Getting to know you: Sophie Hughes

What to you currently do?
I am the co-founder of Mazuma along with my business partner Lucy Cohen.  I am the Operations Director and I oversee the smooth running of the business and ensure that our high levels of customer service are continually superseded.
Lucy is the Commercial Director and oversees the sales and marketing side of the business and ensures Mazuma continues to be a highly innovative company.  Mazuma is a national firm of Accountants who specialise in providing monthly bookkeeping and accountancy services to sole traders, the self employed and owner managed limited companies throughout the UK.
What is your inspiration in Business?
We wish to provide a low-cost, high quality service with excellent customer service to small business owners, which is a market often poorly served by larger firms.  Receiving compliments from our clients who are genuinely thrilled by our award-winning Purpleforce service and continually give us fantastic feedback is a great boost and a real inspiration to carry on.
Who do you admire?
I admire Hilary Devey after watching her on ‘The Secret Millionaire’.  Hilary created a simple business model that overcame many distribution problems and has single-handedly grown her company to an annual turnover nearing £100 million.  I’ve just read that she is the latest Dragon on ‘Dragon’s Den’ and I’m looking forward to seeing her appear on the show. 
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I do not have any regrets and I feel that any mistakes I have made I am grateful for as it has provided me with a great experience – without which I am sure the business wouldn’t be where it is today.
I am very pleased that I decided not to go to university and instead chose to study for my AAT qualification after completing my A-Levels, not only did it mean that I was able to qualify as an Accountant several years ahead of others but I also bumped into an old school friend, Lucy Cohen, during my studies for the AAT and had I not, who knows what I’d be doing today!
What defines your way of doing business?
I always make sure I don’t give a job to someone that I wouldn’t do myself.  I also believe in treating others the way you wish to be treated, and always remember the phrase ‘be nice to people on your way up as you may need them on your way back down’.  In business your people are your biggest asset, and you need to take time to train and nurture your staff as they need to be a true reflection of you and your values as your business grows.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I would advise people to go for it.  There is nothing worse than what ifs and regretting that you didn’t give something a go.
Take advice from others and network with similar minded business people and listen to their opinions when you tell them your ideas, but sometimes you don’t need to take their opinions onboard.
When we started the business many people said it was a bad idea and would never take off – I’m very pleased to say that we didn’t listen to their opinions and stuck to our plans and have therefore proved them wrong!