Mell Frost has run her own mobile bookkeeping business, The Business Genie, for over 15 years. Working with clients from a diversity of industry backgrounds either weekly, monthly, quarterly or on an ad-hoc basis, she provides bookkeeping, payroll and BAS Services as well as educating clients. Mell also works as a Sessional Lecturer within the School of Accounting at Curtin and holds a Master of Professional Accounting. She is currently in the process of writing her third and fourth bookkeeping and MYOB textbooks.
Q. What made you decide to start your own business?
The organisation I was working for was downsizing and I was part of a mass retrenchment. I had accumulated a fair chunk of time-in-lieu hours which weren’t paid out. I was fed up with working extra hours for no pay. My friend needed a bookkeeper once a week and told me there was a market for contract bookkeeping so I thought I would give it a try.
Q. Starting a new business venture can sometimes seem overwhelming. How did you prevent yourself from feeling like this and manage a positive outlook?
Luckily, I had worked in hospitality previously, where often the work was on a casual basis. I was used to working several jobs at once and some weeks or seasons you made lots of money and other weeks or seasons you didn’t. I knew I had the knowledge and experience. I put it out to the universe what I wanted and gave myself a year. I then took on other casual work, such as working at a child care centre, to keep the cash flowing while I built the business.
Q. As your business has grown over the years, how have you improved how your business operates?
Bookkeeping/Administration is an industry where basic routines and procedures are fairly similar. Compliance requirements in one business, such as paying superannuation and managing payroll, are pretty much the same in another. I was able to build up my own set of base documents, which could be tailored to different clients, instead of writing up new ones for every client.
Q. Has the power of giving back had a positive influence on growing your business and client base?
Potential new clients often look more favourably on the person who volunteers or is active in the community than on the person who doesn’t. Referrals are a great way to get new business and people will only refer you if they like you!
Q. What are the benefits of being a mobile business?
The biggest benefit of having a mobile business is that you are not tied to an office. You can work from home, from your friend’s house or from university between classes. Many clients appreciate not having to travel to you. You can change your timetable to suit you or your client. It also increases the range for which you can supply your services. I have clients in Carabooda 67 km north to Mundijong about 45 km south of my house.