A bookkeeper's path to work-life balance
Accountant & Bookkeeper Stories
5 min read
Linda Klok was building a successful bookkeeping career, when an unexpected illness taught her to slow down and find work-life balance. Find out how she did it.
Linda Klok, owner of Klox Business Solutions
Going to school in South Africa, Linda was taught accounting. But she reflects that it was her least favorite subject. It was only because of her mother’s sewing business that she had to learn it. Her father had just passed away, so Linda was asked to help out at the sewing shop with bookkeeping duties when she wasn’t at school. It wasn’t until years later, after moving to New Zealand, that she started her own company, Klox Business Solutions.
A narrow escape from bankruptcy and a fresh start
After high school, Linda went to university but soon found herself bored. So she started working, handling office, admin and bookkeeping for various local businesses. After a short stint as a tour guide in Zimbabwe, Linda got married in 1998. Her husband ran an engineering workshop, and Linda took on his office and accounting duties. In 2005, Linda started to notice some issues with the shop’s numbers. She raised her concerns with their accountant, but the accountant told her not to worry, it was just a small cash flow hiccup.
Unfortunately for Linda and her husband, her suspicions were correct. A few short months later they were on the verge of becoming bankrupt and were forced to close down the business. It was a challenging time for Linda and her family. The economy was very weak, they had to sell everything they owned, and they had narrowly escaped bankruptcy. It was time for a fresh start.
Owner of Klox Business Solutions
Christchurch, New Zealand
Business solutions using Xero, Receiptbank, Fergus, Google apps and many more
Before Klox Business Solutions
Computer programmer, tour guide, marketer, website and social media manager
Listening to music, watching movies and doing art with her kids, spending time with her husband
Linda and her husband
Bound for New Zealand with two suitcases and a hard drive
In 2006, Linda, her husband, and their then two-year-old daughter immigrated to New Zealand. They came with a hard drive and two suitcases each – clothes in his, and pots, pans and toys for her daughter in hers.
After the birth of her second daughter, she did administrative work for a friend, working while her daughter napped. It was during this time that she honed her business skills, including bookkeeping, admin and website management. One of the tasks was for a local community group. Linda convinced them to upgrade their GST accounting system to cloud accounting software – software that she’d taught herself how to use.
Soon after, Linda enrollled in a business class at a local college to get her business qualifications. Her mentor recommended she start her own business, and despite not being too excited about the idea, she decided to give it a go.
Starting a business of her own
Linda started Klox Business Solutions in 2014. Her first two clients were classmates from her business course. She realized that she could gain credibility, get more clients, and grow her business with a certification from the New Zealand Bookkeepers Association. “At that stage I still had no idea that I was doing bookkeeping, I thought I was mostly doing data entry. The Association taught me what bookkeeping means,” Linda comments with a smile.
Linda, her husband and their two daughters
Family life suffers at the expense of business success
It wasn’t long before business was booming. Linda was working around the clock. She felt like she didn’t even have time to grab coffee with a friend. “I was happy to leave my family emotionally,” she admits sadly. Her business became a success, but her life at home suffered.
And things only got busier when her biggest client offered her a full-time job as Operations Manager. Thinking this would be a great learning experience, she enthusiastically accepted the position.
A scary health diagnosis
Linda was now managing her own business while putting in 30 hours a week as Operations Manager. But a month into that role, she started having trouble with her health. “I had double vision and I really struggled to drive. It was difficult to walk and many other strange symptoms surfaced. The doctors and were puzzled – they couldn’t say what was happening,” she says.
She was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and urged to start treatment right away. The illness took a toll on Linda. She wasn’t able to keep up with the long hours as Operations Manager, as well as the demand of her own business.
Comfort through community
In this time of hardship, Linda saw what a supportive and kind community she was part of. “There were times that I needed to call on friends and say ‘I’m too weak to do this job and it needs to be finished. The client is waiting.’ And they would just come to my house and do the job.”
Since moving to New Zealand, without family nearby, she’s found consolation in the people she’s met over the years. It was incredible to see how many people came to help her during this time, and her clients surprised her as well. Many of them worked out a flexible schedule with Linda so that she could keep on servicing them from home when her energy was low.
“I feel that in my work and in my family, I’m getting served by others far more than I could serve them. Which has been always been the way I look at life – that we’re here to serve one another,” she says.
“A business is very much part of your life. If I can help my clients set up their business more efficiently, I know that they’ll prosper in life as well.”
Finding work-life balance
For Linda, the worst symptom of her MS is fatigue. So having the ability to work from home was monumental. “Bookkeeping has given me the opportunity to avoid needing to stop working in total. I can now decide when I have the energy to do things and then work around that,” she says. She also found that by outsourcing and automating a lot of her tasks, she could really focus on the core part of her business and get back valuable time. Time that she now spends with her family and resting.
“It has been a tremendous journey to see that you can actually focus much better if you learn to focus on what you really need to do. Then you can accomplish far more and you don’t need to work all hours,” says Linda.
Another lesson Linda learned through this process is that it’s okay to not take on certain clients, and let go of some that aren’t the right fit.
“We quite often lose sight of what is life really about – because you don’t want to work till you’re eighty. What’s important is who you’ll have around you when you grow old and weak. That’s when you need your friends and family. But they won’t be there if you divorce them emotionally while you’re focusing on a career alone.”
Helping others by being a virtual assistant
Throughout Linda’s journey, one thing has remained constant – her passion for helping others. Linda goes above and beyond the traditional role of a bookkeeper and prides herself on being a 'virtual assistant' to her clients, working on all parts of their business. “A business is very much part of your life. If I can help my clients set up their business more efficiently, I know that they’ll prosper in life as well,” says Linda.
Her connection to her clients is personal and she’s gotten a few of them through tough times. Some of them had to shut down their businesses. But Linda is always quick to reassure them. “You didn’t fail. Your business didn’t do well, but you as a person, haven’t failed. You can go on.”
“I find it so rewarding that I have an opportunity to still be adding value to businesses and that I can do it from home. The bookkeeping and virtual assistant work that I do stimulates me. It helps me not to focus on my illness, but rather keep my brain busy and it means I can still contribute to life outside myself,” she reflects.
Linda and her two daughters
A blessing in disguise
‘Grateful’ is the word Linda uses to describe how she feels about the last year. She’s now able to keep doing what she loves, but from home – finally finding some work-life balance.
“MS has brought me back to my family. It has strengthened my marriage. It forced me to focus on what is really important in life.” Linda says her faith played a crucial role in giving her the strength to overcome the challenges. “Faith carried me through and showed me the way. It has helped me come to peace with this chronic illness, whilst living life to its fullest.”