Interview Spotlight With Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith is a buzzing entrepreneur and the founder of SMITHS ACCOUNTANTS, an accountancy firm specialising in partnering up with business owners to grow their businesses without all the complicated lingo and boring spreadsheets. 

Based in Surrey, she has over 15 years of experience in accounting, spanning entry level accounting up to finance directorship level. She studied under the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and qualified before deciding to start the exciting journey of building her own accountancy firm.

Over the years she has worked with clients from a variety of industries, providing top quality accounting services but also providing valuable support to business owners who want to take their businesses to the next level. Taylor is a wife and a mother to one son. When she’s not working, Taylor loves playing netball, eating good food and drinking good wine. But her Jamaican heritage means she’s happiest when she’s spending time with her family and making memories. 

Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

I’m Taylor and I am the proud owner of Smiths Accountants. I’m an ACCA qualified accountant and have been in the accounting industry for over 15 years. After working the 9-5 jobs (which was actually more like 8-8), I decided to put all of my experience into practice and start my own accountancy firm. So now I’m using my expertise to help business owners, firstly map out their end goal (what it is that they are hoping to end up with when they want to exit the business), and then use that goal to lay out a strategy of how to get them there, using their finances.

I am based in Surrey, South East of England and I live with my husband and my son who is will be turning 2 in a few months.

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

Before leaving school, I had already decided I would become an accountant and the dream was to one day own my own accountancy firm. Unfortunately, university wasn’t an option for me, so when college ended and I needed to find a job, I knew I needed to pick wisely. I didn’t want to get into a job that I knew wasn’t going to get me to my end goal. After being knocked back several times for not having any experience in the accounting profession, I finally found a company that would give me the chance, and that’s all I needed. I started my career in a junior accounting role, I was ambitious and wanted to learn as much as I could to make sure my dream would come true.

I quickly joined the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and studied whilst working my full-time job. As my experience and knowledge grew, my responsibilities grew too until I got to the point where there was nowhere left for my career to progress to. With no career progression in sight, I decided to change jobs and try my luck at a new company.

When I joined this new company, it was successful and growing and it was driven by a management team that were ambitious and looking to grow the group of companies. Today this company is now one of the biggest aircraft brokerage companies in the world. Whilst working at this company, I worked my way up the promotional ladder to finance director of the largest company within the group along with two other companies within the group. This role gave me the opportunity to help implement processes and make some real changes to help the businesses grow. Getting so hands on in these businesses is where I exceled, and I loved every minute of it. It was in a board meeting where we were discussing strategies and ways to take the business to the next level that I thought about my dream and said to myself that I could be doing this for other businesses too. 

Then say hello to Smiths Accountants. I took my knowledge and experience from my years in employment and applied that to helping business owners that come to me for accounting and business advisory services.

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

I haven’t changed the fundamentals of my business model but in all honesty, I think my business is constantly evolving. The beauty of having your own business is that you can grow and adapt to the constantly ever-changing market. Clients’ requirements change and I believe it’s important to be able to change with the climate and what the client needs. This is how I believe we are able to provide a top-quality service to our clients.

Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

I haven’t had a mentor in the traditional sense, but there was someone who I drew inspiration from and someone who provided general advice and guidance to the general public. This helped me to focus on what was most important to me, and where I wanted to take my business. It also helped me to consider how I am pricing my services to my clients and ensure that I am charging what I’m worth.  

What outlets do use for marketing?

When using social media, I use Instagram and Facebook to post tax tips and other useful bits of content that some business owners may not be aware of. And I also like to post happy and motivational posts, because I like the idea of being able to bring a smile to someone’s face if they are having a rough day. Other than social media, the majority of my marketing is actually word of mouth, and clients referring other businesses to me. Which is great but, I want to try to focus on getting in front of as many people as possible, through networking and events that will allow me to talk to people and see how I can help solve their problems.

What or Who has inspired you most recently?

There are so many examples I could give you for this question, but the one that touched my heart the most is a close friend of mine. She went through a rough period after having her first child and she ended up stuck in a job she wasn’t enjoying but stuck with it because she needed the money for her family. She managed to get through depression, conflicts with her husband, and conflicts with herself and what she believed she deserved and started her own business. It’s now a very successful and growing business and she’s the happiest she’s ever been. I think she’s incredible and it’s a strong reminder that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.  

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

If you do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

This is still something I am working on. When I was in full time employment, I poured everything I had into my job, this meant there was little time for my personal life and I was ok with that because I wanted to push myself to excel as much as I could in my role. But since running my own business and having my son, I have been taking steps towards getting a better work and personal life balance. I have come to the conclusion that work and personal life can’t be exactly equal all of the time. Some days my personal life will be prioritised and others my work will need prioritising, I just need to make sure that I keep this in mind and don’t feel guilty for prioritising one over the other as it swings both ways.

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

It was during my full-time employment in the aviation company. I was asked to cover the finance director of the north American offices as their finance director was going on maternity leave. It was the first time I would be acting as a finance director, but also it was to take charge of 3 successful offices, in a country that was not familiar to me. So, I had to learn about the tax rules and the processes for the companies in a short space of time as the finance director wouldn’t be available once the baby arrived. This was one of the most challenging times of my life but also one of the most rewarding. I stepped up to the plate, took charge and the feedback I got from the President of the American offices as well as the Group Finance Director and Chairman of the company was amazing. It only cemented for me that I was on the right path and I had what it took to not only run a business but to help them thrive too.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

Business can be a lonely place for business owners, sometimes they don’t have people they can talk to in depth about their business and it can feel stressful. When I take on clients feeling this way, the most rewarding part is seeing the weight lifting off their shoulders. Helping clients understand that they’re not alone and we can work through issues they’re facing together is the most rewarding part for me. Then on top of that, when I see my clients reaching their goals, as a result of putting our conversations into action, it’s the cherry on top. 

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

Karen Brady, because I feel like I can relate to parts of her story. Not only did she face some life changing health issues, but she also faced a number of challenges with a career in a male-dominated industry. Despite that, she excelled and succeeded. The male-dominated part of her story is what really resonates with me. With a large part of my career being in aviation, which is extremely male dominated, it was inspirational to see another woman get through the challenges and achieve her goals.

How do you define your own success?

My success is happiness. If my family are happy, and I am happy and my clients are happy, that to me means more than anything else. So if someone was to ask me if I’m successful, I would say yes.

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

I am so excited to be launching a new programme. This programme will be for business owners who want to understand their numbers but don’t really know where to start. Part of the programme will be clear and easy to follow online training (without all of the lingo and boring spreadsheets) but the most important part will be the sessions they will have with me, where we will come together as a community with other business owners and work through any issues they’re facing or things they don’t understand. I will be sharing some top tips to help save on tax and will be having some guest speakers to talk about their businesses too.

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