Bookkeeping remotely to overcome professional burnout
Accountant & Bookkeeper Stories
5 min read
A failed business didn’t stop Leaine Jones from starting a successful bookkeeping firm. Discover how she overcame professional burnout by working remotely.
Leaine Jones, owner of Jones Business Solutions
As an introvert, forging new client relationships hasn’t always been easy for Leaine. Originally from New Zealand, she spent her last year of high school as an exchange student in South Africa. That’s where she found her genuine love of people. “At the time I didn’t think it was significant, but it was.” she recalls. While she was only 16 at the time, the experience has stayed with her ever since.
Leaine now owns a thriving bookkeeping firm – but with a marital break-up, financial stress and ill health along the way, the journey has been anything but easy. Her first business shut down after only a year. So when she opened her second one – Jones Business Solutions – she was intent on taking a more gradual approach to building it up. Ten years later, business is booming. But Leaine still finds value in knowing how to de-stress and avoid professional burnout again.
Developing her math skills
When Leaine returned to New Zealand from her exchange program, her first job was at a local bank. Math was a challenge in high school, but she really enjoyed the customer service part of her new job. Little by little, she improved her math and even performed in the top 10% at the bank. She was learning valuable skills that would later help launch her bookkeeping career.
At 19 years young, Leaine fell in love, got married and had two children in quick succession. It wasn’t long after the kids were born that Leaine and her husband embarked on a new adventure to Riversdale Beach. The opportunity came up to take over the lease at the local store and that’s where she started to learn accounting. “An accountant came and showed me how to do the books on a 16-column cash ledger book,” she reflects.
Leaine and her daughter doing some artwork
Owner of Jones Business Solutions
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Bookkeeping and business solutions
Before Jones Business Solutions
Bank, general store, car wrecking yard
Meditation, yoga, being in the countryside with her family and animals
From the family business to self-employment
While she loved the accounting work at the store, it was short-lived. She split up with her husband and they had to sell the business soon after. Going through a break up and transitioning out of the business was emotionally exhausting for her. She returned to the banking world, but having already caught the entrepreneurship bug, she realized the 9-to-5 routine wasn’t for her.
So she bravely packed up her things, moved up north to Hawke’s Bay, and opened a cafe. However only twelve months in, Leaine made the difficult decision to close the business down.
“The cafe wasn’t performing and it was tough work. I talked to the bank and made sure I could pay the wages. And I personally contacted our creditors. I told them what I owed, and how I would pay them. And I delivered on those promises.”
After the cafe dissolved, Leaine enrollled in some business classes. It was then that she realized her knowledge of accounting was much stronger than she thought.
Onward to Wellington, New Zealand
When Leaine remarried, her husband’s work brought them to Wellington. She quickly found a new job, where she worked closely with an accountant. “That was fantastic. I learnt about accruals and journals and it really put me in good stead to do bookkeeping,” she says.
She decided to learn how to use bookkeeping software and discovered how efficient it was. “I took a class and the accountant who taught it suggested I’d be great at doing it for a living. She gave me my first client and mentored me,” she reflects.
Back in business – but overwhelmed
With the few clients from her instructor, and the software know-how, she made the jump back into entrepreneurship and started Jones Business Solutions in 2007. It was a slow transition to being full time, but after a year, she was all in.
The business flourished and using online software enabled her to take on even more clients. But this meant she needed to hire staff. And Leaine admits that was a challenge for her. “I’m not a good manager of staff. I’m a good team-collaborator kind of person.” This took a toll on Leaine who was now working more than ever. “I was overworked and overcommitted. All I was doing was working.”
"To me attitude is everything. It’s not about qualifications or what’s on a piece of paper."
Not recognizing the signs of professional burnout
The pressure she experienced was only the half of it. Her husband was a business owner himself, and the motel he’d purchased was struggling. “We had huge financial stress,” she says. “I went to the doctor for the first time in five years,” she reflects. “She told me my blood pressure was so high, I was about to have a heart attack.”
This stopped Leaine in her tracks and she immediately made the decision to take two weeks off. “I stopped. I turned everything off and put on an out of office message. I went back to yoga, daily meditation, looked at what I was eating and saw my grandchildren,” she says. “That was the longest break I’d had in seven years.”
Working remotely and living the country life
When she returned to the business, she was determined to do things differently. “We put in regular breaks, I downsized my team, I let go of a few clients that were giving me grief. I really had to change what my business was about.” And one of those changes was moving her office to her country home.
As someone who grew up on a farm, being away from the city has a calming effect on her. “It’s my haven.” she says.
Leaine and her alpacas on the farm
Paying it forward through mentorship
Leaine’s wealth of experience and wisdom mean that she’s perfectly equipped to mentor those just starting their bookkeeping journey. “I’m a fan of young people and I’ve helped a lot of students harness their abilities. To me attitude is everything. It’s not about qualifications or what’s on a piece of paper,” she says. And her mentorship also extends to involvement with the New Zealand Bookkeepers Association. “I’ve been a massive advocate for the Association. I wish there was something like that when I started, because you do feel isolated at times.”
Owning a business can be tough, and Leaine understands the struggles and demands it involves all too well. That’s why she’s determined to focus on sharing her knowledge in the hope that it will help others.