The Entrepreneur: Ed Reeves, Moneypenny

The call answering entrepreneur shares his advice to business owners: stop moaning about red tape, focus on customers and hire people on attitude rather than experience...

Founder: Ed Reeves
Company: Moneypenny
Description in one line: UK’s largest telephone answering service and outsourced switchboard provider
Previous companies: Watersports businesses and graphics
Turnover:  Can’t disclose
12 month target: We’ll grow by £2.4m this year

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • Moneypenny provides businesses all of shapes and sizes with their own PA or Receptionist; one person, or a small team of people, to answer calls exactly as if based in their office.
  • Our combination of people and world-leading technology is what makes us unique. We invest extensively in IT development.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Finding great people to surround us with who are all better in their respective areas than we are.

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

None. We’re fortunate enough to be able to focus on recurring revenues. Give or take a few pounds I can tell you exactly what we’ll earn six months from now.

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

We have an office in Auckland, New Zealand where we send UK staff on six month secondments to handle our out-of-hours calls. In February we also launched a new office in the US which mirrors our UK operation. We anticipate that growth rate in the US will exceed the UK within two years.

Describe your growth funding path:

The company 100% privately owned and self-funded. We’ve resisted outside investment to date.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Tech investment is the second biggest contributor to our success, after people. Our software is the backbone of the business. We’ve invested millions in development over the years, and as a result can now handle more calls, more accurately, and more efficiently than anyone else. So, we’re doing it again, this time with video chat for business websites. Watch this space…

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

We’ll have two more offices in the US and employ around 1,000 people by then. We’ll also have launched our new video technology internationally, delivering live support and chat services for our clients’ websites, via video and text. In addition, our core business will have grown by around 60%.

Growth challenges

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

Without a doubt, getting through the early years. Penniless, but with a dream.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Hiring people on experience rather than attitude, and then, once we realised we were wrong, not resolving the situation quickly enough. It can be an expensive mistake to make.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

If people stopped moaning about red tape they’d find they have a lot more time to get on with growing their businesses. Stop over-thinking it. That said, some areas of UK employment law can be ridiculous.

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

Business is simple; you buy and sell products or services. Where people go wrong is not understanding profit. I’m not just talking about profit to survive, but profit to invest in growing. Growth is the most expensive thing to buy.

How will your market look in three years?

Business people won’t have phones on their desks; it will all be about mobiles. This means there’ll be less demand for traditional in-house receptionists as larger businesses look to outsource these roles. As for smaller companies, they’ll increasingly look to present a better image to customers and turn to us as their first point of contact.

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

Know what it’s like to be a customer. Live, eat, and breathe everything about them. Only by really and truly wearing their shoes can you know what they’ll want.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Holidays. You can never have enough.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I’ve only ever worked for myself, so all on the job.

What would make you a better leader?

To listen more, pause, and consider before responding.

Business book:

No books, just endless articles about relevant or intriguing case studies.


(will not be published)