Real business stories
Real business stories
Seeing the light
How one entrepreneurial electrician built a successful business over 30 years, with the help and support of a great firm of Accountants, Tax and Business Advisors.
Andy Martin is an electrician who spent six or seven years on the road in the 1980s with the pop group ‘Kid Creole and the Coconuts’.
Andy was responsible for moving large amounts of the band’s kit around the world. In the process, he gained great knowledge of lighting and electrical engineering, in particular around live shows.
He believed in great customer service, and built lasting relationships with his customers, who would come back time and again.
However, Andy’s vision for the future went way beyond just live shows as lighting was a key ingredient in television, commercials, film, theatre, stills photography, indeed just about everywhere cameras are used.
Andy started his rental company AFM Lighting in the mid 1980s after his experience on the road. Having saved a few thousand pounds, he invested his savings into a set of lights and secured a van.
He came to see an accountant, Ross Wilson, who was recommended to him by his bank. Expecting to be grilled about his financial situation, instead Ross asked Andy, “How did you get here today? Is that your van outside? Can I see it?”.
Andy and Ross headed out to the parking area, where Ross asked Andy to open the van. In the back was a set of lights. Ross quickly established, “Andy was in his twenties and an experienced electrician with a vision. He had invested his savings into his start up, secured transportation and equipment, and negotiated a 10-week contract with Hammersmith Odeon for his lights”.
Andy had a customer, equipment, and lots of experience – but needed an advisor, and a business plan.
Leasing and hire purchase can be used by businesses to obtain a wide range of assets – everything from office equipment to vehicles. Leasing and hire purchase could be the perfect solution if you need new equipment which would otherwise be unaffordable because of cash-flow.
The importance of the right advice
Ross was leading a fast-growing firm of accountants, tax and business advisors, and helped Andy put together his first business plan. The relationship between Ross and Andy was first and foremost about people, and business. Yes, the finances are an absolutely vital part of the mix, but ultimately, long-standing relationships with advisors are built on trust, and on personal relationships.
Ross is the founder and senior partner at Wilson Partners, an award winning and ambitious firm of Chartered Accountants and business professionals, located in Maidenhead. Their purpose is to provide first-class information, analysis, and advice that deliver exceptional value and empower business owners to build more successful businesses and achieve their individual goals.
Ross Wilson was Andy’s trusted advisor throughout the life of the business. He offered Andy commercial business advice gained from working with many SMEs, accounting support (both historic and forecasting), assistance with securing funding for this fast-growing capital-intensive business, corporate structure, compliance, passion and enthusiasm – the trusted advisor. As the business grew, Ross chaired monthly board meetings and played a key part in much of the decision making.
A market-leading lighting rental business
The business became a market leader during its lifetime supplying equipment, supporting a high percentage of the UK TV commercials market, as well as providing equipment for feature films including the James Bond films.
“It was a very exciting journey” says Ross, “and of course the company was a great client which generated significant fees for our business over many years across a wide range of services. As well as acting as a Director during the life of the business, our firm offered accounts support, credit control, tax planning, and compliance – both personal and corporate – business advice, and wealth planning.”
A multi-million-pound buyout
Less than twenty years after taking Ross’ firm on as accountants, Andy sold his business with the help of Ross’ Corporate Finance team in a multi-million-pound deal. As Ross maintains, “Those accounting firms who are prepared to go the extra mile for their clients and grow with them will invariably find that those clients will help them build their own firms. Andy’s business not only helped us grow our accounting firm but the experience I gained was invaluable as part of my own personal development as a Business Advisor. I will be forever grateful to Andy for that!”
Find the right accountant for your business
Whether you are just starting out, looking for finance for growth, or perhaps planning your exit strategy, the right firm of accountants can help you along your business finance journey. Concerned that your current accountant may not be the perfect fit? Read our recent article, “Time to change your accountant?” for a set of questions to ask when reviewing the relationship.
When you are ready to make a change, ICAEW’s Business Advice Service, BAS, helps business owners find an accountancy firm based on their location. BAS registered accountants also offer a free initial consultation for business owners. There is no limit to the number of free consultations a business can request. So, if one accountant is not a good fit, you can keep looking until you find one that’s right for you.
Visit The Business Advice Service to find an accountant today.