Start up — One year on… Soaring Falcon Accountancy

Award winning Accounting firm, Bedford — ‘‘Most Outstanding Achievement’’

It was this time last year that I decided to leave my full time job and set up my own business. I have lived and breathed accountancy since the age of 16. It was inevitable that I would then go on to set up an accounting practice. Even though I have been in business for a year, it really also comes down to the 19 years previous to this.

I actually left home at 16. At the time, I knew it was going to be a tough ride, but it was the right decision. I prepared my self as best as possible. I got my self a job, a roof over my head and continued my education. This was survival mode. I was very careful with money. I budgeted for everything and always made sure there was some spare cash to reward myself.

During the last year of school, I had joined the ‘Young Enterprise scheme’. This is where I got my first taste of learning about being in business. My team decided to make and sell candles. As far as I remember, we did pretty well and made a small profit. I went on to study business and finance at college as I enjoyed the experience so much. I was eager to learn more.

Each step of the way, I was adding crucial knowledge for my future. I looked into how to become a fully qualified accountant and the steps I needed to take to get there. After the business and finance course, I went on to study AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), followed by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

I qualified with ACCA back in 2007. This was a tough period for me personally since I had lost my mum two months prior to my finals. This gave me more strength than I ever thought I had. I was much more determined and wanted to be successful more than anything. I still have the rest of my life to live. In August of 2007, I received my results. Three passes! I was overwhelmed, happy and sad at the same time. I made it through despite all the challenges, blood, sweat and tears. This was my ticket to move on to the next stage of my life.

Along my journey I have gained valuable experience and have worked with great influential people. I’ve worked in various small to medium sized accounting firms. Some had been established for years and one in which was only a year old. I was involved in virtually every area. I gradually worked my way up the career ladder. My experience of working in these firms, not only did I learn about accounting and tax, but also managing a practice and people. It was the start of how I would then shape my own firm. Taking in all the likes and dislikes, then implementing all things I wanted in my business now. There is always going to be work pressures and deadlines to meet, but how the business is run itself, that can be managed with the right tools, policies and procedures in place.

As I thought about how my business would be of value, I made a list of all the areas clients didn’t like or it was a pain point for them. For example, where a set of accounts had been emailed to the client, I remember a comment being made — “There are too many pages to print, can you post my accounts out to me”. In this case, it would take a while for the client to receive the documents by post, they then sign and return it back in the post or scan in and email back over. This process is easily eliminated by sending a virtual copy via a digital signature app, which can then be signed in seconds on the mobile phone. I’ve implement systems and tools to either eliminate the problem or make it easier for my clients.

Top 4things

1. Paper work — All Soaring Falcon clients use Xero as their paperless system and various cloud products.

2. Unknown tax bill — As finances are real time, Soaring Falcon can provide estimates of tax bills and a guide on how much to save for future tax bills.

3. Fear of finance — Soaring Falcon spends time educating clients to better understand their figures and changes they can make to achieve savings and growth.

4. Tax savings info — Soaring Falcon has a regular monthly newsletter with tips on tax efficiencies.

Some of the areas I had on my list, like reducing a tax bill, are out of my control. If you earn more money, you pay more tax, I can’t magic a tax bill to go away, but I can advise on tax reliefs and tax planning. Since it is an accounting practice that I’ve set up, I’m governed by HMRC, Accounting policies, Company law and much more. So the compliance can sometimes take up a lot of time. I do get support from my accounting body ACCA. I’m also a member of The 2020 group and use a couple of virtual tax partners. Since I am a sole practitioner it is important I have the support when needed.

Being a qualified accountant, I’m required to carry out 40 hours of professional development. As you can imagine, there are constant changes and updates. Its critical for this to be carried out in order for me to give my clients the correct up-to-date information. I have now set up a monthly update newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to this, then get in touch hello@soaring-falcon.co.uk.

I have come across many challenges since setting up. To help me along the way, I have had amazing support from my clients, Xero, Wenta and Mike Kennedy Business Coaching.

So far in my first year, my achievements are: -

- Designed and worked on my website, social media presence and branding.

- Selected a niche area, being technology and cloud.

- 100% paperless office

- 100% digital based business — so far using 34 apps.

- Worked with leading companies such as Xero, Digita, Accounting Web and Wenta on video promotion, case studies, pod casts and press release.

- Carried out my first guest speaking piece about my journey so far.

- After 5 months of trading, moved into my own office, now based at the ilab-Bedford.

- Taken on my first employee and currently recruiting for an accounts assistant.

- Grown the business as a steady pace with now almost 40 clients.

- Won my first business award — WAB 2016 “Most Outstanding Achievement”

How has this been achieved: -

There is always on going work and development for the business. By breaking it down to every 90 days, having goals set, prioritising them and ensuring I meet them, makes it much more manageable.

What I put in place in the first instance

- Implemented a work manager to manage all tasks and deadlines

- Prepared a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

- Prepared a business plan — short and long term goals, vision, mission statement etc.

- 2 year cash flow forecast and constantly compared against actuals

- Signed up to FSB for legal, health and safety and employment tools

- Implemented systems and procedures for all areas of the business

- Joined Wenta programme

- Joined BedfordTech MeetUp group as co-organizer

- Hired a business coach

My goal at the moment is to ensure I have a strong foundation, in order to build up. I’m very excited for the upcoming year and long term plans and continue to make life easier and more profitable for the clients.

A special thank you to:-

Rod Drury — CEO of Xero Accounting

Sarah Minns — Xero Account Manager

Geraldine Puttock — Wenta Business Advisor

Mike Kennedy — Business Coach

Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA. @SFAccy

Soaring Falcon Accountancy, Business Award Winner, WAB 2016.

In memory of Maria Jesus Falcon Huerta, you are my light. 24/11/48 to 29/03/07

‘Keep focused and remain determined’