We caught up with Simon Misiewicz, Founder of portfolio business, Optimise Accountants, to find out how they’ve used the MEIF loan to fuel the growth of the business and to offer some guidance to other entrepreneurs on what really matters when securing funding.
I've spent the past 17 years growing Optimise Accountants and I’ll admit that any growth journey is difficult, but not impossible. Optimise began in 2003, with a team of two, initially established to undertake tax consultancy work. Today, we are a team of 11, and have adopted a niche focus of supporting medical professionals, property investors and developers with their accounting needs. During our growth journey so far, I learned some important key lessons about growing a business:
Marketing is key
Without marketing there is no awareness. Without awareness there can be no business growth. So in a sense, marketing is one of main methods a business should utilise to grow. The right people, target customers, need to be made aware of your product/service. As a business, we use all social media channels to maximise our digital presence and increase our brand awareness. We also work with strategic partners to build and maintain relationships with clients of complementary companies to Optimise. Whilst we focus on delivering excellent service for our existing customers we’ve found it crucial to operate a dedicated resource to marketing for new clients.
Find your niche
It can be hard operating in a mass market where there are so many competitors offering more or less the same product or service. When we moved from serving a mass market to focussing on a niche area, we were able to find our place in the market. It did come with its challenges though. For example, we found that many medics and doctors were not so easy to convince that they should change accountants despite knowing that they were not getting the right level of advice or support and that the issue stemmed from a lack of time. Usually they have very little time to think about tax and tax structures so knowingly pay more tax than they should but we did not appreciate that they put public health as a higher priority than their own finances. The key lesson here is do your research on your customers, understand their needs or issues and provide a solution to service them.
Finance is a necessary requirement for business growth. When we were looking at our medium to long term goals, we realised we needed to look externally for funding to grow the practice. We had a number of costs that were getting in the way of our expansion plans. We came across MEIF Maven and were able to secure a loan to support our growth aspirations.
So far, we have used the finance from MEIF Maven to expand our customer reach and enter new markets. Alongside this we’ve enhanced our marketing function running Google and YouTube campaigns which has already yielded significant results.
As a growing business, you need to evaluate your funding options carefully. There is a wide range of traditional and non-traditional funders that can support a growing business.
For Optimise, our goal is to continue to grow and exceed our client’s expectations. We have increased our prices to grow our profit margin rather than address client volume. This is a better model for clients as they get a more personalised experience with dedicated time and it’s beneficial for employees as the focus is on the quality of work they provide to their client base rather than aiming to increase their base. Whilst funding may not be for everyone, we’ve certainly found that the MEIF loan will support our growth journey moving forward, help us to adapt to changes in the market and focus on achieving our long term goals.