Introduction: The Emergence of a Dream

“Being self-employed and working from home,” was a distant dream for Nicola Tennant until she made the bold decision to step out of her comfort zone in May 2020. After 20 years of stressful night shifts within the Fire Service emergency control room, Nicola knew that her job was “not adding worth to [her] life anymore.” As she approached her 50th birthday, she found herself at a career crossroads.

Embarking on a New Path

Nicola, who “always enjoyed administrative type roles” and was “extremely meticulous to detail,” decided it was time to act on her dream of self-employment. She bought a £20 laptop and began helping her sister with administrative work for her business. As she did so, Nicola quickly recognised ways in which she could add value to her sister’s business, helping her save time and money.

This experience sparked something and set her on a path of career discovery. “It triggered an interest in me so I started to research qualifications that I would need,” Nicola shared. She eventually stumbled upon Ideal Schools, and as she says, “the rest is history.”

The Determined Student

Nicola quit her job and embraced her new identity as a mature student. She understood the importance of investing in herself and the tools she would require.

“I changed the spare room into an office, and traded in the £20 laptop for a grown-up PC.”

She was now ready to dive deep into her new journey.

She enrolled on Ideal Schools’ popular MICB – ICB Levels 2 & 3 Certificates in Bookkeeping & Accounts, received her course materials and started studying. Initially, the process was daunting. “What on earth was I doing?” was her initial reaction. However, she soon found a study rhythm that was not only “enjoyable” but also “borderline addictive.”

The Challenges of Learning

Despite her enthusiasm, the journey was not all smooth sailing. The assignments and tests gave Nicola flashbacks to school, raising anxiety levels. But her meticulous studying paid off, earning her distinctions along the way. “This boosted my confidence no end,” she shared.

Nicola’s experience echoes the findings of a study by Glocker, Lamo, and Messina (2019), which indicates that adult learners often bring a more significant degree of determination to their studies, leading to improved performance. Additionally, engaging in adult learning is linked with increased self-confidence, mirroring Nicola’s journey.

Ideal Schools: The Unwavering Support System

There were days when Nicola felt out of her depth. She confessed, “not even nature blooms every day.” This is when Ideal Schools’ support was invaluable.

“The tutors were always there to help me when I was stuck and confused. They not only supported me to get to the finish line but helped me smash through it!”

In 2022, when Nicola suffered a personal trauma and needed some time out, Ideal Schools understood, allowing her to take a break and focus on her wellbeing. When she was ready, she returned and passed her last exam, earning her practice license. She was “totally blown away.”

Launching a Successful Practice

One year on, Nicola is still an Ideal Schools student, now studying ICB Level 3 Diploma in Payroll Management. Moreover, she’s the proud owner of a 20+ client practice, Doodles Accounting and Bookkeeping Services, and about to move into her own rented office. Her journey from being an employee to owning her successful practice has been nothing short of impressive.

Studies have shown that self-employment can increase job satisfaction and work-life balance (Binder & Coad, 2013). Nicola’s journey from an employed administrative worker to a self-employed bookkeeper is a testament to this. Through her commitment and Ideal Schools’ support, she has not only achieved her dream but created a fulfilling life.

If you’re considering kick-starting your bookkeeping career or adding new skills to your CV, Nicola’s story stands as a strong testament to what Ideal Schools can do for you.

“With Ideal Schools in my corner and some investment in me, I have come so far since those days of being an employee.”

Why not get in touch with us here at Ideal Schools and take that first step on your own journey to success?


Glocker, D., Lamo, A., & Messina, J. (2019). Determinants of adult learning: How important is formality? Economics of Education Review, 72, 77-90.
Binder, M., & Coad, A. (2013). Life satisfaction and self-employment: a matching approach. Small Business Economics, 40(4), 1009-1033.