To achieve her goals, Helen embarked on the following course package:
The ICB Career Path, one of our self employment course package options.
After more than two decades working in the construction sector initially as a cost surveyor working in close conjunction with the accounts department and more latterly managing payroll, training and human resources as HR manager, Helen Armstrong was ready for a change, particularly wanting to put her professional talents to use in the not for profit sector. Helen initially reduced her hours in order to volunteer as PA to the lead pastor at Scunthorpe Baptist Church, and then took on a full-time role as manager of implementation and resources. Despite no formal training in bookkeeping, she assisted with the church’s accounting on the strength of her previous experience working alongside the accounts department.
Almost ten years later, Helen was forced to make another shift following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain, fatigue and sleeping difficulties. At 55 years of age, she craved a new challenge that would fit with her physical restrictions and so at the start of 2019 set up her own firm, Priority Business Services Ltd. As part of preparations for that, she decided to formalise her bookkeeping credentials with a diploma in payroll management through Ideal Schools.
“I knew that I didn’t want to go to college,” Helen said. “If I went to college, it would have taken me a lot longer to get to where I wanted to be.”
She began studying with Ideal Schools in October 2018, opting for the ICB Career Path. The career path bundle was good value, she said, but also came with the flexibility to earn her payroll diploma before starting the bookkeeping courses, which allowed Helen to get her new business off the ground faster than would have otherwise been the case.
She has now completed Level 2 in bookkeeping and is advancing through Level 3 with the help of the tutors from Ideal Schools.
“They are just so friendly, and very good at what they do,” Helen said. “You feel as if they are on your side, and they want you to do well”.
“Also, the turn-around time for marking is really exceptional. They guarantee they will get work back to you within 48 hours, and they have never broken their commitment on that.”
After setting up Priority Business Services, Helen met another local businesswoman, Rebecca Beaton, who runs her own accountancy business out of Barton upon Humber. Following a series of conversations, Helen has joined Rebecca Beaton Accountancy Services as part-time practice manager, working three days a week with responsibility for development and management of systems and processes, acting as the lead on payroll and handling day-to-day bookkeeping for several clients.
Her part-time employment combined with running her own business (primarily serving not for profit organisations) has put Helen in a strong position to continue pursuing her career while also meeting life’s other demands.
“You have to be willing to push at doors a bit, but the opportunities are out there,” she said.