Anyone who thinks bookkeeping is boring needs to meet Jules Hardie. With a shock of blonde hair, bright green eyes, and infectious energy, she’s a world away from the typical stereotype of a bean-counter. She lives and works from her home office on Bribie Island in Queensland. She is passionate about keeping her clients’ finances as fit as she is. For Jules, investing time in high-intensity training gives her professional performance a real boost. So, we caught up with her to discuss the benefits of finding a good work-life balance.
Why do you crunch numbers full-time rather than abs?
I started my professional life in an accounting firm before working with my partner Chris running the finances for our own companies. In between running four successful small businesses, I also spent five years at a major financial institution. However, we both realised that work was dominating life and was leaving us little time to do the fitness training that we loved, so we agreed to make a change. Today, I go to the gym five days a week and manage the books for my clients, so I get the best of both worlds!
How did you manage to achieve such a great balance?
We wanted a new career that combined my nous for numbers and our small business expertise, so we opened our own First Class Accounts franchise in 2006. The company culture really encourages healthy work-life balance. We also saw the potential cloud accounting offered to work more efficiently and remotely. While the first few years establishing our business was hard, it’s now in great shape. We’re now balancing the books from our Bribie Island home in Queensland.
Tropical island bliss and BAS returns. How does that work?
Well, we were servicing most of our clients remotely from a home office in northern New South Wales before we moved to Bribie Island, so we figured there was nothing to hold us back. Most of our clients work online so they were fine with our decision. Also the infrequent commute to those who need us to work onsite is easy. All of this means we have more time to hit the gym!
We’re talking pretty intense exercise, right? Tell us what you love about it.
I love training hard. I recently signed up to a ‘Fitter, Faster, Stronger Challenge’ at my local gym and came top in my club category. It’s a 12-week program designed to push you to the limit. It involves three high-intensity workouts a week that target different aspects of fitness, each of which you get scored on. While other competitors were stronger than me, I excelled in the faster and fitter areas of the program. So, what I lost at the bench press, I made up for in lightning speed burpees. I deliberately chose the toughest personal trainer because I was determined to win.
Does this competitive streak run over into your bookkeeping business?
Absolutely! If new leads come through, I really want to win them as clients. I have that hunger and drive to show them the value I could bring to their business, and how my service and expertise outperforms the competition.
Do you think your passion for fitness benefits you as a bookkeeper?
When I’m in the zone, I can feel my energy and focus levels increase. That’s really important for maintaining the discipline and motivation needed to run your own business. Bookkeeping is also a notoriously sedentary profession, so I prioritise doing something very active to keep myself in good mental and physical shape. For me, when my mind and body are in peak condition, it reflects in my performance and allows me to give my clients 100 per cent.
Do your clients ever ask you for tips?
Running a successful bookkeeping business isn’t all about reconciliations and receivables, it’s about building friendship and trust with your clients. And because most people want to improve their financial and personal fitness it means that we can establish great rapport. Many of them are as interested in my next crazy fitness challenge as they are my advice on how to grow their business.
Should all bookkeepers have an outside interest?
Regardless of your nine-to-five, I think everyone should do something they love after hours. It’s what keeps the fire in your belly burning, and taking time to live life will only inspire your work.
Jules Hardie is a First Class Accounts bookkeeper who prides herself on building long-term relationships with clients and providing financial management solutions that hit the mark every time.
This feature was originally published on Xero’s blog: https://www.xero.com/blog/2017/06/secret-life-bookkeepers-bookkeeping-fitness-fanatic-jules-hardie/