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THE Accountants for Women in Business.

Empowering female founders to finally understand their business finances and performance to succeed and thrive.

How did it all begin?

I’ve always been incredibly ambitious. I qualified as a Chartered Accountant at a top London accountancy firm, then became an audit manager at another leading practice in Kent. Afterward, I transitioned into the industry, gaining extensive experience as a Financial Controller and Finance Director in an SME, a role I truly loved. However, everything changed when I became pregnant with my first daughter in 2015.

Returning to full-time work after a brief maternity leave was a challenge. I was the only female director among nine and the only mother who had returned after maternity leave. The guilt of leaving my 3-month-old baby in full-time nursery care was overwhelming. Despite trying to persevere, I had a burning desire to start my own business and achieve the flexibility I needed as a new mum.

In 2016, I founded Fosters. Although I always envisioned starting my own accountancy practice, I didn’t anticipate doing it with a young baby and no savings. It was the push I needed, and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made!

What sets your business apart?

We are forward-thinking accountants who focus on the bigger picture of your life and business goals, helping you develop a plan to achieve them.

Based in London, we offer high-quality services without the hefty price tag, providing a personal touch. Though small, we work closely with a network of industry professionals, including specialist tax advisors and financial planners, to offer a comprehensive service.

What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?

We support exceptional female-run businesses, helping them feel confident about their finances and ensuring they can meet their obligations, from taxes to payroll, while supporting their families.

Our services range from hassle-free annual accounts and tax returns to cash flow improvement tools and succession planning. We understand the overwhelming challenges of managing business finances and provide timely, proactive advice to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions.

Our goal is to prevent businesses from failing due to financial neglect, allowing owners to focus on what they do best.

Where to next/What is your brand vision?

Our vision is to continue offering accountancy services in a refreshingly proactive way, empowering female entrepreneurs and paving the way for future generations. We aim to build on our reputation for excellent advice and first-class service, become more established in London, and eventually open permanent offices there.

Stacey Foster

Founder of

Fosters Accountants and Consultants Ltd

What do you feel passionate about/what drives you?

1) Supporting Working Mums: I am passionate about increasing flexibility for working mothers. While COVID-19 has improved the acceptance of remote work, we still need significant advancements in supporting working parents, including better childcare funding and more paid time off during school holidays.

2) Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Addressing and closing the gender pay gap is a key passion of mine. Equal pay for equal work is fundamental, and I am committed to advocating for policies and practices that promote pay equity.

3) Educational Reform: I am passionate about reforming the educational system to better prepare teenagers for real-life challenges. This includes teaching practical skills such as understanding mortgages and taxes, rather than focusing solely on academic subjects that may not be relevant in their future lives.

4) Regulating Accountancy: The lack of regulation in the accountancy profession concerns me deeply. As it stands, anyone can call themselves an accountant, leading to potentially harmful advice. I am a strong advocate for regulating this profession to ensure that only qualified individuals provide financial guidance.

Share an example of early life that has shaped you?

Growing up on a council estate with limited financial resources significantly shaped who I am today. I didn’t attend university, which I initially felt was a disadvantage and a source of embarrassment. As a Chartered Accountant, many assumed I had a university education, and I often let them believe that. However, I have come to wear my non-traditional path as a badge of honor. I am proud of the practical knowledge and comprehensive experience I gained outside of the university setting, which has allowed me to advance further than many of my peers who followed the conventional route.

Highlights of your business journey so far?

· Resilience and Survival: Successfully navigating the challenges and thriving through it all.
· Achieving Multi Six-Figure Turnover: Reaching significant financial milestones in business growth.
· Developing Talent: Nurturing staff from school leavers to becoming chartered accountants.
· Supporting Clients: Helping hundreds of clients grow and thrive, making a positive impact on their businesses.
· Building Connections: Forming strong business connections that have turned into lasting friendships.
· Learning from Failures: Embracing setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.

Key lessons you have learned along the way?

1) Trust Your Intuition: Always listen to your gut feelings; they often guide you in the right direction. 2) Proactive Hiring: Hire before you reach a point of desperation. This prevents the need to hastily hire the first person available. 3) Diversify Your Client Base: Avoid relying too heavily on one or two clients to ensure stability and reduce risk.

Best piece of advice you have received?

You may not always see the impact, but your actions create ripples that have the power to change people’s lives.

Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?

1) Pursue Your Dreams: Just go for it. Follow your passions and aspirations without hesitation.

2) Ignore the Naysayers: Don’t let doubters, even close ones like family, dissuade you from leaving your ‘safe’ corporate job to chase your dreams.

3) Support Others: Make an effort to open doors and create opportunities for others.

4) Be Mindful of Your Time: Manage your time wisely and prioritise effectively.

5) Get Professional Support Early: Hire an accountant early in your business journey to ensure sound financial management.

What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?

When I started my business, I had no savings, a new baby, and significant childcare expenses. I had no choice but to make it work. I secured a start-up loan, which allowed me to hire my first employee when I decided to expand my family a year into the business.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I took a bounce-back loan because, as a small business owner, there wasn’t much other support available, and I had staff to pay and some clients were not paying me.

Aside from these loans, my growth has been entirely organic. I wanted to maintain control over my business rather than bringing in outside investors, which would have felt like trading my independence for just another job.

Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?

Where do I start!

1) I faced significant challenges when major debtors closed their businesses, leaving me scrambling to make payroll. I overcame this by diversifying my client base and implementing stricter credit controls.

2) A senior employee left in 2023, taking 30% of our clients with him. I am focused on building new client relationships, strengthening our team, and improving client retention strategies.

3) Managing a business while having three babies added a tremendous mental load. I overcame this by building a reliable support network, delegating responsibilities, and prioritising self-care to maintain my mental health. (After recovering from burn-out of course!).

Why is it important to support women-led business?

Inspiring Future Generations: Supporting women-led businesses paves the way for our daughters and future generations, showing them that leadership and entrepreneurship are attainable goals.
Challenging Gender Norms: The business world remains predominantly male-dominated. Supporting women helps to challenge and change this dynamic, promoting a more inclusive environment.
Diverse Contributions: Women bring unique perspectives and skills to the table, enriching the business landscape with diversity and innovation.
Community Benefits: When we support women, the entire community benefits. Women’s businesses often prioritise social responsibility, community involvement, and sustainable practices, leading to broader positive impacts.

60

Seconds

with

Stacey Foster

My inspiration is...

My 3 beautiful children. They are my why. 😊

My greatest fear is...

Having regrets.

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is...

Starting my business against family’s advice.

Guilty pleasure?

Ponies.

Mantra you live by?

Everything happens for a reason.

Female role model?

Madam CJ Walker.

Women-led brand you love?

Noughty natural products.

Top productivity tool?

Xero accountancy software and Asana for organising my to-do list.

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