Jackie Bligh, TaxAssist, Torquay

I spent 15 years working as an accountant in multi-nationals and was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the ever-increasing workloads and the headcount slashing mentality.

I had seen TaxAssist on the internet but hadn't considered starting my own business, due to being a single mum with no real assets. My cousin Jo (Exeter franchisee) joined in March 2005 and this was the catalyst that made me quit my well paid and cushy corporate life.

I joined the TaxAssist training course in Oct 2005. I opted to go straight into a shop front and I opened for business in Torquay on the 2nd Jan 2006. My first month was absolutely phenomenal. It wouldn't have been possible without the support I received from the accountants and tax specialists that run the helpline. They are dedicated solely to helping out the franchise network, and with their help I invoiced over £6,000 in my first four weeks and submitted around 20 self-assessments. At the end of my fourth month I had 92 clients of which 65 per cent were walk-ins.

Sales and marketing, initially my biggest fear, has become what I enjoy the most. You can never be too pushy. If you don't ask you don't get, and don't forget your business cards if you're going down the pub.

I survived my second January invoicing £22,000, bringing me to total cash banked in my first year of £60,000, and I'm pretty sure I've turned a profit. I start my second year of trade with 199 clients and £83,000 of fees, my average fee is lower than some due to the number of small one-man bands, however these are extremely profitable.

I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. I can honestly say leaving corporate life was the best thing I ever did and my only wish is that I'd done it sooner.