When you ask someone to imagine a bookkeeper, if they are honest they’d probably imagine a middle aged man, wearing a grey suit and tie and probably wouldn’t describe him as being particularly exciting. Clearly this stereotype is broadly inaccurate, but it is certainly wide of the mark when you consider Jaye Snell of Exe Bookkeeping and Payroll Services. A young woman with red hair, a penchant for metal music and who rides around on a Triumph Street Triple 675, she pretty roundly breaks the stereotypical mould of what a bookkeeper is.

Born and bred in Exmouth, Jaye had always wanted to be something and decided at a young age that she wanted to start her own business in Exmouth when she was older. Sadly, school was not a pleasant place for Jaye and she was badly bullied, to the extent that the school she went to couldn’t ensure her safety and she was removed and placed into college a year earlier than planned. As a result, she didn’t get to make the same educational choices that most kids do at GCSE level. She studied a bunch of classes that weren’t really up her street, again leading to a fairly negative experience and meaning that she didn’t leave with the qualifications that she needed to go to University.

Jaye commented,

“It really felt like I was stupid, that I wasn’t good enough and that those bullies had stolen so much from me. Not only the chance of a normal and productive education but also my self-confidence, self-esteem and happiness.”

After leaving college, Jaye fell into the world of work and started work in an accounting role for a company up on Exeter Airport Business Park. On the way to work one morning, she was riding her motorbike and met a low-loader coming the other way, hitting it head on and having a serious accident. She broke both arms and had to have metal plates put into her right hand as part of the extensive operational repair. Jaye commented,

“The accident sadly led to me losing my job and I was lucky not to have broken my neck. I joke that I’m a proper biker now and have the scars to show for it!”

During her recovery after the accident, she was diagnosed with M.E/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This meant that she lost a chunk of her life in the aftermath of the crash and the diagnosis. However, it spurred her on to do more and be more. Looking back to her school days, there was a dormant drive to ‘beat the bullies’ and prove them wrong – a powerful underlying instinct that pushed Jaye to overcome her injuries and diagnosis and make something of her life.

woman red hair glasses smile

I was interested to understand why Jaye had stayed in Exmouth after such a traumatic experience growing up and she told me,

“Firstly, I’m very close to my family and, apart from a bit of daydreaming, have never thought about leaving Exmouth. Also, I always wanted to stay in Exmouth and make a success of myself there so I didn’t want to let the bullies win by giving in and leaving. It was my way of showing that I hadn’t given up.”

She continued,

“I still see people around town who bullied me and were a part of that horrible season of my life but I can hold my head up high now, feeling confident and proud in what I’ve achieved. I’m happy with who I am and what I’ve become. That is far more important and powerful than the negative things which I encountered growing up.

You only have one life, so why waste it saying, ‘Woe is me’?”.

Working in multiple accounts roles for other businesses over the years, in 2015 she hit a landmark moment and decided that she needed to make some changes and start reclaiming the dreams she had carried as a youngster to run her own business. So, she put herself through self-study, achieving her Association of Accounting Technician (AAT) qualification and then gaining further qualifications through the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and joining the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP).

Working from home, Jaye started to offer her expertise to sole traders, partnerships, small limited companies and family-run businesses, becoming part of their businesses and offering as much value as possible. With a focus on good old fashioned customer service and delivering the very best experience possible, Jaye has gone on to establish herself as a vital cog in the wheels of many local businesses. She stated,

“There is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion in the local business community. More than one might think! It gives you a real sense of pride when you work with such amazing businesspeople. I’m proud to be Devonian and I have tried to keep my client base right here in Devon.”

Bringing on board her first employee in May, Jaye hopes to one day have four employees (one being an apprentice) and is passionate about educating and inspiring young people that a career as a bookkeeper can be ‘Plan A’, not just a fall back plan or arriving at it by accident.

Outside of work, Jaye loves baking, crafting and photography as they allow her to keep her mind active when her body is tired. She also loves walking her seven-year-old Westie Jack on Exmouth beach and her cultural passion is metal music, particularly bands such as Papa Roach, Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold.

She concluded,

“Now I want to raise awareness of what bookkeepers do. I also want to break the mould a bit and change a few people’s perceptions of bookkeepers. In the future, I’d love to set up a training school alongside the bookkeeping and payroll business to be able to offer courses for businesspeople to manage and use their own systems. Sometimes businesses can’t afford a bookkeeper but could do with some input and training to help upskill themselves. I’d love to offer that.”

Follow @exebookkeeping on Twitter to find out more about Jaye and her expertise.

Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos by Joff Alexander-Frye
Laptop image sourced via Unsplash

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