If you are wondering if you have it in you to start a business, improve yourself or indeed do the next "big thing", my short inspirational life story may help you.
No matter what your circumstances, you CAN do it!
I started working life living on a council estate in idyllic St.Andrews, cleaning windows for some mega-wealthy business people in St.Andrews west end. How on earth did I end up being an accountant with the practice of OnTax Accountants Ltd in Dunfermline? It's a good question!
The story is very inciteful to those who want to move forward but feel "trapped" doing what they do, day in, day out. I did too. This is my story, a story of bettering myself beyond what life initially gave me.
Opportunity Starts A Snowball Rolling
Del Boys Protege'
In my very early teenage years I was the kid on the estate that was always selling something. I just seemed to have a knack for picking up junk for next to nothing and flogging it!
I must have had the gift of selling snow to eskimos because one day I was offered a bundle of old rusty saws, that were worthless and about to be thrown out. I sold the lot for £50, goodness knows why the person bought them!
I didn't know it at the time but this enterprise of mine was the beginning of what was to become "commercial awareness", even if I was a bit of a "Del-boy"!
Leaving school in 4th year I knew I didn't want to be a scientist or school teacher, none of the usual jobs appealed to me either. I actually had little clue what I was going to do.
This is perhaps a major failing of our educational system , it's basic principles were founded 150 years ago and little has changed since. It's still possible for bright kids to leave school with no clear career path.
Our educational system seems to fail to bring out the best in people. I had something in me, but it had yet to be unleashed! But I digress!
Quite soon after leaving school my step-father suggested I join him, in window cleaning in the west end of St.Andrews working for the rich and famous along with very many wealthy businessmen. You certainly got to see another side of life!
6 months on, my step-father decided to move into commercial cleaning and I became the owner of the window cleaning business. It had a modest turnover and 100 clients.
Turns out I was exceptional at organising it all, my reliability and attention to detail, particularly with the very wealthy clients worked out well for me, referrals came a plenty and the business then evolved to offer all sorts of other services that these wealthy people wanted and trusted me to undertake.
I knew I wanted to do something else, something "professional", but what was it? I hadn't a clue. I had very many long conversations with these clients, in particular, one who was a merchant banker from Dubai. I started to develop an appetite for something much bigger than window cleaning, but I didn't know what it would be.
How My Accountant Changed It All
Fast forward many years and my commercial awareness had developed to the point I had 3000 clients and a load of staff working for me with a fairly staggering turnover compared to its modest beginnings. They say from small acorns large oaks grow and that certainly was the case here.
My interest in managing businesses along with finance and cash flow started to peak.
Turns out I was rather good at the financial side of things. To improve myself I started studying cash-flow and finance as the business was very cash intensive.
Then a chance meeting with an accountant that lived on my street changed everything.
That chaps name was Paul, he was an ex-HMRC inspector and had set up as a local accountant where I lived.
Paul invited me round for a beer.
We talked shop most of the night and then Paul dropped the bombshell line that was to change my life starting that night ...
Just One Sentence...Changed My Career Path
So there I am, having a beer with Paul the ex-HMRC inspector. Paul then delivers a line that was to change my life. He says to me "Have you ever thought about training as an accountant?"
That line changed my entire life. Why? Well, all my life up to this point I had never believed that I could do anything that professional. Could I?
I decided to do something wild. Next day I signed up at Dundee college studying accountancy. I must have been the only window cleaner ever to be studying accountancy in his van during breaks! Next thing I knew I had an HNC in Accountancy (with merits) to my name and I embarked on progressing my studies at Napier University with CIMA (Chartered Institute Of Management Accountants).
At this point I sold my window cleaning business off for a handsome amount that funded my life for a few years whilst I progressed my studies and qualifications. It was at this point I entered the corporate world as a trainee accountant.
My Time In Industry
Over the course of many years I progressed in industry as an accountant. In the early days I worked for a large printing company followed by a role at Scottish Coal when the "millennium bug" threat was imminent. My role there was a mix of IT skills I had acquired along with accounting skills to reconcile 30 years worth of data.
I worked my way through several large blue chip companies undertaking group accounting and financial controllership. A typical role for me would be working for a large corporation turning over millions of pounds. My role would involve all accounting and taxation aspects for the company.
In time I moved to Exel logistics and ended up as Group Accountant for the Scottish division, a role I truly loved. I was personally audited at Exel Logistics by KPMG 3 times in one of my roles and passed 100%. Woohoo! I was asked to head up accounting operations in Thailand but declined in favour of an assignment with Motorola when they began closing their Scottish operations. I was selected to headup a team of 2 close down their entire tax position for Scotland, daunting stuff, but a real learning opportunity.
Corporate life slowly started to become jaded, I wanted to work with small businesses that I could relate to from my early working life.
Roll on the next big change in my life!
The Leap From Industry To Practice
In 2002 I decided to leave industry permanently and set up a business that in time would rebrand to become OnTax Accountants Ltd in Dunfermline.
The early days were raw grass roots, sat at my kitchen table with a PC crunching the numbers for local businesses. Word of my good work soon spread and within a few years I had 100 clients and a dedicated office built at the house. The growth continued onwards to 200 clients and it was time for a change.
In July 2014 the business relocated to the well-known landmark of East End Park Football Stadium in Dunfermline where my firm, OnTax Accountants Ltd continues to trade today.
Having started off in life as a window cleaner in my step-fathers business to today being the Managing Director of an accounting practice with staff has been a huge achievement for me and one I am very proud of. I haven't elaborated on my personal life here and how I came to have a step family, suffice to say that owning businesses was a chance for me to prove, to myself, what I was, and am, capable of.
The business is now 15 years old and has developed into a mature, well established local Dunfermline business, respected and a provider of employment for the area.
The journey of life so far has taught me one key thing. No matter what your circumstances, no matter what adversity you face in life, an opportunity will come along. It's all about being able to recognise that opportunity and to take appropriate action. It's also critical that you listen to the advice of those that can help, as Paul helped me.
You can even attract opportunity into your life. How? It's about your character, whether you are open minded enough to want change and have enough desire to make that change happen.
If I didn't have the desire to push forward and better myself then I would not have listened to Paul. If I hadn't listened to Paul I would not have signed up at college. If I hadn't signed up at college, the journey of being a corporate accountant would not have happened. And if that journey never happened then I would still be a window cleaner today and not an accountant at OnTax Accountants Ltd.
Life provides the opportunities - make sure you grab the right ones!
Why We Are Uniquely Placed To Help You
My working life started as a window cleaner, your average home run business. The struggles you are going through? I've had them! The lack of cash flow? I've had that too. The desire to grow a business but then hitting the reality of staffing issues? Been there, done that and worn the T-shirt.
What I have not covered above is my wealth of marketing and IT experience. When you wish to grow your business but need advice on these type of matters I can shave years off your learning curve!
You see, I have run more ventures than I can remember. Some online techy ventures too. For a period of 3 years, I also ran a property acquisition company during which time I became a published author on property investment techniques. So if you have rental property I have a wealth of insights for you too.
My experience spans many areas of expertise and many types of businesses. You're in safe, experienced hands, why go elsewhere?
From cleaning windows to accounting for multinational million dollar companies, there is one thing I have always understood that defines your success.
That "thing" is organisation. If you are not truly obsessed with organising your business matters, it's most unlikely to be successful. I see this in practice every day, the clients who organise themselves and invest in the very best systems are almost always the most successful in business.
We invest crazy amounts of time and money in systems to organise 10,000 tasks a year from 225+ clients. We do this because we care about the end result, being your satisfaction in the work we do for you and us doing it correctly and on time.
If we are prepared to spend so much time on organising our internal office so that we can deal with your affairs, this should spell out to you the level of care you will receive from myself and my team at Ontax Accountants Ltd.
Ontax Accountants Ltd has come a very long way since its first client was obtained at a kitchen table!
However, the core values of the owner remain and that is to provide excellent quality work for clients whilst remaining an approachable problem solver.
We act with integrity at all times and aim to provide a client focused experience.
Internally we continue to focus on developing “controls & processes” to ensure that we are undertaking all relevant tasks for you in time for deadlines to be met.
When you join OnTax Accountants Ltd as a client, our aim is to keep you as a client for life, achieving this by providing a level of service that exceeds your expectations.
You are warmly invited to come along for a chat with us and to see what we can do for you.
We look forward to welcoming you soon!