Part-Time Freelance Bookkeeper to Seasoned Business Owner: TFB Spotlight on Tracy Irwin (2 Years Later)

tfb-star-spotlightEach TFB Spotlight interview focuses on an owner of a bookkeeping business (or someone who supports us). It's one of the most popular features of this blog, and for good reason.

Whether you're just getting started, or you've been running your bookkeeping business for years, we all learn and get inspired by the real life stories of fellow bookkeepers and accountants who started from humble beginnings and built successful  businesses… with plenty of real life bumps, bruises, and detours along the way. Success loves action!

In this episode we get the rare privilege of following up with one of our most successful colleagues from the UK (she's the most popular interviewee thus far on the TFB blog) – Tracy Irwin of TI Accountancy.

Hear or watch the original interview from February 2016.

Two years later, where is Tracy with her business? More importantly, what lessons has she learned that you can use as you design and grow your own successful bookkeeping business?

Watch or listen to this latest interview now! Total running time is 26 minutes.

Would you rather listen to the interview on the go?  Download Audio Here (right-click and “Save As…”)

Interview Highlights

  • She now has 9 team members in her office (reduced has been by attrition)
  • They now focus on higher quality clients
  • Big learning lesson came when Tracy's bookkeeping business was growing rapidly. She learned to not take on too many new clients all at the same time because of the time involved in doing onboarding right. They now have a limit of taking on no more than 4 new clients per month
  • Processes have been massively refined and Tracy has, over time, streamlined operations
  • Tracy now spends all her time working ON the business and only fills the sales and marketing role
  • Tracy is no longer physically commutes to her office – she lives in Spain! (Her business is in England)
  • She faced major personal changes that caused her to take a step back from working so hard in her bookkeeping business. Prior to this she struggled to delegate but learned to let go and let employees do their best work
  • While going through the dark times, she felt like she had fallen out of love with her business because of all the difficulties (growing pain learning). This helped Tracy learn to delegate so the business could run without her
  • As a result, she fell back in love with her business and in now so proud of her team
  • Whenever something goes wrong in the business, they never blame people, but the processes. They work on a solution as a team until it is fixed. Her procedures manual is the biggest asset in her business now
  • Starting to create systems was done by creating an organizational chart based on processes (not people), and the staff members documented the systems.

Books Mentioned

  • E-Myth Revisited by Micheal E. Gerber – the business classic on why you should build systems in your business as though it was going to become a franchise, whether you plan to ever sell it or not. The niched version specifically for bookkeepers is The E-Myth Bookkeeper, also worth reading.
  • Work The System by Sam Carpenter – a nuts-n-bolts approach to systematizing your service-based business written by an entrepreneur who learned the hard lessons (with some similarities to Tracy's experiences) for the need to create documented processes and delegate. Highly recommended.
  • Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz – Expected to be released in August 2018 – This book provides simple, practical approaches to productivity and systems that will help you transform from a worker bee to the owner of a business that can run without you.


Tracy's advice to bookkeepers now is to let life get in the way of your business and see what valuable lessons you can learn in the process. (This is what actually taught her to learn to delegate and let her business run without her so she could fall back in love with what she had created!)

Want to contact Tracy directly? Go ahead and email her:  Tracy @ (type it into your email system without spaces – link not provided directly to help save Tracy from unwanted robot spam)

What did you find most valuable about Tracy's bookkeeping business journey so far?


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About Gabrielle

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and support true win-win business success.
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2 Responses to Part-Time Freelance Bookkeeper to Seasoned Business Owner: TFB Spotlight on Tracy Irwin (2 Years Later)

  1. Alex says:

    Regarding to Linkedln Tracy Irwin owns bookkeeping and accounting business from 2002 !

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thanks for noting this, Alex. I don’t remember if we mentioned what year Tracy started her business in the first interview, but that sounds right, since I do remember her mentioning her daughter was small, and her daughter is grown now. The 2 years in the title of this post refers to the time that has passed since the first interview I did with Tracy.

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