some older hands quit, unwilling to undergo accreditation tests. She expanded into spaces they vacated.
This year, her daughter turns 16 and Ms Roufail has more than 60 clients.
One thing never changed: Ms Roufail continues to run Jackstar Bookkeeping Services from home, though fully-fitted business premises are within her scope.
The rapport she built with local firms – in one case she works for the daughter of longstanding clients – is personally important.
“I think my greatest achievement is the friendships and relationships that I form with the majority of my clients,” Ms Roufail says. “I don’t even class them as clients, they’re all friends. I go to their family parties, I’m part of everyone’s lives.”
Clients can spend more time with families if she does their paperwork, she argues.
The work is varied. One day she works in the diamond industry, the next with a builder, the day after that a hair salon and then a nuts and bolts business. “Everyone’s ultimate goal is their family,” Ms Roufail concludes. “So, if I can do what I do best, and the people I work for do what they do best, everything just works out better.”
That philosophy frames her advice for people doing their own accounts.
“Sometimes we take on things thinking we’re saving money by doing them, but, in the long run, they can end up costing us money,” she warns.
This article is one of many featured in 'Adapters', a series in WABN exclusively for Perth Media clients, profiling news of innovative small businesses, start-ups and not for profits. Jackstar Bookkeeping Services contracts for Perth Media.