Zoe East is a filmmaker and the founder of Leeds-based film production company, Opal. Zoe first started freelancing as an ambitious university graduate: “I was doing real work for real people and they were essentially my first clients, which gave me the experience of what freelance work was like.”
Zoe’s workload continued to grow and running Opal is now her full-time job. As a small business owner - and a one-person team - Zoe takes on many roles: “One of the things I love most about having my own business is the variety of roles and the fact that every day is different. I take on all the administrative, marketing and financial tasks - but I actually enjoy that side of things!”
Software that meets the needs of a thriving business
When Zoe first became self-employed, she proactively learned about the financial side of running a business and created elaborate spreadsheets to manually track cash flow, invoicing and other basic incomings and outgoings. The spreadsheets served their purpose for a time but as Opal’s client base grew, tracking finances became more complex and it became harder for Zoe to manage and capture everything efficiently.
Zoe decided to give FreeAgent a try after she won a year’s subscription for being nominated for IPSE’s Freelancer of the Year Award in 2016. Today, Zoe continues to use FreeAgent to keep track of all of Opal’s finances. “I absolutely love FreeAgent and I recommend it to all my friends. I like that it’s simple to use and it presents all your important data in an easy to understand and visual way.”
Exceptional customer support
As Opal has grown, so have its accounting needs and FreeAgent has been there to help Zoe every step of the way: “The support team are always on hand with quick responses to help out with anything I need. I recently switched from a sole trader account to a limited company account, which was super easy. I had regular contact with the support team to make sure it all went smoothly and there were lots of great articles in FreeAgent’s Knowledge Base to guide me through the process.”
Saving time for the important stuff
Time is precious for Zoe, which is why she needs to manage her finances efficiently and stay up to date with Opal’s accounts: “Instantly adding invoices and inputting information into FreeAgent on a daily basis allows me to keep track of my business finances in real time.” Zoe is also able to use the automated bank feeds feature to check her cash flow every day and keep an eye on business spending.
Aside from the day-to-day side of running Opal’s finances, Zoe is also able to stay on top of her taxes throughout the year with FreeAgent. When Self Assessment time rolls around, Zoe is already ahead of the game: “One of my favourite features is the tax return section. You can literally submit your Self Assessment to HMRC from within FreeAgent, which is amazing! With the bank account link, everything is added to the right section as you go, so it makes submitting your tax return totally stress-free! (Yes, that is actually possible!)”
Advice for others
Over the years, Zoe has learned a lot from her experience of growing a small business and attributes a lot of her early success to word-of-mouth referrals: “My advice for freelancers who are just getting started is to talk to anyone and everyone who will listen about your business. You never know where your dream project might come from, so just find something that really drives you and keep that in focus.”