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Meet Rich: The Story of a Solopreneur Superhero

Updated: Feb 16

Rich Sykes is the Founder of Cloud CFO, a new breed of solopreneur accountant entering the market who want something different.

Read on, to find out how and why, Rich ended up running his own accountancy business…

The start of the journey

It all started when I got a distress call from an old friend who’d started up his own business a couple of years before….

“Mayday, Mayday… need your help… surprise VAT bill… not enough cash to pay it… is my business actually making any money?!?… I know I’m really, really busy… and I haven’t seen my accountant in ages… can you help out?”

As I was ‘between jobs’ I figured the least I could do was spend a few days with him, and got to work understanding the business, the pain points, and how I might be able to solve them.

With some help from technology and software, a couple of easy-win solutions were road-tested, and deployed.

Then, once it became apparent that a) people were willing to pay for this stuff, and b) that they’d started referring me to other small business owners in the area, I realised that I potentially had a business on my hands.

Plus, after spending my career to date essentially existing to line the pockets of partners and oil the cogs of capitalism, I saw this as a chance to finally use my powers for good, rather than evil!

As luck would have it, the timing was, for once, spot on. Cloud technology was really starting to take off, new tools and apps were flooding onto the market, and I sensed an opportunity to enter the market and disrupt the old-school ‘once-a-year’ accountant. This would initially be through utilising tech to do all the boring stuff quickly, accurately and cheaply, and freeing up time to work on solving clients’ problems.

Taking the leap

For me, the decision to take the leap and start up in business was quite an easy one.

Once I realised I had a huge safety net in the form of those three letters after my name, “A-C-A”, that meant I could expect to find a job paying a good wage, at any time, in most parts of the UK, it was a much easier decision.

I figured the worst that could happen was it’d be a complete failure and I’d lose a couple of years of income and have to return to a ‘proper job’ with my tail between my legs. With that, I’d still have a ton of valuable learning and experience that would make for an interesting topic in interviews!

I’d already quit my job a few months prior, so that was one hurdle down. And I already had my first client lined up. So, getting to take-off speed was a lot more straightforward than it might have otherwise been, and I was grateful at the opportunity that had presented itself.

The great thing about a cloud-based accountancy business is how little it costs to set one up. I bought myself a second hand MacBook from eBay (£850), registered a limited company (£12), ordered some business cards (£25) and I was good to go. I set up my ‘office’ in my mum’s dining room, complete with access to the kitchen and house plants, and started work.

What most people see as the positives of being a solo-preneur can also be negatives

Most of the perceived perks of running your own business often come with considerable drawbacks, at least initially, which need to be dealt with.

Yes, you’re your own boss, but who’s there to hold you accountable for taking the actions you need to take to move forward?

Yes, you have flexibility in your approach, but how do ensure you’re prioritising tasks effectively and keeping procrastination at bay?

Yes, you’ve got control over work-life balance, but when you’ve no set working hours, who’s telling you it’s time to leave and go home at 5pm each day?

All these can all be managed, and solutions found, but based on those criteria, in my experience so far, running your own business isn’t quite all that it’s cracked up to be!

The real deal

The real reason I started, and the reason I keep going, is something more than those things.

My real ‘why’ is to make a difference to small business owners, who have often made big personal sacrifices to pursue their passions.

If their business failed, they’d have to go back to that day job they hated, or to have to sell their home, or not be able to support their families… and if that were to happen not because of any problems with their concept, or from lack of effort, but because of a lack of support with their finances, or having a skills-gap on the numbers side… that would be a tragedy. One that’s totally avoidable, and one that I could have helped to prevent.

This hit home quite early on, when I walked into a crowded pub run by one of my clients. He shouts out to the assembled throng… “If anyone needs an accountant, talk to this guy! HE SAVED MY LIFE!”

I realised that this, for now, is my best shot at changing the world…

Thanks for your sharing your story Rich, it’s extremely powerful. It just shows that the opportunities and routes to build a successful accountancy business are rapidly changing, and a new breed of accountant are breaking in and shaking things up!

If you can relate to this journey and you’re a accountancy business owner, growing your business, you might also quite like to download ‘Tax Season or Wolf Season? A Practical Guide to Keep Growing Your Business’

And give Rich a follow on LinkedIn!

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