By Steven Perryman Run your business Accounting with a twist 7 Sep 2011 AAT Comment meets two highly successful members in practice (MIP) Sophie Hughes MAAT always wanted to be an accountant. After completing her A-levels, she heard about AAT and how it offered a fast track non-graduate route into chartered accountancy. ‘I knew university wasn’t the right option for me, ‘ she says. ‘AAT seemed like the perfect first step into my chosen career and a quicker route to my end goal.’ Meanwhile, Lucy Cohen MAAT took a gap year after her A-levels and worked as a runner for television and film. Quickly realising that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, she started thinking seriously about accountancy and came across AAT. After consideration, Lucy thought it was the best all round qualification out there and immediately knew she’d made the right decision as soon as the course started. Lucy and Sophie bumped into each other by chance at the very last AAT exam revision class in Cardiff. Previously old school friends, they went for a glass of wine and in December 2006, Mazuma was formed. Mazuma is a national service specialising in providing monthly bookkeeping and accountancy to sole traders, the self employed and owners managing limited companies through out the UK. Lucy and Sophie have expanded quickly and now have an array of branches throughout the UK and they’ve recently moved into a new head office in Bridgend, West Cardiff to allow room for even more expansion. They currently have 25 staff and 1,200 clients throughout the UK. They have also just opened their first office internationally, in Salt Lake City, US. ‘We’re continually evolving and growing as a business,’ Lucy says. ‘We spotted a gap in the marketplace and took advantage. We offer a service like no other – easy to understand, no fuss and low cost. Our customers appreciate this approach and we go to great lengths to always make sure the customer comes first.’ They have won numerous awards such as HSBC Start Up Stars, UK Winner, 2010, HSBC Start Up Stars, Wales Regional winner, 2010, National Chamber of Commerce: Winners of Wales Region, Excellence in Customer Service for two years running, South Wales Business Award: Finalists in ‘Business Service Business of the Year’ Award – August 2009 and the list goes on. The awards have been won in recognition of their ‘Purpleforce Package’ – which allows any customer to add in a few details online, the customer immediately gets a quote and then a welcome pack is sent out with 12 purple freepost envelopes. The customer puts their accountants, invoices, sales figures into one of the purple envelopes, pops it in the post and then an email is sent to the customer saying that the envelope has been received and within five working days, the accounts are sent back – done and dusted. Lucy and Sophie’s success continues to flourish. ‘Other budding entrepreneurs out there should not be put off by the continued economic downturn,’ Lucy confirms. ‘When we first started out, not many people believed in us or our business proposition. However, we knew we had a good idea and we preserved and look where we’ve ended up.’ Sophie adds: ‘University isn’t always the best option, we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t studied with AAT. We’ve been able to climb the career ladder faster and we’ve got transferable skills which we’ve used in our business from day one.’ More about Mazuma can be found on its official website. Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.