Our Businesswoman of the Month for July is ‘Super Accountant’ Annette Ferguson who realised things had to change when she wasn’t making enough money to contribute financially to the household/family budget. But, determined not to go back to a ‘job’, she pulled together a plan of attack and very quickly turned things around. So much so that her husband was able to give up his job. Now she is teaching other business owners how to rekindle their passion for their business and pay themselves the money they deserve
Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?
I started my business, Super Accountant, in September 2009. I am a Chartered Accountant and my business is a UK based accounting firm specialising in helping small business owners worldwide, make more profit and take home more money for themselves and their family to enjoy.
I work with business owners 1-2-1, implementing their accounting, bookkeeping and tax work in a way that means that are more profitable and also complying with all the rules and regulations for HMRC.
But I also have a 4 week program, called the Passion 2 Profits Academy, where small business owners can go through the steps that I take clients through, to make sure they can take more money out of their business ** (see note about this at bottom of the page)
Why did you start this particular business?
I had always wanted to have my own business. Growing up my Dad ran his own business so, for me, I didn’t see myself as having to follow that corporate path. It seemed the natural thing to do, one day, to run my own business.
I didn’t plan on being an accountant though! I studied accountancy and got my professional qualification because I knew it would be a great basis for running a business. I knew that an understanding of the finances and numbers was really critical to running a small business. But, as it turned out, I really enjoyed accounting! So it was a natural progression that, when I was ready to set up on my own, it was in the accountancy field.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
I certainly couldn’t have got to where I am today without the amazing support of my husband – so I think having a support network is really important, whether that be friends (on or offline) or family.
It also takes a lot of hard work. There are no get rich quick schemes. Running a business is hard and you need to have the determination, the passion and the drive to do it.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
Be a sceptic. You will get loads of advice from well meaning people but make sure, even when you are paying for the advice, that you really evaluate if it is good advice for you. Be sceptical and make sure you really assess any advice you are given, before jumping in.
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
Passion. I am really passionate about helping as many small business owners as possible take home more money for them and their family to enjoy (even if they are not taking home anything at the moment). Far too many small business owners are taking home nothing, or very little, and working so hard in their business for no financial reward. It becomes like a one way relationship – you put in all the love, energy, blood, sweat and tears and then live off the financial scraps. Sooner or later people end up resenting their business when that happens and I really don’t want that for people.
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
- I mentioned it before but be careful who you listen to – not everyone has your best interests at heart, even if you are paying them
- Take profit out of your business from day 1. Make sure that, even in the very beginning, you are still taking money out of your business for you and your family. It stops any resentment, it helps you keep control of costs and it gives you a direct link between the money you are making in your business and what you are contributing to your family.
- Include loved ones in what you are doing. It is easy to think of your business as your baby but your family are invested in it too. Even if it is not financial, they are invested emotionally so share with them the highs and lows – it will be much more fun and you’ll feel much more supported during those times when things may not go to plan.
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times ?
I think there will always be difficulties in setting up a business – all the things like: will people want what I have to offer; can I deliver; can I get enough clients to make it viable. All the things that small business owners go through. But what got me through were 2 things – firstly, the unwavering support of my husband who always believed in me and, secondly, my sincere passion to really help make a difference to small business owners.
Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?
Like all small business owners, I have made a lot of mistakes and I’d be foolish to say that I would love to make them over again – but every mistake you learn from. Some I just wish I hadn’t made!
I spent too much money on marketing in the very beginning. I spent a tonne on exhibiting at trade shows, appearing in glossy magazines etc. All without a clear idea of who my target clients were and without a clear strategy in place. I did what many people do and went down that route because someone called me up asking me to advertise, rather than thinking about where and how I wanted to advertise and then seeking out ways to do that.
I listened to “gurus” who did not have my best interest at heart. They were only out to make a quick buck themselves. I spent too much money on their advice and I wish I had been more discerning over the advice they were giving me. I really wish I’d run more of it past my husband!
Starting a business can be all-consuming. What are your tips for getting the right work/life balance?
In short, it’s really hard and I think you can rarely achieve the perfect balance all of the time. At any one point I often feel like I am either a bad wife, a bad mum or a bad business owner. I just try not to stay bad at any one of them for too long! A lot of it is about communication – communicating with my husband and my clients to make sure that everyone knows what everyone else is expected to do at any one time. I also use Trello to track what I am supposed to be doing when, both business things and personal things.
Do you have a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?
I am a member of a group coaching program and both the coach and fellow members are extremely supportive – so they are the first place I call on when I need advice.
The other place is my husband. He is such a huge support and gives amazing advice too.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to continue helping as many small business owners as possible take more money out of their business. I want to share my services and programs with as many small business owners as possible, so that they are not living off the financial scraps of their business.
Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start their own business?
Running a business is hard – but if you are willing to put in the work it is immensely rewarding and satisfying too. Just make sure that you are taking money out of your business though. Right from day 1 set up your cash management so that you can take money out of your business and are not just putting all your money in.
** If you are interested in finding out more about Annette’s 4 week program, check out our Rewards Membership because Annette is offering our members a whopping 72% off her Passion2Profit Academy! You can check out her offer (and many others) HERE **