Customer Stories

Choose a story below to discover how CBC can help your business

The Marketing Consultant

Lisa Clennell

Who is Lisa and why did she need my help?

Lisa runs Your Happy Customer, a customer-focused marketing agency. She advises companies – large and small – on how to build real customer relationships for more business, increased profit and happier customers. The way Lisa approaches marketing has always struck a chord with me, I’ve always concentrated on looking after my existing customers, knowing that happy customers spread the word far better than any online marketing campaign!

This mindset is missing in much of the accountancy industry, with many firms taking on clients and just moving them through on an annual conveyor belt without trying to establish meaningful relationships with them. I, on the other hand, like to educate and support my clients throughout the year – I’m not just on the other end of a phone at tax return time. In some ways I’m more of a business adviser than an accountant.

Lisa needed accountancy support thanks to a scary letter from HMRC about a fine for a missed tax return. It’s one of those moments you dread as a small business owner and Lisa knew she needed professional help to resolve the situation.

Where I came into the picture

Lisa and I originally met at a Trafford Women in Business networking event. I love meeting with other like-minded business owners, working around their young kids like I am, and networks like this have proved really important for my business. (So much so that I’ve set up my own, the Organised Entrepreneurs Club, which all my clients are automatically welcomed into when we start working together.)

When Lisa stood up to pitch her business that day at the networking event, I felt really aligned to her way of working. I also loved the fact that when her childcare hadn’t worked out, instead of cancelling, she’d just brought her daughter with her – she was happily colouring in while her mum was networking! So, when Lisa emailed a few weeks later to say she’d had this letter from HMRC we set up a chat and agreed to support each other mutually – me doing her accounting and Lisa helping me with some marketing for my own business.

The steps I took

As soon as Lisa was onboard as a CBC client, I got her onto my HMRC agent list. This meant I could speak to HMRC on her behalf and get to the bottom of what had happened. It turned out that Lisa had registered her business in March but didn’t start trading until April or May – into the next tax year. So HMRC had been expecting a tax return covering any income from the previous tax year but there wasn’t any so Lisa hadn’t submitted one. I cleared it up with them: they were satisfied with the explanation and wiped the fines from her account. And Lisa’s been a client ever since.

“She solved a tax issue like magic and has already sorted next year’s tax return (6 months in advance!).”

Once we’d sorted the HMRC issue, I got Lisa onto FreeAgent, the accounting software I support all my clients with. More recently, she’s also been to one of my Profit First workshops and now uses that approach for her business. I’m a huge fan of the Profit First system and it can help people in a range of ways. For Lisa, because she runs Your Happy Customer alongside an employed role, her tax return has two incomes on it. When we started working together, she was just leaving everything she made through Your Happy Customer in her bank account and worrying that at some point she’d be hit with a big tax bill.

Where that left Lisa

Getting her tax returns sorted, becoming more organised and getting more visibility on her finances with FreeAgent and adopting Profit First have transformed the way Lisa approaches her finances and business. She now pays herself properly, has a clear idea of her upcoming tax bill and has a dedicated pot of money for operating expenses. What this actually means is that Lisa has more money to spend on herself, letting her enjoy life a bit more, and she’s also investing more in her business. I love that I can help women in business get themselves to a position like this!

“I’m a small business – new to it all and juggling home and children. Caroline has been so patient and understanding and just taken me through everything step by step.”

Where working with me has helped Lisa shift her outlook on her business finances, our time together has also helped me with a mindset shift of my own. The first few (pre-pandemic) meetings we had, we met for coffee. The first time, we both had our youngest children with us – the girls played, and we talked about work; and the second time our school’s boiler broke so I had both kids with me.

Now there’s no question that it’s been much more enjoyable getting together recently when the kids have been at school, enjoying a peaceful walk or an adults-only coffee, but these early experiences were valuable as they showed me that it was ok for me to be working around my kids rather than trying to pretend they didn’t exist. The flexibility of running my own business in a way that worked for my family was a big factor for setting up CBC in the first place and seeing the proof that I could give Lisa great support even with my kids in tow was an important boost.

Our relationship today

Lisa and I continue to support each other in our businesses. I do her tax return and help her with FreeAgent when needed but it goes far beyond that. She regularly asks my opinion on different courses she’s looking at and other investment she wants to make in her business, and we recently talked about what she should charge for a workshop she was asked to deliver. Anything even vaguely related to finance and Lisa knows she can come to me with questions – that’s what I’m here for.

And I’m also still Lisa’s first port of call when HMRC come knocking! When her husband had a letter through about a high-income child benefit tax charge, she came straight to me. (If you receive child benefit and your earnings go above £50k you have to pay some of the benefit back. If this is something that might impact you I’ve created a helpful guide.) This is one of the many ridiculous processes HMRC have set up that keep me in a job – requiring employed people to register themselves and file tax returns to calculate for themselves how much to repay. But instead of worrying about it and getting in a panic, the moment that letter came through Lisa knew to just ask me to get it sorted!

“I massively appreciate Caroline’s help and can’t recommend her highly enough!”

Find out more about Lisa!

If you run a business and you’re looking to connect with your customers in a more meaningful way, please, please check Lisa’s website out. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook

The Interior Designer

Amy Newton

Who is Amy and why did she need my help?

 Amy runs Cheshire-based Amy Newton Interiors, helping her clients to achieve their dream homes by designing and creating spaces to suit every need and budget.

Amy was trading as a Limited company but was just using spreadsheets to record everything. She needed to file her first set of accounts soon and was having sleepless nights about the whole thing.

Her husband is an accountant, but he doesn’t specialise in small business finance and Amy was looking to keep things separate with an external accountant anyway.

Where I came into the picture

I’d seen Amy on Instagram before we met – I knew of her because we’re both members of the Doing It For The Kids community. We then met in person at a Trafford Women in Business networking event where we had a chat and got on really well. I knew her husband was an accountant in the corporate world and my business was fairly new at the time so I had no thoughts of her becoming a client as I assumed her husband would do her accounts.

But I really liked Amy, so we kept in touch and chatted whenever we saw each other at events. She always used to find my social media posts really useful and commented on lots of them. Then one day she sent me an email, asking to book a call as she didn’t have an accountant and was starting to panic. We set up a call, which her husband joined to get a sense of what I would be offering as part of my services and after accepting my quote we got started.

The steps I took

Amy was immediately an ideal client! I got her set up on FreeAgent, the accounting software all my clients use, and she came to one of my specialist training sessions. I set up her payroll to make sure she was using her personal allowance effectively and she’s since been on my Profit First workshop and has embraced every method and approach I’ve suggested.

“Caroline has recently taken over all accountancy and tax matters relating to my Limited company. She is professional, extremely knowledgeable and incredibly helpful.”

Where that left Amy

Amy got to grips with FreeAgent straight away and loved how she could now track exactly where everything was. No more sleepless nights for her!

Amy is really open about her knowledge of her accounts and any gaps that she might need support with. She looks to me for help with all the things she either doesn’t quite understand or doesn’t have time for and is always happy to ask me anything – she knows there’s no such thing as a silly question as far as I’m concerned.

“I can feel completely at ease that this side of my business is now efficiently and effectively taken care of.”

Our relationship today

We’ve moved far beyond the initial client/accountant relationship. We set up our businesses – both Limited companies – at about the same time and so as well as becoming friends we’re also there for each other with business advice. I support Amy with anything related to finance and my own business experience and she gives me advice when it comes to mindset, social media and networking events. We help each other however we can, and we always recommend each other whenever anyone’s looking for a new accountant or interior designer.

In the most recent call I had with Amy we talked about a pricing workshop she’d just been on with Lucy Green. She knew she wanted to look at her rates but also wanted my input, so we talked about her existing pricing, what she wanted it to look like, how I set my own fees and where I thought she should position herself. This is a perfect example of me helping her with something that fundamentally starts out as an accounting question but moves beyond into deeper support from a fellow business owner.

“I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for an accountant for their business. Thank you, Caroline!”

Find out more about Amy!

If you want to give your home a fresh look but don’t know where to start, take a look at Amy’s gorgeous Instagram feed for inspiration or visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

The Makeup artist

Frankie Noone

Who is Frankie and why did she need my help?

Frankie runs Makeup by Frankie, where she and her team specialise in bridal and occasion makeup and makeup training. She has also launched her own collection of pro makeup brushes – FRANKIEBRUSH★.

Frankie originally trained with MAC and decided very early on that she wanted to work for herself. (I definitely didn’t have the same courage or conviction at 22!) She had been running her business for about six years and using her parents’ accountant for her finances but had decided it was time for a fresh start with someone new.

Where I came into the picture

Frankie is the only client I’ve ever started working with thanks to Twitter! Her sister asked if anyone had any accountant recommendations and my husband’s best friend sent her my details. Frankie then got in touch with me through my website. When we spoke, Frankie explained that her current accountant had been great, advising her when she set up her business and taking care of her accounts and tax. But it wasn’t a relationship that was really working for her – she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was her parents’ accountant first and foremost and was doing her a favour by looking at her books too.

What Frankie really wanted was someone she could ask questions without worrying about how she’d sound or what they’d think. When we started working together, she got to walk away from a somewhat paternal working relationship to one between equals – as women and small business owners. It was a breath of fresh air for her to know that I’d answer any questions she had about accounts and finance without judgement.

“I am SO HAPPY to have found Caroline. I can’t believe the difference she has made in comparison to previous accountants I have had. I actually enjoy that side of work now and, most importantly, I understand so much more. I’m still learning, and Caroline is the most patient person on earth!”

What happened next

As with all new clients, my first move was to get Frankie onto FreeAgent. She had been spending too much time entering all her income and expenditure into spreadsheets. She came to one of my training sessions and absolutely loves the software, she uses it all the time and raves about it.

Where that left Frankie

After her initial training session, I invited Frankie to join an event I put on with FreeAgent at the NatWest Accelerator hub for around 20 of my clients. As well as the FreeAgent training, I organised for some of my clients to give talks on useful topics for small businesses – on networking and cash management. The NatWest Accelerator also gave a talk about the programme which is designed to encourage people to grow and scale their businesses.

Thanks to that event, Frankie applied for and gained a place on the accelerator which started around the same time as the first Covid lockdown in March 2020. Obviously, there wasn’t much work for makeup artists with social distancing in place and weddings all cancelled so Frankie really threw herself into the intensive six-month programme with NatWest.

Through this process Frankie ended up manufacturing and launching her own set of pro makeup brushes – FRANKIEBRUSH★. They’re amazing quality and environmentally friendly, yet still affordable. I find it so inspiring that Frankie launched a whole new side to her business whilst in lockdown. Talk about making the most of opportunities!

“She’s invited me to networking events where I have met so many great people, and introduced me to a new online accounting system, which makes life so much easier. THANK YOU, Caroline!”

 Our relationship today

Frankie and I have become really good friends. She even got me all glammed up with my makeup for my 40th birthday bash!

Find out more about Frankie!

If you’ve got a big occasion coming up and want Frankie and her team to work their magic, or you want to try some amazing vegan, cruelty free and affordable makeup brushes, check out her website. If you’re a fan of makeup tutorials and tips, head over to Frankie’s Instagram account.

Catherine Mackey

Who is Catherine and why did she need my help?

Catherine is a Manchester-based Travel Counsellor, removing all the stress from planning holidays so her clients can just enjoy themselves, safe in the knowledge that everything’s been taken care of. She was awarded Franchise Business of the Year in the Trafford Business and Community Awards in 2021.

Catherine’s a sole trader and had taken on an accountant to help with her finances but didn’t find them at all approachable, didn’t feel like she could ask them any questions and didn’t feel supported. This was a high street accountancy firm who had been recommended by lots of people in a local Urmston (where we both live) Facebook group, but they weren’t providing what Catherine was looking for.

Rather than an ongoing relationship, where she could get advice and support, this business just wanted Catherine to drop everything off once a year and they’d then let her know how much tax she owed HMRC. I’ve found this is an experience shared by lots of clients who want to move on from their current accountant to work with me. Of course, I do my clients’ accounts and tax returns, but that isn’t where my service starts and ends – I provide far more in the form of advice, support, training and, above all, approachability. I’m their accountant 365 days a year, not just at year end!

“Caroline is friendly and approachable and is able to explain simply and clearly what needs to be done.”

Where I came into the picture 

When Catherine was first looking for an accountant and posted in our local Facebook group, I was on maternity leave with my youngest. This was before I had officially set up my accountancy practice and not many people knew my plans. But one of the mums from school did and she recommended me to Catherine. At that time, Catherine went with the high street firm but this post and our shared involvement in Doing It For The Kids meant we were aware of each other. When we met in person at a Trafford Women in Business networking meeting a year later, we got chatting and she told me the accountants she’d chosen to go with weren’t fitting the bill. By this point my business was established and we started working together.

What happened next

When taking over responsibility for a client from a previous accountant you have to get something called professional clearance from them. I wrote to Catherine’s old firm and once they sent me all her information, I got her set up on FreeAgeoftware she’s really happy with for keeping track of all her finances.

“She provides peace of mind that everything is taken care of which was something that was previously stressing me out!”

Where that left Catherine

When Catherine first came to me, her income was doubling each year. And then the pandemic hit, and everyone’s travel plans were put on hold. With her business struggling, I supported Catherine (and the rest of my clients who were affected) through all the claims she could make. I kept her up to date on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as well as any local grants and any other opportunities for claiming financial help. I know this support made a big difference.

Catherine’s looking to move house now, so I’ve helped her get her tax returns ready for mortgage applications and with providing timely information to the mortgage provider. Now that travel is back on track her business is making money again and so I’ll be looking at getting her started with the Profit First system soon.

“She is accessible, and I can call or message her at any time if I have a question”.

Our relationship today

As with lots of my clients, the client–supplier relationship now works both ways and I book a lot of holidays with Catherine! Especially during the pandemic, when we were all so desperate to go on holiday but also nervous about what would happen if a trip had to be cancelled and trying to juggle work and home schooling, it’s been great knowing I can leave everything to her.

Find out more about Catherine!

If you want someone else to look after all the research, planning, booking and pre-departure preparation, leaving you to enjoy a dream holiday without the usual stress, get in touch with Catherine now!

The Mortgage Advisor

Madeleine Birtles

Who is Madeleine and why did she need my help?

Madeleine is a mortgage advisor and runs Birtles Mortgage & Financial Solutions, providing a specialist and bespoke service across the northwest.

She was an established sole trader and had been submitting her own tax returns but wanted to set up as a Limited company and needed help with taking the step to incorporation.

Where I came into the picture

We live near each other and knew each other from mum and baby groups as we have kids the same age. As it happens, I was Madeleine’s client first! She went self-employed before me and was my mortgage advisor. When I was on maternity leave and thinking of setting up on my own, she sent me a message asking if I knew any accountants who could help her with incorporating.

And here’s where I took a leap! I told Madeleine about my plans to launch my own practice and she became one of my very first official clients. There was no question for Madeleine – she absolutely wanted me to be her accountant, and this gave me a real confidence boost with a 3-month-old baby and no certainty of where my clients would come from if I did start my own business. I’m eternally grateful to her for having that immediate belief in me.

What happened next

I set Madeleine up as a Limited company, put a payroll scheme in place for her and sorted her corporation tax. As far as my ideal clients go, Madeleine’s pretty high up there – she’s a mum, in professional services and, above all, she’s really easy to work with!

“Caroline has been my accountant for two years now, she helped me to switch from a sole trader to a Limited company. Working with Caroline has actually made me more disciplined with money.”

Where that left Madeleine

Once Madeleine was set up as a Limited company, with new systems and software in place for looking after her accounts, she was able to change her approach to her finances. Where there had previously been little or no distinction between the income of the business and Madeleine’s own personal money, she has now fully separated them out. The money that comes into the business stays there and Madeleine actually pays herself rather than using the business bank account as her own personal pot. Separating out the two means she always knows how much money she has to spend and isn’t at risk of using money that should be left within her business account to cover costs and her tax bill!


“I now leave a chunk of money in the business account as I just take my agreed salary a month and then any additional payments throughout the month if I need them, as interim dividends. Previously I was using my business account as my current account, so using my debit card and transferring pretty much everything I got paid into my joint account.”


“Viewing my income as the business income, not my personal income was tricky at first…I now view it as the business’ money and only draw what I actually need to draw. This took some getting used to really, but Caroline made it pretty straightforward, and it was reassuring to know that she was on hand to ask any questions that I had.”

Our relationship today

Not only is Madeleine still my mortgage advisor, but we also do lots of work together. Whenever one of my clients is getting a mortgage or looking to remortgage, I refer them to Madeleine. With the client’s permission, we then liaise with each other to get all the information from HMRC for their applications. Combining forces like this helps both of us to keep everything running smoothly for our clients.

Find out more about Madeleine!

If you’re buying a house or remortgaging your current property and want to understand your options, definitely talk to Madeleine! You can find her on Facebook.