On 6th May 2014, we (Rob Chadderton and Alex Stone) started trading as ChadStone Accountancy and Tax. We both worked in ‘big’ firms before and decided for multiple reasons that we wanted to start up on our own. The major reasons for leaving a comfortable, stable, and reasonably well paid roles, were the challenge of it, the thrill of providing for ourselves and our families, and the fact that we felt the personal relationship with clients was not enough of a focus at our previous firms merely due to their size. We both pride ourselves on knowing each one of our clients well and intend to instil that as a culture in our firm indefinitely.
Day one, and the doors opened, we had two chairs (in flat pack form) and one desk. The first major role of the mighty ChadStone Accountancy and Tax was to build furniture, then to make a brew and let the enormity of it all wash over us. The first few weeks were very surreal, a lot of time was spent on sorting IT (certainly not a specialism of either of us), the other desk that wasn’t delivered, and the rest of the furniture in the now (well in our opinion anyway) light and airy modern office. It was once we had settled in that we got working on anyone that we knew that was in business, had a friend who was in business, had a third cousin twice removed that was in business, to try and build as much of a client base as quickly as possible.
It was during the time of ‘tapping up’ friends and family that we suffered our first client rejection, a long term family friend had expressed interest initially in talking to us about our business, a sure win we thought, but after speaking to his business partner they had decided not to take up the offer of an informal no obligation chat, this was due to their strong relationship with their current long standing accountant, a choice that we hugely respect. It was at this point that we realised two things, firstly, how difficult it is to get someone to entertain the thought of changing their accountant, and secondly, how personally and emotionally attached we had become to ChadStone.
Throughout our first six months we have had a thrill ride emotional rollercoaster, the sort that are driven to local fun days on the back of lorries, the ones where you’re not sure if you will make it off alive. Any slow periods feel like they’re ten times longer than they actually are, and all client wins have felt like we’ve just set foot on the moon.
Once the pool of friends and family had been utilised as much as possible for the time being, we quickly realised that we were now not simply accountants, we were now also business owners and a marketing firm. An interesting article that resonated with us was titled “Hope is not a strategy” essentially sitting in our office waiting for the phone to ring or the door to open wasn’t going to cut the mustard. The world of direct mailing, social media marketing, blogging (first one so far), mail shots, networking events, etc. etc. had been opened up, and all apart from 60 second elevator pitches, which we both try to avoid like the plague, have been a pleasant experience.
Since starting our empire six months ago, we have grown to a solvent position, and are currently undertaking a small acquisition of another firm located close by, we are ahead of target and are very much enjoying driving ChadStone forwards. We can both honestly say, hand on heart (and you can tell our Mums if we turn out to be lying) that we wouldn’t change a single bit of it, it’s incredible, and we urge anyone else that is considering it to “take the big step”.
Thanks for reading,
Rob and Alex
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