Emma Simpson is a passionate business woman and the founder of CheaperAccountant.co.uk. Small businesses are very much close to Emma’s heart and she firmly believes that such companies play a vital role in the economy and certainly offer something unique and often more specialised than big business. Emma loves working with small business owners and ensuring that their business finances are in order and all of their accounting needs are met. Business finance and accounting is Emma’s speciality and this underpins everything she does.
As an avid blogger, Emma is always keen to write and develop content that her clients and future customers will find useful and practical during the course of running their business. She dedicate a lot of time and effort to this as she aims to provide a one-stop resource where anyone can access the tax and accounting information that is most pertinent to operating a small business. Emma believes that this is a powerful method of connecting with others and a good first step when establishing a sound professional relationship online.
Everything Emma does is online and via the internet. She has always believed in the boundless reaches of the internet and the opportunities of engaging with clients or customers across larger geographical areas when compared to printed media for example. This approach has certainly paid dividends and very much drives her business strategies and allows her to create profitable businesses with a very small upfront capital cost. With this in my mind Emma is extremely proud to define herself as an online professional with all of her services provided electronically.
In your own words what do you do?
I am an online accountant who specialises in the field of small business accounting. What I do goes far beyond simply accounting and I also play a large role in online marketing, blogging, content marketing and engagement via social networking channels. All of this means that I have a full-on workload each and every day.
What led you to your current business?
I have worked with small business owners for a long time and I saw many professional accountants charging fairly large fees to small businesses regardless of size and how much profit they generated. I didn’t see this as fair. If a small business has very low turnover and has even incurred a loss for the year an accountant will still charge a large fee to complete company tax work as well as the annual company accounts. A lot of small businesses can’t afford these fees and often end up doing the accounting work themselves and this is where errors or missed opportunities sometimes creep in.
I decided to do change this and I did so by creating CheaperAccountant.co.uk with a strategy of only charging affordable fees to small business clients. Sometimes the fees that are charged are 80% less than other accountants. The company operates a very lean cost base with all communications and advertising conducted online. The company is also profitable due to the fact that simple small company accounts often take less time to complete and therefore a smaller fee is justified.
Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?
The main focus for developing the business was online marketing. This involved the development of a professional and suitable website, the creation of quality content and the establishment of a professionally respected blog. A lot of time was spent reviewing target search terms and assessing the potential lead generation capacity of specific key words as well as the current competitor environment for these search terms. The company website is very much the shop front for the business and it was vital to ensure that potential customers can easily find the website and that the website ranks well during internet searches.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?
The largest difficulties I encountered were the comments made by other accountants who were seeking to protect their own interests. When you compete aggressively on price there will always be existing service providers who object to this as some see this as lowering the price across the industry and the first instinct is to protect the existing pricing structures and the benefits associated with this. I started a test website which obtained customer leads directly from the site within the first week of being published, so I knew there was sufficient demand for a low cost accounting service. It was this knowledge that kept me going against the wishes of numerous other professionals and drove me to persist with Cheaper Accountant.
What is your long term plan?
Over the longer term my goal is for the company to be recognised nationally as the brand leader for small business accounting. This is no small achievement and it will only be achieved with a lot more hard work and online promotion. My focus will be on deploying new strategies to drive growth over and above the substantial organic growth we have enjoyed to date. As a company we plan to work alongside suitable partners in the future who will give the company access to new client groups who we are not reaching at the moment. Such strategic partnerships with nationally recognised organisations will contribute towards elevating the Cheaper Accountant brand via association with other quality brands, as well as increasing the reach of the Cheaper Accountant brand.
Could you share with us some industry insights?
I’m proud to say that even a highly regulated and somewhat protectionist industry such as accounting can be modernised and brought into the 21st century. This is proof that there is the potential to exploit technology and to gain a competitive advantage at the expense of more traditional business models. There are a large number of potential clients who operate online and who seek to satisfy their need for various products and services via online channels. The days of simply walking into your local high street accountant have ended. Our company responds to large numbers of clients each and every day and that is growing every month.
I can see the majority of small business clients moving online for accounting services as the cost of purchasing those services online is far less than the cost of purchasing them from the high street. I do believe that this is just the beginning and I’m pleased to be at the forefront of this movement.
What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?
Don’t be afraid to go against the grain when you know that you have a good business idea. This often leads to the greatest rewards and there are many examples of this today when we consider the likes of Uber and airbnb. Industry disruption is certainly a major buzz-word right now but the impact of this is huge and the potential this brings for all business owners is also huge. There will always be people who will fight to protect the status-quo but if you have the determination to succeed and successfully disrupt an industry and take customers down a new path you can achieve significant success in business.
Any tips for achieving success?
I firmly believe that drive, determination and focus are key to creating a successful business. If you have the determination to never give up and to be a visionary in your field and always focus on what you are trying to achieve then the rest will fall into place. Never underestimate the amount of hard work that goes into starting and growing a small business but with the right attitude anyone can achieve this kind of success.