A Hero's Journey
Jackie Brooker Shares her Adventures in the RIFT
"Business today is very much about collaboration, improving things and thinking about long term relationships - not just quick gain. I’m really pleased to be a part of the RIFT Community." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
Dakota Blue Consulting is a bold and energetic business staring unafraid into the jaws of a grand adventure. Its founder, Jackie Brooker, has over eighteen years of experience working with leading organisations worldwide, and is known for her ability to assemble, motivate and guide teams of heavy hitters and high achievers. Jackie Brooker is a proud RIFT explorer, and this is her story.
Jackie had always felt the call of adventure, but a rewarding role in a company she loved meant she had never fully mined her personal potential as a business explorer. The motivation she required came in 2014, when her position became a global one, involving a her global position began to involve a great deal ofmore international travel. Showing the true adventurer's spirit, Jackie seized the opportunity to spread her wings and break out on her own business adventure - Dakota Blue Consulting.
The first steps of her journey were set against the landscape of a revived and recovering UK economy, meaning that many businesses were looking for exactly the type of HR support that Jackie's training and skills could offer. Small businesses often have no internal HR specialists, and Dakota Blue Consulting is the ideal support structure to build a strong and lasting "people management" strategy around. For Jackie personally, with a young family to consider, the opportunity to work from her home and build the business she wanted to work in was the best of all worlds.
"I’ve had experiences with RIFT that I never would have expected to have with my accountant. It was a nice surprise going into business and finding such a high level of support in the RIFT community and how many unexpected doors it has opened." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
In the early days of Dakota Blue, Jackie kept a straightforward spreadsheet of expenditures and worked hard to keep her accounts simple. She took on a traditional accountant she knew from her corporate days to ensure that everything was done correctly, but quickly found the fit uncomfortable. Jackie never felt that she was considered an important client, and was often reticent to call the accountant for fear of "wasting their time with stupid questions".
When Jackie decided to make the leap and take her to Limited Company statusto the next level, she found she couldn't get the information and advice she needed. She had questions about VAT and tax matters and about what she needed to do with Companies House. Jackie wanted to be very sure of her footing as she walked this strange, new terrain, but much of the time she couldn't even get hold of anyone to help her. When she needed help with accountancy software, whether which system to use or which template to apply, her accountant simply let her down. Instead of an invaluable team member, her "adviser" had become just another obstacle to overcome.
"I believe that finding new ways to connect, collaborate and add value are vital for the small business community and RIFT makes it easy to do this. If I need some support beyond accounting or business development they always have partners they trust who they can bring in to help." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
Having pinned down just what kind of support and advice she needed, Jackie set about the task of getting it. She knew she wanted to talk in more depth about how to set up and run her business, but her accountant had drawn a blank. What she needed was someone who really understood the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses, and who recognised that a client is more than just the bottom line of a balance sheet.
Looking deeper, Jackie decided she needed advice on hitting her target market. Her experience in big business was a good start, but the language of SMEs is very different and she needed a guide who was fluent in it. Tired of being treated as if "small business" meant "small significance", she set her sights on a service where she could really get into the nuts and bolts without being made to feel awkward just for asking questions.
In other words, she needed RIFT.
"Being invited to be part of the RIFT community at events has been very important to me. I have been able to connect with people in the wider business community and really benefit from that." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
Knowing the value of a personal recommendation, Jackie braved the swirling vortex of the internet in search of the legendary RIFT - a fabled, tireless guardian of small businesses. Reading its website, she knew immediately that her search for help was over - and a new quest was beginning. In contrast to the distant, off-handed treatment she'd encountered elsewhere, the RIFT was an instantly welcoming place, filled with energy, hope and passion. A phone call, followed by a visit to the RIFT Fortress in Ashford, confirmed what she already knew in her heart - Jackie Brooker and Dakota Blue would be at home here.
"I have learned so much talking with Jane Ollis – she really understands the difficulties in setting up and growing a business. I feel I can ask any questions about my business, and everyone really goes the extra mile in discussions about it." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
Since entering the RIFT, Jackie and her business have never looked back. The Clear Books cloud accounting package gives her permanent access to her information, allowing her and her RIFT teammates to work together anywhere she goes. Clear Books is the robot butler of accounting software: efficient, obliging and ever-faithful. Jackie spends just ten to fifteen minutes at the end of each day updating her expenses using the desktop program or mobile app, and always knows that RIFT and Clear Books will take care of the rest for her.
Of course, it's not just about the mathematics. Jackie talks enthusiastically about the advice and guidance RIFT offers, helping with everything from complicated financial minutiae to the core necessity of paying herself correctly. If she has a question, the answer and a friendly voice are only a phone call away.
Jackie considers RIFT a family, with all the protections and loyalty that brings. Whether it means pointing out potential dangers in the road ahead, or taking care of all her HMRC worries, the RIFT community will always keep her and her business at heart, helping her to continue to grow Dakota Blue with confidence and pride.
"I have confidence in RIFT that my data is always correct and I can make the best decisions from it." - Jackie Brooker, Dakota Blue Consulting founder.
Looking ahead, Jackie plans to continue working in the RIFT to develop Dakota Blue and pursue its core mission of providing world-class HR support. She's already looking forward to reviewing her first year in business, making adjustments and plans with the help of her RIFT team. With RIFT behind her, the process of managing Dakota Blue's accounts has turned from digging a hole to conquering a mountaintop. From up here, the future is wide open - and it's never looked so bright.
Jackie Brooker, Managing Director of Dakota Blue Consulting, is an experienced HR professional covering all aspects of attracting, recruiting, managing, rewarding, training, developing, engaging and exiting the right people for your business. She is known for taking the wealth of knowledge learnt in complex global organisations and communicating this with a down to earth, practical approach to help organisations get the best from their employees right from the start.