People often ask me, why go back to college now? Well, after years of full-time work, living abroad, and having a family, I was ready for a new challenge. No stranger to overcoming adversity, I believe it's never too late to make a change. This is my I can I will story.
From managing staff in car dealerships to waitressing in Norway and working for the South Yorkshire Police, my journey has taken me everywhere. Being in a secure, corporate environment used to be my main priority, but as the years have gone by, my needs have changed.
My son, Lewis, is almost 16 and has his heart set on university. I'd love to make the most of my family life with him while I still can. So, I'm working hard to create more freedom to do the things I want to do. Oxbridge have paved the way for an exciting future, one where I gain accredited ICB Bookkeeping qualifications in a way that suits me. This flexible approach allowed me to embark on a new journey as a business owner.
Oxbridge have paved the way for an exciting future, one where I gain accredited ICB Bookkeeping qualifications in a way that suits me.
Forever an Adventurer
I've always been determined and willing to accept whatever opportunities life threw my way. In taking risks, I've discovered my true passions, which has led to life-changing experiences you could only dream up.
Picture this: I'm 19 years old, and I've taken myself to the gym to keep in shape. After a good workout, I lie down, pop cucumber over my eyes and unwind. I'm totally relaxed when a Norwegian lady called Belinda arrives for treatment on the next bed to mine. Little did I know that six months later, we'd become best friends and I'd be emigrating to Norway to live with her!
I left life as I knew it behind, with nothing but a small car packed with my possessions and a shed load of hope. Spending the coming months learning Norwegian, I eventually found work as a waitress in the beautiful mountains of Norway. I loved it there, built a life, and worked my way up the ladder to become a restaurant manager. The day I moved to Norway was the day I realised that life owes you nothing. If you want something, you have to make it happen and grab every opportunity with both hands.
Operator to Learner to Bookkeeper
When I moved back to the UK, I needed a stable career to support my son. It's one of the reasons I've enjoyed working for the South Yorkshire Police. It provided an ideal routine. But starting a family meant my priorities had changed, which is why starting a business became a long-term goal.
Don't get me wrong; I love my job working with the police. No two days are the same, and I enjoy being kept on my toes! So, quitting just never seemed like a sustainable option. But as my son grows older, I need to focus more on my family commitments and less on the 9-5 routine.
My days of Norwegian adventuring are far from over, though. I visit Norway regularly and have built up a network of friends over there. I'd love to build a career that will allow me to move back there one day. I am quite good with numbers, so bookkeeping seemed like a good business venture. It was my sister-in-law who suggested I train to become a Bookkeeper. I just needed to find a college that could help me get qualified in my own time around my working hours.
My tutor is very responsive, and the advisory team at Oxbridge are super friendly.
The Importance of Finding the Right Provider
My first experience of distance learning left me skeptical about the whole thing because it was a complete disaster. I won't name the college I'd enrolled with, but the support was so minimal. Sometimes I never got a response to the questions I asked, and felt like I was talking to a brick wall! I was studying my ICB Bookkeeping Level 2, and the communication breakdown left me feeling completely alone.
What I needed was a college that was just as willing to help me as I was to learn. Oxbridge's promise of personal tutor support had me sold. I decided to swap to Oxbridge halfway through my Level 2 course, and they were fantastic at accommodating the transfer!
Moving to a platform that allowed me to get quick advice and feedback is something that I found essential to my style of learning. For me, it's all about having a real person to speak to who genuinely cares, and Oxbridge helped bridge that gap.
The Benefits of Distance Learning
Juggling work and family commitments, I find that home learning suits me perfectly as I can study when I want, at the times I want.
Every day I get up at 6:30 am and turn my laptop on while the kettle boils. As my son has his breakfast, I try to complete at least one task. On my days off, I can complete a unit and nip to the shops in between for a break! I love the freedom of planning my future in this way.
The support network is fantastic. My tutor is very responsive, and the advisory team at Oxbridge are super friendly. Now I'm Level 2 qualified to do Bookkeeping to trial and have started building my business, ArithmancyBK, from home. It's early days, but my client list is steadily growing.
I'm currently working through a Level 3 Bookkeeping course with Oxbridge. When I pass, I can add VAT Returns to my list of services, and once I complete my Level 4, payroll too, adding value to my business. All seems to be going smoothly. However, that's not to say I haven't had my fair share of setbacks.
My experience with Oxbridge has made me self-sufficient in ways I've never been before.
Turning a Bad Situation on its Head
I'm well on the way to getting my Level 3 bookkeeping qualification. My business has become a young success, and I meet new clients every day, despite a terrible starting experience. It knocked my confidence to the point where I questioned my ability to go on. I'd taken on a new client who was convinced everything I did was wrong, and it made me doubt everything.
I was at my lowest and ready to give up altogether, but knew this was a test of my commitment. I sought a second opinion from an experienced bookkeeper who assured me everything I did for the client was perfect. She told me to stop wasting my energy trying to help someone who was resisting my efforts. I took her advice, I grew, I moved on.
Dropped in the deep end, the experience taught me that bookkeeping wasn't just about managing the books but also clients.
Level 3 in Bookkeeping and Beyond
My journey has inspired me to toughen up and believe in myself. I've always been someone who gives my all, but my experience with Oxbridge has made me self-sufficient in ways I've never been before.
My ambition is to complete my Level 3 this year and to keep moving up the levels to Fellow ICB status. I want to establish myself as a guru within the bookkeeping community. I'd love to build an engaging online forum. Much like the Facebook groups I often seek advice from. That way I can pay if forward, share my skills and knowledge, and readily grow my client list.
I hope that one day my business lets me support my family and contribute to my pension independently. If I can pay towards my son's university fees so he doesn't have to worry, I'd be over the moon!
For now, I'm just enjoying the challenge of it all. I'm dreaming of a future running my cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping business from a cosy cottage on a lake in Norway. I'm still best friends with Belinda, and the house I'm looking to buy is next to her rural mountain retreat. As single mums now running our own companies, we empower each other to live our brightest, fullest lives. Now I know I have the power to turn my dreams into a reality.
I can, I will.
To everyone trying to start a business, don't let your mind think you're not doing well.
A Final Word
To everyone trying to start a business, don't let your mind think you're not doing well. Believe me, YOU ARE. Don't tear yourself in two thinking you're not good enough because YOU ARE. It's a hard road and if you're putting in every ounce of effort to reach your goals, DON'T GIVE UP. If you have support, USE IT and if you need to chat, CALL A FRIEND.
We all have bad days; everyone you know that's in business had to start at the same place as you. So, don't let anyone make you feel inadequate, because YOU'RE NOT. You're on a journey and it takes time, patience, studying and a lot of hard work. But, if you are willing to give it your all, then you already have the tools you need to succeed. Go out, make it happen. You've got this!
Have you got an I can I will story to share like Suzanne? Let your voice be heard by heading over to our social media and show the world who you are! Don't forget to use the hashtag #IcanIwill.
If you've reached this point and realised you want to study something new, you can. Check out our distance learning courses here. But if you're unsure about what to study, you can speak to our advisers today on 0121 630 3000.