About your business
Founder name: Emma Simpson
Company name: Cheaper Accountant
Company age: 2 years old
Company location: Manchester
Staff numbers: 3
Date started: December 2010
Tell us what your business does:
Cheaper Accountant offers affordable accounting solutions to new start-ups and small businesses across the UK. We appreciate that not everyone can afford an expensive accountant.
Where did the idea for your business come from? What motivated you to start it?
I’ve worked with a number of small business start-ups and I could see that they often struggled to afford expert accountancy advice so I decided to offer something different to a traditional high street accountant. I believed that I could offer a better deal to small businesses in the UK and I knew that I could gain a competitive edge by using modern technology which allows me to offer my services 100% online.
What did you do before?
I worked for one of the world’s largest management consultancy companies and gained significant finance and accounting experience after leaving university.
What did you have to overcome (if anything) to start it and get it off the ground?
The perception amongst other accountants that offering a cheap price for our accountancy work was a bad thing and was a signal of poor quality. We know that this simply isn’t true but sometimes other accountants take some convincing. Our business model attracts a lot of online traffic; after all who searches for an ‘expensive accountant’?
What makes your business stand out from others like it?
Price is the number one factor that attracts clients to join us. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that we have the lowest costs in the industry which enables us to compete aggressively on price.
What was your first big breakthrough?
I developed a test website for my brand to see what reaction and traffic it would attract. This was my first real breakthrough as I soon picked up visitors to the site and quotation requests started coming in. Afterwards I was confident that there was a market for my services and I haven’t looked back since.
Your business tips
You’re prime minister for a day. What would you change for small businesses?
I would adopt a US style small business Saturday and encourage everyone across the country to visit at least one small business on say the second Saturday of every month. With effective advertising and publicity I do think that this would be a great move for small businesses.
What’s your best customer service tip?
Listen to your customer and make sure that you present them with all of the facts and information that they need; even if they don’t ask you for the information. They will certainly thank you afterwards as nothing is left up in the air.
What would you do differently? (What have you learnt?)
I’ve learnt to be patient with online marketing and search engine search results. To begin with I was in a hurry to reach the top of the search results but I’ve now realised that this can do more harm than good. I now take my time with building links to my website.
If I was to start again I would concentrate on my website content more and pay more attention to providing advice on the larger business forums. If you give something for free it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and expertise and effectively market your company.
What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Believe in yourself and your skills and capabilities and you will then take a large step towards achieving your business goals.