What do you currently do?
In December 2016, after 30 years’ experience in the accountancy profession, I was appointed as Director of Derby-based Shapcotts Accountants. I oversee a portfolio of clients of varying size and location, and as a firm we provide services including accounts preparation, payroll, bookkeeping, tax advisory and audit.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Many businesses may look upon the appointment of an accountant as an unnecessary cost forced upon them by the number of regulations in place, but my approach has always been that the accountant fulfils an integral role in the development and success of the business. Producing historical information and advising of tax liabilities is a regular part of our role, but far more critical is our involvement in the decision-making of the business. We are there to assist the business-owner in making that decision of which path to follow which will result in the success, or otherwise, of the business overall. That is where we prove our value – we are a trusted advisor to the firm, and it’s here that I gain the sense of achievement, knowing that I have helped the business to succeed.
What defines your way of doing business?
As a firm, we provide a personal, tailored accountancy service covering all aspects of business across a wide range of trades and industries. We have a dedicated and highly motivated team ready to service our clients’ needs on a day to day basis. We aim to provide a practical solution to problems, both as they arise and in advance. Personally, I like our clients to feel I am an integral part of their business, in a similar manner to an employee. It many cases this had led to me being involved in assisting a business owner throughout the life of their business, from start-up to exit strategy, so it is necessary to build up a long term working relationship, and that can only be gained by trust and reliability. I try to always be available to assist clients at any time and to put their mind at rest as far as is possible. This enables them to focus on the skills they have and develop the business.
Who do you admire?
I wouldn’t say there was one particular person I admire, it’s more a case of admiring particular traits of different individuals. From a local point of view, I did admire the achievements of Derbyshire sportswoman Ellen MacArthur. There are very few ‘firsts’ left that offer a challenge, and they usually involve putting yourself in mortal danger. So, for someone brought up as far from the sea as anyone can be in the UK, it took a lot of bravery to set off around the world on her own. Lone yacht sailing can be dangerous enough but when it involves thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean, it must seem almost impossible.
In the business arena, James Dyson’s achievements are remarkable. Firstly, to come up with such a simple idea in a market area that you would have thought had gone as far as it was ever going to go, and then to develop that business and gain such a market share, which meant that in no time he was a household name. He says it is all due to his determination. That seems to be the key word for the success of both of these people.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
After spending almost my entire career at one firm, I quickly realised what a wide variety of approaches there can be to achieve the same aim. So, looking back I would like to have had the opportunity to have experienced to a much greater degree the methods of other firms. This would be with a view to taking everything on board the most effective elements to form my own processes. Everyone has their own idea of how things should be done and usually believe that to be the best approach, but I would have been more open to any ideas that can make the whole system more efficient.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The key is that once the basics of the business are in place, keep pushing forward. For the business to grow, you need to be proactive and aware of your surroundings. Consider the following issues: Understand why it is that customers buy from your business and not others, who your ideal customer is, what they key indicators are of how the business is performing, how can you improve your income streams (increase production, increase prices, cost savings), always be aware of your competition and focus on your strengths.