The Entrepreneur: Chris Futcher, The Pulse Umbrella Group

Founder of one of the LSE's '1000 Companies to Inspire Britain', Futcher advises business owners to take "everything as a learning opportunity"...

 Founder: Chris Futcher

Company: The Pulse Umbrella Group
Description in one line: Pulse are specialists in providing umbrella and accountancy services for UK based contractors and freelancers.
Previous companies: Cavendish Wood Ltd
Turnover: Confidential
12 month target: 100% Growth

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • Pulse are specialists in providing umbrella and accountancy services for UK based contractors and freelancers.
  • We’ve been making contractors happy with efficient,reliable and expert accountancy and payroll services since 2009.
  • The technology we use to underpin the services we provide and our commitment to client satisfaction sets us apart from our competition.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Our greatest achievement so far is being able to help over 5000 contractors to get the maximum amount of remuneration each month whilst remaining completely compliant. Investing in people, technology and our customers proved to be the best strategy as we have been recognised as one of the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ in 2015.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

  1. Cash flow
  2. Number of new customers
  3. Churn rates

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

At the moment we have no international trade. We are focusing our efforts on the British market.

Describe your growth funding path:

We started our business with external funding, we were then self financed for five years and have recently raised further external finance to fund some ambitious growth targets.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Cloud based computing made a huge difference for our business because it gave us the opportunity to work with integrated systems that are perfectly secure and cost effective. In this way we can offer the best services on the market to our clients who can now fully concentrate on their work instead of navigating a stormy sea of paperwork and tax matters.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

For the next three years we want to focus on growing the accountancy side of the business and triple its size. We have no plans for international expansion.

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Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Like any beginning, launching The Pulse Umbrella Group demanded a lot of effort and dedication so probably the most difficult thing in the period was keeping people around me motivated and convincing everyone to give their best, as results would soon come through during a period of loss making early on.

What was your biggest business mistake?

I haven’t made it yet! Everything is a learning opportunity and sometimes decisions don’t turn out exactly as expected. However by using solid risk management processes as well as having a certain amount of instinct, most decisions, have produced good results.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Increasing legislation around agencies and umbrella companies which creates barriers for contractors and increases costs.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Most entrepreneurs do not realise when they should bring specialists into the company and they try to do everything themselves. Fundamentally, you cannot be good at everything. Recognising the right time to let go of the reins is a skill that often eludes inexperienced entrepreneurs and can significantly hamper growth.

How will your market look in three years?

In three years time the market will be even more tightly controlled and contractors will face fewer choices when it comes to the way they work.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Stick to the areas you know very well and don’t strive for perfection, business isn’t about perfection. Always bring in specialists who have the skills required to manage the other aspects of your business.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Being able to take time for holidays.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I’ve learnt everything on the job.

What would make you a better leader?

More time to spend with my employees and clients in order to better understand their needs and assist them in bypassing blockages.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:

Business: Email Personal: Pinterest

Business book:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink


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