On 13th August 1993 I turned up for the first time at Aspen House in Bridgwater to start my new life in business on my own. I was more daunted than excited being in practise on my own was very different to working for Deloittes or Ernst & Young.
In many ways I was not suited to running a business on my own, I lacked experience in a number of areas. It took me many years to become a more grounded individual and up to this point I have never stopped learning.
Although I never received any formal training in either marketing or sales I have always had good personal skills and the ability to offer excellent customer service.
Looking back at those first baby steps I got some important things right. Instinctively I realised that the name I chose was of great importance. I wanted a name that would stand the test of time and suggest a quality corporate player. I came up with Aspen Waite and this had the added benefit of allowing me to appear early in the Yellow Pages.
The ‘A’ and the ‘W’ also allowed for a readymade logo. I met with a creative designer from Bath and chose the colours I wanted to run with, Purple had always been my favourite colour so I chose purple with the ‘Waite’ being a 60% tint of purple. This came out as a lilacy pink!
I borrowed £70,000 under the then Small Firms Guaranteed Loan Scheme and my business plan set out for me to achieve £35,000 of sales in my first year.
I actually achieved just over £78k with a near 70% net profit.
I now realise my greatest achievement was in surviving those early years.
My background was in corporate so I used to get quite nervous if for instance I was meeting a couple of partners in an unincorporated business.
My first ever new client was Conscribe who I quoted the princely sum of £800.
I soon created a good network in the local community but had a particularly good client in the Ringwood area. I was able to make a good contribution to this client so I started to pick up new clients to the east along the M27 corridor.
Waste and Haulage soon became a speciality. At the same time as I was building my practise I became Chief Executive of an innovative Biodegradable Polymer company. This was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot about Intellectual Property and about Commercial business generally.
I have worked with Inventors throughout the 28 year period and as a firm we are now heavily involved in Innovation, not just as advisers but also as Innovators ourselves.
Our foray into International business started in 1995 when I started working for First Group plc. Over a period of just over one year I travelled on multiple occasions to Poland but also Hungary and Bulgaria.
Within a few years I had also had consultancy assignments in France, the Bahamas and the USA.
Up until 2013 we continued to project ourselves as a niche firm of Chartered Accountants. I then took the decision to rebrand as a Professional Services firm. This turned out to be a move that many others would follow.
It didn’t take long to find a name to represent this and ‘The Complete Business Growth Service’ was born.
In order to really grow I realised that we would have to prove we were really good at something and I decided to focus on R&D tax credits.
This was an excellent decision and we grew rapidly.
In 2019 based on our results for the year ended 31 January 2019 we entered the Top 100 Accounting firms at Number 97. The following year we rose to 79.
I am very proud of what Aspen Waite has achieved and the many businesses we have been able to help.
I have never been afraid to back my own judgement and this has enabled us to become a diverse organisation. Arguably our greatest achievement has been in successfully launching Aspen Waite Radio which goes from strength to strength.
In many ways the Pandemic has defined us with our Award winning ‘Friend Programme’ helping hundreds of businesses over the period.
It’s been quite a journey to date but we have much yet to do.
I see our future lying in continuing to evolve our advisory offering and growing our media capability with a goodly amount of Environmental Consulting and Innovation thrown in.