LSBF founder Aaron Etingen tells us why accountants might be better placed than most to spearhead entrepreneurship ventures in today’s economic climate.
A few weeks ago I took part in an online debate organised by The Guardian which was centred on the benefits of investments for small businesses. Alongside others who had started their own businesses – in industries as diverse as law, telecommunications, accounting and retail – I discussed company growth, the double-edged sword of equity investment, and entrepreneurship.
I made the point that we need to give entrepreneurs more credit – and more encouragement – in the UK. In my opinion, they should attract as much attention and as many column inches as footballers or rock stars. And, more importantly, they should attract much more assistance (both in terms of finance and advice), particularly as the government rightly highlights the integral role that SMEs play in economic recovery.
The good news for students on ACCA or CIMA courses is that they already have a massive advantage.
You cannot overestimate the head start in business that being a qualified accountant gives you. Whether setting up your own organisation, or contributing to the growth of an employer, you’re already halfway to success, because you know how to make the numbers add up. With your sound knowledge of finance, business analysis and risk, you possess the tools required to ensure a firm runs efficiently and cost-effectively. You stand ready to make well-informed business decisions and form long-term strategies, making you a vital cog – or the whole wheel – of an organisation.
Now all you need is an outlet, a project that you can apply your insight to. And there are countless options available to you on that score.
The need for accountants is universal. That need is as ancient as civilization itself, with evidence of basic accounting practices found amongst the remains of Mesopotamian society, and hieroglyphs depicting accounting adorning the walls of early Egyptian temples.
Of course, those practices have moved on slightly, but the ever-present demand for high standards of accounting has never been greater – or more diverse. From shipwreck salvaging to microwaveable cushions, and video game testing to chicken rentals, the dizzying range of companies out there is now stranger than fiction. And all these companies, assuming they want to develop or last any time at all, must have accountants.
My own business idea wasn’t as outlandish as some – it was simply to teach others the invaluable lessons that studying for my ACCA had taught me. I began this venture in 2003, and I am proud to say that London School of Business & Finance (LSBF) is now one of the foremost providers of business education in the UK, with a growing international presence and students from all over the world.
Obviously this has required years of hard work, but I firmly believe that my ACCA training was pivotal in helping me get the business started. Not only did it give me a solid base of financial knowledge, but also the confidence to take the leap, because I knew I had the requisite skills to make the venture profitable and sustainable. Of course, studying ACCA gave me considerable inside knowledge – I was in the perfect position to package together what ACCA students want and need – but the skills it supplies fuel entrepreneurship in any industry or field.
Not everyone needs to build their own business, but as a newly qualified accountant, you will certainly be better placed than most. And with the UK economic recovery gathering pace, now is the ideal time to take that leap and put into practice everything you’ve learnt.
So, go on, make it happen! If anyone can make a new business work, it’s you!
A version of this article has been published by NQ Magazine