Countingup: Tim Fouracre
Founder and former CEO of Clear Books Tim Fouracre tells us about his new service for small businesses, which combines accounting and banking in one
Tell us what your business does:
Countingup is your accounting and banking in one place for small businesses. It’s the simple way to run a business. We’re a business current account that automates your bookkeeping and submits your tax return.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Before Countingup I was the founder and CEO of a cloud accounting company called Clear Books plc.
Observing thousands of businesses doing their accounts, it was obvious to me that a business bank account contains the actual transactions that happen in a business, whereas an accounting system is the explanation of those bank transactions for compliance and tax. But no one likes doing the tax and compliance!
It made no sense to me that businesses use accounting and banking as two separate systems. Even worse, most business owners leave it months or even until the end of the tax year before they access their accounting system to manually do the books. It’s our mission at Countingup to automate the bookkeeping in real time.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I spoke to lots of people about the idea of combining accounting and banking together. Everyone I spoke to reacted in the same way: “This makes so much sense. It sounds like such a simple idea, why hasn’t anyone else done this before?”
What were you doing before starting up?
In 2008 I founded Clear Books plc and was its CEO for nine years. Clear Books provides clear and simple cloud accounting and payroll software to thousands of small businesses in the UK.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’ve been coming up with ideas and trying to create ways to make money from them since I can remember.
I started my first proper business after university, however, I acknowledged the risk of being an entrepreneur and also the lack of business experience that comes with being a start-up so I joined KPMG and qualified as a chartered accountant. This gave me a profession to always fall back on and the understanding about what makes businesses tick financially.
How did you raise the money?
Having been in the accounting software industry for a number of years, I was fortunate enough to have built up a level of credibility. I was able to use this as a platform to raise a venture backed pre-seed round to turn our idea into a product.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We offer a free business current account that you can open in five minutes, so there's nothing to lose by getting started with us. We then will charge businesses a small monthly subscription fee if they use our accounting and banking product.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge any entrepreneur faces is that we always want more. To be growing faster, hiring better, streamlining processes sooner or building our product quicker. These are challenges faced every single day, but the important point to remember is to enjoy the journey!
What was your first big breakthrough?
After I graduated from university I built a website and monetized the traffic with Google ads. The ads soon started paying enough for me to live on.
That was a realisation for me; that starting a digital business and generating revenue has few barriers. It just requires a good idea and commitment to make it happen.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Get honest feedback on your ideas. I have lots of terrible ideas but I blindly believe they are all brilliant. My sounding board has been my wife, and she’s only ever agreed that two of my ideas were good ones. Both those ideas turned into the two successful companies I have founded.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
We believe that every small business should have their accounting and banking in one place, because it’s the simple way to run a business. We’re on a mission to make that happen.