In this edition of spotlight on women in business, I’m pleased to introduce Elaine Clark to you, an accountant. That’s her pictured above with Sandi Toksvig, winning her award from Sage last year. She’s also been featured on BBC’s MoneyBox programme because of her unique style of doing business. Here’s Elaine’s story in her own words:
I am the Managing Director of CheapAccounting.co.uk; the name explains what we do. I describe the business as two fold; firstly we deliver accountancy services via innovative online systems at a cost effective price, affordable by most small businesses. Secondly, we recruit UK based qualified accountants to our franchise, who provide the accountancy service to clients. This means that all clients, no matter how big or small, have a direct contact with a UK based qualified accountant providing them with the accountancy services specific for their needs at a price they can afford.
When did I start?
I launched CheapAccounting.co.uk in May 2007 and am very proud to have seen the business grow significantly each year, both in terms of new client numbers and our qualified accountant franchisees.
What prompted me to start my own business?
I guess you could call it a mid career crisis; I found myself sitting in yet another pointless meeting working on a project which seem to be more about satisfying ego rather than making a positive contribution to the business and I just thought is this what I want to do for the next 20 years? Clearly the answer was no; so I quit my role, booked a three week holiday to New Zealand where I dreamed up the idea of CheapAccounting.co.uk and the rest as they say is history.
What I was doing beforehand?
After starting out at the age of 16 in a firm of accountants, going onto University at 18 and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant at the age of 21, I had a long career working in blue chip organisations often on a mixture of Finance and IT roles. I took a year out during my 40s to go back to college to complete a course on Internet Computing which stood me in good stead to pursue my dream of running my own internet business.
Top Three Tips
1)Thick Skinned Coat
My first piece of advice would be to develop a very thick skin. Whilst you’ll find that the majority of people will be very supportive of your business idea and your success. Unfortunately there will be a bunch of “naysaying trolls” as I call them who, for whatever reason, will find it necessary to criticise your business, and moreover you personally, by making unfounded and inaccurate slurs. Whilst this is very upsetting you do have to take the comments in your stride and not let them get to you.
In fact, the best approach is to ignore the comments as though they haven’t been made using *The Streisand effect as your mantra. Unfortunately taking this advice is very difficult and I must admit to failing to heed it on occasions but I always reflect that it is the best advice and I would have been wiser to have followed it.
*The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
2)That won’t work
Never believe someone who says “that won’t work” or uses the expression “we’ve always done it this way”. I imagine that the inventor of the wheel was told that’ll never work! Businesses survive and thrive because they adapt, change and improve. This is often achieved by embracing technology to take advantage of business process efficiencies. Change is good, change for change sake isn’t.
3)Accounts as a priority
In the majority of cases someone starts a business to earn money and provide an income for themselves and, where applicable, their family. The only route available to you to find out if this business is making money is to keep the books up to date and prepare a profit and loss account. So my third tip is to make your accounts a priority in your work plan. Without them you’ll be trying to steer with business without a rudder but of course I would say this as an Accountant.
Thanks to Elaine for sharing her story. I hope you feel inspired! You can find out more about Elaine’s business at CheapAccounting.co.uk
If you’d like to be featured in this series (we’re all about supporting women to get on!) please read this first. Then get in touch.
Speak Up, my audio course for women who want to succeed is launching very soon! Check out the shop now!
Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Jane