6 months in...

This blog is a follow on from my early blogs where I was writing about starting a business and all that it entails. Last Saturday marked 6 months since we received our authorisation from FCA to begin trading as Engage Financial Services. So I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed and review the progress - both good and bad!

It’s fair to say that it’s been a fairly intense period. There’s been so much going on, so much to learn, so much to think about etc. It’s been a whirlwind. Stevie, Michelle and I went out for a team breakfast on Thursday (no, that wasn’t our Christmas party!) and we discussed how we felt the first half year had gone. My overriding thought on the first 6 months is that how we’ve done is all about perspective.

In many people’s eyes a business that is 6 months old, looking after approximately 40 client families, £20m of assets, and a healthy recurring annual revenue could be considered to be a really great start. For me, however, that view is slightly conflicted. When I started up, I already knew that most of those clients were coming with me. I knew that the bulk of the revenue was confirmed, so technically all we’ve done is exactly what we expected to do. That takes the shine off the positive perspective a little bit. It was possible that things might not have panned out as expected, and we could have performed below expectations - but I had faith in my relationships with my clients and was always pretty confident that they would be loyal.

We also are not quite what most would consider a ‘lean startup’. We have an office in central London, we had two and now have three members on the team (myself included), lots of regulatory and technology costs as well as high personal expenses that are difficult to lower.

Having listened to a number of podcasts on building a business, it seems having super low personal expenses is a big boost to the ability of a new business to survive. Unfortunately, we all have children in school and nursery, mortgages, bills, cars etc to pay for -  so options such as moving back in with parents to save money are just not feasible for any of us (tempted as I may be given the imminent arrival of daughter number THREE, sadly the wife would never let me go).

This means that - in order to get us to a position where we can think about hiring to grow - we need to be out there, developing relationships and building our client base.  There is significant pressure to do more, to work harder, to make sure we keep up our metrics, not lose sight of the goals we set and make sure we build sustainable processes to facilitate the growth that we want and need.

I’ve learnt that to succeed we’re going to need patience (not one of my strong points), perseverance, tenacity, hard work and foresight to see through times where doubt and the imposter syndrome kick in. Luckily, I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable, and the challenge is a brilliant motivator.

Above all else though – I’ve seen that our clients are happy, they’re embracing the new business, they’re engaging with the new technology we’re providing, Stevie and Michelle are growing into their roles, understanding more and more about how Financial Services works from the ground up, and we’re ready and excited to hit 2018 in growth mode. Whichever perspective I chose to look at it from, I know we can and will continue to build on the solid foundations we already have in place.

Bring it on!