Steven Mugglestone

The more I learn, the less I know

Posts Tagged ‘Business Growth

Breaking News: A firm of accountants prepared to take their own business advice to adapt & grow:

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I have always been told by colleagues that a person who seeks to take professional advice from themselves has a fool for a client, but we have to admit that when it comes to advising our clients on how to survive, thrive and grow in these uncertain economic times, we have been taking note and acting on our own advice.

We are an SME and, we believe that we can successfully change and adapt to the challenges of a changing world and economic uncertainties.  This is exactly what we advise our clients to consider.  So, we recognise that really we should practice what we preach and carry out our own advice for our own business.

Below, therefore are actions a business could take to adapt, grow and thrive, in the current depressed economy, but it is also advice and a business lesson that we have also put in place, to help ourselves to adapt, thrive and grow, and guess what, it works.

Joint Ventures and collaboration

Finding new business is tough at the best of times and the appeal of expanding your products or services can be very challenging when banks decide that lending is no longer their core business. One solution is to look for productive partnerships that offer complementary skills, products and services to yours. This does not need to be a formal joint venture, but with a bit of imagination and negotiation, it could give both parties the clout to chase business as one bigger force.

Recently we have worked to develop innovative and cost effective (cheap) online accountancy systems with Sage called as well providing sales growth, cost reduction, financial and legal support through a joint venture called

The business world is getting smaller

International trade, both importing and exporting is becoming more and more important within the Midlands and throughout the UK and is no longer exclusive to the largest blue chip public companies.  Many SME businesses are seeking to offer their products and services to overseas customers and markets. A weaker pound is not a bad thing if you think you can capture new custom by selling abroad to developing markets. The risks, in many cases, might not be as great as you think.  Setting up a sales person or agent paid upon commission and promoting your products and services overseas is not as risky as many first believe and it will open the possibility of huge markets and potential.

We are developing our own overseas support services, advice and international contacts as we seek to help our clients reach valuable potential new markets.  We are also doing this by becoming a member of and tapping into the opportunities, experience and knowledge of independent legal and accounting firms throughout the world.

Sometimes you have to prune to grow

Every gardener understands that to ensure that your roses bloom and prosper you do have to carrying out some pruning.  There is always a need to consider this for a business and even more so in depressed market conditions, especially now.  Markets change and the future success of a business may require concentration on one, possibly new or maybe core area and the cessation of another area needs to be considered for the overall success of the business.  The decision should not be shied away from.  Redundancies are never an easy decision, but SMEs can cut staff as a strategic move to grow the business in a new area and go on to future success and growth. We have faced these challenges, but recognise that those decisions meant that the business could move on and grow.

Do what you do best

Sometimes a business owner forgets what got them started in business in the first place.  The chances are it is actually what they do best. Cutting back on additional services does not have to imply business failure, if it means you are putting effort back into your core offering.  Many business advisers note that it is wise to get back to basics and keep the business healthy during difficult times.

Thinking strategically and looking at ways you can adapt your business can reap rewards for owner managed businesses, even in difficult times.  We understand that we need to adapt and that involves embracing technological changes, which we are doing, as well as providing professional services that clients really need.  We also recognise that we have a wealth of experience and expertise to share with our clients, gained from working within the largest of firms, tackling varying issues and challenges and as hands on finance directors, facing major projects.  But when it comes to being asked what we do best, our answer is simple, “the same as the top tier firms of accountants and advisers, only cheaper.”

Social media, cloud sourcing and network marketing

Some of the fastest-growing initiatives in the SME community are through the use of social media, such as Twitter and Linked-in as well as networking events. Whether formal, online, offline or not, the consensus is that it is still good to talk and share experiences – especially if you are a struggling SME. Networking is an important part of business development.

We take this very seriously through social media, LinkedInBlogs, Twitter as well as directly with our professional contacts, clients and associates.  We believe it provides us with invaluable contacts and resource for our own clients, through associations like as well as providing opportunities and access to potential new clients and the more and more businesses that are considering working with an independent but experienced and innovative entrepreneurial firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers such as ours.

…… and sometimes to increase sales, offer better and wider services, whilst keeping costs low, mergers are a great idea as well, Hayles and McGregors Corporate become MGC Hayles

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,
Finance Director Services

MGC Hayles, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business

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Written by Steven Mugglestone

October 2, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Why, with Vivifi, we are committed to supporting our SME clients businesses and achieving success with them:

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Business growth is not only about sales, SMEs need a team effort


All businesses and individuals understand that the UK and world is still in recession; the current climate remains challenging at best and that business growth and innovation are crucial to helping the midlands region and UK out of the state that the economy is facing at present.

It does not take much of a search of the internet and Twitter etc. to find experts in sales or experts in social media promising the panacea to all business growth problems with genuine business growth solutions and help to build your sales, results guaranteed.

Yet sales are only part of the business jigsaw; to be a really successful business and to sustain that success a business has to excel in most of these areas:

  • Setting a vision, creating a brand and building a strategy
  • Building a sales and marketing strategy for real organic growth
  • Continued improvements in your business systems and operations
  • Ensuring support is maximised for HR, legislation and legal areas
  • Using business structures and support to help you achieve
  • Accessing knowledge to understand your market
  • Managing and keeping costs under control as you grow
  • Keeping cash under control and continually flowing
  • Building a network of suppliers, customers and supporters
  • Managing and reducing your tax costs, together with setting a profit improvement plan
  • Improving cash-flow and utilising finance appropriately
  • Securing your wealth and building for your future

Which is why many large public companies are run by substantial boards of directors and these are likely to be responsible for the areas above in their own right, typically as follows:

  • Chairman (to develop and support the strategic vision)
  • Chief Executive (to deliver the vision)
  • Finance Director (to keep everything on course and within cash restraints)
  • Sales/Marketing Director (to improve, maintain and control organic growth and sales)
  • Operations Director (to run a lean ship and develop the business systems)
  • Commercial Director (to haggle the deals and keep the costs low)
  • Legal/HR Directors (to deal with all legal/HR issues/support and strategies)
  • A company secretary (to record and ensure that all of the above are doing what they say)

This is a big team, but only goes to show how complex it is to run and maintain a large successful business.  Given  that many SME and owner managed businesses have, at best, less than half this number of directors attempting to carry out all these functions, or more often have only one or two main board directors, with members of the family helping as well, it is no wonder that small and growing businesses can feel like that they are pushing water uphill and that the task is enormous.

Given also that support and advice can be found, but can be seen to be both at best sporadic and requiring a business to source the support from a number of different areas, which can be sometimes contradictory, an SME business can feel isolated, confused and very much on a tread mill of a daily business grind.

Steven Mugglestone, a partner with Independent Chartered Accountants, McGregors Corporate, and former finance director, believes that, together with his joint venture partners at Bray and Bray Solicitors, Precept Optimum Performance, Expense Reduction Analysts and support from DeMontfort University and Leicester Chamber of Commerce, they are putting together a potential solution to really help SME businesses in the region.

Vivifi Business Growth Groups,, are being set up in Leicester as well as in the future, in Nottingham and Birmingham to help SME businesses improve and grow and, hopefully, successfully bridging the gap left after the closure of government support and the support available to larger businesses who are willing and able to pay the high costs of similar elite business organisations.

Vivifi has been created to provide SME businesses the opportunity to obtain structured support for their businesses to help them grow and achieve their business aims.  The name has been chosen as it is derived from Latin meaning to give or to bring to life and that is exactly what Vivifi see as their main business aims and mission.

Steven Mugglestone explained, “I certainly really started to fully understand business and the importance of all of these areas from time  spent  as a finance director, when you are faced with actually being part of the running and sometimes turning around a business.  As an employee or middle manager you just do not have to contemplate or tackle the whole “holistic” approach.  As a finance director, I understood that sales was not the whole answer, with most business failures due to a lack of cash flow and cash management, down really to not having a proper plan covering all of the areas that we are seeking to address. Within the accountancy business of which I am a partner, we have been both introducing and developing how the skills and approach of experienced finance directors work to improve and grow businesses.  We looked at how best we could structure a practical and very real business support offering that would be very valuable to SME and growing businesses and, we hope that we have developed the most valuable and cost effective way an SME can utilise the skills of all of us and our partners as if we were part of their own business. We are now very excited about working with the Leicester Chamber of Commerce and DeMontfort University and launching this support in Leicestershire.”

Vivifi have already developed a program which seeks to bring groups of 12-15 businesses together to work together in the first year on the following areas:

  • Group foundations and introductions
  • Principles of leadership in a growth business
  • Creation and communication of a growth strategy
  • Building strong and profitable customer relationships
  • Effective marketing
  • Winning new customers
  • Controlling costs in a growing business
  • Business planning and creating an appropriate plan
  • Review of plans and performance

From then on groups will continue to develop their businesses through improving their business systems and processes, introducing the functions of a finance director, cost reduction programmes and additional strategic and  change management support.

The group members will benefit from this structured approach and will be encouraged to help support and push each other and their business approaches.  The group members will also have access to legal, financial and cost reduction support from the onset as members of the Vivifi partners will be available at the group meetings for both delivery and bespoke support if needed.  The Vivifi partners have also established key links with universities within the midlands region as well as direct access to bank finance and private equity finance for when the times are right for group members to expand their business further.

The Vivifi partners, however, are stressing a number of key and unique reasons why they see this offering will prove to be a success and invaluable service:

  • Full business support to grow and sustain a business have been included
  • The Vivifi partners are experienced professionals who have wide and varied business experiences, learned from real experience from within running businesses as well as advisory roles
  • Vivifi, however, has been developed as a stand-alone not for profit business and offers the support at a fraction of the cost of similar offerings that are seeking to make a profit

Phil Atherton, of Precept Optimum Performance, who are another founding partner and professional sales and marketing training business concluded, “We have created Vivifi to pay for itself but to be “a not for profit business”.  Each of the partners have individually been seeking a way to really add value to their own clients and future potential clients and we all agreed that this is a brilliant way of doing that.  It provides a fantastic resource for each of the Vivifi partners client bases as well as, hopefully attracting for a wider range of businesses to the project and for them to realise what they are missing and seeing what real pro-active and valuable business advice and support is all about.”

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Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,

Finance Director Services

McGregors Corporate, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
…….Really good for your business

McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

T: 0845 519 5659


Written by Steven Mugglestone

March 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm