The Entrepreneur: Joanne Smith, The Consulting Consortium

Founder of a leading UK regulatory advice and consultancy provider, Smith talks success, mistakes and laughing in the face of red tape...

Founder: Joanne Smith
Company: The Consulting Consortium Ltd and RecordSure Ltd
Website: www.theconsultingconsortium.com (TCC) and www.recordsure.com (RS)
Description in one line: The Consulting Consortium is a regulatory advice and service provider to banks, insurance companies and large intermediaries
Turnover: 2014 £11m (for both companies)
12 month target: 2015 £22m

Describe your business models and what makes your businesses unique:

  • We provide expert regulatory compliance support and ground-breaking software solutions designed to eliminate risk within financial services.
  • We understand the regulatory landscape better than any other provider.
  • We understand, and are sensitive to, the commercial pressures on the businesses we support.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Having the fortune to launch two very different businesses and seeing the success of what can be achieved when your vision comes to life.

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

Unless it is vital to the business, checking numbers everyday can drive you to distraction – a weekly check is usually sufficient  to see how the business is progressing.

To what extent do your businesses trade internationally and what are your plans?

Currently the majority of our business is in the UK; TCC services are used in South Africa and mainland Europe, with discussions underway in Asia.  RecordSure is designed to be used globally and international plans are in place.

Describe your growth funding path:

Both companies are majority privately owned, with supplemental funding for growth obtained via investment from the Business Growth Fund (£10m for a minority equity stake).

What technology has made the biggest difference to your businesses?

The Internet has to be the biggest technological advancement of our lifetime. The ability to share knowledge immediately and to trade information instantly, without borders, has had a huge impact on all businesses.

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

Within three years I would like to see RecordSure implemented globally, in a cross section of firms beyond financial services. We are expecting revenues in the multi-millions. TCC’s growth will be more organic, with a continued growth rate of circa 50% per year.

Growth challenges

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

Letting staff go is always hard, irrespective of whose choice it is.

What was your biggest business mistake?

In the past we have missed opportunities because we did not recruit the right people quickly enough.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Being an entrepreneur who very rarely takes no for an answer I laugh in the face of red tape!

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

Trying to control every aspect of the business when instead it is better to understand all the elements and have oversight, whilst allowing employees the space to manage the day to day aspects.

How will your market look in three years?

I believe there will be fewer smaller businesses and the market will be increasingly dominated by the larger players. Compliance will be revolutionised by technology and therefore only the tech savvy businesses will survive. The market will have less reliance on the big four accountancy firms.

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

Delegate! Work with good people you trust and do not be afraid to delegate; trust in the expertise of others.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

A boat and holidays!

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I learnt on the job but to be honest both work – they complement each other and each have their advantages, as long as you are committed and driven.

What would make you a better leader?

I think it’s important to spend as much time with individual employees as possible but there just isn’t enough time in the day to do this as much as I would like.

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

Citymapper! Uber!

Business book:

88 The Narrow Road: A Brief Guide to the Getting of Money by Felix Dennis – An amazing business bible!

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