What does your company currently do?
At Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group (LCBSG) we essentially resolve issues faced by SMEs and support their accountant advisors and other stakeholders.
Working with colleagues within the Group – and with many of our specialist partners – we guide and direct them at every stage of a business’ lifecycle, offering the most skilled and experienced specialist services.
And because LCBSG is also an SME, we have a real understanding and empathy for the clients we advise and their situations. We face many of the same challenges – we have responsibility for our 185 employees, who work from 15 offices across the UK, and we too have to decide what is best to do next for our business.
We’re fortunate to have the most experienced team in place to guide us, covering all areas from company secretarial and formation; equity finance; debt advisory; personal debt advice; corporate restructuring, insolvency and cessation; debt finance; cashflow maximisation; property solutions and legal services.
This does, of course, makes our corporate planning and decision making easier. It is the very same team that collaborates with business owners and their advisors to resolve the same issues within their organisations.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Back in 1995 when we founded LCBSG, our goals and objectives were somewhat different to those we have today. We’ve always wanted to provide a valuable business support service to SMEs, but over the years our offerings and capabilities have become much wider. Today, we are a business providing a comprehensive range of products and services to the business owner and their stakeholders. Our business and what we provide has come a long way.
What defines your way of doing business?
My approach to business is defined in a number of ways.
Firstly, I’m a great believer that you don’t have to be ruthless to achieve your business goals. You may find or feel that you have to work a little harder, but it is absolutely possible to be nice and successful. You’ve got to be able to look people in the eye and put your head down on the pillow to sleep at night. I, and we as a business, don’t want to be remembered as someone who didn’t work in the best interests of their clients – even if that is to the detriment of our commercial position from time to time. You know yourself when something is not quite right. It just doesn’t sit well.
My father has always encouraged me to “leave something for the next person” as if you don’t, no one will leave anything for you. Establish a reputation of not being honourable and you’re done. Reputation, credibility and what you stand for is the most important consideration.
Also key to my approach is being honest, just doing your best and keeping it simple. All too often solutions and situations are overcomplicated. It’s too easy to overthink a situation, but I find more often than not, what comes into your head within the first three seconds is the correct approach to take. I think it’s important to adhere to gut instinct.
Who do you admire and why?
One of the people I most admire in business would be my first and only employer. A fair man, he had no edge or preconceptions, his only demands were that you were straight and honest.
He gave me my first chance in the accountancy sector – it was exactly the start I needed over 22 years ago.
At the time, he was running an accountancy practice, but it was operating much more innovatively than others were at the time.
Not your typical accountant, he was forward-thinking in his approach and wanted to be different. With that in mind, he decided to establish an insolvency department.
As well as providing the highest levels of client service, his vision and enthusiasm with the founding members of LCBSG shaped the way we operate today. Our approach is thoroughly entrepreneurial – like his was – and has given us the platform to develop the business to where we are now.
He, along with the founding members of LCBSG, gave me, and many others, a chance to make an impression and forge a career – and I think that’s important. It’s an approach I’ve since adopted. Everyone needs to start somewhere. This is certainly an attitude shared across the organisation. I guess that way, we’re all similar in terms of work ethic and approach.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes and no, as I firmly believe that the decisions you’ve made and actions you’ve taken in the past make you the person you are today. For good and not so good.
But if I was to have my time again, I wouldn’t have left LCBSG when I did to then return five years later. I was keen to pursue my own interests at the time and do my own thing, which I did I believe. It did, however, undoubtedly play a part in my own personal and professional development.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The best advice I would offer is simply to be straightforward, honest and agreeable to work with. They have been instilled in me throughout my life and I believe that they are excellent principles to work to.
Also, never give up. Sometimes it’s very hard not to but if you give up, you’re done. When you think something is easy, it’s often a bigger threat than when you find it difficult. So, if you get knocked down seven times, make sure you get up eight.
There are times when everyone questions whether they’re up to the job and are unsure whether what they’re doing is right. I know I do, more often that you would think. It’s understandable. We’re all doing new things, seeding exciting ventures, pushing boundaries and developing our businesses, each of which is different.
It’s therefore important to keep things simple and straightforward. More often than not, gut instinct will show you the way forward. Never stop believing, don’t give up, passion and persistence will get you there.